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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Smart

Pie Crust and Pooping Pigeons

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Some days you’re the statue and some days you’re the pigeon.

And some days you’re the statue and there are a lot of pigeons. And also errands.

First, you have go to IKEA because you need a mattress and bed frame for your youngest kid who is coming home from college for Thanksgiving and doesn’t have a bed at home. Youngest Son is bedless because his frame and mattress were donated fairly hurriedly to his brother, Oldest Son, after a “5-ish dudes in a rented college apartment on a Friday night” situation turned Oldest Son’s into splinters and sawdust. Evidently “The Floor is Lava” is still fun when you’re newly adult and well fueled by…ice cream? Orange juice? Hard to tell.

I think we’re gonna need to make another cup of coffee. It’s one of those days.

But I digress.

You drive to the store with a splitting headache that has lurked behind your eyes all day. It’s Friday and you’d really rather go take a nap, but you can’t. You’ve tried to order the mattress online and it’s out because there is a massive supply system backlog in, like, the whole world. And let’s face it, you should have ordered this back in August when Youngest Son went away to college, so there would be time for it to arrive.

But you didn’t.

You lost the bubble on that. And also on painting the dining room, and replacing the hinge on the screen door, and... They’ve all become more of those things on your “to do” list that don’t get done. Now you find yourself having to extrovert on a Friday afternoon, when all you want to do is introvert your heart out in sweatpants, in your living room, away from the human epicenter of your Northern Virginia suburb.

Anyway, you get to IKEA. To your surprise and delight, the Mattress. Is. In. Stock. You did not anticipate that your mission would end in success. This is, well, kind of awesome, actually! The clouds part.You celebrate like it’s 1999 (or at least like you still have the flexibility and the uncreaky back muscles you had back then).

Small obstacle: the mattress is stored in a shelf above your head and there is nobody else in the aisle to ask for help. You, however, are undeterred. You have found your treasure. You’re fueled by joy and relief and a little bit of dorky roller disco dance energy (Dua Lipa has been getting a lot of airplay). You use a combination of physics, gravity, hair static and the smidge of strength in your noodle arms to skootch and bump and nudge the mattress from the bin above your head into the shopping cart.

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The mattress falls into the cart with a clatter and a bounce that, on a Monday, would have made you jump out of your skin, but today is Friday, and you have slain the dragon you came for. You drag your prize to the checkout line. Right as you get there, they open the self-checkout lanes, so you don’t have to wait in the ginormous snakey line that stretches all the way back to the Christmas decorations. You pay and you’re out of the store in no time. As a bonus, you run into your brother in law and his mom on your way out of the store. You have a wonderful conversation with actual grownups!

Then you get home and take your Labradors (who wiggle themselves into pretzels with fuzzy happiness that a human has come home another day in a row!) for a nice long walk in the woods so they can sniff all the sniffs and wag all the wags.

Synchronized sniffing: it’s a thing.

When you get back from your walk and remind the dogs that yes, they are the goodest girls, you remember your husband is having dinner with some college buddies. You’re a little befuddled as you try to figure out dinner. Then you remember that you made some pie crust earlier this week as a stress reliever. In your defense, it’s been a very statue-y (not pigeon-y) week. Making pie crust involves a lot of aggressive pummeling of big chunks of butter and flour into much smaller chunks of butter and flour. It’s very restorative. Like meditation that you can eat.

The mushroom and onion ones. As my mom says, “that doesn’t suck.”

All that buttery aggression is in the fridge waiting to be made into something toasty and melty that you don’t have to share with anyone. You roll it out and make some savory hand pies with bacon, onion and mushroom. This has the added benefit of cleaning out some stuff from the fridge, so you congratulate yourself on another victory.

Then you realize that you can’t possibly forgo dessert. That would be like going to a Led Zeppelin concert and leaving before they played Stairway to Heaven. Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their lives.

You have to think quickly, because the oven is already hot. Eureka! You’ve got it. You empty out a jam jar to make some strawberry hand pies. More fridge space cleared! Take that, pigeons.

There’s still a little extra dough. You decide to make the rest of the mini pies with Nutella and pistachio, because Nutella is your number one favorite ingredient in breakfasts (well, besides coffee) since 1987.

Somewhere between sautéing the onions and scooping the Nutella you realize that the local radio station starts its holiday music today at 5pm. You look at the clock on the oven. You see that it just so happens to be 5:45pm. You tell Alexa to start spinning those holiday records, pronto. She listens (because she has to, and also she’s logging your behavior to sell to a billion companies who want your business).

Bit by bit, the kitchen becomes a different place, one where your job doesn’t get to hang out. Your headache is slinking away too. The whole room smells like warm butter and flour. There is twinkling and jingling and stockings and oh yeah, some cheer too. You even have time to clean up the kitchen while the second tray of hand pies is cooking. Clean sink = goals!

Nom nom nom

Now all the cooking and cleaning is done. You’re sitting on the couch while Mariah sings to you that all she wants for Christmas is you. She’s told you that for years, but it never gets old. The Labradors snoozle next to you. It’s a charming tableau. It’s made better by the fact that you are about to make dinner out of an assortment of pastries stuffed with unhealthy things that are, let’s face it, kid food. When you wrap those kid food things in pie crust, though, they become something else. Elevated. Almost worthy of changing into good socks for, like maybe a pair without a hole in the big toe (which, in your defense, you didn’t notice until just now).

Snoozing Labradors

So yeah, some days you’re the statue. But here’s the thing: sometimes if you stop—just, stop—you can take a breath. A real one.

After a few of those, you start to feel a little more you-ish. You have space to notice things besides the pigeon poop. You remember that there’s magic in little places, like in the fuzzy wuzzy faces of your Labradors. Or in every one of those tiny dough pockets.

And that’s something that an entire flock of full-bladdered pigeons can’t ruin.

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