A lot has happened since my last post, nearly a month ago. Last you heard from me I was driving in The Beast from Southern California to Texas (after surviving not one but two trips to the emergency room).
After that 3-day drive from LA (with the help of “Saint Paul” Szendrey), I arrived in Austin, where I had a book event at BookPeople. Such a cool town with such fun people, like Mandy Brooks (pictured with me above), who is the marketing and event director for the esteemed book store.
After the book event and a swim in Austin’s Barton Springs, I moved on to Jefferson, Texas, invited by Kathy Patrick of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club to give a talk at a dinner reception held at Beje’s Diner. But first, Kathy and I made 10 pies to share with the evening’s crowd.
My mom and dad (with me above) moved to Los Angeles ten years ago and didn’t have much interest in leaving their ocean-view apartment for a return trip to Iowa. But I convinced them to come — by bribing them with airline tickets — and they were so glad for the experience. They loved the American Gothic House and its park-like setting and kept saying, “You just can’t describe this place. You have to see it for yourself.” They also said, “This is the cutest place you’ve ever lived.” And I’ve lived in a lot of cute places!
Friends of my parents came for a day to celebrate my dad’s 77th birthday. They pulled up in their “mansion on wheels” making The Beast look like a puny piece of dilapidated junk. Sigh. One look inside their luxurious RV made me tease them, “Where were you two months ago when I was planning my book tour?!” If I ever write another book I’ll be calling them to drive me around the country next time. And though they won’t give up their king-size bed, I will lay claim to one of their four La-Z-Boy recliners. Seriously, what a way to travel! Glad I didn’t know what I was missing.
My dad could not visit Southeast Iowa without stopping for a burger at The Canteen Lunch in the Alley. My dad has been coming to The Canteen since he was a little boy. It’s where he took us as kids. It’s where he introduced me to pie, banana cream pie. And though we didn’t have pie this time — hell, we weren’t even hungry — we enjoyed our “loose meat sandwiches” as well as our trip down memory lane.
After my parents’ whirlwind 4-day visit (and my two round-trip drives to the Des Moines airport) I immediately shifted my focus to the Pitchfork Pie Stand. I ordered 600 pounds worth of pie ingredients, hired James Meek, a student at Indian Hills Community College’s Culinary School, and started in on pie production mode.
That may look like a lot of pie — and it was, and it took a lot of time and effort to make them — but we sold ALL of these and more on our first day — within the first three hours. I had to soak my sore muscles in a hot bath of Epsom salts after opening weekend. I get tired just looking at this picture (above). I’ve already blown through 100 pounds of flour and 75 pounds of sugar. I still remember the fall of 2010 when I opened the stand and had a meltdown in Costco, crying about buying a 50-lb sack of flour and worried that was such a huge commitment and how I might never use it all. Oh boy.
You would think because the pie stand is only open on the weekends that I might finally catch up on some rest. Think again. Team Terrier, being as happy as me to be home, are up to their usual shenanigans. I spend over an hour a day walking them and throwing the ball or stick for them — and even more time combing out the burrs collected during their squirrel and bunny chases through the woods.
Perhaps I could squeeze in a nap, you may suggest. But when? There is the “pile” that needs to be dealt with. Not just the physical pile of bills, contracts and fan mail (pictured strewn on my office floor above — and it’s STILL there in a disheveled mess), but the cyber pile. I have a two-month backlog of email to get through. I spent a solid 8 hours replying to emails from April. I made it to May 1 so far. So if you’ve emailed me anytime after May 1, just know I’ll reply to you eventually. But it’s going to take a while.
As for The Beast, I’m so very grateful for it, that it held together (with the help of duck tape and new brakes) for the 5,000-mile journey of the book tour. I’m so grateful to have made it from home and back safely, through snow and wind, desert, mountains, rain, city traffic, long stretches of interstate, and bronchitis. And now I’m even more grateful for it, now parked to the side of the house, as it is serving as both “privacy fence” to shield me from my mean, nosy neighbors and as storage for pie ingredients. It’s plugged in to the house’s electricity supply to run the refrigerator, which is now packed full with butter, eggs, and lemons.