Birthday Week

Well, I made it one more time around the sun.  To hear my physician tell it, I seem to be aging at twice the normal rate, but I’m sure he’s misreading the charts.  BMI-Schmee-MI.  Bunch of gobbly-gook nonsense.  Anyway, I had a very nice birthday, which is always something of a surprise.  I will admit I went into it with very low expectations, which I guess is how I go into most things.  Things started to look better when I had a moderately tolerable day at work though, and then when I went home and found a big cooler full of Jack Stack BBQ on my front porch things really started to look up.  Add in a few nice birthday cards in the mailbox, several well-wishes via text, and a fine steak dinner with the wife, and I rated it a very fine day indeed.

The steak dinner was a pleasant addition to the day.  Donette made 5:30 reservations at a new steakhouse nearby, C. Knights.  Yes, I know, that’s blue-hair dinner hour; do your worst.  Well the only other availability was 7:30, and yes, that is too late for me.  So, I guess if the shoe fits…  At any rate, the dinner was very good, and I got home in time to catch Matlock.  I ordered a 16 oz ribeye, Donette ordered the lobster tail, and we split them to make our own little surf-and-turf dinners.  Both were perfectly cooked and delicious.  The service was just a bit shaky, (I tend to get a little picky when the prices are that high I guess,) but not too bad.  Overall I gave it a solid B+, I’m sure we’ll be back.  Bellies full, we headed back home and watched a few movies.  I guess I need to start writing this stuff down because I can’t remember what they were;  Must have been great.

Saturday was day one of my self-proclaimed “birthday weekend” celebration.  At my advanced age I can only celebrate a limited number of hours in a day, so it helps to spread events over a longer time period.  It was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to dust off the convertible and go wine tasting.  After a short planning session, we decided on:  1) Baiocchi in Sutter Creek, 2) Scott Harvey in Sutter Creek, and 3) Wilderotter in Amador.  As is often the case, these plans got tweaked slightly over the course of the afternoon.  As luck would have it, they were having a little “event” at Baiocchi, with appetizers and live music.  This was probably in honor of my birthday, though they didn’t explicitly say as much.  Not being one to turn down free entertainment, we loitered there quite a while.  We had the dogs with us too, and as they seemed pretty comfortable we decided to just go with it.  We were there a few hours, then scratched the original plan and headed on to Amador.  Scott Harvey also has an Amador location, so we headed there next.  We hung out there for a while too, and then decided to just call it a day.  The pups were getting a bit antsy, as was I, so we rolled on back home.  For evening entertainment we turned on Black Panther, out on the back porch.  I fell asleep mid-movie, have to try that one again another day.

Sunday marked day two of the weekend celebration.  We started strong with a solid breakfast at Firehouse Cafe up the hill in Diamond Springs.  We’ve eaten there once before and really liked it, and this visit was a repeat performance of that success.  I had a fantastic chicken fried steak with gravy, and Donette had the corned beef hash.  Worth the drive to be sure.  I’m wouldn’t say it’s any better than the only place close to our house we like (Purple Place,) but it’s quite a bit cheaper and it’s nice to change up the scenery now and then.  After downing a few thousand calories, Donette took me up the road a bit and dropped me off for a bike ride.  There is a rails-to-trails project up in that area called, not-too-cleverly, the El Dorado Trail, and I’ve wanted to check it out for years.  It’s oddly difficult to get detailed info on it though, and I’ve never been too sure where to hop on it, get back off, etc.  Finally, I decided to just give it a go and see what happened.  Well….  That plan was only moderately successful.  I follow their page (or whatever it’s called) on Facebook, and they always post these scenic pictures with nice wide trails, and families riding their bikes down them.  Suffice to say, that is not the part I was on.  I still don’t know where that part is.  Instead, I rode 17 miles of overgrown single-track, with varying degrees of difficulty.  The fact that I didn’t see a single other bicyclist in the entire 17 miles was a pretty solid clue that I need to keep looking for the “fun” part.  There were sections when I lost the trail entirely, and had to just ride between the rails.  Yeah, that was a little bumpy.  It wasn’t horrible though, at least I got to enjoy some bike time.

Happy Mother’s Day

I hope all the Moms out there enjoyed their special day.  If you didn’t, well I enjoyed it for you, so that’s something.  I did have a pretty grand day of it.  For the last several years we’ve gone out to brunch with a large group, which I have to admit has always been fun.  But, you’ve got the hassle of travel, crowds, reservations, expense, etc etc.  This year one of our friends agreed to just host it at their house, and it turned out great.  As an added bonus, said house was one block from us so we just trotted across the street, packing our slow cooker.  Fun was had by all, and I think the food was better than anything we’d have gotten at a restaurant, especially the ones near us.  After we ate, everybody stuck around on the back patio and hung out enjoying the wonderful weather for the better part of the day.  Good times, hopefully this new tradition continues next year.  (As long as it’s not at my house, mind you…  That was a lot of people.)

Tonight marks a potentially dark day in my life.  I will be fixing spare ribs for dinner.  In a pressure cooker.  GASP.  Yes, it’s true, I’ve been reduced to this.  Hey, if you want to have ribs on a Monday night, what else can you do?  I can’t imagine it going well, but we will see.  My brain keeps being whisked back to that horrible, horrible day 20 years ago when I parboiled a few slabs.  I still feel dirty.  And to make it worse, if you ask Donette what were the best ribs I’ve ever made, she will without fail respond with that travesty of food preparation.  Sigh.  Well, I guess I just feel the need to try something different.  To date, I have not found anyone out here that takes any interest in spending a day sitting in the driveway feeding charcoal to a smoker.  They just don’t get it.  Or I don’t.  We’ll see how they feel about steamed meat.  Honestly, I am scared of the response.  First person to say “They taste just like they do on the smoker!” gets kicked out of the house.

Cinco de Mayo Fest

Hola!  Como esta usted?  And now, having exhausted my complete Spanish vocabulary, I will switch back to English.  Tsk, four years of classes down the drain.  That was my best attempt at referencing our activities for the weekend, which included a mighty fine Cinco de Mayo party on Saturday night.  Our friends Michael and Alaina hosted, and as usual they went over the top.  Me, I prefer theme-less parties.  Just come over and have a party.  That is, if I ever had a party, that’s what it would be.  These guys though, they had a full bar setup, a taco truck, festive mariachi music, the whole nine yards.  Hey, as long as I don’t have to put on any special type of clothing or help with any crazy decorations, I’m game.  It was a great time, I was particularly fond of the taco truck.  The guy put out a huge spread with 5 different fillings, all of which I tried at least once.  It was “all you can eat,” and I took that phrase to a possible extreme.  The lady’s house they held it at was pretty awesome too.  I should say, the back yard was;  I never actually went inside.  I had outdoor-kitchen-envy to be sure.  Every time I think I’ve got the ideal setup, I have to see something like this lady had.  Somebody just always has it a little better I guess.

Sunday was no slouch of a day either, especially considering we didn’t have any plans to start off.  A few quick texts later, we joined a few couples at Sienna for a fun brunch.  We haven’t been to their brunch in a long time, but it didn’t seem that much had changed.  We scored a great table on the patio, and proceeded to massacre the buffet line.  It was all good, I left feeling I got my money’s worth.  After that the day was just too nice to be inside, so we headed up to the scene of the crime from the night before and spent the rest of the afteroon hanging out in the aforementioned awesome back yard.  Once again, I never went in the house, but I’m not sure why you’d really need to.  The back yard had pretty much everything you’d ever need.  As an added bonus we took the puppies with us, and they absolutely ran wild.  They seemed a little overwhelmed with so much space to run around in, but once they figured it out they definitely took some laps.  Of course, as they usually manage to do, they found some disgusting pile of “something” in the yard.  And of course, they rolled all over in it.  We closed out the day with puppy baths.

Spring Visitors

Hey, we had more visitors last weekend.  Always fun.  At least it’s fun for us, I have to imagine our house guests usually leave feeling rather….  Underwhelmed.  As long as I am entertained, that’s all that is important I suppose.  So, anyway, our friends the Martins made it down for a weekend of fun.  Granted, they weren’t really here to see us, just passing through on the way to see their real friends.  That’s just semantics though.  We kicked things off on Friday with a short trip up the hill to Chateau Davell Winery.  Their new place is great, I’m glad to see them doing well there.  We enjoyed a few sips and then headed across the road to one of our favorite restaurants, Smith Flat House.  Always good food, and the place is just cool.  After that we headed home and got into a rousing game of 10 point pitch.  I do miss that game, the local savages out here refuse to engage in such high-brow entertainment.  I’ll mention that the boy’s team won handily, although I suppose that goes without saying.

Saturday was slated for a quaint afternoon of wine tasting in the convertible.  Because, well, it’s just fun.  Alas, the weather did not cooperate.  I won’t say it was COLD, per se, but it was maybe “chilly.”  Not an ideal day for zipping around with the top down, at any rate.  So, we made a last minute change of plans and did a little brew tour instead.  We started out in Auburn, visiting the venerable Moonraker and Knee Deep locations.  I must say, these are my two favorites out here.  They are great spots, and I’d put the beers up against anything.  Luckily for my belly they are pretty far away, so I don’t get to go there very often.  After that we made a quick stop at Goathouse Brewing, mostly out of curiosity.  I wouldn’t say the pint I had was anywhere close to the one from KneeDeep, but it was OK.  The main draw was, they had goats.  Lots and lots of goats.  I don’t really know why, but it was fun to watch them.  We rounded out the day at the new Out of Bounds back closer to home.  They’ve still got a few more chances left, but they are sort of struggling getting the kinks worked out.  We planned on having dinner there, but eventually gave up and left.

Sunday we got up early-ish and rolled down the hill to the Napa area.  Martins were meeting up with their Fancy Friends for a day of wine and food, so we kicked them to the curb and headed out on our own.  Actually, we met up with Michael & Alaina, who happened to be in the area, and took a little tour of our own.  See, we’ve got Fancy Friends too, so there.  We enjoyed a great lunch at an outdoor cafe, hit a few wineries, and then suffered a miserable traffic jam all the way home.  I still declare the day a success, despite the sketchy drive at the conclusion.

New Hardware = New Effort

Well after four years of faithful service, I updated to a new webserver in the house.  I have a not-so-firm rule that when hardware has been progressed to the point that I can get twice the specs for the same money as what I currently have, it’s time to upgrade.  Well that time arrived.  For those that care, (which if I had to guess is absolutely nobody,) I stayed with the Synology platform, but went from a DS213+ to a DS718+.  You won’t even see the 213 model out there, as they long since stopped making it.  Hey, I can’t afford to stay up with the latest greatest.  The DS213 was relegated to backups, and the old original DS111 was retired all together.  (At least until I can figure out a new use for it…)

Not a bad weekend, I don’t suppose.  The weather was about perfect if nothing else.  Matter of fact, Saturday was so nice out that we busted out my friend Michael’s convertible and went driving around, semi-aimlessly.  Never thought I’d see the day when I got in a car just for the sake of driving, but it was that nice.  We hit a butcher shop about 20 miles away and bought a few interesting cuts of meat, and then worked our way back through various points of interest.  For dinner we hit their house and grilled up some of the afternoon purchases.

Sunday was ruined by the fact that I had to work at 6:00 in the evening.  It just kind of brings down the whole day.  I watched the Royals game on the patio, and I guess we went out to a fairly nice meal at Cascada.  Mostly I just sat around and moped about having to work.