I just had one of those “big” birthdays that end in 0 and are always a bit shocking to the unprepared. Elliot announced that entering a new decade should always be cool, and started reeling off all the “big” birthdays I have to look forward to. Lovely.

Birthdays aren’t always so fun with your spouse far away, but this one was quite nice. To start with, my friend Debbie threw me a surprise party on Friday morning. I walked into her house and found about 10 or so of my friends there, gathered round a big black sign. These women are my colleagues at Oasis, or do community health, or work at the embassy. All speak English, but there were Swiss, Dutch, Norwegian, Canadian, English and American women there. I found out later Debbie’s husband had initially put up my age in Roman numerals, but the women made him take it down as it seemed too cruel. (Kudos if you can figure out why) Debbie, incredibly, shared her Starbucks coffee (I wouldn’t have been so generous) and we had coffee cake and juice as well. Plus, I got presents! 🙂 I love presents, which I realize makes me unique, like my weird aversion to pain and how I hate war, being cheated, eye injuries and snakes.

(Total aside: Had to explain to Elliot the difference between “unique” and “eunuch” this week. LOL)

They sang Happy Birthday to me, and then the Norwegian woman sang me the Norwegian version, which is much better than ours, longer and more interesting and with actual motions. It includes a little dance and turn around. I made her translate it for me, but I forget it already. Early-onset Alzheimer’s, no doubt.

Isn’t aging fantastic?

Saturday was my actual birthday. The kids fought the night before over who got to do what. It was sweet, sort of, but fighting? Yeah. Elliot won, as the only one allowed near matches unsupervised. But everybody helped.

Ilsa woke up at 7:30 and chirped, “Everybody get up! Let’s go make Mom breakfast!” I growled, “Not if you want her to have a happy birthday,” and made everybody go back to sleep till 9. Birthday Dictator. I was served at 10—eggs with perfect, unbroken yolks, bacon, fried tomatoes, toast, butter and jam, apple slices, yogurt, cereal bar, juice and coffee. Who could eat it all? It was all really good and I was very impressed with my little cooks.

Then they forced our houseguest to go back to bed so they could make her breakfast in bed. Then Elliot made the twins breakfast. Finally, he made himself breakfast.

The kitchen wasn’t too bad. The twins wrote me the sweetest letters in the entire world, bar none. It was all very nice.

The electricity did go out about 9:30 p.m., just as we were preparing to eat my special dessert (made with hoarded-for-my-birthday dried fruit from Trader Joe’s! YUM!). But it wasn’t so bad this time. We went upstairs and stumbled around on the roof, looking to see the extent of the outage. There was a lovely northern breeze. The electricity came back on about 11:30, just as we were dragging all the matlas out onto the balcony.

And yes, I have a houseguest. Her name is Michelle. She used to live here and now she’s back, and staying with me while looking for her own place. This is great as it’s so well understood in this culture, where a woman temporarily husbandless would stay with family or have an unmarried sister or friend to stay. Plus I now, once again, have someone I can call on their cell phone. “Michelle? Can you pick up some bread on your way home?” “Would you mind stopping by and picking up some milk?” I think these sort of phone calls are why Donn conveniently had his phone “stolen” last year.

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