The Good Wine Ending

We woke up rested, refreshed and ready to explore Sonoma. I made reservations for tastings at four different wineries. We started strong at Anaba, the weather was absolutely perfect. We sat outside and really enjoyed everything we tried, it was a fantastic start to the day.

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Next up was Buena Vista Winery. This place has history which was interesting to learn about.

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We were charmed by the look of the grounds but our like quickly dissipated. The man pouring our just OK wines took his sweet time coming back for each taste. What should have been an hour tasting, for 5 wines turned out to be 5,000 hours. Allowing too much time for us to worry about the possibility of ticks falling out of the trees and burying themselves into our skin. Our window for lunch came and went and we couldn’t get out of their fast enough. We made it back into town with just enough time to drive thru a place and grab some fries before our next reservation.

Our next tasting was in an old Sears catalog home which was intriguing in itself. I didn’t know one could purchase a house from a catalog, that is how it works right?

We had a private reservation and it was a really fun experience. The lady pouring {I wish I remembered her name} was a close friend of the wine maker and she made it very personable. fullsizeoutput_df4

Here we tasted three chards and four pinot noirs, not exactly a horizontal tasting but the same varietal from three separate vineyards, does that make sense?

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The chardonnays were delicious and I think our favorite haled from Mendocino, that needs to be a wine trip in the future.

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Our last tasting for the day was held in a cute outside patio and was founded by three former football players. Three Fat Guys have a laid back approach with some pretty decent wine.

{I may have finished a bottle of their rose before we left Sonoma.}

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Dinner reservations were made at LaSalette a recommendation that I would most definitely pass on. qiKnqxcpR5+LfWsrWkc3Lw7uO3q64SQ9qANGAWL9gi%A

Sorry for the blurry photo, we had been wine tasting all day.

I ordered the Feijoada which I haven’t had since I was in Brazil and it was delish, not as good as my moms though.

{Hint, hint mom, next time we are up there maybe I can help you make it}

We finished with a dessert wine tasting and then walked back to our hotel room for a good nights sleep.

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The next day we planned on checking out Napa for lunch and hopefully a tasting somewhere. Every winery we wanted to visit had no availability but as luck would have it, we found a place right in town that had an opening for us.
We picked a restaurant that had open outdoor dining. We ordered wine and the most amazing peach and prosciutto salad that may have caused inappropriate food moaning.

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After a wonderful lunch and fantastic people watching, we headed for our tasting.

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Roots Run Deep tasting room was in an old house in downtown Napa. We were seated on a couch on the front patio.

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The one upside to the new winery protocols is that we get special one on one attention and this place ended up being my favorite of them all.

They are the ones behind the wines Educated Guess. You’ve probably seen the bottle at BevMo or even the grocery store, I know I have but never actually tried it. Their chardonnay was phenomenal and so were all the other wines. I liked everything they poured for us and if we lived up there would easily consider becoming wine members. It was such a fantastic ending in wine country.

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Once our last sip was gone we hit the road heading down to San Ramon for the night. We enjoyed a nice evening catching up with old friends. Unfortunately our plans for the next day were halted once the governor shut down certain counties again and we were all so disappointed. We were really looking forward to seeing a friends band play and to catching up with people that I haven’t seen in years. Alas, there is always next time right?

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We enjoyed a nice lunch outside before we chose to drive south for another night on the coast. But before we hit the highway we took a swing by my old house. So many memories held there.

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Our last night of a great Cali road trip we chose to spend one more evening in Morro Bay.

We had a really nice meal, perfect weather with sea lion company and relished in what a fantastic trip we had as the sun sank low.

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Side note- This martini had anchovy stuffed olives which sounded so good but in reality tasted like something the sea lion would like a lot more than I did.

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The rest of our drive was uneventful and we couldn’t wait to get home to our girls, human and furry.

It was such a great break from the mundane and even though everything was held outside {who complains about that?} we had amazing weather, pretty darn good food and wine.

Oh, and the clam chowder award goes to Moonlight Beach Bar and Grill in Cambria

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I will be back for another cup on another day.

 

Road Trippin {nor cal style}

One Monday morning we packed up the car and headed north. We zoomed through LA aiming for lunch in Pismo Beach but apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea. Downtown Pismo was insane, especially for a Monday during a pandemic but I guess everyone was ready for a break. Not wanting to wait, we kept driving making our first stop in Morro Bay.

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We checked into a little motel and went looking for a decent meal. I made a deal with myself to get a cup of clam chowder at each coastal town we stopped in so I could be the sole judge of what town gave me the best one. A little known fact about me, chances are if I order clam chowder, there will be a glass of Chardonnay along with it. Like give a Pig a Pancake but with soup and wine. Anyhow, after hemming and hawing over menus we ended up at the Dutchman’s Seafood House. It was fine, the clam chowder was the best thing we ordered.

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After our sole meal of the day we wandered around and weirdly enough stumbled into a tasting room. Chateau Margene is parked on the main strip of Morro Bay, you can’t miss it and they had really delicious wines, pricey but good. The guy pouring was family of the winemaker, knowledgable and made the experience nice. They also had ports which had us swooning after each sip. The sleepy town slowed down with the sun so we padded back to the room to divulge in our dessert wine and chocolate.

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On the drive up we found out the new tasting procedure for wineries, and it really takes the fun spontaneity out the of wine tasting experience but alas, we are all alive to talk about it so….I made reservations for tasting at three different Paso Robles wineries.

We started at Eberle. We had a table on the patio with views of sprawling vineyards, the wine was good but we didn’t leave with anything. The highlight was the standard poodle we met as we were leaving, I may have suggested smuggling it into the car.

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Next stop was Pear Valley Winery.

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This was a nice time and the wine was pretty good. They had some sweet muscats that we just can’t find much of near us.

After a really rushed lunch and a pretty bad sandwich, we barely made our reservation at Brochelle. This was a quaint tasting room with some decent wines and a good Syrah. The girl pouring was very personable and it was fun chatting with her. Satisfied and happy we decided to head back to the coast for another round of clam chowder when we found ourselves at one more winery. Luckily a quick call from the car, Windward winery has a spot to seat us for one last tasting.

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Windward specialized in Pinot Noir’s and I am no fan of Pinot Noir’s, however either my palate is changing or we just had some really good ones. We did a vertical tasting of PN’s and they were all good, surprisingly.

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Finally back on the road, we drove through Cambria and stopped at Moonstone Beach for dinner.IMG_4613

We had a really good meal and their clam chowder was so delicious.

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We decided to end the evening in San Simeon. By the time we checked in it was time to crawl into bed and veg to the murder channel, sweet dreams.

Our next day would be a long car day taking us all the way to Sonoma.

 

 

A Little This a Little That

It’s been a week and a half since Averi’s transition from the crib and I have to say it’s gone very well. Let me follow that up with why. We made sure to do it when Shane would be home and that played a huge factor. When the girls are upset at night, me entering their room makes it worse, Shane walks in and they shut up. Monday he had to go back up to work. Bedtime wasn’t too bad but Averi did try to pull out all her tricks to avoid sleep and keep me coming in, luckily it was short lived.

She woke up crying at 1:30 in the morning just long enough to wake me. I lied awake and read for about two hours until finally drifting back to sleep only to have her wake up crying again at 4:00. She refused to nap this morning and spent an hour crying in her bedroom. I popped her on our bed with cartoons so I could shower and while I was doing so,  she took a hand full of her poop and painted our bed sheets and comforter with it.  This kid..sigh. I am not holding my breathe for a smooth bedtime tonight, but hopefully she will be too tired to fight me. I can hope.

This past Saturday we took the day to drive up to Julian. A little snow, some wine tasting and lunch. All the while I had Anthony Bourdain’s New Mexican Chili in the slow cooker.

There was snow and rain and ice and it was cold, I was not prepared. Having just been in Washington I thought I would be ok but that was a negative. I didn’t bring gloves or an umbrella and spent most of the time in damp clothes. The little town was busy and the weather was forcing everyone into all the restaurants and cafe’s. We finally found a place without a wait and we tucked into a corner booth for a mediocre lunch, but hey, at least we were dry.

 

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Once we have seen all we wanted we wandered down the way to Wynola and popped into julian Station. It’s a neat building that houses tasting rooms, a taco bar, a few video games, a pool table and entertainment space for live music. Something almost out of the wild West. Definitely worth stopping at if you are in the area. We will be back.

Heading home we drove through Ramona and stopped at one of our favorite wineries, Chuparosa. We caught up with the wine maker who just got back from Walla Walla and then let the kids run free.

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We had just enough time for one last stop. A winery none of us has been terribly fond of but it’s been years since we have tried their wine.  The tasting room was inside  a tin can, okay more like an airport hanger with paintings and statues of naked women dotting the property.

img_1034 The wine wasn’t as bad as we remembered however…we all ordered a wine flight of five wines, all red. They were all the same color, the Pinot was the same deep burgandy as the Zin. None of them had any real personality so we left empty handed. I think we all agreed we don’t need to go back.

The Bourdain chili recipe from his latest cookbook was really good, depths of flavors from roasted chili’s and beef. We enjoyed it with some red wine and a game with friends. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Thanksgiving and Homebound

We had a very nice and low key holiday. I don’t know why I say “low key” because there were 17 of us but since the kids were so entertained it felt, well calm.

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The girls had so much fun with their cousins, it’s too bad we don’t live closer.

No one went hungry. We had Brie en croute and plenty of snacks,  ham, turkey, all the side dishes and a plethora of desserts which I couldn’t even manage to eat until late that night.

I didn’t take any food pictures which is very odd and I have no excuses.

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We  woke up way too early the next morning to hit the road, home bound. We drove from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, went through five states and saw much of nothing but the girls did amazingly well considering. A good book doesn’t hurt either.

imageWe stopped for the night in Bishop, Ca. Luckily there was a Holiday Inn express with one room left that suited our needs. Once we were checked in we headed to a small Italian place for a decent pizza and then to bed so we could do it all over again But since we went so far the first day, the second day was much shorter. We pulled into San Diego by lunchtime.

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Wine About It

We spent most of the day wandering from winery to winery. Downtown Walla Walla is basically one after the other, the only problem  is deciding which ones to skip. You could easily wine taste for days just downtown.

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We started the trip with a list of wineries we haven’t been to so we could try some new wines.  Some were great, some too expensive and a few just amazing.

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K Vitners, also known as Charles Smith has  very good wine, especially their Syrah’s.

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We headed to the airport to try a few new ones and revisit an old favorite.

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Of course we had to pop into Sleight of Hands since we are members.

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And luckily two of the wineries we are always hoping to visit but are always closed were open.

Va Piano was a great experience. Not only did they have playmates for the girls,

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we met the winemaker. He gave us a taste of his Rose out of the barrel and although it wont be ready for months is was already delicious, all of his wines were five star.

We got to visit the cellar and witness the aftermath of a wedding proposal.

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Hard to follow that but we still tried. Dusted Valley had some above decent wines and a large lot for the girls to run around.

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We have done some pretty good damage in the wine department.

Keeping Busy

Kaili has two more weeks at her school and then she is out for summer. I finished her Kinder paperwork which I have been procrastinating on. She is up to date with her school vaccinations but she still needs to have a doctor fill out a medical record and apparently they want the same done with her dentist.Two things that are easy to want to push aside, but I finally made appointments to get it done.

We have been watching a lot of soccer with the Copa America going on. Kaili picked out a new shirt to wear for our viewing pleasure.

How do you like that garden back there? We have been eating a lot of sweet tomatoes, plenty of  zucchini and we have six baby artichokes on the way.

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I have been taking Averi to the park in the mornings without K so I can focus on playing one on one with her. She is not as adventurous as her sister was but slowly she is starting to test her fear.

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Can you believe she is going to be two in less than a month? Ya, me either. She looks up to her sister, has to do whatever it is Kaili is doing, eating, watching you name it. It’s what I always wanted with siblings but it’s also very draining.

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The girls were  invited to a birthday party out in Ramona last weekend. The land you can have out there is attractive to me but then again you are out in Ramona which isn’t attractive at all, to me.

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We try to stop at a winery or two when we are out there. This time we tried one that had recently opened. It had a great outside area, live music and luckily some decent wine. The girls  spent most of their time chasing the dog around. The little winery Chihuahua was the hit until she stole Averi’s chocolate chip cookie and booked it across the lot. Averi was more stunned than upset and I was more worried about the tiny dog eating a whole cookie, but the owners weren’t phased. Must happen often.

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See Food

Catalina offshore is a local seafood market. We were told about it by a neighbor and watched it make its debut on a travel channel show. I don’t know why it took us so long to make our appearance.

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We strolled in early on a Saturday morning side swiping the local chefs and fishermen. A cook behind an enormous stock pot was  handing out bowls of piping hot bouillabaisse while we waited for our order. We came for mussels but left with a side of snapper. I love a whole roasted fish, if it’s one the specials at a good restaurant, chances are that will be my choice.  But scaling and cleaning a whole fish and then worrying about cooking it has intimated me. But standing in front of this array of fish, I decided this was my time  to tackle the snapper.

First up, mussels. We had an amazing dish at a local seafood restaurant a few weeks back.The Mr and I love our shellfish and after 10 years I think we agreed that those mussels were indeed some of the best. I needed to replicate this dish!  After intense recipe research I chose a favorite blogger of mine and used this recipe. They turned out better than I imagined, the mussels were the plumpest and juiciest I have ever had and the coconut curry broth was drinkable, like pour in a glass and cheers!

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Then there was the Snapper. Since I hooked it on a whim, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I chose to keep it simple and let the fish shine. I grabbed some lemon, herbs and salt. I wrapped it in foil and roasted it,  at the end I let it sunbathe under the broiler for a minute.

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We delightfully dug in.

IMG_8778 Along side we enjoyed caprese and grilled artichokes with an aioli, never forgetting the crusty bread.

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It was some good eating!

Bolognese + Garlic Cream Sauce

You know what marriage is? it’s bumping into the same person in your kitchen day after day and not killing them. Also known as true love.

The other night I made a recipe that I got over a year ago with a wine shipment. Dunham cellars in Walla Walla, one of our favorites in town.  Most of the recipes we received from them looked good, but this one I knew I was going to make, I just needed an excuse.

The recipe read like it was a  Bolognese meets Alfredo sauce, where is the fault in that?  My first step after reading a recipe, any recipe is to pick it apart. Most of the time I will counter it with multiple other “similar” recipes and come up with my own ending.

The results were pretty fantastic. Sausage and garlic can do no wrong, just make sure you get an Italian sausage in casing that has fennel, otherwise you’re wasting your time with this dish. I am not sure what my final measurements were so I will give you the original recipe. Do as you wish but don’t leave out the sausage or the red peppers, trust me.

Oh, and for some reason the original recipe is named “Tagliatelle Bolognese”. I am not sure if the person who submitted this recipe couldn’t find Tagliatelle and just grabbed the nearest fettuccine and “forgot” to tell us, or they  just didn’t know. But the two are different. With that, it really won’t matter what you use, although if you can find fresh Tagliatelle than by all means use that. I couldn’t, well I didn’t want to drive down to Little Italy, so I used fresh Fettuccine that I found at Sprouts.

Happy cooking!

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Ingredients

Meat sauce

3 oz. ground beef (crumbled into ½” pieces)
• 3 oz. Italian sausage (crumbled into ½” pieces)
• 1/8 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
• 12 oz. Plum tomatoes (seeded, drained, chopped)
• 1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
• 3 Tablespoons roasted red pepper (cut into ¼” strips)
• ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Fresh ground black pepper
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil
• 1 lb. Fettuccine
• Parmesan, finely shredded
• Fresh parsley, chopped

Garlic Cream sauce

• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 cube butter
• 1 pint whipping cream
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Fresh ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
Meat sauce: Preheat 12” sauté pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle salt over the bottom of the pan to aid in browning and prevent meat from sticking. Add ground
beef and sausage a little at a time. Meat should sizzle and smoke. Let meat brown on one side then stir. Cook to medium rare and drain off excess fat. Add all other
ingredients except olive oil. Simmer uncovered about 30 minutes until thickened. Stir in olive oil and set aside.

Cream sauce: Heat butter in a heavy gauge sauce pan until melted. Add minced garlic and simmer on low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper. Let
simmer for 45 minutes until reduced in volume by 10%, stirring often.

Heat meat sauce, then add the cream sauce and heat until it bubbles and reduces. Cook pasta, drain and add to the sauce, thoroughly coating noodles. SERVE IMMEDIATELY. Garnish with shredded parmesan and parsley.

*recipe from Dunham Cellars

Easter in Ramona

Our old neighbors are now living out in Ramona. They have so much land, so much space, perfect for an Easter egg hunt. So the girls got their baskets and we loaded up the truck.

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Their house has quite the views, hawks soar above the citrus trees and squirrels dart across the path to their pool.

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If you squint you can see some of our favorite wineries.

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The kids had a lot of fun hunting eggs, well I should say Kaili had fun. Averi just wanted to chase the cat and explore.

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There was quite a spread for lunch, homemade quiche to fried chicken sliders and delicious fresh squeezed OJ from their trees. I made this lemon cake. I was overly cautious to keep an eye on it but somehow I overcooked it by a few minutes, but I would still recommend the recipe. I am going to try another recipe this week to compare and because I need a another piece of lemon cake in my life.

Once we were able to drag the kids away from their playground we headed down the road to Kohill winery. We are new members and had a wine pickup but also, you can’t go to Ramona without hitting a winery, i am pretty sure it’s illegal.

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The girls snacked because they don’t eat their actual meals and then they chased each other around the tasting room while we decided what wines to take home.

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It was a good practice run for Easter, now we get to do it all over again next week but without getting in the car.

Big Plan Fail

I had big blogging plans for this trip but…..

I have so much to tell you. We will start with wine and dogs.

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Elegante Cellars and the dog with no name…because I forgot it.

 

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Dunham Cellars and the other dog with no name….because wine.

Shane and I took the kids out to the airport for some wine tasting on Tuesday. No not the actual airport but right past the Walla Walla airport houses over 20 wineries. I googled it for you. We hit a handful of them but the one we were looking forward to all day was Dunham cellars. We were lucky enough to meet JoAnne Dunham thanks to Wags. They became fast friends when he was in town for a motivational speech. She met us at the winery and gave us a first class tasting and we became wine members without hesitation.

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Christmas eve was full of cheer. Most of the family came, food was inhaled and gifts were tore open. It was nice to catch up with people I haven’t seen in years and might not see again for a few more. We recovered Christmas morning by sitting on our asses as Jesus intended it.

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Friday was Shane’s birthday and we had just a few more wineries we wanted to visit. We packed up the kids and headed out to the other side of Walla Walla Soon after our first stop I realized I forgot Averi’s bottles. I packed everything for the kids, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g for a day out except a fucking bottle.

Another one of Shane’s high school friends just moved his tasting  room from the airport to downtown. He let us know that he was there at Kontos Cellars pouring, so we dropped the kids off with grandma and hit the town. (thank you!)  We were lucky enough to meet back up with Chris and his wife later that evening for a fun few hours. Then this happened….

The next morning JoAnne wasn’t at home, apparently the police called around 2 in the morning. Shane’s grandma ( who lives not far down the road) had run to the neighbors claiming she had been assaulted and there were strange people in her house. Once Gordon and JoAnne showed up it was obvious that no one was ever there and that her mind was playing some wacky ass tricks on her. Turns out there was SO MUCH more to Gma’s story. Ladies were talking about her in her bedroom and every time she got close to the door they ran away, a  naked couple had performed a play  in her front room under a teepee made with her comforter and then  they were laying on her floor “doing their thing”. Her clothes were scattered all throughout her yard, some were nicely folded in the washing machine topped with Ramen noodles and she was convinced her dog had been drugged and his hair was falling out so she lathered him up with hand lotion. There is so much more but I can’t write all night.

The next morning JoAnne and her sister Kellie took Gma to the ER and spent most of the day waiting for tests. Hours and hours later the results were and it turns out she has a bladder infection. YOU GUYS a urinary tract infection in older women can cause paranoia and hallucinations. Now, not to say age or maybe even dementia isn’t playing a small part but here….read it for yourselves. The ER doctor sent her home with antibiotics and a sitter for the night.

We all hoped that would do the trick but come Sunday night we couldn’t reach her by phone. Convinced someone had to check on her, Shane and JoAnne headed over.  Oh man…she had barricaded both the front and back door to keep the people out, broken a lamp so they would cut their feet and told Shane that his “wife’s husband” is the one doing this. It’s  crazy ass shit that I can’t wrap my head around. I am truly amazed that a bladder infection can mess with your mind in such a way.

This is a PSA for the elderly. IF you have a loved one who may be going senile or straight mad, take them in for tests. Could be as simple as a urinary tract infection. Question is, does it go away with antibiotics?