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Today in My History

2000: A Life in Declarative Sentences
2001: Chewing the Air
2002: Look At Me, I'm Flyyyyying
2003: Over the Rainbow
2004: The Princess in My Motel Room
2005: Twenty Questions
2006:  Going Batty

2007: Dog Days of Summer

2008: Letting My Voice Be Heard
Socialist Agenda
2010: And So It Begins
2011: Going on 93
2012: Cheers
2013: Just Hangin' in Yalta

Bitter Hack
The Ladies Foursome

Books Read in 2014
"The Last Man"

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The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers

mail to Walt


8 September, 2014

The 95th birthday party has been declared a success, though it was touch and go for awhile and a letter has been written to the General Manager of Atria about it.  However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Knowing I wanted to do this party, I arranged a week ago to use the private dining room.  I checked twice during the week with the front desk about it, keeping them up to date with how many we would probably have.   The room has a long table that seats probably 14 people, and then chairs around the edges so you can sit and chat.  It would be perfect.  I had invited 8 people from Atria and then there were 5 family plus my friend Peg, who used to live at Atria and has now moved across town to be closer to her daughter and, of course, my mother, for 14 total.

The adventure started yesterday with Making The Cake.   I always use cake mix cakes, but I decided that I wanted to make a from-scratch cake this time, so I did.  I was super careful measuring ingredients and mixing times, etc.  I even buttered the cake pan, put parchment on it and buttered it again, to make sure the cake came out easily -- all those things that "real" bakers do, that I usually skip beause I'm lazy.  But I wanted this cake to be perfect.

The first problem was that as I was getting ready to put it in the oven, I glanced at the recipe and realized that I had used 1-1/2 cups of milk instead of 1-1/4.  Well...maybe it would be OK, I thought.  But then as I put the pan in the oven I relaized that instead of the pan being the 9x13 called for in the recipe, it was 7x11.  I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

In time I began to smell burning cake and the smoke detector went off and I discovered the batter had overflowed the pan and was burning on the bottom of the oven.  Ultimately it came out with batter cooked onto the sides and the middle sunken in.

This would not do, so I heaved a sigh and started making a second cake, which, thank goodness, turned out just fine.  Amazing what a difference it makes when you measure correctly and use the right size pan!

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This morning I got up at 6 to make stabilized whipping cream and decorate the cake.  I've decided stabilized whipping cream is my favorite frosting...so much softer, less sweet than buttercream, and by adding gelatin to the cream, you can actually pipe with it and it holdes its shape.

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At 11, we headed to Atria, by way of the supermarket so I could get a flower arrangement.  I had hoped for a balloon, but they didn't have any that I liked (and none blown up).  We got to Atria and I checked in with the front desk again and then took the cake and flowers to the private dining room.  It was 11:30.  

The server told me that I would have to move to the hospitality table because they weren’t opened yet. I explained I just wanted to drop off the cake and that we would not be arriving until noon. She said that would be fine. 

At noon, we returned to find several of the Atria guests already in the dining room and we began to settle ourselves around the table, though I thought it odd that the table was not set, as it has been when I have used that room for other purposes.

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I was pleased that almost everyone I had invited was there already and happy to see my mother greet each person like a friend.  Things were going well.   Soon the server came in and informed me that we would have to move to the hospitality table because the private dining room was not available for use. I explained that we had reserved it a week before but she said that we would have to move. The hospitality table seats 10 comfortably. At that point we were 12 and she wanted to give us that table and a separate table for 4 somewhere else in the dining room. At no time did I see any sign of any reason why the private dining room I had reserved was suddenly unavailable.

We managed to squeeze the 12 of us around the hospitality table, but the server never brought extra silverware, so I was stealing it from empty tables. We also found our own chairs because the server said she would get chairs and never did. One of the invited guests who had not yet arrived was spotted elsewhere in the dining room, and I know she had forgotten about the party. I would ordinarily have brought her to join us, but given that the table was already too full, I did not and I feel bad about that, because she is one of my mother’s best friends at Atria.

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We went through the buffet line and were halfway through our meal before anyone asked if we wanted drinks (everyone did...we wanted to toast my mother with mimosas) and we were nearly finished with the meal before the drinks arrived.

When it was time to have the cake I had decorated, we had to clear the table ourselves and I could not find any server to get plates to serve the cake on or a knife to cut it. I finally went into the kitchen and some person working there said she would bring the plates out. She did, eventually, and said “the chef will cut the cake.” We waited and waited and finally I used a knife from our table and cut it with that.

Ned had brought his video camera and is in the process of making a video.  He enlisted my mother's step son Ed as camera man.

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The party started to break up and the Atria residents began to leave.  

PegMom.jpg (182484 bytes)This was one of my favorite pictures of the party.  I knew Peg from our writing group years ago and was pleased to find her living at Atria when we moved my mother in.

She kind of took my mother under her wing and watched out for her in her first months there.   When we were on vacation last year, she would have my mother come to her apartment so she could read my journal entries on Peg's computer.

They have the same kind of humor and enjoy teasing each other.

When they built a new facility on the other side of town, I was sad to hear Peggy was moving there, but it is closer to her daughter, so I understand it and her apartment is gorgeous.  Looks just like a hotel suite (I stuck that in there for Peggy, who will "get it").

When I was planning this party, she was the first person I invited and I was so pleased that she was able to come.  Everyone at Atria loves her too, so lots of people stopped by to see her.

We finally moved the family part of the party back to the apartment where my mother got a surprise gift ... she watched the 49ers win their game against the Cowboys.

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She also got some phone calls from family wishing her a happy birthday.

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I told Walt there are perks to having a parent with dementia.   My mother must have asked at least half a dozen times who made the birthday cake and each time she received the news that I did as if she hadn't heard it before, so she thanked me effusively each time.  She also unwrapped one of the gifts we gave her twice, the second time not remembering she had seen it before, so there was more effusive thanks for the gift.

So the day was a success, despite the mix-up with Atria.  I felt much better after I came home and wrote a letter to the General Manager of the facility.

Photo of the Day

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Day 70: All things considered, it was a very fun 95th birthday

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