Archive | March, 2012

Day 360: Bob and Juli

31 Mar

Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream Pie

This morning I woke up early because I had a nightmare of sorts.  In my “dream” I was at a place where I was to cater a brunch and deliver the food at 10:30 AM.  However, when I saw the clock (in my dream) it was 12:00 noon… and none of the breakfast breads had been baked yet.  Talk about a wake-up call!  The only other food nightmare I’ve had involved a  guest at a wedding that I was making the cake for… but I had forgotten all about it… and I had less than two hours to make a wedding cake for 100.  Yikes.

Let’s just say I was happy to get out of bed after that!  I was supposed to go for a walk with a friend at 8AM, but the rain was coming down too hard for me… and so that was cancelled.  This afternoon I was scheduled to help at the Rotary Garden, but that too was cancelled due to the weather.  So, instead I caught up on my chores and made my pie of the day.  Last year I made a lemon chiffon cake for this couple… and that is why today I decided to make them a lemon curd pie.

Years ago, Bob worked with my son Coco and his friend Dylan to help them record their first songs on a CD.  Coco  had told me that they were working together… but I was still surprised when he brought home the CD and put it on to play.  As we listened to the music I asked Coco, “Who is that singing?”  “Mom”, he said, “it’s me.”  “No, really Coco… who is it?”  And that is only because I had never heard Coco sing before!  Here was this lovely voice emanating from the speakers… and it had come from the boy who lived in my house… unbelievable!

Juli has been the Superintendent for the Ashland School District for nearly twelve years.  She has had the unenviable task of doing all that she can to make sure that the Ashland School District is one of the top schools in the state, and possibly in the country.  To achieve this, it means that Juli is always preparing for and attending meetings with people all over the state.  She is relentless when it comes to the quality of education that the students in Ashland receive.

To Bob and Juli, I offer my deepest thanks for their commitment and dedication to the students of Ashland.  I am so very thankful for their tireless efforts on behalf of our children.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran

Day 359: Aaron

30 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

Today I chose to make a pie without knowing where it might end up.  I was present for the making of the pie.. and worked carefully to make a lovely pie… but still I was not sure where it would be delivered.  After it was baked I asked my daughter to go for a walk with me so that I might have a chance to think of a pie recipient… and as we exited our house I saw Leslie.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you will recall that Leslie is a woman who I met when she was having a garage sale…  and at that sale our sons became friends.  That was the beginning of our friendship and it has been almost 16 years since that first meeting!

Tonight it was Leslie that suggested I bring a pie to Aaron, for he was the person who had coached her son Dylan when he was training to become a black belt in karate.  She told me that Aaron worked with men who were incarcerated and he helped them with rites of passage ceremonies.   These men may never again be on the outside, but Aaron works to help them move forward somehow.

Tonight I want to recognize Aaron, and others like him, who work with the people in our prison systems.  They do this work without judgement… and most of the time without pay… and it is such a valuable service that they offer.  I extend my heartfelt thanks to them for the gifts that they give to the people that they serve.

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
Nelson Mandela

Day 358: Happy Birthday Janet!

29 Mar

Cherry Cheesecake Pie (and Gluten-Free too!)

Janet and I met a few years back because a mutual friend of ours asked us both to join her book club.  For me it was a chance to meet some new people, share some food and wine, and read books that I probably wouldn’t have read.  My time in the book club lasted only a few years, but fortunately the friendships formed there have continued… and for that I am grateful.

Janet and I have quite a few things in common.  We both work part-time, like to dote on our children, and have been broad because of our children.  We both also
volunteer at our respective churches, and this should come as no surprise, we spend a lot of time in the kitchens there.

For all of the laughter and tears that we have shared, and for all of the times that she has come to my aid in one way or another, I would like to offer Janet my heartfelt thanks.  I am lucky to count her among my friends.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

Day 357: The Maslow Project

28 Mar

Marionberry and Blueberry Pie

One of the things that was running through my mind today as I prepared my pie, was part of the sermon that Pastor Connie shared at First Presbyterian Church this last Sunday.  It was from a story by Hemingway called “The Capital of the World.”  Perhaps I am the only person who had not yet heard it, but here is the opening “joke.”  The lead character, “Paco”, has left home after a fight with his father.  The father searches for his son all over the country and finally makes it to the capital city of Madrid.  For his one last attempt to find his son, he places an ad in the paper which reads, “PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY, ALL IS FORGIVEN, PAPA.”   The “punch line” of this joke is that when the father arrives at the Hotel Montana on Tuesday he sees police trying to disperse the crowd of eight hundred “Pacos” that have shown up to meet their father.

Deep down, I think we all want to be accepted and loved by our parents.  Unfortunately, that is not how the world works and for reasons that I cannot begin to list,  young people leave home and become homeless.  And the lucky ones find the Maslow Project.  Maslow Project was founded by Mary Ferrell. A graduate of Southern Oregon University, Mary had been working with homeless children and families through the Medford School District.  She soon realized the need for kids to access basic needs and supportive services all in one location.  Ferrell took the name from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs concept, which states that unless our primary needs are met, we cannot move on to other, more advanced needs

Maslow Project has received international recognition for its program model serving  youth and has been featured in such places as The New York Times, 20/20, and MTV.   With their small staff of dedicated professionals, they work hard to help homeless youth find the support that they need.

The slogan on the Maslow Project brochure is “Looking for a hand up not just a handout?”  Clearly they work to help the young people they serve find a way off the streets and empower them to become healthy, productive members of society.

When I called the number for the Maslow Project this afternoon, I spoke with Talia.  I explained that I wanted to bring a pie to the staff to thank them for their work with our valley’s homeless youth.  I am very grateful for all that they do to make a difference in their lives.

Please visit the Maslow Project website, or call 541-608-6868, and learn of the many ways that you can help with their mission.  The need is great and they are doing amazing work.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
~Mother Teresa

Day 356: Dannae

27 Mar

Apple Pie with Tulip Petals

A few months ago, I ran into my friend Dannae at the grocery store.  She was pushing a grocery cart that held her two young sons.  I hadn’t seen her since before she had her youngest child, and was happy to catch up with her.

She talked about work (she is an elementary school teacher) and then she mentioned that her doctor had just told her that her older boy had a problem with the bone in his leg.  As she was speaking I thought, she has been at work all day, she has just gotten bad news, she is here at 5PM with two children under 3 shopping for dinner, and she is as calm as can be.  At that moment I knew I would be bringing her a pie.

Dannae and I worked together at a restaurant a long time ago.  What I remember from that time is that Dannae was very competent and very comfortable with people… and those are important qualities in the service industry.  It didn’t hurt matters that she also had a great smile and an easy laugh.

One memory from that time occurred during one of our training sessions, when Paul Paz of Waiters World, showed a short video.  It was the story about an autistic boy who was the team manager of a high school basketball team.  As I watched the video, I teared up (which is not unusual for me).  I tried to hide this and after the meeting, Dannae was the only person who had noticed (or who cared to comment).  It made me realize that her antennae, while not visible, were definitely working.

This morning I contacted Dannae and asked her if I could bring her a pie, and if so, what kind she might like.  She told me she was delighted to be included in my pie project and thought that an apple pie would be wonderful.  And so tonight I brought Dannae an apple pie to share with her family.  I want her to know that I appreciate her for the gifts she brings to her children and her students.   They are very lucky to have her.

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”
Donald Quinn

Day 355: Winter/Spring Center for Transforming Grief

26 Mar

Black-Bottom Chocolate Pie

The name “Winter/Spring” symbolizes the seasons of life and death, particularly the transition from the darkness of winter to the reawakening, lightness, and hopefulness of spring (taken from their website).   The mission of Winter/Spring is to support grieving children, teens, and adults.  If know about the not-for-profit, Winter/Spring, chances are that you have experienced a significant loss in your life.

It was almost twenty years ago that I found myself in need of a place like Winter/Spring.  I was the mother of two small children and in a ten week period, I lost my sister, my uncle, and my brother-in-law.  It was an incredibly difficult time and I found myself crying continuously.  I knew I had to do something to get help because my children were always asking me, “What’s wrong?” and I couldn’t even explain it.

My husband discovered that the local hospital had a grief group starting up and encouraged me to attend.  At first I thought it would be hard to do, but I soon found out that it was exactly what I needed.  The meeting was lead by a married couple who had lost their daughter in a biking accident.  When I heard their story, and saw that they had survived that loss, I knew that I would also survive.

Each week, one by one, the members of the group would tell their stories of loss.  I found myself crying at each and every one and found that at the end of the meeting, I was exhausted and all cried out. I wouldn’t even feel like crying again until the next meeting.

One of the interesting things that happened during that time involved an older woman whose husband had died.  As she told her story she did not cry… and when she saw me crying, she looked at me with a look that I thought translated as, “Buckle up kid, get a hold of yourself.”  At our last meeting, she approached me.  I thought she was going to chastise me, and instead she said, “I am so envious of how easily you cry.  I am still so angry at my husband for dying, that I haven’t shed a single tear.”  What I had seen as judgement, was instead a longing to express her pain.

Today I wanted to make a special pie for the people at Winter/Spring and so I researched and found this recipe for Black-Bottom Pie on Epicurious.   I want to recognize all of the people who work at Winter Spring for the valuable work that they do. The services that they offer are very important and very much appreciated.  And if you are living with grief, I urge you to give them a call.  There is help waiting.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Kahlil Gibran

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil. ~John Taylor

Day 354: Grace

25 Mar

I’ve said this a few times on my blog, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Lest there be any doubt as to how I interpret this phrase, here you go:

No child learns everything it needs to know from their parents.

This is not meant to deride a parent, or to fault a family, but instead to acknowledge the contributions that others bring to our children.

One of the people who contributed to my daughter’s growth, is a woman I shall call “Grace.”  She was one of Alexandra’s mentors about ten years ago.  Grace was very supportive of my daughter and treated her as a professional.  That meant a lot to Alexandra… and to me.  We all want our children to succeed in this world and we are lucky when they can find friendly guides along the way.

On this fine March day, I made an Asparagus, Roasted Pepper, and Swiss Cheese Quiche and brought it to Grace.  I want to thank her for being the wonderful, caring person that she is,  and for modeling that behavior for others.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey





Day 353: Happy Birthday Aaron!

24 Mar

Today is the birthday of my nephew Aaron.  He lives on the eastern side of the country and so in order to get it to him today,  I had to mail him a pie two days ago.  And since I have not figured out how to mail a fruit pie (and likely won’t before this project is over) I chose to mail him a chocolate chip cookie pie…  much like the pie I sent to my cousin Darren a few weeks ago.   It is more or less a big cookie… but hopefully one of the best cookies that he has ever had.

My husband and I moved away from the east coast shortly after Aaron was born and we did not get to spend much time with him as he was growing up.  His Mom, Amanda, did send us many pictures so that we could see how he’d grown, etc.  The photo above, was one of those pictures taken at school, and it was tucked up in with other photos in our hallway for many years.

Last year Aaron married Emily.  Unfortunately, we could not make it to the east coast for the wedding but we saw many of the beautiful photos of the wedding and the new couple taken by Aaron’s brother (and photographer) Christopher… none of which I can get my hands on at this moment!  Luckily,  Amanda sent us a photo of the newlyweds, taken with her last summer.  You can see that cute little Aaron has become quite a handsome man.

Aaron, we send you our best wishes for a very happy birthday… and wish you a wonderful year to come!

Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.
— Gail Lumet Buckley

Day 352: Beth and Jerry

23 Mar

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

We have known Beth and Jerry for many years.  We met them when we first came to Ashland because Beth and Jerry were friends of our friends, Ron and Kathleen.  Beth and Jerry were so welcoming and accepting of us – a newly married couple coming to Ashland to go to school and perhaps find our path.  I still remember how they agreed to be interviewed by me for one of my business courses…and how gracious they were.  If God himself gave you directions, you probably wouldn’t find better people than Beth and Jerry.

What has been so amazing to me is that from the time that we were introduced, both Beth and Jerry have treated us like family. And for a young couple moving into the area, that meant quite a lot.  If they had had any challenges in their lives, they did not let us know about them.  They always were happy to see us and always asked about our children.  They were the relatives we never knew we had; and have always been grateful for.

Tonight I called Jerry to ask if I might bring him and Beth a quiche.  He was not at home so I had to leave a message.  A little bit later, Jerry called to say that a quiche would be most welcome.  And so tonight I delivered a Spinach, Onion, and Mushroom Quiche to Beth and Jerry.  I want to thank them for the friendship that they have extended to us… and to thank them for being the lovely persons that they are each and every day.  We are lucky to have them in our community.

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”  George Elliot

— George Eliot

Day 351: Linda (and Chuck)

22 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

When I think about my life, I realize that it is mostly a collection of memories that are held together by tiny threads.  This tapestry of memories is not something you can see, but if you could look at it, you would learn a lot about who I am and what is important to me.  

Here is an example for your to consider.  A few years ago, a long-time member of our Rotary club passed away.  The club members were told that there was going to be a service for him and if anyone wanted to help with food or anything, they should call Linda as she was coordinating the event.

As I had already committed to working in the Rotary garden that morning, I knew that I could not attend the service, but I called Linda and asked if she needed any help afterwards.  When I reached her, she said that she didn’t need any food so I was off the hook.  I told Linda that I wasn’t offering food, but I could come and work in the kitchen if she needed any help there.  She seemed a bit surprised, but told me to show up and introduce myself and she would put me to work.

The next day, after helping in the garden, I went home, changed into “presentable” attire and went to meet the crew in the kitchen at the Methodist Church.  When I arrived, I found a bunch of ladies  arranging food on platters, clearing trash from the dining room, and washing dishes.  I met Linda and then got busy wherever I was needed.  After a while, I asked to take a turn at the dish sink.  The little old woman who’d been washing, stepped aside, and asked  me what church I belonged to.  I told her “the Presbyterian Church on Walker.”  She watched me working for a few minutes and then asked, “Have you ever thought of becoming a Methodist?”  It still makes me smile to remember that moment.

Linda and her husband, Chuck, are wonderful members of our community, and they always are giving of their time or talents.  And because they would never expect it, I brought them an Apple Blueberry Pie today.  My guess is that they will share it with some of their employees… but I hope they enjoy a bit of it for themselves.  They most certainly deserve it.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us: what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.  Albert Pike