Books for Everyone!

Holiday 2021

Cake as An Occasion

Yesterday, I occasioned upon a “headline”, of sorts, one of those bellowing-block-letter captions at the top of the web-template that has become oppressively ubiquitous online. That thing has got to go. And it’s only about a year into its dull, dreary life.

You’ve seen it, the boring Brady-Bunch Format of the online state-the-obvious fume-fests that will hopefully soon transition to Full Subscription. I wonder if the truly mind-numbing rant takes place Behind the Paywall. My non-inquiring mind does not want to know.

Perhaps the TRULY MOMENTOUS Outrage is tucked away under Premium, or Patriot, or VIP, or Club Member Only, or any of a number of categories into which I categorically refuse to fit. I feel better all the time about being an Outsider!!

This one News-pinion, however, struck me — well, no, it did not strike me. Because then the words would have had a force of some kind, which they did not — except to yawningly stun me, yet again, once more, in lather, rinse, repeat fashion — about:

The Stupidity of the Keyboarder.

Maybe stupidity sells.

The pen-named person, I’ll call her Fanny, was horrified over the fact that THE WOMEN”S MAGAZINES have gone WOKE!

Aloud, I thought: “Well, dearie, where have you been????”

Oh, that’s right. She wasn’t born yet.

By the late-1980s, the Women’s Magazines had begun to stop pitching recipes, diets, home-care tips and decorating delights, even a short story or two; and they started slavishly slanting e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e thing toward the Career Boomer Women. Those emancipated beasts of burden did not stay home and bake cookies, or stay home and raise their urchins, or stay home!

I steered clear of the vicious wake of the destructive Boomers. I was staying home, and baking cookies, and cooking dinner, and raising my progeny, and washing clothes, and ironing them, including Hubby’s shirts for work. I was reading novels, and gardening, and working out, outside of cleaning the house, and rounding up The Runaway Beagle, and fending off slovenly neighbors from my fence line.

Simply because I had so much extra time on my hands, I was encouraged to also write articles for the Women’s Magazines. This cheering section consisted of exactly one person, a colleague in my former workplace who unflinchingly believed that I, with my succinct but sometimes poetically-put opinions, could definitely speak to those working-women about how poor their choices in life were becoming.

This colleague was a liberal libertarian, or, more likely, a libertarian liberal. Her unnaturally controlling behaviors always ran counter to her egalitarian instincts. She’d been all for the equal rights movement, until she began to detect those rights did not emphasize, or even expect, personal accountability. Duty was ditched for indulgence by the hedonistic harpies; this development (which I saw as having always been the main driver of those hypocrites) frightened my feminist friend. She stated, with a marked level of apprehension, that the pendulum in America — by the late 1980s! — was swinging wayyyy too far in the wrong direction. The pendulum had swung too far to the left, and something had to be done before the country started to tear itself apart.

The “social unrest” that had exploded during the ‘60s and ’70s would soon descend into lawlessness, and violence — because of the sneakily devised and implemented laws and policies foisted on America by selfish reckless women who sought power only for themselves. The social fabric was being shredded by the very people, the women, who ought to be maintaining it, and mending it.

I found it odd that this woman, a none too subtle Women’s Libber, did not realize the roles of the powerful monied men who were complicit in this profitable heist of Constitutional rights and personal responsibilities. This civil engineer was one of the California Natives who characteristically mistake the covert truth for the overt “reality”, and vice versa. Any realization of having been deceived and defrauded then becomes intensely painful, almost punitive. The truth is fought ferociously and opposed as a mortal enemy by a threatened ego.

With a level of shameful discomfort, this woman had seen through the ploys of the feminists. She was upset more at herself, for having fallen for their liberation-gimmicks than at the conniving and pernicious tactics. I’d never fallen for those un-artful artifices and I wasn’t greatly perturbed by the uppity phonies protesting and parading for “power”. The female political fanatics insulted all that I hold dear, but I didn’t feel any reflexive need to politicize my personal life because of their neuroses. That private domain I still hold sacrosanct from the predations of politicians and from the grubby exploitative politics that cause only divisiveness and ill-will, particularly within the embittered among us.

I did feel a sorrowful concern over the warehousing of mere babes by their mothers, those smug careerists who hired other women, whom they deemed of a lower, and wretchedly inferior class, to do their dirty work, in the home and in the office. I once subjected myself, and my skills, to employment by one of those careerist women. I was hired to sew for her the crib bumpers, ornaments, and a quilt for The Coming Child. That only child would not be put into daycare, like some commoner American. This Big-Bucks Momma would hire a nanny for her sprout. It was soooo British! Upper upper, you know.

Tosh and tommyrot to that American aristocrat who was nothing but a middle-class suburban snob!

My conclusion from dealing with that condescending prig was: Never again. The pay was lousy, the complaints were endless, and the marriage, not surprisingly, ended in divorce.

Those cast-off offspring of greedy, money-obsessed, status-seeking mothers made up too large a portion of what became known as the first daycare generation. Those tykes were reared in elitist day-care cages, and were deprived of the basics of maternal love that are so vital to developing a healthy sense of self, or even a self.

We are now witnessing the inescapable results of nobody’s home; home alone; and the children, not the adults, are in charge.

During that epoch of mothers running away from parenting, I learned about the latest crock-invention called “Quality Time” — the 2 hours at night. after work, spent with the baby or toddler before everyone went to bed. Quality time was the only personal time devoted to the genetic descendant. I jokingly stated:

“That cop-out will have the same result as the gal who tells her husband that he gets Quality Time of 2 hours after work, each night: he’ll find quality time elsewhere, and a lot of it.”

Prophetic statement, that one.

My former co-worker firmly believed that certain influential women reading my iconoclastic ideas would get that societal pendulum moving in the opposite direction, the right direction. I, the non-engineer, knew, from playing a lot of pinball, that the object in motion must be stopped, before the change in course direction can be controlled; and then advance in a direct path to the objective, or the desired goal.

I was supposed to influence the influencers of that era!

Thirty years later, the full-stop, the dead stop, of that social pendulum, has not yet been achieved. When it does cease its motion, the inertia will be momentary, a quick instant of impeccable grace, before the life-saving miracle that only the Ineffable can create.

That kindly female persuasion motivated me to write about half a dozen “opinion pieces” for several Women’s Magazines. I’d send each one in the 8-1/2x11 manila envelope, with the corresponding 8-1/2x11 SASE, for its inevitable return. My advocate-friend dearly wished for my excellent and original writing to be acknowledged by those haughty harridans in the Northeast. Almost weekly, she’d call me at my domicile in The Burbs and ask which piece had been accepted.

Calmly, a bit sadly, but with a gleeful mixture of sardonic sarcasm and noble indifference (the earliest beginnings of my character, Camille), I explained the following likely scenario to my Editorial Advocate:

Those Career Women had not even read my work. If one actually took the time to do so, she probably shoved it back into the SASE, ASAP. I was starting to time the increasing rapidity of the return-mail-envelopes, containing my truthful takes on life.

It was: A Race to Reject Her!

I did get to familiarize myself quite well with my new home town, Roseville, as I drove to the Post Office, downtown, on Vernon Street. I got to converse with several of the dedicated employees who were pulling for me. They were overjoyed to hear that I’d given up typing editorials to submit to those dreadful hags at the dame-mags, and had started to write My First Novel.

By then, the real decade of greed, the 1990s, had begun. The Spoiled-Brat Boomer Babes decided to go full-greed materialistic. They were making up, big-time, for their years of living in huts, and sporting cheap gauzy polyester boho clothes, and smoking grass. The pontificating tacky princesses and ogress-queens had to buy the best of everything, and show it off to everyone. I think the camcorder was invented just to cash in on the exhibitionism of those pre-Selfie/Instagram narcissists.

I know that exhibitionism is a very real emotional and mental disorder, one that entails showing off one’s tails, if not the entrails; I am therefore correctly using this term. When the “birth process” is video-recorded for posterity, for ALL posterity, and then brought into The Office World, after those 3 months of paid leave have expired, for EVERYONE to see the head-crowning achievement, what word do you use other than exhibitionism?

I shunned viewing that experience, and flat-out refused to use it as an occasion to reward, anything to anyone!

The Birthing Attention Whore has of late been supplemented by the Earth Woman — in settings such as the Conference Room in the Federal Building. I was regaled once about the official meeting between Native Americans and the Regional Director that turned into an outright display of the mammary gland. This assemblage was not meant to be a confrontation, but, after about an hour, it devolved into a clash of cultures. One mother from the Hoopa Indian tribe proceeded to breastfeed her infant — at the Conference Table.

Dear Husband still hasn’t gotten over it. I got an earful on the phone that day! (I too personally dealt with the Hoopas, decades earlier, in the 1980s over a bridge they kept blowing up to prevent the Government Inspector from discovering their biggest cash crop: marijuana.)

The cash crop of the magazines in America withered and dried up as the abiding, revered traditions of this nation underwent further and further assault by younger and younger tribal factions of this nation. America is a blessed experiment in democracy that was built upon the ideal selected by Founding Father Charles Thomson in 1782: E pluribus unum. Unfortunately, whenever I employ that Latin phrase, I still recall AlGore dramatically monotoning his English translation: From one, many.

That utterance might have been a Freudian slip, but Mr. Dumb-As-A-Slug is incapable of even that complexity of cogitation. And people gripe today about The Stupidity!

The history of magazines in America is a woeful tale of huge success and huge decline. Those phenomenally produced publications went to pot, literally, long before they went woke. First, they went broke, and then they went woke. It’s the natural order of a failing business cycle. That downward trajectory of hard-copy periodicals in America began with the advertisers choosing, in their own best financial interests, to not renew contracts with companies whose printed materials no longer filled a profitable market.

The ad revenue IS the next edition, no matter who prints it. The news and articles are merely the filler. What presently passes for online “news” are the visual atrocities posted as debits in a shrinking cauldron of globalist money. No markets, no money, no media.

The decades-long death spiral of the American Magazine began in the 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s, and then, during the past 15 years or so, the online images of these once-great informational bastions of business limped along, vanishing more and more each month. The printed publications of information, opinion, and the cherished cultural experiences of Americans croaked during the Great Recession. Now all We Americans are treated to are either Complaints or Cake as An Occasion.

Starting in 1997, I began to subscribe to a now-extinct magazine called Colonial Homes. This Hearst Corp. monthly was re-titled Classic American Homes in the year 2000. Just the logical lineage of those names, and the evident need to re-orient the banner, are extremely telling. Those statements compose a tale in itself. The ending of that story was bankruptcy in 2001. I do recall feeling upset by this ominous occurrence.

My initial interest in these published sources of intriguing accuracy, delightful images, and fascinating advertisements was — historic. I conducted research of the architecture, color palettes, and factually chronicled events of early American history. I also found resources for merchandise such as iris bulbs, pottery, and quilt patterns. It WAS the Catalogue Era. The practical, the aesthetic, and the acquisitive feminine impulses overtook the scholarly and investigative bookworm in me, although those ardent sensibilities are all intimately intertwined.

The real estate ads always drew my rapt attention. Oh, the Victorian houses for sale! An American Treasures Agency in Kansas City, MO was offering a 1908 Victorian in Virginia for $89,000; and a Timeless Elmwood Greek Revival in West Virginia. Those architectural beauties must have helped me toward writing NOCTURNE!

With excitement, I happened upon some fantastic cake recipes. I was able to methodically plan my impulses, right alongside accumulating, annotating, and filing away decorating ideas and house design concepts for that project-of-the-future, The Dream House.

I’ve got the Dream House now, and I’ve still got the pages torn from those defunct magazines. I dare to call Cake an Occasion. While the dingbat dullards of the faux-Governments sniff, “Let them eat cake,” I intend to bake impeccable gâteaux, and serve those delicious desserts to friends and loved ones as we celebrate life and country living.

Here is one of my favorite recipes, called Fresh Lemon Cake. It’s culled from those precious pages of Classic American Homes, Holiday 2000. I use Meyer lemons. This hybrid of lemon and mandarin exceptionally alters the citrus flavor of the original recipe; but I am known for revising recipes.

I don’t top the layers with buttercream frosting, but sprinkle them with powdered sugar once the cake has fully cooled. The treat is then complete.

Fresh Lemon Cake

2-1/2 cups sugar

1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

5 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-3/4 cups cake flour

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemon)

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

In bowl, with mixer, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Beat in zest and vanilla.

In separate bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk and lemon juice. Divide batter equally into pans. Bake cakes 25 minutes, or till golden.

Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks and cool completely. Stack layers onto serving plate or cake stand.

Bon appétit !