Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wonderful Pre-Birthday Weekend, Part 1: Kidnapping and Dinner

What a great weekend!

Friday night: school carnival

Saturday morning: our regular visit to the Portland Farmer's Market

One of our favorite market performing groups, Shicky Gnarowitz, was on stage. They perform a sort of gypsy klezmer music, with an amazingly talented violinist. On a fluke, I looked up the group on YouTube, and found two videos of the performance. We were tickled to note that Kieran, Nick, and I all made cameo appearances in the second video. Kieran and Nick are at about 1:56, and I walk right past the band after the song ends (to go get a cup of coffee). Take a look!

Saturday afternoon: the kidnapping

I ended up taking a phone call for work after we returned--a woman in Washington DC was thinking of hiring me to do some editing of a grant proposal, so we talked about what she had in mind.

When I got off the phone, Kieran handed me a note: "In honor of your birthday, you are being kidnapped. Go pack an overnight bag while I take the boys to Ridgecrest Drive. All will be revealed on my return. Your loving husband." About 1/2 hour later, Mike took the boys off to my parents, and I waited for him to return. My sister-in-law Shemara called from Australia, and we spent an hour chatting and catching up, while I wondered where my kidnapper had gone! (He took a couple of side trips, including Target!)

We finally hopped in the car and drove into downtown Portland. We ended up at the Hotel Modera, not too far from my office! When Mike planned this little outing, he had a hard time finding a hotel room downtown. He couldn't figure out what was going on, until we saw a friend who was planning to run the Portland Marathon (today). All of the usual hotels were full, and the Hotel Modera was priced well beyond its typical room rates. But what is money to my romancing husband? :) We seemed to be the only ones staying downtown who were not running the marathon!

Around 5:15 we headed down towards Old Town, stopping for about 1/2 hour in Borders. Borders must have a new policy of placing clerks in the prominent browsing area (new books) and having them ask everyone if they can help customers find anything. I just did some research on the Web and discovered that Borders has a new CEO this year who is focusing on customer service...and Borders has not been known for its customer service. Perhaps Borders does need to improve its customer service, but I for one found the extremely perky sales clerk who said "Hi--can I help you find anything today? I'm Regina--just let me know if I can help you!" about four times in the short time we were there. I am a grumpy shopper, I suppose--I like to browse, and if I want to ask a question or buy something, I like good service. But otherwise I like to be left alone, especially in a bookstore! Bah humbug! :)

Saturday evening: dinner with friends

Mike had told me that we had reservations at 6 at our favorite adult Chinese restaurant, Sungari. When we arrived, the waiter said: "Table for four?" and Mike informed me that we had surprise guests arriving. The surprise soon revealed itself as I spotted our great friends Kristin and Roger walking in front of the restaurant. They have just returned to Portland after five years of living in Madison, Wisconsin, and we are SO DELIGHTED to have them back on the west coast. It was a wonderful treat to spend an uninterrupted (by children) dinner socializing with them and catching up.
We began our meal with a beautifully presented pot of alcoholic tea--Jasmine and pomegranate teas laced with ginger vodka and other things I can't remember:

Lovely dinner and a great way to celebrate my pre-birthday!

After dinner Kristin and Roger went home to relieve the babysitter, and Mike and I returned to the hotel to share a 1/2 bottle of champagne and chocolates Mike had brought. We also indulged in an expensive in-room movie, "The Proposal." It was a silly romantic comedy, but Mike stayed awake (which is high praise for a movie nowadays!). We enjoyed it...and it was fun to watch a movie in bed drinking champagne!

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