Today is the birthday of my Uncle Billy. He was about 12 when I was born and was sort of like an older brother to me. When I was little I could not say his name and that is how he became “unca booey.” Uncle Billy loves baseball and I remember watching baseball games with him at my Grandma’s house. I remember him in front of the television on the floor watching the game with me sitting behind him making comments or asking questions. It went something like this: The announcer calls the name Ron Swoboda. Then I would say, “Uncle Billy, his name sounds like soda.” My uncle probably grunted in the affirmative to keep me quiet. When the name Dusty Baker was announced I might have said “Gosh that sounds like me Uncle Billy” (because I was always covered with flour when I baked anything). To his credit, Uncle Billy never told me “hush.”
It was really nice to be included in watching the games. I was the oldest grandchild and eventually became too old to be part of the “kids table” and was still way too young to sit with the adults. Because I was included, I really began to like baseball and started learning a little bit about sports. My uncle was a Mets fan and I remember when they won the series in 1969. It was as if they were doing it for us! And then the year I got married they won the series again. It was hard not to think that there was a special coincidence there.
And the best moment of all with my uncle? I’d have to say it was at my wedding. I was dancing with my husband and my Uncle Tom asked to cut in. And for a moment I was dancing with Uncle Tom. And then both of his brothers – Bill and Richard cut in as well and for what was probably only a minute I got to dance with my Mother’s three brothers. It was such a special treat for me to be dancing with them all!
About ten years ago, my family got to go to Walt Disney World because my Uncle Billy was working there and was able to get us in for free. It was such a tremendous gift to us. When we arrived at his house I presented my uncle with a baseball that had been autographed by Harmon Killebrew. It just so happened that Mr. Killebrew had appeared at a regional game and willingly signed autographs for the fans. I asked him to sign a ball for my uncle because he is the biggest baseball fan that I know. And it was so cool to be able to give him a baseball that was signed by a man who was in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Because I planned ahead, my Uncle Billy received his “brownie pie” today (I mailed it Monday). I wanted to make sure that he knew that I am very grateful for all he has done for me. And I want to thank his wife, Aunt Carol, for making me feel so special. They have both done so much for my family and we are all very thankful.
Today is our 25th wedding anniversary but since my husband has been so busy at work I did not plan anything special. When he asked if he could take me to breakfast this morning I was a bit surprised but pleased.
He told me that he wanted to take me to a restaurant in Grants Pass and that I would be home in a few hours. And then he kept on driving… and when I asked him where we were going, he said “we’re going to the coast!”
This may not sound like a big deal to most of you, but he’s been working non stop for almost a year. This is a BIG DEAL!!!
So, without my knowing, he packed our bags, and bought some groceries and stole me away for an impromptu vacation. And he even packed some of my pie dough and a pie tin for the trip!
And so tonight I made a peach pie with cream and sugar – and we shared it with our friends Mark and Connie who live in Gold Beach after we “just happened to run into Mark” as we were walking on the main thoroughfare. How perfect!
And while I would love to share the photos of the day… I am having trouble making this computer (in the hotel) work… and I am tired… and my husband of 25 years is asleep in our room… so I will say goodnight.
But I wanted to close with a line from a poem that I found interesting. A man had sent it in to a newspaper advice columnist. In the poem he described how he and his wife were so very differnt – she was always cold, while he was hot. He was up, she was down. He ended the poem with these words:
Living with her is hard; living without her would be impossible.
Goodnight – and sweet dreams – to you all.
(Oops… I tried to delay this post til last night and must have done something wrong ’cause I had to go and look for it today!)
Today I was excited to make a pie with the apples from the tree in my yard because for what seems like the first time they are delicious. We have had apples in the past, but they were always disappointing. This year they taste like my favorite variety – the Macintosh. What a wonderful treat!
I picked about 16 apples for this pie because they are pretty small.
Once the apples were peeled, cored and sliced I realized that I didn’t have enough to fill my pie shell and so I added about two cups of blueberries to the mix. Then it was simply a matter of adding crumb topping and placing the pie into the oven for about an hour to bake. All the while I was thinking about where this pie would go.
Then Ruth’s name popped into my head, I knew she was the one. Ruth is the director of Peace House in Ashland. The first time I remember meeting her was at a fundraiser about a dozen years ago. I’m not sure of the details but I think it was in response to a hurricane that caused flooding in Honduras. Peace House held a big “yard sale” at the United Methodist Church and appeals went out to the community for donations.
My family put together a bunch of items to donate and I drove to the church with my son. There I found Ruth amidst boxes and boxes of “stuff.” She was calmly working to organize the donations even as they kept arriving. She looked so small and yet Ruth was unruffled by the chaos that surrounded her. I felt compelled to stay and help out as much as I could (luckily my son had found the toy section and kept himself busy for hours).
Though I don’t remember the dollar amount that was raised, I do recall that I was impressed that the money was raised so easily. Folks came by and opened their wallets and their hearts to help people they’d never meet. And I think it helped that there was someone in charge who was credible, knowledgeable, and dedicated.
Though I don’t see Ruth often, I am always happy when I do. She is a remarkable individual who works tirelessly to help those who are less fortunate.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James
Last night our friend George had a party for his house. That may sound strange – but what you need to know this – George’s house had just turned 100 years old. Imagine that. Not many of us have homes that are more than a few decades old, and yet George and his wife Joyce are living in a house that was built a hundred years ago!
We met George when we needed his services as an historical preservationist. That was more than fifteen years ago. Since that time we have learned that if you want to know anything about the history of this region, then you need to speak with George. History is his passion as well as his livelihood.
My husband and I consider ourselves lucky because not only is George a colleague; he and his wife Joyce are also our friends. Our families have spent a fair amount of time together over the years: we’ve attended concerts, we’ve played charades, we’ve compared parenting stories, and shared dinners. Life is good when you have friends that are really more like family.
Today I began making an Apple Blackberry Pie and knew that it would find its way to George’s house. I began by preparing the crust and getting the apples and berries ready.
Once the fruit was ready, I placed it into the crust and then into the oven. A short time later, I was trying to move the pie up onto the top shelf of the oven when the pie tin buckled under the weight of the fruit. Some of it spilled onto the door of the oven and it looked like this:
I let out a few words that I won’t print here but fortunately I was able to repair the pie with a bit more crumb topping and by the time it was baked it looked much more presentable. When I delivered the pie to George, he had only good things to say about it. It’s funny how what seemed like a disaster at the time, turned out alright in the end. Yet another reason for me to be grateful.
Brownie Pie – Though this is not Ellen’s pie hers looked just like this one!
A few weeks ago, our friends Ellen and Christoph were supposed to pay us a visit. As it turns out, something came up and they were not able to make it. My husband and I were both sad to hear that they were canceling their trip because it had been quite some time since we’d seen them.
We met Ellen and Christoph about twenty years ago when my husband worked for an accounting firm in Portland. I think the first time we saw them it was at the company Christmas party and we were seated at the same table. Ellen is smart and has a dry sense of humor and I liked her right away.
We did not see each other very often because we were all so busy – working, raising children, etc. When we moved away from Portland about sixteen years ago, Ellen and Christoph made it a point to keep in touch and occasionally have make the journey south to Ashland. We are always delighted to seem them and enjoy spending time catching up.
Because they were not able to come visit, I wanted to send a brownie pie to Portland (actually they live in Beaverton) to let them know that we miss them and look forward to seeing them again soon. My hope is that this gesture will bring a smile to their faces and remind them that they are never far from our thoughts.
Yesterday I met my friend Leslie at Ashland Nails in the Ashland Street Shopping Center, next to the cinema. I wanted to repay her for helping me last weekend and so I arranged for us to have “mani-pedi’s” together.
I arrived at the salon a few minutes early and immediately the owner, Nathan, had me sit in the chair massager and got right to work on my toes. He had me laughing and relaxed right away. A few moments later, Leslie walked in and sat down in the chair next to me. Nathan’s wife and co-owner, Lechi, started getting ready for Leslie’s pedicure while Leslie and I chatted. Soon, we both had the prettiest toes and then we were whisked off to have our manicures. Leslie chose a pretty shade of pink, but I opted for clear since it is best to have minimal color on your hands in my line of work.
Leslie and I had a wonderful time while we were at the salon and I highly recommend Lechi and Nathan to anyone. They are very friendly and I love how pampered I feel when I leave. It’s funny but somehow it seems easier to pamper someone else – and that should not be the case. If we don’t feel good and take care of ourselves, how can we give to others?
Yesterday, while Nathan was painting my toes, I remembered the last time I was at the salon, Lechi told me that sometimes when she gets home from work she is too tired to cook. We all can relate to that feeling. So as she worked on Leslie’s toes yesterday, I asked Lechi a few questions – What kinds of foods do you like? What don’t you like? Have you ever had quiche??? You can see where I was going with this. I was preparing for today’s pie which turned out to be a chicken sausage, onion and pepper quiche.
When I walked into the salon today with the quiche, both Lechi and Nathan looked so surprised! It was such fun to “pamper” them in return for the lovely work they did for me and Leslie. It never ceases to amaze me how the simple gift of a pie can appear to mean so much.
Today my next-door neighbors drove to the town where their daughter lives to be there when she gives birth to their first grandchild. This couple has just built on an addition to their house so that when the daughter comes to visit, there will be a room for the new baby. I love how my neighbors are so excited about their grandchild!
In the next few days they will be standing by waiting to do whatever is needed – even if that means that they will just be waiting, wondering who this new child will be. I can’t help but think that this will be a very lucky (and loved) baby indeed.
As they prepared to leave on their journey I gave my neighbors a pie to bring to their daughter and son-in-law. I wanted to be a part of the welcoming committee – and so I sent an Apple Walnut pie to help them keep up their strength during their “waiting” vigil. I wish their daughter a speedy delivery and send my very best wishes to the entire family.
Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete. ~Marcy DeMaree
If becoming a grandmother was only a matter of choice, I should advise every one of you straight away to become one. There is no fun for old people like it! ~Hannah Whithall Smith
If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first. ~Lois Wyse