Morning Glories, Birth Control, and Birthday Bachanals

Birthday Morning Glory

Birthday Morning Glory

Approaching my 25th birthday, I had a midlife crisis. Having always been precocious, the early advent of said crisis shouldn’t have been a surprise. But it was.

At 25, so I thought, I had to grow up and be an adult. I needed to pay my bills on time, get my oil changed, quit wasting money, and become a responsible (unmarried) matron.

Appalled at such a future, I threw myself a birthday party – the last blow out of my misspent youth before donning sensible shoes and alphabetizing my spice jars.

At the time, I lived in Milwaukee with the ex who was not yet a husband. We had a house in the city on a tiny lot in a solid, staid working class neighborhood. Knowing the party had a potential to get out of hand, we invited the entire neighborhood thinking if folks were invited they were less likely to complain.

I woke up the morning of my birthday, stood in the bathroom gazing into the mirror and absently reached for my birth control pills. As I prepared to swallow the pill, the insight that it was ridiculous, wasteful and potentially damaging to my body to take a pill I didn’t need. The ex who wasn’t yet a husband had been certified sterile by a number of doctors. My first act as a 25-year-old was to throw my birth control pills in the bathroom trashcan.

Dressing for a party.

Dressing for a party.

Folks began arriving in the late afternoon. It was one of those open invitation parties – y’all come and bring your friends. They all came and they did bring their friends. It was very soon a full blown, rock the world party. Given the number of people, we could have been much louder. We were loud, mind you, but not as loud as you might expect with a 100 people in a backyard that was roughly 20×20 feet.

The cops arrived shortly after the ex who wasn’t yet a husband dumped my boss (rolex, expensive Italian shoes, and clothes) into the hot tub.

We quieted a bit.

I told folks that I did not want gifts and most complied. However, one guy I didn’t know (and still can’t figure out who invited him) gave me a gorgeously wrapped gift. Nonplussed, I opened it. Inside were 25 rolls of toilet paper because, he said, “You’re full of shit.”

Drawing for the Maiden Mother Crone Triptych

Another memorable gift.

I have no idea how he could have known ahead of time that I am like I am. But since I am full of shit, those rolls remain one of the most memorable birthday gifts I’ve ever received – from a complete stranger in the midst of absolute chaos on a small Milwaukee city lot in a staid working class neighborhood.

The party ended. The neighbors weren’t too mad. Well, they were mad, but they got over it.

About that time, not knowing anything about plants, I decided a little landscaping was in order. I planted morning glory seeds. It was August in Milwaukee and, of course, nothing happened. That was, I believe, my first failed attempt of many at morning glories.

By November I was impregnated by a sterile man and became a sober, responsible, married matron though I never got the hang of sensible shoes.

Other than small family affairs, I haven’t had a birthday party since.

As posted earlier, HMOKeefe and I had plans to spend a week in Berkeley Springs to celebrate my birthday. In retrospect, I remember being a tad puzzled that we were due to check out the morning of my birthday. But in the weeks leading up to my birthday, I was working between 64 and 75 hours a week. I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder things too much.

The birthstones left behind.

The birthstones left behind.

As it turns out, some lowlife wandered into the barn we were renting and stole my camera and one container of HMOKeefe’s medications. Said lowlife left the jewelry sitting on the kitchen table and HMOKeefe’s much (much much) more expensive camera. When we were sure that the two items were indeed gone and not just misplaced, I got that oogy feeling you get when someone has invaded your space. The barn which had previously been too wonderful for words became a little creepy. We decided to leave on Saturday.

I arrived home to find that my mother had cleaned my house. She’s done this before, so I didn’t think too much of it. My son arrived in the wee hours of the morning. I awoke Sunday morning to a refrigerator full of tinfoil wrapped racks of ribs. I knew he was coming and I knew he was cooking dinner for my birthday. I wasn’t surprised at the sheer amount of food – like his mama, Chef Boy ‘R Mine prepares far too much food.

Folks arriving in 2009

Folks arriving in 2009

HMOKeefe and I left to go look at cameras at the mall. Daunted at the cost of replacing my beloved camera, we returned home to find balloons and signs hanging up and down the road as well as a car with Michigan plates in the driveway.

I left a quiet, orderly house to go to the mall and came home to boxes of beer, champagne, and sub sandwiches, people, and camera flashes popping.

They came from Michigan, and Texas by way of Michigan. From San Francisco and Huntington and Kentucky. (The Columbus folks were thought to be lost and wandering the backroads of Balls Gap, but it turns out a medical emergency kept them at home. Anna – take care of yourself.)

They got me good. I never suspected. Many (certainly not all) of my favorite people spent my 50th birthday with me. Other than my family members, most of these people I met online. The others through work.  Paid labor and the intertubes have been very good to me.

Rib Boy eating lobster.

Rib Boy eating lobster.

My son cooked a monumental feast for my Monday birthday. On Tuesday, Fed Ex arrived with the live lobster. By the time everyone cleared out on Wednesday, the refrigerator was empty and the trashcans were full of wine, champagne and beer bottles.

On Sunday I was too flabbergasted to react. On Monday, I started becoming overwhelmed at the significance of what was happening. By Tuesday, I couldn’t talk about it for fear of sobbing.

HMOKeefe left a few hours ago and once again it is just me and the puppies. The full impact is just now hitting me.

I have never been so loved. I have never had such friends.

Mmmmmorning glory.

Mmmmmorning glory.

On the morning of my birthday, I discovered that my morning glories, seeded late, were blooming. For 25 years, I have planted morning glories and for 24 of them nothing happened. I wandered around the yard taking pictures of them with the camera HMOKeefe left me until I can get the wherewithal to purchase a new one.

I started making the connections.

The son that arose from trashing the birth control pills the morning of my 25th birthday party arrived and cooked for my 50th. The party of mere acquaintances I had for my 25th became a party of dear friends for my 50th. The raucous, police intervention party of my misspent youth turned into a not sober, but delightful fellowship of good friends. The morning glories I planted too late when I was 25 have become the morning glories I planted too late in my 50th year. The former did nothing; the latter are blooming. (I think there’s a metaphor there.)

Fabulous Fifties

Fabulous Fifties

And unlike 25, I am not having a crisis (okay, not any related to turning 50). I’ve been strangely excited about my half-century mark for awhile now. My 20s were good. My thirties were great. Forties were bumpy, but mostly terrific. I expect my 50s to be fabulous.

And thank you all.  Those that were here and those that weren’t.  I still can’t talk about this without tearing up.  Y’all will probably never know what it meant to me.


The Barn House View

The Barn House View

In a little less than 96 hours I will be officially on vacation from Job #1. Twenty-four hours after that, I will officially be on vacation from Job #2 AND HMOKeefe should be rolling up my driveway. By Sunday morning, I should be in full hedonism mode. I can’t wait.

Most of the time I rather enjoy HMOKeefe’s and my long distance relationship, but I haven’t seen him (except on Skype) since January 1st. And if seeing him weren’t enough, my vacation intentionally coincides with my birthday (August 3rd for those of you playing at home).

And if all that wasn’t enough, this is my first real vacation in several years and I’m taking two full weeks. I practically swoon at the thought. There’s only been one other time that I’ve taken a two week vacation. It was hectic and jam packed though thoroughly enjoyable. Still. I need serious downtime.

After minimal conversation, HMOKeefe reserved The Barn House in Berkeley Springs, WV for a week. [The photos I’m using here are shamelessly stolen from – I consider it free advertising.]

The Barn House

The Barn House

This large vacation rental is a restored antique barn that sits in the middle of nowhere offering privacy and spectacular views. It feels wrong to be hyperactive and wildly excited about sitting and doing nothing – but here I am – wildly excited and hyperactive.

I can’t wait.

One day we’re planning an outing to Capon Springs. And on another, we have spa reservations. We also have tentative plans to trundle into D.C. and partake of tea at Ching Ching Cha and, as much as I like this teahouse, I think it’s likely these tentative plans will fall victim to inertia. Maybe not.

HMOKeefe has been cooped up for two years and he’s wildly excited about getting out and about. With any luck there won’t be any friction between my need to be a deck ornament and his need to explore and excavate.

I should be cleaning my house. I should be packing. I should be grocery shopping (less HMOKeefe perish of hunger while here). I should be doing a lot of things, but I’ve been doing a lot of things and I’m tired. By the end of the week, I’ll be bone weary. Hyperactive or not, I need to slow it down. So tonight? Tonight, I sit and do nothing but yammer at y’all, update my Twitter status, maybe take a bath – by candlelight. I’m considering these activities the dusting off and readying of my innate hedonistic qualities which are a bit rusty.

Actually, I do know how to operate an antique stove.

Actually, I do know how to operate an antique stove.

I may or may not be sorry for blowing off this evening later in the week. I really do have a lot to do. At present, HMOKeefe will fall over dead in shock at the pigsty that is my house. He might even break up with me. Or leave me home to clean up the mess while he enjoys Berkeley Springs. In any event, what I manage to get done will have to be done later this week.

I expect to be in full panic mode by Friday.

But right now I’m practicing my downtime vacation skills. I think there’s beer in the fridge. Some leftover black bean soup. I’m sure I have a half-finished novel somewhere.

[Connie wanders off in search of vittles and entertainment.]

Blogging as a gift.

From Thinkpad to Paper and Back.

From Thinkpad to Paper and Back.

I started blogging not to be read by anyone, but as a convenient online journal. I have journaled on and off for years and years. As the internet developed and technology improved, it struck me that an electronic journal would serve me best as it allowed for links, youtube videos, and pictures. So. Last August, I set up a blog.

Nobody is more surprised than me that I have a small, but faithful readership. I love y’all for reading my blathering drivel, but it has served to cause me to censor myself. (I’m afraid of the “keep this post private” toggle as I can just see me accidentally posting one of my most embarrassing TMI entries.)

That I can pull my Flickr into the blog (indeed I didn’t use Flickr until I started the blog) really rocks my boat and I love looking at the map thingie to see where my visitors are coming from.

All that aside, the blog has been great for getting me writing on a daily basis again. It’s also provoked me to take more pictures in my quest to be “right here right now.”

[An aside: I love feedback and, seriously, I don’t understand why more of you don’t comment even if only to tell me the post sucked or bored you to tears. I once was part of a writing group and “constructive” critiques are a gift.]

Wood Pulp and Ink

Wood Pulp and Ink

But, since I do have a readership and am censoring, I’m back to ink and wood pulp journaling. I haven’t been very good about doing it every day, but when I do, I like to make a ritual of it. Thus I have a good rollerball and a fine, fine dip pen (Murano glass that you dip in ink.) I love lazy mornings at the table writing secrets, rants, whines, and various blatherings on paper with fine ink.

Still, the blog is so much easier. I can just grab the laptop and sprawl either on the sofa, the chaise or in bed. I am a hedonist and being comfortable while doing anything is critical to my well-being.

Both my son and my father have considerable writing talents and opinions on everything. About a month ago I decided I would set them up blogs as a birthday/Father’s Day gift. I was amazed when I actually followed-through on that idea. Surprisingly, I had such fun setting them up and personalizing them with in-jokes and photos that it was worth the work even if they decide not to maintain them. [If you’re of a mind to, go wish my dad a happy Father’s Day – his life’s journey has been such that if you knew him, you’d love him too.]

fine pens are a must

fine pens are a must

Blogs as a gift are a stroke genius, I think, provided the recipients have any interest in writing and are not averse to a (mostly) silent audience reading their thoughts. I’m pleased with my unorthodox gifts. I think my dad will be and I think my son is.

And blogging, my own and others, has been a great gift to me. I enjoy it far more than I ever thought I would and I love setting up blogs for other people. (For a nominal fee, I’ll make one for you too!)

The Ides of June are slowly ticking away and the gift-giving season will soon be at an end. I’ll be able to get back to my regularly scheduled programming which I am now resolved will involve a more faithful paper journaling.

Aw c’mon, humor me

Chef Boy "R Mines Fabulous New Birthday Blog

Chef Boy "R Mine's Fabulous New Birthday Blog

Aw c’mon, humor me.  How often do you get to wish a complete stranger a happy birthday from the privacy of your home or office?  Commenting really is not painful.  You can be anonymous – you really can – really!  Just go to and wish Chef  Boy ‘R Mine a happy birthday.  I live to torment the child.  Please?

Belated is okay – really – absolutely!  In some respects even better.

My Baby Boy’s Birthday

Party Boy

Party Boy

My Punkin Boy turned 24 a little more than an hour ago. I told him that his birth was the best day of my life.

And it really was.

He was a great kid and is turning into a fine, fine man. He was what is known as a happy baby. Until his teen years, he was a constant bright light in my life. Those couple of years he grappled with hormones were a source of fretting for me – I wanted for him to make the right choices and he just wanted to be cool. It all worked out in the end, but mamas fret. [I’m in the market for grandbabies, so if any of y’all have a fine, fine woman of the appropriate age for childbearing shoot me an email.]

Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s birthday celebrations over the years have been a source of great fun for all of us. His first birthday, of course, was the most spectacular. It’s a damn shame that he probably can’t remember it.

Mama's Boy

Mama's Boy

It was a beautiful June 15th. His parents and maternal grandparents were in attendance. He sure had fun, but we had more. As the only child and only grandchild, he hauled in the loot. Punkin Boy’s birthdays, Halloween trick’o’treating, sports mania and Christmas gifting was a source of great delight for all of us. He was the root source of the delight and his fun with those events just made us all smile, giggle, and guffaw.

Since his first birthday, I have hung balloons over his bed in the middle of the night so that when he woke in the morning he would have a colorful, immediate surprise that set the tone for his birthday. Until the year he turned 20, I hadn’t missed a one.

Pregnant with Chef Boy'r Mine

Pregnant with Chef Boy'r Mine

In 2005, he moved to Florida to begin his brilliant career as Chef Boy ‘R Mine. I couldn’t get there that year, but made arrange-ments for my mother to do the balloon thing on her visit there. After that, I managed every year but 2006. That year I couldn’t do it and she couldn’t do it and the boy was balloonless. He probably didn’t mind, but I hate that he didn’t have that visual representation of my joy of his birth.

He moved to Charlotte a couple of months ago and, once again, I can’t get there to do the balloons, but my mom can. At about noon today, she will inflict the balloon thing on him. I had to actively discourage her from doing it in a really embarrassing way – he’s still overly solicitous of his dignity and angry-young-man persona.

still a cake boy

Still a cake boy.

I love this young man. I’m his mom and I’m supposed to, but nonetheless I think he and I have something special going on.

On this day, I want him to understand that my love for him is unconditional, my respect for him is huge, and the joy he brings me continues.  I wish for him a bright future (and lots of kids).  I hope that we always remain close.

Happy  birthday, Punkin.

Love, Mom