Ruth Bancroft Garden. Way back when, (was it only 4 years ago??), I was an avid/rabid dry gardener and did volunteer work at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek. It's a spectacular place with a dazzling collection of rare and unique cactii and succulents. When my partner suffered an aneurysm, we had to move into accessible housing, so I lost my little garden and trekking to Walnut Creek for volunteer work became a luxury I couldn't afford. So, when Robert confessed that he had never been and needed some inspiration for his own lovely sun-drenched garden, I jumped at the chance to practice my rusty docent skills and give him my tour.
Before heading out, we grabbed a bite at Venus in downtown Berkeley. I had never been for brunch, only dinner (once with Matty before seeing Arcade Fire) but knew it would be good. I had their 2x2x2 special (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 sausage) with a pomegranate mimosa. Robert, who pretty much hates breakfast food, had their panini with salad and a micro-brew beer. I think he enjoyed it. We chatted about work, and tv shows and gardening.
I was a little nervous visiting the garden for a self-guided tour because I'm not a current member and hadn't spoken to any of the coordinators or board members in a long, long time. In my defense, I did leave several messages, but never heard back from anyone, so I had my excuse ready for anyone who thought I was breaking and entering. In the end, we didn't have any problems and it was a glorious day for a garden tour.
Robert was duly impressed with the variety of succulents and the size of the agaves and fruit-bearing opuntia. I think he got some great ideas for creating more height and drama in his home garden. After about 2 hours, we packed up and headed back to Berkeley. Earlier in the day, I had spoken with Moreno and had suggested that we go out to a quiet dinner in celebration of both our birthdays. It was still pretty early and easy to do that.
On the return trip home, Holly called a couple of times from Golden Gate Park and wanted to know when Robert was getting back into SF. He said soon and promised to call her after he dropped me off at home. Once we got to Berkeley, Robert parked, asked if he could come up and wash his hands, and followed me into the building.
I picked up the mail (we got two netflix and anthony got a notice for a package) and headed up to the third floor. I was opening the netflix and chatting with Robert over my shoulder as I opened the door and got the biggest shock. With a raucous "SURPRISE" I was greeted with cheers and glitter by a small crowd of my dear friends.
DUDE, they got me good. Anthony was the master of planning and he was 100% successful in shielding me from the shenanigans. He was ably assisted by Barbara, Holly, Jeff and Emily. Robert was a co-conspirator as well, but did say that he truly wanted to see the RBG so it was a double bonus.
In attendance were Chris and Barbara, Jeff and Randy, Holly and Rene with baby Rene, Emily, Tammy, Kate, Scott O., Colleen and Ade with baby Enzo, Dennis, Scott and David, Justine with Matteo, Lucy, Stephen and Chris, Matty, Ingrid, Kristian and Kristina. Yowzah!!!! Such a lovely gathering of sweet souls who have made my life so magical and maddening and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I got some flippin' awesome prezzies, my friends: amazing cake designed by Jeff; lovely hand knit jellyfish by my knittin' posse: Stephen, Kate, Elaine and Tammy; St. Germain from my baby; gift certs to Article Pract from Chris and Barbara AND my work knitting friends; gift certicate to Rudy's Can't Fail from Karen; gift certificate to Sweet Adeline's from Colleen and Ade; a MASSIVE gift certificate to Kabuki Springs from David, Scott & Matty; a beautiful hand-knit scarf from Master Knitter Ingrid; and the motherlode of them all, a GORGEOUS Rene Garcia, Jr. glitter portrait of me and Anto from Holly, Rene, Emily, Robert, Kevin, and Dennis.
Damnit!! I'm one lucky guy to have such sweet friends and a loving beau. Anthony even confessed that he enjoyed pulling it all together with our wonderfully gifted party posse. i guess I can't complain too much about being 40 since it's started off so fabulously!