Archive | September, 2011

Day 170: Friends

23 Sep

As you know, my daughter Alexandra came home a few days ago. Since then, we have had a wonderful time catching up and just enjoying her presence. It is in some ways as if she was never gone, but of course she was, and I am so happy to have her here again.

In the past few days, Alex has had the chance to connect with a few friends that she hasn’t seen in several years. One of those friends is Kerry, a woman that my daughter used to work with at a retail shop and also at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They maintained a bond across the many miles that separated them – and that is a testament to their friendship.

In comparison, there are a number of people who were unable to keep in touch and that says a lot as well. As a parent, I am so grateful to those friends who have made the effort to stay connected because I know how much it meant to Alex.

Perhaps it’s the Mama Bear in me, but I still find myself wanting to hug the people that are kind to my children and wanting to shield them from the rest of the world. Does that protectiveness ever go away I wonder?

This afternoon I made Black and Blue Berry Lattice topped pie for Kerry. It is a delicious (if I do say so!) way of saying thank you for being such a good friend.


Day 169: Paula

22 Sep

A few days ago I saw Paula leaving to go to church to preach. These words do not do justice to the image that Paula exuded. She looked ever so much like a lady going to a party… and I love that she had on high heels and a flowing dress and she was on her way to preach!

I’ve known Paula for a many years. Our kids are close in age and we met through our daycare provider. It was a simple connection but a good one. From that chance encounter, Paula asked me to attend the church that she was connected to. I was moved to visit that church and am still connected to it today.

This church has undergone many changes over the last ten years. And while I would not consider myself religious, I really like connecting with the people from this congregation. What I have done as a form of service is to help with coffee hour. I love that the people in church stop and chat for a moment after the service if we offer them a cookie or some other treat. It gives us a chance to strengthen the bonds that we have – and to me that is so important.

A while ago, Paula took some words of scripture and then added a melody to create a song that we sang at the end of each of our informal services. One of the lines from that song goes as follows: So be swift to love, make haste to be kind, and gladden the hearts of those who travel the way.”

This is such a wonderful admonition. We are asked only to love one another and be kind… what a simple request. And what amazing things could happen if this is what we chose to do.

Today I prepared a bacon and spinach quiche and then brought it to Paula. I have long considered her a model of peace, love and understanding, and I am honored to call her a friend.

Day 168: Emile’s Birthday Surprise

21 Sep

Yesterday I mentioned that my daughter was coming home from Copenhagen… but what I did not mention was that we kept the date of her actual arrival a secret from her Dad, Emile. Alexandra wanted to be home for his birthday (which is today) but she had told him that she was going to come home this Friday evening. Yesterday, Emile had planned to attend a friend’s party and I had to say I was not able to accompany him because I also had a meeting. What I did not say was that I would be “meeting” (read picking up) Alexandra at the airport.

It was wonderful to see Alex walk through the door of the terminal! Immediately she introduced me to the furry St. Charles Spaniel that accompanied her. Alexandra has been caring for him for a while and there was no one else to assume that role, and so she brought him (Sofus) home.

After a brief hug Alex went to the baggage carousel, while I walked Sofus. Once she had her bag, we drove to the party that her Dad was attending. She and I walked up to the door of the inn and then I asked her to wait while I looked around. The party was wrapping up when I found her Dad. He asked if I wanted a glass of wine and I asked if I could speak to him alone for a minute. At that point I took him to the front door at which point Alexandra stepped into view. The look on his face was priceless. He couldn’t believe that she was really there… and I was thrilled that we had truly succeeded in surprising him!

This afternoon I baked a Blackberry Peach Cobbler for Emile’s birthday. It was the healthiest “pie” that I could create – no crust, lots of fruit and oats in the topping. Please raise a glass to Emile tonight – and join us in wishing him a very happy birthday.

Day 167: Irene

20 Sep

Today is the day I have been looking forward to for some time now. It is the day that my daughter arrives from Copenhagen after being gone for two years! We visited with her last spring and then again last winter but she has not been home for so long and we are very excited to see her.

When I thought of the pie for the day, of course I thought of presenting my daughter with a pie at the airport. However, I know that she has been eating differently and I did not want to make her a pie that she could not eat. So then I thought, since I will be at the airport, I should give a pie to a TSA employee. But they would probably take it and then throw it away… and that would not be good.

On to Plan B (or is it C?) Tuesday is Lucky Number Day at Bi-Mart stores, and so today I thought I would honor a Bi-Mart employee who has been a cheerful representative of Bi-Mart for many years: Irene. While I could not tell you a lot about Irene, what I do know is plenty: she hails from Ireland and she loves to tell jokes. Why did the Irishman only put 239 beans in his chili? Because he didn’t want it to be 240 (two-farty).

Here’s a lovely illustration of Irene’s character: A year or so ago I was at Bi-Mart behind a woman who had a child with cerebral palsy. The boy was in a stroller and we were on Irene’s checkout line. When it was their turn to be waited on, Irene turned her full attention on that boy and he was so happy to be acknowledged. His Mom said that the reason that they visited the store was so that her son could visit with Irene. It was wonderful to see the animated exchange between those two – and I greatly appreciated Irene’s consideration of that boy.

For a while Irene was featured in a local paper with her joke of the week (or was it month?) Then came the fateful day when Irene shared a joke that some considered too risque. And that was the end of Irene’s joke sharing. Just like that, it was over. And all because of a silly parrot joke.

Today I presented Irene with an Apple, Walnut, and Raisin Pie. She’s been an integral part of our community and I want to thank her for all that she does to make us feel welcome everyday.

Day 166: An Apple Blackberry Pie for Dr. Petey

19 Sep

Today is day 166 in my pie baking journey and that means (drumroll!) that there are less than 200 pies to go until the end of the year (which began in April). It just is amazing to me how many pies I’ve made thus far and how quickly the time has passed. The lesson I take from this is that time passes quickly regardless, so we should make the very most of it.

For today’s pie I went into my backyard and picked some apples. The apples are delicious, but quite small and after peeling and slicing about ten of them I decided I would finish this pie with blackberries that I picked on Saturday. Then I combined the fruit with a sauce made with butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and apple juice. Here are a few pictures of that process.

Roux for pie filling

Sauce for pie filling

Fruit mixed with Sauce

You may recall that a week or so ago I asked for suggestions for pie recipients. Here is what one woman wrote about her nominee: “I would like to nominate …. Dr. Petey Laohaburanakit because he and his staff saved my life. He works as an Intensivist at Rogue Valley Medical Center’s (RVMC) intensive care unit. He and his staff do an amazing job… and the nurses I dealt with in ICU were some of the very best.” How’s that for a glowing recommendation?

This morning I called RVMC to make sure that Dr. Petey was on duty. The nurse who answered my call listened as I explained why I was coming to see Dr. Petey. She seemed happy as she told me that Dr. Petey would be at the hospital for most of the day if I wanted to deliver a pie to him.

When I arrived, I explained my mission to the volunteer at the ICU desk. After a bit of searching, she was able to track down Dr. Petey. Unfortunately, he was in a meeting that was not expected to end for half an hour. And as much as I wanted to wait, I could not, and so instead I wrote a note to Dr. Petey explaining who had recommended him and why. One of the ICU nurses came and picked up the pie and promised that Dr. Petey would get it… and I have not doubt that he did. And while I am sorry that I missed meeting him, I am truly honored to thank him for saving lives everyday.

Day 165: Meeting Muriel

18 Sep

This morning I had a quiche to deliver, from yesterday, and once that was done I planned on going to church. Well, it seems that God had other plans for me. I arrived at my friends house with the quiche in hand and she invited me in for a moment. And then we sat and talked for an hour and a half! We shared so many of our stories and it was really nice to spend time getting to know her better.

After I said goodbye, I stopped to purchase fruit to make today’s pie. I already had fresh blackberries that I had picked yesterday and so I chose to purchase local peaches. They were fresh and ripe and beautiful. Here is what the mise en place looked like for this pie:

Today’s pie recipient was suggested to me by a friend. He recommended a fellow parishioner who he thought would appreciate it. And so, once my pie was baked I called upon Muriel. When she answered, I explained my pie project and that she had been nominated to receive a pie by our friend. Muriel was pleased to hear this news and confirmed the directions to her home.

When I arrived, Muriel invited me in to chat for a while. We’d never met before and yet we spent half an hour talking about our lives and our families and how grateful we both were for everything we had. Imagine, this conversation was made possible simply because I brought Muriel a pie. What might the world might be like if this was something that happened more often?

Day 164: Good News!

17 Sep

Saturday mornings I try to make it out to the Rotary Garden. There is a group of us who meet each week to work in the garden – and that may mean mowing, weeding or harvesting. Last year our club donated more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

Our volunteers vary from week to week because we all tend to be involved in many areas. There are a few folks that are always at the garden and then there are the rest of us. Last week I missed working at the garden on Saturday because I had worked late the night before. And even though I needed to take the time off, I really missed my time at the garden.

Today the number of gardeners was small, but three of us had brought treats to share. Since the food bank was closed for the weekend while it changes locations, our workload was a bit lighter than usual. Our new leader mowed the grass, while the rest of us harvested potatoes, onions, green beans, squash and tomatoes. And of course we found time to catch up with one another and taste the goodies that were provided.

It was during one of these breaks when one of our volunteers shared her good news with us. And while I can’t divulge her news, I want you to know how happy we all were to hear it. And that was as good a reason as any for a pie.

This afternoon I made my friend a sausage and mushroom quiche to celebrate her good news. And because she is such a busy person, she was not home when I tried to deliver her pie (nor did she answer my repeated phone calls). When she did finally return home and got my message, she returned my call and we arranged for her to get her quiche early tomorrow morning.

The weird thing about this? This woman had spent the evening at a friends house down the street from my house! Isn’t that strange? She was on my mind and down the street… but I had no way of knowing. Oh well. She knows that I was thinking of her and she will (eventually) get her quiche. And for today, that is the best that I can do.