Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas!

We hope everyone has had a great year. Instead of email, snail mail, or a glittery card delivered by reindeer-driven sled, we have moved into the digital world and we’re simply making a Christmas blog post for our Christmas card/letter this year.

Less personal? Yes. Less costly? Yes. Easier? Absolutely.

As anticipated, I navigated the year wisely continuing to fool Brenda into thinking I am a good guy. This is my record 31st year of doing so.

Brenda Tuscany

My smartest move was handling her big birthday by planning it around exactly what she wanted to do. While not always wise enough to listen to what she says, the importance of the event mandated a bit more attention on my part.

Brenda wanted to go to Tuscany and take cooking lessons. I thought about telling her about our proximity to an Olive Garden and their endless salad, but in a brief – and rare – moment of self discipline, I held my tongue. So off we went to Rome, Florence and the Tuscan countryside.

She loved the trip. On her birthday, we took a cooking class on making “pici” pasta (basically thick hand rolled spaghetti) at the farm house we stayed at in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany while drinking wine made from the vines right outside. Couldn’t have been better. Score one point for Doug.

brenda dough

While overall the trip exceeded expectations, there were moments. We stayed in rental apartments though (Vacation Rentals by Owner). These were great prices in wonderful locations. However, they were basically peoples homes, so there were some differences from the typical hotel room.

Most notably was the bathroom in Rome. As we arrived, the room wasn’t ready. In fact, the people that were staying there were going down the stairs as we were going up. Bianca, the landlord that lived next door, said we could leave our stuff, but would have to go out for a few hours until the room was cleaned. She seemed to be in a bit of a rush, but said I could use the bathroom before we left.

In my rush to get in and out, I walked into the dimly lit bathroom before hitting the light switch. Anyone that has ever gone in the middle of the night knows, that you really don’t need a 100 watt bulb to get the job done. So as I stepped in the door toward the toilet, I quickly learned that there was a step up inside the bathroom to the toilet. The step, which I didn’t see at all, slowed my lower body progress to a halt. My upper body however had a mind of it’s own and marched on. At this point, there was no time to communicate stop my progress. I was going horizontal.

As I never did get the light on, I really couldn’t see what I was going to hit. Turned out it was my left shoulder into the wall – which was build at the beginning of the Roman empire and is still standing for a reason. I bounced off the wall like a ball of pizza dough and across the toilet into the bidet.

Now completely horizontal but finally at rest, I started to take inventory of what might be battered, bruised, or broken. Nothing too bad, so now to get up. Easier said than done. I kinda wanted to just roll off the fixtures into the floor, but I wasn’t going let that damn step get me again. So it’s the hand into the bidet, a solid push, and up I pop right onto toilet – my original goal. I felt like saying, “Ta Dah!”

One could think this ruckus might be loud enough for someone to notice. But since the walls were so thick, they didn’t hear a sound. Also, I kept in mind it was Brenda’s birthday, so any desire I had to vent my frustrations at the absurd location of that step in a verbal tirade had to be put on hold. When I finally walked out, as you might of guessed, she said, “What did you do, fall in?”

I don’t mind telling you my next comment required championship-level vent suppression that I am not prone to on a regular basis. It was HER birthday trip. I said, “Sorry. Are you ready to go?” and off we went.

It didn’t take too long for my shoulder to bruise up and start to hurt. Eventually she noticed I was using my half zipped jacket as a sling and I got to confess the event. I whimpered less than usual, which I think she appreciated. I felt better being able to state for the record how I felt about that step. In a couple of days all was well. Turned to be a great trip. Brenda loved it.

Brenda Tuscany 2

Speaking of great trips, Brenda, her sister and parents went to Paris this fall. Her mom had never been and there’s no better time than the present, so off they went. She says the highlight was first night when they took a boat cruise down the Seine river past Notre Dame and back to the Eiffel tower. It was right at dusk and the tower started sparkling with the evening lights. Rumor has it tears were shed.

Brenda Paris

While Brenda enjoyed the good life, I got stuck in jury duty. After three weeks listening to people spin half truths to their benefit, I shed a few tears myself. I would rather have been sentenced to watch Jerry Springer reruns all day.

One of the so-called medical “experts” testified for almost an hour using one specific MRI picture of a spine. When the other attorney cross-examined him, he was asked what the 9/23 was on the top of the picture was. He said the date. Then he was asked “Wasn’t MRI on 9/23 taken in 2011 not 2009 as you just testified?” He said, “Oops, I was looking at the wrong picture.”

A medical expert with great credentials, $5000/Day. Detailed testimony on spinal injury, $750/hour. Forgetting to check the date and completely blowing your credibility. Priceless. There’s three weeks of my life I won’t get back.

In other news, Brenda made progress in golf game this year, starting to get into the low 90’s. Won’t be too long until she’s a bogey golf. Conversely, I am still struggling to fix my pathetic swing. Much like my tumble in Rome, my lower body and my upper body don’t always to communicate very well. However, I did pull it together to win the home and away senior event at Olympic club. I thought it wasn’t my day when I hit a ball right at the flagstick only to have it hit dead square and carom off quite a ways.  But on the very next hole, I holed out an 8 iron from under a tree in the rough. But that didn’t last as my game is back in the bidet.

Brenda doug golf

Lots of good food and wine this year. One of the bigger events is a party in San Francisco called Le Diner de Blanc. It’s a pop up dinner where you have to bring everything except tables and chairs and everyone dresses in all white. It’s kinda like a picnic with 4000 of your closest friends.

They always pick a great location. This year was in front of City Hall. There were 12 of us and I made quite a few dishes that everyone enjoyed. Really quite a fun event. I try to write up our foodie fun in a blog called Searching for Wow! I’m really behind in the blog, but my cooking skills are moving ahead.

le diner sf

Work is fine. Lots going on and on top of it I took on a few more classes at Notre Dame this year. I really like the people there, both students and faculty. I keep really busy as I still don’t know how to say no to someone that needs my help. Brenda is selling her medical equipment hand over fist and busy as well. So we, like so many of you, just juggle like crazy and try not to drop anything important.

That’s enough from us.

Call, write, or visit. You’re always welcome at our house.

Big hug from Brenda and Doug





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