Trust Cake


I’ve been retired for a month now, and I think I have a bit of an issue with Retirement Attention Deficit Disorder. I’ve left a lot of pots on a lot of back burners for a lot of years…and they are all threatening to boil over. I don’t know which one to stir first. And I don’t want to turn the heat down on any of them–they are all far too important.

After the frenetic pace of teaching kindergarten, it is a real challenge to change gears. I confess that I have not been too successful with that. After a brief interlude at a cottage and some beach time, I came home and rolled up my sleeves. I’ve been gardening, making jam, hanging laundry and gutting the basement ever since. I’m also taking an oils class and trying to write a “cozy” mystery. (More on that later.) The other day, I had to reluctantly concede that I needed a day to do absolutely nothing. After all, isn’t it an imperial rule to SLOW DOWN in retirement? I almost had to duct-tape myself to the back yard lounge chair. I had my journal and my Kobo and my phone (for mindless bouts of Bejeweled Blitz), but even with these lovely distractions, I kept thinking of all the things I could be accomplishing in the house and (sigh) down in the basement. My resolve was firm. I stayed in that chair, only getting out to shower and paint my toenails and get into a pretty dress. My dear friend Lucy and I were headed out to dinner and a theatre production that evening.

Our dinner reservations were at the Windjammer Inn in Port Stanley. We sat inside, enjoying our wine and our fresh fish entrees. For dessert (which I don’t usually order, but it was a dessert kind of night), I chose a flour-less chocolate cake while Lucy decided on a slice of buttermilk cake. Our desserts were beautifully presented and equally enjoyed. I did glance at Lucy’s cake, and I remarked, “I could probably make that.” It had the texture of a coffee cake, with berries baked in.

This morning, I decided it was time to take up the challenge to myself and make a buttermilk cake. My first step in baking or cooking these days is usually to grab my phone and open the Google app. But, I had this thought: “You don’t need a recipe. You know how to do this.”

It’s true. I’m not going to impress Gordon Ramsay or anything, but I certainly know what goes into a cake and what the batter is supposed to look and taste like. I squirted some lemon juice into a measuring cup and filled it up the rest of the way with milk. Left to sit for a few minutes, that would be my “buttermilk.” I cracked some eggs, melted some butter, tossed in some sugar. Dash of salt, some baking soda and powder, “enough” flour and a jigger of almond extract. I had fresh berries and peaches on hand. I added, stirred, tasted, added a bit more…and there was the batter. I sugared the berries and sliced the peaches, greased my pan, and made my layers. Into the oven it went. And it promptly started to rise, quite pleasantly and most appropriately. I used some of my homemade raspberry jam to prepare a reduction.

As the cake baked, I decided that I would call it my “Trust Cake.” To create it, I trusted my experience and know-how and instincts. I trusted my senses (sight, smell, taste) to guide me. I trusted that I had everything I needed, already stocked in the fridge and pantry, and that if something was missing, I would make the right improvisations (in this case, the lack of vanilla extract prompted me to try the almond).

And doesn’t this simple little truth open the door to a much larger one? I don’t need a recipe for being newly retired. I can allow my experience and instinct to guide me along to whatever adventures await–whether I am painting, organizing, writing, singing, learning new yoga poses, traveling, playing the piano (or–here’s a thought: the cello), becoming a grandmother (not holding my breath), volunteering…(all those back burners). I have the confidence and the maturity to judge and to weigh and to balance, whatever I decide. And if something doesn’t go exactly according to plan, I can still make it second-helping perfect.

Not that I had a second helping.


6 thoughts on “Trust Cake

  1. Well Ms. Austin, I’m certainly impressed with your allegory between trusting yourself with the making of your cake and trusting yourself, your intuition and experience (and maybe even your stars and your destiny *wink*) to complete all those things that have been tugging at you for all these years (it must be overwhelming!) Such wisdom after only one month of retirement. Hope you get that RADD under control (LoL! I love the way you coined that new affliction.) As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this entry! Can’t wait for more.


  2. I love this one Corrina! Yum! Yes, we can all use a day, now and then, when we do nothing; however, life gets in the way and certainly, until now, those days were merely wistful dreams for you. Save those ‘basement chores’ for winter days when you can not garden and rest outdoors on the patio. You will work it out……it has only been a month! Enjoy!


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