So, in email exchanges with Auntie Rose over the past few days, she was speculating as to how many Birth Weeks she has celebrated with me -- and, technically, it has been all of them. In fact, Auntie Rose has a leg up over anyone else I've ever celebrated my Birth Week with, as she has also come to have at least lunch with me every year on or near my birthday since 2001, with the one exception of 2002, when she was in the hospital because she got hit by a car. So, excepting 2002, I've been doing this with Auntie Rose for 18 years.
That said, so far as I can tell, Auntie Rose is also one of only three people who have been part of all fifteen of my Birth Week celebrations to date -- the others being Danielle and Gabriel. Shobhit is just one year short, as the inaugural Birth Week in 2004 was actually a month and a half before I met him.
Fifteen years is a pretty long time, though, especially for a senior citizen. In this week's email exchange, Auntie Rose mentioned the year we walked together from my apartment in Wallingford to the Theo Chocolates Factory Tour in Fremont. I had commented at the time on how quickly she had managed to walk, and that she did not walk like an old lady -- a comment Auntie Rose has loved to remind me of over the years since then. And, in my response, I noted that was my Birth Week in 2007 -- the year, as it happens, she turned 70; and, she had lost 70 lbs over the previous year. She really looked fantastic. I just realized while writing this, though, that since her birthday is not until late August, she was still 69 when we visited on May 1 of that year.
Anyway, well, now she's 80 years old. She'll be 81 in August. You know how old Grandma McQuilkin -- her sister -- was when she passed away in 2011? 82. On the plus side, Grandma had clearly been losing her mental faculties to dementia as early as age 80, and Auntie Rose shows no such signs at all. I suspect she'll last at least a few years longer. Maybe she's got at least five more Birth Weeks in her, so we can make it to twenty? I hope so. Maybe I'll set that as a goal.
In any case, Auntie Rose told me today that next year, it's my turn to come visit her in Port Townsend -- something I have not done, in fact (visit Port Townsend just to see her), since 2000. At the time, it was the third such visit in as many years, but by 2001, they stopped. Those first three visits I always stayed overnight at their house, but that won't likely happen again. Auntie Rose remembered that I already declared next year's Birth Week theme to be nautical, which makes Port Townsend fitting as it's a Victorian Sea Port. Their Victorian Heritage Festival actually happens in March, but whatever. When I told Shobhit this idea of my visiting her, which is pretty fair after fifteen years of her coming to Seattle to see me, he said it was a good idea. Also, perhaps I could combine it with the night I go stay overnight with Jennifer. I noted that they are in opposite directions (Port Townsend is north and Shelton is south), and Shobhit noted that both are on the other side of Puget Sound, on the Olympic Peninsula. So, maybe. We'll see.
In any case, Auntie Rose noted in one of her emails that she doesn't move around anywhere near as quickly anymore, and she really wasn't kidding. She's now getting around with walking sticks. When Valerie arrived driving her to meet me today at Bellevue Botanical Garden, she could barely get out of the car. I mean, it was a large car, practically a truck, but still.
Such a visit next year will likely have to be mid-week, as my hope is to visit Ivan in Vancouver the weekend kicking off my 2019 Birth Week, and Shobhit's and my Clipper boat ride to San Juan island will have to be the other weekend, as that boat only runs weekends until mid-May. Shobhit's response to this was that I don't really know where Ivan will be at that time, which I suppose is technically true. But I do have a feeling he will be in Vancouver as planned.
By the way, getting back to Auntie Rose being eighty. Near the end of our time at the botanical garden, Valerie had left Auntie Rose and me there to run a couple of quick errands. Auntie Rose and I walked past a bunch of people doing weeding, and Auntie Rose guessed they were volunteers. She asked one lady we walked past if they were volunteers, and the lady said yes. So, they got to chatting a little, and of course Auntie Rose had to tell her we were celebrating my birthday this week. The lady congratulated me and asked how old I was. When I told her 42, she was genuinely shocked, and actually told me, "I would have thought you were 27!" Naturally that made her my new favorite person.
That's not even the funniest part, though. The lady noted that she was herself 67, and Auntie Rose said she would never have guessed she was that old either. The lady said looking younger than their years was in her family genes. But then Auntie Rose told her, "Well, I'm eighty!" And instead of staying on message and telling Auntie Rose she doesn't look that old, the lady said to her, "Well good for you!" Auntie Rose and I both cracked up over that, and had to tell Valerie about it when she returned.
In the end, the full photo set for Bellevue Botanical Gardens on Flickr features 47 photos from the garden itself; the full set inluding 53 shots total. That nearly matches the number of photos I got yesterday, of Parsons Gardens and Streissguth Gardens, combined. But, Bellevue Botanical Garden has a much larger area to cover, and we were there for about two and a half hours.
I left home this morning at about 10 a.m., going to fetch a LimeBike on 12th and Pike, which I then rode to Grand Central Bakery for another free "Sack Lunch" I took to go, on Eastlake. I did not realize until I reached the bike that it was one of their "electric assist" bikes, and I also did not realize until finishing the ride that, unlike regular bikes that just have a flat $1 charge for every ride of up to half an hour, the electric-assist bikes have a $1 charge for unlocking them and then a per-minute charge. The ride took me 16 minutes and I was charged $3.40 -- basically 3.4 times the cost it would have been on a regular bike. I guess that makes the per-minute cost 15 cents.
Now I know not to use one of those again, I guess unless it's sort of a pressing need. After all, there were no other LimeBikes nearby at the time. It was my first time on one of those electric-assist bikes, and it was odd: the bike just goes faster than you expect when you first start pedaling. It sort of felt like cheating. Which, of course, I paid extra for.
I had a pretty heavy lunch as a result of this free "sack lunch," as it includes a cookie and a bag of chips, and Auntie Rose brought the almond delight cookies she often makes for family events, from a recipe she got from Grandma some years ago. When we all stopped and had our bag lunches by the suspension bridge in the park, I only ate my sandwich and the almond delight cookies. But I ate the chips and the cookie on the bus ride home.
In any case, the Bellevue Botanical Garden overall was quite lovely, the fourth such botanical garden I did not know about until deciding on this theme and searching for ones to go to in the Seattle area. This is the best byproduct of applying themes to my Birth Weeks: after twenty years in Seattle, it's randomly getting me to find wonderful things to see around my beloved hometown that I never knew about before. How awesome is that? Gabriel can fucking scoff at my "Birth Week" concept all he wants!
I caught the #70 up Eastlake to the U District, where I caught the King County Metro #271 express to Issaquah, which goes through Bellevue and has a stop that's only about a ten minute walk to the Bellevue Botanical Garden entrance. You can see downtown Bellevue from the road it's on, up on a hill to the east.
While we waited for Valerie to run her couple of errands, Auntie Rose and I stopped at the coffee shop in the garden (Copper Kettle Coffee Bar, it's called), and Auntie Rose had a hot chai tea latte and I had an iced one. Oh yeah -- right, another bit of extra sugar right there. Anyway, when Valerie came back to get us, she offered to give me a ride just down to the Bellevue Transit Center, which saved me at least that bit of time. I then easily caught a Sound Transit 550 express back to downtown Seattle, and then walked part of the way up Capitol Hill before catching a #11 the rest of the way home, which gave me just enough time to go pee before going down to Bang to get my semiannual Birth Week haircut.
It took a little more than an hour and cost me an admittedly ridiculous $70, but I am declaring it worth it -- as I said to Shobhit, you get what you pay for. After spending about $30 than that for each haircut at Rudi's since the last time I went to Bang in October 2014 -- which, at the time, was a haircut I was happier with than I'd been in years -- with Rudi's being very much "haircut roulette," I was done trying to be cheap with my haircuts. Besides, this year I mitigated that by, for the first time ever, dying my hair myself instead of having that done at a salon. I always love the (temporary) blonde color of Laney's hair, which she does herself, so I asked her what brand she uses, and I bought a box at QFC, and I used that to color my own hair this evening, after Shobhit and I went out for dinner.
When Shobhit got home from work, he declared he wanted to go out to eat somewhere -- even after I let him know we're having my Birth Week dinner out with Lynn and Zephyr tomorrow night. He wanted to try the dumplings for Happy Hour at the place on 12, just a few blocks away, called Pelmeni Dumpling Tzar. Until 6:00 they have $5 well drinks and $5 dumpling orders.
We each had one pretty weak drink and we ordered to dumpling items -- one "Classic" potato dumplings (okay) and one "Mac and Cheese" potato dumplings (pretty good). As Shobhit said, we can scratch that place off our list.
We came back home and I proceeded to dye my hair. I need to find out from Laney whether she keeps hers in longer than the ten minutes the box says to, because I can't quite make heads or tails of the "results." I followed the directions on the box saying to keep the color in for ten minutes, but in the light of the bathroom, it does look more blonde to me -- though not nearly as light blonde as Laney's is, using the same box -- but when looking at it outside, in natural light, it looks to me like it's just as gray as it was before?
I only used half the bottle, though, as the woman on the instructons had very long hair and mine was much shorter -- perhaps I actually should have used the whole bottle. Should I buy another one and do it over again? I can't decide. I may just try again in a few months; I don't want to damage the hair I have now. In any case, when it comes to the coloring, I'm definitely disappointed.
[posted 8:30 pm]