Suzy Says
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It wasn’t just moving day, it was Megan’s birthday. So I left the cats and The Mess behind to go and celebrate at the family estate. After a long day of moving all my worldly goods, my brother was making burgers and Rio was making salad. Jonathan had already made a lemon tart the day before, so everything was ready to celebrate. When we all had a glass of our homemade cider in hand, I made a toast:

“Forty-eight years ago today, I was called down to the office at school. When I got to the office, the principal told me I had a little sister. I skipped back to my classroom and announced, “I have a little sister!” All the girls went, “Yay!” and all the boys went “Boo!!”

Our brother laughed, saying that he wasn’t happy at the time to have yet another sister, but he certainly doesn’t feel that way now. I am nine years and nine days older than my sister, who was supposed to be born on my birthday. Instead, she came home from the hospital on my birthday. She’s still the best present I ever had. Here’s a picture of us the year I turned 21 and she turned 12:

After dinner, we took a look around the garden. The late rains did not seem to harm the orchard, where pies are in progress:

There are tons of cherries on the tree in the carefully netted cathedral, more than we’ve ever had before:

It should be a good pie year.

There’s a new Meyer lemon tree in the greenhouse (far right):

We’ll see how that does. It would be great if we can make it happy there. I love Meyer lemons.

It was a long day, but a good one. And I am thankful for my family and friends, even more than I usually am.

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May 28th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Family,Moving No Comments

Moving day – which also happened to be Megan’s birthday – dawned bright and clear. As I took a last carload of things and stuff over to the new place, I noticed what an idyllic morning it was. The ocean was turquoise, the meadows drifted with wildflowers and dotted with glossy horses and cows. I drove past farms and through groves of redwoods, across a narrow one lane bridge that I always worry about meeting someone else on, and arrived at the new house.

After everything was decanted, I went back to the old house. I imprisoned Audrey in the bathroom with her fuzzy bed and the boys in their bachelor pad, which is also known more prosaically as a metal dog crate filled with a comfy quilt.

Jonathan, Rio, and Rob soon appeared, and together we took a trailer load of junk to the dump before starting to load up the furniture. Back at the house, Rob started to construct the box for the grandfather clock to travel in. Then the boys carefully loaded it and wedged it firmly in place with Styrofoam (sorry, planet!) before placing a final sheet of Styrofoam over the glass front of the face.

The first load was the box springs and mattress, with the clock coffin riding on top. We got some strange looks as we drove at a majestic pace down the curvy country roads and briefly on the highway.

The next load included Rob’s beautiful bookshelves and the deconstructed bed. When my brother went to reconstruct the bed, we discovered that some crucial hardware had been lost in the process. I tried at the small Hooterville hardware store, but as expected, they didn’t have it. Of course all the other hardware stores were closed for the Memorial Day holiday, so I have just been sleeping on the box springs and mattress on the floor.

I was saddened to learn that I could not take my fan palms, Japanese maple, or camellias with me. I admit that I cried over them in the privacy of my car on my way to the new house after getting that news.

The last but most important load was the kitties. The boys shared a carrier, since they are always happier together, while Audrey had her own, since she is always happier alone. Happy is relative, however. She howled the entire 11 miles, while the boys didn’t make a sound.

I had been expecting that Audrey would poop in her carrier, since that is her usual MO when going to the vet. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while she had peed, that was it. I was less delighted to discover that the boys had reacted the same way, so they were all running around with pee paws on the beautiful fir floors.

Clyde did not want to leave the carrier. I expected him to bolt out of it. I upended the carrier, and he was ejected by gravity, but immediately tried to climb back in, even though I was still holding the case upside down. He went and hid behind boxes. Audrey also vanished, while Dodge was Adventure Boy, leaping from box to box.

Here’s a peek at The Mess on Day One:

Impressive, isn’t it? You might be able to guess what my weekend plans were!

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May 24th, 2019 by suzy in Moving No Comments

I am neither here nor there.

Yesterday, the boys moved the couch and sundry other things to the new house, leaving the bed and the ancient heirloom grandfather clock in what is now the old place. So I’m kind of camping at the old place since my unpaid movers are not available today.

Supposedly AT&T is going to install the landline at the new place today. I know landlines seem retro these days, but the cell service at the new house is exponentially worse than it is at the old one, where the cell phone never rings in the house. It is impossible to make a call on my cell at the new place, and texts may or may not go through.

I’m hoping the technician will actually show up, since I’ve been stood up more this month than in my entire dating life. My landlord didn’t make it to meet me there a couple of weeks ago, and the Further Reach internet guy didn’t show up this week, even though I waited for him for two hours. Fortunately, I had the fascinating The Five to keep me company.

While I was waiting, I took a couple more photos of the new place:

The Further Reach guy claims he will appear in person on Wednesday. This visit, if it happens, is only to assess the viability of the trees at the property as a location for the internet receptor. Then I will have to hire a tree climber to put it in. I have no idea how long all this will take, but I’m guessing that it will be a while, so I will be incommunicado in the meantime. If I have to resort to satellite internet again, which is both crappy and expensive (my favorite!), I will be sad. I have Further Reach now, and although pricy, it is excellent.

I’m hoping that the move will be finished on Saturday. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A one-two punch of tragedy. I still can’t believe this really happened.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Also a tragic time with lots of loss, including my wonderful friend Joel. He is missed.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lazy day. There aren’t enough of those.

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May 20th, 2019 by suzy in Memories,Moving No Comments

It seems to be a universal truth that we all have more things and stuff than we think we do, and we find out how very wrong we were about that when the time comes to move. I thought I had a few boxes in the storage loft over the bathroom, along with the battered old white Christmas tree and sundry decorations. Imagine my horror when I discovered that there were TWENTY ONE – count ‘em, 21 – fun-filled boxes up there.

Going through them was a dust-filled extravaganza that brought up a lot of memories and not a few tears. I got rid of most of the books, including complete sets of the Dr. Dolittle books and Mary Poppins books, as well as all of my Miss Read. I sacrificed the complete collection of Trollopes when I left Oakhampton and I still regret that. I kept one box, which included my father’s childhood book Outdoorland and the Bible my grandfather carried with him when he went to fight in WWI. I also kept his letters home during the War.

I sobbingly threw out countless letters, cards, and postcards from family and friends, though I kept all of my father’s letters. I threw out so many photographs of people I didn’t know. I think they were friends of my grandparents’, but since I didn’t know who they were, off they went. The thought occurred to me that a few years down the road Jarrett or Jessica will be doing the same with the photos I saved.

I kept some color photos of my parents’ wedding, which I had never seen before, and a wonderful photo of my mother’s parents a couple of weeks after their wedding, marked with my grandfather’s hand, “US 8-24-’24”:

Also a breathtaking photo of my grandmother in the full flower of her youth and considerable beauty:

And a photo of my dear friend Alice* and me in her house in Amsterdam, just a couple of years after she stopped modeling. When I shared the photo with her, she noted that she was wearing Jean-Paul Gaulthier:

It brought back so many happy memories of the wonderful times we had together.

I ended up throwing out the old Christmas tree and only keeping my very favorite ornaments (I still miss the one Clyde broke). New house, new tree. I wonder if I had known this past Christmas was going to be the last one in this house if I would have decorated and celebrated instead of ignoring it. I guess a new house calls for a new tree and new traditions.

But for some reason, I was unable to part with the keys to my now million+ dollar apartment in San Francisco.

I told a coworker who moved here from New York about my travails, and she said that after clearing out two attics and a basement, she swore she would never put another thing in her attic. So far her attic remains empty, and houses here don’t have basements. Hopefully I can follow her example and not accumulate more things and stuff after I move. It’s hard to let go of the past, but maybe it can be liberating, too.

**We have been friends for 40 years now. We still email each other nearly every day. I am still thankful every day that she is still with us after that scare a few years ago.

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May 16th, 2019 by suzy in House,Moving,Weather No Comments

When I first started the lengthy and horrifying moving process, I thought, “At least it won’t be raining”, but apparently I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. It has been pouring since yesterday and rain is supposed to continue on and off until WEDNESDAY. I can’t remember when we have gotten this much rain this late. The radio cheerfully informed me that it will also be windy, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, so I am just waiting for the power to go out. The fact that I was unable to close up my battered umbrella once I got to the office makes me fear even more bad luck as it drips into the carpet.

Also for the leaks to start in my house, which has been on the damp side anyway lately. Rob came over last weekend to remove some artwork, including the amazing vintage Toronto streetcar sign which I am selling on eBay*:

This required a large and heavy extension ladder, probably suitable for fighting fires, since the ceilings are so high. It was a lengthy and delicate procedure. When it was finally over, I asked Rob what was the strange hissing noise was that I could hear in the kitchen.

Rob’s opinion was that it was a water leak. He investigated under the house and under the kitchen cabinets, but finally had to cut a hole in the sheetrock under the sink, where it was revealed that due to the cheapness of the pipes James put in, there was a split in the pipes.

The bathroom, which is about 7 feet by 5 feet, promptly flooded as I watched in horror. Rob went to turn off the water to the house, while I grabbed a broom and swept the water out of the bathroom door which leads to the back porch. It was not the first time I was grateful for that odd, but useful feature. Then I mopped up the floor with towels and called Mark.

He got someone to come and fix it, but they came accompanied by dogs which they allowed to run into my house without asking me first, terrifying both me and the boys. I put the boys in the bachelor pad and banished the dogs. The fixers were notably Not Rob, since they were not only hillbilly looking, but took three trips to the store to buy parts and spent all day working on it. They still have to come back and replace the sheetrock.

As Rob said, I have picked a good time to move.

*A really nice guy who lives in the Annex area of Toronto bought it. Nice to know it’s heading back home!>

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May 12th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Country Life,Moving No Comments

It was a wildlife extravaganza on the Ridge on Friday morning. Bunnies, quail, deer – you name it! Fortunately, both they and Wednesday remained unscathed. I can’t say the same for a sizable mountain lion who I came across unexpectedly last week on my way to work one morning.

I had just crossed the sweep of the Big River bridge, enjoying as always the beauty of the river meeting the sea, and was surprised to see a mountain lion sitting by the side of the highway. Across the road were two men on phones, standing by a truck and somehow looking vaguely official. They waved me onwards, and I later learned that the lion had been hit by a car, which explains why he was just sitting there. I wonder what the officials in charge of such things do with wounded mountain lions.

Of course, seeing it made me think of my beloved Roscoe. I have always thought that it was a mountain lion that killed him. Illogically, it makes me sad that I will be leaving him behind when I move, even though I don’t know where his bones are. But being rational has never been one of my few talents.

The wildlife at home definitely know that something is up, as their house fills with boxes and various things are hauled away. It is total chaos, and you know how I love that. I realized today that when things stop being a mess at my current house, they will start being a mess at the new one. I can conservatively expect another month or two of chaos.

Clyde in particular is perturbed by the change in routine. He is underfoot even more than usual, as he tries to stay close to me at all times. He has started sleeping on my head again, like he did when he was a kitten. He also looks beseechingly into my face, looking for answers. And he has been very hungry. Do cats eat emotionally?

Little Dodge, whose birthday was yesterday – I gave him my much-loved American grandfather’s birthday, May 11 – is enjoying the mess very much, thank you. For Dodge, it’s a great opportunity to play with paper, jump into boxes, and explore shelves and corners revealed by things being moved. Having said that, Dodge has started sleeping on my pillow at night, like my wonderful old cat Buddy used to do, so maybe he needs some comforting too.

Audrey has taken to sitting on the very top shelf in the studio. I have put a folded up blanket there for her, and she loves it. It’s the perfect place to sit and despise everyone and all the manual labor going on. Her food and water are on the shelf below, so she can avoid the boys. She appears to be completely unmoved by the whole thing. To be fair, she has moved a couple of times in her life, so she is a veteran at this.

I am hoping to give the new landlord a check on Monday and get an official move date. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A little garden-inspired road trip.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The beginning of the great bathroom remodel adventure.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, the annual optical adjustment from hockey to baseball.

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May 8th, 2019 by suzy in Family,Friends,Moving,Sports No Comments

I was so busy packing and throwing things out on Saturday that I completely forgot about the Kentucky Derby. Can you believe it? Proof, if any were needed, that the stress and manual labor of moving prep has completely taken over both of my brain cells. It’s the first time I have missed it in years. Not only did I miss seeing what Dannielynn was wearing in her tenth year on the red carpet, I also missed the first time the first horse to cross the finish line was disqualified, apparently due to “interference” on the home stretch. This historic decision cleared the way for the winner Country House, whose odds of winning were 65 to 1. Some nice payoffs there*.

By the time I emerged from my dusty and depressing moving frenzy, it was time to head over to Rio’s place for the first BBQ of the season. It seemed a bit overdue, considering it was already May.

Arriving at Rio’s place, I found our dear friend Clayton, painter at large and fellow cider presser, along with our dear Lu, my siblings and Jonathan’s buddy Rich with his wife and daughter. Clayton was lending an expert hand converting part of the cider making shed into a guest room. Rio has four children and three grandchildren so far, so company is definitely a consideration.

Jonathan manned the grill expertly, while grousing humorously about those of us who preferred turkey burgers to “real” burgers. His view is that it should be real burgers or nothing. Fortunately he decided to overlook our unreasonableness this time.

The burgers were accompanied by a lovely salad:

And followed by angel food cake with sliced strawberries, accompanied by pacheco berry and strawberry sorbets:

Both sorbets were made by my brother from fruit we picked and froze last summer. Pacheco berries are also called ground cherries and are a member of the tomatillo family. They taste something like cantaloupe, but with a vegetal undertone. We all loved it.

Lu said that she has a big truck and a big cart like the one my brother has, which is five feet by 7 feet. She also has a hand truck to help haul things. Having two carts and an extra set of hands will be a real help. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends!

The longest odds winner was Donerail, ridden by the delightfully named jockey Roscoe Goose in 1913 at 91 to 1 odds. Of course I have a soft spot for all Roscoes.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner with the girls. One of us is a grandmother now! (Hint: It’s not Me.)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for the garden, accompanied by the very popular Stella.

TEN YEARS AGO: Adventures in making dinner.

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May 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House,Moving No Comments

It’s not exactly official! I’m moving!

I have been looking for a new place since last August. There’s not a lot of houses for rent around here, and my specifications (not in town, no visible neighbors, preferably Hooterville, not in the fog) winnowed the short supply down even further. I found the new house on the local message boards. The rent is about the same as my current house, but the house is newer and nicer. It also has character and architectural details, being a working water tower:

and having beams made of old growth redwood:

There is a kitchen with more than three feet of counter space:

And a spacious bathroom with an actual bathtub! Lush, here I come!

The bedroom is lovely and has – get ready, folks – a closet! No more storing my clothes under the bed!

It is located on a different ridge in Hooterville, also about five miles inland. The landlord has owned the property for about 30 years. She and her son also live on the property, but I can’t see their houses from my new house. She built my new house herself, even milling the wood herself. She owns a business in the Village and works 6 days a week, so it’s been challenging to catch up with her and figure out the formalities, like getting something signed (if there is something to sign), giving her a check, and figuring out when I can move in.

It was hard to tell Mark I am leaving after ten years, but it hasn’t been the same since he left and there has also been too much weirdness. It will be the first time a member of my family hasn’t lived on the property in 25 years! We have had a lot of joyful times here, and I love my quirky old house. But it’s time for a new chapter.

A YEAR AGO: Let tourist season begin! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of Covered California. Just thinking about how expensive and crappy it was still makes my blood boil.

TEN YEARS AGO: the many joys of old movies.

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It looks like the rain is over for the season, and that’s good, because I am over it! We got close to 50 inches outside, and quite a few inches inside, due to the ever-increasing number of leaks in my aging hippie hovel. But the rhododendrons are in bloom and I have switched to my spring/summer perfume from my fall/winter one, so spring is here!

On a beautiful but windy spring day, Megan, Lu and I piled into Wednesday to go to the South Coast. It was Lu’s first time driving my car, so she had to get used to the eternal engine light and the gangsta dark tinting which renders the rearview mirror pointless. But she’s used to driving an ambulance on the South Coast roads, so it was no problem for her. It’s always nice to know you have EMS with you.

Not driving gave me a chance to appreciate the deep turquoise ocean with its white crested waves and the occasional passing whale. Trees were hazed with new leaves, that poignant color they only have this time of year, the rolling hills were still green from all the rain, vibrant with drifts of white, yellow, and purple wildflowers, starred with flaming orange California poppies. This has been a banner year for wildflowers across California.

Arriving in Point Arena, we stopped at Franny’s, as you do if it is a day they are open:

I invested my hard-earned allowance in a lemon champagne cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped with blueberry icing and candied lemon slices; a cinnamon twist; and a sea salt caramel pecan brownie:

We continued south to the Point Arena Lighthouse:

Where we could barely get out of the car with the wind blowing so hard against the car door and whipping up the waves:

It’s no wonder we didn’t spot the lighthouse cat:

Cats have too much sense to be out in the freezing cold wind, unlike silly humans. We later learned that the wind was gusting up to 40 miles an hour and the lighthouse had to be closed so that unwary visitors would not be blown from the balcony.

The lighthouse does tours every full moon. One of these days we have to go and check it out.

On this occasion, we were there to see Katy Tahja talk about female lighthouse keepers:

Katy’s ancestors were early settlers in this area, and she has written several fascinating books about local history, on which she is an authority. She is also delightful and charming and kept the audience rapt for over an hour. We gathered in the signal room, beside the beautiful Fresnel lens:

She regaled us with funny, tragic, and astonishing tales of the 142 women who kept the lights across America, starting during the Revolutionary War. Three generations of women were lighthouse keepers in the country’s first cast iron lighthouse, in Mississippi. Another’s fog horn broke during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and she struck the bell by hand for more than 20 hours. Her mother was a former socialite who became a lighthouse keeper near Monterey at the age of 50, bringing her French poodles, antiques, and art with her.

While male lighthouse keepers had a uniform, female keepers did not, and improvised their own. In addition to their lighthouse duties, these women gave birth, raised and sometimes educated their children, as well as growing and preparing food. Many women kept these jobs for decades. When one female keeper retired after half a century of service, it took three men to replace her.

After this inspiring talk, we headed to Anchor Bay Thai, where we had a wonderful dinner and of course got take out as well. It’s a tradition! All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable day.

A YEAR AGO: Bookstore, cats, cocktails: what else does a girl need?

FIVE YEARS AGO: A wonderful visit to the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thinking of moving. I’m glad I eventually did.

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April 20th, 2019 by suzy in Jessica No Comments

My blog turns 18 today. And Jessica turned 16 five days ago.

Somehow, it never occurred to me that my blog was older than Jessica. I guess those pre-Jessica days are just the Dark Ages. Certainly, life has been a lot more fun since she arrived.

I was pleased to see that she actually wore her birthday card/tiara:

I hoped she might, as someone who was always happy to put on the hat from her Christmas cracker. Erica says that Jessica hasn’t taken off the key necklace since she opened it, so it’s good to know that she enjoyed her gifts – and that they got there on time. She is such a great kid.

Happy birthday to my silly blog, which is older but not wiser, and to Jessica, who has always been wise beyond her years.

A YEAR AGO: Happy birthday to my blog!

FIVE YEARS AGO: In which I finally realize my blog’s birthday falls on 420. A little slow on the uptake.

TEN YEARS AGO: A scorching birthday for my blog. 96 degrees at 5:30 in the afternoon is both inhumane and unacceptable.

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April 17th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House No Comments

My absentee landlord appeared as suddenly as he left, and with the same amount of notice. One day he appeared at the “front” door, which is actually at the side of the house. I couldn’t open it, though. That was one of the things I had emailed him about a few months ago, along with the alarming increase in the puddle population (in the foyer, above the refrigerator, the windowsill where Dodge sits) and some recently discovered termite damage.

I went out through the bathroom door so we could chat. It appeared that the main purpose of his visit was to shepherd the bank appraiser around the property. He is trying to get a loan using the property as collateral. Supposedly he will use the loan to fix things like my increasingly leaky roof and the driveway, which is now about 85% potholes and a joy to drive, even at 2 miles an hour, but I have my doubts about this and whether he will be able to repay the loan in a timely manner.

I kept these thoughts to myself, along with the fear that Mark’s overextending himself financially might lead to my living in a tent on the family estate. He claimed that the assessor was supposed to show up at 11 am on Saturday, but it was more like 12:30 before he appeared. He was somewhat surprised by having to come in through the door that leads from the bathroom to the back porch. Doesn’t everyone have an outside door in their bathroom?

He was an unprepossessing individual, to say the least. It was hard to imagine that he had ever seen the inside of a bank, let alone work for one. Let’s just say that I would not have picked him up if he were hitchhiking. It was quite unpleasant to have him looking around my house, and it gave me a creepy feeling as he measured things and poked around. I was reminded of having the appraiser at my now million dollar apartment in San Francisco making me feel like the place was a total dump.

Dodge disagreed with me, performing his patented jump while rubbing against the guy’s grubby jeans. Dodge is lucky he didn’t get a bath afterwards. The appraiser opined that Siamese cats were crazy, which did not improve my opinion of him, though Dodge’s opinion remained unchanged.

Eventually, the guy left, taking his creepiness with him. Now it’s a waiting game to see if Mark gets the loan and whether he can pay it back if he does.

A YEAR AGO: An exhibit of cookbooks, and some tales from the past.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A late season power outage for me and an unpleasant trip to the dentist for poor Rob. Is there any other kind?

TEN YEARS AGO: Jessica’s sixth birthday. Those among you who are not math challenged will realize this means she is now 16. SIXTEEN!

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April 13th, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit,Calamity Suzy No Comments

The day of my crowning arrived appropriately gloomily. As prescribed, I had taken the Valium the night before, though I failed to sleep like a baby as promised, unless babies wake up every two hours worrying about doom. Maybe they do and that’s what fussing is all about.

I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the Valium I took for the actual procedure just made me feel messed up while leaving the anxiety in full control. So I was nervous in my body and stoned in my head, which is not an enjoyable combo platter, at least not for this girl. It somewhat saddens me that drugs are not fun for me. I hated how the Vicodin made me feel when I had the toothache from hell (and indeed, Advil was much more effective at handling the agony), and the same goes for the non-pain killing pain killers I took after falling off the sleeping loft onto the unsuspecting floor below. I have never enjoyed Mendocino’s most famous product. It just makes me paranoid. Give me a glass or three of wine any day or a cocktail at my favorite seaside bar. I’m old school like that.

Fortunately for Self and the public at large, I walked to the dentist’s office just a couple of blocks away. The lengthy appointment was as delightful as I expected. It seemed that they took about a thousand goopy and gag-inducing impressions (Why? Why? I was in no position to ask), and of course there was the fun of smelling burning bone as they sawed away at my root canaled tooth.

Theoretically, since the root or whatever had been removed, I wasn’t supposed to feel anything, but I did feel the post installation and whatever crap they were doing inside the tooth before closing it up for what is hopefully posterity. I have come to the sad conclusion that I can never be completely numbed and that going to the dentist is always going to be horrible, especially since the daytime Valium does not seem to help.

And because reality bites, and usually bites me in the wallet, I do owe the old dentist $740 and I will probably owe the new dentist about the same for the unpleasantness listed above. Once again I am mystified by how I can (or will somehow have to) come up with $1,400 in dental fees but not, say, to go to Hawaii. Would anyone like to buy a soul? Only slightly shopworn?

As they merrily sawed and gooped and drilled away at me, the dentist and his assistant compared the vacations they had just returned from in Cozumel and Oahu respectively. Not for the first time, I have the feeling I’m in the wrong line of work.

A YEAR AGO: The end of the mattress fiasco.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A day at the beach.

TEN YEARS AGO: A veritable mountain of boxes.

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April 8th, 2019 by suzy in Cats No Comments

Little Dodge is adjusting well to his new life at Stately Suzy Manor, hopefully a step up from the mean streets of town. It didn’t take him long to stop hiding, or to appreciate two high quality meals a day. He has also learned to love treats almost as much as Clyde does. At first, he didn’t seem to know what they were or what all the fuss was about, but he figured it out quickly and now is right next to Clyde when it’s time for the going to work or the welcome home treats. He has also picked up Clyde’s habit of getting underfoot to the point that I fear a feline-induced Calamity Suzy episode.

Dodge has kept his adorable of quirk of jumping up while he rubs against your legs. I love that. He also looks searchingly into my face when I get home, and carefully sniffs my hands as if trying to figure out where I’ve been. He is very curious and has an endearing way of moving his head around as he observes and tries to figure things out, something like those bobbleheads you see in teh back windows of cars.

He was briefly mystified by the cat door to the studio. I showed him a couple of times how it worked, and he was a bit suspicious about what or who was on the other side, as befits someone who lived by his wits for an indefinite length of time. Eventually, he decided it was acceptable, but before he goes through it, he always taps the flap a couple of times, always with his left paw, before committing to go through it. Can cats be left-pawed?

He is also the most playful of the cats. He loves toys, and if there isn’t one, he makes one, happily playing with a piece of paper, a sock, or a rolled up shopping bag. Unfortunately, his playthings have a habit of vanishing. Monica gave him this beautiful embroidered toy, which I found a delightful object:

but it has been played with into oblivion. Same goes for a couple of little catnip mice. I got him these and am hoping the brought color will help me locate them:

When he’s not playing, he is often napping with his adopted big brother Clyde:

or contemplating what trouble they can get into together:

I think having Dodge around has been really good for Clyde. I think he was lonely after losing his brother Roscoe, and I didn’t realize it. He definitely likes having Dodge to play and cuddle with. Audrey despises them both and still growls at them, even though she has lived with Clyde all his life. Audrey will always be Audrey.

A YEAR AGO: More like April storms than April showers.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A lovely evening at the theater. I see that five years later I have still not removed the tinting from Wednesday’s windows. Also the engine light is still on. Inertia, my friends.

TEN YEARS AGO: How I’d like to be remembered.

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I found myself at an unexpected funeral one sunny day. One of my fellow library Board members died suddenly just a few days earlier, and I received an email one afternoon asking that I attend her service the following day. I later learned that she was Jewish and that they do not believe in embalming, so funerals happen a little more quickly than I am used to.

Fortunately, my boss let me take time off, though wrapping up details at work made me late for the service. That, and the fact that I thought it was at the cemetery overlooking the ocean when it was actually the one in town. Its entrance is not well marked or marked at all, as far as I could tell. When I arrived, I could see things were already in process. I parked Wednesday under a tall tree and made my way toward the group as quickly as I could.

The rabbi was speaking about Jennifer, and it was funny and delightful. I think she would have approved. Others spoke, and there were tears and laughter both. I couldn’t understand the Hebrew prayers, but they sounded beautiful and I could feel the centuries-old tradition as I did at that long-ago bar mitzvah. A lone raven wheeled slowly overhead, the sun glistening on his dark feathers as he surfed the air currents. I felt the sun warming my back and smelled freshly cut grass as I tried not to stare at the simple, pale wooden box poised over the grave.

I don’t think I have been to an actual burial since my grandparents’, 42 years ago. It was a little shocking. The rabbi said that it is considered a final gift to the deceased if you help to fill in his or her grave, since they cannot cover themselves. So I got in line with the other mourners and when the time came, I took the shovel and as gently as possible put the dirt in her grave, where it made that terrible, hollow sound as it hit the coffin. That’s a sound you never forget. Some people used their hands instead of the shovel, perhspa feelinga little closer or more personal that way.

At the end, the rabbi asked us to stand in two lines along the path leading to the grave, and as the family passed by, they clasped our hands and we each said, “May you be comforted.” It was really beautiful. I was glad I could be there.

A YEAR AGO: Silly Suzy! Could it be spring fever? Or only having two brain cells?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The naughtiness of Clyde. I am pleased to say that he seems to have reformed.

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March 30th, 2019 by suzy in Friends No Comments

Faithful readers may recall that Erica and Jessica left not just the county, but the country right after Thanksgiving, something for which I was not thankful. They left most of their belongings in storage in the county seat, so after a few months of camping in their rented accommodations abroad, they made a flying trip back to pick up their stuff and drive it back to their new home.

And I do mean flying. They flew in one evening, met us for dinner the next, and took off the very next day. I felt lucky that they found time to have dinner with Megan, some other friends, and me before they vanished.

Both Erica and Jessica are very happy in their new milieu, though they were a bit taken aback by the snow and cold, also the weight of loonies and toonies and how quickly they accumulate. When I lived in Canada, my coping mechanism was to decant them into a bowl and cash them in for dinner or a present when there was about $100.

Jessica’s friends, who are all home-schooled just as she was, pumped her relentlessly for information about going a real school and hanging out in malls and what that’s like. I think Jessica had fun explaining it all and talking about her new life. I have to admit I took a stealth photo of her rather than embarrassing her by asking in front of her friends. As you can see, she was rapt in conversation:

We had dinner at the fake Libby’s. The real Libby’s closed a couple of years ago, taking its fabulous al pastor with it. I was happy for Libby that she could take a well-deserved retirement, but not happy to live an al pastor-free life for the foreseeable future. The people at the fake Libby’s bought the real Libby’s recipes. It was good, but it lacked the depth and magic. Erica sneakily paid the bill before Megan and I could pay for Erica and Jessica’s dinners.

It was wonderful to see them, but so hard to say goodbye. It feels so final now. No more Halloweens, Thanksgivings, or Junapalooza. No more Jessica reading “Red Ranger Came Calling” with Jonathan at Christmas. Jessica turns 16 in a couple of weeks (“Every April 15”) and we’ll miss that and all her growing up.

A YEAR AGO: A look around.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A high school play production of the beloved classic film “The Breakfast Club”.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thinking of moving from Oaktown. Which I did, eventually. And I have never looked back.

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March 24th, 2019 by suzy in Friends 1 Comment

There’s nothing like a trip to the salon to cheer a girl up, even when it’s rainy and gloomy.

But nothing could be less gloomy than Angelika’s little salon in the big woods:

where it was warm, cozy, and light, with lavender scenting the air and towels warming on the heater. We spent a few hours together while she highlighted my hair. It was long overdue – consulting her bible, Angelika found that I had highlights done almost exactly a year ago to the day. So this must be the time of year that I feel like I need a little brightening up.

It was great to relax and talk. I am lucky to have a stylist who is also a good friend, and one who makes me feel happy inside and out.

A few days later, I met my friend Richard at Heritage House. Its claim to fame is being the location of the movie Same Time Next Year, starting Alan Alda at the time when he was a huge star in MASH*. It is a pretty place:

With beautiful views:

This time of year, you can sit outside and enjoy the view:

I was less than happy to discover that the happy hour wine cost was $12 a glass. I got one anyway, and when Richard joined me, he wisely ordered a gin and tonic for a much more modest $6. At our usual haunt, wine is $5 a glass during happy hour and they provide free nibbles as well. I have a feeling we will be returning to our regularly scheduled venue after this.

It was good to catch up with Richard. We used to work together at the jobette, and he basically travels for a living, being their sales director. He had just come back from a trip to Copenhagen, which he loved. He said that the average person there is doing well economically, not struggling to pay their basic living expenses like they are here. Healthcare and education, even university, is free. They get a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation a year, fathers get 4 months paid paternity leave and mothers 9 months maternity leave. It sounds like a very civilized place.

Richard drove off in his Tesla and went one way while Wednesday and I went the other, home to my kitties, who are always happy to see me.

*I had a crush on him then. I still enjoy re-watching the show and I still find him crushworthy.

A YEAR AGO: Nearing the end of the mattress saga.

FIVE YEARS AGO: We lost a local hero. Ricky, you are still remembered and loved.

TEN YEARS AGO: Street – well, BART – style.

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Dad’s birthday dawned sunny and beautiful. He probably would have approved that I spent the morning doing some cooking for the week: my friend Alice’s recipe for dak dori tang (spicy braised chicken) and Ottolenghi’s recipe for mejadra. It was Suzy’s international kitchen!

Megan and Rob hosted the party this year. I arrived to find that the appetizers were ready:

set by a photo we call “American Dad”:

It shows Dad in Cloverdale, wearing Jonathan’s straw hat and holding a slushy from the no longer extant Foster Freeze. He’s standing next to Jonathan’s old car, Grandma. Among Grandma’s eccentricities was the need to operate the windshield wipers by hand, using a string. I love that photo.

The appetizer was baguette with melted cheese and peppers my siblings grew and roasted over mesquite. It was delicious.

We headed to the greenhouse to snip some salad for dinner:

I got some extra to take home. The latest resident of the greenhouse is a Meyer lemon tree, which is something of an experiment. We are hoping it will work, since it would be great to have our own lemons.

Walking back to Megan’s place through the garden, I really felt like the seasons had changed from winter to spring. The plum tree agreed:

I know we are still slated to get more rain, but I think winter has lost its grip on us for now.

Back at Megan’s place, we toasted Dad with the cider we made last fall: “The old man wasn’t so bad!” Megan made spaghetti carbonara to go with the salad, and dessert was two sorbets: one made of wild blackberries and the other from raspberries my siblings grew. They were intense and delicious. After dinner, we watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, this time catching the Master’s cameo and enjoying the film very much.

I think Dad would have approved of his party.

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Dad’s birthday.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A boy and his dog.

TEN YEARS AGO: Remembering a vintage birthday.

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March 16th, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit 1 Comment

The time changed in the night, Edward said
and now it is different instead
Is it early or late?
Should I hurry or wait?
Perhaps I should go back to bed
— Edward Gorey

The dreaded spring time change hit me with a vengeance this year. Surveying my calendar, I realized that the day after Black Monday included a 12 hour work day and a dental appointment. Why not pack all the bad stuff into one day?

The appointment was with a new dentist. My former dentist retired rather suddenly, sending me a $740 bill as a farewell gift. It was not itemized, and since I hadn’t been there since September or October, I was mystified as well as horrified. I called and asked for an itemization, which I received, and for my records to be sent to the new dentist, which they were not. They only sent my most recent x-rays.

The giant bill included some things that were rejected by the insurance company, and my boss is going to try to get them to see reason. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, I went to meet the new dentist, filled with fear that he’d find something (or somethings) wrong and worried about the tooth that was so expensively and wretchedly root canaled in the fall. Former Dentist had put a temporary filling on it which is supposed to last a year. New Dentist said he normally does a permanent cap within six weeks of a root canal. Fortunately, everything looks OK in there and I am scheduled to have the permanent cap done in early April. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to take an hour and a half, just like the root canal, so I’m pre=worrying, despite a prescription for Valium to soften the blow. I should get another one to go with the bill.

I also had a library meeting on Friday, so it was a long and busy week for a girl who lost an hour of beauty sleep the night before it all started. I was under the impression that Californians had voted to stop the madness of daylight saving time in the last election, but apparently we only voted that someone could introduce the necessary legislation that could then be ratified by Congress or whoever runs these things, which really would stop it. I don’t know which one they would decide on as the permanent time, but I just wish they’d pick one and go with it.

A YEAR AGO: The beginning of the mattress débâcle. That lesson is learned. Still love the comforter set.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Oh, that Clyde! So naughty, and yet so cute!

TEN YEARS AGO: Some valuable lessons learned from film noir. Don’t pick up a crazed killer. Or let one give you a ride.

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March 11th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,The Arts 1 Comment

Megan and I took advantage of a break in the weather for a trip to the Village. Our first stop was to see if our favorite wood-fired, brick oven pizzas were available in the winter. The scent greeting us as we made our way there suggested that they were:

They are indeed open year-round, which was good to know. The garden was still beautiful, even in the depths of winter, as was the pizza:

With dinner squared away before noon, we headed for the Kelley House to see a special exhibit on vintage fashion. Did you know that wedding gowns were not always white? This one dates from 1860s:

We were entranced by the beautiful gowns on display:

Here are some details:

There’s even an M for Megan:

It’s hard to imagine my tomboy sister in one of these getups, but you’d have to be a pretty tough women to survive living here in the Victorian era. Don’t forget there was no Golden Gate Bridge or paved roads, so to get here from San Francisco involved taking a ferry across the Bay and then stagecoach or carriage. Or you could do the whole thing by water and have to take a Victorian style zipline to the rocky Mendocino shore:

In fact, Megan noticed that there was a framed, matted version of a similar photo for sale for a mere $40. She was unable to resist, and I think it was a very good purchase. You can still see the remains of the zipline on the headlands to this day.

Children wore exquisite little gowns as well:

I think this elegant black velvet cocktail dress from the 1940s could be worn now:

Some fashion is timeless. Fortunately, corsets and crinoline are not!

We were fascinated by a film in which a modern-day girl got dressed in 1860s and 1880s style, all by herself. To be fair, she already had foundation garments on, but it still didn’t take as long as we thought it would, even with buttoning boots and petticoats and lacing her own corset. She even showed us how a lady relieved herself in the days when skirts and undergarments weighed several pounds. The secret is the open pantaloons and facing the wall, the opposite of the way modern women do. The Victorian way allowed bustles and crinolines to billow out of the way of the business at hand.

It was fun to take a look at the past, but I’m glad that I live in the present!

A YEAR AGO: It was still winter-y, but the ballet was fabulous.

FIVE YEARS AGO: This and that, things and stuff.

TEN YEARS AGO: From being robbed at the DMV to seeing priceless jewels. Just another day in Oaktown.

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March 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Travel,Weather 1 Comment

It was dark and stormy last week. We got about 10 inches of rain in a week, 6 of it over the course of two or three days. I later learned that this unenjoyable weather is called an “atmospheric river”. I think this is the California version of the polar vortex that afflicts the east coast in the winter. Also that the Groundhog had no idea what he was talking about.

The ocean was brown from the churned up rivers emptying into it, the road to Civilization was under 14 feet of water, and there was widespread flooding in the inland parts of the county. Even the schools were closed. It seemed like a good time to spend the night in town and check out an inn that recently opened overlooking the harbor.

I was disheartened to receive an LED lantern upon check in, since this meant that they either had no generator or only had one to power their office, as I experienced a few years ago when I stayed in town on a stormy night, only to be kept awake by a generator blasting all night that did not do anything for me. I could have had that experience at home for free, since it was back in the days when Mark was still here and started up his generator the second the power went out, possibly before calling PG&E to notify them of the outage.

Even though it was raining sideways, I dared to hope that the power wouldn’t go out. The room was quite lovely:

overlooking the busy harbor, where I could watch the boats go in and out and hear the characteristic sounds of sea lions and fog horns, which always remind me of San Francisco.

There was a sitting area overlooking the little balcony and harbor, complete with a gas fireplace:

And a giant tub with the same view:

It was thoughtfully provided with a hand shower, the thickest towels I have ever seen, and a comfortable, warm robe with a towel lining.

The inn has a restaurant on site, and I thought it would be a good idea to have dinner there and just walk back to my room. It turned out that this was not the best idea I ever had, and not (just) because I walked there and back in the driving rain and was soaked (though that didn’t help, either).

The restaurant is very pretty, and I later learned that a friend of mine had collaborated with the architect to create the restaurant and bar area. My table overlooked the river, and I could see there was outside seating for when the atmospheric river wasn’t soaking everything in sight. It would be a nice view.

Despite the fact that there were maybe four other people in the restaurant, it took 20 minutes before the pretty hostess took pity on me and asked if I’d like to order a drink. I ordered some wine, which arrived quickly, and then I waited some more. Finally the server arrived and asked if I was ready to order. I asked her what the specials were, which may be a first in restaurant history. I placed the order and had yet another long wait.

When it eventually arrived, the sole Meunière looked very nice:

But there was no sign of the crab it allegedly contained, not to mention the Meyer lemon reduction. It was bland, disappointing, and very expensive. A friend later pointed out that hotel food is often this way, and I will keep that in mind going forward.

On the (literally) brighter side, the power stayed on, and I was able to enjoy some wine by the fire, watching the harbor lights and listening to music. In the morning, I headed to the ever-awesome Eggheads for eggs Benedict, starring the world’s best Champagne Hollandaise sauce. Since it was a winter Wednesday, there was no line and a booth was available. The server was just a delight, and though much younger than the server at the hotel restaurant, she could have taught her a thing or two about good service. And the food was as wonderful as always. On the whole, it was a nice break.

A YEAR AGO: A look at Rob’s amazing artwork.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Angelika worked her magic. I am due to see her this coming weekend, too!

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