Aunt Carol’s Pie

Impossible Pie.

My Aunt Carol loved Impossible Pie.

I can’t remember exactly when she first made it for us – growing up it was just always kind of one of her things: if Aunt Carol was around, chances were good that there might be an Impossible Pie involved too.

Making this particular pie is easy, and fun, and no-fuss.   You stir together some ingredients: eggs, sugar, butter, milk, flour, and coconut, mainly… then you dump it into a baking dish and TAH DAH, out of the oven comes a fully made pie, having formed its own crust as it baked.

All the hard work goes on inside of the pie, and everything just kind of comes out like it should.

Aunt Carol was a lot like Impossible Pie.

Other pies are precise, with a carefully-made crust, and a finicky filling, maybe even an ornate top crust all layered up perfect and just-so.

But life isn’t like that, really, is it?  Your best-laid plans are always getting rerouted and mixed up and whirled all together.   And for a lot of people that can really throw you way off track.

Aunt Carol wasn’t one of those people.   Around her the joy and the pain and the hope and the trials and the EVERYTHING of real life swirled and swirled.   And she settled all the layers into a life full of the people she loved.

It was the same as she bravely battled cancer – the bowl was stirred, and inside of her body and soul so much work was going on to re-form the layers of her life…  things shifted and mixed and she moved forward, knowing they would settle again.

She was strong, and loving, and SO very funny – and all the layers of her combined perfectly.

This week my Aunt Carol’s battle with cancer ended .  Looking at pictures and thinking back on countless memories of her, I found myself in the kitchen, gathering together the ingredients to make Impossible Pie.

A simple recipe that I can make with Jr the way she used to make it with us, a way to share my memories of her, and let him share his –and a reminder from Aunt Carol that, in pie, and in life,  some of the sweetest rewards come from trusting in the impossible.

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The most wonderful (TV) time of the year?

Old faithful, spending retirement in the corner of my home office.

So  here we are sliding down the back side of Fall, with the season of holidays picking up steam.

Or as I always thought of it when I was little “the season of the holiday TV cartoon special.”

I freaking LOVE ME some holiday cartoons.   If you animate it, Keri is HERE. FOR. IT.

And don’t get me wrong – Jr is totes here for it too…

But it’s just… well…  Different.

This year when I fired up It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,  (onDemand, natch,) he was at least one foot in the “meh” zone about the whole thing.

I taped TONS of Halloween/fall episodes of some of his absolute fave cartoons, and I was more excited than he was for the most part.

That last sentence?   Therein lies the rub if you really look at it – I said “taped”….  People don’t “tape” shit anymore Keri, ffs.  You record it.  Because it’s NOT on tape.  But really, you don’t even do that.

You pull it up on Netflix, or Amazon or onDemand (like my Charlie Brown example,) or WHATEVER platform you dig, and you do it any damn time you want.

It’s not special.  It’s just normal.  And it’s bummin’ me out a little bit.

When Dr. Sissy and I were tiny twins, holiday cartoon specials were a big deal.  Like CAPITAL “B” CAPITAL “D” Big Deal, yo.

If The Great Pumpkin was coming, or The Grinch was going to steal Christmas on TV that night, preparations were made in advance at our house.  Sometimes it meant we got to pick something special to eat for dinner  – like my high holy culinary grail of kiddo- Keri-coveted treat dinners: The Swanson’s  Fried Chicken TV Dinner (dear God Keri, stop talking and delete this embarrassment…  but NO, I push on.)

Even if it was just hot dogs and blue box mac and cheese, it ALWAYS meant we got to eat in front of the TV that evening, which was rare.  We had two TVs in the house, in a VERY technical sense of that count. One normal “modern” television, and one that was O.L.D.

Holiday special nights usually meant that we fired up the O.L.D. set at least a half hour before said special started, so THE TUBE HAD TIME TO WARM UP (I shit you not, kids, this was a thing back then.)

Did I mention it was a black and white set?

See, now this is making Keri sound older than she actually is –  we were well out of the B/W TV set era by the time all of this was going down, but the set was in the room right off of our kitchen, and chances are daddy was down stairs watching football on the TV in the family room (or anything other than cartoons, because he was not the adult fan that his daughter is today,) so we fired up old faithful,  carefully set our metal chicken dinner containers onto our TV trays,  and waited for the picture to fade in.

Sure, as we got a bit older and a VCR that we could set to record (which was a bitch, BTW,) came into our lives, we could’ve taped the shows (and I mean actually taped here, folks,) but we didn’t.

We checked the TV Guide (that was an insert in the newspaper each week that listed what was on – before we had 9 billion channels and an interactive guide,) we adjusted the foil on the bunny ear antenna, and we got excited.

And if we missed it, then it was just too bad.  Life lesson learned.

If we missed the Great Pumpkin, we were that much more careful to make sure that we were in front of that TV when Snoopy started popping popcorn and flinging pretzels around that ping pong table at Thanksgiving.

It. Was. Special.  If you missed it, it was gone for a year.

Now?

Now it’s meh.  Because chances are mom can find it on her phone if you are getting rambunctious in the car or something.

Now your biggest fear isn’t that the old black and white console set will finally blow a tube and not warm up – it is the horror of the Grandparents’ inferior WiFi that might force you onto your mom’s work hotspot.

Sigh.

But I am NOT sinking into modern-day holiday special ennui without a fight, people.  Oh no no NO.

I am going to throw the picnic blanket on the floor, lay out a spread of kid friendly food that would make any tiny tummy growl in anticipation,  and fire up all the specials in the coming months.

ALL. THE. SPECIALS.

And this season, when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes,  I am going to do my level best to make sure that Jr’s does too.

I may even get myself a TV Dinner.

(yes I know they don’t call them that anymore, shut up you are ruining it.)

Happy viewing, everyone.

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Careful what you wish for.

yes we are, SnapKeri… we really really are

Be careful what you wish for.

That’s what “they” say, right?

Whatever.  I always scoffed at that statement.  Like HELLO, we get it, life happens… but I am a grown-ass woman, and I know what I want, damnit.  Right?

Right.

Someone recently pointed out that my Instagram account has been (relatively)  quiet of late….
TBH all of Keri’s social media has been uber slow compared to my usual constant stream of overshare.

Here’s the thing –  how many pics of “my Bae Caesar” (salad) can one person possibly Insta?  At what point do even the most loyal of the Snap fam heavy sigh at yet ANOTHER salute to a Friday night charcuterie board with some (I think) clever caption about how fast I will be asleep on the floor in front of Twin Peaks after eating it? When does watching Dr Sissy and me exchange Mary Kate and Ashley GIFs on Twitter AGAIN drive a kind-hearted but still over it follower to mute because JUST ENOUGH ALREADY @todds_wife!?

What. A. Rut.

Long story short (too late) it was straight up Groundhog Day in Keri-land, yo.  And one more Snap featuring Jr’s rainforest animals soother glowing on the ceiling while his favorite obscure Paul Simon song plays in the soothing  half-light just suddenly felt like I was highlighting the horrifically mundane.

Can a girl get some variety in life, or what, universe!?

Here comes that “careful what you wish for” shit.

Labor Day weekend rolled around….  It was typical – there was pool time and BBQing and showing our fave brewery some consumer love and all of that….

And then Jr started to cough.  By Monday evening when I put him into bed (and he coughed himself to sleep to “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War,” natch,) I was ready for a shower and some sleep….

But when I emerged, wet haired and jammie-clad, down the stairs, I found The Mr folded up at a weird angle on the sofa, grimacing.

He’d stepped wrong off the bottom step in the garage and the top of his foot hurt.  I grabbed a heating pad, chalked it up to our aging ligaments, and figured it would be fine by the morning,

12 hours later I had a son with a nasty viral lung funk and a husband with a foot that was broken in two places.  I also had a slew of in-person meetings at the office with a visiting- from-out-of-town coworker,  and no grandparents in town to help out with poor sicky Jr for at least the first day or two…

Groundhog day was over, y’all.

Careful. What. You. Wish. For.

The next week was a surreal blur of doctor’s appointments,  barf buckets, conference calls, air-casts, dog walking, temperature-taking, co-worker bonding, frustrated-husband comforting, rushing back-and-forth CRAZIENESS.

And as the days passed, and I marched on through the chaos, it dawned on me – you asked for different, Keri.  You poked the universal bear.

Jr returned to school and all of his activities after a week of down time; twice a day I run Potter around the path by the reservoir so he can do his doggie business;  I haul ass to the office every morning later than I’d like, hoping to NOT get the shittiest parking spot in the lot….

Things certainly did get a shake up , I guess.

You’re welcome, Snap Fam, for the eleventy billion additions to my story of me walking the dog and comparing The Mr’s air cast to an 80s ski boot.

Turns out variety doesn’t = exciting content after all.  BUT, no more over-curating from Keri.  After all, what breaks up the day better than a good social media over-share?

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Filed under Just Sayin', Mom life, musing

Who’s up for a drive?

 **ETA – Open as of August 11!!!! **

Let’s be honest, when you move to a new place (or back to an old place,) and you have to put yourself out there and find new places and new people who can tolerate your level of weird you can connect with, it sucks.  Finding a great place to eat where they love your kid like you love your kid, a brewery where the beer AND the people both rock, neighbors who feel comfortable breaking in to your back yard when they see the fire pit going, and coworkers who make you maybe NOT want to work from home every damn day can be a real bitch, yo?

It takes time… there are false starts, there are strange vibes and weirdos (and not the good kind,) and all kinds of potential potholes you can’t always avoid.

But you get there.  You find your folks.  You land at a spot or two where, eventually, your conversation AND your wifi both connect automatically when you sit down after a long day.

You settle in.

And then they leave your ass.

Ok, that is 100% over-simplifying it, but I am prone to drama, so whatever.

When we arrived back in this sleepy little hamlet (seriously Keri?  I just eye-rolled at myself with that one,) one of the first times I remember thinking “hey, we are going to be ok here after all,” was the first time I opened the door of Broomfield’s 1st Brewery, Big Choice Brewing.  Social Distortion blasted through the speakers, and it smelled deliciously, invitingly beery.  And holy shit, was the beer GOOOOD.

YAS, people, just YASS.

For the past 5 years it’s been where we go.  It just has.  Jr learned to climb stairs one quiet weekend afternoon there as we waited for an early dinner to come off whatever BBQ food truck happened to be parked outside that day. My coworkers and I toasted great news with pints of Disconnected Red, and commiserated in mutual exhausted silence with Peppermint Stout during end-of-year craziness. Faces around the tasting room became familiar and every visit became a chance to check-in, catch up, and connect.

Together we celebrated 5 anniversaries of their awesome beer and awesome-er (totally a word) community spirit with them. We got to watch the brewery grow into itself, and the owners turn from being “really friendly people” in to being just our very good friends.

But here is the thing about being really great.  The best kinds of greatness always grow WAY beyond whatever level of great you could have imagined.

And so last month – in a final blaze of Broomfield beer-serving glory, Big Choice said goodbye to it’s original home and hometown, and the Big Choice family started renovations on an amazing new space in Brighton – a town about 15-20 minutes away. (The Mr states it is 17 minutes from our door to theirs.)

It isn’t really FAR, per se.  It’s just not “in the same city as home and office close” anymore.  Which means it will be a weekend afternoon destination now, rather than a last minute wanna grab a beer any given weekday spot.

And believe me – our ugly mugs will be there OFTEN, the beer is great, the new space is SO COOL, and the chance to see old friends and meet some new ones in Brighton will be awesome too.

It’s just…  different.

And even if it was a little teary for me to imagine them anywhere else at first, I am so proud of how they have grown in these 5 years, and so excited to see what happens next for them.

The new space is ALMOST complete – the actual opening date is not decided yet, but you KNOW Keri will be blasting that all over here and every social media site she can when they pin one down.  (*ETA* Open as of 8/11!!!)

Hey Brighton – you are SO FREAKING LUCKY!  I’ll see ya soon at the brewery.

Soooo Broomfield… I know a place with some beer that is SO worth the trip….  Who wants to share an Uber?

Big Choice Brewing – 21 S. 1st Ave, Brighton CO

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41 vs 21.

41.  Today I (and my super awesome twin, Dr. Sissy,) turn 41.

Wait…..  Whut?

Forty FREAKING one.

One of my asshole acquaintances  younger friends said I am just celebrating the 20th anniversary of my 21st birthday.

Oh my damn.

It’s  been 20 years since my 21st birthday.

And hey!  Ya know what – when I think about it like that, maybe I should feel pretty damn good about things…  I have figured a thing or two out (ok, maybe just the one,) in the 20 years that have passed since Dr Sissy and I sampled every sketchy-ass “birthday shot” that the fine establishments of Boulder had to offer before taking turns holding each other’s hair back at different times over the next two days. (#wondertwinpowers)

That got me to thinking, how IS 21 different than 41?  Sometimes I feel EXACTLY like the girl who stood on the bar to kiss the buffalo with her sister on her 21st birthday, and not a day older…. and sometimes I am possessed by a cranky old lady barking at my husband to plug in my heating pad because I slept wrong the night before and “OY! MY BACK!”

What gives!?

Even at 41, I still hear the call of the Taco Bell drive thru when I have a shitty day at work… “Come Keri… get in line Keri… Nachos Bell Grande are the answer Keri.  And a GIANT Mountain Dew.”

But they aren’t the answer…  unless the question is “what is going to give you heartburn and make your damn pants not fit over your ass?”  And people – let’s acknowledge that is NEVER the question.  (I love you Taco Bell…. 4eva.  But you do me so, SO wrong.)

41 year old Keri WANTS to slam endless quantities of coffee drinks, all day and night, like her 21 year old self did.  21 year old Keri practically lived at THE BEST coffee shop EVER (I also love you 4eva, Paris on the Platte, RIP,) working there in the early mornings, and then camping out on a stool at the bar all evening long while Dr Sissy worked her shifts. Then heading back to the single gal condo and sleeping peacefully, NBD.  41 year old Keri just told her coworker today that she has to “watch her caffeine  any time after noon because otherwise I will be up all night.”  What, the actual F**k, universe?  How does that happen?  Now that I am a wife and a mom and have more on my plate than ever – NOW I have to limit my intake of the sweet nectar of energy and decency that is coffee, or risk being up watching Copper Skillet infomercials during the few hours my schedule actually allows me to sleep?  Damn you, 41.

21 year old Keri was ensconced in her perfect, walkable urban ‘hood, living on delicious (horrible) Big Bites and Hostess cupcakes, going to shows and  showing off fresh ink while downing house shots at PS lounge….

Remembering all of that is amazing.  But not the whole story. Nope… not at all.

21 year old Keri was  freshly mugged, flat broke, back and forth dating two guys- neither of whom was right for her,  and couldn’t get the air pockets in her bread to even out in culinary school (which is “rustic” now, but was “wrong” back then.) She was angry and lost and a little lonely.

I was 21 when I was diagnosed with MS.   (Talk about angry and lost… whoa nelly.)

21 year old Keri had some shit going on.    21 year old Keri walked through fire.

21 was actually a major pivot for me – and it had nothing to do with the ability to order  a drink.

And the things that happened that year set me on the path toward where I sit writing this now,  in my dimly lit kitchen,  about to get up and replace the blankets my son has no doubt kicked off, and fill the dog’s water, and kiss The Mr goodnight as he sleeps…  it was 21 that set it all in motion, really.

Andplusalso,  if you look hard enough, the best parts of that young woman are still right here, along with 20 years of hard fought understanding that have come along since then.  21 year old Keri buzzed around in her Jeep with the windows down and the music up. 41 year old Keri does the same. 21 year old Keri loved lingering and laughing over long tex-mex meals with her family,  and that is exactly how 41 year old Keri is celebrating her birthday this evening.

21 year old Keri made bad jokes when she was nervous (and when she was not,) enjoyed looking at the mountains way more than spending time in them, cried whenever she heard Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Colorado Christmas,” missed her twin sister living(part time) in Indy like crazy,  and was so damn grateful for every step she took, every sight she saw… every awful, wonderful perfect moment she got….

And you know what?  Ditto all of that for 41 year old Keri.

So maybe my not-so-jerky friend was right – happy 20th anniversary of my 21st birthday indeed.

(And to you too, Dr Sissy –  without you I am only half an egg.  muah.)

 

 

 

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