the hyphens that define my life

Pie Camp September 9, 2013

With all of yesterday’s drama, I almost forgot to research an ad I saw in the Sunday edition of Spokesman-Review for a pie-in-the-big-sky culinary event introducing Upper Crust, a sophisticated Pie Camp featuring the “Pie Whisperer” Kate McDermott at Paws Up Resort in Greenough Montana.

What? Pie Camp? Sign me up! My super talented cousin goes to knitting camp, certainly I should go to Pie Camp.

Who is this Pie Whisperer? I don’t watch TV so I assumed she is someone of Food Network fame.

Doesn’t “paws up” mean you’re dead? What kind of resort is this? Where is Greenough Montana?

Let’s draw the line in the sand right there to show my ignorance and socio-economic class. Now that poor and stupid boundaries of this discussion are drawn, let’s continue, shall we?

I started on Amazon to find Kate McDermott’s cookbook. If you whisper to pies, you should have a book. No book.

Who is Kate McDermott? A Google search informed me that Kate McDermott is a reknown pie maker that the likes of Dorie Greenspan (one of my favorites) is quoted on Ms. McDermott’s Art of The Pie website (, “I would do anything to take an Art of the Pie class from Kate.” I don’t know who Ms. MsDermott is, but she is obviously someone that I should know! On her website, she offers her regular crust and gluten-free options. Kerrygold butter seems to be her wingman.

Ms. McDermott is a fellow Washingtonian from Seattle that has people bending over backwards to take her pie classes. Again, I need to go to pie camp!

Next I Googled Paws Up Resort. Let me backpeddle here. Paws Up doesn’t mean you’re dead, it means you surrender to glamping in incomparable luxury and unspoiled wilderness. You know I’m a sleeping bag on the ground in a tent kind of camper. Though I love a great resort and have stayed at several, I’ve never glamped, definitely not like what Paws Up has to offer.

Clicking on Events and finding Upper Crust, I nearly choked on my Sunday morning coffee when I saw the price. For a mere starting price $5,361 you receive 3-nights inclusive package for two. Sorry kids, no semester of college, no soccer or video games or food. Mom needs to go to four classes at camp, which I could swap out classes for shooting clays or horseback riding.

Here I am hoping to win a blue ribbon and $10 prize for my pie at the county fair while serious money is being spent and people are travelling from all over to learn to bake pie. Really? Hmph! (Dear Boss, There is serious money to be made in pie…I may need time off to investigate. Wife of Boss, please share my thoughts, since he’s too busy to read my blog himself).

Though I’m outclassed financially (bottom crust, not upper crust apparently), I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need no dang pie camp to bake me some pies. Some damn good pies at that, thank you very much.

I stomped around the house tonight and squaked over the ridiculousness of the whole thing, then shut up and made a blackberry pie using the local Green Bluff berries we picked last month. My sweet as pie (today) seven-year old suggested “we” should make a pie every week. God love him! Of course, he quickly followed this up with the great idea to stuff as many Hershey’s bar into a pie and see what happens. I agreed to make a chocolate cream pie next, so our weekly tradition is now set in stone, with his dad’s eager agreement.

As soon as I served the blackberry pie tonight, my charming seven-year old quickly asked, “When do we get pumpkin pie?”

I’m sorry, Ms. McDermott, I have no time to attend your camp, I’m too busy baking pies.

pie 1

Here’s the morale to my story: Cook for your audience. Though my pies may not be $5K worthy to the upper crust, my family loves them and that, my friends, is priceless.


Bury Me in Books August 28, 2013

My love for reading is beyond books. Subscriptions to newspapers and a ridiculous number of magazines prove this.  I just love stories at any time, any where.  I riddle new poeple I meet with questions so I can understand their story.  If driving in the car, I listen to an audio book or NPR public radio to hear world stories and views.  My mind is stimulated through learning how the threads of the fabric of our lives are woven together.  That is, until I trip on the threads and find myself down the rabbit hole in Wonderland.

Recently, Spokane news reported the tragic story of two teenagers that beat an 88-year-old man to death with a flashlight outside the Eagles Lodge in North Spokane.  I looked up the address of the Eagle’s Lodge when I read this report to see how far away from my door did this horrific tragedy occur.  Thankfully, far enough away for me not to give a second thought.  In the paper this morning, the teenagers claim that the old man shorted them in a crack cocaine deal and they beat him as the result.  The plot thickens.

Today, as I drove north on Division, turned right on Francis and made a left on Lidgerfeld, to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, I found myself on the same street, driving past the Eagles Lodge, where the incident occurred.    Hello.  I’m new to town.  Have I found myself suddenly in a drug zone? Is this a safe area?  Eek.  I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car, and hustled on into the DMV and took care of my business.  I mentioned the incident to the DMV clerk and she was, at first, oblivious to the entire ordeal.  When she came to her senses, she recalled the event and said the teenagers should be hung and quartered.   I told her of the news update of a drug deal gone bad and a switch flipped.  “Oh,” she said “Doesn’t that change your perspective.” Not having formulated an opinion, it was clearly not my perspective that had changed.

Correction.  My perspective has changed.  I am now an official Washingtonian and Spokanite and a card-carrying member of the Spokane Public Library.

Careful folks, I’m armed with books and dangerous.

I have, due to the overwhelmingly enormity of the challenge, given up on the New York/LA Times Best Seller’s lists.  I am exhausted from reading the same formula authors too.  I do love a good book list though, so when I saw “50 Great Books That Will Change Your Life” in Real Simple magazine, I thought this would be a great list to start my personal reading club of one.

Here’s the list: 

At first glance, I appreciated the humor, depth and variety of this list.  I was thrilled to check off The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Little Engine That Could, Of Mice and Men, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (I have this one memorized) as books I have read.  Starting at the top, I read and crossed off About Alice, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in recent weeks.

Then the list starts to agitate me. What the heck?  Book #4 on the list, Apartments for the Affluent:  A Historical Survey of Buildings in New York by Andrew Alpern is available on for $179.66 in used condition and for $895.00 in collectible condition.  My local library doesn’t carry this book nor does my prior library in Southern California.  How then, dear Real Simple, am I supposed to read all the books on this list?  Perhaps requiring that the books recommended be available to share with readers should have been considered prior to publication or please pick another book. Going for the obscure book on your list to recommend is a good joke. Thanks for the laugh Alexa Hampton, who recommended this book.  Real Simple provides a link to stating that the used price is $45.  This book must be a hot commodity because the price has gone through the roof since publication!

Thanks for the challenge, Real Simple, I’ll accept it.  I will be in New York City in October and I will make the excursion to the Mid Manhattan Library on 5th Avenue and read this book.  Maybe this is an east coast thing?  I’ll be in Seattle in September, I’ll see if they have the book too.

The online list (link provided above), specifically if you click [print], the list is much more manageable and provides great information.  I will stick with the list and have already requested several of the books from the library.

What are you reading?  Where do you get your book recommendations?  If you could only pick one book to recommend, what would it be?

I am currently reading My Life With Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall.  Spokane Public Schools recommends this book as summer reading for 7th graders, (along with Freak the Mighty, My Side of the Mountain and No More Dead Dogs and others) which is good enough for me.  This year, hardly any of the books I have read rise to the top to really challenges my senses. When all else fails, go for humor, so i recommend A.J. Jacobs’ Drop Dead Healthy (or any of his books) as my favorite.

My next read will be Woody Allen’s Without Feathers, recommended on the Real Simple list by my favorite, A.J. Jacobs.  It’s a give and take world.

Happy Reading!