Back In The US

Our big vacation has come to a close.  We spent the last two weeks in Italy, the land of good coffee & food, stunning architecture & landscapes, and lots of tourists.  It was a great trip, but I will admit it’s good to be back in the land of the English language, washcloths, normal breakfasts, and working toilets.  Every place has it’s own charms I suppose.  I should probably make some attempt to detail the trip, but I’d mess it up and get yelled at, and besides that we covered so much it would take me forever.  Not to mention, I’m still a bit out of sorts after our brutal 26 hour travel time over the weekend.  For now at least, I’ll just post a few of the 900+ pictures I took.  (Seriously, I took 900 pics.  So much to see.)  Hopefully I get the notes right on them…  It’s all jumbled up already.

Flu & Cold Season

Well I guess Fall is here, and I’m sick right on cue.  Fever, chills, the whole bit.  Sigh.  It really cut into my weekend entertainment, although I gave it a respectable try.  Friday we had a friend over and grilled some pork chops, which managed to come out decent.  I am definitely a fan of brining the chops…  Huge difference.  They were fancy-brand meat too, that might have factored in.  Other than the brine, I just put a little Jack Stack rub on them and threw them on the gas grill.  Throw a salad beside it and call it dinner.  After that we retired to the patio because the temp was so nice outside.  That’s probably how I got sick;  Can’t spend countless hours in a 6×6 cubicle every week and then expect to sniff the great outdoors without some negative consequences.

Saturday we had a day of wine tasting planned, but given my sketchy health we skipped the afternoon session.  Truth be told, I’d have skipped the entire day but I’d made reservations for dinner at the evening spot and felt kind of bad just no-showing on them.  Beside that, it was a free event and I’m not sure I could ever actually be sick enough to pass up a free dinner.  (And to qualify, it was “free” for wine club members…  Nothing in life is free, and that goes triple for wine clubs.)  Anyway, this was the annual “appreciation” event at one of our favorite local wineries, Baiocchi.  All the clubs we belong to have a similar function, but all with a nominal (and in some cases, not-so-nominal) price tag attached.  We’ve never gotten around to attending any of them, not even at Baiocchi. This time I actually noticed the email and thought, well the price is right so what the heck. The dinner was actually at his house out in the country, and it was no small event.  By my “tables x chairs = people” formula, there were roughly 60 attendees.  A local chef came out and fixed a multi-course meal and talked about it all, and the wine pairings, all outside in some fantastic weather.  I even talked to strangers.  Truly a wacky night out for us.

Sunday was a day of football and couch time, as Sundays are probably likely to be for the foreseeable future.  I was still just a bit under the weather, and didn’t want to push my luck by exercising or anything crazy like that.  Some friends in the neighborhood did ask if we wanted to come over for homemade chicken enchiladas, to which I readily replied “heck yes.”  Again, don’t pass up free meals.

Happy Fall

I nearly forgot to update this thing.  But, I had so much fun last weekend that seems a shame.  Now, if I could only remember what I did.  I really need to start taking notes.  Matter of fact I’m just going to skip over Friday because I honestly have no idea what we did.

I have some vague recollection of Saturday, so I guess I’ll give that a shot.  I know for a fact that we headed over to a friends house around noon for a unicorn birthday party.  (They’ve got two little girls…  Don’t know if it was actually their birthdays but they were celebrating at the same time at any rate.)  There was a pretty good mix of kids and adults there.  There were a LOT of kids.  In retrospect that seems perfectly reasonable, given that it was a kid’s party, but I was caught off guard a bit none the less.  Anyway, it was without a doubt the best unicorn-themed party I’ve ever been to.  There was pin the tail on the unicorn, Simon Says, musical chairs, and a pinata.  I didn’t get to play any of them but it was fun watching the kids I guess.  After all the little unicorns had gone home, we went over to a friends house in Folsom to enjoy their backyard in a nice, quiet, child-free environment.  Well, unless you count our little ones, we took both of them with us, which they seemed to enjoy immensely.  We’d made plans to go out to dinner, but I was a bit frazzled by all the earlier excitement so we ended up just firing up the grill and hanging out in their yard.  Far preferable in my book.

Sunday I spent the better part of the day trying to get the football games on our TV.  I’m not ready to give up on my cable-free experiment just yet, but it can be… “challenging.”  The Chiefs game was actually on, since they were playing San Francisco, but it was on Fox which I just barely get.  I spent no small amount of time messing around with the antenna trying to get just the right signal.  I’d say we got to see “most” of though, if in a somewhat stuttering, sometimes frozen, fashion.  After that some friends came over and lent us their streaming account and we enjoyed the afternoon games on the patio.  Eventually everyone decided they were a bit hungry so we headed down to the recently opened Boulevard 41 for some pizza.  That’s our second visit and we’ve been happy both times.  Granted I was happier the first time when they gave us free food, but I don’t suppose that is a sustainable business model.  After dinner I went back home and worked the rest of the evening.  Want to hear about it?  I doubt it, nor do I wish to talk about it.

Tahoe… Napa… Landscaping

I think it’s going to be one of those “post a bunch of pictures” weeks.  For one thing, I’ve lost track of what I’ve done lately, and for another I have a lot of pictures.  Two weekends ago, we headed up to Lake Tahoe for a few nights.  Always a good time.  The main attraction of the visit was a Dave Matthews Band concert on Friday night.  I think that guy is ageless.  Heck, I’ve been going to see him for over ten years I’m sure, and he looks exactly the same.  But then so do I.  Mmmm hmmmm.

This past weekend, we headed the other direction down to Napa.  Not much to do in Napa but taste a few wines and take pictures of the scenery, so that’s what we did.  Nothing new to tell from that trip…  We stuck to our established places.  I guess we did go a new spot for lunch, Rutherford Grill.  Had a very good meal, I suppose we’ll be adding that to our “regular rotation” also.  Little on the pricey side, but then everything there is.  It was a long Saturday, so that kind of took the wind out of us for Sunday.  We ended up on the back patio watching the football games all day, which was just fine with me.

Excitement In The Hood

I’m enjoying a day off today, and hopefully you are too.  It got off to something of an exciting start, at least as “excitement” goes around here.  I was enjoying my morning coffee at my computer when I heard the nearby sound of sirens and screeching tires.  I thought, “Hey that sounds kind of close.”  I looked out the window and saw this little silver car go flying by, with the po-po in hot pursuit a-la Roscoe P. Coltrane.  (Actually it was CHP, somebody was off to a bad start on their holiday.)  Huh, now there’s something you don’t see every day around here.  I could hear the sirens getting louder again, and a few seconds later here they come again, fishtailing around corners and gunning the poor little sedan as hard as he could.  If I ever decide to initiate a police chase, I know one thing;  It wouldn’t be in this neighborhood.  I’m not sure how he got in the gates, but there’s no way to get back out, unless the police are nice enough to sit and wait for them to slowly roll open.  You’re pretty much limited to laps around the block, which is just what they did until apparently he gave it up over on the other side of the neighborhood.  I went back to my morning news, and then Donette came downstairs and noticed everybody out in the front yard.  Not too remarkable, but why is everybody staring at my lawn?  Well, I guess he’d hung a left at my house, and when he noticed it was a dead end he took a nice little shortcut through my lawn.  The neighbor across the street lost a tree in the deal, and I guess I’m out some sod.  I figured the next we’d hear of the deal was when we got a letter from the HOA wanting to know when we’re going to get our lawn repaired.  The CHP did come back and take reports though, like four cars.  They even had the guy cuffed and stuffed in the back of one of the cars.  They said they’d pulled him over for speeding nearby, and he didn’t have a drivers license so he took the exciting car-chase option instead.  Might have been better off taking the ticket on that one…  The almost-even-more-exciting part?  Where he cut through my mulch there in the picture is right where I was sitting at my computer.  Another 8 or 10 feet and my day would have been off to a bad start too!