The Privilege of Pies

On November 20 my daughter-in-law emailed me to ask if I could get pies from that “wonderful bakery”—she meant The Pantry—to bring to Nantucket for Thanksgiving.

Oh dear! The Pantry, I knew, would no longer take orders for Thanksgiving food, but I phoned anyway—just on a chance— and was advised that if I queued by 7:00 AM on Tuesday I might be able to get my hands on a pie or two. Hmm…

I called Isabel and Vincent—a good bakery—and found that, yes, I could still order up to Sunday before Thanksgiving, but that they were making pumpkin and apple tarts.

“Tarts?” I queried? That isn’t the same thing as a pie and my daughter-in-law had specifically asked for pies.

I emailed her with The Pantry news and the tart news and she replied, “Don’t stress. Get the tarts if that is easier.”

OK. So later in the day I am walking with my young and resourceful walking partner, and I tell her about the pie problem. She, bless her heart, offers to be at The Pantry at 7:00 AM on Tuesday for me. “I get up early anyway, “ she tells me.

We agree that I will buy the two tarts at Isabel’s on Tuesday and if my friend can make it to The Pantry on that same morning by 7:00 AM and successfully snare two pies there, I will give her the Isabel tarts for her family to devour and she will give me the pies.

A plan is hatched, a bit scruffy, but a plan nonetheless.

However, later in the day, to my amazement, my friend emails me with the name, phone number and email address of a bakery in Nantucket, which she found online and which, she says, is still accepting orders for pies for Thanksgiving. She knows this because she has already called them!

I immediately text my daughter-in-law for approval of this bakery. (Anyone who is a mother-in-law will understand this move.) Approval is secured. I call the Nantucket bakery—Petticoat Row--and order the pies which will be picked up by a local friend who is joining us for Thanksgiving.


Did you make it all the way through this? Have you been wondering why I am taking up so much of your precious time with what my older son would rightly call “a white girl problem?” 

  Here's the "why." It suddenly  occurred to me how very blessed I am to have my only fret this week be about something as simple as pies.

Thanksgiving is a family holiday often honored by attending our places of worship. Although we have serious gun control issues to resolve in this country, in America we will not be anxious that we might be slaughtered in our pews as we pray.

We are so fortunate. Americans are spared the anxiety of wondering if, at any moment, a bomb will explode near or on our houses. We do not live in the omnipresent terror that suddenly our front door will be bashed in and our loved ones dragged away. We do not have to hear the cries of our babies grow thin and weak as they die of starvation. We have no foreign tanks churning at our borders.

  At this moment I am filled with gratitude for the privilege it is to be able to live in a country free from constant fear. Instead, on our Thanksgiving holiday, we can joyfully focus on family, turkeys, gravy and pies.


Thank you American readers of this blog. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 To those readers from foreign countries to whom I am very grateful, I wish you peace. I wish you borders that are secure and free of threat. I wish you and your children long lives, safe and protected within your own cultures.



Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at

That's Crazy!

Oh, come on! Nobody smiles when they are having a root canal. That’s crazy. That’s what the endodontist said when he noticed me smiling through the endless metal and rubber paraphernalia stuck into my wide-open mouth. Of course I was already numbed from my jaw to my right ear, but he was moving along efficiently and skillfully with all those bad-movie tools of his.


“You are crazy,” Dr. C said, with a smile behind his blue surgical mask.


Dr. C is about six feet, six inches tall, is my guess, young and from Utah. You can tell he’s not from the east coast; he has that easy, unforced friendliness of a westerner.


Please do not misunderstand. The night before I was anxious as a cow in the slaughter slot thinking about the procedure. I’ve had one root canal with a different endodontist and that was no picnic at the beach, I can tell you.


This was completely different. Not only was Dr. C really good at his job, but, also, was different. I lay flat back in the chair thinking about my younger brother who continues to fight cancer, thinking about all the truly nasty things that have been done to him in order to save his life.


 I was thinking, too, about my friend whom I would be visiting in the afternoon. His body carries physical pain in his joints as consistently as I carry my pocketbook. Only he can’t put it down. I was praying that I would be able to relieve his suffering even the littlest bit; I was talking to God and talking to my friend in my mind while Dr. C did his probing and drilling and cleansing.


And suddenly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this dodgy tooth of mine could be fixed: not moderated, not medicated and managed, but fixed. Compared to what these two men are going through, having a root canal is a joke.


 And so, with my mouth open like a yawning hippopotamus and stuffed with metal props, drills and rubber protectors, I smiled.





Welcome this week to readers from Singapore, Serbia, Thailand, Jordan, Macau and Taiwan. Thank you for reading Life Opening Up. I am wondering how all of you from other countries discover this blog? Through a friend? Through the topic labels?  I would very much like to hear from you. However you discover it, I am so happy that you find time to read it.




 To those of you in Ukraine, we pray for you still, for a stable, independent government. We pray for an end to the killing in Syria and Palestine and Israel and we pray for all the families of those who were senselessly killed in the blasting of Malaysian Airlines MH17.


Written by Cecily Stranahan