Pond Seal and Pre-Birthday Dinner
Oatmeal, oatmeal, yummy crunchy oatmeal. John had cereal. I ate the last blob of pre-cooked oatmeal in the fridge and finished off my little container of cut up dried fruits and nuts as well. Nuke it in milk for a minute and it's bubbling hot and yummy with lots of fruit and nuts and little sugar, and I gobbled it up while John and Fezzik ate their breakfasts.
We then all piled into Borax. I brought along my digital camera and we went to Walden Ponds. I snapped a lot of pictures as we were walking, as Fezzik swam about and looked very seal-like, and as the geese approached the sound of splashing dog biscuits. They stayed pretty far away, though, which was good. There were a lot of good shots of big, dark him amid calm, silvered waters. He also powered his way around now and again, enjoying the freedom that the water gave him from his weight and the fact that his hind legs didn't really matter when he was supported and buoyant. It was fun to watch him enjoy himself simply with the ease of motion. He also had fun snapping up biscuits before they sank, and chasing them around on the water. He caught some in mid-air, and sometimes just rested with one front paw on the rocks leading up to shore, looking very seal-like with his water slicked above-water body and the cloud of black fur floating around him in the water.
It was calm out, beautiful day, partially cloudy so not too hot, but still good and warm. Fezzik got lured out of the water, and John headed him on a diagonal up the slope, so it wouldn't be too hard to get up it. My very last biscuit was his reward for getting out, and looking a little like a drowned rat with a rope tail, he wobbled along on dry land until he found his land legs again. He's so skinny when he's completely wet, it's like watching a 90 pound weakling emerge from the big, buff boy's image. I got a few pictures of him, but they seem to make him smaller than he is. We got him into the truck. He immediately shook and I could see the water splatter on the inside of the glass. That was pretty funny. John got in first and that's when I got a perfect picture of the two of them together.
From the ponds we did a few errands. John and I went into whole Foods to get me some mizithra cheese, and we picked up some fresh fruit and I also grabbed a slice of cheese pizza as I was, as usual, hungry. We also got drinks. We then stopped at Target and I stayed in the truck with Fezzik while John went off to get the prints he'd dropped off the last time we were there. The moment I was done with my pizza (after, of course, giving Fezzik a bite or two) Fezzik turned his back to me and watched John walk away and watched the doors to the store fairly intently, and tracked John coming back as well. When we stopped at McGuckins, Fezzik was more interested in all the other dogs in all the other cars and trucks than he was with John, and I just sat and dozed a little. We were parked under a tree so it was nice and cool when the breezes came through.
One last stop at work, and Bob was the only one in. I got the files for my journal entries onto a floppy and talked with him for a while before heading home.
Fezzik, of course, smelled like a pond. So we rinsed him off with the hose and, in response, he ran about wildly rubbing up against the house, and bounding about happily. He was so happy. It was so cool to watch.
I, on the other hand, was exhausted and had a headache. Maybe from the sun and the exercise, but I was so tired, I just went to bed and, covered with just a sheet, as it was pretty darned warm, I slept for three hours straight. The sun was slanting away when I woke up. I felt some better. Drank a lot of water to see if that would help the headache go away, and then ate a pear for a bit of blood sugar, and both of them helped. So I told John that, if he wanted, we could go out for dinner.
My birthday is tomorrow. And the group at work had planned a big lunch at China Spice, which would likely make us too full to really appreciate a great dinner on the actual day itself. Dad said that in China, one celebrates the day before the birthday in order to warm up to the whole celebration, so it fit those traditions. So John called The Chanteclaire and got reservations easily for 7 p.m.. A high contrast to the last time we tried to go there, but I think that that was for Valentine's Day, not some random fall Sunday. So it made much sense.
It was a great choice. The place was almost empty. We were seated near the kitchen and heard rather fascinating conversations about religious choices, what makes up roux, the allergies of a particular customer, and the fact that the cook had lived with his girlfriend for nine years. That was very entertaining. They had, as a special appetizer, a saute of wild mushrooms, chantrelles and shitakes in a white wine sauce that sounded really good. They also had a slow braised lamb shank in a red wine sauce with wild mushroom risotto that sounded really good. I thought a shank was the bottom part of the leg, so couldn't have that much meat to it, and I wanted to have room for dessert.
The appetizer was amazing. They gave me a whole pile of mushrooms, likely more than even in the wild mushroom gratin that the Red Lion has served for all seven of us. They were perfect, just barely cooked, so still firm and silky in texture, not mushy, and covered in a savory white wine sauce with just the right touch of pepper and spice. Really, really good, especially with the bread they served, which was an okay soft white bread that soaked up the flavors really well. It was a very large pile and I knew that I'd have to be careful to save room for dessert if I wanted dessert.
John had the house salad and then a lovely steak. The lamb shank turned out to be huge, probably a good pound of cooked meat on a bone on a while mushroom risotto with a red wine reduction sauce all over everything. The meat was fork tender and falling apart, the risotto was creamy and filled with big, meaty chunks of mushrooms, and the reduction was really rich with the flavor of the wine and meat juices. It also felt very salty, but really wasn't. John and I both think that I've just gotten really, really sensative to salt just recently. Partially, possibly due to the cold that's been circulating at work, while it's trying to make me sick, I feel like I've eaten too much salt, so I reflexively drink a lot of liquids, which seems to make it so that I don't get sick. Along with the vitamins, eight to ten hours of sleep a night, and trying to eat regularly and well, it seems to be helping me not be sick.
I ate maybe a quarter, maybe, of the lamb. I think I have enough for two or even three lunches and tomorrow I'm going to be having lunch with everyone at work. I had the waiter pack the rest away, and then ordered a blueberry tart for dessert that arrived moist and tender and had the perfectly small blob of pure vanilla ice cream on it. It wasn't overwhelmingly large, and I surprised the waiter a little by asking for a glass of milk to have with my dessert. It arrived in a Fat Tire glass, which made me laugh. Fat Tire is one of the local beers, which meant that they served their milk in beer glasses and I realized that it was likely that not many people came to a French restaurant and asked for milk. It was whole milk, too, and seemed extra rich and decadent since I've been drinking skim for so many years. Yum.
Decadent and good for me, too. Now that is how it should be.
I was nearly too full, but not quite when I finished my dessert and my milk. There's always room for milk. I am so glad that I'm not lactose intolerant, especially given the calcium requirements of being pregnant. I can always eat Tums, but they're not nearly as fun, and I don't also take care of part of my liquids requirement when I do them.
We happily headed home with my nearly full take-home box, and saw just a glimpse of the closing ceremonies on the bar TV as we headed out the door. Once home we changed into comfortable clothing and settled to watch the closing ceremonies. It was good, though after all the coverage NPR had done about the drag queens in the closing ceremonies, we only caught a small glimpse of what could have been a representation of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert. It was fun to listen and watch and sleepily enjoy just the sheer happiness of all the athletes down on the field. I wished they'd actually interviewed more of the first time Olympians, as the obvious awe and wonder they had for what was going on down on the field was just keen.
It was also just *cool* to see a congo line with hundreds of athletes from all over the world snaking its way around the too staged displays.
I still remember the last night of working at the Olympics in LA, in '84, and how all the volunteers even reacted to knowing it was the last night. The finals had been grueling run all day, with some of the most exciting and crazy bouts that day. And everyone was exchanging contact information like crazy, wanting to stay in contact after. The companionship of having spent two weeks focussed on just this one thing was so intense. After I trained with a few of the folks there, competed against only a few of them in the Western circuits in the years after Caltech, and it was always cool to see them again and remember what we'd done together.
Sixteen years ago. You'd think it'd be too long, but it was funny linking the euphoria of the relaxing, dancing, *done* athletes on the field in front of a TV camera thousands of miles away to those memories so many years away. That whole feeling of a world's worth of people working together, hard, to make something extraordinary happen.