The Bountiful Birthday Blog

 

The time has come (and is now, past due) to regale everyone with the Big Birthday adventure of 2015. It actually began in 1945, but I’m going to skip a few decades and get right to the celebration stuff.

Negotiations, planning, arrangements, reservations for multiple plane flights, nearly did me in. I wanted to share this celebration with loved ones in Wisconsin and North Carolina, so the first leg took me to Atlanta and then Greensboro, where my Lodge Sisters, Ann and Salem greeted me warmly. We hugged, giggled and hurried off to fetch cooking supplies

WP_20150514_011 and special ingredients for chocolate martinis. (No kidding)

Once “home,” I unpacked and took a deep breath of a heavenly smell. All-day red sauce was simmering on the stove. (Ann’s specialty). First things first, I decanted the contraband (a Distillers WP_20150514_004Edition of Dalwhinnie single malt whisky barreled in 1997) into a beautiful carafe. The aromatic and beautiful spirit we would share with our favorite padre.

 

WP_20131208_014Louise and Christine joined us for an utterly divine chicken Parmesan dinner. Just when we were all too stuffed to move, Christine surprised us with an extraordinary 5 Spice pound cake with fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Oh My God. It WP_20150514_007was incredible! Thank you, ladies!

 

Friday morning was another special treat. I slept late and did not have to get up for three dogs! Sadly my hosts got up early and were chomping at the bit for breakfast. My bad. I didn’t realize they were waiting.

I know! Let’s go to I Hop!   Now everyone was happy.

Saturday was Operation o’dark Herman Miller. ssshhh. We only got part way there when Ann insisted we get some nourishment for this dangerous [you’ll see why later] maneuver. A quick stop at Sheetz (yes, really) provided some surprisingly delicious biscuits. Sated, we were off to Ann’s regret-able day job. The parking lot was empty as we slipped unnoticed in the backdoor, punched in the code, and navigated the staircase with the imitation Aeron chair.

WP_20150516_002While Ann stopped to shoot off a business email note, Salem, sensing danger, perhaps, wrestled the authentic 56# Herman Miller Aeron chair downstairs and stowed it safely in the car. By.Herself.  Eeejit.

WP_20150514_005Once we were safely home, and sure we hadn’t been tracked, Cocktails and whining about our ailments ensued. Pretty soon, we all felt much better.

WP_20150517_004 Sunday was brunch on “The Porch” with the Sharp family. A hip trendy and very popular place with inspired creations featuring tater tots–what’s not to love? Add a mimosa, a sunny morning, in the outdoor tent, and great company. It was divine and blessed. Thanks Father Ben!

WP_20150520_001Monday we had a favorite breakfast Frittata with hash browns. YUM. I was careful to save myself for the long-awaited Ryan’s dinner.

 

winston holiday 127Later, on the wonderful porch, I was surprised and celebrated with an utterly magnificent leather messenger bag!WP_20150516_006

It was just as delicious as the frittata. In fact, I slept with it (the bag, not the frittata) and refused to take it off.

 

WP_20150518_005Several special events preceded Monday night at Ryan’s, not just my birthday, and we toasted each in an epic celebration of food and wine. We all had patiently saved up happy moments for this one.

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WP_20150518_008     WP_20150518_010  We shared the best wines, the best dinners, the best service, as well as complimentary desserts. Then home by Uber. We had a nightcap and turned in to be ready for my morning departure.

It will be cherished as another bittersweet moment. I felt loved, spoiled, and didn’t want to go. However, I did want to see my Wisconsin family.

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My brother picked me up at Mitchell Field Tuesday afternoon, and soon we were touring the fast growing new neighborhoods that surrounded, what used to be my home for over twenty years. Oconomowoc. I hardly recognized it.

V__D62AMy niece drove up from Chicago and we had a chance to catch up before joining my nephew to have a birthday dinner at the Irish Pub.

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Everyone enjoyed dinner as we shared stories and memories of when we were all younger. Their thoughtful birthday gifts included jewelry, soaps, a surprising Yankee candle “Girl Scout Thin mint” and it smells just like the cookie. I told how I managed to miss the cookie sale every year, and out of the bag came a box of thin mints!WP_20150523_002

 

The next day an old friend dropped in for a visit. Then, John and I went through a box of memorabilia from forty years ago. Wow, some great pictures and information.  Then…it was time to go.

 

Now, it’s after Memorial Day weekend and I’ve been mulling over my past, present, and future. It’s been a long, interesting, roller coaster ride for which, I am grateful and blessed. My life has been filled with loving friends and family, challenging work, beautiful experiences, and more than a few pets. But there are a few more waiting for me.

Thank you all for touching my life and sharing yours.

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Why New Mexico?

In response to my query for blog topics, I received some wonderful suggestions and promised to acknowledge those responsible.

Since five people nominated “New Mexico” as a topic, I thought I’d begin there. Mary Anne Frett asked what prompted me to move here, well all righty!

I was born and raised in Illinois and after graduating from nursing school virtually flipped a coin on where to practice, New Mexico or Wisconsin. I selected those two because New Mexico was vast and had one area code.

Wisconsin on the other hand, was my childhood vacationland. Many summers were spent on the wonderful lakes in Wisconsin. In my memory, those were idyllic times. So that was my first choice. Bought a small lake cottage, fixed it up, and worked in the local hospital. My brother came to visit and stayed. He married and raised a family so everything was fine.

A good friend and medical colleague moved to New Mexico and invited me to visit. When I got off the plane in Albuquerque and saw the horizon and the mountains, I knew I would retire here.

I visited them regularly, 2 to 3 times a year for four years. On each visit, I learned more and more about this hidden gem. My friend showed me the highlights and I rented a car to see other areas of the state. The rugged beauty of the vast areas that were uninhabited fascinated me. It was easy to imagine life and the west 100 years ago.

There was also the strong history of three cultures working and living together. Native American pueblos are prevalent along the Rio Grande and in the four corners area northwest of Albuquerque. (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado—the only place in the United States were four states meet). Although archaeologists have evidence dating back to 9200 BC, history was only recorded after the conquistadores arrived in the 16th century.

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, exploring for rivers in 1806, stumbled into Santa Fe and was arrested and taken to Chihuahua, Mexico. As you may or may not know, there were bunches of Pueblo uprisings, Mexican revolutions, and all manner of conflict. You know, everybody wants to own a piece of something, especially if it belongs to someone else; even more so if that someone else has a different color skin, or uniform, or weapons, or animals, etc. etc..

Eventually the United States Congress established the New Mexico Territory on September 9, 1850. So here come the settlers. So, you have three groups of people staking a claim and fussing with each other. The soldiers and the missionaries were left to sort it out.

Enough history. I believe it was the winter of 1998 when my part of Wisconsin had three months without sun.Ninety friggin’ grey days! That was it. Much thought,  planning, decision-making and I resigned from the allergy clinic that I was running, put my house on the market, put everything I owned in a small truck headed for New Mexico and packed my car. I said goodbye to my family and friends loaded my faithful Labrador, Murphy (RIP my pal, 2004), in the car and drove west.

(Oh by the way, two weeks prior to that, I had major abdominal surgery and what with all the packing boxes and moving furniture, I ended up with a hernia. There was no time to repair it because everything was on its way to New Mexico. So, shortly after I arrived I was in the hospital for hernia repair.)

I stayed with my friends for several months until I could find a place to live and a job. And that was 14 years ago.

Yes, I do miss the grass, the trees, and most of all the lakes, but in Mexico is where I want to be. 350 days of sunshine, a temperate climate with warm summer days, and enough snow to have four seasons. Best of all, no mosquitoes, no leaves to rake, no gutters to clean, no grass to cut and no trees to obstruct the view. Mountains on two sides. Endless blue skies. Fresh clean air. Endless quiet. And peace.