Today is the day I have been looking forward to for some time now. It is the day that my daughter arrives from Copenhagen after being gone for two years! We visited with her last spring and then again last winter but she has not been home for so long and we are very excited to see her.
When I thought of the pie for the day, of course I thought of presenting my daughter with a pie at the airport. However, I know that she has been eating differently and I did not want to make her a pie that she could not eat. So then I thought, since I will be at the airport, I should give a pie to a TSA employee. But they would probably take it and then throw it away… and that would not be good.
On to Plan B (or is it C?) Tuesday is Lucky Number Day at Bi-Mart stores, and so today I thought I would honor a Bi-Mart employee who has been a cheerful representative of Bi-Mart for many years: Irene. While I could not tell you a lot about Irene, what I do know is plenty: she hails from Ireland and she loves to tell jokes. Why did the Irishman only put 239 beans in his chili? Because he didn’t want it to be 240 (two-farty).
Here’s a lovely illustration of Irene’s character: A year or so ago I was at Bi-Mart behind a woman who had a child with cerebral palsy. The boy was in a stroller and we were on Irene’s checkout line. When it was their turn to be waited on, Irene turned her full attention on that boy and he was so happy to be acknowledged. His Mom said that the reason that they visited the store was so that her son could visit with Irene. It was wonderful to see the animated exchange between those two – and I greatly appreciated Irene’s consideration of that boy.
For a while Irene was featured in a local paper with her joke of the week (or was it month?) Then came the fateful day when Irene shared a joke that some considered too risque. And that was the end of Irene’s joke sharing. Just like that, it was over. And all because of a silly parrot joke.
Today I presented Irene with an Apple, Walnut, and Raisin Pie. She’s been an integral part of our community and I want to thank her for all that she does to make us feel welcome everyday.
Today is day 166 in my pie baking journey and that means (drumroll!) that there are less than 200 pies to go until the end of the year (which began in April). It just is amazing to me how many pies I’ve made thus far and how quickly the time has passed. The lesson I take from this is that time passes quickly regardless, so we should make the very most of it.
For today’s pie I went into my backyard and picked some apples. The apples are delicious, but quite small and after peeling and slicing about ten of them I decided I would finish this pie with blackberries that I picked on Saturday. Then I combined the fruit with a sauce made with butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and apple juice. Here are a few pictures of that process.
Roux for pie filling
Sauce for pie filling
Fruit mixed with Sauce
You may recall that a week or so ago I asked for suggestions for pie recipients. Here is what one woman wrote about her nominee: “I would like to nominate …. Dr. Petey Laohaburanakit because he and his staff saved my life. He works as an Intensivist at Rogue Valley Medical Center’s (RVMC) intensive care unit. He and his staff do an amazing job… and the nurses I dealt with in ICU were some of the very best.” How’s that for a glowing recommendation?
This morning I called RVMC to make sure that Dr. Petey was on duty. The nurse who answered my call listened as I explained why I was coming to see Dr. Petey. She seemed happy as she told me that Dr. Petey would be at the hospital for most of the day if I wanted to deliver a pie to him.
When I arrived, I explained my mission to the volunteer at the ICU desk. After a bit of searching, she was able to track down Dr. Petey. Unfortunately, he was in a meeting that was not expected to end for half an hour. And as much as I wanted to wait, I could not, and so instead I wrote a note to Dr. Petey explaining who had recommended him and why. One of the ICU nurses came and picked up the pie and promised that Dr. Petey would get it… and I have not doubt that he did. And while I am sorry that I missed meeting him, I am truly honored to thank him for saving lives everyday.
This morning I had a quiche to deliver, from yesterday, and once that was done I planned on going to church. Well, it seems that God had other plans for me. I arrived at my friends house with the quiche in hand and she invited me in for a moment. And then we sat and talked for an hour and a half! We shared so many of our stories and it was really nice to spend time getting to know her better.
After I said goodbye, I stopped to purchase fruit to make today’s pie. I already had fresh blackberries that I had picked yesterday and so I chose to purchase local peaches. They were fresh and ripe and beautiful. Here is what the mise en place looked like for this pie:
Today’s pie recipient was suggested to me by a friend. He recommended a fellow parishioner who he thought would appreciate it. And so, once my pie was baked I called upon Muriel. When she answered, I explained my pie project and that she had been nominated to receive a pie by our friend. Muriel was pleased to hear this news and confirmed the directions to her home.
When I arrived, Muriel invited me in to chat for a while. We’d never met before and yet we spent half an hour talking about our lives and our families and how grateful we both were for everything we had. Imagine, this conversation was made possible simply because I brought Muriel a pie. What might the world might be like if this was something that happened more often?
Saturday mornings I try to make it out to the Rotary Garden. There is a group of us who meet each week to work in the garden – and that may mean mowing, weeding or harvesting. Last year our club donated more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.
Our volunteers vary from week to week because we all tend to be involved in many areas. There are a few folks that are always at the garden and then there are the rest of us. Last week I missed working at the garden on Saturday because I had worked late the night before. And even though I needed to take the time off, I really missed my time at the garden.
Today the number of gardeners was small, but three of us had brought treats to share. Since the food bank was closed for the weekend while it changes locations, our workload was a bit lighter than usual. Our new leader mowed the grass, while the rest of us harvested potatoes, onions, green beans, squash and tomatoes. And of course we found time to catch up with one another and taste the goodies that were provided.
It was during one of these breaks when one of our volunteers shared her good news with us. And while I can’t divulge her news, I want you to know how happy we all were to hear it. And that was as good a reason as any for a pie.
This afternoon I made my friend a sausage and mushroom quiche to celebrate her good news. And because she is such a busy person, she was not home when I tried to deliver her pie (nor did she answer my repeated phone calls). When she did finally return home and got my message, she returned my call and we arranged for her to get her quiche early tomorrow morning.
The weird thing about this? This woman had spent the evening at a friends house down the street from my house! Isn’t that strange? She was on my mind and down the street… but I had no way of knowing. Oh well. She knows that I was thinking of her and she will (eventually) get her quiche. And for today, that is the best that I can do.
Janice, Grace, Karen and Coco mid 1990′s
Janice was born the year that I turned ten. I remember walking with my Mom to her Avon customers that summer. It was very clear that my Mom was having a baby and that was quite an event in the neighborhood. My mother had had three girls before Janice was born and I remember that there was some hope that this fourth child might be a boy. As it turned out, the news that we received that night from the hospital was “It’s a girl.” And so the new, and last, baby had the same initials as my Dad : JLM – Janice Lynn Morse.
It may not have seemed likely, but at my young age, I wanted to help with that baby. My Mom had had three other children and by this time was okay with letting the baby “cry herself to sleep.” I wasn’t much more than ten and thought that that was the worst thing that one could do. And when I picked up that crying baby I was told, “Now you can’t put her down until she is asleep.” And so I didn’t. As a child of ten I was perfectly content to walk the baby until she fell asleep. It just seemed right to do this. And I think that is where our bond began.
We are ten years and a million miles apart. We like some of the same things but in some ways we couldn’t be more different. Janice loves to go fishing; I am happy to look at fish in a tank. I love to cook all kinds of food from scratch; Janice does not share this interest. She has always lived on Staten Island and I left there about thirty years ago.
To this day, my sister Janice can make me laugh like no one else can. She can do this because she knows me better than anyone else. We have shared so much in our lifetime and it is my hope that we will continue to be there for one another for as long as we are able.
Today Janice received a Brownie Pie in the mail. It was sent with love to my baby sister, of whom I am so very proud!
Today is my friend Danya’s birthday. She and I became friends when we were both earning our Master’s degrees at Southern Oregon University a few years ago. We were part of a group of four friends that studied together, drove to class together and generally supported one another through two years of study.
It really was important to me that I was not navigating the challenges of school, work and family alone. Each of these friends helped in their own way – but all of them were accepting, caring and encouraging. And as much as I enjoyed my classes, I think I learned as much from these friends who shared their life experiences with me. They demonstrated grace, courage and determination – and helped me to do the same.
Since graduation, while we have not seen each other as often as we did in school, we have managed to keep in touch. We continue to share information, offer advice, give reassurance, and celebrate our successes. When we met for coffee today, we spent most of the time laughing. It felt so good to be with them once again and I want to let them know that I am most grateful for the gift of their friendship.
A week or so ago I asked the readers of my blog to “nominate” a person that they thought would appreciate a pie. My friend Gary wrote to me and suggested that I make a pie for his friend Roberta. This is what he said about her, “She is a woman who will do anything to help others and I have experienced her kindness and “givingness” in so many ways.” With an intro like that it was certain that Roberta was going to get a pie.
When I wrote back to Gary, I asked for more information – Would Roberta prefer a sweet pie or a savory one? If savory, could it include meat (sausage, bacon, etc)? And since I always wonder how someone I don’t know might react to my bringing them a pie I asked Gary if he wanted to call ahead to introduce me. As you might have guessed, I needn’t have worried.
Today I called Roberta and explained my “pie project” and told her that Gary had suggested her name as a pie recipient. When I said that I had made her a Spinach, Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Quiche she seemed delighted. She told me, “You don’t know how perfect this is” and then explained why my quiche was exactly what she needed today. While I don’t understand how this confluence occurs, I am honored to be involved.
As I was saying goodbye to Roberta, she told me that she planned to share her quiche with several friends and that I could not imagine how many people would be touched by this one pie. In a way she is right… and that is part of the beauty of this endeavor.
It just so happens that today is the day that the Queen of Technology (for the Ashland School District) was born. I met this lady a long time ago… and was amazed at how computer savvy she was. She just seems to have a knack for understanding technically complex problems.
I discovered this for myself about ten years ago when our front-loading, energy efficient washing machine broke down. After talking with several repairmen, I decided to tackle the problem on my own (definitely a crazy idea). As I was leaving work that afternoon, I saw the Queen of Technology. She asked me what I was up to. That’s when I said, “I am going home to take apart my washing machine.” She looked at me and asked, “Can I help?”
Now I ask you, who in their right mind says that? Well, the Queen does. And she knew what an Allen Wrench was and she helped me (okay, I helped her) take apart my washer. We discovered that a lollipop stick had gotten lodged in the impeller and we were able to get the machine back in one piece. That evening, my husband took the Queen, her husband and me out to celebrate our success. I shudder to think what might have happened if I’d tackled this job on my own!
Tonight I delivered a Three Berry Lattice pie to this lovely lady and her husband. They are wonderful parents, amazing teachers and dear friends and I am very grateful to have them in my life.
Yesterday I saw a friend and her husband when I was out and I noticed that they were taking care of several of their grandchildren – on Grandparent’s Day! It seems to me that they have always taken care of family – for as long as I have known them. And even though their family has been through a lot over the past few years, they seem stronger than ever. I think that they must subscribe to the mantra “What does not kill me, makes me stronger” by Frederich Nietzsche.
How many of us have friends who have had to take on more than their share? I’d wager that there are many of us who can name several friends who have faced difficult times without complaining. And while it might be too much to ask us to share their burden, there might be things that we can do to help ease that burden from time to time.
Think of what you might do to help your friend: bring over a meal, pick up things at the store, share the bounty of your garden. Just taking the time to visit with someone for a few minutes and expressing admiration for what they have done (and continue to do) can work wonders. That sincere gesture can let your friend know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. It just might give them the boost that they need to keep going.
In the past, I have dropped off “useful” goods for my friend to give to her family. Today I brought something decadent – a still-warm Dutch Apple Pie. I want her and her husband to know that I am proud to know them and that I am here to help if they ever need me.
When we were living in Portland about 20 years ago, we met Julie and her husband because we lived in the same apartment building as them. They had recently moved from Oklahoma. They were both funny, smart and told interesting stories and we loved spending time with them. It wasn’t long before they began to introduce us to their friends and we became a part of that circle. Randy and Deirdre, also from Oklahoma, were among that group of friends who welcomed us.
We’ve shared a lot over the last two decades. Julie was there when my husband and I went to the hospital to deliver my son. She (and my husband) spent many hours walking with me, rubbing my back and helping me make it through the night. She says I was a bit melodramatic near the end – and she is probably right. As I look back, I don’t know if I ever really thanked her for being there with us – Julie, I hope you know that I was honored to have your company.
A month or so later, Randy and Deirdre attended a wedding I agreed to cater when I was still pregnant. I guess I didn’t think things through very well because when the wedding date arrived, I had a plan for everything except what to do with my new baby during the event. Luckily, Randy and Deirdre offered to hold him and keep him for me while I prepared and served the meal. Thanks to both of them my son and I both made it through the reception okay.
Over the years, we’ve shared some challenging times as we have each had to deal with a variety of life’s crisis but we have shared wonderfully joyous times as well. One extra special moment was when Julie married Mike a few years ago. How they met is a long and fascinating story that includes a hurricane, a flood, a bunch of cats and several cross country drives. We are all thrilled that they found each other!
After not seeing each other for a long while, tonight we gathered at Randy and Deirdre’s and shared a feast. We toasted new jobs, an outstanding graduate, grants sent in and papers published, a new non profit, a grand opening, (working towards) a year of pies, and Randy, a man who can smoke olive oil and make chocolate covered bacon ice cream. AMAZING! I thank my lucky stars that we found that apartment in Portland, which lead to meeting this wonderful circle of friends.