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.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers

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

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

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

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

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

All in all, it was a great day.

A YEAR AGO: Doing research can be fun.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fabulous Junapalooza.

TEN YEARS AGO: Being subpoenaed is nerve-wracking.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Megan started her ER career.

Engaged

You guys! Jarrett and Kalli are engaged!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the ring:

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: A flat tire is never good.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A camping party.

TEN YEARS AGO: Touring some local artists’ studios.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Mammograms are never fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to the County Fair.

Home

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

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

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

And from the front door:

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

I love how they are such close companions.

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

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

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

FIVE YEARS AGO: When worlds collide.

TEN YEARS AGO: The birth of a garden.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A midnight dog rescue.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Candi and Brian came to visit!

Party


My Glorious Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: A milestone birthday for Megan.

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

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

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

Tied

You win some, you lose some…

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: My baby sister turned 50!

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

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

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday.

Etc.


Hooterville Morning

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

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

*****

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

*****

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: The joys of spring.

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

TEN YEARS AGO: A really fun weekend.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A rainy start to the day.

Queenie’s

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

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

And fabulous it was:

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

Leaving the restaurant, I enjoyed the view:

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

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

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

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

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Plumbing problems.

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

Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden

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

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

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

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

Strawberries are on the way:

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

admiring the blossoms on the trees:

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

April in Hooterville is pretty good, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some bad habits.

TEN YEARS AGO: The office cat at the jobette.

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

Miscellaneous

It’s the last day of March. The month flew by quickly, and spring is making its presence known. Somehow, the bear-attracting apple tree has blossomed without my noticing the bud stage at all:

and the trees in the long curves at Caspar and Little River are misted with leaves of that heart-breaking, almost electric green that they only have when newborn.

******

When I leave for work in the morning, I give the cats treats to distract them, and before I go out the door, I always take a look back at the house:

It always seems like the most beautiful place when I’m about to venture out into the Wide World. And we all know no good ever comes of doing that.

******

I’m getting a new computer. My current model is from 2012. The trackpad no longer works, and the black plastic connecting the screen to the rest of it is badly frayed and missing entirely in some places.

I had trackpad problems a couple of years ago, which were expensively resolved. Or resolved-ish, since they have reared their ugly heads again. I brought the ailing laptop to someone else this time, and he said the battery was swollen and had to be replaced, and that the swelling was what made the trackpad refuse to click. He relieved me of $150 for taking the battery out of another laptop and putting it in mine.

When I got home, I discovered that not only did it not click, I couldn’t drag anything. I thought about getting another technician to look at it, but it’s 10 years old and I have already put more than enough money into it. It’s time to get a new to me laptop. And ask if I can give back the battery and get a refund.

******

I stopped at the post office on my way to work this morning, my usual time for this chore. I came across a young homeless guy in there, and he asked me if I knew what time it was. I didn’t, because I had left my phone in the car*, but I gave him my best guess, based on when I left the house. He said, “Thank you, sweetheart”. He was probably in his 20s, so I found it unusual that he would call me that, though I enjoyed it as much as I always do. He also asked me when the Gro opened, which I could tell him, and as I left the post office, he said cheerfully, “Have a good day, sweetheart!” It was a nice start to the day.

I seem to be encountering homeless guys a fair bit recently. There is one who often sleeps under the tent at work where we do COVID shots and testing. I say hello to him in the morning if he’s awake, and try not to wake him up if he’s not. He works at McDonalds, but still doesn’t have a place to live. I think we both like seeing each other in the morning. I’m hoping he can get back on his feet soon.

*My cute pink iPod died a few weeks ago, so I’m now using Apple Music. Still figuring it out. It has a lot of drawbacks compared to the iPod. I really am not a fan of change, especially in technology.

A YEAR AGO: My brother was off on an adventure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the ballet.

TEN YEARS AGO: A surprise gift.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some coincidences.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My favorite flowers bring back some happy memories.

Seasons


This year’s lilacs

Spring has definitely sprung in Hooterville. The air is softer and full of birdsong, and fruit trees are foamy with blossoms and buzzing with busy bees. Lilacs, irises, and California poppies are blooming. I am still wearing a coat to work, buttoned up in the morning and unbuttoned* in the evening, and in the mornings, I have the heat on in the car, while in the evenings, I have the car window open. Seasons here are a little more subtle than in most of the country.

I have found over the past few years that I appreciate spring more and more. At this point, I would rate the seasons from best to worst as: spring, fall, winter, and summer. If I still lived back East, I think fall would come out on top, because of the glorious leaf colors and the delightful, cool respite from the horror of summer, always my least favorite season. I hate the heat. I always have.

When I was a kid, we were lucky enough to escape the muggy and buggy summers in upstate New York by fleeing to Maine the minute the school year dragged to an end. There we enjoyed the cool, foggy summers, much like the summers in the Big Town on the Mendocino Coast. Very often, the Big Town is fogged in all of my working day, while back home in Hooterville, it is sunny and bright. The sunshine comes at a cost, though, making it up to 20 degrees warmer than it is on the foggy coast.

Fortunately, my current abode is insulated and less of an art project than my previous Hooterville home of many years, which was like living in a tent. It was freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer, especially up in the sleeping loft, where the heat went to party and after party. Despite the quirks of the house, and the beauty of the house I live in now, I still miss the old house. There were a lot of great memories there, and it was such a cool and unusual place.

I do enjoy the winter, with the sound of rain and peeping frogs and the bright breasts of robins, who winter here, and the dramatic spouts of passing whales. It’s nice to read with a cup of tea and a scented candle, cuddled up with the cats. I enjoy the coziness and feeling safe. When I was a child back East, I loved skiing and playing in the snow and the violet shadows of the trees on winter afternoons and the distinctive, white light in the house after a snowfall. I have always loved Christmas, with its sparkliness and joy.

As for summer…well, it’s something to be endured. I used to love the long summers in Maine when I was a kid, that glorious feeling of freedom with three school-free months stretching ahead. I’m glad I enjoyed those days when I had them. And I do still enjoy the changing seasons, no matter how subtle.

*Also the name of my current favorite lip gloss, which I’m wearing right now while eating Lifesavers for breakfast.

A YEAR AGO: Some updates.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some happy encounters.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A bad mail day.

Dark


Happy Solstice!

We are well and truly into the madness of the spring time change, aka the hard one, when they steal an hour of sleep from you and plunge you back into darkness, just when there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon in the morning. It makes me indignant every year, especially when facing the seemingly endless barrage of oncoming traffic, most of whom can’t seem to grasp the concept of turning off their high beams to avoid blinding other motorists.

A few years ago, Californians voted overwhelmingly in favor of stopping this senseless ritual. No one knows why it started or why it persists. Even if it’s entirely apocryphal, I love the story that Native Americans say, “Only the white man would cut a strip from the bottom of a blanket and sew it to the top of the blanket and think that makes it longer”, or something like that. But for some reason, the banishment of Daylight Saving Time has stalled somewhere in the lawmaking machinery, and we are stuck with the craziness and feeling jet lagged for days. Thanks, politicians!

The renewal of the morning darkness makes me appreciate even more the moonlight on the ocean, Venus beaming in the east, and the fact that Ledford House has kept an outside tree lit up long past the holiday season, where it can spark a little joy as I drive by on my way to work on a dark spring morning.

Little River Inn has kept its roofline lights aglow, a welcome sight as I crest the hill into Little River. And I look forward to the handful of scattered lights in the Village and the beams of light from the Point Cabrillo light station. Light in the darkness is especially beautiful this time of year.

A YEAR AGO: Jonathan and Rio’s desert adventures.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembering Dad.

TEN YEARS AGO: A look around my springtime garden.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Waiting for the cable guy. And waiting. And waiting…

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Brush with fame! A brief encounter with my former neighbor, Nicolas Cage.