My friend impressed me by making a cake from America’s Test Kitchen. That’s some serious baking, and if she didn’t live in Medford, it would have been hard for me to not invite myself over. The next day another friend induced serious cravings after sending me a picture of a congratulatory cake that her husband received after thirty years with Gallo Winery. That cake came from a bakery whose sticker said, “AWARD WINNING CAKE.”
Cake is my favorite dessert. Before Costco discontinued their sheet cakes, I would be up for sharing one with anyone who wanted to take on the feat. It never happened, but I liked the idea of it. I was always happy to take leftovers home after a staff party, and even store some in the freezer. Cravings do happen.
After the two teasers, Miss America’s Test Kitchen, and AWARD WINNING CAKE friend, I found myself obsessing about cake. As the cake fantasy persisted, I considered the approximate twenty five February birthdays in my life, and accepted that none of them were going to produce a cake in my presence soon enough to satisfy my immediate cake craving.
I have been known to make food for friends. But I’m not a baker. I feel fairly confident that if I deliver Chicken Piccata to a friend, they are going to be super appreciative. But the traditional cake our family looked forward to on birthday mornings, courtesy of Duncan Hines (or Betty Crocker, both are great!) and good ole canned frosting, is not something I would proudly deliver to someone.
So I decided to whip one up, with not a single person in mind with whom I would share it.
This is where PERFECT and SINGLE come in.
My box cake with canned frosting was incredibly satisfying to me. Unimpressive (well, the nonpareils do improve it) and exactly perfect.
After I made my cake, my Gallo friend delivered a chunk of the AWARD WINNING CAKE to me. What timing. If only a day sooner!
There are a lot of things to grumble about as a single person. I understand… married people too… But that’s a different story.
There are also many things one can enjoy about being single. For one, I can leave the fork on the plate. I don’t mean the plate I’m eating from, I mean the presentation plate. It’s not a great strategy if one is trying to lose weight, but apart from that, why remove it?
An imperfect person eating a perfect cake. Yum.
Just for the record, my AWARD WINNING CAKE friend texted me to say (because of course, when she delivered cake to me, I gave cake to her), that my cake was better than the bottom chocolate cake on her cake. You can’t go wrong with DH or BC.
My neighbors did receive a couple of pieces… because I love them, plus they loaned me the eggs.
https://i0.wp.com/jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6d64-e1614226320156.jpg?fit=768%2C599&ssl=1599768Joni Thurberhttps://jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Joni-Frances-Transparent-Banner.pngJoni Thurber2021-02-24 21:00:342021-02-24 21:02:20Perfect and Single
On an early morning walk The sun wasn’t up But the roses they talked They begged me to sniff I stopped and I leaned To take in a wiff But it happened again This had happened before I inhaled with my nose But there was no scent on this rose I looked all around I wanted just one I tried a few but there were none This reminder of past when something was sure Like the scent of a rose that I thought would endure Who took it away? Did he wear a white coat? Does he work in a lab? Did science decide? Did anyone vote? Who wouldn’t want a rose to release Its fragrance distinct Who wouldn’t want this scent of a rose Is it extinct? I hope this is all a mistake on my part I hope I can smell lilacs and jasmine on walks And colors don’t fade, we need them too We need our greens and our yellows and blues About this I didn’t think I ever would care I’d looked past these beauties with my nose in the air I mistakenly thought they’d always be there But I have a solution In a can or a candle I can order it soon I’m sure I can have this scent here by noon Next time I walk I can carry it with And when I pass by a rose I’ll spray and not wiff
Sorry this isn’t Part 2 of my Winky story. It’s been a busy week and this just kind of came out. Poetry isn’t my thing, but I like to play with it sometimes.
This phrase pops up in my mind a lot. The “If I can, you can” part. I don’t like that it does. I feel arrogant, like I know what people are capable of and I get to decide who has capacity and who doesn’t. So, it’s with sensitivity that I share this. I don’t want to sound arrogant, and even worse, be arrogant. But I know how hard things can be for me, and there are moments when the voice inside me says, “If I can do this, anyone can.”
That probably speaks a lot to how pitiful I am at times. Not more pitiful than you, but just pitiful, like all of us are on occasion. While there are some who naturally came out of the shoot ready to account for every minute of the day, most of us aren’t born life coaches. I think my my kids and some friends would say that I have to have everything planned, or at least my way, but they don’t know me like I know me. Once I commented to a friend that my kids don’t understand the effort that goes into the things I accomplish. It was a mom moment of frustration. My friend replied, “That’s a compliment. That means you make it look easy.” I don’t know if that’s the case. In fact, I hardly make packing for a trip look easy.
Getting ready for a 4 day summer trip, by car.
But I loved where she was coming from, and it helped my perspective in that moment.
Most of my evolution has come out of necessity, because the alternative wasn’t acceptable to me. For example, when my first child was born she awoke each morning very early, like around 5:30. As a young adult, I dragged myself out of bed to run at 5:30 before work. But I did it 3 times a week, looking forward to the other four when I could sleep in. I hadn’t yet discovered the prize that awaited me in an early morning before the rest of the world began to put dents in an untouched day. A baby interrupting my sleep and needing my immediate attention was not how I wanted to begin my day, so I began to set my alarm about a half an hour earlier than I anticipated her tummy to start growling. And, so it began; I officially became an early riser, and I began to appreciate the reward. But I still dragged myself out of bed, regardless of whether I’d gotten 5 hours or 8 hours of sleep.
From “Why am I doing this?” to “This is why I’m doing this.” Come winter, I won’t be doing this.
In Proverbs 6 Solomon says:
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
I’d often asked myself those same questions! I like to think Ben Franklin liked Solomon. I like both of those men.
Along the way I’ve chosen to do a lot of things that were counterintuitive to my nature. Verses like this helped a lot. And wisdom from Ben Franklin, too. Recently I began riding a bike, now riding it at least a couple of times to work and back. I would have never thought I would have ridden a bike to work, or on a weekend for exercise. I used to enjoy running, regularly. I’d always been advised not to do that because of how hard it can be on one’s body. I have scoliosis and running messed up my back, hips, and knees. I’d take a break, recover, vow to reduce my mileage, but like many runners, break that vow as soon as the pain was but a distant memory. Or also like many runners, proceed forward in denial. I stopped for good when signs of divorce presented itself. There wasn’t time, and my self care became praying and crying, which I highly recommend.
In between running and not running, I’ve been on various exercise plans, but nothing has stuck. Exercise for a multitude of reasons has taken a back seat. Riding a bike however is beginning to give me the same sense of satisfaction I had as a runner. But I’m not in great shape and when I get on the bike, I know it will be hard.
Yesterday I had planned to ride in the early evening, once the heat subsided. I needed to stain my fence and according to YouTube, that should be done in the morning or evening, not in the heat of day. But as the day wore on, so did my body as I stained the fence and worked in the yard. I also fit in reading a book called Sensible Shoes that my friend Melanie loaned me. I allowed for a little over a hour to read, anticipating knocking off more of my To Do list and the bike ride.
I put away the book, but found myself scrolling the Internet for jobs in Bend and New York and then ate leftover homemade peach ice cream. The sun began to inch its way down, and my bike riding opportunity was gone for the day. But there’s always tomorrow. I got myself to bed earlyish, with a firm plan to ride in the morning before church. I set my alarm for 5:30. But in spite of having used picture imagery the night before of the summer morning I longed to enjoy, I still did not get out of bed until 6:15, allowing just enough time to ride my bike, return home to get ready for church, so I could arrive just after it started, when I kicked myself because I hate that, too. And really, I didn’t get up just in time, because I then decided to make coffee, and then I realized I was missing my most favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning, so I lingered even longer before getting on my bike. As I got dressed I listened to YouTube music and an advertisement for a life coach came on: Brooke Somebody, and she reminded me of my tendency to procrastinate. She said she used to drink a lot of Chardonnay and now doesn’t drink any. I thought, well, I only drink a little Pinot Grigio, so that’s not even my issue.
I have to guess at the distance I rode because I forgot to engage the new app I’d downloaded the night before, but it was an 8 to 10 mile ride. The elevation was high in some places and I thought I would die, but putting the bike in 1st or 2nd gear, as whimpy as I now know that is, helped significantly. I used my cheap Ifrogz wireless earbuds and listened to some Christian songs, at one point belting out Hillsong’s “What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus…”I turned on to a busy street, and I was grateful to be riding at least as early as 7:30 on a Sunday. Typically this intersection has traffic coming from every direction, but I like this portion of rode because it’s so aesthetically pleasing. Opposite of the street I’d just come from, lined in maple trees with acorns that are beginning to drop, this portion of road is full of city energy, having recently been repainted. The bike lane is lime green against black tar with bright white sparkly boundary lines and it makes me happy for some reason.
The happy time morphed into a bike lane with barely visible lines. The elevation for about a mile was fairly level, but I knew what was coming, and I plowed forward, head down, probably looking inept as a cyclist. To get home, this portion of the route is unavoidable. I know I can do it, because I do it every time. It’s also a contributing influence when I decide against riding my bike. I have not mastered the incline to my house. There’s always a big boat parked just before my house, so that is my goal. When I get just past the boat, my legs give way and I all but puke, and I praise God that I did it, again.
This is what I think my life is, and this is not unlike many lives. Sometimes a friend will say to me something like, “I could never do that.” Or “You’re lucky you can get up so early.” Or “You have so much energy.” None of those statements is true. She could do it, I’m not lucky, and my energy is inspired by the things that are important to me, namely, I don’t want to be a sluggard. The other truth is that I don’t like regret. My strength is calling on God for His strength, to help me overcome my deficits, so I can get up over the hills.
If you will ask God to push you over the hill, you too can do it. I know this! If I can, you can.
For the record, I ride my bike mostly in third gear. I know that’s not a big improvement over 1st or 2nd, but the biggest challenge is that, I’m on the bike.
https://jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Joni-Frances-Transparent-Banner.png00Joni Thurberhttps://jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Joni-Frances-Transparent-Banner.pngJoni Thurber2018-08-06 21:05:102018-08-12 00:01:51If I Can, You Can, When You Ask
This last weekend was exceptional, except for when it wasn’t. Saturday was a day I wouldn’t trade for anything, but most of Sunday I would give back. I’d worked hard on Saturday so I could budget time for reading and writing on Sunday afternoon, but my refrigerator decided to demand my attention instead.
On Saturday, I got to spend the evening with my daughter and her boyfriend having dinner in downtown Portland. Coincidentally it was the famous Starlight parade night. As a Portlander, I should have known that, but I hadn’t paid attention to the schedule. We ate outside on this perfect summer night where there wasn’t a hint of humidity or breeze. Roads were closed and police directed people and traffic. After dinner we walked among the throngs of parade fans sitting roadside, content and patient, waiting for the next segment to reach within their viewing space. This perfect evening finished when I came home to my son and a couple of friends using the fire pit in the backyard. That would seem fairly ordinary to most families, but my son doesn’t live with me. The simple sight of seeing his car in the driveway as I approach my home gives me more pleasure and satisfaction beyond what I can articulate. A “yes!” like I just hit the 8 ball in the designated corner pocket sometimes escapes my lips.
Sunday started out perfect, in that I went to church, knowing that afterward I would be making my son lunch; another “yes!” This was planned, but nevertheless, I don’t take it for granted. As I was frying up some bacon I noticed another large leak of water on the floor near the refrigerator. I’d cleaned one up the previous night as well. I really hate things like this. In fact, one could say I’m a baby about things like this. The night before I put a towel down, and when the water was all absorbed, I put the towel away and hoped that meant there was no longer a leak. I didn’t (wouldn’t) look at the floor early Sunday morning before I left for church. My plans for the day didn’t include a refrigerator leak. I know what a leak on the floor means. It means I am probably not going to get to read and write like I’d so carefully planned for the afternoon and evening. Finding time to read and write is like digging for treasure. Not that I’ve ever dug for treasure, but I imagine you have to carefully map out a plan. Then there’s a lot of digging and tossing out things that are not the treasure. I do that in trying to mine some time for this luxury. I plan and organize with TO DO lists. I tackle them, also addressing the surprises that emerge. Those things that are legitimate, yet threatening my prize: uninterrupted time to read and write. I knew exactly what a leak on the floor meant, and I was as annoyed as heck.
After a measure of denial, and in an effort to not call my very good friend’s husband who has become my reluctant “go to”, I called one of my sweet neighbors and he came over. The bottom line is that both men ended up working on the refrigerator. I hated asking, yet I also hate contacting a random refrigerator repairman, not having a reference of any kind. I’d felt like I had held these two kind men up at gunpoint. I know it’s not easy to say no to someone who needs help. I knew I’d had a treasure planned for my afternoon and I hated knowing that I’d interrupted whatever treasure they might have planned for themselves or their family. I was crossing my fingers that their afternoon plan was something along the lines of preparing an earthquake kit. See; I am a baby. I’m not happy with my attitude either, so that’s another reason for giving Sunday back.
After that small rant, I’d like to share two fun things. One, in my recent book review I completely forgot to include a very favorite book that I recently listened to (the number of books I listen to is an indicator of the amount of yard work that I do). It’s by Anne Lamott called: Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. If I could be a fraction of the writer Anne Lamott is, I might be able to make just enough extra money to supplement my day job income and meet my monthly expenses. The second fun thing I want to share is the month long bike challenge finish.
Small Victories is a collection of personal experiences Anne shares from her own life about friends and family, many of which include misunderstandings and interpretations she’s had along the way, exposing truths about herself and others. She is vulnerable, bold and courageous, revealing flaws and selfish ambitions, relatable to many of us. But we nod our heads in agreement in the privacy of our own home. Anne narrates her failings like she’s giving directions, unflappable and matter of fact, in a most modest posture of normalcy, for all to read. Her faith in God is firm, yet she approaches him in a stance of curiosity and frustration that He often doesn’t do things the way we would like Him to. While we read about her foibles, I’m reminded that humility (outside of love) is the most God like characteristic we can possess. Above all, Anne is funny.
New Bike Commuter
The May Bike More Challenge is complete. And, our school staff did it! “It” being that our cycling staff (which now includes moi) beat one of our local schools that is known for being an athletic power house. Jesuit High School is a private school in our athletic conference. All of us public schools love to beat (and we mostly like to play them) this school. The school where I work is a small option school in our district that doesn’t have athletic teams. So, for our staff to have beat this particular school was a fun twist for me, having attended many a game between Jesuit and the school my kids attended. To read more about how my new biking hobby evolved, click here.
https://jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Joni-Frances-Transparent-Banner.png00Joni Thurberhttps://jonifrances.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Joni-Frances-Transparent-Banner.pngJoni Thurber2018-06-04 21:58:262018-08-06 21:07:07Mining for Time, A Book Review, and Bike More Challenge Ends