Monday, April 04, 2005

On the First Day of Birthday . . .

Today tastes like grapefruit sprinkled with sugar and baking soda—bitter, sweet, and fizzy.

Celebrated the twelve days of birthday this weekend—actual day is today, 4/4. I am as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. Oh, and I’ve been able to run for president for a couple of years now, so my last truly significant birthday is behind me.

It’s funny how we can’t wait to add another year for so long. “I’m four AND A HALF,” we say. “I am sixteen going on seventeen.” “I’m almost twenty-one.” And then, after a few years, for the rest of our lives we resort to evasions—“thirtysomething.” “Fortymumble.” “Not quite old enough for Social Security.” Or we flat out shave off five or ten years—which I think begs the response “My, but time has been unkind. I would have taken you for fortymumble, not thirtysomething.”

I recognize that I’m guilty of evasions, as evidenced by the opening paragraph. However, I plan to begin ADDING years when evasion no longer works. At least, until someone tells me that I look my age. Yes, I too think that song is about me. (Don’t I, don’t I.)

Anyway—the twelve days of birthday. First Consort Gareth complained that HE didn’t get twelve days of birthday, and I told him that his lack of imagination wasn’t my problem. I rather like the idea. I’ve blogged elsewhere about the twelve days of holiday, and the logic holds. Any celebration is worth stretching out and enjoying rather than trying to cram it all into one whirlwind day.

So first, I took Monday, my actual birthday off. An attorney I used to work for made it a point never to work on his birthday, and I really liked the idea. Hey, that’s what I have personal days and vacation time for. I remember being really bummed when my birthday fell on a school day—bright spring morning, full of promise, just getting warm after winter—AND MY BIRTHDAY—and I had to spend it crammed in a classroom. Ick. I was so jealous of the kids whose birthdays fell during the summer when class was out.

Friday night, we had plans to go out to dinner with a couple of friends. Not the “intimate party” of ten or so, but a grand total of five. Wunnerful, wunnerful. All of them people I either want to get to know better, or can spend oodles of time with and enjoy every minute of it. We went to our favorite little Polish place where the food is a thing of beauty, and the only thing that could derail it is the service, which needs to come up a notch or two to be ghastly. They don’t have enough hands to go round, and the staff they have are charming and pleasant—but forgetful, and don’t cover the gaps in service well. If you sit me down, then plop a drink and menu in front of me, you can walk away for quite some time before I begin getting antsy. But don’t sit me down, take my drink order, and then take a hike. I’ll notice.

Ah, but the angels eat their goulash, and vie to be the next one to visit this plane of existence, just for the experience. So—bring a book, and learn where the iced tea pitcher is kept.

Saturday we went for an art crawl to our favorite hanging spots around the Valley. First Consort Gareth and I like museums and other public sorts of spaces, where you can go and see the art without having another consumer experience BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS flashing in your face. Until you get to the gift shoppe. But then, you can always choose to skip that part of the tour. Shrug. Some kinds of cake are for looking, others are for eating, and I like to keep the two separated so I don’t end up with a big bite of crystal sugar and cardboard.

Over by the Nelson gallery on the ASU campus, they have opened up the Experimental Ceramics gallery—which has been coming for literally years. I had given up on ever getting inside. But while we ran through the Nelson (and there’s a great installation of a couple’s personal collection of challenging works there, including a sculpture in the Inuit tradition with a boy mounted on the back of a loon, red and black paint on both their faces. The lines of flight are so wonderfully captured; they are both so free in the wood. Perhaps I’ll be seeing wings on the Big Bad Muse.) the gentleman in the gift shoppe mentioned that the ceramics gallery had opened; had we been there yet? Why, no, but we were going to fix that in a hurry.

So we moved the car to a garage where we could leave it for a while and not have to scurry to feed the meter. Off to the ceramics gallery, where they had an eclectic collection of sculpture. I understand that dusting and touching presents a problem, but still, I hate it when they put sculpture in glass-front bookcases so you can only see one side. That makes it like flat art, you can’t see the back of the painting. Or rather, you can, there’s just not a different view. It’s like a movie rather than a play; it reduces your opportunity to interact with the thing—even if you have to keep your hands off.

They had many many charming teapots—both functional and not. I guess when your thang is ceramics, a large part becomes teapots. I liked a demitasse set where the pot and cups were halved—there was a straight wall down the middle so it could still hold liquid, but you would by default only get half a cup. Another set I liked was soft and melted, with the pot in the center and cups that fit into the pillowy niches of the pot. It was graceful in form and functional as well—all that shared heat would keep the tea warm longer. Yummy.

We went to lunch, as we were way past the four-hour rule at that point, and then to the Tempe Arts Festival on Mill Avenue. Yes, all sorts of stuff and things and things and stuff and then some more. All with big fat “buy me!” signs out.

I wasn’t really in an acquiring sort of mood. I’d received prezzies Friday from my dear friends; and then Saturday I got a book press from First Consort Gareth. In general, I like stuff you can make stuff with—so a book press was perfect! I’d mentioned I’d been lusting for one for a while to Gareth, so getting one was really snazzy. Hence, the artsy-craftsy fair was wasted on me—all I wanted to do was nose about and shop. Picked up an idea for shaping a backpack, and enjoyed seeing all the wooden turned vessels there.

Then off to Barcelona for dinner—just carpaccio, spinach and goat cheese salad, and dessert for me, thanks. I was still full from lunch! But really good sangria with dinner, so all was well there. And dessert was espresso gelato, in a mug lined with chocolate and hazelnuts . . .

Sunday I went for a massage, and then met brother in law and Most Excellent Grandmother for dim sum. The rest of the day I just wasted . . . well, not really. I’m thisclose (makes the hand gesture) to finishing a series of beaded ATC’s, which is good because they have to be in the swapmeistress’s hands by the fifteenth, which is too too close for comfort! And on top of that I have thank you cards to make and send to my bestest pals who give me goodies. Is there any way to get some extra hours from all the daylight other states save? Just three or four more would help ever so much, and I’ll trade balm from our balmy winters. Any takers?

Monday I washed both my old car, Huitzilipotchli, and Sherman (who I believe is actually Incitatus. Sometimes you just don’t know until you interact with them for a while.) That took most of the day. Even miracle cleansers that wash clean and dry spot free take time to use, and then put away.

The plan is to sell Huitzilipotchli. We don’t need three cars, and an unused car is a car that is rotting. With care and a low-mileage commute, Huitzilipotchli should see another two-three years of solid use. We’re figuring he’d be good for a college student who lives a few miles from campus and works a few miles further out—say, 4-8 miles round trip each day. Or perhaps a SAHM who wags the kids to school, does a handful of errands, and carts the kids home in the general neighborhood. Not a cool car, but inexpensive and reliable for a little while more.

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