"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

July 28, 2014

The birthday, part 1

Leaving a decade behind has never bothered me. Turning 30, 40, 50—it was all good. And then came 60.

As the big day loomed closer, I contemplated how life generally consists of three acts. Act 1 is from birth to 30, Act 2 from 30 to 60, and Act 3 from 60 to ... whatever. My final act was about to begin, and although it could last until I'm 90, that's not the norm.
Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)
Yikes. While I find a lot of Scripture comforting, this verse not so much. Sure, it ends on a high note. The "fly away" part thrills my soul because I'll be winging my way to eternal glory in the presence of the Lord. By the amazing grace of God, immortality is mine!

The rest of the verse, however, is downright sobering. And I can relate to the "quickly pass" part more and more. Time certainly has the perception of speeding up as you get older. Back when I was in grade school, the lazy days of summer lasted forever. Now, those three months just seem like a prolonged hot flash, whizzing by so fast that I've practically quit bemoaning the heat.

After being mopey for weeks about Act 2 coming to an end, I was ready to get over that nonsense and start looking forward to the start of Act 3. So to make turning 60 more palatable, I began planning a birthday of simple pleasures and self-indulgence. While plotting the details at Mom's kitchen table, Rex decided he wanted in on the fun.

My "baby" brother and I took a vacation day from our jobs on Friday, which was a great day for my birthday to fall on. The plan was simple—eat, drink, shop, repeat. And for 12 straight hours, that's just what we did.

La Madeleine

I did share my potato galette.
We began the celebration at La Madeleine. To get fortified for shopping, I had the big country breakfast plus lots of dark French roast coffee. It was lovely to linger over cups and conversation, relaxing in the knowledge that we could just go with the flow all day.

The only thing I wanted to schedule was an observance of my birth minute. Many Sundays ago (3,130 to be exact), I was born at 10:43 a.m. But that was in the olden days before Texas adopted daylight saving time, so I asked Rex to set a reminder for 11:43.

My daughter, Angy, had planned to meet us for breakfast. Darrell even went to work at 5:00 that morning so he could take off a couple of hours to stay with the kids while she was gone. But some crazy stuff was happening at work and he couldn't leave. The effort, though, shows what a nice son-in-law he is.


I drive by HomeGoods nearly every Sunday, but it's with a car full of grandkids, so Angy and I haven't been able to stop and browse. At last, I was getting to check out the selection of discount household items. Rex is an optimistic shopper, so he grabbed a basket, and we were barely 6 feet in the door when he found something to put in it.

We strolled down every aisle, and when we had made it to the other side of the store, he mentioned my birth minute because he wasn't sure if he set the reminder correctly. (He didn't and probably got woke up at 11:43 that night.) We both checked our phones and saw that it was 11:42. So we walked slowly while staring at the time to watch the minute change. When it did, we were near two chairs on display and took a seat.

The one with our eyes open
Originally, I had said that the moment of silence would be for the passing of my youth. But Rex pointed out that it was actually the passing of my middle age. I didn't like it, but I couldn't argue with it.

We bowed our heads and sat in silence for a bit. Then I prayed aloud, albeit softly, to thank God for my birth and rebirth, the years He has given me thus far, and His gift of eternal life.

Looking up, I noticed a few shoppers close by. We might have made a bit of a spectacle, but undeterred, we remained seated and took a selfie to commemorate the event. Well, we took several before we got something acceptable.

Need to update my will now
As we continued browsing, I came across a unique item with a strange allure. I put it in the basket and decided that if I still felt the allure when we were ready to check out, I'd buy it.

As I placed it on the counter, the cashier asked the standard question, "Did you find what you were looking for?" "Why yes," I replied. "I came in looking for a red cast-iron pig and there it was."

Famous Footwear

The selection of shoes for me at Famous Footwear has dwindled to a couple of rows because my fashion choices have become based on comfort. And I've got sciatica on both sides now, which makes wearing shoes with even a low heel uncomfortable. So it's flats from here on out.

Besides, I decided to embrace my shrinkage. How fitting that at my annual checkup a week before my 60th birthday, I found out that I'm now 5'3¾". And I've been 5'4" since I was, like, 15 years old!

The good news is that I found two pairs of super comfy yet stylish sandals and they were on sale. As we drove away with my new shoes and red pig in the trunk, I was ready to celebrate with some liquid refreshment.

Hankering satisfied
Brick and Spoon

It's been years since I had a really good Bloody Mary, and I'd been having a hankering for one. So we headed over to a restaurant in Montrose I found online that has a separate menu for their Big Spoon Bloody Mary.

Since it was our first time there, we also wanted to try the food but weren't very hungry yet, so we split a burger. Oh my. It turned out to be probably the best one I've ever eaten, and it clearly wasn't a case of being so hungry that anything would taste good.

Between a toasted brioche bun was a thick, juicy handmade beef patty seasoned and cooked to perfection, melted pepper jack cheese, crispy pecan-smoked bacon (that's right, bacon two meals in a row!), avocado, romaine lettuce, red onion, tomato, and house aioli.

On the side were homemade potato chips with a savory/sweet seasoning that was just right. Next time, I'm going hungry and getting my own.


Our final shopping destination was a place where Rex buys custom silver jewelry. He's a longtime patron as evidenced by the personal greeting he received from the owner, a delightful man named Herschel. We enjoyed talking to him (including about how God will keep His promises to Israel) while admiring Herschel's unique pieces of jewelry.

I selected a cross, a butterfly, and a long chain. Rex picked out a cross and an arrowhead pendant. Everything was supposed to be dutch treat, but my generous brother insisted on paying for mine. How great is it when you get to pick out exactly what you want and then have it gifted to you?

It was also fun driving around Montrose, my old neighborhood from the hippie days, and reminiscing. Although it was disappointing to see that the house I lived in on Dunlavy has been replaced with condos.

On the long, slow drive back, we finished listening to Rex's playlist of golden oldies (don't know why he picked that one). Then he switched to the classic rock playlist. Regardless of how long I live, I don't think I'll ever get tired of "Layla" or "Freebird."

When you can't decide: Italian or Asian?

After a quick stop by Mom's, we arrived at Merche, the last leg of our journey. It's a restaurant close to my house that I've been wanting to try, especially after seeing it in a top 10 list for tapas. Rather than a big meal in the evening, I like having a little of this and a little of that.

The best part about it was having my sweet son meet us there. His company would have been enough of a gift, but Zach also gave me a gift card for two 60-minute pedicures that include a warm shoulder wrap, massage, hot rocks, and paraffin wax wrap. Now that's the way to get your toes painted!

The three of us shared a personal pizza, sesame chicken skewers, and wasabi spring rolls. When it came to dessert, though, we each had our own. And we were there for quite a while. Aside from enjoying the delicious food and beverages, I was thoroughly entertained by the conversation. It was a lovely experience and a great way to end a near-perfect day.


I think that was the first time I've eaten out for every meal unless I was out of town. And having a day where all of my activities were driven by "I wanna" instead of "I've gotta" was a mini vacation in itself. I pondered not waiting until my next decade turns over to do it again.

Rex remarked later that we should do it once a year just for fun. Angy said that reminded her of a "Parks and Recreation" episode where two characters have a Treat Yo Self day. It was pretty much like that, except less extravagant.

Act 3 started with a bang, and my birthday lived up to my high expectations. I considered the event to be over, but my family had other ideas. Up next: "The birthday, part 2."

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