Another birthday! UPDATED

I wrote the first part of this post in 2013 to celebrate my 65th birthday and thought I'd add to it today, on my 71st.




In 1948, the first supermarket opened in the UK, Mahatma Gandhi was murdered, Don Bradman and Joe DiMaggio were creating records, the Pulitzer Prize was shared by James A Michener and Tennessee Williams, Lord Mountbatten resigned as govenor-general of India, TS Eliot won the Nobel Prize for Literature and on 15 April, 151 years after the first of my Australian ancestors stepped upon these shores from convict ships, I was born into a small working class family in Sydney, part of the "baby boom". The population of Australia was then 7.8 million people + one. 

Protected and shielded by my parents, the nuns who taught me and no TV, I went through my childhood oblivious to the Korean War, the strength and courage of Rosa Parks in Alabama, the plight of our first Australians, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the invention of the Pill and the birth of rock-n-roll. My eyes were opened suddenly while still at school when the world stood terrified in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs invasion and then the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. At 15, I heard Dr King's "I have a dream" speech on the radio and realised during those fine moments how profound the spoken word can be, and then twisted and shouted through the rest of the 1960s with the Beatles and Bob Dylan. The freedom marches continued and the US Civil Rights Act became law in 1964. I escaped conscription because I was a girl but watched on as hundreds of young Australian men my age were signed up and shipped out to Vietnam. Many of them never returned. In 1967, Australians said an overwhelming "YES!" (90%) in a referendum to include Aboriginal Australians in the census and for special laws to be drafted for them. And then in July 1969, I watched along with the rest of the world as Neil Armstrong took "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Petrol cost: AU 10 cents/litre, UK 65p/gallon, US 31 cents/gallon

Late addition:  This is me with a friend in the late 1960s or early 1970s.  I shared this one over on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. I should point out the bellbottoms and moustache. LOL

It's 1970, I'm 22, so I'd better start getting serious and do something. I started my nurses training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, alongside the first male general nurse in Australia. Finished that, moved on, drove around the circumference of Australia and finally met a certain young, handsome German man named Hanno in the wilds of outback Queensland. My fate was sealed. Bell bottoms and moustaches. Cigarette advertising banned in many countries. From 1975 to 1978 I didn't watch much TV, never cared for the radio news and while I missed knowing that Elvis died, the conservatives won power in the UK and that Ian Paisley won a seat in the UK parliament, I did know the aboriginal tent embassy went up outside parliament house, the last of the boys came back from Vietnam and women had started to take their place in the world. In early 1979 Hanno and I travelled to Hamburg to meet his family and to stay a few months.


We married in Hamburg and Shane was born there in July 1980 but we stayed longer than intended, I was incredibly homesick so we flew home in late 1980. Flying via Tehran, we were diverted to Damascus - the Iran/Iraq War had broken out while we were in the air! Back home, we soon settled down again and Kerry was born in July 1981. Indigenous Australians started making headway with their claims for land rights, Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded releasing a large amount of radiation into the atmosphere and a 747 exploded in the sky over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing nearly 300 people. We bought our first computer in 1988, pre-windows, using DOS. I needed it because I was doing a degree in journalism, literature and communication. The decade started with a bang, with many of us throwing our money around, but ended in a recession. And then in November 1989, something happened I never expected to see - the Berlin Wall started crumbling and eventually Germany became united again.

Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, Margaret Thatcher resigned and we bought our first mobile phone (still have the same number). Our first female governor was appointed in 1991 and in 1992, the Mabo decision overturned the concept that Australia was terra nullius when the first sailing ships arrived here. I lived through the saddest day of my life in November 1993 when my mum died. Surprisingly, in spite of my doubt, life went on. Northern Exposure graced our TV screens, we were living with teenagers, the Port Arthur massacre, we bought our home and moved here in 1997. The English Channel tunnel opened and mad cow disease hit the UK. It was heart-breaking to watch as farmers had their herds killed, burned and buried in mass graves.


Concorde crashed and burned in every sense in 2000. The horrors of 9/11 (RIP) and the outcomes of it, 88 Australians died in a terrorist bombing in Bali. The first iPod. The beginning of this decade saw a profound turning point for our family when we started to slow down and simplify. A tsunami in the Indian Ocean took 250,000 lives, suicide bombers in London killed 56 people, the first iPhone, I started blogging, Benazir Bhutto assassinated in Pakistan, fuel prices hit record highs, the GFC. The population of Africa exceeded 1 billion. The population of India exceeded 1.1 billion. The population of China exceeded 1.3 billion. Barack Obama, the first black American president, was sworn in. Down to Earth, a guide to simple living was published by Penguin in February 2012.

Today, 15 April, 2013, I'm turning 65. I am proud of my age and lucky to have made it through when so many others didn't. I mixed my history in with world history here, not in arrogance but because this is my history - I have been shaped by my times, just as you are shaped by yours. I wish I'd learnt more along the way but one thing I do know to be true is that age is not about wrinkles, the pension or decline. I have found, despite what I've heard, that life truly opens up as you age. Not all days are good ones, but they weren't when I was younger either. Now I have the sense to not gauge my life by other people's ideals, I'm comfortable in my own skin, and while I have my family and friends around me, I know that I will continue to look for the joy in each day and appreciate it every time I find it.


TODAY'S ADDITION:
Now it's 2019 and today I am 71. Hanno and I are still happily married and we still live on this beautiful land on the edge of a creek, in a dead-end street, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I've written two more books for Penguin, The Simple Life and The Simple Home. I was grateful to become a first time author at 65 and proud and delighted to produce two more books.  We have three grandchildren, a crazy Scotty dog called Gracie and we are slowing down due to our age. I've gone through my life with no health concerns but last year was diagnosed with a brain tumour called a meningioma. It makes me dizzy when I walk around so although we are setting up our new season vegetable garden, it's smaller and is taking us longer to establish it. Overall though, life is good. I still do all the things in the house I used to do. I still cook from scratch everyday, I mend, knit, sew, write and grow a lot of pot plants.


Hanno bought me an iPad Pro for my birthday so I've rediscovered Kindle and I'm going to read my way through my ebooks again.  Some of those books are Diana Athill's Somewhere Towards the End, Ben Hewitt's Nourishing Homestead, Sharon Astyk's Making Home and Christine Kenneally's The Invisible History of the Human Race. I love reading ebooks although I started off wondering if it was a genuine reading experience if I wasn't holding a book. I don't buy paper books anymore.  It's better for the environment, I can change the font, adjust the text size and make notes as I go along. And of course, I love having all those book in one place, and I don't have to dust them. Authors usually make more on their ebook royalties too. Generally we get a only 10 percent on our hardcover books but it's 25 percent on ebooks.

Since 2013, when I last wrote on world news that affected me and my world, Mary Oliver and Diana Athill have died and so have Anthony Bourdain, Hannah Hauxwell, Umberto Eco, Maya Angelou, Leonard Cohen, Chris Cornell, Aretha Franklin and Stephen Hawking. RIP friends.

Kerry, Sunny and Jamie are taking us out to lunch today. We won't go far, just a couple of kilometres down the track, but the food will be fresh and local and I know we'll enjoy each other's company. The one thing that becomes clearer to me every year is that I gained the most glittering of birthday prizes to have been born into my family - both past and present. I learnt how to be a woman, a wife and a mother by watching and listening to my own mother all those years ago. If I were born again today I would hope to have that same gentle childhood that guides instead of tells, encourages kindness, respect and generosity, and always expects the best in people. As I move into my final years, I hope I continue to be tolerant, understanding and accepting of all people and that I'm left to potter away in my home with occasional wild excursions, via my computer, into your minds and hearts.

89 comments

  1. I forgot to say what an interesting read! Thank you!

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  2. What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing these words with us today.

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  3. A very Happy Birthday – and many more to come. Enjoy.

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  4. Lovely Rhonda thank you for sharing. Happy birthday 🎉💞🎊

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  5. Happiest of birthdays today! I'll celebrate with cookies bought from out church bake sale and wish you many happy returns. The sun is threatening to peek out here in Oregon, which would be welcome after a week of rain. Enjoy!

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  6. Happy birthday Rhonda enjoy your day.

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  7. Happy Birthday Rhonda, Have a wonderful day with your family. I love that you write from your heart. Your reflection and your appreciation and understanding of your past, present and your future is wonderful. I can only hope to one day be so wise.
    "I gained the most glittering of birthday prizes to be born into my family"...how fortunate so many of us are to have also been given this precious gift. Regardless of our past, we can all make the choice to "walk the talk" of tolerance, understanding and acceptance and by so doing inspire and encourage others to follow. Thank-you for so generously sharing your wisdom and for bringing so much common sense to our everyday lives. Cheers, Jo

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  8. Happy Birthday, Rhonda!
    I love reading here. I'm soon to be 66 so I remember a lot the same happenings as you do. I always felt like a fish out of water until I dipped my feet in the homestead movement. Your blog has added greatly, information-wise, to my endeavors along the way, and for that I thank you!
    I hope your birthday was the best ever.
    From the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
    Blessings,
    Toni

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  9. Happy Birthday Rhonda
    I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and ideas for many many years.
    I look forward to reading about how your journey continues for many more.
    Helen
    Willyung (WA)

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  10. beautiful! Just beautiful. Thank you and have a WONDERFUL birthday! And here is to many, many more! Thanks for all you do! #lovethisblog (and you!) I have come a long way and you have been a part of my transition!

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  11. You are a lovely lady Rhonda. Happy birthday.
    I saved the original post you wrote on this as I thought it was a fabulous way to condense a life but at the same time show how huge life is.
    KatMacxx

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  12. I, too, was born in 1948 - it is so interesting to see what memories we share and the memories you have that I knew nothing about! Thank you for this post!

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  13. Happy Birthday Rhonda, what a wonderful life. Enjoy your spray with your family.Many Happy Returns, Lors x

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  14. So beautifully written, Rhonda ... Happy Birthday! I’m a tad behind you, but not much so enjoyed the shared history. Blessings to you and your family in this season of your life.

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  15. Happiest of Birthdays to Rhonda.

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  16. Lovely post and happy birthday.

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  17. Happy Birthday Rhonda. It is also my Nana’s birthday today, she passed 5 yrs ago, I miss her very much. I have been following you for years now but it is only since October last year when we bought a 115yr old converted church on an acre, moved to the country where I can put into place everything I have learnt from my Nanna and you. Living the simply life and loving every minute. Have a great birthday and wishing many more.
    Leanne
    PS... what colour are your walls painted in the lounge room photo?

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  18. Happy Birthday Rhonda! Have a wonderful day. And thanks for your post, an interesting snapshot into your life and thoughts x

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  19. A beautiful post Rhonda. Happy birthday and continue to embrace life and inspire others. Truly a life well lived.

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  20. A big Happy Birthday, Rhonda. Like you we had no TV when growing up but we survived quite well. We did listen to the serials on the wireless though. I hope you enjoy lunch with your wonderful family.

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    1. Thanks for the lovely card you sent, Chel. I value our ongoing friendship. xx

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  21. Happy Birthday dear Rhonda! What an absolutely beautiful post. It's amazing to think how the world has shifted and changed. I hope you have a lovely day today with your family.

    xx

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  22. What a wonderful read. Happy Birthday!!!!

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  23. Wow! That was a great read. Enjoy your lunch out.

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  24. A wonderful post! Happy Birthday!!

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  25. Happy birthday dear Rhonda! It is almost overwhelming reading the significant world events that have happened in your lifetime. And it never occurred to me that of course you experienced men leaving for Vietnam and not returning. Sombre times.

    I realised what a modern woman you have been - I didn't get a mobile phone until 2008 and although I learnt to use a computer in the early naughties I didn't have one of my own until 2013. And this is in spite of being 20 years younger than you! Luckily for your readers you did embrace the new technology or we wouldn't have had years of wonderful writing coming into our inboxes.

    Madeleine.xx

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    1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading that post again, and the addition. Love the new photo of you to. Happiest of Birthdays to you Rhonda, have a wonderful day! Kate (Tassie) xx

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  26. Best wishes may your day and years ahead be joyful! You write so beautifully thank you for your gift to us.I am just a bit younger, I enjoyed reading a 'potted' history of our surprisingly similar lives and memories. This will serve as a wonderful record to pass on for your grandchildren

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  27. What a great read! Thank you. And the Happiest of Birthdays to you Rhonda, enjoy your day. xoxox

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  28. Happy Birthday...I love reading your writings. Keep enjoying life.

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  29. Happy Birthday Rhonda! So interesting to read about a woman fitting into her time, in a timeless way. Enjoy your family lunch down the lane!

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  30. A fascinating post Rhonda. Warmest good wishes for your birthday and the year ahead. xox

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  31. Tarryn SchoonraadApril 15, 2019 10:08 am

    Wow, this was SUCH an interesting read. Happy birthday, dear, Rhonda! I could listen to your stories for hours. This is a great blog post. We are so blessed to have you in our lives, soaking in all your wisdom and learning new things. Thank you for all you do to pass on your knowledge to us. I check your blog first thing every morning with my coffee to check if you’ve written anything new and it’s so exciting when I see you have. It’s become my favourite time of day. You’ve taught me to enjoy caring for my home and baking bread or a treat for my family. I’ve always cooked from scratch, but reading your blog has inspired me to take further steps. I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration and may you be blessed with many more happy and healthy years!

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  32. What an interesting tale of your life and history thus far. So many wonderful achievements Rhonda. Wishing you a very happy birthday. Kelly xo

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  33. Happy Birthday Rhonda and may you enjoy your special day, I hope a warm fuzzy feeling envelopes you as you read our comments and note what a big difference you have made to so many lives <3
    Love you, Sue

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  34. Happy birthday Rhonda, and many returns. Love to read of your stitching, baking, gardening, and family. You are an Elder of the tribe of women.
    Elle, South Australia.

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  35. Thank you for your wise words Rhonda and Happy Birthday ����You and Hanno are proof that contrary to what our ageist society tells us, aging can be happy, productive and abundant. May you both have many more years ahead of you to prove this to the world, in keeping with your wonderful mindset!

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  36. Happy Birthday Rhonda. I hope you have many, many more to come. Thank you for a lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of you (and all of us) aging. Your blog reminds me to enjoy everyday and think of our Mums' who we wish were still with us. Tracy xx

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  37. Happy Birthday - fabulous post. Thank you for sharing. I'm grateful that the age of 44 my children can spend time with my mum who is almost 84. My youngest girl (age 10) is in (melbourne) city today with my mum having a girly day. I'm so grateful as I never knew my grandparents. One of my grandmother's was born in 1893.
    Enjoy your day and take care

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  38. A very Happy Birthday to your Rhonda! Love this post, and thank you for the book list! They all
    look fascinating.

    Debbie in London

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  39. Wishing you a very Happy 71st Birthday Rhonda. I hope you have a wonderful day with your family.
    Gabriella xx (the crafty gardener from the forum)

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  40. Happy Birthday Rhonda! We share April Birthdays!

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  41. I'm so sorry about the brain tumor! But I wish you a very Happy Birthday. :)

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  42. Happy Birthday Rhonda. Really enjoyed your post today, so interesting!

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  43. Happy birthday Rhonda may this be a wonderful year for you , your visions has helped inspire many, you have a talent I for one am glad you shared, many thanks and blessings to you from Judi, I am now living like 1932!

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  44. Many happy birthday wishes, and may your hopes for the future come true. Blessings to you for sharing your wisdom.

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  45. Happy Birthday to you Rhonda...and many more! Thank you for your beautiful read. Yes we are shaped by our times. I too hope I shall be tolerant and accepting of people as I age. Hope your day has been wonderful ☺

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  46. Jodi aka Barefootmisty.April 15, 2019 2:20 pm

    Happy Birthday Rhonda. That was beautiful to read, made me cry, smile and laugh. Would love to see a picture of you in the 70s if you wish to share.

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    1. I've just added one of the two I have, Jodi. We didn't take photos of ourselves back then.

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    2. Lovely picture. <3

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  47. Happy Birthday Rhonda your blog was one of the first Simple Living Blogs I came across after reading your articles in Burkes Backyard Magazine [I think it was that vs Gardening Australia]. Hope you enjoy the day with your family.

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    1. I had a monthly column in Burke's Backyard for a while. We had a wonderful day, thank you.

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  48. Jill, MelbourneApril 15, 2019 3:06 pm

    Happy birthday Rhonda. Thanks for your guidance and encouragement. Jill

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  49. Happy birthday Rhonda. Wonderful post!
    your blog is so important in my life!
    Lot of kiss from France.

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  50. Happy birthday Rhonda!

    You are the 5th person I know with a birthday today.
    Have a lovely day.

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  51. A very happy birthday and many happy returns. A very interesting read too, thank you for sharing. Blessings, Pam in Norway

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  52. I hope you have had the happiest of birthday days, Rhonda. I'm sure your lunch out was delicious and you would've enjoyed the company of your lovely family. Much love to you! MegXx

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  53. Happy birthday Rhonda - hope you've had a lovely day with the family. There is great joy for your readers in seeing you and Hanno grow older with a positive mindset and also seeing the pictures of Jamie growing up - innocence and experience hand in hand in one family. Love to you all.

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  54. Happy birthday dear one. Enjoy this special time.

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  55. Happy birthday! You are a constant inspiration.

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  56. Thank you for such a beautiful post. Happy Birthday Rhonda. Cheers and blessings to you.
    Patricia fl/USA

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  57. Happy birthday Rhonda! What a great post. I love the way you’ve woven your life into world events. Love that photo of you from the 60’s.

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  58. Happy Birthday from England, I love reading your blog and although I have no vegetable garden I have been inspired to clear out a raised flower bed and will be growing beans and carrots in it. It's your fault!!

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  59. Happy Days Rhonda, you are so right that we are a product of our times, thanks for blessing mine xo

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  60. Happy Birthday, Ms. Rhonda. Health and happiness to you in this new year.

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  61. A very Happy Birthday belated!

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  62. Happy Birthday from the Forgotten Coast of Florida! Hope your day is filled with all the things you love, simple pleasures and good fellowship. Your blog continues to inspire and lead me to see and experience the world in a more rich way. Never underestimate your impact on, not just me, but countless others who are looking to make their lives different and better. Here's hoping you have many, many more years to show us all how to get the most out of our lives. Again, many happy returns on your special day!

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  63. Happy, happy birthday! I liked the way you wove your personal life into all that was happening in the wider world. We are all connected with the times in which we live, and your piece movingly and beautifully illustrates this.

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  64. Happy birthday!! Wish you many more together with Hano and loved ones!!
    Enjoy your day!!

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  65. Happy Birthday!

    Our youngest son was born November 9, 1989, the day the Berlin wall came down. We can never forget.

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  66. Happy Birthday Rhonda! Hope you have/have had a wonderful day! What a great post. Yes, you added to a previous birthday post but still I am so impressed with your ability to reflect what is happening in the world around you. I couldn´t do that, list the major world events of the time in retrospect. Not without a lot of research....I think I get sucked up too much in the Here and Now. I´m deeply interested in current events and politics but I´d find it hard to look back and place my life in perspective as you have. Maybe I can train myself. Above all it gives grandchildren a more rounded view of us.
    So sorry to hear about your tumour but as with any other setbacks you have had you take it in your stride. I am 77 now but believe that age is just a number. As long as we are open for new ideas, activities, that youthful spark is still there. You always inspire me and now I just have to grab myself by the scruff of the neck and explore the world of ebooks as you have. I´ve always been "into" computers. Started in the early 80:s. I have a new ipad so my excuse has been that I can´t manage without physical books. I wouldn´t mind betting I am our local library´s best customer. Still, as you say, ebooks are very convenient and kind to the environment. So new goals to strive for.....

    Hugs from Sweden
    Ramona

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  67. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, Rhonda! Thank you for sharing what you are reading. I was able to add two to my library list. A wonderful post!

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  68. Warm wishes on your day!! Happy Birthday!

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  69. I loved reading this post and the context of events in which you lived. That was a very neat way to tell us about your life. Just stopped by to wish you a very Happy Birthday. Enjoy your day with friends and loved ones.

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  70. Happy Birthday Rhonda, and wishing you many more! Sounds like you had a lovely outing to celebrate. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your reflections! Beth in MN

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  71. Happy Birthday! I don't comment, but love to read about your simply life as I am slowing down myself.

    Cindy D

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  72. Hope you have a wonderful birthday, Rhonda. Wishing you health, peace, and happiness.

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  73. What a way with words you have Rhonda! I know it is your birthday (congratulations!), but it feels like you gave us a gift with this post. Thank you.
    Wishing you all the best from the Netherlands.

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  74. Happy birthday Rhonda . I love reading all your posts but this one made me stop and think too of all the things I’ve lived through in 60 years and be grateful for the journey . Thank you

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  75. Thank you so much for sharing. This is a great wat to het to know someone better.
    Happy Birthday and many happy, healthy returns ��

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  76. Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday Rhonda. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post, I was born in 1943 and recall so many of the events you have described.

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  77. A belated happy birthday Rhonda and I always find your posts inspiring, you have the wonderful gift of writing. By the way, I have two garlic plants, thanks to you, so that is inspiring enough to buy some next year.
    Warm wishes, Paulin

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    1. Thanks Pauline. I'm so pleased the garlics have sprouted for you. All ours are up too. When you buy your garlic, don't forget to buy Glen Large, or another warm weather variety. They will take at least 5 months to mature. We usually harvest ours in late September.

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  78. Happy Belated Birthday, Rhonda. I loved your summary of your life through the events that shaped you and your world. I recall many of those same events. Some of them I had forgotten, but just reading your words brought them all back again. And even more memories. Thank you for the gift of your blog. I really appreciate it.

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  79. Lovely. You are such an inspiration. Happy belated b-day, Rhonda! XO

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  80. Happy birthday Rhonda and thank you for sharing your wisdom. You're a great inspiration and help to guide us through the weeds of a distracting life.

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  81. Happy belated Birthday. Mine was on the 13th and my partner's is today. April is such a special month to have a birthday. The colors and flowers are beautiful.

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  82. Just found your bog from Fee's Crafting and enjoyed reading your journey. I too turned 71 this March 25th and while I am now a widow after 47 years of marriage, I still appreciate and enjoy our home and still care for it and all my crafting. Even though we are slower, we can take the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor a little more than when we were younger. Happy belated birthday!!! Looking forward to reading your blog.

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  83. Thank you for your beautiful writing and sharing your birthday with us Rhonda! Clare

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