Dropping the Cake and other Learning Experiences


I love to cook, but I don’t often do desserts. My piecrusts are tough, my cakes are dry, and my puddings bland. And everything…yes everything…sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Okay, I don’t ruin ice cream. But that’s about it.

I shuddered with trepidation knowing I was bringing dessert to a dinner for ten. I decided on my favorite chocolate cake. It’s made in an oblong pan, is usually dense but moist, and requires no frosting.

It turned out perfect. I happily sifted powdered sugar over the top to give it a little pizzazz and frowned. The sifter was for flour. It looked like flour on the top.

I picked up the pan, turned it over on its side to brush off the excess sugar, and plop. I fell out of the pan and broke into several pieces. For once it didn’t stick. It was an unparalleled success. Now it was a mess on my countertop ten minutes before I was supposed to leave.

No time to buy something at the market, so I carefully cut ten small squares from the larger pieces, set them on a plate, dug out my fail safe vanilla ice cream, and ten plump strawberries I had planned to eat the next day. When I arranged these artfully on individual plates at the dinner party, nobody knew about my disaster.

My point is disasters happen. You can clean up the mess, dump it in the trash, and be angry. Or you can assess the damage, salvage what you can from the situation, and make the best of it.

Watching the Super Bowl yesterday, I saw a super-talented young man with an ego the size of Donald Trump (maybe not quite that big) take his lumps and watch his team lose. For him it was a disaster, a game he will not forget and I truly believe he will be a better player because of it. He didn’t run off to the locker room, he congratulated his opponent. He made the best of a bad situation.

We all have those days—the characters in my books have those days—and we must learn not to let them depress us. We have to look for the usable pieces, rearrange them, and be content with what we created or learned.

To use an old cliché, make lemonade from lemons.

Or gateau avec fraise from cake crumbs.



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