Born at the right time.

January 17, my favorite day of the year. Because that’s the ONE DAY a year that I have left-over birthday cake for breakfast.

As you may or may not know, I like to make myself a blue birthday cake each January 16th, to go with my favorite blue teacups.

 (From top to bottom: souvenir tea cup from my 1996 visit to Althorp, birthplace of Princess Diana; souvenir tea cup from my 1992 visit to Buckingham Palace; souvenir tea cup from my Christmas 2010 visit to Locust Grove Farm in upstate New York).

I’ve been baking my yearly blue birthday cake for, oh, fifteen years. Every year, I try my best (no, really) to make a beautiful blue birthday cake.

Now, I know I’m not  a gifted baker, but for the past fourteen years my cakes at least taste a whole lot better than they look.

This year, the cake tastes just like it looks.

(Do you think it’s OK to feed blue birthday cake to the birds?)

Good thing the birthday champagne never falls flat. 

(So, What’s it like to be 55 years old?,you ask. I’ll tell you. It’s giving up nightly bar hopping for nice, cosy beddie-byes with your own hubby and a good book only to find that you’re at the age when even after a good night’s sleep you wake up and look hung over anyway. Clean living don’t mean a freaking thing at my age.)

But no matter: this is a day of celebration. This year we are commemorating 1956, a very good year:

For Corvette.

For Thunderbird.

For Cadillac.

And for Vivian Swift.

Out with the blue birthday cakes; in with the blue snow angels.

(BTW: Top Cat took these pictures at 5:10 PM, January 16th, after only the first two of many, many glasses of champagne. The hell with it. As long as I’m going to look hung over,  I might as well be hung over.)

P.S.  I’m going to a literary soiree this evening, the first of 2011, to see my agent Betsy Lerner (author of the book that got me started as a writer, The Forest For The Trees, out now in its new second edition) at McNally Jackson Bookstore, 52 Prince Street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan at 7pm. Betsy will be “in conversation”with Glenn Kurtz about What’s Wrong With Writers.

On Friday I will tell you all what I find out, which you will be free to apply to whatever other occupation you find the most annoying.

(Writers are not the most warped people in the work force, as I’m sure you all know. For instance, bellhops and accountants . . . they scare me, they’re so wierd. Right?)

19 comments to Born at the right time.

  • Sue B-S

    Happy Birthday, Vivian! I’m getting through my 55th year without too much trouble so far, so there’s hope!!

  • Janet

    You are every bit as sensational as the fine cars also manufactured in 1956. Best wishes for another wonderful year when you can celebrate the completion of a second book among other good things sure to come your way in 2011. Today is Blue Monday – in a good way.

  • I hope you’re not feeling old because I was just startled to realize that if you were born in ’56 that was the year before I graduated from high school. Which means I’ve been out of high school for almost 55 years. It seems like only yesterday and it also makes you just a spring chick.
    Happy birthday.

  • Joan

    Happy Birthday Vivian!! You share the date of my 40th wedding anniversary. We are still in love and have many more years together, I hope. May this be a GREAT year for you. P.S. Blue cake is NOT good for birds, please don’t feed it to them. Dyes are thought to be toxic, best to err on the side of caution.

    Barbara said:
    “startled to realize that if you were born in ’56 that was the year before I graduated from high school.”

    Ditto me, Barbara. I’m so glad I grew up when I did, a time much less complicated than now it seems, at least from my perspective.

  • Jacquelyn

    Aside from hearing reports this morning of flooding in the NW (water just rolls off this rock of an island but the waterfalls are roaring)
    it was noted that this is the bluest feelin day of the year….bills roll in from Christmas season shopping, we have forgotten by now our resolutions, and something else….to me it is mid-winter, weather wise, if I still had a wood pile, it would be 1/2 gone, and much is closed so that we can celebrate Martin Luther King.
    You have reached the “speed limit”….you can slow down and maintain a speed you like. At least when all those vintage cars were made, there was a 55 mph speed limit. Blue cake is better than blue hair and blue angels in the snow better than the ones who roar in the skies.

  • Jacquelin, You are a poet. Ditto on all points.

  • Nadine

    I think it was the uneven pull of gravity and too much heat what done in your cake.

    Wait until the layers are totally cooled before you stack them and add the frosting. Cooling kind of solidifies the layers so they won’t crumble when you handle them. Plus, your frosting won’t drip.

    When you stack the layers, you want them to touch at all points so gravity’s pull will be uniform on both layers. Place the bottom layer upside down on the platter and then put the top layer on right-side up. Now that both layers touch all over where they meet, the weight of the top layer (gravity) will evenly flatten out the bottom layer, resulting in a level bottom layer and a very stable 2-layer cake. The top layer will not slip.

    As for the taste, well, that’s chemistry. I’m better at physics.

  • Happy Birthday! And Amen Sister!!!!!!!!!

  • Jeannie

    Happy Birthday! I think the birds would love to share a piece of cake with you, regardless of the hue. I sped past 55 and now coming down the hill towards 60. Age is relative and as long as you can make snow angels in the snow, who cares what year you were born. Although, I’d love to have the ‘vette! Wishing you a glorious celebratory week.

  • Sandy

    Happy Birthday Vivian – and being in my 50s as well – I can relate on many counts!!

  • Nancy

    You exchanged labels on the Caddy and the T’bird.
    Also, you misspelled “weird”. Tisk, tisk.
    I look forward to reading your blog anyhow, and happy birthday.

  • I was just sitting down to write about the Cadillac and Thunderbird being mixed up.

    The cake looks good and sweet, no matter what.
    I like the silverware next to it, too.

    Happy Happy

  • At 68, I wake up every morning looking and feeling like the hangover Queen…the feeling caused by a little benign but annoying bump in the brain. the looks – well, just age. BUT the point is…I got used to feeling like shit very quickly. And then, I got used to looking like shit too!!! Now, I’m perfectly comfortable with it all. Not only does the brain adjust to these things, but you soon develop new habits to accommodate the changes as well…like your comment about snuggling in bed instead of bar hopping. I start my day in public later and later waiting for the creases to fall out of my face, but boy do I get a lot done in the mornings at home!!! And I don’t waste much time looking in the mirror or buying bloody make-up from those cosmetic company liars.

  • Ooops….forgot to add my birthday wishes. I hope you will continue to write “good and plenty” for many more years. And enjoy mucho snuggles and diner meals.

  • Deborah

    Reading Helen’s comment made me remember a poem I used to include in birthday cards. It ends with
    “To stay young,
    To save the world,
    Break the mirror”

    Break the Mirror by Nanao Sakaki

  • You’re fun….I’ll come back! (Found you via Betsy Lerner’s blog….). I’m a writer, too, ‘natch.

  • Shelley

    Vivian, Happy Birthday, just a bit belated!

    Apparently that resolution of mine about being organized and on time isn’t working out so well! Can I blame it on being a bit on the “vintage” side myself? I was born in 1953, a very good year also for cars and humans!

    Here’s one of my favorite ee cummings birthday quotes:

    “ your birthday comes to tell me this — each luckiest of lucky days i’ve loved, shall love, do love you, was and will be and my birthday is”

    Love your blue cake. Hope your day was wonderful, and the coming year absolutely grand!


  • mo

    LOVE your blue cake. what a fun idea, and i especially love that also have delicate teacups and lovely silverware on the same table. how veddy British of you ;)

    happiest of birthdays to you, albeit a bit belatedly. sounds like you had a lovely time.

    i so much enjoy your reading your blog. it brings many moments of delight and laughter. thank you.

  • I love the idea of the blue cake! I never thought to color the cake itself.

    Happy Belated Birthday!! I’m a couple of years up on you but I am enjoying my 50′s. Hope it’s a good one for you.

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