(warning: long post)
I had a (literally) perfect birthday. I took Wed & Th off which meant that my birthday vacation was six days long (Monday being a holiday), and I had plenty of time to do the various chores we normally do on the weekend. Laundry, cleaning, food prep, etc. Of particular interest to me was getting the guest room set up. We were going to have our first guest!
My Dad had flow down to CA and was spending a few days with my sister and her family before driving a (rented) motorcycle up the coast. Because of various scheduling issues, he was going to miss my actual birthday and arrive Saturday morning. Now, he was leaving Sunday morning so he’d be here for less than 24 hours. I couldn’t believe it. He likes short visits, but this was a record! Nonetheless, I love my Dad and was glad he’d be here ’round my birthday.
Thursday afternoon J. arranged for me to go swimming with Sasha. I’d had a bit of a fantasy about paddling around with her but the water here is TOO DAMN COLD . .. so I altered my fantasy to swimming with her in a pool. Now, the PNW is dog-friendly, but not that dog-friendly. But J. found a place that does water therapy for dogs and booked us an hour of swim time. The therapist was a bit amused that Sasha was clearly a healthy dog, but quickly got our point and gave us a run down of rules and things to be careful. Then she helped me get Sasha into the water.
Picture a long hot tub/spa, one big enough for 12 people to sit in. One side has steps going into the water and the other has an underwater jet providing a current to swim against. I got in the pool and held my arms out and called to Sasha, who got to the edge and then stopped dead. She tried to walk around the side, but when we prevented her, she just got stubborn. You know dogs, they don’t actually say ‘no’, they just RESIST. She was resisting with all her might and my 55-lb dog suddenly seemed to weigh a ton.
Finally I had to reach around her and pick up her back end and place her on the top step which was under the water. She looked less uncertain, but not really happy. I backed up and held up her water toy. With a look and physicality of “all right, but its a bad idea” she kind of hopped forward and — to her surprise! — found herself swimming.
Well that was just fine with her. Aside from trying to climb out of the side occasionally we then had a good time. J and I would throw her toy back and forth so she swam up and down. The place got very wet and we didn’t really swim so much as hang out in the water. It was fun.
On Thurs night we went out to Miyabi, a Japanese restaurant down in Tukwila. YUM. I love good sushi (the only kind to have) and had eaten at Miyabi years ago. But every time J & I had stopped by hoping for a meal, they’d been closed. Apparently we just had bad luck. Fresh (fresh) and tasty sushi. A nice selection of cooked food for J. Yummy sake and good friends.
Friday morning I slept in a bit. Then we went and had lunch at Wild Wheat — a favorite breakfast place that does a great lunch, but only M-F, so we usually miss it. Then I went and had an absolutely fantastic back, neck & shoulder massage along with a scalp and neck massage at Lemondrop in downtown Kent. It was an hour of heaven. Then it was home again and a quiet afternoon. We had dinner plans . . . of some kind or another so it took me longer than usual to prepare.
This was J’s triumph. I knew only that we were doing dinner . . . and that clowns were NOT involved. That’s it.
We left about 6:30 and as we drove across the valley, I ventured a guess. “It looks like we’re headed towards the water.” J. looked down at my shoes and said “Yeah, I’m glad you didn’t wear heels.” “Oh?” I cleverly replied. “We’re having dinner on a boat.” “Oh neat!” A few minutes later we turned away from the road to the Marina and headed back South. “Yeah, I lied.” “what!?” “Yeah baby, it’s dinner at Burger King for you, the one next to Blockbuster. And after you’ve had all you want, we’ll go to next door and any movie you want — even the first runs — it’s on me baby.”
I knew he was kidding, so he didn’t press that any further. We drove all up and down the Kent Valley for the next 20 mins. I was amused and absolutely bewildered — where were we going?
All was resolved as we turned toward SeaTac and ended up in the parking lot of Copperleaf, at the Cedarbrook Lodge. This is a lovely place to stay, less than a mile from SeaTac. It used to be WaMu’s corporate retreat . . . and the luxury details show how they spent their money. After they went bankrupt a group of local investors bought the place in the asset sale from JP Morgan and brought in a hotel management group to run it for them.
In the parking lot J. suddenly stopped and started patting down his pockets. Worriedly I watched him, then he smiled and apologized. “Sorry, hon, just thought I’d left the camera in the car.” We walked a few steps and then he turned me and kissed me. Very romantic, despite the setting. Also, a little weird.
The lobby opens onto the 2nd floor — a room full of golden wood and skylights letting in the golden light of the setting sun. It is stunning. We stepped to the edge of the stairs and I looked down — to see my father standing next to our friends Steve and Jen. I was overcome. J. said later that I turned 8. :-) I ran down the stairs and gave Dad a hug “You devil!” Everyone was laughing and I was just thrilled.
“Lorena and Graham are out on the deck” Jen told me. “There are two more coming,” J said ruefully. “Two more?” I said, “that would be Dan and Cori — he’s always late.”
My surprise was a lovely dinner with all of the Seattle people who have stuck by me when the chips were down. Everyone who didn’t just say ‘tell me if I can do anything’ but called and emailed and gave advice and came to see me when I was feeling up to it. Steve even gave me tips on how to go bald and helped me face it with equanimity. We shared all of the appetizers, and tried most of the entrees. The wine flowed and desserts was — of all things — a cake! (Yes, the chef had made a cake for my birthday, complete with candles to blow out. He even came out to shake my hand and wish me a Happy Birthday.)
J. knocked this one out of the ballpark.
(But, now I know he can lie with a straight face! :-) )
Dad’s visit was (as always) nice. We went to the Ram for burgers and beer, then saw Inception. (WOW.) He left early Sunday morning and we had the gift of that day, and the next to just hang out and do what we wanted. Apparently we wanted to play XBox for two solid days.
It was a blast!
I had, in all seriousness, an absolutely perfect birthday.