My elder niece's birthday was actually last week. It would've fit neatly with the Memorial Day weekend, although my sister-in-law didn't want to hold the birthday party then for reasons I didn't get quite straight. I think there may have been conflicts with several people's schedules, and considering my parents had missed the last two of her birthday parties due to being out of the country on package tours the desire to get everyone together for something already might be overwhelming. Or would have been if we hadn't all got together for Easter anyway. Well, this together would include my sister-in-law's family. My brother from Massachusetts, his significant, and their daughter wouldn't make it anyway; they considered it, but my father particularly told them it was just way too far for them to travel for just a couple of hours. I'd agree it's way too far but I wouldn't have been so insistent on it being impossible.
Looking for birthday presents was the usual sort of ``well, I don't know'' for me at least. Sadly, my niece hasn't shown much interest in what I always thought of as the best toys --- Lego blocks, Lincoln Logs, anything you can build stuff that you later knock over yourself or get very annoyed with your siblings for knocking over on your behalf. Maybe she needs siblings to really get into them. Since the birthday party was to have a ``rocket'' theme --- apparently, my niece was given a few choices, picked ``princess'', and was told ``no, that was last year'' by her mother --- my sister-in-law suggested this air-pump rocket thing. You jump on this air pump base, and the air sends a foam rocket up, allegedly, as much as 300 feet into the air. (I'm surprised they don't pull something like ``300 scale feet into the air'', the way model cars in my childhood could achieve incredible speeds of ``over 200 scale miles an hour.)
My sister-in-law sent an Amazon link for this, which does look pretty neat, but my attempts to find it in local stores produced a series of very strange looks from clerks. Finally I gave in to the inevitable and ordered it online, close enough to the party date that I worried it wouldn't arrive. So I got a contingency present. It's a mechanical ``baby chipmunk'' with an awfully long, squirrel-like tail. Scratch the right spot in its back and it starts to chirr and bends over, then purrs and stands up. I'm not fond in general of toys that don't really need you around to play with them, but, I could not resist this. Since the rocket arrived, though, this was moved back to the list of contingency gifts to use some other time.
(I did get another gift, the ``Angry Birds'' toy set. This is a bunch of plastic blocks with which to build little imitations of the game levels, and send a plush bird flinging at it. I figured this had all the essential properties of a good gift, combining as it did things which get lost with things which had to be flung through the air.)
Trivia: Trivia: </em> From early 1803 Beethoven was living rent-free in the Theater-an-der-Wien, one of Vienna's major concert complexes (as part of the operator and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder's effort to coax him into composing music for an opera, Vestas Feuer [Vestal Flame]). Source: Beethoven: The Universal Composer, Edmund Morris.
Currently Reading: The People Of Ocean County: A History Of Ocean County, New Jersey, David D Oxenford.