Happy 35th to me!

Today’s my birthday!

I’m 35. Which feels an awful lot like 34. But five-ier? To be clear, I didn’t expect any life-changing revelations when I woke up this morning. And my goals for the day are pretty modest. I just want to enjoy the sunshine, read some books, eat something sweet, and hang out with Graham.

So, this post will be a little short so I can get on all of that. I think it’ll still be fun, though. Last year, I posted 34 fun facts about me. This year, I present to you, in no particular order, 35 of my favorite things.

  1. Chocolate malt milkshakes
  2. Hayao Miyazaki movies
  3. Hot coffee on a cold day
  4. Cold coffee on a hot day
  5. Earl Grey tea with lemon
  6. Chicago (the city)
  7. Chicago (the musical)
  8. Also Gypsy (the musical)
  9. Red Velvet cake
  10. The Blue Ridge Mountains
  11. Old houses
  12. New friends
  13. Old friends, too
  14. And old books
  15. And new books
  16. John Prine
  17. Neil Gaiman
  18. Yona of the Dawn
  19. Mozart
  20. Dirt roads
  21. Craft beer (and cider)
  22. Weeping willow trees
  23. Guitars
  24. Wood-burning fireplaces
  25. Antiques
  26. Foggy mornings
  27. Rainy days
  28. Winter
  29. Snow
  30. Chicken and dumplings
  31. Christmas
  32. Halloween
  33. Foxes
  34. The color blue
  35. Graham

Feel free to share some of your favorites! And if it’s your birthday today, too, then I hope it’s a fabulous one! Or, more precisely, I just generally hope you have a good birthday, whenever it is, and a good day today, too, even if it’s not your birthday.

A Most Wonderful (Musical) Discovery

There’s a phrase musicians use – “find your instrument.” What it means is this: Find the one music-making thing that feels like home when you pick it up and start to play.

I haven’t found mine yet. Or perhaps it’s as simple as my voice, in which case, I will never have to pay for tuning or new strings or a collapsed bridge.

Graham always thought his instrument was the viola. He played it for many years and loved it. It fit into his hands and on his shoulder, and he liked the deeper tones, the more caramel-y timbre. Violins sound like silver. Violas sound like gold. Rich, deep, and still bright and resonant.

But Graham hasn’t picked up his viola in a long time. Over the years we’ve been together, he’s tried his hand at guitar and at piano, he’s picked up a harmonica and banged on a drum set. I figured he’d just lost interest. But now I know – the viola is just not Graham’s instrument. And neither were any of the others.

This is all going somewhere, I promise.

See, my parents came to visit this weekend, and my dad brought up his guitar – the usual – and also a mandolin he bought secondhand. He figured it would be fun to learn to play. He was right, of course. Especially for Graham.

Turns out, the mandolin is Graham’s instrument. And we found it, on a warm Saturday night by the fire in our back garden.

He took to it immediately. My dad was a little jealous (sorry, Dad, if you’re reading this, but you know and I know that it’s true), but was also impressed and happy, and gracious enough to give a few quick lessons.

And before any of us knew it, they were sitting there, picking out songs to play together and laughing like they’d been doing it for years.

It’s actually pretty cool, to see two of your favorite people find a new favorite thing. A most wonderful discovery indeed.

P.S. – I’ve been trying to figure out what to get Graham for his birthday. Now I know. Good thing I have until November to do some research and find exactly the right mandolin!

(Sort of) Found Friday #39: Not Quite Fine China

I more or less inherited these little decorative plates after my grandmother died. My dad’s mom, that is.

I don’t remember a time when these weren’t hanging over the stove in her kitchen, and I always liked them. Graham had to be convinced to hang them in our house, but I put my foot down. Fond memories make a house a home.

I hadn’t really thought much about them for years until I saw a post over on Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles, talking about her fondness for fruit motifs and small town variety. Yet another thing we share, it seems.

I don’t really know much about these plates. There’s no maker’s label on them, other than a sticker that they were made in Japan, and I don’t know where my grandmother picked them up or how long she had them. But they certainly have a place in my house.

Funny, how little things can become beloved heirlooms, isn’t it?

Gatsby’s Happy Face

I know it might be hard to believe, but this is actually the face of a supremely happy cat. He always misses us when we’re gone, and doesn’t want us out of his sight when we’re back.

It’s nice to be so loved.

(P.S. – We’re both playing catch-up this week. Me and Graham, that is. Gatsby doesn’t do work, because, well, he’s a senior citizen and a cat. Graham’s busy season is finally over, and an issue I’d been pouring my time into is hopefully resolved. So, we’re getting back to life as usual, if such a thing even exists. And we’re working on several old house priorities that piled up over the spring and early summer. Any interest in hearing about them? Let me know! Otherwise and either way, I’ll keep things interesting around here. I promise. 😊)