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In Pie We Trust

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In Pie We Trust

Tess added a pinch of lavender into the bowl as she stirred. A quick glance at the old train station clock over the front door told her that Johnna would be in any minute to open the shop. Tess felt a sense of urgency to get the pies into the oven before Johnna arrived so she wouldn’t have to listen to another lecture about her less than stellar time-management skills.

Right on time (ten minutes early) Tess heard the back door open and close.

“What’s up, buttercup?” Johnna chirped as she sidled up next to her younger sister and sniffed the days’ special flavor being mixed, a large bouquet of fresh flowers in one hand.

“Mmmmm….is that lavender I smell? What are we calling this one?” Johnna asked.

“I’m still thinking,” said Tess.

“Well, I can’t wait to taste it,” replied Johnna. “I suggest you hurry and get those in the oven so they’ll be ready.”

Tess stuck her tongue out at her sister’s back as Johnna made her way toward the sink where yesterday’s Ball jar vases sat clean on the drain board, ready for today’s flowers.

After the fresh flowers were placed in the center of each table (that their brother, Mitchell, had made from reclaimed barn wood) Johnna grabbed her apron off the hook by the cash register and finished readying In Pies We Trust for opening.

The sisters had been very lucky to find and lease the space on Main Street that had once been a Red Goose shoe store. In the 1980’s it had been converted into a women’s boutique for a short time, and most recently an artist, who was a relative of the owner, had used it as a painting studio. The original black and white hexagonal tiles still graced the front entryway, and in their remodel, the sisters exposed an original red brick wall on the east side that runs the length of the shop. Lots of natural light spilled in through the large front windows, casting bright shafts of sunshine all the way into the kitchen.

Tess had just taken the last pie from the oven when the bell over the front door chimed with the arrival of their first customer of the day. The mouthwatering aromas from the baking of so many pies permeated the premises. They both agreed, on a daily basis, that the extra money they had spent on the exhaust fan that blew those mouthwatering aromas out onto Main Street had been well worth it. With all their sales, it had more than paid for itself.

Opening their specialty pie shop, in Wimberley, Texas two years earlier had proven to be the best decision the sisters had ever made. Neither one of them had been happy about landing back in their hometown, single and jobless in the same year, but, they had put their heads together and found a viable solution to their problems. It seemed that everyone loved pie and that was one thing they were both good at.

Johnna had perfected the pie crust, adding a secret ingredient (crushed toasted hazelnut) in place of a portion of the flour, and Tess, with her creative flair, found boundless energy in coming up with delicious, unusual flavors – and the fun one-of-a-kind names she gave them – to keep a steady flow of customers coming back for more.

Some of the town’s favorite pies had been: raspberry tart with lemon zest, peach and gingerbread, orange peel and mascarpone, and ruby red grapefruit with cream topping, all with fun, unique names that only Tess could come up with.

“Good morning, Mrs. Henry,” Johnna said with a smile. “Tess has just finished today’s special.”

Johnna looked behind her to read what Tess was writing on the blackboard.

“She’s calling this one…” Johnna leaned around Tess’ body so she could make out the words as Tess finished the last letter with a flair…”A French Affair!” Johnna gave Tess a sharp look conveying her irritation to Tess for having waited until the last minute. Again.

Tess presented their most loyal customer with a sample before Johnna could blink.

“Mmmmm. That’s very good! What’s that I taste in there with the blueberries?” Beulah Henry asked.

“Now Mrs. Henry, if we told you our secrets, we’d never see you again.” Tess winked.

“Would you like a slice and a cup of coffee?” Johnna asked.

Mrs. Henry came in every day. And every day she asked questions she knew would not be answered.

As the front door chimed again, signaling the arrival of another customer, Mrs. Henry replied, “Yes! And why don’t you go ahead and box up a whole one for me. It’s my turn to bring snacks to the Bridge this afternoon.”

Johnna and Tess looked up to see a steady stream of familiar faces lining up at the counter, and they shared a knowing smile.

Wordless Wednesday

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Pretty Table

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Tree Extra

Even Steven

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fall light

Late afternoon light spilled into the modest living room through the open door. Monty, who lay napping in the sunny spot, was probably taking Claire’s sudden death harder than anyone. The two had been inseparable the past three years. Claire had found the abandoned puppy rooting around inside a toppled garbage can on her weekly walk to Hudson’s market six blocks east of her tiny cottage.

“I’ve given him my dinner scraps and a bath with my dandruff shampoo.” Claire told Thelma on the telephone that night. “He sure is a cute little thing.”

“Well, you’ve done your good deed, now put him outside and let him find his way home.” Claire’s best friend had said. “The last thing you need is a filthy animal living in your spotless house.”

“Maybe.” Claire had replied. “But right now, I’ll just let him sleep here in my lap. I think that bath wore him out.”

Everyone thought it was strange that Claire kept the dog. She had never allowed pets in the house while the kids were growing up. Even stranger, they thought, was that Claire had named the puppy after her deceased husband of 57 years.

“It was a nice service.” Thelma said as she served herself a helping of the lasagna that pastor Bill’s wife, Anita had dropped off earlier. She sniffed before taking the first bite.

“Yes, and didn’t she look natural.” Said Sissy, Claire’s youngest daughter, who sat at one end of the kitchen table that was piled with food.

A steady stream of family, friends and neighbors had kept the screen door busy all day but now there were just a handful left as the sun set outside. A quiet settled over the little house. Everyone was tired from the day’s sad activities.

Claire’s granddaughter, Sharon broke the silence. “I remember spending many a summer here. I loved Grandma Claire, but dreaded the daily cleaning regimen. Did you know she scrubbed her sinks twice a day with Ajax, and vacuumed the whole house every day?”

“Tell us something we don’t know, Fred said, pulling up a chair at the table after having walked the Butlers to their car. Grandma Claire was the neatest of all the neat freaks.”

“I was never afraid to eat her casseroles at the church picnics.” Thelma chimed in. “Everyone knew Claire had the cleanest kitchen in town.”

“She wasn’t just clean,” Sharon said. “You know she had OCD, don’t you? Remember how she had to lock and unlock the dead bolt four times before she went to bed. And before she left the house, she would arrange all the knick knacks on the mantle just so, then pat the throw pillow on the couch two times before she would leave.”

Sissy said that all her life her mother had done everything an even number of times. Whether it was locking the front door, patting a pillow, singing a verse from her favorite song, or stirring a pot of stew. Claire was compelled to live her life evenly.

Everyone chimed in with their favorite Claire stories well into the evening. At some point Monty got up, stretched his legs and made his way to his food bowl. No one had remembered to feed the dog, but he wasn’t very hungry and just lapped up a little water before making his way back to Claire’s bedroom and curling up in the middle of her bedspread.

Sharon found him there later that night, after everyone was gone. She would be living in the house now that her grandmother was gone. It was the perfect spot for her to hunker down all winter and finish the novel she’d been working on for the past two years.

After taking Monty out for a walk around the block just before midnight, Sharon put some food in his bowl and encouraged him to eat. She didn’t blame him when he gave her a forlorn look and returned to the bedroom. “I miss her too.” Sharon said to the sad dog.

As she locked up the house and turned off the lights, her hand fell to the thermostat on the wall in the hallway. It was set on 78 degrees. An even number. “Of course!” she thought out loud. She moved it down to 76 so she could get a comfortable night’s sleep.

“Goodnight Grandma Claire.” She said out loud a few minutes later as she settled onto the bed. Before she turned out the light, she patted Monty two times on the top of his head.

Time Machine Thursday

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1944-Warren-CookieFoster

Cookie wanted to wear her new boots everywhere.

Her big brother, Warren (my dad) always had her back.

Wordless Wednesday

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