and. . . I’m 60

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Life has a way of showing you just what you need to see exactly when you need to see it.

I celebrated my 60th birthday yesterday. The day started out like any other — we woke up, we said good morning to one another, and we talked about what we were going to do. With the understanding, of course, that somewhere in those plans was a birthday dinner with family and friends.

My assumption was that it would be our son and his family, maybe my brother and his wife, perhaps one of my other brothers who live a few hours away and a few friends.

When we set out for town in the morning, to get breakfast and run errands, I was feeling emotional — I wanted more than anything not to be having this birthday. What was the big deal, anyway? Sixty, it’s just a number, and I’ve never liked having a big fuss made over me. Why couldn’t we just have a bbq on the deck, open some beer and wine and call it done?

All I can say is thank God I didn’t get my way.

Tim took me to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The one in downtown Edmonton. We’ve been going there once or twice a year for over 40 years. Crazy. I had expected to see the group I mentioned earlier and I wasn’t surprised when I saw them sitting there. And suddenly, I was happy. Because, this, I realized, was something they were happy to be doing for me.

Then, they surprised me after all. As I was turning around to grab Tim my mother walked up to me and gave me a big hug. Beside her were two of my sisters. I couldn’t believe it. They flew in to help me celebrate this milestone that I’d been treating like a millstone. A little later, after having been fooled into thinking no one else was coming, my youngest sister and my niece from Lloydminster arrived. More tears of joy and gratitude.

It was a wonderful celebration and I can’t explain how absolutely wonderful and special it made me feel. In the big course of things, a birthday really is just another day. It will pass, and then there will be another day. BUT, what yesterday showed me about birthdays is this: it’s not just about you and how you feel about it, it’s about all the people who make you who you are and how they feel about you. It’s about letting them show you their love and being able to show them in return, just how grateful and blessed you are that they are in your life.

And Dad, I know you were there, too. I had a dream last night that I was lost and in trouble. You helped me out, helped me find my way to safety. Everywhere I looked were dimes, bright, shiny and new dimes. They were pouring down from the sky and as I gathered them up I felt you smiling down on me. I love you. I miss you. Thank you for our family.

May 10th, 11th & 12th

Days 131, 132 and 133 — Friday was the start of 3 beautiful days.  The weather warmed up and the sun came out.  Friday evening we went and watched our granddaughter play baseball.  It’s actually t-ball, but, really, it’s baseball.  It was fun.  Afterward, Grandpa and Iwent and had a burger and a beer at a little bar in Morinville.  Very good burger.

Saturday was my birthday.  I celebrated by getting my hair cut and dyed and then went dress shopping.  Picked up a couple of cute dresses at Avenue Clothes on Whyte.  Very pleased with my purchases.  Then, I made the long and arduous trip out to WEM.  Needed to pick up some of my face-care stuff and, unfortunately, that’s the only store in the city.  Got home about 5:30 and the kids were there.  We had bbq ribs and potatoes, greek salad and — beer!  We had a blast.  The grandkids gave me some lovely nature-inspired art.  Need to get some frames and hang it.

Sunday was Mother’s Day.  I got the royal treatment.  Tim took me out for brunch to the Red Piano.  Lovely meal.  With our brunch I recieved two complimentary tickets to attend an evening performance at the RP.  We are definitely going to check it out.  I’m guessing that it would be a much more raucous and rowdy performance when it’s an adult only audience.

All in all, I had a perfect weekend.  Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes.  It’s nice to be remembered.

Friday the 13th — oooh, aah

So it’s Friday the 13th — big deal!

Well, it is kind of a big deal, because it is my friend Heather’s birthday today!  Yay, Heather!

We went for a most excellent walk this morning.  Started out on our usual trip through the Gibbons river valley trail, but decided to head a different direction.  And were we ever glad we did!  We stumbled across a mother lode of wild strawberries.

My they are the tastiest, sweetest little bites of heaven.

We didn’t actually get much walking in, instead we grazed our way along the path.  With joyful cries of “Oh my God!  Just look at how many are here!”  we’d stoop or drop to our knees and pick until we had a good palm’s full of little red gems.  Then we’d look at one another, count 1-2-3 and pop the whole handful into our mouths.  Then we’d smile and make yumming sounds.

If you have never tasted a wild strawberry then you are missing out on one of this world’s most enjoyable, most life-enhancing experiences.  They have a taste that is so intense, so sweet, so pure, so joyful that it is impossible to describe.  But, I’ll try.

Imagine a fresh picked strawberry from your garden or from some one else’s garden.  Not a store-bought strawberry that has had its soul stripped away and then spent countless hours in the dark, refrigerated interior of some transport truck.  No, it has to be a strawberry that is on the vine, bedded in straw and kissed daily by sunshine.  Imagine the lovely colour and the way your mouth waters in anticipation of biting into that plump, sweet jewel. Imagine closing your eyes and savouring the intensity of the flavour as your tongue is flooded with bright, sweet berry juice.  Imagine the smile of pure pleasure that transforms your face for that brief moment, and then imagine your greedy desire for more.

Okay, so take that and multiply it about a thousand-fold and maybe, just maybe, that will come close to the experience of eating a wild strawberry.  From the moment we popped that first tiny red berry into our salivating maws we were in a frenzy to find more.  Gleeful, we were, on our hands and knees gently plucking the tiny bits of goodness from their diminutive plants.  “How many you got?  Got enough?  Here take a few of mine.”  Then we’d toss them into our mouths and stand there like a couple of kids grinning as we chewed and savoured and swallowed.

We marvelled at our good fortune this morning and I told Heather it was the perfect birthday present.  We reminisced about past days of wild-berry picking and how we’d bring them home to our children for a special little treat to add to their breakfast.  Then we got thinking about in the ‘olden’ days when people would go out and pick pails full of these tiny little beauties to make jam.  And not just one jar, but enough to last through a winter.  Enough to remind them through a long, cold prairie winter that there was hope for days of sunshine and green and berries and smiles.

I can’t imagine picking enough of the little suckers to accomplish that, simply because I’d eat them all.  I’d probably have been one of those kids that got the switch when I got home with an empty pail.  But, I probably wouldn’t have minded all that much because the taste of wild strawberry is worth that much.

. . .and now, for something completely different

. . .we had a terrific weekend.

It was my husband’s birthday on Friday.  I kidnapped him and took him out for dinner and a night on the town.  I booked us a hotel room for the night right smack dab in the middle of downtown Edmonton.

We went to Lux for supper.  Had a fantastic meal.  Steak, lobster mac (homemade macaroni and cheese with lobster– sounds weird, but it was fantastic!) potatoes gratin, asparagus, hollandaise sauce and a Cabernet  demi glace (which neither of us cared for).  We also had, by far the best caesar salad I’ve had in nearly 20 years.

Dinner was a leisurely two and a half hours and two bottles of a lovely Gewürztraminer.  We finished up with a an absolutely divine creme brulee with homemade almond shortbread cookies. When we finally left the restaurant, it was close to closing.  We wandered back to our hotel — a mere 5-minute walk away.  Then we decided that, what the hell, we’re on the town, we can stay up late and go back out.

We walked another 5 minutes to the Baccarat Casino, where we spent a couple of hours just playing the machines.  We broke even in the end and left just 15 minutes before the place was closing.

This little escape from normality was exactly what we needed.  We didn’t get out of bed until nearly 10:30 the next day.  With no phones to jangle us awake it was a real treat.

We went and had a really late breakfast and then decided to go shopping for a bit.  Out to IKEA we went.  I was bored after an hour and wanted to leave.  But I got a new rack to hang my pots from and a cute little shelving unit for the laundry room.

After that we went to check out barbecues, because I am in the market for a new one now that I have a new deck.  We checked out a couple of different ones, and I’m pretty sure I know which one I’m going to buy, and it’s not the $3500 Bull model, though, I am sorely tempted.  If we had won the lottery this weekend then I’d spring for it.  But, for our budget, I think I’ll go a little (quite a bit littler) cheaper. Really the barbecue I’ve decided on is a lovely one, much, much, much nicer than the one I’ve had for nearly 25 years.

If I can convince Tim to go order it tomorrow, I may have a barbecue by next weekend.  I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

So, that’s enough about the bbq.  We got home and spent the evening just relaxing some more. Watched the latest Mission Impossible movie.  It was okay.

Then today the kids came out for supper. Tim went for a bike ride with some buddies and I cleaned and cooked.  Got to sit out on my deck in the sunshine and read some more of The Help.

I am loving that book. I’m having no trouble keeping separated from the movie.  Both are excellent, I couldn’t recommend one more than the other, and I’d have to say it doesn’t matter which you do first.

We had a great time.  Took the kids to the park for a bit, then had supper and cake.

The hockey game came on, Landon and I argued a little bit about the worthiness of the Canucks.  His best friend came by with his new baby girl.  She is the cutest little peanut I’ve seen in a long time.  I got to cuddle her for a while, it was lovely holding a baby in my arms again.

Then, everyone left, and once again it was quiet.

It’s back to work tomorrow and my lovely, enjoyable, relaxing weekend will have become a memory.