Archive | April, 2011

Day 16: Thank you Andy Burt

23 Apr

Sometimes when I begin to bake my “pie of the day” I don’t know who will be the recipient.  Today, as I prepared the crust and filling I felt that I was waiting for “inspiration” or some kind of message.  It seemed as if the pie itself was uncertain as to who it would be taken to.  As I finished the pie and popped it into the oven the owner of the pie was still unknown.

I began to think of the people I still wanted to thank and began jotting names down.  And then I wrote down “Andy Burt” and I knew I had the answer.  Andy was my son’s teacher for three years in middle school.  He was steadfast and honest and willing to be himself with his kids everyday.  He helped the ones that needed it and even those that thought they didn’t.  Remember, in middle school you think you know it all.   A Mark Twain quote comes to mind, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”

My son was fortunate to have Andy as his homeroom teacher.  Andy cared and showed it but he would also call his students out on behaviour that was not acceptable.  And while parents have to do that all the time, sometime it takes a person outside the family to really have an impact.  As a teenager, you may think you are fooling your parents, but when another adult looks at you and makes you think that you can be somebody, well, maybe you can begin to think it too.

Today I honor another teacher that helped my son on his journey to the person he has become.  Andy, I am forever grateful for the effort that it took and hope that you know what a difference you made.


Day 15: Nurse Judy

22 Apr

Did you ever wonder where your ideas have come from?  Especially those ideas that hit you suddenly and  in an instant you decide on a course of action to take? Are these thoughts really our own or do they come from somewhere outside ourselves?  Perhaps, if we are open to them, we can be a part of something wonderful.

A while ago, I was working as a baker and noticed that we had a lot of leftover bread in the freezer.  I remembered that there was a shelter nearby and so I packed up the bread and drove it over to them.  As I walked through the door the receptionist asked what I needed.  I told her that I was bringing her some bread.  She stared at me for a moment.  I asked if she needed any  and she said,”Just a moment ago I told the coordinator that we did not have any bread for lunch and you walked in with a boxfull.”  That felt just a little bit strange but it also felt pretty cool.

Today while I was making another pie I thought of Judy, the nurse at Ashland High.  Earlier this week my son had gone to see her with a case of Poison Oak and she had helped him out.  I thought of how many kids she sees in a day and the range of problems that she helps them through.  Most of all I thought how thankful I am that our kids have a compassionate, trained nurse available at the school.  I’ve said it before, we are lucky to live here.

When I called upon Judy to deliver the pie she was definitely surprised and asked why I was giving her a pie.  When I told her how much I appreciated her dedication to our kids she was truly touched.  I was very pleased to be the one to bring her a gift and happy that I was in the right place to “catch” the idea.

There but for the grace of God…

21 Apr

Each day I am reminded how fortunate I am.   While I may complain about the rain or other such things, I want you to know that I am very aware of how very lucky I am.   My family is healthy and has always had enough of life’s necessities – good food to eat, a warm place to sleep, work to keep us going.   We are surrounded by people that care about us and would willingly go out of their way to help us in an emergency.   Best of all, we wake up each day and live in this beautiful valley.

How did I get to be this lucky?  Was it just an accident of birth that I was born in this country to people that wanted me and were able to take care of me?   It’s funny how sometimes you can forget about your good fortune.  It’s easy to do.   We tend to think that everyone is like us, to some degree or another; that we share similar experiences.  I remember a few years ago I was asked to teach a class on cake baking at the high school.  As part of my introduction, I talked about the type of pan one might use for the recipe I had brought.  My intent was to let the kids know that the recipe was able to be used in a number of ways.  Later, the instructor told me that some of the kids in her class probably did not have access to cake pans because they were “couch surfing“.  The term was new for me.  Here I was worried about how they would make a cake and some of them didn’t have a permanent home.

It’s strange to think that this sort of thing is true.  How can we let it happen?  Why is this not high on our priority list? Like many, I do what I can to help others – because I am able and because I think it is important to do.  An earlier post included the quote by Anne Frank “No one has ever become poor by giving.”  This, by Winston Churchill, is equally profound “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

On this cold, wet day a lovely quiche was delivered to a man who has been without a home for many years.  It was a small gift but received with great appreciation.   And somehow I feel more blessed than before.

Day 14: Mr. D.

20 Apr

This is the spring of my son’s senior year in high school.  Do you remember your last year of high school?  What was that like for you?  My son is a good student and is doing well… but still there is a certain level of stress associated with this time.  Almost  everyone who greets him asks about his future plans.  He fields questions such as “Where are you going to go to college?” daily.   It is a question that asks (or seems to ask) so much more.

It was not so long ago that my son was in 5th grade at Helman School.  It was the same year that Briscoe School was closed and those students were parsed out to the remaining elementary schools.   It was not an easy time for the families that had loved Briscoe;  they had to leave their school behind and acclimate to Helman.  It did not seem fair to anyone.

To say that the group of students in my son’s class presented a challenge for a teacher would be an understatement.  These kids were bright and energetic and ready for a challenge.  Into this arena stepped Mr. D.  He was a new teacher.  I don’t know if he was really prepared for such a group but somehow he won their hearts through his steadfastness.  He was calm and didn’t raise his voice.  He was cool in a way that they wanted to be (think ultimate frisbee).  He was real in a way they were not.

Today’s pie is for Mr. Joe Dunbrasky.  Thank goodness for men like him who choose to teach elementary school.  They are so appreciated for the lessons that they teach and the mentoring that they do.  Our kids are so much better for their guidance.  Thank you Joe for your efforts on our children’s behalf.

Day 13: Dennis Dunleavy

19 Apr

Several years ago, my daughter Alexandra took a photo-journalism class at Southern Oregon University while she was still a senior in high school.  Her instructor for this class was Dennis Dunleavy.  Alexandra did nothing but rave about Dennis – he was encouraging, talented, dedicated.  I was happy to see Alexandra so engaged and she was thrilled to be treated as a professional; not just a kid who could write well.

I met Dennis later that year at his exhibition at the Schneider Museum.  Displayed were amazing black and white photographs of people from Latin America. The images were haunting, crisp and clean.  They had captured the craziness of war: beautiful children holding machine guns as naturally as if they were holding a toy.   What an incredible juxtaposition of innocence and violence.

Today I arranged to meet with Dennis and talk to him about my blog project.  He had some idea of what I was doing and knew that I wanted to get some professional advice.  Who better to turn to for help?  Dennis has been blogging for seven years now and is a great teacher.

We met at the Boulevard Cafe.  Dennis and I chatted about my blog and he gave me advice, hope and encouragement.  And, of course, I gave him a warm pie.   He said he’d like to learn how to make a good pie crust.  I told him that it was easy to do – and he made me feel as if what I do with ease might actually be hard for someone.  My wish for today:  that he learns as much from me as I hope to learn from him.

Day 12: Roxanne – a force of nature.

17 Apr

Today, the recipient of my pie is my friend and neighbor Roxanne.  We were co-presidents of the PTA  at Helman School a number of years ago.  She was the “voice” of the PTA – running the meetings, etc.  I was very happy for that – and willingly did what ever else needed to be done.   I would never have taken on the  role of president alone, and was very grateful to have someone who was”fearless” to work with.

You may have met Roxanne around town.  She is a true force of nature!   She teaches classes like kick boxing – with the energy and encouragement necessary to keep you going.   She can make you laugh – but also makes time to listen if you need to talk.  She is real in the best sense of the word and we are lucky to have her in our community.   Won’t she be surprised when she comes home tonight to be greeted by a warm apple pie?

This “pie a day giveaway” project began as a way to bring a bit of happiness into someone’s life.   So far, I think it is going well.   Everyone has been genuinely pleased to receive a pie.  In fact, most folks have been quite surprised.  How fun is that?   Amazing that I can have such impact with such a small effort.  What that tells me is that we don’t “go out-of-the-way” for each other as often as we might.   I hope that someone out there is inspired to follow my example and make something for someone who has made a difference in their lives.

On a completely different note, check out commedienne Jeanne Robertson.  In this video she talks about her husband, LB (left-brain).  It’s a hoot.

Thanks for visiting.

Some Days are Harder than Others

17 Apr

It seems as if I have been going all day.  There was so much to do today… My first (self-imposed) task was to make a delicious treat for the volunteers who were working on the grounds at the soon-to-be open Medford Food Co-op.  I was unable to participate in the cleanup day but I wanted to share my gratitude to the folks that are working to make this dream a reality.   Fortunately, I was able to connect with someone who was able to take my offerings to the work party.  (Thank you Amy!!!)

My next priority was to make a treat for the Rotary Garden volunteers.  At first I thought that I would have time to work in the garden, but soon it became clear that I would not have time to go there today…. my dance card was overflowing.  I called around and found that Tim was able to pick up the bagels I made for the gardeners.   I hope that he conveyed my sincere desire to be there among them!

Later in the day, I spent time with friends helping another family during a most difficult time.  I brought sweets (that is my favorite thing to make) and it seems that they were appreciated.   We visited and shared a few laughs as well as many tears.   It seems that this is what loved ones do.  We help each other through life’s challenges.

And just so you know, I also made a pie today.  It was a simple gesture of reconciliation.  Fresh fruit, lovely pastry, butter and brown sugar.  What could be more wonderful?

I hope that you all had a lovely day and I look forward to sharing a delicious pie with you tomorrow.

Hugs, and many thanks for joining me on this journey,