Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Pie Incident

When my sister arrives in town, I like nothing better than to escape with her for a few hours to catch a movie and enjoy good food. Mr Practical is usually very accommodating as it then means he doesn't have to sit through a 'chick-flick', so everyone wins.

With our movie session time selected, all we needed to do was arrange a haircut appointment for my sister and sit in my favourite cafe and relax with a generous slice of Rustic Apple/Berry Pie with the funky lattice top. That would complete me... well, my morning at least.

I have fond memories of eating The Pie. I'm a big fan of apple and berries. They fit so nicely together - like the perfect couple that you see when you're out; just by taking one look you can already picture what their children will look like. Apple/Berry is also perfect for those occasions when you feel torn and simply can't decide whether you feel more like apple or more like berry. It can be a dilemma. This way you don't have to decide - you can have both! Perfecto.

We cruised up to the cake display cabinet and my eyes scanned each shelf. Some days they have been known not to stock The Pie and when quizzed, I was told, "It's not pie day, today." How can it not be Pie day? There is ice cream; there is cream so how can there be no Pie? The Pie is the main event. When interrogated a little further, it became apparent the staff were not willing to divulge which days were Pie days. I hate to be kept in the dark.

But there, in the left-hand corner sharing a cake stand with a pyramid of Gluten Free friands (that alone is an abomination that Rustic Pie should have to share space with anything, let alone those ‘cakes’ with no wheat) were three slices of The Pie. My heart leapt and I almost burst into song, but before I could savour even the thought of plump blackberries bursting with warm juice and tender wedges of sweet apple cocooned in a crisp, golden pastry blanket - a bombshell smashed right through my idyllic pastry world.

"I don't really feel hungry right now," said my sister. I glared at her like an eagle stares down at a little bunny from several kilometres up in the sky. "No?" I replied, trying to disguise the whimper in my voice. Was I beginning to fold on the inside already? I was more fragile than I thought.

"How about in half an hour?" she added. Argh! Compromise.

"Ok, we'll do the hair thing and come back." I blew The Pie a little kiss goodbye and promised to return without delay like a mother leaving her child for the first time but every few minutes I found myself stopping to think about The Pie.

Finally it was time. I sauntered up to the cake display cabinet like a woman with a new credit card in a designer shoe store. I was on a mission and I knew what I wanted. Then, *gasp* The Pie was GONE! Not even a crumb was left. I searched the cabinet. Maybe it had been put back in another spot. Alas, there was no evidence that The Pie had ever existed.

"Can I help you?" asked the young woman behind the counter. I glanced at the other staff. Where was the guy who usually worked the register? He'd know what had happened to The Pie. It must've been his day off because I couldn't see him out the back in the kitchen either. (Yes, I looked!)

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, opened them and said slowly, "Think very carefully before you answer because there's alot riding on what you say."

"O-kay," she replied, cautiously. Maybe she could sense (woman-to-woman) that I was teetering on the brink. Some days, circumstances are stacked in such a way that the absence of your favourite thing like The Pie can bring about a response of cataclysmic proportions. Tip: When you see it coming, know that it's a test. Tread carefully lest you have to repeat the process in order to finally pass.

"Do you have any more of the Rustic Apple/Berry Pie?" Her look said it all. Her head, cocked slightly to the side, as if I'd just told her I'd lost my cat. That only lasted for a moment. Straightening up she looked me square in the eye and informed me, "Sorry, no." Wrong answer! At that moment, I actually had a picture flash through my mind of me lying on the floor in the middle of the cafe, wailing, pummelling my fists into the floor and kicking my feet. (I've been around toddlers too much lately.) I let that whole notion pass. No way was I going there! The last thing I wanted, was to be banned from the one venue that stocked the heavenly Pie. No,this was an occasion when one was required to be very grown up, despite feeling very whiney on the inside.

I explained that I'd seen three slices in the display cabinet only half an hour ago. She empathised then said, "Yes, those people at that table bought them all." I turned to check out who would do such a thing. A retired couple, their adult daughter and grandson beamed at their pie topped with soft mounds of whipped cream and shot large chunks of it, into their mouths. That’s my Pie!

Short of crawling into the empty chair at their table and opening my mouth for the next spoonful of Pie, like the grandson (that would be wrong on so many levels,) I was going to have to suck it up and face it – I was not getting The Pie today. Life was harsh.

"You should go and ask them if they still want all their Pie. I can heat it up for you," the cafe chick suggested. Was she making fun of me? Dangerous ground you’re treading there, lady! Then she said something that really irked me. "Maybe it just wasn't meant to be." Grrrr. *strong dislike* It always sounds like a cop-out used by people who somehow don't get what they want on the first attempt.

"No, it was meant to be but sometimes other people don't play their role as they should!" I cast a serious look at my sister. She quickly offered to pay for both our orders. Forgiven. So after much inner turmoil, because it was like choosing one child over another, I settled for the Blueberry/Almond Tart which by my book was a distant cousin to the Rustic Apple/Berry pie and was still not a pie or The Pie. It was the consolation prize.

So the moral to the story is: when you see your opportunity - grab it. Don't allow distractions to cause it to slip by or you will rehearse the sequence of events over and over, salivating and crying, "Why, why, why?" There I go again!

Come on, this life is for living. Participation is the key to feeling satisfied and fulfilled. Observing life and the people who are really living it, only leaves you feeling left out and miserable. BUY THE TICKET AND TAKE THE RIDE. Seek The Pie and eat it. Always be sure to share your love, your experiences and the lessons learned with those around you, so your memories remain vivid and your heart remains full, overflowing in generosity. And on those days when someone takes your pie, be gracious and adaptable knowing with confidence that Pie Day will come around again and next time it will taste even better.

©2010 Philippa Vette

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Audience of One

My day began with the sound of a child at my bedside, clearing her throat purposefully, her fingers twisting the fabric of her pyjamas. I knew she was watching me breathe - willing me to wake up. It was six-thirty.

I wondered just how long I could prolong opening my eyes. The moment I did, my day was officially up and running. How long would it be before she whispered, "Mummy, are you awake?" My parents used to call it "playing possum" - pretending you're asleep. It featured regularly in my repertoire of childhood endeavours - that is until they learned to prolong their exit from my bedroom and a cheeky smile tickled the corners of my mouth. Sprung! These days I've perfected it. I can hold out longer than any of my children, even when they're bursting to tell me something. They're dealing with a veteran here.

I didn't have to wait much longer to see how this particular stint of "possum playing" would last because at 6.40am (by my clock) the telephone rang and a whole new dilemma unfolded.

It was work and as a supervisor minus one of the team and our booking sheets bulging at the seams with over-amped school children escorted by mothers desperate for some "Me Time", it became a race to fill the vacant position.

The next few hours were a whirlwind trying to get someone to fill in and organise my own three children on the last day of school holidays. A quick prayer was breathed as I bundled children into the car and I scooped a spoonful of cereal into my mouth. I'm usually far more purposeful in my breakfast routine but the 'curve ball' pitched early that morning meant it was necessary to ditch 'purposeful' and hit the ground running.

The morning flew. It was loud and busy but in an organised and functional way. I went home and flopped on my bed. If I was a drinker, an IV would've suited fine but I didn't even have the energy or the inclination to do anything, so I just lay there, droopy, dehydrating and just a tad delirious.

Thirty minutes later my eyes were closed but I was bizarrely wide awake. I felt as if I should've been asleep but it just wasn't happening. I whispered a 'thank you" with the next exhaling breath, in complete gratitude that we'd all survived the morning. By this time, I had slid into a severe case of second-degree exhaustion. (I made up that second-degree bit. I'm feeling dramatic just recalling the events of that day. Just think, over-tired toddler.

It had been an extra-busy few weeks. Two birthday parties, school holidays, extra workload, weird dreams that stole sleep and made no sense and then there was the matter of the re-occurring visitor at dawn. For five mornings straight, a baby Butcher Bird had made my bedroom windowsill it's new perch to sing the, "It's a New Day and I'm Going to Sing Until You Wake Up" chorus at the top of it's little birdie lungs! Incidentally, as soon as I was fully awake, it flew away. How did it know? No, I didn't throw anything at the window. What kind of person do you think I am?:-)

When it came time to go to my volunteer work up at the church that evening, I was in serious need of a caffeine hit-but I don't drink coffee. I'm now re-thinking the absence of coffee. So what if it gives me a pain in my stomach, I could double up on pain meds to counter-act! I'm all for solutions.

Then, just when my arms felt like someone had attached a thousand kilo weight to them, giving me "gorilla arms", three little boys popped up on the other side of a nearby window and began a show. All three brothers began a comedy routine so creative and spontaneous, completely unaware I was on the other side of the mirrored glass. They did The Blowfish Face, The Upward Piggy-Nose Face and my favourite, The Shocked and Surprised I-Just-Won-the Beauty-Pageant Face.

I laughed until my sides ached. Tears trickled down my face and when it was all over, I felt like I'd just done a work-out at the gym but I was fully recharged and energized.
Those three brothers had no idea I was on the other side of the window, giving them free rein to express themselves. It was so unexpected and brilliant. They turned my day right back around and put me way back on top, without even knowing it. I was so grateful to be their audience of one.

The impact of just one person can be significant. Your smile could change someones day. People just want to be noticed, to feel like their life matters. Out walking one day, I noticed a woman up ahead leaning over the side of a railing of a footbridge. Nothing looked out of place until I got closer and said "good morning" to her. That's when she turned towards me and I noticed her tear-stained cheeks as she hurried away. It suddenly hit me, What was she about to do, if I hadn't come along and noticed her?

One Christmas when our boys were young, we walked through our neighbourhood looking at all the Christmas lights on the houses. Santa sleighs lit up, Nativity scenes aglow. We came to a house where the front yard was sparkling, the warm night air swirling in the palms, and there was an older couple waltzing to soft music on their front lawn. It was a beautiful sight.

Sometimes we get weary but we must never get weary of life itself. Share the love, give a smile -it costs you nothing. LOVE, LAUGH, LIVE. Don't ever hold back.