It is to laugh. Last night, after plunking into bed exhausted, the phone rang. Following a week of phone tag with a woman in charge of a senior coffee café on Monday mornings for which I hoped to volunteer, she returned from out of state basketball games and called to tell me they could use me. The volunteers each bake something for the gathering…so after agreeing to meet her at 8:30 a.m., I lay back in bed mulling what I could concoct early in the morning. Remembering the blueberries that we picked last summer bagged in the freezer, I decided I’d get up early and bake a coffee cake. And other than the fact that when I did so, we were low on sugar and I had to dig from the dregs of the canister and scout out the sugar bowl to extract the last 2/3 cup, all was good …I thought.
Plating the cake presented a minor challenge; when the pan finally eased its grip, the cake came out with a hole in the top. “That’s cool.” I muttered, “I’ve saved worse before.” Liberating the piece still stuck in the pan and patching it into the hole, I knew a glaze of confectioner’s sugar and orange juice would hide the damage—which would have been a five minute job if I didn’t knock an entire bowl of confectioner’s sugar onto the floor. Ignoring the mess, I starting again but as I attempted to pour two tablespoons of orange juice into another bowl of powdered sugar--my hand slipped, spilling in too much liquid, requiring a major icing adjustment. Finally, way more than five minutes later, panting, I poured glaze over the warm cake, covered it with waxed paper, vacuumed the floor, changed my clothes, and left the house for the car—at which time our indoor cat who has ignored the great outdoors for years, determined that it was a day for adventure and slipped out behind me. Now it’s 8:25 and chasing the cat across the front porch, I’m starting to feel like I used to when delivering my then toddler to day care on a morning in which a before-hours meeting was scheduled. Grab a paper bag--hyperventilation is eminent.
Round Two. Lock the cat in the basement; drive down the street fast until the warm coffee cake slides over the passenger side floor, leaving trails of orange glaze on the rug. Lighten up on the accelerator and mentally note that these are the things in life that spare us from speeding tickets. Arriving at the venuea few minutes late; I march up the hill gripping my cake, unaware that warm icing is dribbling down my coat and the entire length of my pants. And yes, that would be both legs. “Hi everyone. My name is Liza. This morning I used a new shower gel, called Eau d’ Orange.” Spending ten minutes smearing glaze off my pants, I then volunteer to go home to pick up a tea kettle, since a helper experiencing the same type of morning as me, forgot hers. After driving back across town, I pull the blue tea kettle off the stove, mop my pants some more with a wet sponge and head back only to encounter flashing red lights and lowered gates as a commuter train approaches the crossing. Deep breaths here. I arrive at the function hall at the same time as the first guest; open the car door and watch as the kettle teeters in slow motion on the edge of the seat and drops to the pavement, breaking off the handle.
Later in the afternoon, while shopping for a tea kettle with my fifteen-year-old daughter, I realized that if I wasn’t humble enough already as a result of my auspicious start as a volunteer, she’d be sure to yank me down to the right level. When I mentioned my intent to write about my crazy morning in Middle Passages today, she rolled her eyes, smirked and responded as only a teenager could, “You better tell the story the right way Mom, so it sounds funny. Otherwise, you’ll just sound pathetic.”
Ah, me. Unless a surprise job offer comes my way, I’m going back again next week. My baking however, will happen on Sunday.