Dec 24, 2010

Personal Pie Man

Many years ago, I was the (reluctant and unskilled) pie maker in the family. Then, one fateful day, I was saved. On that occasion I was under pressure to get 'er done, and the crust was not behaving. In fact, it was being impossible, as only pie crust can be impossible. I was younger then, and less philosophical about cooking. I was, in fact, very impatient when foodstuffs did not behave according to my express command. Silly me. So there I was, wrestling with a recalcitrant crust, getting madder and madder as it got less and less crusty, flaky, and light. And then, just like that, I snapped. I picked up the offending dough and hurled it across the room, where it landed -- thump -- against the dining room wall.

My sweetheart, observing this outburst with alarm, took quick, decisive action, and rushed in to stay my hand, which was reaching for the dough, preparatory to stomping it into the floor. "I'll take over from here," he said with a soothing, manly tone, and thus I was saved and so were all future family pies.

He took over all crust-making duties and I happily fell to filling-maker. Eventually he took over that as well, and nowadays I merely decorate the crust, as the occasion demands. We are not a cake-eating family, so whenever a dessert is needed for potluck, party or family feast, out comes the pie dish, the rolling pin, and the apron. His pie-making renown has spread through our circle of friends, bike teammates and other eclectic groups. He taught a local baker how to make crust, and now she too is noted for her crusts and delicious pies.

Mostly we stick with cherry, since that is my personal favorite and it is quick -- no slicing of fruit or fussing with custard or meringue. The crust goes on the top and I go into artist mode. Well, I'm no artist but I can sense a theme.

And so, with no further fanfare, here is a short history of pies around Arabella's Garden, over the past couple of years.

Thanksgiving 2009 -- my first attempt to use food coloring. Mixed success, I would say.

Mother's Day

Cyclocross Nationals 2009 --this one is a bit abstract, but bicycles are tough! You can see the riders, the crowd, and the characteristic smokestacks in the Old Mill District behind.

Christmas 2009

4th of July party

Bike shop play day retreat in the Ochoco ranger cabin

Cyclocross Nationals post race team party. They were all stars!

Tomorrow is Christmas, and yet another pie will be born. What inspiration will overtake us?

Dec 8, 2010

Wifely duties

You can't really go on what you think 'marriage' is going to mean, starting out in the wedded state as a sweet young thing. It never turns out to be just the big things like 'sickness/health' 'richer/poorer' and so on. Oh, those things are mentioned in the traditional vows for good reason: that stuff happens! But really, that stuff happens whether we get married or not. It's called Life 101. It's just sometimes a bit dicier with a life partner.

But there's other stuff never mentioned in any books I've read about marriage. I suppose it's different for everyone. I for one never expected to need a degree in safety pinning. Who knew my sweetheart would decide to take up bike racing? And keep racing, and keep racing.

He's been through all the versions of the sport as it has evolved in our lifetimes. Road racing, then mountain bike racing, and his current and longstanding love, cyclocross (CX). A slightly wacky, spectator-friendly, late fall/early wintertime sport combining riding, running & leaping over things as an excuse for boys (and girls) to go out and play in the rain, snow, hail, and mud. Hugely popular in Europe since early in the 20th Century, popular and growing in the US in the last 15-20 years, particularly on East and West Coasts.

But back to being a wife. Being a CX wife calls on all my years of experience pinning on numbers. Yes, that's right. All those years of piano lessons, advanced university studies in teaching, on top of my gardening skills, cooking, and brilliant conversational abilities come down, at this time of year, to my ability to pin paper numbers onto a skin-tight lycra racing suit quickly, accurately and without sticking the wearer. I did stick someone, but good, once. It was not my sweetheart, but some hapless guy at a race long ago, desperately looking for someone in the crowd to pin on his numbers before a road race. When I finished, he straighted up with a really strange, wan look on his face. "Did I get it on right?" "Yes, but I think you pinned it to my SKIN........" Oops.

Here's what it looks like, when done correctly, during this morning preparation for CX Nationals, held in Bend this weekend:

Each racer's packet includes 4 numbers, 2 small ones for the shoulders, 2 larger ones for the hips. These go on either side, for the cameras & officials to be able to -- if the CX gods smile -- read the riders' numbers as they cross the finish line covered in mud.

Then out comes the junk drawer's box of safety pins and other objects. The race packet provides 4 pins for 4 numbers. Go figure.

Next, standing by the nice warm fire, the racer-to-be assumes the position.

Pins in hand

the Wife begins her onerous task. The final result

checked in the bathroom mirror

Next comes the embrocation -- heat-infusing liniment to protect bare legs from the cold. Sort of. Very pungent!


Super secret shirt

Wool shirt

Tricky arm movements needed to get skin-tight suit over all these layers


Raincoat for warmup

Happy racer, headed for today's seeding Time Trial

Early morning rainbow: a good omen?

Air in tires

Bikes on the car

Away he goes

Perfect race conditions?

He races at 10:01 this morning PST. Wish him luck? The big race is tomorrow at 8:30 am. Stay tuned.
Follow the action on Don's own blog at right: Don's Sunnyside Blog


If a blogger doesn't blog, does anyone notice? Two months is a long time for anyone, especially Li'l Ned, to be silent. Changes in the garden, changes in life, inner changes. Though I am normally a fairly communicative person, when emotional waters run especially deep, I tend to hunker down and become hermitlike. We've had some big changes here in Arabella's Garden, in the last couple of months. Integration is still happening. It's all good, no worries --- but I've been pretty quiet on the blogosphere during that time.

All the more reason to get back and do some updates!

First, an apology of sorts.

When last we visited the garden, there was a *&^%$@#%^& deer in the middle of it, munching on the beans. Ned had some pretty hot words to say about the neighbor lady who feeds the deer. However, further research and journalistic honesty compel me to reveal that said neighbor is no longer feeding the deer. My apology is only half-hearted, however, since the deer are still around, cruising the 'hood in search of their former food supply. Grrrrrrrrrr......

Since then, we've had late season harvest:

early snow (again!):

fall hiking:

a bit of fun with the gang in the Ochocos:

miracle chickens!

and, most recently

Stay tuned for details.