Spiderman: Camilo Vallegas

I know I’m not alone in saying, “I love this guy!”

September 28, 2008
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Camilo “Spiderman” Villegas rallied from a five-shot deficit on Sunday and capped the comeback with a two-putt par on the first playoff hole to defeat Sergio Garcia and win the Tour Championship. Villegas closed with a four-under 66, that included eight birdies, to post seven-under-par 273. Garcia, playing one group behind Villegas, shot one-over 71 to join Villegas in the playoff.

Meet Spiderman:

Rain and Reading

We’re having a regular summer deluge here in SoFLA. Sue Ten reports that the IntraCoastal Waterway has overflowed, but the fisherfolk are still in place, with their aluminum folding chairs and bare feet just ever so slightly under water, and the snapper still biting.

The pie shop is having busy morning. The lightning is keeping people off the range, so they come in to eat pie, instead, and they do admire our new step-stool bookshelves. I’m still stocking the shelves, carrying books down from the crawlspace where some of them have been stored for years.

When I was in the library trade, we had some basic rules for accepting book donations: If they’ve been stored in a basesment or garage, forget it. If they’ve been in an attic, maybe. If they’ve been on “living shelves,” go for it. Books do better when they have a lot of human contact, and that’s a big part of why I want to bring mine out and set them free.

I believe, very sincerely, that private ownership of books is counter-revolutionary, and books lose value when they are locked up. I always cringe a little when people show me their hordes of bookish treasure. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. Books die if they aren’t handled and loved, and the best way to keep them healthy is to keep them moving.

Accordingly, this little collection in the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range will change pretty steadily as people find just the right thing to read, and as they take my books, they’ll bring me the ones they’ve been keeping under grow lights in their own back rooms. I’ve never worked in a library — or pie shop — where I didn’t come out ahead on this kind of proposal.

I’m starting, of course, with some of my favorite golf stories — The Legend of Bagger Vance, Golf in the Kingdom, and even Slim and None, as soon as I’m done reading it. Slim and None is a Dan Jenkins’ story, and although it’s not as much fun as Jenkins’ Baja Oklahoma, or as pithy as Semi-Tough, it does shine with that good old boy brand of humor. Taking that into consideration, I’ve got to wonder why I like it so much, but I do.

I rate Jenkins high as an entertaining writer, and I feel the same way about Peter Gent (North Dallas 40), and William Kinsella (whose Shoeless Joe later became Field of Dreams).

Personally, I find men to be the great mystery of life, and, although I do like chick-lit stories like Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series, I have never especially enjoyed reading vaunted feminist writers. You see, I know how women think. That’s easy. But how men think? Now that is fascinating to me, and it’s certainly easier to read about them than to have to go through the painful process of trying to get them to explain in their own words how and why they’ve chosen a particular path or made a specific decision.

My research on this subject has gone on for years, as I have sought clues in spy novels and crime novels and fiction by James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, and John Grisham. I like trashy books about men, and I like well-written books about men. I’m not ashamed to admit it at all. Sea stories? Pirate tales? Bring them on. Maybe I’ll learn something new. Maybe I’ll solve the puzzle and find eternal happiness. I am, if nothing else, an optimist.

All that aside, I’m sure our bookshelves will have no shortage of golf titles, or cook books. Those, I’m sure, will show up on their own. Myself, I’m bringing in a lot of paperback copies of William Faulkner, too, since I consider him and Henry James to be our greatest American writers. I know a lot of the guys still think Ernie Hemingway is the best of the best, but really? Are they talking about his writing or his lifestyle? No, not for me. It’s the Deep South of Faulkner that talks to me, and carries me into the kitchen to bake sweet-potato pie.

I’ve always liked to read about the South, and not just for the food. And not just Faulkner, but Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, and so many others. They offer a combination of lushness and decay, not unlike the vegetation that once encroached the pie shop’s back door. You know, I think building the driving range was one of the best things I ever did, just to clear the vines and god damn night-blooming jasmine away from the back porch. I think it probably saved my life, or at least set me free, just the way that I like to set books free so they can breathe again.

Yes, the natural world is lovely, and all that, but these days I find the most intense beauty in the arc of the golf balls at night. As as soon as it stops raining, I’ll grab a book or two, and a big glass of lemonade, and head out to the back porch. Sparkle Junior is behind the counter serving pie, and if anyone wants to come out and practice, they can just hand me ten bucks for all the balls that they can hit.

No problem, no problem at all. I hope you’ll join me soon.

Obama’s Favorite Pie!

Here’s an excellent news item that I picked up from the Yahoo Shine Channel. I like the attitude of this writer: If you want it, you should have it — at least when it comes to pie. We follow that precept at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, too. You bet we do.

Obama’s Favorite Pie! – Food on Shine.




obama pie


The Wall Street Journal reports that in one of the small, rural towns where Barack Obama was campaigning this year, he asked an aide for a slice of pecan pie to go with his usual dinner of salmon, broccoli and brown rice. But there was none on the menu, and the aide was loath to disappoint him.

Mr. Obama’s even-keeled senior adviser and longtime friend told the aide to forget the pie. Then, she told the senator from Illinois “be careful what you ask for.”

SAYS YUM: “Well, Mr. Obama we have a pecan pie you can eat as often as you like! Sweetened with all natural agave, but not too sweet – and incredibly YUMMY!”

Difficulty: E-Z
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8


2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch pie shell, chilled for an hour if freshly made, defrosted for 10 minutes if frozen.


Because nuts stale quickly, use only the freshest of pecans.


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes until the filling has set.
  4. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.


Metal plates send messages to airport x-ray screeners

I think I’ll have some of these made up with the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range logo on them, and then just give them to my few customers who actually do have the good sense to get out of town once in a while. Then again, using these plates may cause them not to return, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

MAKE: Blog: Metal plates send messages to airport x-ray screeners.

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Diagram 900Px
“One of my favorite artists, Evan Roth, is working on a project that will be released soon – the pictures say it all, it’s a “carry on” communication system. These metal places contain messages which will appear when they are X-Rayed. The project isn’t quite done yet, Evan needs access to an X-Ray machine to take some photos and document. If you have access to an X-Ray machine he’s willing to give you a set of the plates for helping out (email fi5e [at] ni9e.com].”

Void your warranty, violate a user agreement, fry a circuit, blow a fuse, poke an eye out… Welcome to the Make Blog!

Lemon Yogurt Dream Pie

2 envelopes Dream Whip whipped topping mix
1 C lemon yogurt
1 3/4 C milk
2 packages Jell-O lemon instant-pudding mix
1 baked 9-in cinnamon-graham cracker or ginger-snap crust
  • Prepare Dream Whip as directed on package, with 1 C milk. Blend in remaining 3/4 C milk, 1 C yogurt, and pudding mix.
  • Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scrape bowl as necessary.
  • Spoon into pie shell.
  • And you know what comes next: Chill.

The Short-Short Game

Sparkle Junior and I are starting to consider the possibility of adding a putting green to the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range.  When I say “starting to consider,” I mean I talk and Spark nods. This is all fine and good, but I know, too, that every so often, he will do exactly what I suggest, so I have to be careful to use my powers for good, not for evil, at least when I am around him.

This afternoon, we are eating a real simple lemon-yogurt dream pie with a graham cracker crust. I once made this pie for my dad, and he absolutely loved it, right up until the exact second when I told him it had yogurt in it, and that was that. He put his hand on the edge of the pretty little china dessert plate and pushed it away delicately while at the same time pushing his chair back, and then he went outside for a smoke to get the taste out of his mouth.

Spark, though, has no problem with yogurt, or anything else that might spill on the floor and make an unusually sticky mess. I’ve wondered at times if he were not switched at birth with some very tidy baby at the hospital where he was born.  I’ve been to his family home a couple of times, and it never looked fully lived in.  Or maybe his mom just had emptied out a can of that new-house air freshener. I don’t know. Spark’s room, though, always looked a lot like Spark: slightly disheveled and optimistic, decorated with memories of rock ‘n’ roll parties that never really happened.

I wonder sometimes what he thinks about when he’s out on the tractor, and other times I really don’t want to know.

I’m sending him off now to go find a copy of a Putting Green Construction Manual, and that should keep him busy for a while, and I will clean up before the after-work crowd starts to arrive.

I had my first short-game lesson yesterday, and I found it fascinating, especially since Sandra told me how putting greens are built, at a cost of $40,000 to $60,000 per green. (You can buy a lot of Royal Palms for that money, seven or eight, at least.) Of course, my drives are so short that my regular game is a short game, so putting must be my short-short game.

I would love to bring The Morning Guy in on my new construction project, but I really want him to focus more on my game, and tell me how I can improve my performance. Sadly, he seems a bit distracted lately, and I suspect he’s been watching football again, and backing a losing team. That surely must wear a man down after a while. Still, I know he’ll come around and the tips will start to flow, if not from him, then from one of you. (Don’t hold back now.)

It has occurred to me that you may wonder how I ended up owning a driving range without knowing anything about golf, so perhaps I should fill you in. (Pie pun intended.) The pie shop has been in my family for years, and the building is one of those great low-slung Old Florida places, caught in a tangle of overgrown greenery, and the acreage around it was pretty much a mad scramble of vegetation, too.

One Sunday last spring, I was sipping on an O’Doul’s over at The Swing Barn and talking to Sue Ten as we watched Tiger Woods up on her large-screen TV, and I realized I had been watching golf from a far for more than 30 years. I had fallen in love with The Inner Game of Golf in 1977, but I had only played twice, both times on a ramshackle course in rural Arizona where everything was brown, including the greens.

“I think I will take up golf,” I said.

Sue replied silently by drying a couple more glasses and opening another O’Doul’s for me. By the time I finished off that one, the sugar high was starting to kick in.

Sue looked at me warily, and said, “That would be good. You need to do something to get your mind off your divorce and all that crap.”

Crap, indeed. My ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd had managed to deplete my savings account completely and run up my credit cards just as thoroughly, and all I got out of it was more than I wanted to know about everything and anything having to do with Kansas City barbecue, and an all too personal knowledge of the local legal system. I tend to fall for men who are talkers, so you can probably understand why I now like to associate with men like Spark and The Morning Guy, neither of whom shows much interest in talking to me at all. Ever.

That night, I went to a driving range for the first time with my sister Mel, who was visiting from Maine, and I became a believer. Melbie and I had no idea what we were doing, but we did laugh a lot, and we were outside in the early evening enjoying life. The big news for me was how quiet it was. At last, a way to have men in my life without having to listen to them, not that I actually listened that much anyway. I think you know what I mean, and I do apologize if you are one of the men to whom I did not listen. I’m much better now, but I still really prefer that you just send me a note, or leave a message on my answering machine. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

What I did not like about that particular driving range was the hours. I am plagued with insomnia, and when I am plagued, my dear, you can expect to be plagued as well. As the saying goes, When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.

What I wanted was a late-late-night establishment, a place where I could go and put my dreamless state of mind on hold. The pie shop was already open 24-hours a day, but I did not want to work all night, and I already knew that The Morning Guy had a passion for golf, or as much as he has a passion for anything besides maintaining his own comfort zone. We passed a few notes, we struck a deal, and you know the rest.

That was just a few short months ago, and now I am enjoying some smooth sailing on my own. More people eating pie, and more people hitting balls, 24-hours-a-day. And often, as I fall asleep just before dawn in my little turquoise conch cottage down the far end of the lane, I hear The Morning Guy’s motorcycle as he arrives to stock the soda machine and drink coffee with the other morning guys — and sometimes I dream. I do. I dream.

Dreams Can Come True . . . .

I love this story, and I am totally inspired by this adventure.  If this guy — Swiss no less — can fly over the English Channel, then surely I can make a sweet success out of the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range. And who knows what you might be able to do, what with your winning combination of brains, beauty, and talent?  Go for it, people! Go for it! What are you waiting for, anyway?

Swiss man flies over Channel on jet wing

Friday, September 26, 2008

(09-26) 12:59 PDT DOVER, England (AP) —

He had nothing above him but four tanks of kerosene and nothing below him but the cold waters of the English Channel. But Yves Rossy leapt from a plane and into the record books on Friday, crossing the channel on a homemade jet-propelled wing.

Rossy jumped from the plane about 8,200 feet over Calais, France, blasting across the narrow body of water and deploying his parachute over the South Foreland lighthouse, delighting onlookers who dotted Dover’s famous white cliffs, cheering and waving as Rossy came into view.

Backed by a gentle breeze, Rossy crossed the Channel in 13 minutes, averaging 125 miles per hour. In a final flourish, he did a figure eight as he came over England, although the wind blew him away from his planned landing spot next to the lighthouse.

“It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions,” the Swiss pilot said after touching down in an adjacent field. He said he wanted to show, “it is possible to fly, a little bit, like a bird.”

Onlookers scooped up their children, picnics and dogs to race to the landing site as Rossy posed for photographs. His ground crew doused him with champagne, and the pilot swigged greedily from the bottle as he waved to the band of onlookers gathered to cheer him and take pictures with cell phone cameras.

A small airplane zipped across the sky with a banner that read: “Well done Jet Man.”

Rossy said he had watched passenger ferries cutting a path between the Britain and France as he tore through the air.

“I was happy to be faster than them,” he said. The 49 year old said the Channel crossing was the realization of a dream. “That’s the most gratifying thing you can do,” he said.

Rossy’s trip — twice delayed due to bad weather — was meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross the narrow body of water in an airplane 99 years ago.

The South Foreland Lighthouse was the site of Guglielmo Marconi’s experiments with radio telegraphy in 1898. Bleriot used the white building as a target during his pioneering flight, the building’s manager, Simon Ovenden, said.

The Channel has attracted a range of adventurers and stuntmen over the years, most drawn to the 21-mile wide neck of water between Dover and Calais.

Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American doctor John Jeffries were the first to fly from Britain to mainland Europe in a hot air balloon in 1785.

Capt. Matthew Webb braved stinging jellyfish and strong currents to be the first to swim across the Channel in 1875. Other stunts followed: The first hovercraft crossing in 1959, the first human-powered air crossing in 1979.

Geoff Clark, a 54-year-old onlooker from Chatham, in southern England, called Rossy’s flight “a remarkable achievement.”

“We saw the climax of his attempt as he came down to earth with his parachute. It’s been an exciting afternoon,” Clark said.

Rossy’s wing was made from carbon composite. It weighs about 121 pounds when loaded with fuel and carried four kerosene-burning jet turbines. The contraption has no steering devices. Rossy, a commercial airline pilot by training, wiggled his body back and forth to control the wing’s movements.

He wore a heat-resistant suit similar to that worn by firefighters and racing drivers to protect him from the heat of the turbines. The cooling effect of the wind and high altitude also prevented him from getting too warm.

Mark Dale, the senior technical officer for the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, described Rossy’s flight as a “fabulous stunt.”

Rossy, who spent months preparing for the cross-Channel flight, has said he wants to fly across the Grand Canyon in Arizona next.

As for the 13 lonely minutes he spent aloft between England and France, he assured reporters he felt no fear.

“I was under tension. But fear? The day I fear, I don’t go,” Rossy said.

Perfect Timing

I’ve never been someone known for her timing, or at least not for her good timing. Pretty Boy Boyd, my ex-husband, used to tell me at least once a week, “Your timing stinks.” Of course, that retort would usually come right after my weekly suggestion that he find a new place to live. And yet, tonight, my timing is so good that I go through 97 golf balls before the rain starts. And hitting those last three in rain is a pleasure.

After all, I’ve already had more than solid hour of practice, and during most of that time, my new employee Joe Sparkle, Jr., is out on the tractor, scooping up balls. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen anyone operate a tractor quite so slowly or carefully, and it surprises me, since Sparkle Jr. is usually pretty wound up on sugar and caffeine. I suspect that The Morning Guy may have had a word with him at some point about safety, responsibility, and keeping his job.

So, Sparkle Jr. is making his transit, carefully and endlessly, and the late night crowd is, as usual, entrancing me with their high and long arcs. I definitely prefer to practice at night under the lights so I can watch the balls, and tonight we’ve got some good hits going on, even without the metallic clang of new age drivers.

Behind me there is an Asian guy, who is so obsessed with perfection that he continues to stand and work on his swing, long after his bucket is empty. I go over and speak to him for a second, just to make sure he understands that we do now have an “All You Can Hit” policy at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range. For some reason, he looks at me as if I am crazy and goes right on swinging at air. Apparently, he feels he’s already gotten his money’s worth. Myself, I would keep going until I can’t go no more, but the rain ends that little revery.

Speaking of our “All You Can Hit” policy, I had earlier imagined a sort of conveyor belt bringing the balls out to the range, but the engineering concept lost out to the K.I.S.S. method, and I decided that people can just keep refilling their buckets. Too bad, though, I was looking forward to seeing what The Morning Guy would come up with to deliver the balls to the customers. Ah, well.

Tonight I’m getting in some nice swings, myself, but I’m uncomfortably aware that I am wearing the wrong bra. Something about this black underwire just isn’t doing the trick for me. Then I think maybe I can use the aggravation to my advantage, like Tim Robbins wearing a garter belt in Bull Durham. Or maybe not. I find myself longing for my favorite Body by Victoria orange bra, and make a mental note to look for more of the same type next time I’m at the mall, which is at best a twice a year event. Perhaps “the perfect golf bra” will offer The Morning Guy an even better engineering challenge, one that I am sure he can solve given the right data, parameters, and hypothetical situation.

I’m tempted to leave him a post-it note, and maybe a catalog or two, but I resist, although, I do think he might secretly enjoy adding a lingerie subsection to his “proper attire” hints for golfers. Actually, I did conduct a quick internet search, and it appears that I may be the only one interested in finding the perfect golf bra anyway. Apparently, a number of people are looking for the perfect Volkswagon Golf bra, but that’s not the same thing at all, now is it?

As I practice, I am again wondering about other kinds of equipment, too. I am still messing around with the same old nine-iron, and will do so until Sandra tells me to try something else. “Your job is just to swing the club,” she says, and I do. I look out at the target, then down at the ball, find my focus to the left, do some yogic hocus pocus, let my right hand pull up the club, and watch it drop down like a pendulum through my proposed path. If the ball is sitting in the right place to be hit, so much the better. And all that time, the voice in my head is singing, “Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing, do wop do wop do wop do wah.”

I’d write more, but I do have to get back to the pie shop. Sue Ten came by earlier to leave off something that she calls pie, but that I still say is a casserole. Back in Maine, there’s an expression: “Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, that don’t make ’em biscuits.” And I feel the same way about pie: “Just because you throw some food into a round tin, that don’t make it a pie.”

Of course, this will probably just encourage her to bring over more possibilities.  I sure hope so.

By the way, if you aren’t doing anything on Friday night, you should stop by The Swing Barn. Sue was planning to show the McCain-Obama debate on her big-screen television, but now it looks like the debate won’t be on, so she is going to show Soylent Green outside on the wall.  Bring your own lawn chair and bug spray, but if you want a real pie, come see me.

And look, Sparkle Jr. is finally bringing in the tractor. Perfect timing.

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/if you ain’t got that swing

I Shall Be Released

Here’s a great idea: Promise that you will vote in the upcoming election, and you can have an MP3 copy of the “I Shall Be Released” cover by Wilco and Fleet Foxes.  All of us at Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range follow the old dictum “Vote Early and Vote Often” so you know we’ll be playing this song on our jukebox more than most.  Click on http://wilcoworld.net/vote/ for more details.

If you want more Wilco, go to http://favtape.com/search/wilco.

After the Fall Pie

“Don’t forget, it’s the first day of fall,” my sister Melbie tells me on the phone. As I hear her voice, I am sure she is wearing at least one sweater and knows where her boots are. After all, that’s basic survival behavior in the Great State of Maine.

I, too, know that it’s fall, even here in SoFLA: The traffic on I-95 is starting to pick up, the sidewalk cafes in the village are bustling again, and the boutiques are showing pink sweaters with fur trim. And out at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we are on the look out for migrating birds and we’re starting to get orders for apple pie, pumpkin pie, and squash pie. One more month, and the mince-pie people will be showing up.

There are other signs of Fall, too: The ubiquitous football games on every flat screen in every bar, the faux fall leaves in the shop windows, and the Halloween decorations already up in the Winn-Dixie.

As I talk to Melbie, the idea for an “After the Fall” pie pops into my mind: It should have both apples and pomegranates to signify the mixed myths of Adam and Eve, and Persephone. No doubt at all:  Pomegranate is a powerful fruit, a particular favorite of the lords of the underworld, which would of course include Satan. I think it’s too bad for the lovely, innocuous apple to take the rap for The Fall of Humankind. Mythologists feel it was much more likely caused by Eve’s consumption of pomegranates — and possibly a whole lot of wine.

Persephone also had a pomegranate problem. If she’d never been tricked into eating those seeds, we’d have summer all year round.

Oh, wait a minute. I live in SoFLA. We do have summer all year round.

I’m still thinking about my After the Fall pie, not sure where to go with it. I take a break and listen to the Pogues singing “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” and it is so jarring that I can’t listen to the whole song.  I’m also thinking about the movie After the Fall, in which Brad Pitt inexplicably never ages, although the rest of the cast appears to be quite gnarly by the end.

After that, I come up with the idea that Eve didn’t just eat an apple. Or a pomegranate. I don’t think it was wine either. No, I’m pretty sure she got into the applejack. Now, if you’ve never sampled applejack, this may not be the time to start. My oh my. Consumed with the right amount of gusto on a crisp fall night, possibly over on the other side of The Swing Barn where Sue Ten has those cute little hard-resin chairs with cup holders, applejack will remove the top of your head and fill your brain with autumn leaves.

So, I’ll just give you a little taste.

After the Fall Pie

First, buy a large bottle of applejack brandy, and prepare your favorite type of unbaked crust with fluted edges.  A 9″ pie plate should be just about right.

For the filling:

Peel & slice six tart apples

Soak apple slices in a cup of applejack brandy overnight, and maybe take a sip or two yourself, just to make sure it’s all right.

In the morning, cream 4oz of butter with 8oz of sugar

When the mixture is light and fluffy, strain the apples and fold them in.

A little lemon zest wouldn’t hurt.

How’s that brandy, anyway?

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Feel free to have another drink while you wait, or go ahead and make the topping.

For the topping:

Cover the hot apple mixture with a layer of thin pomegranate slices

Whip a cup of heavy cream, then blend in 3 to 4 T of sugar and 3 egg yoks

Cover the pomegranate slices with the whipped topping and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Drizzle any remaining applejack over all.

Chances are, the applejack will have disappeared by the time you get to this step.

And just like Adam & Eve, you should probably go put some clothes on, too.

Birthday cake is good, but birthday pie might be even better

NOTE: This post has been written by Guest Pie Maker Emily Alden Foster.

When my sister turned 8 or 9 or one of those pre-teen ages, she decided she wanted a pie for her birthday. I was disappointed because she wanted cherry pie and I hate cherries. It turned out that my sister was also disappointed with her birthday pie. When it came out of the oven, in went the candles. And by “in” I mean into the pie, because they melted. Ooops.

Fast-forward to my 20ishth birthday, and my dear friend and birth-week-sharer Lauralee’s somethingth birthday, and there’s birthday pie again. In fact, we were so excited about pie at this point that we decided to have a pie party. We each made a pie or two and many of the guests also came bearing pies. It was a horrible, horrible party. Of course it was fun, but there’s something horrible about being surrounded by twelve pies and being too full (or too afraid of a diabetic coma) to eat more than the tiniest sliver of each. Everyone was very thankful when a late-arriving guest brought a savory pie: pizza. The cheese soaked up enough of the sugar that we were able to move and talk to each other again instead of curling in the fetal position moaning and waiting for our digestive systems to cope with the full pound of sugar that each of us had just consumed. For the next week my roommates and I had pie at every meal. I didn’t make a pie again for a long time.

This year I once again turned to the pie for my birthday celebration. (Also for Channing’s birthday celebration, but that’s already been posted here.) This time it was sugar-free, because I’m trying really hard not to eat sugar. I love sugar, but my body doesn’t. The best method I’ve found for making sugar free desserts involves fruit juice concentrate (although technically fruit has sugar, it’s the added processed sugar nonsense that I’m worried about) and in my experience is more delicious with pies than cakes. I take birthdays pretty seriously, and didn’t want to take a chance on having a gross cake, so I went with the peach-raspberry pie. Delicious! We went out for pizza while the pie was cooling. It’s about a half-hour walk to the pizza place, most of which I spent singing a song I made up about pie and how I was going to eat two of them. It was a good birthday. Not at all horrible or disappointing, and with plenty of pie.

Spawn of Satan Pie Recipe

Spawn of Satan Pie Recipe

Created in Honor of NY Yankee Derek Jeter’s Birthday


3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t fresh chopped oregano
2 t fresh basil
6-oz tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2/3 cup Bisquick
Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease a 10-inch by 1-1/2-inch pie plate with butter.

Alternate layers of Ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Mix chicken, 1/2 C Mozzarella, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and tomato paste.

Pour over Parmesan cheese layer.

Whisk together cream, eggs, Bisquick, salt & pepper

Pour into pie plate.

Bake 30 minutes.

Top with remaining Mozzarella, then bake an addition five to 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Spawn of Satan Pie

I’m out on the driving range before noon today, but I can’t concentrate.

Today, I will blame the New York Yankees since their fans are coming out of the woodwork to mourn the passing of their blessed temple in the Bronx. All my hits are off kilter, low, and lethargic, obviously affected by all that negative energy. In time, I give up and go back into the pie shop to get out of the heat, as much as anything.

I take out my notepad and start working on a recipe for “Spawn of Satan Pie” with a special Derek Jeter Crust.  Jeter’s favorite food is chicken parmesan, so this is a no brainer, and I know I’ll be getting calls from Sue Ten over at the Swing Barn once the pre-game show starts at six.

It’s one of those hot, humid SoFLA days that keeps people indoors, so I’m not expecting much excitement today. I gave The Usual Idiot the day off, and I’m thinking this might be a good time to varnish the new combination step-ladder book selves out in the back room, with the exhaust fan going full blast. The Morning Guy copied the design that I found last week, and he’s already built the prototype, finished the sanding, and vacuumed up every stray bit of sawdust. He’ll be leaving me snitty notes if I don’t get moving on this project soon.

I like varnishing, especially roll-and-tip with warm varnish.  It goes on fast, the tipping with a foam brush breaks down the bubbles, and then I can just pull up a chair and watch it dry. In truth, it’s more fun to watch it dry if someone else did the application work, but I know I’ll see plenty: curtains, holidays, bugs in their death throes, visions of alternate universes, dreams of another time and place. It’s all entertainment to the receptive mind. Varnish, sand, repeat. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Signs of infinity in the known universe.

I’m sure, too, that the sound of the fan will drown out the noise from the over-emotional Yankee fans at the swing barn. If not, I have a set of Ruger firing-range ear muffs that should do the job.

Before I can put them on, though, the phone rings.  It’s Sue Ten. “Boyd’s here.”

“I wondered why Hercules was heading that way.”

Hercules is our resident feral green iguana, a gargantuan beast by all accounts, and for some reason, he has an attraction for my second ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd. Hercules’ affection, however, is not returned. Boyd has a deep abiding dislike of all things reptilian, including his own lizard brain.

I look out the window and see my old car in the far side of the parking lot. A lime green Toyota Celica, it was a parting gift, or bribe. Call it what you like. It was the WD-40 that lubricated the exit door to get Boyd out of my life.

“What’s he up to?” I ask Sue.

“He’s pretty quiet so far,” says Sue. “Not annoying anyone too much.  Just the usual ranting about The Royals and how many players started out in Kansas City. Apparently, he no longer has a television at home.”

“And what’s he calling home these days?”

“Hard to tell,” says Sue. “A couple more drinks, and I’m sure I’ll have his full life story. Again.”

“Sorry, honey, but he’s your customer,” I say. “The restraining order has expired. Give him some waffle fries on the house. If he’s busy eating, he won’t be able to talk as much.”

I’m rattled, but I go back to varnishing anyway. Roll. Tip. Roll. Tip. One. Two. Lift. Swing. Lift. Swing. I’m reviewing this morning’s practice, more convinced than ever that negative Yankees energy was my enemy, and Boyd was all too often a fan of The Best Team That Money Can Buy.

I had not watched baseball for years when I met him, but he awoke something deep and significant in me: A Red Sox fan’s utter hatred of the New York Yankees, and it felt good for me to know an emotion that deep and pure. Yes! It’s the opposite end of the mood-spectrum from that mystifying ability that some people have that allows them to say, in any situation, “It’s all good.” Anti-Yankeeism consists of a certaintude and clarity of vision found primarily in extreme religious sects, and it’s a wonderfully cleansing experience. I do recommend it.

Boyd was never much of a golf fan, though. So, now I can picture him at the bar, telling his usual two golf jokes. “Oh, yes,” he says, “I agree with Mark Twain that golf is a good walk spoilt.” Not that he’d know what a good walk is either.

And when someone asks him if he plays, he say, “I do. I love golf, but I always have trouble getting the ball through the windmill and into the clown’s mouth.”

By now he is telling Sue his one remaining joke. “You know why a bartender is like a priest?”

I can see the beatific look of unbearable patience on her face now, her chin cocked to the side, her hand smoothly reaching for the taser under the counter.

She doesn’t answer, just raises her eyebrows a bit in a questioning glance.

“They both serve wine and take confessions,” says Boyd, laughing too loud, and then raising his own eyebrows — in surprise.

The bar goes silent, except for Madeleine Peyroux on the jukebox singing “I’m All Right.” Maybe even singing my favorite line, “Wherever you are, you’re still driving my car.”

Hercules has planted himself directly behind Boyd’s bar stool. Boyd’s already pale skin goes white, and then he yelps. As I hear it later, Hercules has nudged off one of Boyd’s baby-blue flip-flops and has chomped into Boyd’s big left toe.

Everyone else in the room backs off, except for Sue, safely behind the bar.

There’s that beatific smile again.  “I believe you are supposed to remain calm,” she says. “Can you do that, Boyd?”

He nods.

“Now, my understanding is that we need to turn this sucker upside down to get him to release you. Are you ready?”

She motions to a couple of the regulars, one in a Yankees tee-shirt and the other in a faded-orange Oriole shirt. They pick up Hercules and twist him, and Boyd’s toe in the process, with no positive results.

“What about the alcohol trick?” Sue asks.

“Okay,” says the Oriole’s fan. He picks up Boyd’s schooner of Guinness and pours it over Boyd’s foot and Hercules’ face. The well-fed iguana still does not budge.

“Only one more thing to do,” says Sue. “Load them both up and get them to the emergency room.” She points to the door.

“I can’t do that,” says Boyd.

“Oh yes you can,” Sue. “It’s either that, lose your toe, or spend the rest of your life with an iguana attached to your foot.”

She gives the two good Samaritans a quick hand signal and twenty dollars, and they load up Boyd and Hercules, droppng them both in the back of a blue Chevy pick-up truck.

I look out the window just in time to see the truck take off down the hot and dusty road. Boyd’s white ponytail has come undone, and I know by the time they reach the hospital, he will have a serious case of uncombable hair syndrome, as well as the more obvious foot-in-iguana-mouth condition.

Sue is already on the phone giving me the delicious details, but I notice, as we talk, that there’s a little activity going on by the back door of The Swing Barn. Usually, Sue keeps that door shut tight to minimize uninvited guests, such as large feral green iguanas.

I’m about to tell her I’m surprised to see the back door open, and then I see The Morning Guy, laughing to himself, closing the door and walking away. No need to mention that to anyone.

And it’s time for me to bake some chicken-parmesan pie before the game gets underway.

Thru and Thru

I’ve had this song kicking through my mind for a few days, but really only the “Open 24 hours” part. I’m glad to be able to identify it, and to hear the whole thing once again. I’ll save my usual diatribe about The Rolling Stones for another time.

Thru and Thru
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

You know that we do take away
We deliver too
Open 24 hours babe
Just waiting on a call from you
Waiting on a call from you

Well I’m in the yellow pages
You just take a look
Look me up under services
You know it’s just an open book
Babe it’s just an open book
It’s just an open book
Well baby

Any minute, any hour
I’m waiting on a call from you
And you know this heart is constant
I’m your lover, baby
Thru and thru
Lover, baby, thru and thru

I only found out yesterday
I heard it on the news
What I heard really pissed me off
Cause now I got those fucking blues
I got those awesome blues
Babe I got those nothing blues

Any minute, any hour
I’m waiting on a call from you
And you know this heart is constant
I’m your lover, baby
Thru and thru
Lover, baby, thru and thru

You know that we do take-away
That we deliver, too
We’re open 24 hours, baby
We’re waiting on a call from you
But any minute, baby, any hour
I’m waiting on a call from you
You know that this heart is constant
I’m your lover, baby
Thru and thru
Lover, baby, thru and thru
Lover, baby, thru and thru
Lover, baby, thru and thru

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/rolling stones thru and thru

Problems with the Large Hadron Collider

You know this is breaking my heart. I want it online now and forever. “Why?” asks my former Cub Scout Hiland. “It can’t kill us all with a localized black hole if it’s offline.”

And I can only remind him that it also can’t kill off the forces of evil on the other side of the black hole either. And you know they are out there. Waiting. Building their own LHC. Firing it up. Going offline. Worrying. Asking Why?

The Associated Press: Q&A about problems with Large Hadron Collider.

Sometimes you can get enough . . . of Barry White

Last night, out on the driving range, well after dark, I go through 100 balls in only an hour, which I know is much too fast. I’m not spending enough time in the silent space between the swings, and I’m going too fast when I am swinging, so I know I need to adjust my sense of time and timing and slow it all right down.

As usual, I need to find a source for the defect, and so today I am passing the blame on to Wendy’s Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Frosty, a 480-calorie treat, and 25% of those calories are from fat. W00t! The “healthy alternatives” website suggests that I would have been wiser to go for the Mandarin Chicken Salad instead, but it’s just not the same kick, and standing around with a Mandarin Chicken Salad would not endear me to the local golf teens as much as the Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Frosty does.

“Wow,” says one bright-eyed local boy. “I just had one of those two hours ago, and I am still buzzing.”

My point exactly. If I’d gotten mine with chocolate ice cream in stead of vanilla, I would probably still be out there.  Then again, I didn’t sleep well and I am out there again at 7:00 a.m., hitting balls and musing about the events of the past 9 or so hours.

Picture me on driving too fast on I-95, high on way too much sugar but happily reviewing the evening’s progress, remembering the voices of the two men next to me, softly sharing advice and stories, whistling low in appreciation as one or the other hits a truly spectacular shot.

I am happy. I cruising on the super-highway that can be seen from space, and I am listening to jazz and thinking about The Morning Guy who is out somewhere for his evening run, staying fit, keeping the boxes in his mind all nicely organized and never letting them touch each other, and then it happens: The radio inexplicably switches from jazz to Barry White, and I hear Barry moaning about how he cannot get enough of my love.

Suddenly, my mood goes from crest-of-the-wave to serious paper cut, and I feel like I just plunged my hand into a vat of organic lemon juice.

I want to swerve into the nearest bar and knock back some Jack Daniels Black to ward off the unexpected and unwelcome stab of loneliness.  For just a split second, I even find myself missing my two ex-husbands Pretty Boy Boyd and Patrick-the-Liar, but that impulse blinks out of existence just as quickly as a firefly being eaten by a bat.

The next song, though, is equally devastating, and I am plotting the shortest route to Pepe’s Hideaway, when my cell phone jangles, and it is Sue Ten, stranded at a Starbucks with a folding bike and no interest in pedaling any further.

“I was just reaching out for a human connection,” she says.

Relieved to have a diversion, I say I understand fully, and continue south, well past my exit, slowing down to navigate a major speed trap, with at least a dozen blue lights flashing, and I pick her up in a matter of minutes.

On the way to her house, we debate the Pie Shop menu. I am not at all convinced that her version of Eggs Benedict Pie, with sliced potatoes instead of a crust, works for me. She argues for more variety in the menu. I’m holding my ground. I’m running a 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, not a cafe. And I like purity of definition. What’s she’s offering is a casserole. I will only serve pie, and metaphors.

So this message is for all of you who want more than what I have to offer: Get in your pick-up truck and just go next door to The Swing Barn. You can talk to Sue Ten, in Italian no less, and you can eat whatever you like. You can even have waffle fries covered with cheese-in-a-can. You can swing dance. You can weep in your beer. Remember, though, The Swing Barn is not open 24-hours a day, there’s no free internet, and there aren’t even any good books to read. Although some of the grafitti in the rest rooms — which, by the way, have signs saying “Them” and “Us” on the doors — is pretty interesting.

Now, if you want a pie for dessert, give us a call, and I’ll send someone over in a golf cart to deliver it to you. Please have exact change.

Life can be so easy.

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/barry white can’t get enough

Peeled Onion Dream Pie

“Just peel the onion,” they say.
“Peel back the layers
and see what you find.”

I say “Nothing,” but I am wrong.

Nothing is just what I found
at the time,
but now I know it’s full of space,
and space of course is full of stars.

So we talk about observation,
seeing time move, and
wondering when
and how
simple viewing
moved its way
through the amygdala
to turn itself into critical thinking.

To make this pie,
I suggest you start with
just one large,
unfathomably sweet
Vidalia onion.

Peel it back
until you all you can see is
stars, motion,
and mathematics.

Opine to your heart’s desire.

Steep overnight.
Reflect, and finally
inject with just enough emotion
to give it that special zip.

Spread over a thick skin
of bread dough and minced onion.

Bake in a wood-fired adobe oven
in the dark heart of night
just north of Nogales
while you sing with coyotes
and breathe in the same stars
that you formerly
could not see inside the onion.

Serve in a paper bag.

Try to think your way out of it.

Leave the Pieces When You Go

I haven’t slept well this week, which I can only blame on the gibbous waning moon, and just being out of whack in general.

Perhaps you already know the three concepts that I hold so dear, especially here at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop & Driving Range: Whack, Couth, and Shift. If I’m getting out of whack, it may be that there is a shift in the works and that I must maintain my couth.

Or I could just be over tired.

At any rate, here’s The Wreckers song playing in my head right now:

And it's alright, yeah, I'll be fine
Don't worry about this heart of mine
Just take your love and hit the road
There's nothing you can do or say
You're gonna break my heart anyway
So, just leave the pieces when you go

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/the wreckers leave the pieces branch album

Evolution or Creation?: The Story of Eggs Benedict Pie

In 1894, the story goes, Lemmy Benedict, bored and hungover, told the chef at the Waldorf Astoria that we wanted something different for breakfast. What he ordered doesn’t seem all that different: poached eggs, bacon, and buttered toast. But he also asked for a pitcher of hollandaise sauce, and proceeded to build his own treat. The chef, Oscar Tschirky, later made his own variation, and put it on the menu with English muffins and sauteed ham, but Lemmy never approved of Oscar’s version. No, the real deal was the way Lemmy made it and that was that.

The history of Eggs Benedict is now more than 100 years old, and if you do want to read more about it, here’s a fine article:

What you’ll find out though is that a lot of people have taken a whack at creating the E. B., but like so many things in life, all they can do is build on the original idea, the one where Lemmy Benedict ordered up that pitcher of sauce.

Toast or muffins? Toast or artichoke hearts? Salmon instead of ham? I’d be willing to try any of them, especially if I were at the Waldorf Astoria with a hangover.

Here, at the Slice of Heaven 24-hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we have our own delectable version of Lemmy’s dish: Eggs Benedict Pie. We make it in an individual serving dish with a breadcrumb crust, baked with brushed butter, topped with piping hot Canadian bacon, two poached eggs, and as much hollandaise sauce as you can stand, garnished with one of those cute little sprigs of parsley, just for a touch of color, and and sprinkling of paprika.

If we served liquor, we’d give you a Bloody Mary, too, but we don’t, so you’ll have to settle for our trademarked Bloody Shame. But if you slip in a bit of something from your own hip flask, we won’t try to stop you.

Want to go the vegetarian route? We are willing to negotiate. Just remember. At the Slice of Heaven 24-hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we use only real ingredients.

Golf Tip Number 4

A couple of days ago, The Morning Guy gave me another tip. It took him three post-its to write it all out. Fortunately, he has very precise and legible handwriting.

“You are ready for golf tip Number 4,” he writes. “The ball should be aligned the same place in relation to your left heel every time. The driver’s ball should be aligned inside the left heel. The wedge’s ball should be aligned equidistant between the two heels.  Never go to the right of that spot.  All other clubs should be aligned on a line from the driver to the wedge depending on the club length.”

I do not have a clue about what he is telling me, and I scribble a note, wanting to know what happened to Tip Number 2 and Tip Number 3.

Then when I got into to work this morning, I found his answer on a napkin taped to my inbox: “They are grip tips and are better taught by showing not by words.”

Obviously, I will need someone else to teach me grip tips since The Morning Guy has successfully avoided having to deal with me in person for months, and he is unlikely to change any time soon. And yet, we do stay in touch. It’s a reliable relationship, not a satisfying one.

I know I am not ready for golf tip Number 4. It has way too many variations, so I will just stick with the changes that Sandra gave me at my last lesson.

And I will practice, practice, practice.

Last night, I will admit, I did get sucked into that color thing. Yes, I saved the shiny yellow ones until the last, and I swear it made a difference. Better balls? Is that what it’s all about?  Better sticks? Finer tools. What about sheer skill and determination? Maybe I should stick to swimming, but no. I love the color, sounds, and smell of the whole thing too much. I’ll just work on style for now, and worry about new equipment later on.

I will note, though, that I’m temped to post a new rule out on the range: “No Married Couples Allowed.” A little harsh? Maybe. But I just don’t enjoy being that close to non-communicating people. If I wanted to hear bickering, I would still be living at Lake of the Ozarks watching men trying to direct their wives in backing their trailer-boats down the ramp.

On the other hand, I did love seeing a dad & a pre-teen daughter hanging out together.  They can come back and play for free. Anytime. We’re open 24-hours a day.

Book Shelves for the Pie Shop

Yes, of course we need book shelves. And we’ll be filling them bit by bit. Right now, my favorite library consists of the bookshelves in the lobby of The Colony Hotel in Delray Beach.  I’m guessing it’s okay to take the books they’ve got stashed there.  No one has ever tried to stop me.  And I do usually take back more than I borrow. I especially like it that there are no overdue fines and no problems with inventory. Either they have what I want or they don’t. Life can be simple.

But before we bring in the books, we’ll need the shelves.  How do you like this set up? (From www.dannykuo.com)

Danny Kuo on his .StairCASE: “This is one of my favourite projects, which realised in 8 weeks, from assigned theme to an almost finished and working prototype.

“The initial keywords: space, storage, future.

“In the future space becomes more desireable because big apartment buildings are taking over normal 1, 2 or 3 level houses. Building vertically is more efficient because less ground square meters are needed to house people. Therefore focus for will be on height rather than width in the future. However current storage furniture is designed for humans with a length of 1.7 or 1.8 meters also our furniture needs to grow in height in in order to be more efficient. This StairCASE is an answer to this need. It reaches the ceiling and the topshelves are still easy to reach without getting into awkward positions or getting help from another furniture piece.”

Lemonade Pie

Didn’t get what I wanted, and you know what they said? Honey, when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. I always said, when life hands you a lemon, look for tequila and salt.

How to make Lemonade Pie:

Take all your disappointments, sorrows, and, grievances

Soak in tequila overnight

Wake up wanting something sweet and crunchy

Find it

Mash it up for the crust with real butter

And extra cinnamon

Distill the liquid ingredients

Until you have something you can use

Fold in some whole organic eggs and heat ever so slowly

In time it will thicken

In time it will jell

Pour into the crust

And then, baby,

All you need to do is


Poetry and Coffee (sorry, no pie)

The Morning Guy claims not to listen to NPR, but he does seem to read Garrison Keillor’s website “The Writer’s Almanac” which astounds and confuses me. I do listen to NPR, but built up a sensitivity to Keillor’s voice over the years, until it has become a sound akin to fingernails on a blackboard. But that’s another story.

At any rate, I was surprised to find this poem in my in-box this morning, before I even went in to work. “Everyone must read poetry with their coffee,” he’d written on the attached sea-blue Post-It note. I’m not sure if that is meant to be a new rule — The Morning Guy has many of those — or just an observation.

Sadly for me, like the narrator of the poem, I no longer drink coffee. Or smoke. Or drink. Damn, sometimes life is hard. No wonder I look forward to those stormy days when Hurricane Rules Apply.  I used to love a shot of 100-proof Hot Damn followed by a beer chaser.  Oddly enough, I just don’t get the same kick from a cinnamon Altoid and an O’Doul’s.

And I do miss drinking coffee with my poetry. At least I’ll always have pie.


Literature in the 21st Century
by Ronald Wallace

Sometimes I wish I drank coffee
or smoked Marlboros, or maybe cigars—
yes, a hand-rolled Havana cigar
in its thick, manly wrapping,
the flash of the match between
worn matchbook and stained forefinger,
the cup of the palm at the tip,
the intake of air, and the slow and
luxuriant, potent and pleasurable
exhale. Shall we say also a glass
of claret? Or some sherry with its
dark star, the smoke blown into the bowl
of the glass, like fog on portentous
morning, the rich man-smell of gabardine
and wool, of money it its gold clip?

Sometimes I wish I had habits
a man wouldn’t kick, faults a good man could
be proud of. I’d be an expatriate from
myself, all ink-pen and paper in a Paris café
where the waiters were elegant and surly,
the women relaxed and extravagant
with their bobbed hair and bonbons, their
perfumed Galoises, their oysters and canapés,
and I’d be writing about war and old losses—
man things-and not where I am, in this
pristine and sensitive vessel, all
fizzy water, reticence, and care, all reduced
fat and purified air, behind my deprived
computer, where I can’t manage even
a decaf cap, a mild Tiparillo, a glass of
great-taste-less-filling light beer.

“Literature in the 21st Century” by Ronald Wallace from Long for This World: New and Selected Poems. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

Golf Lesson Sept. 16, 2008

I love how almost everything I am learning about golf is a life lesson. Consequently, I am in no hurry ever to get beyond the driving range and on to the course.

This morning, Sandra and I spent an hour pretty much just on alignment and relaxing. “You want to feel like you have a buzz on.” Oh, yes. There’s a goal I can appreciate.

Slow down, slow down, slow down.

Then finally I hit one and don’t feel it at all. The ball just flies away, not far, but straight. We smile. We nod. “Excellent,” she says, and I hit five in a row. I am psyched and happy.

She changes my grip into one that seems awkward at first, but works so well that I am sold in a matter of minutes.

The alignment lesson may have been easier for many people, but I already know from yoga with Daragh that I have little sense of alignment, and I need to trust someone else’s judgment on that. What feels lined up to me apparently does not meet the classic definition, but I can learn the steps to the dance. And I shall.

On the way home, I listen to Monte Montgomery singing “I know you by heart,” but couldn’t find it on FavTape, so here are a couple other songs of his that I like, too.

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/monte montgomery

September Full Moon

I went out to the driving range earlier than I had planned because I was a little worried about the usual weather prediction of thunder storms, but then I live in SoFLA so what do I expect? Still I did not want to get shut out, so I had my 100 balls ready to go long before the full moon came up at 7:30.

After no practice for more than a week, I didn’t feel much flow, and that’s probably much of what I will feel in tomorrow’s Ashtanga yoga class, too.

The lighting tonight was exquisite. I wished I had taken my camera, thinking that the sky I was seeing would be just perfect on the ceiling of the pie shop, oh hell, puffy clouds turning all pink and gold against an impossibly blue background. Just the sort of thing I would have drawn in third grade and been told, as I was, that it was unrealistic.

The sky to the west, though, was steel gray, and foreboding. No matter. It was all bluff, no action.

At first there was a lot of chatter, lessons taking place, tips being offered, ah, but not for me. I settled in for an evening of way too many swings and misses, marveling at how many little things go into a righteous hit, worrying about the recent misses elsewhere in my life, trying not to get too spaced out on metaphors.

Yes, yes, yes, I want to believe that golf is all Zen, but then I’m noting, too, my check list of motions and notions. I hear the guy behind me advising his friend to separate the bright yellow balls from the old ones and see what difference that makes. Oh, no! I am not ready for that level of refinement.

What I want first is consistency. I want to see that I can repeat the few good strong hits that please me so much. It seems that I am setting up the same every time, but apparently not. Some piece is missing. I try putting different thoughts in my head. I get engrossed in my imagination and my body goes ahead with the swing.

Meanwhile I have my right toes, all of them, are cramping up and that does a lot to help with focus now, doesn’t it? I sing a little to myself. The guy next to me swears, not about the singing. At least I don’t think so. Then, when I see that I am running low on balls, I start to feel sad because I will be done.

No great breakthrough or giant step ahead tonight, but a satisfying practice. I know from swimming and yoga that the tiny improvements will continue to add up, and it will all come down to learning to breathe, and that has been the story of my life for the past five years.

Or, as John Lennon once said, “As breathing is my life, to stop I dare not dare.”

A Perfect Cup of Coffee

Oh, yes. I remember coffee. Did you know that there is not even a support group for people who, for reasons both sad and true, are better off without caffeine? My name is Barbara Jean, and I am in coffee recovery.

What am I missing? Only a major connection with most of the people I know. Ah, to be one of you and savor that early morning, or late evening, cuppa cuppa cuppa. 

I long for it. 

What’s my perfect cup of coffee these days? A glass of ice water.  What’s my perfect cocktails? A glass of ice water. And on and on and on. It’s tap water, too. But we have excellent tap water here at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, so don’t go getting all hoity toity on me. I’m thinking of bottling some of it with our own house brand special “Quality of Mercy” label.

You just wait and see.

Meanwhile, if you do want to talk about coffee, here’s a great starting point. But pull up a chair and get comfy. I can guarantee that’s it’s more than you want to know.  Have I listened to it?  No, so I’m hoping you do and give me the abbreviated de-caffeinated version.

Free University – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

September 14th, 2008 

Dr Mark Miodownik – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

Mark Miodownik: How to make the perfect cup of coffee.

What elements are involved in the making of a simple beverage. The
Director of the Materials Library and Head of the Materials Research
Group at King’s College London provides an audibly practical
demonstration of the answer.

Duration: 43:10.

icon for podpress  Free University – How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee [43:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Visit http://www.materialslibrary.org.uk

Full Moon Golf Music

So, yes, I know it’s September and not July, but this song does have a great lyric in it: My arms are empty and the moon is full.

It’s a sad, sad song,  and don’t you agree that they ought to put warning labels on those sad country songs? I was thinking I might find an antidote in some Magic Mushroom Chocolate Pie, but apparently the key ingredients are just a tad difficult to find.

And I know I will feel better once I’ve had an hour or two out on the driving range watching the full moon come up.

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/dixie chicks cold day in july

Or then again, I might be more in the mood for Bat for Lashes . . .

Mixtape from http://favtape.com/search/i’m on fire bat for lashes cover

Large Hadron Collider Webcam

From Boing Boing Gadgets:

Watch protons dry with Large Hadron Collider official webcams

webcamlhc.jpgThey’re just warming up the dipole magnets, and the first major experiment (bunching thousands of protons and making them headbutt) is about to begin: be sure to watch it at the LHC’s official webcams.Chances are it’s just going to be like any other webcam, of course, and you’ll just stare at it for 20 seconds, then get bored and go somewhere else.
Click here — Webcams — to view.

Yes, the Pie Shop Will Have a Scan Toaster

Some people like to read a stack of newspapers in the morning. Some people watch The Weather Channel. Some do both.

Me, I like to read Lifehacker and BoingBoing. Both readings give me a never-ending supply of tips for making the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range a finer experience for all you all.


Scan Toaster: Bread Printing Protocol needed immediately

Posted by Rob Beschizza, September 12, 2008 5:35 AM | permalink

Of all the companies that make toasters, I’m pretty sure Electrolux has the biggest R&D budget. It always pops up sponsoring fancy design competitions and the like. Here’s its “Scan Toaster,” a concept by Sung Bae Chang, whose mode of operation is refreshingly obvious.

You plug it into your computer, put a slice of bread in it, and then print. But come now – toasting on bus power? I think not.

Scan Toaster [Electrolux Design Lab via Gizmodo]

Golf Lesson Number One

The morning guy gave me a golf lesson — by email — a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping for something more personal, like the snuggly stuff they always show in the movies, but I will take what I can get. As it turns out, I am doing most of this stuff anyway, but maybe I am not doing it right. (Or, as they say so often in LOLcats: “U R Doin It Rong.”)

Here goes: “Golf lesson number one: At the range, take time in between every hit. After the hit, step away from the next ball. Think of how you just hit the ball. Think of the feeling of hitting. Regrip the club correctly. Step up to the ball correctly. And hit the next ball. Repeat.”

You see, it’s all Zen. I love this game.

What’s on the jukebox?

As I have mentioned, the morning guy says “no” to Dixie Chicks, but I do like the girls, and sometimes I find that I have bits of “A Home” stuck in my head, especially the line, “Not a night goes by that I don’t go wandering in the house that might have been a home.”

Then again, just as often I might want a little bit of Tom Waits’ singing about The Heart of Saturday Night.

What would you like to hear? Does the time of day matter? The flavor of the pies?

Click on the comments link to chime in.

Morning at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range

It’s a little before noon so I am just coming in to work. The morning guy has already been there to chat with the late shift postal workers and firefighters. He’s stocked the soda machine and, once again, removed the Dixie Chicks from the jukebox. I will put them back in after you & I have had a chance to catch up. I do love the smell of coffee even though I can’t drink it any more.So, what’s going on with you? How about a piece of pie?

Ten Hours of Chatter

“Ten hours of chatter,” said Marilyn, when she saw my post in Facebook late in the day, but early for her in China. It was productive chatter, though, I think — and something I needed to help me move ahead, or at least sideways.

Thanks to all who chimed in and push me out of my dense daydreaming and inertia.

I still have a lot of questions about friendships, connections, time, memory, and communication. Click on the “comments” link to continue the conversation.

And, no, you do not need to use your real name. This is all a fantasy, maybe even a dream.

Making Pie Crust

You must not work the dough too much.
Fine flaky crust
requires a light touch.
I cut the shortening into the flour,
rocking the cutter as I go.
There was a time, though,
when I would grasp two knives
and cleave the ingredients,
both pressing them together
and slicing them apart.
When young, I did not remove my rings.
I don’t even wear them now.
Back then,
I liked the look of gemstones
dappled with bits of dough.
Grandmother would not have approved, though,
and even now,
I know she is watching me.
Not that grandmother taught me how to bake.
Oh, no.
If anything, she showed me that I
could be a real woman
and never cook a god damn thing.
But that’s another story.
She did, however, make a pie crust
that was so flaky
I could peel it apart
with my silver dessert fork,
and find a new horizon
in every translucent layer.
My grandfather was talented with pie, too.
No matter how many people
sat at his table,
he could cut a pie
so that everyone there
had a slice of equal size,
and he always had two.
Somewhere along the line
I learned to lay down waxed paper
instead of a pastry cloth.
I think that is a Nebraska trait.
And when I make my pie crust now,
I travel back there for a moment or two.
I visit the women at my welcoming church
who invited me, the young mother, to join them
in cookie packing one holiday weekend.
One after another, the women came in,
brushing the snow from their sensible boots,
dropping down bags of store-bought cookies,
and saying, “I really don’t have time to bake.”
I knew I was in the right place.
Long ago, for a rolling pin, I chose a wine bottle
that drew me in with its rich green glass.
Now I wield the wooden pin
that I have carried with me for years.
I wonder when the handles broke off?
I wonder why?
It hints of violence in the kitchen, doesn’t it?
I don’t recall any—at least not involving pie,
although …
I did once throw
a fairly hefty farm-grown watermelon
at my fairly hefty farm-grown husband.
But that’s another story.
Now for the best part:
The crust is elegantly thin,
and ready to be transferred to its vessel.
Sometimes I choose the glass pie plates that I bought
when my favorite bar went out of business
and sold off all its cookware.
I don’t believe I ever ate a pie there,
though I would, sometimes, sit at the bar and drink
Glenlivet scotch, and toast the memory
of my late great father-in-law.
My war with him was never open,
but I still think I won.
I’m here now, am I not?
We can only speculate on his whereabouts.
So, where were we?
Ah, the pie crust,
submissive in its pan.
My mother would have me
prick it with a fork,
but I say no.
I go another route,
more seductive, more sublime.
I pull out my crimper
and begin the ritual
of pressing the dough,
embossing the crust
with rosettes and with stars.
It’s a gentle motion of marking territory:
Many times,
if I am making a single-crust pie,
this effort remains hidden,
like wearing your best undies
when you go out to play.
But sometimes…
I’ll do a two-crust pie,
and then I get the pay-off:
The aahs.
The oohs.
The how-did-you-do-its?
My crimper is a sacred object.
I rank it high in holiness.
Perhaps it is as holy as –
please don’t laugh –
my bean pot.
Both were gifts from Hazel,
wonderful, funny, austere, searching Hazel,
a city girl
who had learned to navigate country life
but never lost her style or poise.
I was barely in my twenties, and she was …
well she was just a little older than I am now.
I was in training to marry her long-haired poet son,
but I never did.
I’ve always felt
that he would have married me
for my incestuous pie crust alone.
It looked like his mother’s.
It tasted like his mother’s.
But in the end,
pastry was not enough.
I triumphed in pie crust, but I did not win in love.
I excelled in pastry, but I failed in common virtue.
And now I know,
pastry is never enough.
And yet, there are days …
there are days
when nothing will console me,
nothing will hold me,
nothing will soothe my fretful soul
quite like making a pie.
And as for the boy I did not marry,
Well, that really is another story.

Copyright 2000, Barbara Jean Walsh

Vodka in the Pie Crust

Somehow, a chat with Becca, Paul, and Macy this morning went very quickly from ghosts to silly putty to play dough to eating play dough to eating library past to making — of course — pie dough. “The new secret ingredient is vodka” said Paul. So I’ll have something new to try out when I get home. Of course, this means I will have to break into my hurricane supplies to get the vodka, which will make this crust a Category One provisions. (I’m saving The Glenlivet for Category 4, and tequila shots for Category 5. Bourbon for 3 and possibly mojitos for 2. Keep in mind, that I usually do not drink at all, but at different times in life, Hurricane Rules Apply.)

So, here is the Vodka Pie Crust recipe .  .  .  .

Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough

When we talked to Cook’s Illustrated publisher Chris Kimball about the November 2007 issue of the magazine, we asked what recipes really stood out in it this year. This pie crust is one of them, he said. “It’s a brilliant recipe,” Kimball said. “The secret ingredient in it? Vodka.”

Foolproof Pie Dough

– makes one 9-inch double-crust pie –

The trick to this pie crust is the inclusion of vodka. Eighty-proof vodka, which is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, adds moistness to the dough without aiding in gluten formation since gluten doesn’t form in ethanol. Although the recipe includes 8 tablespoons of liquid, the alcohol vaporizes during baking, resulting in a tender crust that only contains 6 1/2 tablespoons of water. Because of the extra liquid, the dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require up to 1/4 cup more flour.


2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water


1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

A Night Out at the Hu Ke Lau

What can it be like to be a member of the Show at a Polynesian restaurant in Chicopee, Mass.? I can only wonder what the six dancers, four musicians, and the MC do the rest of the time.

You may remember that this is the place where we all went out to eat on Fathers Day in 2006, the day after Becca and Paul’s wedding. I seem to remember that Paul work a construction-paper tie, but that could be wrong. No, I’m sure that’s right. And we had a group photo taken against a mural of some island scene.

So, I did know what to expect, and I was somewhat disappointed when Macy told me that there was no longer a stuffed alligator in the lobby. We got there in time for the warm up act, before the dancers came out, and my main observation for that is that the keyboard player exhibited a wan appearance that most moviemakers would key into for a serial-killer suspect. Of course, the real serial killer would be more of a surprise. During the fire dances, the smell of lighter fluid permeated the air.

You can tell I am still very much a small-town girl by the fact that I was fascinated by the glowing plastic ice cubes in the drinks on most of the tables, including ours in time. I will definitely want to order some of those for the pie shop, especially for that late night sip of cold water with your lemon meringue.

Back to the dancers: Our MC took us on a journey through several islands where all the dances involved a great deal of hip movement and fire. I liked it, but probably not as much as the wedding-rehearsal group at the edge of the stage did. They got a lot of special attention, and rightly so.

I also did not previously know that “Tiny Bubbles” was the Hawaiian National Anthem, and I enjoyed singing along in my usual combination of ignorance and enthusiasm.  One of the closing songs was “I’m proud to be an American” which I remembered from living in Ozarks, but in the Ozarks when they got to the line about “stand up” everyone did actually stand up.

It was all over by 9:00, and the cast member were free to take off their makeup and leis, and do what? I had to wonder if they thought it had been a great night, or just anohter job. They reminded me very much of our own Elvis impersonator in Delray, well known about town, and easy to spot even in his police uniform, because he was still sort of Elvis all the time. So maybe the dancers are the same way, local celebrities, smiling across the footlights, even when they are just shopping at the five and dime.

Why Pie & Golf?

Why not? To my mind, it’s a fairly perfect real-world mash up.

Click on the “comments” link to discuss golf, pie, and life with me, your hostess at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range.

I’m here for you.