Twas the day after birthdays
And all through the house
Is the creak of old bones and ...
Hello there. I said to V that I should go and write and he said go ahead, eat chocolate, drink that drink you bought - you know, formaldehyde.
I looked at him quizzically, mentioned the return of the diet and what the heck was he talking about.
You know, he said, the fancy bottle you bought yourself.
Ah yes. Spurred on by the information that both the bottle-oh in the shopping centre and the one near the pub would be closing and there would be no local bottle-oh in Paradise for over a week - and the double whammy of that information coming with MAJOR DISCOUNTS attached, and even though this girl NEVER goes above a $12 bottle of wine when making her bi-monthly purchase, persuaded her that she could pre-emptively celebrate her upcoming milestone with a bottle of that stuff in the unusual bottle that Queen Jeanie Next Door found in the back of HER cupboard a year or so ago and we had shared at the end of many a shared meal over the last few years - and maybe she might even get a glass or two with Queen Jeanie Next Door - so yes, I dropped above my monthly alcohol budget for an unusual bottle of - well, not formaldehyde but instead Frangelico.
But I am not imbibing tonight - as my valiant and very virtuous last few months of regulation of food has managed to achieve 33% of my required weight loss (I am currently in the category of "you are a bad parent because you are unfit and unhealthy and setting a bad example" and am hoping to achieve that tiny point of balance of "good enough" (before I topple over into the "you are bad mother because you are showing self-body hate and setting a bad example")) well and truly went to pot when I had a "what the heck, its Easter and then my birthday" hiatus - and took less than 5 days to put 20% of that loss back on in the shape of Ferrero Rochers, cinnamon scrolls, hot cross buns, hot curries, hunting eggs and Frangelico.
In fact, I was going to not indulge at all today, but as I had not been at work on my actual birthday yesterday, today was the one day of the week that I would be working at my Monday-Wednesday job this week - and as a work colleague has his birthday tomorrow, and so he and another brought in home-cooked delights to share in a morning tea with me. And therefore impossible to say no to, because COME ON - caramel slice? The most divine butter cookies with perfectly roasted almonds ornamenting their perfect centres?
Oh but I was so stoic....
I plugged into my phone app my intake and it advised that the homemade caramel slice (we are talking award quality) would be 200 of my allowance. And the butter cookie would set me back 165. Shhhh - I didn't mention the roasted almond.
However, I am the sort of admin officer who can overlook the roasted almond and wear the non-conformance.
I have to. There are some levels of bureaucracy that boggle the mind.
So yes, yesterday I turned 50. I noticed the distinct lack of chimes in local cathedrals at the moment of the passing of my 40s.
When I turned 21, I returned to work from my first ever holiday from my first ever full-time job, I went back ON MY BIRTHDAY - it was a Monday, so my flatmate took me out to a little place near the Cross called Evies (I think?) that specialised in something or other - veal or schnitzel or - something flat and meaty anyway. It was special. Despite how wonderful that was, I vowed that this would not happen ever again.
It seemed that I always had a holiday on my birthday. When I was very young, it was because the local show was always on the weekend near my birthday. My world celebrated (other stuff, but still) my birthday.
Because of the proximity of my birthday to a fixed Public Holiday, I could often swing a very long weekend with a judicious taking of leave when I grew up a little.
Thursday 23 April 1992 was such a day. I took advantage of this by dressing in an outfit of my choosing (my beloved grandma OUTDID herself that birthday with a knitted jumper with bobbles decorating the embroidered scene of OH MY GODFATHER WHAT SELF-RESPECTING YOUNG ADULT WOULD DELIBERATELY CHOOSE TO WEAR (perhaps one with great taste and a very heightened sense of self-confidence) and a flared, tiered skirt of chocolate brown with blue and yellow primitive painted daisies) and cleaned the Koi pond, this being of two-fold benefit - being able to honestly answer my darling grandmother's query of the timing of the first wearing of the birthday outfit AND to ensure that the world's most OVERBEARING landlady didn't have anything to complain about in regards to the special Koi clause in our lease.
But I got over that, in time. The need to have any sort of money coming in when you are a casual worker (and the majority of my 30 odd years of being in paid employment have been as a casual) and there is a public holiday or two lurking kyboshed the whole "never happen again" vow.
I was umming and ahhing over whether to take the day off (it being the first day that my child went BACK to school for the new term, and LOGICALLY I would be closer to the good mother needle of perfection were I to take a day off in the ACTUAL holidays) when I got the goodish mother chance card - Paris was STUDENT OF THE WEEK to be presented ON MY BIRTHDAY.
Hooray - just what a girl wants for her birthday - JUSTIFICATION!!!
Because I am a fair-skinned girl who grew up in Central Queensland, one of the facts of life to face is that you need to have constant skin checks - because all of those "burned to peeling" moments in your childhood (despite your mother telling you OVER AND OVER again to put on the Factor 15+) may lead to those BCC (or SCC - still don't know the difference) discovery moments - and I got one of them last week (when I was still in my 40s)...
And so, when I made the appointment for them to "deal with the margin" they offered me the option of 11:15 on my birthday...
Ah well, I had the double down on the JUSTIFICATION but it somehow didn't taste so sweet - almost as virtuous though.
So my day looked fairly laid back - try to be a decent mother, chill, get a bit hacked out of me, chill, watch my child get her Student of the Week award, go to her piano lesson and go out to dinner with Queen Jeanie, and her Princess and the Princess's consort.
But birthdays are never just like that, are they?
There was the lead up to the event, with full knowledge that on the morning of my birthday I would receive a Hawkins - as well as full knowledge that the secret daughter and daddy business behind closed doors the night before (and absolving them of washing up duties) involved the Hawkins being disguised (my every year joke is that I am giving a pony or a record player - Paris amused me by declaring that it was a Castle).
There were the phone calls from blood relatives - apparently there are families in the world where telephone calls before mid-morning are frowned upon, I come from one where 7 is polite - and had the full bingo card of immediate family members before 8.
There was the gentle unwrapping of the Hawkins - I am from Camp Try-To-Save-The-Beautiful-Paper-by-Peeling-Sticky-Tape (my husband is from the What-The-Heck-Are-You-Doing-Woman mob) and the obligatory recipe book "with International Recipes".
The main reason for the Hawkins is I LOVE took cook curry - and there are just some recipes that I know would benefit from following the way the locals do it, and as the Hawkins is (apparently) the BEST (or maybe MOST SOLD) in INDIA that would be the way.
The International Recipe cookbook does have a Curry section, but you can tell that it is a half-hearted attempt to appease their booming audience of the 1960s - expats and aspirants. Complete with appealing 1960s food photography, where it is slightly dark, moist and unadorned with herbs.
We contemplated whether it would be worth trying to make a Canary Pudding just to see what the heck it really is, and are easily amused by the concept of Puree du Barry. (Although I am prepared to lie and say I am vegan should I ever be called upon to put braised sheeps tongue into the Hawkins)
All too soon it was time to cajole Paris into going to school - first day of school is never as bad, surprisingly (well, except for the first ever first day) but there can be some quicksand on the road to leaving the house.
When I got home, I got inspired - I have to go through my very, very, very full folder of recipes and cull. I do like a project on my special day. I started to go through them.
Next thing, there was a knock at the door - and a very large bunch of sunflowers walked through the door.
My sister and my nephew had got up at crack-of-dawn-O'Clock to drive over to surprise me for my birthday - and been very, very sneaky about it, apparently!
We ate beautiful mushrooms and drank coffee by the ocean and talked and laughed - it was wonderful. A two-hour holiday.
All too soon, I had an appointment to keep and they have an auto-shop or two to visit (nephew is newly licensed).
The doctor is your young hip type. The type that wear body hugging clothes and aftershave and elastisides boots (and never twig that their - face it - middle-aged frumpy patient is JUDGING HIM on his not polishing them). The type that is so NICE but NEVER QUITE GET your sense of humour. The type that is about old enough to be your child and you are unsure if they speak the same generational language. Do doctors have to study social history? Does he even KNOW who Johnny Diesel was?
He has a young hip nurse, too - one that I joke with about my phone dinging a few messages before I have a chance to mute it and that doesn't even notice when I am asked to repeat my birth date (because if there is a moment you would choose to send a fraud in would be when you are to have a malignant spot on your arm cut out - and the surest way of finding you would would be the KNOWN FACT that frauds who are likely to lose body bits in the exchange OFTEN can't MEMORISE one SIMPLE DATE...).
So 25 minutes after the doors open moment, in walks Dr Cool. He is so cool, he is left-handed as he draws a little target for himself on my arm...
He has placed is phone on a shelf, and it is playing quite possibly the worst soft-rock modern music that I have ever heard. It isn't quite street and it isn't very country, its got a wishywashy beat and lyrics that sort of don't scan and don't have meaning but seem to almost mean something so you are sucked into trying to work out what-the-actual - that you don't really notice that he has now put dart-lines around his target.
When I made a few dressmaking quips (yes, they do exist, and I expect people to get them when I utter them) and he gave me that sort of pitying-half-smile that I have inside my own mind at his scuffed RMs.
He then put in lots and lots of local anesthetic - or so it seemed - and the "do you feel this" accompanying every jab could have doubled for the sounds coming out of the device.
Unfortunately I did not outdo V in his arm scar length, with only 8 stitches to pull me back together.
It seemed only minutes from getting home from that before I had to turn around to watch Paris get her award (well, there was a whole rest of the primary school parade built around it, of course, but that was the main reason) and go into town to celebrate and have piano lessons, try to catch up with said sister and nephew, go to the Club with QJ et al...
It was quite restful going back to work, really.