I woke up to the sun peeking coyly through the redwoods outside my bedroom window on Thanksgiving morning, the sunlight missing its usual PJs of fog and mist. I love waking up when it’s light out, instead of in night-like darkness, as I do for the majority of the year.

I don’t love being woken by Clyde walking all over me and patting my face with his paw, though. Like many of us, Clyde seems to be under the illusion that he is much smaller and lighter than he actually is, though fortunately for him, he is even more beautiful and adorable than he thinks. He is not, however, a tiny kitten.

I accepted the inevitable and got up, enjoying the feel of bare feet on the smooth wood floors and the soft rug in the bathroom. I reminded myself that I was lucky that all three of my cats are happy and healthy, and that one day, I would be missing them and wish they were here, waking me up and annoying me. My boss lost her beloved kitten Peanut a couple of weeks ago, to something horrible called FIP, which I had never heard of before and wish I never had. Peanut was only 10 months old, and she was devastated to lose him so young. It reminded me to be thankful for having three cats, ages 14, 11, and 5, all safe and healthy.

After feeding and caring for the cats, which is the first thing I do every day – before coffee, my friends – I went downstairs to make coffee and text my siblings, who are working, to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. I hope we can have dinner soon.

While I waited for the coffee to be ready in the stainless steel – Suzy proof! – French press, I tossed the stalenizing bread for stuffing, or dressing, as my Southern friends call it, which I cut up after work on Tuesday to start it drying out. Even when you aren’t having company, there’s a certain amount of labor involved in a Thanksgiving dinner.

I had ordered a turkey breast two weeks earlier, in preparation for my modest celebration, and went to pick it up after work on Thanksgiving Eve. Imagine my surprise when none of the three Susans on the list at the butcher counter were this particular Susan. Fortunately, the kindly butcher was able to find a turkey breast for this great-granddaughter of a butcher, and dinner was saved.

A YEAR AGO: My alter ego?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thanksgiving aftermath.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thanksgiving wrap up.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some chaos in my life.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Picking up my repaired diamond watch. I still love it. I still have the raw opal studs and I still wear them.


The kittens John rescued earlier this month are continuing to grow and thrive. He is still being like their mom, feeding them every few hours, and stimulating them to poop and pee, and then tidying that up. I don’t know how he has done this for the last few weeks. He is so dedicated! He did say, “It’s going to be hard to let them go, because caring for them is bonding, and I need them used to people, so it’s lots of contact all the time.”

They recently started walking, a big milestone. Hopefully soon John can start getting a little rest. I am so proud of him for all his hard work with these little guys. Not too many people would be willing to do this for weeks while working a full-time job. Glad he is working at home and can do this. I bet the kittens take up more time than the actual job does.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful that John is making a difference and helping the cats in his neighborhood. I am thankful that we are still a part of each other’s lives and that we always will be. I am thankful for my family and friends and to be breathing and walking on this beautiful planet we call home.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting ready for Thanksgiving.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thanksgiving prep.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Thanksgiving in New York.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Surviving our first Thanksgiving without Dad.


Here’s to you!

Our favorite local bar closes for about three weeks every October. In the past, they used to do delightful things like visit vineyards in Tuscany or France, coming home with wonderful memories and stories. This year, they still closed, though with no trips abroad. We were still glad when they reopened, though, and Megan and I met up there to celebrate that and the beginning of the weekend.

The drink shown above is called “Raspberry Gin Buck”, and after you take a picture of it, you mix it up with a spoon. It’s delicious, not too sweet, and garnished with a red carnation. When I showed the picture above to a friend, he said, “That special moment when your drink is prettier than the view!”

The view is definitely pretty:

No matter how long I live here – and I hope I never have to move – I will never stop being in awe of the beauty around me. It kind of amazes me that this is essentially my back yard. Every day when I drive to work, it’s past ancient redwoods and beside the beautiful, ever-changing ocean, and I never get tired of the view. Every day, there is something to delight me, whether it’s a fishing boat setting out to sea:

or the light of the setting sun on an old barn on the Ridge:

or that first view of the ocean:

There’s always something new, and something beautiful. I feel so lucky to live here.

A YEAR AGO: John’s kittens were growing up.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thinking about some regrets.

TEN YEARS AGO: An adventurous evening.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Home improvement is never easy.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Happiness is a pile of books. This is still true.


The Bathmat Boys

Here you see Clyde (left) and Dodge, watching me get ready to go to work. Not pictured: Audrey sitting on the windowsill, giving the Bathmat Boys the Laser Glare of Death, which they are calmly ignoring. I think Audrey dreams of a boy-free life.

Later that morning, with the cats fed and treated and my faux adult armor dutifully applied, I set off on the long drive to work. It’s like driving through a horror movie, and it seems pretty long these days. I am driving more slowly than my speedy nature enjoys on the dark, foggy roads, fearing the appearance of unexpected deer in the headlights. I managed to avoid hitting two of them on this particular morning, and I was also completely charmed by the sight of a frog leaping gracefully across the Ridge in the pool of light from my high beams. This time of year, the frogs are singing joyfully to welcome the annual rains. I love sitting in my bed on a weekend morning and listening to their song. It’s like the winter version of summer crickets.

My plans for weekend cooking went awry, and I am blaming Amazon for it.

I wanted to make more har gao and chive dumplings, so I ordered the necessary starches from Amazon. They were due to arrive on Friday, and I had them sent to the house instead of the post office box, so I could get cooking on Saturday morning. The box was waiting when I got home from work on Friday night, and I thought all cooking systems were go.

Imagine my surprise when I opened up the box and discovered…a tube of epoxy glue.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Even inexperienced cooks can see that glue is not an effective substitute for wheat starch or tapioca starch, or any kind of starch, really. Nor is glue a helpful ingredient in dim sum. I took a dim view of this.

I ventured to the Village the next day to see if I could locate the necessary ingredients, without much hope, and in this, I was sorry for once to be right. I couldn’t find them anywhere, so I reordered from Amazon after getting a refund for the original order. I tried to shop local!

I picked up a pizza for dinner instead, and hopefully I will be making deferred dim sum next weekend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Food is love, even at work.


TWENTY YEARS AGO: Selecting Beaujolais Nouveau for Thanksgiving.


Some more updates in our heroine’s life.


I finally got the crown on the tooth with the outrageously expensive, out of town root canal. I’d say the worst parts were the shots and the drilling that vibrated my whole head and possibly scrambled my two remaining brain cells. That might have been needed to install the post to support the crown. The dentist has a magic machine that makes the crown right there, so there’s no need for a temporary crown and two appointments. It took an hour and a half, but I did it at the end of the day and just went straight home afterwards. It was already getting dark and raining when I got home. Time for tea and my favorite scented candle, along with an episode of Ellery Queen. I can never guess who did it, even before my brain cells got scrambled.


We are getting more of it. The night of the crown installation was stormy, with pouring rain and blowing winds, so I sadly took out the power outage box from the resolutely untidied Closet of Doom, preparing for the power to go out, which seemed inevitable at that point. I am pleased to report that the power stayed bravely on, possibly because I had prepared for it.

It was still raining when I set off to work in the foggy darkness, and I had to get out of the car twice to move trees out of the way. The Ridge was covered with pine needles, lichen, and fallen twigs, and I drove pretty slowly. Megan told me that before that storm, we had already gotten 14 inches, so that’s good. The storms can keep coming, even if they take the power with them.

A YEAR AGO: Megan started her job at Stanford. Still going strong and doing well!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of hitting a dog with my car. He is still doing great. He and his owner recently moved to a farm, where they are very happy.

TEN YEARS AGO: A country Saturday.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Fun in the <City.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A delightful evening with the delightful Brian. He and his wife Candi are so wonderful. Can’t believe we have known each other so long!



I did follow my plan of making har gao, chive and pork dumplings, and lumpia Shanghai. They turned out amazing. These are the pork and chive dumplings (triangle) and har gao (little bundles):

Here are the lumpia Shanghai:

When I sent these pictures to A, she responded, “Totally impressed by your dim sum spread. Suzy’s Dim Sum Palace.” I love thinking of my house as Suzy’s Dim Sum Palace.

I have already had to order more of the tapioca flour and wheat starch so I can make them again. They were definitely a big success. The pork and chive dumplings are easier to shape than the har gao, and they are both delicious. Cooking win!


I am pleased to announce that Redbeard has finally been caught! I am less pleased to announce that he was caught in the environs of the family estate, which is the first driveway after the “doughnut shop” referred to in the press. For fans of Krispy Kremes and Dunkin’ Donuts, don’t get too excited. Rather than a pastry emporium, the Doughnut Shop in Hooterville is actually a big pull out where kids do doughnuts in their cars. It’s also a favored place for miscreants to deposit their heavily-used RVs and furniture, instead of taking said objects to the dump*. So maybe it makes sense that he was caught at or near such a hotbed of local crime. I’m just glad that he was not caught on the family property itself, and that no one was hurt. I hope we can go back to our sleepy, low-to-no-crime existence again.

*Speaking of the dump, the guy who works there posts some hilarious stuff about his job there on Facebook. You’re welcome.

A YEAR AGO: Heater problems. Appliances hate me. I am pleased to announce that the heater is still working. So far.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A happy Halloween with Jessica. I miss those days, and I miss her.

TEN YEARS AGO: A country Saturday.


TWENTY YEARS AGO: I have never been a fan of this twice yearly time change nonsense.


John and I never had kids, for which we are both eternally grateful, but lately he has been conducting his very own experiment in sleep deprivation. Because of babies. Baby cats, that is. Because you know that’s how John rolls.

For some reason, the Home Depot in Hayward, where John lives, is also Cat Depot. People seem to think this is the perfect place to drop off cats and kittens, and left to their own devices, they have been merrily (in)breeding ever since. John has valiantly trapped, neutered and released many of these cats, and has also fostered and adopted out more than a dozen kittens. Faithful readers may recall how he rescued pregnant Willow and saved her life, along with the two live kittens, Daisy and Peach (two other kittens did not survive and had to be surgically removed). All of them would have certainly died if John had not taken them in.

He feeds and waters the colony cats daily, and has set up shelters for them as well. He recently came across some kittens that were barely days old. A consultation with his local vet established that the kittens would not survive on their own, and that it was unlikely that their mother was going to come back for them, assuming she was around and it wasn’t just some fiend in human form that abandoned the babies to their fate.

So John took them in, and has been feeding them with special kitten food in a dropper ever since:

He also has to stimulate them to poop and pee, since they don’t know how and this is something their mother would do. Apparently cotton balls are needed for this process. They also need to be burped, much like human babies.

Despite their bad beginning in life, these little kittens are fighters, so John named them all after characters in “Rocky”. This is Rocky:

This is Apollo:

This is Adrian:

and this is Pauly:

Note teeniness of kittens next to John’s hand and the feeding syringe.

They have a fighting chance at a good life since being rescued by a good man. I hope they make it, and I hope they find the loving homes they deserve.

Bonus: Here’s my boyfriend Frank, looking happy after dinner the other night:

Frank is still his lovably fighty, tough guy self, showing up with scratches occasionally, but lately sleeping in a cozy bed on John’s porch:

His fighty nature (note healing wound on his handsome forehead) makes it impossible for him to live inside, but at least he’s getting fed and has a safe and warm place to sleep. I am so thankful to John for helping the cats in his neighborhood.

A YEAR AGO: A beautiful day in the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A visit to the South Coast.

TEN YEARS AGO: A swimming snag.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Having fun in Detroit.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Weight loss can be a problem.