Nov 09 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family,Garden

It’s that time of year when the garden work changes from watering and weeding to preserving and canning as my hard-working siblings get ready to put the garden to bed for the winter. Everything over there, from the garden to the orchard, seems to be on an epic scale. Here you see peppers they grew, before:

and after they were canned:

They canned 15 pints!

Once the peppers were squared away, it was time to start working on cider. Here you see Rob examining the apples after they were picked:

Because of Megan’s crazy schedule, cider pressing occurred during the work week instead of on the weekend, so our heroine could not join her family in this annual tradition. But my coworker and medical provider was there. Cider Day happened to mark the one year anniversary of her moving into Rio’s guest cottage. When we were pressing cider last year, she came by to check out the cottage. This year, she was part of the pressing. She says that we are like a second family to her. I love my family, in all its forms!

A YEAR AGO: A beautiful day in the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The air was smoky and scary from wildfires, with no rain in sight.

TEN YEARS AGO: A long trip home from Atlanta.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My walk home from work. Bummer that the photos did not survive!

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Nov 03 2023


Published by under Country Life

Megan and I really enjoyed a magical history tour through the Village cemetery*, so we were excited to learn that there would be a Haunted Mendocino walking tour the Saturday before Halloween, led by a friend of Megan’s who also works at the local bookstore.

Alas, it was not to be. The tour was sold out – I didn’t realize that walking tours could be sold out, but there you are – and Megan’s buddy was unable to sneak in two extra people. They were doing another walking tour on Halloween, but Megan was working that night, so we will have to hope for another time.

It was a beautiful afternoon, though:

and surprisingly warm for that time of year. We looked around the shops and I reminded Megan about the time I was walking Stella and discovered that we had the same priorities when Stella went into a jewelry store, the bookstore, a chocolate shop, and a bar. She was greeted warmly at all locations.

On our way home, we decided to stop in at the Albion River Inn. I hadn’t been there since my friend sold it earlier this year. It has a beautiful view. Here it is, looking toward the ocean:

And looking toward the iconic Albion Bridge:

The bar was uncrowded, so Megan had room to stretch out her leg. I am sorry to say that there is knee surgery and more knee surgery in her immediate future. The one that used to bother her occasionally is now throwing Ramona-style Great Big Noisy Fusses on a daily basis and waking Megan up at night and can no longer be ignored. And we all know how ignorance is bliss. The other knee took its cue from the Ramona knee and is also fussing, though not as mightily. They will both have to be hoovered out in order to shut them up, about the last thing my sister would like to do as she is not yet really recovered from thyroid surgery five months ago.

We tried to put all surgery thoughts behind us and enjoy a drink together:

admiring the beautiful view and enjoying being together.

The bartender forgot to give us the locals’ discount, so she gave us two passes for breakfast instead. We are looking forward to trying those out.

*I was a little shocked to see how long ago that was. Oddly, the gentleman who played the undertaker died not long after the tour, joining the character he portrayed.

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather to start off an epic winter.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delicious and delightful family dinner.

TEN YEARS AGO: A happy Halloween with our favorite kidlet.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: It was stormy then, too. Glad I decided not to brace the elements.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Some numbers are scarier than others.

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Oct 26 2023


Published by under Cats

Speaking of cats…

There appears to be a new kid in town.

I was on a Zoom meeting when I heard the ominous sound of a cat fight brewing. It is a sound which, once heard, is never forgotten. I excused myself from the meeting and ran over to the sliding glass doors in the kitchen.

I was relieved to see that my cats were inside looking out, and I closed the door immediately. At first glance, I thought the interloper was my landlord Danielle’s cat, Kiki. Closer inspection showed that the intruder was lacking Kiki’s characteristic extra toes and was white and tabby, rather than white and grey. This was a relief, because I live in fear of my cats getting into a territorial dispute with Kiki, thus angering her staff and possibly causing my cats and myself to become unhoused. It’s a little scary, being at the mercy of someone who is not particularly merciful.

I went back to the meeting, simultaneously relieved and disturbed. Glad it wasn’t Kiki, but worried that this cat, like the evil white cat who battled with Dodge, would fight with and possibly harm my much-loved kitties. Also, the new cat and Kiki are really cute, and I don’t like shooing them away, even though I have to, for the good of all concerned.

New Cat showed up a couple of other times. Once, he knocked on the front door’s glass a few times, visibly disappointed that I didn’t let him in. The next time, his owner came looking for him. I’m not sure how he traced him to my place, but he said that New Cat had been left behind when someone moved and he fell in love with New Cat and kept him. New Cat’s name is Peppy, or possibly Pepe, despite not looking like a skunk or having any Le Pew that I could discern.

The owner said that Peppy was not neutered, and he was having a hard time finding someone with an open appointment to do that deed. I had heard that non neutered cats will travel miles looking for a date, and so it was in this case, though the date pickings are pretty slim on our property, with all resident cats being neutered and Audrey being permanently grumpy. Hopefully Peppy can get neutered soon and stay closer to home.

A YEAR AGO: Cider time!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Delightful explorations.

TEN YEARS AGO: A virtual walk with Megan and our beloved Star.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Apparently this is cat fight season.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: All about boredom.

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Oct 20 2023


Published by under Cats

Here are some updates from Feline World. Or Planet Cat. You know, the place where the cats are in charge and I am merely the help. It’s not just me; this seems to be pretty common for anyone who is lucky enough to share their lives with cats.

Audrey turned Sour Sixteen this year. No sweetness for the Empress, though she often curls up next to me as I drift off to sleep at night. She mills around before settling into the correct spot beside my pillow, and then I put my arm around her and we go to sleep. I hope her dreams are less weird than mine.

She remains healthy and sassy. Her mama, who died a couple of years ago, was deaf and blind for some time before her demise, though she was a mere 9 months older than her kittens. Audrey has long been the only survivor of her litter.

She is definitely looking elderly these days, though. Her fur is less sleek, she might be even slimmer than in her youth, and she is more careful about jumping on and off of furniture, but other than that, the Empress is still in charge of her realm. Here she is, supervising my morning make-up:

The boys are still happy little companions:

Clyde is 13 and sleeps a fair bit, though he also enjoys playing with Dodge and being outside. He makes sure I know if there is a tragic bare spot in his dish:

and he always sleeps with me at night. He loves it when I’m home and is by my side more often than not on the weekend.

As for Dodge, he continues to be wonderful. Loving, happy, beautiful, grooving on life, doing everything 100%, whether it’s sleeping:

or playing, or purring. He has a new routine which delights me. He sits beside me purring while I drink my coffee in the morning before work. It started a few weeks ago. He was milling around and vocalizing while I was getting coffee ready, and I thought he wanted to go out, which is not allowed when it’s dark outside. But when I sat down to drink it, he jumped up next to me and asked to be petted. So I petted him and he purred. This happened for a few days in a row, and now he just expects it, and so do I. I really look forward to it, and I think he does, too.

A YEAR AGO: A delicious and delightful visit to the South Coast.

TEN YEARS AGO: Having a fabulous time in Hollywood.


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Oct 12 2023


Published by under Country Life

In addition to treating myself to a hotel room, I also treated myself to dinner in town.

This was not as easy as it sounds. I first drove to the harbor, at the other end of town from the hotel, planning to eat at the Wharf. But I learned they were closed on Wednesdays. My next stop was Casa del Sol, which was open when I pulled up, but closed by the time I parked and walked to the door. I should have known: this town rolls up the sidewalks pretty early.

My next stop was Mayan Fusion, which was not only open, but was beautiful inside:

I love the doors leading to “the rest of the world”:

I had never been in the dining room, though I had often picked up to go orders there. Seated in the dining room, I realized that it used to be a much-loved local institution, The Restaurant. And because this town is so small, the daughter of The Restaurant’s owners had just started working at the same clinic where I work.

I was warmly welcomed by the staff, and the food was wonderful. I had crab cakes with green onion coulis and chipotle aioli:

and wild prawns grilled on a sprig of rosemary and served with a mango-pineapple salsa:

The food was delicious, the service attentive, and it was a wonderful evening.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely visit to the South Coast.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting my pearls restrung.

TEN YEARS AGO: Taking Audrey to the vet is always an adventure.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: My mail had a theme.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: How to see your ex.

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Oct 06 2023


Published by under Country Life

I took a couple of days off and treated myself to a night in town.

Fortunately for me, I have a friend who manages some of the nicest hotels in town, and he gave me a prix d’ami(e) that was almost unbelievable. I wondered if it were in a foreign currency or something. Not only that, he upgraded me to a room with a hot tub:

Here’s another view. I loved the gas fireplace at the foot of the bed:

It was just lovely to sit on the balcony and enjoy the view with a glass of champagne:

and watch the sun set:

The bed was very comfortable, and I slept well to the sound of the surf. In the morning, I had coffee on the balcony as I watched the day begin:

I thoroughly enjoyed my little mini-break in town. I’m hoping to do it again soon.

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying the Fair.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Little Dodge was adjusting well to his new home.

TEN YEARS AGO: Back home after a successful trip to the City.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Plumbing adventures.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Getting a new job.

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Sep 29 2023


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

I think I’ve been to more weddings in the past three months than I have in the last 3 years. Or maybe 10 years. Or more. I may need a new year’s resolution* to cut back on wedding attendance. Is there a 12 step program for this?

On a sunny Saturday, I drove the long and winding road to the county seat and checked into the hotel, which was quite nice. I regret not taking photos to show you, but I didn’t think about it until it was too late. I didn’t spend much time there, though. Shortly after I unpacked, it was time to take the bus to the wedding venue.

I was somewhat surprised to discover that the bus was the gigantic, going to a casino in Atlantic City size thing. It was packed full of people in their wedding finery. It was only one of three buses (or possibly more). When the bus was full, it wended its way down two lane roads through lots of nothing, for longer than I expected. Eventually, we pulled up at the wedding venue, which was a farm set in vineyards. I could hear cows mooing and saw chickens playing among the vines:

I was a little surprised to see that tables were set up facing where the vows would be taken. I have never seen that before. Usually, it’s just chairs. The mariachi band was to the right:

My boss and her husband proudly walked their eldest son down the aisle:

As her husband passed me, he winked and gave me a thumbs up. It was a delightful moment.

The bride’s brother officiated the ceremony, which was sweet and romantic. They wrote their own vows, which is often cringeworthy, but in this case, it was charming.

After the ceremony, there were hors d’ouevres, and then dinner, and of course, cake:

I took the bus back to the hotel, slept badly as I often do, and the next day, I stopped off to get Indian food and headed home. So dinner was ready when I got home, unpacked, and got ready to go to work the next day.

As I write this, the happy couple is enjoying their honeymoon in Italy and Greece. I wish them all the best and a long and happy life together.

*I already have my resolution for 2024: Be more like Dodge. This may be unattainable, but it’s a worthy goal.

A YEAR AGO: Slammed by some early season rain, a harbinger of the long and stormy winter to come.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the Fair.

TEN YEARS AGO: Enjoying a trip to the South Coast.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The joys of Jessica. I miss that kid.

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Sep 20 2023


Published by under Country Life

The County Fair seemed to be a bit late this year. It’s usually around the 15th of the month, but instead, the month was into its twenties before the great day arrived.

Megan and I made our way to Boonville on a sunny Friday afternoon. Megan found a shady place to park, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it was not blazing hot, as it usually is on Fair Day, and that there was a nice breeze.

We were on a mission to find our friend Lu’s entries. We looked all over the building housing quilts and artwork and other home-made items, like this beautiful chair:

Eventually, we discovered that Lu’s work was showcased in the windows. And not only that, she had one first prize for one piece:

and second place for the other:

This was the first time she had entered anything, but I bet it won’t be the last. We were both so happy for her! Now that Erica and Jessica are living far away in Pasadena, we need someone to root for.

We were kind of underwhelmed by the rest of the Fair, to tell you the truth. The apple tasting was all ordinary varieties instead of special ones you had never heard of, and there wasn’t much on display as far as agriculture and flora went. Most of the floral arrangements were less than fabulous. We thought this was the best one:

We had intended to get a pizza for dinner from our friends at Offspring, but none of the offerings appealed, so we tried Wickson on the way home, only to find that they were closed. Instead, we went to Ledford House to enjoy the view:

and a delightful concoction of sparkling local wine, crushed local blackberries, and limoncello:

It’s always a good idea to go to Ledford House.

A YEAR AGO: It takes a lot of bridges to get to work.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of a root canal. The first, but sadly, not the last. It’s definitely worse when you know what to expect.

TEN YEARS AGO: Having fun at the Fair.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: My first visit to the Fair. But not the last!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My work philosophy. It remains unchanged.

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Sep 15 2023


Published by under Friends

I met up with my longtime friend Paul for lunch.

I realize we have known Paul a long time. I think I was in my 20s when we met. He was living on a boat in Pier 39, like my brother and sister. I stayed with him one winter many years ago (I was a bit shocked to see how long ago it was). He’s been a part of our lives for a long time.

You never know when he’s going to turn up, and you never know what he’s going to be up to, but you know he’s going to be up to something. He always has a scheme or a plan afoot. This time, it’s driving pilot cars for construction crews. This is based in Washington state and is supposed to start next spring or summer.

In the meantime, he’s heading to San Francisco for his uncle’s memorial service and to see his grandson, who is studying fashion there. After that, he’s going to Pasadena to see his daughter and will then start making his way back to Florida via various friends’ houses. Instead of a girl in every port, Paul has a friend in every port. I’m about 98% sure he has a friend in every state of the union.

He is very comfortable with being a nomad, more than anyone I know. After he and his wife split up, he didn’t have a place of his own for years. He just couch surfed through New York City, his hometown. And that was just fine with him. A realtor friend of his in Florida has a guest room where Paul stays when he’s in Florida. She sold his place for him, and they share expenses. Paul is on the road a lot and the realtor works a lot, so it works out well for both of them. Paul estimates he spends about $3,000 a year to have this pied-à-terre.

Paul’s 98 year dad is still going strong. He just renewed his Viagra prescription. The last time I saw him, he kept getting calls from women throughout our entire lunch. I guess some things never change.

A YEAR AGO: Moving on after the death of The Queen. Still so grateful for her lifetime of service and dignity.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Dental pain is the worst! I hope I can keep my resolution to stay the hell out of dental hell. Forever.

TEN YEARS AGO: Giving away Schatzi’s things after she left us.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A long-ago childhood memory.

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Sep 15 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family

It had been way too long since our last family dinner. I”m not even sure when it was, but it was before Rio and Jonathan’s epic Alaska adventure back in June/July. They had a wonderful time, and it was fascinating to hear about it. They are already thinking abut going back. I’d love to see Alaska sometime.

Before dinner, I picked more raspberries and tomatoes to take home:

We had some of Dad’s favorite Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc in Megan’s garden:

It always reminds me of walking around Dad’s garden in Wimbledon before dinner with a glass of wine in our hands.

Dinner was mostly home-grown or made from ingredients already on hand. Jarrett brought the chicken on his last visit, and it was taking up room in the freezer, so Jonathan barbecued it to perfection:

The Mississippi caviar was made from things on hand, and it was delicious:

Dad would have been happy that we were using up food. He went through rationing for most of his early life, so we were trained from Day One to not let food go to waste. I think he would also be proud of Megan and Jonathan for living off the grid, and all the work they have put into the infrastructure and the garden on the property. I wish he could have seen it.

A YEAR AGO: Getting on with it after the death of The Queen.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coming to you from the depths of Dental Hell, a place to be avoided at all costs.

TEN YEARS AGO: Wrapping things up after the loss of our beloved Schatzi.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A long-ago memory.

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Sep 07 2023


Published by under Cooking,Country Life

Since I was too late to get peaches from the family orchard this year, I did the next best thing and went to Gowan’s in beautiful Anderson Valley:

I chose some peaches and brought them to the cash register. The older gentleman behind the counter said, “Young lady, I’ve been waiting all day for you!” I asked if I was late, and he replied, “You’re right on time.” He carefully packed the peaches into a box for safe transport home along the curvaceous roads, and even carried it to the car for me:

I continued on my way to Boonville, where I acquired a delicious pizza from Offspring, a scented candle by Tita Flora at the Mercantile, and a loaf of sourdough at Paysanne. For once, it wasn’t hot in the Valley and even verged on cool, which was a nice surprise.

The next day, I made the pie:

I used a crust recipe with a little apple cider vinegar in it, and blind baked it for a few minutes to avoid the bottom crust getting soggy. It was a total success. Making my annual peach pie always makes me happy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some updates.

TEN YEARS AGO: Back home after a trip to Reno.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful evening with the great Brian Wilson.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Looking for a job.

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Sep 02 2023


Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Garden

The seasons are changing from weeding and watering to canning and preserving at the family estate. I took the opportunity to go by and pick some produce before it was all put up and away. I was too late for peaches, but Megan loaded me up with summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and oregano. We also picked some raspberries, the bushes buzzing with bees. They seem to like raspberries, too. I have to say, the raspberries my siblings grow bear little resemblance to the ones you buy. Their flavor is so complex and delicate, almost perfumed, yet intense. They also don’t last long, which is not a problem, since they are so delicious.

Millie has finally decided that I’m not the antichrist, though she does bark up a storm when I arrive. Unfortunately for me, the increased favor in her eyes was demonstrated by her following me to the garden and knocking over my drink, which I had unwisely placed on the ground near the raspberry bushes, and in licking any exposed skin, which I find less than delightful. Audrey does this, too, and I find both cats and dogs equally icky in this regard. However, it beats Millie acting like I’m going to beat her or have made a hobby of it in the past.

The garden is looking lovely these days:

The flowers are flourishing:

The apples are getting riper and closer to cider pressing time:

It was nice to bring home my haul of garden produce and make it into sauce:

It tasted like summer.

A YEAR AGO: Car problems are not fun.

TEN YEARS AGO: Happy birthday


TWENTY YEARS AGO: The mystery of “business casual”.

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Aug 24 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Does it ever happen to you that you wake up one day and you just have to have your hair cut? It was fine the day before, but that day, your hair is suddenly unacceptable. Well, that happened to me. I texted Angelika, and she was able to fit me in that week. Yay!

I left work early and headed to her little studio in the big woods. It was definitely time to get my hair cut, since I had last had it done in March.

This time, I just had it cut. I’ll save up to get the color done soon. In the meantime, Angelika told me about her trip to Germany to see her parents, and I met her friend Marion, who was visiting from Germany. They have been friends since they were three! There’s nothing like really good, long-term friends. And there’s nothing like a good haircut to cheer a girl up. I will spare you my terrible selfie attempts this time. You will just have to take my word for it that my hair looks great.


I left work early one Friday, went home and changed out of my faux adult armor, and Megan came by to pick me up. We headed to the Valley, enjoying the gorgeous scenery along the way: the ocean, the redwoods, the deep green of the vines over the rolling hills as harvest time approaches. We got a fabulous pizza at Offspring:

and headed back to the family estate, where we toasted the weekend with kir royales:

In the background, you can just about glimpse some of the sweet peas we grow for Dad every year.

Megan had somehow managed to find real creme de cassis from France, and the drinks were fabulous. We really enjoyed hanging out in the garden, enjoying our drinks in the sunshine and catching up. I am lucky to have a sister who is also my best friend.

A YEAR AGO: My annual peach pie.

TEN YEARS AGO: A recap of what was going on in and around my house.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Back in the City after a prolonged camping trip at my sister’s house to help take care of our dying mom.

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Aug 18 2023


Published by under Family,Memories

Well, it’s another sad year.

Some years, when the Evil Eighteenth rolls around, I am thinking of the many happy memories with Dad, both as a child and as an adult. Some years, I feel angry because of his senseless death, and all the years we didn’t get to share with him, and all the good he could have continued to do for the world and the environment.

I was sad last year on the 18th, and I’m sad again this year. Maybe part of it is the terrible, untimely loss of my dear friend Melanie so recently. And yesterday I learned of the death of another friend who was too young, claimed by ALS after a long, hard battle. Add in Megan’s cancer and ongoing health battles, and it’s not too surprising that I’m feeling sad about Dad.

The sweet peas we grow for Dad every year are flourishing at the family estate:

They were his favorites. We had them at his memorial service, and our dear friend Lu carried some in her bouquet and in her hair when she married her beloved Rik a few years ago, so we felt like he was there celebrating with us. He is always with us, in our hearts.

We love you, Dad.

A YEAR AGO: Missing Dad.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A long and dreary week.

TEN YEARS AGO: Always with us.

TWENTY YEAR AGO: Thinking about Dad.

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Aug 10 2023


Published by under Country Life,Friends,Technology,Work

We have a summer intern at work. One of her tasks was helping me to catch up on the filing that fell by the wayside during the Plague Years. She is a lovely and clever girl, who is going to nursing school this fall, and she did a great job. But I was surprised to discover that I was kind of uncomfortable having a helper.

All this time, I thought my slothful self would love having servants to do all the boring and icky things in life, but apparently not. I was embarrassed and self-conscious instead of relieved and carefree. Maybe it’s just as well that I will remain maid-free for the rest of my natural-born life (and presumably after, especially if there is an afterlife, and if it is, as I suspect it to be, like Dead Like Me and require that I still work for a living. Or a deading).

One day, a colleague stopped by my office while the intern was there, and in conversation, it turned out that the colleague and Intern’s mom had gone to high school together. They are both 42. Intern asked if I had also gone to high school with them.

Me: No, I’m a lot older than they are.

Her: How much older?

Me: I’m 61.

The intern looked shocked. She stared at me for a minute with her mouth open and then asked me if I was sure. I said that no one admits to being 61 unless they are. She stared at me a little longer and then asked very earnestly, “What do you wash your face with?”


I think we all know that kitties are luxury items. Also that they have absolutely no problem having help/servants, and that they appreciate the benefits of a nap. One day, my kitties woke up from a nap and somehow managed to send my laptop crashing from the bedside table to the wooden floor below.

I heard the crash from downstairs, and on going upstairs to investigate, I was disheartened to learn that the edge of my MacBook screen was cracked and that some of the plastic had crumbled off, exposing some disturbing gold-toned metal and making about half an inch of the screen useless, since it was occupied with blurry, multi-colored lines. Being Me, I didn’t deal with it until the day that the entire screen was suddenly unusable, being as black as my soul.

A friend took it to Santa Rosa for me, and left it there to be repaired. I was surprised that it was fixed the next day and already shipped. I was a bit discouraged to learn that it was shipped to Memphis (home of Elvis and the Ancient Greeks), and still expected to arrive in the depths of Hooterville the following day. I’m guessing that my laptop didn’t bother to visit Graceland or confer with Aristotle, because it really did arrive the very next day. I love it when things work. Especially if they’re not Me.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely visit to the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Megan and Rob got ready to move.

TEN YEARS AGO: We lost our Schatzi. We still miss her.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Life without health insurance. It’s as glamorous as you’d think.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Camping out at Megan’s house during Mom’s battle against breast cancer.

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Aug 02 2023


Published by under Country Life,House

You’d think I would have learned my lesson about real estate stalking, but as noted before in these pages, I seem to be something of a slow learner. Nostalgia for the long-ago and now golden past led to the dismaying discoveries that my childhood home, Fox Hill:

Had been destroyed and replaced by a hideous monstrosity:

and that someone had worked a similar destructive magic on my grandmother’s house and carriage house (which we used to call “the barn”). The ruin at Nana and Hoho’s is mostly inside the house, other than the eyesore of an outside deck slapped onto the kitchen:

Why anyone would do that when they have a gorgeous wraparound porch is beyond me.

They totally destroyed the charm of the barn and the kitchen in my grandparents’ part of the house (they lived on the ground floor, and the upper two floors were apartments where their tenants Frieda and Maretta lived). The attic held family treasures, like my great-grandfather’s Civil War sword and sleigh bells (neighbors recognized each other by the sound of their sleigh bells in those days). In her grief after her parents’ death, just months apart, my mother sold nearly everything along with the house.

More recently, my formerly lovely Jazz Age apartment in Pacific Heights has been uglified and much of its charm removed. They turned my kitchen, with its vintage Wedgewood stove, handmade Italian tiles, and quarter-sawn white oak countertops, into a bedroom. They took out the connecting door to the living room, tore out the closet, and put the kitchen in a corner of the room. The walk in/walk through closet between the bedroom and the bathroom has been closed off, losing the door and its crystal doorknob.

And it’s now worth more than a million dollars, even though it has no parking and there are people above and below you. Not to mention the skyrocketing condo fees.

I came across an ad for my old place here in Hooterville on social media, and wish I hadn’t. Again, uglification and charm destruction are the themes. They took down all the shelves in the living room, removed the vintage gas stove and unaccountably put the refrigerator in the studio. They added a bunch of ugly railings to the beautiful driftwood banister leading to the sleeping loft, and tore out most of the garden, including the honeysuckle that used to grow outside the sliding glass doors in the living room and perfumed the whole house.

They replaced the back porch with an ugly one, and replaced the bathroom with something utterly generic. They even replaced the “front” door (it’s actually at the side of the house) with a cheap solid one instead of the one with glass panes which let in the light and the beauty outside. They are asking for $1,300 a month, plus utilities, a huge increase from when I lived there. It makes me sad just to look at it.

I guess the lesson here is don’t look back, and don’t look if you see your old house appear in your social media feeds. You won’t like what you see.

A YEAR AGO: I still love the bed I got a year ago.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The power kept going out, for whatever reason. And a lot of the Golden State was on fire.

TEN YEARS AGO: Spending some time with friends.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Some of the annoyances of city life.

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Jul 20 2023


Published by under Country Life

Back in the pre-plague years, there used to be a farmers’ market in beautiful downtown Hooterville, on a scrubby bit of grass near the store. The plague stopped that, even though it was always outside, and at some point, someone fenced in the grassy former market area so it is unavailable to the general public. So another location had to be found.
Someone cleverly thought of the Grange, which hosts a monthly spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast. It is located on my Ridge, just a few miles from my house, so I drove there one Sunday afternoon to check it out:

It was nice to chat with neighboring farmers, and I bought some beautiful lettuce that looked like a flower:

along with cucumber, raspberries, and some sunflower sprouts. I threw a couple of handfuls of sunflower sprouts in my watermelon salad for lunch the next day*.

It is a really pretty setting, with a peek of the ocean through the trees. It will be interesting to see if we get more participation there as time goes on. It’s definitely a nice thing to have so close to home.

*The dressing was 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a clove of garlic, ¼ cup of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, a pinch of cayenne, and a glug of oil. Other salad ingredients were crushed peanuts, fresh mint and cilantro, and fried onions. It was delicious.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely evening at the Symphony.

TEN YEARS AGO: My cats disapprove of their staff sleeping in.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The early days with Henry (who later turned out to be a girl and moved with me to the country).

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Some cat-related injuries.

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Jul 14 2023


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Looking back over the years, it appears that having a heatwave on or around the Fourth of July is a tradition. Yet I seem to forget this every year, and am shocked and appalled in equal measure when the Evil Death Star sends its roasting rays down upon my unsuspecting head. Just like I am always surprised by how early it gets dark in the afternoons along about Fall, and how I have to start putting the high beams on when I go to work in August. “Surely this didn’t happen last year?” I always think, and yet…it did. Sometimes I think I am the slowest of learners.

Despite this unpleasant tradition, I was surprised and dismayed when there was a heat advisory for the weekend before Independence Day. Not for the first time, I wondered why heatwaves always seem to happen on weekends, rather than during the week when I am a) at the ocean; and 2) in air conditioning for 9 or 10 hours a day.

I sadly closed up the house before it could get too hot outside, and closed what blinds there were. Sometimes I wish I had blackout curtains to go over the doors, like I did in the old house. I also wish I had screen doors like I did in the old house, allowing the cool air in while keeping the kitties in.

At least this house, unlike the old one, has insulation and is not shaped like an overturned rowboat, trapping the heat where I’m attempting to sleep. I think having the big redwoods around the house and the water tank on the third floor helps to keep things cool.

Weather forecasts said that Saturday was supposed to be the hottest day. It was 85, which is about 10 degrees higher than my highest level of heat tolerance. I foolishly believed the forecast, even though I know there is no job that has less accountability. Imagine my dismay to discover that it was 90 on Sunday, aka the night before the work week starts. At least it does cool down at night to around 50. I’m already dreaming of winter.

A YEAR AGO: Fleeing the usually wonderful Flynn Creek Circus. I didn’t dare to go this year.

TEN YEARS AGO: Clyde and Megan were both feeling better.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The joys of getting a mammogram. They are no more enjoyable twenty years later.

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Jul 06 2023


Published by under Cats

Birthday Girl

Some people turn sweet sixteen, but not the Imperious Empress Audrey. Is there such a thing as sour sixteen?

Audrey has definitely not mellowed with age or time. She is as grumpy as ever. She is an equal opportunity despiser, and spends a lot of her waking time atop Mount Crumpet, hating the Whos. Some of this is justified, because the boys both tend to take swipes at Audrey and try to evict her from the coveted spots next to me or on my lap. Sometimes I think they are jerks to her just because they can, especially Clyde, who has put up with Audrey’s grumpitude his entire life.

She is in full possession of her faculties, as far as I can tell. Her sight and hearing do not seem to be diminished. She is definitely getting that skinny old cat look, though, and her fur is not as elegant as it used to be. She does sleep a lot, but beauty sleep is essential, especially the more vintage a girl gets. Sometimes she ventures outside, but she doesn’t go far these days. She has definitely become less adventurous with time, and again, you could say the same thing about me.

Audrey has long outlived all six of her littermates and her mother Quince, who was a mere nine months old when Audrey was born, and who died a year ago, shortly before Audrey’s birthday. Quince is still much missed, especially by her guardian, my dear friend Pea.

I hope that Audrey still has some good years ahead of her and that we can share some sweet moments together, along with the sour.

A YEAR AGO: Audrey’s birthday, among other catty celebrations.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My DNA results did not reveal any answers to my family mysteries.

TEN YEARS AGO: Everyone was under the weather.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Waiting for the heat to pass and a miracle to arrive.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My very first baseball game loomed. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

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Jun 27 2023


Published by under Family

Time is working its magic, and Megan is feeling better. Her voice continues to improve, and I dare to hope that she will be bossing everyone around in the ER again soon. She is planning to go camping with her ER buddies after the Fourth of July, and I’m glad she has something to look forward to. I’m hoping she will be able to swim and enjoy hanging out with her friends in the sunshine. It will be healing, inside and out.

Jonathan and Rio have been on a road trip adventure. They drove to Alaska via British Columbia and the Yukon, camping in their van and generally having an amazing time exploring the wilderness and not so wilderness. Here’s Jonathan in the Alaskan tundra:

This what Jonathan described as a “sheet rainbow”:

Their ferry to Juneau was unexpectedly taken in for repairs, so that gave them an extra week in Alaska. Jonathan was able to get his work shifts covered (Rio is retired), and they had more time for Alaska adventures. He and Megan should both be home from their journeys at about the same time.

As for our heroine, the furthest abroad I have ventured is to go to work. I’m a girl whose passport has been expired for 20 years and who will likely never need one again. It’s funny how Megan and Jonathan love adventure and risk and I am just the opposite. My heart’s desire is always in my own backyard:

A YEAR AGO: Drinks with friends and shopping in the family garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The heat was hot and the cats were like cartoons.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hot’n’heinous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Terrifying wildfires.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I’m noticing a theme here.

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