Tag Archives: english vocabulary

LSS: One more day to get your pie on

You’ve got today and tomorrow to get your pie on.
Yep, February is National Pie Month. It’s time to make the most of it.
Foodies are asking the cupcake and the macaroon to move over as they anticipate the humble pie to take the sweet-tooth world center stage.
For a girl who enjoys a good cupcake and is a total macaroon convert, pushing aside those two treats doesn’t come easy. Yet, there is something so right about a good pie.
Pies and I go way back.
My great-grandmother made an apple pie fine and flaky. She lived a block away from my childhood home and frequently would call in the middle of an afternoon to say she had an apple pie ready.
I didn’t always fully appreciate the offer. Which goes back even further. My great-grandmother didn’t coddle young children. When I stayed with her in pre-school, I can’t swear that she actually locked the doors to keep us outside, but she might as well have. Children were meant to stay outside and play.
And we did.
Of her scores and scores of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I was fortunate enough to live the closest. Don’t get me wrong, living the closest came with a price. I was often her errand girl. My bike served me well, and she knew I could be there in three minutes or less, which is the kind of service she expected.
Sad to say, but I was 15 by the time I realized what a gift this woman was — which was about the time she seemed to begin thinking I wasn’t half bad myself. The pie calls started coming more frequently. She and I would sit and visit, going through cigar boxes of old photographs.
Her talking.
Me listening.
Both of us eating pie.
A year after I graduated from college, I left Mississippi and moved out West. She was used to sons and grandsons leaving. In her mind, I’m not sure my leaving was supposed to have happened.
Before I left, one day she and I were eating pie, and she said, “Now, tell me, are you going to cross an ocean?”
I explained that I wasn’t, which seemed to help.
About four months after I left, I was making arrangements to fly home for Christmas. I was 23 and it was my first-ever plane ride. The day before the grand event occurred, my phone rang.
When I said, “Hello,” my great-grandmother began to sing “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain.” She got to “We’ll have chicken and dumplings when she comes,” before she took a breath.
She had not called since I moved away. Long distance phone calls were a big deal, and she was trying to make the most of it.
She paused and asked what it was I’d like to eat when I got home. I told her apple pie would be just the ticket.
She fixed at least four pies for me during the week I was home. On the day I left to head back to the West Coast, it was raining. Just as we were heading out the door for the airport, the phone rang.
It was her.
“I’ve got something for you,” she said. “Stop by on your way to the airport.”
My mom and I loaded my last suitcase and drove the one block to my great-grandmother’s house.
She met me at the door. I stood on her tiny stoop in the rain, and she handed me an apple pie she had forced into an old five-gallon ice-cream bucket.
“This is in case you get hungry,” she said as she hugged me bye.
Standing there in the cold rain, I opened the lip of the plastic container and could see the steam rising.
To this day, I can smell the nutmeg from that pie.

LSS: Zen and the Art of Knitting

I have an edge.
And, I’m not talking about a competitive advantage edge.
Instead, it’s one of those not-so-pleasant edges — certainly not strength of character. All in all, that little line of vice and has gotten me into untold trouble through the years.
Finally, at age 46, I have found the cure for the less charitable side of my nature.
Knitting.
I’m not saying that I’ve discovered a remedy for all that ails me, but I will say that knitting takes the edge off. All that extra energy usually bumbling around my head? The general culprit of that has stirred up trouble in my world for years? With knitting, it dissipates. It’s been the genesis of the strife in my life for years. Now, I have a place for it.
Knit.
Purl.
Knit.
Purl.
I don’t mind long meetings anymore. I simply view them as a chance to do more rows. My husband prefers driving when we go on long trips? It’s no problem now. Telephone calls that take me away from what the task at hand? Not a difficulty these days.
Knit.
Purl.
Knit.
Purl.
How much edge I need to take off depends on whom you ask. My youngest daughter probably believes it’s a potholder’s worth, but there are days when I’m certain my husband thinks it’s a good idea if I get cranking on a cover for his old pick-up truck.
To be clear, I am not an expert knitter. Basically, I’m a newbie. I learned long, long ago and haven’t done it in nearly 15 years. Maybe I wasn’t ready or didn’t need the relief knitting now provides me back then. I haven’t been back at it for long, but what it’s done for my head (and subsequently for my heart) has made me a believer. It’s been a boon to my spirits — and likely to those around me too.
Knitting makes me a better and more focused listener. After all, in reality, knitting is just tying one simple knot after another. Its simplicity is its brilliance. For me, the repetitive motion is conducive to thinking and stirs the creativity in my bones.
To take its zen-ness a step further (and this may seem strange in concept), but there’s something about knitting that reminds me of yoga. It’s very focusing, but allows just enough room for the mind to wander and promotes good conversation with those around you.
Knit.
Purl.
Knit.
Purl.
One of the people who re-taught me how to knit explained to me that the Red Cross taught her to knit when she was in high school during World War II. She said students would get out of class to learn knitting and have time in school to knit create helmet liners and fingerless gloves for soldiers serving in the European and Pacific campaigns. Her story made me wonder why our country abandoned habits like that. What a good means of reminding the rest of us of the service of so many. What a good way for high school students to spend time. What a gift for students in that moment and in their futures — on so many levels.
For example, knitting has helped me to recognize and consider some patterns in my life. I get in over my head because I don’t do sitting around well. Having a fun, productive outlet to use up that excess energy cures that sitting around feeling that leads to over-committing. As much as I’d like to plant my feet firmly in the opposite camp, perhaps the Puritan work ethic has influenced me than I sometimes admit.
All in all, I find it good for the soul. Plus, there’s some magic in turning a piece of string into something wearable, warm and wonderful.