The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

Which Witch

As I perused the aisles of the party store, looking for the appropriate accoutrements for the Pie’s Halloween costumes, my eye was continuously drawn to the witch costumes. As many as four variations on the theme were available, or one could mix it up to customize a unique witch look. From childhood, my memories of witches conjure images of green mottled skin, a giant hooked nose and long talons. All witches back then seemed to accessorize with a skinny, hissing black cat, a flowing black dress and a tall pointed hat with a wide brim. The options at the costume store included the standard green cackler witch, the mysteriously sensuous witch, the one-humped crone witch and the perky, overtly sexual witch. I don’t remember ever dressing as a witch for All Hallow’s Eve, but this year, I definitely feel like I could pull it off.

Lately, I find myself wanting to possess the power of a witch: to fly unencumbered through the sky, avoiding the rush hour traffic and idiot drivers that act like they are the only ones traveling the road; to wave my hand and produce wads of cash with which to spend on practical, as well as frivolous, items; to speak a few lines of gibberish (most likely peppered with an F-bomb here and there) and bend others to my will – particularly my stubbornly opinionated daughter at bed time! I’ve sat through enough psychology courses to know that the underlying meaning is that I feel powerless in everyday life and want to gain some control of my environment. Yeah – I get that.

But what about all the other witches out there? Those everyday witches that aren’t dressed any differently than the average desperate housewife lurk in offices, restaurants, banks and even drug stores! There’s the Lawyer Witch that sneers at me as I smoke outside my office building; there’s the Neighbor Witch that always puts her trash in my yard to be picked up; there’s the Office Witch that squints at me as I enter the door and never has a pleasant thing to say.

One thing I have learned through all my years: even witches have a fatal vulnerability. It may be animals, or babies or chocolate or wine, or – as we famously know – water. Hey, maybe that’s what I need to control: the chances of encountering that one thing I know will do me in…for good.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Jon and Kate + 8 Divided by Greed and Multiplied by Hate

It’s not a matter of global importance nor is it a spotlight on the plight of the homeless or starving children. It’s not even equal to the unexpected death of a self-proclaimed King of Pop music. But it is a media phenomenon that has depleted my patience and previous fan status of the show. I speak of “Jon and Kate + 8”, of course and I think it’s time I have my say on the matter.

I admit, begrudgingly, that I have watched this little show take on a life of its own since the very beginning. Back when Kate was a brunette and 20 pounds heavier and Jon cared little of his quickly advancing hairline, they were a nice little family from Pennsylvania facing the challenges of raising 8 children – 2 sets of multiples. What am I saying? Everyone knows about them. How could we not? They are everywhere! This insidious couple makes appearances, separately of course, at every opportunity and launch into their “he said/she said” tirade.

I wonder why they think we care what happened in their marriage? I wonder why we actually do! Over the course of 5 seasons of the show, I witness, along with America, the disintegration of their relationship: Kate’s browbeating, shrewish behavior, Jon’s emasculation and eventual loss of dignity. I think most of the country saw it coming, so I have to wonder why they didn’t? And what about TLC – the network that is slowly declining in programming choices to the level of Fox – not one nitwit in that bunch had the sense to say, “You know, these folks are stressed. Let’s give them a break and let them be a family.”

Nope – it’s all about the money! Show me the money! On the one hand, I can totally get behind the idea that making a little TV show to help pay for my brood is not all bad. But when it was obvious that the show was no longer about the children, it was time to pack it up. In my opinion, this show has gone on far too long. Yes, the children are adorable, but we don’t get to see them enough. All we get to see is the parents arguing with each other – or ignoring each other – and their passive-aggressive machinations to get what they want.

Why don’t we, as American television viewers, treat them like the tantrum throwing children they are? Ignore them. All they want is attention and the more they get the more they want. I was saddened and heart-broken knowing that those children stood to suffer the most by this train wreck. And now it has devolved into the lowest, most debasing arguments of all: money.

But isn’t that what it was all about in the first place? Not having money, needing, money, making money, saving money, spending money. These people make me sick when I see that they have turned into and I grieve for the lost childhoods of the Gosselin offspring. I see myself struggling daily to make sure that my child gets what she needs and still I know that I would never (or I would at least thing twice about) allow myself to be swallowed into a media mix-master to be manipulated for money. I will do (and have done) many things I am not necessarily proud of to provide for my child. But that ain’t one ‘em!

October 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Right Thing to Do

I have known a very special young woman practically her entire life. Her mother was my best friend in high school and I spent a large portion of her childhood with her. Due to issues between me and her mother, I missed watching her grow into an adult and it has been over the past 2 years that we have gotten incredibly close again and I am profoundly proud of her. She is a single mother of a 10 year old son and works in a large retail chain as a manager. Her career is important to her, and so is her family. Because she believes it’s the right thing to do.

When her cousin’s children were recently removed from the home and the parents jailed, she displayed incredible valor by petitioning the court for custody. When custody was granted, she set about converting her garage into another bedroom, and worked practically round the clock to make her home inviting and comfortable to 3 small children. I knew in my heart that it was a blessing to her and the children and that she would succeed beyond measure at helping to heal these damaged children. During the preparation, she never once considered herself – she always placed the needs and welfare of the children first. She never questioned why she was doing it, she just knew it was the right thing to do. During one small moment of doubt, she asked me if I thought she could accept the challenge that lay ahead of her. I told her, “I know of no better person to take this on.” It is the right thing to do.

As I shared her story with my co-workers, many of them stepped up to the plate to donate toys, clothes, personal hygiene items and other necessities to the children. People who had never met this young woman came out of nowhere to help provide for them. She was in no financial position to buy all new clothes, toys, toothbrushes, shoes, etc. for the children and total strangers to her helped out with so many things that were needed. Because it was the right thing to do.

I have wondered to myself if I would have done the same thing if I were in her position. Would I have turned my entire life upside down? Would I have done construction on my home to accommodate 3 children who had serious issues? I believe I would have let my own doubts and fears stand in the way of allowing the children into my life. I don’t know if I possess the intestinal fortitude necessary to accept that challenge – even if it is the right thing to do.

When the children arrived, it was somewhat of a shock to her. She was used to managing only one tween son; now she had a 6 year old boy, a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old girl. She created a loving environment with routine, discipline and affection – something to which neither child had been exposed. In the ensuing weeks since their arrival, the children have faced obstacles of their own, but my young friend has provided wise words and a soft place to fall for them. Because it’s the right thing to do.

No one knows what the future holds for this extraordinary young woman and her new “add water and stir” instant family. But I know that whatever happens, it’s the right thing to do.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ghetto Fabulous

I did it of my own free will. Left to my own devices, I came to the conclusion that the Pie should witness first hand the joy and fascination of the circus. I grew up attending the Shrine circus with my parents and later volunteered there selling novelties and concessions. My time spent at the circus was wondrous and entertaining. I only wanted my daughter to share the experience. What the hell was I thinking?

The Pie is 2 years old. She likes animals and shiny things… seems only likely that the circus could combine those things into a memorable night out for a toddler. So, I enlisted the aid of my friends, the Pie’s Mimi and Poppy, and we set out for… ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, The Ghetto Circus!! The event was held in a field under the Big Top (uh, huh…sure) and it had been raining lightly most of the day. After slogging through the mud to the tent, we were seated in make shift bleachers that opened and closed on a whim, seemingly by the power of a poltergeist.

Since I paid a ridiculously inflated price to upgrade from my FREE ticket, we were luckily seated near the center ring (the ONLY ring) so the Pie had a pretty good view of the…um… action. I, however, enjoyed the talents of a pole all evening. As we waited in our cold, hard seats, I scanned the crowd in attendance. The first thing to catch my eye was an ice blue track suit trimmed in silvery metallic fabric. Sporting this ensemble was a large Jewish woman just of the plane from Boca Raton, covered in “dinner jewelry” and proudly displaying her bouffant, highlighted wig. Apparently, she had decided that her general admission seats were unacceptable and decided up upgrade to the VIP ringside seats – which, by the way were white plastic patio chairs placed precariously in a mud hole. As I watched her sink into her VIP white plastic patio chair, then further into the mud, I thought the show was about to start with a parade. But I was mistaken. A local family who evidently knew more about Budweiser than birth control ambled along in a line before me, chaotically attempting to keep their brood together. My guess is that Mama Freak couldn’t name her natural hair color if her life depended on it and that Daddy Freak hadn’t seen his own feet in nearly a decade. What a sight they were, with the dozen or so little Freaks peeping up around them like baby birds for cotton candy, popcorn, sno-cones and lighted novelties. Just precious.

Finally, the show began and the Ringmaster, who much too closely for my liking, resembled the comic book store owner from The Simpsons, announced the first act, the Spinning Hoochie Sisters, or something like that. The two gals did some aerial stunts and then spun around on a pole “high above the earth” and when they did, a pouch of sparkly confetti burst forth from their beauty supply store add-on pony-tails! It was mesmerizing. Really, I mean it. They were followed by a sad little pack of poodles that ranged in color from eggshell to ecru to just plain beige and were sorely in need of a brush – and perhaps an electric razor. In any case, they managed to jump around a bit and roll down a slide on a skateboard. The canine performers were led by a chick that looked suspiciously like the lady that runs donut shop by my house, and she managed to garner a smattering of applause from the dozens of people in attendance. Nice job, Maria!

Now, I like to pay attention to details. It’s a gift… and a curse. As the show worn on… I mean continued, I noticed that the performers were the same group of about 8 people. The Flying Hoopdeedoo Family were the same people as The Flipping Yaddayaddas, who were the same people who defied the “Double Ring of Destiny” – I didn’t catch their names. The advertising featured a statement that the circus brought together “hundreds” of performers from around the world but they must have had the night off. Some of those gals looked like the circus wasn’t necessarily their first choice of career, either…if you get what I’m trying to say. Although, some of the “stunts” looked very familiar to what I have seen take place on a pole in a dark room with loud music. Or at least what I’ve HEARD about… er, okay, moving on.

Here’s the kicker: the Pie absolutely LOVED it! She was enraptured by all the sights, sounds and smells of the circus – particularly the animals. She loves animals and relishes every opportunity to interact with them. Her dark blue eyes sparkled with delight as the ladies performed daring stunts and the men displayed feats of strength. She nibbled on cotton candy and even went home with an inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants. She chattered all the way home about the circus and everything she saw. She rode on a pony and experienced things she had never even imagined in that very actively imaginative brain! So, for her, the ghetto was fabulous!

October 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment