Tag Archives: Oregon

Amadeus and An Apple Pie for Senora Chela

4 Mar

MozartA week or so ago, my husband and I attended a performance of the play Amadeus at Camelot Theatre.  What a show!  It had been a long time since I’d thought of the life of Mozart and his amazing talent and tragically short life but it all came flooding back that night.  The cast and crew did an excellent job of bringing this story to life – and filling my head with questions… about Salieri and about the music that might have been.   That night I  also learned the meaning of the name Amadeus; it translates to “love of God.”

Senora Chela Ribbon cutting

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

The friend who shared this insight with me is Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks.  The very same Senora who is singlehandedly responsible for creating the sister city relationship between Ashland, Oregon and Guanajuato, Mexico.  That relationship began with a University exchange in 1969 and has continued on to this day.  This relationship has “been forged and nurtured over four decades by officials of both city governments, university and high school administrators and teachers, actors, artists, police officers, firemen, service clubs and — most of all — families” ( GlobalPost.com).

photo senora chela

Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

Some of the “consequences” of this sister city relationship are as follows:

  • Several thousand students have taken part in the University Exchange
  • 80 marriages have taken place between Ashlanders and Guanajuatenses
  • Over 200 homes have been constructed in Guanajuato with funds provided by the Ashland Rotary Club

All this occurred because Senora Chela wanted to bring a little bit of Mexico to Ashland.   This is what she has to say about the program, ““The most important thing is the family relationships that we’ve maintained for 40 years,” said Tapp. “It’s people to people connecting with their city, their lives, their love, their passion. It has a life of its own.”  Last week to honor all that she has done – and continues to do – to make the world a friendlier, more connected place, I brought Senora Chela an Apple Crumb Crust pie.   She is an incredible inspiration and I am honored to know her.

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. ”
Margaret Mead

Welcoming visitors from far and near

17 Sep

It will come as no surprise for me to say “Life has been busy!”  For four days last week we were lucky to be visited by a couple from Scotland, Andy and Ryan Bond, who were traveling with fellow Scots on a Rotary exchange.  They traveled all the way to Oregon and spent two weeks visiting various Rotary clubs around the state.  As part of their visit to Oregon, these folks had a chance to tour the coast at Newport and the Rotary club there made sure that they had a fabulous time.

Ashland was the last stop on the journey for many of the Scots, though some of our visitors did plan to extend their trip into Vancouver, B.C.  We met our  guests on Tuesday and had a lovely dinner together.  I think that Rotary has a great idea here:  visitors come to a new city and are greeted by Rotarians… and are hosted by Rotarians, and are shown around the area by Rotarians.  It is a great way to see a new area… and make new friends along the way.

One of the goals of this “program” is to break down barriers, find common interests, and forge new friendshps.  That was easily done with our guests.  Andy and I found that we both loved to cook and bake… and we also shared an interest in contests!  She is a wonderful baker and one of her specialties is making traditional cakes covered in marzipan.  From the way she describes them, I just know that they are delectable!

Saturday was our last day with Andy and Ryan and I asked Andy to visit the Rotary Garden with me.  On the way I saw a sign for a yard sale and thought Andy might like to see what we call a yard sale here in Southern Oregon.  After a few minutes of browsing the items for sale, I could tell that Andy was sorry that the weight limit on checked luggage is 50 pounds!

We are so lucky to be a part of this amazing organization.  Through our participation in Rotary, we have made friends around the world.  Our world view is greater because we are not isolated from the rest; we can see that we are all connected.  And that is a wonderful thing.

What does this have to do with a pie?  Well, give me another moment and I will explain.

Quiche prep

Today I made a quiche for a couple who run a business in Ashland.  They are both hardworking, caring people.  They are amazing to me because they help out a man who has few options.  This man is like a visitor in a way.  He lives simply, doesn’t ask for much, but he needs help.  And these folks give it to him when they can… not because they have to… but because it is the right thing to do.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I’ve gone to church all of my life… and I think I know how we “should” live.  And I believe that these folks are doing it.  Just because.  I am truly touched by their simple act of grace and wish that we all could give of ourselves as easily and without judgement.   It seems like a nice dream anyway.

Finished Quiche

“If you can’t fee a hundred people, then feed just one.”  Mother Teresa

 

 

Day 341: My Cousin Darren

12 Mar

Darren and me back on Staten Island

A few months ago, I returned to Staten Island to help celebrate my cousin Guy, and his wife, Diane’s, 25th wedding anniversary. My cousin and I were both married in the same year, 1986.  My wedding was in August, and his wedding was in October.  If you follow baseball, you may remember that the N.Y. Mets made it to the World Series that year. And won!  But that is beside the point.

In 1986, a week or two after our wedding, I moved to Ashland, Oregon, with my new husband.  Since that time, I have been back to Staten Island many times, but there are some people that I never get to see.  One of those people is my cousin Darren.  He is like me in one big way: he moved away from New York and only returns for a visit now and then.  The anniversary celebration was one of those times… and for the first time in more than 25 years, I spent time with my cousin Darren.

Darren was born the year that I turned 13.  The funniest (or strangest) memory I have from the time he was little was when I was walking with him (at about age 2) and my sister, Janice, who was about 5.  My boyfriend, Michael, was watching them with me and we were walking through the neighborhood when a lady came up to us and said, “The children are so cute… are they yours?”  I was fifteen years old!  and far  too stunned to say anything at all!

Darren and I caught up a bit at the anniversary party… and he honored me with a dance to repay me for babysitting all those years ago.  A few days ago I mailed Darren a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie for him and his son, Tommy, who he named after his Dad. I want to thank him for the memories from those long ago days… and send him love and good wishes for the future.

Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden – Author Unknown.

Day 303: El Caballo

3 Feb

Pelicans along the shores

Today we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and before we went anywhere I wanted to prepare my pie.  Today’s pie was for our friend Dale, who is known by a nickname here in Barra de Navidad.  Somewhere along the line someone mentioned that he looked a bit like the famous Mexican actor named Alberto Rojas who is affectionately referred to as “el caballo.”  Ever since then Dale became “el caballo” to his friends in Barra.

The pie that I was making for “our” el caballo was a version of a pie made in Ashland, Oregon.  It is called Dick Hay Pie in honor of Richard Hay who is the principal theater and scenic designer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Dick Hay Pie is made with three main ingredients: peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate.  Since I had brought peanut butter and chocolate with me,  I went out to purchase some ice cream at one of the local shops.  Once I got back to the apartment I made a chocolate cookie crust and let it cool while the ice cream softened up a bit.  Then it was simply a matter of sandwiching one thin layer of peanut butter between two layers of vanilla ice cream in the crust.  It was topped with a heavy drizzle of chocolate and then the pie went back into the freezer for about 8 hours.

With the pie taken care of, we decided to take a walk along the shoreline.   We saw more of the damage from the recent hurricane.  We also saw hundreds of pelicans in the area.  Watching them fly, dive, and land on the water made me think that’s what birds must have looked like in the age of the dinosaurs.

After our walk we met up with our friends and took a boat across the water to Colamilla for lunch at one of the restaurants along the shore.  I love that these restaurants are built on the beach, the floors are the sand,  and that the ocean laps on the shore just a few feet from the tables.  It is so relaxing!  This restaurant even had a few hammocks installed should someone need to take a short nap before the boat ride back to town.

Alberto Rojas, El Caballo

This evening we all met up and had an impromptu celebration at the hotel for el caballo’s birthday.   We sang Feliz Cumpleanos and toasted his health.  As we cut up the pie we found that it was so rich that one nine-inch pie was more than enough for 14 people!   I encourage you to make one of these pies for your next special occasion… it is easy to make and so delicious… and definitely worth it!

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. Ruth Ann Schabacker

Day 206: Grace

29 Oct


Eighteen years ago, my sister and I were expecting at the same time. She had her baby in May, a girl that she named Grace, and my son Coco was born in July. It was kind of fun to share pregnancy stories with my sister, though we only shared them on the phone because we were 3,000 miles apart.  For Janice, this was her first child, for me, it was my second – but we had many of the same tests, and probably some of the same fears.

Grace Lynn was born at 12:26 AM on May 29, 1993.  Her parents, Janice and Bo, were both overjoyed to finally meet her and I remember getting many photos of them holding her in the hospital and at home.  It was surreal in a way; they had their baby and I still had two months to wait for mine.

In the fall after Grace was born, she and her parents came to Oregon to visit us.  They came with me to a radio station contest (go figure!) where we had to guess how much a pile of bricks weighed.  We all filled out an entry and the next day as we were driving to visit Mt. St. Helens we heard on the radio that my sister had guessed the right weight of the bricks and had won a limo ride through Portland and dinner for eight.  We were thrilled!  The very next day my family and my sister’s family took a tour of Portland in the back of a limo and had a great night on the town.

I was in New York the following February when Grace was baptized (I helped make some of the food) and that September when we lost my sister.  Both times I brought my son with me and he and Grace got to play together.  It was really lovely to see them enjoying the same things;  I remember that the Johnny Jump Up was a really great treat back then.

In November,  I was back in NY with Coco when we lost Grace’s Dad.  Taken from us way too young it was a shock for all of us.  Grace had only known him for a year and a half - and that seemed very unfair.  But we all know that Life is not fair – even though we wish it were.  None of us had answers to give Grace for why such a thing would happen; we were as lost as she was.

All these years later, I still have no answer.  I can only say that I know that her Dad would be so proud of the person that she has become and, if it were possible, he would be her guardian angel.  I saw how much he loved her and how happy he was to have her in his life.  I want Grace to know that that love is something that does not die.

Grace came home this weekend from attending college at SUNY New Paltz to see me (and her family) for the evening, and I made her an Apple Pie to share with her friends.  Gracie, thanks for doing your best, for making us laugh and for being you.  We are so grateful to be sharing in your life journey.

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