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May 30, 2003: Birthday me

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We fully intended to go grocery shopping last night in preparation for this evening's dinner. But we had a friend come over a woman I worked with at The Company To Be Nicknamed Never, who also worked at Benthic Creatures with us (although while Richard and I ran screaming, she is still there). She is one of those amazingly cool people that I liked the first moment I met her and not just because she is just as much of a cat maniac as I am. We've been trying to schedule a time to get together for weeks now, but hectic schedules kept getting in the way. So last night was finally it. She came over, and while Richard did his nerd thing on her laptop and her palm pilot, we talked, and pet the cats, and reminisced about Benthic Creatures and laughed and suddenly it was after 11pm at night! So we hugged our goodbyes and she drove off and Richard and I realized we'd never gone to get our groceries for my birthday dinner and hastily concocted a backup plan.

This involved us leaping out of bed at 6am this morning, throwing on our clothes and zipping off to the grocery store, where I took a slight detour into the bakery to get coffee and pastries and he wandered the aisles gathering peppers and onions and apples and four pounds of pork loin. Then it was back home and a hasty smashing of garlic and pouring out of ingredients and slicing of meat to get the marinade together, and Richard set up the coals on the grill in the coal-lighting chimney, and somehow we managed to find the extra few minutes to pack lunches before dashing out the door to work.

I never know quite how to handle birthdays at work. If I say something about how it is my birthday, people then feel obligated to do something about it, and that makes me uncomfortable, as if I'm fishing for something. So while I mentioned it at Curves (and got kudos for actually working out on my birthday), I didn't say a word at work until the end of the day, when I eyed the clock, pondered the fact that we had people coming over for dinner far too soon after we normally get home, and decided that my birthday was as good an excuse as any to duck out fifteen minutes early.

A few weeks ago we went to some friends' house and they made us the most amazing fajitas I have ever eaten. Naturally I asked for the recipe, which led to us heading for Chevy's at the first opportunity to buy the cookbook, since that's where it came from. The pork is marinated in a mixture of pineapple juice and soy sauce and cumin and garlic, and then grilled and sliced thin and served with a mixture of red peppers, white onions, bacon, and apples. And the final touch is just a dab of red pepper jelly (the recipe is also in their cookbook).

We made huge quantities of that pork tonight for my birthday dinner, along with a huge pan of the onion and pepper and apple filling. And after I fed it to my parents and my sister I think we probably managed to sell a few more cookbooks for Chevy's. It really is that good!

My mom made me the most amazing chocolate cake - dense and rich and smothered in dark chocolate frosting. After we were done I cut off a slab to save for Richard and I. It will be breakfast tomorrow morning. And perhaps after the last few entries you'd think that planning chocolate cake for breakfast might be a bad idea. But this is because I have neglected to explain one very important point.

Sitting in our driveway as I type this are three pallets of extremely heavy stones. Let me say that again. They are extremely heavy. I cannot lift a single stone with one hand. And tomorrow Richard and I will somehow cart all 500 of these stones into the backyard, there to arrange them into a wall for a raised bed that will most likely be about 14 feet in diameter. I think both Richard and I have been spending a lot of time after seeing those pallets, trying to convince ourselves that this really isn't suddenly a bad idea!

Cross your fingers this nice weather holds, okay? Because I do not relish lugging extremely heavy lumps of cement around the yard in extreme heat. We are going to earn that cake tomorrow. Oh yes. And we will have fun doing it. Yes. Fun. By golly. Fun!

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