Thank you, Nurse Kathleen!

9 Jan

Kathleen's pie

This past week my Dad fell twice.  Both falls occurred during the wee hours of the morning and thankfully my Dad did not suffer any injuries… but of course that does not mean that I wasn’t worried about him.  Immediately I began wondering what was causing him to fall and what could be done to prevent him from falling in the future.

When I asked Dad what he thought was going on, he really didn’t know.  That might also be a part of the problem.  When Dad awakes, he “thinks” he is fine and so he tries to get up (maybe before he is really awake or before his body is ready) and then tumbles to the floor.   To make matters worse, Dad chooses not to call the med-tech on duty because he “doesn’t want to bother” anyone and so he remains on the floor for an hour or more.

Fortunately I found that I was not alone in my concern.    A few days ago I received a call from the staff nurse at the facility where my Dad is staying and she asked if we could talk.  Since I was about to bring my Dad back to the facility, I agreed to meet with her.  When Dad and I sat with Kathleen I was impressed with the caring way that she spoke to my Dad and how she shared real concern for his safety.  She was able to do so in such a way that captured his attention in ways that I as his daughter cannot.

We agreed to ask Dad’s doctor to look into adjusting Dad’s medications and also encouraged Dad to consider calling for help before he gets up in the night… at least for a week or two.  When I finally left the facility to go back home, I felt a great sense of relief because I had found an ally on this journey.  This is not to say that the rest of the staff is lacking; that is not true at all.  But after talking with Kathleen I felt that someone understood my Dad, had a connection with him, and was looking out for him.  That means a lot to me and so yesterday afternoon I stopped by Kathleen’s office with an Apple Pie to thank her.   It’s so very nice to know that I have her on my team.

caring

 

“It is not how much you do but how much love you put in the doing.”  Mother Teresa

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all the Happiest of New Years!

2 Jan

desiderata

With the new year beginning, a number of thoughts have been spinning around in my head.

Several were sparked by a Christmas greeting from my friend Tim.  In his card Tim included a copy of the poem, Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann.  This poem was written in 1927 but did not become popular until the mid-1960′s.  It’s a beautiful poem that many have chosen to use as a guide to living a good life.   While the entire poem is indeed wonderful, following are a few lines of that poem that I especially like .

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

And from the last paragraph, these words:

Be at peace with God…. keep peace with your soul… strive to be happy.

Simple words but packed with intelligence and gentle encouragement!

Another stream of thought was inspired by a song that I recently heard and loved when I was a teenager.  It is by the duo Seals and Crofts, from their album, Diamond Girl, and is titled, “We May Never Pass This Way Again.”   The song has special meaning for me for I knew at a young age how fleeting life could be.  One of my favorite phrases is this one:

I wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. I wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you. ‘Cause, you make me feel like I’m more than a friend. Like I’m the journey and you’re the journey’s end. We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you.

Then there were Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s” that I saw posted offering delightful suggestions/resolutions for the New Year.  Among my favorites, #5 Take Bath, #15 Learn People Better, #19 Keep Hoping Machine Running, and #31 Love Everybody. These works seem to offer sage advice for the new year and anytime for that matter.  Something along the lines of this:  Be a good person.  Try to be happy.  Spend time with people you love… and let them know that you love them.

P1000081

On New Year’s Eve morning I called a friend who’d I had heard was sick and learned that she is getting better…. but still is facing challenges.  And while we did not have time for a real visit, I was able to bring her a quiche… filled with love and good wishes for the year to come.  And I extend those same wishes to you all.  Happy 2014!

QUICHE FOR CAROLINE

“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”
― D. Simone

My Visit with Coco in Missoula

21 Dec

Missoula morningDowntown Missoula at 8AM this morning.

view from Coco's houseThe view from Coco’s living room window around 10AM.

This past week I’ve been lucky to have spent some time relaxing with my son, Coco.  During my visit, he was able to take a little time off from work and we went on long walks, played cards, and watched a few movies.  We also cooked together… and several times Coco cooked for me.   It’s pretty amazing to see the young man that he has become and I am very lucky to have had this opportunity to simply hang out with him in Missoula.

The other night, Coco invited several friends – Cody, Mason, Mike, Audrey, and Lynn – over to his apartment for a home-made pizza dinner.  To prepare, we first went shopping for groceries.  As we were walking back to the apartment, I realized that I’d forgotten to buy mozzarella for the pizza.  One of the key ingredients and I’d spaced it!

“That’s okay, Mom”, Coco told me.  “Audrey can make some.”   I’d recently met Audrey and she is very sweet… but wasn’t that asking a bit much?  And doesn’t it take a long time to make mozzarella cheese anyway?  Well, the answer was “No” to both questions.  Audrey was happy to bring over the necessary ingredients (a gallon of milk and some enzymes) and in just about an hour we had “fresh mozzarella.”   I was amazed!  All the years I have spent in the kitchen, and never once did I ever even think of making cheese!  Well, I can tell you with certainty, that that will definitely change!

Yesterday while Coco was at work I made an apple pie for his friends and co-workers.  I wanted to thank them for welcoming my son into their hearts and community.  It’s such a good feeling to know that Coco has found a place where he is happy and comfortable, is able to survive on his own, and is supported by a close circle of friends.  What more could a mother hope for?

Coco and Me

Coco and me.

“You can’t make me be nice.
You can’t make me be good.
You can’t make me believe.
But your example, your kindness, your patience and love will affect me perhaps enough that eventually I may choose to do those things.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

A Gift of Love and Support

15 Dec

anny's pie 2Yesterday I traveled to Missoula, Montana to visit my son Coco.  He’s been living there for almost two years, and our family was able to spend Christmas with him last year.  This year, however, that won’t be possible due to a number of circumstances and so instead I will spend some time with him before the holidays.  As I’ve not seen him for a year, I have been looking forward to this visit very much .

During the week prior to the trip, I was busy working on a few catering events, getting Christmas packages into the mail, and attending to myriad household details.  The morning I was to leave, I still needed to pack my bags and pay a visit to my Dad.

Even though my schedule was fairly full, before I left I really wanted to (read: needed to) make a pie for a dear friend who has been going through a particularly difficult time.  What I find intriguing, is that while she is facing this “life crisis”, she is also awaiting and preparing for what will likely be one of the most memorable experiences of her life.

It can be hard to fathom the juxtaposition of happy and sad events that life presents to us.  For me, my most challenging moments came when my daughter was born and then a few months later, my mother lost her battle with cancer.   I was totally unprepared to handle the emotional pull in two very different directions – caring for my newborn while saying goodbye to my Mom.

What I want to say to my friend by giving her a pie, is to let her know that this difficult moment will pass, and more importantly, to remind her that she is surrounded by a caring community that loves and supports her.   We will be there to help her every step of the way… and are more than honored to do so.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Charlotte Bronte

Because I can’t deliver a pie to heaven…

4 Dec

ImageLast night I taught my second class on gluten-free baking at the Ashland Food Coop and while I’m not an expert on the subject, over time I have learned some tricks that are helpful.  I’d told the students that we were going to bake four different goodies in two hours… and with the help of two very kind volunteers (Thank you Lynn and Alan!), I was able to accomplish that.

One of those items was a gluten-free Apple Crumb Crust pie.  The crust was made using the perfect pie crust recipe from the Simply Gluten-Free website by Carol Kicinski… and really, it is perfect!  It’s a simple recipe and although rolling out the pie dough requires a bit of patience, the finished product is flaky and delicious.  Many thanks to Ms. Kicinski for creating this recipe and sharing it with the rest of us!

The only challenge for me in preparing this dough for my class was that, once formed,  the dough needs to rest an hour in the fridge.  With only two hours of class time, I didn’t have the luxury of doing that.   Instead, I decided to make some pie dough at home, chill it, and bring it to class with me.  Once I demonstrated the method for making the pie dough, I put the fresh dough in the fridge and pulled out the dough that had been resting for a while.

With the chilled dough, I formed a simple fluted crust, filled it with apples, cinnamon and sugar and topped it with a crumb crust made from gluten-free flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon.  I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the finished apple pie to show you.. or a recording of the delightful sounds coming from the folks eating it!  (It’s an easy recipe – I’d be happy to email it to anyone that’s interested.)

Because I’d made pie dough twice yesterday, and only made one pie, that meant that today I woke up thinking about making a pie for someone who was gluten-free… and since today would have been my Mom’s 78th birthday, I wanted it to be someone special.  It took a little while, but once I thought of the person, I knew I’d made the right choice.  The pie recipient is someone I’ve known for a long time.  She’s the mother of two young girls who are beautiful and precocious.  A number of years ago when she was a teenager, she watched my little redheaded girl for me.  Now she has a little redhead of her own.

Tonight I drove to her family’s home and was impressed by their beautiful display of Christmas lights and decorations.  My friend saw me approaching and met me at the door.  Her daughter stood beside her and immediately asked if I wanted me to meet their kitty.  I told them that I couldn’t stay, that I had only a moment to deliver the pie to them and mentioned that I hoped that they liked my choice of flavors because I know that not everyone likes pumpkin pie.

I needn’t have worried.  As luck would have it, Ariana said that pumpkin pie is a favorite at their home.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised…the serendipitous moments that I’ve come to experience by giving away pies has been truly amazing.   Sometimes it even feels like I have gotten nudges from angels. In any case, tonight as I get ready to call it a day, I believe that somewhere in the universe, my Mom knows that I was missing and thinking about her.Image

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.  Henry David Thoreau

Gluten-Free and Me

30 Nov

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Do you have any dietary restrictions?  It seems that many people do.  Some dietary habits come about because an individual has made a decision to eat (or not eat) certain foods (for example, deciding to be a vegetarian or vegan).  Others are necessary because of the individual’s intolerance to certain substances.   One of these, that seems to affect many people, is the sensitivity or, in the case of those with celiac disease, the inability to tolerate any amount of gluten.

For those of you who might not know what gluten is, here is the definition, according to Merriam-Webster:  “a mixture of proteins not readily soluble in water that occurs in wheat and most other cereal grains. Its presence in flour makes production of leavened baked goods possible because the chain-like gluten molecules form an elastic network that traps carbon dioxide gas and expands with it.

What has all this information about gluten have to do with me?  Well, I spend a lot of my time baking food for other people… and more than a few of them are gluten intolerant.  And because I love to create good food that everyone can eat, I have made a concerted effort to learn how to bake cakes, cookies, and of course, pies, that are gluten-free.  Sometimes this is not very hard to do, especially when there is only a small amount of flour in the recipe… and then there are times when things don’t quite work out as planned.

Once, when making a gluten-free cake, I tried to remove the finished cake from the pan, and it cracked and broke into pieces.   The cake tasted good but it was not possible to put it back together, and so, instead of making a traditional layer cake, I made a trifle by layering bits of cake, fresh whipped cream, and berries.  Do you think anyone minded that their cake wasn’t in the right shape?  I don’t think so.

Just the other day, I was making gluten-free cookies and tried substituting coconut oil for the butter in the recipe.  What happened?  A few minutes after I put the cookies in the oven, they started to merge and by the end of the baking time, I had one huge “cookie.”  I was pretty disappointed until I broke off a bit of the ginormous cookie and tasted it.  It was delicious!   My friends didn’t even seem to mind that they were eating bits of cookie instead of “cookies” and (bonus!) according to Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the comic strip, Cathy, broken cookies have no calories!

Next Tuesday I am scheduled to teach a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop.  During the class I will share tales (and recipes) of some of my successes (and also some of “oops” moments) about baking gluten-free.   If you can attend, I’d love to see you there.   Wish me luck!

 

Why do I volunteer?

25 Nov

pie shells for nordic sale

A month or two ago I attended a dinner with some folks from the Nordic Ski Team from Ashland High School.  After a while the conversation turned to fundraising for the team.  A few ideas were bandied about and before I could stop myself I said, “Why don’t we bake and sell pies for the fundraiser?”

Have you ever done something like this?  I would like to blame the wine at dinner… but clearly I like volunteering for causes that I believe in.  And my son really seemed to enjoy the Nordic Ski Team when he was in high school.  The kids on the team were fun to be around… and they supported each other.  At the time, I was impressed with how easily they connected and was happy to contribute to their success.

It has been two years since my son graduated from high school, and yet when the need for help arose, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “Why don’t we sell pies for the fundraiser?” knowing full well that I was freely offering my services.   At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal…  or maybe, I knew that it was something that I could do to support some of the kids in our community.   In any case, today I spent about ten hours with a bunch of like-minded folks and baked more than fifty pies to raise money for the Nordic Ski Team.

Last night I couldn’t sleep because I knew that this fundraiser had been my idea.  The phrase, “What the heck was I thinking?” kept rattling through my brain.  I know that I did not have to do this… but in some way I needed to do it… to support the kids,  to encourage the other volunteers, and finally, to pay back those who had supported my kids in their school careers.

Tonight I am tired but happy.  A group of volunteers had a great day baking and connecting… and the Ashland High Nordic Team will be able to buy some much-needed equipment.  As I look back on the day,  I can say that I am very glad to have been a part of this project.

ski team pies

 

“How can we expect our children to know and experience the joy of giving unless we teach them that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving.”  James Cash Penney

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