This past week has been filled with a variety of pies! The week began on Sunday when I donated this Apple Crumb Pie to the Schneider Museum of Art as one of the raffle prizes for their annual Bridge and Brunch fundraiser. It’s been my honor to cater this fundraiser for the last few years and I am delighted to serve this great organization.
Then on Wednesday I attended my last Italian class for this term. A few classmates offered to bring something to celebrate our “success” thus far with this romance language. One friend made a delicious Tiramisu (which translates to “pick me up)”, while another friend brought along a sparkling beverage to toast our health. Our lovely teacher brought grilled vegetables (verdure grigliate) and I crafted this vegetarian pizza “pie.” Che divertimento!
Before I went to class on Wednesday, I dropped off another Apple Crumb Pie (do you get the feeling that I like making this pie?) to our friend, Noah, who was hosting two Japanese students at his home. The Japanese boys had been hosts to Noah (he went to Japan with the Ashland High School football team last summer) and they’ve kept in touch since then. Noah had extended an open invitation to his hosts to come and visit Ashland and stay at his home and they finally took him up on it! I think it’s really wonderful that these young men are creating a lasting bond. It gives me hope for the future!
And then yesterday was Pi Day… you know, 3.14, or March 14. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. I wish my math teacher in high school had brought in some real “pies” when she was teaching us this stuff. I am sure that I would have paid MUCH more attention (and maybe even become a different kind of pi lady altogether!)
In honor of Pi Day, I brought a quiche to the medical staff who are tending to my Dad. He’s facing some health challenges right now and I wanted to show my gratitude to them for their care and concern. It is most appreciated.
“Cooking is like love – it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” Harriet Van Horne
Last evening while I shopped for groceries, I bought some granny smith apples. It seems like a long time since I’ve made a fruit pie and I was happy to be doing that today. There is something so relaxing about peeling and slicing apples; it takes a bit of concentration but you can also let your mind wander a bit. Today as I peeled and sliced, I began to think of Amy, the person I was making this pie for.
We met when my son and her daughter were on the Nordic ski team together at Ashland High School. I remember we had driven to Eugene for a meet and were staying at the house of some folks associated with the Eugene team. Isn’t that amazing? These folks let the whole group of us (kids, parents, and coaches) camp out in their house so that we would not have to spend money on lodging. That spirit of cooperation and camaraderie is one of the best things about being associated with the Nordic team. Another is getting to meet people like Amy who are enthusiastic, involved, and supportive of their kids endeavors.
It had been a while since I’d seen Amy and I hoped to surprise her at work with this pie. Unfortunately, I arrived after Amy had left early for an appointment. Her co-worker was able to reach her by phone, and so I told Amy that I had hoped to speak with her for a moment. We then made arrangements for her to stop by my house when she was done.
When Amy arrived I explained that I had wanted to surprise her at work with a pie… and all the while she thought I needed her help with a surprise for someone else! That’s the kind of person Amy is… ready to jump right in and help you before you really even ask!
Tonight Amy, my husband Emile, and I sat and visited for the first time in a long time. We caught up on the goings on of our kids, work, the ski team, and my pies. As we chatted I thought, if I had surprised Amy at work, we would not have had the chance to visit like this. That’s one of the lessons of the pie journey – it’s okay to have a plan, but don’t worry if it seems to not be working. Things will work out in the end somehow – you’ve just got to have faith.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis
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.
About five years ago, Bill Gabriel was my daughter Alexandra’s journalism teacher. It was at that time that Bill helped a group of students revive the Rogue News at Ashland High. It was an incredible experience for my daughter and Bill was instrumental in making it an invaluable learning opportunity as well. As I see it, Bill was able to help his students achieve success because he believed in them. And having someone believe in you can make all the difference in the world.
Bill gave my daughter the chance to do something that she wanted to do (write/lead) and he challenged her to do it well. Alexandra was co-editor of the paper that year, and while she had Bill to encourage and support her along the way, she still had to do the work. And work she did. This evening she told me that “Gabe was by far the best teacher that I had at Ashland High. He didn’t treat us as if we were seventeen. He treated us as adults.”
There are many other students that feel the same way. How do I know? Well, one indication is the number of ball caps that Bill has on his wall. They bear the names of the universities that “his kids” (former students) have attended and there are far too many caps on the wall to count.
Today when I delivered a Marionberry pie to Bill he told me that when he “graduates” (read retires) from high school in a few years, he wants to take some time to try his hand at cooking. However, Bill doesn’t want to be a working chef; he just wants to “take some classes” at the Culinary Institute of America near St. Helena, CA. Not exactly what I would call an easy retirement, but hopefully it will be one that is both tasty and enjoyable. Bon Apetit!
As has happened before, I did not know who would be today’s pie recipient when my day began. I had some ideas, but I was not certain. Instead of rushing things I decided to spend some time tending to the raised bed in my yard. I can’t really call it a garden because I haven’t managed to grow anything there for a few years. In the past I have had some success with tomatoes and so today I spent a few hours preparing the soil for planting.
Ham, Swiss and Pepper Quiche
While I was working, I thought of my son’s upcoming graduation and realized that I did not know if he had arranged for a cap and gown. I went inside and called Ashland High School and spoke with Callie about the possibility of securing a gown at the last minute. Callie did not seem in the least bit concerned or put out. She told me that there were caps and gowns still available at the office. There was not a hint of “so your child is graduating next week and just now you are thinking about getting a cap and gown?” If you hadn’t already guessed, I decided right then to make Callie a pie.
I first got to know Callie because she worked in the attendance office and when my kids missed a class for one reason or another, I would get a message from her on my answering machine. It was nice to get that call. And most of the time I was able to call Callie and explain where my child had been. I liked that they knew that someone other than me was keeping tabs on them.
Callie has served the Ashland School District for a long time. She has been an incredible champion for the classified employees of the district and she has also been a great friend to the students. The few occasions that I visited her office, I found it filled with kids. I think that says a lot about Callie – that teenagers are comfortable around her.
Today I made a quiche to thank Callie for all that she has done for Ashland. She is a calm presence; always willing to help and support our kids. We are so lucky to have her.
About twelve years ago my son entered first grade at Helman Elementary School in Ashland. He’d had a great year in kindergarden and we were excited about the new year. Early in October the first parent-teacher conferences were held. We scheduled an appointment and when the time came we set off to meet to talk with the new teacher. As we walked to the school my son said, “I think my teacher is going to say that I need to be left back.” Left back? When I asked him why he thought that he wouldn’t say much. When we arrived at the classroom we met Gail. She was smiling and greeted us warmly. I asked my son to tell Gail what he’d just told us. After he did, Gail asked him why he thought that and he told her that the girls at his table were already reading and writing and he couldn’t do either of those things. Gail just smiled and said, “Well, girls usually are faster at reading and writing than boys. But what you should know is that those girls are in second grade!” My son did not realize that he was in a blended first/second grade classroom and had been worried that he was way behind when in fact he was right on course. With Gail’s reassurance he never worried about being left back again.
This year, my son and Gail are both “moving on” together. He is graduating from Ashland High and Gail is retiring. They are both embarking on journeys that are exciting, scary and new. I have no fears for either of them as they face the future because they are both wonderful people -and have the skills necessary to succeed – they are smart, caring, and positive. I look forward to hearing about their adventures – wherever life may take them.
Today I made Gail a Spinach and Pepper Quiche. I thought that a gift of dinner might come in handy – and she said I was right. Isn’t it great when things come together like that?
When I was a little girl, the principal at my elementary school, PS 14, was a man named Mr. Leo Meltzer. The memory that I have of him is of a man who was always impeccably dressed – dark suit, dress shirt, tie and polished shoes. He was well respected but also was approachable and friendly. He would walk the halls of that old brick school house, nodding and smiling as he passed, and now and then he would visit our classrooms.
On one such visit he regaled my class with details of a recent trip that he had taken with his family to Mexico. At that time Mexico seemed about as far away as the moon to me and I was mesmerized. The hightlight of the story was when he told us that he had seen some folks eating sandwiches that looked delicious and he just had to have one. He ordered the sandwich and ate it hungrily. Only afterwards did he ask what exactly was in the sandwich. What he’d thought were fried onions turned out to be fried worms! The whole class erupted! Imagine eating worms! Yuck! But here was Mr. Meltzer standing before us, alive and well and chuckling. He had to be about the bravest person I’d ever seen!
I don’t know why I thought of Mr. Meltzer today, and since he died so many years ago, I could not honor him with a pie. Instead, I tried to think of someone who shared some of his qualities: approachable, friendly, well respected, willing and able to laugh. Today I decided to recognize the principal of Ashland High School, Michelle Zundel, with a pie (yet another Strawberry Rhubarb – but I promise tomorrow will be different!) in honor of Mr. Meltzer. Michelle earns her stripes everyday and I am very grateful for the care and effort that she puts forth to inspire, encourage and teach our students.