I procrastinated about writing this week. I had a birthday…I had liquid nitrogen sprayed on my nose…I took a lot of pictures of Harley…I read a lot…I whined about the heat..I complained about the ant infestation. I had a friend call me with really bad news. I heard a couple of other sad stories. Life is challenging, no doubt. None of which seemed a scintillating, or uplifting, topic for a blog post. I knew what I wanted to write about. It all started with a picture of this amazing chocolate cake. My friend, Carolyn, is an outstanding cook and baker. She posts pictures of the incredible food she makes. She is in New York so with the time difference her posts seem to appear just before I’m thinking about making dinner. I want to live next door to Carolyn and have dinner with her every night. On my birthday she made the cake you see here and dedicated it to me. While I whined a bit about not actually being able to eat the cake, it brought back an indelible childhood memory.
My father’s mother was a great baker and every year on my birthday she would make a most delicious chocolate cake. I can’t find the picture I have of me blowing out the candles on my sixth birthday but I do remember my seventh birthday. We were spending the summer in Rocky Point ~ my brother was a baby. I do not remember the circumstances surrounding said birthday celebration but I do remember the party. We lived in Hollis at the time, so a summer birthday party far out on Long Island required a trek for all concerned. I remember my Grandmother attending said event and I also remember saying, “Look Grandma, I have a birthday cake with my name on it.” It was not chocolate…she did not bring it. It came from…a bakery. Unintentionally, I set off a family catastrophe. Another recurring theme I’ve experienced in life…but, I digress. We will stick with the “cake crisis.” There was never another chocolate cake…for anyone. Ever. Honestly, I never really noticed but then I’m not a sweet person…literally. Years later my cousin Patty shared the tale. “Oh yeah…after that birthday Grandma stopped baking chocolate cakes because ‘Janet wanted a cake with her name on it.'” From this picture with both my grandmother’s on my brother’s first birthday ~ non-chocolate cake included ~ I seem to think the cake from the bakery was more my mother’s idea than mine. As you can see, Grandma Mafera is about as far as she can get from the offending cake without being out of the picture entirely. My mother was an only child. I was an only child until I was six. I remember being happy to have a baby brother. We lived down the street from the Kiernan’s. They ended up with twelve children and most of the time, my friend Kathleen got to push a real baby in a stroller rather than a doll. The day Jody was born I went racing down the street to share the news. I ran up the stairs to the “big girls” room. Ruthie was sound asleep…I was yelling “I have a brother…I have a brother.” She groggily opened her eyes and said, “big deal,” and rolled over. The best thing about eating lunch at the Kiernan’s was grilled cheese and a bowl of cream of celery soup. My Mom made MUCH better grilled cheese because she made Toast-ites. It was this round apparatus that grills the sandwich on top of the burner. She got it as a wedding present in the 1940’s and over the years I’d tried to find one. A Panini grill, sadly, does not a Toast-ite make. On a walk this week, after making a less than satisfying pan sandwich, I whined to Jay ~OMG that is three whines ~ about how much better Toast-ites were. The very next day my childhood next door neighbor, Kathleen Fitzgibbons, sent me this advertisement for a 1940’s Toast-ite maker, saying how well she remembered the great sandwiches. Needless to say, I ordered one and it is on the way as I type. I will double up on my Liptor and enjoy! I took notice of two “now” events that had such definite “then”meaning for me this week. Barry Manilow and Harley, the golden retriever, all helped to make this an excellent birthday, as did all the birthday wishes I received both real and virtual. I felt like Sally Field accepting her Oscar. But I still couldn’t figure out how it all fit together. Were these all just coincidences?
Yesterday Jay and I went back to the Corner Bakery for lunch. We hadn’t been back since meeting Corporal Richard Green right before Memorial Day. I wrote about our meeting, Jay and I had spoken of him several times, we sat at the same table, ate our lunch and went on with our day.
Two weeks later I wrote about Barry Manilow, and began writing and thinking about serendipity, both past and present. Serendipity ~ a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; a fortunate mistake.
This morning Jay and I went out for breakfast and decided to take the dogs for a ride in the car. Riley and Harley now bond over riding and barking. Jay took a different route than I’d expected. At a couple of points he said, “right or left?” My response was, “no matter.” It was a pleasant Sunday morning, before the heat took over. I’d said I wanted to stop at the market so Jay pulled into one we frequent infrequently, parked in the shade to wait in the car with the dogs. I picked up a few things and as I finished checking out I saw a man who looked familiar standing at the entrance. I knew I knew him but couldn’t figure out from where. As soon as I thought of his name I blurted it out, “Corporal Richard Greene.” He turned and looked at me trying to put the pieces together in his mind. I walked over and reminded him of the story, my Army t-shirt and our conversation. He smiled broadly and said, “you know after you left a man came up to me and handed me a piece of paper that said ‘thank you for your service.’ There was a gift card for the Corner Bakery but I haven’t been back since.” I told him I’d written about him in my blog. He smiled warmly and said, “Really, you did?”
He told me he comes there every Sunday morning “just about this time” for a latte. He told me he lived “just up the road.” I told him my husband was in the car with our dogs but if he wouldn’t mind we’d love to join him for coffee next Sunday.
“Oh yes,” he said, “I’d enjoy that.”
Chocolate cake…Toast-ites…Corporal Richard Greene
Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently unrelated, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. It was first described by Carl Jung in the 1920’s.
I will bring a copy of what I wrote about him when we see Corporal Richard Greene next Sunday. As I closed the post I wrote when we first met him…there are no accidents.
Happy Birthday to me!
Somebody up there likes me…a lot!!!