My birthday festivities, a painting project and spaghetti pizza for lunch (7 Quick Takes)


Last weekend, I called and asked my mother if she would like us to come over for dinner for my birthday. I haven’t been able to celebrate my birthday with my parents in person for years. My mom made me a cake – a hot milk sponge cake with Aunt Alice’s chocolate icing – and she put two pie birds on top in honor of our pet finches.

She and my dad gave me a sun hat, two shirts, and a nice plate with a bee on it. As I took the plate out of the bag, I said, “Oh! Is this my diploma?

My mom said, “Well, I guess that’s what you really wanted.”

Someday I’ll tell you the story of my college degree that’s been stuck in a drawer in my parents’ house for 24 years. But not today. Let’s save that for another time.

The gifts were wonderful, the cake was exquisite, and the evening was the perfect way to kick off a wonderful week of festivities.


We didn’t win the Mega Millions draw, but we stayed up late Friday night waiting for the numbers to come in.

We knew we wouldn’t win, as my youngest son pointed out, but it would be fun to stay up late anyway. And it was. No regrets.


Our sons have been sharing a room since we moved into our house almost 10 years ago. Now that they are 12 and 14 years old, they wish they had a little more space for themselves. So John is working on getting our third bedroom in shape for our eldest son.

He is painting the room a fresh, lighter color. He and our son went to see small libraries yesterday because you can’t have a room without a library.

It’s exciting to have a project in the works during these summer months as we look to the next school year.


A friend told me about an option to have your mats picked up and cleaned and shipped back to you about a week later. I contacted the company, and they came this week and took our mats with a promise to bring them back in 7-10 days.

I thought it would be a wonderful way to inspire me to do a good house cleaning, but apparently even at 46 years old, nothing inspires me to clean unless company comes along. And we find that we may not miss carpets and love bare floors.

My theory is that it is because it is July and not December when the grounds would be cold. But this is an unexpected twist in my carpet cleaning story.


The other night we had a thunderstorm. Then when I went out for a run, the sky was beautiful.

The clouds were all illuminated with extraordinary light, and I was mesmerized by the beauty of the sky.

Sometimes it seems like God is bragging, but more often I feel like He’s saying, “You typed and loaded the dishwasher and did a thousand other things. Stop for a minute and just remember that I love you.


My birthday is Saint-Joachim and Saint-Anne, and I was delighted to go to mass that morning. When I was born that day, my parents thought of naming me Anne instead of Rita—my grandmother’s name—and I always felt a connection to Sainte-Anne. I chose her as a Confirmation Saint.

It occurred to me that I don’t know much Saint Joachim. I somehow remembered that an angel had told him that he and Sainte-Anne would become parents, even though they were older. I didn’t know that he is usually depicted dressed in green, the color of hope, and sometimes he carries a basket of doves as a symbol of peace. If I’m ever a saint, I guess I’ll be pictured with finches, probably with my hair full of birdseed they threw out of their cages.

At Mass that morning, I prayed with gratitude for my family, my friends, and all the people I have met through my writings. Thank you for joining me in this space.


Speaking of Anne, my friend Annie and I met for a late birthday spaghetti pizza lunch, and we had the most wonderful time. This week has been filled with meeting and listening to family and friends, and I’ve been so excited to connect with people I love.

Annie had bought some special homemade soaps for me on her trip to Puerto Rico, and she also gave me a Mr. Trash Wheel pin. She is one of those people who listens and pays attention and notices what people like.

Annie is such a great friend. We met in college, although we’re both from Baltimore, and I can’t believe we’ve been friends any longer than my degree is stuck in that drawer in my parents’ house.

But, as I said, that’s a story for another day.

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