Archive | December, 2011

Day 269: Happy New Year

31 Dec


While today is indeed New Year’s Eve, it is also the birthday of my son’s good friend Dylan.  Coco and Dylan met when they were toddlers and have maintained their friendship all these years.

And they have both been exchange students – Coco to the Czech Republic and Dylan to Japan.  We couldn’t be prouder of them for what they have accomplished.

Tonight I brought Dylan a pumpkin pie for his birthday – because it is his favorite.  I wish him a new year filled with all things good.  And I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.

Day 268: Sh*t happens

30 Dec

This morning we woke up to a rainy day here in Ashland. I wondered if I would even venture out for a walk with our “grand-dog” but around about 9:30 AM I saw that the rain took a break and I dressed for a potentially wet walk. The walk turned out to be glorious. The sun eventually peeked out and my walk was a lovely meditation on the day.

When I returned home I noticed that the sliding glass door on the back of the house looked strange. On closer examination I determined that it had somehow shattered in the time it took to take my walk. How that happened I still have no clue, but this is what I saw when I returned from my walk.

This changed my day as you might imagine. Now the important thing to do was contact the glass company (Ashland Glass) and hope that the glass would not break all over my deck… and luckily it didn’t. When Chris from Ashland Glass showed up he took one look at the glass and knew that it had to be removed. Darn it! And I still had a pie to deliver!!

About that pie… a few days ago I was driving through town and was about to pass by my friend Tom’s house when I thought of who had owned the house prior to him…. and that was our dear friend Nicholas. I have always been amazed at how Tom and his wife Janet took Nick’s small house and transformed it into the home that it is today. As all those thoughts were careening through my mind I noticed that Tom was standing there by his truck unloading stuff and I knew that I had to stop and say hello.

How interesting that our lives intersected as they did… like threads in a cloth. And if you pulled on one thread, it would lead to other connections. I think that is pretty neat… we really are all connected, whether we want to admit it or not.

Today, Laurel (the filmmaker) came to my house at 3PM and filmed me putting together a Chocolate Cream Pie for Tom. As I had all of the ingredients ready it took less than twenty minutes to do so. However, I had told Tom’s wife, Janet, that we would deliver the pie after 4PM and so Laurel agreed to return at that time.

At about 4:15PM Laurel and I arrived at Tom’s home to deliver the pie and Tom was not there. Janet and Laurel and I talked for a bit and we were about to leave when Janet noticed that Tom’s truck had arrived. That’s when the fun began! Laurel and I snuck out the back door and waited until Tom had entered through the front door. Then we ran to the front door and knocked. When Tom answered the door we were able to present him with his pie… and in due time told him that we’d already been there for 15 minutes prior to his arrival. Sneaky? Perhaps, but his expression when we gave him his pie was priceless.

So, I have to admit that this day did not turn out as I had planned. But who really plans for their glass door to shatter? I think that John Lennon said it best, “Life is what happens while we are busy making other plans.” And so we do the best we can… and for me, that means that my new glass door is on order and my Chocolate Cream Pie is at Tom’s house (hopefully being consumed!) And for now, all is right with the world.

Day 267: Richard

29 Dec

For the past year and a half my husband, Emile, has been working for the Medford Food Coop. This coop opened in August after a long process and it seems to be gaining ground each day. There is an amazing group of people working to make sure that this venture succeeds and we are so very happy that they we have them on our team.

In addition to the great management team, Emile and I are both thankful for the encouragement and support from the Ashland Food Coop, and especially from the manager of the Ashland Coop, Richard Katz. Richard has been a friend and mentor for years but in this last year he has been an incredible source of support. He has shared his expertise and willingly offered his time whenever needed. That support has been invaluable to Emile and his team in Medford.

Today a young lady, Laurel, began interviewing me about this “pie project.” She filmed me as I made my pie and asked questions about various aspects of the whole process. I told Laurel that I wanted to give today’s pie to Richard and she agreed to meet me at the Ashland coop to film the delivery of the pie. And with all that going on I forgot to take a picture of today’s pie! It was a lovely Apple Crumb Crust pie… and I am embarrassed that I forgot to capture a photo of it.

But on the up side, it was fun to have someone film the “delivery” of a pie, for that has not been done before. And to see Richard’s smile when he saw the pie was great… the icing on the cake as it were. The gift of a pie is a small gesture but I hope he knows how much his support has meant and how grateful we are for his continued friendship.

Day 266: Community Dinner

28 Dec

Cream Cheese Pear Tart

Cream Cheese Pear Tart topped with Toasted Almonds

On the last Wednesday of every month, our church puts on a community dinner. It is free to whoever wants to come and join us and we usually provide one main course, several soup options, several salad choices, vegetables, bread and dessert. Last month we served over 95 members of the community at our dinner and we didn’t have much in the way of leftovers.

Tonight was our last community dinner for the year and the person in charge, Kathy, emailed me for entree ideas. Since I love macaroni and cheese, that is what I suggested. It’s also easy to make and kid-friendly. Kathy liked my suggestion and we met at the church around 3PM to begin prepping for dinner.

There were a few other key players there then: Marilyn and Gene, Pat and Dick, and Sue Anne. The dining area was beautifully set up and we had three great salads made when they all had to leave. That left me, Kathy, and Kathy’s friend, Shari, to get ready for dinner. At that point I think we all thought, “Yikes”, but we did not panic. We just crossed our fingers that all would work out. And it did.

We made a lot of food (because 95 guests had shown up last month!) but less than half of that showed up tonight, perhaps due to the unusually warm evening. That meant that we had an abundance of food and we were able to send folks home with food for another meal or two and they all thanked us for that.

Tonight I thought I would give my “pie of the day” to a family or group of friends at the dinner. There was one full table in the room with a family that spoke Spanish and I approached them with my pear tart. I used my best language skills but still needed a bit of help from their children to explain my pie project. They all were very gracious and thanked me. One of the daughters told me that she would even check out my blog. It was a very sweet moment.

And what followed was even nicer. As we headed back to the kitchen to attack the mountain of dishes that had been created, this family stayed and helped us put the chairs and tables away. We did not ask them to do this but we were so very grateful for their help. Who knows, we might still be there now if they’d not offered to assist us.

All in all, everything worked out just fine. Maybe it was because we were crossing our fingers… or maybe it was because we were doing something good and we had angels working on our side.

Day 265: Taylor

27 Dec

Lemon Curd Pie with Gluten-Free Almond Cookie Crust, Whipped Cream and Blackberries
We met Taylor when he came to Helman Elementary in the fifth grade and became friends with our son, Coco. Somehow these two boys hit it off right away and they have been friends since that time. For a while, Taylor lived only a block or so away and we saw him all the time. It was as if we had another son – and that was a good thing.

We have really enjoyed having Taylor as part of our extended family. That first summer Coco asked if Taylor could come along on our annual camping trip. When we first broached the idea of bringing a “friend” along (who was not family) we anticipated that there might be a problem because we were camping with five families and the dynamics might change with new folks joining in. But we should have known that Taylor would just meld into the group and he’s been an integral part of the camp-out ever since.

When Coco went away to the Czech Republic for a year, Taylor kept in touch with us and even helped me with my catering business. It was as if he knew that I needed a son around and he was willing to step in and be there. That was something that I really appreciated though I don’t know if I told him that at the time.

Yesterday when we got back from our coast trip, I found a gift on our bench from Taylor and his mom Jamey. They were thanking us for being part of Taylor’s family – and I would like to thank them both for being part of our extended family. Our lives have been richer for their presence in it.

Day 264: Got Jumper Cables??

26 Dec

This morning we prepared to leave the home of our friends Mark and Connie. We had spent a glorious time in Gold Beach and we were ready to head home to Ashland. We did our best to leave their place in perfect condition, with the addition of a few bottles of wine, some chocolates, homemade biscotti and a bacon, spinach and onion quiche (pie 264!)

After we loaded up the car, we began our drive south to the Oregon border. We’d heard that there might be whale sightings along the coast and so we pulled into one of the viewpoints along the highway and parked the car near the bluff overlooking the ocean. We sat there and watched for about half an hour and did not see anything and then tried to start the car only to find that we’d left the lights on (it’d been foggy before) and our car would not start!

My husband thought we should call the company that provides our towing service and he went to find out where we were on the highway (specifically what mile marker). And I started thinking, how can we get someone to just give us a jump? I looked around in the car and found a brown paper grocery bag and used it to make a sign that said, “Got Jumper Cables?” I met my husband at the entrance to the viewpoint and showed him my sign and asked if he would stay with me for a few minutes while I “begged” for help. He said he’d give my “sign” 15 minutes before he was going to call the towing company.

It felt so strange to stand on the highway with a sign as people zipped by… it gave me a small idea of what the homeless folks experience each day that they do this. Fortunately as one truck drove by, I saw that the occupants waved. That was nice because most folks didn’t even seem to look at me. But I was determined… after all I didn’t think I looked too pathetic… and I had faith in the human race.

And my faith was rewarded for we were very lucky that the couple who waved came back to help us. They told me that while they could not really read my sign, they kept wondering what it had said and just had to go back to see. Thank heavens! We were on our way in no time and I gave them a couple of free coupons for Dutch Bros. Coffee… which they seemed happy to have. How wonderful that they were willing to come back to help us! I hope that there will always be people like that who are willing to help others that they meet along the way.

PS An update on pie 262: As we passed the border between Oregon and California I stopped to ask how agent Greg liked his mixed berry pie. The agent on duty told me that the pie had been much appreciated and that a few of the agents had taken some home for Christmas. I was thrilled… and as I walked back to our car a few of the agents called out “Thank you” to me. As we continued our ride home, all I could think was “this has been an absolutely amazing day.”

Day 263: Merry Christmas

25 Dec

Last night we ate a magnificent dinner at Anna’s by the Sea in Gold Beach,Oregon.  Our dear friends Scott and Gina had told us about this place and we made reservations and headed out as soon as we could to be there in time for dinner.
We thoroughly enjoyed a meal and met the musician who had sung during the time we were dining.  How could we have known that he was the brother- in-law to our friend and neighbor Ellie?
We chatted a while and I told him about my pie project and he asked if he could suggest a pie recipient.  I said,”of course ” and he told me about a lady who cared for people but was experiencing difficulties herself. And so this afternoon I delivered a quiche to a sweet lady that I might never had met but for this pie journey.
And on this Christmas day I want to leave you with a quote from an amazing man, Dr. Seuss.

In his story “The Grinch who stole Christmas” near the end we have just seen the Grinch steal all the food and presents from the residents of Whoville.  Yet when they awaken on Christmas morning they are still filled with joy.  And the Grinch realizes,”Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. …maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more. And what happened then? Well in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.” If it’s possible, I think this happened to me today. I feel so blessed to be able to give the simple gift of a pie.  Merry Christmas  to all, and to all a good night.

Day 262: Christmas Eve

24 Dec


With both of our children in Denmark for the holidays we thought that this might be an opportunity to visit the Oregon coast.  We love walking on the beach and there is always the chance of seeing whales and so we packed up the car and headed to Gold Beach… but not before baking a Three Berry Pie.  I did not have a recipient in mind but knew that we would find someone along the way.  And we did! 
As we approached the agriculture inspection station at the border between Oregon and California I knew I wanted to gift my pie to the agent working there.  It was after 6PM on Christmas Eve and he was on duty checking cars for fruit that should not cross state line.  Who better to surprise with a pie?
And after the agent asked if we had any fruit I told him about my pie project and asked him if he would share a pie with his coworkers.  He said he would and so I gave agent Greg a pie tonight and wished him a Merry Christmas.  And I send you all my warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas as well.

Day 261: A soldier named Luke

23 Dec

Yesterday I stopped by the Oregon National Guard Armory and was met at the door by Major Lee. He asked how he could help me and I told him about how I’d been giving away pies and how I hoped to give a pie to a National Guard soldier for the holidays. He looked at me and told me he’d heard about my pie journey and then he said I looked familiar to him. That’s when I read the name on his uniform and realized that we had been students together in the Master in Management Program at Southern Oregon University a few years ago.

That is how Major Lee and I reconnected. And after hearing my story, Major Lee suggested that I give my pie of the day to a young guardsman who had just moved to Ashland. Major Lee actually introduced me to the soldier yesterday and told him that I would be stopping by today. That new soldier nodded and accepted a meeting that he might not have fully grasped.

Today I made an Apple Crumb Crust Pie for Luke, an Oregon National Guardsman. He does not know me at all but when I presented him with his pie he was genuinely pleased. At one point he said, “It’s nice to know that people still do things like this.” And then he said, “You’ve made my day.” And that is all that I could wish for… and in my heart of hearts I hope that there will always be people who are willing and able to do things like this – because I think we should always recognize and honor the soldiers that serve us for the effort it takes to do this seems so small compared to the service that a soldier gives.

Day 260: Shey

22 Dec

Today is the birthday of a young woman named Sheylan. She is the daughter of our friends Dana and John and we met her about 27 years ago when we took our first trip through Oregon together. Shey must have been about 1 1/2 years old at the time; she was absolutely adorable and seemed fascinated by my dangly silver earrings. I wish that I could show you a snapshot of that visit but unfortunately it is buried deep in a box of old photos.

It has been an honor to watch Shey over the years that we have known her. She has always been smart and thoughtful and caring and capable. Today her Dad told me that one of his favorite memories of Shey was when he was gate-keeping at a ski race and Shey skied by and “face planted” at his gate. He was amazed when she got up laughing at what had just happened; what a great attitude!

I remember how thrilled we all were when we learned that Shey was to spend a year studying in France as part of her college courses. What a great experience for her and how grown up she was when she returned from that year away. She sort of paved the way for the rest of the kids in our circle to move outside of their comfort zones.

A few years later, Shey went to Africa to teach Aid’s awareness through education and soccer. Not many people are willing to do as much as she did to help others. Shey is such a fearless woman and such a positive force that you can only begin to imagine all the good she can do.

Shey is not only a dynamic and capable woman, but now she is also a mother to a small boy named Zeba. And from what I have observed, she is a wonderful mother and she is still a force to be reckoned with.

Today I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie for Sheylan to celebrate her birthday and to wish her a lifetime of happiness. May she find a way to leave her indelible mark on the world.