Joey’s Apple Pie

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A dear friend phoned the other day and said, “I have a big favor to ask.”

“No problem,” was my response. We have known each other thirty-six years, so short of asking me to change someone’s diaper I was all in.

She continued in a subdued tone, almost a whisper, “It’s a really big favor.”

Obviously, it was more than watering houseplants or feeding the cat. Perhaps it involved driving her to the airport or lending her my car.

“It’s a really, really big favor.” She continued emphasis on both reallys.

“Really really,” I responded. “Tell me what you need.”

“Will you make Joey an apple Pie? You make the best apple pie.”

Joey is her grandson and graduating high school. Although she and Grandpa Bob gifted him a college fund, what he really wants is an Apple Pie.

Now I was saying really, and hard pressed to remember if in fact I did anything special when baking an apple pie but nevertheless, said “Of course I’ll make Joey an apple pie.”

Our conversation ended with me feeling I have special talents, that is how Pat makes people feel, and recalling how we met.

It was 1981 and we were buying our first home. The purchase price was $80,000, interest rates nineteen percent. The sellers, Ruth and Lee Hardin agreed to hold a $57,000 mortgage for five years at thirteen percent. Our monthly house payment would be $630.53.

As a stay at home mom, and substitute teacher I wanted to earn extra money so responded to a New Jersey Herald ad, Avon Representatives Needed in Sussex County and met Pat.

Pat first came to our home as the District Sales Manager but soon became a guest.

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The house was a beautiful Victorian on Linwood Ave in Newton, New Jersey and we were thrilled it was in move in condition. There was pink plastic tile, trimmed with black, in the bathroom, a window in the shower. Four doors consumed the small kitchen; one to the outdoors, one to the basement, a swinging door to the family room, and  a paneled door entering the formal dining room. The windows were original and the drafts off set by huge silver radiators. There was green sculptured carpeting throughout and matching embossed green wallpaper everywhere. We had one couch. My mother-in-law lent us a dining room table.

The day after our phone conversation, Pat dropped off a deep dish-baking pan purchased for Joey’s Apple Pie and Mr. Wonderful set about the task of peeling the Granny Smith apples.

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I tossed the apples with cinnamon and very little sugar, turned them into a bought pie crust, dotted the apples with butter, crimped the edges of the top crust and baked the pie in an oven.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA      I felt special, as though giving a commencement speech, and knew Joey would feel special too.

. . . . Just Saying

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Potty Singing and Happiness

One of the most powerful forces in human nature is our belief
that change is possible. ~ Shawn Achor

thThe Happiness Series

     I am limping into 2016 determined to make the year less crappy. We retired in 2007 and every year after has had a good deal of crappiness. This year I said, “Enough is enough!” and have declared this year, one of happiness.

     I started by watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television program, hoping to be inspired and I was. The show is a mixture of interviews with and lectures by Spiritual Gurus designed to improve your life. It airs Sundays, on OWN.

     I was most taken by Shawn Achor who along with Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat Pray Love” has admitted to crying on the bathroom floor. Shawn has studied the Science of Happiness since his days at Harvard and talks about Positive Psychology and redefining Happiness. I was unaware that Happiness is a science, but what he said makes sense.

     The traditional formula, Hard Work = Success = Happiness, does not work because happiness is on the backside of success. We are always chasing the carrot because it is moved continually . Since 90% of happiness is derived from how the brain processes the world, we can train our brain to be happy just as we train our body to be strong, with exercise. The train your brain exercises he recommends are; a gratitude list, journal about what makes you happy, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness.

     You can watch his lecture on Super Soul Sunday or visit his website for particulars.

     While we have heard some of this before, Shawn supports the “Happiness Advantage” theory with findings. He found that people engaging in any of the activities for 21 consecutive days, were happier. In other words, happiness is a habit and good habits, like smiling, make a difference.

     Since writing make me happy, and writing about what makes you happy is on the list, I am introducing the Happiness Series, with “Striped Sweater.”

 

Striped Sweater

      Snow falls throughout the night into the early morning. Soft sugar like flakes that tickle your face then flutter gently to the ground, remind me of creating angels in the snow. We are snowbound. The roads are driveable but it is safer not to. The accumulation is six to seven inches and the air crisp.

     Our eleven-year-old granddaughter is playing computer games with Aunt Janine and doing handstands on the living room floor. The Christmas tree is still standing with scattered presents beneath the artificial branches.

     Alexandria Antonia resembles my side of the family: fair skin, freckles, hazel blue eyes, and her dad’s auburn brown hair. She will more than likely be tall.

     Alex, as she prefers to be called, sings throughout the day, off tune. Her voice is wonderful to hear. She sings, “Striped Sweater, a sweater with a stripe” a song she wrote. There are no other words just this simple refrain. Papa wears an old green sweater that inspired the catchy tune. She denies liking to sing and in between handstands excuses herself to use the potty.

      We then listen to her joyful rendition of Jingle Bells from behind a closed door.

      This is happiness.

. . . . just saying