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Portland, Oregon:  I said we were not driving back to Indio. I did not say we were flying to Portland. But we did. Dave and I flew up Friday morning. (Ironically, we were served turkey sandwiches  - toasted, with melted brie and cranberry jam - on the flight.) The next morning, Lisa flew to Portland.

Why all the secrecy? Lisa's godmother, Nancy, reads this blog and we were flying up to surprise her for her 80th birthday. Nancy is so often alone on her birthday. It always falls on Thanksgiving week. So many people are out of town. We are always out of town. But this was a big birthday, so we decided to surprise her. Nancy thought her neighbor was taking her out to dinner for her birthday, but what she didn't know is her friends and goddaughter were also showing up. Fun! (In 2014, Thanksgiving fell exactly on Nancy's birthday, so we stayed in Oregon, the kids flew up from Los Angeles, and had a big feast in her honor.) Our plan did get a bit touchy when she called to thank us for flowers we had sent to her house. (We had to send flowers because we always send flowers on her birthday, and Nancy would have wondered why we had forgotten her.) I didn't answer the phone because I completely froze when I saw her name on the caller ID she would have wondered why it was so quiet in the background. (It is never quiet at Lisa's.) Needing a moment to get my lies straight compose myself I sent her a text message stating I would call her back "when Lucy went down for her nap"... never mind that Lucy no longer takes a nap and Lucy was in Los Angeles. There was a lot of pressure that I would slip-up and say something like "I am freezing" when I was supposed to be in 90 degree Los Angeles. (It was 45 degrees in Portland at the time of our phone call.) We talked about her Thanksgiving dinner with a friend, but Nancy never mentioned her neighbors inviting her to dinner for her birthday. Too nervous to continue, I feigned someone needing me and hung up. Stomach churning. Nancy did state was staying in Saturday evening, so we felt safe enough to slip-out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant with My Sister and Lisa's friend (Lucy's godmother) Jen.Friends since 3rd grade: Jen and Lisa at Mingo

We didn't leave the house Sunday. Lisa slept-in - something she never gets to do with 3-and-6-year-old children. There was a bit of napping, binge TV watching, book reading and general sloth-like activity all day. Glorious.

At 5:30p, we arrived to The Stockpot. Not only is this a very good restaurant, it is close to Nancy's house and - you won't believe this - Nancy owned The Stockpot for years, back in the day. Nancy's friend, Karen, had visited the restaurant several times over the past week to choose the perfect table so our plot to surprise would work perfectly. Karen chose that table in the restaurant you would want if you were dining with someone you should not be seen with. A booth, completely hidden in the corner, in the back of the dining room.

Her friends gathered, huddled into the booth (another table would be added to the booth after the surprise) and kept a lookout for the Birthday Girl. Nancy thought she was going to dinner and a movie with Karen. Nancy thought Karen's husband was at a meeting. She thought everyone else was out of town.

Nancy's jaw dropped when she stood in front of the corner booth. We really had surprised her! Yeah!

We toasted Nancy with her favorite champagne, had dinner and then sang Happy Birthday as she blew out the candles on a dreamy lemon cake, brought by Akin.

And, I know. She's 80? Amazing woman, friend and godmother. Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Until my next update, I remain, your "whew" correspondent.