Dear Margaret Hamilton

I spent this weekend in productive silence behind the closed door of our office/third bedroom surrounded by piles of 2007 receipts, all in the name of finally getting our taxes done. The woman who does the books for Jack's business also does our personal taxes, but she can't do them until she's done Jack's business taxes, and she always files for an extension because she's so slammed in April. Which is fine, I could put this shit off indefinitely, except there was some sort of government money incentive that went out to everybody except us last spring? Which maybe we'll now get except the whole thing will get eaten up paying the late penalty for not paying our taxes in April. SO THAT'S FUN.

Yesterday morning after I dropped off all the tax paperwork I treated myself to a $5 cup of coffee at The Daily Grind on Mission Street. While I was waiting for my double soy latte and blueberry bran muffin -- and whoever decided that blueberry bran muffins deserve a glaze of frosting on top deserves a note of thanks on my behalf, because really, what better way to aid in the choking down of all that fiber? -- and while I was standing there waiting I noticed this:

This person's tortoise ran away! You know that tortoise is a beloved pet because look at the quality of that portrait. The focus is tack sharp and what a handsome pose! But whatever mink-lined box this guy was living in wasn't enough, I guess -- as we have seen first hand, a tortoise will do just about anything to get the hell out of captivity, even when, as at my house, captivity is filled with organic arugula and dandelion greens. P.S. please don't send me any more e-mails about tortoise abuse, Peanut has dropped her habit of bashing her little shell down the stairs and every time I see her clomping over to gaze nostalgically over that first step I pick her up and put her on the balcony. Also, Jack has decreed that Peanut now has a middle name, and this middle name is Shell. THE END.

Anyway, I probably didn't mention that I helped chaperon Jackson's school trip to a Dodgers game last month.

Jack, a lifelong Yankees fan, chose not to attend, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that beloved former Yankees manager, Joe Torre, is now on the Dodgers' payroll. So it fell to the more baseball-ignorant of our dynamic parenting duo to go along and explain all this business of corked bats and bench-clearing brawls and whatnot. Not for me, the dull basics of the game! No, instead we had a long discussion about the time this one guy's bat shattered and a huge splinter of wood stabbed him in the neck.

One of the other parents came armed with blue hair spray. Seriously, it took nearly two weeks for the stain to finally fade from his scalp.

In other news, in those halcyon days before the economy really went down the toilet, we were starting to put aside some money to get rid of our goddamn nasty Home Depot Stain Magnet® carpet and replace it with a nice, dark wood floor, with a sort of strange but interesting dark striped tile around the fireplace hearth.

Jack had that sample plank and tile laying on the floor in the living room for a week or two so everyone could step on the smooth, shiny wood and anticipate the bliss of a real wood floor. Ah, those were the days, before I remembered that my freelance income is all 1099'd and that all the money I'd set aside for frivolous things like flooring was going to evaporate come October 15.

But you don't care about that! You want to know how the book signing in San Francisco went! Well, we decided to make it a family getaway weekend so we drove up Friday in Jack's truck, making a stop along the way in Nipomo for lunch at the famous Jocko's.

Impressive! Impressively locked in a land before time, Jocko's serves lots and lots of meat, as they have been doing since the days when you saw more cows grazing along the 101 than acres and acres of grapes and signs for some very nice wineries using depressingly predictable mixtures of cursive and heroic serif fonts.

It was too dark to capture Jocko's church basement ambiance without a soul-destroying flash and I didn't want to upset the natives, many of whom had forearms the size of my thighs. There are some big fellas drinking at Jocko's bar at noon and they're not just having a beer with lunch, they are having ten beers and a fifth of Jack for lunch. Hell, it's Friday, why not. Come in an monkey round! Jackson was sort of disappointed with his massive non-McDonald's cheeseburger, but he took one for the team and stayed quiet about it. I would warn any potential Jocko's-goers to expect a rusty iceberg salad with your meal, but the fries are fantastic.

This was the view from our hotel the next morning. The St. Francis had a "book two nights and get a third night for free" special, so we took it. Our room was on the 24th floor in the new section of the hotel that overlooks the old section, where they appear to store improperly bagged medical waste on the roof. Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous, sunny day in San Francisco and one hell of a lot warmer that it was during the BlogHer conference last July.

I feel like Jackson is getting more beautiful every day while I'm slowly withering into some sort of early-Renaissance crone. Come on over and bring your own cauldron! We'll bob for heretics.

We met some friends for lunch at the hotel and then I was released from social duties to go shopping. Maybe not the brightest thing to do, given our personal finances, but coming from a crummy mid-range consumer backwater like we do, where there's not a whole lot between $250 blue jeans and K-Mart, when you get the chance to go a nice old-fashioned department store with seven floors YOU TAKE IT.

Plus, I needed stockings. All I can say is Macy's Union Square, that's quite a selection of legware you have. And DSW? Thanks for last year's Born tango Mary Jane pumps in both brown and black, and the fact that their size 10 is actually a 10 1/2.

So many great people came out to see us at Swig, including Maggie, who makes every event shine just a little bit brighter; my gorgeous friend Maureen, who I worked with years ago at Shakespeare & Co. in New York; Beth, who I was so impressed with in high school and hadn't seen in 25 years, and who is now a brilliant college professor and blog comment leaver; and Dave, on the left there, who I've known since I was 14. This is the only picture I took the whole night and oh no, I'm doing the I'M AWAKE! eye thing! Shit! I met Dave at a National Forensics League speech and debate meet in 9th grade and it didn't take us long to became good friends. I have more Dave stories than time to tell them -- the time I showed up at his dorm at Dartmouth with a car full of eighteen-year-old boys comes to mind, or the time in Bob's unheated north Denverbasement when he taught me the bass line for As Tears Go By. And now Dave is a fancy genius. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, I got some really good stockings at Macy's, including these, which I wore last Saturday night to the vegetarian pot luck at the yoga shala. Jackson was all, "Mom, you look like a teenager," in the same sort of voice you might say, You know you look like a total idiot, right? I may or may not continue to ignore fashion advice from my seven-year-old; he's pretty good at picking out accessories so I could probably start giving his opinion a little more weight. But really, once Halloween rolls around I think a hint of wicked witch can be delightful.

Next time on Fussy: the world's tiniest snail, and my attempts to live a chair-free existence.