Now that I know she’s received and opened the package, I can write about the idea I came up with for my friend K’s 50th birthday: I bought her 50 birthday cards!
I came up with this idea last summer, possibly while I was back east when my Mom was recovering from her surgery (I forget exactly when), since I realized I had almost a year to buy 50 cards, which worked out to a little more than 1 per week. I knew immediately that it was unlikely I’d actually buy the cards that regularly, but I figured if I could get two-thirds of them by, say, the end of February, then I could easily scramble to get another 15 or so cards in the final month.
One thing I realized when I had bought about 15 cards was that I needed to achieve some balance in the cards I bought. They couldn’t all be cards about age, I had to mix in some generally funny cards, and some more serious cards. When you’re only buying a card a week, it’s easy to just end up buying all the most hilarious cards, but she wouldn’t be reading them one a week, but (probably) all at once.
By February I had done a pretty good job – I had about 35 cards – and I started going through them and signing them. I discovered I had bought one card twice, but that’s the only one I doubled up on, and I had time to replace it, which I did.
I had also started telling some friends about this scheme, and to my surprise none of them had heard of anyone doing this sort of thing before. I’m sure someone has done it, but in my social circle it was a novel idea. My Dad said I should mail them all individually, but I felt that was farther than I was willing to go; instead I signed and sealed all of them, and shipped them in a box.
K wrote to me that she ended up opening a few cards a day, and found them quite funny overall. So, mission accomplished!
I’ll describe one card from the set: Debbi suggested I get a 51st card, “for luck”. Well, as luck would have it, I came across what I thought was a perfect 51st card while I was back east last month. Supposedly a quote from Satchel Paige, it read:
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
A good question for any of us.
We had a pretty busy weekend lined up this past one, and then it got even busier with some sudden plans (“sudden plans”? Is that a thing?) that came up.
Saturday morning Debbi had an appointment with the hair stylist (on Saturday morning as the result of her schedule getting jumbled up during the previous week), so I spent the morning finishing up some work on the study (okay, mostly I was filing Magic cards, but also paying bills).
When she got back we went to lunch and then to the hardware store.
See, a couple of weeks ago I inadvertently fertilized part of the lawn. (Well, I was planting some new seed, with a mix that included mulch and fertilizer.) I noticed last week that that patch of lawn was growing much better than the rest of the lawn – which has gotten a bit brown despite all the rain – so I determined to fertilize the rest of it. I bought a fertilizing machine from OSH and spent some time on Saturday doing the lawn. I had to run back to OSH for more fertilizer, having probably over-fertilized part of the lawn (but it probably needed it). Whee! Now I’m trying to keep from checking the lawn every morning and night to see if it’s looking greener and lusher.
We also picked up some new solar lights, and a new hose and a box for it. Home improvement! Well, yard improvement.
(Wait until I buy a shed and see how much I write about that!)
As I was finishing up, I got a call from my friend Syd, who was in town for one night and was inviting some of his friends out for dinner. So on fairly short notice Debbi and I got our act together and joined them. It was good to see him, as I’ve missed him since he left.
This was in lieu of our usual Saturday plans of going to Cafe Borrone. We’ve been down on Borrone lately because the variety, prices and portion sizes of their entrees have all been going in the wrong directions, and they’ve eliminated some of our favorite desserts. So going elsewhere wasn’t unwelcome (we’d planned to have dinner elsewhere anyway). One of the desserts they’ve eliminated was the chocolate rum cake from The Prolific Oven, so after dinner we went to that establishment and got a couple of slices of cake. In theory I guess we could consider hanging out there on Saturday evening from time to time. (We’ve tried the coffee chops in downtown Mountain View, but they all tend to have bands on the weekend nights, which puts a damper on our desire for a quiet reading evening.)
Friday night we got an invitation from our friends Chad and Camille to visit on Sunday for swimming and a barbecue. So Sunday morning we went to the grocery store and Debbi made potato salad to bring. Chad and me and the kids spent, what, an hour or two? swimming in their pool, and then we had dinner. We hadn’t seen much of them since last year, since we’ve all been busy, and we had a great time. Camille tells us that their daughter has upgraded us from “friends of their parents” to “cousins”.
Monday was my and Debbi’s 11th dating anniversary, and we went out for our usual anniversary dinner. Where have the years gone?
Since then I’d like to say things have been quieter since then, but yesterday I biked to work for the first time this year, and boy did my butt hurt afterwards!
Saturday we throw what is easily the largest party we’ve ever thrown: A big open house for our new house. We each invited many of our cow-orkers, as well as friends and our new neighbors. I think we invited about 130 people, and including kids and significant others I bet we had about 80 show up (probably around a 40% return rate, since many who showed up were not direct invitees). Fortunately they didn’t show up all at once, since I don’t think we could have handled that! Rather they were spread out between 1 and 7 pm, with the last few taking off around 7:45.
We were pleased to get nice weather, especially after the heat wave we had early last week, as we planned to shunt many of the kids out to the back yard to play, which worked out well. (The only casualty was my hummingbird feeder which broke when a large ball got kicked into it at high speed. I had actually been thinking of replacing it anyway, so not a big deal.)
Before people showed up we locked the cats in the guest room (Roulette yowled vigorously when we caught her to throw her in.) I put up a “Do Not Enter – Cats Inside!” sign, along with a full-size photo of what the room looked like that morning before we threw them in, so people could get an idea of what the room looked like. Locking the cats away meant we could open the front and back doors without worrying about them escaping outside (which in turn meant no doorbells going off every few minutes to upset the cats).
Then we gave many, many tours of the house, which got the hoped-for sounds of appreciation. The seller/builder showed up with his brothers and their wives and he showed them around, and our agent showed up too to see what we’d done with the place. We had three neighbors stop in, including the fellow across the street whom we’ve gotten to know and his wife whom Debbi described as “a hoot”. We’d hoped & expected to get a few more neighbors, but perhaps many were busy on a Saturday afternoon at the end of June. (We did partly invite them just so they’d know we were having the party and wouldn’t be surprised that our guests used so much local parking, but we wanted to meet some, too!)
We used Evite for the invitations, as we usually do, but we had the odd experience this time of not only having some folks show up who hadn’t RSVPed (which always happens), but having some folks who up whom Evite claimed hadn’t even viewed the invitation, which must be some sort of an Evite glitch. The last time I used Evite I got some feedback that it was quaint that someone was still using that site, but it’s always worked for me. If it’s starting to head south, it may be time to find another invitation site for future parties.
For food we served snacks, but Debbi also made three wine bottles’ worth of sangria, which was almost completely gone by the end of the day. The hummus went over really well, too.
I was happy that my friend Rob showed up, as I hadn’t seen him since his housewarming party last year. He brought his three kids, the youngest of whom loved our stuffed animals (Sam, my giant stuffed sea turtle, went over really well with the 3-and-under kids). I think I’ve known Rob longer than anyone else other than my family, and it’s always good to see him. Even though we don’t have hordes of interests in common as we did in junior high, it always seems like we get along just as good as ever.
We let the cats out when there are only a few people left, but only Newton had the remotest interest in coming down to check things out. (Newton had spent much of the afternoon sitting in the window watching people run around in the yard.) The other two came down once everyone was gone and we were cleaning up.
It was a lot of fun, but also a long time to be standing on my feet. I switched from sandals to slippers part-way through, and then to bare feet not long after that. By 9:30 at night I was falling asleep on the couch, so we called it an early night, and a successful party. (But going to bed early meant we got up early enough to beat the Sunday brunch rush at Country Gourmet!)
Debbi’s now talking about doing this every year! Well, maybe by next June we’ll be completely unpacked.
I’m taking a week off, starting today, for my Mom to come visit. We set this visit up a couple of months ago, thereby ensuring that we’d find a house and be in the middle of the process of buying it when she got here. On the other hand, it’s a better time than when we’re actually moving, or just moved and not yet unpacked. I’m looking forward to some down time with her.
The house thing is moving along. We’ve been providing a heckuva lot of documentation to our lender – I don’t remember it being this bad when I bought my townhome, but in the wake of the housing crisis I think the government has tightened up a lot of regulations. I think we’re just about done with this step of the process, and then we wait until we go in to wear our arms out signing the title documents. Well okay, we’re going to start packing after Mom leaves, too.
Blackjack is doing well. Monday’s chemo treatment I guess is the worst he’ll get, but so far he hasn’t been nauseous or anything. The vet said he’s been doing really well, and the technician said Monday was the first day she was able to get him to purr for her. His energy level is still lower than usual, but we’re hopeful that he’s going to get through all this without too much trouble, and that the lymphoma will be sufficiently in remission so that he’ll have a good life ahead of him.
Spring has been having trouble deciding whether to arrive, as the temperature has bounced around from highs in the 50s to highs in the 70s over the last few weeks. Makes it hard to decide whether to wear jeans or shorts! But the rain has just about ended (at least in the south bay, I guess it’s still raining up the peninsula fairly often), which means I’ve been cleaning up the porch and patio. I finally figured out the easiest and most effective way to clean the porch – just in time to move out of this place! Figures.
Over the weekend we went to see five children in four days: Thursday night we visited Subrata and Susan and their son for dinner, and then an evening of gaming. Saturday we visited Chad and Camille and their kids to keep the kids occupied for a few hours. And Sunday we visited Lisa and Michel, and their daughter and newborn son, whom we hadn’t seen since he was born a month or so ago. Young children seem to love me, which always strikes me as a little strange. I was definitely kidded out at the end of the weekend, though. But it’s nice to visit them.
Anyway, time to get some things done before going to pick up Mom this afternoon!
We had a pretty lively weekend. Saturday we went over to our friends Chad & Camille’s place for their twin kids’ one-year birthday party. As I’ve been saying, one-year birthday parties are more for the parents than for the kids, though the kids seemed to enjoy it anyway. We knew everyone there (other than C&C’s nanny and her fiancé), and saw a few folks we hadn’t in a while.
We had another hot weekend – not a scorcher, but still warm – and C&C invited us back on Sunday to avail ourselves of their pool, which we were happy to take them up on. So we spent the afternoon there, and I got to entertain the kids some more. Kids love me. I like them as long as I can hand them back to their parents when I run out of steam with them.
Sunday evening we biked into Shoreline Park for the annual Independence Day fireworks, which is always fun. Dealing with the idiots on the paths and streets on the way out of the park isn’t so much fun, but this year they had people directing traffic at the main intersection on our way out, which made it easier. And we had our first-class location on the grass as usual, too.
Monday we both had off from work, and we had a fairly quiet day mostly at home, with a few excursions for lunch and coffee. We also picked up the fixings so I could make mocha chip ice cream, which I did. This batch turned out especially good, too! And the heat broke (which I’m sure all of you sweltering on the east coast are envious of), which made the day even nicer.
But I had a terrible time sleeping last night, and woke up not only groggy but also with a sore throat, so I decided it was prudent to stay home from work. I dozed some in the morning (Newton and Blackjack snoozed with me), had some lunch, and spent the afternoon on the couch finishing a book and re-watching chunks of the films of The Lord of the Rings.
Hopefully I will be all better tomorrow. There have been some nasty illnesses going around at work and I’m hoping I haven’t caught one of them. Though each person seems to have something different, so it’s probably my own special thing.
We’re a little more than halfway through our holiday break, so here’s what we’ve been up to:
The break has unfortunately been marred by Debbi’s illness, which she’s had for over a week, and which has progressed through the usual cold symptoms, but has taken forever to progress. After hearing her chest coughs yesterday, we finally decided that she should go see a doctor about it today. (I even hauled out our humidifier to see if damper air would help her cough less.) The doctor diagnosed it as just a cold, so there’s not a lot she can do except take it easy and take some cough medicine – and try not to overmedicate.
On the bright side, our friend Karen came down for the Christmas weekend. She usually heads east to visit her family over the holidays, but the price of air fare persuaded her otherwise, so instead we invited her down here. She flew in on Christmas Eve, which I had off but Debbi didn’t, so I picked her up from the airport and we went to Whole Foods to pick up the fixings for Christmas dinner, and lay in food for Karen while she was here. We went to Cascal for dinner, and then drove around the area looking at Christmas lights as there are some impressive displays around.
Christmas morning we sat around the tree (our artificial tree that we bought last year, because real trees have gotten astonishingly expensive around here) and opened gifts. My big gift to Debbi and myself was to replace our aging comforter with a nice new one. It’s even larger, so it fits in the comforter cover whereas the old one was a bit small for it. I also bought her the third season of Corner Gas on DVD. I received a goodly haul of books, CDs and DVDs from various people.
Karen has been training for a long race, so she needed to get some training walks in during her visit, thus in the afternoon we went out to the Stevens Creek Trail so she could do her walk, while Debbi and I took a ore leisurely one. We went directly to have lunch downtown at a Thai restaurant, and then vegged for a while at home, before finally cooking dinner in the evening. I made meatloaf, Debbi made mashed potatoes and steamed carrots, and Karen baked a blueberry pie.
Saturday Karen headed out for a long walk, and Debbi and I went over to Bill’s for his annual Boxing Day party, where we played some Fluxx, one game of which was epically long and I won in a particularly improbable way (involving randomly switched followed by randomly chosen cards). We picked up Karen (just before the first of the week’s rains came in that evening), and went to dinner at Sundance the Steakhouse, which has to be one of our better recent restaurant finds in the area.
Sunday we drove to the coast and had the champagne brunch at the Moss Beach Distillery, then stopped off for an outing at the beach the beach near Pillar Point. Monday, Debbi’s cold was starting to get her down, so we had a quiet day mostly at home and went to dinner at Amber India, before taking Karen to the airport, where she caught her flight home only a little late.
Tuesday, as I recounted yesterday, I went to play poker at a local card room, coming home as Debbi went out for dinner with some friends. I spent the evening puttering around in the study, and afterwards we watched some Corner Gas until we went to bed.
Today I went to the comic book store for the one comic that came out this week (Blackest Night #6). Due to the holidays, shipping companies couldn’t guarantee that books would arrive on Wednesday, so most companies decided to skip this week, as it was the fifth Wednesday of the month anyway (often called a “skip week” in the industry). DC decided to ship one book last week instructing stores not to put it out until this week, on pain of whatever tortures DC has at its disposal, I suppose. You can sometimes tell how ethical a store is by whether they abode by these requirements or not. My store, of course, held the book until this week like they’re supposed to, and held a sale besides – the store, surprisingly, was quite busy when I arrived!
I also went to an Apple store to buy a new keyboard, since the wireless keyboard I’ve been using since I got a stand for my laptop has been terribly unreliable, dropping connections every 10 seconds at times. Very disappointing, but web searches suggested that the keyboard has been problematic for a lot of people (apparently 2.4 GHz devices – wireless networks, cordless phones, etc. – can interfere with the keyboard’s bluetooth connection). Oddly, I’ve never had any such troubles with wireless mice.
And that brings us up-to-date. Now, to go read that comic book – and the few others I bought at the sale!
These past two evenings have been taken up with two trips to Oakland to see my Boston Red Sox in their only trip to the area this year.
Monday night we took my friend Joar and his wife Karin to their first baseball game since they moved here from Sweden a couple of years ago. We’d meant to go last year, but it never happened (mainly, I think, due to my own sloth). I don’t think either of them are really sports people, but obviously they’ve heard about the game and Joar’s seen my own enthusiasm for it on display plenty.
I explained the basics of how baseball works, which is a bigger challenge than I’d expected: What innings are, what outs are, the fielders and the batting line-up, how balls and strikes work, what foul balls and home runs are, and how outs are actually made. That doesn’t even get to things like stolen bases or double plays or pitching changes or any of that. Never mind the Seventh Inning Stretch.
All this was much easier once the game began and I could point out how the umpire indicates balls and strikes, where the foul lines are, how the runners move around the bases, etc. It really brought home how I take the play of the game for granted, having absorbed it mostly through watching a whole bunch of games as a teenager.
I think they enjoyed the game more than they’d expected, especially Karin who was watching the game quite intently as it progressed – which is saying something because it was a pretty mediocre game, as the A’s clubbed the Sox’ pitching into submission and rolled to an 8-2 victory. But we had great seats in the second deck behind home plate (and Joar nearly got his head taken off by a foul ball, but it was deflected at the last second), and it was a fairly warm night. We even saw the Red Sox pick off not one but two runners from first base in the same inning, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
Next I’ll try to get them to a Giants game, hopefully for a weekend day game so they can appreciate Pac Bell Park.
Debbi and I went back last night for the second game of the series, which was considerably less fun, because the temperature was in the 40s and the wind was in the 20-30 MPH range, so it was goddamned freezing, even with the extra layers we wore. Hot cocoa and Irish coffee only staved off the chill for a few minutes.
Which is too bad because it was quite a good game: Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka melted down in the first inning (and went on the DL today), but Justin Masterson held the A’s scoreless for 4 innings, and the Sox came back to tie it 5-5. Finally we got too cold and left in the middle of the 8th, and the game was still going on by the time we got home and went to bed. I learned this morning that the A’s won 6-5 in 12 innings, so I’m rather glad we didn’t stay to the bitter end.
Of course, the Sox saved the best for today’s day game, which is a bummer, but at least they won one. I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to see it.
And even more sorry they won’t be back for another visit later in the summer. Darn the unbalanced schedule anyway!
I can’t complain about my birthday weekend: It’s been pack full of fun stuff.
Friday night Debbi took me out to dinner. We went to Sundance the Steakhouse, a local place that we’d never been to before, but which we discovered through the discount cards we get through our workplaces. (We’ve actually discovered several good places through them.) It was very yummy! They have an elegant decor with wood panelling and display cases of what I assume are memorabilia from Stanford, which is just down the street. We each ordered a steak dinner, with an appetizer of potato skins. Good stuff! We’ll definitely go back.
At home we watched 3 more episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and we’re now nearly caught up.
And that wrapped up my birthday proper.
Saturday we ran a variety of errands in order to host my birthday party in the evening. As always I didn’t send out the invitations until quite late – Wednesday evening. With my birthday falling so soon after Christmas it’s always hard to get myself to put it together early. I also have a hard time figuring out whom to invite. I worry about having so many people over that we won’t have space to cram them all into our house, but on the other hand I also consider inviting some people I know casually, enjoy hanging out with, but wonder if they’d feel peculiar that I invited them to my birthday party. Debbi encouraged me to invite more rather than fewer people, so that’s what I did. And then of course, there’s always some obvious person that I forget until a day or two later.
Anyway, despite my worries and despite the short notice, we had plenty of people show up. Which is itself rather flattering: I have lots of friends! Some folks I hadn’t seen in a while showed up, too, such as Lucy, Trish, and Mark & Yvette.
People were mesmerized by a frustrating puzzle that Debbi’s father sent her for Christmas: I think we managed to identify all the OCD people in the room with it. And our friends LIsa and Michael brought their daughter Isabella, who is now walking, and who loves cats. I guess she was able to pet Blackjack at one point, which left her completely delighted. She’s become quite the little flirt. Subrata and Susan brought over Ajay, who’s not yet crawling, but who seemed pretty happy to see all the people. He’s going to be quite the little charmer himself.
After consuming the USDA-mandated quantities of cake and ice cream, everyone staggered off home. But we had a great time. Even the cats had fun!
Today we headed off to Half Moon Bay for brunch and an hour walk along the seashore: It’s been quite warm here recently, so it was perfect weather for it. Then we came home and sat around watching football and putting the house back together.
I couldn’t really have asked for a much better weekend. How was yours?
We’re finishing up a full weekend around here.
Friday night we got together with our friends Chad and Camille for dinner at Cascal, the popular tapas restaurant downtown which we finally discovered a few months ago. C&C used to live in Mountain View, but moved further into the valley around the time I moved here, so we also walked around downtown so they could see what had changed since they were last here.
Saturday I got a much-needed haircut, and then we met up with Subrata and Susan for lunch, Magic and dominoes. Subrata and I played some more Shadowmoor-Eventide sealed deck, and our games took quite a while since we each kept drawing most of our removal and other tricky spells, so we had lots of maneuvering to do. I eventually prevailed 2 games to 1 with my white-blue deck over his black-red deck. Ironically, I put together my own black-red deck which had most of my rares in it – my blue-white deck had none – but didn’t get to play it. I’m not sure it would have been very consistent anyway.
Today we had a relatively lazy day, watching football and the James Bond film License to Kill (1989), the Dalton film I hadn’t seen before. It’s not as bad as I’d feared, but it’s lackluster at best. The acting is often atrocious, with Dalton a shining star next to anyone – indeed, everyone – else.
The painting around here is just about done, so I put the furniture back on the upstairs porch. I’ll move the plants back there over the next week or so. I’m so glad it’s nearly over. It’s been quite a haul to get it all done. (I’m sure the painter feels the same way times ten. I think it’s been a bigger job than he expected. It looks like he did a really good job, though!)
One good anecdote before I finish up: This past week I was sitting for my friend Josh’s cats. (He and his fiancée went to Hawaii, the lucky ducks.) Thursday night I went up to find his one cat who usually hangs out under the bed. Sure enough, there he was, and I went around to the other side to pet him and coax him out. While I rubbed his chin I looked to the side, and…
…well, I went downstairs and said to Debbi, “Either Josh has the most realistic cat toy ever, or there’s a dead sparrow under his bed.”
Sure enough, it was a dead sparrow – still warm, even – and I threw it outside. I suspect it came into one of the enclosed porches somehow – one with a cat door leading out to it – and one of the cats dispatched it and brought it inside to, uh, enjoy. Fortunately, it was still basically intact, rather than being a mess. I sent Josh a text message and he replied that he was sorry I had to deal with that, but that he thinks it’s happened once before.
The things we put up with for our furry friends!
Yesterday Debbi and I headed out to the wedding of my friend Cliff, who was marrying a Debby of his own!
I must be getting less high-strung in my old age, since putting on the monkey suit (i.e., my suit) didn’t bother me, despite having to remember how to tie a tie and doing so at the tail end of the area’s latest heat wave. And Debbi looked great in the dress she bought last month for the event. I did learn that it’s time to buy a new suit, though, as this one is showing the initial signs of being a little too old and worn (I think I bought it in 1994 to interview for jobs following grad school, so I can’t really complain).
Cliff is Jewish, so this was a traditional Jewish wedding (well, or so he told us!), which was a new experience for me. About as new as Subrata‘s Hindu wedding a few years back; heathen that I am, all of these religious wedding ceremonies are equally fresh to me, I guess. We showed up at the temple and the guests were divided into two rooms, one for the bride and one for the groom. Cliff was about as happy as I can imagine ever seeing him; he’d been looking for the right someone for a while, and has been positively brimming over with excitement over his wedding day.
This pre-ceremony event apparently traditionally involved the groom expounding on some element of the Torah – and apparently with some heckling from the gathered guests, although I’m not sure how traditional that is. Though I noticed that it was common throughout the events leading up to the ceremony that people would be laughing and joking about everything, and Cliff was certainly among those. After this, Cliff was danced (literally) over to Debby’s pre-ceremony reception (the violinist played what I presume is a traditional tune along the way, but before then he was playing “Mahna Mahna” and the theme from the Muppet Show, to much amusement of all), and we all went over for the ceremony.
Well, not quite: Before the ceremony is the signing of the marriage contract, which is apparently the majority of the legal event (under both California and Jewish law). This was somewhat less interesting for us because there wasn’t a lot going on to see or hear, and because the room was a little too small to see what events there were. But afterwards we went into the temple for the ceremony proper. And this was joyous but in a more serious sense, as ceremony typically is. One thing that struck me was that Debby circled Cliff 7 times when she walked in, and if I recall correctly (not having journalled about it at the time) Subrata circled Susan 7 times in their ceremony (or maybe it was the other way around?). I may have the particulars wrong, but the circling in both ceremonies struck me as interesting. Anyway, Debby seemed to be just was happy and enthusiastic about it all as Cliff was, and it all went quite smoothly.
The wedding reception was a couple of towns over, and we were seated with some of Cliff’s gaming friends. There were actually only two guests I knew beforehand, although there was one woman whom I recognized from the campus at work but whom I don’t know. (I don’t think she worked in Cliff’s group, so I may ask him how he knows her.) Dinner was quite yummy, and we had a good time watching the dancing (no, I didn’t dance), and we congratulated the happy couple of course.
And now they’re off on their honeymoon. I wish them the best – certainly it seems like they got off on the right foot!