Stars in stripes

Standard

‘Looking back and forth on the Fourth’

For the past several summers we’ve had this fun Fourth of July tradition where we let The Child fill up our house with as many of her friends as we have beds to lay their pretty little heads on. Sometimes it’s guys and girls; sometimes ‘just’ girls. The Dude and I are happy with either arrangement, though we have noticed that when it’s girls-only, the Young Friends seem more inclined to activity — like going to the beach, hopping on the bikes, or heading into town to catch what’s up at The Talkhouse.  

Last year’s crop of Nation’s Birthday Beauties. Haven’t wrestled this year’s photo out of The Dude’s camera yet. But, trust me, they’re equally sparkly

(The guys, when the guest list includes them, seem content to hang around The Compound, sipping beer and, well, being content. Sometimes they bestir themselves to demonstrate their CrossFit routines; there was a Matt-shaped indentation in our lawn for a few post-Fourth days one year. Oh, and one other memorable Fourth, Somebody’s BF soaked his iPhone in our hot tub, though not intentionally. BTW, putting a soaked iPhone into a jar of rice does not dry it out, no matter what you may have read on the internet.)

Speaking of food, this year I inaugurated a new tradition: The USA Birthday Cake. From Carvel, of course. No, we didn’t sing

But hey, anything anybody wants to do — or not do — is A-okay with me. I’m happy to provide food — beaucoup de food — and stay the heck out of the way. I was in the kitchen in the midst of doing just that when one of this year’s Young Lovelies (and they are — lovely — each and every one of them) strolled by on her way to the pool, and I happened to catch the unmistakable whiff of — Coppertone.

Continue reading

Sixteen Candles. Plus another sixteen. Or so.

Standard

‘Thinking flaming birthday thoughts today.’

I would light the candles on my cake this year, but I’m afraid I’d trigger the sprinkler system. I have reached a remarkable age. An age that is somewhere between ‘Can I please have a tea set for my dolls?’ and ‘Can I please leave a tea set for my Child?’

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t appreciate having a birthday. After all, as our good friend Andy (who is a heck of a lot older than me) says: ‘Any day above ground is a good day’.

Andy, in fact, doesn’t just say this. He has it printed on birthday pens and birthday tee shirts and even birthday chocolate bar wrappers. Andy is into birthdays, big time. He’s also a Trump Supporter. So there’s that.

Andy’s attitude toward the inevitable accumulation of more and more birthdays is, alas, the opposite of my own late lamented father’s. He, when wished ‘happy birthday’ (or even when not wished ‘happy birthday’, like just on any ordinary, random day) would often remark: ‘Don’t get old’. Which, um, sort of triggers a response of ‘Hmmm. Okay. But I’m kind of not into the alternative.’ Continue reading

‘Here’s your trouble’

Standard

‘My upside-down Kit Kat Birthday’

It’s a well-known fact that Swedes don’t age, we just shrivel and sort of turn into the human equivalent of beef jerky. But we do have birthdays, whether we like it or not.

By this point in my birthday-blessed life, I’ve had all kinds: dressed-up and dressed-down birthdays in restaurants (one was at our favorite Japanese place where the waiter, dressed in a bunny costume, presents you with some fruit with a candle stuck in it) and extremely-dressed-down birthdays in jammies.

I’ve celebrated birthdays at work, on vacation, at my Mom’s. I even spent part of one natal day waiting in line at Immigration. (Taciturn customs agent checking my passport: ‘Why, happy birthday, Alice Henry Whitmore.’)

The birthday spent trying not to cower with fear on top of the Duomo in Florence

The birthday spent trying not to cower with fear on top of the Duomo in Florence

Sunday’s was a drinking-champagne-in-sweatpants-while-watching-the-Mets-lose-the-World-Series kind of birthday. (Sorry Mets. Maybe you should have sent me a card.) Continue reading

‘Roger did it’

Standard

‘It’s a wonder every Middle Child isn’t an ax murderer’

To have a Middle Child in your family you need, at minimum (duh), three kids. Mine had five. We had the Big Kids (Scott and me), the Little Kids (Laura and Doug). And poor Roger — who, incidentally, just had a birthday Saturday– was the one stuck in the middle.

That's Roger, right there in the middle. Literally, and figuratively

That’s Roger, right there in the middle. Literally, and figuratively

I say ‘poor Roger’ because this is the kind of thing he’d hear all day: ‘Roger! Stop bothering those Big Kids. They have homework to do.’ Or: ‘Roger! Stop teasing those Little Kids. They might get hurt.’

Well, we Big Kids didn’t really mind our homework getting interrupted. And the Little Kids? They didn’t get hurt. Not physically, anyway. Though that Roger was a world-champion teaser/tormenter. I can still picture (and hear) him trailing Laura all around the house blowing on his trombone: ‘Blat blat blaaaaaat…blat blat blaaaaat!’ Over and over and over again. It drove her absolutely wild. Laura: ‘Moooooooom!!!!’ Mom: ‘He’s just practicing, dear.’ Laura: ‘But he won’t stoooooop!’ Mom: ‘Just ignore him.’ Like that would work.

One of the Big Kids (me) condescends to 'play' with Roger. That's Laura lurking by the picnic table. And that's Doug's playpen. (Remember those?)

One of the Big Kids (me) condescends to ‘play’ with Roger. That’s Laura lurking by the picnic table. And that’s Doug’s playpen. (Remember those?)

Poor Roger. Stuck in the middle. Not only did he get squeezed out of exclusive Big Kid and Little Kid activities, he got blamed for pretty much every naughty thing that happened:

Continue reading

‘Where do you keep your cake?’

Standard

‘Questions for my Oldest Younger Brother on his Day’

Those of you who are my Devoted Readers (bless your hearts) know by now that I like to speak softly and poke fun at my Family with a big stick. Today, because it’s your birthday, it’s your turn, King Tut (er, Scott).

It’s been a long time since you and I fought over who got the top bunk. (Yes, Scott was my first Roommate of the Opposite Sex.) And a long time, even, since you and I smuggled a motorcycle into a motel room. (I see a pattern of co-habitation here. If you readers are curious and/or titillated, you can check out that story here.)

But, back to you and your birthday. And those questions.

1. Did you recover fully from having watermelon ‘jammed down your throat’? See, when Scott was just a tyke, he, like many small children, was not into trying new, unfamiliar, or weird-looking foods. He thought that red food — tomatoes, watermelon — looked particularly unappetizing. Our less-than-patient father got particularly exasperated one hot suppertime, and told Scott to ‘try that delicious watermelon right now, or I’ll jam it down your throat’. Not sure I’d recommend this technique to some of you New Parents, but hey, it worked. Continue reading

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen birthdays

Standard

‘But I’ve never seen James Taylor and The Dude in the same room at the same time’

If you run into James Taylor today, you might want to wish him “Happy Birthday”. Because, if you happen to be on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it’s probably The Dude that you’ve run into, and it is indeed his birthday today.

James Taylor’s was in March, and he is a few years older. But, if The Dude’s heard it once he’s heard it a thousand times: “Hey! Did you know you look just like James Taylor?!?” Who knows? Maybe people are constantly stopping JT with: “Hey! Did you know you look just like this guy called The Dude who turns up in Lutheranliar’s blog?!?”

Even James’s ex, Carly, did a double-take when she passed His Dudeness on the street one day. (I heard this straight from The Dude’s mouth. And he would never ever tell a lie, not even a Lutheran one.) And I once went to a Yo Yo Ma concert here in New York (the real Yo Yo Ma, not my invented syndrome), where guess who was a surprise guest performer? Yup. Someone who looked just like my personal husband, dressed in a very expensive-looking tux over a black tee shirt. After that, I got The Dude a black tee shirt. That’s one great look on a tall baldish guy, tux or no tux.

Enough kvelling. Let’s truck out some photographic evidence, and let you be the judge. Don’t these two look rather incredibly similar, diabolical eyebrows and all?

Continue reading

Confessions of a B-Team Mom

Standard

‘You never step in the same family twice.’

Apologies to Heraclitus, for mangling (er, adapting) his line. He said something like ‘No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.’ I’d actually never heard of Heraclitus till I googled that quote, which I had floating around in my head. (Um, brief aside: Am I the only one who thinks ‘Heraclitus’ sounds a tad, well, unseemly? Or do I just have jet lag?)

See, last Thursday was my Little Brother Doug’s birthday (he’s the guy squirming in my lap in the picture at the top of this post.) And last Friday I got to go out west to visit our Mutual Mother, who now lives in a quaint little town on the Oregon Coast. But no more of that for now.

On the endless plane ride out there, I got to thinking that, since I am almost 12 years older, Doug and I were, for all intents and purposes, raised in completely different families. (Those of you who’ve been along for my Blog Ride know by now that I am the oldest of five: Scott/Me are the Big Kids, Laura/Doug are the Little Kids, and Roger is stuck in the Middle Kid position.) Continue reading