Archive | April, 2011

Day 14: Mr. D.

20 Apr

This is the spring of my son’s senior year in high school.  Do you remember your last year of high school?  What was that like for you?  My son is a good student and is doing well… but still there is a certain level of stress associated with this time.  Almost  everyone who greets him asks about his future plans.  He fields questions such as “Where are you going to go to college?” daily.   It is a question that asks (or seems to ask) so much more.

It was not so long ago that my son was in 5th grade at Helman School.  It was the same year that Briscoe School was closed and those students were parsed out to the remaining elementary schools.   It was not an easy time for the families that had loved Briscoe;  they had to leave their school behind and acclimate to Helman.  It did not seem fair to anyone.

To say that the group of students in my son’s class presented a challenge for a teacher would be an understatement.  These kids were bright and energetic and ready for a challenge.  Into this arena stepped Mr. D.  He was a new teacher.  I don’t know if he was really prepared for such a group but somehow he won their hearts through his steadfastness.  He was calm and didn’t raise his voice.  He was cool in a way that they wanted to be (think ultimate frisbee).  He was real in a way they were not.

Today’s pie is for Mr. Joe Dunbrasky.  Thank goodness for men like him who choose to teach elementary school.  They are so appreciated for the lessons that they teach and the mentoring that they do.  Our kids are so much better for their guidance.  Thank you Joe for your efforts on our children’s behalf.

Day 13: Dennis Dunleavy

19 Apr

Several years ago, my daughter Alexandra took a photo-journalism class at Southern Oregon University while she was still a senior in high school.  Her instructor for this class was Dennis Dunleavy.  Alexandra did nothing but rave about Dennis – he was encouraging, talented, dedicated.  I was happy to see Alexandra so engaged and she was thrilled to be treated as a professional; not just a kid who could write well.

I met Dennis later that year at his exhibition at the Schneider Museum.  Displayed were amazing black and white photographs of people from Latin America. The images were haunting, crisp and clean.  They had captured the craziness of war: beautiful children holding machine guns as naturally as if they were holding a toy.   What an incredible juxtaposition of innocence and violence.

Today I arranged to meet with Dennis and talk to him about my blog project.  He had some idea of what I was doing and knew that I wanted to get some professional advice.  Who better to turn to for help?  Dennis has been blogging for seven years now and is a great teacher.

We met at the Boulevard Cafe.  Dennis and I chatted about my blog and he gave me advice, hope and encouragement.  And, of course, I gave him a warm pie.   He said he’d like to learn how to make a good pie crust.  I told him that it was easy to do – and he made me feel as if what I do with ease might actually be hard for someone.  My wish for today:  that he learns as much from me as I hope to learn from him.

Day 12: Roxanne – a force of nature.

17 Apr

Today, the recipient of my pie is my friend and neighbor Roxanne.  We were co-presidents of the PTA  at Helman School a number of years ago.  She was the “voice” of the PTA – running the meetings, etc.  I was very happy for that – and willingly did what ever else needed to be done.   I would never have taken on the  role of president alone, and was very grateful to have someone who was”fearless” to work with.

You may have met Roxanne around town.  She is a true force of nature!   She teaches classes like kick boxing – with the energy and encouragement necessary to keep you going.   She can make you laugh – but also makes time to listen if you need to talk.  She is real in the best sense of the word and we are lucky to have her in our community.   Won’t she be surprised when she comes home tonight to be greeted by a warm apple pie?

This “pie a day giveaway” project began as a way to bring a bit of happiness into someone’s life.   So far, I think it is going well.   Everyone has been genuinely pleased to receive a pie.  In fact, most folks have been quite surprised.  How fun is that?   Amazing that I can have such impact with such a small effort.  What that tells me is that we don’t “go out-of-the-way” for each other as often as we might.   I hope that someone out there is inspired to follow my example and make something for someone who has made a difference in their lives.

On a completely different note, check out commedienne Jeanne Robertson.  In this video she talks about her husband, LB (left-brain).  It’s a hoot.

Thanks for visiting.

Some Days are Harder than Others

17 Apr

It seems as if I have been going all day.  There was so much to do today… My first (self-imposed) task was to make a delicious treat for the volunteers who were working on the grounds at the soon-to-be open Medford Food Co-op.  I was unable to participate in the cleanup day but I wanted to share my gratitude to the folks that are working to make this dream a reality.   Fortunately, I was able to connect with someone who was able to take my offerings to the work party.  (Thank you Amy!!!)

My next priority was to make a treat for the Rotary Garden volunteers.  At first I thought that I would have time to work in the garden, but soon it became clear that I would not have time to go there today…. my dance card was overflowing.  I called around and found that Tim was able to pick up the bagels I made for the gardeners.   I hope that he conveyed my sincere desire to be there among them!

Later in the day, I spent time with friends helping another family during a most difficult time.  I brought sweets (that is my favorite thing to make) and it seems that they were appreciated.   We visited and shared a few laughs as well as many tears.   It seems that this is what loved ones do.  We help each other through life’s challenges.

And just so you know, I also made a pie today.  It was a simple gesture of reconciliation.  Fresh fruit, lovely pastry, butter and brown sugar.  What could be more wonderful?

I hope that you all had a lovely day and I look forward to sharing a delicious pie with you tomorrow.

Hugs, and many thanks for joining me on this journey,

Karen

Day 10: A Quiche for Heidi

16 Apr

It was a busy morning at my house.  First I chose to make a loaf of bread for my neighbor, Armo, to take on his trip to Seattle.  Then I whipped up a batch of walnut raisin bagels for breakfast.  And then I had a few pies to make for a dear friend for her dinner party.  All these tasks took a while to accomplish – and I hadn’t even begun to make my “pie of the day” yet.  But I had been thinking about who the recipient would be.

I first met Heidi many years ago at church.  I was not yet a member but she was always nice to me and found ways to include me.  One of my favorite memories of that time is when Heidi suggested that the women of the church perform music that was created by women that were held captive during WWII.   The documentary about these women is called “Song of Survival” and tells the tale of hardship that the women endured and how they found a way to “turn a situation of despair into a heroic symphony of triumph.”

And so began our musical journey.  We learned to sing songs without words; our voices mimicing the orchestral instruments of the works of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin.  It was very challenging and incredibly beautiful.  I felt very lucky and blessed to be a part of such an undertaking.  On the night of our performance, when the documentary was shown to the audience, an old friend who just happened to be in town that day and had come to me in the choir, found out that her recently deceased brother was the narrator of that very same documentary.  How amazing!  And how perfectly wonderful to be a part of that convergence.

To Heidi – Thank you for your part in creating such a terrific performance and a lasting memory.  I hope that we can continue to find ways to create harmony and beauty in our lives and our community.

Day 9: Dr. Ann

15 Apr

Be assured I did not think this pie making plan through in all it’s permutations.  I did not look for reasons for this “idea” of mine to make sense.  It is totally impractical and perhaps just a little bit crazy.   Who in their right mind would undertake such a task?  Maybe no one.  But this idea woke me from a sound sleep one night and I had to believe that it was a good idea.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Who can argue with this thinking?  But you may be wondering, why did she choose to make pies each day?  Perhaps you think that something like soup is more basic and necessary and might be more appreciated.  To this I would answer, “Yes, perhaps you are right.  Soup is much more practial… but pies are special.  And if your goal is to let someone know that they have touched your life in a meaningful way, then making them a pie is the way to go.”

Today I wanted to thank a woman who has been my veterinarian for many years.  Dr. Ann Swartz is sort of a traveling vet.  She holds office hours but also travels to homes to help folks take care of their pets.  Ann has come to my home on more than one occasion to help us with our various pets: Grover (our pound puppy), Basil (our very old cat) and a bunny or two.  She has always been gentle with our pets. I appreciate that she has always been forthright in her explanation of the problem and also in our treatment options.  She has helped me through some very difficult times by showing us patience and understanding. To thank her, I have made her a quiche – so that she would have a chance to take it easy tonight.  We truly appreciate your dedication to our pets.

Thank you!

14 Apr

Sometimes you just have to thank someone for all the help that they have given over the years.  Today, the person that I want to thank is my friend named Jary.   He runs the produce department at the local grocery store.  He works too hard and is always on the go but if you need something produce related, he is the man to talk to.  He knows what is going on in the market and can give you the latest scoop on all things produce.

It’s good to have a friend who can help you when you need it; and as a caterer it is really nice to have Jary on my team.  From what I hear, he is an exceptional bowler as well as being a great human being.  The guys that work in his department are always friendly and helpful and I know it is because they are treated right.

Here’s to Jary and his team: thanks for everything you have done.   Enjoy this apple-blueberry pie – you all deserve it.  Muchas gracias!

Day 7: The best laid plans….

13 Apr

My plan for today was to get up early and bake a pie for the coordinator of the reading program at the elementary school where I volunteer.  First problem, I slept late.  That meant that there was not enough time to bake a pie by the 8:30 start time.  When I arrived at the school, I found out the that coordinator was absent – so that meant that it was okay that I slept in – I just needed to rethink my “pie recipient” of the day.  It didn’t take long at all to come up with another “pie person.”  But there was another problem – I could not reach him.

I went back to the drawing board and thought about the meeting I was going to attend this evening.  I have always brought food of some kind or another to this group – and I decided that today that food item would be pie.  I followed a recipe that had been given to me by a baker named Joy many years ago.  Before long I had two chocolate cream pies in the fridge ready for my meeting.

I bet many of you have attended meetings over the years and I wonder how often have you had food at these meetings?  Sharing food seems to me to be central to getting work done.  Sometimes folks come to evening meetings without having eaten dinner because of one reason or another.  How nice would it be for them to find a simple snack available?   Might it help them stay alert and focused on the business at hand?  Probably.  And I think it is only reasonable to offer something to people who are already giving so much.

Tonight I think my committee  members were pleased and surprised to receive a slice of Chocolate Cream Pie.  It was definitely out of the ordinary – but that is okay.  At times it is nice to exceed expectations.

Day 6: Little Audrey

12 Apr

Those of us of a certain age may remember a cartoon character named Little Audrey.  She was very cute and had a headful of auburn hair.  About 15 years ago at the Ashland Library I met a real live Little Audrey.  She was helping me check out books for my two children – who were running around the bookshelves at the time.  I was mortified by their behavior and hoped that this nice librarian would not say anything.  She had a cute way of looking sideways at my kids as she stamped my books (yes it was a long time ago!)   I whispered my apology for their antics.  Audrey looked up from the books and said “They’re just kids!”  I adored her from that moment.

I hadn’t seen Audrey for a while when I heard that she lost her husband of 55+ years.   When I visited her at that time I brought her a quiche.  I just wanted to offer a small gift of love at a difficult time.   It has been about six weeks since that gift and today I called Audrey to ask if I could visit for a moment.  She seemed uncertain and asked if I could come at another time.  I told her that I would only stop by briefly, and still she hesitated.  Finally I told her “Audrey, I baked you a pie.”  To this she replied, “Well, come on over!

When someone dies it seems that everyone comes around to help but that moment soon passes and then the world expects that you get on with your life.  I remember when my Mom died I was sort of stunned.  There was so much to do and get through.  And somehow in that time I had a feeling that if I just made it through the difficult days that things would somehow “get back to normal.”  It took a while to realize that normal was never going to happen again.

This is just my way of saying that it’s important to keep in touch.  We all need to be reminded that we are loved; that we are important.  Whose day would be brightened by your call?

Day Five: Honoring Howard

10 Apr

Today I will be sharing a remembrance of a man named Howard.  Howard was a very dear friend of, and also a mentor to, my neighbor Armo.  Howard and Armo shared two bonds: forestry and flying.  They were both members of The Society of American Foresters and often attended meetings together. They were both true foresters, with a deep respect for nature.  They know what it takes to grow and manage a forest and they do not take their positions lightly.  They also know how to conserve resources; wood from one project may find its way into another project many years down the road.

A few  things that Armo shared about Howard:  He was a fighter pilot during the Korean War, flying for more than 1500 hours.  He taught forestry for what seemed like forever.  Over the course of his life he had worked in many parts of the world.  He played a huge role in the renovation project at the United Methodist Church in Ashland.  And he was a big man dedicated to bringing peace to the world.

During the past few weeks Armo shared that Howard had come to terms with dying.  He was a man of great faith and said he was “looking forward to the adventure.”   I bet he’s already walking among the tall trees.

Today, in honor of Howard, I made a “Kick Ass Apple Pie” and offer it with my deepest condolences to his family.

 

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