Today, I have a mishmosh of stories to tell you. Don't you just love that word? Mishmosh. Mishmosh. Mishmosh.
First things first.
We are so excited in our corner of the planet. We have a real life celebrity in Da House.
My sweet, doe-eyed, curly girl Julia.
My skateboard princess, with her scrappy, neon-blue nail polish.
My artist and lover of everything of the earth, including all of God's creatures, no matter how humble. When she's not in the house, I know I can always find her in the leaky Jon Boat, shin deep in murky lake water, spellbound by the tiny minnows sashaying back and forth.
My archery warrior, who discovered her love for the bow and arrow, long before Katniss was a character on a page.
My Annie Oakley in her bathing suit, jumping from the pool to take a shot or two at her empty milk jug container target with her pellet gun, as she is wont to do.
This good and sweet girl of diverse interests has become obsessed in the past year with the British boy-band, One Direction. We know every word to every song on their album because the music plays in our house Every. Single. Waking. Moment. Of. The. Day. Baby you light up my world like nobody else. The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. It is my own personal form of music torture.
I guess it could be worse. At least it's not Nickelback.
Last week, One Direction came to town on their concert tour and we were SO VERY EXCITED. There were spazzy fits of squeals at the most unexpected moments, usually right in my ear, leading up to the big day. There was much thought and preparation put into the makeup, the outfit, (she wore the colors of Ireland, the homeland of her favorite One Direction boy, Niall) the hair, the phone calls to the other One Directioners, where they shrieked their excitement to each other in One Direction squeal code.
On the concert day, we sent our pack of girls off with a paid bodyguard, one very big brother. They left early in the day to tailgate and try with all their 14-yr-old wiles to get into the sound check.
It was worth every bit of my 80 dollar chaperone fee not to expose my ghost skin to the broiling Florida summer sun and most especially, not to have the sound of thousands of teenage girls' collective lusting shrieks reverberating through my inner organs.
They had a great time. Alas, they did not make it into the sound check, but my Julia was over the moon excited just to be breathing the same air as her beloved boys in their skinny jeans. The girls loved the concert and we chalked it up to one fabulous, teenage dream memory.
Until the next morning.
My hubs had been up for awhile, but Saturday is my sleeping-in day. I was in dreamland with my three horse dogs curled around me, when my hubs burst into the room, laughing uproariously and saying, "You are not going to BELIEVE this!" I was instantly awake and I saw he held the paper in his hands.
My first thought was, "Oh-oh, did one of our friends go crazy and end up in a high speed cop chase?"
Because there are a few of my peeps . . .
He held up the paper and as I peered through bleary, sleep-drugged eyes, I saw my girl, in her orange and green glory, giving her best Rock of Ages pose, her trademark fusion of leather and twine and peace bracelets, circumscribing her tiny wrists and rolling down the length of her forearm, as she flailed about in utter joy.
There—on the front page of our paper. There—representing the legion of girls packed into the amphitheater to shriek their undying, or at least for-this-year love of One Direction.
My girl on the front of our Tampa Tribune.
We couldn't be prouder. And she feels like the rock star that she truly is.
My dear friend Todd who is one of the big honchos at our local NBC affiliate, (the Tribune is part of that media conglomerate) sent me the print after he saw me post it on Facebook. Thanks again Todd for your kindness.
So that was our big excitement this week.
In other news, I've been a little negligent over here at my beloved blog because we had a spur of the moment trip, to: hold on, brace for it, you'll be so surprised . . . The Wine Country!
And yes, I do travel to other places. I really do. It's just that there is no better spot in the world than in the vineyards of California in my wine-soaked opinion.
Right before we left for the trip, I contracted what I thought was a nasty-ass cold.
That nasty-ass cold gripped on tight, not letting go. It exhausted me. I'd make my way through my day, weak and listless and fall into bed at night, exhausted from being listless all day.
My hubs had been fussing at me to go to the doctor, but I just knew by the next day I would feel better. When the next day turned into a week and I still felt like roadkill and I was two days away from vacation, I buckled.
When the nurse called me back for the mandatory heinous weigh-in, I asked her, as I stepped on the scale and closed my eyes to please not announce the lb numbers out loud.
I don't feel the need to know my weight. I don't want some numbers determining my mindset. I prefer to guide my health through the feel of my clothes, the state of my physical fitness. Until last year, I didn't even own a scale until my hubs bought one for his ammunition. Don't ask.
I've always had nurses who agreeably jotted down my numbers in silence, but not this fun-sucker.
This Nurse Ratchett actually said, "Oh, I am tellinggggg you your weight."
And I was all, "Nuh-uhhhh." Because I am super mature in most situations.
And she said, "Yes, I am."
And being the mature woman I am, I said, "Well then, I'll just cover my ears and hum."
And she was like, "I'm going to make sure you know."
I stepped on that scale, determined to keep my hands over my ears the whole doctor's visit, if that's what it would take not to hear those numbers. For all I cared, the doctor could mime her diagnosis, just so long as I didn't have to hear the NUMBERS.
But before I could even press my hands over my ears, that bitch had yelled out my weight.
And I was all, "Huh. Okay, that's really not bad. In fact, those are happy numbers."
And the nurse was all, "See? Aren't you glad I told you?"
I only told you that story because I was a little astounded by Nurse Ratchett. I mean, this is America and if I don't want to hear my weight, I'm pretty sure I have the right not to hear my weight! But also to say that those happy numbers turned sad from the debauchery that was eight days in Napa Valley. Time to start killing myself again.
That would be with exercise.
For the record, I'm not like starving myself or anything. There's no way I could do that. There are too many Doritos left in the world.
Oh and by the way, I had bronchitis and two ear infections.
By the time I made it over the Golden Gate into my beloved San Francisco, thanks to a litany of horse drugs, I felt much better.
Our trip was a mix of business and pleasure. Oh, who am I kidding! Really, the whole thing was pleasure, but a few days of our trip were hosted by a company my hubs does business with, so I had to behave professionally and that is always hard work for me.
The first part of our vacation was just the Hubs and me at a little B&B I've been yearning to stay at for the longest time, but there's never any room at the Inn. This time I lucked out. Chateau de Vie totally earns its ranking of #1 on Trip Advisor. If you ever go to Napa Valley, the biggest tip I can give you is try and stay with Peter and Phillip at their fabulous B&B. You won't be sorry. If you book several months in advance you might even get to stay in their beautiful carriage house.
My hubs is usually not a B&B kind of guy, but this is no creaky old Victorian house with overly friendly hosts, this is the uber cool Peter and Phillip and their house built to feel like a chateau in the middle of a vineyard.
This is what Phillip's breakfasts looked like in the morning:
And under that delicious pile of greens, was a perfectly cooked sunny side egg, one of my favorite things in the world:
And this is the scenery from our breakfast table:
If you want to hear more about Chateau de Vie, check out my Trip Advisor review, right here,where I gush about the place. I also spill a little secret about one of the reasons for our trip. You want to know? Check it. Over there. But not just yet. Finish my War and Peace post first, y'all.
When we regrettably left Peter and Phillip, we headed over to Sonoma, the part of the trip where I had to be all proper. Hard work for me. It was a lovely few days where we made new friends, (Hi Sophia and Lance!) and were treated to some incredible evenings.
One of those evenings was spent on a mountaintop at a winery where we feasted on fabulous foods in an unbelievable gorgeous setting.
Desserts from the pastry chef at French Laundry.
Afterwards, we traveled back to our hotel, satiated with wine and delicious foods.
We hung out poolside with a gang of business associates where heat lamps were turned on and more wine was ordered. The men smoked cigars and Sophia and I, the only ladies daring enough to brave the chilly night air, blanketed ourselves in pool towels and talked the night away. Finally, long after midnight, Sophia and I decided snacks were in order and we wandered to the lobby in pursuit of a menu.
Unfortunately, Northern California shuts down early. (Napa and Sonoma in particular.) It doesn't matter how much you gussy up a town with wine and fancy restaurants, the truth is, the wine country is a place of farmers and farmers rise with the sun. There was no food to be had, but the concierge directed us out the front door and into the night, just a quick walk from our hotel to the best food in town.
Sophia, my kindred spirit, lit up, when she realized where our adventure was going and she said, "Let's do this! You want to do this?"
And I was all, "Oh, hell yeah!"
So we got our men because Sonoma is a working-man's town, a dark and desolate place in the black of the night and took a walk to:
The taco bus. That's my friend Lance, in his cool fedora.
Me and the Taco Bus Lady and Ernesto, up there, making the fabulous food. And yes, I brought my glass of wine with me to the Taco Bus. Doesn't everyone?
Lance and Sophia with the goods. And let me tell you, the best Carnitas Quesadillas I've ever had in my LIFE. Those lb numbers went up like a Vegas slot machine jackpot. DingDingDingDing.
At this part of the trip, my sister-in-law, the Bad-Ass, joined us. For those of you who aren't aware, I call her the Bad-Ass because her job requires her to carry a weapon at all times. Her job also requires her to be an active part of all national emergencies where she has done things like scuba dive for bodies after plane crashes. She has also infiltrated Cartels and just other really bad-assery stuff like Angelina Jolie in Salt except my sister-in-law is actually doing the bad-assery instead of hovering at the catering table eating her daily allotted piece of lettuce while a stunt double commits the bad-assery. Because of her Bad-Ass status, I cannot show you her pictures, but I can tell you she is major fun with a capital F-U.
As most of you know, my darling hubs and his family had a pretty tough 2011, losing both their parents within months of each other. When our trip came up, we invited my Bad-Ass sister-in-law and her husband, who is also a Bad-Ass to join us. Since it was spur of the moment, they had no one to watch their young children, so my SIL's Bad Ass Husband who is also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, insisted she come out for a little well-deserved R&R.
Two short stories about her and I swear, we're almost through. Are your eyes hemorrhaging yet?
In Sonoma, my SIL put all of her bad-ass paraphernalia she's required to travel with, in the safe. The safe that was in the bedroom my hubs and I were staying in. But she forgot one crucial thing. When we got home from wine tasting, our room had been cleaned, the beds made with dark chocolates on the pillow. And there, on the nightstand, right next to the sweetly made up bed, sat the Bad Ass's steel handcuffs.
I couldn't look at our maid the next day when we passed her in the hall.
We left Sonoma and spent the last leg of our trip in my city by the bay, San Francisco.
We took the Bad Ass to our favorite Italian restaurant, right on the outskirts of North Beach in a lovely residential pocket of town. We sat next to the big windows overlooking the street. At the end of dinner, my SIL announced she was going to give her leftovers to a homeless person. And just as she said this an older, dignified looking gentleman pushing a personal folding shopping cart came strolling by.
A great number of city residents, especially the older set, use those shopping carts on a daily basis as they get about the town. I guess my SIL saw this as a symbol for homelessness.
She jumped up and declared that gent would be getting her leftovers.
I protested, telling her that he was most certainly not homeless. She insisted he was. And as I continued to protest my hubs squeezed my leg under the table and said, "Let her do it."
Oh my Lawdy.
We couldn't breathe, we were laughing so hard. She, shoving her styrofoam container at him, rubbing her stomach and saying, "Yummy. Yummy." He, walking faster and faster to get away from her as she picked up her pace and the urgency of her Yummy Yummy's. He finally waved and said, "Bye. Bye" to her as my hubs and I fell off our chairs in hysteria.
And finally, one more bit of excitement.
We stayed, as we always do, in the wonderful Mark Hopkins Hotel.
Our kind friends there put us up in the most magnificent room I've ever been privileged to stay in.
It had a freaking solarium. On the 16th floor. Overlooking beautiful San Francisco.
I tell you, I felt like I was in Pretty Woman. Although, for the record, my hubs did not pay me thousands of dollars for favors. Hey, on second thought . . .
My hubs went to the airport to return our car the day we got there. Tip number two: Don't rent a car in San Francisco. You do not want to drive in that town, trust me on this and the parking fees aren't worth keeping a car when there are so many other transportation options.
The Bad-Ass and I were relaxing in the solarium when she, with her professional bad-ass eyes said, "Look, there are snipers on the roof next door."
And sure enough, if you can tell by this blurry shot, there were two men dressed in all black with duffel bags and binoculars, scouring the city from their eagle eye perch.
They honed in on us, and I, of course, started dancing for them. My dancing did not impress them. Matter of fact, it doesn't impress anyone. Matter of fact, my daughter imitates my dancing and my entire family laughs and laughs because they are all a bunch of assholes.
Anyway, the Bad-Ass then pointed to the men in suits with earpieces in their ears on every street corner and lining the entrance to the hotel, the Fairmont. There were also uniformed police everywhere and the sidewalks were roped off.
The Bad-Ass said all of this fuss meant someone important was coming to the Fairmont, someone super important.
So, of course, I was all, "Do you think it's Brad and Angie!"
She was thinking more along the lines of a Presidential Cabinet member or maybe visiting dignitary. And then she said, "Let's go find out."
I protested, telling her they wouldn't just come out and tell us, since this looked super important with the black jumpsuited snipers and the men with earpieces.
And that's when she flashed her bad-ass badge that overrules every other law enforcement in the land and I was all, "Oh yeahhhh!"
So we left our hotel and thrust ourselves in the midst of all the fuss and frenzy to chat up two local police officers. The Bad-Ass said the local cops are always the friendliest and she was right, these two men could not have been nicer. I forgot my phone in the room or I would have taken a picture with these nice gents.
They informed us it was the President of South Korea coming in for a visit. I was a mite disappointed. I was hoping for maybe Vladmir Putin, because that dude cracks me up with his super manliness or the recently booted Nicolas Sarkosky and his beautiful French wife or Heaven help me, William and Kate!
But the Prez of South Korea? I don't even know who that is. I mean, I was glad it wasn't the douche from North Korea and yay for freedom and all of that, but really, South Korea? So because it was cold and it was the guy from South Korea and because there was wine to be had in our Pretty Woman solarium we went upstairs and danced some more for the guys with the binoculars.
And that was it for our trip.
Except for one more thing.
My favorite winery, not for the wine. In fact, I didn't even try the wine in this place, I was too busy making out with my gorgeous new friend.
That St. Bernard, bigger than me, would not let me off that floor. Every time I stopped rubbing his fluffy fur, he'd burrow his big old head into me and hit me with his giant paw. We are officially in love.
I promise not to be such a stranger any more. I'm writing, revising, writing these days, in a holding pattern, waiting to hear some news. That's all I want to say about that right now.
This week, we're headed to the beach, where I will swaddle myself in layers of clothes in an effort to keep my skin its fabulous glow in the dark color. I come in handy when the lights go out.
Happy Fourth to everyone! Let Freedom Ring! Equal Rights For Everyone! And yay Anderson Cooper for telling the world you're proud and gay. I love that man even more than I did before. Which is almost as much as I love that St. Bernard.
Today's Definite Download: We were fortunate enough to have satellite radio in our rental car. I kept it tuned to my favorite channel, The Spectrum, which spans indie rock from all ages. I was beyond thrilled when we tuned in to Brandi Carlile live, singing most of her new album. I love Brandi Carlile as a singer, but most of all as a profound lyricist. Her new album is a jewel and I've already played her new songs a thousand times on my iPod as I try to get through the laundry.