Fall


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.

Bracing

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.

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.

Delicious

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.

Pier

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.

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.

Rain

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.

Bridges

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.

Plans

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.

Gone


Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

I was getting in my car on the morning of September 8 when I got a text from a friend in Manchester, telling me that The Queen was under medical supervision and that it was serious. I was on pins and needles all morning, waiting for news of Her Majesty, while life swirled around me. He sent news about 10 am that The Queen was gone, before it hit the US news. I had to close my office door to weep in private as I mourned the terrible, shocking loss of The Queen.

I realize it sounds ridiculous to be shocked by the death of a 96 year old, but I thought she would live to be 100 or more, like her mother. I think part of me believed she would live forever. She has been my Queen my whole life, and it’s unimaginable that she she is no longer there. I feel unmoored without her calm, steady hand on the tiller. I can’t believe she is really gone. Truly, it is the end of an era.

I am grateful that Her Majesty was spared losing her dignity and a long final illness. I am honored to have lived during her long, historic reign. I am thankful that she worked up until the end, and that she is now reunited with her beloved husband Prince Philip, and that “Us Four” are together again.

Braked

My brother once observed that the lights on the car dashboard are not there just to look pretty, and I would add my own observation that they are there to be expensive. No good ever comes of them.

One morning, I was setting off for work in the early morning darkness when the light came on saying “Brake Fluid Low”. I don’t know much about cars, but I’m pretty sure that brake fluid is not something I need to refill, and that it being low was probably bad news.

I drove carefully to work, unable to stop looking at the ominous light every few minutes, even though this did not help and just made me feel even more nervous than I already was. I took Wednesday to my friends at North Coast Tire, where they refilled the brake fluid, checked Wednesday’s tire pressure, and observed that there was a streak of leaked brake fluid on the passenger side tire. Unfortunately, they did not have the manpower to fix it for a couple of weeks, and they warned me not to drive it until the leak was repaired, since it meant that the brakes would work until they didn’t, with no warning.

So I found another place to fix it, and they opined that it would cost about $500 to fix. When they got in there to fix it, they discovered that the brake pad was disintegrating from the leak – they showed me the crumbly remains when I went to pick up the car – and with that and various other things and stuff, it came to $700. But I was grateful that Wednesday and I were unharmed, the problem was fixed, and that the car could stop, since, as my brother says, the most important thing a car can do is stop.

A YEAR AGO: Some successful cooking experiments.

TEN YEARS AGO: The money fairy came by. Come back!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: There can be such a thing as too much politeness.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The ideal job.

Interloper


The Winner

I was watching the last ever episode of “Better Call Saul” when my neighbor Alex appeared at my front door. Alex lives next door to me and is my landlord Danielle’s son. He came bearing the unwelcome news that Dodge had been in a fight. Alex had broken up the fight between Dodge and an evil white cat who has also gotten into a fight with Danielle’s cat, Kiki, she of the many toes and cute markings. Danielle’s boyfriend Will thinks the situation should be solved with a shotgun, whereas Alex is more of a trap and neuter kind of guy.

He showed me where the fight took place, right in front of his place, and showed me the white fur on the ground. I looked at it, and it looked like it must be Evil Cat’s fur, but I was longing to find Dodge and make sure none of it was his. Of course, he was nowhere to be seen. Alex opined that Dodge was probably under the house, and he was probably right, but that didn’t stop me from worrying.

I went out and called him a couple of times as darkness drew nearer and I considered the Awful Idea of leaving Dodge outside when I went to bed. I went out to call him one last time, and although I didn’t see him, as I closed the front door, I saw his beautiful little face peeking through the glass.

Dodge was clearly nervous and somewhat freaked out, but he did not have a scratch on him. He scarfed up wet food and treats and settled in on the heater. A careful examination showed no wounds or even a scratch, but the next day, I noticed a white patch on his ear that hadn’t been there before. I wonder if it was from the stress? I am just thankful he is OK, and rather proud of him for being such a tough boy from the mean streets of Fort Bragg.

TEN YEARS AGO: Car problems suck. But having good friends to help you with them is great.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some Rita updates. Oh, and a fire.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Pros and cons of shaving.

Peachy

It was time for my annual peach allotment, but sadly, no peaches were forthcoming. The peach trees in the family orchard were blighted this year, maybe by the same mystery blight that took out one of the apple trees last year, which had to be dug up and replaced. The peach trees did not require such drastic treatment, but they steadfastly refused to produce more than around 4 sad looking peaches.

I am sorry to report that the cherry tree, despite being isolated at the far end of the garden in its majestic net cathedral, was also blighty and similarly almost fruit-free. Of course the plague affected my favorite fruit trees. My siblings have acquired a second cherry tree, but it will take years to start producing fruit, assuming it escapes the blight.

So when Megan and I went to the Valley, we stopped in at Gowan’s more than century-old farmstand:

I got two little baskets of peaches:

That was more than enough to make a really good peach pie. Here it is before:

And after:

I usually make a lattice crust, but this time, I made a double crust, which presented a minor problem. When I make a double crust pie, I usually draw the fruit it’s made from to vent the pie. I learned this from my American grandmother. But I couldn’t figure out how to draw a peach which wouldn’t look like an apple. So I settled for a freeform star.

It turned out great. I enjoyed the annual treat.

A YEAR AGO: I got contact lenses again. And I have already stopped wearing them. Again.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Jonathan and Rio went to the wilderness to truly experience the total solar eclipse.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Audrey made her debut. We lost her mother, Quince, earlier this month.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Men and women have different views on fashion.

21


Dad and his beloved dog Jesse on Wimbledon Common

Today marks 21 years since Dad’s sudden death. Has my grief matured, at the ripe old age of 21? I would have to say no, much as I have not matured, at the ripe old age of 60. I still think of Dad every day, and I still miss him every day. While I am no longer throwing myself on the floor and howling or having strange experiences like not remembering what my name is when signing a check, or suddenly finding myself at Grace Cathedral with no memory of leaving my apartment, locking the door, and walking up Franklin Street and down California Street, I find I am very sad today.

I soon learned after Dad died that grief is not linear. I thought I would feel a little better each day, but it doesn’t work that way. At all. Some days, you feel OK, and the next day, you feel terrible. Just because today was an OK day doesn’t mean tomorrow will be, and this is also true of bad days. You have no control over this, and it’s scary. Some days you remember the happy memories, and some days you are really sad about your loss and the fact that your life will never be the same again. There’s before, and there’s after, and there’s no return to before or escape from after.

This year is a sad year, and I will just have to accept that and try to comfort myself with the knowledge that, much like in the picture above, Dad and Jesse are together and they always will be. Both of their ashes were scattered on Wimbledon Common, their favorite place to walk together. I like knowing they are keeping each other company. I hope they are watching over me, and I hope that Dad was wrong about their being no after life and that I can tell him so one day.

I love you, Dad. You are always loved, always missed. Thank you for being my best friend and confidant, and for always loving me, no matter what. I was lucky to have you in my life. I just wish we had you around a little longer.

Valley


Down in the Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: The quirks of my cats.

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

TEN YEARS AGO: My 2,000th post.

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

Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: Acquiring a beautiful apple.

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

TEN YEARS AGO: A magical microclimate mystery tour.

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

Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new bed looks beautiful:

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

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

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

FIVE YEARS AGO: A happy summer Saturday.

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

Symphony


Getting Ready

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: At the fabulous Flamingo.

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

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

Circus

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIVE YEARS AGO: An intruder.

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

TWENTY YEARS AGO: On the dynamics of lines.

15


Birthday Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Musing about mechanics and my Mustang.