The avalanche of birthday greetings has, I think, pretty much come to an end. Well over a hundred well-wishings, mostly on Facebook (in several different locations), some in e-mail, and a few by phone — but, this year, for the first time ever in my adult life, not even one in mail, physical rather than electronic mail. Times change.

Greetings from people from all times of my life, from childhood on, and from all parts of my life. In many keys: charming, whimsical, artful, playful-sexy, thoughtful, and moving.

The cakealeidoscope. From Benita Bendon Campbell and her husband Ed, a kaleidoscopic animation of cakes, cookies, and sweet biscuits (from the Jacquie Lawson company). A still from the display:

(#1) Quick, Madeleine, the biscotti!

Anniversaries. BBC reminds me that it was 60 years ago this month (1959) that I turned up at Princeton’s Language Laboratory to take up a job as an assistant for maintaining the machines and there met Miss Daingerfield of the Language Lab, who oversaw distributing the tapes for language courses. Things went well; reader, she married me. (And through Ann I met her housemate Bonnie, who’s been a friend ever since.)

And then my sister-in-law Virginia reminds me that it was 50 years ago (1969) that I gave a talk at Ohio State and met Jacques Transue — and later that year was enticed from Illinois to OSU, and Jacques became my student. (And, some years later, my lover and then husband-equivalent.)

Then, at the end of that first year at OSU, my first male lover, now a retired professor, who has sent me sweet e-mail on my birthday.

Numerology. I noted that Danny — his pseudonym in my writing about my sexual life — also had a birthday coming up, in October. I wrote to him:

Ah, your birthday is creeping up upon us too: 72, an extremely factorable number (2^3 x 3^2), half a dozen dozen. [In contrast to my 79, which is a (sexy) prime.]

Meanwhile, we continue to approach one another in age ratio (the ratio of our age difference — 7 years — to my current age in years. When I was 29, this was 0.24; now that I’m 79, it’s down to 0.09, scarcely anything at all.

(The difference was somewhat scandalous then, but now it’s negligible.)

Danny replied:

Yes, the age-difference ratio dwindles, which is nice.  On the expanding side, we’ve now participated in seven decades together, also nice.

Very careful choice of words: participate in TIME-SPAN together, rather than something like been together for TIME-SPAN, to indicate that we’ve gone through this time together as friends (though not, for many many years, as partners). Well, Danny’s a poet and a writer as well as a linguist, and he chooses his words carefully.

Sexy penguins. Vadim Temkin has made something of a specialty of creating birthday cards for me from digitally created images. This year’s delight:

(#2) Up against the wall, penguin-faker! (Vadim: “As usual, no penguins or people were harmed in the making of this image”)

The song of the sea turtles. Continuing the aquatic-creatures theme, this electronic card from Emily Rizzo:

(#3) Incorporating a theme from Emily’s life: she and her husband John work at protecting and nurturing hatching sea turtles on Florida’s Gulf coast

Birthdays of gloom. From Lisa Cohen, a note about a tradition in her Chicago Sacred Harp singing group, of singing gloomy songs as birthday songs. The 1991 Denson Sacred Harp has a fair number of ominous songs about frittering away your life in sin. Lisa suggested SH272 Exhortation (Second):

(#4) Oh my: “Behold the months come hast’ning on, / When you shall say, My joys are gone” (the melodic turns on “you shall say / My joys are gone” in the treble and tenor parts are especially pleasing)

As it happens, the Palo Alto group has no such tradition, but we have a singing today, and I propose to lead both SH79 “The Old Ship of Zion” (discussed in my previous birthday posting) — a 19th-century camp-meeting shouting song — and the grimly monitory SH272.

One Response to “Greetings”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    I did indeed lead both 79 and 272, and others chose suitably gloomy songs in my honor. Plus 285t Arnold, which begins “Come, let us join our friends above / That have obtained the prize; / And on the eagle wings of love / To joy celestial rise.” I somehow hadn’t noticed the “eagle wings” — potentially relevant because Arnold is etymologically ‘eagle-strong’ (English erne ‘sea-eagle’). Maybe just a fortunate accident, maybe on purpose; I’ll need to look at some sources.

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