Welcome to a birthday party. As you all know, I’m Sage, your host. I’m going to stand in the corner and watch the party progress, holding my virtual fire extinguisher in case all those virtual candles on the virtual cake create a virtual conflagration. But before I retreat to my corner, let me introduce the guests of honor:
Some say Diane’s life has gone to the dogs. “What’s wrong with that,” asks Nanner and Noodles, her two loyal canine friends. Diane lives near the beach in Southern California, works in the legal field, reads and listens to great volumes of books, plays golf for charity, goes on safari’s to Yellowstone in the winter in order to observe wolves and is a faux-blonde.
Here's Diane in Yellowstone this past February. If I knew how to do audio in my blog, I’d have the Who playing in the background. Diane is 40-something today.
Kevin’s reading reflects the graduate studies he’s currently pursuing. A lover of books, he’s spent years working in bookstores, devouring books in search of misprints. In addition to reading, he loves watching movies with his kids. He’s a diehard Baptist, yet he married an exotic dancer from Texas. Although working in the academic realm, he considers himself a country preacher.
Here are his kids.
Kevin loves giving away books and currently has a contest going on to give away a whole library this coming Christmas. It’s rumored that his wife told him it’s her or the books. Kevin is 40-something minus one today. (I don’t think it’s polite to say how old they are, and I'm not exactly sure, but Kevin claims to be 12 months younger than Diane.).
Today's cake is provided by Tim, our professional baker. Someone better run out to the store and buy up all their spare candles. We need about eighty-five more to make up the difference for the two of them.
In the virtual world, this cake is without calories. If you want to experience it in the real world, Tim sends his recipe for “Happy Birthday Cake” which comes from his Mennonite Church’s cookbook:
Measure into bowl:
2 1/2 cup flour
1 t. salt
1 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup Crisco shortening
3/4 cup milk
Mix 2 minutes. Then add:
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
Beat 2 minutes. Bake 325 degrees for 30 minutes in 9 x 12 cake pan or until cake tester comes up clean. Ice with your favorite icing and enjoy with a scoop of Sage’s ice cream. :)
Sage has made a tub of ice cream. This is a real treat; the recipe for “Brent’s Down and Dirty Devilishly Delicious Vanilla Custard Ice Cream” comes from his friend who died last November. I remembered I had this recipe stuck away in a file and pulled it out. Like the cake, it’s rich and full of calories, but you can eat all the virtual stuff you want without having to worry about your waist line. Here's the recipe for those of you who'd like to try it at home.
6 Eggs, beaten
4 cups half and half
2 cups whole milk
2 ¼ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vanilla extract (or ground vanilla beans)
6 cups whipping cream
Combine eggs, half and half, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats a metal spoon. Cool. Add vanilla and cream. Pour into the ice cream freezer contain. Crank till hard, while keeping plenty of ice and salt around the container. The best ice cream is made with hand cranked freezers that sit inside wooden tubs.
Now everyone get a glass. It’s time for a toast. Out of respect for Kevin, the punch isn’t spiked, but if you want a little something in yours, slip into the kitchen and look into the cabinet above and to the right of the sink. (Be sure to take the bottles in front as I’ve hidden my good stock in the back.)
Having a lawyer and a preacher together at this party reminds me of something Mark Twain said in a letter from Virginia City, Nevada. “If we had a many preachers here as we have lawyers, it’d be hard to tell which group produced the most rascals." (my paraphrase)
The Toasts: Diane, may you have a wonderful year. And as you approach 50, may your ears never fail, so that you’ll always be able to enjoy the Who, but if your ears do fail, don’t worry about it, being hard of hearing is a great excuse. Happy birthday!
Kevin, may you have a wonderful year. As you grow old, may your eyes never fail as you consume more and more books. May your work always be fulfilling, as you’re going to have to work a long time to get all those kids through school! Happy birthday!
The Sharing of Gifts: (I hope each of you have a gift, in the form of a joke, for both Kevin and Diane). Post "gifts" and well wishes in the comments.
UPDATE: Sage's gift
As a birthday present to Kevin and Diane, I decided to write a couple vignettes from their lives as a preacher and lawyer.
Kevin is really a closest Calvinist who believes in predestination. Wanting to know which way their oldest son was going to go, he and his wife devised a plan to place several objects on the dining room table right before their oldest son returned home from school. “Let’s put a $100 bill down,” Kevin said. If it takes it, we’ll know he’ll go into finance. “And let’s put a Bible down,” his wife said. “If he picks it up, we’ll know he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps.” Knowing that they needed another temptation, Kevin suggested they place a bottle of whiskey on the table, sadly admitting that if he took the bottle, he’d end up a drunkard. They then hid in the kitchen.
When their son came home from school, he examined each article and looked around to see if anyone was watching. Seeing no one, he stuffed the bill in is pocket, put the Bible under his arm, and walked out taking a swig of whiskey. “How about that,” Kevin boasted, “He’s going to be a lawyer.”
One day, when he was on the sawdust trail, Kevin was preaching a revival meeting in Southern California. Diane was drawn to all the commotion at the oversized tent and decided to check things out. As she stepped into the tent, Kevin called her forth and asked her to give a prayer. Unprepared, she gave a prayer from her lawyer’s heart: “Stir up much strife amongst thy people, Lord, lest they servant perish.” (This is adapted from a story that was attributed to the late Senator Sam Ervin from the great state of North Carolina)
A client of Diane’s who was also a parishioner of Kevin’s was dying. As the grim reaper drew near, the man called his lawyer and pastor to this side. “I know, I’m dying,” he said. “I know I have only a few days left and I still have $200,000 that I haven’t been able to spend. I don’t want to give it to my kids, they never came to visit. I want to take it with me and you’re the only two people I can trust.” The dying man gave them each an envelope containing $100,000 cash. “I want you two to swear to me that just before the casket is closed, you’ll put in these envelopes, watching out to make sure the other follows suit.” Kevin and Diane both agreed they’d follow the man’s wishes.
After the funeral, Kevin was feeling really bad and he called Diane aside to confess. “You know, our church’s homeless shelter needed a new roof and we were a little short. I have to confess that I only put $90,000 into the casket.”
“I can’t believe it, a man of the cloth sticking it to a stiff,” Diane chastised. “I’m ashamed of you; I put in a personal check for the entire $100,000.”
Enjoy the party!