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Portola Valley, RB's House. June 8 - 14, 2010


There are cobwebs everywhere.  This is not for lack of housekeeping.

There are copies of Backyard Poultry magazine on the shelves where the TV sits.  This is not a joke.

There are flowers and herbs planted in the front and side of the house.  They flourish.

RB has a dozen chickens that all lay eggs daily, and 3 roosters she’s waiting to kill.  She eats the eggs, and now I am, too.  I’ve made cookies with them, puff pastry, eaten them hard-boiled.  Sometimes they have chick fetus in them.  She feeds those to the dogs, or leaves a pile of them in the woods for the coyotes.

After weed-eating and pulling wire for 8 hours, she comes home and plays the piano.

It’s June, but it’s a bit cold here, so she starts a fire in the fireplace.  A real fire.  Newspaper, kindling, logs.  No lighter fluid.  I take note in case I ever need to know how. 

We begin roasting marshmallows, but she says she’s not sure how.  “You weed-eated on steep hills for 4 hours, pulled wire for another 4 hours, came home, played a sonata, then started a log fire,” I say.  “But you’re not sure how to roast marshamallows?”

She doesn’t kill daddy long legs because they are good and eat the other bugs that are bad.  Some dead, some alive, they do nothing but hang out on the ceilings and in corners.

To my surprise, I’ve gotten used to them after 2 or 3 days.

She’s over the idea of killing the roosters, it seems, but what she’s nervous about now, she tells me, is slicing open the asshole to pull out all their guts once they're dead.  It should be done properly, so as not to ruin the meat.  This comes up because of pictures she found while flipping through Backyard Poultry (which I can’t believe I’m actually looking at) in an article about how to get your chickens to lay more eggs.  There is a picture of a chicken butt.

I’ve been cooking a lot because I thought it would be fun and nice since I don’t have a lot to do while she’s out working on the “compound,” I call it, or the “Estate.”  She calls it the “Ranch.”  I joked that I was going to be her wife for a week.  Turns out it’s a lot of work being a good wife.  And a little more boring than I anticipated. 

After lunch she leaves a glass on the table with a few tablespoons of pomegranate cranberry juice still in it.  I grab a few garlic cloves for dinner from the large ceramic bowl in the center of the table that is full of onions, bananas and lemons, and accidentally drop a clove into the glass.  It’s pale, dry, cream colored; the dark red liquid takes it in.

I’m waiting for a phone call.

I made French Onion soup, Ratatouille Cheese Gougere, and Tilapia, simply cooked with garlic powder, salt, pepper.  With fish, it’s less about seasoning than it is about cooking it just right.  I should have taken a picture of it all.  But good wives are too busy doing things to worry about recording them.

For lunch, I made breaded and fried fresh mozzarella balls, along with a dill cucumber salad.  It was nice.

For some reason, Taco, the 4 pound chihuahua with crooked back legs, a slight hunchback, a couple missing teeth which makes his tongue sit caddy-wompus out of his mouth sometimes, and a penis that is too big for his body, decides to pee a little on her hoodie while it sits in the open-topped, 4-wheeler service vehicle- the Gator.  This does not please.  Taco receives the cold shoulder.

We take the Gator up the hills to the place where the old owners, father and son, are buried.  There are coyotes around so we watch the dogs carefully.  Lola must get into the front seat, and Taco stays in one of our arms.  If caught, he would surely prove to be a bony, but delicious kill.

She’s started doing yoga at home, and it has helped. 

She tells me I worry too much.

When she gets rid of the huge moth in the bathroom for me, she just grabs it with her hands and lets it outside.  This reminds me of my mother.

When Taco stretches, it is comical.  He’s not a real dog.

She reminds me of how she knows he’s gay.  He spent 2 weeks with a chihuahua in heat.  Nothing.  He’s taken later to meet another male chihuahua so this guy can try to get the girl preggo.  Taco humps him upon arrival.

The water here is from a spring, and it is so clean tasting, so lovely.  It comes out perfectly cold from the faucet when the weather’s good.  RB says that if you let it sit, it will grow algae because there’s no chlorine in it.

She eats a tremendous amount of food for someone who is maybe 110 pounds.  She works outside all day, and it’s intense.  She eats 5 or 6 times a day.  It is imperative.

I look at the plate of chocolate chip cookies I made, and it is much shorter than it was at 11am. 

I make sure later that she ate some of them.

The roosters crow off and on all morning, starting at 5 am.  She says they’re assholes.  Which is why she wants to kill them.  The chickens are also not hatching chicks since they don’t lay on the eggs long enough.  Thus, the males are disposable anyway, unnecessary.

You can see San Francisco through the trees and hills from the side deck of her house, which is really a guest house on this multi-million dollar estate.

The first morning I’m here, it is foggy, and you can’t see anything far away.  No view of the bay at all.

The moisture in the air here makes the uncovered cookies I made yesterday even better.  They were a touch too crispy, now they’ve got a touch of chew to them.  At home, in the desert, they’d be too dry by now, and would soon be stale.

We talk about pooping, and our worries; fathers, and our favorite foods.  We catch eachother up on the stories we take for granted that the other doesn’t know, some from last week, some from last decade.

It’s Friday, and we’re going to the beach at Half Moon Bay.  Cross your fingers for me that it’s not super cold.

I tried to take the dogs for a long walk yesterday, but I got nervous because Lola wasn’t listening very well, and I’m paranoid about keeping an eye on Taco because of the coyotes and vultures and hawks.  I turn around after 5 minutes and head back home to start getting dinner ready early.

RB tells me that Lola doesn’t hear very well anymore.  You have to yell loud.  She’s 12. 

Here, things are quiet.  Things are green.  Here, I eat bread and butter like it’s…bread and butter, not the caloric hell-bomb I sometimes see it as at home. 

Bread and butter, cookies, cheese balls, s’mores.  It’s vacation.  That my excuse.  Though weed-eating for 7 hours on a steep hill would be a better one.

I catch up with SK on the phone yesterday.  We talk briefly about loneliness.  I wonder, in all my domesticity these few days, if and when singledom ends for a foreseeable future, as much as it sucks much of the time, how will it be to “settle down” (whatever that means) with someone, really?  I don’t want to get boring.  I intend to commit to someone without settling down.

I literally just watched a spider roll up a fly in it’s web, one of the many webs in the house.  It was kind of amazing.  I must have just missed the catching of it, but I watched the spider quickly spin it with a few of its legs like a mini rotisserie chicken, while the fly continued to buzz.  I heard it, which is what made me look up in the first place and try to find what I thought might be a flying bee.  The spider then sucked at it for a bit, then dragged it up a few inches.  Then did what looked like kiss it, then continued to drag it up a few more inches. 

I went outside to find Taco, because it makes me nervous when he’s outside for too long— there are no fences here— and I saw a blue jay hopping around on the porch lights.

Taco wants up in my lap while I type.  But apparently this isn’t enough.  He starts pushing at my hands with his head.  Lola, sweet girl, just sleeps quietly on the floor.

I keep checking my phone, a little obsessively.  RB said to try thinking about something else, like the cool jungle-gym museum thing SD & KY took me to in St Louis, or about some other thing that made me laugh, I don’t remember.  Maybe Arrested Development.

I do love Buster.

I realize I wasn’t made for this rural-ish, country-ish life.  I could do it on the weekends, but I’m a city-n-suburb girl at heart. 

I do love Taco sleeping in my lap while I type.

RB feeds the horses while Gigi’s out of town.  She pets and cuddles the biggest one the same way she does Taco.  He scares me a little.  So huge, so muscular, so beautiful.

There are squirrels, and wild turkey, and deer.  I’ve seen all 3 around her house at random times within the last few days.

We will call EO tonight, who we wish was here.  Meant to call her last night, but I fell asleep on the floor while watching a movie. 

RB has started to drink some Ayurvedic drink recipe in the morning to give her energy.  You blend peeled almonds that soak in water all night (to get the peel off) with milk and spices— cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, maybe?  This sounds just like her, actually.

Taco is farting in my lap, I think.  Or snoring.  I’m not really sure.

I confirm that RB isn’t lying about her special talent for spotting Asian drivers on the freeways of California before even seeing their faces.  It’s uncanny.  And hilarious.

RB’s car breaks down in the middle of San Francisco...

Who’s the A-hole driver now, huh?

Just kidding, it wasn't a big deal to me, really.  I felt more bad for the inconvenience to her than any other annoyance. 

We had to stay in for the weekend til we could get a rental car cheap on Monday.  Things turned out just fine.  I stayed up past 2am on Saturday night to watch all 6 hours of Pride and Prejudice.  Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is too good, really.  Way to make my standards even higher…

I told RB earlier today that I was indifferent about going home.  I figured I’d either be excited, or dreading it.  But I was indifferent.  I could barely remember what home looked like.  These 2 weeks seem to have lasted a long time, and not because I wasn’t having fun.  I’ve just had a lot on my mind.

I’m running late finishing up packing. 

I am dreading, a little bit, going home.  Time to go back to real life.  I remember now that I don’t love it.  I don’t hate it, but, I don’t love it.


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