Tag Archives: friends

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

Home-made Bagels… and a Quiche for Friends

21 Mar

Wishin’ you a pot o’ gold, and all the joy your heart can hold.

On Sunday March 17th it was my turn to provide snacks for the church coffee hour.   I love to bake and so this isn’t really a chore for me at all.  As it was a cold day, I knew that I would serve hot apple cider.   As for the baked goodies, I first chose to make gluten-free cheesecake brownies because I know several folks in our congregation who are gluten intolerant.  To do this, I merely replaced the all-purpose flour in my brownie recipe with some gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Then I mixed 8 oz of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar and one egg until it was smooth and swirled it into the brownie mix in the pan.

Then, since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I made green Rice Krispie Treats like the ones pictured below because I wanted (felt the need to make) something celebratory.  And let’s add a bit of Irish humor here: “Why do you Irish always answer a question with a question?” asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Do we now?” came New York Mayor Al Smith’s reply.

green rice krispie treats

Photo from http://www.sugarrookie.com

Lastly, I decided to make some home-made bagels for the parishioners who do not (or cannot) eat sweets.

bagels

Home-made bagels?  Yes!   About a year or two ago I found a recipe by a man named John D. Lee.  For five years, John owned a bagel restaurant and he clearly knows a thing or two about bagels.  In this recipe, John demonstrates how to make DELICIOUS bagels in a little over an hour.   You have got to try this recipe and let me know how you like it.  If you love a good bagel, I think you’ll be amazed that they can be made this simply.

Now for the pie of the week.  I’d been itching to make a pie and so I scanned our fridge and noticed that there were mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and shredded cheddar – perfect ingredients for a quiche.  But who would receive this savory pie?  As I rolled out the dough, and sautéed the mushrooms I let my mind wander.  The name of the person would come in time.

Once assembled, I placed the quiche in the oven to bake.   In a short while I thought of neighbors who I knew would appreciate help with a meal.  Not because they can’t cook or because they need money, but because their lives are so complicated right now.  Here’s hoping my quiche will offer them a momentary respite and give them assurance that they are surrounded by caring friends.

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.  ~Leo Rosten

 

The Wrong Number… or was it?

7 Nov

A few days ago I prepared some gluten-free Manicotti for an older friend who is moving to Portland.  I thought having a ready-made meal would make the week before moving a bit easier.  After the Manicotti was finished, I dialed her number to let her know what I’d done and ask when I could bring it over.  After a few rings, a very tired voice answered the phone.

“Oh my Sharon, did I wake you?” I asked, feeling terrible for disturbing her.  “No” she answered, “I’m not feeling well.” “I’m so sorry… do you need anything?”  “No… I’ve got people taking care of me,” she replied, “What can I do for you?”  Confused and still feeling bad about disturbing her, I said “Oh that’s okay. I can call back when you are feeling better.”  And then she said, “I don’t think I am going to get better… you’d better tell me now.”  “What”? I thought, Sharon is supposed to move in a few days!   I quickly explained that I had made her Manicotti… that she could share it with a friend or her daughter… and that is when she said, “I think you’ve got the wrong number.  My name is ______ _______. ”  Immediately I apologized profusely for disturbing her… and then the call was over.

Oh my.  I felt awful.  I’d accidentally called an acquaintance, which is not hard to do in a small town, and I had just found out that she was not well.  What do I do?  What would you do?

The easy thing to do would have been to let it go… say a prayer wishing her well and go on with my life.  And for a few days, I tried just that.  Finally yesterday I gave in to the desire to do something to show that I cared by preparing a pie.  I didn’t think that she would be able to eat it necessarily, but she’d said that she was being cared for by others, so I knew that there would be someone there that she could offer it to.

When the pie was done, I looked up the address and drove over to my friend’s neighborhood.  The house was dark, and I knocked softly.   There was no answer so I left the pie on her doorstep. After I got back home, I called and left a message on her machine explaining that I was the “wrong number” from the other day…offered my apology again… and any assistance that she might need.

A while later my phone rang and it was my friend calling to thank me for the “still warm” pie.  We talked for a few minutes and without asking she shared her very serious diagnosis and her fears.  My heart ached for her… because of what she faces… and because I had no answers.  All I could offer her was my concern… and food, whenever she wanted it.   She thanked me again, and after a few more minutes, we said goodbye.

Even though I cannot fix anything for my friend, I am glad that I followed my instinct to reach out.  Though it is painful to know that she is suffering, I have shown her in my own way that I care.  Henceforth, I will keep her in my prayers, hope for a miracle, and be thankful for the mistake that brought me such a rare and meaningful opportunity.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Day 333: Coming Together

4 Mar

A few days ago I heard that a friend’s son was involved in an accident and that he was in the hospital.  The good news is that he is expected to fully recover; the “rest of the” news is that it will take some time to do so.

A friend of mine called the other day to ask if I would be interested in being “on call” for dinners as the family will have a lot to do when their son comes home, and of course, I said “yes.”  Today, when that same friend called to give me an update on the family, I asked if she thought a Chocolate Cream Pie would be appreciated.  We had a brief discussion, and decided, how could it not be?

I am always moved when, in moments like these, friends and community come together to help the person who is facing a difficult situation. In moments of crisis, we all want to help in some way or another, and usually preparing food is one area where we can actually “do something.”  Bringing food to someone in trouble is very common in many cultures; it is one need we can fill.

And so tonight I brought a Chocolate Cream Pie to our friends house (and put it in the cooler that was on the front porch) for the friends and family that will be there soon.  We send our love and good wishes for a speedy recovery and heartfelt thanks that the injuries weren’t much worse.

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences.  All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Day 302: Linda’s Birthday

2 Feb

Two years ago, at about this time, we arrived in Barra de Navidad during what seemed like a stormy season.  The sky was filled with clouds and rain fell for the first couple of days.  On one of those nights, Marie invited us to the Hotel Sands to celebrate her friend Linda’s birthday.

Tonight we were once again invited to celebrate Linda’s birthday but this time the celebration was being held at Lucy’s restaurant.  The event was a pot luck and so it was only fitting that I bring a pie as my contribution to the meal.

To help me put the finishing touches on the pie, I brought Marie’s grandsons, Ke’ale and Pueo, to my apartment.  They waited patiently as I whipped the cream and coated the banana slices for the top of the pie.  When it was finally done, I asked them to pose with the pie.  This is what that looked like:

Tonight’s Chocolate Banana Cream Pie recognizes friends who are like family and the tender threads that hold us all together.  And to Linda, Feliz Cumpleanos!

Day 285: A Friend

16 Jan

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine at the grocery store and stopped to say hello.  We chatted for a few minutes and I noticed something was different; his usual happy-go-lucky persona was missing.  When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he was going through a pretty difficult time.

I know that it was not easy for him to share his story with me and I felt good that he trusted me enough to do so. I also found myself wishing that I could take a magic wand and wave it over him and grant him three wishes.   And knowing him as I do, I know that he wouldn’t use any of his wishes for himself.  Instead he would use them to help and benefit those that he loves most.

This morning I found myself thinking of this friend and decided to make him a quiche to share with his family.  It is my gentle reminder that he has friends that care about him and that we are here should he need us.

It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.  Epicurus

Day 284: Rachel and Mike

15 Jan

A few months ago I wrote about a young man from our small town who was the victim of a violent homicide.   His name was David and he was only twenty-three years old. As a parent of two young adults I felt deeply moved by this tragedy and my heart ached for David’s parents.   As a small gesture I sent a quiche to his Mother and offered my condolences on the loss of her son.

At this point in time, the killer has not yet been found.  And somehow the residents of Ashland try to go about doing what they have always done while living with the knowledge that they aren’t as safe as they had once thought.  And, of course, for David’s parents, life will never be the same.

Recently I was told about a couple who are friends of David’s Mother.  For the past few months they have been helping her get through the most difficult time of her life.   I am very grateful that she was able to count on them for the help and support that she needed and hope they realize what a comfort they have been to her.   Today I brought them a Dutch Apple Pie to thank them for the gift of their friendship.    My hope is that we will all have friends like this when we most need them.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”  Henri Nouwen

Day 276: Rock Star Pie

7 Jan

This morning I started looking for recipes of pies that I have never made before. One caught my eye – it’s called Chess Pie. I thought that a pie with this name might be black and white (like a chess board) but one source said that it was a pie that was made when “pie ingredients” (read fruit) were in short supply. An enterprising person created this recipe and supposedly said it was “just pie” which eventually became known as Chess Pie.

It’s a traditional southern pie and is basically a sweet custard with the addition of cornmeal. It sounds interesting… and probably is good but I am not ready to make it for someone without tasting it first myself. If someone out there has made it, I would love it if you would share your story.

Instead of a new pie, I opted for one that I have made a few times before… Chocolate Pecan Pie. To me it is among the best of pies for it has nuts, chocolate, and it is delightfully rich. Best of all, it is fairly quick to put together which is a plus when your schedule gets a bit hectic.

My intended pie recipient is a friend who lives nearby but because he travels quite a bit I don’t see him very often. My goal was to surprise him and therefore I did not call ahead to make sure that he was home. When I got to his house and knocked (and knocked again) I should not have been surprised when he did not answer. I walked a short distance to his neighbor’s house and he assured me that my friend was home so I went back to his house.

Again I knocked and called out and then finally gave up. As it was getting dark I walked back to the neighbor’s house and told him that since I could not reach my friend I wanted to gift the pie to him. He thanked me and told me that he was meeting up with his band tonight and he would share it with them. I hope that it both nourishes and inspires them.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Aldous Huxley

Day 273: A Pie for a Caring Friend

4 Jan

Apple Pie

As has happened many times before, one of my pie recipients  called to thank me for their pie.  After a few moments, the conversation turned to “how do you choose who to give a pie to?”  When I told her that sometimes people recommend someone they know that they think is deserving of a pie – and often it will be someone I have never met before.  Then she quietly asked, “Can I recommend someone to you?”  Well, if you have been following this blog for any time at all, you know the answer to that question, “Of course.”

Then I asked a question of her, “Would you please tell me why this lady deserves a pie?”  And as she began to speak I could hear that she was overcome with emotion and I knew that she was trying to regain her composure.  Without hearing one word of accolades about the future pie recipient, I knew that she must be quite a friend and my response was, “She sounds like a great lady.  I’d be happy to make her a pie.”  And so today I did just that.

It’s funny isn’t it?  Sometimes we say a lot without saying anything at all.

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.  Henry David Thoreau


Day 176: Brian and Emily

29 Sep

As some of you already know, I am a contest junkie. For many years I have tried to be the right caller at the right time to get that certain prize. And over the years I have scored a few absolutely wonderful prizes. Luck has something to do with it… but it takes something more. You’ve heard the joke where the woman (or man) asks week after week, “God, please help me win the lottery.” Finally a deep voice from heaven booms, “Meet me halfway… buy a ticket!” Well, I try to do my part and buy the ticket (or in this case, dial the number).

One of my favorite wins came from a rock station in the area. The way it worked was if you were the right caller, you “qualified” to win tickets and back stage passes to see Jackson Browne. Well, somehow I qualified for the contest. Friday morning came and they getting ready to announce the winner. At that time I was on my Nordictrack with headphones on. The DJ said he had the winner’s name and he announced it slowly…. Karen (and I thought, no way it’s me) and then he couldn’t say the last name (Amarotico) and I began screaming. My husband could not figure out why I was screaming (remember I had on head phones) and he ran to the window to see what might have caused my panic. When I finally calmed down and told him what I had won, he calmly asked, so “who are you taking?”

Later that day I called my friend Julie and asked if she would meet me in Eugene to see Jackson Browne… and of course she said yes. It was one of the best wins ever. We saw an awesome concert and then were invited backstage to meet Jackson Browne afterwards. He had been interviewed by the Oregonian earlier in the week and he said something that bothered me; something like “people don’t get involved.” I brought the article to the “meet and greet” and told him that by saying that he had “dissed” all the people that did get involved. I suggested that he say instead “I wish more people would get involved (in good causes)” because it did not negate those who already are involved.

Then I turned around and saw a line of folks waiting to speak with Mr. Browne and I immediately apologized for making them wait and they seemed to say “it’s okay” because this conversation seemed real – not just another “Please Mr. Browne autograph this guitar for our raffle.” Truly a wonderful moment.


Today I brought an Apple Almond Pie to Brian and Emily, to thank them for my most recent win. These two have become more than on-air personalities – they are much more like friends.

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