Soon

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The table is set.

Sangria on the right for me.

Dos Eqius on the left for the good man.

Chips and salsa in the middle.

Order is placed.

Oh yes…..

Whoa!

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Had a mindblower of a weekend.

In celebration of the birth of The Good Man, we had a (much necessary) weekend away.

Somewhere where cell phones don’t work and television, p-feh…who needs ’em anyway?

We got a little wild. :)

We went to a place called Safari West. It’s located north of the Bay Area, just outside of Santa Rosa.

It’s an over 400-acre ranch that houses exotic animals of all kinds.

The owners have been working this place since the late 1980’s and it’s amazing.

I’m still processing it all…and the over 700 photos I took. (Yes, I said 700).

Highlights of the trip:

On the first night we were there, a baby Giraffe was born. It was a bit of a surprise to the Safari West folks. They knew mama Marla was pregnant, just didn’t know she was ready to go.

Here’s a photo of our as yet unnamed hero. This is about seven hours after his birth. Sssh, he’s sleepin’.

Is a hard thing getting born. Especially for a baby giraffe who plummets some six feet to the ground with a whump then is up on his wobbly pins about an hour later.

Here he is a bit knock kneed but doin’ it.

But that was not the only fascinating new thing…

That same night, Safari West took delivery of 38 flamingos and installed them in their new enclosure. I have always been a HUGE fan of flamingos. The Rio Grande Zoo used to have quite a few. Don’t know if they still do. But as a kid, they made a big impact on me.

These are “greater” Flamingos (their “lesser” and more colorful cousins will be arriving soon).

From there, it’s hard to pin down all the amazing things!

Lemurs.

Cape Buffalo (that’s some scary sh– right there….)

Cheetah

And on and on and on. That’s not even scratching the surface.

OH! And Zebra. I adore Zebra.

And Watusi cattle!

And! And! And!

It was amazing. A photographer’s dream (though tough too. Animals don’t, you know, pose).

We also slept in genuine tent cabins constructed by South African craftsmen and modeled on safari tents, including wood floors and open space. They were actually really nice and quite comfortable, though a bit cold at night.

In the dark we could hear all the animals of the safari calling and howling and, you know, doing what wild animals do.

I can’t even begin to write out how utterly geeked out I still am from the weekend…

We’ll be talking about this for weeks.

Let the celebration begin early!

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Ah yes, I’m a firm believer that celebrations of one’s latest trip around the Sun are more than just a one day event. Oh noooo, there is way too much celebrating to get done that just 24 short hours cannot contain.

So though the actual anniversary of my birth (29 and holding and holding…and, uh, holding!) is tomorrow, the celebrations began Friday.

Tasty dinner and drinks with friends. They were in a bit of a scrap, nothing fatal. It just served to remind me that the greatest present I’ll ever know is the love of The Good Man. Oh, sure, we scrap, but not that night. We held hands and enjoyed the warm evening sitting outside.

Saturday we took a road trip up to wine country. I’m starting to actually enjoy wine country more, despite the hoity aspects of it. The Good Man and I have found ways to enjoy it on our terms. I may not be able to “taste undertones of black cherry and moist fern covered flat stone” in my wine, but I’m starting to circle in on what I think tastes good to my personal buds. Fruity better than dry. Light rather than heavy.

Last year for my birfday, The Good Man and I spent time in Calistoga and visited a small winery, on the advice of my boss (and took in a Cinco de Mayo parade). The place is called Vincent Arroyo Winery and they are a pretty small operation. Mr. Arroyo is a retired engineer who decided to take up winemaking, and he does a fine job of it. They don’t yet sell their product in retail channels, selling most of it by subscription to members.

This small winery has one open house a year where they pull out their odds and ends (called Library Wines) and sell them to the general public. This open house just happens to be the first weekend of May. Works out well as a nice place to celebrate roundabout my birfday.

TGM and I were a bit shocked this year to see how much the event has grown. Last year, the winemaker himself was pouring tastes and patiently answering all my questions. This year it was a really big event with cars parked down the gravel road and many of Napa Valley’s snoot out to play. About that I was displeased.

However, it took a few pours of wine to dramatically change my outlook.

And there was free food, so really, I can’t complain.

It was a gorgeous spring day and the drive was wonderful. We did just a day trip, but yes, oh yes…a good time.

Sunday we went to Maker Faire. I’d heard about this in years past and was emboldened to go this year, because My Personal Jesus, The Crafty Chica was going to be there.

She gave a talk on one of the stages that morning and I not only got her autograph on my book, she was very patient as I TOTALLY geeked out and asked her a sampling of my millions of questions. She gave me amazing advice that I will use.

I’m currently working on a project that someone is actually paying me actual real money for (photos when completed, I promise) and of course doing this “on commission” makes me nervous. The goddess that is Kathy Cano-Murillo reassured me, gave me hints and sent me on my way.

Yay!

And just because I could, I took Monday off. I mean, Cinco de Mayo oughta be a national holiday, am I right?

With all that running around over the weekend, my Monday off was nice and quiet. I even baked up a cake (from a box) and made up a batch of frosting (from a recipe found on the ‘net) that I plan to eat slabs of later today.

And tomorrow for the actual day? Dunno yet. TGM has sumptin’ up his sleeve and in our time together I’ve come to know that his surprises are ALWAYS worth waiting for!

So all in all….I got NOTHING to complain about. Even that whole being a year older thing.

Oh, this past weekend I even got to take out my camera and try out a few things. I’m a bit rusty, to be honest, need more time at this, but a few came out well enough that I’m happy when I see them…mainly for the memories.

Here is something I call “Soon”…as in soon enough those baby grapies are gonna be big grapies and will be squashed into wine and enjoyed fermented out of a bottle. YUM! Such anticipation!

Also, lately, I’ve been playing around with the black and white (or…monochrome) setting on my gear.

The wine tasting was in full gear and there was this HUGE pile of corks and open bottles in various states. I was endlessly fascinated by the whole scene and many folks wondered at the peculiar chick taking photos of, you know, the table. To them I say FEH!