I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

39 Autumns - And No Longer Counting !


I've just blown out the number 39 on a gorgeous chocolate cake! That's right, candles shaped as numbers are far easier than having all those individual little fires on top of a cake, especially when you get past a certain age!

As you can see in the photo above, someone caught me in action at a party we had on Friday night - I know, two days before my actual birthday, which apparently is not a wise thing to do. So, yes, I'm a scorpion, born on the 28th of October, 1968. Actually, I've decided that I may just stick with that number. I think things have gone far enough. I don't see why this counter needs to go up any further. No, 39 will be just fine whenever anyone asks in the future.

Of course, news of my birth was overshadowed by this bit of news on 28/10/1968:

A woman has given birth to six babies in what is being hailed as the first recorded case of live sextuplets in Britain. Sheila Thorns from Birmingham underwent a Caesarean section early this morning during which six children - four boys and two girls - were delivered.

Apparently the singer/songwriter Ben Harper was also born on the same day as me in 1968. I wonder what he did to celebrate his birthday today. Maybe I should've invited him around to my place on Friday night. As it turned out, we had a pretty nice evening. I was anxious - as usual - that no one would show up and I would be making excuses to three people. Luckily, it never turns out to be the disaster I fear and there ended up being quite a number. Thank goodness the elderly couple downstairs was away and I was able to play the piano, on request, at two in the morning.

Parties like this always throw up all kinds of emotions and questions: where am I? what am I doing? where am I going? what lovely people! where are the people from my past? is there enough food? what am I wearing? are people getting on? I really should go and talk to so and so! where's the cat? etc, etc. Oh, I did make a nice vegetable curry, which is always good for large groups.

By the way, am I the only person who thinks of Virginia Woolf before throwing a party? Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself ... What a lark! What a plunge! No, don't worry, my parties are never as complicated as her story turns out to be. I only ever think of that first line. Hell, my parties are not even remotely like the event that Woolf describes, hosted by a wealthy, fashionable society hostess; mine are simple, wholesome affairs, to gently lead me into each new autumn of my life.

Today, on my actual birthday, after only just recovering from the excesses of Friday night, I had a birthday lunch in this lovely spot in the French Alps: La Clusaz. I forgot to take my camera but I was able to take these shots with my mobile phone. These are the first ever pictures I've taken on the phone and I'm quite surprised that they're even publishable. The quality isn't the best, but you get a general idea of the view from the restaurant where we had lunch. The weather was amazing (for the end of October) and we were able to walk around without jumpers or coats.

I then spoilt myself by buying a fancy new ski outfit for the winter - I saw photos of myself in my old combinaison (ski suit) last year and decided: "That look has got to go, preferably down a black slope, very fast!" La Clusaz in winter is a wonderful ski resort and it'll be nice to go back soon when it's covered in snow. This is such an inspiring part of France, where, during the winter, skiing becomes an important escape, necessary for keeping the creative process lubricated!

Oh, I was also given three new shirts, a token for a 45-minute massage (yes, yes and yes!), some old vinyls (bliss), a great film on DVD (La Vie des Autres/The Lives of Others), plus the French translation of Dinaw Mengestu's book The Beautiful Things Heaven Bears and Horowitz And My Father by Alexis Salatko. My birthday hasn't gone too badly at all; I'm ready to face the next year with a smile and renewed oomph!


thecrazydotter said...

Hmmm....You seem to have had a cool time! France is lovely and I was there two years ago. I spent more than a month there and i hope to go back some day again. Well, my parties are rather simple and I don't usually get into a lot of fuss about it. We have a beautiful terrace, which at night is just the perfect place to be. A few close friends, good food, and the stars up there, and there's nothing more we neen :).
Happy birthday! 27th was my brother's birthday and though we didn't do much, we did manage to get together and just be together.

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Seamus and glad your party went well. I'm glad that you have worked out a way to have candles without having to call the fire brigade afterwards ;) And don't stop counting, I'm told life begins at 40.

Shameless Words said...

Hi Crazydotter,
Thank you. Yes, it seems there are many people who have birthdays around this time! :-)

Thanks Verilion,
No, I'm afraid I am going to stop counting ... life will stay at 39! :-) I'll wait and see if life really does begin at 40!

Nancy Ruth said...

The cell phone photos have a very painterly feel about them, almost like watercolors.

Debi said...

Happy birthday! Keep smiling AND keep counting.

I promise it really does keep getting better ...

L.M.Noonan said...

1: Of course you’re a Scorpion…all the very best people are!
2: Buon compleanno!
3: If you add 10 years to your age, then people always compliment you on how young you look. If they don’t you’re in trouble.
4: What was that about Paradise?
5: Vegetable curries are one of my specialties
6: could you bottle some of that creative lubricant and post it here ASAP?

S. Kearney said...

Hi Nancy,
That's funny you mention that about the little photos because it's just what a colleague said about them when she saw them today! :-)

Thanks, Debi, can I hold you to that? :-) Counter has really stopped. Refuses to budge. Given up the ghost. I will take the parties but not the years! :-)

S. Kearney said...

Thanks LMN,
Ah, now, scorpions, what a topic that is ... we would be here for ages. We are jpeomlfpogurikhzj!

The creative lubricant can't be bottled ... sorry ... it's something you can only smear over yourself when you're there! :-)

One of my seven brothers taught me how to make the vegetable curry - he's spent a lot of time in India. How do you make yours? Mine goes like this:

good doses of cumin, garlic, onions and curry cooked with butter and oil in the bottom of a large pot. once turned to mush and browed, then good dose of honey added and then a little water. potatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower and peas added. leave to boil and stew. served with bamati rice. sorry the doses aren't exact, but it never seems to matter.

The curry was a hit with everyone at the party, even the French who can be quite fussy about this kind of dish! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey! Happy Birthday! Sorry I missed it....39 isn't so bad, it's when you reach that next horrifing figure! Which is what I'll be next month :( think I'll be like you and stick to 39 lol....love the cell phone pics.

Anonymous said...

my name isn't anonymous by the way lol It's Debbie lol I forgot to type that in....see what turnig 40 does to you? lol
Rock on Scorpio!

Vesper said...

I'm glad you had a great time on your birthday, Seamus! And manny happy returns of the day! 39, yeah, a good age, but what's inside matters most... :-)

S. Kearney said...

Ah Debbie, good to see you here! And thanks for the b'day message! :-) Good to know that others are in my boat and we're all getting older together! lol

Thanks Vesper,
You're right about the inside being the most important. That's why I'm going to shut my eyes more often! :-)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Seamus!! So glad to hear you had a wonderful time - and that view of the mountains is gorgeous. I would never have guessed you took it from a mobile phone. I'll be 39 in March so clearly it's the Age of Blogging - and what a fine age that is! Enjoy your presents and whatever's left of the food.

Anonymous said...

Harpi Berthday, Seamus!

More good years ahead for you!

More writing from you!

Perhaps, a booker's prize?

S. Kearney said...

Hi Litlove,
Thanks for the b'day greeting. Snap re the age; the number seems to be between here and there!
And yes, you're right, I must use my mobile more often when I don't have my camera! The quality's not as bad as I thought it would be.

Thanks C.S, more writing yes but Booker no. I would refuse it! Imagine all that pressure they must face afterwards. lol

Marie said...

Happy Birthday!
Lovely pictures.

S. Kearney said...

Thanks Marie,
Just shows what we can do with mobile phones!! :-)

L.M.Noonan said...

I sauté the onions garlic + ginger in ghee or oil, add some fresh green chilli (the tiny thai ones that self seed in my garden), then turn up the heat and add 20-30 curry leaves—kari patta— I also grow these trees. Kari patta goes with everything and infuses the kitchen with marvellous smells, then cumin, coriander and turmeric…yes, miss smarty pants grows coriander and turmeric too. At this point I put in my vegetables. These can be all or any of the following…potatoes, kumara, cauliflower, long beans, peas, pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant and so on. If I’m in a hurry—and I generally am—I par cook the more stubborn of the vegies ahead of time so that everything reaches the right degree of tenderness at the same time. I move these vegies around in oil at medium heat then add a smidge of palm sugar and counteracting acidulant…my favourite tamarind, but lemon or even vinegar will do. Put the lid on to hasten the cooking.
I’ve used a rice cooker for 25 years, because we have rice every other night. I have alots of different ways of cooking it or boredom would very quickly set in around here. With the above vegie dish, I would do a perfumed rice. After washing the rice, put in a full stick of cinnamon, 3 or 4 whole cloves, 3-4 whole green cardoman pods (I’m such a show off…I grow acres of cardoman) a pinch of whole black peppercorns , water and proceed to steam as usual.
Other times, I will substitute coconut milk for the water and some sautéed finely chopped onions. Else, I will substitute plain greek yoghurt.
Because Fong is Malaysian, we eat a lot of spicy south east asian food, And the curries I make up are the resulting melange of mother-in-laws cooking, a Bengali best friend, and a fair amount of travelling and adventurous off the beaten track sampling of the indigenous cuisine. I have my limits however with the amount of chilli I can eat; I draw the line at any one ingredient overpowering all the rest. The question of chilli is a whole different matter to Fong however.

S. Kearney said...

Wow, Loretta, that is awesome! I'm going to print that off and have a go next time the troops come round. Your instructions are spot on and I love the collection of things to add. I will have to buy my stuff though (if I find it here), as we live above the land, not even in a tree, surrounded by dead sand. I'm the same re chillis. I don't like things too spicy hot. Actually, I prefer when it's closer to the "not at all" end. I have a favourite Indian restaurant here in Lyon who know me as Mister Zero. I used to try to get across what my "spicy hot" dosage was by holding up my arms and saying on a scale of one to ten, I'm at zero. It's because many restos don't understand mild. Mild for them is still too hot for me. They can't understand that we can love Indian/Asian food without the kick in the mouth! lol

unarex said...

I would say it in French but I forget how to spell it. Happy Birthday.

That cake looks yummy.

unarex said...


As the poem by Marina Tsvetaeva ends:

"Your eyelashes are longer than anyone's"

I see that clicking on the photo.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Jessica,
Thank you. Long lashes make up for lack of hair on top, maybe! Lol

Pearl said...

Happy belated BD. Glad you celebrated in style.

Thanks for your words on my dad. He's steadily improving,

S. Kearney said...

Hi, thanks Pearl, and I'm glad to hear that your dad is improving.

Anonymous said...

I'm a few days late, but here's wishing you a very happy birthday and all of God's blessings. Hope the day was great.

BTW, the pics came out very well. The scenery is simply amazing.

Hmmm, you've given me an idea - candles shaped as numbers :)

S. Kearney said...

Thanks JD,
Yep, even with very little planning and everything being decided at the last minute, my birthday this year was excellent. It seems like only a month ago though that I was in New York celebrating my 38th! Them's the breaks! :-)

Unknown said...

Belated Happy Birthday Seamus! Life begins at 50....so u have a looooong way to go before even starting to count! ;) Great place for a lunch party. lovely pictures. Seems like out of a fairytale! :) And a massage voucher! That's cool!

S. Kearney said...

Hi PS,
Thank you! 50?! What good news. lol. I feel better. And yes fairytale is the word. And yes, I must ring and make the appointment for the massage ... with a list of different styles available. :-)

Anonymous said...

A belated Happy Birthday Seamus. You can count a few more, 40's are the new 20's you know. I share your pre-party anxiety. I worry myself half to death before hand even though I throw many all year long.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Kat,
Thank you. :-)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets nervous before a do. lol

Unknown said...

A belated Happy Birthday, Shameless! Glad you had a great time! Now here's the truth - life only really begins and gets interesting in your forties - trust me - so you have plenty to look forward too even if you've given up counting the years!

S. Kearney said...

Hi AV,
Thank you. I have a few colleagues who've tried to tell me that this week ... one bought me a long black party wig, which I put on for all of 30 seconds at my do. That's the first time I've put on a long, black wig, so I guess many things do begin at this age! lol :-)

Dewey said...

Happy birthday, a little late. Sounds like you had a really lovely time. Next year, please invite both me AND Ben Harper! You won't even have to feed me. I'll just sit there staring at him and grinning like a fool.

S. Kearney said...

Thanks Dewey,
If Ben Harper ever accepts the invitation ... you will definitely be invited. We'll also allow you some cake! lol

exskindiver said...

oh belated happy birthday.
you're catching up with the rest of us oldies.
loved your bloody head,
and enjoyed all your halloween pictures too.
cheers seamus.


S. Kearney said...

Hi Exskin,
thanks. at least I'm moving forward and not backwards, which is always a good sign! lol
yes, the bloody head. Lucky I wasn't arrested or rushed to hospital against my will!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Gah! I totally missed your birthday! You should've given me a heads-up when you came over to my birthday blog party!

Anyway, looks like you've celebrated well :)

S. Kearney said...

Hi S,
Thank you. Yes, I saw we're in the same sky! :-)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

A very Happy (albeit late) Birthday to you Seamus, you look every part of 29, so we'll stick with that, if you like.

Cheers to you, and to the coming years, may they only get better as you go along through them!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

S. Kearney said...

Hey, thanks very much Wanderlust. Yep, I'll take the 29! lol