Yesterday after worship the good people of Zion threw a 50th Birthday Party for their pastor. Fortunately I'm still a 49er (what else should a Californian be) until tomorrow, the Feast of St. Patrick, which is the true 50th anniversary of my natal day. You see black among the colors of the decorations.
Those who know me will be surprised to see me talking on a cel phone. Don't worry, it belongs to someone else -- I remain cel phone free. Don't ask me to do anything with one of those things besides talk on it. Nothing makes me look like an idiot more than handing me a cel phone with the request to call someone. I even had to hand it back to Ruby (its owner) so she could turn it off when the call ended. But this was a doubly unusual phone call for the person on the other end of the ether wishing me "Happy Birthday" was none other than our young Congressman, Aaron Schock. That was Ruby's special gift to me.
Zionites managed to come up with another surprise, too. I'd been asked a couple of Sundays ago by Shirley, who often makes the cakes for special Zion events (like the pastor's birthdays), what my favorite cake was. "Well, if you really want to know, when I was a boy, Mom always made a caramel cake with burnt sugar frosting." Actually, I think I said it wrong, but that's partly because in my Betty Crocker Cookbook it's a Burnt Sugar Cake with caramel icing, but I know that is backwards from the birthday cakes Mom made for me after I discovered the recipe in her Betty Crocker Cookbook. And I told Shirley to make either chocolate or white, because I like either of those and others will, too.
Overhearing that conversation, though, was Glenda, who was co-ordinating things for the party. And between worship and the potluck dinner she hands me this cake dish with a story of how she'd called Mom, tried to get the recipe, finally got one from an on-line mid-1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook, then had fun trying to interpret it for today's kitchens. Blending shortening with butter was something she'd not ever seen in a recipe before. (As the forward to my reprint edition of a West Coast cookbook from the '50s observes, we really do eat quite differently these.) Well, Glenda managed to figure it out and, honestly, the cake is pretty good. Not quite as Mom made it -- but though that's based on 40-year-old memories.
On the other hand, I managed to surprise a few folks, too. "No green at this party" I observed. "That's because you don't like green," came the reply. "Huh? Green's my favorite color!" 16 1/2 years, and we still surprise each other.
49 years, 364 days. I knew it would happen eventually. I just didn't think it'd happen so soon.