If the Birthday Boy Doesn’t Show Up – Just Eat His Cake!

Birthday Cake

Birthday Party – no birthday boy

And drink his champagne. Sometimes things happen; you run out of gas, your dog needs emergency surgery or your little airplane breaks. One must remain flexible and adaptable – it’s the key to happiness in my humble opinion! In this life, the only thing for certain is that nothing is for certain. We do the best we can with what we have to work with.

I’m on dog duty in Green Valley Lake, California, while my friends, Lynn and Lucas, get situated in their temporary work assignment in Redwood City. It got quiet and lonely just moments after they pulled away from the little cabin at five o’clock in the morning on a Sunday to catch a plane to San Francisco. I stood in the doorway with my three charges, Lobo, Cinnamon, and Toby; watching as the big ole Ford Expedition drove out of sight.

Oh well. It was time to knuckle down and get serious about writing my next book. The happy Fourth-of-July revelers had gone back down the mountain, the lake community was quiet and calm once again – the perfect environment for writing.

Oh, but wait. An old friend from Santa Cruz, California got in touch and happened to be flying from Phoenix back to his home in Santa Cruz. He planned to drop into the little Bear Valley Airport and visit me for a few days. Yay, company! Time to spruce up the cabin, get things put away from the move, and sweep the floor. Plus, his birthday was the Fourth-of-July, and I wanted to help him celebrate a day late. Prepare the balloons, the bubbly, and the birthday cake!

General Store

General Store

Off I went to gather the necessary ingredients from the General Store. I was hoping for some aluminum cake tins as I did not find any cake pans in the cabin. Lucas, chef extraordinaire, has everything but cake pans, but I was certain they would have them at the General Store. I walked to town for the fourth time – this time without dogs so I could focus on carrying the groceries up the hill without the distraction of three strong dogs pulling at the leash trying to catch the cute little ground squirrels. Besides, I did not want to witness another beheading.

On the previous day’s walk under the supervision of Lynn and Lucas, the dogs were free on the mountain trail. All three were focused on a particular bush. They simply would not come when called or even beeped with the mild electric shock attached to their collars. When Lucas finally dragged them away from the spot, Lobo proudly displayed the headless critter. As his master wrestled it out of his mouth, Extra-Large Toby snatched it and ran down the road gobbling it up. I was reminded of him grabbing geckos in Costa Rica and devouring the poor things with tails still twitching.

I gathered what I could at the General Store, including a birthday gift, and trundled up the path pondering the problem of how to bake the cake without cake pans. The answer came to me after perusing the kitchen shelves – I had a choice of casserole dishes, frying pans, or a perfectly shaped pot – who said cakes have to be in two layers?

Casserole Dish

Improvised cake pan

I was good to go… except I was exhausted from all the moving activities and high altitude dog-walking. I decided to go night-night and make the cake in the morning as my guest wasn’t arriving until noon.

At 3:00 a.m. my eyes popped open, “I have to make the cake!” I scampered down the stairs, and started rattling those pots ‘n pans! Got that puppy in the oven, and set the timer for one hour.

I had an hour to kill, so I blew up balloons, wrapped the gift, set the table, and waited for the cake to rise. I was excited about his visit. We hadn’t seen each other for four years – since before I ran off to Costa Rica with Mr. Wonderful, who turned out to be Mr. Disappearing-Act. I had even told my mom about the visit during our SKYPE call the previous day, when I called to sing “Happy Birthday” to Papa Nuevo. It’s tradition. After the “song” he turned the call over to Mom.

Naturally, she wanted to know everything about the move from Costa Rica to Green Valley Lake, especially since Lynn and Lucas were scheduled to leave the next day and I would be in the cabin alone in a small, remote mountain town.

I reassured her, “Don’t worry, Mom. I have a suitor. He’ll be here tomorrow.”

“Oh! You’re getting a scooter? Just like you used to have when you were in college. That’ll be fun!”

“No, not a scooter. A suitor!”

“What kind of scooter?”


“Ohhh! A man! I hope he’s a good one. You’re due for a good one. Make him one of your nice cakes.”

At 4:30 a.m. when the oven timer went off, I pulled the cake out and wondered if it would come out of the pot in one piece. I had my doubts. Thanks to lining the inside with aluminum foil, it slid right out onto the plate. Some things unexpectedly go smoothly – others not so much. Such as, the guest discovering a problem with the airplane on the pre-flight check.

I got the message telling me it was not safe to fly into Bear Valley Airport, the closest one to GVL. Due to the altitude and hot summer air it would be risky to chance a landing in his single-engine plane. Oh, he might land okay, but due to the unknown factor of the repair he might be a guest for longer than I anticipated!

No, I didn’t want him to chance crashing into Bear Valley. Yes, there will be other cakes. And yes, there will be more champagne. And more birthdays – or at the very least, an Un-Birthday. Let’s eat cake!


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