Monday, April 19, 2010

Pelicans in the Desert

{And Other Birthday Surprises}

It was a marvelous weekend full of hot sauce, migrating birds, and a triple-decker carrot cake (never mind that it didn't rise) baked by one very ambitious, devoted husband.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The weekend began when we finally picked up our Scamp, and you know how excited this household has been for that moment to arrive.

Then desert friends arrived with vases of wildflowers and Surprise Dinner No. 1, which concluded with individual meyer lemon coconut tarts with PASSION FRUIT-LEMON ZEST MASCARPONE CREAM. It was, as P. says, a Peak Life Experience.

The next morning over breakfast something truly spectacular happened. Even more spectacular than jalapeƱo scrambled eggs and kumquat mimosas.

Directly above us a squadron of American white pelicans some hundred-strong swept across the desert sky in their migration north from Panama. With nine-foot wingspans they were truly something to behold.  Certainly there is no birthday present greater than a really kick-ass migration sighting.

Surprise Dinner No. 2 involved unexpected guests from near and far, including one very sneaky sister who came down from San Fransisco armed with parlor games to be played over lime and mango grilled swordfish. (If you're going to boost your mercury level you might as well do it with panache.)

The game is called Blind Ignorance. Without peeking, each person draws from a bowl a famous person's name and affixes it to their forehead so that the rest of the party can read it. Each person gets twenty questions to figure out who they are. Mayhem usually ensues; a misreading of Cookie Monster led one farsighted birthday girl to think that her sister was in fact Chuck Norris, which resulted in racous confusion.

It was pretty fantastic when certain husbands realized they were Bella Swan.  (How on earth he knows who Bella Swan is I have no idea.)

The grand finale was the aforementioned three-tiered carrot cake, oozing with rum, covered in cream cheese frosting and baked by the love of my life. Never mind if it had collapsed in the middle; scrawled across the top was the word "we" a heart and a creature resembling a sheep: We love ewe. There may or may not have been tears of gratitude and a polite request for a requisite glass of milk.

I'm a lucky ewe indeed. And one so very sated and happy and faintly hungover that this week will no doubt include leafy greens, early bedtimes, and the writing of many thank you notes.  And thank ewe for all the kind wishes; it was truly the best birthday EVER.


  1. Oh!

    It all sounds exactly as it should have been - perfectly delightful. You rang in 28 with panache, indeed.

    And your husband? And the cake? My heart is melting like rum-laced, slightly warm, cream-cheese frosting.

    (P.S. Pelicans are the Boy's favourite. He thinks you are one lucky woman to have them, in your desert, on your birthday weekend.)

  2. How could I miss your special day ... well you will be getting something ever so shortly or when I get my bottom to the post office ... or when I pick it up but it will get to you. Lily, your day looked beautiful, and I love that you were Huckleberry Fin ... and Bella Swan ha that is too great. This post was truly scrumptious a three tiered carrot cake oh my, sounds divine and simply lovely just like you. Happy Birthday sweet Lily!! Sending you much love and laughter. Always your friend!! XO

  3. oh late HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! Lily!!! And your cake was gorgeous. I'd put THAT picture up on my wall.

    Thought of you as we passed through Bakersfield this weekend. But I'm sure your paintings are now long gone from any public space there. The grapevine mountains around Gorman are an insane treat just at the moment.

  4. oh! what an AMAZING birthday weekend.

  5. how incredibly wonderful! that migration, so much yummy food, dear friends and family...makes me think i'm in need of an un-birthday party ;)

  6. Oh, so magical! Yay for wonderful birthday weekends.

    And, sadly, I am useless on the subject of outdoor cushions. Our patio furniture came from Craigslist a few years ago and I haven't needed to change anything yet.

    BUT I will tell you that I used the Woolite rug stick on my actual couch last week and it was amazing. One of those weird ideas that could be terrible but end up being completely justified. Couch was also from Craigslist and had a slight eau du homeless scent about it.

  7. that sounds like a fantastic birthday!! You're so lucky!

    .. and kumquat mimosas... brilliant!! We have a ton that we need to do something with!

  8. what a special weekend!!!! lovely i think people that know you are blessed and when they get to celebrate you wonderful things happen!( like a canopy of beautiful birds)

    my husband baled me a cake once, only once and it did not rise but i love him for it- carrot cake is my favorite!

  9. Wow how amazing! It sounds like your 28th was truly a PEAK LIFE EXPERIENCE!!!! And all your food sounds so exotic... is that just you guys or is it the dessert culture? :)
    Hah... Chuck Norris...

  10. Happy birthday! You clearly have so many people who adore you, and it must have been amazing to celebrate with them. Cheers to 28!

  11. Happy birthday, alliterating, rhyming, bracketing dear one. You make me unable to decide whether it is cake, kumquats or a tiny white marshmallow trailer I want to eat most.

    Come park in my driveway. Bring that octopus plate.

  12. what a birthday! so full of cheer and love and food. just wonderful.

  13. A good sign for this year Lily, a wonderful sight, it has to be a sign of a long fulfilling life.

    Congrats to you!!! and to your hubby in his accomplishment on getting a three layer carrot cake...

    Happy Belated Birthday

  14. Looks an absolutely surreal birthday weekend! Blind Ignorance seems like just a funny little game. I adore the Scamp; I'm very preoccupied with the thought of going camping soon. You helped inspire my To Do list today!

  15. What an absolutely lovely blog! Your pictures are amazing!
    This post in particular (happy birthday, by the way!). I love your Scamp. I love the way you celebrate and appreciate delicious food and drinks. And that game! I have got to get all the rules on that one! Will be playing that at our next family party for sure!


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