Saturday, June 22, 2013

An Unexpected Birthday

As you may recall from my Previous Post, I spent my 30th birthday working at the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Siege of Vicksburg in Mississippi. It was a unique and exciting way to spend my birthday, but also did not seem at all like my birthday, and it was hard to be away from everyone I love. Knowing this would be true, and since turning 30 is supposed to be a bigger deal than most birthdays, my loving wife had conspired behind the scenes to make my birthday something special and memorable, even if it had to be celebrated after the fact. With a combination of special activities I knew about and a few surprises she succeeded in making doing precisely that.

The first surprise I encountered actually had nothing to do with my birthday, but just so happened to coincide with my return home. The day before I got back Alison was approached by our landlords (who live in the big house above our basement apartment) and asked if we would be willing to foster a couple of kittens and their mother who were slated for termination if they could not find someone to host them for the next few days. Being the animal lover she is, and having wanted a cat since we got married, she couldn't turn down the opportunity. She did warn me ahead of time, but it was still rather unusual to return home to find three additional houseguests!

As it turned out we ended up keeping the kitties longer and actually still have them nearly a month later. They are quite entertaining, though they also have a talent for finding mischief cooped up in our little apartment! So if anyone is in the market for some calico cats we have three available options...
After meeting our new roommates I proceeded to open presents which had accumulated in my absence. In addition to more sophisticated items (like books and movies and national park service paraphernalia) I also received a couple of more lighthearted contributions to mark my transition into my thirties including dart guns and a card game called "Guillotine." In the latter players compete to behead the most valuable characters (like King Louis, Marie Antoinette, and the Cardinal) while avoiding beheading the hero of the people, martyrs, and innocent victims. It is quite entertaining. :)

A couple of days later we joined friends at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts for a performance of "The
Mikado," a classic Gilbert and Sullivan masterpiece of humor and oddities. As a result, our newest pet names for each other are "Yum Yum" and "Nanki-Poo."

The next day Alison had arranged for several friends to come over after church for lunch and cupcakes, which she managed to make in our toaster oven (since we do not have a normal sized one and thus cannot bake as a general rule). It was here that she presented me with two other special gifts to mark my 30th birthday. The first was a photo book documenting each of my four positions with the National Park Service and the second was a scrapbook of writing and photographs from friends and family. She had collected pictures, memories, prayers, blessings, and other contributions from people for weeks before my birthday and while I was busy in Mississippi she compiled them all together into a special scrapbook.

So what had at first appeared to be a birthday lost amidst the sesquicentennial of the Civil War turned out to be one of the more memorable ones. Having a wife is a pretty good deal. :)

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