Tag Archives: southern oregon university

Pies for so many reasons!

7 Mar

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Coco and Alex, meet their host sister Lucka

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur and for good reason.  First my daughter , Alexandra, decided to come home for a brief visit before she began her new job (with Warby Parker!) and then my son, Coco, surprised me one night with a knock at our front door (he and his Dad were in cahoots about this).  So, for about a week I was back in Mom mode (my favorite place) and let a lot of other things go.  Well, except for pies.

While she was home, Alexandra mentioned that she wanted to stop at her (and our) alma mater, Southern Oregon University, to visit with her adviser, Rene.  A perfect occasion to bring along a pie!  The ingredients – apples, butter, flour, and sugar – came together quickly and as it baked we got ourselves ready.  Soon we were heading over to the university on a beautiful day.

Alex with pie at SOUAlexandra with Apple Pie

We were thrilled to find Rene (and office manager, Kathy) available to visit for a few minutes and they seemed happy to see us as well (or was it  the still warm pie?)  Alexandra is one of Rene’s first legacy students.  He was a professor to her parents (Emile and I) twenty plus years ago and then was her professor as well.  He still recalls seeing us carry her to school in the baby backpack.   Thanks for everything Rene!

Alexandra with Rene and Kathy

One day during the week I noticed that my friend, Margie Cicerrella, was featured in  the local paper.  Margie is retiring after many years of working as a children’s librarian.  Margie has been a driving force for literacy and among many other things spearheaded  the “Welcome Baby Book Bags” program – a program designed to promote language development in infants by giving new parents a cloth bag filled with board books.  For that alone, Margie deserves a million pies!  But alas, all I could do was bring her this one – a sweet potato and pecan pie.  Thank you Margie for all the wonderful work that you’ve done!

P1000559After a fun-filled week with Alexandra and Coco (cooking together, seeing plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and singing along to Coco’s guitar playing), sadly, they both had to return home. The first day after they left I must admit that I felt pretty blue.  Fortunately, I had agreed to teach a friends’ troop of girl scouts how to bake a pie (and share my story of giving away pies) that very afternoon.

At first, I was a little nervous but the girls were simply delightful.  They listened to my brief talk and then the kitchen was a flurry of flour, pie dough, and pumpkin pie filling!  Lots of questions were hurled at me, but I managed to answer most of them, and at the end of the afternoon, the counter was filled with pies.  There’s nothing like making pie – and helping kids learn to bake – to fix the blues!

P1000584The last pie I made this week was for the family of an old friend who succumbed to cancer a few days ago.  My heart aches for her husband and children and bringing them dinner and a pie felt like a way to ease their pain… and I’m sure my friend would love knowing that her family was cared for in this way.

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“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt

Life’s gifts are where you find them

16 Aug

How can it be that I bake almost every day and have not taken the time to write a post in weeks?  I can’t explain it except to say that I can think up many reasons to bake something – but by day’s end, it’s hard to find the energy to write a single word!  Yet I can’t begin to imagine going for weeks without baking.

Chocolate Cream Pie topped with chunks of Cary’s Toffee

It seems I am always finding a reason to bake.  Recently, I baked a chocolate cream pie for my friend Judi who was leaving her job after 28 years.  She is looking forward to what the future holds for her – and to spending more time with her seven grandchildren (who I hoped would be able to help her with all of that chocolate!)

And then last weekend was the first anniversary for the Medford Food Co-op and I was asked to make some cakes for the celebration.  I made three cakes – two of which were chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sour cream frosting.  The third cake was also chocolate and had a chocolate frosting but with raspberry filling –  and this one was gluten-free and dairy free as well!  That made a lot of people happy… and I was tickled to provide a cake that worked within those dietary restrictions.

Lest you think I have forgotten, there was a “pie recipient” in the mix.  I’d been listening  to Jefferson Public Radio on Saturday night not long ago, and the program that was on is one of our favorites.  It is called American Rhythm.  The host of this program is a man named Craig Faulkner and this is what is said about Craig’s program on the JPR website: Craig Faulkner uses his extensive archive of classic R&B, Swing, Jazz, Blues, and the popular music of a time gone by to honor and celebrate the Golden Era of American Music.

As I was preparing dinner and listening to his show that night I thought, I should make this man a pie!  You see, we’ve listened to his show for many years and I realized, he doesn’t know how much we enjoy this music.  I wanted to bake him a pie to say “Thank you for bringing us this lovely gift each week!”  However, this was a little bit of a challenge because I didn’t know Craig Faulkner at the time.  But after a few emails and a few phone calls, we became acquainted… and I was able to meet him and give him a berry pie (his wife had said he’d like that).

Fresh Blackberry and Raspberry Pie

You see, I think it is important to take the time to let people know when they’ve made a positive impact on our lives.   Even if all we offer is a simple “Thank you” to the person who has changed our lives for the better, we will have acknowledged their efforts – and that is the least we can do.

Oh –  I forgot to mention that we are hosting two lovely Japanese students for a few weeks.  Their names are Hitomi and Saya and they are here to participate in an intensive English program at Southern Oregon University.  Each day we talk, ask questions, and laugh at the differences in our languages… and each day their English gets a little bit better.  It’s been quite an amazing process to witness!

Saya and Hitomi

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 
―    Marcel Proust

What a wonderful life!

26 Jun

What a whirlwind these last few weeks have been!  Much of the focus was on our daughter, Alexandra, as she completed her studies and prepared to graduate from Southern Oregon University.  There was a fair amount of stress to be sure, but everything worked out perfectly in the end.  We were both so proud to see Alexandra walk across the same stage to receive her diploma that her Dad and I carried her across 22 years before.  What a wonderful experience we have shared!  A friend remarked about Alexandra this weekend, “She is such a person.”  I would have to agree.

Another element of fun during this time period was the fact that my son, Coco, returned home for a visit to see his sister graduate.  What that meant for our family is that we were all four at home and doing things together that have become a part of our family tradition.  We cooked lots of wonderful food and hosted a graduation party so friends and family would have a chance to congratulate Alexandra.  We told stories, shared jokes, and reveled in the fact that we were all together.  And we listened to John Prine on vinyl and sang the words to songs that we have come to know by heart:

Blow up your TV, Throw away your paper,

Go to the country, Build you a home.

Plant a little garden, Eat a lot of peaches,

Try and find Jesus on your own

(from Spanish Pipedream)

And just to throw a little excitement into the mix, I received a phone call a few days before Alex’s graduation from a woman named Jinnee.  Her wedding had been planned for the week after Alex’s graduation and her caterer had backed out at the last minute.  She told me a friend had recommended that she call me and then she asked if I could I cater her wedding.  Wow.  I had to tell her, “Of course… but we can’t talk until next week because my daughter is graduating this Saturday.”  And so Jinnee agreed to my catering her wedding without meeting me until 5 days before the actual event!

When Jinnee and I did meet, we agreed on a menu and a budget, and then called or emailed over the next few days with questions about all the many details that arose.  Friday morning, I thought of all that she was going through and realized that she was having me prepare her wedding buffet and she had yet to taste anything that I had ever cooked.  And so I decided to bake Jinnee and her fiance a Kick Ass Apple Pie.  I thought she deserved one for all that she was going through… and it might give her some comfort once she had a bite.

That afternoon I called Jinnee to ask how things were going and if I might stop by for a minute.  I could sense concern and I finally blurted out, “Jinnee, I made you a pie.  Can I bring it by tonight?” Jinnee was thrilled… and I felt that I had offered her a moment to enjoy the wedding that she was planning.

The next afternoon, Jinnee and Peter were married… and as soon as they exchanged their vows, the heavens opened up and the rains came down.  There was a mad scramble for cover… and the outdoor wedding that had been planned soon became a warm and cozy indoor gathering of dear friends and family.  And I was blessed to be a part of it all.

Tonight I want to offer thanks for such a wonderfully busy time… and all the things that I hold dear: family, friends – old and new, and all of the little miracles that grace our lives.

“Three things are needed for a good life: good friends, good food, and good song.”  Jason Zebehazy

Touch of Grey

14 Jun

These last few weeks have been eventful… and emotional.   Why does that not sound surprising?

This period of time began two Sunday’s ago when we were witness to the passing of one of our cats.  Grey, was a very timid cat who somehow appeared on our back porch one day. My guess is that she heard through the grapevine that the lady at this house put out “wet” food each morning and evening and so she came round to check it out for herself.   But something must have happened early on in that cat’s life,  for while she desperately wanted to eat, she did not want to be petted.  In fact, I think I fed Grey on my porch for two years before she ventured close enough for me to touch her.  For much of her life, Grey kept mostly to herself.

The one exception was that she spent a lot of time on my neighbor, Bernie’s, back porch sunning herself and enjoying the treats that he offered her.  She went there so often that there is a path in the grass from my house to his.  Sometimes Grey would be at Bernie’s in the morning and when I brought out her breakfast she would just stare at me from across the distance as if to say, “Thanks but I’m too comfortable to move right now.  I’ll see what you’ve got there in a little while.”

Last Sunday when I called to her, she just lay sleeping on Bernie’s old couch. I thought nothing of it, set her food down outside, and went for my usual walk with my daughter, Alex.  There was a message from Bernie on the phone when we returned.  Never one to mince words, Bernie’s message said “I think we’ve got a dead cat here.”

Fortunately, Bernie’s statement was premature;  Grey had not yet died.   I didn’t know what was wrong, but she was unable to move a muscle, and she couldn’t even open her eyes.   When I reached a friend who is a vet, he said that we should make her as comfortable as possible.  And so we did.  We gently stroked her back, moistened her mouth, and kept her covered against the chill of the day.   We probably spent more time petting her that day than we were able to do in the last ten years.   And at day’s end, she took her last breath, arched her body a bit, and died.

It was a sad way to begin the week, but we were glad to have been there for Grey… and also to have had the chance to be close to her.  As the week progressed I found I was on “Team Alex.”  What that means is that my life’s purpose for the remainder of the week was to help my daughter finish her Capstone for Southern Oregon University.

Okay, I really didn’t do anything to help her with her Capstone… but I did feed her, walk her dog, mop her brow, etc.   On the day her final paper was to be turned in, I remained at the ready – and for me, that meant I kept myself busy in the kitchen.  I cleaned, I organized, I baked.  At the time her paper was to be at the printer’s, I called to ask for a grace period.  And the young man gave me us an extra 30 minutes.  When I shared that news with Alex, she said, “Mom, we need to make them some brownies.”  Unbeknownst to Alex, I already had made a quiche for one of her teachers… Curt.  He has been a big help to her this last term and his name had been on the pie list for weeks.

As I look back, I can say that the week ended happier than it began.  That Friday evening, Alex handed in her completed Capstone, Curt received his well-deserved quiche, and the folks at Printfast received a plate of brownies still warm from the oven.

 

All in all, it was just a week in our life.  And a wonderful life at that.

Tonight I am sending warm wishes to everyone in the Universe,

From,

A very proud Mom

Day 357: The Maslow Project

28 Mar

Marionberry and Blueberry Pie

One of the things that was running through my mind today as I prepared my pie, was part of the sermon that Pastor Connie shared at First Presbyterian Church this last Sunday.  It was from a story by Hemingway called “The Capital of the World.”  Perhaps I am the only person who had not yet heard it, but here is the opening “joke.”  The lead character, “Paco”, has left home after a fight with his father.  The father searches for his son all over the country and finally makes it to the capital city of Madrid.  For his one last attempt to find his son, he places an ad in the paper which reads, “PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY, ALL IS FORGIVEN, PAPA.”   The “punch line” of this joke is that when the father arrives at the Hotel Montana on Tuesday he sees police trying to disperse the crowd of eight hundred “Pacos” that have shown up to meet their father.

Deep down, I think we all want to be accepted and loved by our parents.  Unfortunately, that is not how the world works and for reasons that I cannot begin to list,  young people leave home and become homeless.  And the lucky ones find the Maslow Project.  Maslow Project was founded by Mary Ferrell. A graduate of Southern Oregon University, Mary had been working with homeless children and families through the Medford School District.  She soon realized the need for kids to access basic needs and supportive services all in one location.  Ferrell took the name from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs concept, which states that unless our primary needs are met, we cannot move on to other, more advanced needs

Maslow Project has received international recognition for its program model serving  youth and has been featured in such places as The New York Times, 20/20, and MTV.   With their small staff of dedicated professionals, they work hard to help homeless youth find the support that they need.

The slogan on the Maslow Project brochure is “Looking for a hand up not just a handout?”  Clearly they work to help the young people they serve find a way off the streets and empower them to become healthy, productive members of society.

When I called the number for the Maslow Project this afternoon, I spoke with Talia.  I explained that I wanted to bring a pie to the staff to thank them for their work with our valley’s homeless youth.  I am very grateful for all that they do to make a difference in their lives.

Please visit the Maslow Project website, or call 541-608-6868, and learn of the many ways that you can help with their mission.  The need is great and they are doing amazing work.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
~Mother Teresa

Day 315: Kirby Shaw

15 Feb


Apple Crumb Crust Pie

A little more than a year ago, I tried out for Kirby Shaw‘s choir at Southern Oregon University.  My friend Leslie encouraged me to try out because she knew how much I liked  to sing.  In fact there is a joke at her house about a night I seemed to sing every song in their music book.  Her family referred to that night “Karenoke.

To be in Kirby’s choir you must “try out” and you can do that over the phone or you can do it in person.  Since I felt much to shy to try out in person, I chose to audition over the phone.  I’d heard that many students audition with the song, “Amazing Grace” and I tried it but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Then I remembered an old song that I used to sing to my children, “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread” and that was what I auditioned with.  I sang into my phone for less than a minute and before I knew it I was in the choir!

All of the songs that we sang that term were sung without accompaniment.  Some of the songs didn’t even have actual words but instead had sort of scat sounds. What a challenge that was!  And then there were songs that were so beautiful sung by talented people with amazing voices.   What a class!

Of course, what really made it a great class was the instructor himself, Kirby Shaw.  He is encouraging, enthusiastic, and his love of music is so infectious that soon everyone in the room is loving it too.

Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Kirby to thank him for the gift of music that he so willingly shares with us.  We are very lucky to have him here at SOU.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
Billy Joel

Day 308: Doreen

8 Feb

Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Quiche

Coming home from a vacation is often a bit challenging.  There is the dirty laundry to wash, there’s sand in your shoes, and you might have a bit of jet lag to deal with.   However, what I felt today after returning from Barra de Navidad was challenging in a different way.  I wandered through my house seeing abundance everywhere , yet where I had been, abundance was in short supply.  As I took Sofus, my daughter’s dog, for a walk, I could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed at the injustice of it all.

All these hours later, I have yet to reconcile the disparity between the two.  However, I think at the very least it is important to recognize the abundance and beauty in our midst, for too often we take it for granted.  Perhaps we all need to spend some time living in poverty before we can really appreciate our many blessings.

My friend Leslie helped me out today by suggesting that I take time to assimilate back into my “normal” life and I really appreciated that advice.  It was important to honor the break that we had from our routine and to acknowledge how lucky we were to be able to afford that luxury.  Of course that would involve giving thanks… and the way I do that is with a pie.

Fortunately I had some key ingredients on hand to make a savory pie – fresh asparagus, cream, eggs, and roasted peppers.  As I prepared the quiche, I let my mind wander until it settled on a fitting recipient – and today that person was Doreen.  She is the Alumni Director at Southern Oregon University and has served in that position for about five years.

When Doreen came on board, she brought with her a wealth of experience and a seemingly endless supply of energy.  She works tirelessly to build lasting relationships for the university and to orchestrate fabulous events throughout the year.  At one time I thought I wanted to have her position, but I am very grateful that Doreen was the person selected.   Like a trained dancer, she makes her work seem easy, but I know better. Doreen truly deserves to be recognized for her outstanding efforts.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

Day 289: John

20 Jan

Key Lime Pie

Today was cold and rainy for much of the day.  Even so, I decided to make a Key Lime Pie.  What’s funny  is that this is the first time that I have made this kind of pie this year.  The idea for it just came to me this morning and one of the things that I have learned over this past year is not to fight my intuition.

The recipe I have is similar to this one .  It makes a lovely pie in no time at all… which I imagine is an important consideration for many people.  And it was important for me today because I had several important things to do in addition to making a pie including a volunteer meeting, a memorial for a friend, a work meeting, and an appointment to donate blood.   Oh, and I needed to deliver a pie!

My daughter was the one who suggested today’s pie recipient.  His name is John and he is one of her professors at the School of Business at Southern Oregon University. He was not working on campus today so I called ahead to make sure it was okay to stop by his home for a moment. He said it was and in short order I was at his front door, pie in hand.

Once he saw the pie, John asked me to tell him what this project was all about. He’d heard about the pies as some of his colleagues have been recipients, but he hadn’t heard my story before. I shared that with him and then we talked about how we’d both had kids who’d been exchange students and how those “kids” have gone on to become world travelers. We agreed that it would be a great thing if more kids took that step.

Then it was time for me to go. As I left, John thanked me again for the pie. And (this is my favorite part!) then he told me that Key Lime Pie is his wife Amy’s favorite pie. Like I said, I’ve learned to trust my intuition.

Drawing of John’s dog “Pearl” staring into the Fridge

Day 281: Mark and Betty

12 Jan

Marionberry Cream Cheese Tart

Many years ago my husband and I worked together at Geppetto’s restaurant to help pay our way through Southern Oregon University.   Emile was an experienced line cook and I worked a variety of positions including host, prep cook and baker.  One of the people that we worked with there was Mark.  He was a line cook but he also waited tables occasionally.

One of my fondest memories from that time occurred during the period when I was pregnant with my daughter.  During my second trimester I always seemed to be hungry.  But not for just anything – I craved protein.  At school each day I ate a tuna salad sandwich and drank a quart of milk for lunch.  After school I would walk to Geppetto’s (on the days that I worked) and by the time I got there I was ravenous. When Mark was cooking on the line, he would make me a breakfast sandwich almost as soon as he saw me come in. I really appreciated that. It was amazing how much food I consumed!

Yet even though Mark helped to keep me fed, he also teased me mercilessly about my expanding belly.  Finally one day I brought in a tape measure to compare our waist sizes.  Lo and behold, when we put the tape around our waists, they measured within an inch of each other… and Mark was not expecting.  He quit teasing me after that.

I knew that surprising Mark would be difficult and so I called him to tell him that I wanted to bring him a pie.  It was then that he told me that his Mom, Betty, might be a better pie recipient because she would enjoy sharing it with her friends.  And so today I brought a Cream Cheese Tart topped with Marionberries for Betty… but once Mark saw it, he said that he just might want to taste it before she took it home.    And that my dear is a compliment…  from my good friend Mark (aka Badger).

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.  ~Author Unknown

Day 162: Happy Birthday Danya!

15 Sep

Today is my friend Danya’s birthday. She and I became friends when we were both earning our Master’s degrees at Southern Oregon University a few years ago. We were part of a group of four friends that studied together, drove to class together and generally supported one another through two years of study.

It really was important to me that I was not navigating the challenges of school, work and family alone. Each of these friends helped in their own way – but all of them were accepting, caring and encouraging. And as much as I enjoyed my classes, I think I learned as much from these friends who shared their life experiences with me. They demonstrated grace, courage and determination – and helped me to do the same.

Since graduation, while we have not seen each other as often as we did in school, we have managed to keep in touch. We continue to share information, offer advice, give reassurance, and celebrate our successes. When we met for coffee today, we spent most of the time laughing. It felt so good to be with them once again and I want to let them know that I am most grateful for the gift of their friendship.

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