Archive | May, 2011

Day 54: Memorial Day

31 May

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance and was first observed in 1868 to honor the fallen from the American Civil War. Over the years it has become a day to honor all of those who have died in service to our nation. On this Memorial Day, it seemed only fitting to honor a veteran with a pie.

I decided today to recognize the man who was the keynote speaker at Ashland’s Memorial Day Observance: Vaughn Bornet. I first became acquainted with Vaughn and his wife through the Ashland Rotary. He is a veritable font of knowledge and his enthusiasm for history is rarely seen these days.

Our nation has been involved in many wars over our short history. Often the men and women who served in those wars were treated as heroes upon their return. However, when I was growing up, that was not the case for the young men that I knew who had fought in Vietnam. Not only did they have to fight in a dangerous jungle, but when they returned home they were not welcomed. I remember one young man from my church who had come home and was seated in the choir in his Army best only to hear our minister rally against the war. I did not blame him when he got up and left the service.

Thirty years later, when my nephew graduated high school he joined the Navy. I suppose that he thought it would be a safe way to serve our country and earn money for college. A few years later he was in a desert wearing army camouflage gear. Definitely not what he (or we) had anticipated. I thank God that he made it home safely.

Today, I want to honor the men and women who have fought for our freedom. And I pray that one day we find a way to resolve our conflicts without resorting to war.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Day 53: Barbara

30 May

Yesterday while we were out for our morning walk we ran into a friend we had not seen in a while. Barbara was out walking her two small dogs and we enjoyed a visit with her in the neighborhood. She introduced us to her dogs, Dixie and Daisy. Daisy is called a “chiweenie” – a mix between a chihuahua and a dachshund. She is a soft ball of fur and practically leapt into my arms. What a little bundle of love! Dixie, her other dog, was rescued from the shelter a few years ago and still is timid around new people.

Sausage and Pepper Quiche

We know what it is like to have a dog that is timid around people. For eleven years, a brown and white mixed breed dog named Grover lived with us. We’d been told that he had been abused and learned that he’d also been “dumped” out of a car and left on his own. When we took Grover home we soon learned that he would run and hide if he heard a man’s voice. It took quite a while before he was able to really relax with us. Even then, I don’t think he was ever able to forget the trauma that he faced before he knew us.

Today I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Barbara for taking these little dogs into her home and giving them a second chance. I know that they are grateful for her love and kindness.

If you are interested in learning more about pet adoptions in Southern Oregon, please contact the Jackson County Animal Shelter at 541-774-6654.

Day 52: Another Birthday Pie

29 May

Kick-Ass Apple Pie

Tonight we were invited to a birthday celebration for James. We first met James because our son was dating his daughter and he and his wife thought that we parents should meet. We very much appreciated the introduction and felt welcomed by them immediately. For the past few years, James has been both a friend and mentor to my son and I really am grateful for the time that he has spent with him and the respect that he has shown him.

As parents we do all that we can to teach our children what they need to know and give them what they need to thrive. However, it seems that sometimes they learn better when the teacher is not also their parent. Kids need to have other adults in their lives who care about them, who listen to them, and who help guide them along the way.

Parenting is hard to do and perhaps that’s why they say it takes a village to raise a child – and why it’s so important that we remember to thank the people in our village. Tonight I brought James a pie – for his birthday of course – but also to thank him for his willingness to give my son his time and attention.

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
– Unknown

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang up my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I LOOKED… and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Day 51: A Birthday Pie

28 May

This morning I met my friend Dennis Dunleavy at The Boulevard Cafe to talk about my blog. Dennis has been blogging for quite a while and has been an incredible mentor and an invaluable resource for me. According to Jay DeFoore, editor at American Photo, “Through his blog, The Big Picture, Dennis Dunleavy has emerged as a recognized authority on everything from the use of cell phone cameras in the London subway bombings to the ethics of photo manipulation….His blog posts have attracted a wide international audience, and his writings have been translated into several languages.” I count myself very lucky to have Dennis as a friend and guide on my “blogging” journey.

As I was ordering my coffee, I found out that it was the manager’s birthday. Seven weeks ago, it was at this very coffee shop that I met with my friend Debbie and decided to begin this “pie a day” project. I thought, what better reason do I need to make a pie?

What kind of pie do you make for someone’s birthday? I considered several options before deciding that Chocolate Cream Pie was the best choice. I first made a crust made from crushed Oreo cookies, prepared the dark chocolate filling, and then topped it with whipped cream that had a hint of Kahlua. Rich and creamy and just a bit decadent – the perfect way to begin a new decade!

Day 50: Debbie and The Journey Thus Far

27 May

Today is a small milestone in this yearlong journey of making pies.  Yes, there are still many pies ahead of me but it feels like a good time to pause for a moment and take an assessment.  If you were to ask me what I have learned so far, I would tell you that I have found that the simple act of giving someone a pie can have profound consequences.  Many times, though not always, I have felt that I have been in the absolute right place at the right time.  For example, I brought someone a quiche only to find out that they were incredibly busy that day and had not had time to even think about dinner.  And there have been a number of times when I’ve brought a pie to someone and was able to make a not so good day seem a bit brighter.

I will admit that this is not a project that make sense to everyone.  One friend saw me preparing to deliver my pie and said rather dryly, “Go on…. you go make someone’s day.” I left the house feeling a bit put off by his comment.  What was he trying to say?  Later, when I was leaving the house of that day’s pie recipient, she said, “You know Karen, you really made my day.” How about that. I was able to make someone’s day by bringing them a pie!

My friend Debbie told me that this is probably the best possible project for me – because I love to bake and I love to share stories about the people who have touched my life.  If you think about it, this pie adventure is composed of many different threads.  And as the threads come together they create a tapestry that tells the story of my life.  I am truly blessed – and very lucky that I am able to give thanks to those who have helped me along the way.

Today, I brought a Marionberry Pie to Debbie at Southern Oregon University. She is my neighbor, but she has also been a tremendous resource for my family as we have navigated the maze of financial aid for college.  And Debbie was the first person who “suspected” that a pie was awaiting her.  Seems this “project” is not as secret as I thought!

As I continue on this journey, I am buoyed by the encouragement and support that has been shown by my friends.  Below is an example of this support – a necklace that my friend Pam had made especially for me. Such a lovely gift. Didn’t I say that I was blessed?


Day 49: Callie

26 May

As has happened before, I did not know who would be today’s pie recipient when my day began. I had some ideas, but I was not certain.  Instead of rushing things I decided to spend some time tending to the raised bed in my yard.  I can’t really call it a garden because I haven’t managed to grow anything there for a few years. In the past I have had some success with tomatoes and so today I spent a few hours preparing the soil for planting.

Ham, Swiss and Pepper Quiche

While I was working, I thought of my son’s upcoming graduation and realized  that I did not know if he had arranged for a cap and gown.  I went inside and called Ashland High School and spoke with Callie about the possibility of securing a gown at the last minute.  Callie did not seem in the least bit concerned or put out.  She told me that there were caps and gowns still available at the office.  There was not a hint of “so your child is graduating next week and just now you are thinking about getting a cap and gown?”  If you hadn’t already guessed, I decided right then to make Callie a pie.

I first got to know Callie because she worked in the attendance office and when my kids missed a class for one reason or another, I would get a message from her on my answering machine.  It was nice to get that call.  And most of the time I was able to call Callie and explain where my child had been.  I liked that they knew that someone other than me was keeping tabs on them.

Callie has served the Ashland School District for a long time.  She has been an incredible champion for the classified employees of the district and she has also been a great friend to the students.  The few occasions that I visited her office, I found it filled with kids. I think that says a lot about Callie – that teenagers are comfortable around her.

Today I made a quiche to thank Callie for all that she has done for Ashland.  She is a calm presence; always willing to help and support our kids.  We are so lucky to have her.

Day 48: Amy the Kitchen Maven

25 May

Dutch Apple Pie

Amy came to Helman Elementary while my son was still there. She was in charge of the cafeteria and what made her special is that she really seemed to like to cook and bake. And (bonus!) she liked kids! She always had a big smile on her face when the children would start filing in for lunch. This was not a “job” for her; she knew that she was in a place where she could make a difference.

It made me feel good to know that Amy was at Helman because she really paid attention to each child; she had a sort of sixth sense with them. She could make a connection by asking a simple question of them or by commenting on their outfit. The kids knew that Amy noticed them and that she was present for them – not just as the person providing them with lunch – but as a caring friend.

Today I brought an apple pie to thank Amy for her giving spirit only to find out that she has gone to be with an ailing relative. Tina has stepped in and is now in charge of the cafeteria at Helman. Tina and I have boys who grew up together and are about to graduate next week. I told Tina that though the pie was originally intended for Amy, that I hoped that she would accept it because she is now the one watching over our children at lunch. It’s a very important position – and I am thrilled to know that we have another caring Mom looking out for our kids.

Day 47: Remembering Dick Cottle

24 May

Dr. Richard Cottle came to Ashland from Kansas in the early 1950’s.  He was a lawyer who practiced law for more than forty years.  He was a municipal judge in Ashland as well as a city councilman. He was named Ashland Chamber Man of the Year. And many people know him because he was a member of the Firehouse Five and the Easy Valley Eight.

I first met Dr. Cottle when I took Business Law at Southern Oregon State College. He loved to tell the story of how I would always complain that the law was not fair; and he would reply, it may not be fair, but it’s the law. That was a hard lesson for me.

Over time, Dick Cottle became a friend and mentor to my husband and me.  We got to know his wife and his children and their families; he became a friend to our children as well. We all felt special to be included in his group of family and friends.

Apple Almond Pie – given to Dr. Cottle’s family on the first anniversary of his passing

When I told Dick the lawyer jokes that I knew he never laughed; instead he seemed to shake his head in disbelief.  “How did things come to this?” he seemed to be thinking. Well, I hope he knows that I really was just trying to make him laugh.  I will close with one of those jokes.

A man and his young daughter were walking through a graveyard observing the varied gravestones when they ran across one that read: Here Lies a Lawyer and a Good Man.  The young lady thought a moment and stated: Look Dad, they buried two people in this grave!

Or maybe just one great man. We miss you Doc.

DAY 46: Ellie

23 May

Mushroom, Spinach and Pepper Quiche

Quiche. It is such a fun word to say. And I love the company name “Love and Quiches” for it seems to say it all. Today I decided again to make a quiche. As I drove up the street, I thought about who might appreciate a quiche. As I passed Ellie’s house, I knew immediately who I wanted to surprise with a savory pie. And as luck would have it, as I was entering the grocery store (to buy ingredients for the quiche), Ellie was exiting. I tried to casually ask if she ate dairy products – for that is a pretty large component of quiche. When she said “yes” I knew I was on the right track.

Once I got home I began prepping the ingredients – cutting the mushrooms, sautéing the vegetables, grating the cheese, rolling out the crust. I thought you might like to catch a glimpse of the process:

Late this afternoon, I made my way to Ellie’s house and delivered the quiche to her and her family. It was a tangible way to thank and acknowledge her – for her gentle, caring spirit, for her willingness to share her music, and for her support of our community. We are so lucky to have her in our midst.

Day 45: Supporting a friend

22 May

Last night I was at Paschal Winery where my friend Darte’s art work was being shown. There were other artists there as well and the event was well attended. I was able to talk with Darte for a little bit but she was being sought out by others and I found myself walking around the gallery on my own. As I was walking around, I found friends there that I did not expect to see.  One such friend was a woman who I had met many years ago. We talked for a moment and then she asked, “So what have you been doing lately?” It was the perfect segue for me to talk about this project.  I took a few minutes to explain what I’ve been doing for the last 6 weeks with pies, quiches, etc.

My friend then asked if I would consider requests for pies. “Of course” I said.  For to me this project  is not about the pie.  It is about offering thanks … acknowledging effort… recognizing love.  I do these things with food, because that is what comes natural to me.  But what is most important is the feeling conveyed.  I want people to know that they are valued, that they are important, that I am grateful for their efforts.

My friend suggested that I honor her son and his wife.  For the past year, they have been through a very stressful period. I was glad to accommodate her request, and I took this opportunity to offer her son and his wife a small gift of a quiche. I want them to know that they are loved and that their tremendous efforts are recognized.