Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pigmy Will's "Pie Day"

I’ve been getting some random emails lately from people who have found my pie blog. One was from a local Terlingua resident who felt sorry for me after my last post, in which I stated that I spend a lot of time alone. He wants to introduce himself. (Well, good luck breaking into “Fort Betty,” my landlady’s compound over which she keeps a very protective watch.) Another was from someone offering a gluten free crust recipe, which, from its list of ingredients (including potato starch, vinegar, and xanthan gum) sounds so vile I wouldn’t bother trying to make it, let alone post the recipe. (My advice to the GF crowd: Stick with flour-free pie variations like apple crisp. And anyway, what the hell is xanthan gum?!) Most recent, and dare I say most random, is this: a Pigmy Will cartoon entitled “Pie Day.” (Who the hell is Pigmy Will?)

Normally, I might have just looked at it, thought “Oh, that’s….hmmm, what could you call this besides odd?….cute?… maybe cute in an odd way” and forgotten about it. (Guaranteed with my memory I would forget.) But today was one of “those days” when I couldn’t – and didn’t – get out of bed as I have been bawling my eyes out over my divorce (having just finalized the settlement yesterday) and am still nursing the subsequent hangover from 3 margaritas last night. So instead of finishing the brilliant essay I had started yesterday on Pie versus Cake (which you will see when I am more fit), I am taking the lazy blogger’s way and repurposing someone else’s brilliance. Please note, I didn’t have the energy to research who is the artist behind this video, what their mission is, and WHY PIE, so at the risk of promoting something I cannot stand behind….here you go.

As for me, “Pie Day” provided 28 seconds of distraction. Now that that’s over, I’m taking my headache, my heartache and my box of Kleenex and going back to bed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Patty Griffin is "Making Pies"

I spend an inordinate amount of time alone here in Terlingua, Texas. If not for bumping into my landlord when she walks her dog in the mornings I could go for days without any human contact or conversation. And apart from the chirping birds and the occasional clap of thunder, it’s also incredibly quiet here. (I’m not complaining, as I am hardly longing for the sounds of honking horns and sirens!) But there is a need for some kind of “noise” to provide stimulus. When Kurt Vonnegut died, National Public Radio’s obituary said “Vonnegut believed music is the meaning of life.” I took note and have allowed more music in my life ever since.

It is for these reasons I love listening to the radio. But a radio station in Terlingua, Texas is not your ordinary radio station!

KYOTE-FM – whose irreverent slogans include “Perhaps the best radio in Far Out West Texas” and “Community supported radio, strangely enough for THIS community” -- plays a diverse range of music. Unlike other radio stations that would have an hour (let alone an entire station) devoted to one genre, here on 100.1 FM, you can hear Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Foreigner, Dave Matthews Band, Dire Straits, Jackson Browne, Grateful Dead and some cowboy honky tonk – all within the same hour. The exciting thing is you never know what you’re going to hear next. Some days they play the same song three times in a row. Other days the power goes out and you hear nothing.

There is one artist – a female folk singer -- they play over and over. Her voice is distinct, somewhat haunting and sorrowful, but pretty, a voice that sticks with you. I didn’t know who it was for two months as they never announce the songs. (The upshot to this, of course, is that there are no interruptions – and no ads.) I finally emailed the radio station, which is run by a blind man who calls himself “Uh Clem.” Yes, it did occur to me that a blind man isn’t going to be able to read my email, but I sent it anyway, describing a few lyrics I had remembered, and asked if he could tell me who it was, and in return, as an avid listener, I would be happy to help support the radio in any way I could.

To my surprise I got a prompt reply (KYOTE radio is apparently not running on Terlingua Time!). “Patty Griffin is the artist you are hearing. To support us, you can buy t-shirts and bumper stickers at the Leapin’ Lizard art gallery. And in the fall we want to have a fundraiser for the station.” Fundraiser? My first thought is…..bake sale! Or maybe a pie auction! (Stay tuned.)

Meanwhile, I run into my neighbor, Ralph, who hosts his own radio show on KYOTE-FM on Thursday nights. “I am hearing you play a lot of Patty Griffin songs on your show,” I tell him.
“Yeah, she’s great. You know she has a song called ‘Making Pies,’ don’t you?”
“What?! I have to hear it!” I practically run home to get online and look up the song. I find it on You Tube, I go to save it in my “Pie” favorites folder, and wouldn’t you know it – it is already saved in there. This is one of the reasons my husband wants a divorce – my memory is terrible and it usually takes hearing information two or three times before it sticks in my little peabrain. Apparently, this annoys him.

Well, I won’t forget it now. I not only have two copies of “Making Pies” (which, sadly, is not the most uplifting song -- see the lyrics) on my computer, I now have an entire Patty Griffin album on my iPod. That way, the next time the power goes out and KYOTE-FM offers nothing but dead air space, I’ll have someone to keep me company and remind me there is indeed a meaning to life.

NOTE: KYOTE radio is doing a 30-day trial on To tune in online, go to and search for KYOTE or Terlingua.

Pie Baker's Block

I am experiencing an unexpected bout of pie baker’s block. Mimi needed pies for her shop this past weekend and – in spite of her letting me do six loads of laundry at her hotel last week, per our laundry-for-pie barter arrangement – I have not held up my end of the deal. I haven’t made a pie in two weeks now – unless you count that disastrous dough I rolled last week, which my friend Angela said looked like a map of the world. “I can even make out the African and European continents,” she commented. Well, the world map ended up in the garbage can, where it joined the dead spider.

My lack of pie productivity cannot be blamed on burn out -- I used to bake at least 50 pies a week when I worked in Malibu and I never got tired of it. It cannot be blamed on the scorching desert heat – temps dropped to a chilly 80 degrees this weekend. And I cannot use my usual excuse – lack of ingredients -- as I currently have an overstock of Granny Smith apples taking up space in my bedroom, the only air-conditioned room in the house, so as to preserve the precious fruit.

Nor do I consider my pie baking lapse to be a symptom of the “Terlingua Procrastination Syndrome” that Mimi has warned me about. If I was procrastinating then I would have also put off organizing my 2008 tax receipts (thank god for that extension) and paying that delinquent parking ticket from LA, both tasks of which I (finally!) accomplished today.

I suppose my baker’s block could have something to do with matters of the heart. It’s either a lingering curse from baking that pecan pie for the married man, or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that my husband and I are filing for divorce this week. (There, I said it. Now everyone knows.)

Times like these would certainly call for pie therapy. “Bake and you will feel better,” has always been my mantra. It’s true, it works. Even my soon-to-be-ex-husband told me a few days ago, “One thing you’re really good at is pulling yourself out of a bad mood.” He should know, as I made a LOT of pies during our six years of marriage. (I'm not blaming, I'm just saying...) And yet, in spite of knowing how much better I’ll feel once I start peeling a few apples, I cannot drag myself off the couch and into the kitchen.

Further contemplation makes me realize it’s time -- in the spirit of change -- to make room for something new… Something chocolate.

And that’s how inspiration returns at last. “I know what to do,” I tell my friend Nan. “Apples be damned. I’m going to bake brownies.”