What a weekend for celebrating birthdays. Four of ’em.
Saturday afternoon we joined Lori’s side of the family in celebrating our grand-niece Layna’s first year of life. Saturday night we were part of a crowd helping to mark our friend Brian’s 60th birthday. Sunday morning we feasted on dim sum in honor of two lovely ladies — Lori and Sara, Nathan’s girlfriend — sharing the same day of birth. Sunday evening we capped off the weekend with a dinner and live jazz.
Four celebrations. Four birthdays. And an opportunity to spend time with assorted family and friends, old and new.
Layna is the daughter of our niece Christiane and her husband Tucker. Christiane is the youngest of three daughters born to Judi and Jim Rauh, Lori’s brother. Layna is the mellowest baby, passed easily from the arms of one relative to another, and happy to have the attention and affection of her older sister Mia.
There was a lovely scene of wrapping paper, baby dolls and other gifts strewn around the floor as Layna contentedly mouthed a piece of cardboard while everyone ooh’ed and aah’ed at the presents.
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Her first birthday cake experience went well too. She was a little tentative at first tasting the frosting, but then broke into a broad smile as her taste buds kicked into gear.
Brian is one of my bowling and poker buddies and the significant other of one of Lori’s longtime clients, Alexandra. Brian’s birthday was way back on Father’s Day but he understandably delayed the milestone celebration to a time when more people would be free.
He rented out a studio where he regularly takes zumba classes and had KOi Fusion cater a delicious Asian/Mexican dinner. Two of his favorite musicians — Craig Carothers and Tim Ellis — performed a mini-concert and Brian worked the room, mingling with friends, relatives, and current and past co-workers.
A touching moment came when Brian expressed his gratitude for even reaching his 60th birthday, singling out the cardiologist who performed surgery on him a few years back. As a very active guy who enjoys bicycling, skiing and zumba, it’s obvious Brian doesn’t take his second chance at life for granted.
Lori and Sara were the center of attention at H.K. Cafe, a Southeast Portland restaurant that offers one of the best dim sum brunches around.
For the uninitiated, dim sum is both a style of cuisine and a cultural experience. Servers push carts of fully cooked and ready-to-eat dishes that are bite-sized and often steamed. You can fill up on pork, duck, shrimp and calamari dishes, along with noodles and rice and an assortment of steamed buns with sweet or savory fillings. For the adventurous, you can try a plate of fried chicken feet.
The food was great and it was wonderful to see Sara and Nathan, Kyndall and Simone. We wish Jamie and Jordan could have been there too but they had work and college study commitments that kept them home up in Washington state.
Quick aside: It’s uncanny that Lori and Sara would share the same birthday of Sept. 27. What’s even more unusual is that my cousin Gil Rubio and two friends, Beth Reeves (another bowling buddy) and Patricia Conover (a Voices of August contributor) also were born on 9-27. At first I wondered what was going on nine months earlier in all those cases. Then I realized — the Christmas holidays!
We ventured out again for dinner at Clyde’s Prime Rib Restaurant & Bar, a classic old-school restaurant in Northeast Portland and, more important, a venue known for great jazz and blues. We went at the invitation of Lori’s tap dance teacher, Judy Tibbles, who was there with her husband and the mother-in-law of one of their sons.
Judy and Larry are among a group of regulars who attend Ron Steen‘s weekly jazz jam sessions on Sunday. Ron is one of the city’s premier jazz musicians, a master drummer who seemingly plays anywhere and everywhere around the metro area. In fact, he performs with a quartet every year at a summer block party in our neighborhood. He’s also a genuinely nice guy, outgoing and approachable.
Last night’s guest musicians included two members of Pink Martini, one of Portland’s most beloved bands, and a couple of guest vocalists that were just superb.
It was so cool having Steen acknowledge Lori’s birthday — at least five times by my count — along with that of another patron. And it was a sweet scene when Judy, who is a few years older than us, got up at Steen’s invitation and danced for Lori. Such a lost art, that of tap dance.
Needless to say, I’m proud of my wife for making time in her already busy schedule to attend tap classes once a week. Maybe that’s not surprising, considering she minored in Dance in college and has maintained a lifelong love for it.
As if Sunday needed a cherry on top, it came in the form of the blood moon lunar eclipse. We stepped out of Clyde’s a couple of times to look for it in the eastern sky and were rewarded with some nice views.