little red jottings

when a little red pen wanders off the page

Tag: birthdays

Heat, and other things, Part II

So, today had coffee, sand, water, shags, albatross, terns, dolphins, sun, chickens, walking, hugs, Thai street food, a date, wine and whisky. Not bad for a small city.

Another birthday!

20160527_121520The short version: 41 is just as good as 40, but with waaaaaay less angst.

The long version: Dad came over for dinner the night before my birthday, and there was much furtive scurrying in bedrooms and sneaking back and forth for pens and scissors and such from the boys.

The birthday was a school day, so we had a joyful breakfast with presents and homemade cards, then the usual ratty scramble to get everyone out the door. The Cat gave me vouchers for 15 sleep-ins, and Ian gave me an electric blanket. I don’t know if it’s age or personality, but both presents filled me with joy, and I intend to make full use of them.*

20160525_114453I went to the gym after that and my trainer had a hellish circuit ready for me, which was both exhausting and the best kind of birthday present.

I walked through the Gardens to meet my sister for lunch, and it was a cracker day. Clear and sunny, with gold still on the trees and some warmth in the air. Sisterly lunches are basically the best thing ever.

Dinner was cheap eats at the Khmer place at the bottom of our hill, then a brisk walk up the steps to home.

Sun, air, bird song, solitude, company, light, smiles. It made for a pretty good day.


* I put the blanket on in the evening, and it was superb. I cashed in a voucher the next morning and got a bit of extra sleep, then was woken with a small Rabbit face peering at me.

“Hey, baby fruitbat,” I said, “would you like to give me a kiss, then go and get some breakfast?” “No,” said the Rabbit, “what I would like is to get into a warm bed with a mama and have a proper cuddle with her.” Hard to refuse, that.

















A birthday

P1090152 Well, folks, this little editor hit forty a couple of days ago.

I will not lie, I worked myself up into a fair state of denial, loathing and grief over this birthday. Fortunately I started doing this about a year ago and have been getting steadily more reconciled until I made it to the birthday itself and it didn’t hurt a bit. I liked it, even.

P1090014The turning point was a conversation with a new friend who raised her wine glass, looked me in the eye and said, “Mary, you just have to do something to take the edge off. I went to Paris with my mother.” You have no idea how tempted I was, but neither aspect of that particular solution seemed feasible, so I went to Pūrākaunui with my family instead.

Pūrākaunui is an estuary about 30 minutes drive from Dunedin, over the hill to the north of Port Chalmers. The tides come and go, the birds and seals too, people stoop and reach after cockles on the mudflats, time runs at half speed.

P1090063We stayed in a small house beside the water. It was perfect. When I looked out the window, all I could see was water. A heron flew past while I was sitting on the loo. A seal chased a penguin onto the sandbar about 20 metres from our front door. They threatened each other; we covered the boys’ eyes, fearing bloody mayhem. The penguin prevailed, and the seal flounced back into the water. Shags sat on rocks, dove, surfaced, dove again. The Cat walked around saying, “It’s a bird lovers’ paradise. Well, all of New Zealand is a bird lovers’ paradise, but this is REALLY a bird lovers’ paradise.” He’s been reading Steve Braunias lately, as should everyone. We passed a penguin on the track at dusk, and I found myself saying excuse me as I edged slowly by. It just looked at me, noting my idiocy.

We had a night by ourselves while the boys stayed with family friends. It was our third night alone since the Cat was born nine years ago — the quiet was startling. We walked along the water for a few hours, watched kingfishers dart, made sidecars, watched a crazy film about Russians who find a window to Paris, ate lamb and grilled tomatoes and salad. By eight thirty, we were in bed.

P1090082The next morning we ate croissants and drank coffee. We walked to the sea, lit the fire, put lasagne in the oven and read. The boys came at lunchtime and we ate with our friends.

The house seemed a little smaller in the afternoon and I collected cockles with the boys. The cold deepened outside, but we were snug. We ate the cockles and cobbled together a simple dinner. The boys slept on mattresses on the floor, one in the living room, one at the foot of the bed. The snow started to fall.

P1090011The night brought wind, rain, thunder, lightning, hail, snow. The boys slept through it all. I woke up, and I was forty.








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Rabbit turns three

In which Rabbit has a birthday, does cooking, writes a shopping list, plays with his big brother, catches fish, and commandeers his parents’ bed. All in a day’s work.

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