Posted tagged ‘Birthday’

“How terribly strange to be 70.”

August 17, 2017

The morning is again glorious. The sun is wonderfully bright, the sky looks like the blue in a Van Gogh painting, and there is no humidity. Here it is August, and there is no humidity. The days are in the high 70’s and the nights in the mid 60’s. If I were Mother Nature, I couldn’t do better than today.

Every morning I put the coffee on then Gracie and I go get the papers. After the first paper and cup of coffee, I feed the animals. Each of my companions, Gracie and Maddie, have two dishes: one for dry and one for canned food. After filling their dishes, I have another cup of coffee and read the Cape Times. It seems my morning rituals are etched in stone. Maddie and Gracie have expectations so I seldom divert from the usual.

I have wonderful memories of growing up. At times I seem to have an idyllic view of my life back then mostly because I held on to the good with all my might and pushed the bad memories to the backs of my memory drawers. The things I remember aren’t milestones in my life. They are simply the good memories.

My life is filled with lucky choices. One you hear most about is my time in the Peace Corps, in Ghana. My hopes, my beliefs and my sense of self grew out of those two plus years. I can’t imagine what my life would have been without that experience. I think of all the places I’ve traveled, all the strange, weird foods I’ve tried and the wonderful people I’ve met, but mostly I think of how easy it has been to pick up and go to unfamiliar places and never feel lost or alone. Ghana gave me that.

Today I turned 70. It feels no different than yesterday when I was 69. It feels no different than when I turned twenty or thirty, but I don’t look the same. My hair is mostly gray. My face is wrinkled. My back hurts so I sometimes walk stooped. But what hasn’t changed are the basics of who I am, all I believe, all I know and all I have experienced through time. For that I am immensely thankful. For that I celebrate turning 70.

“You are a child of humanity and every day is your precious birthday.”

April 11, 2017

This early in spring is the only time I regret living near the ocean. The cold water keeps spring at bay. Look at today: Boston will be in the high 70’s and may even reach 80˚ to break the record temperature for the day. We are in the 60’s with a chilling breeze. All records are safe.

I’m sitting on the couch with an afghan wrapped around me just because it feels good. I had a 9 o’clock meeting this morning, and I wasn’t happy when Alexa woke me up. I’m thinking a nap later.

I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with a bit of history for today, a story of growing up or of growing older. I have tons of stories. I remember my 16th birthday. We were in Maine, in Ogunquit. My aunt and uncle were there as well. My birthday was their anniversary. They got married and I got born. I was a bit put out by their being in Maine with us. I wouldn’t have minded sharing any other birthday, but I minded sharing my 16th. I didn’t show up for the joint cake. I think it was one of those cut off your nose to spite your face sort of decisions.

My 21st birthday was memorable. I got to drink legally for the first time. One of my friends sent me a magnum of champagne. Other friends took me out to dinner. It was a fun meal until the bill. I expected my dinner to be paid for. It wasn’t. My friends had split the bill among the four of us, but they forgot the tip. I paid that. My friends found out when trying to reimburse one another for my dinner and drinks. They were horrified, and a bit embarrassed.

I feel as if I am emerging from hibernation. The sun and the warm temperatures are drawing me outside. It is too soon for an open window, but I can hardly wait for the closed air of winter to disappear and be replaced by the clean fresh air.

The other morning, for the first time, I heard the birds greet the new day. That smacks of spring.

“After luncheon the sun, conscious that it was Saturday, would blaze an hour longer in the zenith,…”

August 20, 2016

The mornings are fresh and cool. It is in the afternoons when the days become uncomfortable, hot and  humid. I turn on the air conditioning and shut out the world. I prefer comfort.

Another birthday celebration was last night. We had appetizers on the deck, played a game which I lost then dined inside. We had ribs, one of my favorites. I opened my present which was a hoodie with a boxer outlined on the front in a facsimile of the flag in muted colors. It is perfect. We watched the Red Sox win handily. I drank cosmos. It was a wonderful finale for my birthday.

On TCM today is Humphrey Bogart day. This morning I watched Across the Pacific, a movie filmed in 1942 reuniting Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet and Humprey Bogart. In a secondary role is Victor Sen Yung, famous for being Charlie Chan’s number 2 son Jimmy and Hop Sing, the cook for the Cartwrights. Humphrey stars as Rick, a familiar name for Bogart from my favorite movie, Casablanca, also released in 1942, which will be on later. In Across the Pacific, Bogart is a passenger on a Japanese ship and working undercover: pretending to be a disgraced US military officer who is willing to trade information for money. One of the minor characters was described as having dipsomania, much more polite than calling him a drunk. Aside from the pidgin English of the Japanese, I liked the movie.

Saturday used to be my chore day. I’d clean the house, grocery shop and do an assortment of errands. Today I have only one errand: Agway for animal food. The house doesn’t need any cleaning, but I just might change my bed.

I have been retired for twelve years. Even I can’t believe how long it has been. Leisurely days have been an easy fit for me. I found out that most things, other than appointments, can be delayed. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t get everything done. Now I don’t care.

“To travel is to shop.”

August 18, 2016

Yesterday was a wonderful birthday. I walked outside to get the papers and right away saw balloons tied to a new solar garden light stuck in the grass. Now, every time I see that light, I’ll remember how fun the morning was and how wonderful my friends are. My sisters called to wish me a happy birthday as did Grace from Ghana. She once was a student of mine, but now she is a friend. More friends called during the day and the internet was crushed by the number of well wishes on Coffee and on Facebook. Two of my friends took me out to eat at Karoo’s last night. It is a South African restaurant we all like, and the food was even better than we remembered. My friends gave me a beautiful puzzle box which I could not open because I am spatially incompetent. Step by step instructions got the box opened. Instead of a cake, my friend made brownies. Chocolate is perfect for any occasion. I still have one more birthday celebration to come. It is like birth-week instead of birthday. How wonderful!!

My house is open to the air. The morning has gone from sunny to cloudy and back again, but this den where I spend most of my time stays dark and cool until the afternoon. There is even a slight breeze. If I can last through the day, the temperature will get down to the high 60’s tonight, and I won’t need the air conditioning; however, I do like the sensation of feeling cold on a hot summer night.

Around here Hyannis is the big city. It has lots of heavy traffic and stores tucked into a variety of big and small malls. The main route in and out of town has four lanes, two of them for turning. Most times I avoid Hyannis. There are stores I love, but I don’t want to hunt for a parking space or sit through light cycles. The exception is when I have an appointment and have no choice, like today, but I’ll do some shopping because I’m there. It makes the trip fun and worthwhile.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

August 17, 2014

My dad used to tell me the story of my birth. The hospital was in the same town where my mother’s family lived so my father kept driving back and forth with updates. My aunt was getting married that very day and was not happy her beauty sleep was being interrupted by my dad. My grandmother told her to deal with it. After all, this would be the birth of her first grandchild. Later, back at the hospital, my dad was sitting in the waiting room, the only one there. Finally a nurse came in and asked for Mr. Ryan. My father, after a hectic, exhausting night, said, “Who in the hell do you think I am?” She had him follow her, and they were just wheeling my mother out when he saw her and me. That never usually happened. Most times the father first saw his wife when she was in bed and the new baby in a bassinet in the nursery. My mother always complained she looked awful and should have had time to clean up. “What is it? was his first question. The it was girl. The it was me. It was around 3 AM when I arrived. I still like a good entrance.

I have been most fortunate. My life is filled with loving family, the best of friends and countless adventures. I have lived in Africa. Who could have predicted that? In Ecuador, I stood with one foot in each hemisphere. That is just so cool. I have the best aim when it comes to holes in the ground making me an overachiever in such an important skill. My friends make me laugh and give my life joy. My two sisters are amazing. They love making fun of me, but they’d be here in a heartbeat if I needed them. My friends and I have traditions like celebrating the first day of spring by watching the sunrise over the ocean, playing Sunday night games before The Amazing Race, Saturday night movies on the deck, Easter at the Ocean House and impromptu nights with munchies and games. My Peace Corps friends are back in my life and I am so much the better for knowing them. My former Ghanaian students too are back in my life. Two called and wished me a Happy Birthday today. KTCC has given me close friends for whom I am always thankful.

Okay, there have been ups and downs and bruises, but they never soured me on life. They made more grateful for what I have and taught me resilience and how best to land with the least amount of injury.

This morning my friend Clare left a mum on my front walkway. She does this every year, and it is one of favorite birthday traditions. Yesterday afternoon my friends took me to the Ocean House for a late lunch by the water. The food was scrumptious, the view spectacular and the drinks mighty tasty. They went down far too easily. They also gave me a Sharknado t-shirt I’ll wear with pride. When I got home, I took a nap. It was 6 o’clock. I woke up at 8. Tonight another friend is taking me to dinner. I expect it will be an early bedtime.

Every morning I am thankful for the new day and for whatever surprises it will bring.

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living.”

August 18, 2012

Some time during the night the thunder woke me up. It was house shaking, but I didn’t care. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. When I woke up just before 9, it was to a dark, damp morning. It had rained, and I missed it. Outside looks a bit lighter than it had so maybe a bit of sun is on the way though the prediction is for showers.

The countdown to my trip has officially begun. I will be winging my way to Ghana one week from today. The pre-flight list has been activated. Today I will get to cross off two of the items. I know Zoey likes to follow my progress across the world so here are my flight numbers:

Boston to New York, August 25th: Delta Flight 1091 leaving at 5:55pm and arriving at Kennedy at 7:35.   New York to Accra: Delta Flight 26 leaving at 8:30 and arriving at Kotoka at 11:30 am on Sunday, August 26th. There is a four-hour difference between here and Ghana so the flight is close to 11 hours long. My return trip begins on September 17th: Delta 27 leaving Accra at 10:10pm and arriving at Kennedy at 5:05 am. A few cups of coffee and a newspaper later, Delta flight 867 leaves at 8:20am and will wing its way to Logan Airport where I’ll land at 9:44. I’ll grab my bags and then wait for the bus to take me to the Cape, arrival time unknown as I have yet to buy my bus ticket or check the schedule.

My birthday was a wonder. First, my friends and I waited for nearly an hour for the trip that wasn’t. The lobster cruise had been cancelled, and the call announcing that had been made after we’d left so we didn’t know. Neither did the other people waiting. My friend called and was told the news while someone else checked her home phone and found the call had been made at 3:10: boarding was at 3:30 so we all missed the call. We left the marina and tried to figure an alternative. On our summer to do list is the Lighthouse Inn for drinks so we headed to West Dennis. My friends had never been there, but right away they loved the outside tables right on the water. It was so breezy all of the table umbrellas were spinning, and the beach grass was swaying almost to the ground. We ordered drinks and appetizers and watched some people learn to drive their jet skis. Most got the hang of it but one woman was going in circles. The ocean was rough with small white caps, and they were moving her and she let them. She looked afraid to give the jet ski gas. She finally did and went forward a bit then must have panicked as she stopped and went in circles again. She amused us by doing that several times. Finally we lost interest and ordered another round then ordered dinner which was delicious. Our alternative to the boat had been wonderful, and we decided that the boat ride would have been quite choppy given the wind and the size of the waves so we were content on land watching the ocean, the gulls and the woman go in circles.

After dinner we left and went to my friends’ house. They brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday. I blew out the candles and opened my gift, a calendar filled with pictures of our visit to Fenway Park. To end the evening we played Phase 10, our favorite card game, and I lost. It was the only loss of the night!

“Nothing gives me as much pleasure as travelling. I love getting on trains and boats and planes.”

August 18, 2011

Yesterday was a perfect birthday. Waiting for me outside when I opened the door were mums from my dear friends Tony and Clare. What day doesn’t bring wonder when it starts with flowers? After that, the present which had been sitting where I could see it for a few days finally got opened. I loved it. My sisters called in the morning and one of them sang a bit. I had my usual Wednesday dinner with friends, and it was ribs, one of all time favorites. I got a cake, more presents and a rendition of Happy Birthday. The evening ended with a very funny play. My birthday continues with dinner tonight and tomorrow night! I love an endless celebration.

I have strange random thoughts bouncing around in my head today, and that’s what you’re going to get. It occurred to me that one of the changes over time is that men and women shake hands. When I was a kid, only men shook hands with each other. Women sometimes clasped each others’ hands, but they didn’t shake hands with men.

I don’t like hats all that much except at a baseball game in the sun, but strangely enough I look good in hats. I collect them, and I wear a few more for laughs than chic or fashion. My pink one is from the fifties. I should have a waist small enough for my hands to go around, tall heels with straps and a swanky dress when I wear it. It is hanging from the shelf right next to the fedora. They seemed the most natural pair.

Train travel is one of my favorite ways to get from one place to another, but I haven’t traveled by train in years. In Europe I have crossed the continent by train and gone from the coast of Finland to Lapland, and I got to sleep in a couchette. In South America I went a good portion of Ecuador on an auto-bus. Ghana used to have a great train system, and I usually traveled from Accra to Kumasi by train. Once I took the sleeper from Kumasi to Takoradi. On my yet to do list is to take a train to Colorado or as as close as I can get to visit my sister. I want to go across country with Ricky, Lucy, Ethel and Fred.

Houses should be built with porches. That way we get to wave at our neighbors and enjoy the swing. Every Sunday Andy, Aunt Bea and Barney sat on the porch after dinner. Aunt Bea rocked, Andy sang and Barney fell asleep. We lose touch with people when we stay hidden in the back on our decks. I do love my deck, but I also think I’d love a porch. After he retired, my dad used to sit on the front steps and drink his coffee during the nicer seasons. Everybody waved from cars and people wished him good morning when they walked by his house. That was his version of a porch.

When my sister was coming east from Colorado to visit, she never started the countdown until a week before her trip, but she came fairly often when the kids were young. I am not so patient. It has been forty years so I have started the countdown. Nine days to go!

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”

August 17, 2011

Hey, isn’t it Wednesday? I thought she didn’t post on Wednesday. What going on?

Well, it’s this way: my posting is a bit of self-aggrandizement as today is my birthday, and I wanted to share it with all of you, my Coffee friends.

I always think birthdays are the most important of all days. Most of us celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, we all celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween has been big for years. The only day that is just ours is our birthdays, and I believe they deserve fireworks, horns, lots of confetti and maybe even a small parade. Around here the parade would always have bagpipes, but even a fife or two would do.

Birthdays celebrate us.

I have lived another wonderful year and am now starting on the next. How lucky can one person get?