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Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is city editor of the Napa Valley Register.

One definition of bliss is snuggling up at home on a rainy day and indulging in books or movies or whatever it is we don’t normally have time for.

And a cup of afternoon tea with a sweet? Don’t mind if I do.

That rainy day arrived last Sunday. The pounding on the roof, the gurgle from the downspouts commanded us to hunker down.

Faced with blustery weather, Cheryl bulked up our breakfast menu. Instead of just walnut-raisin toast with coffee, she added eggs and potatoes.

While devouring both food and news from print and digital sources, we took little breaks to marvel at the rivulets of water running down our windows.

In an era when drought always seems to lurk, heavy rain is a joyous thing. Especially in January. If the creeks don’t start flowing now, then when?

Rain prompts even more jubilation this year, just two months after the deadliest, most destructive wildfire in California history swept through Butte County, sending a nasty cloud of smoke over wine country.

Sunday’s stupendous storm had created the possibility of an entirely unscripted stay-at-home day. I wondered if we were up to the challenge of doing “nothing” from dawn to dusk.

Cheryl wasn’t. Breakfast had no more than just ended and there she was, planning an afternoon in the attic where boxes of “keepsakes” needed sorting for possible discard. Wanting a partner, she invited her daughter to come over and assist.

I appreciated Cheryl’s irrepressible work ethic, but was this the best use of a lazy rainy Sunday? And where did this leave me?

I settled into a comfy chair next to our gas fireplace and began leafing through my collection of lightly read recent New Yorkers. I also began texting. Is anyone out there?

My son Dennis was quick to connect. He was at home in Long Beach enjoying weekend domesticity. Most specifically, his 3-month-old daughter and his nearly 2-year-old rescue cat. He shared anecdotes about both.

With Cheryl and Julia now rooting around upstairs, I made myself lunch, then performed yard reconnaissance through north-, east- and south-facing windows. Yup, still raining cats and dogs. And look at that puddle forming in our backyard.

And that roar? The creek was running!

Back to my New Yorkers. I managed to read a page or two before opting for phone outreach to Indiana where my Hoosier relatives had just returned from visiting us.

Those blue skies you enjoyed here — they’re gone, I said.

Then back to the windows I went. Someone had to keep tabs on the storm.

As I watched the rain pummel our pool, a disturbing thought took hold. Wasn’t the pool water level ominously high?

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The pool’s passive drain no longer works so I decided to set up a hose siphon. In the drenching rain.

I struggled with not one, but two stiff hoses, failing with each. With soaked shoes and pants, I retreated indoors to my spot beside the fire. While drying out, I would do Facebook checks.

Soon Cheryl and Julia appeared, hauling down an ancient bassinet, a grandmother’s stiff black skirt from the 1940s and a vintage Coca-Cola mirror — all bound for thrift shops.

Why so few discards? Hadn’t they been upstairs for hours?

A cache of old family photos had proven irresistible. Look at this one, said Julia. She showed me an image of a striking young woman with flowing blonde hair. She’s your wife, she said.

My layabout Sunday was winding down. In the rain, I carried the bassinet to the garage. I watched more rain fall from snug indoor vantage points. I snacked on leftover Christmas stollen.

Dinner was rainy day worthy: bone broth soup from Cheryl’s new Instant Pot. Our stay-at-home Sunday ended with streamed terror: “Bird Box.”

Spoiler alert: Many people die in this movie. Fortunately for the rain weary, no one drowns.

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Kevin can be reached at

707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or


City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.