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I am now a year older, and you know, I think I like it.  To be honest, I hadn’t been looking forward to this birthday.  It was a bit of a milestone year, one of those years that suddenly sounds a lot older than the year before.  I may not look my age (it was very fun shocking a few people with my true age at the dance on Saturday), but sometimes I feel it.  This birthday approaching made me feel old, like at any moment I might find myself shopping for Ben-Gay and Depends.  However, once my birthday was actually here, it was fine.  And isn’t that the way it always is?  You dread something, have to drag yourself to it complaining the entire way, and once you’re actually there it’s no big deal.  Sigh.

I did have a pretty darn good birthday.  Saturday morning I got up and went to the Farmers’ Market (something I’ve been getting into the habit of doing every Saturday).  I got good bread, tomatoes, some lovely watercress, and a goat cheese from Blue Jacket Dairy (they make some of the best fresh goat cheese I’ve ever tasted), plus a few other things.  When I got home I made myself breakfast, and then settled in for a long afternoon of not doing much.  It was lovely.  Late in the afternoon Indy called up and asked if I wanted to go gallivanting with her and Boy-O.  They had a few things to pick up for my family birthday brunch the next day, and a few other errands.  I said I was in, but I had to be back in time to get ready for the swing dance that night.  So we headed out.  Somehow shopping with siblings isn’t a chore, it’s fun, and what with stopping at the Asian grocery store, picking out plants at Meijer’s (Indy said Mom told her to pick out $12 worth of annuals for the front hill), and dinner at Sonic, time passed quickly.  I was just going with the flow until I looked over and suddenly realized that it was 8:30.  Gah!  We headed home as fast as we could, I did the quickest clean-up ever, and headed off to the swing dance.

I’d been looking forward to this dance for a while.  SwingoutDayton has a dance the first Saturday of every month, but this month they were bringing in Soul Express, a great local band.  They do a lot of Motown and soul music, which is exactly the kind of music I love to dance to, plus I knew a lot of people were coming so I’d have lots of great partners to dance with.  When I finally arrived at the dance the place was packed, the floor was full of dancers, and the band was playing their hearts out.  It was a wonderful thing.  I had some lovely dances with Sky (only the second time he’s been able to dance since November) and others, and then at the second band break, had my birthday jam.

In our swing scene, whenever someone has a birthday, or has something else big happen (wedding, graduation, leaving for Japan, etc.), they get a steal jam.  It’s kinda like an exhibition dance.  Everyone makes a big circle around the birthday person, we put on a song, and the birthday person dances while different partners steal him or her from each other.  It’s a lot of fun, though a little nerve-wracking for the person being stolen.  My song this year was one of my absolute favorites, “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” (she shakes like a bowl of jelly on a plate) sung by Madeline Peyroux.  (Someday I’m going to dress as a nun for Halloween and wear a name tag that says Sr. Kate, and it will be awesome, but only swing dancers will get it.)  A little way into the dance Bounce stole me, and while we were dancing he grinned and shimmied at me a little.  I shimmied back.  The crowd seemed to like it.  Then Mr. Zoot stole me, and led me into the two of us walking forward together.  I saw that look in his eye, and thought, “Oh, dear, here we go.” He started to shimmy too, so I followed him.  That was a hit too, as was the super-low dip he swooped in to do at the very end of the dance.  Apparently someone videotaped all of this, and it’s up on facebook.  I’m a little scared to watch it.  Doing the moves is one thing, but knowing exactly what you looked like when you did them?  That’s something else entirely!

Sunday morning was my family birthday brunch.  This year I had specially asked mom to make her Vietnamese Turkey Stuffing.  See, when I was a baby, my family took in a Vietnamese refugee family.  They lived in the same house with us for a year or so until they could afford their own place.  They had a decided influence on the food we ate when I was little – fried rice was a staple, spring rolls were highly anticipated treats for very special occasions, and we always had both fish sauce and soy sauce in the cupboard.  At some point Mom took the filling for the spring rolls and turned it into her own version of turkey stuffing, featuring mung bean noodles and sausage.  It had been a long, long time since she made it, but it was just as delicious as I remembered.  The best part, though, was sharing my brunch with good friends.  Mr. Maker, or course, Aunt and Uncle S, the Kiddo, plus Mr. T and his daughter Fleur.  It was great watching Fleur interact with Boy-O.  She loves having this big boy whom she can tease and chase around, and since she has five brothers at home, she’s very good at it!  But then, she seems to enjoy herself hugely at our house, almost as much as we enjoy her.  It’s been much too long since we had little kids around.  She even got me to show her how to knit towards the end of her visit, resulting in her heading home with her own needles, a skein of yarn, and the very beginnings of a basic garter stitch scarf for her to practice on.

Also, remember those flowers I picked out at the store on Saturday?  At the brunch Mom broke the news to me that they’re part of my birthday present, which is pretty awesome.  I hadn’t made any plans for a garden this year – I don’t have much to spend on it, plus Mariah has been gardening in the back yard we now share for so long that it would feel a little weird to start horning in on her space.  There’s a little plot by our back steps that I’d vaguely marked out for perhaps some lettuce and maybe a bush cucumber or two.  But now I have all these lovely zinnias and marigolds and verbenas just waiting for me to put them in the ground, and suddenly there are… possibilities.  It’s an embarrassment of riches, and I can’t wait to figure out what to do with them all!

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