Friday, November 30, 2012


I turned forty this month, which is the kind of round landmark number that puts one in a reflective mood.  My first thoughts were of my thirtieth birthday, a nice round ten years ago. The day I turned thirty was my last day of work at Biola, and it turned out to have been my last day of (paid) work since. To celebrate, Shaun hired my sister Hillary to cater a huge dinner party, which was hosted by our friends the Shackelfords at their home in Whittier. I still remember wanting to lick the sauce off my plate of mussels, and the coq au vin she fixed remains to this day one of the best things I've ever eaten.

The past ten years alone have been full enough for a lifetime. Shaun and I have lived in eight different apartments and houses (in four different states, plus Germany.) We have had two babies who have grown into two schoolboys, and the mystery and joy of that has made my life richer than I could have ever imagined. We've had five surgeries among us, Shaun has worked at just about every flavor of programming job imaginable, and I've switched out my hobby of acting for writing, an interest more easily adapted to family hours. 

To celebrate my fortieth, we decided on a close-to-home weekend getaway. For the first night, we stayed at the Swantown Inn in Olympia. It's old and charming inside, with the old things allowed to just be old rather than being foofed up or torn out and replaced. It's dark and creaky, as a Victorian should be. We made quite a racket coming in late at night after we had dinner with the Shackelfords, who now live in Olympia. I love that they book-ended my decade.

On Saturday morning, we wandered around the Olympia Farmer's Market. It's where hippie culture meets the artisanal meat movement (that's smoked cheese and sausage chunks.)

If you go anywhere in Olympia, it must be to The Bread Peddler, where we had our lunch. A glass of rosé, a croque monsieur, and a pile of greens with tarragon vinaigrette were the next best thing to going to Paris. Nom.

On our way out we picked out several pastries to go, enough to fill a sizable box. The people around us (there was a long line) seemed compelled to make wistful comments. I think it was because deep down everybody wants to stand at the bakery counter and buy every single thing that looks good at least once in his life.

After lunch we headed to Lake Quinault Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula, an area of Washington I'd never visited before. I thought it was very beautiful and a little spooky, in a good way. (Thanks to The Shining, I will forever associate historic lodges with creepiness.) That's a rain gauge on the chimney, and we certainly saw our share of rainfall while we were there.

Here's the view from our bare-bones but clean and perfectly-situated room.

Out for a stroll.

On our way home on Sunday we stopped just down the road to see the world's largest sitka spruce tree. I thought it was endearingly homely.

It would have looked right at home in Middle Earth. It must have stirred up something in me, because I've gone back to reading more fantasy and other genre fiction since our visit.

We made the most of the last day of our trip, stopping in Astoria at our favorite fish n' chips place on earth before catching the movie Argo in Seaside. I didn't think I was in the mood for a movie, but I liked it.

I was already having a good day when I encountered a bouquet of flowers in a roadside rest stop. As my great-aunt Chicuela would say: Bonus.

Here's a picture that I took of myself on my actual birthday so I can look back some day and see what forty looked like. It is appropriately fuzzy.

In my forty years I'm so grateful for all the books I've read, the countries I've visited, the friends I've made, the meals I've eaten, the shows I've performed in, the songs that have stirred me, the walks I've taken, the family I love, the beauty of the world and all the creatures in it, and the Word of God that lights the way and reveals the truth. Even if these years were all I had, it would be a gift of more abundance than I could have ever hoped for.


josie O. said...

Great birthday trip. Thanks for taking me along for the ride. Also, I am mad at my husband for breaking UP with me so that I didn't get to go to your 30th party, because it sounds scrumptious. (Assuming that I would have been invited.) Re-do at 50?

Gypmar said...

Oh, Josie, I needed that laugh. Of course you would have been invited, and a big YES on the re-do!

Unknown said...

Love this reflection on your decade. It's amazing how much can happen in such a short amount of time, right?

Julianna Lawson said...

What a wonderful post! Happy Birthday to a truly lovely woman!

Kim Mack said...


Anonymous said...

I just love your gratitude and the bonus flowers you found at the rest stop sink, it's the little sweet things. I learned a lot about you in this read, I had no idea you had lived in Germany and many other spots homes/apartments along the way. Also I was getting all dreamy as I read your post, most of my best memories are road trips, nice meals and overnight stays with my love.

Happy birthday may your next 10 be filled to the brim with goodness.

Oleg K. said...

I'm getting here late, obviously, but happy birthday! If the adventures posted on your blog are any indication of your beautiful life then you're certainly in for a joyful 40th year and many more after.

Gypmar said...

I meant to check back in here and say thank you all for the kind comments and birthday wishes. Thank you!!