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Turning 70 isn't so bad


Susan Manzke  |  Wisconsin State Farmer

My weekend of birthday celebrations is over and I’m exhausted.

There was no big family gathering. Instead, we had smaller get togethers. On Friday, Russell and his family stopped by for a picnic lunch. Before we could eat, Russell had to assemble my new picnic table—part of my birthday surprises from my children.

I had been attempting to purchase a folding picnic table for the last month. At first, no retail store had the one I wanted in stock. I finally found one, but I couldn’t just go to the store and pick it up. I had to order it and have it delivered.

At first, my table was going to be delivered in five days, then seven, and then fifteen. I was chomping at the bit to get it. I felt like I was getting a new toy.

When the large box was dropped off in my yard, I couldn’t wait to get it out so I could use it. Too bad they messed up my delivery. Instead of a picnic table, I got a heavy tabletop – no legs, just a heavy top. Five days later, the tabletop was picked up, but its replacement has not yet arrived – actually I’m past the guaranteed delivery date again.

The kids figured I could use two picnic tables if my ordered one ever arrives. Because of them, I received a picnic table in time to use it over my birthday weekend.

On Saturday, daughters Rachel and Rebecca arrived with most of their family along for the ride.

As soon as Rachel and her group arrived, they set to work putting up a sign in front of the house. It read “Honk! It’s Susan’s 70th birthday!”

Because of a blustery wind, we had to set up our gathering in the back yard, using the house as a buffer for the wind. With that noisy wind and the distance from the road, I did not hear the first honks. The kids have better ears and noticed a honk here and there.

Eventually, I started to tune into the honks from passing vehicles. There were many different honks this weekend. Shy people only gave a tiny toot. Braver people held the horn so that it stretched out for a second or two.

A large milk truck, heading to a nearby dairy, really laid in on his horn. That was the loudest of the weekend. I thought the quietest came from a motorcycle, but I was mistaken. The softest honking birthday wish came from two bicyclists who called their greeting.

One of my birthday cakes was made from scratch by eleven-year-old granddaughter Arianna. She had asked me what kind of cake I liked. I told her chocolate.

Before we cut Arianna’s cake, Rachel warned us. “We ran out of vanilla, so Arianna used almond extract. When she was adding it to the frosting she said, ‘oops’ as too much went into the mixture. Take little pieces and eat them. She would also love it if you took a second helping.”

I didn’t know what to expect when I bit into the cake. They had candles, only seven, not seventy, but that didn’t matter. The wind blew them out as soon as we lit them—fingers were burned. I faked blowing them out for the camera Rachel had pointed at me.

As for Arianna’s cake, well, it was delicious. The cake was moist and with the special frosting, it tasted like amaretto. I am lucky to have leftover to eat and may ask her for Arianna’s recipe.

My children made distance virus birthday celebrations extra special. Turning 70 wasn’t so bad. It seemed in 1980 I was much more concerned turning 30.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.