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A week or two ago, as I flipped through our alumni magazine from Holy Cross and saw that fellow alum Billy Collins ‘s latest book is called Horoscopes for the Dead, I knew I had found the perfect 50th birthday gift for a friend of mine. She and I are both Scorpios and the last year we’ve had fun sprinkling a little horoscope silliness into our conversations about neighborhood or work or family. For the last year, I clipped dozens of memorable ones from the paper, making messes all over my house. I think I meant to do something creative last Christmas for her, but regardless of the creative tear our horoscope said we were on, I just left the crumpled and ripped pieces of paper to gather dust in three rooms of my house. At some point I put most of them in a folder. Progress of sorts. Finally, with her 50th birthday approaching, I knew the time was now, but I had no idea what to do that wasn’t completely lame. Pasting them on a poster board just wasn’t going to cut it. Thank God for Billy Collins and his way with words! I bought the book (read a few poems myself  and  trimmed the horoscopes I deemed worthy of inclusion. Then I scattered them in the pages.  Minimalist creativity is my favorite kind. Let Billy do the heavy lifting and I get the credit!

Makes sense to me

It helps that most of the horoscopes I’d clipped refer to the creative roll we were on for a while–an energetic arc that was unstoppable until it shrivelled and stopped. It also helps that we don’t put much stock in all of that. It makes more sense to read a Billy Collins poem a day and take that for what its worth.

This friend’s twin sister, who not coincidentally celebrated her 50th birthday last week as well decided she wanted to have a party to honor the occasion. A friend and neighbor offered her the perfect room for the affair–with not a view exactly, but a worldview, shall we say. This 50th birthday party was held in the basement of a funeral home. I can only hope some Billy Collins was recited.


One of my favorite bits, coined decades ago by one of my high school friends. It’s so much easier to get wider than wiser, she said as she remembered with delight the exquisite dark chocolate (fair trade) with mint bar that she bought today. 

Herewith the shorthand recipe for the delish Cookie Cake my daughter invented:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve the Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Toll House Cookie recipe on the back of the package, spread batter into a greased, 8 inch round cake pan and bake for 14 minutes….maybe more, depends how gooey you like the middle. Deirdre often ices it with vanilla buttercream icing as she did yesterday and then saved me a piece, thank goodness, but I am quite content to eat it sans icing. So good warm. 

I will now wax poetic about cookies:

“Got a cookie in my hand, warm, on my lips, mmmm, in my mouth, oooh, on my tongue, yum, in my teeth, munch, down my throat, aahhh, in my gut–gone! Hey, that’s not enough. (It’s a hand-to-mouth existence, but that’s ok with me.)  …One bite, one taste, one swallow, one nice big cup of milk, one lick of my lips and I knew what to do–try, taste, chomp! From a package or a pan, I don’t need to waste a plate; crumbs in teeth, on shirt, in hair. Where’s my cookie?”

A multi-media approach to eating too much chocolate. I’m going to run now.

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