Valley


Down in the Valley

Megan and I headed to the Valley on a beautiful summer weekend.

It was lovely to drive through the redwoods, with the sunlight flickering through the trees, and to emerge into the Valley, with the rolling hills covered with vineyards and deep pools of live oaks.

We went to the furthest point first, beautiful downtown Boonville:

We looked around the pretty shops. I loved a candle called Coastal Trail, lavender, geranium, lemongrass. It smelled amazing. I didn’t buy it, though, and of course, I regretted it on the way home. How could I forget the Suzy Rule that you only regret not buying things? I may have to make another excursion to Boonville…

We stopped in at the teeny patisserie, where I acquired some brownies, Canelés de Bordeaux, and a cone of orange-cardamom ice cream, which was fantastic. I love cardamom. Megan got an iced mocha, and we sat at a table outside and enjoyed the view and people watching along with our icy treats on a hot afternoon.

We headed back to Philo. I have wanted to try the cider tasting at Gowan’s, and so did Megan. It turned out this was the day to finally do it! It was delightful to try the cider under the very trees where the apples were grown:

We tried a flight of six or so, along with a bonus frozé made from the rosé cider. We decided to get a case and split it, six bottles each, and the cost of the tasting flight was refunded. What’s not to love?

We ended the happy day at our favorite seaside bar, with limoncello spritzers:

They are a lovely mix of limoncello, champagne, and a dash of lemon-lime soda. Summer in a glass!

A YEAR AGO: The quirks of my cats.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A loss. After all, August is the Official Month of Death.

TEN YEARS AGO: My 2,000th post.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Working for a living is just too much…work.

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Fun

Have you been wondering how much fun one girl can pack into one summer Friday? Well, I’ll tell you: a lot.

My friend Richard picked me up in his fancy Tesla and chauffeured me to a lovely restaurant overlooking the river and harbor:

It was lovely to watch the boats come and go as we enjoyed our lunch and our conversation:

Richard is 77 years old, but he has not slowed down in the slightest. He is still working, but he lives to travel. Future plans include visits to Spain, Portugal, and South Africa. He is such a positive, life-affirming person.

And his car is so fancy. I can’t get over how quiet it is, not to mention delightful features like being able to set it to cool while we were still at the restaurant, to avoid having to get into an annoyingly hot car. Also, I love being chauffeured.

After work that day, I picked up a pizza from Cafe Beaujolais, discovering that you can get it half-baked to finish at home, and also some adult beverages. Megan and I had a craving for Appletinis, but alas, no apple schnapps were to be found, so we had to make do with vodka and raspberry lemonade, and a couple of cocktails at our favorite seaside bar:

We had the pizza with a side of Emily in Paris, which makes everything more delicious, and when it was time to go home, Rob drove me, so I was chauffeured for the second time in one day. Gotta love that.

A YEAR AGO: Acquiring a beautiful apple.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Finding a couple surprises on arriving home.

TEN YEARS AGO: A magical microclimate mystery tour.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A surprise visit from Jonathan and Jed the Wonder Dog. Note: Squat and Gobble is right where I left it 20 years ago. Still open after all these years! And Clayton still lives in/above the Garage Mahal.

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Bed

‘Memba the bed I unwillingly bought from Wal-Mart all those years ago? You know, in the bad old days in bad old Oakhampton? It had been growing steadily more and more unreliable over the years, being cheaply made, despite not being particularly cheaply priced, and moving from my old house to my new(ish) one did not improve matters. Some bits and pieces did not survive the move, and lately, the bed tended to sort of fall apart, which tended to be disturbing for its many occupants, including Me.

As usual, I basically waited until it irretrievably broke down or no longer worked, much as I do with computers and phones. It is the Suzy Way. This time, I ordered the bed online. It arrived sooner than I expected, and of course it was unexpectedly rainy and muddy that day, and the box was slightly damaged. It took about all I had to drag it into the house, where it reposed in front of the ancient grandfather clock.

I called in the cavalry in the form of Megan and Rob, and left work early one day to meet them at Chez Suzy. I had already removed the mattress and box spring when they arrived, and the slats, and the zippered bags from under the bed. While Rob took the old bed apart, Megan and I opened up the box with the new one and took the pieces upstairs. Then we took the old bed pieces downstairs.

I knew that Rob was about the handiest person around, but I was surprised by how good Megan was at putting things together with the aid of pictograms and without the aid of her reading glasses. She put the drawers together while Rob worked on the bed frame. I sort of helped.

It didn’t take long before the bed frame and the drawers were ready:

We decided I no longer needed the box spring, and somehow Megan and Rob managed to get it down the stairs despite the beams and slanting ceiling, and set it outside. I’m going to need someone with a truck to drag the box spring and the old bed bits to the dump, but I’ll Scarlett O’Hara that for now.

The new bed looks beautiful:

It’s upholstered in beige linen. I love how clean the upholstery looks (and it is, after I spot cleaned the parts that got muddied in transit), and the drawers will be a huge improvement over the zippered bags under the bed. No more bed skirt to try and hide them! Hooray! I am also pleased to report that it is super comfortable and I am really happy with it.

I don’t know what I would do without my family. I hope I never find out.

A YEAR AGO: Extra fun in an extra-long weekend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A happy summer Saturday.

TEN YEARS AGO: Filling in various holes, inside and out.

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Symphony


Getting Ready

I have seen more concerts in the past couple of months than I have in the past couple of years! First, the lovely evening with the legendary Lindsey Buckingham in San Francisco, and then the local Music Festival, at the beautiful WPA Cotton Auditorium in the Big Town.

The first concert I saw was on the first night of the Festival, and also Buddy’s 40th birthday. The program started out with an original composition* by the Maestro, Allan Pollack, called “Phoenix”. It was beautiful, celebrating the victory of life over death and hope over despair. It was followed by Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with a young violinist, Yevgeny Kutik, giving a dazzling solo. The evening ended with Beethoven’s bright and delightful Symphony No.7.

The second one started out with the lovely, dreamy “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” by Debussy, followed by Mozart’s light and charming Symphony No. 29, and ended with Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring the extremely charismatic and talented Jennifer Cho and Jonah Kim on violin and cello.

The last one is the final show of the Festival, coming up this weekend, and it will be big band and jazz, which should be a fun end to the series.

*I was so delighted by “Phoenix” that I asked if they had a recording available, but unfortunately, there isn’t one, so it will just have to be a beautiful and haunting memory.

A YEAR AGO: At the fabulous Flamingo.

FIVE YEARS AGO: You win some, you lose some.

TEN YEARS AGO: An unexpected visit to the country. I never imagined I’d be living in Albion and loving it.

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Circus

The 4th of July weekend brings the amazing Flynn Creek Circus to our little corner of the world, its distinctive striped tent and ticket caravan appearing in the Village like magic:

Usually, it is an amazing experience. But this time…

I noticed as I entered the tent that there were earplugs on a table near the concessions, and I thought that was a little odd, since it was a circus, not a rock concert, and in the early afternoon, when the audience was mostly families, including small children.

It all made sense when a trio of guitar, bass, and drums with a screeching singer was unleashed upon our unsuspecting eardrums. I endured the first “song”, played at high volume and low talent, and then there was some of the acrobatics I had come to see:

You can see the Nightmare Trio in the background. They started up again after the acrobats, and I noticed that the small girl sitting next to me was covering her ears and wincing, so I went to see if I could get her some ear plugs. They were (unsurprisingly) all gone, but the guy gave me a tissue she could ball up to protect what remained of her eardrums. I gave it to her, and she put it in and curled up against her mother. When another song started up and there was no sign of more of the actual circus, I actually got up and left. I never thought I’d walk out on Flynn Creek Circus. Hopefully, next year they will be back to their fabulous selves.

A YEAR AGO: Cider tasting in an heirloom orchard, and other pleasures in the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An intruder.

TEN YEARS AGO: So freakin’ glad to be home!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: On the dynamics of lines.

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15


Birthday Girl

The Imperious Empress Audrey turned 15 on July 2. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since she was a little kitten. I am happy to say that she remains healthy, sassy, and grumpy. She has not mellowed with age, resolutely remaining her pre-reformation Grinchy self, a trait she shared with her beautiful mother, Quince.

I use the past tense because Quince died this month, staying true to herself to the end and choosing her own exit. I hope her journey was peaceful and I am glad that Quince lives on in Audrey. My heart aches for my dear friend Pea, now all alone in her little Victorian cottage in the big city.

July is a catty month. My lovely niece Cat turned 40 (!) on the same day Audrey turned 15, and July 9 marked the 40th anniversary of my beloved Buddy’s birth. It was love at first sight for me when he was born, and it was a privilege to be there for his first breath and his last.

Cat celebrated her birthday with a lovely trip to Sydney and other wonderful locations in Australia, where she has now lived for many years with her guy Dave, who is Australian. She is happy there and is currently fostering a cat called Calvin. A Cat should always have a cat, even temporarily.

A YEAR AGO: Having a wonderful time at the circus.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A completely fabulous sleepover with the completely fabulous Jessica.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting ready to travel to Detroit to testify in front of a Grand Jury.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Musing about mechanics and my Mustang.

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Cheers

When I last saw Angelika in May, we talked about getting together with Megan at Ledford House. It’s not easy to get our schedules to match, but one afternoon, the stars aligned, and we met up on the beautiful deck overlooking the ocean:

We had much to celebrate: Megan’s birthday, mine, and the successful purchase at last of the property where Angelika and Elijah live. Hurray! Elijah himself stopped by to say hello on the way home, so we could congratulate him, too. We had a wonderful time, and I hope we can do it again soon.

We headed over to Megan’s place, where I did some shopping in the family garden:

I got some arugula, raspberries (red and golden), and snap peas. I love shopping in the family garden.

After picking the produce, we settled in to watch the new Downton Abbey movie, and I am pleased to report that it was as good as the first one. As soon as I heard the opening notes of the theme music, I could feel myself relax.

All in all, it was a great day.

A YEAR AGO: Doing research can be fun.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fabulous Junapalooza.

TEN YEARS AGO: Being subpoenaed is nerve-wracking.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Megan started her ER career.

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Engaged

You guys! Jarrett and Kalli are engaged!

While yes, they were already engaged, Jarrett had not yet given Kalli the ring. He spent a lot of time getting just the right ring, and he wanted to give it to her at the family estate, where they are planning to get married next year.

I wondered how he was going to surprise Kalli with the ring, and here’s how he did it. They decided to visit us from Eureka, where they live, to select just the right spot for the wedding. We knew it would be down where my siblings’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer, live, so we piled into the golf cart and headed down there, with Jarrett hiding the ring in his pocket.

Option A was what we call the Vista Viewpoint*, where there is a little fence and a slightly obstructed view over the redwoods towards the neighboring ridge. Option B was the place where Dave and Jennifer will eventually build their house. It has a sweeping view, flat land big enough for 50 or more chairs for wedding guests, and trees that create a natural altar for vow taking:

As soon as Kalli saw it, she said, “This is it! This is the place!”

She and Jarrett sealed their choice with a kiss, and then Jarrett got down on one knee and said:

“Kalli, I love you so much. You enrich my life, and every day that you’re with me, you inspire me to be a better man. I look so forward to living our lives together. Will you marry me?”

Kalli’s response: “Oh fuck yeah, I will! Get that ring on me!”

Here is the ring:

It’s a natural ruby, which is Kalli’s birthstone, adorned with champagne diamonds. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the band looks like a twig. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it suits Kalli perfectly.

We celebrated with champagne and a family barbecue followed by a pie Jonathan made from home-grown raspberries:

As the sun began to set and the twinkle lights came on:

I looked around at all the happy, beloved faces around me, the dogs playing together and laughter in the air as we celebrated the past, present, and future together.

*Always reminds me of the Vista Cruiser in “That 70s Show”.

A YEAR AGO: A flat tire is never good.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A camping party.

TEN YEARS AGO: Touring some local artists’ studios.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Mammograms are never fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to the County Fair.

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Home

Much as I enjoyed visiting the past in San Francisco, I was glad to get back to the present in Hooterville.

It’s interesting that I love living in the country so much. When I lived in San Francisco, I loved it. I loved living in Pacific Heights, I loved the beauty and diversity of the City, its characteristic sights and sounds. But a lot has changed since those halcyon days, and the City I knew and loved is mostly gone. Even if money were no object – and it’s more like a massive, immovable one – I can’t imagine moving back there. I am much happier in my little wooden water tower, surrounded by towering redwoods, with the only sounds the wind in the trees and the birds singing. OK, and the occasional meow.

It was good to get back home. This is the view from the back porch:

And from the front door:

Clyde and Dodge still hang out on the heater in the living room in the evenings and early mornings before they head out to play for the day:

I love how they are such close companions.

Before I go to work in the morning, I always take one last look before I leave. These days, one of my small pleasures is the light-up Chrysler Building that was one of my birthday presents. I have it on in the evening and leave it on so I can enjoy its glow when I get up in the morning:

I love it out of all proportion to what it is, for some reason.

I guess it’s true what they say: There’s no place like home.

FIVE YEARS AGO: When worlds collide.

TEN YEARS AGO: The birth of a garden.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A midnight dog rescue.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Candi and Brian came to visit!

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Nostalgia

I emerged from the Immersive van Gogh exhibit into the dazzling sunshine overlooking Market Street:

I intended to take Uber back to the motel, but it kept saying pick up on Mission no matter how many times I entered the address, so I decided to just take the bus. The stop was right there, one of the new and fancy ones. I looked up the fare on my phone: now $3.

As the bus lurched northwards on Van Ness, an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. It turned out that he was a Vietnam War veteran, and he showed me, that Memorial Day weekend, the scars on his neck and head, and told me of having bullets removed from his head. I thanked him for his service, and we enjoyed our conversation until I hopped off the bus at California Street. It was just like the old days, when I lived in the City. People were always talking to me on buses and cable cars, and I love that.

I took a stroll down Polk Street, noting what had changed and what hadn’t. The building I first lived in when I moved to San Francisco now has a security gate on it:

making it very difficult to see the “San Benito” in the mosaic on the stoop:

The building survived the 1906 and the 1989 quakes. I lived on the top floor, reached by a sweeping spiral staircase, and the apartment had a wood-burning fireplace. I wonder how much it rents for now?

Bob’s Doughnuts was thankfully the same:

As I joined the eternal line, a policeman emerged with a box of doughnuts, headed for his double-parked patrol car. He said, “I know, I know. Cops and doughnuts!”

TEN YEARS AGO: Festive 50th birthday to me!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Missing the legendary Ramones. I still love them.

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Immersive

Going from one extreme to the other, I visited the City twice in six weeks after not being there for almost a decade.

It was a beautiful drive through wine country. The vines were leafed out, and the hills were transitioning from winter’s green to summer’s gold. The fields were replete with wildflowers and baby animals as spring tipped into summer. I even managed to nab this photo of a barn which is one of the landmarks on the journey:

After checking into my usual modest motel in my old neighborhood, I headed out to the Immersive van Gogh exhibit, at Market and Van Ness. I went up the stairs:

At the top of them, there was a slide show giving a brief overview of van Gogh’s all too brief life:

I hadn’t realized that his painting career was so short: he started painting when he was 27, and died when he was 37. He received no formal art training, and he produced so much beauty in so little time!

The exhibit was a wonderful experience. Van Gogh’s paintings were projected all over the alls, floors, and those of us lucky enough to be in the audience. The images bloomed into each other, and in some cases, like The Starry Night, started with what looked like shooting stars:

before changing into the painting:

There was music to accompany the beautiful images:

The show ended with van Gogh’s signature projected on the walls:

a simple, poignant “Vincent”. I left the show dazzled by the beauty and filled with emotion at being part of something so beautiful and so ephemeral, fitting for an artist who blazed so brightly and so briefly.

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying an extra long holiday weekend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fabulous birthday week.

TEN YEARS AGO: An amazing 50th birthday: the Beach Boys, Chinatown, shopping, henna painting!

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Party


My Glorious Cake

It was a milestone birthday for Megan last year (50!) and for me this year (60!), so we decided to celebrate together, like we did when we were kids. Here we were, celebrating Megan’s 12th birthday and my 21st:

A lot has changed since then, but it’s still fun to celebrate our birthdays together.

Despite the fact that it was a shared celebration, Megan did most of the work, and the pile of presents was mostly for me:

The glorious cake was from Franny’s Cup & Saucer, and the flowers are from Franny’s garden, dried and pressed by her. The cake was lemon with lemon mousse and fresh berries, iced in lemon buttercream. It was as divine as it looks and sounds.

Getting the cake was a bit of an adventure, though. A propane truck overturned on the highway just a few yards from my road on the day Megan, Rob, and the dogs set off to Point Arena to pick up the cake and play on the beach:

There is no alternative route, so traffic backed up pretty fast. And although it happened in the morning, traffic was still bad when I was heading home around 4:00. I turned off the car and kept listening to Tom Petty while I texted Megan, knowing she had gotten home past the overturned truck. I asked her how long she thought the wait would be. She said they had waited half an hour, and added that they were trying to get the truck back onto its wheels about an hour earlier so it could be towed. As I read the text, the truck was towed past my open car window.

Traffic started moving after that, and it took me about 5 minutes to get onto my road after sitting on the highway for half an hour. An adventure!

A YEAR AGO: A milestone birthday for Megan.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Working at my Saturday job and celebrating Megan’s birthday.

TEN YEARS AGO: Things were weird. And I was in San Francisco.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: We lost our beloved Jed, the Wonder Dog. Never forgotten, always loved, never, ever equalled.

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Tied

You win some, you lose some…

The beautiful spring weather invited me to take a drive to the lovely South Coast. I was happy to see on Facebook that Anchor Bay Thai was reopening for lunch, so its hours would coincide conveniently with Franny’s Cup and Saucer. On my last trip to the South Coast in late February, I was disappointed when I stopped by Franny’s on the way home only to discover that they were basically sold out of everything. So I called ahead on Saturday, only to learn that they were sold out yet again, so I ordered everything for pick up on Sunday.

On my way to Franny’s, I stopped at Queenie’s for breakfast, hoping to get Eggs Benedict. But they, too, were sold out, despite the Specials board proclaiming that they were a possibility. I still don’t understand how they can be sold out, unless they run out of Hollandaise or maybe the fresh herb biscuits they are built on. I settled for less glamorous eggs with chicken apple sausage and rye toast, always my favorite toast. The server turned out to be the same person who often waited on me at a shop in the Big Town, so it was fun to chat with her.

Arriving at Franny’s, I was surprised to find the door locked, but ajar. It turned out they close at noon on Sundays, instead of the usual 2:00. Oops. I was half an hour late. Fortunately, they held the order for me and let me in to retrieve it.

The last stop was the Thai restaurant, which was unaccountably closed. Oh, well. I had made lumpia Shanghai and dipping sauce and char siu the day before, so I had those for dinner along with cucumber salad and some truly magnificent orange and caramel cake. All’s well that ends well.

A YEAR AGO: My baby sister turned 50!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Our beloved Star was under the weather. Spoiler alert: She recovered completely. Whew.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was quite an adventure for Rob to visit his ailing Mother.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday.

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Etc.


Hooterville Morning

I took this at the Hooterville post office this morning. I generally go to the post office on my way to work, long before it actually opens. For some reason, going to the post office after work feels like going out of my way. I retrieved my package from the parcel locker, and when I got back to the car, I was delighted by the dawn breaking over the Hooterville hills. That dot in the sky is a guest appearance by my friend the moon.

You can’t tell from this dawnscape, but it’s been really windy lately. I’m still wearing my coat and having the heat on in the car in the morning. Yesterday evening, the wind blew a tree down in a strategic spot and took out the power in the Big Town and environs, all the way to the Village. Fortunately (she said selfishly), my power stayed on, and it was restored to the temporarily powerless by 7:30 pm, so it was only out for about three hours. This morning, the Ridge was covered with fallen twigs and leaves, which looked odd on the dry road.

*****

A guy tried to pick me up at the gas station this morning, while I was in the midst of spending $61 on gas for Wednesday. My lipstick must be even more fabulous than I thought. He was a really nice guy named Lucio. As my 60th birthday approaches, I have to wonder if it’s the last time this will happen. It sent me on my way to work with a smile.

*****

Little Dodge has hurt his front right paw. He was fine when I left for work yesterday morning, but he was not putting weight on it when I came home that evening. He is still eating and drinking normally, and he is also jumping on and off the bed, table, and the heater where he likes to lounge:

He likes the warmth of the pilot light, pretty much year-round.

I checked the problem paw, and couldn’t see any wounds or foreign objects. I wonder if he sprained it jumping off furniture or playing with Clyde. I hope he recovers soon, and that I can avoid another gigantic vet bill. Fingers (and paws) crossed!

A YEAR AGO: The joys of spring.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fabulous evening with family and friends.

TEN YEARS AGO: A really fun weekend.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A rainy start to the day.

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Rescue

A couple of weeks ago, John spotted a young cat who looked a lot like my boyfriend, Frank:

We called her Baby Frank, even though Frank is (thankfully) neutered, until John managed to capture her and named her Milou, the French name for Tintin’s faithful sidekick (the English version is Snowy). He contacted a nearby rescue, who were happy to take Milou, and in fact they had found a guy who wanted to adopt her before John could even bring Milou to the rescue.

The vet who examined Milou noted that she was near the end of lactation, so that meant she had kittens somewhere. Here’s John’s account of what happened next:

When I was feeding the colony the next day, the kittens tucked away in one area of the bushes went nuts when they heard my voice. I wasn’t really sure what to do but then I started thinking I can’t possibly leave them there another night because they sounded so damn hungry. So I was texting back-and-forth with the ladies in Mountain View asking should I grab them and they said yes.

As we’re all texting back-and-forth we suddenly realized that Milou had been discovered to be still lactating when she was taken to the vet after she left my house. Not only that, but this litter had two little white cats that were all white except for the faintest touch of color on their heads. I’ve never seen any all white cats at that colony in the years I’ve been feeding there. Milou was the very first one like that, so I scooped them all up and brought them home.

I got three of them easily because they were loud and very strong, and I was going to leave when I thought there had to be one more. Last year the three litters I pulled out of there were all four kittens each, and Willow had four kittens, even if two were stillborn.

I waited for a while for a lull in the traffic, because the freeway is right there, and then I started calling, and I heard the tiniest voice way back in the bushes. I climbed so far into those goddamn bushes that I literally couldn’t crawl out with just one hand, so when I grabbed the last kitten — I couldn’t see her so I was feeling around under the bushes and using my ears to guide me, and I grabbed her — I held her in my mouth just like a mom cat and then backed out on all fours. It was fucking ridiculous, but it worked.

While Barb, the elderly lady — why is it always older ladies doing this shit! — was driving here from Mountain View, I used cotton balls to stimulate the kittens to pee. They all had to pee really bad so I’m glad I did that. I also got between one and two syringes of formula into them, and once again thank God I always have a can of formula in the cupboard. Anyhow here are a few pictures. First is one of the kittens:

second is the kittens:

and last is a screenshot of a video showing how the evening ended:

All’s well that ends well!

A YEAR AGO: Adventures in baking.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A flat tire turned into a life-affirming experience.

TEN YEARS AGO: A trip to the DMV. Not as bad as you’d think.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Haha! This seems to be the season for getting a new computer!

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New

…and somewhat improved.

Faithful readers may recall that I recently had trackpad problems with my Macbook. “Problems” in the sense that it utterly refused to work.

So I ordered a previously enjoyed 2020 model. Needless to say, it was slated for arrival on the very day that I departed for the City. In fact, I passed the UPS truck on my way down the Ridge, and I thought, “I bet they’re delivering my MacBook”, and it turned out they were. It was still waiting for me on my front porch when I got home two days later. This is one of the benefits of living in the depths of the country, or, as my stepmother used to call it, “the back of beyond”.

As you know, I tend to be technology averse, using things until they no longer work, and there’s a good reason for this. New is rarely improved, and my ability to deal with new technology is as limited as my math skills (i.e., close to non-existent). So I approached the new silver machine with caution.

I was correct in this, since it turned out that the new computer did not have enough space to store all the things from the 10 year old one, which astonished me. I just figured the newer one would have more space. I should have read the fine print more carefully. Or, like, at all.

So I sent it back, and kept on using the old computer with a mouse. Using a mouse with a laptop is not fun. Eventually, I got the refund for New Computer I, and proceeded to order New Computer II, which I made sure had the same capacity as Old Computer.

Unfortunately for my aesthetic sense, New Computer II is a depressing, Stalinesque grey:

It was not possible to get one in shiny silver that had enough room to transfer everything, so I had to choose function over style, and you know how I hate that. I solved that by getting a sparkly, rose-pink cover:

though the inside remains resolutely ugly:

I really dislike the touchbar thing, and I am still trying to get more comfortable with the trackpad, despite adjusting the settings. I miss the light up apple on the front and all my bookmarks disappeared from Chrome. Two calls to Apple Support did not result in fixing this. I really miss my cooking bookmarks the most.

Also, it does not have USB ports, so I had to get an adapter in order to back up the computer or copy things to and from hard drives, for backing up, and more importantly, Girl Night(TM):

On the plus side, I really like how lightweight it is and how long the battery lasts, I think about 24 hours, and the touch to unlock feature, which seems like the future the Jetsons promised us*. Also? The trackpad works. At least for now.

*Where’s my robot maid and flying car?

A YEAR AGO: Little Dodge turned five.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying Bookstore Day with my sister.

TEN YEARS AGO: Lots of fun.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A noisy Mother’s Day.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A Mother’s Day mix-up.

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Queenie’s

Queenie’s opened a little late this year, at end of April instead of the middle of February. Usually, she opens her doors to her fans around Valentine’s Day, but this year, the Queen had broken her ankle and had her heart broken when she lost her sister in a tragic accident on my old Ridge. So she needed a little time to recover before she went back in the kitchen to work her magic.

I wasn’t the only one who sought an audience with the Queen on Opening Day, so I was lucky to get a seat at the bar. From there, one can peek into the behind the scenes action in the kitchen. I had never sat there before, and it was fun to see the staff at work in their small space, much like it is at Swan’s. Except Queenie’s is country and all female staff, and Swan’s is about as city as you can get and all male staff. Either way, it’s fun to watch while waiting for your fabulous food.

And fabulous it was:

Eggs Benedict with spinach and Canadian bacon on a freshly-baked herb biscuit. It was delicious, and it was so nice to be back at Queenie’s and see her once again in action.

Leaving the restaurant, I enjoyed the view:

It was a lovely drive home on a beautiful spring day. I love our little corner of the world.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering a long-ago visit to Florence. I still wonder how we got “Florence” out of “Firenze”, and how there can be alternate names for the same city. Shouldn’t it just be Firenze?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The power was out. No Derby for me!

TEN YEARS AGO: Clyde was feeling naughty. As his twelfth birthday approaches, he has not grown out of it.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Plumbing problems.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Getting a doctor’s appointment was much harder than it should have been, in my humble opinion.

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Fun

On a lovely spring day, I left work early and headed for the Village, where my first stop was the Brickery at Cafe Beaujolais:

where I ordered pizza and waited in the beautiful garden until it was ready:

This is the spicy salami pizza, with capers, olives, red onion, and Calabrian chilis. It is delicious.

Next, I headed to Angelika’s little studio in the big woods, to get my hair and my outlook brightened:

I hadn’t seen her since December, so it was great to catch up with each other’s news. I love spending the afternoon with Angelika, talking about everything under the sun. It’s almost like getting the amazing highlights and haircut are incidental to the fun of hanging out. Almost. We are hoping to meet up with Megan for a drink at Ledford House soon.

I took my newly shiny hair to Chez Megan, where there were magical cocktails in beautiful glasses awaiting:

They were basically Cosmos, but made with limoncello instead of triple sec. Yum!

We had the pizza, the cocktails, and watched our favorite movie, “Legally Blonde”. It was the perfect end to a really fun day. And the beginning of a summer of fun.

A YEAR AGO: Dodge’s secret nocturnal adventure shook us both up, at least temporarily.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembering the houses of my childhood. The house I grew up in now only exists in my memories.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting a new couch. Well, new to me, anyway. I still like it.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: My beloved stepmother’s 80th birthday. She was a class act. I will always miss her.

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Patterns

The kitties’ birthdays are coming up. They go in inverse age order: Dodge on May 11, Clyde on June 8, and Audrey on July 2. Dodge will be around 6*, Clyde is turning 12, and Audrey is turning 15.

I would say that Dodge has become his ultimate self. His latest enthusiasm is going outside, which is only allowed during daylight hours. Oddly, he started his outdoor fanaticism when it was still raining and chilly, though this did not deter him. Like the late, lamented Roscoe, he loves being toweled off, purring loudly.

He has retained his adorable habit of jumping up while simultaneously rubbing up against my legs, as well as his sunny attitude. He is a happy ray of sunshine, and everything he does, he does 150%. It’s the Dodge way. He plays outside for hours, and will only come in when he’s ready, not a second before. He is his own man. Once he’s in for the night, he curls up and sleeps happily, either on a dining room chair in front of the heater, or between the pillows on the bed. He sleeps with the same enthusiasm with which he does everything. And though he may be from the mean streets of Fort Bragg, he will only eat treats from the table, like a gentleman. He always hops up on the table for his treats, even if he was relaxing on the heater just moments before.

He is quite the character. I’m so glad he decided to follow my colleague home that summer day.

Clyde would second that emotion. Dodge wasted no time in winning Clyde over, after taking one look at him and deciding that he was the coolest. Now Clyde seems to think that Dodge is the coolest, copying him in sleeping near the heater on the dining room chairs, sleeping in the coveted between the pillows spot when Dodge isn’t there, and using the opportunity of my being in the bathroom to rub up against me and ask for pets. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach an old cat new tricks.

They enjoy playing together inside and out, sometimes just surveying their domain:

They often sleep together and give each other baths, which is so cute to see. Dodge has definitely made Clyde a happier and more relaxed cat. I know he still misses Roscoe, but Dodge’s happy, loving friendship has gone a long way toward making Clyde feel more secure and happy, and that makes me happy, too.

Audrey, on the other hand, includes the boys in her general disdain for everyone and everything. Being an old lady has not made her sweeter or kinder. She retains her resting bitchface and her svelte figure, and she still sits atop Mount Crumpet (aka the bathroom windowsill) hating the Whos (aka the boys). She will swat and growl if they dare to approach her majesty.

Yet she generally sits on me when I read in bed at night, and when I sit in bed on the weekends answering my fan mail and working on Wordle, she sits beside me, purring loudly. So she’s not all grump, all the time. Just most of it.

Here she is, getting her beauty sleep and dreaming of destruction:

She has also developed an interest in going outside now that spring is here, though she insists on going out of the front door, as befits an empress of her stature.

It’s so fun to see how the cats interact and their patterns of behavior. I feel lucky to share my life with them.

*The shelter guessed Dodge’s age when he was admitted there, and I gave him my American grandfather’s birthday, because they are so much alike and HoHo loved cats. Also Dodge just seems like a spring kitty.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering a long-ago trip to Amsterdam.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The pleasures of a day off.

TEN YEARS AGO: A fun sister day.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I managed to avoid jury duty, though my computer was under the weather.

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Garden

I was glad to be back in Hooterville, where I was enthusiastically greeted by the cats. The thrill of me wore off pretty quickly, though, and was almost immediately replaced by the wish to go outside and play, which they did.

I stayed inside, to unpack my things and stuff before tackling the litter box and feeding and watering the cats. The litter box looked like the Andes after my two day absence.

Once everything was restored to order, I headed over to the family estate to say hi to Megan and Rob (Jonathan was off on an adventure). Things are rocking and rolling over there. There are new fruit trees, including a second cherry tree now sharing the net palace with the original cherry tree:

You can see the original cherry tree in the background here, behind the rows of raspberries:

Strawberries are on the way:

It was a beautiful day to wander around the growing orchard:

admiring the blossoms on the trees:

Megan picked a bouquet for me of my favorite lilacs and the sweet peas we grow every year for Dad. These are called April in Paris:

April in Hooterville is pretty good, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some bad habits.

TEN YEARS AGO: The office cat at the jobette.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The eternal debate of time vs. money.

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