Archive | February, 2012

Day 319: A New Adventure

19 Feb




My Family on our trip to Missoula, Montana

This past weekend our family spent more than twenty-eight hours driving to and from Missoula, Mt.  My son, Coco, has decided that he would like to live there and last week he asked if we would take him.  As we all wanted to see where he would be living, and truly wanted to “see him off”, Friday night we packed up our car and began the journey.  At about 11:30 PM that night,  we landed safely in the arms of our dear friends Mike and Julie in Portland.  It was important to me that Julie see Coco at this juncture, because she was present at his birth – and this moment in time is similar in so many ways.

After a light breakfast the next morning we all piled into the car and resumed our journey.  We listened to many of Coco’s favorite CD’s while we passed around Turkey and Swiss sandwiches (on Dave’s Killer Bread – yum!).  All the while we kept at bay the reason for this trip: Coco wants to see what it is like to be on his own; he is ready for a challenge and it was time to let him go.  And as easy as that is to write, it is much harder to actually do it.

This “leaving home” thing is not new for me.  Both of my children have spent time living in other countries and have come through the experience quite well.  While they were away they learned a great deal about themselves and I believe they realized that they were quite capable (and pretty neat) individuals.  I wish every kid could have that experience!

Last evening we unloaded most of Coco’s worldly possessions into a house in Missoula.  We did not get to meet his roommates because they were busy elsewhere, but in addition to Coco’s “stuff” I also left an Apple Pie. I want to extend my thanks to his roommates for welcoming Coco into their house and send my very best wishes for this transitional moment.

“Loving someone is setting them free, letting them go.”
~Kate Winslet

Day 318: Michaela

18 Feb


Michaela is my niece and I have known her since she was about six months old. She is beautiful, smart, and funny. However, she can also be very serious when dealing with discrimination or injustice because she knows we can do better.

Michaela recently completed a nursing program in Florida and she and her family have moved back to the Philadelphia area. She will be looking for work once they get settled.

I am so proud of Michaela for working so hard to finish her coursework and pass all the difficult exams. It was not easy but she has been transformed by the experience.

Today Michaela received a care package from me with small gifts for her children and a Brownie Pie as well. I want to send my sincerest  congratulations to her on her accomplishment…  I am so very happy for her!

Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
William James

Day 317: Jessica’s Closet

17 Feb


A few days ago I was listening tof the radio and the DJ said that it seemed to be raining throughout the region.  However, I saw about an inch of snow from my window and called him to tell him so.

After we talked about the weather, he asked about my plans for the day.  I told him that I would be making a pie as part of my gratitude project and explained how it helped me to focus on my blessings

As we continued to talk, he told  me that his daughter Jessica had died three years ago. Then he told me how he and his wife had found a way to turn such a tremendous loss into something that helps others. It is a place called Jessica’s Closet.  Jessica’s closet is a “store” where disadvantaged young people can get the things they need at no cost. 

Though Jessica’s parents knew that their daughter was kind and generous, it was only after Jessica’s funeral that they found out just how many people Jessica had helped with clothing, food, money, and her friendship. Creating this store was a way to carry-on her amazing legacy.

This morning I brought a Marionberry Pie to Jessica’s parents. I am in awe of their ability to honor their daughter in such a beautiful and compassionate way.

To live in heart’s we leave behind is not to die.
Thomas Campbell

Day 316: An Amazing Gift

16 Feb

Chocolate Cream Pie

A few weeks ago one of my fellow Rotarians approached me and told me that he wanted to recommend someone for one of my pies.  When I asked who it was he wanted me to bring a pie to he said it was the gal who worked as a barista at his favorite Starbucks.  Then I asked, “Why does she deserve a pie?” and he answered because she is expecting a baby.  And the best part? She is a surrogate mom… the baby that she is carrying will go home to live with someone else.

Since that conversation took place, I have been fairly busy – if you can call a vacation to Mexico busy that is – but I never forgot about that barista.  I wanted to acknowledge the gift that she was giving but also wondered how to approach her.  After all, she was pregnant, and I thought she might be reluctant to take food from someone she did not know.  How would I explain this project?  What would you do?

Today I thought I would just call that Starbucks and talk to a manager and tell my story.  When I called this morning and asked to speak to a manager, the person who answered the phone said she was a supervisor and could help me.  I explained my story and asked if she thought that I could give a pie to the most generous barista on the planet.  She told me that she was that barista’s best friend, and she thought her friend would love a pie.  That is why tonight I brought a Chocolate Cream Pie to Starbucks, and though I did not meet the barista, I was assured that she would receive it.  This was my gift to her to acknowledge the tremendous gift that she has given.  The world is a wonderful place because of people like her.

The only gift is a portion of thyself.


Day 315: Kirby Shaw

15 Feb

Apple Crumb Crust Pie

A little more than a year ago, I tried out for Kirby Shaw‘s choir at Southern Oregon University.  My friend Leslie encouraged me to try out because she knew how much I liked  to sing.  In fact there is a joke at her house about a night I seemed to sing every song in their music book.  Her family referred to that night “Karenoke.

To be in Kirby’s choir you must “try out” and you can do that over the phone or you can do it in person.  Since I felt much to shy to try out in person, I chose to audition over the phone.  I’d heard that many students audition with the song, “Amazing Grace” and I tried it but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Then I remembered an old song that I used to sing to my children, “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread” and that was what I auditioned with.  I sang into my phone for less than a minute and before I knew it I was in the choir!

All of the songs that we sang that term were sung without accompaniment.  Some of the songs didn’t even have actual words but instead had sort of scat sounds. What a challenge that was!  And then there were songs that were so beautiful sung by talented people with amazing voices.   What a class!

Of course, what really made it a great class was the instructor himself, Kirby Shaw.  He is encouraging, enthusiastic, and his love of music is so infectious that soon everyone in the room is loving it too.

Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Kirby to thank him for the gift of music that he so willingly shares with us.  We are very lucky to have him here at SOU.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
Billy Joel

Day 314: Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

Apple Blackberry Cobbler

The legend of St. Valentine – or at least one of the legends – tells us that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century.  Claudius, the emperor at the time, felt the need to build up a strong army to fight Rome’s many battles but he was having trouble recruiting men because they did not want to leave their women at home. So he did what any power crazy person might do and banned all marriages!

But our dear Saint Valentine was a kind man and he continued to marry young couples in love… that is until he was caught and sentenced to death.  Yet the legend goes further.  Before his execution, Valentine befriended the jailer’s daughter and left her a note signed, “from your Valentine.”

The reason I share this story is only to give some background to a holiday that has been reduced to just another reason to shop for gifts.  Saint Valentine so believed in love that he was willing to die for it.  That kind of conviction is not something we see very often.

On this Valentine’s Day, I chose to make a pie – actually an Apple Blackberry Cobbler – for my daughter Alexandra.  On her birthday, last October 1, instead of making her a pie, I brought one to the nurses at the maternity ward at Ashland Community Hospital where she was born to thank them for their patience and dedication.  (I made Alexandra  cupcakes for her birthday!)

Alexandra was my first-born and tested my mothering skills from the beginning.  It has been such an amazing journey watching her blossom from a fearless little girl into the remarkable woman she has become. This past year, Alexandra created a blog,, and she has also been a tremendous support to me with my blog as well. I am so grateful to her for all she has done to help me with this project.  Tonight I wish my dear daughter Alexandra, a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.  ~Author Unknown

Day 313: Don and Donna

13 Feb

Yesterday I was interviewed by Channel 10KTVL News about my pie project.  A nice young lady named Caitlin came to the house and spent about fifteen minutes asking me questions and taking photos.
We saw the results of this interview at 6PM last night. It was just about a minute long and fairly accurate.  A few hours later I received an email from a woman I have never met named McKenzie asking me to consider making a pie for her grandparents “the sweetest people she knows.”
This morning McKenzie and I exchanged a few more emails and I made her grandparents a lemon pie because it was their favorite flavor.
Late this afternoon I knocked on the door of a home in Phoenix, OR.  A beautiful woman named Donna answered the door and I asked of I could come in for a moment. Once inside, I met her husband, Don.  We talked for a while because I wanted to learn more about them and it seems that they wanted to know more about my pie story.
During the course of our conversation we found that we had some things in common – Ashland, San Francisco, the Firehouse Five,  and our friends the Delsman’s. Threads that united us that we most likely wouldn’t have discovered but for this project.
Tonight I give thanks for the gift of this amazing journey and all of the people I have met along the way.

Day 312: Ava

12 Feb

Asparagus, Pepper and Provolone Quiche Prep

A few days ago my neighbor Ellen told me that she had a “pie recipient” for me.   She told me her name was Ava and that she was a very gracious and generous person.  Not long ago, Ellen felt she needed to relinquish some of her duties at the Ashland Food Bank, and Ava stepped up to assume them.  Ellen said that this was not unusual because Ava is really a special lady, always willing to offer help when someone needs it.

When I asked Ellen what kind of pie Ava might like she suggested a quiche because a) she works full-time, b) she volunteers at the food bank, and c) she is expecting her first child!  Having dinner ready in the fridge may come in handy for one so busy.   With that in mind, I began my day today by roasting the vegetables for a quiche for Ava.

This afternoon, I was unable to reach Ava by phone.  Finally, I decided to bring the quiche to Ava at her workplace but unfortunately she was out of her office at the time.  However, a short while later Ava called to thank me for the quiche and said she planned on sharing it with others.  It sounds just like something she would do.

Ava, thank you for all you do… and I wish you and your baby all the best!

Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.
Mahatma Gandhi



Day 311: Gavin and Family

11 Feb

S’more Pie

A few days ago, our friend Todd emailed us to let us know that his son, Gavin, would be competing this weekend in the regional wrestling tournament which was being held at Eagle Point High School.  Gavin is a senior at Bend High School and has been wrestling since he was in the sixth grade.  Last year he came in second in his class at the state finals.

Gavin had two matches yesterday and two matches today.  He won the matches yesterday and also won the first match today… and then Gavin got to compete against the top wrestler in the country in his class!  Talk about luck! Last year Gavin competed against this same guy and was pinned in under a minute.  Today it took more than 3 minutes for the guy to pin him.  That means that Gavin earned a second place ranking and is headed to the state finals in two weeks.

Bend High School Wrestling Team

Todd asked if I would consider making Gavin a pie as a special treat for after the tournament.  Then he said that Gavin’s favorite pie was S’more Pie.  Since I have never made a S’more Pie, I was looking forward to making one today.  There were quite a few recipes for this pie on the internet.  Some of the recipes called for making a chocolate pudding and then adding marshmallow cream, while others called for a ganache filling that was topped with marshmallows.

The S’more Pie that I chose to make used the ganache filling and was topped with mini-marshmallows.  That was then set under the broiler until it was lightly golden and then I tossed some chocolate chips on top.  It smelled divine – just like it might at a campfire!

Gavin received his pie after the final match but then he was being whisked off to the team bus for the ride back to Bend.  He asked his parents to safeguard his pie until he got home because he wanted it all to himself.  And he deserves it!  Congratulations Gavin on your second place finish and we wish you all the best at the state finals!

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

~Arthur Ashe~

Todd, Gavin, Grace and Parker

Day 310: Don and Denise

10 Feb


Chocolate Pecan Pie

We met Don and Denise years ago because they are good friends of our neighbors Deb and Armo.  We’ve all spent time together over dinners, barbecues, and backyard bonfires.   It’s been nice being the “friends of friends” and sharing in the ups and downs of life with them. One of the funniest memories I have of them was from a yard sale that they held.  At the curb there was a box of stuff and in front of it was a sign that said “Free or Best Offer.”  That’s classic, isn’t it?

Denise is an artist specializing in viscosity monoprinting.  She also helps others create art in the workshops that she holds in monoprinting, book making, and printing with paste paper.  You can see some of her work displayed at her website “Drawing on the Dream.” Though I’ve never taken a class from her I know that Denise would be a good teacher because I’ve listened to her encouraging beginning artists.   That is so important because beginners need all the encouragement they can get – and we are all beginners at some point in our lives.

Don is an expert on fire management and his official title is “Incident Information Officer”.   Don has worked for the for US  Forest Service and then for the Bureau of Land Management.  A few years ago I asked for his help with a fire safety plan that I was developing for Sanctuary One located in southern Oregon.   My main my concern was how to safely evacuate the animals in the event of a wildfire. Don suggested that I should consider some other possibilities as evacuating animals can be very difficult.   He advised the sanctuary staff talk to their neighbors so that they could share resources and ideas and said they should create a phone tree in case of emergencies. He also advocated  sheltering in place so that the dangers of evacuation might be avoided.

Since Denise was raised in Georgia, I made them a southern favorite, Pecan Pie, but with a hint of dark chocolate for added sweetness.  It’s a small gift to thank them both for their friendship and support over the years.

Every artist was first an amateur.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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