Today two people dropped by with huge boxes of sekihan (celebratory red beans and rice). The first was a friendly neighbor who keeps us in fresh vegetables and is having some sort of shindig at her house tomorrow. The second was my husband’s cousin, cousin’s wife, and their daughter who is about to enter junior high school. The parents were wearing suits and the daugther was wearing her spanking new uniform. I, of course, was wearing faded jeans with a hole in the knee and a sweater that had dye stains on it. Of course I was wearing no make-up and the living room was scattered with toys and scraps of paper. Anyway, the cousins came to give us red beans and rice and a big box of cream puffs and a roll cake because we ( my mother-in-law, actually, who was off watching her son’s baseball team get beat 12-8 in the quarterfinals of the spring high school tournament) gave them a wad of money in honor of their daughter’s making it into junior high. (It must be said they gave us a wad, too, to celebrate the twins’ going to first grade.) After she came back, my mother-in-law told me that we need to do something similar and soon, and how about if I bake some cakes? Normally people bring fancy store bought cakes as gifts in these cases, but my mother-in-law really liked the carrot cake I made yesterday. Okay. So I’m gonna bake.