Tag Archives: OR

“Home” for the Holidays

24 Dec

Alexandra

A few days ago, my daughter, Alexandra, flew from New York to spend the Christmas holiday with us.  What seemed to be a pretty simple plan – fly from LaGuardia to Medford, Oregon – proved to be anything but.  After arriving at the airport (via taxi because of all the bags she was carrying) she was told by the agent at the US Airways counter that her flight had been cancelled.  The agent then told her that they would put her on a flight out the next day.  “No… I need to get home today” Alexandra told the agent.  In short order, the agent told her that she could get on a flight that day… but that flight was out of JFK.  “But I just spent $55 to get here for my flight” Alex told her.  “Save your receipts and tell that to customer service… but if you want to leave today, you need to get to JFK,” was the reply.

Alexandra did as she was advised and took a cab to JFK in plenty of time to board the plane for the west coast, but as sometimes happens, that flight was delayed for more than an hour. That  would not have been a problem if that one flight had led to her ultimate destination, but unfortunately, it did not.  When the plane finally arrived in San Francisco, Alexandra and another passenger ran for the Medford flight… thrilled to find that it was delayed and still at the gate.  They happily boarded thinking that they would only arrive twenty minutes later than their originally scheduled time.    But that didn’t happen either.  Instead, for numerous reasons too mundane to relate, the plane did not take off for almost two hours!  When Alexandra and I last spoke I told her that I would pay for her cab because I couldn’t stay awake waiting for her any longer.

The next morning Alex shared the details of the trip… and the delightful seat-mate that she had met who took her home when they finally arrived in Medford.  My grateful heart wanted to thank that woman for taking care of my daughter in the wee hours of the morning… and so, I made a pie.  I gathered apples, walnuts, and raisins and a crumb topping and in short order had a pie in the oven.  Later that day, Alex and I drove to the woman’s home… and discovered that she had moved into the home where Alexandra’s singing coach used to live.  What a small world… and what a wonderful coincidence!

Apple Pie assembly

A few days after Alexandra arrived home, she, her Dad, and I, packed up the car and drove to Missoula, Montana where her brother, Coco lives,  so that we could all spend the holiday together.  On our journey here, we spent the night with friends, Shawn and Catherine, in the Dalles laughing, playing “Last Word“, and sipping red wine.  Yesterday we drove the last 400 miles or so, listening to the book “Cutting for Stone” on the CD player.  We realized last night that it has been 4 years since we were all together for Christmas.  We are enjoying this snowy Christmas eve in a warm kitchen, listening to old vinyl records, while Daddy Emile prepares the turkey for our feast.  I feel pretty darned lucky right now.

Apple Pie

To close, I want to share these few words from a book entitled “Have a little faith” by Mitch Albom.  I love his stories (Tuesdays with Morrie,The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and this one is just as good, but is a true story.   In the epilogue, he shares this memory.  He is talking with the Rabbi and asks him what he would do if he had five minutes alone with God.  The Rabbi says that with the first minute he would ask God to help his family members.  With the next three minutes he would ask God to counsel those who were suffering.  And then Mitch asks, what about that last minute?  And the Rabbi says this is what he would say:

“Look, Lord, I’ve done X amount of good things on earth.  I have tried to follow your teachings and to pass them on.  I have loved my family.  I’ve been part of a community.  And I have been, I think, fairly good to people.

“So, Heavenly Father, for all this, what is my reward?”

And Mitch asks, “what do you think God will say?”

“He’ll say, “Reward?  What Reward?  That’s what you were supposed to do!”  And then Mitch and the Rabbi laugh together for a long while.

Tonight, I send you my best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever it is that you celebrate with the people you love.

family-card

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.  ~ Confusious

Day 348: Kristian

19 Mar

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Today is the day that my daughter’s boyfriend finally reached Ashland, Oregon from Copenhagen, Denmark.  He left Copenhagen on Sunday morning at 5AM… which was 8PM Saturday our time.  His first flight took him to Newark, New Jersey.  Not very exciting as far as destinations go, but Kristian is a brave soul and decided to take the train into Manhattan for the day (he had an 8 hour layover!)  He made it to Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.  He also walked along Broadway and saw Madison Square Garden.  Imagine doing all that on your first day in New York!

Kristian’s flight from Newark to Portland, Oregon was at 8PM… and with the time changes, he arrived in Portland at about 11PM last evening.  We’d arranged for him to spend the night in a hotel near the airport.   His flight to Medford wasn’t until this evening at 5:30PM and so he took time today to explore downtown Portland.  He visited Powell’s Bookstore, walked along the waterfront, and visited a few of Portland’s finest breweries.

Finally, Kristian boarded his flight to Medford at 5:30 PM this evening.  And at just about 6:30 we met him at the airport.  It is lovely that he has come to see our little part of the world… and we are very happy to host him.  Tonight, I gave Kristian a Chocolate Pecan Pie.  I want to welcome him to our town, to our home, to our lives.  And I want to wish him a very happy visit to the west coast of America.

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Day 291: Garth

22 Jan luv shack

Garth lives just a few blocks from us and he is one of the most creative people in town!  We have watched in amazement as he has turned a small, nondescript house with a big yard into an incredible structure surrounded by beautiful gardens and artwork.  This happened over a number of years but bit by bit the corner where he lives has been transformed.   There seems to be no end to his imagination and I find that very inspiring.

The above pictured “luv shack” is also one of his creations and in addition to being a most remarkable piece of art, is also quite functional (maybe you’ve seen it on the highway?)   It has been in the Ashland Fourth of July Parade and made the journey to Burning Man in the Nevada desert.  Here is an excerpt from an article  in the Locals Guide about the creation of the “luv shack” written by Aaron Bloch:  This maverick formed his vehicle first and kept all the functions to a minimum. Gas, brakes, a turn signal or two, were all secondary to what his vision was for the Moonshine Luv Shack.  Pretty amazing, eh?

Tonight I brought a “Kick-Ass Apple Pie (topped with toasted Almonds) to Garth to recognize him for what he has done for our neighborhood – and for being an inspiration to dreamers and tinkerers everywhere.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!  ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

Day 223: Curtis Restaurant Equipment

15 Nov

A long time ago I worked at a restaurant in Ashland. One day the owner told me that we needed to replace a piece of equipment. He asked me to call a friend of his who sold equipment and to order it. Before I did that I found the model number and all of the details that I could locate and when that was done, I called his friend.

When I described the piece of equipment, the friend said he knew what we needed and that the machine in question was going to cost $800. That sounded like a lot of money to me and I told him that I would tell the owner and get back to him. And then I opened the phone book to the yellow pages and found the restaurant equipment section. Under that heading I saw this name “Curtis Restaurant Equipment”. I thought, “What the heck?” and called the number.

When the salesperson, Cheryl, answered the phone I told her what I was looking for and gave her all of the pertinent information. In a few moments she came back on the line and gave me a quote of $425. I thought I’d made a mistake and repeated the information once again and she confirmed that the quote was correct. “Can you fax a photo of the machine to me please?” I asked so that I could make sure that we were talking about the same item. When the fax came through I was amazed. My boss’ friend wanted to charge me nearly $400 more for the very same machine than this woman whom I did not know at all.

Of course, I ordered the machine from Curtis. I was extremely impressed with their prices and with their service… and was very pleased to receive a note card from them “thanking me” for my purchase. What a classy company!

This all happened many years ago… but memories like this are hard to forget. I have been a fan of Curtis ever since and will always recommend them. And to thank them for being good, honest, caring people I brought an Almond Pear Cheesecake Pie to the staff – Rod (and Donna), Cheryl, Krystal, and Alex. My sincere thanks to all of you for your emphasis on customer service. It is very much appreciated.

Day 215: U.S. Bank Tellers Rock!

7 Nov

This morning in my email I received an offer to buy a bamboo rolling pin recommended by Cake Boss Buddy Valastros on a site called Open Sky.

This bamboo rolling pin was $20 and that’s not a lot of money really. But I would like to suggest is that before you go out and spend money on a brand new rolling pin, try checking out your local good will, thrift shops, yard or estate sales. Over the years I have found rolling pins at all of these places… and they can usually be purchased for a few dollars or less.

For me there is something kind of cool about using a kitchen tool that has been used (and loved) before. It’s as if the tool has been passed on to you from someone on purpose… and you get to use it for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Now, if you are sure that you will be using that rolling pin for years, and money is not an issue, by all means by a new one. But if you are only going to make one or two pies a year, why bother?

Now I will get down off my soap box and tell you about a technique for making pie dough that I learned in a class I attended this past weekend. It was lead by Cory Shreiber. He and pastry chef Julie Richardson recently co-authored a rustic dessert cookbook. One of the suggestions for making flakier pie dough was to use a grater for the butter (as opposed to cutting it into small chunks) before mixing it with the flour.

I hope that you are able to see the marbling of the butter in this piece of pie dough. That marbling is what gives the dough it’s flakiness. For more tips on pie crusts, check out this page.

This afternoon I delivered my pie to the tellers at US Bank in Ashland. We have been customers of this branch for quite some time and have always enjoyed a very good relationship with the staff there. They have made the extra effort to make us feel valued and and always show an interest in our lives by asking about our family, work, etc. I want them all to know that we really appreciate the personal touch that they offer.

Day 211: Beau Club Bob

3 Nov

Today when I was preparing my pie, I thought of Bob from the Beau Club. We’ve known Bob and his wife Annie for more than 20 years having met them when we worked at Geppetto’s restaurant. Bob was (and still is) the owner of the tavern that was right next door to the restaurant. After work we would often go to the tavern to have a drink and play cribbage and listen to the juke box. Sometimes we might even play a game of pool. It was a comfortable place to unwind from our kitchen or wait shifts.

One memory I have from those days is from when I organized a 5 mile walk to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis that asked people to get pledges per mile walked. When I asked Bob if he would sponsor me, he took the form and wrote $20 in the per mile box. When I explained that maybe he meant to make that the total donation, he confirmed that he knew it was per mile. I could have hugged him because it was such a generous thing to do.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the tavern, but I still see Bob around town, and he always makes me smile for a couple of reasons. The first is because Bob always seems happy to see me and asks about my family. The other is because Bob is one of those quick-witted folks that can make jokes out of an ordinary conversation and he helps to keep me on my toes.

Today I brought Bob a warm Apple Pie to say thanks – for the fond memories from those long ago days and for being the generous gentleman that he is.

Day 199: Jim Amberg of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

22 Oct

Tonight my daughter and I had tickets to see August: Osage County at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. My daughter, Alexandra, worked as an usher for OSF for a few years and met some really nice people while she was there. This evening we prepared a Mixed Berry Crumb Crust pie for one of those people, Mr. Jim Amberg.

Jim is the Access Coordinator at OSF, and that means his work is to make the experience of attending the theatre open to everyone. Accessibility goes beyond providing ramps and seating for those in wheelchairs. It includes such things as providing sign language interpreters, audio description on demand, or as in the case of tonight’s performance, open captioning. In addition, OSF provides thousands of assistive listening devices for those with moderate hearing loss.

This past summer, Jim and audience services manager, Radawna Wallace, were selected to receive a 2011 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Award for Emerging Leaders. The two were honored for their work adding services to assist audience members with disabilities. The criteria used to select the award recipients is as follows: Recipients are selected for having sustained accessibility efforts over a significant period of time, demonstrating either an individual or institutional commitment to the inclusion of all people with disabilities.

Alexandra always spoke very highly Jim and tonight I was delighted to bring him a pie to recognize his sincere consideration of others and his unfailing devotion to his work.

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