Sunday Lunch

Today is Emily’s mother’s birthday. 78? Will figure that out later. So our big plan is to have lunch with a crowd in Petaluma. About an hour out, unless traffic hits. We meet at 11. So, what is Emily doing here at 1002? With no sense of urgency, she is “getting ready”. We woke at 830 and she says we can be out by 930 or 10. That’s a fantasy. She is very slow in the morning and that’s with me doing all the morning chores. And she wonders where Marika gets it. I don’t. We will be late, only question is by how much. If lucky we will get there by 1130. If extra lucky the rest of the gang will be very late as well. I believe we have an 11am reservation. The angst awaits. I am sure Emily will be yelling as if it’s my fault very soon.

All that worry for nothing. We were about 15 minutes late and the restaurant did not have their shit together. So we were about one minute late for seating. Late, but not late.

Small table for 11. That means there would be a minimum of two conversations going at once, each end of the table. More like three at times. I sat in the middle next to my father in law. So injoined to the left and right but mostly kept grandpa entertained. And no one thanked me.

One thing for the place we ate brunch, they are not bashful with serving size. The servings were gigantic. The plates were extra large and the food was stupid big servings. It can be difficult to describe. Emily ordered biscuits and gravy. The homemade biscuits, two, were the size of cantaloupes. Then you get gravy. The fried chicken serving was t he whole bird. Plus fries. I ordered corn beef hash with two eggs over easy. The serving size, not so bad. Except it included one of the huge biscuits. And potatoes. A pile of potatoes equal to the pile of hash plus half again more. I decided upon seeing it I would not eat either. I gave them to my little nephew Dennis. He is 6’5 and 250. He needs big food.

The lunch really was fabulous for grandma. I don’t know what else she has going but when 10 relatives come together to celebrate your birthday, then you know you’re a big deal. But she had the fabulous time. There were gifts, of course. But Emily made her a shadow box with all her grand kids names in it spelled in scrabble tiles. That one made her tear up. Like I said, fabulous.

After a long brunch we all wandered off into Petaluma to browse and shop. And by we all, I don’t mean together, we all ended up together though six of us who went all in different ways to get there.

Petaluma is a small town near the coast. Since we are in CA the real estate here is ungodly expensive. But the town is a really nice place to visit and the people I meet here love living here. We have discussed actually living here. There are many craftsman type houses for sale. Could probably afford a small house. But, the town is isolated and difficult to get to so there would be no viable commute. Too bad.

We shopped and walked through town for a couple hours. Went to the furniture store we missed last time. Hit the thrift and clothing stores. Every time we passed a bar, there are many, I suggested browsing in there. No one wanted too. A true shame.

Emily ran across a few things she could not live without and now does not have too. Beth did the same which really ticks off her husband. I suggested she buy more. Hank needs to be desensitized.

Eventually we got all shopped out, so we said our goodbyes and headed home. Our trip back was just great. For a change there were no back ups on 121 or 12 or 80 in Fairfield. That’s just not normal. I guess we just got lucky. If it was like that every day I could live here. But, the traffic is usually (think always) backed up to the max. So we are still aimed at Auburn. The trip home was an hour. Versus the ninety minutes this morning or the two hours a few days ago.

Got back home. Emily has three classes to take online, has a deadline of tomorrow. She started in on that. I went to the store for dinner stuff. We had decided on homemade pizza. Not too tough a row to hoe.

Only caveat, I wanted cauliflower crust. Fortunately, we have an over priced foo foo grocery store in town. I went there. They had three different types of cauliflower crust. The only good thing about that store. They have everything cool, all way too expensive. But they draw you in when weird ingredients are needed. I hate the place passionately. But I got all my groceries for the pizza for only $36. I said way too expensive.

Home again. Emily had finished her classes already. So we built pizzas. Got the stones into the oven and hot. Made sauce and created two pizzas. They are beautiful. Into the oven they go and we should be good in 12 minutes.

While waiting, I made cocktails. I had picked up a new recipe recently and I wanted to try it with a decent rum. Yesterday’s attempt with bad rum was not as good as today’s try with more flavorful rum. Today’s drink was way better than yesterday’s. Always helps to experiment in order to improve your results.

So we finished dinner and relaxed. Watch Sunday night bad TV. About 15 minutes later Marika got here. She only works weekends now so comes home on Sunday night or Monday. Tomorrow we are headed to the Marin Headlands to go on a hike. She has found a reasonably short hike we can all enjoy. Only 5 miles or so. Should be fun. Even Emily is going to go. And she never goes on hikes. So it’s a super special day.

So Marika helped herself to pizza. Which she loved. She brought home some late harvest Chardonnay (awful) and asked me for a cocktail too. She did not like that Chard either. She also skipped the salad we made. WTH? So we all sat and watched tv while Marika ate.

This is the end to a nice day. Just kinda relaxing and watching and chatting here. Special and not.

Not Much Doing

Just kidding. I had to drink coffee. And read the paper. That’s a ton. And a shower so I don’t smell like my dog. Much. I must mow the lawn today. That’s is beyond thrilling. But, mort of all, I finished my ironing. Yay team bill!! Yes, I do my own ironing, especially my shirts. I used to pay a dollar a piece for the dry cleaner to wash and iron. But those morons break buttons then forget to sew them back on. Or sew them on poorly. Or sew on buttons that don’t match. Or use too much starch or for that matter use starch at all. I think you can see my problem. Or one of my many problems. All first world but still problems.

I am going to mow. Then I will be done with all chores. Except laundry. That’s always and forever. Which is a song. Do not remember who sang it. Though I could sing a few bars if pressed.

Finished with the leaf covered lawn mow. Was not fun. After a few weeks of leaves, all the dog poop is covered. So when you finally mow the wheels of the mower collect a lot of poop. So do my shoes. Just fun. So I really made a mess then cleaned it up. Couldn’t be helped. But I am done. And from perusing local trees, that part is done as well. So I am done with mow and clean up for a few weeks.

Emily wants to go to the movies. So we are going to the movies. It turns out, Mary Poppins has come back in order to make $500 million for Disney. So we are going to go see that. I can tell you I really don’t want to go. I would choose something else.

Off to the movies. Nothing special here. Though now I have to reserve seats for the damn movies. Pain in the ass. So I went inline and purchased two tickets for the 2pm show. Sadly, this appears to be a popular movie and I had to buy seats in the front row. And me with a stiff neck. So I will need to look straight up for two hours. What fun! Emily can’t go through a movie without snacks. So a large popcorn, large soda and box of goobers to pour into the popcorn. It keeps her from falling asleep during the movie or so she says. The movie was about 2 hours long ( 20 minutes too long) and the story was about the same as the first movie. Only the songs were not as good as the first movie. So imagine Marry Poppins with mediocre pop tunes instead. That was my afternoon.

Now home, feed the dogs, make dinner, usual. We had salad with meatballs on top. Yes, it’s a thing and it tastes great. Emily insisted on a cocktail. It is Saturday. I had just received an email today with 20 cocktail recipes in it. So I made a new version of Daiquiri. Rum, lime, bitters and sweetened with maple syrup of all things. It was very good. Did not read well but drank just fine. And mixed well with dinner.

Now we are off to that great, empty, grand abyss that is Saturday night TV. You have a choice of murder porn or reruns of old TV shows. We chose old TV. Just finished two episodes of Mom. Actually very funny. Next up who knows. Well next up was wrapping bday gifts for mom/mom in law. We are going to Petaluma tomorrow early to have lunch with the birthday girl. So we are off to bed to get an early start.

Hangover Time

I missed taco Tuesday. Don’t be sorry, I did have beef Wellington in the place of tacos. I did miss our annual Mexican food Christmas Eve dinner. That stings. Maybe a small Mexican feast is in order tonight.

Breakfast today is a good one. Pie, 3 kinds, and cinnamon rolls. Our leftovers. Full carb load. Marika and I will need to run a marathon later to burn it all off. Diet time is now, starting with next meal. Back to the diet and workout grind. I need to stay beautiful.

This morning we notice cat still having issues. Blood in his urine is the layman’s diagnosis. The vet will see us at 130 today. Probably a UTI but I’m no doctor. Marika is worried of course. She likes to worry I think. Cat is reasonably vigorous so does not seem to bad. We have to watch him.

We packed up all our crap. Took both cars. Em decided I would go with Marika and she would follow. So Marika and I got on the road to the vets. We tried to find the fastest route but failed. Maybe. Traffic was horrendous. May have been an extra hour on this trip home. Not much fun to sit in holiday traffic. As I have said, this is the first travel year for us in a quarter century. And I realize I did not miss much. The trip was too warm and too slow and no fun.

We got to the vets about 10 minutes late. They were fine with it. I am sitting in the, wait for it, waiting room for our turn. I am guessing the appointment after us is in there. We are the only waiters here. I would like to just go home. But, I must do my duty and be here for the kid. She told me earlier I needed to go with her because I am the most level headed. Can’t argue with that.

Still waiting 13 minutes now. I wasn’t that late, I think. Not much I can do about it. Maybe show up on time but with that traffic we are lucky we were as close as we were.

I checked my find friends app. Emily did not follow us out the door. And she was the anxious to get home one of us. She sat there for another couple hours after we left. It’s really great to have the find friends app, aka Super Stalker App. I only use it for good, nothing nefarious. Promise. It does help me track the kid when she is headed home. I know when to start dinner. Same works for Emily because she is often unable to answer a call or text. But, Emily is now on the move. I expect her in 90 minutes.

Ok. Bad news. The vet tech came out with the estimate. $568. Ouch. Like having my balls stepped on. We called BS on 2/3 of the stuff on the list. And no to the x ray at $215. Yes to a urinalysis and go from there. That would be under $200. I am thinking the rest of the items are just there to make the vet rich.

Another hour and a half sitting at the vets office. What fun. They did finally come out and say done. Turns out not much wrong, just some kind of stress bladder problem which can lead to blood in the urine. He will prob be just fine. $311. Owie. We went home. Emily was already there and had unpacked her car. I proceeded to unpack Marikas car. With her help. I did get a couple gifts out and put away as well. I get to play with them tomorrow.

After all unloaded, the kid and I washed our cars. They were mega filthy. Took some washing and by the time we were done it was dark.

Marika has to return something and I need to go get taco Wednesday for dinner. So we went together. We are on the road now. Her transaction was quick. We headed to the carniceria. Was not crowded so I guess people still have leftovers or Wednesday is not a popular day for Mexican food. Don’t know. We were in and out quick. Headed for home.

We are all very tired and hungry. So, we wolfed through our dinner like, well, wolves. Food was delicious. We really missed our traditional Mexican feast Christmas eve.

After dinner we did the usual. Sat and watched bad TV. Only the worst for my family. We broke out the bottle of tequila I got Emily for Christmas and split it between the three of us. Hey, no worries, only a 4oz bottle. Very tasty and smooth. Then Emily tried to one up me by getting out a bag of home made toffee from friend Barb -go Barb!! We almost ate all that as well. A little holiday leftover I guess. Then back to bad TV.

I am now trying to unpack my stocking so I can put it all away. Many small items, some food, other sundry items. Magnetic dog buts, copper cups, the usual. Good stuff all. But still, needs to be put away. Working on it. The brand new not leaky coffee maker is set up for tomorrow. I look forward to that. The last one developed a leak in the base of the carafe which I put up with for the longest time. I had been hoping someone would buy me a coffee maker for Christmas. Hope works.

Well I am in bed. Reading the last of my book. The old kindle is dust, like the leaky carafe. I now read the book on my phone or kindle and they sync perfectly. Technology that works. I am amazed. The book is done. I am off to bed.

Fishless Friday

Friday is supposed to be a great day. Sometimes it is. Not so sure today. I had planned on getting up super early and heading up the hill to go skiing with nephews and bro in law. But, instead, I slept late and went nowhere. Mostly due to having a sore back and neck. I can’t turn my head to the left without spasms in my neck. Skiing seems a bad idea.

Normal morning, nothing unusual. New coffeemaker still working very well. Looks like a keeper.

Managed to get ready reasonably quickly. I used some of my new stocking gifts getting ready. My stocking Santa gave me a shaving brush and mug and I tried it out today. Works fine but the soap in the mug dries out very fast on the face. The canned shaving cream works better albeit at a much higher price. But, as far as shaving goes, the analog version does work fine. Just keep reapplying.

I went to work. Not up the hill. So I did make the meeting that was scheduled for my office. See, a client was meeting with my associate Hal at 11. It was not necessary for me to be there but since no skiing, I might as well go. The meeting was reasonably successful, we may have turned our client in the correct direction for his plan. God I hope so.

Worked the rest of my day. I think I must have received 20 phone calls. That means I need to call back and get a call while calling back and on and on. Took forever to get that done. Sadly, I had an appointment with the owners of a new tire store. And they were in the office till almost 6. I think they forgot what day it is. They had come in at 430 and a few minutes into the meeting I received another call. Some guy from Germany Cara told me. Turns out it’s a guy I paid for a client. I don’t know him. He called and wanted to borrow money. Ya, I am gonna do that. Funny thing, the client I made the payment for called on my other line and I had to answer (remember, I got 3 people watching me) and basically got the two fools to call each other. And not talk to me.

Back to the meeting. We discussed the minutiae of running a tire shop. Problem: there are no minutiae. They were mired in the details of it, having never owned a business before, and over thinking the whole thing. So I answered rather inane questions for an hour. Then the one of the three who owned part of the tire shop left. Turns out the other two own a small restaurant, not open yet, and they had very few questions. An improvement. I guess this referral is a two-fer. They finally left at about 6. I don’t even have a phone number. It’s ok. They were referred so I can call them.

I left immediately after they did, headed home.

Trip home was one long phone call. I called back a contractor and he talked my ear off for 40 minutes. Yikes. Followed by a 10 minute call to another client. Only got off due to the horrible connection. But that’s ok.

Got home and we made dinner. Dogs and chili with potatoes. We did not go out on Friday. I love this new skip Friday out thing. Makes me happy.

Now sitting and watching TV. Normal evening. Soon I can go to bed. Very nice. Looking forward to it.

No Corvette

First day back at work post holiday. I hate that day. My preference would be to have the Christmas feeling go all week. Along with a vacation to match. Spend the time playing with our new toys. That would be a good week. Going back to work really screws with the mood. And not in the good way you think work would.

Today is the 27th of December. A special day this year. A month ago I was at the SF International Auto Show. There was a vendor selling raffle tickets, $20 a piece, had only sold 5500 tickets at all the countries auto shows. Only one show to go and done. I think those odds are fantastic. So I bought a ticket for the drawing. A month away. Today. He prize? A 2018 Z06 Corvette. I figured I was a shoe in to win it. Well, some jerk from SC won the damn thing. I am devastated, I had already made room in the garage for it. It was mine and some creep stole it. I should file a police report.

Guess I will have to pay for a fast car with my own money. Not fair.

Well with that disappointment behind me, I made coffee in my brand new coffeemaker!!!! It was most excellent and an improvement over my 25 year old model. No leaking at all. Yes, this does qualify as playing with my new toy. I think everyone loved the coffee.

Off to work. Not much to do there. I have a lunch appointment, at noon, for lunch. That’s why it’s called a lunch appointment. Duh. Client owns a construction and engineering firm not far from my office. He had wanted me to see his office. So I went to his office and saw it. A few desks and computers. Not so special.

We went to lunch at a local Pakistani restaurant. I had been there once before and the food is really good. We got that part right. I ended up eating fat too much. And, I never eat much for lunch to begin with. I was full til 3pm.

Fortunately, the trip back was quick cuz the restaurant is only a mile from my office. I still have plenty work to do. Have to close out the year. Also, I have received so many phone callls today I can hardly stand it. Every call means a call back which takes forever. Spent most of the afternoon doing this.

Usual day after that. Lots of paperwork of the finestkind. Which is central to my job. I love paper. Can’t tell you what I did with all the paper but it got pushed around well and firmly.

I headed home at about 545. For the first time in as long as I can remember, someone left after me. Carol was still in the office working when I left. Go figure. And the cookies she made for Christmas were totally awesome. She is really doing well.

Drive home was nice. Not much traffic. I got to Dixon quite fast and stopped for gas. Went to the liquor store to cash in my scratchers, their machine was down, so no cashing in the tickets. Gotta go back again to get the money. Not much but I’d like it in my pocket.

Disappointed, I left for Vacaville. I called on the way just to check in. Marika is making sautéed flank cut short ribs with a cucumber salad and veggies. Sauce for the ribs is spicy. Anyway, they did not need anything from the store.

By the time I got home dinner was just about ready. Just enough things left to do so I could help and take credit for some of the work. The dinner was excellent, Marika really outdid herself. It’s nice having everyone in the house cooking. I enjoy all the benefits.

After dinner we ate Christmas candy and watched TV. Good TV. For a change. Good candy too. But no dessert. Not so bad.

Do I Know It’s Christmas?

I do. I’m not a complete moron. Like those unnamed.

A beautiful day here on the coast of California. No breeze, balmy temp, sunny skies, very nice. Y’all should be here. Really. We have enough. Show up. Dinner around 5.

When I woke this morning, too damn early, I realized that Santa!! had been here. He left me a stocking. That’s proof he was here. Santa loves me. We go way back. Way. Back.

Stocking was nice. Sister in law pulled my name. She did ok. Fortunately, Emily and I fill in for each other just to make sure we have enough. No, I do not know what enough is. Nice stocking though.

Emily and I finally woke. And opened our stockings. Which is tradition. They are laying on the bed. Difficult to avoid. So the first gift of Christmas is some random item from the sock. Cool.

We are sleeping next door from the main house, at Mary’s. She lives next door. Since 1950. We use her house as our annex when the load is too high on the main house. Anyway, we opened for a few. I opened some candy cuz I was hungry. Strangely, sis in law gave me no food or candy. I did get a See’s gift cert. but it’s cardboard.

Showers. All clean. Needed two houses to do it. Finally, breakfast. Homemade cinnamon rolls, thanks Marika, Chile relleno casserole, and jalapeño bacon. Plus coffee with Amarula in it. Yay. Quite a bit of champagne which started before the showers. And continues. Never enough champagne. It’s now 1120. Maybe we can open gifts now.

We can. We did. Till 205, a modern record. We usually go past 3. I can say, all the things I received were useful or at least can be used. No stinkers or gotta be returned items. Winner. I did get a really Uber cool gift from the in laws. Seems Emily’s paternal grandfather, Wallis Clark, Hollywood and broadway actor, had something in common with me. He owned a very old school portable bar. As readers know, I have a very new school portable bar. He schlepped his around Lakewood a hundred years before me. What a wild coincidence, I am not related by blood to him. Maybe these similar personality defects are why I ended up with his granddaughter. Who knows?

The porta bar is in a small suitcase, squareish in shape with rounded corners. Looks completely retro cool I must admit. Beth, mom in law, told me she had discussed this gift with Hank, dad in law, and I was the only person they felt worthy of having this family heirloom. It’s an honor. It is in form and function like my new one. Just far smaller. Holds two bottles of hooch, a mixing can, a jigger, 4 shot and 4 single glasses, a small percolater with cord and two coffee cups. Reminds me a lot of old camping kits. Very heavy and old style durable. But fun nonetheless.

My other gifts were nice, and well thought out, and I do like all. We had fun, as always, opening. It’s always a great day when it is Christmas.

Now done, we sat awhile, drank mimosas, and then cleaned up and put our individual hauls into our cars or out of the main room. We are back to a useable sitting room. Which is nice too. But it would also be nice if it still looked like Christmas.

Not much else doing once we got finished. A little more sitting around each doing whatever we want. Reading, talking, stuff. Marika, Emily and I walked down to Schoolhouse Beach. Mary walked halfway down then headed back up and around the block. I guess she does not want any sand in her toes. We continued down to and across hiway 1. No crosswalks or lights btw. Just a dash across the hiway to the embankment on the other side. Then across an open space and down the hillside. Beach. There were a few others on the beach. It’s cold and breezy but not ultra cold or windy. We walked down the beach north till we got to the end, turned and walked down the beach to the other end. Then back up to the exit point, up the hill, across 1 and to the house. Maybe an hour. Very nice to get out and walk and get fresh air.

Got back and relaxed a little. Had some more champagne and relaxed. Switched to dinner prep so now in about 45 mins we get our fabulous Christmas dinner. My worthless bro in law finally arrived. With most of his immediate family. They are nuts but they cover for it ok.

I have switched to watching the news, Hank put it on. Nothing doing in the world. At least I can see the weather. Of course, I can just look outside too.

Hey good? news. Bro in law and family just showed up. Too bad. His family is mentally ill. But not in the nice way. We only get a little info out of them but I guess they had a big fight with their 17 year old. So they called and said they would be late and he was not coming. But they showed up as a four-some. I guess that’s good. Bro in law would not allow any discussion or questions. And we could not say or speak to the kid. That’s the attitude that leads to better mental health. I can only imagine. Everyone knows the kid runs their house. It’s weird. Merry Christmas!!

National Lampoon Christmas Vacation is onTV. At least I can escape the room with some inane holiday comedy. I can let the not-able-to-talk-about what’s going on group sit in the other room. Without me.

I watched the movie for a few minutes until the others decided to open the last gifts which they had brought. So we all sat and opened our presents. Always fun to get a nice gift. A couple were stinkers though ours was fine.

The bro and sis in law and kids took off not long after the presents. They tried to drop their dog with Hank and Beth for a week. That did not work out too well. Dog left with them.

I am going to bed very soon. Another Christmas come and gone. I always find it so sad when it gets to this point. I have always loved Christmas and am always sad when it is over.

The Real Christmas Eve

Got to be one of the best days of the year. Unfortunately we are traveling for the first time in 25 years. So we have to finish our Christmas tasks fast and get on the road. So we are a little more impacted.

Just for fun I have to go into Sacramento first thing. I need to be at the bank at 9 am to open a new business bank account. My last one having been closed by the other bank for supposed nefarious activity on my account. I hate them.

So Marika and I headed into Sacramento to go to the bank. And a few other things. We left Emily in Vacaville. Her sister, Dee, is coming to take Emily to a spa for a quick treatment. She needs that.

Although the weather is crap, we made a quick trip of going to Sacramento. We got to the bank at 902. Nice. Got in and the bank officer I needed to see was available. We got to it and got all done. Problem, I forgot money to deposit into the new account. Had to go back to my office, very close by, get the check and come back.

Next stop was the liquor store. We need several bottles of champagne for Christmas. Not Christmas without the bubbly. I went to office to send to wires and Marika went to hobby lobby for some clocknparts for a gift. We met up and headed for home. Again, no traffic and fast trip home by 11. Not bad.

Dee was still not to our house. So I filled two cars with food and gifts. Someone has to. Took forever I swear it. Also had to load two dogs and one cat

While doing this Marika and Emily wrapped more and for more ready. We managed to be done by about one when Dee finally showed up. Ahe seemed to forget the spa trip. Turns out she overslept. Like till 1130. Nice.

She sat for awhile then took off. We finished the load and took off for Santa Rosa. We are having a crab feed at my bro in laws house there. Ok. So it’s a big holiday and I am headed to the coast. How is the drive? Fast and clear. Makes no sense. It’s a Christmas miracle!! Either way it was a treat for a change.

The trip was rather boring, like any mother Monday but with faster traffic. We got to our destination and everyone else was already there. In laws and friend Mary, bro and sis in law and their two sullen smart aleck teenage boys. The nephews.

Bro had put on a nice spread of food and beverage. He and his wife do a very nice job with entertaining. We don’t go often but it is a treat when we do. We had a nice ore diner visit, drank too much wine and ate too much meat and cheese. The norm. I think Emily drank way too much wine which she will pay for tomorrow.

Crab dinner was fabulous. With salted potatoes and sourdough and a fine Caesar salad. And more wine. I am going slow on the wine because I remember our winery dinner from a couple weeks ago and I was kicked in the head by excessive drinking. I have a decent memory.

It’s nice to go all out for the holidays. When I was a kid we always had a special meal at the holidays – lavish and extensive menu, adults all trashed from too much wine. And then dessert which was usually several kinds of pie plus some ice cream. Sadly, tonight the dessert was cheesecake. I hate cheesecake. Loathe it. Makes my stomach turn. I guess it’s some special kind of cheesecake from a fancy bakery. Oh well, hate it.

We hung out after dinner for another hour or so. Then off to Bodega. At least for everyone else. I went with Marika to Petaluma to get Vlad and bring him to Bodega. A 20 minute detour. No big deal. We got loaded up and headed to the coast.

I slept most of the way. Glad Marika stayed awake. I was really tired. And it’s a boring drive I have made many times.

At Bodega we unloaded all the gifts we had in the car plus more wine and the bed Wellington. And our suitcases. Two cars to transport all our stuff. You can see why we never travel for Christmas.

Marika has decided to make cinnamon rolls for the morning. She started those when we got unpacked. She got quite stressed out in the process. But after 20 or so minutes she seemed to get a handle on things. Everyone else had gone to bed. Marika is planning on getting up in two hours to punch down the dough and roll it out. She may be crazy. I told to wait till morning but she is not interested.

I left her cleaning up and went next door. We are staying at the neighbors. Emily was in bed. Now snoring loudly. I am blogging. A normal Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve. Eve.

Sunday. Not hungover. Trying to contain myself during the season after the wine dinner debacle. I was up 5 or 6 times last night to hit the head and get a drink of water. Water is the key to waking up better. But I slept somewhat fitfully.

We had free breakfast at the hotel. God awful would be a description. All of us spent some time guessing what the sausage patties were made of. Not sure I really want to know. I ate a couple anyway. Very bad taste. They had no coffee, at least no full lead variety. I asked, more than once, and same answer “we’re making some”. I will go with that’s a lie. I’ve made coffee. It does not take half an hour.

I am thinking the horrible breakfast is part of their three star out of five rating. Room was fine.

So, with a fine breakfast under our belts, we drove off. Mary, family friend, wanted to walk down the wharf and check it out. Since no one objected to that plan, we went to the wharf. Everything In Santa Cruz is close. So five minutes later we were driving onto the wharf. Since it’s so early on the morning, we can drive into the wharf and park without paying. That’s a win in parking space starved Santa Cruz.

It is a cold and crisp morning here on the oceanfront. Glad I wore a jacket. Most places on the wharf are closed in the early hours of Sunday. We did find a candy, ice cream coffee place open. So we all got a decent cup of coffee to make up for the crap at the hotel. Crap being hot water and decaf, all they had. Now not so bad. I had some chocolate too. It’s good for you.

We asked all the way out to the end of the wharf. Very slowly. Grandpa is 81 and just crawls. But we waited and all tried to walk together. We stopped to look in windows and stare at the sea lions and etc. and freeze a little.

We walked back to where we were parked. Said our goodbyes, hugged everyone, and got in our separate cars and headed home.

Drive back home was uneventful. No traffic till we hit Cordelia. There is always traffic through Cordelia/Fairfield. Always. We made good time otherwise and finally got here.

Kids are flying out at about 6. We ate a little snack. Then had the most fun by trying to pack all the gifts for the kids and SoCal relatives. Had to pack and repack the suitcases we used for gifts. Had to re metal some into smaller sizes. Et voila, all packed. Glad I don’t have to schlepp the bags through the airport. Their problem.

Now we sit and watch football. Emily pulled out her glass grinder and is going at it. What “it” is I don’t know. I’d love to take a nap but that would be rude. Maybe I can just fall asleep where I’m sitting. Marika did.

We sat and watched football for an hour or so. Not much else to do while you are waiting for an hour. Decent game but we all knew we were just waiting till time to leave.

Our house sitter came by to return the key. She did not have much work to do. Feed dogs and cats twice and let them out to go crap. Easy duty for a day. She stayed awhile. Michael, Carly and I left for the airport at about 430. Michael gets really worried he will miss his flight so we leave super early. I can’t cure him of the notion.

We packed up to leave. Emily went to the store. And Marika hung out with her friend Isabella, our house sitter. Trip to airport was very fast. I did not spare the horses. Took only 30 minutes with Michael still worried he would be late. I kissed them goodbye at the column and headed home. This will be our first Christmas without Michael at home. It’s sad. Actually very sad.

Got a call at 520. They were through security. By six they loaded, 15 minutes early. the plane was only half full at best, probably far less.

Yes, I texted Michael to remind him I was right. Sacto airport is quicker and better and now I get to rub it in.

I’m back home. Emily picked up some pork and chicken from the Thai place. We made salad and added the meat to it for dinner I also made cocktails, whiskey sours, to make up for the bad one Marika got at the restaurant last night. Mine are better. Way better.

After dinner we did more get ready for Christmas chores. Wrapping of gifts, prepping Christmas dinner (beef wellie takes two days), cleaning up a little, packing a few things. Tiring.

Broke off about 9 to watch Last Man Standing. My favorite show. Marika says I am Mike Baxter. I’m not but I also not insulted by that.

To bed after. These long days are killing me. Have to be up early tomorrow to run more chores

Santa Cruz Saturday Night

Big day. Second in a row. Wow.

Emily coughed ALL night so I did not really sleep. Not well, at least. She has a cold. It’s fun.

We have three guests tonight, the kids and girlfriend. So this morning is a little crowded. Breakfast in shifts, mostly because that’s how everyone got up. Still smells like bacon.

Emily ran off to the store. We are leaving for Santa Cruz when she returns. Marika and I are packed, don’t know about everyone else. I’m ready to leave.

Our drive to Saint Cruz was quick and completely uneventful. Only took a couple hours. No issues. The in laws driving from Bodega had miserable traffic all the way on the coast road and took 4 and 1/2 hours on a little shorter trip. Too bad for them.

We checked into the hotel. At about this time Marika realized she forgot her dressy shoes. So she and the other two kids headed out to the store to buy her some shoes. Rest of us sat in the hotel. About a quarter to five I ordered an Uber. Then I called everyone and told them to get here. It works. We need the Uber cuz we gonna drink tonight and no one wants to get a DUI.

Unfortunately Uber only hold six. There are seven of us. Sadly, I had to drive Hank my father in law in his car. He is the absolute king of horrible drivers and he is 81 and gets worse every year. Tonight I found out where my wife gets her back seat driver abilities. He is fucking miserable. He would not shut up about other drivers, mu spped, my lane position, where I’m going. I finally had to tell him to shut the hell up. God it was misery.

We finally got to the big dinner at Shadowbrook to celebrate Marikas college graduation. Shadowbrook is a one of a kind restaurant in in Santa Cruz. We first ran across the place back when Michael was in college at UC Santa Cruz (duh). During his four years in Santa Cruz we had dinner at Shadowbrook several times. Well, it’s been six years since we have been there so tonight is about time.

The place is unique for its layout alone. It’s built into a hillside to begin with and there are several large and small buildings built over many years to add to the Winchester Mystery House feel. And, they have an inclinator!!!? Yes, I know you don’t understand. But, imagine the cable cars in Hong Kong that are pulled up Victoria Peak by cable. That’s Shadowbrook. They also have an extensive garden and waterfall if you care to use the stairs and not the cable car. The place is crazy. They have one building big enough only for one table. I’ve never sat in it.

Now I am aware it’s a restaurant and the building is not so important as the food and drink. Well, we had enough cocktails before dinner to be sure they were ok. The menu, though not huge, is plenty big enough and all choices are excellent. Desserts were great too, and I ordered one despite being quite full.

We sat around full and groaning another 30 minutes and headed back to the hotel. It’s bedtime for all. Clark, nephew, took off to Sacramento. The rest of us went to bed.

Hello Friday, it’s me Bill

It’s a big day today. Office party Friday. Every year we have Christmas lunch. Usually about 1 to 130, so restaurants aren’t busy and we can sit for 3 hours and move slow. Works well. New place this year so we will see.

But still work to do. Yesterday I received a letter from my business bank. They are closing my checking account because it does not align with their risk portfolio for CPA firms. What?

So early this morning I went to my bank to find out wth they are doing. Turns out, closing the account, no appeal allowed. Why, you say. I know I said it. Several times. Because in December I received a wire transfer of $427k for a business deal I managed and proceeded to then pay all participants. And the bank did not like my perfectly legal activity and that’s that.

So, I need to get a new bank. I drew $5k out of the old bank, closing me out in 10 days, and went to another bank. I sat with the banker for a tried to open an account. I explained what my firm does, What happened at last bank, etc. turns out it’s a problem for them too. But, they have a solution. But they could not open an account yet. I have to speak to another banker higher up the food chain. When I finally did, he had a solution and I will get an account open. Tomorrow. Or Monday. Would prefer now, but it seems to be working.

Next on the agenda, back to office. It’s only 1130 and I can work for another 90 minutes. Lunch is at 130.

Whatever I did for 90 minutes is forgotten. Must not have been important. At 110 I left for the restaurant.

Well it is a highlight of the year I suppose. Everyone loves it. All of us, plus spouses, eat and drink whatever we want till we are sick. And we did. I don’t put any limits on people. That’s why it’s lunch and not dinner, no one drinks or eats excessively at mid day. I’m brilliant. And all still have a great time. There were only 11 of us but that’s a long table so I cant really talk to everyone. But that’s ok, I don’t really want to anyway. We sat and ate and opened presents early (I got a new kindle from the whole office!!!) and drank and had appetizers and more appetizers and desserts. For three hours. A fine time had by all. When I got the bill and attempted to pay with my debit card, no go. Turns out my dumbass bank shut it off when they decided to close my account. Except that’s on Jan 2. I called and they turned it on again. Assholes.

Emily, Marika and I went to the jewelry store after. Marika has a new watch, engraved, from her mommy and daddy. Need to get the wrist band sized. Hence a trip to Grebitus Jewelers. Funny thing, the watch guy their is best friends with Walker who works for me. So I get better service. Anyway, watch guy fixed it up plenty quick. Marika is thrilled with her new watch, the first she ever owned. I guess people don’t wear watches so much anymore.

Next, more shopping. Except, store gone. Space empty. That was weird. We had no more errands. So mom drove home. Marika and I went to the airport to pick up Michael and Carly who flew in from SoCal. Busy day.

Fun pick up. I had to circle the terminal twice because the rent a cop would not let me wait out front. Or park out front. We were on the phone with the kids in the terminal while they got luggage so they would know where we were. It was funny, they came out to wait at the curb, which is ok just not ok for me to wait at the curb for them. Michael. Decided to help the cop while he waited by loudly pointing out which cars were loitering. He had his phone on speaker to we could listen. It was hilarious. When we finally got back around the terminal Michael suggested we load very slow. I liked it. We loaded and unloaded the bags several times. Took forever. The cop would not come near us. Funny.

We headed home. Stopped for some quick groceries. Then back toward home.

Finally, back. Emily has cleaned up the house a bit. Again. Those two had dinner, leftover pea soup. The rest of us ate the whole box of cookies from employee Carol. A fine baker. Delish.

Bedtime next up. Emily was already there. Big day tomorrow.