Through the Front Door Week 34 of 2019

Three-Digit Fahrenheit

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday going outside as the sun goes down in order to water the frazzled plants. Once upon a time, if you lived in the Bay Area, there was no central air in in the houses. After all, Mark Twain said, ” the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.”

The “City by the Bay” is grousing about the heat, as are the denizens of the in land counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendicino. The Sonoma vineyards are in whatever stage of life that requires men and women to be working among the vines. All the workers wear hats with big brims to cover their neck and tie water soaked kerchiefs around their necks.

Tomato plant

Summer of the Sad Tomatoes

My tomato crop is sad this year; the plants were puny. The Early Girls are the size of cherry tomatoes, instead of normal tomato size good for making bacon and tomato sandwiches. The cherry tomatoes are sized right but lack flavor. The grape tomatoes are growing all their fruit on a single stem. Conversations with my sister, who is a master grower of tomatoes, diagnosed insufficient fertilizer, and lack of water. I watered faithfully, but just realized it was just draining away to water the guest parking spaces instead of staying in the soil to nourish the roots. On the other hand, the basil is thriving. Time to try my hand at pesto sauce.

Game Day Sunday

Had a lot of fun playing that grand old classic: Clue. Professor Plum, did it in the hall with a wrench!

Though Sybal’s Front Door Week 33 of 2019

Fall of the Mighty Agave

Many of my friends know this story already, but it’s been a slow week sans events. For twelve years a very large agave occupied the corner of the lot next to the driveway. I lurked and bided its time waiting for chances to inflicted deep scratches on unwary passers by.

After a winter and spring of torrential rains, a ten foot stalk shot up overnight one week in April. Like Jack’s beanstalk, it grew and it grew and it grew about the height of a three story building. It put out stalks, and blossomed and bloomed. Last Sunday evening the 60 mph gusts were too strong for its shallow root system, and over it went.

In spite of its weight, the only damage was a small dent in the roof of the carport. However, it exercised the maintenance crew who needed almost three hours to remove it. Rest in peace aggravating agave!


The Lost Chord

Out of the blue, a memory rose up of Dad noodling on the piano late at night. He often played a hymn “The Last Chord” which I particularly liked because it is a piece written in a minor key.

It must be sixty-five years since I have thought about this and I haven’t the foggiest idea what brought it to mind this afternoon. Anyway, I got to wondering if there really was such a hymn, or if my memory had fogged over with time.

For fun, I looked it up on the internet and discovered “The Lost Chord” was a hymn written by Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) who composed it sitting by the deathbed of his brother Fred. According to Wikipedia, Sir Arthur called it his finest composition. The lyrics are a poem written by Adelaide Ann Proctor, a poet who once upon a time was as widely read as Tennyson. It is heavy with the Victorian sentiment, but it has some nice phrases.

Choral Recording of “Lost Chord” on YouTube

YouTube has a nice choral recording of this hymn if you want to hear it

A Handful of Lyrics

Seated one day at the organ
I was weary and ill at ease
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.

I knew not what i was playing
Or what I was dreaming then
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen. . . .

I have sought but seek it vainly
That one lost chord divine
Which came from the soul of the organ
and entered into mine.

Adelaide Ann Porter

Through the Front Door Week 24, 2019

Trouble to the Fourth Degree

Family friends who live in Switzerland, lost their beloved companion cats one after the other. They found they could not live without a cat in the house so they off they went to adopt a kitten. Whereupon they found they could not make decisions either. They solved the immediate problem by bringing the entire litter of four home. And are now living the consequences of trouble to the fourth degree.

Through the Front Door of Week 22, 2019

Century plant starting its bloom phase


I woke up with a headache this morning: feeling gloomy. I was driving myself crazy trying to decide which of four important things I should do first. So, I stayed in bed and “asked Alexa” to play Brandenburg Concertos until the gloom departed taking my headache with it. Made coffee. Drank coffee. Abandoned all four important things and went outdoors to play at being a gardener.


Mini Victories

Romeo and Julio each have worn a “breakable” collar that was brand new two years ago. Sunday I discovered the breakaway fastenings had fused to the point it was impossible to pull the collar apart even using pliers.

Down to the pet store to buy two new collars. Next problem: remove the old collars. Both cats panicked when they saw scissors coming at their neck. I was opening an Amazon box with the box cutter when I saw the light. The box cutter was small enough to hide in my hand and the sharp blade had both collars off in a minute: no muss, no fuss.

Facebook Binge

Maybe I spend an hour a week on Facebook. Today I spent four hours involved in an animated discussion with members of the Terry Pratchett Facebook group. About thirty people debated the pros and cons of adapting his novels for film and television. There are a lot of seriously serious Pratchett fans out there. I had a lot of fun with this, yet I don’t want to do it again soon.


Hot. Chores


First really hot day of the year. Closed the curtains, turned on the air conditioning. Spent the afternoon reading a book written by an artist who trains FBI and police in”forensic observation” by taking them to art museums to look at paintings. I looked at some illustrations in the book. Either I see but don’t look, or look but don’t see. In either case, I missed a lot a whole lot.


We are having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave. This morning I soaked the tomatoes and the strawberries about 6 a.m. Misted the succulents. The wind came up at 4:00 p.m. gusting at 30 m.p.h. Three counties have posted fire watches.


Went to Costo. Backing out of the parking space, the front bumper caught on the concrete stop block and ripped off halfway. I was afraid that the entire bumper would fall off on the freeway, so I bought some shocking turquoise duct tape and plastered it all over the front end. The poor car looks like it’s crying blue. I was upset at first, but it’s just a piece of fiberglass or plastic. That’s what collision insurance is for.


Outside the temperature is climbing into triple digits, and the wind is gusting still. PG&E has turned off the power in parts of Napa, Yolo, and Lake Counties. The Belmont today: the third stage of a totally jinxed Triple Crown. What strange thing will happen today? I am going to give this a miss because I don’t want to risk seeing a horse injured.

Through the Front Door of Week 22 of 2019

Memorial Day

Hung out the flag about five-thirty this morning, as the sun was making it’s way up through the palm trees across the street. At dawn, it’s easy to imagine I might have been transported to an island in the South Pacific until I open the window and the wind blows a 40-degree chill through the window.

For as long as I have lived, there has been a war somewhere involving American soldiers. Doubtless, it will be the same long after I am gone. I thought about Dad. Whatever his thoughts and feelings about World War II, he loved flying, and he loved that little Stinson L-5 because he could count on it to get off the ground any time, anywhere, under any conditions.


Neighbors are redoing the landscaping; which means digging up the rose bushes that about twenty years old. Two were offered to me; being a total novice when it comes to gardening, I accepted. And got the giggles: those babies are NOT rose bushes; they are rose trees with root balls about a foot wide and a foot deep. What passes for topsoil here is clay concrete and impossible to dig, so they are in big pots now. Only time will tell if they will survive.


Pick up and put away. Chase dust bunnies out of corners. Clean the cat litter pans (put new bags into the “Litter Genie” a really great invention for managing cat boxes)


Ditto Wednesday


Total self indulgement today. I binge watched the video series Amazon produced from Good Omens. I have been waiting a year for this. This book is extremely difficult to adapt for television. As I expected the results were very uneven although Neil Gamin (one of the co-authors) wrote the screen adaptation. Fortunately, the casting choices elevated the production into something that was enjoyable in spite of the flaws. David Tennant and Martin Sheen were brilliant as Aziraphel and Crawley. They carried the series. but the supporting casting was equally well done. Miranda Richardson’s seance scene was worth watching twice.


So foggy, the trees across the street are practically invisible. I discovered that Amazon Prime music has the full cast recordings of Carousel, and Camelot. Is there anything more fun than cleaning out your sock drawers while listening to old musicals at full volume???