happy birthday

My very first college friend sent me a text today to wish me a happy birthday.

“I remember going to Lou’s Diner with you freshman year,” she wrote.

I hadn’t remembered the name of the diner, but I did remember the birthday dinner. I had been deeply mortified, but unable to quell the tears that kept spilling from my eyes. I was 18 and it was the first birthday I had ever spent away from my family. My parents had dropped me off only a few weeks before, and I was already desperately homesick. My (then) new friend tried to comfort me as I cried through the dinner. It was a shock to realize that this happened almost thirty years ago!

My friend continued her text with a question:  “Did you do anything special?”

Well…this morning my husband and three kids woke me up with a dawn chorus of Happy Birthday and a tray laden with a bracing cup of Scottish Breakfast tea and the most decadent breakfast I believe I’ve ever had in my life – a slice of flourless chocolate cake.


One member of the quartet smoldered through the whole song. The second the serenade was over, the 16-year-old exploded: “WHY did ALL three of you have to come into my room at the crack of dawn to wake me up and then stand over me waiting for me to get out of bed? It was really creepy and annoying!!!”

He stalked off and the rest of us slunk off to go about the business of getting ready for another day…

About fifteen minutes later I heard a knock on my door.

“Mom? I’m really sorry I was such a jerk earlier. Happy birthday.”

Highs and lows. Highs and lows…

I drove to work in the driving rain. I practically had to doggy-paddle from my parking spot to my office. There was no way to avoid stepping into the river of red, muddy water in my leather flats. I squished and sloshed into the building like a drowned rat. A drowned rat in a pair of ruined shoes.

img_6990My feet were cold and wet, but it was lovely to step into a warm office. The colleagues I work with most closely are the best I’ve ever had. They are people I respect, admire and genuinely like. The four of us gathered in the lobby for a few minutes and chatted companionably before we began our day.

I had a dentist appointment scheduled during lunch time. This might not sound like the most fabulous way to spend one’s birthday, but I recently started going to my friends’ dental practice and I was looking forward to seeing them both.

But then:

Happy birthday to me, I got my first adult cavity…

My friend and I discussed the fact that this was my first cavity in decades. “Is this related to old age?” I asked…”Because I remember there was a period when every single time my mom went to the dentist she had a new cavity. Is that what’s going to happen to me?!” He did not spare me:


“Happy birthday!” his wife said to me, “Here’s a present for you!”


We left the office and met up with another friend for a quick birthday lunch:


Back to work.

Got a birthday call from my oldest friend…someone I’ve been friends with since we were 12, I think.

Back home to make dinner.

Put in a couple loads of laundry.

Drove my daughter to her violin lesson.

Home again. The house is quiet. The kids are doing their homework. I’ve been reading Facebook birthday greetings from family and friends around the world.

Did I have a special day? Yes, I believe I did.


For my birthday this year I got a new old house, a miserable cold from my daughter, and an extra year of life! My iPhone wished me a happy birthday and informed me that I just turned the age I thought and said I was all last year. Hooray for declining faculties working in your favor for a change!

I dragged myself home from work today and wasn’t sure I was feeling up to going out, but I’m glad we did! We went to Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria for dinner, where the only sure way to get a seat is to show up at 5 pm. We may have disgraced ourselves just a tiny little bit by inhaling shocking quantities of the thin crust wood-fired pizzas…

We had to try the desserts too, of course:

We ended the evening back at home where I got to take some birthday pics with these kids, the very best, most priceless gifts I ever got:


Weekend Snapshots 29




More packing…

We took a break from packing to go to my friend’s annual hops harvest party. Every year she grows a crop of hops for a local microbrewery. With a little help from her friends, this year she harvested 150 lbs.

The cut vines were laid out on long tables and we got to work like a bunch of Pick-a-Little-Ladies from the Music Man: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more!


Still packing…

In the afternoon we took another break to celebrate (belatedly) our daughter’s 10th birthday with a trip to Mint Springs Lake and Chiles Peach Orchard…

Now back to…packing, of course.

Birthday Blessings from Auntie Harpy

Today is the first birthday of my niece – the youngest member of my gigantic family…

May she always be surrounded by people who adore her:

May she always have girlfriends who would do anything for her:

May she recognize true love when it looks her in the eye:

May she always be curious about the world:

May the world let her remain as gentle as a lamb…

and as fearless as a lion:

May she never lose the twinkle in her eye:

And may all her days be filled with love and laughter:

Related posts:

First Birthdays

How my brother foretold his future when he was 1 year old

Hangin’ with the Harpies in Minneapolis

Weekend Snapshots 14

This weekend we celebrated my daughter’s 9th birthday.

She started the day off by opening some gifts and cards:

We went to the Albemarle County Fair, where we admired these sleeping beauties:


The birthday girl wanted Pad Thai and a Shirley Temple for dinner:

We went home to have her favorite, specially-commissioned Red Velvet Cake:

and to shower our favorite girl in the whole wide world with some birthday love: