Tag Archives: Dad

What happened to November???

2 Dec

So much has happened in the last month!  I’m chagrined that I did not write once in November but hope to explain that I was not off on vacation.  It’s been a time of loss for several of my dear friends and as they are traveling their road I have tried to help in the ways that I know how. For me that means bringing soup, being there to listen, and of course, by offering pies.  Pies, in and of themselves, are not going to do much to assuage the pain of loss.  However, if my friends feel a little more loved for a while, then my efforts have been well worth it.

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Another reason I did not have time to write this past month was due to a different kind of loss.  In early November I helped my Dad move back to Florida.  He had lived there for almost twenty years before he had a stroke in March of 2013. After three trips to Florida that Spring I decided that he needed to come back to Oregon with me.  My goal was to be able to take care of him AND (try to) live my life.  To my great dismay, that plan did not work out.  My Dad did not like being in Oregon and longed to be back in Florida near his girlfriend.  After much deliberation, and with the blessing of his doctor and his social worker, I arranged for my Dad to move to the same facility where his girlfriend lives.  Friends ask, “Is your Dad happy now?” and I answer, “I think so” but what I know for certain was that he was not happy here with me.  Knowing that makes me a little sad but I have to honor his choice.  It is, after all, his life.

Before I left Florida, I made sure to bring a Pumpkin Pie to the woman in charge of the kitchen in my Dad’s building.  It was a way to thank her in advance for her care and attention.  Then I made some Pecan Shortbread cookies for the director of Nursing.  It is my hope that they will help her to think fondly of my Dad.

Pie and Cookies for Brookdale

The rest of the month is a bit of a blur.  A few days after I came back from Florida was the first night of the season for our church’s homeless shelter which I am helping to coordinate.  It’s my first time in this role and I am humbled to be able to help those in need in a tangible way and honored to work together with all the caring people who make this shelter possible.

Then last week, I helped Ashland High School Nordic Team bake 42 pies to raise funds for ski equipment.  It was a long day but it was fun to work together with friends helping our student athletes.  As you can imagine, the church kitchen smelled absolutely delicious afterwards!  I could not imagine leaving that wonderful aroma in the room without also leaving some food, so I took some of the leftover apples and put together a quick cobbler for our shelter guests.  I found this note when I came the next day

thank you napkin

That simple note made my day!  I believe that kindness is something we can all give to one another.  Often the cost to us is minimal, but the difference it can make in the lives of those around us is immeasurable.  I’d love to hear your stories of how an act of kindness made your day… either as the giver or the receiver.  Your story might inspire someone to do something they might not otherwise have done…. at least that is my hope!

Blessings!

“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  The Dalai Lama

parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme

Lastly I wanted to share a photo taken on Thanksgiving as my husband was cooking.  My son called this our family’s idea of “being funny.”

Family, Friends, and a word about Kindness

11 Jul

So many things to share… and this time, I hope to do it with pictures (well for the most part!)….

Here is a photo of me and my Dad.  We took a drive to Crater Lake one Sunday… and he really seemed to enjoy it.  I’d forgotten how cold it could be… even in the summer!

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Then, a few weeks ago, a group of friends, many of them Rotarians, met to bid farewell to Lucka, our exchange student from the Czech Republic.  It was a wonderful year for her… and for us… and now Lucka is back home with her “real” family.  But we know that she made lasting friendships while she was here… and I’m sure it won’t be long before we see her again!

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Lucka’s Going Away Party

Recently, I’ve been lucky to have been asked by a few friends to cook for them…  what fun!

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And of course I found time to make a few pies.  One pie, a sausage, roasted pepper, and broccolini quiche found its way to a friend who has MS.  The high heat of summer makes her symptoms worse and so I thought this might be a way for her to enjoy a few meals without having to turn on the oven.

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Another pie, an apple blueberry, was made for a friend who was first diagnosed with cancer 25 years ago.  He is battling the disease once again, and I wanted to offer him something delicious – fresh from the oven… to feed his belly and his soul.  We’ll be praying for you, Caballo!

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Lastly, I wanted to share a message from our friend, Len, who passed recently.  He asked that rather than sending flowers, that his friends do something kind for a few other people instead. He wanted us to find people in need and instead of just giving them some food or money, that we also spend a few minutes talking with that person, asking their name, etc.  The gift to them would then be greater because we would also acknowledge their identity and hopefully grant them some dignity… something we all need.

My first “gift” was given yesterday.  On a very hot day I sat for a few minutes with “Henry.”  I met his dog and offered him a sack lunch and a cold bottle of water… which he said he would share with the dog.  At first I wondered how it would go… but It was really so easy to do and, not surprisingly, it felt like one of the best things I’ve done all week.

John Prine

Here is a link to the song entitled, Hello in There, by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, John Prine, that shares a similar sentiment.   Enjoy!

Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.  Mother Teresa

Mother’s Day… and a few pies

12 May

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy.  My Dad was sent to the hospital once again because he had an infection… and I had a few events to cater.  At times it felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, but somehow everything worked out.  Dad is home and doing better… and all of my events went well.

wedding photoThe Wedding Table

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I woke up feeling a little blue.  I know that I was lucky to have a mother that loved me… but I still mourn her passing all these years later.  I know that I am not alone in sadness.  I am very aware that this day is hard for many.  There are grieving mothers mourning the loss of a child… and many children mourning the loss of their mother.  And so while my husband slept I got up and started making pies…  it’s something that helps me feel better. Each of us has our own way of coping…  baking just happens to be my way.

The first pie that I made was a quiche for a friend of mine who lives nearby.  She is not only a mother, but also a grandmother, and she and her husband are raising their special-needs grandson.  I admire them both so much for what they are doing… and when I see them with their grandchild, I am humbled by their love and dedication.  If more people could be like them, this world would be a much better place.

quiche for ellie

Mushroom and Pepper Quiche

Next I began prepping a Strawberry Rhubarb pie for a man at church who recently celebrated his 97th birthday!  Two years ago I baked a cake for him on his 95th birthday, and amazingly he is still going strong.  Last week he wasn’t at church because he was attending the 75th reunion of his college class… not surprisingly only one other student made it to that celebration!  I am so inspired by this man’s love of life! I just hope that I can live out my years as joyfully.

dan's pieStrawberry Rhubarb Pie prep

And now I would like to end this post on a very happy note: I want to mention that this week my husband and I are preparing to leave for a long-awaited vacation in Italy.  We both have been to Italy before, he when he was just 7 years old, and me when I was 18. Clearly, it has been a very long time… but we are both looking forward to this exciting adventure.  And just so you know, I will be packing a few pie tins in my bag… just in case I get the chance to gift a pie! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Caio for now!

 

“All that I am, or all that I hope to be,  I owe to my angel Mother.”  Abraham Lincoln

 

 

It’s Springtime!

25 Mar

P1000824I’ve always loved springtime… daffodils popping up in the yard, asparagus and strawberries appearing at the market, the chill of winter fading, and a sense of new beginnings circling.  Last year at this time I was traveling to Florida because my Dad had a stroke.  During that time I barely noticed the world around me because I was busy learning medical jargon and trying to make sense of things.

This year, life still is presenting challenges, my Dad’s health being one of them.   As always, for me the hardest part about this journey is that I am not able to “make him well” and that is hard to take.  I want to know that my efforts have some effect, but the truth is that sometimes they don’t.

When things are out of my control (and aren’t they always?) I gravitate towards areas where I feel like I am making a difference.  One of those places where I have found myself doing that has been at my neighbor’s house.  Anny and her new baby boy, Sebastian, are living there.  Sometimes I can help Anny by holding Sebastian while singing and rocking.  If I am lucky and he falls asleep in my arms I almost feel as if I have been awarded the Nobel Prize. In other words, my skills have been validated.

Yesterday I baked an Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Chicken Apple Sausage Quiche for Anny.  I know that taking care of a new baby (and nursing him) is very demanding… and I wanted to give her a special treat for doing such a great job as a new Mom!

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I also baked several batches of Pecan Shortbread cookies this week.  I LOVE those things.. and really, what’s not to love? These cookies are a simple combination of sugar, butter, flour and pecans… and they’re delicious!

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Some of those cookies made it into the hands of the men who delivered my new Kitchenaid oven yesterday (oh my goodness… it is so lovely!) and some of them were given to a homeless man who held a sign saying “Anything helps.”  I’ll admit, I ate two of them and could easily have polished them all off!

Finally, yesterday I made a Chocolate Cream Pie for some friends at a local radio station, Kool 103.  Once again, I was the lucky winner of a prize… and to thank them I dropped off the pie.  Making goodies for them has long been my tradition… and I think that there’s a slight chance that they might even look forward to me winning!

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Tonight I send good wishes to you all for a Happy Spring… and if you are in the mood, try out this recipe.  You’ll be glad you did!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix butter and sugar together until creamy.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour until just combined and then add the chopped nuts.  Take tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough and roll into balls.  Roll the balls of dough in sugar and place on cookie sheet; gently flatten each dough ball.  Place pan with cookies into oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are beginning to brown around the edge.  Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cookies cool.  Enjoy!

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”  Julia Child

Sharing Life’s Journey

20 Sep

It’s funny that sometimes I can get so caught up in my own “stuff” that I sometimes don’t notice that there are folks around me experiencing troubles that are much more challenging than mine.    Even though I’ve been overwhelmed at times with my Dad’s health care concerns, I know that I am not the only one struggling.  In just the last few weeks several friends have shared their circumstances with me.  One friend told me that her house had flooded, another spoke of a family member who has been suffering from depression, still others are grappling with their finances,  and sadly several friends have lost loved ones.

We are all travelers on this journey called life, and while we cannot walk someone else’s path,  we can help our fellow voyagers get back on their feet when they stumble or offer them respite when they are weary.   Often the things we can do for one another will not change the circumstances of the situation.   When someone dies, we are helpless to bring that person back to life.   But that does not mean that we are powerless to help.  We can offer to cook a meal, or help with some chores, or we can just sit and cry with them.   Being willing to share another’s (sometimes painful) experience helps to make their journey a bit more bearable,  a little less lonely.

These past few weeks I have greatly appreciated the friends who called to ask how I was and to say that they’d been thinking of me.  That simple gesture was like a life line tossed out into a stormy sea.   These friends were recognizing my struggle and offering assistance if needed and I am most grateful for their concern.

quiche for beth

In that same spirit of helping one another, a few days ago, I brought a quiche to a family mourning the loss of a loved one.   A simple offering to let them know that my heart aches too – and that they are not alone in their grief.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”  ~Edmund Burke

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   Maya Angelou

 

Ups and Downs

14 Aug

Closeup of Sargent pie

Apple Pie

How can it be so long since I have written?  It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by!  But to be honest, these past few months have been among the hardest of my life.

What that means is that my grand plan to figure out a way to “take care of my Dad” as he was on the road to recovering from his stroke has not been what I envisioned.  On the plus side, I have been able to get him some great medical help.   I’d heard from many folks that we have  good resources here in the Rogue Valley and have found some WONDERFUL health care professionals to assist with his many needs. To begin, I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. John Sager for he has been a tremendous help to us both.

Dad has also been fortunate to be able to work with therapists like Brandon and Marilka from Providence Hospital and they have helped him to gain some strength back (and though I did bring them a pie for their kind efforts but have no photo to show!).

Lastly, my friend Barb Street has patiently worked to select hearing aids that would help my Dad hear.   Like many folks that grew up in the Depression era, my Dad is very careful with his money.  For years he has tried to “make-do” with “hand-me-down” hearing aids but they never worked.   Last week Dad was fitted with a brand new pair that fit his ears perfectly and he could hear me when I spoke normally (not shouting).   It was amazing!

That said, I don’t know what to do next.  Dad has moved into a senior living environment for a short stay so that I can work on some catering projects but I can tell that he his not happy.   And why would he be?  His life has changed in so many ways and his daughter seems to be “bossing” him around.   Stay tuned as the journey continues….

Jonah's gluten free cake

Gluten-Free Wedding Cake

Through all of this, I want to tell you that one of the activities that has kept me grounded has been baking… such as the pie for Brandon and Marilka… and a gluten-free wedding cake for my friend Judith Anne’s son.  I’ve also experimented with a gluten-free/vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from Babycakes and it is DELICIOUS!!!  (Please try them as soon as you get the chance… you won’t be sorry!)

Finally, yesterday I decided to bring a pie to the Sargent family of Buckhorn Springs.  This weekend, their daughter Lauren is getting married and I am spending this week helping to cater her wedding.  I wanted to thank them for putting their trust in me and allowing me to be a part of this very special time in their lives.

Sargent family pie

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook  — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.”  Julia Child

Chocolate Cream Pie… and gilding the lily

23 Jun

Tuesday evening I left my home in Oregon to take a red-eye flight across the county to “release” my Dad from the rehab facility where he’s been for the last couple of months.  The folks there say that he has reached the goals that they had set for him and that he is ready to find another place to live.  Trouble is, my Dad can’t really live alone right now and the “assisted living” place that we visited left much to be desired.   So, in a few days Dad will come and stay with me for a while.   I’ll share more about that at another time… suffice it to say that this will be a tremendous challenge for both of us.

In the time before I left, I really needed to spend some time making a pie.  It’s my way of finding my “center.”   One of my favorite types of pies is Chocolate Cream Pie and, in fact, the last two pies I have made were of this type. One pie was given to honor a new baby named “Chloe” (Congratulations to Carla and Brandon and big sister Sophia!) and the other was given to a family that I had learned was leaving the area after having been here for too short a time.   They were moving back to the mid-west to be nearer to family and as I listened to their story, I heard a touch of sadness at the prospect of leaving and knew that a pie would help ease the transition.   I mean, really, how could it not?

untopped chocolate cream pieb

When I make chocolate cream pie, I follow a recipe much like this one (but mine uses a bit of half and half in addition to the milk).   Once the filling is placed in the cookie crust (I use crushed Oreo’s or these by Newman’s Own), you must let it cool completely.  To finish the pie,  I begin by making sweetened whipped cream.  Occasionally I  will add a splash of Kahlua to the whipped cream instead of vanilla for a more scrumptious taste… but a spoonful of vanilla works just fine too.

Once the cream is whipped, I spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and then I pipe it onto the cooled pie.  Now, here is where some folks differ in what should happen next.   I think the pie looks fine as it is… but somehow I can never leave well enough alone.  Instead, I prefer to top it with a pile of chocolate shavings or a drizzle of melted chocolate or even by topping it with chocolate covered espresso beans. Someone close to me refers to this habit of mine as “gilding the lily“.    I’d love to know what you think!

chocolate cream pie before adding chocolate shavings

 

chocolate cream pie with chocolate shavings

 

chocolate cream pie with drizzlePhotos from Karen's camera 406

 

The superfluous, a very necessary thing.
Voltaire

 

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