BY suzy

09/01 Direct Link
Now Iím committed to the move, I feel overwhelmed. All those things to pack. Selling the things that wonít fit. Changing my mailing address and my email address, so I wonít have to pay for both my current provider and the new one (the only way to get reasonably fast internet service in the depths of the country is to use satellite). When to cut off the utilities? Can I rent a truck one way? Will Henry the stray cat and my cats get along? Is it a big mistake? These are the questions that haunt me.
09/02 Direct Link
Itís hot and humid today, and itís rarely humid here. If I didnít know better, Iíd swear I was back east and there was going to be a huge thunderstorm any minute. I canít remember there ever being a thunderstorm the whole time Iíve lived in the Bay Area, though Iím sure it must have happened. There have been freak dustings of snow in San Francisco from time to time, making me realize how difficult it would be to live there if it happened all the time. I donít miss real weather.
09/03 Direct Link
Itís my brotherís birthday today. My sister and I have arranged for him to get a massage. Heís been working so hard lately and been depressed, so we hope it will help to lift his spirits and gladden his body. I never spend my siblingsí birthdays with them, because my sisterís is during the Memorial Day weekend (first long weekend of summer!) and my brotherís is over Labor Day (last long weekend of the summer!) and the traffic is too terrible to contemplate. Well, those days are over, and now we can celebrate together again.
09/04 Direct Link
This is becoming a bad habit. Once again, I was sitting on the couch, this time eating a bagel and watching ďBewitchedĒ when my landlord loomed unexpectedly in the doorway. She wanted to check on the grass, which is growing as clumpily and spottily as I knew it would Ė they should have torn the whole thing up and reseeded it properly if they were so determined to have a lawn where it doesnít rain for nine months of the year Ė and we talked a little bit about my moving. I didnít say anything about her just showing up.
09/05 Direct Link
Since Iím moving, thereís no point in making a big deal about it, but Iím tired of the landlord just turning up. What if I were in the shower, or otherwise indisposed? She left a message saying that she listed the house ďprematurelyĒ on Craigslist, so people might be coming by to look at it this evening. They didnít, but I now feel like I have to point out that the law in the legal sense, as well as those of common courtesy, dictate that I should get 24 hoursí notice. Wish I could move now.
09/06 Direct Link
Iím worried about moving the cats: how to do it, where to put them while we are loading and unloading the truck. How will Henry the stray cat get along with June and Audrey? How will they feel about the fact that their new home comes equipped with a part-time cat? Sheís lived there for fourteen years or more, so itís hard for her to adjust to living with her former ownerís daughter, and she keeps coming back. Itís hard to teach an old cat new tricks. Hopefully, they will all work it out.
09/07 Direct Link
I worry about the perils of Outside. June and Audrey have never been outside other than their escaping escapades, so I hope their instincts will tell them to beware of owls, raccoons, mountain lions, and other menaces. Theyíll have to get used to the other cats who live on the property, too. At least weíll live on a long dirt driveway, far from the main road, where there isnít much traffic anyway, and we have nice neighbors. Itís hard to imagine a greater contrast than their current lives and their future lives. Same goes for me.
09/08 Direct Link
Iím slowly working through my long To Do list. Somehow, I donít get much satisfaction in crossing things off. There always seems to be more To Do. I think of my parents, moving four kids and a house full of stuff many times. How did they do it? Did everything make sense to them? I still donít feel like a grown-up, and I wonder if they did. I wish Iíd asked them before it was too late. If I had to guess, Iíd say Dad did, and Mom was, like me, a permanent teenager.
09/09 Direct Link
The house next door is for rent. Itís the same size as mine, around 825 square feet, and the backyard is a small patch of cement. They want $1,700 a month for it, which is much more than Iím paying for its next door twin. I canít believe that anyone will pay that much for such a small house in this neighborhood. There are so many houses for sale and rent around here that Iíd be surprised if anyone takes that house any time soon. In the meantime, I can enjoy the peace and quiet.
09/10 Direct Link
The Bay Bridge was closed for repairs, so BART was much more crowded than usual. BART in its infinite wisdom reduced the number of cars on trains (along with hiking fares), so they were crowded in a style reminiscent of the LIRR at rush hour. The commute to the city was much worse than usual, and I had to think that this experience would not convince drivers to leave their cars at home and BART instead. I hate driving, but I yearned to be alone in my car with the wind in my hair instead of trapped in subterranean hell.
09/11 Direct Link
BART fares have gone up, along with fewer cars on the trains. Whatís wrong with this picture? My station was the scene of three murders in less than three months. The first was a young father, shot in the back as he lay helpless on the platform. He was black, the officer white. There were riots after that. The second was a man who disarmed his mugger and used the knife to stab him to death. The mugger was 18. The third was a plumber on his way to work, shot and killed for the $20 in his wallet.
09/12 Direct Link
I was surprised to wake up to the sound of rain. It rarely, if ever rains here from about April to November. I ran to the windows, and sure enough, it was showering outside. I raced outside to bring Henry onto the porch and move his dishes. The poor thing was soaked. I tried to dry him with a towel, but he didnít enjoy it. I was glad to know that he was safe and dry and could weather the storm in comfort. Little does he know heíll be inside whenever he wants in just a few weeks.
09/13 Direct Link
The air was fresh and delicious after the rain, scented with the eucalyptus next door, grass, flowers, and salt water. It was a welcome respite from the heat, and I had the front and back doors open to air out the stuffy house. It was a good day to wash the laundry in blue eucalyptus and lavender scented detergent, and then hang the clean clothes in the clean air. I never put clothes in the dryer if I can help it. Iím too cheap, and as my brother says of the lint trap: ďThatís your clothes in there!Ē
09/14 Direct Link
Things have been a little worrisome at work lately. Weíve received some negative press, and there are lawsuits. My boss is confident that the lawsuits will be thrown out, but itís worrisome nonetheless. I know that the articles are full of lies, but our attorneys have advised us not to respond with any comments until the lawsuits are concluded one way or another. I know that those who know us know the articles are wrong, but what about those who donít? And what about trying to win new clients? This wonít be good for business. Sigh...
09/15 Direct Link
Peterís mother calls with the news that his uncle died. Peter is out, the way he was when his other uncle died, so once again I wait for his arrival to give him the news. He says that he was just thinking of his uncle in the car on the way home. Death was a release for Jamie, who had been suffering from Alzheimerís for many years., but it will be so difficult for his widow of nearly 60 years. Iím sad for Peterís family, who have lost both of his uncles in just six months.
09/16 Direct Link
Iíve never had an uncle, or cousins, either, for that matter. My fatherís sister was mentally handicapped and lived at home her life, never marrying. My mother was an only child, and adopted. So she may have siblings somewhere, but weíll never know. Since I have siblings, I never minded not having cousins, but as our family is so reduced now, it would be nice to have a more extended family. Iím grateful to have my brother and sister and to be moving so close to them. Iím lucky that they are my friends, too.
09/17 Direct Link
I attended a software soirťe in lieu of my boss. It was held at SFMOMA, and on arrival, I was greeted by a tall gentleman with a tray of champagne in tall flutes. There were jars of candy at the sign in desk Ė someone must have told them I was coming. There were also two open bars, and as I drifted around saying hello to total strangers and sipping bubbly, it occurred to me that plying potential customers with booze and candy may be a revolutionary and under-utilized sales tactic. I felt most amenable after my second glass.
09/18 Direct Link
In my handbag: The latest ďNew YorkerĒ. The Style Issue! For reading on BART.

Wallet. Inside: BART ticket, building ID card, no money, and a note from Dad.

Work keys (flower keychain). House keys (Louis Vuitton Monogram Groom).

Cute purple cell phone. If only it never rang.

Flower pen, in case I need to sign autographs or checks.

Lip gloss, in case I need to kiss and touch up.

Business card case. Essential for impersonating a grown-up.

Chico bag, for impulse purchases.

Tiny pot of Potion solid perfume. Itís magic.

09/19 Direct Link
The weather forecast calls for unbearable heat for the coming week: 94 on Monday, 99 on Tuesday, and 95 on Wednesday. I call my sister and tell her Iím coming up for a week. I was planning to go up for the service for my houseís previous tenant the following week, but thereís no way Iím going to endure the bone-crushing heat here. I feel lucky to escape as I drive across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. I picture the sun following me, and I want to say ďHa-ha, you canít catch me!Ē
09/20 Direct Link
One of the first things we do is go over to the house and see how itís coming along. Mark has replaced the old deck, which just needs the railings to go up. Heís putting in a new water heater and gravel all around the house, which is key when your house is surrounded by puff dust (summer) or mud (winter), and you have no serious hope of keeping it out of your house. Heís also building a storage area at the side of the house, which we'll use for Peterís huge record and CD collections.
09/21 Direct Link
While itís true that there isnít that much room in the living room/kitchen area (and even less counter and cupboard space than there is in my current house), thereís a huge garden, the deck/balcony, which is accessed from the sleeping loft, wraps around two sides of the house, providing a wonderful outdoor living space, and the studio, converted from the garage, has plenty of room for Peterís music and artwork. I wish I had a room of my own, since I work at home most of the time, but that never seems to happen.
09/22 Direct Link
The self-help books on the shelves are poignant. The dead have no secrets. As their belongings are sorted and disposed of, those left behind get an intimate glimpse of the lost one. Itís surprising that one so seemingly strong and factual should turn to books about women who love too much, how to live life to the fullest over 60, how to walk away depression, how to overcome cancer with diet, meditation, or exercise. Perhaps when cancer and old age become a reality, one grasps at any straw of hope, no matter how practical one seems to be.
09/23 Direct Link
September and October are the warmest of a northern California year. Those who visit San Francisco in the summer are inevitably disappointed by the fog. I always warned visitors to bring a sweater or jacket, especially if they were planning on visiting Alcatraz and Pier 39 (a prison and a shopping mall, respectively Ė surely these are two of the oddest tourist attractions ever), but they never did. Then they end up buying a ridiculously overpriced sweatshirt at Fishermanís Wharf. You can always recognize them in their shorts and SF sweatshirts, shivering their way along the Embarcadero in the fog.
09/24 Direct Link
As the sun strengthens, the garden begins to buzz. Hummingbirds zoom past, then hover miraculously at a hanging fuchsia bloom, their wings a mere blur. When I see one perched on a branch, temporarily still, it seems almost as astonishing as their wing beats and their remarkably loud, chirping voices. How can such a huge sound come from such a tiny, nearly weightless body? Birds chirp as the sun warms their wings. Bees, who favor a certain tree for its sweet white blossoms, congregate and buzz the latest news to each other while jealously guarding the best flowers for themselves.
09/25 Direct Link
Itís hard to believe that back east, where I grew up, the leaves are changing and people are looking for their heavy coats and wondering where that other mitten is. Here the sun is still in charge, showing off its power from an early hour until its departure sometime after 7 in the evening. I am surprised by how different a hot day in the country is from a hot day in the city. It seems that the heat reflects off the cement and cars and houses in a different way than it does off the redwoods and flowers.
09/26 Direct Link
Sunny Sunday morning. Peaceful. My last day on my sisterís garden until I become her neighbor in just three weeks. Harriet the Spy slinks by. Ramona the Pest rolls around roundly. They are sisters, too: cats my sister rescued many years ago. Harriet is a silver tabby, whose fur is platinum in the summer, slightly tarnished in the winter. Harriet is slim; Ramona isnít. Harriet is nearly mute; Ramona makes up for it with her chatter. Harriet is aloof, disdaining hands on her glamorous fur. Ramona will jump on your lap and cuddle for hours. Yin and yang.
09/27 Direct Link
We celebrated my brother-in-lawís birthday with a barbecue. As the sun began to set, a single bat fluttered through the pink sky, chasing clouds of termites. Termites fly for two weeks, then shed their four wings, which lie in iridescent heaps until washed away by the winter rains. As darkness fell, my brother put more wood on the fire, and we gathered around it as the stars winked at us. There is no ambient light here, so the Milky Way is so dense it looks foggy in the dark sky. Amazing that weíre part of it.
09/28 Direct Link
My sister is going to timeshare a puppy. She and her friend Monica go to the shelter every Friday to socialize and exercise the pit bulls there. They also hold adoption days once a month. They are very dedicated. One of the dogs has puppies, who are now about two months old. I saw them when they were three weeks old, and one of them, a little red girl with a pink nose, took to me. She is the one they will foster. Monica will take her when Megan is working night shifts, and then trade. Her name is Harlow!
09/29 Direct Link
We attend a memorial service for Rose, who used to own the house Iím moving into. It was a wonderful celebration of her life. A mariachi band played, there was a buffet of Mexican food, wine and margaritas. Children and dogs ran merrily around the garden, where there were several shrines set up, with flowers, shells, sculptures, and candles. Notes to Rose and her family were pinned up on trees. As the sun set, we shared memories and each made a clay bead to be fired in her kiln. If you seek Roseís memorial, look around her garden.
09/30 Direct Link
My sister and I bring her beloved dog Schatzi to Big River. The river flows to the sea, so itís salty and dramatic. Her dog decides to take a little swim, and seems to enjoy it. She is on a leash, so my sister is at her side. I take pictures from the beach, remembering the many summers we spent as children on the east coast. A happy summer day is something to be shared and treasured. I like to think that a new part of my life is starting, and that there are new memories to be made.