Archive | November, 2011

Day 228: Melissa

20 Nov

Recently I came across an article by Isha Judd, the author of “Why Walk When You Can Fly.” In the article Isha refers to a tragic plane crash and speaks of the unpredictability of life. Here is an excerpt from that article:

We are reminded that life changes, sometimes abruptly, dramatically, unexpectedly. What is present in one moment can be gone in the next: no matter the nation, no matter the motivation or the cause, loss moves us all, for we have all experienced it in some way or another.

But just as life is unpredictable, it is also wonderful. The opportunities to share love, to discover the best of ourselves, to discover selfless giving and inner evolution in every moment are always present.

Sometimes we don’t see those opportunities until someone else shows them to us… and my friend Melissa is the kind of person who does just that. About two years ago Melissa began a campaign at the First Presbyterian Church to host a community dinner one night a month. The amount of work that went into that effort was daunting, yet Melissa persevered. She continues to put time and money into this cause where her only rewards are the smiles that she receives from the grateful people that have been welcomed and fed.

Melissa has shown us how to reach beyond ourselves to those who are in need in our midst. I know I speak for many when I say that we appreciate what she has done… and this afternoon I brought a Dutch Apple Pie to Melissa to thank her for being such a kind and compassionate role model.

Don’t forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. –Hebrews 13:2

Day 227: Saying Goodbye

19 Nov


Pecan Pie

Today I attended the memorial service of a wonderful man named Dave. Dave was beloved by many and the church was filled with many folks who wanted to pay their respects to him and his family.

Our pastor read from Ecclesiastes 3, “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.” Hearing these words help to soften the blow that death brings.

However, I was more moved by the words that Dave’s granddaughter Dana read for they seemed to suggest that though our reality may have been changed by Dave’s passing, he is still as vital as ever.

The poem she read, written by Henry Van Dyke, follows. I hope it gives you the same comfort that it gave to me.

In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day,
a fine sailing ship spreads its brilliant
white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and
sails out to the open sea. We watch her
glide away magnificently through the deep
blue and gradually see her grow smaller and
smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally,
where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently
from sight, and someone near me says, ‘there,
she is gone!’

Gone where? Gone from sight. That is all.
She is still as large in mast and hull and
sail, still just as able to bear her load.
And we can be sure that, just as we say,
‘there, she is gone’ another says, ‘there, she comes!’.”

Day 226: A Friend and Mother

18 Nov

Recently I learned that a woman I met last fall had a daughter who was born prematurely a number of years ago. Because of this, her child has required considerable care for much of her young life. What amazed me (when I found this out), is that this woman is such a busy person volunteering in many areas of the community and yet she still tends to her family with incredible love and dedication.

Just the other day I was reminded of a warning that the airlines give to us each time we fly. They say, should there be a need for oxygen, masks will drop from the ceiling and to make sure to fasten your own mask first before helping those around you. As a parent, it seems so strange to do this because our first concern is for our children. However, if we are not properly taking care of ourselves, we are not able to take care of anyone else.

And while I am sure that my friend takes care of herself, today I wanted to acknowledge that she takes care of a great many things in addition to her family and I wanted to commend her for all that she does for others. Our world would be a different place if people only cared for their own needs. However, it is a better place because of people like my friend who willingly take care of those things that need doing. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to her… and to all those like her.

Day 225: Matt

17 Nov

Matt Damon was my son Coco’s third grade teacher at Helman Elementary. One of the things that I liked most about Matt was his quiet, gentle demeanor. He impressed me because he was able to speak to the children in the classroom in a calm, thoughtful way even when the kids were not cooperating; make that especially when the kids were not cooperating.

Another enviable trait that Matt demonstrated was his ability to tell stories. One evening he held a special storytelling night at the school. I remember one story in particular. It is a story from India and Pakistan called “The Gifts of Wali Dad.” In this story a poor man finds himself with more money than he needs to live on and uses it to buy a gift to give to the most noble woman in the land. Yet this small gift sets off a funny chain of events that is fueled by misunderstanding.

Matt is a marvelous storyteller and had the audience enchanted. I think that it was neat for the kids to see their teacher in a different role – and it gave Matt a chance to show off his acting skills (much like another actor of the same name!).

Today I brought a Dutch Apple pie to Matt to thank him for his role in my son’s education and to recognize the unique gifts that he brings to teaching.

Day 224: Coach Pete

16 Nov

We first met Pete when my son Coco signed up for the Nordic Ski Team at Ashland High School. Pete is the head coach for the Nordic team and has been the head coach for a long time. Both of his kids were on the team when they were in high school, but they have long since graduated. Yet Pete continues to coach the team… and that is something that we can be thankful for because Pete brings a wealth of experience with him and is highly respected.

When Coco was on the team, I volunteered a few times to help at ski meets – most often helping out in the snack booth and on the rare occasion, assisting on the race course. After a while I found that by sending fresh baked goodies to the team before they left for a meet was the best contribution I could make because the kids (and coaches) liked the snacks I provided and I liked staying warm at home.

When he is not coaching the Nordic team, Pete is the Chief Ranger at Crater Lake National Park. Pete is not one of those people who just “shows up for his job.” He brings energy and passion to just about everything does. The photo at the top of this post shows Pete at work rescuing a guy who jumped a barrier at the rim of Crater Lake. Pete is the kind of guy who always seems ready for moments like these; he pays attention, he has been trained, and he is in top condition.

This afternoon I brought Pete his favorite pie: lemon meringue. I want to thank him for leading the Nordic Team and for his part in giving our kids such a wonderful outdoor experience.

Day 223: Curtis Restaurant Equipment

15 Nov

A long time ago I worked at a restaurant in Ashland. One day the owner told me that we needed to replace a piece of equipment. He asked me to call a friend of his who sold equipment and to order it. Before I did that I found the model number and all of the details that I could locate and when that was done, I called his friend.

When I described the piece of equipment, the friend said he knew what we needed and that the machine in question was going to cost $800. That sounded like a lot of money to me and I told him that I would tell the owner and get back to him. And then I opened the phone book to the yellow pages and found the restaurant equipment section. Under that heading I saw this name “Curtis Restaurant Equipment”. I thought, “What the heck?” and called the number.

When the salesperson, Cheryl, answered the phone I told her what I was looking for and gave her all of the pertinent information. In a few moments she came back on the line and gave me a quote of $425. I thought I’d made a mistake and repeated the information once again and she confirmed that the quote was correct. “Can you fax a photo of the machine to me please?” I asked so that I could make sure that we were talking about the same item. When the fax came through I was amazed. My boss’ friend wanted to charge me nearly $400 more for the very same machine than this woman whom I did not know at all.

Of course, I ordered the machine from Curtis. I was extremely impressed with their prices and with their service… and was very pleased to receive a note card from them “thanking me” for my purchase. What a classy company!

This all happened many years ago… but memories like this are hard to forget. I have been a fan of Curtis ever since and will always recommend them. And to thank them for being good, honest, caring people I brought an Almond Pear Cheesecake Pie to the staff – Rod (and Donna), Cheryl, Krystal, and Alex. My sincere thanks to all of you for your emphasis on customer service. It is very much appreciated.

Day 222: Mark

14 Nov

Mark Buktenica is a biologist and he is the “aquatic ecologist” at Crater Lake National Park. He is “the first person to reach the deepest point in Oregon’s Crater Lake” according to National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Here is his description of what he saw while in a submarine at the bottom of the lake:

“There’s a ring of moss—like a band of hair around a bald man’s head—that circles all of Crater Lake. That was our first surprise; it’s invisible from the surface. The moss starts at a hundred feet in depth and is draped off cliffs and matted on rocks all the way down to 450 feet (137 meters)—so darn deep. Crater Lake has the clearest water ever measured, and that allows light to penetrate unusual distances.

“I made dives in 1988 and 1989 in the Deep Rover submarine, essentially a large plastic bubble with lights, oxygen tanks, and sampling equipment bolted to the outside. Deep Rover fits only one person, so you’re both the pilot and the scientist. It takes a long time—20 to 30 minutes—to drop to the bottom of the lake, going from daylight into the blue, then into darkness. The day I went to the lake’s deepest point, I turned off all the lights and the instruments and just sat there for a few minutes, taking in the silence. Even there, at 1,949 feet (594 meters) below the surface, my eyes could still pick up some vague light from above. Incredible.” You can read more about his experience here.

Our family first met Mark because he was one of the parents who volunteered for the Nordic Ski team when my son Coco was at Ashland High School. Mark is an assistant coach for the team, and has given his time and resources to the club as often as possible. I know that my son enjoyed spending time with Mark and his kids and learned to love cross country skiing in part because of their love and enthusiasm for the sport.

This afternoon I brought a Sausage and Pepper Quiche to Mark to thank him for his participation on the Nordic Ski Team… and for giving me the chance to say that I know someone who has been to the bottom of Crater Lake in a submarine!

Day 221: Mr. Joe

13 Nov

A few days ago when I was delivering a pie to a teacher named Marcia, I ran into a friend of mine named Mary. She saw that I had brought a pie with me and wanted to know more about it. I explained my pie project to her and how Marcia had been suggested as a pie recipient by another pie recipient.

Mary seemed to think this “pie project” was a pretty neat idea and asked if I was still taking requests. “Of course” I answered and then Mary told me about a man that she worked with that she thought really deserved a pie.

The man’s name is “Mr. Joe” and he works in the special ed classroom with Mary at Bellview Elementary. Mary had only the nicest things to say about Mr. Joe. And then she told me that Mr. Joe wasn’t working because he was home recuperating from surgery. Then she told me that she thought that he would be delighted to receive a pie.

And so this evening I brought a Bacon and Cheddar Quiche to Mr. Joe – a man I had never met – simply because he was held in the highest regard by a friend.

Day 220: The Crew at Cash and Carry

12 Nov

Having been in the food service industry (catering, working in restaurants, etc) for most of my life, it is only natural that I would get to know the crew at United Grocers. They are a great group of people that are willing to help you with whatever your project may be.

Back when I worked in restaurants, at times I would pile my cart high with products and whoever rang up my purchases would help me load the goods into my car. They are all so helpful and full of information!

A few years ago I needed to make pulled pork for a friend and I had never made it before. When I got to Cash and Carry, I walked into the meat cooler and was overwhelmed. A moment later, Garret asked me what I needed. I told him what I was looking for and he had me outfitted with exactly what I needed in a flash. I was thrilled to have his help.

I am tremendously grateful for all of the help that these folks have given to me (and here is a partial list of the staff: Garret, Brandon, Don, and the “retired” Clint). Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to the crew at Cash and Carry to acknowledge their terrific customer service… and to thank them for the all of the assistance that they have given me over the years.

Day 219: Congratulations R and K!!!

11 Nov

Tonight we were invited to a celebration for a couple whom we have known for some time. Yesterday these two friends went to the courthouse and were united in a civil ceremony, and tonight their friends and family gathered to celebrate their union. We are so delighted that they have found the love and companionship that they deserve and we wish them both much happiness.

Though the invitation requested that we not bring gifts, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to bring a pie. But what kind? Surely it had to be something special… and for some reason these are the words that I heard in my head “Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie.”

With just a few key strokes I found the recipe I was looking for online and soon had a pie in the oven. Then I took butter, sugar and pecans and made a sweet and nutty garnish for the top of the pie. It looked and smelled heavenly!

As we drove to the reception, I thought of how happy our friends are, and how honored we feel to be included in their lives. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “Doesn’t every couple that is in love deserve this same opportunity to be together?”

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