Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week-long Birthday BONANZA

Apparently everyone is born in November. In 8 days (from Friday, November 5-Saturday, November 13) I celebrated 5 birthdays, one of which was out of state.

My Dad looks exactly the same as he did 10 years ago

So does my Mom, for that matter, but it was my Dad’s birthday and I was going to be skipping the family party that weekend (see next header). Instead, I went up on the Friday before and we had a chill celebration which included French Bread Pizza (the love runs in the family), chocolate chip ice cream (his fave), and the gift of a hoodless sweatshirt, something that is remarkably hard to find. He’s about as low-key as you can get so he probably wouldn’t have even noticed if we didn’t celebrate at all, but it’s always nice to see the folks.

Meagan’s Dirty 30

My friend Meagan and I met during my one year at LMU 9 years ago. Since then we have never lived in the same city, so we’ve seen each other less than 14 days total since then. Regardless, we’ve maintained an important friendship, so when I got the invite to her 30th birthday party in Santa Rosa, California for November 6, I booked a ticket – 30 hours for her 30th birthday, from Saturday at 2 pm to Sunday at 8.

I was lucky to find a cheap flight into Santa Rosa itself, an airport so tiny you can still greet people at the (one) gate. Meagan picked me up in the flesh and we hugged it out, reveling at the unbelievable idea that it had been more than 3 years since last we met (when I visited her in New Hampshire). She whisked me away to her parents’ house, who were out of town but seemed to trust her to throw a party.

For not having lived in her home town for a decade, she drew quite a local crowd, many of whom she had gone to high school with. She also had several out of town guests, and Ian trumped my distance since he came from Vancouver – international guests are so exotic!

There was a keg of good beer, a beer pong table painted bright gold – Ian and I crushed it – and plenty of assorted booze and eats. I did garner some street cred when it was revealed that my present to Meagan was a whole salmon I had purchased that same afternoon at Pike Place market and carried on the plane. We barbecued half of it and I cut the other half into filets to be frozen and enjoyed at will.

Her friend Rachel definitely won for best presents, though: customized beer bottles with pictures she had gotten from Meagan’s mom, plus a hand-carved Scrabble board. I was drooling with jealousy over that board.

Other than pong, highlights included a small but admirable dance party and a hilarious game called some dude’s name that I kept forgetting. We hardly even noticed that it was raining, and enjoyed some good times over the outdoor fire pit despite the unseasonally cold weather. (WTF California, I leave Seattle for 30 hours and you make it rain??) It's ok, we kept warm by dancing:

The next day was an exercise in lazing around, which was really pleasant. Here are Meagan and Clare the dog chillin' on hangover day:

I made a random breakfast bake with leftover party food (my specialty) and we talked trash through the movie Twilight. I was so sad when I had to catch the airporter to Oakland – no such luck getting a reasonable flight out of Santa Rosa on Sunday – and much more bummed when I found out my flight was delayed. Fortunately my sister Tessa came to the rescue and picked me up from the airport, so I only got home about 30 minutes later than I was expecting since I had planned on taking the light rail. Regardless, waking up for work the next morning was not much fun.

Fortunately Meagan will be in Seattle in December so I’ll get some more of her sooner rather than later.

Robyn – Low Key, Baby

On Wednesday of that same week – 11-10-10 – Robyn had her birthday. It was a really chill gathering at Barolo in the Lake Union part of Seattle, a swank restaurant with a killer happy hour. Highlighting for the 1,000,000th time why she is such a stellar friend she was completely understanding when I was only able to stay for 45 minutes since I desperately needed a new home for Hattie or risk eviction and it was the only time the new owners could come get her.

Of course, the party didn’t end with me leaving; I hear it ended many hours later at a bar in Ballard. Robyn always knows where to find the party!

K’s Gourmet Dinner

K’s birthday is the very day after Robyn’s, which means next year her birthday will be 11-11-11. Trippy. We arranged for her to have day-long childcare so she could go to the spa, and then we had a delightful dinner at another friend’s house. I love K’s friends, and this love is only heightened by their ability to kill it in the kitchen. We had the fanciest salad ever, plus roasted squash and cauliflower, chicken with pasta, mushrooms, and artichokes, a vegan carrot cake that was so good I went back for thirds, and some apricot bars I could have sworn were made by the almond roca people. We also had some very lively discussion about the state of our education system – it’s always nice to be stimulated intellectually, especially when there is a bottle of wine at hand.

Jacob’s Game Night

This past Saturday was my friend Jacob’s birthday celebration (also an 11-11 birthday) which went down on a rain-soaked Ballard evening with some animated rounds of Catch Phrase during which the birthday boy took significant liberties, followed by lemon cake with chocolate and apricot sorbet. My contribution? A jar of rum I’d been soaking with clove-stuffed lemon slices and cinnamon sticks which I turned into hot toddies. Does anything taste better than a hot toddy in wintry weather?

After the birthday boy left, those still standing hung around for some Settlers of Catan. I had planned on getting to bed at a reasonable hour and being productive on Sunday, but staying out until 2:30 am playing board games was all worth it when I sneakily won game #2.

Side note: “Happy Birthday” has to be the worst trick ever inflicted upon the tradition of birthdays. Think about it: it’s the ONE SONG you are socially obligated to sing on a regular basis, and it is so, soooo painful. If it must be sung, I prefer it in double time – it’s much easier to hit the right notes and keys, it doesn’t drag on and on, and it actually sounds like people have some enthusiasm and mean what they’re saying. Can we just all agree to sing it fast and get it over with??

I think I’m off the hook for birthdays for a little while.
Up soon: more backlog posts, my cell phone evolution, and spending Thanksgiving at a spa.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holy snow!

It has been snowing since last night in Seattle. We aren't talking snow flurries, people. We're talking knock-em-dead howling winds that whip across the roofs and penetrate every microscopic opening in the foundation, and tiny snowflakes that mean business. It's 25 degrees and dropping. I can't remember a November storm like this.

This morning I got suited up and made my way the mile to work on foot. I snapped this picture along the way, the perfect blend of one of the best falls I can remember with the start of winter:

Here's the view from my apartment this morning and again when I got home. Probably another 2 inches have fallen since the second one, and I would guess we have 4-6 inches by now.

My office emptied out around 2, and there had been so little movement that by the time I left at 6 the lights had turned off. (Not trying to tout myself as an overachiever, I just had something I had to finish. Trust me, I wanted to leave at 2 too.) My walk home was 30 minutes of zero-visibility skidding, but I still made way better time than the poor bastards stuck in cars or on buses. With a vehicle stalled or skidding out on every single road, traffic was stopped in all directions. It took people two hours to go two miles. Some gave up, abandoned their cars, and walked. Luckily all Metro buses had chains on their back tires starting this morning; apparently someone got the right idea after the 2008 debacle. I was scoffing at the alarmists who required Metro chains in the seeming calm of the morning, but by the afternoon I was applauding their good foresight.

A jet slid off the runway at Seatac, closing the airport down. The Alaskan Way viaduct and the West Seattle bridge are closed - two events I can't remember ever happening in my life. Most schools are already closed tomorrow. Thousands of people are without power, and I'm shocked I'm not one of them. Instead, I'm snug as a bug in my cozy apartment - heat is included in the rent! From my perch atop the 3rd floor I have been listening to the strange noises my radiators make while dreamily staring out the window at the mean weather, but I have to admit, I'm lonely.

This is the first time I have ever been alone when it snowed. Part of me wants to run outside and throw snowballs and drop to the ground and make a snow angel, but it feels a bit silly to do that on my own, even on Capitol hill where I'm sure I could find a bevy of insta-friends to do it with. Well, maybe not tonight... it's UGLY out there. But tomorrow they're predicting sun and 26 degree weather - a perfect snow day! (Until it all turns to ice.) Unfortunately I can walk to work, which means that's probably where I'll end up unless HR sends out the unlikely announcement that the office is closed. Cross your fingers for me and my snow day!

(Snow art on my way home. I couldn't resist!)


Not 20 minutes after I hit "publish" on this blog, my friend Brian sent me this text: "There is a party at Bellevue and Denny! Bring a cookie sheet or other improvized sled!"

I live 2 blocks from this intersection and had been hearing semi-strange rumblings from that general area. Luckily I was still mostly decked out in my snow gear so I got suited up the rest of the way and headed out at 12:30 am to catch the party. This is what awaited me:

About 30 people milling around with new additions constantly arriving, going like gangbusters down Denny on makeshift sleds. This included rubber lids, plywood planks, air mattresses, wheel-less skateboards, an ironing board (epic fail), and most notably, garbage dumpsters. They were by far the fastest and most reliable way to get to the bottom, and by the time I left they had started racing. I shot a few videos and uploaded this one last night; my apologies for the weird format.

Predictably, someone had gotten hurt and when I arrived there was an ambulance taking him away. The rumor mill said he broke both his legs but who knows what actually happened. A little later a too-drunk dude with a bloody nose and mouth tried to start a fight about 10 seconds after I said, that guy is drunk and looking to fight. But neither of those events affected the general merriment much, and I was shocked when I realized I'd been there for an hour.

I did take a few nips of whiskey but did not go down the hill. Apparently this is always where people gather on Capitol hill in the snow since Denny gets shut down at the mere whiff of inclement weather, and now that I know sledding central is the perfect distance from my house - close enough to walk easily but far enough away that the hooting and hollering doesn't keep me awake - I have plenty of time to try it out.

Today I did come into the office because HR only issued a "stay home if you can't safely commute" email. There are, I think, 6 people in all, 3 of them from my 5-person team. Now that's dedication!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thus ends my random pet ownership

Meet Katie:
Katie is 15 going on 16, owns a pony, and does 4H. She also now owns Hattie, the Lionhead rabbit that was mine for a whopping 4 weeks.

My landlords discovered Hattie and told me that either she had to go, or I did. So, I found Katie, and I can’t imagine a better owner for Harriet the Lionheart. She will love her and take very attentive care of her, especially since Hattie is now destined for the spotlight as a Show Bunny. (Turns out that pedigree came in handy after all.) I expect big things out of her.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Backlog blog #3: September Hodge-Podge

In the interest of feeling like I’m finally catching up on these backlogs, I’m going to roll a few events that happened around the same time into a single entry.

September 18: Vogue has never looked so....

First up was SHADE, a Vogue Ball put on partially by my dear friend Casey to benefit the Lifelong Aids Alliance. It was also a fashion show, and Morgan and I got more than we bargained for in our front row seats. T and A abounded and I was very nearly impaled by a stiletto. It was pretty awesome.

Then came the Vogue-ing, and as always it was a joy to watch Casey dance. Although he killed it in the group routine, in my opinion he shines his brightest doing his solo improvisational work. To everyone’s delight they left the runway intact and let us all ‘work it out,’ which I did more than once.

Here I am in my get-up. I was trying to make my hair Really Big. It was also pouring buckets so I went with the fashionable rain boots to complete the outfit. The bartender asked me if I was in the fashion show, which I took as a compliment.

September 24: FBPP

Second was the French bread pizza party, which K was trying to convince me was my ‘going away party’ since I was moving. As someone who has had more than her fair share of going aways and actively avoids them, AND since I was trying to convince my roommates that they weren’t rid of me that easily, I was just calling it a good excuse to make some delicious food.

I am a sort of foodie but my tastes, while varied, are in no way high-brow. To wit, my absolute favorite type of dinner party to throw (other than Thanksgiving, of course) is a French bread pizza party. Here’s why:

1) Delicious
2) Easy – people make their own food!
3) Varied – people get to eat exactly what they want to eat
4) Interactive – especially good for people who don’t know each other that well
5) Crowd pleaser – who doesn’t love FB pizza??

This was probably the most successful FBPP I’ve ever thrown, with long-distance friends Megan who lives near Portland and Mark and Sarah visiting from Madison, plus two toddlers, the younger – and much smaller- of whom absolutely terrorized the other, leading to my now-infamous line, “You’re bigger than him, you can totally take him!” How cute is this photo? You would never have guessed from how demure Toddler J looks here that he was the terrorizer.

We wrapped up the meal with an apple crisp, a pear crisp, and a molasses cake. The next day I ate FB leftovers for breakfast and made another pizza using all the leftover toppings for lunch. Had there been any left, I could have easily eaten it again for dinner. My love for FBP runs deep.

September 25: Italian Festival

When Robyn asked if I wanted to go to the Italian festival I first said, the what? Then I said, of course! I’m always down for a festival, and I am a little embarrassed to admit I had no idea that Seattle even hosted such an event.

It turns out a lot of people outside the Italian community don’t know about it, even though it’s held at the very public Seattle Center. This is one of those festivals truly supported and primarily attended by the community in question, similar to the Greek festival (also going on that weekend, which I sadly missed) and dissimilar from, say, Oktoberfest in Fremont. We were surrounded by authentic, Italian-speaking, bocci-ball-throwing, pizza-crust-tossing Italians. And I’m not stereotyping here – we witnessed a children’s pizza dough tossing contest going on right outside the building that housed a Very Serious bocci ball tournament. We also watched teams stomp grapes, ate sausages and gelato, and drank Italian sodas.

Unfortunately I don’t have any still images from this event because I took my video camera instead, and although I do have quite a few videos, if you have followed this blog at all, you know I’m the WORST at editing them together! I keep promising a video blog and it is on one of my many lists, I believe the one titled ‘long term’. It will happen, eventually.