Jan 20 2023

Shelter

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

Dark

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

Gloomy

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

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

Holidays

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

Emily

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

New

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

Weather

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

Sparkle

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

Thanksgiving

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

Clunk

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

Fall

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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Nov 03 2022

Bracing

Published by under Country Life,Weather

November got right down to it, starting off with a storm on the very first day of the month. Needless to say, the storm took the power out with it, though luckily for me, it both went out and came back on while I was at work.

The second day of November brought an encore, with the power once more going out again, this time for a longer period of time. PG&E stated on their website that it was due to an “emergency issue”, but I never learned what the emergency or the issue was. At least the lights were back on by the time I got home.

The Ridge quickly acquired its winter look of redwood needles on wet, black pavement:

As often happens when the weather is stormy, the light was beautiful between storms. I stopped off at Little River to take some pictures of the ocean:

I turned my attention to the nearby cove:

and was quite surprised to see a naked guy frolicking in the surf:

mostly because the water is so cold. Surfers wear wetsuits here, and hardly anyone plays in the icy water in bathing suits, let alone birthday suits. Maybe it was bracing.

A YEAR AGO: John rescued some tiny kittens, who now all have happy homes. Yay, John!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Halloween with our favorite girls.

TEN YEARS AGO: Trick or treating with our favorite kidlet.

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Oct 28 2022

Cider

On a cool and sunny Sunday morning, I said goodbye to the cats and headed over to Rio’s place. It was Cider Day!

It had been so long since I went there that I was a little worried about getting lost. Fortunately, I did not get lost, and I was the first to arrive. Jonathan and Rio hugged me hello, and soon Megan and Rob arrived and production began.

We didn’t have as many apples this year, and some were set aside for the very worthy cause of becoming calvados. Jonathan made his own still out of copper, and has also acquired a small stainless steel keg with an oak inset on the face, which he will use to age the calvados instead of the previous method of aging in glass bottles with an oak twig. Nothing like a good process improvement!

We who are about to become cider salute you:

First, the apples have a bath, even though they are organic and grown in the family orchard:

The real process improvement was the new grinder:

Instead of having to cut up the apples, arguably the longest and most time-consuming part of the cider-making process, you just throw the whole apple in there, unless it’s too big for the chute, and it gets scrobbled with no human intervention required. Much easier (and faster) than cutting up the apples and grinding them by hand, the way we used to do it.

Here you see Jonathan and Rob decanting the ground apples into the press:

Here’s Jonathan pressing the cider:

Cider pouring out:

And in a handy to go container:

I can’t tell you how good it tasted. Or how good it was to all be together again, making cider like our ancestors.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A beautiful garden.

TEN YEARS AGO: Audrey and I had checkups.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A tip on how to raise kittens.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Oct 20 2022

Delicious

Published by under Country Life,Travel

The main reason for this little expedition to the beautiful South Coast was to have dinner at Gama, a Japanese restaurant which everyone was raving about. It is conveniently located right next to the beautiful motel where I was staying.

I had a reservation, and was warmly greeted by the friendly and knowledgeable staff. The interior is light wood, and feels more spacious than it is. The table was set with beautiful flower-shaped dishes, a carafe of still water, a lovely, heavy glass tumbler with swirls of pale blue in the glass, and wooden chopsticks. Sake and beer are available, but not wine, so I stuck with the water. The server brought me a hot towel with the menu:

It is the Japanese version of tapas, with a lot of little plates of delicious bites, which is my favorite. I always think having a lot of little nibbles is more fun than having a big dinner.

The fried chicken came with yuzu aioli:

The pork gyoza were light and crispy and came with a soy-chili dipping sauce:

The service was wonderful, and I felt cared for but not pestered. It can be hard to walk that line. It was a lovely evening.

The next day, I walked (!) up the street:

to Franny’s:

Even though it was early, I had to wait in line to get in, chatting with someone who works at the nearby B. Bryan Preserve. When it was finally my turn, it was nice to be there when everything was available and nothing was sold out:

I ended my deliciousness tour with a stop at Queenie’s. Much like Franny’s, going there on a Friday morning is a much different experience than going on the weekends. It was lightly populated, and food arrived quickly instead of in 30-40 minutes. I overheard a conversation between the waitress and an older gentleman sitting at the counter. He had just come back from his house in Italy, which is on Lake Como. He and his brother bought it from Enzio Pinza many years ago. So cool! The waitress asked him if he ever saw George Clooney when he was at the Lake Como house, and he said yes, adding that George is “very agreeable” and “so polite”. Apparently he often sees him in the cafe and he likes to talk about his kids. Nice to know George is a nice guy.

Later in the conversation, I learned that the guy himself had just celebrated his 94th birthday! He looked at least 20 years younger. I would never have guessed. His hearing was perfect and he was mentally sharp and just a lovely person. His wife is still alive and likes to write. It was a wonderful encounter and another reason to feel good about aging. All in all, a successful adventure.

A YEAR AGO: The evil Redbeard stole a bunch of stuff from my hard-working siblings. He was later caught and jailed after a reign of thievery all along our coast.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Storing potatoes.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Adventures with the lovely Rita.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Photos from my trip to Europe. Unfortunately, they did not survive the blog transition, but you can read the descriptions.

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Oct 12 2022

Pier

Published by under Country Life,Travel

I set off toward the beautiful South Coast on a foggy afternoon. I always think of it as the beautiful South Coast, and it is, whatever the weather. A sunny day is beautiful, but so is a stormy one and even a foggy one. The ocean has many moods and they all have their particular beauty.

Both the ocean and the sky were shades of silver, pewter, and platinum. I headed to the Arena Pier first:

The weather had discouraged the usual intrepid surfers, but not fishermen:

Here’s a view of the cliffs next to the pier:

It’s fun to see a working pier and harbor on our rocky shores, surfers or no surfers.

I then headed to the Wildflower Motel, a delightfully renovated 1950s motel in the heart of downtown Point Arena. Breakfast is included in the room price, so I made my selection and chose the time to have it delivered to my room the next day before going to my room.

The rooms are assigned flower names, as you might expect, and mine was Trillium, which reminded me of how we used to go with Dad to dig them up in the woods and plant them in the garden at home. I especially liked the colored ones as kid.

The room was delightful:

You can see the spa-like bathroom with the sliding doors in the background. It had a round, frosted glass skylight in the ceiling, and when you touched the mirror, it lit up!

Here’s another view of the room:

The blinds pulled up from the bottom, so you could let light in while still having privacy. I had blinds like that in San Francisco, and they are great.

It was quiet and pretty and a lovely place to spend an evening and night.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The terrifying wildfires.

TEN YEARS AGO: Power and water outages.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Kittens are not good office assistants.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Why I love wine.

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Oct 06 2022

Fair

It had been a long time since Megan and I went to the County Fair. Too long. We finally rectified this matter on a beautiful fall afternoon. I tried and failed to leave work early, but that did not deter us from heading Fairwards. Megan found one of her secret parking spots. The parking goddess usually smiles on Megan (I think it’s the country version of her uncanny city ability to get a cab anywhere, and in every weather), except when she frowns. Then she really scowls.

Fortunately, both the parking goddess and we were in good moods. It was so great to see the Fair signs stretching across the highway:

There wasn’t even a line to get in:

Our first stop was Gowan’s cider stand, where we each got a cup of cider to inspire us as we strolled around. Our first stop was the animals, where I admired the adorable bunnies:

and the fancy chickens:

The biggest pumpkin was not that big this year:

Maybe it was the drought and the water restrictions not allowing it to grow to epic proportions. It’s still pretty big, though.

This was my favorite garden exhibit:

We stayed late enough for the lights to come on, making the Fair look even more magical:

It was a really wonderful afternoon and evening.

A YEAR AGO: Oh, deer.

FIVE YEARS AGO: More message boards fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The secret lives of mailmen.

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Sep 29 2022

Rain

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Weather

I was surprised and confused by an unfamiliar sound when I woke up on a Sunday morning. It was rain! And it was real rain, winter-style rain, just a few months early.

Clyde and Dodge were sitting together on the bed, like a matched set, when I woke up that day:

They scampered downstairs, eager to go out and play, until they saw the rain:

I tried to take some pictures of the rain, but it proved to be surprisingly difficult, like my attempts to capture the beauty of the moon. Maybe I need a real camera instead of an aging iPhone 7. This was the best I could do:

Thought it may be hard to tell from the photos, we got almost three inches of rain! That’s a good start to the season.

A YEAR AGO: Some home improvements.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Playing tour guide.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thankful for the little things in life.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A delightful visit to Detroit.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Nearly finished with going through Dad’s things and getting ready to go back home to San Francisco.

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Sep 21 2022

Bridges

Published by under Country Life

I counted the number of bridges I cross on the way to work, and there were more than I expected: 11, to be precise.

Here they are, in the order I cross them going workward:

1. The one-lane, redwood bridge. It looks flat in this photo, but is actually quite steep. You have to hope you don’t meet your neighbors here. Heading west, toward the ocean, there is a curve as soon as you get off the bridge, and when I go around it, I often find the wild turkey family hanging out there.

2. Salmon Creek bridge. The ocean is on one side, and presumably there is a creek on the other. It has this spectacular view:

3. Albion River bridge. It’s the only wooden bridge left on historic Highway One, and those of us who live here generally consider it to be the symbol of Albion (aka Hooterville in these pages):

4. Little River. The bridge is as small as the river, which is really more like a creek. Blink and you’ll miss it. Here you see it as a hang out spot for Canadian geese instead of wild turkeys. I brake for birds!

5. Big River. This is a magical place to me, where the river meets the sea. When I cross its long curve, I breathe deeply and think, “Big River, fill me with your energy”. I exhale as long as I can as I drive off it. It’s an important part of getting ready for my day, maybe just another of my superstitions, like always carrying my Mouse with me.

6 and 7: The two bridges north of the Village. If they have names, I don’t know them. I do know that you should be careful about both of them if it’s been raining. Drive slowly. They both tend be floody, especially number 6.

8 and 9: The two bridges of Caspar. Again, I don’t know if they have names, but what I said about bridge 6 in the rain goes double for bridge 9, the last one before you hit Fort Bragg, aka the Big Town. Water can be much deeper on bridge 9 than you can tell until it’s too late.

10. Hare Creek. There is actually a trail that goes to a beach, though you’d never know it from the highway:

11. Noyo Harbor. The last bridge before work:

Noyo Harbor is a busy working harbor, with lots of fishing boats going in and out. You can buy fresh seafood in the harbor, and the view is beautiful. All in all, not a bad commute!

A YEAR AGO: Dental pain. In my mouth and my wallet. Hard to say which was worse. Fun fact: I just finished paying off that root canal!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fun at the Fair, with two Ericas and one Ben.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lovely day in the Village. I still miss Schatzi. And Star.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Seeing signs everywhere.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Heading to Amsterdam to visit my dear friend A.

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Sep 15 2022

Plans

Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

The Queen would want us to get on with it, and I have, but I continue to mourn her and wear mourning. My thoughts are with her. I will take the day off on September 19 to watch Her Majesty’s funeral and grieve along with the many millions who loved and admired her.

Even when a Queen dies, life goes on, and even in the darkness, there are bright spots. Jarrett and Kalli, grieving their own loss of their beloved dog Archimedes, came to visit and so some wedding planning. Did I tell you? I’m getting a wedding for my birthday next year.

I arranged with one of my coworkers to rent tables and chairs for 50-60 people. We will use the chairs for the ceremony and then bring them back to Megan and Rob’s place, where the tables will be set up. We need to look into getting a tent and a dance floor. There are so many things to think of, even for a small wedding.

Jonathan brought a bowl of garden-grown, home-made salsa to inspire us:

Also a bottle of garden-grown, home-made raspberry wine:

It was surprisingly not at all sweet, though it smells like summer. Really delicious. It took 5 pounds of raspberries to make that one bottle. That’s a lot of picking. We toasted The Queen and our gratitude for her long reign.

Jonathan said he was experimenting with plum brandy this year, and had also acquired a cider press that did not require cutting up the apples. Yay!

Jonathan grilled up some burgers for us:

Some were turkey, and some were local, grass-fed beef from right here in Hooterville. Jonathan had repaired a neighbor’s machinery and was paid in local beef. Gotta love that.

As the evening went on, the twinkle lights came on:

and the lanterns:

It was a happy time for all of us, especially knowing we have more to look forward to.

A YEAR AGO: Another happy family dinner.

FIVE YEARS AGO: When you have cats, you are not in charge.

TEN YEARS AGO: The loss of two much-loved dogs. And some naughtiness from my cats.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Spending some time in Devon.

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