Things a Man Oughta Know

Can I just move in?

I came home from work tonight with a boatload of work to do before an insanely wild week, next week. But you know what, bro? I don’t wanna. It’ll be there tomorrow, right? Things that won’t be there tomorrow? My time this evening. My time writing, planning my vacation, and making myself a somewhat normal dinner instead of ordering takeout. So, on that note, for old time’s sake – here’s some random musings and favorite tunes this week . . .

1. It’s hot and humid in the south. In my corner of the south, it will probably be hot – off and on through October. There are times Halloween is chilly. And then there are other times when I hold Halloween/Fall events and I’m switching out hot cider and hot chocolate for water & extra ice. But, I digress. I have some big events coming up, in the midst of the super hot/humid that is our August. I’m not a fan. So this weekend, I am re-evaluating my clothing choices (haha) and may just show up wearing the most comfortable things I own, which may be things I would not normally wear to work. Whatever, bro. It’s mid-August in the south – you get what you get.

2. My dog – Abby the Wonder Dog – is the sweetest, funniest dog. She is hilarious. She is also weird and very particular. I’ve paid for expensive dog training for her. It worked for a while. But after a bit, she lost the most important part of that training, which was to peacefully co-exist with other dogs. She has her favorite dogs. But they’re few and far in between. This makes life with her quite . . . a pain in the arse sometimes. Like today. Today, I didn’t realize, while I cleaned up after her, that her leash wasn’t truly in my grip. She charged. You wanna know who she charged? A cute little blonde boy and his PUPPY corgi. You know how small Corgis are, right? Yeah, this is a puppy. She’s such an arsehole. She’s pretty big (54 pounds). But charging at a little boy and a puppy, I’m sure she seemed gynormous…

“I think I should lay down now.” – Abby

The photo above shows my dog in her natural state, which is being lazy. She sleeps most of her life. And she’s quite serious about it. She will nag me to go to bed if I’m up too late. Right now, I’m propped up in my bed, typing. I’m even wearing my nightgown (though it’s barely 6:30). This is her preference so she can contain me in one place and voilà, I’m close to my bed for her favorite thing – sleeping. But alas, when she’s charging at a child and a puppy, she’s menacing (looking). All she wanted was to run over, give everyone a sniff, and come right back to me. Which is what she did. She didn’t so much as lift a paw.

But boy did she scare that poor kid. I was horrified. I mean, you know how small corgis are, right? IT WAS A FREAKING PUPPY. Needless to say, there was a time when she was a puppy, 11 years ago, that I prayed she’d grow out of this. Nope. She’s 11 (aka 72 in human years). What a butthead. I kept apologizing to the little boy as Abby ran back to me wagging her tail. He kept saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” But not so much. When will she act like an old lady and be all uninterested in sweet little puppers? I told her she was rotten. And that she was going to get the silent treatment tonight. I think she prefers this.

3. I was eating vegan or maybe I should say partially vegan for a while. I kind of still am for breakfast/lunch, at least. This started when my rheumatologist suggested I was allergic to milk and egg whites. Do you know what has egg and milk in it? Everything. Everything has eggs and milk. I dumped tons of staples like the nectar of the gods that is mayo (that’s a joke, relax). I bought vegan mayo, vegan butter, coconut or almond milk yogurt, vegan cheese (my fav is cashew cheese from Trader Joe’s by the way), cashew ice “cream”, etc. I’ve added some egg and milk products back into the diet. But a product I probably will continue to use, is plant butter. It does have less fat & calories. But here’s the best thing about it – it melts super fast. Take a stick out of the refrigerator before dinner and by the time I’m ready to eat, it’s melty. If you’re a fine connoisseur of unhealthy foods, as I am – this is tops in my book. In related news, my favorite vegan finds include: Tattooed Chef Buddha Bowls, Daiya “burritos,” and Sonoma Flatbreads veggie pizza. In case you’re wondering why I felt the need to share this tonight, it’s because I had some on gluten free pasta tonight. Hey, I said random.

4. Did you know I love all things mid-century? Mid-century modern and mid-century ranch home architecture, (much of it anyway) is a true love (see photo above) of mine. I adore it primarily because of its incredible use of light, their enormous windows, and the way the inside and outside combine. As a lover of the outdoors (I sometimes think I could live off the grid in the wilderness), this is the main thing that draws me to it.

I could do without shag carpet. And some other weirdness from the era. Like racism. And fake plants in atriums. And rampant sexism. But yeah, much of it I adore. I love the movies, the barware & glassware (which I collect), and the cheerful colors or the way the decor matches nature. They really knew how to entertain, which is one of my absolute favorite things to find in thrift or antique stores (mid-century stuff used for entertaining).

Growing up in SoCal during the 70s & 80s, we were no strangers to this kind of architecture (combined with what is called Tiki Architecture in Mid Century Modern terms). In the town I grew up in, we even had an Eichler neighborhood. Palm Springs, where I would later shop – every weekend while living in the desert – was always fun with its mid-century modern style, literally EVERYWHERE. Eichler would be super disappointed at the cost of his homes today. He built them to be affordable and accessible. Now they’re anything but (almost 2 MILLION dollars in my home town). This is an Eichler-inspired home in Orange (where I grew up), that’s currently for sale.

So what’s the point? I don’t know. I guess I need to become a millionaire. You think I can do it? I have expensive taste. Expensive that doesn’t look expensive – which is the absolute worst. Can I become a millionaire whilst writing novels and working in the wine industry? If so, sign me up.

Alright, I think that concludes the random portion of my post. Or not. The music is probably random too. Whatever. There’s little chance you’re still reading so . . .

Things a Man Oughta Know – Top of the playlist heap, this week. This line, “If you really love a woman, you don’t let her go/Yeah, I know a few things a man oughta know”

An oldie (so old), but goodie. I’d forgotten how much I loved this song (You and I Both by Jason Mraz)

Kicking it way back to summers on Newport or Huntington Beach (1988) . . .

Man, the 80s were weird and wonderful. Lol.

Speaking of the 80s, I’m on a kick. Partly because of my new novel, waiting in the wings (Sea Glass Hearts). The novel, written about an abandoned 80s kid – who grew up on the beaches of SoCal – well, that’s where the music reminiscing comes from. I was born in the 70s so I have a healthy love of all things 70 music. But the 80s…that was when I was really falling in love with music (of all kinds).

I grew up in a very Christian household – like church on Wednesday, church twice on Sunday – we only listen to Christian music – kind of Christian household. No offense, Mom – but I’m so glad my Dad and my friends didn’t abide by mom’s rules (hahaha). I truly love music of all kinds. Imagine a life without memories like cleaning to “Thriller” in my Grandma Avalos’s house, and listening to Belinda Carlisle, KROQ, Depeche Mode, U2 (greatest album of all the times is Joshua Tree, by the way), on the beach all summer? Well, I can’t dudes.

So Depeche Mode has been high on the list lately.

Another favorite of Depeche Mode is Personal Jesus. This caused much scandal in Christian circles, back in the day. This article talks about the song and about what Martin Gore was going for when he wrote it. As the article mentions, some thought he was talking about the “commercialisation of religion.” What Gore was actually writing about was, oddly enough, the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla Presley (based on her autobiography).

“He explained: ‘It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”’ Deep, dude.

In related news, the best cover of Personal Jesus goes to Johnny Cash. I mean, I don’t know if anyone else covered it but he’s Johnny Cash. Unrelated, Hurt by Cash – so good. “What have I become, my sweetest friend?” P.S. June Cash in this video, oh my heart!

Also on the Sea Glass Hearts soundtrack & reminding me of the olden days (this time just after high school in 1995) is Everclear’s Santa Monica (and a few other songs of theirs). Loved their music.

They were always saying something emotional and angry:

I am still living with your ghost
Lonely and dreaming of the west coast
I don’t wanna be your downtime
I don’t wanna be your stupid game
With my big black boots and an old suitcase
I do believe I’ll find myself a new place

Like . . .

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been?
You know I just closed by eyes
My whole world disappeared

Man, The Black Crowes. They were so good. In later years, believe it or not – their one-time guitarist/vocalist, Marc Ford, would eventually become part of my church’s worship band. By the way, he happens to be married to one of my favorite singers ever (Kirsten Ford). Oh my! I just went down a rabbit hole and found Kirsten Ford on Spotify.

I can’t remember the name, but at one point, Kirsten and a few others from my church, had a band. My friends & I saw them multiple times at places like The Roxy, and Whisky a Go Go on Sunset in West Hollywood. Yeah, serious rabbit hole there. But fun to see that Kirsten & Marc were still part of Vineyard/Vineyard worship at least not too long ago. Anyways…

I’m about done. But while I’m reminiscing, here’s a “newer” song that is super melancholy and a California favorite. El Cerrito Place – either the Kenny Chesney (I never liked him until I heard this) or Charlie Robison’s version.

“Somehow I wound up in the desert
Just after daylight
There’s a Joshua Tree
Grows that little place you always liked
These pioneer town people
They ain’t got too much to say
And if they might have seen you
They ain’t givin’ you away
Now it’s been two days”

On that note, I’ve been random enough for the evening. But somehow, it has a little bit of the writing mojo churning. Music, as always, inspires me. I hope it’s enough to keep me going through the wild week I have next week. Counting down the days until I can vacay…

Yadkin Valley Wine Region

In case you’re wondering – the Yadkin Valley Wine Region in North Carolina is beautiful. My mom & I drove through some gorgeous countryside today. We are staying in Boone but made a detour to wine country. I can’t wait to make a trip again (to stay longer). I plan on sharing a few more details when I get home. But for now, here’s a few photos from Shelton Vineyard & Winery.

Good Wine & Great Chow

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My first event at the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend was awesome — the Wine, Bread & Cheese seminar. The second, “The Truck Stops Here”? Not great. The majority of the food was fried which is a total non-starter when you can’t eat gluten. There were simply not enough “food trucks” providing food to make the price of admission worth it for me, taking into consideration the fried thing.

As a result of my frustration from Friday night, I’m not going to lie . . . I was not even a little excited about Saturday. But I went to the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village {at Front Street Village} anyway. I’m happy to say that it was awesome. It was much more organized than the food truck event. There was simply no possible way for me to try every wine {although I’m sure there were some there that tried}. And while I was a little overwhelmed at where to start, I came up with a sort-of-ish plan to start with the whites, working around the tent and sampling the awesome food in between.

Here’s what I did enjoy {that I remembered to write down or snap a photo of}:

Charcuterie, Charcuterie Board, Cheese, Southern Foods

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My favorite eats were:

  • Sesame Seared Tuna from the Channel Marker
  • Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream and Caramelized Onions {and ugh…I can’t remember where this came from}
  • Asian Pulled Pork Taco with soy-ginger slaw and sour cream from Circa-81
  • Spring salad with strawberries, feta & basil-peach vinaigrette (Olive Oil & Vinegar from Beaufort Olive Oil Company made by Chef Merrell from Circa-81.
  • The fish & shrimp stew from Sammy’s Seafood House & Oyster Bar
  • The Charcuterie board from Southern Foods

Circa 81, Clarke Merrell, tapas, cocktails, Beaufort Wine and Food Weekend

I only saw one cooking demo – from Chef Merrell of Circa-81 {And Dank Burrito. And Beaufort Olive Oil Company.} but it was fun. I learned a few things from the demo. Like for instance, did you know that when you buy extra virgin olive oil from the grocery store, it may have as little as 15% extra olive virgin oil. The rest could be . . . anything. Eww. Kind of annoyed about the olive oil I purchase at the store. I also learned that clear bottles should be avoided which is a shame since I bought clear glass bottles for my olive oil and vinegar.

Chef Merrell made a spring salad that we were able to sample. I had a taste of a really good Sauvignon Blanc, with it, that I cannot remember the name of, for the life of me. Nonetheless, it was a fun demo and like I mentioned, I learned a few things. One of the things I enjoyed about the chef’s presentation was his advice to try stuff out when you’re cooking taking a “no rules” approach. I like that.

Before I forget, I also loved the Gin &  Tonic from Mother Earth Spirits out of Kinston. P.S. I’m a cocktail fan but I had never had a Gin & Tonic before. I’m a new fan. I bought a bottle of Crude Bitters – Rosemary, Grapefruit & Peppercorn. I can’t wait to try it. I also had a sample of their Orange & Fig. So good!

bitters, Crude Bitters,

Overall, it was a really awesome experience. I had a ton of fun. I have been to quite a few wine dinners, tastings, etc., over recent years. But this was the first time attending a wine & food festival of this type. There are things I would do differently next year for sure. But mark my words, at the very least I’ll be back for the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village next year!

Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend – Wine, Bread, and Cheese Seminar

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Today I went to the first of a few events I’ll be attending as part of the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend. As an awesome 40th birthday present, my friend Jackie bought me tickets to the Wine, Bread & Cheese Seminar as well as Saturday’s Vin de Mer Epicurean Village. I bought myself a ticket to the “Truck Stops Here” food truck rodeo.

This was seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given! I had such a great time. The event was at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center which is part of the Beaufort Maritime Museum. The view was awesome. And it was a super fun location for an event like this.

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I arrived early, along with quite a few others and we watched as the room was set up.

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Because this is the first event I’ve attended during the Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The event exceeded my expectations. The only criticism I had is that I would have liked it to be a little longer. Nonetheless, it was a great experience.

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The cheeses offered were so very good. Southern Food’s Cheesemonger, Sasha Shreders, chose cheeses I have never had before and probably am not likely to have again for some time. However, I learned a lot and confirmed that cheese, is in fact, proof that God loves me.

I’m not sure I could pick a favorite if I had to though the Shakerag Blue and Brabander Goat Gouda were pretty amazing. The wine was excellent and paired perfectly. I only bought three bottles (my budget and wallet thank me). I’m saving the Petite Sirah for a special occasion.

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After the event was over, I spent a little time walking along the waterfront and sat for a bit, enjoying the view across Taylor’s Creek. Overall, it was a great way to spend a few hours of my vacation. I am looking forward to the next two events!