Saturday, May 29, 2010
Still, getting the pie swag was thrilling. For one, that means these PR people not only found my pie blog, they weren't completely turned off by all my talk of death and grief in between the occasional pie story. (Hey, EVERYONE dies, so yeah, we NEED to talk about it!) Secondly, I could use all this stuff.
Here's what the booty included, and my preliminary reviews of it:
1. A 5-lb. bag of Stone-Buhr Flour touted as the "first certified sustainable flour. Locally-grown by family farmers in the Pacific Northwest, milled near the fields and farms it was grown on - in Spokane, Washington." Sounds environmentally responsible. But does it taste any different? Make a better pie crust? We shall see!
2. A newly released cookbook called "Pies, Pies, and More Pies" by Viola Goren (Imagine Publishing, 2010), which is about -- you guessed it -- pie! Her baking techniques call for a food processor -- of which I am not a fan! I have never owned one as I insist that handmade pies be made with your hands. And her dough calls for egg yolk and heavy cream, which seems too rich for my puritanical pie values. HOWEVER, I am going to keep an open mind, and reserve judgment until I give it a try. After all, I didn't think I would ever like gluten-free pie, and look how that turned out.
3. A red t-shirt from Love the Pie (find them on Facebook and Twitter.) It's Pillsbury's Social Media arm of their publicity machine and one of the best examples I've ever seen of corporate PR. They are not pushing their packaged pie crust, they are focusing on building a bigger pie community. They get the idea of a soft-sell and I admire them for that. AND it's working.
What perfect synergy. I can use the flour to make a recipe out of the cookbook while wearing my new t-shirt! And what great timing. I just bought four pounds of strawberries. So instead of spending the Memorial Day holiday climbing Mount Whitney or dog-sledding across Alaska, I'll (quite happily) be trading my adrenaline rush for a sugar rush -- and making pie.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Now where better to find a psychic than in LA! They’re as abundant as 7-Eleven stores. Lucky for me I was just in La-la land. So before I returned to Portland I made an appointment with a woman recommended by a friend of mine. I drove – and drove and drove and drove – to the outskirts of LA’s metropolis arriving at a suburban ranch house that smelled (and looked) like a dirty cat litter box. We're not in Beverly Hills anymore!
The psychic, Linda -- who, like Patricia Arquette on Medium, works with police to help solve murder cases -- greeted me at her door. Funny, she didn’t look anything like Patricia Arquette. She looked more like Kathy Bates in “Misery.”
"Hello, Vicky," she said. Groan. Minus points for getting my name wrong. She poured me a cup of weak coffee and we sat down at a table littered with old newspapers on top and an aging yellow lab lying underneath. I copped an attitude, kept my arms folded across my chest, and tried not to breathe in too deeply lest I contract leptospirosis from the cat fumes.
"What's your subject?" Linda began. Without hesitation I answered, "Marcus."
"Marcus loves you," she said. "But you're not going to get married."
Groan again. Not a good start. I had to explain, "Oh, but we were married. For six years. Marcus died nine months ago."
This took her aback. In fact, shocked is the word I would use to describe her response. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea.” And I’m paying how much for this??? I hugged my arms tighter around my chest. She paused for a few moments. Was she trying to channel Marcus? Eventually she settled back into her black leather swivel chair, wiped a few tears from her eyes (bonus points for having a soft heart) and began our hour-long appointment.
Here's the thing about psychics: you never know what you're going to get from them. Most often they're wrong. (See above.) But what keeps me going back is that they almost always tell you what you need to hear, positive things, things that may simply affirm what you already know but just need to be reminded of. Even if it's just some basic reassurance that in spite of your best efforts to sabotage your life -- or someone you love dies and you think you can't keep living -- everything is going to be okay. In other words, life goes on.
Reassurance, though, costs money. At $125 for a session, this alone is a reason why I don’t make a regular practice of seeing psychics. But sometimes when you’re desperate a few extra bucks can be justified. That’s one tank of gas for the RV. And if I don’t buy that dress I had my eye on…
(PHOTO: The psychic was right. The wet ground is communicating with me – right through the hole in the bottom of my left rain boot!)
As I had hoped, Linda had some affirming things to say. But she also shared insights I didn't agree with. Therefore, I felt compelled to do a Yes-No tally of her comments to see if my "reading" was worth the time and expense. Or if it was going to be like my haircut and color -- a total waste of precious funds! Here we go.
1. Marcus loves you. -- YES
Final tally: 10 YES, 3 NO.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
My sister remembers her first time on a stage like this. She told me that the feeling was so powerful, so addictive, it formed her entire future. She knew at that precise moment, hearing all that clapping -- just for her -- at the age of four, that she was going to be an actress. And that's what she did, she became an actress, and a successful one at that.
So I sat there and wondered, what are all these little girls thinking right now? Are they so smitten by this glorious moment that they're going to spend their lives seeking to recreate this stage-loving feeling? What will they grow up to be? Will some of them prove to be such talented dancers they'll end up in the New York City Ballet? Or will some go the other direction, maybe become strippers. Will they become doctors? CEOs? Pastry chefs? Pie Bakers?! Will they win scholarships to Harvard? Will they get into drugs and drop out of high school? Will they have children? Will they get cancer? Have their hearts broken? Will they be freelance writers who marry sexy, smart German men, work really hard at the marriage, threaten divorce only to lose their husbands to ruptured aortas and become grieving widows? Do they have any idea of what life holds for them? To look at their beautiful cherubic faces, it was clear. No. They have no clue. Lucky them. Lucky, lucky them.After the little girls took their bow, the older girls came on stage. These 14- and 15-year-olds didn't inspire the same kind of wonder. It was clear they were already forming their life's direction, already having created some kind of history. By their wild gyrations these girls expressed what I was feeling at that age: Let me out of the house, I'm ready to see the world! I'm ready to have sex! Okay, maybe not all of them. But there were a few suggestive hip-hop numbers that indicated their innocence had left the building.The recital ended and the lobby filled with parents handing bouquets of roses to their happy dancers, exuberant girls with cheeks glowing pink from all that rouge and adrenaline. Between glimpsing all this hope for the future and reflecting on all my nostalgia, it was well worth the white knuckle RV drive in the rain.
But it wasn't my musing and memories that stand out. It was one specific moment, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of thing. My niece spotted me sitting in the second row, next to her dad (my brother Patrick), and flashed me the biggest, most magnificent smile, a smile that said, "Look at me, Aunt Beth. Isn't this cool? I'm so glad you're here." Glad I'm here? I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world right now! That moment made me forget about everything else -- my grief over Marcus, selling my pie TV show, the Iraq war, the Gulf oil spill, my overdue taxes -- even if just for a few blissful minutes. Which is why I'm already looking forward to next year's recital. No matter how far I have to travel for it.