Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birthday Weekend Recap

As mentioned in the previous post, Kat and I started celebrating our respective birthdays (which happen to fall on the same day) on Friday night, when we exchanged gifts. She has been loving her new 32GB iPod Touch, and has already delved into getting special apps and so on. I have also been loving my new telescope... but cruel irony has our birthdays at the beginning of June, which is the cloudiest month of the year here in the Beach Cities area of greater Los Angeles. Look up June Gloom on Wikipedia if you don't believe me. So of course, there's no possibility of even doing any backyard skygazing to try out my new toy! Waaaaaaah!

June Gloom blankets the coast every year.

But regardless of that, the birthday weekend was a smashing success, even in regard to some components that could have ended up going badly but turned out fine. But we'll get to that soon enough.

I think we've already covered this fairly well, but that evening we gave each other our presents: from me to her, a 32GB iPod Touch; from her to me, an Orion SkyQuest telescope. We opened our little boxes and such that night, and then hung out and watched some movies and such until bedtime.

Kat and I both enjoy our time to just relax and kick back, and we did a lot of that on Saturday. After sleeping in, we lollygagged around the house for a bit. I made breakfast... well, brunch, by the time I got off my ass to cook. Had some omelets with mushroom and swiss cheese. At noon, my dad dropped by to be his usual silly self, and gave me a new shirt. Clothes are always useful for preventing nakedness and so on. It was good to see him, as usual.

After he left, I was on a mission: I had a telescope to assemble! It didn't take very long... the base was similar to any number of Ikea-like furnishing pieces I've put together. After it was built, I took it outside and familiarized myself with its various functions, peering a quarter mile down my street like it was three inches away. This is going to be cool (as soon as I can actually use it... GAH!).

Look! New telescope! Now go away, clouds, so I can look at space stuff.

Before we knew it, the day had passed and it was already time to get ready to go out to dinner. After showering and changing into some decent clothing, we called a cab and headed a short way down the street to the Bottle Inn in Hermosa Beach. I'd been there once before, while it was Kat's first time. The place has excellent Italian food, and one of the South Bay's best wine selections, while remaining reasonably affordable. I knew it would be a great birthday place for both of us. Kat ordered the linguine/clams (yum) while I tried the linguine and artichokes Nicolletta which was outstanding. We imbibed some Spellbound cabernet, which was really tasty, and ended the evening with coffee and split a crème brûlée for dessert, though we kind of had to force in it there on top of all that pasta.

It's not very impressive on the outside, but the Bottle Inn has amazing Italian cuisine, and is right on the beach. Nice.

After dinner, both of us were needing to walk off the decadent meal, and it was a perfect night for it. The sun had just gone down, and we strolled 8-9 blocks along the Strand in Hermosa. Kat and I don't go out to the bar scene much, but I'd still wanted to show her the Pier Avenue area of Hermosa for awhile. Saturday night was a good time to do it. We walked up from the Strand and I pointed out some of the classic nightspots of Hermosa. Getting back up to the street, we hopped in one of the waiting cabs and headed home.

It was a terrific night, but we weren't quite done yet. Heading over to Kat's place, we grabbed some DVDs that she'd picked up at work as small gifts for me: National Geographic science-like shit! Whoo! We watched a few chapters of their "Traveler's Guide to the Planets" show before getting too tired to keep our eyes open, and then fell asleep. A glorious day!

Finally... our actual birthday! We once again slept in a bit, and then Kat made us coffee as we kicked back at her place. She was still trying out her new toy while I popped in some more geeky DVDs into my laptop. A short while later, we both decided that breakfast was in order, and since neither of us felt like cooking at that moment, Kat volunteered to drive down to McDonald's and grab us some delicious McMuffins and hash browns and such. About a minute after she left, she came back in.

"Forget something?" I asked.

"Car won't start," she replied, semi-dejectedly.

"Happy birthday!" I said exuberantly, and laughed, which made her laugh too. I wasn't about to let something like a car not starting bother us on our birthdays. A short while later, I went down to the garage with the keys, as if my magic touch on them would cause the car to start right up (it didn't).

Enacting plan B, we packed up our stuff and walked back to my place (a half block away), where I proceeded to cook us up a skillet full of sausage, red potatoes, and onions with the appropriate spices and such. Kat was still a little stressed about the car (you can't blame her; almost all people need a car every single day in the LA area to stay alive), and she started making some plans to look into rental cars, tow trucks, and mechanics. I couldn't even get under the hood of the car to look at what was happening, since it was parked all the way into her carport with the hood under the storage area. The first ray of light in this dark cloud was when she emailed her work to tell them she'd be dealing with this on Monday and would be late as a result, and her boss told her to work from home while she took care of it (sweet!). The second happy part of the car situation happened Monday morning, when her tow truck arrived and it turned out to simply be a dead battery. Easy fix, and she has her car to go to work today. Looking on the really, really bright side, her battery decided to die when she was safe at home, which is about the best possible time for it to happen, if it has to happen.

The KatMobile lives on.

So, back to Sunday. We had nothing to do and nowhere to go, a predicament that we both appreciate quite a lot. We ended up spending a good chunk of the afternoon making plans for a skygazing trip to the desert later this year. We're excited to find out what my new telescope can really do, and there's no way to really explore the outer reaches of space in the middle of a light-polluted city. So that will be fun, and Kat and I love our infrequent opportunities to get out of town on our own in any case.

Joshua Tree is more than just the name of a U2 album. It's a beautiful desert area less than two hours drive from my home.

We wrapped up our birthday weekend with my cooking some steaks, asparagus, and rice, and ended it with some chocolate birthday cake. A great and memorable birthday for both of us. I couldn't complain even if I tried.

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