On Wednesday, while I was turning 63, my niece had a baby starting its first year on this planet. Between my brother’s family and mine, we have a bunch of birthdays bunched together, all sagitarii.

That was my first present, which was followed by Axel waking up at 5 AM, quite a feat, and preparing me breakfast with our ritual, but never the same, breakfast table decorations.dec3-2014

Although I was in the office, I used the first two hours off as vacation to attend to the birthday greetings and wishes from wide and far, with some surprising messages from people I have not seen or heard from in a long time, shuffling between Skype and Facebook. In the olden days it was postcards, I remember the excitement as a kid.

My next present was the news that one of my colleagues with whom I work a lot will move into a shared cubicle with me as another leaves to join another part of MSH.

I drove back through a drizzle, then heavy rain – it’s rarely nice weather on my birthday – to find Axel cooking my birthday dinner, a Peruvian fish stew with mussels cultivated in Chili, packed in Thailand and bought in the US. On the back of the package was a recipe for ‘gebakken mosselen’ (baked mussels) from Holland. We certainly live in an interdependent world!

The presents kept on coming. Axel had bought me Novak’s The Book Without Pictures which I look forward to read to/with Faro. Novak is the creator of the American Office and knows how to make people, big and small, laugh.

And then we watched another Poirot episode, I made another batch of Christmas mustard and the birthday was over. I have started my 64th year which I initiated by listening to ‘When I’ am Sixty Four’ on my morning ride into work.

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