Mademoiselle Colette …Part Deux!


816 Santa Cruz Ave. * Menlo Park CA 94025 * 650-644-8469 * ( Also locations in Palo Alto and Redwood City! ) *

Part 2! We’ll always have Pandemic ( Scroll down or click here for part one! )

”We’ll pretend we’re in Paris!” I gleefully hollered into the phone. Mom agreed with  my ladies-who-lunch plan. I’d drive to The Sequoias, scoop her up, and we’d lounge at Colette’s cute sidewalk tables ; munching on soup, half sandwiches…and French mini pies!

I was racing against the clock with this caper. Recently I’d gotten whiff of a virus in Wuhan, and, viruses doing what comes naturally to them – travel around and piss everybody off – I had no faith this one would go against type and sit still. Mom’s senior living place also had the sensible habit of locking down whenever the flu came knocking, so whooshing off to Paris sooner rather than later was the call. Mademoiselle Colette’s came immediately to mind; they are nearby, and, with germs starting to sprinkle the news, I couldn’t forget barging into Colette’s sparkling civility right after seeing a man who was on his computer, picking his nose, and eating it. YUGH!!! Mademoiselle Colette’s immediately cleansed me of that experience, and now I wanted to return with Mom to that cafe of sanity before all hell broke loose.

We almost made it. The day before we were to go, Seniors were required/strongly suggested to stay at home for their safety. I thought about mom-napping her out the back door of her apartment, but decided I didn’t want to be that asshole. What if she got sick? What if we brought bad guy germs back to The Sequoias? What if nose picking man decided to skulk around Colette’s when we were there? No problem, I thought. I’ll bring Paris to her. Go to Colette’s, pick up soup and sandwiches and mini pies, and we’ll dine in. That didn’t happen either. The Sequoias moved faster on Covid-19 than Yeager on his best day. No visitors to the dining room. Within one day, no visitors, period.

And that’s how we find ourselves locked down and venturing out in masks and gloves for essential errands and, if you’re me, thanking the gods that The Sequoias threw Thor’s Hammer at Covid-19 and said ( my words not theirs ) “ We thank you for your interest but will all outsiders please stay the hella far freaking away until this has passed.” Guess what – no coronavirus at Sequoias barring one poor employee. I bow before greatness!

At The Sequoias, meals are parceled out to every single apartment a healthy 3x a day, which is a safe and grinding marathon of insanity for the staff. The rest of us are at home eating too much. I pat myself on my back for my prescient quote, “ In a world of hurt, no one can disagree on the idea of PIE.” Besides toilet paper what do the stores keep running out of? FLOUR! Okay, a lot of people are baking bread. But you know what I mean. COMFORT EATING. No time like a pandemic for pie. And nowadays when you bake something, you can’t really share it outside your household. It’s ALL FOR YOU. Ask my expanding ass how I know this.

It’s now been over two months, and The Sequoias has recently allowed things to be dropped off for residents at the front desk. Mom figured  we could wave and jump up and down from across the room, but what would be our excuse? Well…Mademoiselle Colette’s is open for takeout….how about a French pie delivery?!


C’est la vie


Not so fast. Turns out dropping goods at Mom’s Operation Foxhole – and I’m not kidding, Sequoia’s informed all residents they were going ‘Operation Foxhole ‘ – requires planning like an OCD military strategist.  I thought this through and came up with the following. With mask on : a) Break quarantine. Drive 1 hr to Colette’s. Must get gas on the way. Stop at gas station, keep keys in car and pay first, toss wallet in car and then gloves on. Fill ‘er up and toss gloves. Sanitize. B) Colette’s. Shove keys in pocket. Don gloves. Socially distance buy mini pies. C) Dang it have to pee. Do I pee at Colette’s. Is that allowed. Do I take off my gloves to pee. If I pee there with gloves on then do I toss them in the garbage and use a towel to open the door. Now the bag/box with pie in it is germy. Or gloves off for bathroom break. Gee if I use the restroom at Colette’s what’s the point in wearing gloves in the first place. If no restroom use then walk back to car, take off ONE glove, remove keys with ungloved hand, open car, take off other dirty glove and put both gloves in their to-toss place in car. Wait now I’ve just germed the Colette’s box. Sanitize the box. Sanitize the bag. Sanitize my hands again. D) Drive to Sequoias. Call mom to meet me at the front desk. This gets tricky as she likely won’t remember the rules. Convince her to meet me maybe at the front. E) Shove keys in pocket.  New gloves on. Drop off mini pies! Security re-sanitizes the box. See mom and have staff probably hold her back. Wave and jump up and down. Instruct her on walking up to pick up the box all while social distancing. No problem, new rules are easy for seniors. F) If I didn’t pee at Colette’s, dang it. Can I pee here. Is that a good idea. Do I wear gloves or not. G) Decide locating a tree is a better idea. Go back to car, deja vu. Take off one glove, remove keys from pocket, open car with ungloved hand, take off other glove and put in dirty glove toss pile, sanitize hands. H) Drive to park around the corner. Hike up trail and hope to veer off. Find a tree. Watch for rattlesnakes and hikers. Walk way far to find a spot. Now back to car, sanitize, check for ticks. I) 1 hour home. Strip. All clothes in laundry and shower with tick re-check.

 That’s a day well spent. I’d offer you a graph with stick figures and arrows but you get the idea.  But you know what…I’m slounging here in PJ’s pigging out and fantasizing about putting on flattering clothes – if they still fit – and a fancy hat, posturing at a sidewalk cafe watching the world go by while I eat a French tart displayed on a doily. Maybe sipping something bubbly. Until that day is possible, I can put on that fancy hat and bring Paris to mom. Mademoiselle Colette’s is worth it.



I dream of sparkling pecan pie

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Surfing and Strolling near Mademoiselle Colette

SURFING: As the crow flies from Colette’s , you’ll find yourself just south of Mavericks, and just north of a place nicknamed, ‘ Don’t Eat Us Creek. ‘ A more reasonable (flat!) spot is just south of Mavs I’m gonna call Demented Hitchhiker. Thanks to upwellings there, the water is particularly icy and you might find yourself unable to change or get into your car because your hands are frozen. Of course you parked right off the highway, so every single passing motorist sees you jumping up and down waving your arms in circles trying to get circulation back. For twenty minutes. YOU are Demented Hitchhiker.

STROLLING: Wunderlich Park and Windy Hill Preserve are kinda sorta nearby! Lovely hikes but for gods’ sake don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need a map. ” Just an out and back,” you might think. Ha! No! Windy Hill Preserve is now named for the wind between my ears when I decide I’m an experienced hiker and am going to improv a route. Pro tip; after these kinds of tours, extra pie is required.


Good Life Bakery


10483 Lansing St. * Mendocino CA 95460 * 707-937-0836 *

 It took a long time for me to eat pie from Goodlife Cafe and Bakery, but not for their lack of awesomeness. Mendocino is one of my regular visit spots, and on each go ‘round I got too preoccupied eating through Goodlife’s bakery display. Scones, muffins, croissants, cooookiiiieeees.  They make everything from scratch, using, (direct quote), organic, local, and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. That’s how I kept buying their muffins and scones for breakfast. Organic means health food, right?

Goodlife Cafe also serves ‘real meals’, and that’s how I got addicted to their pumpkin curry. I order each time I go in, walking out with precious curry tucked under my arm like a bear guarding the honeypot. If you don’t sneak out like me, there’s plenty of places to sit – an outdoor patio ( dogs allowed! ) and their indoor space makes me want to plant myself there half the day reading books and um, eating.

You NEED Good Life Bakery in your life when you’re in Mendocino because there’s lots of outdoorsy stuff to exhaust yourself with. I highly recommend renting an outrigger canoe and paddling up Big River. It’s lovely, and there’s so many bends you’re just dying to know what vista is behind the next one so you just go on and on and on and…Don’t. Have a turnaround plan. Stick to it. It was a blast paddling the Big River with bff and Mendocino denizen Alex and two of her visiting German friends, but once we turned around I remembered we were going against the increasing onshore wind. Alex warned us about this, but I didn’t really see it as a big deal, until I was silently thanking gods there were two strapping German women in our boat. Took full-on teutonic muscle to haul ourselves back. I wondered how many river boats ‘didn’t make it’ while Alex was probably laughing at us from her vantage point on a paddle board.

 Roaming near misadventures is how one can eat through Goodlife Cafe and Bakery. Seriously, I’ve bought so much food from them, this sainted kitchen guy could be my personal chef. With apologies for photobombing myself in lieu of another employee.


Local hero

Finally I realized I’d sampled their entire bakery menu and at last bought a giganto slice of apple pie. Was it delicious?! Absolutely of course. I ate it indoors, I ate it outdoors, I ate it in my car. It was so large and yummy finishing it off was like  diving into a Dr. Seuss book. I promise I’ll return, Good Life Cafe, and when I do, it’s pie for breakfast!

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Surfing and Strolling near Good Life Cafe and Bakery

SURFING: There’s a rivermouth here which they SAY is a surf spot, but hmmmm. I paddled out with Alex, so that counts as a surf no matter what on earth we were doing floundering around. Honestly I can’t imagine this place breaking in wave like shapes unless there’s a proper alignment of the 7 year swell direction with the miracle no wind and it’s a Tuesday between 11 and 1.30. Won’t stop us from enjoying ourselves of course. And then there’s a surf spot north at a place I’ll call Tapioca Creek, where somebody stole Hooligan’s non-descript tupperware water bowl while I was in the water! Who does that! BOOOO!! Sic’ em Hoolie.

STROLLING: Yeah! Beaches and parks and nooks and crannies everywhere. Too many to list. Jughandle State Park. Van Damme Pygmy Forest. Big River Estuary…have fun and oh yeah – there’s bears.



Mademoiselle Colette


816 Santa Cruz Ave. * Menlo Park CA 94025 * 650-644-8469 * ( Also locations in Palo Alto and Redwood City! *)

PART 1! Prelude to Catastrophe, Saved by Pie

“ Today is gonna suck “ – internal whining – “ I better get pie. “ Literally thought while skulking abou-I mean running essential errands in downtown Menlo Park.

Shortly thereafter I was supposed to go to mom’s place, grab her, drive her to a neuropsychologist appointment that I had made, be informed of the totally not shocking ‘news’ that she had memory problems, deal with the aftermath, and drive her back home. And why did I make that appointment? Because she bailed on the first one – she was buying overseas plane tickets instead. Good one mom. Her medical system called me and insisted she come, thus I was complicit and pissed off to be shoe-horned into this most cruel of mom-nappings. Damn right today was gonna suck. Days like today were meant for PIE.

I walked into Colette’s stunned by the sophisticated ambiance. It was immaculate. It was refined. It was everything I am not, BUT, I reassure myself, I am not so bad as the human blarg I’d encountered only minutes before. Waiting in a restroom line at a coffee shop, I (and plenty) were treated to the sight of  icky patron’s  head shoved in his computer, picking his nose, and eating it. Seriously what the fuck people. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I shot across the street into Colette’s, feeling unworthy of the cleanliness, as if I’d been tainted somehow. The transition was incredible.

*AAAAAA!* The angels sing. Oh there was pie all right. Mini pies of pumpkin and apple and pecan with golden nuts.



Midmorning midweek and Colette’s was packed with ALL WOMEN barring a few kitchen staff and one lone feller looking a tad uneasy. Inside and outdoors, ladies eating dessert and socializing in this pristine oasis. Had I stumbled into the secret sanctuary of pissed-off -grossed-out women?

I so wanted to sit down and stay. Invite myself to join a cluster of my brethren. Never leave. But I had the devil’s deed to carry out so I bought a mini apple pie for mom and two mini lemon cakes for myself and Mr. Rapunzel Pie Snatchers. ( Tantalizing tale for another day. )

I presented mom with her mini apple pie and it was a hit! The pie was adorable, the pie was scrumptious, even the pie’s box was cute with flowers drawn on all sides. Thus fortified we were able to put up with the rest of the day’s absurdities.

Where to begin. Apres pie, ( THANK GOD ) for mom’s appointment we drove to a world famous university’s neurology clinic, which, it turns out, you need a homing pigeon to find. Once you navigate the twisting roads and lack of signs and park the car in the confusing garage and locate the place for the ticket and wander around looking for the front door of the building, you simply walk in. Stand there twisting your head around until a helper directs you to a counter off to the side, where you are handed a pile of papers to ‘read’ ( HA ) and sign and then you must promise to pay them a gazillion dollars. Take a piece of paper with a barcode on it. Locate the restroom which is fully automated and try to explain via spastic waving of hands under the robo sink how it operates, thus confusing the elderly person with cognitive issues even further. Hop in the elevator and joke that the point of this neurological clinic is to create cognitive issues – by the time you stumble into your appointment, you present as scrambled brains. Hop off at your floor – and this is important – have no human interaction whatsoever. You’re supposed to swipe your barcode under the barcode reader – helpfully tacked on some side wall – and sit down in a waiting room devoid of any living thing barring some flowers which you want to kiss in gratitude. There is one clear sign though – a huge banner advertising how great said university’s medical offices are. Fantasize about ripping the banner to shreds. Now – ah! A human being. This is the doctor and she takes you to a windowless room with no soul and gently informs your mom that she is doing SUPER but … has some wee problems learning new things. It’s a dumbfounding session because of course every info and tip mom is told, she will forget. Realize that the doc has chickened out giving the actual news to the point she hasn’t even entered it on mom’s medical record.  Now we’re personally escorted out because the exit sign is written so small it’s unreadable unless you have found the exit already.

“ Let’s have a follow-up in 6 months!” The doctor suggests.

“Like hell’”, I promised myself. I find it completely fascinating that a department devoted to Alzheimer’s and cognitive issues could design a system guaranteed to drive anyone with neurological problems – and those accompanying these patients – absolutely batshit. They truly fucking nailed it. My theory is they spent so much time trying to be CLEVER, and then bragging about how clever and modern they are, but in no step of the process was anyone who ACTUALLY HAD EXPERIENCE WITH COGNITIVE DISORDERS a part of the planning process. But who cares! Look how shiny and new and smart this building is!


Debora Ferrand; owner, founder, save-the-dayer


 Sorry, rant off. We don’t have to go to Neuro-Psycho department again unless we absolutely must. We can choose to go or not go. And now we have Mademoiselle Collete’s near mom’s place, where we can exercise our best choices ; what pie to order!

I bid farewell to mom and proceeded to haul 2 Colette mini lemon cakes up to Rapunzel Pie Snatcher’s . Only 4200 ft elevation change and 365 turns in 7 miles and they survived intact! Wowzers! Later we tried to…replicate?…these lemon cakes by baking lemon oatmeal cookies. Inspired, but sans the sheer charm of Colette’s pastries.

This entry sings adieu on a two note song: one lowly ominous, one literally high. Unbeknownst to us, a premonition day of witnessing dear people working in a health care system that was utterly useless…and a day that was saved on the high note…pie! Pie in the sky!

Continue to Part Two…

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Surfing and Strolling near Mademoiselle Collete

SURFING: As the crow flies from Collete’s , you’ll find yourself just south of Mavericks, and just north of a place nicknamed, ‘ Don’t Eat Us Creek. ‘ A more reasonable (flat!) spot is just south of Mavs I’m gonna call Demented Hitchhiker. Thanks to upwellings there, the water is particularly icy and you might find yourself unable to change or get into your car because your hands are frozen. Of course you parked right off the highway, so every single passing motorist sees you jumping up and down waving your arms in circles trying to get circulation back. For twenty minutes. YOU are Demented Hitchhiker.

STROLLING: Wunderlich Park and Windy Hill Preserve are kinda sorta nearby! Lovely hikes but for gods’ sake don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need a map. ” Just an out and back,” you might think. Ha! No! Windy Hill Preserve is now named for the wind between my ears when I decide I’m an experienced hiker and am going to improv a route. Pro tip; after these kinds of tours, extra pie is required.

Mono River Rock Cafe


Drive along the blistering purgatory of central valley freeway until your brain burns, then turn east. Keep heading east as you rise above the dust and heat and up up up you go.  The more trees and boulders you see, the narrower the road becomes. You’ll lose your breath on the mountain and gain your air back to gasp down a one lane rutted path with drop-offs, vistas,  and pickups stuck in rocks.  Continue this madness until almost the end of the road, but not quite. Arrive at your destination and wonder how on EARTH all these people in WHAT vehicles managed that route too?!?!

Set up camp to the sounds of the river and jam with the mandolin player next door. Hop into various hot springs and be unable to try them all. Hike to a ‘temperate’ lake, enjoy communing with nature and realize you’ve just skinny dipped with leeches.



Be amused to learn that the leeches do not latch onto you but much prefer your sexy partner instead. Be relieved they are teeny leeches and not huge gnarly bloodsuckers.

Pie has now been richly earned and you grab two house-made apple pie slices sold to you by a lass from halfway across the world and made by the man who karaokes in the kitchen. Marvel that each ingredient, tool, piece of wood, EVERYTHING has been hauled in via the white knuckle road.

Finish your days in hot springs by the river, and nights up a rock shelf at a secret camp playing dominos and jamming with two permanent residents and another stalwart from the far side of the globe. The eldest is a shoo-in for skinny Gandalf. They run errands and fix things in return for permanent camp rights, this includes stealth pot hole repair praise the gods.

Pie fed, leave late the last day because you sat in a hot spring that morning, ogled views on a hike at the breath-stealing peak, and sidetracked to a Sequoia grove. Arrive at  your partner’s residence on a mountaintop observatory near midnight under the full moon.

Pack and arrange things for a day before heading  home. Cry because while the ocean is beautiful, the harried civilization is far from civil and THAT is not home, any more.

You’re an adult, you have responsibilities, you feel trapped.

Dream of homemade apple pie, dominos by the fire, hot springs, fixing potholes, and a life well lived. Dream of finding home again.


For line drawing emphasis. Who wants to color this in

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Surfing and Strolling near Mono River Rock Restaurant

SURFING: Not literally. But once you realize there’s leeches in the lake you can pick up enough speed to glide over the top of the water.

STROLLING: All directions of the compass!

Butter Love Bakeshop


3717 Balboa St * San Francisco CA * 94121 *

Owners Esa and husband Josh have been chefs for years, and like the name indicates, they are Big on Butter. And big on PIE!! It took me nearly literally stumbling into their sign, absent-minded-professory chugging down the sidewalk, to ‘find’ Butter Love. ” Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy PIE…which is pretty much the same thing. ” The sandwich board declared.

Of course I went in and bought happiness I mean  pie. And what selections! They make SO MANY, here is the list. You name it they got it:


I can’t remember what I got THAT time, which is no matter because once seen on a street I visit often, Butter Love cannot not be unseen.


Hooligan’s walkie spot is so near Butter Love! Thanks Hoolie!


Now every time I’m around I get more nuggets of wisdom – they’re kind of like street pie fortune cookies;  ” Skinny people are easy to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat Pie.” For safety’s sake one must obey! ” Stress spelled backwards is DESSERTS “, they inform. My god the wisdom.

Speaking of stressed that’s what a family potluck reunion is, which is why I ordered an entire berry pie for a small family reunion. It almost got hijacked as I screwed up my address numbers – me cognitize good – and rang a stranger’s doorbell, standing out front with an entire pie in hand. Nobody answered which is too bad for them! They almost won at life that day.

Let me tell you, there were several great desserts at the reunion and which one got totally devoured?! Butter Love Pie. They’re going to save my bacon for every family event from now on. As well as drop in when I go to the bank on that street. And the hardware store. And getting walked by Hooligan. And if I happen to be in the neighborhood…

Let’s finish here on Butter Love Bakeshop’s mantra, they sum it up best; ..for the love of butter, Make Pie, Buy Pie, and Eat Pie!

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 SURFING and STROLLING near Butter Love Bakeshop

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

Papa’a Palaoa Bakery


187 Kilauea Ave. * Hilo HI 96720 * 808-935-9700 *

Mission: Liliko’i Ukelele. This also sounds like a flower duo or a tropical poem. I was visiting Robert and William and the ONE thing I was bound and determined to do (besides impose on them ) was to buy a ukelele and seek out a Hilo Bakery.

Mission accomplished! Papa’a Palaoa Bakery IS poetry, serving all kinds of baked yummies with ingredients I can’t imagine tasting better elsewhere. Could you really order Liliko’i pie anywhere but Hawaii?  Rebekkah and Nikki of Papa’a Palaoa were adorable and so friendly fun while they talked me through the selection. Here are their cartoonified selves on terrible paper – note the awesome large hands. I swear every baker I met in Hawaii had the most fabulous hands and I know that sounds like a creepy fetish but it’s true! The hands not the fetish. Tah-dah:


Love these lassies!

Due to the inclusion of plenty ‘o dairy in that day’s pies, I was not able to feast on Liliko’i ….but wait! I walked out with something just as epic which was a vegan cinnamon roll.

Oh my god. That cinnamon roll was unmatched among dairy and non dairy contenders. Not too sweet, and here’s the kicker – not too xantham gummy…wahoo! There is something remarkable going on with vegan desserts in Hawaii. Okay I do have a fetish. For Hawaiian vegan sweets!

For the next two days I planted my ass on Robert and William’s lanai, ate Papa’a Palaoa cinnamon roll, and tortured ‘their’ Pacific Golden Plover with my ukelele squawks. Named Hitch, after Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – HA – he never answered back but undauntedly plucked away at bugs while I stickily plucked at that roll and the ukelele strings.

Turns out Hitch and I are birds of a feather; we both seasonably claim territory in Robert and William’s back yard and eat. Return and repeat year after year. In homage to Robert, William, and the incredible vegan eats of the Big Island, here is Robert with a pie offering for Pele. Photo actually taken in Mordor-like Volcano National Park:



My migratory compass is set. Back to Hawaii! Back to Papa’a Palaoa Bakery!

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Surfing and Strolling near Papa’a Palaoa Bakery

SURFING: THIS IS HAWAII. Well, not so fast. There’s a lot of inhospitable lava shoreline about, including fresh hot stuff poured off of Kilauea and down into the sea.

STROLLING: Good grief it’s so gorgeous here! All I did was walk around my friend’s neighborhood early in the morning and ‘ooo’ and ‘aaa’ the many many flowers.  There’s also Volcano National Park!


Cheryl at Uncle Robert’s Night Market

Cheryl @ Uncle Robert’s Night Market

Southwest side of Hawaii

 I can’t tell you how to get to Uncle Robert’s Night Market, you have to be local ,or, just end up here somehow some way. The FIRST time I came here, Robert and William and their friend Michael drove me down a dark road – no I wasn’t getting kidnapped – and that’s how I discovered the only Big Live Party I’ve Ever Felt Comfortable At And In Fact Loved. Impossible to put into words and it’ll sound stupid if I do so I won’t. Maybe this feeling has to do with the all ages all styles welcome dancing. In the event you do vector in,  bring your dancing shoes and come hungry because this scene is a smorgasbord of food vendors.

I stumbled past Cheryl amidst an eye-popping medley of other goods and food spreads. Amidst an array of sellers’ displays, there she sat, behind a simple table with a few baked items. Her straight to the point style had a homing effect on me like an unclaimed honeypot to a hungry bear.  “Banana Pie” one of her signs read. Oh my god!


Like Prince, Cheryl needs only one name. Pie doesn’t get better than this

True story; once upon a time, a bear nocturnally broke into Yosemite’s Awanee hotel kitchen and ate 17 banana cream pies. Imagine coming into work that next morning. If you have the opportunity to buy homemade banana pie from a Hawaiian Grandma, for gods’ sake be like that bear and don’t hesitate. Cheryl did not have 17 banana pies, but she did have one and I totally fangirled this poor woman over it.  After making a fool of myself peppering her with questions, I bought a slice and then dorked away towards the band with a huge grin on my face.

Needless to say, Cheryl’s banana pie was spectacular in all ways. Also amazing were Cheryl’s hands – what is it with Hawaiian bakers? – same as Papa’a Palaoa’s crew, these were large hands meant to create great things. The best kind of hands.

 Mahalo to Uncle Robert’s for existing! And to Cheryl,  for feeding this happy bear. Many blessings and dancing for you all!

BONUS: Cheryl has a fabulous face and dress and for the life of me I couldn’t capture it. Numerous attempts were made. The closest I came was the version above and this coloring-book version. I do think her banana pie is legend, so her picture is too:


Fill this in with tropical colors!

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Surfing and Strolling near Uncle Robert’s Night Market


Strolling: Just walking around Robert and William’s neighborhood gave me a thrill. All the flowers! There’s also Volcano National Park!

Mt Hamilton Apple Disaster & Tuscan Apocalypse Pies


Lick Observatory * 7281 Mt. Hamilton Rd. * Mt. Hamilton CA 94140 *

Two pies, two different dates, one place!

Now that you’ve clicked on the link above, you have deduced that there is no bakery on Mt. Hamilton. Up here the Lick Observatory can observe star bakeries – (I’m sure astronomers would LOVE that phrase instead of ‘star nurseries’ ) – and one lonely vending machine which definitely does not dispense pie. But there is a way to get pie here; pay attention singles – get romantically involved with an observatory employee.

Easier said than done. In my case I ended up with Rapunzel Pie Snatchers due to a cosmic soup of a chalk mural, Astrid’s grand driveway camping adventure, and the nepotistic advantage of having a Great Grandparent be the Lick director for 29 years. Needless to say there is a lot of ancestral woo-woo around these parts. And now I find myself cooking in a kitchen that is only slightly younger than the ancestors, on the same land where they also used to live, and um, bake.

To understand what cooking here means, you first must meet The Juggernaut. That’s Rapunzel Pie Snatcher’s infamous oven.



Juggernaut definition via inter web; ‘a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution’, and, ‘ a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path.’ And my favorite, ‘ Juggernaut is one of the strongest beings in the universe. He is often able to best Thor and Hulk in battle, as even the strongest incarnations of Hulk cannot overpower Juggernaut.’

You have to do whatever Juggernaut wants. This means Juggernaut decides his own temperature and you need a thermometer inside the oven, which doesn’t correspond to the numbers on the dials. For example, if you set a dial to 200, that really means Juggernaut is set at around 425….or not…..maybe the temp will go up and down…or not….You also need to click dials twice to turn them on, and “ DON’T STAND TOO CLOSE TO THE OVEN WHEN YOU OPEN IT!”  Rapunzel Pie Snatchers warns. Without observing the proper rituals, Juggernaut may require a sacrifice, like your eyebrows.  Despite the quirks I enjoy cooking with Juggernaut, maybe because  I’m quirky too and – a-hem! – dangerous. All the adventure you need, right at home.

 I set out to cook Mt Hamilton Apple Disaster Pie, and totally nailed it as far as desecrating directions go. No single step of this recipe was achieved within scientific method or reason.  Changed the butter to vegan, replaced the pastry flour with two other kinds you’re not REALLY supposed to use in pie,  chucked in random apples, overdid every spice within reach, rolled the dough with a floured water bottle on a 2/3 sized board. Threw the lot at the mercy of Juggernaut, which, by the way, also involved flapping Juggernaut’s mouth ( okay the door ) open and closed to regulate the temperature within 100 degrees of normal – not unlike those movie servants using giant fans to cool off the Roman emperor. And it turned out great! Mt Hamilton Disaster Pie was NOT a disaster! Juggernaut was pleased with my method of madness and blessed us with a heart festooned pie. Aww.

No problem, I thought. Now onto savory pies.

The God was not pleased. Tuscan Apocalypse pie was precisely that – a natural disaster. For  hours I was cooking tomato sauce from scratch, sautéing organic veggies, browning vegan sausages, slicing vegan cheese and sprinkling Tuscan herbs like fairy dust into the mix. Recreating the same dough as before, and FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS TO THE LETTER.

I’ve made hand pies before – Thanks to Victoria at Victoria’s Last Resort! – and they were fabulous. Not this time. Juggernaut seems to prefer free will and chaos. Tuscan Apocalypse Pies were more akin to Apocalypse Crumbles, or what would happen if a pizza and a calzone got into a fight to the death.

“ Look away!” I hollered at Rapunzel Pie Snatchers. “ But take a bite.” Tuscan Pie Apocalypse WAS absolutely delicious, I’ll give it that, but you couldn’t look it in the eye  – or shoot, take a peep AT ALL – in order to eat. Lesson learned; despite being located at a scientific research center, my pies here are best cooked as per my usual method  – by doing what makes the least amount of sense.

Oh, more Mt Hamilton Disaster Pie WILL be made – and it’ll be made via collaboration between the quirks of Juggernaut and myself. In homage to this promise, here is a take on a brilliant Lick Observatory photo from Laurie Hatch ( I’m sorry!! )


NOT BRAINS! It’s Pie Moon, people!

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Surfing and Strolling at Lick Observatory

SURFING: Nothing of the sort.

STROLLING: Yeah! There’s a self-guided walking tour with informative signs. One of them them even features my Great Grandfather piercing his eyes out the side of the photo, which is cool and gives me the willies at the same time. Also public tours Thurs-Sun and some evenings, check the website for details. And a semi resident like me can bop all over the place, though being at the top of a mountain, EVERY walk starts with the reward downhill first, and then huffing back up. This exhaustive hiking style is how pie is inspired on Mt. Hamilton.


The Rolling Pin Bake & Brew


230c 2nd. St. * Bandon OR 97411 * 541-252-5244 *

Shaped and size like a rolling pin, you would not BELIEVE the yummies they fit in here.

The Rolling Pin rolled up into downtown Bandon where they appear to be absolutely dominating the cupcake business. SPECIAL GUEST RACHEL and I barged in and noted they have sweet and savory deliciousnesses, including, I just realized, hand apple pies!

However, hand apple pies were not available on our visit, so we dove into their Herculean cupcake menu. If ever there was a cupcake to be had, ‘lo, it is here. This is your chance to escape reality. Besides the usual suspects, check out these flavors (short sample!); Tuxedo, Almond Joy, Kokomo, Lemon Lovers, Earl Gray, Funfetti?!? Each sounds like a magic carpet ride. The only cupcake missing was one shaped like a seagull head, which sounds disgusting and it is but hear me out. Years prior I was with Rachel’s mom’s golden retriever on the beach where he was romping away. I kept wondering why this bouncing bundle of joy was making people scream until he ran up to me and smiled.



Perched on his tongue staring at me was a perfectly preserved seagull HEAD. My turn to shriek. I’d love to see Bandon Bake & Brew create a seagull head cupcake in honor of doggo’s great caper, but for some reason they might not go for it.


Le Piece de Resistance

SPECIAL GUEST RACHEL and I took some Death By Chocolate/Not Seagull Head cupcakes to her pad, to be devoured under the watchful eye of her fantastical makaw. There are many reasons why Rachel is a special guest, for example, anyone living with a giant wild bird that can live for 80 years and bite your finger off is quite the brave character. Ask how she ended up with this loving commitment. Until then, let it be known Rachel and I met in college and became besties, which means we love each other and can destroy lives with shared knowledge of each others’ shenanigans. I’ll just state the fact that Rachel is a hospice nurse –  a most badass of jobs –  and even more crazy impressive is the fact that a hospice nurse in my parents’ home knew Rachel and absolutely worshipped her. To achieve this level of badassery is incomprehensible to me, so for god’s sake Rachel deserves all the spaghetti I can cook and pie and cupcakes whenever needed. That said,  a hospice nurse choosing Death By Chocolate cupcakes implies subconscious irony only and not of plotting a pleasant way to check out. I swear.

Oh! And those devilish cupcakes? Definitely magic. Even when scarfed under the watchful eye of Rico the Flying Dragon:

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Rico on HIS magic carpet ride

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Surfing and Strolling near Rolling Pin Bake & Brew

SURFING: I didn’t have my gear with me, but it appears if you find a place without giant boulders and no boats to mow you over and no territorial teenagers, you’re in luck. Likewise find days when it is not windy HA!!!

STROLLING: I combo-ed this with a half-arsed surf check. You can get a great lengthy stroll along Bandon beach, complete with tide pools and doggies running around with severed bird heads.

Bandon Baking Company & Deli


160 2nd. St. SW * Bandon OR 97411 * 541-347-9440 *

To heck with it, here’s a quote straight from Bandon Baking Co’s website; “… When you NEED a cookie, pastry, dessert, French styled croissant, or a hand crafted loaf of bread – The bakery has been the go to place for locals and travellers alike…”

Yes I DO need! And so does my SPECIAL GUEST pal Rachel. That means a local (her) and traveller (me) did indeed go to the Bandon Baking Co.  and picked up a couple of ‘pie bars.’ These were basically pie slices shaped into slabs which I justified as ‘power bars’ because of the shape. And by inserting ‘Deli’ into their name, this implies the joint is not only a bakery, but serves full meals. Thus Rachel and I had those health bars for breakfast. A more delicious breakfast can not be had, nor more suitably sustaining for scuffling around Bandon beach in the 40 knot winds or whatever loco is on tap that day.

The Baking Company itself is easy to find, though she and I have not always been so navigationally savvy. One day many moons ago we decided to whip up from the San Francisco Bay Area to her hometown of Bandon by way of the scenic coastal route. Mistake. Nothing like driving behind RV’s scraping the side of the road pretending they’re tractors for hours and hours. Then we saw a sign for our next highway, which, relieved to free ourselves from the slow lane,  we foolishly took. Two hours later we find ourselves on the highway we wanted – but 150 miles SOUTH of  where we wanted to pop out. Oops! Could that highway sign have not been more specific? Must we be forced to consult actual maps?

 We arrived in Bandon Oregon in the pitch dark and many hours later with only a smattering of people worried about what the hell happened. I’m positive we ate at Bandon Baking Company on that trip, but too bad we did not eat pie THEN. Now thanks to the knowledge that comes with age, we know that pie is needed for any road trip.

I have no photo of our bakery pit stop, but here is a rendering of a photo we took in college – I’m pretty sure this was right before our incredible journey north:


Pisces sign or This Explains Everything


Thank you for feeding us, Bandon Baking Company!

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Surfing and Strolling near Bandon Baking Company

SURFING: I didn’t have my gear with me, but if you find a place without giant boulders and no boats to mow you over and no territorial teenagers, you might be in luck. Likewise find days when it is not windy HA!!!

STROLLING: I combo-ed this with a half-arsed surf check. You can get a great lengthy stroll along Bandon beach, complete with tide pools and doggies running around with severed bird heads.