Monday, November 12, 2007

Birthday Eve Eve ...

I don't normally tell people when it's my birthday, but Sunday night (it's now about 3 a.m. Monday morning), I had dinner at my parents' house along with my brother and sister-in-law and their three perfect children – seriously, they're all amazing and gorgeous and brilliant, and yeah, I'm biased, but they're truly great kids – to celebrate a little in advance because my brother has to travel for work this week and he won't be around for the actual day.

Every year, mom is at our birthday disposal. Whatever we want, she makes happen. I always want her lasagne. I'm sure I've mentioned that my mom is 100 percent Serbian, but the woman makes lasagne like nobody's business. I'd pit her against any Italian woman in a Lasagne Smackdown any day. There should be an Iron Chef: Lasagne Edition just for my mom.

To sum up, then, I love my mom's lasagne. OK, moving on.

So we all convened at their house and the smell of garlic hit me when I walked in the front door – garlic bread was in progress, and I don't have to tell you that mom makes fantastic garlic bread, too. We noshed on a few appys and dug into the main event, which was simply lasagne, garlic bread, and salad. Really, what else is there? Mom even put arugula in the salad, because she knows how much I love it. If there was an arugula dessert, I'd eat it. Arugula brulee, maybe? Arugula pudding?

My sister-in-law bought a very cute birthday card for me featuring a cow wearing a sombrero saying "Hola!" ("Hope your birthday is moo-ey bueno!" She's Mexican and Italian, so a cow wearing a sombrero makes perfect sense, especially since I can't think of a symbolically Italian hat, except maybe the hats the gondoliers wear in Venice. Or the pointy Pope hat, but a pointy Pope hat on a cow just wouldn't be right. I may not be religious, but I respect the pointy Pope hat.) And inside was an iTunes gift card! Score!

My parents told me that they had a gift for me (but will also have a gift for me on my actual birthday) at which point Mom said, "Come on," and headed for the garage.

"Is it a car?" I asked.


"Is it a red car?" I asked.


"Is it a shiny red car with a radio?"

(That's a takeoff on an SNL gameshow skit from years ago called – say it with me, Tracy – "The Question Is Moot." Jesse Jackson was the host of the faux gameshow. Dammit, it's not on YouTube. Isn't everything supposed to be on YouTube?!)

Anyway, it wasn't a shiny red car with a radio, it was a ... birdbath.

I've been meaning to get one since I moved into this house. Seven years ago. (I'm a dawdler. I dawdle.) It's very pretty. It's made of cast cement, I think, and it has a lovely patina-ed finish, so it looks like it's been sitting in a garden for years and years. It also weighs about as much as a pickup truck. It's still in their garage. My brother and I – and the entire World Wrestling Federation – will attempt to move it into my garage later this week.

That's the yin and yang of my life, friends: digital music and antiqued birdbaths.

Dad, I'm happy to report, joined the digital age this year and bought a digital camera, which happens to be the same digital camera I have, so I was able to just bring it home and plug it into my computer to download images. Here's my cake. The three candles represent my nephews and niece, which I love. These days, I get the same cake every year. When Kyle was younger (he's driving now), he used to dream up my cake ideas. But now, it's just white cake with lemon filling and whipped cream (not buttercream) with yellow flowers (which, natch, went to the kids).

And this is a shot of me and my mom, who will be uncomfortable that I'm posting this picture of her for all to see, but I'm sorry, how crazy beautiful is this woman? (I'm not posting a picture of me and my dad yet but I'll work on him between now and my birthday proper and see if I can't get him to smile and then I'll post that one.)

But my favorite picture from my dad's camera is the one below. It's one of the first pictures he ever took with his digital camera, and I love that he decided on this subject. This is my mom's stove, the stove that produced tonight's lasagne and garlic bread. Mom always wanted a commercial stove, long before the commercial-stove craze hit suburbia. After several years – seriously, years – of internal struggle, she finally allowed herself to buy it (Mom is not about extravagance) and the day it arrived, she retreated to her bedroom. She was convinced it wasn't going to fit in the house. It did, obviously – with the removal of part of the front doorframe. I was there the day it was installed and went back and forth between the kitchen and her room, giving her updates. It's given her many years of service. It is one of two things that she is leaving for me, expressly. The other is her engagement ring. That's the yin and yang of my mother's life: the diamond ring her father gave to her mother and then my father gave to her, and her stove.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bird baths are wonderful. Wait until you realize the birds prefer a pie plate on the deck and the squirrels enjoy jumping into the bird bath and the neighborhood stray cat posts himself underneath it.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

Happy birthday!

6:10 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Happy birthday. Tell your mom she's very photogenic.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where's that picture of your father? You're always talking about your mom in this blog but hardly ever about your dad; I was beginning to suspect some deep dark pyschological problem lurking in the background! Post the pic!

8:29 AM  

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