Archive | November, 2011

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.

Day 228: Melissa

20 Nov

Recently I came across an article by Isha Judd, the author of “Why Walk When You Can Fly.” In the article Isha refers to a tragic plane crash and speaks of the unpredictability of life. Here is an excerpt from that article:

We are reminded that life changes, sometimes abruptly, dramatically, unexpectedly. What is present in one moment can be gone in the next: no matter the nation, no matter the motivation or the cause, loss moves us all, for we have all experienced it in some way or another.

But just as life is unpredictable, it is also wonderful. The opportunities to share love, to discover the best of ourselves, to discover selfless giving and inner evolution in every moment are always present.

Sometimes we don’t see those opportunities until someone else shows them to us… and my friend Melissa is the kind of person who does just that. About two years ago Melissa began a campaign at the First Presbyterian Church to host a community dinner one night a month. The amount of work that went into that effort was daunting, yet Melissa persevered. She continues to put time and money into this cause where her only rewards are the smiles that she receives from the grateful people that have been welcomed and fed.

Melissa has shown us how to reach beyond ourselves to those who are in need in our midst. I know I speak for many when I say that we appreciate what she has done… and this afternoon I brought a Dutch Apple Pie to Melissa to thank her for being such a kind and compassionate role model.

Don’t forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. –Hebrews 13:2

Day 227: Saying Goodbye

19 Nov

Pecan Pie

Today I attended the memorial service of a wonderful man named Dave. Dave was beloved by many and the church was filled with many folks who wanted to pay their respects to him and his family.

Our pastor read from Ecclesiastes 3, “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.” Hearing these words help to soften the blow that death brings.

However, I was more moved by the words that Dave’s granddaughter Dana read for they seemed to suggest that though our reality may have been changed by Dave’s passing, he is still as vital as ever.

The poem she read, written by Henry Van Dyke, follows. I hope it gives you the same comfort that it gave to me.

In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day,
a fine sailing ship spreads its brilliant
white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and
sails out to the open sea. We watch her
glide away magnificently through the deep
blue and gradually see her grow smaller and
smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally,
where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently
from sight, and someone near me says, ‘there,
she is gone!’

Gone where? Gone from sight. That is all.
She is still as large in mast and hull and
sail, still just as able to bear her load.
And we can be sure that, just as we say,
‘there, she is gone’ another says, ‘there, she comes!’.”

Day 226: A Friend and Mother

18 Nov

Recently I learned that a woman I met last fall had a daughter who was born prematurely a number of years ago. Because of this, her child has required considerable care for much of her young life. What amazed me (when I found this out), is that this woman is such a busy person volunteering in many areas of the community and yet she still tends to her family with incredible love and dedication.

Just the other day I was reminded of a warning that the airlines give to us each time we fly. They say, should there be a need for oxygen, masks will drop from the ceiling and to make sure to fasten your own mask first before helping those around you. As a parent, it seems so strange to do this because our first concern is for our children. However, if we are not properly taking care of ourselves, we are not able to take care of anyone else.

And while I am sure that my friend takes care of herself, today I wanted to acknowledge that she takes care of a great many things in addition to her family and I wanted to commend her for all that she does for others. Our world would be a different place if people only cared for their own needs. However, it is a better place because of people like my friend who willingly take care of those things that need doing. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to her… and to all those like her.

Day 225: Matt

17 Nov

Matt Damon was my son Coco’s third grade teacher at Helman Elementary. One of the things that I liked most about Matt was his quiet, gentle demeanor. He impressed me because he was able to speak to the children in the classroom in a calm, thoughtful way even when the kids were not cooperating; make that especially when the kids were not cooperating.

Another enviable trait that Matt demonstrated was his ability to tell stories. One evening he held a special storytelling night at the school. I remember one story in particular. It is a story from India and Pakistan called “The Gifts of Wali Dad.” In this story a poor man finds himself with more money than he needs to live on and uses it to buy a gift to give to the most noble woman in the land. Yet this small gift sets off a funny chain of events that is fueled by misunderstanding.

Matt is a marvelous storyteller and had the audience enchanted. I think that it was neat for the kids to see their teacher in a different role – and it gave Matt a chance to show off his acting skills (much like another actor of the same name!).

Today I brought a Dutch Apple pie to Matt to thank him for his role in my son’s education and to recognize the unique gifts that he brings to teaching.