Sing a New Song

It may be somewhat surprising to learn that, despite having grown up in Oklahoma, I was not a fan of country music.  All that twang and depressing subject matter just wasn’t of interest to me.  One of my favorite jokes was always, “What happens when you play a country music song backwards?  He get’s his wife back, his dog back and his truck back.”  This was only made that much better when I once saw a country music video showing an overhead shot of a cowboy lying in the back of his truck with his girl and a dog lying on the ground next to the truck.  As the video progressed the woman disappeared and then the dog disappeared and I burst out laughing thinking, “what happens if you play this video backwards…”

I was forced to listen to, and then eventually came to like, what was then modern country music, in the mid-90’s, when I was dating a girl who I thought I was going to marry and who decided that she was going to become a country music fan and always had it on in the car.  I listened to country music pretty regularly for a while after that and it was only after I moved to the bay area where there is no country music station that I quit.  I had a number of country music albums by that time though and most of them have made their way into my iTunes and therefore, fairly regular rotation in my music listening routine.

Michelle doesn’t dislike country music though it is a LOOOONG way from being her preference.  Our tastes overlap fairly well, though she does like some of the more… urban?  R&B?  stuff.  I’m not even sure what you’d call it.  Let’s just be really tacky and say that her tastes are more ethnically correct…

Michelle also doesn’t like anyone to hear her sing.  She thinks she has a bad voice.  Truth is, she sings fine.  She may not be recording any albums anytime soon, but she shouldn’t be embarrassed for anyone to hear her singing.

On the way to Cache Creek Wednesday afternoon my iPod in my car was, as always, on random and there wasn’t anything that she might object to that came on.  At one point I even heard her singing.  I started to say something, only, every time I tell her I can hear her singing she stops  and I didn’t want to embarrass her or have her stop singing, so I didn’t say anything.  I was surprised at first at the song she was singing, because it was, shall we say, more ethnically appropriate for me…  Also, it was from October, 1994 and it surprised me that she’d be familiar with it.  But she does have a couple of years on me and she was actually far less sheltered than I (I didn’t really come to know the song until about five years ago, so…)

As we were driving through the parking garage at Cache Creek, a song by Terri Clark came on.  The song is called Cure for the Common Heartache.  If you have iTunes (and who doesn’t these days) do me a favor and go listen to the preview.  I tried to find a way to post a sample here, but I’m just not that technologically savvy…  Anyway, the song is quite twangy:  “This mornin’ I’m achin’ all over.  Cain’t eat.  Cain’t sleep.  Cain’t rest….  Is there a cuuuuuure for the common heart ache.  An unknown prescriptiooooooooon, any loser can take…”

(By the way, for the record, there has only been one Terri Clark song, ever, that I didn’t really like a lot, so I’m not saying anything bad about her!)

I turned to Michelle, right before I turned off the ignition and said, “This is a country music song… In case you were wondering…”  I was making a joke, because the song is the epitome of country twang (though I still like it,) but she thought I was apologizing, or in some way making a joke that suggests she doesn’t like country music.

“I was singing that other song,” she said somewhat defensively.

“Which song?” I asked.

“You know.  The one about the cowboy and the horse.”

Now this is not much of a description to know which song she was talking about, except that I immediately thought of the song I heard her singing earlier and had a feeling that’s the one she meant.  I sang a few bars, “I’m a cowboy.  On a steel horse I ride…?”

“Yeah, that one,” she said as I was unable to keep from laughing.

“Honey,” I said a little more condescending than I meant to, “that wasn’t country.  That was Bon Jovi!”

(Also?  Heh.  The clothes!  My Goodness!!!)

Stay-cation Done Right

It’s the last work day of my stay-cation.  I don’t have to go to work until Monday, of course, but still, today is the last day that everyone has to work and I do not.  It’s been a really nice break and it has gone surprisingly slowly.  After the first week was over, I felt like it had already been two weeks and so I was super excited to still have another week before I had to go back to work.

I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to with this time off, but my list was pretty lofty and I’m happy with the things I did accomplish: clean and organized kitchen, tidied up living room, time with friends, a little trip out of town…  Actually, maybe we won’t list what I did accomplish; it’ll seem like too little. 😉

I think I’ve probably mentioned before that I crochet.  My mother taught my sister when we were kids and I wanted to do anything my sister did so I had to learn too.  Now, I find it very relaxing and enjoyable, even though I don’t do it as often as I would like.  Michelle has a friend who is having a baby in late March or early April and she asked me to make a blanket for the friend/baby.  We stopped last night on the way back from Cache Creek to buy yarn, and today, instead of being super productive on my last paid day off, I’ve sat around clearing out my DVR and crocheting.  I suppose one could argue that the crocheting is productive since I have an easily attainable deadline, but there’s still a pile of clothes to be ironed and a stack of papers to organize and put away and a–  You know what?  We won’t make that list either.

I did get a lot of good things accomplished and I had a nice relaxing and enjoyable break, too.

All in all, I think I did this stay-cation just about right!

Honey, I’m Home

That’s what I told Mischa when I finally got home tonight, about six hours later than I had planned.  I let him out of the cage right away and fed him (his bowl was completely empty, but I left him enough for a day and a half before I left at 11:00 yesterday morning, so we were pretty much right on schedule and he hasn’t scarfed down what I gave him so he must be OK.)

Michelle and her family have gone to Cache Creek Casino a number of times over the last several years but I’ve never gone with them.  Not that I didn’t think there was any fun to be had there, it just seemed silly to go to a Casino for a couple of hours and then turn around and come home again, and a casino not in Nevada, to boot!

When planning this stay-cation, I wanted to go on one over night trip, just to get away and not be at home.  The original plan was to go to Monterrey and spend the night and then get up and go whale watching, but Michelle nixed that idea when her sister reminded her that “it’s winter” and the water will probably be choppy.  Michelle has gotten seasick a few times when she’s gone before and she figured she’d stand a pretty good chance of getting sick again if we went “in winter” so we decided to go to the casino instead.

Cache Creek is an “Indian casino”.  One of those “on sovereign land – exempt from state gaming laws” kind of places.  I’m using quotes on the “Indian casino” because it had a lot of Asian influences, in both the casino and the hotel room.  Michelle had never spent the night there and neither one of us knew what we were in for, but I guess my hopes weren’t all that high, so when we walked into the room, I was blown away.

No sooner did I get out my camera to take some pictures than I realized my batteries were dead and I didn’t have any more, so all these pictures are taken using my iPhone.  They’re not too bad, considering, but cut me some slack if they’re a bit blurry.

We walked in the door of the room and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful wood flooring.

I immediately noticed the door on the left and knew it to be the door to the adjoining room next door.  Ignored that.  Wasn’t using it.  But here’s the deal; Michelle was supposed to send pictures to her sister, and I wanted to take pictures for you guys (you know you want them!) so I wanted all luggage and stuff out of sight.  I went looking for the closet to throw the luggage into and pulled the sliding door on the right back thinking it would be the closet.  You guys!!

The bathroom!

That door leads to a separate and private room for the toilet.  Look how all the towels are folded to look like little shirt collars.  Look at the “flower” in the Kleenex dispenser.

I wish I’d gotten a better picture of that tub!  My goodness!  It was so deep.  Sadly, I didn’t get an opportunity to use it, but I sat in it (how could I not) and it was amazing.  The only criticism I have is that it wasn’t a whirlpool tub.  How awesome would that be?  The shower could have been a little bigger, but it was pretty nice.  Also, it had one of those rain fall shower heads, which are supposed to be nice and luxurious, but I prefer more water pressure than that when I shower, so I could have done without it.  Clearly a matter of personal preference.

The main room was delightful as well.  I loved the benches at the ends of the beds, the pillows and cushions, the linens.  The lighting fixtures and options were really nice too.  The only problem was that there were halogen light fixtures centered over the head of each bed, but they were both on the same switch.  Michelle kept turning on the light without warning and blinding me.  I loved the chrome flexible reading lights next to each bed.  I didn’t use it but I thought it was a nice idea.

I always get the bed by the window.  I like it cooler and brighter and Michelle likes it warmer and darker so it works out.  If it was up to her, the curtains would be completely closed and the room would be oven warm, but we manage.  Or should I say, she manages.  She always manages to sleep anyway and I know this because long before I’ve had a chance to get situated and go to sleep, she’s ALREADY STARTED SNORING…

That bed looks beautiful right?  Unfortunately, it was terribly uncomfortable.  Clearly everyone who ever slept in it, slept just on the side closest to the night stand, because that side of the bed was all broken down and sagging. I suppose I should have complained but it was 11:30 PM before I got into it and I didn’t want to move at that point, even if they were able to offer.  Between the snoring and the bad mattress, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

The room had one of those nifty Kuerig Coffee makers.  And in the cupboard below was a small refrigerator.  A must for any hotel room, as far as I’m concerned.  Do I even need to say that I’m not being compensated by Kuerig for this post?  ‘Cause I’m not.  Although…  If they wanted to send me a free coffee maker in exchange for my mentioning them here, I’d gladly accept it and amend this post to say that they did!  Just, don’t send me this one.  I want a bigger, prettier one that has a reservoir to hold water and keep it hot.  This one took a little while to brew because it had to heat the water first.  (By the way, I wasn’t compensated in anyway by Cache Creek either…  Am I really required to say these things?)

So, earlier, when I said I always get the bed by the window, because I like more ambient light than Michelle does…

This hotel is literally out in the middle of no where.  It’s about 80 miles north of San Francisco surrounded by very rural land.  It’s winter so nothing is growing but we drove past a lot of groves…  Olive groves, grape fields, I don’t know, but there’s not much around this hotel for miles.  It was nearly dusk when we got into the room and this was our view…  Well, if you looked up and straight ahead, that was our view…

This was the closer view.  What’re ya gonna do?

We arrived at the “resort” at about 1:30, but the room wasn’t available to go into until after 4:00 so we spent some time in the casino.  While it’s not nearly as bad as a Nevada casino in this respect, there is smoking allowed at he casino and the air inside was a little thick with smoke.  Normally I wouldn’t have cared, much, but I’m still trying to get over this bronchitis mess and it was really irritating my airway and triggering the coughing, so I was glad for the “fresh” air of the hotel room.  We sat in the room for a little while talking and when we were about to go back down and find some dinner, Michelle went into the bathroom.  While I was waiting for her, I was sitting in one of the chairs by the bed and I saw a reflection of the view outside through the mirror on the wall.  For a moment I thought the hill outside was on fire and I was reminded of a scene, late in the TV series M*A*S*H.  Colonel Potter is standing outside looking at the glowing horizon and one of the other characters walks up to him.  The other character (don’t remember who it was) comments on how beautiful the sunset is and Colonel Potter says, “Yep.  Only the sun sets in the west.  That’s the east.”  They had to pick up the camp and move until the fire passed.

What I saw in the mirror, was, of course, the sun setting over top of the distant mountains, which were, thankfully, to the west of the hotel. 🙂

It was really nice to get away, even just for a night.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win big.  In fact I didn’t win at all, but I went there we $73.00 and I came home with $20.15.  My philosophy of casinos is I don’t gamble, I pay to play games and sometimes I win a prize, but usually I just entertain myself for a little while.  So if you look at it that way, $52.85 for a day of game playing, isn’t so bad.  And I had a good time.  That’s all that matters!



Busy Stay-Cation

I usually make the excuse that I write at work because I’m there so much and I have no time for writing at home…  That sounds nice, but since I’ve been off work since December 23rd and I didn’t write a thing between December 22nd and really, yesterday, that’s not much of an excuse.  You’d think there would have been many blog posts during this stay-cation.

This has been one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while, I mean, you know, for not having gone anywhere.  I received an infusion of cash (insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills) just as this stay-cation was beginning which enabled me to comfortably purchase Christmas gifts for all the people on my list to buy gifts for; fancy coffee for my mother, A GPS for Michelle, an Afterglow PS3 controller for Lil’B as well as art supplies for his birthday (which is 12/31), a cordless drill for my oldest niece (this is what she wanted.  Don’t judge me.), a horse game for my second niece and a little plush, radio control fire truck for my nephew.  Everything arrived on time and was properly distributed.  As far as I know everyone appreciated their gifts.  I was concerned that the art supplies would pale in Lil’B’s eyes compared to the controller, but he said he was excited about the art supplies.

I have spent a lot of time at home during this stay-cation, which is fine ’cause it was kind of the plan.  Stay home, clean, organize, generally get things in better shape.  I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped I would, but I’ve gotten a lot done and I’m quite happy about hat.  One of my Christmas gifts to myself is something I’ve wanted for a long time but just didn’t convince myself to spend the money on.  I decided recently that I was determined to get the item and so when I got the cash infusion, I took my 20% off coupon and headed right out to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought a Roomba, robot vacuum cleaner.

You guys! I’m so glad I bought this thing and I wish I had gotten it a long time ago!  It’s awesome!  It does a very effective job and it requires almost no effort on my part.  I say almost, because I do have to empty the little bin pretty much every day and I do have to push the button to turn it on…  Well I don’t have to.  There is an auto start feature, I just haven’t enabled it.  I also have to make sure there is nothing on the floor to get in its way.  This thing is surprisingly assertive and I have found that I have to make sure that all cords and cables are well out of the way or it will run over them and cause problems.  Though it is smart enough to stop running before it gets too tangled up in something, it will try a bit to vacuum the thing up, before it gives up.  My biggest fear was that it would not be able to get over the lip into the kitchen, which is the messiest room because that’s where the cat litter is, but the Roomba jumps the curb like it’s no big deal.  The other concern I had was how Mischa would react to it.  He has always been afraid of vacuum cleaners and whenever I would turn one on, he would run and hide behind a chair or something.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Roomba which is louder than I had hoped, but far and away quieter than any manual powered vacuum I’ve ever owned.  What’s really funny is that the Roomba, which has a built-in extra-dirt-detection sensor, seems to identify Mischa as a pile of extra dirt and it routinely targets him and heads straight toward him.  Mischa, being the mental giant that he is, just stands there until the Roomba actually bumps into him and then he acts indignant that it came after him.  Roomba has a little side brush which is designed to brush debris away from walls and out into it’s path.  Sometimes this side brush will bump against Mischa’s feet and then he tries to pounce on the brushes.  It’s really quite funny.  But I can run the Roomba everyday without causing any great turmoil for Mischa and that’s what I wanted, so I’m really quite thrilled with my purchase and wish I had done it long ago!  Now I really want a Scooba.  It’s made by the same people and it’s designed to wash hard floors.  The problem is, it says it’s safe on “sealed hardwood floors” and I’m sure mine is not sealed.  Bummer!


Michelle had a “lounge” party, on Christmas Eve at her apartment.  She insists it was always a lounge party (wear lounge pants and t-shirts) but her sister kept calling it a pajama party and I swear Michelle called it a pajama party the first time she mentioned it to me.  I pointed out that I don’t wear pajamas and that no one wants to see that, and that’s when she started calling it a “lounge” party.  It was a nice time.  Her three-year-old great-nephew was there and Michelle handed him my Christmas present and asked him to bring it to me.  Somehow, between that time and the time he handed it to me, the paper… ahem… fell off the gift.  She gave me a heated mattress pad, which is something I had been wanting for a while, only, you know how when you build something up in your mind and it’s going to be so wonderful and then you actually get the thing and it can’t live up to the expectations you built…  Yeah, that.  I felt badly ’cause I want to take it back, but I didn’t want to hurt Michelle’s feelings.  When I got over to her house this past Friday to do my laundry (since Saturday was New Year’s Eve) she was in the process of repackaging the one she had bought for herself to take it back.  She didn’t like it.  She let me off the hook and told me that I could return the one she got me if I wanted.  I told her I would probably do that and that I’d bring it back to her (since she had the receipt) and she could take it back and get me something else and wrap it up for me, and then maybe I’ll get to open MY OWN Christmas present.


I took Lil’B to Benihana for his Birthday dinner…  Actually it was kind of confusing. I took him, on December 26th and I told him, this is a special dinner to celebrate his Birthday, where he will get his Christmas present, and then at the next dinner on January 2nd, he would get his Birthday present.  I hadn’t been to  a Benihana in many years and while I knew it was a lot of fun, I also thought I remembered that it was a long and drawn out affair so I made reservations for 5:00.  He was out of school so it wasn’t a school night, but I figured we shouldn’t be out too late.  Dinner was over at 6:50 and Lil’B didn’t want to go home yet.  I called his mother and got her blessing and we went to a movie after dinner.  I got to take him to one of my favorite Movie Theaters.  It’s just and AMC theater, but it’s in the middle of San Francisco and it’s in an old building they renovated.  It’s a 12 screen cinema, but there are only four theaters to a floor, and there are three levels of theaters.  Since they are stadium seating, each theater is two stories, so this building is about 8 stories tall and I just find it fascinating.

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  This movie was horrendous!  I mean, truly, truly, terrible!  Now I know, this movie is not geared toward my age group, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two so it was sadly disappointing to me that I didn’t like this one as much, but on the plus side, there was a moment in this wretched movie that actually made Lil’B laugh out loud and if you’ve been coming around here long, you know what an accomplishment that is.  I’d sit through it again just to hear that!

The next day, I went to therapy, did a little shopping and went over to hang out with my friend Karin and her two kids.  I ended up staying through dinner and had a nice time.  She introduced me to some fancy operations that my iPhone is capable of and I wasn’t even aware… Giving me pause to consider the value in some new equipment purchases.  I’ll have to give that some thought.


Friday I went to Michelle’s house to do my laundry and hang out.  I got there early and after I started my first load, she and her great-nephew and I went to breakfast.  The boy was quite rambunctious and energetic.  It was fun though.  He runs kind of hot and cold when it comes to me, well, anyway, hot and luke warm.  Apparently, since he was a baby baby, I’m the only male, outside his immediate family that he would let hold him.  Other men would pick him up and he’d immediately squirm and cry and want to get away and with me, he was fine.  Now that he’s a little older and has a personality, he doesn’t dislike me, but he often doesn’t want to engage with me.  But this day, as soon as I walked in he was all over me, asking me questions and talking to me and wanting to sit with me.  It was almost too much, but it was still nice to see.


I’ve mentioned in the past how I do not want to be home on New Year’s Eve.  My mother never went anywhere or did anything and all we ever did was sat in the living room and watch TV.  Theoretically, watching “the ball drop” only my mother was forever surfing channels trying to get away from all that horrible secular music that was always on the network shows.  We would watch something from Washington, DC on PBS, which was always live and therefore an hour early, plus fireworks on TV just do not have the same effect.  From 11:00 to 11:58:30 she would surf around trying to find something that wasn’t rock and roll music and then at the last second (sometimes after the last second) turn the TV to one of the networks.  We’d say “happy new year” and then go to bed.  I swore that when I had it in my own power I was not just going to sit around at home on New Year’s Eve.  This has proven to be problematic from time to time because I hate crowds too, but I make the best of it.

In years past I’ve gone out of town for New Year’s Eve spending a few days in another place away from home and with more excitement than I’ve got here.  Most of the time, New Year’s Eve was just the excuse I needed to go on a trip, but I still enjoyed myself.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, Reno a couple of times.  Last year we got a room a the Embarcadero Hilton in San Francisco and had a really lovely evening, but it ended up costing as much as a three night trip out of town.  This year, Michelle and I had 10:00 reservations at a restaurant called Skates on the Bay, which is, as you might imagine, on the San Francisco Bay.  I had never been, though Michelle had a couple of times.  The plan was to have dinner and then stroll out side to the water front where we would watch the fireworks from San Francisco at midnight.  In an all too familiar scene, Michelle was in the bathroom at midnight and I stood by the windows of the restaurant where we had JUST gotten our check and watched the fireworks by myself (le sigh).  It’s okay.  This is kind of terrible for me to say, but I feel like midnight on New Year’s Eve is a moment that, ideally should be shared romantically and I don’t have any romantic feelings for Michelle, maybe being alone at that moment was better.  The fire works display was nice, though I feel like it looses some of its splendor when you can’t hear, and just as importantly, feel them.  The display was the same one we watched last year, which means it was shot off from a barge outside the San Francisco Ferry Building, about six and a half miles away.  I’m always caught a little by surprise at how small they are from what seems like such a short distance.

After dinner, I took Michelle back to her sister’s house, dropped her off and came home.  I would have liked to have been somewhere else for a little vacation and I got a wild idea that may not really be financially feasible that I’d really like to go to Australia for next New Year’s Eve, but as long as my 19 1/2 year old cat is with me, that can’t happen.

Last night was another dinner with Lil’B.  We went to a local place I’d never been to called The South Shore Cafe.  It was very ordinary, but it was something new for both of us and I’m trying to expose him to new things, so it was fun.  We talked a little bit about his birthday.  He said he couldn’t remember what kind of cake he had but that it had Oreos on it.  I asked him if they had ice cream and he said no, so I had to rectify the no birthday ice cream problem.  We went to a local ice cream shop called Loard’s (I learned it is supposed to be pronounced “Lo-ard’s” as it is a compilation of the two founders last names.)  Loard’s is a 100% local company that makes its own ice cream in a local factory and it was really quite good.  When I was looking at the flavors on the board I was caught by surprise and was a little grossed out by “Avocado flavor” but I had to taste it.  It was surprisingly good, although, honestly, it tasted mostly like Vanilla.


This morning I had an orthodontist appointment, I wasn’t holding my breath, though I was hoping today would be the big day.  No such luck.  In fact based on the conversation I had today with “Dr. Jeff”, (I always wondered how the staff differentiated between the father and the son, now I know) it looks like two to three more months.  The day Dr. Jeff put them on he told me 12-18 months, this is the 13th month.  On the plus side though, I paid my final payment today and have one few debts hanging over my head! Yay!


Tonight I have dinner with an old friend of mine, and tomorrow Michelle and I are going, over-night, to Cache Creek Casino and Resort.  It’s an Indian run casino about 90 minutes north of here.  We’ll go and play for the afternoon, then spend the night in a hotel room, have breakfast and head back.  That’s about as long as I can leave Mischa on his own since he’s confined to the cage and he eats canned food, but it’ll be nice to get a little tiny break anyway.


*Oh by the way, I guess I’m supposed to say that despite my glowing report (and despite the two additional people I’ve about talked into it – my mother says I should get a commisison) I am not being compensated in anyway by Roomba, or Bed Bath and Beyond or any other products or merchants I may have mentioned here…  Dammit.