My star-crossed stove

I don't faithfully read almanacs, because I don't need to know the best days for planting parsnips or shearing sheep. However, I may start paying attention.

I just picked up a 2002 almanac from my insurance agent, and the first page that caught my eye listed the "2002 Best Baking Days." I had no idea that the phase of the moon could affect my homemade chocolate cake. I thought that was just between me and Pillsbury.

Knowing that the whole universe could be aligned against me on the day I pull out a mixing bowl is almost more than I can bear. I suddenly feel as if Sagittarius is looking over my beaters. And chuckling.

This certainly explains some cooking blunders that were beyond my control. That last batch of snickerdoodles that looked and tasted like creosote must have been put in the oven when Saturn was occluded.

I flipped through the almanac for a chart on "2002 Best Microwaving Days" or even "2002 Best Driving Days," since this almanac came from my car agent. I couldn't find either one, but I found charts with optimum days for other activities, including fishing, hair-cutting, digging post holes, and breaking bad habits.

Living by the old-fashioned almanac, in accord with the heavens, seems the safe, modern way to go. For example, if I decide to bake next year, I shouldn't even consider slipping a loaf of bread or a cake into the oven until Jan. 6, the first "best baking day" next year. No sense arguing with Jupiter.

Fortunately, there are only nine safe days to bake in January.

I'm already practicing my new almanac style of living. When my husband came home and sniffed the air for supper, I handed him a cardboard bucket of takeout Chinese.

"I sure longed to tackle a homemade chicken pot pie," I told him, "but the moon's not right."

"Oh," he said. "You mean it's not blue?"

I should have pointed out that the moon was waxing and it was a fine time for him to have surgery, whether or not he needed it.

"And when you finish supper," I told him, "this would be the ideal day to start building that fence we've been talking about for four months. According to the almanac, the posts won't heave out if you plant them now."

I could tell from his expression that he planned to ignore the universe.

He won't listen to me, either.

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