Mar 2, 2013

Birthday weekend

Monday was my official birthday, and my mom reminds me every year that 2:10pm local time is my official birthhour. So I set my alarm for 7:10am Chicago time, to ring in the new year. It turned out to be a continuation of the celebration, as my sweet love decided to turn the whole weekend into a Friday night through Monday new year's eve party. What better way to start off the weekend than coming home on Friday to a decorated house, to a lovely and exotic home-cooked dinner, and a first present waiting to be unwrapped: a beautifully decorated tagine (a terracotta pot with cone-shaped lid, traditionally from Northern Africa to cook stews using very little water). The evening was topped off with festive cupcakes and sipping tawny port at our local wine bar; while snow flurries continue to whiten and brighten up the world outside, this weekend is promising to be good!

Saturday we took the first of a series of dance lessons, both ballroom and latin. We had done one beginner's class a couple of years ago in Atlanta, but have not continued since. So our skills were a bit rusty, to say the least, not to mention my Dutch hips, which do not have the genetic disposition to collaborate with moves that flow so easily out of my dance partner. Not only is she blessed with Caribbean curves, she has the latin vibe to back these up with some serious swing. Luckily we did not only practice salsa and rumba, but also the waltz and tango, which seem a little more amenable to my gene pool. But most importantly, GABROEN had a lot of fun, our newfound teacher was very nice, and we signed up for continued education.......
To continue the celebration, Saturday dinner was at Chicago's much loved AVEC restaurant.

AVEC is a communal style restaurant, where all dishes are meant to be shared. The youngsters sitting next to us took that to the next level with communal use of social media. They were texting and posting to shared friends' Facebook timelines, so they could see one another's digital scribbles. They did have conversations, like "Oh, that's funny. I love what you like wrote on her wall. I'm gonna like that now." Boy, that does make you feel like 41, going on to 42. The food was a beautiful mix of warm mediterranean flavors with comforting spices, the wine a robust complement, and the company was lovely. 

Sunday turned out to be one of these nice bright and brisk winter days, perfect for a walk along Lake Michigan. The shoreline was all frozen up, with the floating ice making eery sounds. 

Speaking of eery sounds: more gifts were given - vinyl records to stack up my very recently started collection. GABROEN bought a nice stereo and turntable in November, and is rediscovering the warmth of vinyl and the comfort of jazz records. Gabriella discovered a local record store with owner Steve who loves to let you try things and help you find new stuff. This time Bill Evans, Pat Metheny, Oscar Peterson and Glover Washington Jr.  We're certainly discovering new stuff. Some of it is a little too experimental, or a little too eery, but Steve is fine with exchanging anything you want.

Sunday dinner was with NanC and Jerry, who had consulted Steve as well for more vinyl gifts: Lee Ritenour, Sadao Watanabe, and the biggest surprise: Gino Vannelli. Not as camp as I expected, although I don't think the open shirt and exposed bush has any acoustic value.

And all of this was still hours before Monday, 7:10am. Too bad I don't have an alarm where you can customize the sound, because then I could have Gino ring in my birthday. Instead, we will wake up to a somewhat metallic imitation of waves, not unlike the sound of Lake Michigan.

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