The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

The Traffic Jam

I don’t live in a huge city of millions located on either coast or in a bustling industrial metropolis, but I do live in a Midwestern city that features roads that are constantly under construction; detours, slow-downs and back-ups are a common occurrence. In our fair city, we are woefully in need of decent, affordable public transportation. This fact is evidenced by the large numbers of idiot drivers I encounter on any given day.

Almost all of the ridiculous driving habits I observe are executed by members of one or more of a certain club. These clubs are determined and named by me, so there’s no quiz at the end to see what kind of driver you are….you probably know if you belong in one of these clubs. If you don’t, SHAME on you!

You know these people. They are leaving a parking lot and slowly inching out into the standing traffic, hoping you will let them out. Inch by inch, they worm their way into the tiny hole between you and the car in front of you until the first 18 inches of their car is just hanging out there – almost daring you to press the accelerator and run into it. My advice to them? Wait your turn!

Every morning on my way to work, I am baffled by the number of cars that speed past me on the expressway. The speed limit is 65, but some of these vehicles are clearly going 80-90 miles an hour. They weave in and out of the lines of cars in an attempt to get 6 feet closer to their destination. I wonder if those drivers think we are just all knuckleheads waiting in one place for traffic to abate while they speed by in their Honda hybrids and toss a glance. Hope I don’t see them sprawled on the pavement a few miles down the road.

I am relatively certain that all vehicles manufactured and on the road today come with turning indicators as standard equipment. Is it such a physical burden to move the stick up or down to warn fellow drivers that you’re about to make a turn or lane change? Surely, all those people don’t have inoperable blinkers, right? Did they miss that day in Drivers Education class that instructed the use of the blinker? In the name of all that is holy, USE YOUR BLINKERS, PEOPLE!

You people really piss me off! You wait until the last second to merge into a lane. You zoom through an intersection after the light turns red. You park sideways across two parking spaces because you don’t want your precious baby to get scratched. (If this is you, you have some serious issues!) You change lanes in the middle of an intersection. One way or another, you manage to bend or downright break rules and guidelines of respectable traffic behavior. You are cheating. And cheaters never prosper…

Just because you paid more money for your vehicle than I earn in 2 years and just because your vehicle was manufactured outside the United States and just because your vehicle uses diesel fuel, does NOT mean that you own the road. You may own a lot of stuff: boats, McMansions, indoor pools, summer homes, country club memberships, even half the community – but you do not own the road. There are other people out there who have a right to drive, have been licensed by the state to do so and are exercising their free will to take their lives in their hands and drive on the same road as you people! Pay attention to those around you who may not have a sparkling new crossover, ATV, SUV, Hummer, Lexus BMW or Mercedes. We are people, too!

Can’t we all just get where we’re going without getting outraged? Can’t we all just drive along?


April 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Bed….

Whenever friends and I go out for Chinese food, we always play this game with the fortune cookies. Whatever the fortune says, we add the words, “in bed” to the end of it. For example, “A dark stranger will bring you pleasure…IN BED.” “You will become famous for your special gift…IN BED.” “You will lose everything you hold dear…IN BED.” You get the idea. I recently discovered that there are other things that make the words “in bed” a humorous addition to almost any phrase. Of course, this has to do with my daughter – what else?

I found some juicy specimens…IN BED. The adorable Pie has learned to open the refrigerator and she helped herself to a couple of strawberries. What she didn’t want, she left buried beneath my pillows. Yeah, you figure out what happened next.

I need more measuring spoons…IN BED. As an avid cook, I have about 3 or 4 sets of measuring spoons that are kept in a drawer that the Pie can evidently access. I went to bake a cake and couldn’t find measuring spoons anywhere – until I went to bed that night and discovered them under the covers at the foot of my bed, where the jangling startled me into a mild coronary event.

I need to go potty…IN BED. I haven’t begun potty training her in earnest yet, but the Pie has used the potty chair many times. Lately, I have tried letting her wear big girl underwear around the house. Once, she looked at me with an urgency that meant I’d better pay attention, and then said, “Pee.” I asked if she need to go potty, to which she nodded her head and proceeded to pee standing up in the middle of my bed. It was a long night of laundry.

A girl loves chocolate…IN BED. I used to have a very strict rule that the Pie was not allowed to have chocolate. However, a few people in our circle decided to ignore the rule and introduce my daughter to the joy and agony that is chocolate. She loves to eat it, hold it, mold it, smear it, smash it….well, you get the point. While I was in the kitchen one evening, she toddled up to me and said, “Dirty.” And she was. Her face and hands, neck and chest were covered in chocolate like it was some kind of kiddie spa treatment! Like the good Mommy that I am, I calmly sat her in the kitchen sink and cleaned her up. About 2 hours later, when it came time for me to hit the hay, I was greeted by disturbing brown swipes across my pillows.

Let’s plant some lavender seeds…IN BED. I have a little pouch that a friend gave me that sits over your eyes when trying to fall asleep that contains fresh lavender. It is a soothing aroma that usually assuages my headaches and helps me relax. One afternoon, my darling daughter decided to turn into the toddler version of Inspector Clouseau and open every drawer in my nightstand. Oh, yes EVERY drawer – and I think you know what I’m trying to say….but that’s an entirely different blog post! She discovered the pouch and it’s supposedly hidden zipper. When I entered the bedroom, I spied in the center of my bed, an almost crop-circle like design of lavender seeds. That was about 3 weeks ago – and I am still “finding” them. I found one in the shower one day and didn’t even want to think where it had been hiding!

So – not EVERYTHING is more fun in bed…maybe I should invest in a bubble….

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Toddler Etymology

As my daughter careens towards her second birthday (in 10 days), I have noticed the rapid-fire addition of new words to her vocabulary. There are words she has said for months that are getting clearer (“bye” and “mama”) and completely new words that have somewhat curious origins. “Hop, hop, hop,” she says as she makes little leaps through the living room. As a lover of language, I have to wonder where she hears and learns the meaning of these new words. Without being too boastful, I must admit that I have a VERY bright daughter. She usually only needs to see an action or item once or twice and remembers it.

There was a morning a few months ago that I walked into her room and she smiled up at me and said, “Dude!” It cracked me up, but in hindsight I think she was saying “juice” and I remember her being a little cranky until I filled her Sippy cup. Now when she wants juice, she sounds a bit like a drunken sorority girl: “joooosh….jooosh!” When she wants to watch television, particularly piled up in the middle of Mommy’s bed, she points to my bedroom and utters, “EEE EEE.” Just no time for consonants, I guess.

She has used the word “bookah” for several months when she wants to be read a story. Recently, she starting using the same word for her little ride-on toy that looks like a bicycle. Is it laziness? Confusion? Similarly, she uses very almost identical names for her Grandpa (my father) and her Poppy (a very close friend – practically family). The most minute difference between “Gaw Paw” and “Papa” in confusing to only those of us who aren’t paying attention, but she knows who she’s talking about.

One of the funniest issues lately is that she refuses to say one particular word. My best good friend, who we call Granny Puddin’, keeps her during the day and wants desperately for the Pie to say “Granny.” When we sit around the dinner table, the Pie points at and names off everyone: “Mama, Poppy, BeBe (that’s her)” and then gestures noncommittally and murmurs something indistinct while pointing to Granny. The Pie loves her Granny – no question about it – but I can’t figure out why she won’t say it. The best I can come up with is that she knows Granny wants it REALLY BAD! Ah…early onset Terrible Twos.

She can identify animals, but she only makes the noises, she doesn’t say their names. We have a book called “A Trip to the Zoo” where she lifts the flaps and reveals an animal. Invariably, she will confidently lift the flap and hiss, roar, growl, screech or howl. Ask her to show you the snake, lion, tiger, bird or monkey and she shows no hesitation. What’s up with that?

Shapes – she has no clue, and I really think she couldn’t care less what the difference between a square and a triangle is. But, by God, she knows a circle! Every round thing used to be a ball, but now it’s a “kurkle.” And don’t get me started on colors! Every color in the rainbow, without fail, is “geeen” (green). I have gone through an 8 color crayon box with her and she identified each one as being green. Ask her to show you the red or blue or yellow crayon and she will point to it. But she says it’s green and there is not arguing with her. She’s two, it’s her job.

On occasion, the Pie has little meltdowns where she yells unintelligible words while waving her chubby little fingers in the air and points at me. She feels strongly about whatever topic she happens to be expounding on, but she’s lucky I don’t know what she’s saying. It’s the only reason I let her live!

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sounds of Silence

My father is 80 years old and very hard of hearing. I mean, REALLY hard of hearing. For years, he had a bad right ear, but over the past decade or so, his hearing has dramatically declined. I am forced to repeat myself at least twice, sometimes more, and I find myself getting frustrated. The television at his house is turned up so loud, it is actually painful to me. The little volume indicator bar across the bottom of the screen is all the way to the right…it cannot go any higher. And then he complains that he can’t understand what they say on the TV. Because they talk too fast!

I feel sorry for him. I really do. What he doesn’t realize is that his granddaughter (adorable angel that she is) is saying so many cute, clever and precious things …and he is missing them. This weekend when we visited, the Pie walked in the front door of the house and yelled, “Gaw Paaww!” He didn’t hear it because the television was turned up so loud. There were at least 3 other incidents when she walked behind him, saying, “Gaw Paw, peese” (translation: “Grandpa, please?”). He never turned to look at her; I imagine he again could not hear her. Two other times, she stood in front of him, making her heart-breaking little kissy face and the accompanying noise, and he ignored her.

I saw in her face a tinge of sadness, some frustration and even a little anger that he was not paying her the attention she felt she deserved. I don’t blame her. He claims he loves her (and I have no doubt that he does) but to her, he’s just some old fart she sees once a week. When we are at home, she will pick up her grandfather’s framed picture, hug and kiss it, and murmur softly, “Gaw Paw.” She loves him and she knows he is her grandpa, but I can see in her eyes the confusion of whether HE knows it or not.

I have tried to encourage the acquisition of hearing aids for Dad, but he is reluctant. I can only speculate why. I don’t have the heart to tell him that he is missing so much while he sits there in silence and his grandaughter grows up.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Words that Sound Dirty…but Aren’t

This past weekend, I served as the pronouncer for the regional finals of the state spelling bee. In my preparation, I encountered several words that, naturally, I had heard before, but never realized they sounded dirty until I said them in front of a room full of 4th – 8th graders. I remembered snickering at some of them when I was in school – and there are a couple I still giggle about when I hear them.

Here is a list of words that sound dirty, but are not:
CONJUGATE – not a private visit to an inmate

COCCYX – not a piece of jewelry for the twig and berries

MASTICATE – not something you do alone in the shower

PIANIST – not another name for the twig and berries

ANGINA – not the clinical word for a woman’s flower

SHIATSU – not what you do in the bathroom while reading Sports Illustrated

LOLLYGAG – not choking on a lollipop

BALLCOCK – not physically possible, I don’t think

SEERSUCKER – not one who sips seers through a straw

FURBELOW – not a directional hint of location

KUMQUAT – not the result of an intimate coupling

PUU PUU PLATTER – not a plate covered in dookie

PENALIZE – not make something in the shape of a phallus

BLOVIATE – not having to do with blowing anything

PHILATELIST – not one who philates

SHUTTLECOCK – not a twig and berries that goes into space

Honorable Mentions:
blow hole

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Letter of Apology

Dear, dear Friend,

Something I wrote today hurt you. I never intended that result, nor did I expect the degree of anger that you responded with. I am very, very sorry.

The issue is obviously one that you are very sensitive about – and if I were any kind of real friend, I would know that. But the point I was trying to make was that it is those quirky out-of-norm things that make us who we are and makes other love us for who we are.

I was thoughtless and stupid and inconsiderate and hurtful. I knew you would be reading, so it didn’t even occur to me to edit myself – didn’t mean it to hurt you. We have been through too much, shared so much and lost so much that it embarrasses me that I behaved in that manner and that I stupidly hurt you. You have been there for me and helped when I needed a hand, a kind word or encouragement and I really don’t know where I would be without our friendship. Your love for the Pie is overwhelming and I love that you love her so much. We would both be lost without you.

I hope that you can find it in your heart to accept my most sincere apology. Mea culpa….this is My bad…it’s on me.


April 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie Wisdom

As a child of pop culture, I often find great wisdom and profound knowledge wrapped neatly inside a single line of dialogue in a movie. I imagine some angst-ridden writer, hopped up on espresso sitting on his or her bathroom floor receiving the epiphany that writers dream about – the perfect line. Here are a few of the lines that left deep impressions on my life and my way of thinking:
(in no particular order…)

* “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to.” Dolores Claiborne
In a world where women are inundated with mixed messages about their roles in society, I think this statement is one of the truest about the feminine gender. Being a bitch is the something that only women can do and many, like myself, embrace that ability and like to take it down off the shelf, give it a good dusting and show it off every once in a while. However, some women don’t allow theirs time to gather dust at all, but give theirs plenty of exercise. No matter; if it’s all they have then why not use it?

* “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Steel Magnolias
Pretty self-explanatory, but it touches me deeply. So many people want to make their marks on the world, to leave it a better place than they found it. And to do so, thay have to make sacrifices. That half hour of wonderful can be enough to last a lifetime, reminding the person of the love, joy, happiness and pride they may have experienced inside those 30 minutes. It’s a small amount of time, in the grand scheme of things, but if you’re drowning in the mundane and average, it can seem like an eternity.

* “We’re all pretty bizarre…some of us are just better at hiding it.” The Breakfast Club
Amen! I have never met a person who I considered completely well-adjusted and totally sane. Maybe if I really thought about it…..nope, nobody. For whatever reason everyone has some little quirk they keep hidden away from view, or they display proudly for all to see (I think that’s called just plain ape-ass crazy!) – depends on the nature of said quirk. I know people who exhibit the following peccadilloes:
– eat their own boogers
– hides vodka under the bathroom sink and sneaks drinks when he goes in there
– counts every step in a set of stairs
– wants every person she meets to like her
– would rather play with child toys than any other activity
– believe their animals really have opinions on furniture and decor
– loves the smell of his own farts


(Perhaps I need to expand my social circle?!)

* “I’m ending our friendship.” With Honors
This line is preceded by the line, “What are you doing?” as the leading man kisses his leading lady. What’s so true about this line is that he knows taking the step forward to bare and share his heart is a big risk, a gamble. He knows he has to give up the great friendship he had with this girl to stumble blindly into the world of dating her – which is not necessarily the same. It pains me to think that people who are dating or married also claim to be “best friends” because one or both of those relationships is missing something!

* “We all go a little mad sometimes.” Psycho
And thank God for it, I say! Wouldn’t life be boring if we never let go or lost control and just maintained an even keel through every part of our lives? Our team wins the championship, our beloved asks to spend our lives together, our mother dies unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon, we get offered a great new job and we keep the same expression, demeanor, attitude? Nonsense. It’s these and many other times that practically demand we go a little mad…lose ourselves in the feelings that run rampant inside and give in to the dizzying array of sights, sounds and sensations that await us inside that madness.

Finally, I give you a movie quote that needs no explanation and gives me chills every time I hear it in the movie:

* “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” The Usual Suspects

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment