Last week, my friend Ginny asked me if I would consider bringing a pie to the woman who was the director of the Family Nurturing Center. Well, if Ginny recommended her, I knew I did not have to “consider” anything… it was a given: Mary-Curtis was going to get a pie!
The Family Nurturing Center helps families that are below the poverty level (and who are facing myriad other challenges) to stay together. You can see Mary-Curtis here explaining how her agency helps those families in need.
When I called Mary last week to explain my project and ask when I could bring her a pie, she told me that since it was spring break there would only be two people working – and she wanted to share this gift with her full staff. She asked would I mind waiting til Monday to bring her a pie? No, not at all. And then I asked Mary what kind of pie would she like and she said that she liked all kinds of pies…
I had detected a lovely southern accent and asked Mary if she liked Pecan pies and she said that she did. And so today I made Mary-Curtis Gramley a Chocolate Pecan Pie… and I brought along a little whipped cream to serve with it. The work that she and her staff does is so very important… and I am grateful to her and her staff for all that they do to help families succeed.
“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”
Yesterday I had a few pleasant surprises. In the morning I received two phone calls from friends asking if I was going to be home. They both said that they were just going to “drop something off.” Hmmm… I wondered, what could that mean?
A short time later the doorbell rang. There at the door was my friend Donna. She handed me a box and said “Happy Birthday!” What? “But Donna, today isn’t my birthday…” She looked at me and smiled and said, “I know that… it’s my birthday.” Donna reminded me that last year I had made her birthday cake… and this time she wanted to share a special treat with me. She calls it “Lemon Posset” and it is absolutely delicious! It tastes like lemon curd mixed with whipped cream… really incredible. What a delightful way to celebrate her birthday!
A short while later, the doorbell rang again. This time it was my friend JoAnn. She had brought with her a brown paper bag which she then handed to me. Inside were many of the ingredients for making one of my favorite treats, Pecan Pie. JoAnn said that she wanted to do something to support my pie journey and sensed that I really liked making Pecan Pies… which is true. What a wonderful gift and how generous of her to go shopping for me! I am very grateful for her thoughtfulness.
The last surprise of the day came in the afternoon when a friend called to offer us tickets to “The White Snake” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was a great show and a nice way to end a day of surprises. And just when I thought I’d received more than my share of blessings, this morning the doorbell rang. It was my neighbor Jae offering me tickets to another show at the festival! How lucky can one person get?
With so much goodness going on, it just seemed right to share some of my good fortune… in the form of a pie of course… with the Ashland High School Nordic Team as they prepare to compete at the State Finals this weekend. I send them all my very best wishes for realizing their personal bests and creating some very happy memories.
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens
Thanksgiving is a day when we give thanks for what we have been given… and, it goes without saying that we who live in this land of opportunity, have much to be thankful for. At this moment, I am grateful that my daughter is home with us finishing her degree (in accounting) and I am thrilled that my son survived a potentially life-threatening accident in Minnesota. I dare not ask why we are so fortunate… for there seems to be no rhyme or reason for our luck.
This morning I had a busy schedule: I was asked to make biscotti, two pies and three dozen rolls for friends. In addition, I was to make two dozen rolls for dinner and an appetizer for the party that we were invited to. That seemed like a lot to accomplish this morning… but somehow I managed.
And still there was the “pie a day” recipient to think about. But since I’d seen him a few days ago, it was not hard to determine who “he” was.
Buff is an amazing man. He is a talented musician… he is concerned and considerate uncle… and he has been a tremendous influence on the men in his family. They have learned from him what it means to be a man.
Today, I sent Buff a Pecan Pie to acknowledge all of the guidance that he has given to his family and friends… and to thank him for his strength of character. We are truly blessed to have him in our lives.
We moved back to Ashland about sixteen years ago. Not long afterwards, I was driving around town and saw a sign for a garage sale. I followed the sign to a street by Ashland Community Hospital and parked my car. My children were with me and as we got out of the car I noticed a sign for “free kittens.” Before we went another step, I told my children that we could pet the kittens but we could not take any of them home. I waited until they agreed before we proceeded into the garage.
Once inside we met a friendly lady who turned out to be Leslie, and my daughter Alexandra went off to play with the kittens while my son took off to play with Leslie’s son. Leslie and I chatted for quite a while and I thought, “she’s got things to do… we should go” and I found my daughter and gently extracted her from the kittens. When I asked where my son Coco was, Leslie brought me to her son Dylan’s room and we found the boys playing together nicely. Leslie then said, “If you’d like, you can leave your boy here for a while since they are playing so well.” I thought, “Really?” It was such a nice offer… and they seemed so engrossed in what they were doing… and so I said “okay.” It was a few minutes later when I was driving home that I started to wonder, “what have I done?” After all, I didn’t even know Leslie’s last name!
But anyone that knows Leslie knows that this was an easy offer to accept. She is warm and kind and gentle and somehow I “knew” that my boy would be safe with her. And as it turns out, her son and mine have been friends ever since… as have Leslie and I.
When I think back to that day, I can’t help but think “what a lucky day that was!” And that is why tonight I brought a Pecan Pie to Leslie and her family. I am very grateful to her for a friendship that has continued to grow over these many years… and for her welcoming spirit that invited us into their lives.
We are in Newport, Or tonight. We left Eugene in the fog this morning and traveled along a series of roads to the coast. The weather eventually changed from cool and foggy to sunshine and clear blue skies… Really a perfect day.
We are staying at The Sylvia Beach Hotel and have just retired to the JK Rowling room (our suite) decorated with all the things Harry Potter would have had at school (including a broom and goggles!)
And since I knew I would be on the road today I baked an additional (Pecan) pie yesterday and asked my daughter to deliver it for me. The couple I chose as recipients are from the First Presbyterian church and their names are Sydney and Rhoda. I don’t know them well but I admire the gentleness of their manner and speech and appreciate the gracefulness they bring with them.
This afternoon, my daughter called to say that Rhoda told her that Pecan Pie was one of their favorites. I was moved to tears for two reasons: first because I was happy that they were pleased and secondly, because I could not have known their favorite pie.
I am humbled, amazed and sometimes overwhelmed by how often this pie path has a way of working out so perfectly.
Jodi and I met about thirty years ago when I was in the tavern that her family owned. It was a lovely little place with great music, a friendly staff, and good food. One of my personal favorites was something called the “bar pie.” It was just a pizza but it was small enough to serve at the bar or at a table for two. My friends and I loved that place.
What was it about this tavern that made it so special? The best answer that I can come up with is that my friends and I felt at home there. We could drink wine, eat pizza, and feed the juke box and talk all night long. It was really a great place.
After Jodi and I became friends I actually worked at the tavern for a short time. It was an act of generosity on the part of her Dad because I needed experience for school but I learned then that I was definitely not cut out to be a line cook.
It’s amazing to me that Jodi and I have remained friends all these years because we haven’t lived in the same city since that time. We wrote countless letters in the days before Al Gore created the internet and since that time we have sent a lot of emails. And every time I go home for a visit, I try to surprise Jodi at her restaurant – and she always makes me feel so welcome.
Today is Jodi’s birthday and I am sorry to say that I did not send her a pie. Instead I thought that I would send her a virtual pie, and that pie would have to be like Jodi – very sweet. That is why this morning I decided to bake a pecan pie in Jodi’s honor because she is one of the sweetest people that I have ever met and I am so glad that we are friends. I hope that she will be happy to know that “her” Pecan Pie was given to someone who deserved a bit of sweetness in her day.