The whir of the beater grinds the metal bowl. My mom dumps in two boxes of Betty Crocker white cake mix. It is my birthday. Crack, one egg, two eggs-thirty three years. She has made the same cake every one of them. Betty Crocker white cake mix, oil, and eggs. The beater grinds.
With precision, up swoops the Kitchen Aid. A quick twist and the silver bowl springs into action. A floured sheet cake pan awaits the gooey concoction; I await the drippy bowl. My mom pours and shakes the pan to even the batter. She spreads the top with a spatula; with an index finger I swipe Betty Crocker to my lips. The joy of adding another year is in the mix.
Rattle. The metal on metal of the pan as it hits the oven rack in a preheated 350-degree oven. The midday sun shines through the kitchen. I await the cutting of the top and my afternoon birthday snack-hot cake and freshly mixed icing.
Nothing fancy around our house. Crisco and box frosting- mom says that Crisco is the secret; butter is a little too strong. Pour the powder into a Pyrex bowl. Stir with a spatula. The warmth of the cake fills the kitchen. Only fifteen minutes left.
Timing is everything; let the frosting set. Get four bowls down. One for yellow, one for red, one for blue, and one for green; it isn't a Birthday cake if it isn't nice and colorful. This year will be a big locomotive; Andy loves his trains.
The aroma is unbearable as the buzzer goes off. Two oven-mits from the drawer and out it comes, onto the tile. I pour a glass of milk and the top is carved as promised. I politely borrow from the vat of white frosting with a knife. Ah, birthdays, you are never too old.
Andy Fletcher's career as an artist started early. He began drawing trains-one of his first loves-from his own photos when he was still in school. In 1992, Burlington Northern Railroad asked him to design their popular SD70MAC Executive color scheme. Altogether, Andy has drawn over a thousand trains, from steam to modern diesel and cars, cabooses and other equipment. He has been commissioned to paint trains for many of the railroad historical societies and museums.