-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --

I had a relatively eventful weekend . . . and also made a pretty significant change of plans for this month: Shobhit wants to go back to the Tulip Festival, even though we were just there last year (although it'll be the seventh time I've gone (since 1999), and the fifth time he's gone (since 2006), it would thus actually be the first time we've ever gone two years in a row), and at first I had it tentatively slated for this coming weekend. But then we made plans to have Abhishek (Shobhit's cousin) and Vinaya (his wife) over for lunch on Sunday the 15th, which meant we'd be better off having Saturday the 14th for some of the prep time. I then moved the tentative calendar item for the Tulip Festival to Saturday the 21st.

But then we started talking about what we might do with the traditional day of my Birth Week that I keep open for Shobhit -- always preferably my actual birthday -- and he suggested we go to the Tulip Festival on that day. Now, the Tulip Festival lasts every year for the entire month of April, and my birthday being on the 30th leaves me slightly concerned about how much will still be left in bloom. I just checked, though, and their website says they are just starting to bloom, "positioning everything JUST right for the April 1-30 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival." So that's a relieve, I guess.

Also, when we discussed this, I realized something else: my inaugural "theme" for my Themed Birth Weeks will this year be Botanical Gardens. The Tulip Festival is perfect then! Especially for my intention to get self-portraits with all friends and family with blooming flowers around us. What you find at the Tulip Festival are not technically "botanical gardens," I suppose, although both Tulip Town and especially Roosengaarde might as well be, with their immaculately designed gardens. (Note to Shobhit: those two links confirm both places are open all days of the festival, even Mondays -- and thus the Monday of my birthday -- and both have a $7 admission fee.)

So, as of now, I have at least the first three days of my Birth Week already planned, starting on Saturday -- I have Mad Men at Laney's scheduled for Friday the 27th so I guess my Birth Week won't officially begin on Friday this year. Anyway, I'm slated to go stay the night with Jennifer the day after that, on Saturday the 28th. This panning out is iffy at best, but since it's basically on the way, and Sherri noted the rhododendrons are likely to be in bloom, I rather hope I can work it out so I can go to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way with Gabriel that afternoon before moving on to Jennifer.

I'm not sure yet what I can do with a garden regarding Jennifer. I can't find any botanical garden, or something close to it, in Shelton. But I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Dad and I will then do our Birth Week Bike Ride in Puyallup on Sunday the 29th -- hopefully we'll find blooming flowers somewhere along the bike path Dad has in mind. This, of course, is assuming the day is not rainy -- always iffy in April; rain changed our plans to a day at the Museum of History and Industry last year. More often than not the bike ride plan does work out, though.

And then the Tulip Festival on Tuesday the 30th. I do have one thing scheduled already on Wednesday May 2, maybe Thursday the 3rd, and definitely Saturday the 5th. I've got plenty left to schedule. And I shouldn't spend too much more on that speculation because I still have the rest of my weekend to tell you about.

On Friday Shobhit and I both went out, although to do our own salacious things. Shobhit had a party he went to, which met up first at Diesel, the bear bar on 14th and Union. I decided to go back to Steamworks that night, since it had been six and a half weeks since I last went -- and unusually long time. Weekend visits yield a coupon for $5 off the next weekday visit and those expire in four weeks so I'll be back again in a shorter amount of time. I was there about three hours, the first two of them almost unbearably dead, but things picked up on the third hour so I had fun and it was worth it. Shobhit got back home quite a bit earlier than I did. I got back pretty close to 11:00.

-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --

Saturday was Movie Day -- going for the pre-noon show that costs only $6.92 per ticket, making it easy to pay for Shobhit's while using the MoviePass for myself. We went to see the movie everyone just calls Blockers, but which the posters put an outline of a rooster above the word to make it clearly infer the full title is Cock Blockers, so in my B+ review I wrote it as 🐓 BLOCKERS. Anyway, I was rather impressed with it and highly recommend the movie. Shobhit and I both enjoyed it very much.

The showing was at 11:05, so, quite a bit earlier than the more typical 11:30 or 11:45 showings we see at AMC Pacific Place on weekends. This freed up a fair amount of time for us in the afternoon.

We spent the afternoon both shopping and going out for lunch. We were going to do a lot more shopping than we did, but then we realized Costco could wait until next week, and I need so few things at PCC we ultimately decided to bag PCC shopping this pay period altogether -- a rare thing indeed. What we did instead was head over to Bellevue to shop at the Indian grocery stores, first at "Indian Super Market," which wound up not having quite everything Shobhit wanted, but he wanted to try it out -- it's slightly cheaper, he said, but Mayuri Foods is exponentially nicer, feels more like an upscale grocery store with actual wide and pristine aisles rather than like a cramped warehouse, and has more of what he wants.

And then we went to eat at that place that's like a giant one-room cafeteria, but still has very good Indian food, called Chaat House. We split one dish and he got one cauliflower dish to go. We then went back home and were done running around for the day by about 5:00 or so. We spent the rest of the evening watching TV, some old Roseanne and also Friday night's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.

-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --


-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --

Yesterday was by some distance the most eventful, starting with VegFest, which Shobhit volunteered at from 8 am to noon. Last year he volunteered both Saturday and Sunday, but I think maybe he went to sign up for it a bit too late this year, and just got the one four-hour shift. They put him on the volunteer check-in table, and I was there with him for a little bit, and enough people came to check in that I got the feeling they had more volunteer help than they perhaps even needed.

My being there with him at the check-in table, by the way, became a brief, dumb issue. He was paired with this old white guy who was apparently a stickler for rules, and "curmudgeon" is perhaps the best descriptor for him -- with no irony intended there.

I had expected to have to wait in line a very long time, but by the time 11 am rolled around, the line was virtually nonexistent. I was going to read while waiting outside, but Shobhit asked me to come in and sit with him. Several minutes after I sat in the third chair that was on the other side of Shobhit, between him and the wall, I heard the old guy say to Shobhit he didn't think anyone who was not a volunteer was supposed to be back there. Never mind that I was in no one's way and was not being disruptive or anything; my presence was completely harmless. Shobhit's response was basically just to shrug at the guy.

Now, to be fair, Shobhit should really have known better, and I didn't really like that he put me in that position. Still, the old guy didn't have to be an asshole about it -- he left to find another volunteer and literally narced on Shobhit.

This young woman came back in with him and rather diplomatically said something like, "I hear there is some confusion?" At first Shobhit thought she was talking about people he was signing in -- it was around 11:30 a.m. and there was a wave of them coming in -- and he began trying to assure her everything was fine. Old Man Grumpy pointed at me and said, "That's his friend." Excuse me, I'm his husband, fuckface. Not that it matters to the point that I was not a volunteer.

The young lady very politely asked me to wait in the "rest area" just outside the door to this large closet area we were in, where the check-in table was at. This right after she said I needed to pay to get in, and Shobhit told her I had already done so.

There was a rack of hanging jackets behind us, and beyond a small corridor a small-ish, long and narrow room of volunteers watching an orientation video -- I did get a picture of that as soon as I arrived. I then sat down and tried to read an Entertainment Weekly for a bit, but kept paying more attention to the old guy on the other side of Shobhit, consistently asking volunteers about their ethnicity every time he heard what their names were. He guessed correctly that one teenage girl's name was Vietnames, and asked if the name had "any special meaning." It did not, but that didn't stop him from telling her his own name has a "special meaning" -- without ever actually saying what his name is.

Anyway, Old Man Grumpy must have been pretty self-satisfied once he managed to get rid of me, even though I was making no difference whatsoever to anything going on there, about 20 minutes before the end of Shobhit's shift. I sat and scrolled through Facebook and Twitter on my phone in an area of chairs set up for "resting," with posted signs asking people to limit their time there to 15 minutes to give others at the festival space. The entire set of chairs was never filled up completely anyway.

Once noon finally rolled around, Shobhit came out to join me, and I decided to let it go and not complain about him putting me in that awkward position. Although I will reiterate that he should have known better -- it could be argued that I should have known better too, and either way, Old Man Grumpy was the worst element in that whole thing anyway.

Shobhit and I proceeded to make the rounds, grazing until we stuffed ourselves silly. I really need to start remembering something very important at this thing: pace yourself! It's so easy to take two, three bites of something that's really tasty, but all that does in the long run is make you too full much faster than you want to be. The Mighty-O Donuts booth may have been -passing out tiny doughnuts, but I still should not have had three of them. Or three of the Field Roast Sausage bites. At that rate, I was super full before we were two thirds of the way through the large room, but I plowed through it all anyway. I wound up skipping dinner, and was still up to 151.1 lbs this morning. Shit!

It's very rare that I discover something truly great, new and exciting at VegFest. I was beyond thrilled the year Field Roast unveiled their burger patties, but the festival has not yield anything nearly as notable since. Instead, it comes a reliable place to get all you can eat on several brands I already know and love, or try new things that are, on the whole, gross. Lots of grainy crap. One type of vegan cheese was so awful I literally spit it back out.

Maybe I'll include a note in my calendar item for VegFest next year: REMEMBER TO PACE YOURSELF. Shit, I'll do that right now! ... Done.

We had decided against it last year, but this year went ahead and payed for a "Family Membership" for Vegetarians of Washington. For this they gave us a tote bag full of samples and, more importantly, a bunch of buy-one-get-one-free entrée coupons for area restaurants. That cost $35, so combined with the $9 entry fee for the day that cost a total of $44. But, as I noted with the photo of all our loot, the stuff we got was worth way more than that.

This was quite a shift on Shobhit's part from last year, who was super annoyed when he was given one of those membership totes as a volunteer, thrilled by the restaurant coupons, but irked when the restaurant we tried to use one at noted that you have to show your Vegetarians of Washington card in order to redeem it -- which meant that to use the restaurant coupons you had to pay for the annual membership. Shobhit felt they had duped him and even sent an email with an official complaint. I tried to tell him volunteer work doesn't work that way -- you don't do it and then expect any kind of payment; doing the work is supposed to be its own reward. Somehow, this year his attitude about it seemed inverted, for reasons that honestly escaped me, and this time he reasoned that the value of all the coupons was worth the cost of membership.

-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --

We had tickets to the 2:00 show of Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus, which Laney sings in, with Randy Rainbow as a special guest singer, at McCaw Hall, which is literally right next to the Exhibition Hall on Mercer where VegFest was happening. I had walked there from home, cutting through Denny Park (near which I took the above photo of the Space Needle) and then getting there via Mercer. We got out of VegFest at 1:21 and thus walked right over to McCaw Hall, packed tote bags (and Shobhit's backpack) in hand. I had to cram the tote and my own shoulder back pretty tightly under my seat.

Because I had quite deliberately paid for the cheapest seats possible, we were literally in the back row, but the view was still pretty good. The concert itself, honestly, was a mixed bag. Shobhit complained of several songs having the potential for great energy which the chorus's new-ish conductor inexplicably kept pulling the chorus back from, and Shobhit kind of had a point. One song was the opposite, with a middle-aged African American soloist riffing a gospel tune that had so much energy the crowd gave her a standing ovation once the song was done. None of the other songs came close, although I was genuinely moved by the second song, the concert's title song, "Not In Our Town." It didn't have the same energy but I loved it anyway; it was the content of that one that mattered.

I had mixed feelings, in the end, about Randy Rainbow, who I had been truly excited was to be part of the show. There was nothing especially original about his contributions, which simply highlighted his viral videos, and with all numbers started with said videos, until he took over to sing his song parodies live. I rather thought he might come and offer more original content than that -- and, although it was funny, it didn't really fit all that organically with the content of the rest of the show, all about positivity and inclusion and "coming together," whereas Randy's content is all about snarky lampooning.

Furthermore, he performed no more than three numbers -- two songs in the first half, and one in the second. I kept wondering, how much did they pay him, to make it worthwhile to come all the way out to Seattle -- his first time here, he told us -- from New York, to perform all of three songs, on two days? Presumably they covered his air fare too, which is expensive?

Of course, it's probably easy to underestimate the revenue for two shows of tickets filling up McCaw Hall. Shobhit was wildly off base when he guessed the seating capacity was five hundred -- which, frankly, indicates to me he has far less idea than he thinks he does when he guesses how large the crowds are at the marches we attend. I looked it up and the capacity of McCaw Hall is nearly three thousand. I don't remember ever seeing a concert by either of the choruses there before, actually -- the Women's Chorus concerts are usually at St. Mark's Cathedral on Capitol Hill. Surely they had quite the draw having Randy Rainbow as a guest artist, though.

Laney had some assisting to commit to right after the show, so we did not need to wait around for her. I was going to take myself to a movie right after it but changed my mind -- we had too much stuff to get home first anyway, and also one show (of any kind) in a given day is enough, really. So, we bused home after the show.

There were religious protesters outside McCaw Hall when we left -- the same types of huge signs as used at Pride events. We passed one lady who tried to give me a flyer that said HOLY on one side of it, and actually said to me as I passed, "You'd better repent!" I just ignored her, but I kind of wished I had said, "Repent for what? My husband and I attending separate sex parties on Friday night?" To tell the truth, the first thing I actually imaged after she said that was nothing more than stopping and literally laughing at her face. We passed another protester further up the sidewalk where a young lady was engaging with her respectfully. In the end, my just ignoring them was probably for the best.

We came home and I unpacked all the stuff and put it away. That actually took a little while. And then the rest of the evening was spent watching season six of Roseanne on Amazon Prime Video.

-- चार हजार दो सौ इक्यानबे --


[posted 12:07 p.m.]