Now, that’s a birthday celebration if you ask me

Published 10:39 am Friday, November 30, 2012

Saturday found me being taken to a little Italian by my sister and mother (a restaurant, not a petite man of Latin persuasion), for lunch, and this was also a lovely treat indeed. Later that afternoon, I returned to my barn chores and gave the IHOP a hard scrub from top to bottom. The best thing about living in a small house is that it takes very little time to see the satisfactory results of a bit of elbow grease and, by the time evening arrived, I stood victorious, surrounded by polished furniture and gleaming countertops hosting vases stuffed with roses from the garden and made a point of averting my eyes from the pine floor boards, in desperate need of refinishing.

It was now birth day eve, and I’m not sure if men can truly appreciate the feeling of rising in the morning to a house that smells fresh and is spotlessly clean with no toys scattered on the stairs or dirty underwear left in a messy bathroom. And we can’t maintain it in this manner unless your butt is, frankly, away from it for a few days.

Sunday morning dawned clear and bright and after the early barn routine and the shower that followed, the terriers sat expectantly, every nerve on alert, every muscle tensed, for what was to follow next. They’ve learned, since puppyhood, that birthdays mean cake and cake at the table (I have no children). After scrambled eggs, grilled mushrooms and tea, they sat perched on either side of me in their respective, reproduction-Windsor chairs, while birthday cards were carefully opened and read and much admired. A large box, sent by a dear friend and filled with imported English foodstuffs, was dually sniffed and inspected and exclaimed over.

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But now was the long-anticipated moment of true Birth Day self indulgence: cake for breakfast. And not the usual grocery store cake, but a tiny handcrafted ganache beauty I selected myself from a bakery in town. I lifted my hand, knife poised in mid air. The terriers leaned forward, vibrating in exquisite agony.

Anyone spying in through the windows would have observed a middle-aged woman flanked by her fur-clad children at the kitchen table, wearing paper crowns and diving into cake served upon “company” china. It was wonderful. I nearly choked laughing myself silly and the dogs insisted being the rinse cycle for the plates before they were stowed away inside the dishwasher.

We tumbled out the front door and went for a walk through the fields. And later that evening, watching recorded back-to-back episodes of PBS’ ‘Call The Midwife,’ I answered the phone, now rudely interrupting my peace.

“Happy Birthday!” Paul chirped. “Have you had a nice day?”

“Oh…” I hesitated, because a little guilt can also often result in a box of See’s chocolate from the west coast.

“It was Okay.”