Sunday, June 17, 2012

What I Learned On My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, my first in Spain, and it was pure happiness from start to finish. I awoke to a birthday serenade from San Geraldo. We then headed out for our usual breakfast at Emperador Trajano but we added dessert. Apple and Dulce de Leche (caramel-filled) muffins. Our first over-dose of the day. Included in this blog post are the 10 lessons I learned on my birthday this year.

Lesson 1:
This one was really for San Geraldo. There is a big difference between año and ano. The Spanish word for birthday is cumpleaños. Jerry told Paula at Emperador Trajano that it was my comple-ano — in essence, my "complementary anus." I explained to San Geraldo that the "ñ" (en-yay) is sometimes an especially important letter.

I didn't do much else after breakfast and dessert because I was saving my strength for dinner at Catalina with Adela, Miguel, and Teré (and, of course, San Geraldo). We had lunch downstairs at El Sanedrín, where I was greeted by the birthday song performed in Spanish.

LESSON 2: THE DOWAGER DUCHESS IS GIFTED (WELL, I REALLY ALREADY KNEW THAT).
MY BIRTHDAY CARD THIS YEAR. ANOTHER ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTED JUST FOR ME.

I had an, as usual, fun and loving Skype call with My-Mother-the-Dowager-Duchess and my wonderful brother (who has enough nicknames without my giving him another one for this blog). That Skype call was followed by another joy-filled Skype call with our family in England, when I heard the birthday song performed once again. I told them it had now been sung to me in three languages (American, Spanish, and "real" English).

LESSON 3: MY EYES ARE STILL BIGGER THAN MY STOMACH.

I'm sorry (well, not really) that while we were at Catalina, I was too busy eating and drinking and laughing to take pictures. And if I dont' take pictures, they don't get taken. I don't have one single photo of our main course feast at Catalina, which was — as usual — unbelievably delectable. And the service made us feel like we were family. It had been a very hot day and was still a very warm night when we arrived around 9:45. We asked for the coolest spot in the place (which was already comfortable when we walked in the door), but the host took us into the back dining area, seated us right under an AC vent and turned it up. Within minutes, the always-steamy San Geraldo was very content.

LESSON 4: THERE IS NO JOY GREATER THAN GOOD FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
(EVEN WHEN NO ONE IS READY FOR THE CAMERA.)

During dinner, Teré commented admiringly on the golden glow of her own arms. She's using, I think, a new body lotion that she really likes. She said she had arms of gold. San Geraldo thought she was trying to speak English at the time and that she had said she had arms of oil (and not of oro). That evolved into some laughter and a lesson in Spanish. I asked for the word for "oily." "Aceitosa" is one. And that DE-volved into slightly obscene gestures about what would happen if one tried to hug Oily Teré, which then devolved into my dubbing Teré with a new name: Terésa Aceitosa.

LESSON 5: I'M STILL A WINDBAG.
LESSON 6: CATALINA'S TRIPLE-CHOCOLATE CAKE IS A CHOCOHOLIC'S DREAM.
LESSON 7: I SHOULD NOT ALLOW CLOSE-UPS.

Gonzalo and Elena, our neighbors and the owners of Catalina, were as always the most amazing and generous hosts. Again, I'm sorry I didn't take more pictures, especially since they are both as great to look at as they are gracious!

LESSON 8: DESSERTS SHOULD BE CHOCOLATE (ACCORDING TO ADELA).
"CARROTS ARE DELICIOUS, BUT WHY WOULD YOU PUT A VEGETABLE IN A DESSERT?"
(THIS WAS TERÉ'S UNBELIEVABLY LUSCIOUS CHOICE ... NO MATTER WHAT ADELA SAYS.)

After dinner, around midnight, we walked in the direction of home. San Geraldo split off and went to bed. Teré, Adela, and I went across the bridge to Triana to have a drink at Miguel's bar (he had taken a break to join us for dinner). So in addition to what I drank at Catalina — Tinto de Verano, Champagne (complements of the house), after-dinner gin and tonic shooters (complements of the house) — I had a mojito prepared by Miguel. And Miguel makes by far the best mojito I have ever had.

At 2:00, Adela and I walked back across the river. She lives about 5 minutes beyond our house. I was in bed at 2:30. I partied just like a grown-up!

LESSON 9: I CAN STILL KEEP UP.


LESSON 10:
Clint Eastwood is pronounced "Clean Ees-GWOO."

36 comments:

  1. Hello Mitch:
    Belated birthday greetings. Judging from these very happy and jolly pictures, and from all that you say, you had the most wonderful time.

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    1. J&L:
      Thanks for the greetings. It was an exceptional birthday. So much to be grateful for!

      Delete
  2. Happy Birthday! (You and Owl share the same birthday, but don't tell him that I told you!) It sounds as though you had a fabulous time - lovely photos.x

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    1. Elaine:
      Thanks and thanks, also, for the info about Owl. I will wish him well and he'll never know how I found out. I'm honored to be in such good company. I was sorry I didn't have more photos, but the few I had really do give the sense of what a joyful day it was.

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  3. First, Happy happy borthday. It looked like you had the most fabulous time.

    Secondly:
    'Clint Eastwood is pronounced "Clean Eez-GWOO."'

    I learned about this after about ten years with Carlos. We were driving to somewhere in North Carolina, and he was reading the map [mistake one] and he said to take the Goodbridge Freeway.

    Well, of course we passed the Woodbridge Freeway and he asked why I drove by.
    "You said Good!"
    "Yes, Gwoodbridge."
    "You mean WOODbridge?"
    "That's what i said."


    Oy!

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    1. Bob:
      Jerry and I laughed out loud at your story about the Gwoodbridge Freeway. Your stories seem to regularly have that effect on us. There were more of those names last night, but I can't remember them. Anyway, I'm sure you've heard them all by now.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. The time WAS fabulous!

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  4. Happy Birthday Mitchell Block! Happy Birthday to you!! Looks like you had a blast and survived to tell the tale. Hey, you look pretty good close up!

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    1. Jim:
      Such a beautiful voice. Thanks for the serenade. Definitely had a blast and surprisingly survived to tell the tale. Truth is, I had less than 5 drinks in 5 hours (and two had almost no alcohol). A huge night out for me, but nothing dangerous. So, I look good close up? Thanks, but, whatever you do, don't remove that filter from your screen -- or those rose-colored glasses!

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  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! May you have many more wonderful birthdays!

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      My gratitude to you, Ms. Sparrow!

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  6. ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡MUCHISIMAS FELICIDADES!!!!!!!!

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    1. ¡Muchas gracias! !Fue el mejor cumpleaños que he tenido!

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  7. Happy Belated Birthday! After all you ate it sounds like you need to walk around Sevilla to burn it off, in small parts over the next 364 days.
    eCard is in the mail

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    1. Peter:
      The e-card was stunning! I'll begin my 364 days of walking... tomorrow. Today was the start of my 364 days of napping/

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  8. Rather than wish you H.B., Mitch, (as it's clear from these fab pics that you DID) I'll wish you good health and fortune for your coming year, and to all future ones. Happiness exudes from these photos. May it ever be so, my dear friend. :-)

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    1. Raybeard:
      It is amazing for me to experience that kind of relaxed happiness. I'm very grateful. Thank you for your good wishes. I wish you the same!

      Delete
  9. I am very happy to read of your joyful birthday Mitch. Belated birthday greetings and good wishes for many more!

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    1. Judith:
      Thanks so much. I spent today quietly recovering!

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  10. Oh, heavens, what a lovely, wonderful time you seem to have had! Mitchell, your posts are such fun to read, in part because you are so positive and full of joy for life. I love hearing about you and Jerry and the cats and the Dowager Duchess (gorgeous watercolor!) and your Spanish friends, and the wonderful ways you enjoy your life. May you have many more wonderful days and wonderful birthdays :)

    Judy

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    1. Judith:
      I always appreciate your visits and your kind words. I have my low moments, but sometimes I think it's only because I've been lucky enough to know what it feels like to have joy. And, if that's not the reason, I'm still grateful for all these amazing people and moments in my life.

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  11. I see a pattern (and reference of mania): I go away from blog land for a week, and everyone has a birthday. I didnt know my absence makes people age.
    hohoho
    Many happy returns! May this next year be your best one yet!

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    Replies
    1. Does that mean I can blame you for my lines Dr Spo? ;-)

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    2. Peter:
      Yes, I think we should all blame Ur-spo for every one of our wrinkles (and every one of my missing hairs). But then maybe we should credit him with our great good fortune to have survived another year.

      Thanks for going away for a week, Ur-spo!

      Delete
  12. Well blow me down. Fayleeeceeetaceeeownays. Uh, so much for my Spanish. I'll just say it in French: féliciations! Sounds like the perfect birthday celebration. :)

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    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Mercy!... I mean merci! It WAS the perfect celebration. But now I want one every day.

      Delete
  13. I come to my mind on what they call, two players in Spain.
    actress Goldie Hawn, is simply, La Recluta Benjamin, for people of a certain age his name is that. And the actor Joseph Cotten, is José Cotén. :))))

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    1. SOONKS:
      La Recluta Benjamin es briliante y me gusta mucho José Cotén (lo que tiene perfecto sentido).

      Otro es John Wayne; que en realidad es Hone VWHY-NAY (aquí, al menos).

      I wish I could remember all the others.

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  14. I'm a bit late but (taking a break from the ironing mountain)....HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!

    It looks like you had a wonderful time and a perfect birthday anyway !!

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    1. Jean:
      Well NOW it's perfect! Thanks so much.

      I have a closetful of clothes I don't wear because they need ironing. Let me know the next time you climb the mountain!

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  15. This is too hilarious for words...every moment is so memorable unless you are expected to remember anything after all those drinks...no harm in trying, eh! Happy Birthday Mitch...btw...you have Jim's shirt on..were you in his closet? Lol..he had the very same shirt many years ago...how did you get it?!

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    1. Ron:
      That was really less than 5 full drinks in 5 hours. A big night out for me, but a true partier would not be impressed.

      Thanks for pointing out how old my shirt is (like Jim, I bought it new many years ago)! I'm pleased at least to know my fashion sense is as refined as his.

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    2. Ooops...I've been told that I have more than a tendency of putting my foot in my mouth....so many times!

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  16. Happy Belated Birthday!!! I agree that chocolate should be in ALL desserts .. no matter what!! It sounds like a lovely day … you are blessed.

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    1. Jenners:
      Thanks! And I've now found "the best" dark chocolate ice cream. Life is good.

      Delete

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