lust for pie

On Sunday, my lust for pie landed me at Urgent Care.

If you follow me on any other social media platforms, you may already be familiar with this saga. For the benefit of those wise subscribers who don’t follow me elsewhere, and for the sake of posterity, I’m about to re-tell the tale here in long form.  Probably too long.

Anyway. Here goes.

We used to have this neighbor – he moved out a couple years ago. We called him Crazy Gary. I feel pretty OK with labeling him as crazy since I’m sort of crazy too and also he was definitely, obviously a little bit not right in the head. Which is fine, nothing wrong with being crazy if it works for you and you’re not hurting anybody…which I’m relatively sure he wasn’t.

Crazy Gary lived in this little house on a bit of property that’s bordered on two sides by our quiet, dead-end road. The other two sides are bordered by our landlord’s property, which is mostly a woodchuck wonderland of lawn and vegetable patches. Crazy Gary was a hoarder and a tinkerer. He had every kind of engine you could imagine sitting around in his tiny back yard, and could often be found fabricating strange hybridized lawnmower-garden tiller-tree trimmer things out of like, spare bike parts and twine. The guy was clearly some sort of mechanical genius. What he was NOT, however, was a responsible custodian of the house he lived in. The house actually belonged to Crazy Gary’s absentee mother and I guess she eventually got sick of the place being trashed and full of boxes of greasy sprockets whenever anyone went to check on it, so she had him evicted. Technically the house is now for sale as a ‘fixer upper’, but it’s really more of a ‘faller inner’. They cleaned out a lot of Crazy Gary’s hoard (like four huge rolling dumpsters worth, plus I don’t even know how many truck loads. It took them a couple weeks), but there are still piles of junk hanging around. The house has some broken windows. One of the exterior doors came unlatched at some point in the winter and now the woodchucks are using it as a clubhouse. Most mornings when I drive by on my way to work, there’s at least one woodchuck out on the front step sunning itself, giving me side-eye like “yeah, you keep moving, bi-ped. This place is four legger territory now.”

Point being…the property is abandoned.

Which conveniently relieves me of any qualms I might have had about appropriating the odd armful of stalks from Crazy Gary’s huge, beautiful rhubarb patch. It’s not stealing if it doesn’t belong to anybody in the first place, right? And it’s just going to go to seed and spread further across the lawn if someone DOESN’T harvest it, so really, I’m doing them a favor, right?

Right.

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This patch is easily 6’X8′. Trust me, there’s enough. Also? Someone else had been in it before me, so I feel almost entirely absolved of guilt.

Sunday afternoon was actually the first time I made a rhubarb run this season. It had been ready to make delicious things with for a few weeks but I kept either forgetting or running out of time in the day (you don’t go into woodchuck country at night. They’re like bats but worse. 10 gold Internet doubloons if you get that awkward and unskillful reference), or just plain lacked the ambition to walk the 50 yards out around the corner and pull some. But this past Sunday the weather was glorious, I was in a mood to cook, and the siren song of pie was just too much to ignore…so off I went.

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On the way back home with my only-marginally-ill-gotten gains. You see that knife glinting out from the rose-tinged stalks in my hand there? I sharpened it up real good before this whole endeavor kicked off. Foreshadowing? POSSIBLY.

My bounty and I made a quick stop at the compost pile to get rid of its leaves and stem ends, and then it was back to the kitchen to transmute this bunch of inedible hell-stalks into a toothsome pie.

Rhubarb pie is dead simple to make, especially if you’re a pastry slacker like me and use store bought pie crust (life is too short to fuck with pie crust from scratch. Don’t come at me with your tips and tricks because I’ve tried them all and they work fine, I just completely detest rolling out pie crust and I’m not going to do it. Save the wear on your finger joints. I love you). The majority of the work is in slicing the stalks and mixing them with sugar. Super easy.

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There’s that very sharp knife again. It’s a Henckels, and I’ve had it for nigh on 15 years. I cook A LOT and this knife is essentially an extension of my right hand.

One of the things about my ADHD is that it often takes me on tangents. The beat up jalopy of my mind is always taking turns down sketchy, winding side roads, often on two wheels at a high rate of speed, when it is least convenient. It can get very frustrating because I feel like I’m not the driver but rather, just one of those little smiley-face balls people sometimes stick on the end of their radio antennas. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride and I have very little say in direction or velocity, and that gets exhausting. I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I find helpful in terms of regaining a feeling of control over my brain is to make things. The creative process burns a lot of gas for me (big on the automotive metaphors today, I guess. Crazy Gary would approve), which helps slow things down a little. Making also often involves repetitive motions: the under-and-through under-and-through of knitting, the stab and draw of the needle and thread when embroidering…and of course, the methodical motions of chopping up ingredients for a dish.

Some people are afraid of very sharp knives, but anyone who has spent any time in a professional kitchen will tell you that the sharper the knife the better. Sharp knives are safer to work with, and they’re far more satisfying. There’s a specific swish that a good sharp knife makes when it cuts through veg, a specific feeling when I’m motoring through a stalk of whatever and making nice even cuts. It’s like everything else falls away, including the static in my head, and I’m in a state of flow. It’s just the knife and the veg dancing across the board, with my hands guiding via pure muscle memory. I don’t have to think about anything when I chop. I just have to show up and make the motions. It’s like a tiny glimpse of nirvana.

Another thing about ADHD is that it there are no guarantees. Something that helped you relax and focus one day might not work the next. And that hyper-focus, that Zen-like state of flow where everything seems like it’s happening almost without you, like some beautiful out-of-body experience where you get to just sit back and watch? That can vanish in an instant, in mid-motion, leaving you feeling lost and bemused until you realize, oh yes, I’ve fallen out of The Flow and I’m back on planet Earth.

And the thing about sharp knives is, they’re made of metal and thus very unforgiving. They have ZERO fucks to give about your mental state. They demand constant respect and utmost focus. A sharp knife can do a lot of damage if you’re distracted for even a split second.

Which, as you may have guessed, is how I ended up crumpled in a kitchen chair with my head between my knees, trying desperately to not pass out while I squeezed a wad of paper towel against the side of my left index finger in an attempt to staunch a rather alarming flow of blood.

The knife was in my finger, completely through my flesh and out the other side before I even registered anything. I tried to give it a quick rinse under cold water but I could immediately tell that it was deep and bad, so I went for paper towel and pressure instead. I’ve cut myself plenty of times in the past and I knew all the things to do – hold firm pressure on the wound, keep my hand above the level of my heart, sit down and stop pacing. I breathed my way through the massive urge to throw up and the torrent  of cold sweat that an adrenaline come-down always leaves me with, then I made my way to the couch so I could put my feet up. Mark wasn’t home and Keppo was pretty sure that he could fix everything by adamantly licking my face, which was as endearing as it was ineffective.

The blood wasn’t seeping through the paper towel, but the wound was getting re-opened every time I moved the paper towel to try and see if the bleeding was stopped. After about 40 minutes or so of repeating that cycle, I finally admitted that I may need stitches. I probably COULD have driven myself one-handed to Urgent Care, which is about 30 min away almost entirely by interstate, but I was still feeling a little wobbly from shock so I called my dad for a ride instead.

About twenty minutes after I went in, I emerged from the Urgent Care facility with a finger held together by superglue and steri-strips, and wrapped with elasticated gauze to roughly the size of the average corn dog.

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The doctor pointed out that it kind of looked like a dick and I couldn’t not see it after that. He used the term ‘winky’ though, which was more charming.

I’m grateful that I didn’t need stitches. I’m even MORE grateful that I didn’t sever an artery or a tendon. I’m still going to keep my knives sharp, but I might not do any serious slicing or chopping while I’m home alone for a while.
And I’m definitely going to steal more of Crazy Gary’s rhubarb.

9 thoughts on “lust for pie

  1. I’ve followed you on twitter for a while but never realized you have a blog before this! This post took me back to my Grandmother’s house in northeast Pennsylvania where she had not one but two rhubarb patches. Now it won’t grow where I live in North Carolina, but my mom brings me jars of canned rhubarb and strawberry/rhubarb jam about once a year.

    I’m glad to see your injuries weren’t serious enough to keep you from enjoying the spoils of conquest!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suckiness of cutting a finger aside, I have to admit that rhubarb being the instigator in this case is a refreshing change from all the avocado-related hand injuries I’ve been seeing lately on reddit (one of which DID involve a severed artery – avocados don’t mess around).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Avocados are slippery little bastards. Every time I see someone hold an avocado half in one hand and start whacking with a knife at the seed with the other hand, I cover my eyes. Put it on the cutting board, ferchrissakes!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got a bad bite from a dog once, right through my finger, and just as soon as my adrenaline failed me I was shaking uncontrollably in pain. It’s like the coyote in Roadrunner who’d be halfway off the cliff before realizing where he was before crashing down. I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here– rhubarb demands payment. I’ve actually never tasted rhubarb before, but I’m interested now!

    Also, I totally get what you mean about doing something being calming for your mind. We may possibly have the same brain because I felt like you were describing me. If I couldn’t do something, esp. something creative, I’d have very little hair on my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrenaline come-down is the worst. Like…how about no fight OR flight…how about you just let me get eaten by the bear or whatever, because it’s preferable to the puke-y cold sweat shakes, I think.

      Raw rhubarb is kind of the consistency of celery except the strings are less pronounced, and it tastes like an extra sour green apple. People add varying amounts of sugar to it in order to make it more palatable, then cook it in pie or stew it down to make a sauce (super good over vanilla ice cream). It makes a really nice chutney base as well, which in turn is good with stuff like fancy cheeses, on roasted meats, etc. It’s also pretty fabulous infused into vodka or gin and made into cocktails. If you can get your hands on some, you should try it…if only for curiosity’s sake! Just don’t eat the leaves…those are poisonous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t see that poisoned leaves bit coming! I think I will try it just for the sake of knowing. I do love a sour green apple. I’m sure I’ve seen it in the produce section unless I’m making up a memory. Either way, you’re making me really hungry for pie and cocktails. Shall I send you my address for the pie delivery? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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