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Napa Journal

Kevin Courtney, Napa Journal: Home alone, again

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Rare is the day I’m home alone.

The last time it happened, I was charged with taking care of a fluffy Yorkie belonging to Cheryl’s firstborn.

Knowing nothing about dogs, I was on edge the whole time. But things worked out. Pawblo survived. I did too.

This time there was no dog in the mix. Just me and Jack the cat.

I can handle cats, particularly ones that sleep a lot.

Cheryl hit the road at the crack of dawn, not to return for 14 hours. This created staggering possibilities.

Do I line up coffee with the gals, beers with the guys? Fuss around with scissors and cut my hair? Maybe go hiking, devour a book, binge on movies? Or more realistically, I could just sit there and listen to Jack snore.

Cheryl had uttered some disturbing words as she sailed out the door. The pool is looking a little green, she declared yet again.

Right off my day was tarnished. She might as well have called our pool a swamp … with croaking frogs.

I devoted the first hour of my day of freedom to pool scrubbing and crude adjustments to water chemistry.

Maybe that would cure the problem. Maybe it wouldn’t. In either case, I checked “pool care” off my list.

Next, I devoted several hours to consuming news. Ukraine, blah, blah. COVID, blah, blah. Congressional stalemate, blah blah. Thank heavens for fresh crime.

At mid-morning I retreated to Cheryl’s office. With Jack sleeping nearby, I wrote a brilliant first draft of my next column. (As is always the case, it had turned to sludge when I returned for a second draft a day later.).

Finally, lunchtime. I crafted a peanut butter sandwich with a layer of banana. Once fortified, I headed out. First the pool store, where I discovered that one of my diagnostic chemicals had expired three years ago. Did that explain the greening?

Next, Peet’s for a cappuccino. I intended to live large for an entire hour and hopefully see blackbirds swoop down on unsuspecting Bel Aire Plaza shoppers.

The Register had written about these nest-defending birds a month earlier. The video by Jennifer Huffman was hysterically entertaining. I wanted to be dive-bombed too.

Sadly, the dive-bombing had ended. The baby birds must have left the nest.

I nursed my coffee inside while staring outside where the diving action had been. I’d just missed it!

Returning home, I found Jack in a state. Momma was gone. I was proving to be an erratic substitute.

Hang in there, cat. We only have to suck it up for a few more hours.

But not to worry. There’s dinner!

I reached for Stagg Steak House Reserve Chili, a meaty concoction in a 15-ounce can.

I love Stagg as much as Cheryl deplores it. I keep a supply deep in the pantry for my bachelor moments.

While zapping the chili in the micro, I popped the cap on my first beer of 2022, a Lagunitas IPA. I was transformed by the first sip. No more husband at loose ends. I was Mr. Cool Beer Chili Guy.

While feasting, I listened to songs on Pandora’s Bill Callahan station. Singer-songwriter stuff, much of it meditative and sad. Guys singing for guys. I felt part of a global fraternity of men sitting in dark bars, nursing beers, spooning chili, awash with guy feelings.

Cheryl returned as I was cleaning up after my transcendental guy moment.

Her first question was about Jack. How had things gone?

Just fine, I said. Neurotic cats are tougher than you think.

And my Stagg?

Perfection, I said. Absolute perfection.

Kevin Courtney's Fave 5 of 2019

2019 is ending with a flurry of good stories. These are some of my favorite. They capture the flavor of life in Napa.

Kevin can be reached at

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