Archive | November, 2011

Day 238: Feeling helpless

30 Nov

Recently, our community lost a young man in a most horrific way. He was killed while walking home from work and there is no reason to suspect that this was anything other than a random act of violence. While the police search for a reason for his murder, the greater community is left feeling scared and wondering why.

The pain of this loss is so real… perhaps because I am the mother of a child who is the same age as the young man who died, or maybe it’s because I am the mother of an eighteen year old young man who is fearless… or it might be because I share the same birthday as the decedent.

Our community has experienced an unthinkable tragedy and we are trying to do the best we can to understand this unfathomable event and come together. Though there is little that I can do to change the course of what has happened, I wanted to do something to help the mother of the man who was killed. And all that I could think to offer was a quiche… something that might offer her nourishment when she needed it. It seems like such a small gesture but what I want her to know most of all is that I am so very sorry for her loss.

Day 237: Barbara

29 Nov

Many years ago, Barbara asked me to join a book club that she was starting. I’d never been in a book club before but I was pleased to be asked and soon I was reading new books each month with titles such as “Perfume”, “Maisie Dobbs”, and “The Number One Women’s Detective Agency.” In that book club I met a few new friends: Anita, Teresa, and Janet. My husband called it a wine club but we women knew differently. It was a chance for us to talk about things other than our jobs, or our families, and we relished the chance to do so.

About the same time Barbara also invited me to join the Ashland Elks. That was about eight years ago and that introduction helped to foster friendships with people such as Polly, Pat, Berniece and Rhonda. All of these people are amazingly selfless individuals that do so much for the community (especially our veterans) and I am very honored to be a part of this fraternal organization.

Today I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie for Barbara. When I showed up at her office, her assistant wanted to take the pie to her but I asked to deliver it myself. I wanted to personally recognize Barbara for inviting me into the Elks and for including me in her book club. I really do appreciate the gestures of friendship that she extended and want to offer my sincerest thanks to her for reaching out to me. I am truly richer for these experiences.

Day 236: The Doctor and his Wife

28 Nov

Sometimes when I write these posts, I must keep the details of the recipients lives private so that I may protect their identity, even though I might still want to convey how remarkable I feel that they are. That is the case with today’s couple. What they do for the patients in their practice, and for the members of the community, goes far beyond what is required.

They are the kind of folks that “do the right thing” simply because it is the right thing to do. As I searched for the words to describe my admiration of them, this Bible verse kept coming to mind:

“I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

These words say to me that this couple helps others regardless of who is in need or what that need might be. We are so fortunate that they have chosen to live and work in our town.

This evening I brought a warm Apple Pie to their office to thank them for their devotion to their patients and for the compassionate service that they extend to us all.

Day 235: Parenting

27 Nov

Being a parent is a job that comes with many challenges. How we handle those challenges is up to us. One would think that with a job this important, there would be a manual that would be given out before you left the hospital with your new baby. But that is not the case. Instead we hear words of advice from our parents and friends, read articles in magazines, ask our doctors countless questions, and pray like crazy. And most of the time we do the right thing.

Right now, a friend of mine is going through a difficult time, and I called to lend an ear if she needs someone to talk to (or yell at) and offer any other kind of support should she need it. I also brought her a gluten-free chocolate cream pie as a treat to help her through these trying times.

I started with the recipe for gluten free peanut butter cookies from Carol Kicinski’s blog “Simply Gluten Free“:

Then I crushed the cookies, added a bit of butter and pressed the mixture into a pie tin and baked it for ten minutes. Then I added the chocolate pie filling to the cooled pie shell and topped it with whipped cream and shaved chocolate so it looked as it does at the top of the page.

Tonight I thought I would  also leave her with some sage advice  (and a poem) from folks far wiser than me:

Children aren’t happy without something to ignore, And that’s what parents were created for. Ogden Nash

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. Harry S. Truman

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. ~Erma Bombeck


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.

Parents with little childWhen 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 234: A Family in Transition

26 Nov

As you may recall, I love to go to yard sales. For me it is as much a social outing as it is a chance to find a bargain. Most Saturdays during the summer I will stop by at least one or two sales, but usually by late Fall, they have all but disappeared from the scene. That’s why I was surprised to get a call from a friend with news of a sale in our part of town.

My friend told me that a well respected family in our neighborhood was selling their possessions and preparing to move out of the country. This family has been a strong and vital part of our community for the last decade and the parents have been involved in the schools and supported extra curricular activities. In fact, they have done everything possible to give their children every opportunity to succeed. Both of their children rank at the top of their class academically and they are also amazing musicians. And their daughter, who recently graduated from high school, was granted a full scholarship to college.

I am very sad to see our community lose such a great family and sorry for the upheaval that they are going through. But knowing what I do about them, I am certain that they will find success wherever they go. And perhaps if we are lucky, they will return to our little town. With that wish in mind, I brought them a warm Apple Pie this afternoon. It was sent with love and my best wishes for a new beginning.

Day 233: Neither rain, nor snow….

25 Nov

“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

Many years ago, I spent some time working as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in New York City. During that time I met some very interesting people and enjoyed becoming familiar with the streets of Manhattan. I also learned a few things that I might not have otherwise learned. For example, I learned how to drive a one-ton mail truck, and how to parallel park that same truck using store windows as my guide.

Maybe it is because I spent time wearing that blue uniform that I make an effort to show appreciation for the work that postal employees do. After all, six days a week (at least for now) they deliver precious cargo: letters from friends and family, money and gifts, and all sorts of other things. Those items that we receive remind us that we are not forgotten; that someone, somewhere is thinking about us. For some people, getting their mail is the best part of the day.

Today is Black Friday and it is the beginning of a very trying time for the staff at the post office, the busy holiday season. During these next few weeks people will be heading to the post office in droves and I know that I’ll be among them. And so, this afternoon I brought a Pumpkin Pie covered with whipped cream to the men and women of our local post office to let them know that I appreciate what they do for all of us.

Day 232: Buff

24 Nov

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.

Day 231: My Birthday… and a pie for my family

23 Nov

At 5:14 in the morning on this day many years ago I entered this world. My Dad tells me that he was not at the hospital because my Mom had arrived around noon the day before and they sent him home after a while. In those days, fathers did not get to spend hours helping their wives through childbirth (I wonder if there are some men that think that those were the days to have been a parent…)

Today I thought I would make a pie with my daughter Alexandra and gift it to my family… for they have been so supportive of this pie making journey… and haven’t tasted but one or two of them. Alexandra videotaped us as we put together the “pie of the day” a Pecan Pumpkin creation that I’ve only made once before. You can see the video here.

And that’s all there is for tonight… I send you all my very best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Until tomorrow…

Day 230: Steve

22 Nov

My husband joined the Ashland Rotary in the fall of 1995. When the holidays rolled around that year, he told me that there was a Rotary “choir” that was going to perform at their holiday dinner and since I liked to sing, I might want to join them. It’s true, I do like to sing, and I thought that I might enjoy being in a choir. On the first night of rehearsals, I showed up at Steve Groveman’s house and was met at the door by his wife Kathleen. Kathleen told me that the singers were rehearsing in the basement and showed me the way. I couldn’t help but thinking that the choir was pretty quiet and when I walked into the basement I saw four people there! “Oh no!” I thought, where was everyone? Well, it turns out, we were “everyone.” Uh oh.

Of all of the “choir” members, Steve was the only one I remembered seeing before. He had played the piano with gusto at the only Rotary meeting I had attended so I was sort of prepared for his exuberance but I was not really ready to be in a choir of five. That night, I went home and asked my daughter (who is fearless and a wonderful singer) to join us at the performance. She agreed, and as you might suspect, we all had a good time at the holiday dinner.

One of the things that I remember most about Steve is his warning that the most dangerous time for a young person is between three and five in the afternoon because that is the time of day when parents are still at work and teenagers are home alone. Steve wasn’t trying to scare us; he just wanted us to be aware.

Another memory I have of Steve involves baseball. One night when the Southern Oregon Timberjacks had a game, Steve told me that a man who was in the baseball Hall of Fame was going to be at the stadium. That evening, I brought my kids to the game to meet Harmon Killebrew and was able to have him autograph a baseball for my Uncle Bill (a huge fan!). It was amazing.

Just a few short years later, Steve Groveman was diagnosed with cancer and was gone from us way too soon. His passing was a huge loss for our community… especially for the young people he fought so hard to protect and serve.

Tonight, I brought an Apple Pie to Kathleen, in memory of her husband, Steve. I wanted her to know that though he may be gone from us, he is not forgotten. And that Ashland is a much better place for his having lived here.

Day 229: Niki

21 Nov

Last weekend I attended a birthday dinner at the Ashland Elks Lodge. Yes, I am an Elk. I’ll bet that not many of you knew that. As it turns out, I knew little about the Elk’s organization before I joined. I am always learning new things – such as -another possible meaning of the initials BPOE (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks). It is the “best people on earth” referring to all of the philanthropic work that the Elks perform.

While we were eating dinner last Friday, Mary, one of my fellow Elks, sat with us and we chatted for a while. At one point I mentioned my “pie project” to her and explained what I have been doing for the past seven and a half months. Mary then told us how she won the recent Pie Contest at the lodge with her rendition of “Banoffee Pie” which we were told is quite famous in England.

All in all it was a lovely evening… and as we left, I asked Mary to let me know if she had a “pie recipient” for me. And today, Mary recommended Niki. Here is an excerpt of the email that Mary sent:

Niki is the front office person who does just about everything. This morning she was running late, had to get her kids off to school and when she got here the cleaning crew had done such a poor job that she went home and got her own vacuum cleaner to do it right.

Wow. I can’t think of many people who would do such a thing. Dear Niki, thank you, for caring so much about your workplace. That is such a wonderful gift that you bring to Mary and all of the others that you work with.