The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

Lyrics of Life

I have forever been in awe of songwriters, especially lyricists. The way they can capture a mood, a moment, a feeling in words that make up a three and a half minute song is, to me, simply astounding. Of course, the perfect accompanying melody can make all the difference, but to me, it’s the words that carry the greatest influence. Most impressive to me is the collaboration of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, who together have written scores of hit songs. While Elton John is an amazing musician and performer, Bernie Taupin carries the burden of stringing together lyrics that make sense, create a scene and touch the listener.

I have compiled some song lyrics that I personally find particularly resonating.

“… I don’t know if I’ve ever been really loved by a hand that’s touched me.” Push, Matchbox 20

“… in my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero.” My Daughter’s Eyes, Martina McBride

“… doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more?” Far Away, Carole King

“… I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Sinners are much more fun.” Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

“… you raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.” You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban

“… this is the moment. Destiny beckons, I never reckoned second best.” This is the Moment, from Les Miserables

“It’s….the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.” The Rose, Bette Midler

“… the love you take is equal to the love you make.” The End, The Beatles

“… when my soul was in the lost-and-found, you came along to claim it.” Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin

“ … hello, darkness, my old friend…: Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel

“… if I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?” Freebird, Lynyrd Skynyrd

“ … it is well with my soul.” It Is Well, Christian Hymn

“With an iron-clad first, I wake up and French-kiss the morning.” Bed of Roses, Bon Jovi

“I have to find the passage back to the place I was before.” Hotel California, The Eagles

“For once in my life, I have someone who needs me.” For Once in My Life, Frank Sinatra

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November 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What it Means…

Many, many years ago, I watched a television clip of classic comedian Red Skelton relating a story about his grade school teacher who, after years of observing his students recite the Pledge of Allegiance, felt compelled to explain to his pupils what they were actually saying. The law banning the recitation of the Pledge had recently passed and he hoped to bring about awareness of the symbolism of the Pledge. In honor of Veterans’ Day, today’s blog entry is a reprint of Mr. Skelton’s story, originally told on January 14, 1969.

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:

I: Me, an individual, a committee of one.
PLEDGE: Dedicate all of my worldly good to give without self-pity.
ALLEGIANCE: My love and my devotion.
TO THE FLAG: Our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.
UNITED: That means that we have all come together.
STATES: Individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for our country.
AND TO THE REPUBLIC: A state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chose by the people to govern. And government is the people, and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION: One nation, meaning “so blessed by God.”
INDIVISIBLE: Incapable of being divided.
WITH LIBERTY: Which is freedom, the right of power to live one’s own live without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
AND JUSTICE: The principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
FOR ALL: For all, which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.
“Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: UNDER GOD. Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools, too?”

If you enjoy the freedoms provided to us as Americans, please take the time today to thank a veteran or an active-duty soldier!

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Balloon Hating

I hate balloons. There was a time when I actually liked them; I found them cheerful and festive in an innocuous way. It was entertaining how these little orbs of air and latex bounced around, ricocheting from one object to another. On a few occasions, I actually filled them with water and tossed them from a 3rd floor window. (Don’t tell anyone…) So, I remember a time when balloons and I got along pretty well. That was before I became a mother.

Now, I worry about balloons. Not just worry…I actually HATE balloons. They have evolved into insidious little beasties that toy with the affections of my darling child; they cause emotions to spin out of control and possess the potential to kill. And the Pie acts as if she cannot live without one when we stroll through any establishment that has utilized balloons as decoration. Our trip to the store quickly disintegrates into a power struggle when I say, “No, you cannot have a balloon today.” Ugliness typically ensues…then I say, “Okay, you can have a balloon.” (A tip to the employees of those establishments: DO NOT offer my child a balloon without my permission. That’s just mean.)

Oh, the joy the spreads instantly! Radiating from those sapphire eyes, pleasure that cannot be contained is cast far and wide. Her little face squinches up with glee and her sparkling smile gleams brighter than the sun. I love to make my daughter that happy – in fact, I LIVE for it. Then I must be hyper vigilant to guard against loss or damage to the ecstasy sphere. I repeat like a mantra, “Don’t let go….don’t let go…don’t let go…” I sometimes wonder if I’m talking to the Pie or to myself. So in her effort to not release the balloon, she starts to bite it. She likes the sound her teeth make when they meet the expanded latex. Ick! Anyway, I suddenly can’t tear my eyes from her, waiting for the balloon to pop, scare her and be sucked into her windpipe, choking the life from her. As a lesson in compromise, I cajole the Pie into tying the balloon to her wrist. I can relax for a few minutes as we finish shopping, check out and load up the car. Then we take the balloon home.

The life expectancy of a balloon is brief, my friends. A two year old cannot conceive that nothing lasts forever. She expects her precious little ball of air to still be tethered to the end of her bed when she wakes in the morning. What she does not expect to find is a soft, shriveled squishy-ball lying dejectedly at the foot of her bed. And, folks, Mommy doesn’t appreciate something that looks like an old man’s testicle furtively nestled against her daughter. As she opens her eyes, she looks up into thin air. As she lowers her chunky little legs from her toddler bed, she steps on the object that less than 24 hours before filled her with delight. Her revulsion is evident in her squeals, which quickly melt into tears. “Where boon, go, Mama?” Oh, dear. She is saddened by the loss of her joyful little friend and I get to formulate a scheme to get the tiny bloated sac into the trash can without her knowledge. I’ll bet I spend a third of my waking hours disposing of the bodies of various toys and other items that are no longer appropriate for her to play with. I feel a bit like a hit man!

So watch out, balloons…don’t piss me off! I can poke a hole in you so fast, it will make you dizzy!

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door

I’ve decided that my blog should contain reviews of books that I read. I am a voracious reader and become practically apoplectic if I have no books waiting patiently by my bed for me at night. I do have certain standards when it comes to reading for pleasure, so I will relate to you now that you will not see reviews of science-fiction/fantasy, westerns, graphic novels, bodice ripper romances or anything that relates to war. Just not my bag. I prefer to read fiction that explores how characters grow and how the choices they make affect their growth. But I also like murder mysteries, legal and medical dramas and “relationship fiction.” I seldom read non-fiction for pleasure, but when I do it’s for a specific reason. If it comes up, I will advise.

So, the first book up for review is called Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers. This is a debut novel from the British born author and it chronicles several months in the lives of a single mother and her teen-aged daughter. The story is told entirely in a series of notes the women leave for each other and span topics such as grocery lists, school anxiety, boyfriends and illness. When the mother faces a health crisis, the notes turn intimate and become a reflection of their relationship.

Claire is 15 and apparently a high achiever at school. She is focused on herself, her friends and her school work (as is any teen-ager). Her mother works many shifts at the local hospital as a nurse, so their varying schedules practically demand that they communicate through notes left on the refrigerator door. In almost every note, one of them states that they need to talk in person, but for whatever reason, neither is very available to the other. When the mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, her daughter’s inquiries are at first waved away, but eventually they both understand that it’s the only safe way to communicate while each is filled with rage, sorrow and pain.

This was a very quick read for me. In fact, I finished it in about 30 minutes. It was short, but quite powerful. One thing I missed: actual handwriting. I wanted to see images of notes complete with doodles, grammatical and spelling errors. I think it would have lent a more personal air to the communications rather than the clinical feeling portrayed by just page after page of the same font.
The story, though, was a universal one: love conquers all. As the notes progressed, the reader became privy to the inner workings of the mother-daughter relationship and revealed that even through anger and sadness, love still exists.

The book was technically sound and at times was a bit sappy, but the sudden loss of the mother to cancer felt honest and raw, filled with emotion from the daughter that was somewhat lacking in previous notes. As she writes to her dead mother, Claire shares her memories of their time together during her mother’s illness and gives updates regarding her social status and school work. It’s equally healing for the character and the reader.

If you’re looking for a book that is simple, humorous and emotional, then this is a good choice. However, don’t expect much character development, back story, descriptive narratives or plot. The best thing about the book is that it can cross generations and expose how mothers and daughters communicate – without or without a notepad.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Precious Moments

When you become a parent, other parents tell you how rewarding it is. How all the hard work, stress and angst that you experience is totally worth those tiny glimpses of wonder, those moments when your child reveals her true self and fills you with awe. Until recently, I thought it was all a big load of bull poopie – an old wives tale to keep you from stuffing them in a box and leaving them in the garage. But now…now, I know better.

It was one of those truly precious moments; I was struck dumb and tears rolled down my face with pride and pleasure. The Pie read her bedtime story to me. Not just babbling nonsensically while looking at pictures, but actually telling me the story that coincided with the words in “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. It is her favorite bedtime story and she loves how much food the caterpillar eats and how she relates when the caterpillar gets a stomachache. And she always seems surprised when he turns into a beautiful butterfly – even though we have read the story in the neighborhood of about 827 times! Here’s the scene:

I told her to choose her bedtime book, and as usual, she opted for the caterpillar. She climbed into her bed and said, “Me read.” I don’t like to irritate her at bedtime, so I humored her. She sat cross-legged in the middle of her pink and white gingham sheets, placed the book on her lap, held her fist to her mouth…and cleared her throat. She opened the book to the first page and began …

“Light of moon…egg..lay…leaf.” Page Turn.
“Morning…sun up…pop!… tiny caterpillar (hatapeer).” Page Turn
“Look for food.”
“One apple…” Page Turn
“Two pears…” Page Turn
“Three plums (free pumms)” Page Turn
“Four Strawberries (fo rawbess)” Page Turn
“Five Oranges…” Page Turn
“Cake, ice cream cone (eye reem cone), pickle, cheese, salami (wammee), lollipop, sausage, pie, cup cake (cucake), watermelon (mellamelon). Night….TUMMY. ACHE!” Page Turn
“Day…eat leaf…all better” Page Turn
“Not hungry (hungee)…not little…BIG FAT caterpillar (hatapeer)!” Page Turn“Made house…cocoon (coon)… poke out…” Page Turn
“Beautiful butterfly (booful buhfwy)! The End”

As she closed the book, she looked up at me with pure delight in her eyes but it turned to concern as she saw my face slick with proud tears.

“OK, mama…it OK,” she said.

“Yes, baby,” I said. “It is OK.”

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment