And not just because of my birthday. Yes, that’s a BIG part of it, and I’m grateful for two women in my life (they know who they are) who get that birthdays are the most important holiday (sorry, Jesus).
But I love July for myriad reasons. Here in the Northwest, July means that the best weather is yet to come. It means fresh raspberries, and evenings that last until after ten. It means burnt orange dahlias at the market, stunning glimpses of the Olympics, sleeping with fewer than four blankets, and visiting with good, good friends.
This July was a great one, from start to finish.
It began with eating THE BEST barbecue — my brother’s-in-law is ah-may-zing — whilst chatting with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school – a boy I had a crush on oh so many years ago. Now he has kids as old as we were when I toilet-papered his house in 1989.
Then the girlies turned two – eegads! I swear it was just a few months ago when I first changed Glory’s diaper; she didn’t yet weigh six pounds, and her buns were the smallest I’d ever seen (they’re still pretty tiny). She and Elena and Manny got bikes from their grandparents, and they puttered around on the playground looking like characters from a Mario Brothers video game, with giant mushroomy helmets on their wee heads.
Vacation was next – hooray! I do love DC. Yes, it was humid. Yes, the temp broke 100 at least once. Yes, there were rain-pouring-down-like-it-only-ever-does-in-Seattle-in-the-movies-or-on-that-stupid-hospital-show thunderstorms. But y’all, I was warm for eight days non-stop! You can’t say that around here all that often. And the city is fabulous – lots of great food, and there’s always something to see.
But while I heart our nation’s capital, it’s the people that keep drawing me back. Megan and Alex, Jill and Brian, Juliana and Paul. These are top-flight people. Beyond.
And they hosted me ever so well. Juliana hardly let me lift a finger, and ferried me around, and helped me pick out the cutest pair of elephant pajama pants. And she thanked me about 55 times for seeing “Eclipse” with her (for the record, I only rolled my eyes once during the movie). Jill and Brian ate the raw pancakes I made without grimacing, and served me yummy and large gins and tonic, and fast-forwarded through the talking-heads parts of SYTYCD, but not the judge’s comments, per my request. Megan was just plain F-U-N. She can pack more into one day than anyone else I know. I saw parts of the city that I hadn’t yet, and found a new favorite cafe with her in the lead. And Paul wrote me a lovely note when I left.
Then back to Seattle just in time for summer to begin in earnest. A lovely evening picnic with yummy Michigan pasties, bing cherries, and fabulous friends. The next day I went to a garden wedding, where there were thirty guests, Dick’s burgers and Molly Moon’s ice cream. The groom was the only person I knew when I arrived, but two straight women got my phone number by the end of the evening. I tell ya, I am something!
And then I hauled my ukulele clear to Very South King County to be surprised by yummy nose-running-spicy Thai food in a strip mall in Bonney Lake, and to be delighted by some time with far-off Fred. Freddy taught me everything I know (which, my friends, is considerable!) about volunteer management and Christian music festivals. He’s also taught me an awful lot about sharing grace and loving people. It was a real treasure to see him and the others in Enumclaw.
Checked in with my therapist (still not crazy), checked in with my financial advisor (still not rich), checked in with my phlebotamist (and stayed conscious the whole evening).
And then it arrived – my 39th. On Friday the 23rd we drank champagne at work and I got a S-T-E-L-L-A-R birthday gift from my smart, sly, generous colleagues and friends. It really merits its very own post. I’ll just say two words: Soda Stream.
The next morning I nearly killed Manny and myself by mishandling the aforementioned gift. He was standing on the step stool next to me at the counter, and after a liter’s worth of flying fizzy water drenched us both, I turned to him with drips coming off my chin, and with big eyes he said, “that was crazy!” The next time I made fizzy water, he went in my bedroom and shut the door, only reemerging when I was well and truly done.
I was still a little damp when Sam, Ang, the kids and I went to eat scrumptious pastries at Macrina Bakery, followed by more bike-riding, and eensy Glory insisting that she could hang from the monkey rings her”SELF!” She did, in fact, for a whole three seconds, then dropped, laughing when her dad caught her halfway to the ground.
Breakfast was followed by lunch at one of my very favorite Seattle restaurants: St. Cloud’s in Madrona. Its backyard is one of the neighborhood’s best kept secrets (Don’t go there! You’ll hate it!). I had a gin and tonic with something delish, got two beautiful birthday cards accompanied by even more beautiful necklaces from Jen and Jenny (who know me so, so well), and answered the modified birthday questions, courtesy of Brian (“tell us about the night you were conceived….”).
A lovely text from another lovely Jenny.
Then Dinner. Yes, I know I capitalized the D. It was the perfect evening. Marilyn picked me up and we arrived right on time at Serafina, where the smartly dressed maitre d’ directed us to the bar for a pre-meal drink (who can guess what I had?), and a shot of the first tequila I’ve had since Mexico, compliments of the bartender.
We sat in the courtyard. If you live in the area and haven’t done that, stop reading and make a reservation now – I’ll wait.
Three courses, all superb. Two pieces of advice: order dessert right away so they don’t run out of what you really want, and get. the. pork.
Oh, wait, more advice: consult with the cute sommolier and make sure you have a charming and flirtatious friend who can coax a great price on the wine with just a smile and a bit of smolder. I said “big with no bite” (about the wine) and that’s what I got. Delicious. I’d show you the photo of the label on my phone, but I’m 39 now, and technology is beginning to stump me. It pains me a little, right there.
I got into bed just before midnight, full of spirits and tenderloin and gratitude and light. And there was still a week to go!
My birthday spilled into the next day with lunch in the sun on the water in Tacoma, watching the Rhododendron come and go with Noreen and little G, who is her father in miniature. Noreen is someone with whom I don’t get to visit nearly enough, so the time was precious.
I saw Inception – worth the IMAX price, and I’m a cheapskate. I was bowled over by astounding beets (dill is the key!) in Lesley’s glorious backyard, while talking with my kick-ass book group about The Brothers K, my most favorite novel ever. I finished it (for the fifth time) a few weeks before we met, lying on my couch with tears streaming into my ears, well satisfied and thanking God for the brilliance of David James Duncan.
Then I met sweet, blue-eyed Iliana, the fifth baby born to my lovely peeps this year. She arrived just a few days before all ten pounds of Isaac, who I also got to meet, while sharing burgers and onion rings with his three big sisters and mom and dad – that kid will never want for cuddles.
And on the last day of the month, we celebrated Marilyn’s birthday. M and I were housemates for three years, and people often asked why we didn’t have joint parties. But really, why just have one day of festivity when you can have two? Marilyn blazed into her 40s with a killer dress, fabulous moves, and aplomb. I aspire to do it as well.
That’s it! My month in a gigantic nutshell. And through it all, I read my way through Harry’s journey once again.
Fin. Bon, bon fin.