Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Blog #10: Final Farewells!

We have landed. We have looked around at each other and cried in a release of all the emotions, bitter sweetness, anxiety, sorrow, accomplishment, and disbelief… The past two weeks have flown by, filled with de-issue tasks, small group projects, and preparation for the end.

Bittersweet Goodbyes

We sustainably managed forest land, ran the farm, put up siding and drywall, built cabinets, supported a bakery, raised up an army of humane trophies, pieced together a deck for future students and staff to eat meals on… We have slowly acclimated ourselves to the “real” world. It seems every time we check back in with society another catastrophe is upon us. I hope the world is capable of reflection and change. If anything, we are returning from semester capable of being catalysts for change if we choose to do so. Change is imminent so why not influence it for the better? In any case we prepare ourselves for separation with a boat-load of emotion and thought: luckily we know how to carry it, at least from the river to the red roofed barn.

The Grand Opening of the new deck made by Elena and Katarina during small group projects!

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to making this experience possible, the staff at Kroka who worked tirelessly to prepare, run, and then continue the semester even when all other schools were closing. The energy and love put into designing the curriculum and all the hours spent with us in the field has not gone unnoticed – this program is what it is because of their commitment. Thank you to all our parents and siblings who supported us in this endeavor and let us leave them for five months with wishes for growth and adventure. Thank you to the Mackenzie Foundation: without their financial support our semester would not have been able to continue after the quarantine. Their help allowed for Kroka to keep paying staff. This brings me to each individual instructor who went out with us into the woods and brought many gifts within them – Jo, Oliver, Zoe, Hannah, Thomas, Misha, Jackie, and Miron. I would especially like to thank Jo who spent all of the five months with us, becoming more than an instructor but part of our family. We will miss you!

~ Sincerely, Oddtree

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

End of Semester Manifesto

Our semester believes in racial equality and is committed to not just being bystanders in the Black Lives Matter movement. As we rejoin the larger communities we each belong to, we vow to use our voices and bodies for the ushering in of systematic and social change.

As a semester student, I have learned that a strong community is essential to survival. I have learned that intention combined with action make a difference.

I have learned to take actionable measures towards creation, as well as how to value the gifts that unique individuals bring to a collective community.

I have learned to not only care for myself, but to think of things on a macrocosmic level. I am a piece of a greater puzzle and I understand that my actions, though they seem small, in the big picture cause a ripple effect that can change the world.

I have learned that the time for waiting is over. The time for doing is now.

I have learned to see the need of the whole and live for more than my own needs. I have learned to live with an expedition mentality – thinking about the people at the back of the line and not leaving them behind.

I believe that every human person deserves to live with dignity and strength, every person has a place in this world. And I believe that as a beneficiary of education and privilege I can no longer confine my opinions to the coffee table.

I believe in my own ability to contribute to the reformation of the destructive aspects of human life. I believe that maintaining altruistic will within my actions is the harder but more gratifying path. Active consciousness leads to justice.

I will show up in community organizing, pressure politicians, and examine the US systems and institutions that perpetuate racism.

I commit to actively opposing racist speech instead of staying quiet to gain social capital. I will commit to acting whenever I see an opportunity to improve the lives of those around me in all people.

I will seek the truth and from a position of understanding take direct action, as well as comprehend the fuller picture and take steps in that context as well.

I will commit to educating myself, embracing the discomfort that comes with the newness of action. I will commit to no longer being a passive bystander. I emerge ready to examine myself - my choices, my biases and my privilege. 

 Graduation procession singing "Home, I'm coming home, I need the land to heal my soul."

 "And now, a musical interlude from Tracy Chapman... this is Fast Car."

"The tree spirits sing a warning to semester students who do not harvest sustainably."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Blog #9: Connecticut River

Headwaters Lakes of the CT River were wintery even in May

We set off on the Connecticut River on May 10th after having visited the headwaters still coated in
ice. Our first time carrying the voyageur canoes (Chaga and Kasha) to the water on our shoulders
was rough; luckily, we only would get better from there). We packed our boats and looked downriver
in nervous anticipation, for the water was shallow, fast moving, and littered with rocks. How
maneuverable were these boats? How quickly would we be able to react in whitewater, which we
had never worked through in this group, in these canoes, in these shallows? We tried our best, we
really did, even as snow floated down from the heavens and the icy water flowed quickly around us.
We would jump out of the boats at what felt like terrible screams and moans of our vessels as they
brushed rock. It was simply not paddle-able for our wide and heavily loaded boats up there in the icy
mountain stream, and while none of us liked walking thigh (or even chest) deep in frigid water, the
sounds of hulls scraping and ribs protesting were far worse and remain ingrained in all of our
memories. Eventually, our feet and toes would go completely numb and our teeth would chatter
against each other. We would, if possible, run around on land while a few would walk the boat
through the water.

Eliza beats the cold mornings with winter layering systems

 After our first portage, though, the weather and water warmed up significantly, and staying warm
became a worry of the past. With each portage, the river became wider and warmer, and the seasons
changed in accordance with our movement south and time’s progression onwards through May. You
would not believe our joy and delight in the arrival of spring – the bees and butterflies, warm days,
fiddleheads unfurling into ferns, flowers blooming, trees no longer bare but green instead! We
feasted our eyes on the new world as we paddled, and feasted our bellies on fiddleheads, ramps,
morels, trout lilies, violets, dandelion greens…

Pele, Audrey and Sydney beat the sun with summer layering systems

As we journeyed down the river we read a translation of the Odyssey by Emily Wilson. It was
exciting to read a more modern rendition of the epic, and the first English translation by a woman,
while on an Odyssey of our own. We spent morning or evening blocks in a circle reading to each
other, in meter if willing. Often we would paint, carve spoons, brush and braid hair, or repair clothing
while during class. We broke into groups for some of the chapters, dividing so that each of the groups
performed a skit of their chapter. The stage was ready: the dirt floor cleared, benches laid out, and
show-time snacks distributed, when from up above the luring call of a train sounded. Within a split
second we were up and running to the tracks to watch the beautiful creature click-clack past us. We
returned to the show energized by the locomotive encounter. Each group brought humorous energy
into their acting and the results were epic – all I want is to see Katarina masterfully embody
Polyphemus, the Cyclops, again! 

Audrey as a spirit of the dead, and Julia as Odysseus, at our Railroad Theatre

Katarina, aka Polyphemus the Cyclops

Sometimes we found strange parallels between the Odyssey we were reading and the Odyssey we
experienced. For example, one day we rounded a tight turn in the river –and all of a sudden the
movement of water was crazy, trying with all her force to swing us this way, then that way, then
straight into a vertical rock wall. Both boats ultimately made their way through Charybdis, but the
second crew breached against a standing log and someone lost a paddle in the whirlpool, swirling
around for minutes before it escaped. 

Some whitewater action!

Similar to Odysseus through all his travels, we received a lot of hospitality and met a bunch of
interesting characters on our way down the river. Earlier in the trip when the water and air were
still cold enough to be uncomfortable, we had stopped along the bank to eat some snack and warm
up our bodies with squats. Across the river a lady emerged from her house, walked down to the
bank and began enthusiastically squatting in time with us. We “helped her get her leg exercises
done!” Another day we met two brothers who, after seeing us, ran to their car and quickly drove
away. Half a mile down river we saw them again: and again they disappeared. Eventually they
asked us how far we were going and Rachel called back to them, “200 miles south!” They quickly
agreed to meet us there, and we passed them a few more times until we reached our camp for the
night. Towards the end of our river leg when we were looking for a spot to sleep near Ascutney, we
met a corn farmer by the name of Ellsworth who kindly offered us a place in his shady field and
even mowed it for us and drove our water canisters up and back down from the spigot so we
wouldn’t have to lug them ourselves. We felt as if xenia was still practiced in modern times, even
without the fear of Zeus’ wrath hanging above our heads.

 Sarah at dinner

From Ellsworth’s property we crossed the river and hiked five miles to the Weathersfield trailhead
where we met up with Rodger Haydock, an amateur geologist who had been volunteering his time to
teach semester geology from all the way back when semester first started. He is an amazing teacher
who knows so much about (seemingly) everything. Rodger also happens to be an incredibly fast
hiker, perhaps due to his trail building work. In any case, we had to work hard to keep up with him.
As we climbed we would stop every once in a while to continue our lesson about Mount Ascutney
and the surrounding area through the visible rock formations and vegetation around us. In between
stops we would get to hear all about Rodger’s adventures and method of acquiring so much
knowledge – he worked as a camera assistant for many years with NOVA to film scientists, explorers,
and activists. He always took the extra step to ask questions from the people he was meeting and
became inspired to learn more about geology. So, while we hiked with the intention of learning local
geology, we also learned a lot about WWI and Cold War history and became inspired to live lives full
of learning, exploring, and giving back to the community. 

On our walk back down from Ascutney, we stopped at a house to ask for water. There was a man
outside working in his garden and the hose was on so we deemed our likelihood of success high.
Jerry Davis, as he turned out to be, was more than happy to let us use his hose to fill up on water. In
exchange we told him about Semester and the adventures we’ve been living. He happened to work at
a sugarhouse, and after inquiring on whether or not we fry up pancakes on expedition, he offered us
a quart of that magical syrup. The next morning we made pancakes and enjoyed the generosity of a
to-be-well-remembered stranger. 

Travel down the Connecticut River rolled along, reaching Bellows Falls where we had to do our
longest portage yet of 1.5 miles. Luckily, Kroka came and picked up all the gear we would no longer
need for the last few days of expedition. Among other things, food boxes went which meant we no
longer had gear to tump. 

Tumping is a fun way to carry big heavy gear (usually boxes) for long distances. Jo, an expert tumper, taught us how to tie together makeshift tumplines using NRS straps, how to lift the box up with a partner, and how to correctly place the strap across your head, and how to hold your body as you walk so that you don’t injure your spine. Tumping can be a bit painful or uncomfortable, especially if it isn’t done right; however, it sure beats trying to carry heavy gear by hand, long distances. 

Julia tumping a heavy food box in the snow at our put-in

So, we didn’t have gear left to tump. In fact, all we had left were 14 partially filled packs, four paddles
(the lightest ones), and our two voyagers. After the 1.5 miles through Bellows Falls we paddled (well,
four of us did) down our last stretch of the Connecticut River before reaching the mouth of the Cold
River (more like a Tepid Stream). Because the Cold River is pretty shallow and it hadn’t rained in a
long time, we had to completely empty our boats and walk them up the river, lifting them up over
shallow and rock-littered spots. We couldn’t continue for long like this as soon it became impractical
if not impossible to carry the boats up the slippery, fast moving, shallow river. So we took out, flipped
Kash’ and Chag’ onto our shoulders and began the last and longest of the portages. 

Elijah, Rachel, and Kai release the human dam a convenient waterfall along the river

The decision to carry the boats back to Kroka was made by the whole group. Past semesters who
have that have gone up the Cold River have had water levels high enough to walk the boats up
further up the river. We were presented with the option of backpacking back to base camp without
the boats, but something seemed wrong about it. None of us particularly love carrying the boats as it
is a physically demanding painful business that also tests emotional fortitude. Figuring out ideal boat
groups is difficult, for if you aren’t positioned correctly and matched to the right height, you’ll either
end up getting crushed by the weight or someone else will suffer in your place. But we looked around
at each other and knew that we were capable of sending it – and so we did. We needed a final push:
to prove the strength of our group to ourselves, to carry the boats that had carried us. It all just made
sense. The 12-mile portage back to Kroka tested us for sure, but no one regretted it for a second. 

Sydney, Julia, and Rachel portage Chaga up the road

Coming down the final hill to Kroka, now no longer blanketed in white, felt unreal. No: it must have
been a dream, all of it – the Green Mountains, Canada, the news of the pandemic, the ocean, the river,
the long road home to where it all began. The sounds of cheering and pots banging reached us and
we replied with song and drumming on our boats as we marched into the driveway past the welcome
party and to the boathouse where we could finally put our guides of the past five weeks down to rest. 

Odysseus came home to Ithaca after years of travel only to leave again, thirsty for more adventure.
We too already yearn to be afloat again – seeing what’s out there in the world and how we can be a
part of it. 

~Yours truly, Oddtree 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Blog #8: Maine Coast - Blue Hill & Penobscot Bay

I am pulled out of my deep slumber by three contributors:

The glorious sun – it's amazing to know that I am among the first in North America to appreciate its accent, the birds of Marshall Island, who are already hard at work scavenging for food and singing about the day to come, and finally, my impatient bladder. As I pee, I am being filled by a deep gratitude, to be here in the golden grass, among the woodpeckers, chickadees, seagulls, bald eagles, seals, slugs, deer, and even the ticks that call these islands home. I feel grateful to be an observer of the tide, coming in and out twice now during the duration of my sit spot. I wonder if my fellow semester students are also watching the sun and listening to the ornithological orchestra. Perhaps they are still asleep, wrapped up in their sleeping bag cocoons, while we are all out of site and sound of each other, I can feel the pull and presence of the others. We have begun to gravitate around each other, knowing someone will hold you when you are feeling down, listen when endless thoughts sprout out of your being, feed you at the sound of growling stomach, support you in rising to the occasion, and meet back all together around an inner fire after all tasks have been completed and only reflections remain.

“My spot is under a huge gnarly maple tree, and it’s close to the ocean. I’ve noticed many things here. The tree has little flowery buds sprouting from all the knobs on its branches. I thought they were small red berries at first because I did not look close enough.” Sydney

“I am practicing focusing my eyes: Moss on the roots a few feet away, tiny green shoots only inches from me, closer a gray-blue Spider frightened by my breath. I stop breathing until it moves again. The blister on my left index finger then sliding out of focus. The hexagonal disks of iridescence, the sun coaxed out of my eye lashes.” Eliza

This leg has meant so much for us – the return of the spring, the return of expedition and with it some normality, new flows of the day and Earth to adjust to. The rhythms of the Ocean in particular are a large presence in our lives as they set the verdict for how and when we travel. Some days we sit on the beach reading The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson and working on academic assignments, while we wait for the winds to turn, the tide to come in, or the fog to burn off. Other days we move through camp take-down as fast as we can in order to catch the wind in the direction of our next island camp. Those are moments of pure bliss! The hoisted Maroon sails hesitating for a brief moment before billowing out – filled to the brim with the wind’s breath. Suddenly we are flying across the bay without so much of a lily dip in the water.

The days of hard travel against wind and tide, paddle in hand, have gifted us with a deeper appreciation, a childlike wonder at what the power of the wind coupled with a few motions of our sun-cooked, salt-boiled, paddle-hardened hands can achieve. Almost like Aladdin’s carpet, but better.

Each of the islands we visited has been kind to us, each beautiful in her own way. Like us these islands will be forever connected through their shared history of once being a unified landmass separated by a passing iceberg. While they no longer touch, they are the same essence, united by the same sun and water. Jackie reminds us that they still lie together on the continental shelf – some times it is hard to distinguish islands from students, especially with the final days of semester approaching fast and fear of separation, of regression, of the unknown, lays thick like the morning fog.

Soon we will migrate once more to the Connecticut River which will carry us South into familiar lands. The ocean has been so kind to us. We will carry her spirit with us in our souls, and the salt of her waters in our clothes.

Until the next time, OddTree

Monday, April 27, 2020

Blog #7: Mahoosuc

          Well… things have certainly changed in the world. Our semester, no longer Arctic to Manhattan, emerged from the Uapishka wilderness to find out that – everything had changed. Well, almost. Not quite everything had changed: we were all still together.
Driving back to the U.S. from Jacques’, we were surprised to see cars on the road, lots of people going for walks, McDonalds counting itself as an essential business… we imagined the whole of the world as one giant ghost town. That was, of course, silly of us, as people still need their Big Macs. We were stopped at a checkpoint, only to be hurried along by a Quebecois police after informing him of our plan to go back to the U.S. and stay there. Border crossing had never been easier. We were the only ones passing through that day and the border officers were expecting us. The first thing America had to say to us was, “Welcome back! There is no toilet paper left in stores!”
There were mixed feelings about coming back ­­– perhaps some sarcastic patriotism. About half a mile from the border, we stopped at the side of the road, and marked our territory. Instantly we felt right back at home. There was also a dance party to Klezmer/Gypsy/punk/electro music where we all went wild and Elena blew us all away with her pro dance moves (on top of the van). 

After 16.5 hours of driving, flash roadside dance parties, loud singing, attempted sleep, and many rounds of bannock, we arrived at Mahoosuc Guide Service, home and business of Polly, Kevin, and their beloved huskies. Jackie had arrived earlier that day, and welcomed us and showed us into the lodge we would live in for the next three weeks. 
Polly and Kevin are extremely knowledgeable and experienced guides and teachers who opened their home, time, and supply of patience to us for very little in return. We could not be more grateful for this safe haven we landed in. Before long, we began living into the flow of life here at Mahoosuc: carving paddles with Kevin in the barn, coming along with Polly and Kevin for dog chores, working on our big jobs to prepare for all the ocean will be, and watching movies/documentaries with Polly in the evening. 
Each morning we wake up to the view of a long green boat and a field of dry grass stretching out to the beautiful red barn sitting underneath the protective watch of Old Speck, still topped with snow. Our days begin with a run, Tai-chi, or yoga, followed by breakfast and a chores period. Four of us meet Polly and Kevin to go look after their dogs’ needs (which mostly consist of lots of love and attention); everyone else washes dishes, disinfects the bathroom, sweeps the floor, or gets ahead on their big job work. On most days the group is split up so that half the group is working on their paddle while others tear through the wood pile or finish projects. Such projects included:

Sarah – Made two masts and booms for both boats and also completed boat repairs.

Eliza – Made two beautiful sails and bags to keep them in, as well as a bunch of gear repairs.

Elijah – Made (who knows how many) bow drill sets for us to use while on the ocean with Kai. 

Kai – Made (who knows how many) bow drill sets with Elijah. Sharpened our axes and repaired spring tents.

Rachel – Researched islands in the Penobscot bay to create a rough itinerary and collection of possible campsites for us to use, as well as creating a beautiful map of the area.

Audrey – Completed a thorough cleaning of the van and trailer, figured out our road route to and from the ocean, wrote a bunch of thank you and birthday cards and organized the making of thank you gifts. And is in the process of writing the blog

Julia- Made butt pads! And ORGANIZED EVERYTHING – created new packing lists for the spring.

Calla and Elena – Organized a lot of food! Packed out for expedition, and for the three weeks here. 

Sydney – Managed the chore rotation and responsibilities checklist as well as recorded finances, and assisted on practically every other project.

Pele – Did many loads of very dirty laundry.

Katarina – Did complex mathematical calculations to figure out what out water carrying capacities are and how long we have before needing to replenish our drinking water. Located streams and water sources on islands by examining maps. 

While living here at Mahoosuc we practiced celebrating life as often as possible. We had two birthday parties, one for Polly and one for Elena. We made a double-layered chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate lettering on top. Kevin brought ice cream to accompany the cake on its journey to the depths of our stomachs. 
There was a night when Polly came over with a big bag of popcorn and a carousel slideshow of her life in the Yukon Territory. It was in the Yukon that Polly first learned how to mush – dog sledding. The film photographs were amazing, straight from National Geographic, and her stories even more so. 
We also celebrated spring holidays. Pele would pass out little bits of Passover snacks after meals and remind us to remember the Jewish people. On Easter Sunday we got up to all sorts of kitchen fun with improvised muffins and liver pie, as well as chocolate bunny droppings from Polly. 

We celebrated spring weather with a hike up Puzzle Mountain, but soon after starting we realized that winter still lay over the mountain. We, as recent survivors of deep snow, had mixed feelings about being back in post-hole central. We now know that rain boots are just as good at holding water in as keeping it out, and that the Mahoosuc Guide Service barn is visible from Puzzle Mountain’s summit. 
A celebratory moment of the grandest kind was when Kevin and Polly’s gigantic pile of logs disappeared out of existence, well not quite, now it was bucked up, split by hand or splitter, and stacked all around the property. We had worked on the pile almost everyday; bit-by-bit it grew smaller until finally it was gone! While the accomplishment of such an intimidating task is a gift in itself; the fact that we accomplished this task to help Kevin and Polly added even more to the excitement – so when Polly brought out Oreos, we went wild. We have a lot of respect for both of them so they had no need to bribe our love with food, but we certainly appreciated the gesture anyhow. 
A sad reality of the virus is that Semester must now try avoiding all spontaneous encounters with humans instead of encouraging them. All of us were looking forward to being able to do service in N.Y.C., which now of course will not happen, even though the city probably needs help now more than ever. Luckily, Polly was able to connect us with a few amazing people who could use our help with some service work. We enjoyed being of use and getting the chance to work outside. We received delicious treats in return for our enthusiasm, but the most valuable gift given to us was the chance to meet all the amazing people who had so many stories to tell, a lifetime worth of knowledge to share with anyone willing to listen. We were inspired, acknowledging our own hope to live lives as full, complex and meaningful.  We also realized that there was no summit in life: it only grows and gathers until the very end. Who says you need to slow down with age when you can run a farm, wood mill, food distribution system… ?

            We leave Mahoosuc inspired, introspective, celebratory, and creative. Ready to feel the cold spray of salt and lonesome howl of the wind upon our tired frames. 
            Please everyone stay safe, go outside, celebrate Spring, watch seeds sprout and flowers bloom, make towers of rock along the shore, and fairy houses in the woods, read poetry and write back in reflective inspiration, improvise recipes out of simple, beautiful things: Flour, Salt, Butter… And rejoice in all that life still holds. We are sending thoughts of love back to all of you as we continue on our adventure.
Sincerely, Oddtree


Liver Pie
The idea for liver pie was born from a fridge full of liver given to us by Polly when she offered it to Calla and the food manager could not refuse. Calla doesn’t even like liver, but the appeal of free food, especially during the spring season when we are going through exorbitant amounts of food withdrawal, was too much for her and we needed to figure out what to do with all this meat that was given for free from the butcher’s shop. Audrey was convinced that liver pie was the way to consume the meat, Sydney pushed the project along with her enthusiasm for trying weird things, and Julia made the crust using all her British Baking show practice…

Pie crust:
4 cups of Flour
1 1/3 cups of cold butter
cold water

  1. Add and mix together ingredients a little at a time to make sure it doesn’t get too watery. Massage together to get a smooth consistency without clumps. 
  2. Store dough in the fridge until it is ready to roll out to fit the pan.

As much liver as you can stomach
Salt & pepper

  1. Marinate the meat ahead of time with seasoning and garlic
  2. Cut up the meat into tiny little cubes. Chop up garlic and onions as well
  3. Fry it all up on the stove.

Split peas
  1. Cook split peas to a slightly mushy consistency like mashed potatoes
  2. Chop up available fresh vegetables 

Crust (on top)
Fresh veggies
Split peas

Oat Latkes
Created By Jackie… “a good cook can prepare a meal with whatever’s in the kitchen.”

Rolled Oats
Dehydrated potato powder
Salt & pepper
Nutritional yeast 
  1. Boil oats for 90 seconds or until barely soft
  2. Combine oats with all other ingredients to form a moist dough
  3. Form little pancakes and fry in a desired amount of butter. 

Birthday Crepes
Due to a lack of eggs (we ate them all), we substituted apple sauce for the eggs, and while it didn’t quite result in the classic Russian Blini that she wanted to make for Elena’s birthday, it did taste good and looked like a crepe, so…

Wake up early (5:30) to make the applesauce as you will need it for the batter and it adds a bit of prep time. 
  1. Cut up and skin two to three apples
  2. Let the apple chunks boil away on the stove until they become soft enough to easily press a fork through them. 
  3. Drain the pot of the extra water. Pro tip: add the apple water to the other grain you are cooking, it adds flavor that goes well with oatmeal or seven grain. 
  4. Mash up the apples to a pulp

  1. Whisk together 4.25 cups of cowpow milk and the apple sauce
  2. Stir in 1/3 tsp of salt and 2 Tbl of sugar
  3. Mix in 4 cups of four then 3 Tbl of melted butter and 1 cup of boiling water

Fry the pancakes – thin! And serve with whatever toppings you can spare if any, save a little bit of apple sauce for the birthday girl. 

Pizza night is always a good night! Especially when you have an entire pizza to yourself. 

1 1/3 cup flour 
1/2 cup milk 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
 Pinch of salt 

Toppings (optional):
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Mix all the ingredients together
Rollout the dough into a baking pan
Bake the dough at 350oF  – this will help the pizza cooking go along faster later
Chop up all the toppings
Sautée the onions, garlic, and cabbage 
Decorate the pizzas and stuff them into the oven until it has all melted together

Birthday cake
2 cups sugar
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½  cups of cocoa 
1 ½  tsp baking 
1 ½ tsp baking soda
pinches of salt
4eggs or 2 tsp of cider vinegar
2 cup milk
1 cup melted butter
2 cups boiling water

  1. Combine dry ingredients, then stir in the wet to get rid of clumps
  2. Butter two pans and split the batter between the two of them
  3. Bake for 30ish minutes on 325o F

Cream cheese frosting
(whip it all together – a good arm workout when you don’t have an electric mixer!)
1/2 cup butter
Cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp of vanilla