Monday, March 3, 2008

A Stellar Birthday!

I absolutely enjoyed my birthday yesterday -- one of the nicest celebrations I've had in recent years. I woke to Happy Birthday hugs from Keith and the kids, and a breakfast including cherry scones. And a sunny day -- a real rarity for an early March birthday -- in fact, my brother (who was born on my third birthday) and I have always joked that it almost inevitably rains on our birthday. But today was decidedly the exception. Before I left, I read a variety of birthday wishes via e-cards and e-mail from my friends Judith, Noko, and Laura.

In Sunday School, my precious friend Kitty had baked her coffee cake -- lighter than air and pure buttery perfection! The class serenaded me with the traditional birthday song, but with half the choir in our class, it was sung beautifully. The only sad part was theat my dear friend Diana was ill with a stomach bug and couldn't be there to celebrate. Different church members greeted me with birthday wishes and hugs throughout the morning. And Kitty's daughter Emily (see Blogs of Interest in sidebar: Emily's Hollywood Life) wrote me a limerick in honor of the occasion:

For Susanne, on her birthday

There once lived a lady named Susanne
Who was her children's biggest fan.
So she cooked a great feast
Of yams and roast beef,
But alas, it all stuck to the pan.

Emily Belsey March 2, 2008
(I was instructed to keep it so that when Emily becomes famous, I'll have an original poem to show off. And I am sliding it into my special drawer of keepsakes....)

After church, Kitty took me to lunch at Claim Jumper, a place I had only been to once many years ago. Our lunch was delicious, but the conversation was even better. I especially enjoyed getting caught up on Kitty's grad school experiences; she started a low-residency MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program in writing (poetry) at Pacific University in Oregon, and I hadn't had the opportunity to hear about the program and her residency in mid-January until now. She's also working with an internationally-renowned poet at SDSU, and he is helping her to self-edit her poetry in simple yet profound ways, some of which I plan to use with my own poems. We also discussed some theological issues in some depth and really had a wonderful time. I feel as though I could talk to Kitty for hours and hours -- we enjoy so many similar studies and pursuits.

After leaving Kitty's house after picking up my car, I drove to Rancho Bernardo, to San Rafael Parish Catholic Church to meet Carmen for a performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Vespers (All Night Vigil) performed by the La Jolla Symphony Chorus. The programs contained the words in parallel text so we could follow the Russian being sung with the English line. It was SO lovely, and I recognized the texts of many of the movements from the Anglican liturgy which is very similar to the Catholic, including The Venite (which the kids just started memorizing this week in our home school), The Phos Hilaron (which Rollo taught us at Lake Murray years ago), The Magnificat, many passages from the Psalms, and The Gloria. I love a capella music, and this was some of the best I've ever heard -- I love the influence of Gregorian chants on Rachmaninoff, even though he was not particularly religious (as the program stated). After the hour-long concert concluded, Carmen and I enjoyed a rather long chat outside the church, and she introduced me to Father Dennis, her priest. It was a lovely, lovely concert, and having a chance to chat with Carmen made it all the more memorable - what a treat!

I drove home then from Rancho Bernardo, listening to Harry Potter tapes and also calling to wish my brother a Happy Birthday as well; Mom and Dad had invited us yesterday to a barbecue at their house to celebrate our birthdays, but I was already booked solid. But I did call Tom at Mom and Dad's place and had a short chat with him. And at home -- wow! E had strung balloons and crepe paper streamers from the school table chandelier, and the house smelled wonderful! Keith had spent the entire afternoon and evening in the kitchen. For dinner, he made his wonderful spinach-and-mushroom-stuffed chicken breasts (stuffed also with fresh ricotta, freshly-grated parmesan, and finely-chopped ham) with a white wine reduction. Aaaaah, killer good. And then for dessert -- homemade Boston Cream Pie (above). And he made lemon meringue cookies for the kids with the extra whites. I had to have red wine with the chicken since all the white wine we had went into the sauce for the chicken. Actually, the chicken was savory enough to go well with the light pinot noir. Delicious, delicious!

And then the gifts I received: from Diana (who sent a gift with her husband that morning) -- a heart-shaped candle and holder; from Carmen -- the concert tickets plus White Tea and Ginger body lotion and spray from Bath and Body Works; from Kitty -- padded hangers of a lovely autumn-colored paisley pattern for my closet, an illustrated book of ancient poetry, and a lovely blue-enameled cross for near my front door with a hook below it for hanging keys, etc.; from the kids -- the new Father Tim novel by Jan Karon; and from Keith, a beautiful fountain pen. Using the dip pens and fountain pen helps my hands tremendously in writing because I don't have to push down while moving the nibs across paper. I also received cards from Noko and Vera, and Vera gave me a subscription to Victoria magazine.

E and I cuddled on the sofa with Dash and watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the rest of the evening. I had a lovely birthday, and the only way it could have been better was if it were longer than 24 hours....

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