Sheet Cake; What Even Is It?

Until my wife’s most recent birthday earlier this year, I thought I knew what sheet cake was. Apparently I’ve been right and wrong my entire life.

‘Tis a conundrum of paradoxical proportions.

Here’s what happened: My wife and I were discussing her birthday. As the very beginnings of the trip we took (which I blogged about exhaustively), began to emerge in our brains we somehow got on the topic of cake. She said she’d like a sheet cake. I said “Ok, what kind?” and she said;

“Sheet cake.” So I said:

“Yes. But what kind?”

“Sheeeet cake…?” She responded, thoroughly confusing the both of us.

“Ok, but chocolate or white or strawberry or what? What kind of sheet cake?” I asked with the innocent belief that sheet is a shape of cake and not a kind of cake. “What flavor of rectangular cake would you like? And do you think we need a half sheet or will a quarter sheet be big enough?”

“Sheet cake is chocolate.” She unhelpfully explained.

“No,” I corrected, “Sheet cake is rectangular. It’s a shape of cake. Not a kind of cake.”

We argued as I laughed. I repeated over and over that sheet is a shape of cake. She thought I was laughing at her, but I was really laughing at the idea of sheet being a shape of cake and not a kind of cake, even though a sheet isn’t really a shape in its own right, but the shape of a sheet is generally rectangular which is why rectangular cakes are called sheet cakes. They have them at every local supermarket bakery labelled “sheet cake”, and they come in quarter, half or full sheets.

Once my mirthful expressions began to lose their cacophonous quality my wife educated me on the fact that sheet cake is, in fact, a specific flavor of cake and it matters not what shape it takes.

We came to no accord on our own and had to consult the universally renowned internet search engine.

Sure enough, sheet cake is a kind of cake as well as a shape of cake. If you can believe the internet, anyway, which offered evidence to support my wife’s supposition in the form of links to recipes that produce a quite tasty and specifically flavored type of “sheet” cake.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try the sheet flavored cake sometime, in whatever shape you prefer. It’s good. There are plenty of recipes available online.

A don’t…forget that “sheet” is a shape of cake as well as a flavor. Enjoy this mediocre paradox as you ingest cake of any shape or flavor.


Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 7

An Ending And Almost Many Endings


I’m as ready for this recounting to be over as anyone who has been following the story. Let me tell you the story of how I almost died. And almost killed my wife. And our car. And possibly a few other people. And then drove well under the limit for about twenty miles so that any witnesses would pass me and put many miles between us.

We vacated our hotel room and found the outside ambience to be quite pleasant and we took comfort in that. We were hobbits (by this I mean we were “off home”) and if we had to go back home, me to my horrible job and her to having to live with me after coming home from my horrible job, at least we could drive home under partially cloudy skies with a beautiful breeze and no rainy looking stuff on the horizon.

We encountered something much worse than weather. Our gps. Apparently it had no idea there was construction going on and every time we turned off to follow the detours it would become huffy and demand that we turn left through those orange and white barrier things they set up to prevent you turning left. Then it would recalculate and order us to U-turn or perform some other illegal traffic maneuver. If you’ve ever used a gps you’ll likely understand. It just goes to reinforce my opinion that we’ve become too dependent upon technology, but I won’t preach about that.

When we finally got out onto a highway we remembered we just shut the thing off and drove. It was a repeat of the trip out with the radio and talking and pointing out things we’d missed on the initial trip. We stopped again in the town in which we’d encountered the country roughers from the first trip post. There was an intriguing sign we’d seen for a place called Hidden Hollow and we had determined to stop on the way back. So we did. And it was all we expected. A hollow not visible from the roadway, hence the name, with a gazebo and a statue carved from a standing tree stump and winding paths that led around these things and back into a wooded area that ended in a small pool that disappeared, or perhaps exuded from, underneath a large outcropping of rock. There were several fry visible in the water and a blue dragonfly seemed to be leading us to the end of the path. It would fly ahead of us, alight upon a branch and then take off again as we got closer. Just a bit of nature that happened to coincide with our approach, surely, but in the serene surroundings it felt like a bit more than it was. The photo attached is one my wife took and I’ve long held the belief that she should sell postcards. If you agree please let me know. I know this is a lot to ask, you not knowing of more than a single piece of her work, but if you at least like this one it’ll make her day to know about it.

We stayed for fifteen minutes or so, just long enough to break up any blood clots that may have been forming during our long sit in the car, then got back in the car and were once again hobbits. The gps tried to put us on a toll road and in the midst of our trying to avoid that we somehow missed a turn and ended up taking a very very back way home. At one point we were at a stop sign and the gps said slight left onto whatever road we needed to be on. I didn’t see that the slight left was across the highway. I also didn’t see the “DO NOT ENTER” and “ONE WAY” signs. The things were fifty feet down the highway! Not right at the intersection! I didn’t see the other roadway across from it! I turned the wrong way down a one way only 65 mph highway! And didn’t notice it until my wife began screaming and pounding the dashboard. I suddenly saw the signs, which by then were quite visible, and pulled off into the median. I considered just driving through it, but that’s illegal, so I just waited out the traffic and did a U-turn and performed the actions described in the first paragraph. I was paranoid the rest of the way home that the Highway Patrol was tracking me from town to town. I perspired from my arm pits the rest of the trip and again almost killed my wife with the foul odor of stress sweat.

Thankfully we made it home, alive and well-ish and our dogs were quite happy and so far we’ve lived happily ever after.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let me know if you like my wife’s picture.

A don’t…tell the Highway Patrol that it was me.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got US Killed; A Story In Seven Parts

Part 6

The Food

There are two facts about our trip to Wichita that compete rather closely with each other for the title of “My Favorite Wichita Fact”. The first, and borderline winner, is the fact that my wife didn’t kill me over the sewer grate. See previous post if this confuses you. The second, which logically shouldn’t even come close to beating out the fact that I left Wichita alive, is the fact that Wichita has many well-staffed non-chain eateries. I do subscribe to the philosophy that good food is equal to happiness and contentment. Or at least that good food contributes much to those aforementioned qualities, thereby giving my surviving the trip a run for its money as my favorite fact. After all, what good is surviving if you aren’t pursuing happiness?

Enough of all that, though. On to the good stuff. My wife and I made a pact that we would eat at no national chain during our weekend away. We did break this vow twice. Shame on us, surely, but there were times we stuck to the pact so spectacularly that it cancels out our betrayal of our own selves.

First there was TJ’s Burger House. We stopped there after attempting to try a ramen joint in the older part of town. Our efforts to procure Asian soup were foiled by the joint’s apparent popularity and lack of parking.  Good for them, I suppose, but not so good for us. Or so we thought. When we found a spot in front of TJ’s we decided it was a universal indicator that we should patronize the place. We did. We are happy we did. The dining room was quite roomy and the grumpy waitress wasn’t really as grumpy as she seemed. She was a bit gruff when we arrived, but we came to realize that, though outwardly she seemed dour and downtrodden, she was quick to laugh and very polite. I did appreciate the fact that she wasn’t overly friendly. I also appreciated that she brought me a very good burger. Not the best I’ve ever had but very very far from the worst. It was well cooked and tasty.

We  broke our pact that evening and had Pizza Hut delivered. Also a good choice even if it did deprive us of a locally-owned dinner.

Breakfast on Saturday happened at Jimmy’s Diner.  The waitresses wore poodle skirts and bows in their hair. The chicken fried steak was the best I’ve ever had and chicken fried steak is my go-to breakfast diner choice. The grits were of a good quality and, unlike the canister of grits in my cupboard, you could tell by taste that Jimmy’s grits were made from corn.

Lunch after the zoo (the one with the offensive chimps and violent fowl from a previous post) took place at Da Cajun Shak. This was the only place we had specifically planned on visiting when we planned the trip. As at TJ’s the waiter seemed a little gruff at first. Upon interacting with him further we realized that not only was he actually Cajun and concerned with providing great service, he was extremely friendly. The menu had many interesting options. I finally settled for the fried gator po’boy. I live by the saying “When in doubt, have a sandwich.” A weak saying at best, but that afternoon it proved its validity. The sandwich was nothing but bits of breaded and fried alligator on a roll of some sort with a sauce of some spicy/creamy sort on the side. I ate the whole thing without the sauce and I didn’t feel like anything was missing. My wife had chicken Lafayette. A much more complex dish and almost as amazing as the sandwich I had.

We had national pizza chain leftovers for dinner that night. Good, but still national chain.

We slept in on the last day of our trip and by the time we had checked out of the hotel, it was brunchish/lunchish time. We agreed to just head for home and stop if we saw something that looked good. We spent nearly an hour following our gps through switchbacks and u-turns and hadn’t even gotten past the Wichita suburbs when we saw a place called Spangles. It was a local chain 50’s themed diner/café type thing. I ordered a gyro, my wife some chicken sandwich. We sat before a life-sized Elvis effigy that appeared both mid-hip-gyration and mid-croon. Soon a team member advised me there was no gyro sauce within a 15 mile radius. A gyro without tzatziki is merely a beef or lamb roll-up, so I instead had a burger, which I think was the better choice anyway. I offer my thanks to that particular branch for being out of sauce that day. I left them what I hope they understood to be a very nice comment card and we went home to a land of food that we know and therefore, though they are good, they don’t feel so adventurous.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…visit any of the places I’ve described if you visit, or live under a rock in, Wichita. They were all worth it.

A don’t…forget about the ramen joint. If you ever happen to find a way to get in the door, I’d like to know how it was.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 5

The One Activity

If you’ve read the last few posts under this title, you’ll know that I recently took my wife on a birthday weekend away. You’ll also know that I planned, and antagonized my wife about, a secret activity. The One Activity. The reason I chose Wichita KS in the first place.

Now let’s get on with wondering why my wife didn’t kill me. If you’ve been following the story, prepare for fulfillment! After we left the haberdashery type establishment we decided that since upon the morrow we’d be off home, we should go ahead and participate in The One Activity. Initially I planned to complete it after dark, but we knew that darkness had recently been falling rather late. Also, if we’d sat in our hotel room to wait out the daylight we would have ended up engaged in some basic cable syndicated drollery and our joints would’ve been to weary to engage on any sort of trek by the time the sun had finally descended below the horizon. So I surreptitiously googled our destination and we made our way through the alien urban terrain. A few moments later we were sitting in a deserted parking lot and I was assuring her that there was nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t take long to build up our courage. I think we both realized that we wanted to be in our room lost in some basic cable syndicated drollery and the sooner we got out of the car, the sooner that would happen.

As we neared the edge of the parking lot we found that two paths diverged before us. An upper path cut along the edge of a steep embankment. To the left, a concrete staircase descended down to the waterfront of some river whose name I never bothered to learn. Being idiots, we chose the lower path. We passed a few joggers and some folks glued to their cell phones. It felt as though we had walked quite a while and I was too wrapped up in worrying that we had overlooked our destination or that it simply didn’t exist when suddenly we rounded a slight curve. The sidewalk forked off to the right into a bit of a non-aquatic bay at the back of which I saw a metal grate set into the embankment that stood well above my head. Suspecting this to be the place, I advanced to the grate and looked inside. Sure enough, a bit of what we sought was visible with a properly craned neck. I clapped my hands in excitement and then presented the idea that we traverse the steep hillock to get a top-down view. My wife looked more perturbed than enthused, but we climbed up anyway and looked down upon the thing we had come to see.

I’ll digress for a moment to state that marriage is a scary thing. Even if you know someone very well, pledging the remainder of your days to them is always a gamble and you can never be sure that your spouse is the right one for you or vice versa. I’ll say this in closing. When your wife finds out that you’ve dragged her three and one half hours (an approximation dependent upon traffic and road work) away from home with the sole intent of showing her a goblin in a sewer grate as a special birthday activity and she doesn’t throw your decapitated body into the sewer with the thing, you’ve likely found the right person to share your life with.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…make time in your life for the bizarre.

A don’t…let me forget to inform you that after dark, green lights illuminate the sculpture and emanate from the grate in a fashion that I cannot describe since I haven’t seen it in the darkness.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 4

Well, That Was Fun and Unexpected

If you haven’t read the first three posts in this storyline, allow me to briefly recap. I planned a birthday trip for my wife to Wichita KS. There was a secret activity, just for her (but kinda for me too) that I saved for the end and kept her in a state of anxiety about, purposely. Now you might begin to understand why part of the title is Why Didn’t She Kill Me? The posts I’ve done so far, including this one, have been a chronicle of our adventures leading up to the moment she decided to let me live.

After our eventful trip to the zoo we headed back to the hotel for a bit of relaxing and to refrigerate the leftover Cajun food we had for lunch. Two quick facts here. 1: There shouldn’t have been leftovers. The food was amazing! 2: There will be a post dedicated just to the food we ate. We are foodies and ate at several non-chain and/or localized chain places. Every one was amazing. Now, after preserving our food and relaxing for a few minutes we wonked out (see part one for a definition of wonking. It’s a driving term.) And headed to the beautiful and historic downtown area in the midst of which rose the Museum of World Treasures. Three floors of amazing artifacts. They had roman coins and mummies! Fossils and skeletons! Geodes and crystals and books and Hollywood paraphernalia! They had a balcony where you could dress as a monarch and be photographed between two suits of armor! There were displays for several major recent wars, including a walkthrough replica of a WWII trench.  They had a gift shop, of course, and although we didn’t buy anything we were quite tempted by several items. My wife would probably like for me to touch on the parking fiasco. She loves to remind me that I tried to drive into a foot-traffic-only plaza in search of a parking space. In my defense I was a wide open space, paved in brick as is the roadway in that part of town, and there was no signage indicating that vehicles were prohibited. In light of these facts I don’t feel obliged to mention the incident at all.

After traversing the winding halls of the museum we crossed the street to a place we had noticed on the drive over. It was a small haberdashery sort of a place that was strewn about with all manner of delightful knick-knacks and scrapbooking detritus called Mrs. O’Leary’s something or other. I regret that I can’t remember the entire name of the place because of its charming ambience and friendly proprietors. We purchased a small pleasantry for our dog sitter and, as we were paying, became acquainted with Dan. Dan looked like a Labrador, at least in part. He might have been a mix. He was black but graying and when I first tried to pet him he ran from me. As we were preparing to leave, and his owner nearly successfully gave him to us, Dan sauntered over to me and wrapped his neck around my leg. He didn’t have a freakish neck or anything like that. He just sidled up to my legs in the front and then bent his neck so that his head was on the outside of my thigh. I petted him for a moment and then had to pry myself away from him so that we could leave. It was the first dog-hug I’ve ever received and I enjoyed it greatly.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…stay tuned for the next post in which the secret activity, the one that didn’t get me killed, will be revealed.

A don’t…ever turn down a dog hug.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed: A Story in Seven Parts

Part 3

Of Flamingo Fights, Indecent Apes and a Charming Bird

The Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita KS is quite a place. It stands out over all the other zoos I’ve ever visited in terms of convenience for the visitor as well as quality of habitats for the animals that live there. We felt a bit silly at first due to our being at the zoo without children, however in a very short time we encountered several other childless couples and an older man with a very expensive camera. Our fears of judgement allayed we proceeded into the depths of the zoo and had a wonderful time.

We first happened upon a beautiful lagoon full of flamingos. My wife loves flamingos and as she readied her phone to photograph the birds, they began to emit a horrendous cacophony the likes of which I wouldn’t have expected from such elegant creatures. As we watched, two flamingos began to smack their necks together and they tangled together in ways that appeared most uncomfortable. They looked quite comical when they faced each other and, chest to chest, each extended his (or her?) neck and pecked the other’s back. A few feathers were plucked free and sashayed down to add flecks of brightness to the drab greenish surface of the water. Soon thereafter, from the far end of the lagoon, a lone flamingo screeched and spread its wings. It ran toward the fighters waving its wings and I suppose it was the boss flamingo because the fighting stopped and tranquility again lay over Flamingo Lagoon. Unfortunately we were unable to get a video of this. It was quite entertaining.

We next visited the petting zoo because it was the next stop on the path and, as you may know if you’ve read some of my previous posts, I’m a bit partial to goats. Quite a regal goat (regal for a goat, anyway) stood on a bench chewing his cud and watching over the others. I stepped through the gate and was immediately approached by a small goat who, I can only assume, thought I was Bart Simpson. He attempted to eat my shorts.

The chimpanzees were next and they were a putrid lot that day. They were having blatant relations right out in the open causing one young mother (human mother) to drop her Gatorade and exclaim “The monkeys are doin’ it!” and then promptly abandon her beverage and escort her children to some more civilized habitat. My wife and I laughed and hung around a bit. Not because we are fans of monkey love but because we are fans of monkeys. My wife waved at one and he lifted his hand and smiled. I found this charming so I waved as well and the very same animal who’d honored my wife with a response dropped his grin and scratched his forehead with his middle finger! I don’t know if some louse with nothing better to do than corrupt monkeys has visited the zoo or if it was just coincidence, but it bothered me. It bothered me for several reasons. Firstly, if he smiled at my wife but flipped me the bird does that indicate he recognizes the human sexes? If so, was he attracted to my wife or simply indicating his heterosexuality? You may believe me when I say I’m sure it was a male, but I won’t go into why. Secondly, if it had nothing to do with sexuality, what on earth is wrong with me? I’m at least as nice as my wife. What had I done to offend the gentlemonkey? I could go on for a while but the implications still play through my mind nearly a week later.

After this I insisted we vacate the enclosure forthwith and leave  the uncouth creature to offend the people behind us. We were off to visit a more classy breed of wildlife. This turned out to be the most charming bird I’ve ever seen. It didn’t talk. It chirped, but it was a run of the mill type of chirp. It sounded like a bird, to put it quite bluntly. What charmed us was its Hollywood demeanor. This bird would’ve fit right in amongst the preening red carpet posers of Famousville, and while I’d normally be repulsed by such behavior this was still merely a bird. She (or he?) strutted to the fence and stood sideways to us, staring at us with one eye. It slowly cocked its head, chirped to be sure we were watching, then, I’ll say fwipped for lack of a better word, its head in such a way as to put shampoo commercial models to shame. My wife and I laughed and the bird strutted off only to turn and, upon seeing that it still had us enchanted, strut back and do it all again. Four times it did this and the fourth we were able to record. I can’t post a video with my current settings, however, believe me when I say it was the best part of a very good day and enjoy a picture of him/her instead.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…take the time to try and interact with animals. Sometimes they can surprise you.

A don’t…corrupt monkeys. For crying out loud, they’re obtuse enough as it is.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Killed Us; A Story In Seven Parts

Part 2


Cowtown, as you might not expect, had no cows. What it did have was a suspicious lady in the parking lot who watched my wife and I as we hid our laptop and bags in the compartment behind the third row seats of our van. This ties back to the last post. If our room had been ready when we arrived our valuables would’ve been safely deposited under the hotel room bed.  Look at that! Continuity and story arcs!

I kept an eye on the suspicious lady as we walked toward the Cowtown entrance. As soon as we walked away from the van, she turned away either to text her accomplice or because she was simply people watching and the people she was watching were leaving. There were signs along the sidewalks indicating that electronic surveillance was in use. This calmed me some. If our car was broken into and our valuables stolen at least there would be grainy footage of the perpetrator. At least we would know that the laptop hadn’t gotten sick of being used for my attempts at writing and marketing my book and scurried away across the world wide web to someplace where it could wait in peace to do whatever it is laptops dream of doing should there ever be a successful robot uprising.

Random thought and possible future post: Has anyone ever explored the idea of computers that have been infected with viruses being electronic zombies? How would they attack and how would the other computers survive if humans were not involved? One day, I’ll attempt to answer these questions.

The Cowtown visitors center is a large building. Most of it seems to be a conference or gathering room. A smaller room is used as a gift shop and, as we always do when we travel, my wife and I each picked a magnet and a trinket apiece for the kids. The lady at the register was very friendly and funny and suggested a few more activities. Seems like she and we are a hive mind because the activities she recommended were already on our itinerary. She also told us where we might be likely to find ghosts and we stepped back out into the heat to explore the antique houses and businesses of Cowtown.

All of the buildings were authentic and had been donated and moved to the location where they had been set up to resemble a cattle-drive era old west town. There were several houses ranging from little cabins to more well-to-do “mansions” of the era. All were furnished with authentic period pieces. As much as we hoped for something mildly paranormal, the only thing that happened was that my wife’s camera wouldn’t photograph a certain corner of one of the houses. My camera worked fine in said corner. We explored the hotel, Marshal’s office where, if I read the plaque right, Wyatt Earp had once worked. There were several businesses. A bank, a pharmacy, a clothing store and a printers. There’s even an old masonic lodge and a funeral parlor. When we got hot we headed to the saloon and had a cold sarsaparilla to support the illusion that we were in the period. We didn’t stay for the 3:30 shootout. No sense in my wife and I becoming permanent residents because we dropped dead of heat stroke waiting to watch people in chaps and spurs shooting cap guns at each other. If it had been cooler we would’ve stayed.

We were startled by the carpenter when we stepped into his shop. The other buildings we’d visited had been empty except the saloon, which we’d been warned would be staffed. We talked to him for a few minutes and then called it a day, returning to the hotel under the assumption that our room might well be ready. It was.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…visit Cowtown if you meet the criteria of being in Wichita Kansas and interested in such things. They offer a military discount and friendly staff.

A don’t…forget to check back for part 3 in which we will discuss some very indecent simian individuals