It All Started With A Bald Headed Man

Note: I got very few pictures when my mother passed away, so I’m sending out an SOS to my family to scan and email pictures, of both the cake that started it all and her appearance on the Letterman show.  I’ll do a follow-up post when I get them.

In January 1987, just a couple of weeks before I gave birth to Darling Daughter, my mother opened a bakery.  She was 42, newly divorced, and unsure – or as unsure as my mother could be.  Which probably wasn’t much.

Her business had been open maybe a year, and she was struggling a little, when a staff writer for the weekend magazine that came in the Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News wandered in.  He introduced himself and explained that he wrote pieces on new businesses in Dallas and would she care to be the subject of such an article?

I think her response was somewhere along the lines of “Does an ursine mammal evacuate his bowels in a densely forested area?”

During their “interview” he discovered that, among many other things, she sold decorated cakes.  Not just your run-of-the-mill sheet cake with a few roses and a border either, but truly unique sculpted and airbrushed cakes.  He asked her to decorate one, and said he’d send someone over to photograph it in a few days.  So she did.  A small, two-layer cake that looked just like the head of a little bald headed man with a fringe of hair.  He even had a mustache.

The week after the article appeared with the picture of the cake, the orders began to POUR in.  It was like a tidal wave.  I was working for my mother by then, and we came in early and stayed late every day for who knows how long in order to bake and decorate cakes in the shape of people’s heads.  It was insane, and the little bald headed man remained her signature cake for the rest of her life, although it didn’t stop there by any means.

A few weeks after the article appeared and we found ourselves awash in all sorts of cakes, plus donuts and pastries and bread and sandwiches and salads and soups and cookies and brownies and pies, some people from the State Fair of Texas wandered in and asked Mom if she would like to do a cake decorating demonstration once a day, every day, during the fair.

For the uninitiated, Texas boasts the largest state fair in the country.  The grounds are located on 277 acres in one of the seedier areas of the city (yes, IN the city), and conservative estimates put annual attendence at 3,000,000 people each year.  It is a three-week-long spectacle every autumn that ensures hard arteries (Fletcher’s Corny Dogs!  Jack’s French Fries!  Saltwater Taffy!  Funnel Cakes!  Just To Name A Few!), an empty wallet, and one a helluva good time.  One of the big attractions is the Arts and Crafts Building (known as the Women’s Building when I was growing up), and it’s many contests and demonstrations.  That’s where Mom’s daily demonstration was held.

Mom, who had more personality in her big toe than most people have in their entire bodies, was a HUGE hit.  She laughed and joked with the crowd and generally kept people in stitches, and ended each demonstration by cutting the half-sheet cake she decorated into bite-sized squares and handing them out to the people who watched.  By the end of the run of the fair, there wasn’t enough cake to go around by half.  She was THAT entertaining.

So it was no surprise when the Powers That Be asked her to come back the following year, which she did – in fact, she made a daily appearance every year until she died.  (She always decorated a burnt-orange and white cake on the day of the Texas-OU game, while she good-naturedly heckled the OU fans, who always laughed and told her how much they enjoyed watching her.)  And it was no surprise to anyone – except maybe Mom – when, on the last day of her second year doing the demo, she was approached by two talent scouts who asked her if she was interested in appearing on Late Night with David Letterman.

I believe her response to that was something along the lines of “Does the Holy Father sport a piece of vertically impressive headgear?”

And so it was that Mom found herself in an NBC studio on Friday, November 24, 1989, attempting to teach David Letterman how to decorate a cake…David Letterman, whom she discombobulated so completely that he threatened her with an icing-covered spatula before her six-minute segment was up.  At the end, she batted her eyelashes at and drooled all over Paul Shaffer.

It was a sight to behold.

It’s My 100th Post!

Some people just announce it. Some people give you with 100 facts about themselves.  Guess which one I am?

Afterwards, I shall submit this to a sleep-study institute, for it is guaranteed to cure your insomnia.

1. I have a fairly common first name and a very common last name.  Neither have common spellings.

2. I was born in 1962.

3. I have three children.

4. I have been married twice and divorced once.

5. I was never married to The Young One’s father.

6. I have two step daughters.

7. Both of my parents are dead.

8. One of my grandparents is still alive.

9. I only have 3 first cousins, and they are all much younger than me – one by 37 years.

10. I am the oldest of four.

11. I only have one brother.

12. I have four nieces and three nephews.

13. I don’t have any grandchildren yet.

14. There is an 11 1/2 year difference between my oldest and youngest children.

15. I have one daughter, and she is my middle child.

16. I love to cook.

17. I love to read.  Books line two of the walls in our family room.

18. I am a film buff and own over 1000 DVDs.

19. I love computers.

20. I love to play video games.  Unfortunately, I don’t often have time to play video games.

21. I love motorcycles and began riding when I was 11 years old.

22. I love football and am a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.

23. I like to play pool and poker, but am not very good at either.

24. I like puzzles of all sorts, especially word puzzles.

25. I am exceedingly curious.

26. I am, however, not a snoop.

27. I love trivia and am a font of useless information.

28. I can name all of the Bond girls up till Timothy Dalton.

29. I ADORE Daniel Craig as James Bond.

20. I am Texan.

21. I was born in El Paso, but raised in Dallas.

22. I live in Ohio now (since 2005).

23. I do NOT like winter.

24. I procrastinate.

25. I’m a hopeless klutz.

26. I’m directionally challenged.  Where’s my damn GPS already??

27. I don’t like phones.

28. I love email and instant messaging.

29. I don’t watch much television.

30. I’m an Anglophile.

31. One of my hobbies is medieval British history.

32. Another of my hobbies is paleoanthropology.

34. I enjoy American history, especially the Civil War.

35. I am a determined person.

36. I have a very long fuse – it takes a lot to make me angry.

37. However, when I get angry I don’t hold back.

38. I’ve survived a tornado.

39. I’m a huge Stephen King fan.

40. I collect Precious Moments figurines, if they’re not blatantly religious.

41. I like to crochet.

42. I like to embroider.

43. I don’t do either very often anymore.

44. I have degenerative arthritis at the base of both thumbs.

45. I am a “people person.”

46. I assume everyone I meet is nice.

47. I assume everyone I meet is intelligent.

48. I am not the jealous type.

49. But I can hold a grudge.

50. My mother was once a guest on the David Letterman Show.

51. I was a professional cake decorator for 10 years.

52. I am now a web designer/developer.

53. And a reluctant bookkeeper/office manager.

54. I am a workaholic.

55. I only have a high school education (I did graduate).

56. I mostly vote Libertarian.

57. I am not conservative.

58. But I’m not liberal, either.

59. I’m atheist.

60. I often admire people of strong faith.

61. The study of comparative religion fascinates me.

62. However, I do not want to be “saved” so don’t even try.  If you think I’m going to burn in Hell, let that be God’s decision and my choice.

63. I tend to be opinionated.

64. I do not like racists; if you say the “N” word around me, be prepared to have your tongue ripped out of your mouth and to be beaten with it.

66. I’m extremely independent; it is hard for me to accept help, and I’m sure as hell not going to ask for it.

67. I can shoot a gun – in fact, when I was younger, I was quite a good shot.

68. I haven’t shot one in years, though, and do not personally own a gun.

69. I believe a house with children in it is no place for a gun.

70. I don’t like to exercise.

71. I do like to eat.

72. I could stand to lose some weight.

73. I do like to swim, however, and I swim very well.  I can also dive.

74. I love to snorkel.

75. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times in 5 years.

74. I love the Big Island, and I especially love Kauai.

75. I didn’t care much for Maui – too crowded and touristy.

76. I’ve never been to Oahu, and probably never will because it’s too crowded and touristy.

77. I’ve been to Alaska.

78. I’ve driven the Al-Can Highway.  Before it was paved.

79. I’m only 35 years younger than my maternal grandmother.

80. I have 3 uncles and no aunts.

81. My paternal grandfather was a fairly well-known, ultra-conservative public figure in the 60s and 70s.

82. I spent 9 months in a church-sponsored orphanage as a child.

83. I have a very noticable accent.

84. I have a goofy sense of humor.

85. I never take myself too seriously.

86. My youngest son was born 3 months prematurely.

87. He’s fine – a normal 13-year-old.

88. His father and I get along pretty well.

89. I do NOT get along with my ex-husband.

90. I’d like nothing more than to coat him in molasses and stake him out over an anthill at high noon.  And invite the paparazzi.  Then throw his swollen, miserable, yet still conscious carcass into a pit full of rabid squirrels.  And post the video on YouTube.

91. I’m not in the least bit bitter.  Really.

92. I attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night for 18 months straight as a teenager.

93. I CAN do the Time Warp.

94. I’m a Harry Potter fan.

95. I’m a  J.R.R Tolkien fan.

96. My favorite film of all time is The African Queen.

97. I’ve seen Queen, Rush, Aerosmith, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Styx and Pink Floyd in concert.

98. I love classic rock, Motown and the blues.

99. I was in choir, theatre and band in high school.

100. I am not an organized person – but I am very methodical.

Okay, it’s over.  Hey!  You!  It’s over!  Wake up!

Oh, My Humanity…

There’s no getting around it.  I can’t keep up with it any longer.  And I can’t keep lying to myself, because the evidence is right there, staring me in the face.

I’m going to have to find someone who can wax my upper lip before people start mistaking me for Wilford Brimley in drag.

I Was Late To Work This Morning

Because when I pulled out of our driveway and around the corner to the “big” street, I was met with this sight:

Balloons!

I had completely forgotten about the annual Balloon Festival that kicks off Hall of Fame week.

I am so very glad I keep my camera with me! I began a mad dash around town, chasing after them, because they’d already been up for while and many were beginning their descent.

I eventually wound my way around to where some of them had landed.

I’ve been here for the Balloon Festival for five years now, and it still makes me grin like a little kid.

In Which I Answer Some Questions

Before we start, I would like to announce that I walked on my treadmill again this morning. That’s three days in a row. Any laurels, praise and calls to Guinness will be graciously accepted.

So.

I probably don’t reply to comments made to my posts often enough. In fact, I know I don’t. There is a reason for this – mainly, I can’t state anything briefly. (Everyone who knows me personally is nodding their heads and going, “Ain’t that the truth…”.)

At any rate, I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer some questions and reply to a couple of things that popped up in the comments section of a few of my posts.

(I like this…instant post! The only other thing I could think of to post about was my dream from last night, where my treadmill was in the middle of some deserted high school gymnasium. I was trying to jog, but was constantly interrupted by Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati, who kept trying to tell me how he’d joined Weight Watchers.)

Anyhoo…

Nanny Goats In Panties asked:

“You have a Bowflex?!!??
Does that thing really work? Do you like it? I mean, I know you don’t like it, but do you like it? As much as I hate infomercials and they sell so much garbage and all the As Seen On TV exercise crap gets used once and thrown in the garage, I keep looking at that thing because you’re supposed to be able to do more than one thing on it, so it appeals to the practical side of me.”

Yes, we do own a BowFlex. And a treadmill. And an AbLounge. All which have been collecting dust for far too long. Well, I can’t take credit for the dusty AbLounge, at least not entirely – I bought that for Beloved, because he suffers from lower back pain at times. I think he’s used it twice.

At any rate, out of all our useless basement adornments exercise equipment taking up space strategically placed in the basement, the “love” portion of my love/hate relationship is probably strongest for the BowFlex. We have a BowFlex Ultimate 2 Home Gym, and believe it or not, it is relatively easy to use. It comes with all sorts of handy accessories designed for different exercises, a poster showing about a dozen of the most common exercises you can do with it, and a pretty comprehensive DVD on how to operate the thing.

I’m sure it will do everything they claim it will do in the amount of time the claim it will take (including forcing you to speak with an Austrian accent while you tell friends, family and strangers in line at the grocery store that you intend to “Pump *clap* them up“)…if you use it. When you’re me, well, that complicates matters a bit.

And this thing? It ain’t exactly small (or light) so you won’t just be chucking it in the garage after the first couple of initial uses. It will stand right smack-dab in the corner of whichever room the guys who assembled it stuck it in, mutely accusing you of being far too flabby (which is why ours is in the basement). That being said, I’m sure it would make a dandy coat rack, not to mention look smashing during the holidays, draped with twinkling mini-lights and sheathed in tinsel.

Tricia at Shout says:

“When you mentioned a while ago that Firefox has a spell check, it took me about -3 seconds to decide to download it, and I’ve been a confirmed user ever since. I have no idea, though, what a skin is?”

A skin is just a way to change how something looks, without changing the functionality of it. When you use Internet Explorer, it looks the way it looks and it works the way it works and there isn’t anything you can do about it. One of the many neat things about Firefox is that you cannot only add to it’s functionality, but change the way it looks. A Firefox skin is, more or less, the same thing as a WordPress theme – in fact, they’re called themes. And they’re not at all hard to install. Some of them are really cool, and some of them are quite beautiful…and then there’s this one.

Oh, and I don’t personally have a French toast casserole recipe, but Paula Deen’s looks just yummy.

My friend Linda asks:

(In regards to my bitchfest about how hard it is to design for Internet Explorer and my plea for everyone to use Firefox)

“I have both, and your blog looks the same from both? I don’t understand what the difference is.”

Good! I’ve done my job then! The difference is I can make my blog look the way I want it to in about 15 minutes in Firefox, and it can take hours, sometimes DAYS, to make it look the exact same way in Internet Explorer. And chances are, making it look right in Internet Explorer will screw it up in all of the other browsers.

I hate Internet Explorer. Have I mentioned how much I hate Internet Explorer?

Twenty-four At Heart says:

“I think we’re related …”

and

“Did you say Pad Thai?”

All I can say is, I’d be PROUD to claim I’m related to you, even if you are a Housewife of Orange County. See-through, tight-fitting, tear-away clothes and all.

And the Pad Thai recipe is coming in the next day or so.