Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Pie is a Lie

The “Cake vs Piedebate has been going on for some time. I have never taken a side because I tend to fall into the “whatever is being served at
the time is my favourite dessert” category. While driving my aunt to the airport, she told me to stop by a particular bakery on the way back and get cannolis for everyone. When I arrived at the bakery, they had a yummy selection of goodies and I bought an eclectic mix of things to take to my remaining family.

Upon my arrival home I was greeted by eager young cousins who saw that I was carrying a cake. Before I could even make it into the door, my youngest cousin looked up at me with the biggest puppy dog eyes I have ever seen and said, “No pie?” I hadn’t gotten any pie because I had decided on cake/cannoli/biscotti/cookies.

My lack of pie was apparently more than my cousin could handle and he stomped off in a huff. I laid out an array of baked goods on the counter and then told my cousin we could go pick out a pie. I drove back to the bakery and he picked out a “Torta di Tagliatelle.”

It made me wonder: What dessert is better? Is there a clear winner in the “Cake vs Pie” debate?

The researcher in me wanted to know, so I sent out an “official” text to everyone on my contact list. I learned two things from this:

  1. Don’t send out a “Group MMS” on the iPhone because it confuses people and they blame me.
  2. There really isn’t a clear winner in this conflict!

The results came back:

Cake: 65
Pie: 64

Even though cake was the winner by a single vote, I can’t decide if that is a large enough margin to consider cake the winner. I have to take a lot of variables into consideration (mainly the fact that many of my friends don’t take anything seriously) and even I can’t really decide which side I’m on!

Trying to decide between the two desserts is difficult, because they are really quite different. I think I will always be one of those people who is just happy to have a piece of whatever amazing confection is in front of me. As far as my friends, it would be a lot of fun to have a “Team Cake vs Team Pie” challenge and see which group can valiantly defend their choice in a “Winner Bake All” fight to the finish.

Question: Which side are YOU on? Why? Share a recipe?

Advertisements

Serene Missouri

Sometimes I realize how beautiful Missouri really is after I come back from an extended leave. The sky was so gorgeous yesterday that I had to capture it. The wide open spaces scattered throughout this State are strangely idyllic. I promised this wouldn’t become a photography blog and yet I keep posting photos!

20110922-083718.jpg

Kittens Are Cute

Yesterday, an adorable kitten found it’s way to my parent’s house. I pretty much fell in love with it and I am hoping it stays around! I gave it food/water/shelter in hopes that it will become part of our family. My dad was less than pleased, but I think he will come around.

I would love to find it a good home or even help it find it’s way back home, but it’s always difficult placing stray cats.

20110921-072341.jpg

Found: The Perfect Sunday

Last weekend, I found the elusive “Perfect Sunday.” It occurred when I was visiting the Lake of the Ozarks with family. Most of my Sunday’s back home in California consist of fitting all the errands I couldn’t find time for in the week, into a single day. They are normally not relaxing and they definitely do not prepare me for the work-week ahead of me. This particular Sunday, however, was quite different.

I woke up around 8:30 a.m., and was actually able to stay in bed until 9:30 a.m. The bed was warm and the breeze from the open window kept the room at a perfect temperature. Around 9:45 a.m., I made my way downstairs and there was tea brewing, lox, tartines and fruit. All I had to do was fill my plate. I made tartines w/ schmear (lox/capers/chive cream cheese), had a cup of proper tea and mounded a bowl with delicious fruit. After grabbing my Nook and setting up camp by the fire pit, I spent at least an hour reading by the fire. I didn’t even notice my family was gone until about 20 minutes in and even so, I just continued to relish my time.

After breakfast, I went for a quick run (only 2 miles) since I didn’t really know my way around and then soaked in the massive tub for a bit. By the time I had finished my bath, my family had returned from their errands and had set about cleaning up breakfast. I dressed in something warm (it was really chilly) and joined them downstairs. Instead of television or video games, my mother broke out the board games. We played a game I had never heard of called “Farkle.” Needless to say, I won. That is, until my father had a ridiculous “hand” and rolled four consecutive times for a grand total of 2,600 points. He edged me out by 200 points and danced around the table for a good 5 minutes. When we tired of Farkle, I suggested Catch Phrase and the game lasted at least an hours. My mother and I versus my brother and my dad. It took my mother a bit to get in a groove, but once she did we were unstoppable. The two of us easily won and my mother said that meant we got to pick whatever movies we wanted.

While I went through our DVD’s, my mother made hot chocolate and Nutella crackers. I ended up choosing, The Apartment and my mother picked Miracle. Even though I’m not a fan of sports films, it was nice to spend time with my family. We casually talked with each other throughout the movie and hearing my family talk about my uncle really helped. For the first time I felt like I was really able to grieve and my family was there to comfort me.

When the movies ended, it was late into the afternoon and we needed to head home. Even though I didn’t have to work the next day, my family did. We packed everything into the car (including one very rambunctious miniature pinscher). On the drive home I listened to music and read. My brother fell asleep with the dog on his lap and my mother graded papers. The car ride was silent, except when we stopped for ice cream at this tiny stand by the road. They had this delicious salted butterscotch sundae and I was in heaven all the way home.

Pulling into the driveway of my parents house, I felt relaxed and oddly contented. Though I had dreaded spending a weekend stuck at the Lake of the Ozarks with my family, it turned out it was exactly what I needed. The entire weekend went famously and I have to admit that I was a little sad to leave.

I know that we will be leaving for New Jersey soon and the weight of the situation will hit me when I actually see my uncles family. My hope for them is that they can still have what I had this weekend, even without my uncle. What I don’t want to happen is that their family disintegrates because of the stress that comes with his passing. I hope that they can find comfort in each other and understand that the bonds they share with each other are unlike anything else.

Lake View

This isn’t going to turn into a photography blog. I’m not a great photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I took a few shots at the Lake of the Ozarks the weekend I visited with family. I will post them over the next few days and then I will get back to my regularly scheduled posting.

This is the view from the side deck of the house. The clouds were really amazing!

Quick Pic

Just a quick photo that I took. It rained pretty much every day, but there was a break in the weather on Saturday. I was able to snap this picture from our dock. I thought the iPhone did a pretty good job!

20110918-120541.jpg

On Flying

After you read this blog post, you may hate me. I may come off as a spoiled brat when you read this. I’m really not, I just do not like rude people!
So, on to the real reason for this post which is…flying commercial.
For the last few years I have been unbelievably lucky to have access to a friend’s plane. I haven’t had a reason to book a commercial flight for some time and I kind of forgot how awful it is. My flight wasn’t a long one, Los Angeles to Kansas City is only about 3.5 hours (non-stop). I had a single, small carry-on and then one checked bag that I’m sure was over packed.
I arrived at the airport 2 hours before my departure and the check-in process was painful. I tried to check-in at one of the kiosks, but it refused to take my flight information. I waited in the long line at the desk and when I finally got to the front, the woman told me that I should have tried the self check-in kiosk. I told her that I had and it rejected my information. She then asked me to spell my name four times and explained that my name was flagged as a “misspelling,” which is why the kiosk didn’t work.
After I had my bag checked, I headed to the lounge area to wait. Several small children were either crying or screaming while their parents pretended not to hear them. One of the younger boys ran right into my side and then pushed me out-of-the-way. When I shot him a “you need to behave” glance, he stuck out his tongue and ran off to his inept parents.
When we were finally ready to board, they began to call out each section individually. I was amazed at the number of people who disregarded the very specific section they were boarding or were just too important to care. I sat in the back, waiting for them to call my number and watched the rest of the people I would be sharing the plane with fight it out à la Thunderdome for a 2 second head start. A head start down the ramp to wait in line for another 5 minutes, brilliant.
Once I was on the plane, I took my seat in the front. When I went to stow my carry-on I noticed my bin was already full. Full from what? I’m not sure. I asked the attendant about the bag that was already in the bin and she said it was probably from someone who had already been seated in the back. This blew my mind. Why would someone not put their bag into the bin over their seat? I wanted to rip the bag down, find it’s owner and explain logistics to him. The flight attendant asked if I wanted her to stow my bag and I told her that was fine. I’m not sure where my bag ended up.
During the flight I encountered the following:
– The man seated behind me had unbelievably horrible body odor
– The same man’s son kept kicking the back of the seats, even after I asked him to stop
– The woman sitting across from me would not try to stop her child from screaming
– When I offered her little boy Skittles (he was screaming, “I WANT CANDY!”) she snapped her head at me and said, “He doesn’t need candy. You are obviously not a parent.”
– The cookie they served me was so hard and cold, it was inedible.
I’m sure it seems silly for me to freak out about flying commercial, but when you are stuck with a group of people for an extended period you want those people to not be rude. You want to be comfortable and not feel like those around you are actively trying to annoy you.Is this post a bit of a rant? Yes. Is it a well-deserved rant? Probably not. I tend to get bent out of shape pretty easily, especially when I’m forced out of my comfort zone. I hope that I can take away something positive from this experience, perhaps it will prove to me that I really do need to just relax and “chill out.” I will, however, try to find another way home to Los Angeles so that I don’t freak out at some innocent little kid on the flight home.

I am exact and merciless, but I love you

When I was still living in New York City, one of my uncles would always take me to McCarren Park to people watch. We would play games, eat mazurka and watch pick-up baseball games in the afternoon. Anytime he visited us in the city, he would spend the most amount of time with me. He didn’t speak a bit of Polish, but he was very patient with me. I taught him some basic phrases in Polish and he would help me with my ESL work. Even though he was in no way related to me, he always treated me like one of his own children and I enjoyed spending time with him.

The last time I was in NYC, I called him and we went to lunch in Greenpoint. It was nice to see him again, but he looked extremely tired. When it came time to order, he just asked for a salad and I knew something was definitely wrong. I asked him how he was feeling and he mentioned that he had not been given very good news during his last visit to the doctor. He went on to tell me that he was diagnosed with atherosclerosis on top of his diabetes. He had suffered two minor heart attacks since I had last seen him and his prognosis was not promising. I was upset at the thought of losing someone so dear to me and it was hard for me to leave him back in NYC.

A month ago, my aunt called me to let me know that my uncle was doing worse. He had also suffered a stroke and was having difficulties remembering basic things. Even though I had prepared myself and told myself that he could pass away at any time, hearing that his health had failed him even more was disheartening. I thought of my uncle, so vibrant in McCarren Park while we played tag. I remembered all the amazing times I had with him and it was hard to think that such a light would finally go out.

On September 6, I received the phone call that I had dreaded. My uncle had passed away, a heart attack early in the morning. Though it was not shocking news, it was news I didn’t want to hear so soon. It took awhile for it to sink in, I think mostly due to the distance between myself and my family. As I often do, I turned to books to find the words for how I was feeling. I came across a collection of Walt Whitman’s poems and searched for the one that I knew would help me more than any other.

Every time I lose someone close to me, it reminds me of Whitman’s “To One Shortly to Die,” which is one of my favourite poems. If you haven’t read it:

From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you,
You are to die—let others tell you what they please, I cannot
     prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you—There is no escape for
     you.

Softly I lay my right hand upon you, you just feel it,
I do not argue, I bend my head close and half envelope it,
I sit quietly by, I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself spiritual bodily, that is
eternal, you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.

The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions,
Strong thoughts fill you and confidence, you smile,
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines, you do not mind the weeping
friends, I am with you,
I exclude others from you, there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate, I congratulate you.

This poem has always given me some form of comfort, the type of comfort that can only come from words. The nature of the poem, confronting the truth, head-on and then offering comfort after. It is the perfect poem for the solitude that one seeks after the death of someone you care about and it will, hopefully, offer me solace once again.