bunt sign

January 25, 2000

Unless you've tried recently, you might not know how hard it is to find a birthday card for a boy who's about to turn eleven. An age-appropriate, gender-appropriate card. Doesn't exist.

There are wonderful cards for girls that age, or any age. Great cards for younger boys. Halfway decent cards for teenagers. Everything else in the birthday section is for adults, most of them in the "over-the-hill" genre. Some of them are so rank I feel dirty touching them. Is there no happy medium between the thoroughly obnoxious and the sickly sweet? This was at Rite Aid, which when it was Thrifty Drug had the best selection of cards in town, including the card shops. Now, not so great.

My problem is exacerbated a bit because I haven't seen this kid since he was two. I send him something every year and never get any feedback, so I have to go by what I hear from other family members. Since I'll be seeing him (supposedly) at the family vacation this summer, this wouldn't be the year to give up on him.

So I compromised and got him one of the teenager cards. Polar bear with a boom box. "Have a cool birthday." I'm sending him a video and a book, and I'll write him a letter, as I always do. I don't know why I obsess about this, but I do.

While our East Coast friends are buried under tons of snow, we here in the Bay Area enjoyed one of those radiant winter days when the sun gradually fights its way through the cloud cover, warming the air and drying off the streets. After two days of more or less steady rain, this is like being let out of detention early. I'd have to guess that it's even better than a snow day, although I've never had that experience.

I really like the baked chicken recipe I've been using, because you can pretty much throw any combination of ingredients together, spread it on a breast or two, then stick it in the oven and forget about it for half an hour. Tonight's sauce du jour was lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and tarragon. There's something wrong with that combination, I know, because the taste was a bit off, but at least it was interesting. And edible, that's important, too. (I'll try to get the word out if it turns me into a demon.)

There's an incentive to keep trying my hand in the kitchen. Since my diet limits me to two shakes and one meal a day, and nothing in between, that meal should be something worth eating.

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