Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Loveliest Birthday!!


August 10, 2017, was a truly great day for me — I hope you felt some of the joy!

The kids and Husband let me sleep in by feeding our yowly cats and making the coffee. While I sipped, I read birthday cards and birthday letters, then had a delicious breakfast of toasted crumpets with honey and real butter, fresh raspberries, and some yummy cold Korbel Brut in my favorite daisy-painted wine goblet. I read The Lying Game by Ruth Ware and talked to Mom and my youngest brother, Mateo. While I dressed in my pretty birthday outfit (low-cut red blouse, black pencil skirt, silver Silpada earrings, Poison perfume) and drank more champagne, Mrs. Cynicletary called, and much laughter ensued.

Off to Newton! (for reasons that will become clear, I chose to spend most of my day in my "first" town in Massachusetts, where I lived as a young nanny) It felt nostalgic and sweet to hang out there, and I thought about dropping in on my nanny family, whom I adore, but they've moved and I'm not actually sure where their new place is. In any event, I had plenty to do!

First stop: Legal Sea Foods, one of my favey restaurants! 


I splurged and ordered oysters on the half shell, and my fun chatty server told me that she had been in Wellfleet yesterday (home of one of my oysters), and I asked if she'd had oysters and she said no, and I said, Well, after working here all day, maybe you just want a burger, and she laughed and told me that yesterday had been her birthday. "Today's my birthday!" I cried. "Yay, Leo girls!"

I hadn't been planning to announce my birthday, but now that the door was open, oh my! The free stuff came pouring in!! First she brought my oysters, then looked at the plate and frowned and said, "I think you're missing one." (I wasn't.) She then brought a second plate of two more oysters!! And friends, they are not cheap!

I had my oysters and Prosecco and a Caesar salad with anchovies (at this point reflecting on how every item in my most delightful meal would make sweet Husband vomit) and grilled shrimp and white rice with spicy Shandong sauce and some onion strings, which were the only part of my meal I didn't adore, so I ignored them and brought them home for Li'l Martini. And that was plenty for me, I'm not a huge sweets girl, but my darling server brought me a vanilla ice cream bonbon coated in dark chocolate, and a tiny dish of whipped cream with a candle in it! No singing, no hoopla, just a perfect bite of sweet after a perfect meal. Magnificent!

Then I went next door to the Lux Theatre at Chestnut Hill; I haven't been since they upgraded many years ago, and ooh la la!!! I want to live at the Lux Theatre. I was early, so I ordered another glass of Prosecco — and the bartender carded me.

Well, again, I hadn't been planning to "announce" my birthday, but he's holding my ID right in his hand, I couldn't help but say, "Please note the birthdate!" and he chuckled and said Happy Birthday, and then charged me for 6 oz. of Prosecco while pouring me 9 oz. And he started to pour it in one of those stemless tumblers that are the new thing but that I totally hate, and I pointed to a rack of pretty stemmed glasses with streaks of fire painted down the sides and said, I know those aren't champagne glasses but could I have it in one of those? and without hesitation he switched. Such a sweetie! I gave him a nice tip.

Why would you want this . . . when you could have this?

And then I settled down on their lovely comfy couch and read my book and drank my bubbly drink and was one contented kitten.

The movie I chose was The Big Sick and I cannot recommend it highly enough!!! So so funny and also very moving and romantic. I adored it.

(Sadly, I can't say the same for my book; I've liked other books by Ruth Ware, but this one has a lot of interesting components that don't add up to much. Not recommended. Alas. But I adored the YA book I read simultaneously, Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santas and David Teague, so rest assured, the reading portion of my birthday was not a total bust! I know how you worry.)

My final destination: Marty's Liquor Store! Oh, how I love this place! Besides having a magnificent hooch selection, they have the best deli. When Husband and I lived in Newton and Mom came to visit, her first question was, "When can we go to Marty's???" But the real reason I was there was to track down the elusive Bitter Lemon Soda that I've been trying to find in Massachusetts since Mateo introduced this cocktail to me in June. I have tried three stores so far, with no luck, but I had high hopes for my old friend Marty's.

And — success!! 


It's not a Schweppes product but it is Bitter Lemon, and that is good enough for me. And the nice salesguy who helped me was so intrigued by my description of the cocktail, he followed me to the deli to get the recipe, keying it into his phone while I dictated. Then he said, What are they called again? and I said, My Minnesota brother calls them Lemonades, but I think you should call them Lady's Lemonades, and he laughed and wrote "Lady's Minnesota Lemonades." I'm immortal!
Lady's Minnesota Lemonades
Fill a drinking glass with ice. Add three fingers of vodka. (I use citrus vodka, Mateo likes plain vodka.) Then add (equal parts of each) tonic water [I use diet], sweet and sour mix*, and Bitter Lemon. Stir gently and enjoy!

* To make sweet and sour mix, boil 1 cup sugar or sweetener and 2 cups water until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup fresh lemon juice (strained) and 1 cup fresh lime juice (ditto). Mix well. Voila! You can also buy it commercially, your choice, but homemade is better and cheaper. I store mine in the fridge in a mason jar.
Warning: These go down smoooooooth. Brunie was just at my brother's house — she is scouting Betsy-Tacy Convention sites in Minnesota — and wrote me: "When I get to your house for the Liz party**, you must put a lemon sour in my hand immediately. Mateo made me one the other night and I was already two sheets to the wind and ever so sleepy, but I can think of little else other than how delicious it was!"
 ** I am hosting "Liz" this week, my dearest god-daughter who lives in Michigan. She arrives Wednesday, and we are introducing her to the NEWBETSYs on Saturday, which is also Husband's birthday. So much celebratin' in these parts!!!!

No free stuff at Marty's, but four delish sandwiches and a very fun interaction with my checkout clerk, who also carded me even though I wasn't buying any hooch (for the first time today!).
Home to another glass of wine (which I only half finished — apparently, I do have a limit) and episodes of Hollywood Game Night and Full Frontal, which I'd Tivoed (I LOVE Tivo!!!!). Husband brought in all my favorite ice creams from Trader Joe's, so I had coffee ice cream and salted caramel gelato and hot caramel sauce and a handful of salted almonds.

Throughout the day, I got calls and texts from almost all of my dearest friends, and a very cute "letter" from Lady Darcy — she wrote it across 55 vintage movie postcards, awesomesauce!! — and I felt rich in love.

The next day I had my annual birthday lunch with Mrs. Cynicletary, presents and laughter and wine and joy, and that was the perfect capper to my perfect perfect 55th birthday.

In fact, yesterday opened with the six-month follow-up to my knee surgery, and my PA says that I'm the poster girl for bilateral knee replacement! (Husband and Mrs. C immediately asked where this poster will hang and when they can see it. I don't ask the right questions, I guess.)

She was hugely impressed with my range of motion and strength. Then she asked if I had any concerns, and I said, Yes: I am extremely disappointed that a lack of knee pain has not transformed me into a person who exercises a lot and cares about fitness.

She was awesome. She said, very calmly, Yes, that is what every study shows: People who are overweight and don't exercise before this surgery are overweight and don't exercise after this surgery, and lots of surgeons draw a line at a certain BMI for just that reason. This was quite fascinating to me and also made me feel like less of a loser. Knee replacement is one thing, and committing to a fitness and weight loss plan is entirely another. (As Mrs. C said, "You didn't get a brain replacement!")

All of this led to my choice of this year's theme:

Between Mom and Mimosa and other life challenges, this seems to be an astonishingly stressy period, and big goals simply weigh me down. I will instead focus on one day, which I will strive to make as successful as I can make it.

That I can do.

Today, though, is Chore Day, and my house is full of crap that needs to be dealt with and put away — four boxes from Mom's house have arrived, whee! Where am I going to put an 18-inch silver Lazy Susan with crystal dishes??? It's gorgeous, I want to use it, so it can't be too unreachable . . . and yet I am sorely lacking in empty cupboards that could store such a sizeable and yet delicate object.

Awesome, right? I totally love it!!

Challenges await!

But — there's an authentic Lady's Lemonade in my future!! And that is very motivating.

Maybe I'll lift weights today. I don't see me squeezing in a walk, but weight-lifting is fun and doesn't take too long. And then I'll have my Lemonade and a bath, with my 99 new birthday bath products! Nothin' but good times ahead.

Lady C, a well-preserved fifty-thrive