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June 18, 2005: Happy something

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The end of May marks the beginning of birthday season in Richardís and my combined family. First up is Richardís oldest sister, who is exactly five days older than me, and then comes my birthday. June is positively littered with birthdays and such Ė my dad, Richardís dad, Fatherís Day (for both of them), my oldest nephew, and Richardís aunt. Close on the heels of June comes July, with birthdays for half a dozen more members of Richardís family. So planning for birthday (or other) celebrations starts to get a little interesting, as we all try to figure out the best way to fit everything in.

Last weekend we did a combination celebration for my dad and my oldest nephewís birthday (he turned 7! How did he get to be this old?), as well as Fatherís Day. My older sister made a birthday cake for the two of them to share (my nephew got his own cake at his own party with several other little boys today). There were lots of presents to unwrap, what with all three reasons for presents. My mom made chicken parmesan and my dad uses any excuse to use their nifty bread machine. Theyíd found these marvelous air rocket toys earlier in the week Ė the rockets were squishy foam and you shot them into the air by pulling back the tube and forcing them off the launcher with a blast of air. We took those outside to the front lawn and the entire family had a wonderful time launching those goofy little rockets into the air. We quickly discovered that the youngest nephew was perfectly willing to dash off to collect the rockets, over and over, since, being much younger and closer to the ground, he didnít mind bending over to pick them up.

The oldest nephew got roller blades for his birthday, and had to go try them out immediately. Watching him, with his helmet and his elbow and knee pads, had me remembering my sisters and I and our first roller skates, which were noisy metal contraptions you put on over your shoes, and then tightened with a metal key. The whole concept of helmets and padding never came up back then; weíd just strap on our skates and hit the sidewalk. Iím sure the neighbors got a little tired of the sound of those things scraping along the concrete, but thatís what all the kids had, so it was no big deal. Then came the boot skates (and amusingly I believe I still own a pair of boot skates Ė not only that, but I think itís likely they actually might still fit). Roller blades really didnít hit it big until we were in college. A friend and I rented some for the day and spent the afternoon careening around corners and grasping wildly for stop signs and telephone poles because we could never figure out how to make the darn things stop. Now I doubt any of my nephewís classmates have ever even heard of roller skates Ė especially not clanky metal ones that had to be adjusted with a skate key. It makes me feel a little nostalgic. Okay, and also more than just a little old.

This weekend we headed down to Richardís parentsí house for his dadís birthday/Fatherís Day thing. His dad is heavily into the Scottish guilds and is a member (and on the council or something) of one particular clan Ė even owns, and wears, kilts. So he was off at the Scottish Games in Campbell when we arrived, and we headed off to meet him there.

The Scottish Games in Campbell, much like the ones here in our home town, are a tad on the small side. Really, if you want to see a big one, you have to hit the ones in Pleasanton, where they end the day with hundreds upon hundreds of bagpipers all converging into one massive army making something vaguely like music heard through the buzzing of a million industrious bees. But still, itís fun to wander around, see all the clan tables and tents, and ponder if thereís anything cool to buy. Iíd dressed according to weather.com, which swore it was going to be cool, with chances of rain, so I was naturally dying of heat shortly after we got there. Luckily we found a table of suitable t-shirts, so I demonstrated skills learned during long ago coed bus trips for high school and junior high band competitions, and changed from sweatshirt to t-shirt right there in the middle of everything, all without flashing any hint of skin. Later we wandered into the indoor areas and listened to a little group consisting of hammer dulcimer, drum, various sizes of flutes, and a singer who was actually pretty good.

So now the latest installments of the summer birthday celebration are done and, with a few exceptions, weíve got all the gifts for the July birthdays purchased, wrapped, and mailed or delivered early, just in case we canít make it down at the appointed time. And we can breathe a little sigh of relief and forget all about birthdays, except for the random one here or there, until November, when the winter birthday season starts up and we get to do this all over again.

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