Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sweet Good-Bye

The first cake I decorated happened circa 1986. It was my mothers birthday and I was the only girl in a family of six. I knew if anyone was going to be baking for mom it would have to be me and I loved to be in the kitchen. I think there is a photo somewhere in my closet of that sloppy little 9 inch round with chocolate chips pressed into the icing on the sides of the cake and one lone hershey's kiss in the top center. Flash forward a little more than a decade and I'm a newlywed trying my hand at legit cake decorating for the very first time, somewhere circa 1998. I'm thankful no pictures were taken of that epic fail. Still more time passed and in 2000, while living in Oklahoma City, I read about a newcomer on the cake decorating scene who brought so much inspiration into my world I could hardly stand it. Ruth Rickey was getting a lot of attention for her amazingly detailed cakes and I clipped many articles from the newspaper in awe of the skill she used to crank out delectable creations in her bakery, "Ruth's Sweete Justice". This article stays pressed in the pages of the very first cake decorating book I purchased. 
I read about Ruth, attorney turned cake designer, and her work with fondant when I was still a buttercream only girl (we all have to grow up sometime though and I knew fondant was in my future). She was my first true inspiration. The following year Ruth's diagnosis with leukemia coincided with my father's death from leukemia and once again she had my attention. She went on to win her battle with the disease and dedicates much of her time raising money for and bringing awareness to the Leukemia Society. Ruth Rickey truly is my hero. 

I continued to follow her career as I moved to Michigan and then on to Texas, watching her compete on the Food Network and WE TV, and when I read that Ruth had decided it was time to close up shop after 11 years of business (no worries she's on to bigger and better things - there is no slowing down for this lady), I found myself acknowledging the end of an era with a tear in my eye. Oklahoma City will never be the same. I will never be the same. Her last day of business was Christmas Eve. Ruth is selling her many tools of the trade in her OKC bakery and as I prepare to make a few purchases from her next week I remain uncertain whether or not I'll actually use them...I simply want a little tangible something of her. Ruth, you were my first great inspiration, you were the butter-in-my-batter and I will never be the same.