Oso dragged a brown envelope into the room and arranged it on Steve's feet. He then laid on it. "Get off, silly" WD commanded, "this is not like rearranging beds. How is he supposed to open it?" Oso looked up at Steve and Nuka hip checked him off of the package. "We did not wrap it because YoYoMa took the tape outside and we could not find it," Puff explained. "It wasn't like that, I was getting ready to help wrap and nature called and I set it down while I took care of business." "It is ok, right Dad? Think of it as being environmentally correct!" Quinn gently interceded.
Steve opened the bag to find a new t-shirt but unlike most years this one did not feature floofy whiteness. It had a Sheltie on the front. "This is in honor of our Angel Sister, Sheena, who came before us. We know you still say goodnight to her every night on our walks," White Dog explained. Steve had tears in his eyes as he sat on the floor and gathered the White Ones in his arms.
"And that is not the best part," YoYoMa said. "We are taking you for a hike in the mountains..." "AND for buffalo burgers and chile fries at Burger Boy!" White Dog finished. Burger Boy is sort of legendary in the little town at the base of the ski area for big juicy burgers made from locally raised buffalo and their spicy NM style chile fries (chile with an e made from hot peppers, not beans and meat and tomatoes).
"When we get home after, you can have a nice nap on the cool spot on the couch," White Dog added. "Yeah, dad, an old guy like you needs his rest especially since momma and Michael and Gregg and Candace are taking you out for dinner," teased our 87-year-old (in human years) little lady, Puff.
Steve took the WDA up on that nap when we returned, lulled by the gentlest of soothing rain showers that made everything smell fresh and earthy. The evening as a result of the rain, was delightfully temperate and invigorating.
The French bistro had all of its doors open to invite the freshness and to let the incredible smells of garlic and butter and spice waft down the sidewalk to warm up our taste buds before we were even inside the door. Michael, in a rare experimental mood honored Steve by trying his first escargot, a fresh oyster, and steak tartare...he actually liked all three but did not understand why the menu was in French not English. A delightful relaxing meal turned into long conversation and we closed the restaurant.
|Clever presentation of trout almondine on celery root puree|
|They must have been psychic...frog legs and ratatouille are two of Steve's favorites.|
|Not exactly birthday cake, but no one complained about lemon tart, caramel flan, and tarte tatin|
When we got home, the WDA wanted to hear every detail and sniffed us thoroughly. They were saddened, momentarily, that we brought home no samples (especially from the cheese board) but jumped at the opportunity for a final duck jerky toast to the Birthday Boy before walks and bed.
"Our lives are richer because you are the backbone of our family. We are blessed, each of us, a million times each day by your thoughtfulness, care, and love. We cannot imagine a world that doesn't include you. You are the specialest dad in the world. Happy Birthday!" WD toasted and was seconded by a chorus of affirming woofs.