Friday, July 13, 2012

Of Pies and "Plume"

Yesterday, I began the day thinking about pies, particularly the ones made by my grandmother.  Early in the day, I also learned that Marion Cunningham had died.  I first thought of Ritchie's mom on the T.V. show Happy Days.  After a minute of confusion, I realized that the Marion Cunningham who died was the woman who so impressed James Beard that he recommended her to update/rewrite The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.  She went on to write many others.

What sticks with me most about that retrospective of Cunningham's life was that she began this career after she turned 50.  Unlike the success narratives so popular in the U.S., she was able to accomplish quite a lot, even though she got what for most of us would be an unbearably late start.

Like many women artists, however, she had children to raise, which she did, before going on to other methods of fulfillment.  Even though I have no children, I still love these narratives of people who achieve levels of success, even though they're older.  I'm surrounded by stories of this 20-something who wins this award, and that 20-something who has published these umpteen fabulous things.  It's good to remember that we don't have to achieve our full potential in the first quarter of our lives.

I love that Cunningham took one of her passions and turned it into a career.  I thought of this story in The Washington Post about a woman who gives pie baking lessons in home kitchens.  For the privilege of learning how to bake a perfect (in an artisanal way) pie, her students pay $200.  They get a pie to take home and a slice of pie (made earlier in the day) and champagne to enjoy together at the end of their endeavor.

I thought about the women who paid $200 for this adventure.  It made me think about what I want to learn and how much I'd be willing to pay.  It made me contemplate my skills.  It made me want pie.

Later in the afternoon, I consumed all of Kathleen Flenniken's collection of poems, Plume, in one setting.  I'll be writing a longer review in August, when I have a series of reviews of apocalyptic books planned (look for it August 19-22).  But in the meantime, let me just say that the book is indeed as wonderful as I'd heard it to be.

Wonderful and terrifying.  Reading her poems which weave together historical data of the most chilling kind and personal stories of loss and images of the scarred landscape around the Hanford Nuclear Reservation made me want something comforting even more.

It made me wish that I had a pie waiting for me when I got home.  A pot pie, followed by a fruit pie for dessert. 

Of course, slaying my nuclear nightmares with pie is a sure, albeit delicious, recipe for weight gain.  Instead, I went to spin class, where I pedaled away my stress to Motown music.  A great way to end the day!  Not as tasty as pie, but a healthier option for the long term.

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