New Wine, New Jersey

We usually like to write these together…a team effort if you will, but since work requires us to be a few zip codes apart, we’ve decided to continue in the format of our most recent post. It definitely seems to make sense in this case.

Crystal: I had to fly for work yesterday. This made me incessantly grumpy, as I’m of the opinion that being hurtled through the air in a pressurized tube is extremely unnatural to me and should be to most humans.

Jonathan: I think it’s fun…it’s the getting to the plane part that blows goats. Air travel these days is a hemorrhoid on what would otherwise be a pleasant vacation.

Crystal: That, and no one can REALLY explain to me, in words that make sense, how planes don’t just fall out of the sky.

Jonathan: Not true…I’ve explained it to you…and it made sense. I’ll do it again when you get back.

Crystal: So I arrived at the airport and was the only one in the group of four women to be checked in by a man.

Jonathan: (frowns)

Crystal: I thought nothing of it at the time, I simply handed him my ID card and a copy of my orders so he wouldn’t charge me for baggage. There was no winking, hair tossing, or any other flirtatious action.

Jonathan: You’re damn right there wasn’t. I will cut a dick off.

Crystal: He handed my ID back and said, “I’ve bumped you to first class for the first leg of your trip.”


Jonathan: What?!

Crystal: This has happened to me one other time in my thirty-six years on this planet. Jonathan and I were traveling from San Antonio to Omaha, and he got us bumped to first class. “You know you get free drinks in first class right?” he told me. I thought he was joking. I proceeded to drink three gin and tonics and get quite loud. Pretty sure everyone else in first class that night was aware that I was a newbie to the finer things in life.

Jonathan: Yep.

Crystal: Anyway…it gets better. The four of us walked to security and thought the TSA Pre-Check line was where we belonged, but no one was really sure. “Well, let’s just pretend we belong there and see what happens,” I told them. I went in first, and the lady scanned my boarding pass, smiled and said, “Thank you Crystal.”


No taking off of shoes or jacket, no removal of computer or clarinet from bag.

I breezed through and turned around, only to see the other three heading back to regular security! After waiting for ten minutes for them to get through, they told me I was the only one who had a Pre-Check ticket. Once again, my check-in guy had hooked me up.

Jonathan: What did this guy look like?

Crystal: Once I was settled into my first class seat, the very funny and flaming flight attendant kept me plied with red wine the entire way. It was fabulous. If I had money to fly first class all the time, I totally would. It’s either going to be Dramamine or alcohol that keeps me calm, and alcohol is much more fun. But I digress. On to New Jersey!

Jonathan: Oh yes…new jersey!

Crystal: Excuse me; new jersey, lowercase. I bought Bella a Packers jersey. It’s very cute on her, and she’ll be the envy of every Packer fan we know. It’s the coolest thing we’ve ever bought her.

Jonathan: Aside from the five foot tall teddy bear.

Crystal: Yes, other than that. Second coolest thing we’ve ever bought her. There’s just one small problem. She hates it.

Jonathan: Loathes actually.

Crystal: Yes. Loathes. We put it on her, and she stood frozen in place. Ears down, sad puppy face wondering “Why hooman?”

Jonathan: More like “I’m a dog you dumb shits. I chew on bones, chase my own tail once in awhile, lick my naughty parts for no apparent reason, shit outside (with a shamed face), and my favorite treat in the world is to eat cat shit. I’m obviously not the shirt-wearing type.”

Crystal: Okay…so probably more along those lines…but she definitely hates it.

Jonathan: Yep.

Crystal: So that’s the ‘Beasts’ part of our post…and since we’ve been neglecting the ‘Bottles’ part, here’s a wine we had with dinner a couple weeks ago:

Apothic Dark

 The wine.

Jonathan: We’re by no means wine-snobs, (after all, we bought a CASE of Blackstone Merlot a few weeks ago), so we’ll drink the $100 bottle, the $6 bottle, and everything in between. This is a sort of in between one. We’ve had our fair share of Apothic Red in the past so when this ‘limited release’ showed up at Raley’s the other night, we had to give a whirl.

It’s dark. Way dark. If Darth Vader had a favorite wine, this just might be it. Remember the bad guy in Temple of Doom…Mola Ram…if he ran out of blood to use in his Thuggee ceremonies, this is what he’d use. Even the cork (synthetic) is black. This is badass wine. But it’s not sinister…it’s good. Get some while it lasts!

Jersey Portrait

The jersey.


Jersey Perfect

The result.


Death of a Dyson


A few years ago, I bought a Dyson. A Dyson Animal, not the ball, but the older version. Anyway, I bought it from Woot. You ever check out Woot? It’s pretty cool, they have one deal per day and when it’s sold out that’s it. Instead of paying close to $500 for said Dyson, I paid about $280. I thought it was a great deal. Sadly, the Dyson never really worked correctly. But that didn’t bother me too much, I mean it worked in the sense that it sucked things off the floor, but if you tried to use the extension, things got weird. It never wanted to retract back into its home and inevitably there would be a struggle to get the hose back where it belonged. But like I said, it was cheap and basically did its job.


“Basically did its job”, my ass. Let me clarify a couple things. One important fact was left out about that piece-of-shit Dyson. Yes it was only $280 instead of $500, but that’s because it was a REFURBISHED Dyson. What’s wrong with a refurbished Dyson, you may ask? After all, it’s much cheaper than a new one. Well, nothing’s wrong aside from the fact that the machine didn’t work the FIRST time it was sold. What a scam! Here’s how it probably went down:

Big Company Guy 1: ‘Hey guys, we sold a piece of shit to somebody and they returned it.’

Big Company Guy 2: ‘Here’s an idea…let’s put a band-aid on it, call it ‘refurbished’, and sell it again at a ‘discount’ with no warranty or return options.’

Big Company Guy 1: ‘Great idea BCG 2! Not only will we relieve ourselves of the burden of disposing of this junk pile, we’ll also get somebody else to pay for it! Shit, we should run for office!’

Big Company Guy 2: ‘Yes indeed BCG 1. Ass-raping the pocketbooks of the public…consumerism and politics at its finest!’

So…it was refurbished. AND it never worked correctly, from day one! You had to jump on this purple monster and ride it like a foaming mad rodeo bull in order to get the damn cleaner head to engage. No joke. And it didn’t matter one bit if you managed to stay on for eight seconds…hell, it took four times that long just to get the thing to engage. Come to think of it, I could be a five-time bull riding champion with all the practice I’ve already had. Cheyenne, here I come! And that’s just the cleaner head; don’t get me started about that bullshit hose attachment. So to say it ‘basically did its job’ is more generous than Gandhi. It turned on. Let’s leave it at that.


A couple weeks ago it met its demise. 

Dead Vacuum




I was in the bathroom when I heard the sounds of an altercation. But there was only one voice. Jonathan’s voice. No one was talking back so I thought perhaps one of our fur kids had done something bad. I opened the bathroom door, headed out of our bedroom and entered the hallway only to see Bella hunkered down, ears back, inching her way down the hallway…backwards. There wasn’t a cat in sight. I continued down the hallway, into the living room, and, like the blood trail at a murder scene, saw a trail of dirt leading to the back patio. Well this is interesting, I thought. I slid the door open and ventured outside. There, at the bottom of the hill, lay my Dyson. 


Disclaimer: I’m not proud that I let that vacuum get to me…but it is pretty funny that, over the years, an inanimate object could take on its own nemesis-like personality that ultimately led to the ensuing backyard beatdown.

Crystal does most of the vacuuming around here. Not because I’m some sort of Mad Men-era misogynistic asshole, but because she actually likes it. Just like she loves laundry. Seriously. I’ve never seen someone get so excited about doing laundry. You’d think someone who grew up working in her parents’ dry cleaners would hate laundry. Not Crystal. 

I mention this because you may wonder, if she loves vacuuming, why was I vacuuming in the first place. Well, to be honest, I like vacuuming too…not as much as Crystal, mind you, but there’s something very satisfying about it, especially on hardwood floors, where you can see the evil forces of the little dirt and fur armies who’ve arrayed against you get sucked into oblivion. 

So there I was thinking ‘ooh…I’m going to suck up all this pet dander while Crystal is indisposed’. That’s pretty much where it went south. 

The obligatory vacuum bull ride did not result in a working vacuum this time. In fact, that purple bitch sat there laughing at me. Well, if the bull ride doesn’t work, it’s usually a hose issue. So I tried the hose. Then another ride. Then another hose. Then yet another ride. Nothing. Oh it turned on…but that’s it. Fuck. This. Dyson. 

One more try with the hose then. This time I put a little something extra behind it. By something extra I mean raising this thing in the air like a post-hole digger and slamming it down on the ground to try to get the hose to go back in. Very delicate work here. It was at the bottom of one of these vacuum slams that the evil purple bastard decided ‘now’s a great time to work’. That’s when the hose buried itself fully into it’s housing. The only problem? My little finger was now firmly lodged between the hose and that housing. 

And that was the final straw. Now it was personal. It was time for this worthless trash heap to meet its demise, dashed to bits on the rocks below.


I don’t know exactly what transpired at the bottom of that hill. I did not witness it. In such cases as these, it is sometimes best to simply wait things out. I got comfortable on the couch, and a few minutes later saw Jonathan walk by the living room, dragging the decimated carcass of the vacuum by its cord in one hand, baseball bat in the other, like a caveman returning home after a long and grueling hunt. He came in and said, “I’m going to Costco to buy a new vacuum”, grabbed his keys and disappeared into the garage. 


I’ll tell you what transpired at the bottom of that hill. Comeuppance. 

Bear Jew

I’m not going to get into much more detail than that, because the grizzly facts could scar our fragile readers’ minds. Let’s just say I did my best Sgt. Donny Donowitz impression and went full Bear Jew on that vacuum. (If you don’t know what that means, then you’ve missed out on one of the finer cinematic offerings of the last five years.) 


Well shit. I’m starving! Can’t we eat first? I followed him into the garage and said, “You don’t have to go right now!” But it was too late. The truck roared to life and he pulled out of the driveway.


Rather calmly I might add. The roaring is due to the V8.


Yes, no peeling of rubber occurred. I went back into the kitchen, stared longingly at the bread and cheese we’d brought home for dinner, and resigned myself to waiting. 


This is newly introduced information. I had no idea you were that hungry. Sorry babe. 


That’s okay babe. I could’ve eaten something if I was THAT hungry. But I was pretty hungry. LOL

About an hour later he returned. He brought one box into the house and went back into the garage, only to return with a second box. He’d bought not one, but two new Dysons! One pink and one purple. I was shocked. After all, he’d hated the first Dyson.


These were NEW Dysons with full warranties. Let them ‘refurbish’ this one if it breaks and sell it to some other unlucky bastard.


I looked at the boxes then looked at him quizzically, and in the most sad, defeated tone I’d ever heard from him, he said, “You have to pick which color you want.”


Well it is HER vacuum after all. Why should I pick which color…plus the pink does look pretty badass.


I almost laughed. It was too cute. After all that, he was concerned about which color I’d prefer! Since the previous Dyson had been purple, I decided to go with the pink one instead. Bad karma with the purple.

New Vacuum

Bella approves.


Purple can kiss my ass.


“Where is the old one?” I asked. He led me to the side of the house where the dismantled Dyson lay. “I took a bat to it,” he admitted. I nodded, imagining the scene from Office Space where they go postal on the printer. “We should recreate that so we can get some pictures for the blog!” I told him.

And so, we tossed the Dyson back down the hill, retrieved the bat, and staged a Civil War style reenactment for your enjoyment.



Nice Lag

Lag that would make Rory McIlroy proud…now if only I could transfer that to the golf course! 



Dust Cloud


Dragging 2


Spock Full

Spock: Hooman emotions are illogical. 



‘Our Dog Is Famous’; or ‘Home Sweet Home’

Yes. Both of those. 

Home sweet home first. We just spent five days on the road for work and while it’s very enjoyable to go out and play concerts, it’s always nice to return home to one’s own bed, one’s own meal prep, and of course one’s own furry children. Especially one’s own famous dog…yes we’ll eventually get to the famous part. The first day of our tour was quite long with a three hour drive to the gig, then another hour to the hotel after (not to mention it was hot as donkey balls), and our last hotel was not pet-friendly (fuckers), so that meant this was the first tour Bella would stay at home with the neighbors (Grandma Phyllis, Grandpa Bob and Tasha). This was quite sad for us. It sucks not being able to take your dog with you (yes we’re THAT in love with this little creature) but she had a blast. Bob and Phyllis are retired so she pretty much had 24/7 hooman action, as well as a fellow four-legged friend, Casper (their big ol’-man Lab) to romp around with. We’re pretty sure she didn’t miss us much if at all and we couldn’t imagine a better place for her to stay or better people to watch her.

And now on to the exciting news. Bella is in a music video!!!

Yes, our dog is famous. Well, okay maybe not famous, but she WAS included in Catie Curtis’ ‘Live Laugh Love’ music video honoring the Gratitude Challenge. Catie asked for photos of things you’re grateful for so Jonathan submitted her photo (unbeknownst to me) and low and behold she was included in the video!!!  You can see her at the :59 mark. 

How cool is that?!?!?!  Catie even emailed Jonathan telling him that Bella ‘really got to her’. Well, we know the feeling, because we thought five short days without her was really awful!  We. Love. This. Dog. 

Check out the video, and follow Catie on Facebook!

The Best Wine Ever

Before we get to the wine, let’s talk about the beautiful, handmade wine rack my talented husband is making.

Wine Rack

 You want a non-aromatic wood for your rack…in this case, mahogany. 
This will ensure you don’t impart any unwanted flavors to your wine.

 Lovely, isn’t it? The first shelf is nearly complete and there will be three more, giving us a total of two cases of storage…for the ‘good’ wine. Since we don’t have basements out here in California, he’s transforming the bottom of our linen closet, the next best option for storing wine because it stays quite cool (unless you feel like dropping ridiculous cash on one of those fancy wine fridges which will end up failing you anyway if the power goes out for an extended period of time). Just use your closet and don’t be a snob. It’s mahogany, and he’s using all old-school hand tools a la Master Craftsman Paul Sellers…hand saws, chisels, planes, etc. This is his first attempt at woodworking and I’d say it’s a success thus far. This one’s not only quite functional, but it’s serving as the prototype for the freestanding wine rack he’s going to make next, which will be on display in our dining room. I can’t wait to see THAT one!

As you can see, we’ve got our finest wine already in the place of honor…the top shelf…though truthfully it will end up on the very bottom shelf once the rack is complete since that’ll be the coolest place. But for now the first wine to grace our custom, handmade rack is of course Guilliams. The. Best. Wine. Ever.  If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t been to Guilliams, you should be tarred, feathered, caned, flogged, excommunicated from your church, disowned by your family, dropped off at a shelter by your own pet…you get the idea. Okay maybe it’s not quite THAT bad, but if you haven’t tasted Shawn and John’s sweet elixir, you are truly missing out on one of the best wines in the Napa Valley region. Full stop. And believe it or not, the people themselves are even better than their wines.


The foundation of John’s art, waiting to be transformed by the master.

 We’ve been there five times in the past 22 months and each and every time has been a fantastic experience. We discovered Guilliams, oddly enough, in Omaha three years ago at our favorite restaurant there, Stokes. They had half price bottles every Tuesday, and one week we asked our server what she would suggest. She immediately said, “Guilliams.” It was instantly the finest wine we’d experienced. So…when we moved out here to Benicia, our first thought was, “we have to go to Guilliams!” We called and scheduled a tasting, never imagining we’d have such an awesome experience. I mean let’s face it, Napa can be pretty snooty. We certainly didn’t think we’d pull up to someone’s house and sit with the winemaker himself for two hours whilst he poured us free tastings and entertained us with stories about how his winery came to be.

But that’s exactly what happened.

He answered all our questions about Napa, about wine, about whatever, and never once did he try to hurry us out or get rid of us. He also never pressured us to buy any wine. But after you taste the liquid masterpiece that is Guilliams wine, you really can’t leave there without buying a bottle…or six.


Bella's Rack

 “Only six bottles??? Where’s the rest silly hoomans?”

We’ve taken family there who have come to visit and even those who aren’t really into wine enjoyed themselves. The view itself is worth the twisty drive up into the Spring Mountain district. You can even bring your own food.

Can I Have Some

 “Did you just say food?!”

 There really aren’t enough good things we can say about it. Go. Just go. You won’t be sorry. Check out their website, and follow them on Facebook! Do it. Do it now.


I am NOT drinking any f*cking Merlot!

It’s been one of those weeks. You know the kind. The weekend was too short, Monday seemed twice as long as usual, and the office just seemed like one of those weird traveling Carnival fun houses…the kind you end up in during a movie where you’re running away from the pyscho undead serial killer whose slow, yet never wavering pace will always catch up to you because you end up making some stupid left turn into a fully operating Carney park in the middle of nowhere; sans Carnies, yet still running, and of all the places you choose to run, you pick a f*cking fun house…with the janky mirrors and false exits and oh shit you’re dead because you’re an idiot. You CrossFit…your cardio is better than the serial killer guy’s….that’s why you CrossFit….so you can outrun pyscho undead serial killers. Just keep running, you moron. 

Yes…one of those weeks. 

Anyway…we needed to stop at Costco on the way home to restock our cupboards. We had family visiting for about two weeks and while we’d planned well for when they were here, we didn’t really plan a resupply run after their departure. Thus the trip to Toys-R-Us-For-Grownups a.k.a. Costco.

We realized our ‘everyday drinking wine’ supply had run rather low after the freeloadersthe pack of rabid, alcoholic dogs, our family had departed and Costco has a lot of things…including wine. 

Let me make a few things clear before I post the picture:

Yes, we live 40 minutes from Napa.

Yes, we’ve had some FABULOUS wines since moving out here to the Bay area. 

Yes, we know that a $6 bottle has nothing on a $40 bottle has nothing on a $100+ bottle. 

No, we cannot afford to drink $100+ bottles of wine very often…hell not even $30 bottles THAT often.

Yes, we are equal opportunity winos. 

Drum roll, please:


No, the box isn’t there to fool you. We really DID buy a case of Blackstone merlot. Like I said, it’s been a long week, don’t judge, and yes we most certainly are drinking f*cking Merlot. 


Peddlers’ Fair Fail

Last year we missed the Benicia Peddlers’ Fair, as it was right before Jonathan left for deployment. This year our neighbors, Bob and Phyllis (two of the greatest people on the planet), told us it would be very crowded and not to go after 1130. So we woke up, had a quick breakfast, harnessed up the pooch and took off.

We opted to walk to First Street, since parking was sure to be a nightmare. As we headed down we passed many garage sales (very smart idea on Peddlers’ Fair day). Jonathan was drawn to an antique copper fire extinguisher at one of the garage sales.

Asking price was $50, so we kept walking while we decided whether we wanted it or not. We got to First Street, right at the beginning of the Peddlers’ Fair, and began our journey. Now keep in mind that we probably walked right past more than one person who could’ve informed us the dog was not welcome. Instead we got about halfway down the street when a woman in an orange vest tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, but have you already been asked for your paperwork?”

I blinked, giving her a WTF look. “What?”

“For your dog. Only service dogs are allowed.”

Jonathan had been looking at a booth a few feet away but when he saw me talking to the orange vested woman he came over. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Apparently dogs are not allowed,” I told him.

And so home we went. On the way we stopped back at the garage sale with the fire extinguisher. While we had been on our ill-fated Peddlers’ Fair jaunt someone else had come along and offered $25, which the seller didn’t accept. He told Jonathan he’d sell it to him for $40. A dollar a pound…what a deal! 

We said we’d take it and the guy offered to hold it for us until we came back with a vehicle to transport it home, but Jonathan decided he couldn’t accept that offer whilst proudly wearing his Dan Bailey Rogue tee…after all, what CrossFitter worth their salt would deny the chance to do an 800m, uphill, one-armed antique fire extinguisher farmer’s carry?!  And so Jonathan carried it home and it is now being displayed proudly in our living room. (It’s sitting in the wooden desk caddy just to make sure nothing funky happens underneath it…once we’re sure we’ll transfer it to the floor)

antique fire extinguisher

I have to admit we were pissed about having been shooed off First Street. Benicia is usually such a dog friendly town. We could’ve gone back after depositing Bella at home in her crate, but at that point it was hot and we had other things to do. Maybe next year, Peddlers’ Fair. Or maybe we just hit the Arts and Crafts Fair, which we’ve been told is more in keeping with old time Benicia and the way things used to be. 

“Welcome home, hooman!”

So this whole ‘blog’ thing is rather new to us and on this morning’s drive to work we realized we’d already made our first giant blog failure. We forgot to take a picture of the vomit pond. 

Yes…vomit pond. 

That’s exactly what was there to greet us upon arriving home from work last night. Actually…that’s not quite right. The SMELL is the first thing that greeted us, but since it was emanating from the lake of effluent now cozied up to our couch, we’ll give credit to the vom. But back to the smell for a second. Imagine the random fish bits that get yanked out of the catch-o-the-day and tossed into a bin. Now imagine that bin sitting outside all day…in August…in Louisiana. Now imagine tripping face first into that bin, mouth open. There you go…NOW you’re getting it. THAT is what we smelled when we walked in the house. 

Now, we live with five beasts. Four cats and the cutest dog in the world. So it’s clear that one of them has done something heinous. My brain immediately kicks into Sherlock mode (BBC version, mind you)

Fish smell. Beasts.

Five beasts. Dog.

Dog: in crate. Not her…and besides, she doesn’t eat much fish.

Fish. Cat. 

Three cats eat dry food. 

Wet food. Moritz. 

Moritz pose

Cute, isn’t he? That’s Moritz, our senior citizen of 16 years. He’s got IBS and bad kidneys, so he’s on prednisolone and he gets ‘special’ food.

Wet food. Fancy Feast Ocean Whitefish. Hence the malodorous fog creeping through our domicile. Case solved!!!

So we failed to get a picture of Moritz’s welcome home present but at least you get a picture of him. And fear not…we’ll get a picture next time he voms…and vom he will. That’s how he rolls. But he’s SO cute and we love him TONS.


And so it begins…

We’re entering the wide world of blogging. A little late to the party I guess but hey, who’s keeping track? 

After just spending two weeks of glorious vacation with friends and family, going back to work tomorrow is going to be hard. But, we have our beasts (Bella, the 10 month old puppy, Moritz the elder statesman of the cats, followed by Cinder, Muffin and Spock) and of course we have each other. 

Sometimes I’ll write about wine (which we love, especially Guilliam’s, which you really need to check out if you never have), sometimes about work, sometimes about CrossFit. Oh, and I’ll use this to shamelessly promote my two books, The Consul’s Daughter and Across the Sea, which are both up for sale on Amazon.

Stay tuned….