November 28, 2012

'Tis The Season

The mrsguy birthday season, that is. Ordinarily we have a quiet dinner somewhere and go home to open pressies. But this being the "kick, stretch and kick" birthday, it seemed foolish to let it pass without doing something more. I took two weeks off and people called it my staycation, but I did anything but stay. And now I'm recovering in my sick bed (more accurately sick couch) and waiting to go back to work. Whew.

Phase One: Operation Meeting of the Moms
Seems odd that we've been together for over 20 years, married for 17 and our moms have never met until now. We finally made it happen. Picked up the grand mamoo and took her for a ride down the coast to meet the tiny mamoo. Of course they liked each other. We ate lunch and took a tour of tiny mamoo's home town, which was super fun.

Phase Two: Pretend You're Huell Howser
Earlier in the year, big sis, the mamoo and I talked about meeting in the middle of the state to visit the sights seen by the estimable Huell Howser on one of his shows. We finally did it, and it was very fun. We went to the oldest A&W Rootbeer and had carhop service. What are you supposed to do with your milkshake once you have it?

We went to Micke Grove and saw the Japanese Garden. Not as tranquil as we had hoped! A photographer, his buddy, a child and two ladies made up as I-don't-know-what (flappers? it involved a lot of tulle, sequins and cloches) were doing a photo shoot there. The ladies would sit on a rock and stare at each other theatrically for the camera, notice that the child was not in viewing range and shout "Buddah! BUDDAH! Get back here where I can see you". Buddah, the child, had been happily assaulting the koi with small rocks.

Anyway, Micke Grove also has a zoo with little deer called pudu. I really want to see my cats play with a pudu. After the zoo, we looked for the crane habitat but were unsuccessful, so we went back to our hotel. Perfection. Three beds in one room, and a plastic and very dusty olive tree. But I loved it. Successful trip.

Phase Three: Sumo Saturday
Birthday was celebrated with friends on Sumo Saturday. This consisted of my ordering tamales from a neighbor and decorating the house with sumo-themed bunting (yukata fabric created for sumitori or their sumo stables, that I bought on ebay). People seemed to like sumo more than I thought. They asked great questions.

Phase Four: Disneyland
Yeah. Had to do it. Spent all day and part of a night at California Adventure. Ate at Napa Rose. Saw an adorable little kid named Daniel using the guardrail in line at Soarin' as a personal jungle gym. Then he liberally tongued the handrail. Yep. We're doomed. Stayed with mrguy south one evening, which was delicious, and I spent as many hours as my battery would allow cropping photographs in our moving vehicle as we sped back home for Thanksgiving.

Phase Five: Guygiving
But it wasn't Thanksgiving this year. It was guygiving. A one-time-only event celebrating my birthday and my brother-in-law's. The family gathered, the brother-in-law and I put together an overly-long slide show which people seemed to like, and then we went out to dinner. I'd fallen victim to the handrail-lickers earlier, and by guygiving I had almost no voice. It felt like I had cystitis of the throat (imagine gargling with broken glass and tabasco), but I had such a good time. Private room, much good cheer, no birthday singing. It was awesome.

Phase Six: In Which I Retire To My Sofa With Cold Preparations For Days On End
I'm still here. Been here four days. Wicked cough. Voice still very wiggly. Except for the illness, all-in-all a success. Plus, a friend sent orchids yesterday, extending the occasion.

I will never do this again, but man was that enjoyable. OK, parts of it I'll do again. Ordering tamales from my neighbor and having people over for sumo I'll definitely do.

November 13, 2012

Palm Springia 2012

Oh, the desert. Why do people go there?

In our case, we went for a professional development thingie, which was quite wonderful.

But we weren't alone. No! Our conference coincided with an event called American Heat, drawing motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the state to sunny PS. Loud. Interesting. Scary.

Three of our meals came from a place called Sherman's Deli. Visiting there reminded me of my days as a diner waitress. Unlike my diner, the food at Sherman's was outstanding. This was our first view, as we picked up breakfast:

I ruined the first photo by getting a reflection of the palm trees and mountain behind me in the shot, then decided that it was kinda awesome.

Breakfast was on the go in order to get me to a workshop on time. It turns out that the location for the workshop was not the location of the museum (my bad). But I got to hang out here for a while and watch roadrunners chase each other across the dusty road for a while. A desert experience, yes.

The workshop was great, if sweat-inducing. I wielded a HEPA vacuum and brushed dirt off of hand-woven rugs all day. I truly felt I'd earned my dinner later.

In the morning we went back to Sherman's. This is my giant pile of matzobrei.

Turns out that motorcycle gangs like breakfast, too. Groups of men and women, dressed in their regalia, politely waited their turns to be seated at Sherman's, along with groups of cops. Truly a varied crowd. I very badly wanted to know more about the flair on the vests of the motorcycle dudes. The motorcycle club that we saw in the largest numbers was the Mongols.

After breakfast we spent the rest of the day looking at every thrift shop we could find. During the drive I gleaned what I could about Mongol flair, its meaning, and how those patches are earned. Purple wings. Wow. Look it up.

We got back into town and most of the Mongols had left town. I was sad, because I really wanted to put my newfound knowledge to use. The only Mongol we saw that day had very little patch action (a novitiate?), and was sweetly romantic with his girlfriend. Not playing to stereotype.

Later that night we went to a private event at the Sunnylands event center. A modernist paradise, with fun company and yummy dishes. We found what we thought was the quietest table and it turned to be in the direct path between the kitchen and the appetizer tables. Unintended bonus: we got everything as fresh as it could be.

Then we went to the children's museum and pulled the same move inadvertently -- we looked for what we thought was going to be the farthest and quietest table, which then turned out to be front and center for a darling performance of traditional Mexican music and folklorico dance, performed by kids from an after school program. Their pure joy could not have made me happier.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that we were treated to an amazing dinner at Workshop Kitchen and Bar. Amazing, both in the fact that we were dining with super interesting colleagues and that the food was so incredibly tasty. This is one of my best meals ever. Because we were a large party we had some of everything: octopus, octopus salad, an oxtail shepherd's pie that was *insanely* flavorful, olive oil cake, panna cotta, rib-eye, redfish...

We all walked home past a large vintage automobile dealership and told stories about the ones that got away.
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