Wednesday, December 13, 2006

May I commend to your attention . . .

Well, we had Thanksgiving. And it was good. Brandy cooked a masterful dinner, her family came to call, and Ben feverishly wrote papers between helpings of Turkey.

We consumed; we overconsumed; we reapt the consequences.

With the last of the Turkey bones fed to the pooch, it was time to ready our home for its first Utterian Christmas. Very cozy indeed.

We're in full American Holiday mode--visions of sugarplums and fancy bike accessories are a'dance in me head.

Last week, after a medical conference in Ashville (and a stay at a very nice Bed & Breakfast that Brandy wants to buy) . . .

. . . we headed down a'Little Rock way for early Christmas festivities with clans Ussery, Fankhauser, Utter, and Lumpkin. We tasted of the hospitality of each house, and had a grand time, which we sincerely hope was shared by all.

Babies Silas and Eleanor received baby type stuff, and Joel received his annual drubbing at MarioKart 64. See ya, Sukka'!
(Joel is bound to protest that, in fact, HE administered the drubbing. You, gentle reader, are under no compulsion whatsoever to believe him).

Our excellent friends Melody and Matt Lumpkin, mommy* and chaplain extraordinarire, respectively, not only did us the great kindness of putting up with putting us up for a recent overnight in Little Rock, but are also contributing to this site, which features daily meditations on the Advent.

Tell 'em Ben sent you, or just quietly start your day by sipping slowly on what they have to say.

*of Eleanor, seen here regarding her Chinese flag blanky with an affection that suggests she has never actually wrapped herself in that government's parenting warmth.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caption Contest

I suppose I'm opening myself up to a certain risk of ridicule, but who am I to be stopped by such a thing? Winner gets a kiss and a piggy-back ride from us All-Americans.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Some Good Thanksgiving Poems

Whether you are thankful today because things are good, or because, as Garrison Keillor put it, things could be worse, here are a few good poems to help voice the sentiment.

i thank You God for most this amazing
by e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 10
Praise him.

The Wild Rose
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

-by Wendell Berry, for his wife

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farewell to the White Rabbit

Isn't it odd how we baffled bereaved immediately begin casting about in memory to establish each our own connection with the dead, as if to justify our grief? As if the loss of one such as Dr. Greer was not its own justification.

I never had a class with Tom, but I still have notes to a delightful Pew lecture on Whitman he presented one afternoon at the home of the Doctors Sonheim. I saw tears in his eyes as he presided over the lovely wedding of my friends Tiffany and Randy, and again at Tiffany's funeral just one year later.

He was my confidante as I planned first one and then another trip to China. Even before he knew me well at all, he remembered from some brief early chat my enthusiasm for all things Chinese, and thoughtfully tapped me to assist in meeting and chauffeuring visiting faculty members from Beijing University. He even invited me along to a send-off breakfast with them at Old Walt's, where, in his eagerness to express his appreciation for the parting gift of some floral tea, he accidentally schlooped a chrysanthemum petal up his nostril.

It does not come naturally to a young student to realize the demands on a professor's time and attention, nor did Tom ever attempt to make the point himself on those couple of occasions when I managed to find him in, and we sat in his dark cool office, hung with what seemed several lifetimes of Sino-souvenirs and gifts, and traded stories of travel in our favorite land across the sea. He seemed to take an almost boyish delight in pleasures and adventures not his own; doubtless one of the very qualities that made him a great reader and teacher of literature. It was Tom who encouraged me not to worry so much about plumping my resume immediately after college, to go to beautiful Yantai for a year and work at the university there on the coast of the Yellow Sea.

I thanked him then for the advice, and I have yet to regret having followed it. But I regret deeply the hole in our little OBU family, and the loss too of one who was an enthusiastic emissary to countless international students and professors, both at home and abroad. A professor at Yantai University who had been the beneficiary of Tom's hospitality during a visit to Arkansas put it very nicely. "Please tell Dr. Greer 'Nin hao' from me. Tell him he is always welcome in China, and in my home. He is a very lovely man."


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Accept

So I have this hospital chaplain friend. He's got a blog and he's thrown down the gauntlett that was thrown down by a nurse friend of his.
She describes it as a 'challenge.'
I question that description.

Nonetheless, in the interests of keeping the blogosphere well cluttered (and because I like to do everything my friend suggests I do) . . .
The rules, as I received them, are as follows:

1) Grab the nearest book. 2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence. 4) Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions. 5) Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!"

What luck (for my typing fingers anyway) that I've finished with Absalom, Absalom for the semester! Not that we are in any way better served by the following passage from Heidegger's collected essays, Poetry, Language, Thought:

"Nor does he mean a rule. He is thinking of what 'touches us.' Who are we? We are those who will, who set up the world as object by way of intentional self-assertion."

Well, that was fun. A real 'hootenanny,' as I intend to put it when I am of the various ages at which my grandparents never, to my knowledge, do.
You should say 'hootenanny' too, and by all means relieve your toes of the guantlett which I now set upon them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lovely Weekend

Despite my terrifying expression we did have a lovely time when Ben's mom popped in for a few days. I had the weekend off so we celebrated by heading west to the mountains and Biltmore. The leaves were really showing off and continue to. We were also able to visit the famous furniture market in High Point, care of the decorator and ended up purchasing an adirondack chair for a steal. We're coming to Little Rock the first week of December! I hope some of ya'll are around!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Princess Sings Queen

This morning I was up before the sun to recommence work on a paper for my Irish lit. class, but not before Dr. BLU had already rushed forth to deal smiling healing on Winston Salem's underinsured. I hope she has a good day; it's her last of being the age she was when I married her.
Yup. Birthday tomorrow (Oct. 24th). I'd tell you how old she is, but although she isn't shy about the matter of her age, neither is she shy about informing me about when I've overstepped my informative bounds, so instead I'll take use this little study break to begin showing you in pictures (3 million pixels being worth a thousand words) some portion of our very nice weekend which we shared with Brandy's dear sweet mum-in-law, who flew up from Little Rock last Wed.

Brandy belts out her absolutely ripping rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love Me," while Mom looks on in wonder and envy.

All for now. More to come!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Old Couch, New Occupants

So since last I've posted, I've finished my tour of duty in the ED, at least for now and have re-joined the hospitalist world, much more my style. In the middle of it all, Ben and I threw an engagement party for our friends across the street, Jess and Josh. They're a wonderful couple and have wonderfully hilarious antics. We brought hay bales to the backyard with pumpkins and mums and twinkle lights and Louie Armstrong and all was wonderful. We toasted the bride-and-groom-to-be and made them play silly pre-newlywed games. The above are pictures of the couple, the spread, and new faces on our old couch. How strange it is to think of all the different people from different beliefs and backgrounds and conversations that have taken place on that couch.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ooohoo oohoo Waaoughooahaaaw yeh I'm Still Alive!

I challenge anyone out there to do a better job transcribing that Pearl Jam chorus!
Or whatever you want to do, just so long as you comment to show your faith in our ability to--not unlike Pearl Jam--come back after a bit of an absence.

Would that I had an excuse ready at hand like the Fanks--but alas, the ol' Presario's kept right on computin'. Of course, I DID have my laptop stolen, along with some other sundries, but it's since been replaced (despite the use of passive voice, the computer did NOT replace itself, and most certainly did not replace itself for free!). Would you like to hear more on life here in da hood that is the quiet, white-faced, picket-fenced and apparently drug-addled community that is Winston Salem? Or life in grad school? Or life with The Doctor, who will be rising and stumbling forth to work healing and general niceness on an ill-deserving public in about . . . three hours. Four in the a.m.

Reader's choice--what would you like to know?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sophie really digs road trips. She lets her ears loose in the wind and probably even catches a few bugs. On this particular trip we were winding through the Smokies to meet up with with some family and friends at famed Gatlinburg. Unfortunately, none of us read what Bill Bryson had to say about the town before visiting which was the first mistake. I think I have a new threshold marker: if a place requires a Ripley's believe it or not in any fashion, be it aquarium or man-who-appears-to-only-consist-of-a-torso jutting out of a building, I can feel okay about skipping out on the experience. He was one of the main photo ops, sadly enough. We kept getting peaks of the Smokies in between the go-karts and putt-putt, enough to remind us that we were, in fact, in the mountains. A wonderful time was had, despite the town, and on the way back to I-40 we stopped at Cosby's BBQ pit which was not much more than a shack with a "picnic" area which was more like a shed with booths inside that don't get too much cleaning off. It was a wonderful grease-dripping meal and the smokies were immediately to our right, providing the most wonderful of views. Along the way home we noticed, among other local flavors, a Taxidermy/Sewing store.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anyone know how to fix dying plants? When I bought this one I asked for one I couldn't kill but obviously I should have asked for one neither BEN nor I could kill. Not to say that he did it or anything but I know my neglect had nothing to do with it. It was gorgeous in its day. The other problem with this picture is the sheer lack of ideas for what-the-heck to do with the sunroom. I welcome ideas.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Golden Weekend

Medical-type folks are always throwing around their own set of catch phrases. In Arkansas, at Children's Hospital, phrases included "strong work" and referring to children as "kiddos." It's no different here except there's a whole new set of them. Phrases such as "circling the drain," (close to death) "crazy train," (loony pt, drug seeker, etc), "teed up" (ready to be discharged) and my personal favorites, "golden" and "black" weekend. Everyone who's everyone medically utters (hehe) these phrases, I've seen my own fellow interns start using them as if they've been for years. I'm not sure why, but something about it drives me nuts. In any case, I'm on my golden weekend (both days off) and it's been swell enough. I had intended to sleep the entire time but neither Sophie nor Ben with his early morning bike rides would allow me to do that. But in any case, 8 am is much better than hours that really shouldn't be used for waking any day. The transition from my first rotation of clinics to inpatient can be best described by what I listen to on the way home from work. Last month ranged from Modest Mouse (pink album no. 2 and 3--it's a short drive) and Imogen Heap. This month it's the local Christian station which is really pretty good. Lighthearted, silly, to encouraging words. I am enjoying my patients and their rooms encourage me to visit because they have really amazing views. The hospital is on the edge of a residential area and its views include church steeples and lots of trees and lovely old houses and some even face downtown. One morning my COPD pt was sleeping away while I watched the sun rise from her room.
Transitioning now, to Ben. He met his colleagues this weekend and we joined them for a viewing of snakes on a plane. It truly delivers, folks. We decided to venture away from our usual choice of church pews at St Pauls and visit another church for a change and so went to the Wake Forest campus church. Several new freshmen were there, having just moved in, and managed to make me feel old and reflect on my first days when I met Kristin and Kim and Ashley and Ashley immediately began having dates. What a wonderful and terrifying year it was. Back to the service-this is a Baptist church but between the liturgy and singing all 4 verses to the hymns and the classical music it felt similar to St Pauls. WF is a large sprawling campus dotted with dark brick buildings with big white columns and metal roofs and spiral staircases and I'm so happy that Ben is back in academia. And speaking of, he'd probably want dinner soon. Boys eat a lot.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The rich gravy of time

I should be out for a bike ride now through the morning mist, or a jog with the ever-vibrating Sophie. Something to work off the two donuts and three cups of coffee with which I started my day after Brandy left the house at 5:45. Instead, Sophie is curled up on the bed, quietly devouring . . . something (when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise), and I am listening to the Reverend Al Sharpton doing a fair impression of giving a coherent interview on NPR.

After a few cups of coffee, it's tough to digest much of anything, especially text, and I have a lot of pages left on my plate before shule commences on the 23rd. A remaining few chapters in two volumes of Eagleton; "Merry Wives," "Henry IV part II," and four volumes worth of Norton introductions, to say nothing of my Mandarin workbook.

Why isn't this done already, you may ask? With just what sort of crust have I been sopping up the rich gravy of time which seemed to brim higher on my plate than that of any other? What sort of tale do the telltale crumbs trailing me tell?

Well, for one thing, Sophie and I did some exploring up around Pilot Mt., half an hour out of Winston Salem. We failed to find a fabled blueberry patch, but we encountered some misty, storybook views, and several groups of Army recruits learning to rappel from beautiful layer-cake cliff shelves. Conversation ceased as my trusty beagle and I rounded the trail and came into view. Stout young lads, they were, hard of muscle and eye. To a man, they regarded us as if we were a) Intruding, and b) Gay as a whistle. I considered remarking that I had enjoyed paying my share of their salaries last year, and looked forward to continuing doing so in future, but decided instead to just continue on 'round the bend, as it were, getting me and my baby blue Speed Racer t-shirt out of range--er, sight-- as quickly as possible.

Also, I’ve been trying my hand at home coffee roasting. The story of how I came into possession of 13 lbs of unroasted green coffee beans is a long and odd one, which I’ll relate another time. Suffice to say that I’ve been stinking up the kitchen roasting fresh, dark coffee one cookie sheet and wok at a time. If my public demands it, perhaps I’ll show you in a future post how to wok this way.

Not content just to enjoy my windfall of magic wake-up beans, I decided to take a break from my old habit of buying on eBay, and give selling a try. Anyone interested in 3 lbs of assorted ready-to-roast Arabica coffee beans has about 24 hours left. No reserve! Bid often, bid high!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hallelujah! The Dog's OK! On to the next gripe.

We've covered a lot of miles together since Valentine's Day of 2005: we've trained for and completed a half-marathon, made a lot of trips to the gym, driven umpteen miles interstate, listened to _A Passage to India_ in its entirety while stocking the shelves at Barnes & Noble before the store opened, jammed to Belle & Sebastian when things got too slow in the AR Senate gallery, learned Mandarin with Chinese Pod at 3 a.m. while tucking billing notices under every door on each of the Peabody Hotel's fifteen floors. And in all that time, I've never once dropped (except once), washed, or in any other way mistreated the blessed thing.

Yes, my iPod Mini. The best Valentine's Day gift I've ever received. Thank you, Dr. BLU.

Yet, yesterday I was almost to the point of eviscerating the little tyke. Pulling its giblets out for inspection and then, if I felt like it, stuffing them back in like a stubborn hernia.

(I'm talking about the iPod here, not Brandy. I'll not speculate about what SHE daydreams about doing with MY innards when there's nothing good on TV.)

For how does it repay me for all these months of tenderness and attention? In addition to its ever-more-lethargic battery, the blasted "Menu" button has quit on me. Those of you without iPods cannot know--you CANNOT KNOW--what an INFURIATING Achille's heel this is.

And what do we do with Achille's heels? C'mon--if you haven't read Homer, you've at least seen "Troy." Why, we loose mighty arrows into them, is what we do.

I'll put the question to you: Do I put this patient under the knife myself, entrust it to Matt via FedEx, or make a donation to Apple (HA!) so they can tell me to go buy a Nano (because after two WHOLE years they no longer support the Mini, despite its being the most popular Mp3 player in history)?

Hmmm. I suppose option #4 would be suck it up and deal with it, but you needn't remind me. I feel petty enough fretting about this stuff with NPR reminding me in the background of the latest death toll in Lebanon and other final vacation destinations. C.S. Lewis's "Learning in Wartime" is helpful here. Let us all heed his wise words about it being in the spirit of man to comb his hair before battle, make jokes on the scaffold steps, and, perhaps, grouse about faulty consumer electronics while our fellow human beings are busily showing no signs of slowing the incineration one of the other. I've written my congresspersons; have you? I'd drop Koffi Annon or John Bolton a note, but I'd hate to think they might take a moment to actually glance at it, thereby adding more molases to the already CRIMINALLY slow wheels of international diplomatic intervention.

Matt, new entry for your caption contest picture of several months back:
"Helloooo? Anyone awake in there? Anyone? Yeah, Satan has a controlling share interest, but CNN was a gift from me--haven't ANY of you been watching it?"

There. I feel better for that disclaimer, as I'm sure you do.
Talk to me people.

P.S. (Sophie submits her appreciation for your kind words, though I had to tell her that all the UPS drivers were on strike. Didn't have the heart to tell her that no one sent bacon.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Sick Puppy

And He said to them, "Which one of you shall have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?"
(Luke 14:5)

Emily Dickenson, famously shy of papparazzi even before they existed, wrote,
"Some keep the Sabbath going to church--
I keep it staying at home."

Today we kept it at the Forsyth County Emergency Vet. Hospital. Sophie began exhibiting signs of an injured left foreleg yesterday, and was showing no improvement this morning. Feeling concerned, not wanting to leave her home alone, and feeling that, although pets are welcome in some Episopal churches on the Feast of the Nativity, this was not the day to test an enlargement of the Church's already strained egalitarianism, we left off readying for services, and prepared instead to head Vet-ward.

It occurred to us afterward that $130 could have bought a brand new dog, one that wasn't broken. Nonetheless, I think we're pleased that we chose instead to purchase a measure of professional reassurance and an anti-inflammatory shot. If the wee invalid doesn't keep still and quit limping around in the next few days, an X-ray and doubtless other horrors besides, will be her reward.

We invite you to light a votive candle on her behalf, or, more conveniently, post a "get well (and pipe down!)" message for her here at our virtual "Whining Wall."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I saw the best minds of my generation . . .

For those of you considering calling the ASPCA, or maybe our parents, please rest assured that these shots of our prodigious pup were in no way posed. This is simply the scene that met me when I walked in the room with my coffee this morning.

Obviously, yesterday's intellectual exhertions left her tuckered out. I'll have to be more careful what books I leave sitting out. I'm proud of her for wrestling with post-structuralist assertions of the fractured self, and Eagletonian Marxist criticism, but these things take their toll on a young mind.

Hmm. Sophie certainly does seem to be doing a lot of laying around in these pictures. I wonder where she picked that up? Is Dr. Brandy studying, or is she sleeping?

Off we go, over the wise lone Saviour!

The following NY Times article caught my eye this morning. I especially like its recounting on page two of a 4th of July church service featuring a projector image of U.S. F-15s soaring over a silhouette of Golgotha. Far be it from me to cast stones (at least not the first one; I'm usually ready with a few in my pocket to follow the opening salvo), but it makes me grateful for the plodding, unexcitable steadiness of Episcopalidom.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So this is the result of my coffee ground - soil experiment. Apparently you can change the color of hydrangeas by adjusting the pH of the soil. Darker colors (like the unfavorable purple that we previously had) come from a basic soil so I added coffee grounds from 1 french press coffee to the soil and look what came up-a hybrid of greens, purple, and blue. Psychedelic hydrangeas. Yes I really am working. In other news, the good people at Harris Teeter (local grocery store) were handing out samples of wine and lemon cake last week. So, um, back to the clinic.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

. . . and life is like a song

"How," Brandy demanded, her face looking like a memento mori, "is it possible for someone like yourself, who spends hours every day editing Chris's novel, to have as yet nary a teambubu blog post on your resume?" She wrung her hands. She wrung my hands. "How, I say," she continued, arms akimbo, "can I tell our friends that you, who are functionally unemployed, a slothmuch, a mowlittle, a beerskin, a be-cheetoed palmprint on the sleeping face of St. Brewguts, cannot help me even with this blog?"

"How," she asked again, legs akimbo this time but for only a spectacularly painful moment which convinced her to resume her earlier posture, "can you bring yourself to face sweet Melody, who for us didst fashion yon blog? Oh, thou who art for public house sluggards a totem of cheer, to think that they are more industrious at least than thy sulking frame! Oh for breath to utter what is like you!"
And if she did at this point borrow a bit overmuch from Henry IV, still I was moved to correct rather my own errors than hers (for to venture the latter would see me much moved!).

And so I hope you don't mind that I wrote down in words--with a few pictures--how wonderful life is, now we're in Winston Salem. I had intended to show pictures of my bike, or my fun post-helmet hair, or the cool chain wheel grease stains on my calf (which would make a bodacious tattoo!), but I don't have any yet. So, I thought Brandy's shoes needed airing. That is, pictures of her fun new shoes. And half of me at today's 2nd Annual 48-Hour Film Festival in nearby Greensboro, in which dozens of indy film crews compete to film the best ten-minute picture on location in Greensboro, total production time not to exceed 48 hours. Thank you NPR for the tickets I won from you. Not a bad time. The other half of me came too, and together we all had a delicious time.
And finally a picture of Sophie, in case you've forgotten her. We don't have a baby, but we have one cute Beagle, ladies and germs.

Yours First and Last,

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ah, Winston-Salem...

Okay, okay so this isn't our new little town but I've had some long clinics lately and have been longing for this place soon we left it. Is or has anyone seen Lady in the Water? Our entertainment fund is growing slim so we might have to catch it at the $2 theater.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Since last we met...
Ben bought a bike and I haven't seen him since.
We discovered three new running trails--two of which would be ideal for strolling babies along.
I diagnosed an abdominal aortic aneurysm and an upper respiratory infection or two.
Sophie got over her fear of the lawnmower (it's the old-fashioned-no-motor type)
Ben joined a Bible study with a philosophy professor, a physics professor, and a theologian.
I finally watched both Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski. I have now finished the Coen brothers canon (though I slept through most of Miller's Crossing but woke up for the important violent parts). What an accomplishment, indeed.
Next up: images of Winston-Salem (otherwise known as a ploy to attract certain Lumpkins to live here)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

This is for Rebecca. Now you know that you have a job if you get tired of audiology.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday morning

-back from garage-sailing. Ben found all kinds of great loot that we will someday be putting in our very own yard sale. He is displaying here some of his great finds: a chef's hat, apron, and Learn German cds. In other sales he found a camping saw (tiny wire wrapped around bigger wire meant to be held in place by a stick). Trash to treasure indeed.

whitewater fourth

Did everyone have a lovely fourth? Ben and I celebrated our continued independence by hitting the Pigeon River whitecaps. I had never been whitewater rafting and he has only gone as a wee one. It started out a beautiful, hot, muggy day and once we were bused to our start-off point and ensconced on the rafts (with a Korean family and Johnny, our guide) it started raining. The scenery was lush and green and quiet. We were accompanied other rafters and kayakers (some of whom used hand paddles-new to me) and let the river carry us. I think canoeing requires much more work. Here are some before/after pictures. Later that night we met up with our neighbors and headed to a huge open park for fireworks. Ben and I got home just in time to join them, so he quickly grabbed a bag of cheetos and beer-we we all arrived, our neighbors brought out their loot--brie with ciabatta, smoked salmon/cream cheese, champagne, guacamole, and artichoke pasta salad. Oops.

Monday, July 03, 2006

After a lazy Sunday listening in to Prarie Home Companion and discovery of fresh rhubarb at the grocery store it was evident that the weekend needed to end on a rhubarb pie note. I had scarcely heard of rhubarb before I knew Ben. He, however, grew up on it. His aunt was sweet in sharing her recipe as a wedding gift (no, not her ONLY wedding gift), and so we put it to use. Rhubarb, by itself, is a very strange fruit?vegetable? to put into a pie, at least to me. It's in the celery family and its leaves are poisonous. That just asks for trouble. When you slice it, it seems to have the texture of water chestnuts but when combined with flour, sugar, and a few strawberries it's actually very yummy.