Mar 23 2023


Published by under Cooking,Family,Memories

Dad’s birthday fell on a Friday this year, so we all got together for a dinner in his honor at Rio’s house.

Megan had just acquired a car which is almost the twin of mine, much like we are almost twins, born 9 years and 9 days apart. They are both Mazda 3s, but mine is red and hers is white. Mine is the Grand Touring edition, so like me, it is fancier. I have a rear windshield wiper, which I have wanted for a long time, and hers doesn’t. They are about a year apart. Mine is newer but has more miles. But we are both driving Mazdas these days. This is the first time I have owned a car that was not a Ford. Sorry, America!

The trip to Rio’s for Dad’s birthday dinner was the first time I had been in Megan’s new (to her) car, and it was very nice. We both like driving these cars.

It only seemed appropriate that we cook Dad’s birthday dinner from his cookbook, complete with drawings he made:

We made chicken pilau, and served it with salad:

Megan made bruschetta as an appetizer, with peppers my siblings grew and preserved last summer. These were topped with fresh basil and Parmesan:

We had cider we pressed last fall. This batch had some of our home-grown raspberries in it:

We gave the traditional toast to Dad: “The old man wasn’t so bad!” with much love and happy memories.

Jonathan made a pie from raspberries grown at the family estate and frozen for occasions like this. It was a taste of summer in what still felt like winter:

It was a wonderful, home-grown celebration.

We love you and miss you, Dad. Always.

A YEAR AGO: It was much more spring-like than it is this year!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring was wintery. I always say, March is the secret winter month no-one talks about.

TEN YEARS AGO: The woes of country traffic.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Celebrating spring, Suzy-style.

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Mar 15 2023


Published by under Country Life,Weather

We were hit with yet another Atmospheric River storm. I left work early yesterday because I heard that Highway One was closed in Little River (the next town north of Albion, aka Hooterville in these pages), and I was worried that I would once again be unable to get home.

The highway was one lane at Big River, just south of Mendocino, because of a massive slide. I was finally able to get through and kept going. I took the road from the cemetery in Little River, since I knew the highway was closed beyond that point and there was no other way to get home. It was terrifying. The road is badly potholed and it was flooded. I drove slowly, not knowing how deep the water was or if I would make it through (of course, I did have my Mouse).

When I got to the Y in that road, I took the road to the Albion Bridge. This is a non fun road at the best of times, because it’s steep, narrow, and twisting. In this case, it was also flooded, and there were two slides I could just navigate around. Not far from the bridge, there was a slide that took up one lane. CalTrans was on the scene. I made it to the bridge and back onto Highway One, which was empty, probably because the highway was closed in Little River and also a few miles south of Albion, where the Navarro River routinely floods and closes the road every winter.

My Ridge was not so bad, being very high (about 700 feet above sea level) and draining off into the river. There were a couple of flooded places, but I could drive around them and I could at least see the potholes. I was so relieved to get home, even though the power was out. I was supposed to take the minutes at the Finance and Board meetings last night, but couldn’t, since the meeting was via Zoom and no power means no internet. It was the first time I have missed a Board meeting since I started working at the clinic 9 years ago this month.

Power is back on today and roads are open. I made it to work. Hope it’s a better day today.

A YEAR AGO: Thinking about Dad on his birthday.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting a new mattress was not as easy as I expected.

TEN YEARS AGO: Dogs and a seaside walk: Dad would have approved of how we spent his birthday.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A snippet of City life.

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Mar 09 2023


Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Friends

I was saddened to learn that the fabulous Queenie had hung up her apron for good, retiring from making the best breakfasts on the coast and closing her happy, friendly restaurant. I don’t think she ever really recovered from her physical and emotional injuries last year, and I hope that she can relax and enjoy her well-deserved retirement. I’m sad for all of us who enjoyed her cooking for so many years, but happy for the Queen that she can get some rest at last.

With Queenie’s closed, I have had to up my breakfast game, and I think I have risen to the challenge, with excellent Eggs Benedict:

and an equally delicious skillet, made with chorizo, onions, peppers, potatoes, and cheddar along with eggs:

Almost up to the Queen’s standards!

I took a Friday afternoon off and finally went to have my hair cut and highlighted. I was originally planning to have it done back in November, but when my car suddenly died and I was faced with the giant expense of getting a new to me car, I couldn’t afford to do both, so I canceled my appointment.

I think Angelika is psychic, because she texted me to ask if I had canceled because of financial reasons, adding that I could get my hair done now and pay for it later or in installments, or both, which is an incredibly generous offer, and not surprising, considering her kindness and shining soul. She has a mortgage and other expenses, so I didn’t think it was fair to her and decided to wait until I got my tax return, so I could allocate some funds toward my beautification.

In the meantime, Megan went to get her hair cut and very sweetly prepaid my hair color, so I only had to pay for the cut, which was so sweet of my sister. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that she did that, but I was, and also delighted.

I headed to Angelika’s place on a rainy day (is there any other kind?), and I wondered if I had ever been there when it was raining:

It was warm and cozy inside Angelika’s studio, and it was great to catch up with each other’s news. She is planning to visit her family in Germany in late May, and i can’t wait to hear all about it when she gets back. I thoroughly enjoyed her adventures the last time she was there. I am glad she still has her mom and dad.

I loved my hair! I am not skilled in the art of selfies, so you will have to remember that I am much cuter in real life, but I had to show you how fabulous my new haircut is:

I love the color, too. Maybe I always say/think this, but I think it’s my best hair ever.

A YEAR AGO: Snowflake soup.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the ballet. I really miss it.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting divorced is hard.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Nothing worked.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A series of incredibly delicious meals.

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Mar 03 2023


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Well, it’s been quite a winter.

Once the snow finally melted, we had hailstorms. It was like very heavy, torrential rain, only with hail. I have never seen it hail so hard. It sounded apocalyptic. The cats were completely freaked out by the racket, and I can tell you that the Help was, as well. I wondered how loud it must have sounded at the old house, with its total lack of insulation and curved roof/walls. Even rain sounded really loud there.

Here’s one of the hailstorms (there were two) in progress, taken from my front door:

The aftermath was quite snow-like in its appearance:

Like the long-lasting snow, having this much hail, especially two days in a row, was a new one on me. We are slated to get yet another “atmospheric river” (Meteorology-speak for “power outages”) over the next few days, and the forecast looks distinctly dreary:

Maybe the Groundhog was overly optimistic?

A YEAR AGO: A lovely visit to B. Bryan Preserve.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob’s amazing artwork.

TEN YEARS AGO: A check up for our beloved Schatzi. We still miss her.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The challenges of feeding kittens.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Checkups for our kitties.

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Feb 24 2023


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Winter Wonderland

Somewhere, a groundhog is laughing, with or without a top hat on. The additional six weeks of winter he ordered have been extra wintery so far.

Storms took the power out on February 21 and 22, making it cold inside and out and wearying our heroine’s spirits. By my count, this makes 8 powerless days so far in this relatively young year. I have to say the apparently endless storms and power outages are beginning to get to me. I was surprised to discover how quickly I miss having a hot meal at the end of the day.

On my way home on Thursday, I drove over a branch that had been blown off a tree in the gales earlier this week which had also taken out the power for two days. It got stuck on something under my car. I parked in the middle of the Ridge, got out, and was finally able to dislodge it and pull it out. It was almost as tall as I am! My hands were sticky with pine tar. But the power was back on when I got home. It was nice to eat hot food and have the heat on.

The following day, I woke up to a winter wonderland. It was 31 degrees, with a heavy blanket of snow. Here’s my back porch:

It was beautiful, but also alarming. I drove to work slowly. I have very little snow driving experience. Once I got caught in snow on the Donner Pass on my way back to San Francisco, and it was nerve-wracking.

Without consciously thinking about it, I immediately recognized the distinctive white light in the house that comes from daylight reflecting off the snow, and the sound of tires driving on the snow from my faraway girlhood in faraway upstate New York, without consciously thinking about it. I guess things like that are just ingrained in your psyche.

Unlike the last time it snowed, this time it hung around. I was amazed to find it still there when I got home, and it didn’t melt completely until the afternoon of the following day. This is still California, right?

A YEAR AGO: Recovering from dental surgery.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quite the day at work.

TEN YEARS AGO: Jonathan took a flying leap.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Million dollar shoes. Sadly, not worn by Me.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The view from the treadmill.

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Feb 16 2023


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Sunset Glow

Despite the daffodils, there has been a definite nip in the air these days, both inside and out.

It’s been about 29 degrees and 52 inside when I get up in the early morning darkness. Getting up in daylight is months away, and will only last from, say, May through July. Darkness begins to descend in August, which only makes sense, since it is the Official Month of Death. And since it’s beginning to get a little lighter earlier in the day, the madness of the time change can’t be far away. It seems the entire purpose of the time change is to plunge the early risers of the world back into darkness as soon as there is a glimmer of hope on the inky horizon.

I have been thankful for the heated seats in the new(ish) to me car, and for the surprising fact that the windshield never, ever frosts over. I’m not sure how that works in sub freezing temperatures, but it’s fine with me. The steering wheel feels like ice, though, so I finally gave in and ordered a pair of gloves, which will probably arrive when the official six weeks of winter are up.

The Ridge sparkles with frost in the morning, which is pretty, but inspires me to drive more slowly, like the old lady I am. CalTrans has spread red grit on the bridges and dark parts of the highway which tend to be icy, and I realize that the sound of the grit spinning through my tires is one of the sounds I associate with winter.

Despite the chilly start to the mornings, it’s been warming up to 50 or 52 during the day, and the light is golden and lovely across the hills and the Ridge on my way home in the evening.

A YEAR AGO: Cheers to some unseasonably warm weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fun exhibit at the Kelley House.

TEN YEARS AGO: Beautiful work by students at the local fine wood-working school. Still the desk of my dreams!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Adjusting to a commute.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Musings on cats and water.

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Feb 08 2023


Published by under Country Life

So the Groundhog saw his shadow and claims that there are six more weeks of winter left. I got news for you and the rodent: there’s going to be six more weeks of winter, no matter what. Also? March is the secret winter month no one talks about, that seasonal secret.

Around here, though, you can tell that things are tipping towards the light and away from the dark, towards spring and away from winter. A few days before the Groundhog’s prognostication, I noticed the first daffodils of the year on the Ridge:

The flowering cherries are also in bloom:

bringing a welcome pinkness to the world, especially right outside my bedroom window. My orchid has a lone flower spike, but I’ll take it.

I have noticed lately that it’s no longer dark at 6:00 pm, so the brighter days are coming.

A YEAR AGO: Reflecting on my proudest achievement.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Finding new and unenjoyable ways to screw up.

TEN YEARS AGO: In which our heroine is not at all photogenic.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A perfect day.

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Jan 30 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family

I had a very social weekend. I met my friend Daphne for lunch on a Friday. We actually ate in a restaurant, which was a pleasant novelty after the Plague Years. It was great to catch up. We were in the throes of the annual fundraiser, and my friend Richard stopped by the office to drop off a couple of gift certificates. I took a little time to hear about his most recent adventures and just enjoy his positive presence. After work, I met my friend Alison for a drink at our favorite local watering hole. It was great to see everyone, and it had been far too long. I wonder if it’s too late to make a New Year’s Resolution to see my friends more often.

As I headed home that evening, I stopped to admire the view:

I am so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful.

The social whirl continued on Saturday. Megan picked me up and we headed to Boonville to pick up some fabulous pizza:

at Offspring:

The pizza had smokey tomato, charred onions, fior di latte mozzarella, pickled calabrian chilli, fermented garlic honey, and garden herbs. I know honey sounds weird on pizza, but it is utterly delicious.

We were disappointed to discover that both the pastry shop and the Mercantile next door were closed. We were dreaming of canelés and scented candles, but both shops were closed for the month of January. But we got our pizza!

We headed back to Megan’s place, where we had some fabulous kir royales:

We used local sparkling wine and French blackcurrant syrup, as well as blackcurrants soaked in crème de cassis. I even brought my rhinestone-studded champagne glasses for the occasion. Sometimes, we get fancy. And what better time than GirlNight(TM)?

A YEAR AGO: A magical encounter with a deer.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting some culture with the girls.

TEN YEARS AGO: Some updates.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Enjoying the Noir Festival.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to Point Reyes.

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Jan 20 2023


Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Weather,Work

The storms kept kicking our collective asses. Rain, wind, thunder and lightning were an unlovely cocktail, and even when the power was on, I feared it would go off, stripping my life and house of its very thin veneer of civilization and plunging me into cold and darkness yet again.

The dreaded monthly Board meeting, which in my menopausal years has replaced my period as the thing I look forward to least each month, was looming on the horizon. They are done by Zoom, as so many meetings are these days, so I was concerned that my internet would go out before or during the meeting.

I decided to stay in town, at a hotel near work. Fortunately for me, I have friends in high places. Well, a friend. He manages some of the nicest hotels in town, and let me have a room at a prix d’ami. He also told me that many PG&E workers were staying there – they have a staging site set up near the coastal trail in town, and have brought sufficient generators to power the downtown part of the Big Town – so I figured if the power went out, it would be restored more quickly there than at home.

It was nice to swap a 40 minute drive for a 2 minute one, and I enjoyed the room:

It had a kitchenette, which was nice:

and a lovely view of the stormy harbor, by day:

and night:

I missed the cats, but it was nice to have reliable power and a shorter commute for a couple of days. I was glad to get home to the kitties, though, and even happier that so far, the power has stayed on. For now.

A YEAR AGO: Stopping to smell – well, admire – the flowers.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sometimes, getting home isn’t easy

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting a photo taken for work.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The joys of visiting Chicago.

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Jan 11 2023


Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Weather

I think it’s safe to say I was too late in my dumpling consumption, because the hits just keep on coming. We have been hit with violent storm after violent storm, and the power has been out more than it’s been on. It’s scary and exhausting. I wish there were someone I could surrender to in order to make it stop.

Last Wednesday, I was unable to get home because of the storm. I found the Ridge blocked by a fire truck. Getting out of my car, I was greeted by my friend Erin’s husband Jaime, who is a volunteer firefighter. He gave me a hug and told me that the road was closed because of fallen trees and downed power lines. They didn’t know when the road would be passable, and the storm was still storming.

I drove to Megan and Rob’s place, where the power never goes out. I got a text from my landlord Danielle saying that she was able to get through, so I tried again, only to find that the road was closed again, or still. I don’t know how she got through, but Danielle is a force of nature almost as strong as the storm. So I headed back to the family estate.

Megan wasn’t expecting company, but she rustled up some pasta with garden sauce for dinner, raided our brother’s place for a bottle of wine, and we settled in to wait out the storm. Being in a trailer in winds gusting up to 75 to 100 miles per hour (reports vary) was…interesting. Makes me wonder how mobile home dwellers in Florida ride out the inevitable yearly hurricanes.

The wind howled and the rain blasted. Even though I was really tired, I couldn’t sleep. Also, sleeping with dogs is completely different from sleeping with cats. The dogs manage to take up all the bed, pin down the covers, snore (awake or asleep), and bark in their sleep. They step on your hair and bonk you in the face with their heads and paws.

When it was finally light out the next day, I ventured home again. Third time’s the charm! I was finally able to get home. I wish I had taken more photos, but I was so nervous and freaked out that I just wanted to get home. Here’s the remains of the trees that blocked the road:

Of course the power was off when I got home, so the house was cold and dark, but the weather was so bad that I was afraid to go to work, so I stayed home that day. The power was out from 8 am on January 4 to 3 pm on January 7. It went out again all day on January 9. I had yet another adventure that day, trying to get to work. A huge eucalyptus tree had fallen across the highway, blocking it. I went back home, and on the Ridge, met a fireman who told me it would be cleared soon. So I went home, waited an hour, and then tried again. This time, I was successful. It’s been a pretty rough year so far.

A YEAR AGO: Dental problems. Ow!.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The truth about cats and dogs is not always pretty.

TEN YEARS AGO: Be careful what you wish for.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Delicacies by the Bay.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: More adventures in dog-sitting.

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Jan 03 2023


Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Weather

Gloomy New Year to Me!

My New Year’s Eve plans were, admittedly, modest. Watching the Leafs play; watching the ball drop in Times Square; having tourtière for dinner; and drinking some sparkling wine was just about all the excitement slated for Chez Suzy that evening. But not even those small goals were achieved, because the power went out at 5:00 pm and stayed resolutely out until well into New Year’s Day, making celebrating of any kind pretty much impossible.

Not that I felt like celebrating even after the lights came back on. My landlord Danielle came by on New Year’s Day to inform me that she is raising the rent $300 a month. Between that and the payment for the car I had to buy last month, I will somehow have to come up with an extra $500 a month. Not sure how I am going to do that, or if it’s even possible.

My good friend A told me that in her native China, if you didn’t make and eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice, you were risking woeful misfortune for the New Year. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get that newsflash until the Solstice had passed. A thought that if I did it soon thereafter, it would still stave off the woeful misfortune. So I made and ate my dumplings a couple of days late, but the gods do not seem to allow for a grace period when it comes to woeful misfortune. I have marked Dumpling Day on my calendar for later this year, so maybe 2024 will be better. Assuming I make it that far.

A YEAR AGO: A better and brighter New Year’s Eve.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Welcoming the New Year.

TEN YEARS AGO: Greeting the New Year in San Francisco.

Twenty YEARS AGO: The perils of dog sitting. Maybe not what you think.

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Dec 31 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

It’s hard to think of 2022 as anything other than the year we lost The Queen. Three months after losing her calm, wise presence, it’s still hard to believe she is truly gone. She has been my Queen my whole life, and knowing her steady hand is no longer on the tiller makes me feel both unmoored and unnerved. It’s like living under a different sky.

I went to the City more this year (twice!) than I did in the last 10 years (once!). I think I’m done with it for the next little while, though I probably won’t wait for another decade to visit. It’s both familiar and strange at the same time.

I turned 60 this year, and Mom would have been 90. My blog turned 21. A lot of milestones this year. I found I was excited about turning 60. I feel like every day I wake up and I’m still breathing is a good one.

Books read: 110, more than last year’s 106. The most since 2017’s 111, and close to my personal best of 118 in 2010.

Here’s what happened in my world this year:

January: Happy New Year! Dodge lives up to his name. He is an Artful Dodger, indeed. Dental pain: not a good way to start the year. But a new baby is, especially when she is born on New Year’s Day. Especially when she’s Anna. In which we learn that Frank is a con man.

February: The Sex & the City reboot had its pluses and minuses. What should have been. Cheers to some unexpected nice weather! Getting my wisdom teeth out still had some glamor. And the whole thing went much better than I expected. Spending the night in style.

March: A delightful visit to the B. Bryan Preserve. The anniversary of losing our beloved Star. And our beloved father’s birthday. I will never stop missing either of them. Lilac time. And time to get a new computer, among other things.

April: My mom’s 90th birthday. First trip to the City in many years, to see a concert. Of course, I visited Swan’s while I was there. My blog turned 21. We both remain resolutely immature, and our grown-upness is quite faux. Don’t be fooled by the (somewhat alarming) numbers. A look around the family garden, and some updates on my beloved cats.

May: A super computer, after my old one became unusable. It’s how I roll. A guy actually tried to pick me up at the gas station, and Dodge hurt his paw. Happy birthday to Megan and me!

June: My second trip to the city in 6 week’s time. Making up for lost time! A look around the old neighborhood. The City was fun, but it was good to be home. It’s official: Jarrett and Kalli are engaged! Celebrating in style.

July: The Imperious Empress Audrey turned 15, outliving her mother Quince, who died just a few days before Audrey’s birthday. We estimate that Quince was about 9 months old when Audrey was born. Audrey is the only survivor of her litter, and has been for some time. Fleeing the usually beloved Circus. I hope next year’s performance is more fun and less painful. The delights of the Symphony. I got a beautiful new bed, put together with my family’s help.

August: Packing a lot of fun into one day. A delightful trip to the Valley. Marking 21 years since we lost Dad. I will never stop loving and missing him. My annual peach pie. Catfight! I am pleased to announce that Dodge was the winner, and also that there has not (to my knowledge) been an encore performance.

September: Uh oh. Car problems. In retrospect, I realize this was also the beginning of the end of Wednesday. The sudden and shocking loss of Her Majesty The Queen rocked my world and sent me into mourning for the rest of the year. But she would have wanted us to get on with it, and we did, working on wedding plans as a family. Tallying up the bridges I cross to get to work. Some early season rain.

October: Finally! Megan and I went to the County Fair. A visit to Point Arena, and a fabulous dinner at Gama. Another finally: we pressed cider together.

November: November came in like a lion. A lovely trip to the Valley. It’s beautiful at any time of year. The demise of my car was sudden and shocking. And Thanksgiving was modest.

December: Decorating for Christmas. Candlelit shopping was rained out for us, but we still found a way to have some fun. Finding new and unenjoyable ways to spend money. Christmas celebrations.

It’s a stormy end to the year. Trying not to think of it as an omen.

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Dec 27 2022


On the actual Eve, I hopped in the new car and headed toward the beautiful South Coast. It was the last day Franny’s would be open for over a month, so I wanted to make sure I stocked up on delicacies before the long confectionery drought began.

I called in my order ahead of time, but still had to wait in line to pay for it and collect it, which gave me time to admire the festive decorations, both outside:

and inside:

For Christmas Eve, I had a délice of tangerine cake filled with a mixture of cherries, raspberries, and cranberries, covered in white chocolate. Next to it is the mini bûche de Noël for Christmas dinner, with a meringue mushroom and pistachio moss:

They both tasted as amazing as they look.

With my box of delicacies safely stowed in the back seat, I headed to Anchor Bay, where I ordered Thai food in very festive surroundings:

It was a beautiful drive home. I always think Point Arena looks a bit like the White Cliffs of Dover:

I love the rolling hills and curving roads of the South Coast:

It was a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. I made a ham, carrots glazed with tangerine zest and juice, salad with roasted pears and honey-shallot dressing, and of course, my annual, world-famous cheese biscuits:

Just add a bottle of sparkling wine, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch, and you have a pretty good Christmas Eve.

A YEAR AGO: Spending some time with Emily.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Post Christmas cleanup.

TEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful Christmas.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some updates.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Housework is not fun. Especially when you have a cold.

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Dec 23 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,TV

On the eve of Christmas Eve, I left work early, and for the last time in 2022. I took the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, possibly for the first time since I started working at the clinic. Because of the way Christmas fell, I only had to take 4 days off to get 11 days off, counting weekends, which we all know are the most important part of the week. So I was unable to resist, not that I tried very hard.

With glorious days of freedom stretching before me, I headed homewards, stopping at Cafe Beaujolais to pick up pizza. When I got home, I took care of the cats (always the first order of business, whether it’s the beginning of the day or the end), changed out of my work clothes for the year, and texted Megan that I was ready to go.

Megan chauffeured the pizza and me to her place, where we had appletinis and watched season 3 of Emily in Paris. Warning: spoilers ahead! Avert your eyes if you haven’t already seen Season 3! We both agreed that this season was not as enjoyable as the earlier two, though it was still fun. Emily’s clothes were mostly weird, instead of mostly wonderful, as they were in the earlier seasons. But we got to spend more time with the inimitable Sylvie, which is fine with me. The most concerning thing was not Camille and Gabriel almost getting married, but the horrifying plot twist that Camille is pregnant. As we all know, babies are the kiss of death for any TV show, and the thought of Camille pregnant and then with an infant clinging to her is completely dreadful. I hope they can write their way out of this one and make Season 4 more fun and fashionable. We need the escapism.

Despite all that, we had a great evening together, and have already planned another Girl Night for January. It’s good to have things to look forward to, especially after the Saddest Day of the Year, which is speeding toward us all too fast.

A YEAR AGO: A solstice earthquake. Oddly, there was one about the same size in the same place on that date, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A chilly solstice.

TEN YEARS AGO: Some unexpected Christmas guests.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Baby Audrey breaks out of the Big House.

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Dec 15 2022


Following Wednesday’s sudden demise, I had to start looking for a new (to me) car. Unlike the rest of the world, I do not get excited by new cars, appliances, or technology. They are a) expensive; and 2) a hassle, which is why I tend to use things until they break. Of course, this philosophy also means that you can end up with no car, and, in my case, also a phone that only works if it’s plugged in. So within a few days, I had to get both a car and a phone. That green tsunami you saw was me hemorrhaging money. FEMA seems to be unconcerned.

I had to cash out a large proportion of my 401(k) plan for the down payment. Even then, I underestimated the fees and taxes, and of the $12,000 I took out, I ended up with $8,500. I added another $500 to that for the downpayment, and I still have a whopping $11,000 to pay off on my meager non profit salary.

I had hoped that I would have enough left over for a little cushion, but the taxes made sure that didn’t happen.

The car is a 2014 Mazda 3 Grand Touring. It is a hatchback with a sun roof, and is a cheery red:

It’s pretty fancy, all leather inside and with a push button starter. I venture to say, a little too fancy for the technologically challenged, like Self. I have not been able to figure out the stereo yet. But I really like the heated seats, especially when it’s 32 or less in the morning. For some reason, the windshield never frosts up. So I’m getting used to it. I picked it up on 12/12/22, so I’m trying to see that as lucky.

Less lucky was the fact that my phone started dying as soon as I unplugged it. This is not practical. I ordered a refurbished iPhone 11, in a lovely shade of lavender:

It should arrive soon. I hope it’s not a hassle to transfer my info and to get used to the swiping thing instead of the home button.

A YEAR AGO: You will be amazed to learn that the Closet of Doom remains resolutely disorganized. This may never change.

TEN YEARS AGO: John was headed to his father’s memorial service.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some updates.

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Dec 11 2022


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Megan and I were planning to go to Candlelit Shopping in the Village, but Mother Nature had other plans. She decided, quite reasonably for the season, that it was time for wind and rain, which is not good shopping weather unless your chauffeured limousine is following you down Fifth Avenue with all the Christmas decorations lit up.

We may not have had a limo – OK, I admit it, we didn’t – but we did have a chauffeur, in the form of the ever-patient Rob. He dropped us off at our favorite seaside bar, which is the perfect port in any storm:

It was warm and cozy, and we could observe the weather without participating in it, as well as enjoying the view of the storm-tossed sea. I think the ocean is beautiful in any weather.

We settled back with a sparkling kir royale each:

accompanied by a delightful cheese platter with quince membrillo:

and chatted with each other and the bartender. As always, it was a happy place to spend an evening, and I have to give our Plan B an A.

A YEAR AGO: ‘Tis the season for successful Plan Bs and visits to the bar.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The sparkle of Candlelit Shopping.

TEN YEARS AGO: The amazing lunar eclipse not only affected me deeply, but turned out to be the moment I lost my friend and beloved former father-in-law, Ed.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My first visit to the gym.

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Dec 03 2022


Published by under House,Special Occasions

The ongoing sadness at the loss of The Queen, the bummer of losing my car, and the encroaching darkness all made me decide to put up the Christmas tree ahead of schedule. The Saturday after Thanksgiving found me rooting around in the resolutely disorganized Closet of Doom, using a broom to help me reach the things that were out of my reach.

I fished out the box with the tree in it and the box with the ornaments, and also the bag with the wreath for the front door. I put on the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and got to work.

The cats ignored me, which was fine, since they tend to be of limited assistance in tree decorating or housework. So far, they have also ignored the tree completely, which was a pleasant surprise. After all, they play outside in a giant litter box, only to come in and use the one in the house, and play in a forest full of scratching posts, only to come in and claw the rugs. The ways of cats are inscrutable.

It didn’t take long to get the tree up, apply the lights, and the light up star on the top:

It was nice to rediscover the ornaments, including the Eiffel Tower:

The beautiful apple:

and the acorn:

It’s so nice to have some sparkle on dark nights.

A YEAR AGO: A simple Thanksgiving.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the sparkle at the Festival of Lights.

TEN YEARS AGO: Scary storms and Christmas decorations.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful visit to one of my favorite museums.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A happy Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the photos are no longer there. I would like to see them.

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Nov 26 2022


Published by under Cooking,Country Life

As befits someone who will have to mortgage her shopworn soul and possibly sell what few jewels she has left from her formerly gracious life, Thanksgiving was a modest affair. I felt too depressed and discouraged to join my family, so I just had a small celebration on my own.

When I called the butcher a few weeks earlier to try to reserve a turkey breast, I was surprised to learn that there was some kind of poultry plague and the turkey supply was both limited and unreliable, so no reservations were allowed. I stopped by later that week and scored a 5 pound frozen breast, which would do fine.

I thawed it in the refrigerator for two days, and roasted it for 2 hours at 375 degrees after prepping it Nana-style, with butter, sage, salt, and pepper, and it was, if I do say so myself, perfect:

I made the pan juices into gravy, and served it with mashed potatoes, stuffing/dressing baked in a separate glass dish, and carrots glazed with honey, butter, and tangerine juice. It was simple, but delicious. I had some Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc with the meal, reminding me of how I often used to drink it with Dad in his garden before dinner, or while we were cooking together. I am thankful for those happy memories. Despite the car disaster, I do have a lot to be thankful for.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A happy Thanksgiving.

TEN YEARS AGO: A house full of friends and family for Thanksgiving.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A…memorable Thanksgiving. For so many reasons.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A bittersweet Thanksgiving.

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Nov 16 2022


Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy,Car

One morning, I fired up the car and heard a strange clunking noise. I hoped it would go away, and headed down the Ridge in the early morning darkness, but not even Iggy Pop’s best efforts could disguise the alarming noise. I turned onto the highway, and felt that the engine was losing power, so I turned around and went back the way I came, worried that Wednesday would not make it up the hilly Ridge and wondering why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to drive to work with an Iggy Pop defying noise in my car. Something was clearly wrong.

I made it back home and borrowed a car to get to work, and then notified my personal mechanic of the automotive problem.

Rob made a house call, and the news was not good. It appeared that Wednesday had a secret oil leak somewhere, or that I had neglected to keep the oil coffers sufficiently full, because Wednesday was essentially out of essential oil, which had, in the words of Jonathan, irreparably damaged the engine. Rob tried to rescue it by applying oil to the situation, but the sound persisted, notifying us that Wednesday’s driving days were over.

Though thankful that I have a loaner car to get me to work and back, I was horrified by the necessity of having to get a new (to me car) unexpectedly and with basically no resources. It is humbling and embarrassing to be so lacking in resources at this age. It’s hard not to be angry with myself for the bad decisions and bad luck that have led to this situation. Maybe that’s my purpose in life: to be an Awful Warning. Kids, don’t try this at home!

A YEAR AGO: Hitting a culinary snag.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting ready for the rainy season.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lovely evening at the theater.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Jed the Wonder Dog had a little accident.

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Nov 11 2022


Published by under Country Life,Travel

A beautiful day in the Valley

I left work early one day and headed to the Valley on a beautiful Fall day.

First stop was Gowan’s, where I picked up some fresh cider and some fresh almonds.

Even though we made our own cider recently, most of it is currently hardening, so it was nice to have some fresh local cider.

It was a lovely drive through wine country, where the vines and some of the trees’ leaves had changed color:

The grape harvest was over, apples have been picked, and you could see that the countryside was heading into the quieter winter months, even though the sunlight was still golden.

Arriving in Boonville, I was sorry to see that Paysanne was unexpectedly closed, but fortunately Offspring Pizza was open and ready for business:

I gave my order to the cheerful girl behind the counter and headed to Farmhouse Mercantile next door while my pizza was being created in the wood-fired brick oven:

I chose a card for a friend who is moving (and having a difficult time in her personal life), and got a new scented candle called Forest Walk, which smells fabulous. It’s the same make as the delightful Coast Trail candle, and it seems that one has to go to Boonville to buy them, since I can’t find them online anywhere.

By then, my pizza was ready:

It was topped with porchetta, mozzarella, oregano, Manzanilla olives, and Calabrian chili oil. Just delicious!

It was a beautiful drive home. I was glad to get to the home stretch beside the mighty Pacific, near the turn off to my Ridge:

It was good to get home.

A YEAR AGO: Some updates.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Don’t look back.

TEN YEARS AGO: Enjoying the art at First Friday.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: An innocent hairbrush can be dangerous in the wrong hands (mine).

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Both of my brain cells were aching.

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