Five years ago tonight–just about right now (8:33 P.M.), Peanut entered the world. What a joy! She’s feeling much better today after a rough go of sinus infection and she got to spend time with her mommy most of the day after school. Mom made her a beautiful birthday cake–looked like a sail boat–of which she only slightly partook. She’s a finicky little thing.

I have not written much because last night, I was saddled with a bad case of food poisoning. I wound up at the local emergency room around 2 A.M. and was there until 6 this morning. They pumped some fluids into me and some anti-nausea stuff along with some Prevacid. But mostly, it was a time thing allowing the worst of the nastiness to work its way out. Vomiting–and its counterpart were the order every 10 minutes or so between 11 P.M. and 2 A.M. Finally, dehydrated and pretty miserable, I went into the E.R. It was busy, so it took about and hour before I got seen. Then, they checked blood and such to make sure it was just what they thought it was—and it was: garden variety food poisoning or food borne illness. Who knows which.

In any event, I’m not 100 percent yet by any stretch though I’m not vomiting and the opposite character doesn’t take place every few minutes. But, really I have not slept much and even typing this is laborious. So–with that, I bid you all good-night.


Update: Good morning. A day off from work today as I planned to go to Disneyland with the family. However, the kid simply isn’t better yet and she still has the wheeze, a cough, etc. Mom made the decision to postpone the day so we’re home giving breathing treatments to a very sad little girl. She’ll be alright.

Bumps in the road

Where to begin? Well, with the obvious. We cancelled the hotel in Anaheim for reasons mentioned below. Sad as it was, Peanut’s not ready for an overnighter at the Happiest Place on Earth. If the weather holds, and that’s a big if–we will still go tomorrow and spend the day, coming home tomorrow evening. This is the hard part of parenting in that she doesn’t see cancelling the hotel–and possibly the trip to Disneyland as anything but a slight against her. She even says, “don’t you love me?” I don’t know where she learned that. And the only reply you can give is to say, “of course we love you–more than anything in the world, and that’s why we cannot go. We don’t want you to get worse. Doc says we can go if the weather holds. He advises against it if the rain and cold persist. We shall see.

Turning to our other top story tonight, we held our first practice tonight for my pal Edd’s fundraiser. You’ll recall that Edd is my friend with a bad liver and he will be undergoing transplantation soon–so he holds a series of fundraisers to help with the after-surgery costs. As he is a fine musician, he puts together these shows where he plays with a couple of different bands. Tonight, our old friend Jarvis Streeter sat in on second guitar–he of Theological fame, a religion prof. at my alma mater CLU and the pastor who married my wife and me. My pal Jim sat in on drums, he of marriage-to-Christina fame, and Christina is Sue’s good friend from the mom’s club. Jim and Christina have 3 kids, but the youngest is Peanut’s age and they are good friends. Some good covers tonight including songs by Perfect Circle, The Smithereens, Boingo, Cracker and The Refreshments.

Anyway, Edd and I played in a rock trio once for about five years and we trace our musical relationship back almost 20 years now. Funny, he’s always gotten much better–and I never really have. Well, I haven’t tried. I play the bass guitar–but I don’t really play it. I can sing tolerably well and play alongside that, but Edd is a world-class musician and why he deigns to play with me, I’ll never know—but I’ll always be thankful. The show will be in May. And until that time, you can pray for a speedy and healthy outcome for Edd. His surgery could happen as soon as early summer.

So–off to bed with all the requisite post rock music jitters. A little too loud, a little too much sweat and a little too much back ache. I’ve gotten old, eh?

The jury is out…

Real-time worry, I suppose. We’re planning a Disneyland trip for Peanut’s 5th birthday and it’s set for this Wednesday. We have a hotel reservation on Wednesday night and everything. But the cough and wheeze stuff that hit Friday keeps us on our toes.

She is a lot better. No denying it, she is a lot better and there is remarkable improvement. But, But, But….

It’s not all gone, yet. She’s not 100 percent. She has no fever or anything, that’s all gone now. The wheeze is mostly gone, or can be if she just hacks up a good lugie (loogy?) which she occasionaly does. But we don’t want her to relapse. We don’t want her to get sick again. It takes such a toll on her, and we certainly have been through that.

OK, so here’s where you chime in. What are your thoughts? No fever, cough mostly gone, though a little congestion and such with the occasional nice big loose cough–and by occasional I’m saying less than one an hour. So, do we take her and stay in the hotel? Do we just go down for the day? What do you think? Oooooooh. Interactive blogging….

The best weekend.

I’ve always been of the belief that what makes food and wine so wonderful is the company in which you share it. Yeah, I like to have a glass of wine occasionally by myself before bed or with dinner or whatever–but, when good friends can get together and share good food and wine, there is something magical about it.

Such was the case last night. I’m fortunate enough to have called Keith Cox a friend over 4 decades. Hard for me to believe that since I’m only 40 years old. But Keith and I met in 1978 in junior high school and we continue a close, albeit geographically distant, relationship to this day. He lives about 120 miles north of here in Santa Maria. He makes me proud on a number of levels–he is an entrepreneur and a successful one and he has raised two very fine young daughters who, now in their teenage years, have become fine young women. He is recently married to Tina who is just the nicest, loveliest, kindest friend we could know. Sue adores her and so do I–and she doesn’t just fit right in–it’s like she’s always been there.

So it was that the four of us gathered last night in Buellton to enjoy each other’s company, do some wine tasting and have dinner together. The former was the first order of business and I was determined to visit Alma Rosa winery. I met Richard Sanford last week and posted about it here–and was blown away by how good the wines were. I followed the directions on the website and it led me directly to…..Sanford winery. That was like driving right into enemy territory, I guess. Richard and his wife Thekla, as I wrote previously, have split off from Sanford winery to form Alma Rosa. The split was apparently not amicable and there’s some bad blood there.

In any event, we arrived at Sanford just at closing time–me apologizing profusely that we weren’t at Alma Rosa. We tasted anyway, and went in with few preconceived notions. Sanford wine still has a good name and according to most, still makes good wine. However, none of us were impressed. We tasted through the Pinot Grigiot, the Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and three Pinot Noirs. None of them really lit my fire and for the price (well over $30.00 per bottle for some varietals), I wasn’t interested. Nice facility–quite beautiful set to the west of Buellton in the Santa Rita Hills.

So, as it was now 4:30, we headed into Solvang and went straight to Presidio’s tasting room. I wrote a piece for Wines and Vines about this winery and Doug Braun, the owner and winemaker. The wines are delicious–unfined and unfiltered and nothing we tasted was bad. The rose of syrah stands out first off because as spring and summer come on, I really like finding summer evening wines that are cool and crisp and a little more simple. Still, this rose has a nice herb backbone and some complex floral notes that really add up.

The Pinot Noir was out of this world with that light ruby color that I associate with the best Pinots. It was great. The Sangiovese, the Syrah–all of it was exceptional. We purchased quite a few things there.

On our way to dinner, I saw that Stolpman had a tasting room in Solvang and I knew they had opened it fairly recently. I stopped the car and in we went. The ladies were not as interested in tasting as…well…answering nature’s call so out they went to find quarters for same. Keith and I tasted through rose, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Syrah and again, all were stellar. I picked up a Syrah and some Nebbiolo and the price was not bad at all. What a great time it was. Great wine, wonderful conversation—Keith is one of the funniest guys I know—and then, all were a bit peckish.

Yes, we were foolish and thought we’d go to the Hitching Post for dinner without reservations. The Hitching Post is a great little restaurant that serves great steaks and some unique fair like ostrich and buffalo–and it’s a fun place to eat. But it was made famous in the film Sideways and the result was….a two hour wait. No thanks. There’s good food and then there are two hour waits—and no food is worth that.

So, we headed to AJ Spurs. Now, most foodies will turn their noses at Spurs, but turn off your snob meters for a while. The food is exceptionally good and there is a TON of it. I had a thing called Cowboy Blue which was a huge deep fried chicken breast with asparagus and a hollandaise sauce on top. It was simply delicious. All meals come with a pot of vegetable beef soup for the table, a salad and a dessert (either a cordial or a root beer float–we opted for the float). It was really a fantastic meal with the ladies both ordering meaty, slow cooked short ribs and Keith opting for the cajun ribeye. Outstanding. My snobbishness with food is disappearing. I still like going to good restaurants, I really do. But, I appreciate good food served by a friendly staff in a no-nonsense way. It was a lot of fun.

In all, perhaps the best weekend we’ve had in a long time. Peanut continues to get better and we are thankful for that as well. To be honest, I can’t wait to go up and do it again…

Here’s the four of us last December. For whatever reason, we didn’t take a photo last night.

Notes from a wet weekend

Well, Peanut slept–and even slept in! It was a quiet night, no coughing–and so she’s feeling a bit better. She still doesn’t want to take her breathing treatments, which are longish right now because there can be up to three meds in them, but they are really helping knock down the wheeze.

So–we will go off today to the Central Coast to meet friends of ours, taste a little wine and have a little dinner. Should be fun. The venerable and gracious Aunt Laurie will be on duty this afternoon and evening handling babysitting chores.

Doing a little redesign of the site–very minor. Adding some new images and updating a few things including photos and things. Always nice to do a little spring cleaning.

The expectation is for rain today–which just came into the forecast yesterday. It sorts well with my countenance. I didn’t sleep much two nights ago because Peanut was up coughing. Last night, I slept a little better, but woke early because….well, because Peanut wasn’t coughing. So, I snuck into her room to check on her. She was sleeping soundly, breathing regularly and it gave me such a good feeling, I just sort of stayed awake. I’ve been up since before 6:00 this morning. Ah well. Such is my lot.

A much awaited Disneyland trip is upcoming and I’ll blog from there later in the week. As long as Peanut starts feeling better–Happy Weekend.

Parenting is 24/7/365–and that's just fine.

Home from work to check on the family. We’ve all been nailed with this awful cold cum bronchitis or lung thing. I’m mostly over mine and Sue is coming out of it. Well, now it’s Peanut’s turn.

As I’ve written before, Peanut can on occasion get sick and get it lodged in her lungs. This doesn’t always happen, but only once in a while. So, my arrival home was commensurate with her waking from a nap. She’s been fighting a cold since Tuesday and today, it took a turn for the worse. Luckily, we have the best pediatrician in the county and we called him at 4:10. By 4:30, we were pulling up to his office and he did the once over. He’s pretty anti-anti-biotic unless he can see a clear reason and he didn’t see that here. What he saw was a little Peanut with rosy cheeks, a fever, a cough–and a bad one–and a lot of congestion.

So, he put us back on the heavy breathing treatments: albuterol, pulmicort and atrovent. We’re to do the pulmicort and the atrovent 3 times a day and the albuterol every 4 hours as needed for the wheeze. We got home by 5 and gave her the first treatment and then got her again before bed around 8. She is indeed breathing a little better and we’re in hopes that tonight will be a better night’s sleep. She was up coughing most of the night last night–and so, perhaps we’ll get some relief tonight.

Once again, we seem to have caught things before they got a lot worse. Last July when she got this, we missed the call and were too late in the application of nebulized medicines–so we wound up in the E.R. on a Sunday afternoon. They hit her with albuterol, prednisolone, an anti-biotic, pulmicort–and 100 other things to get her back on top. It worked. But we don’t want to go through that again.

So–Friday night dinner and wine with our pals the Davis’s was washed out. We’ll see how things go tonight and in the morning and that will determine tomorrow’s Santa Ynez/Solvang/Buellton run to meet with Keith and Tina for wine tasting and dinner. If indeed it’s a go, I’ll update all here.

The key thing is to be sure Peanut is on the road to recovery and that she gets to feeling better. She was an angel all day even though she doesn’t much like going to the doctor. She cried, though–when she learned her friend Marli couldn’t come over tonight. She was excited about that and it was hard for her.

It’s the little things that keep one grounded. And my little one is the very source indeed—of all of my grounding. Keeping her healthy, well, happy and loved is not just my job–it’s a joy.

Easter People 2

We bid Max farewell today. One week ago this night, Max died. He was 11 years old and had been fighting and struggling with cancer since a few years ago. It was a sad, mournful day.

And yet, Max’s parents, David and Tracey and their three daughters Ilsa, Lena and Emily all came into the church with smiles–with hope. With faith. And I could not help but listen as friends and relatives got up to talk about Max and how amazing he was.

He suffered, God knows. He knew suffering the likes of which most people will not know in their lifetimes. The pain he endured was extraordinary. In the last month or so, the pain would bleed through the morphine drip and they gave Max methadone. It was all they could do. God was calling him home–and he went a week ago tonight.

We are an Easter People. We don’t live like we are, but we are. We don’t wake everyday with the thought of Easter dawning on us, but it has. We don’t walk through our day feeling redeemed by One who came, lived in us–and died for us, but He did. We weep for ourselves. Max is gone, but he is still with us. He is here in our hearts, and we see through a mirror dimly right now–but we will see him again, face to face. Our children, those we love–are not ours. They are let to us for a short time, but they are God’s. And that is at once a comforting and haunting thought.

As for me tonight, I can do nothing but pray for Tracey and David–for Ilsa, Emily and Lena. Emily suffered from leukemia and went through bone marrow transplantation. It was successful, though right now her growth is stunted. She is well, otherwise. She’s a gem of a child and as thoughtful, kind and loving as any child I know. The anguish of having two children suffer so is beyond words, I am certain. And I feel guilty trying to put my own words on it. I am not worthy enough to write about it.

But I will love completely without complete understanding–because if I understand anything from the Bible, from Christ–and from Max–it’s that love conquers all. Love is everything–and without it, there truly is nothing.


Easter People

All this–and Pizza, too. I’m a pizza-holic. A bonafide Junkie. Haven’t met a pizza I don’t like. Even mediocre pizza is good pizza. As my pal Scott and I often say, “the only thing better than pizza and beer–is free pizza and beer.” So tonight, after being busy at work and not taking time to exercise, we all drove down to Me-n-Ed’s pizza here in town.

Now, their pizza is nothing to write home about. It’s certainly good, the ingredients fresh, the sauce a nice blend of tangy and sweet. But, it’s nothing terribly special. I’ve had great pizza in my life. I lived in Chicago. But, I don’t dislike Me-n-Ed’s. It’s fine, utilitarian, fresh ingredient pizza. It knocks Pizza Hut right out of the ballpark and Papa John’s, while having its own goodness, is not as good. Topper’s may be better pizza–I will have to check that. I am a Topper’s fan. But, as I say, a fine pizza. They do have the added advantage of having my very favorite brew, Firestone-Walker Double Barrel Ale, on-tap. Good pizza and great beer trump great pizza and good beer—most of the time. All depends on mood, taste, etc. of course.

So, we ate a Me-n-Ed’s and drank a pitcher of Firestone, my wife, sister-in-law and myself and Peanut chowed on one piece and a lemonade. Poor little thing has a cold–again. Seriously, though this year is not as bad as the last few years. She’s come through pretty well–and as we hit her pretty quickly with the breathing treatments, Dimetapp and lots of fluids, she seems to fight it and retain her kiddom. We always keep an eye on her and try to prevent the things from going into her lungs, as has happened so often.

Alright, anyway–I’m tangential. The pizza was fine–half Classic Veggie and half sausage. That half is my daughter talking. A purist, she is. Doesn’t muck about with a mix of ingredients. She’s not fond of when things “mix.” Anal, one might call her. I don’t know where she gets it from…

The beer was even better. I swear the stuff is so smooth and tasty. I haven’t had a better American beer. Never. When I was doing the radio show regularly, I had both Adam Firestone and David Walker on. Great guys, both of them. They’re funny and they have a great rapport and banter between the two of them and they make the best beer around. I’ve written about them and the beer—it’s over there in the articles. No-I won’t link it. Start scrolling!

March winds down–and with it, I too wind down. It is hard to believe that Peanut will be five in just a few days. Her birthday at this point is something of a miracle to me. I never thought we’d have a child–and when we did, I was so wrapped up in being a miserable father–and I mean miserable—that I never thought we’d get out of babyhood. I wasn’t really comfortable with her until she was two–and even then, I was a little out of sorts. But, I loved her so dearly and so completely–that it overcame all the awkwardness. Now–she’s a person. A real live little person who sips daddy’s beer and eats pizza. I know, you’re probably not amused. But I am. Constantly.

And so, while I have sunk back into the funk again–the funk being a relatively monthly or bi-monthly thing for me (my wife has her theories. I won’t profane these pages with them), I simply cannot be all that unhappy. Spring is here. Easter is coming–and we are an Easter people, as my friend Pastor Craig likes to say, and…perhaps more importantly than all of it–or perhaps because of all of it….I’m a dad.

Oh….And then I got on the treadmill and did 20 minutes at 4 m.p.h. at an incline of 8. Pizza—earned.

Shut Up

In the throws of the end of a day in which my daughter danced a recital and I had to go to a teacher “in-service” (John Steinbeck’s words always come to mind), and I am led to think it is sillier and sillier to make education into the political football it is.

Here’s the bottom line: Kids reflect the society and the family in which they life. Teachers, by and large, are parts of the society in which they live. Education has gotten better, not worse–though I confess I think there are A LOT of things we do wrong, especially at the secondary level.

Parents need to take responsibility–in fact, so much so, that they need to demand local control of their schools. The more local, the better. The less Federal and State intrustion, the better. In fact, the Dept. of Education could very easily be lopped off, thereby saving millions–even billions–of dollars each year. OK, keep some of the money in a kind of Federal Education reserve account and give it out as grants or loans to districts that apply using very specific criteria. Other than that, get the government out of it, put the parents and the kids back into it, work with the teachers to make it better—and then shut the heck up.

Yeah. That’ll do.