He adored me

A mother is a busy person. Her life revolves around keeping the children alive. Feed them. Give them gingerale and hugs when they’re sick. Make them wear pants and change their socks. She keeps the children clean(ish) and presses manners down upon them with a mallet. I’m a mom, so I’ve done all these things.

But despite all the effort from the mom, there’s something magical about a daddy.

Our daughters adore their father. I’ve shared him with them because I relished and snuggled under a blanket of adoration from my own father.

Dads.  They go to work. They mow. They play. They watch sports. The get sat upon. They receive running hugs. They sneak us a cookie. Or a dollar. Or the car keys. They teach us to juggle and they tickle. They work for smiles.







A pie is born

It might not seem a great idea to make a pie while on vacation, away from the home kitchen, and one that I’ve never made before and was sure not to like. But I did.

At the beach, during a mostly rainy but relaxing week, my husband and number 1 pie-eater and I were discussing food. I was adding avodaco to my salad. He was not. Actually, he was making a face and dissing my avocado, which was perfectly ripened and delicious.

I asked what his problem was. He said he didn’t like the texture (smooth and creamy!) This made no sense to me so we discussed other “textured” foods and it turns out I like smooth and he likes lumpy food. Creamy vs chunky peanut butter. Nuts or no nuts in everything from banana bread to cookies to ice cream. Somehow the discussion led to coconut, and quickly to pie.

[You can guess: he likes coconut, I do not. Ick. The texture.]

Some background on my pies. I make the Crisco crust and an apple pie that is family-famous. I’d make one every day if the pie eaters could keep up. I considered opening a bakery instead of going to graduate school. This apple pie is completely from scratch. I can peel apples in one long stream of curly peel. I know the recipe so well I use it to explain limiting and excess reagents when I teach stoichiometry in my chemistry lectures. Oh, and the man who likes coconut eats my apple pie from the pan if nobody is looking.

I also make a strawberry rhubarb pie (disgusting, but for sibling birthday reasons, a yearly staple) that mimics the fame of my best husband’s mother, a legendary cook and baker. So in my heart, I know the strawberry rhubarb and apple pies are on the top of his pie list.

But there we were watching rain fall at the beach, discussing avocado vs coconut, and he remembered a delicious coconut cream pie from forty years ago, and I could tell by the smile and gleam in his eyes that he really wanted one. So I asked the pivotal question (and got a surprising answer).

I asked for a pie ranking. “What are your top three pies in order?”

With minimal think time he held up his hand, palm to the floor, above his head to visually demonstrate position and declared strawberry rhubarb in the prime spot (no surprise). He dropped his hand to the next level (he’s Italian; his hands talk) and declared coconut cream pie in second place. And broke my heart by declaring my apple pie in third place.


So, of course I had to learn to make the second place pie. I had to make him eat it in my presence.

I went to the store and learned shredded coconut comes in little bags just like chocolate chips. I went online and compared three recipes, and used this one. I used a premade graham cracker crust, low fat Cool Whip, learned how to toast the coconut on a cookie sheet (why?), and made the thing that day. I stirred my arm off for for 40 minutes over the not-quite-yet boiling custard as it thickened and I wondered why a box of pudding wouldn’t work. The pie shell was too small, so I made a consolation dessert with 3/4 cup of the custard (before the coconut was added!) on a bowl of chunky sliced strawberries, which I topped with Cool Whip (all for the cook).

It was a beautiful pie.

He LOVED it. Immortalized its position between strawberry rhubard and apple pie. The last slice was eaten from the pan.

And a beach pie tradition is born.


perhaps we might remember to think

A blog post, Tweet, Facebook post, or even a road sign can be effective if you agree with it, or if it makes you laugh. But sometimes the best ones are offensive. They sting a nerve. These can make you think.

For example, here’s a quote from a roadside sign in front of a rural church:

“If evolution is true mothers would have more than two hands.”

At first I was struck by the missing comma. Then I kept thinking.

My mind paused to ponder the possibility that it was a joke–perhaps it was supposed to be funny.

The brain sent molecules equivalent to a snicker of doubt. Nah.

Perhaps the strange sentiment was posted to remind all sons and daughters to hold our mothers in high esteem, to honor them while accidentally revealing Mr. Sign-Guy’s lack of comma skills and misunderstanding of science.

This made more sense but what if the author just didn’t like commas, or Mr. S-G couldn’t find one for the sign, and had never had much of a relationship with his mom? In that case, this sign would be intentionally poking at evolution, a well-supported scientific theory, one that scientists fully acknowledge and believe, and will consider to do so until it is disproven, in a way that has no correlation to choosing to believe in something, like religion, based on faith. Because you’re told to. Because you’re afraid not to. Because the belief is perceived to be stronger, truer, and more sacred when embraced blindly.

Surely we would not have the ability to reason and think and test and reconsider and argue and retest, but be expected to choose to forgo utilizing these tools. Such a system would be poor design, when in fact the brain is incredible.

All scientific theories are bashed like piñatas by scientists. We hack and poke and probe and doubt and search for other options. We think and test and argue and test some more. If a genetic anomaly in females produced an extra hand which was handy for all of the things a mother must carry and fix and cook and wash and push and hold and heal and scratch, and that genetic anomaly became the rule, are we really to believe that single oddity would help the religiously faithful finally comprehend the beauty of evolution? It would seriously take something that blatant to flip the switch to stop the stupid?

Hmm. That church sign really got into my head.

But on the other hand (since I am a mother, I do have many), it was more likely just a sweet tribute to mothers, and supposed to be funny. I just didn’t get it.

(And probably the comma blew off in a storm.)

I do think I’m funny (so you don’t have to)

_ _ _ _    _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _


To hydrolyze an acid chloride

To convert acetal back to carbonyl and alcohol

To grow a flower

To rinse shampoo out of your eyes

To clean chalk from your sleeves

To clear bird poop from your windshield

To brew coffee

To soothe a fish

To quench a thirst

To make 100 students grin

(and not care whether they’re laughing at you)

(or with you)

(because laughing is the point)