Appreciation and birthday cake

April is over, which means all our birthdays are past for another year. We ate a lot of cake, and now we’re working off the calories with a lot of work in the yard. Oliver helped me build another cedar garden box to go in the large enclosure that’s been erected out back. Anna, who turned 18 and selected a college—UNC Greensboro been mowing the green grass in the reseeded yards. (She just walked in from a track meet, where she competed in the shot put and 200-yard race, and reported her best throw and run yet.) Malia’s been busy every night for a few weeks preparing for her part in the high school play.

Erin, of course, has been behind all of the progress at the house, and helping each of us in our activities. We wanted to to show her how much we appreciate all she does for her family, friends, and community, so we planned a surprise birthday party for her, and asked friends and family to show their appreciation by sending a letter of love or other creation. The surprise worked, and Erin enjoyed the shower of love (cards are still coming in). She deserved it. She’s amazing.

For Erin’s party, I bought cupcakes. She expected a birthday cake, but understood the change. For years, we’ve gotten cakes at Whole Foods Market in Chapel Hill the day of each birthday. We craved the buttercream frosting, put the uneaten half under the glass dome of the cake stand, and finished it the next day. But now that Amazon owns Whole Foods, the cakes are almost always frozen when we buy them, and there’s less of the yellow cake inside, and the service at the counter is poor.

“We’ll just have to bake our own cakes from now on,” said Erin.

I do want to spend more time in our kitchen. Oliver requested his favorite chicken with Asian-style sweet-and-sour sauce (we call it Burn Your Lips Chicken), so I cooked that for him this week. This summer, there will be garden vegetables to cook for dinner, and cherries and plums and pears (the deer got to the apricot tree I’d planted before I could get a protective fence around it), and other occasions to celebrate with a cake or pie. We’ll sit on the back deck and appreciate it all, and each other’s presence, and life all around.



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