Archive | March, 2012

Day 350: Helping a Friend

21 Mar

As sometimes happens, I was thinking about my pie of the day this morning and was thinking about a certain location.  I had not yet begun to make the pie when my telephone rang.  It was a friend and she asked if she could recommend someone for a pie… or perhaps a quiche.  The person she wanted to recommend was someone I knew whose family has had some challenges lately.

Once I heard about the situation, I jumped at the chance to help.  I asked what kind of quiche might me appreciated, and she told me that a Quiche Lorraine would be most welcome.  And so, of course, that is what I made.  I sauteed the onions, cooked the bacon, and grated the Jarlsberg cheese.  When all of that was done, I rolled out the crust, placed the cheese, bacon, and onions inside and poured the custard over it all.  Into the oven it went, and in about an hour, it was done.

Tonight, before I delivered the quiche,  I thought about how I might feel in my friend’s situation, and so I put together a small salad, some homemade dressing, a tiny bit of cookie dough, the quiche, and a bottle of wine.  I want this friend to feel totally supported and know that if help is needed, it will be there.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.  Cicero

Day 349: Chet and Donna

20 Mar

Apple, Date, and Pecan Pie

Many years ago, I attended an afternoon party held at the home of a lady from the Ashland Rotary Club.  My husband was at work and he had suggested that I go to the party to meet some of the other members of the club.  However, once I got there I realized that I didn’t know anyone and felt a little bit uncomfortable. I think I was hanging out by the food table when Chet came over to me and said something like, “Are you famous?”  It was a silly question but it made me laugh and helped me relax and enjoy the party.

For the last few years,  I have spent time with Chet, Donna, and other Rotarians at the Rotary Garden.  It’s been such a great experience growing fresh vegetables for the Ashland Emergency Food Bank – and the camaraderie that develops as a result is pretty special too.

Last year at the garden, Donna told me that she had been inspired by my pie project (See Day 177).  I was honored that she was moved to do something nice for someone that she had never met… and she seemed delighted too!

Last month, on Donna’s birthday, she brought some of her special Lemon Posset to my house.  It was incredibly delicious and I loved that she included me in her birthday celebration.

Today I brought Chet and Donna a Dutch Apple Pie enhanced with dates and pecans.  I want to thank them for welcoming me way back then… and also for their continued friendship.  It means a lot to me.

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
Muhammad Ali

Day 348: Kristian

19 Mar

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Today is the day that my daughter’s boyfriend finally reached Ashland, Oregon from Copenhagen, Denmark.  He left Copenhagen on Sunday morning at 5AM… which was 8PM Saturday our time.  His first flight took him to Newark, New Jersey.  Not very exciting as far as destinations go, but Kristian is a brave soul and decided to take the train into Manhattan for the day (he had an 8 hour layover!)  He made it to Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.  He also walked along Broadway and saw Madison Square Garden.  Imagine doing all that on your first day in New York!

Kristian’s flight from Newark to Portland, Oregon was at 8PM… and with the time changes, he arrived in Portland at about 11PM last evening.  We’d arranged for him to spend the night in a hotel near the airport.   His flight to Medford wasn’t until this evening at 5:30PM and so he took time today to explore downtown Portland.  He visited Powell’s Bookstore, walked along the waterfront, and visited a few of Portland’s finest breweries.

Finally, Kristian boarded his flight to Medford at 5:30 PM this evening.  And at just about 6:30 we met him at the airport.  It is lovely that he has come to see our little part of the world… and we are very happy to host him.  Tonight, I gave Kristian a Chocolate Pecan Pie.  I want to welcome him to our town, to our home, to our lives.  And I want to wish him a very happy visit to the west coast of America.

Copenhagen, Denmark


Day 347: Matt

18 Mar

About a week or so ago, my friend Connie (Day 264) sent me an email asking if I would consider giving a pie to the man who was the Head Coach of the Snowboard Team at Ashland High School.  This man had been her son’s coach and she really thought highly of him.  Connie told me the coach’s name, that he worked at the high school in Health Ed, and might also work at a restaurant.  That’s all I needed… or so I thought.

When I called the high school, I was told that Matt was not working there this term.  I left a message on an answering machine in the gym, but never heard back from anyone.   Then I called the restaurant only to find Matt has not worked there in a while.  If I was to give Matt a pie, I needed help finding him, and so I wrote Connie again asking, “Do you have Matt’s number?”  And she did, and since it seemed unlikely that I would be able to surprise Matt,  I chose instead to just call him and spill the beans.

Matt listened as I told him my name, a little bit about my pie project, and that Connie had suggested him for a pie.  Matt thought it all sounded great… only trouble was that he was out-of-town at the State Meet with the Ashland team!  In fact, he was riding the chair lift as we spoke.  We agreed that I would bring him a pie when he got back in to Ashland and he thanked me.  And then he asked, “What did you say your name was again?”  I told him, “Karen Amarotico.”   “Karen!”, he laughed,  “It’s Matt… remember?  We worked together at Geppetto’s!”  Then it hit me… “Oh!  You’re that Matt!”  I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still find it strange that this kind of thing seems to happen a lot these days.

I knew Matt would likely be on his way home today, so this morning I began to make a pie for him.  Looking at all of the apples on my counter, an apple pie was the logical choice… but it needed something extra.  And so after thinking about it for a moment, I chose to make Kick-ass Apple Pie.  It just sounded like the kind of pie a good coach deserved.

When I contacted Matt, and arranged to deliver his pie today, he told me the good news:  Ashland High boys and girls teams each won the Oregon Interscholastic Snowboarding Association’s state championship Saturday!  This was printed in The Oregonian, “Coach Matt Faurot said he had “a pretty strong feeling” his squads would end up on podiums. His teams were talented, deep and, for the most part, injury-free all season.” You can see the rest of the article here.

Congratulations to both of the Snowboard teams!  And Thank you, Matt for your tremendous efforts, for sharing your skills, and helping the kids succeed.   Are you sure your name isn’t spelled, “Far out?”

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”  Vince Lombardi


Day 346: Evern

17 Mar

I met Evern about 24 years ago.  At that time I was a  student in her husband’s accounting class.  He had taken an interest in me and my husband and had introduced us to his wife.  I thought it was nice that he cared about us enough to do that.

A few years later, I was a new mom of a baby girl.   Since Evern had red hair, and my daughter also had red hair, there seemed to be a bond between us right away… and that felt really great.

We moved away to Portland for a few years and didn’t see Evern or her husband… but when we came back to Ashland, it was as if we had never left.  They were as welcoming to us as always.

For a short time, many years later, Evern worked with me.  She thought that she might like working in a kitchen and decided she could handle working as an early morning baker.  Soon after she began, she realized that the recipe book that we were using was not up-to-date.  Many of those recipes needed an adjustment or two to make them work.  As we had all been working with them as is, we didn’t think much of it, but it was Evern who made a point of taking home the book and typing it up with the necessary corrections so that a new baker would know what to do!

And I think that this is the best part of our history… Evern found out a few years ago that our ancestors worked together!  My ancestor, Samuel F. B. Morse…  was the inventor of the telegraph… and her ancestor was the man who figured out how to make it possible for the messages to be transmitted via cable.  How amazing is that?

For all of the lessons that she has taught me, and for the friendship that she has afforded me, I brought Evern an Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche today.  She is a wonderful lady… and I am delighted to call her my friend.

Day 345: Tom Curtis

16 Mar

A few days ago, my daughter and I attended a fundraiser for the Josephine County Food Bank called “First Crush.”  It was held at the Josephine County Fairgrounds and at this event there were a number of wineries offering tastings, a wide variety of food vendors, live music, and a silent auction.

While we were sampling the goodies that were offered, I ran into a woman I knew named Tracy.  We met a few years back because Tracy has been involved in Rotary First Harvest for a while and I volunteered to help with a few of the events that they held at Harry and David.  Tracy has also come out to the Ashland Rotary club’s garden to see what we are doing and share her enthusiasm about feeding people good food.

At the “First Crush” event I told Tracy about my pie project.  She then mentioned that her husband, Tom, loved sweets of all kinds… and if I ever wanted to gift him a pie, she thought he would be delighted.  Today I made an Apple Blueberry Crumb Crust Pie for Tom… and only then did I learn what he does for our community.

Tom has worked for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as the Stage Operations Manager for the past 11 years.  He, and a crew of about 30, makes sure that the sets are ready for the plays that are to be performed.   And those sets change quickly and often!   The thirty or so stage hands are responsible for five changeovers a day!  The work is intense and is critical to the success of each show.  But Tom and his crew do it with the practiced precision that they have developed over time.  This work that they do is almost as much a play as the play itself!  You can read more about Tom here.

Today, I honor Tom for his tremendous work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival… and I would also like to honor his lovely bride who does so much to bring good, healthy food to the hungry.  They both deserve our thanks and admiration.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”  William Shakespeare

Day 344: Cheryl

15 Mar

Cheryl is an amazing artist… and she is also one of the happiest people I have ever met.  When I joined the Ashland Elks, Cheryl was one of the officers… and I loved that on meeting night,  in a room full of older men, Cheryl was performing her duties while wearing (as part of her outfit) a pair of colorful striped knee high socks!  I loved that!  She brought an air of fun and levity to the meeting.

As you can see by the above photo, Cheryl is an accomplished artist, specializing in metal.  The poppies that you see in the photo adorn a field on the road to Jacksonville, where Cheryl and her husband, Chris live.  She told me that the log cabin that they live in was once lived in by the granddaughter of Daniel Boone.  I can just imagine the stories that those walls might tell!

Today is Cheryl’s birthday and I wanted to surprise her and bring her a pie.  However, I did not know if she would be at home… and it would be terrible to miss seeing her and so I called her earlier today to arrange for the delivery of her pie. When we arrived at her beautiful home tonight, Cheryl met us at the door.  She was delighted to receive a Chocolate Cream Pie… and she told me that I’d made her day.

I’m pleased to have given Cheryl a small taste of what she brings to the world everyday with her art… and offer her my best wishes for a very happy birthday!

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
Georgia O’Keeffe

Day 343: Ashland Police Department

14 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

As I was driving to a meeting this morning, I was reminded by a reporter on NPR that today is Pi Day… meaning that today’s date is 3/14.  Now for some, that may be news. However, at least for the last 342 days, every one of them has been a “Pie” day for me.

Why pies?  Because they are special… sort of a relic from a bygone era.  Not many of us make pies anymore and making a pie for someone seemed to say, “you are special… and I appreciate you.”  It is something that I felt I needed to do… to recognize the people that have made a difference in my life… or in the lives of my friends or neighbors.  To take a moment to say thank you to someone each day was my goal… and it has been such a wonderful journey.

Today I chose to recognize the Ashland Police Department.  When I was a kid, I lived in a “housing project” and we had two regular uniformed officers that patrolled our area.  As kids we knew that if there was trouble, all we had to do was find the officer on duty and he would help us out.  Since I have lived in Ashland, I have only had to call on the police one time.  A young girl, high on something, came to my door one night and knocked.  As luck would have it, that was the same night that my (then young) son had decided to spend the night at a friend’s house.  I thought the person at the door was the parent telling me that my son wanted to come home.  Instead, I opened the door to a young woman, trying to get into my house, thinking that she was home.

We called the APD and an officer arrived at our home within minutes.  We found the young woman in my garage, asleep on a pile of laundry on the floor.  She thought she’d made it home.  The officer woke her up and took her home… but before leaving asked if I wanted to press charges.  “No”, I replied.  But then a short time later, a woman who was the youth liaison for the police force, asked if I would allow the young woman to come to my home to apologize.  When I said, “She doesn’t need to do that” the woman said, “Yes, she does” and so we arranged for a meeting.

A few days later, the young woman and the liaison came to my home.  The young woman said that she’d been out with friends and someone had “slipped” something into her drink.  I told her, “If they let that happen, and then let you walk home alone, they are not your friends.”  And then I told her that I was glad that she had come to my door because I did not harm her… and then I asked her to get some new friends.

Today I want to thank the folks at the Ashland Police Department for doing what they need to do everyday to keep us safe.  There are not many of us that would take their place… and I want to show my appreciation for all of their hard work in our community.

Day 342: Dave Kanner

13 Mar

A few weeks ago, the city of Ashland officially welcomed Dave Kanner to the position of City Administrator.  Dave most recently worked as the County Administrator in Deschutes County.  Mayor Stromberg said this about Dave,“His collaborative management style, years of experience in public administration, and technical expertise, will benefit our community for years to come.”

Dave is in a new community and his family is still back home where he used to live.  When I thought about that, I imagined that he might feel a bit out of his element… and that a pie of some kind might make him feel more at home.

Today I brought a Spinach, Pepper, Onion, and Cheddar Quiche to Dave Kanner to welcome him to our fair city. I hope that he feels that he is exactly where he should be.  I don’t expect his job to be easy, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to tackle it, but I do want him to know how much we appreciate his effort and dedication on our behalf.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.
Vince Lombardi

Day 341: My Cousin Darren

12 Mar

Darren and me back on Staten Island

A few months ago, I returned to Staten Island to help celebrate my cousin Guy, and his wife, Diane’s, 25th wedding anniversary. My cousin and I were both married in the same year, 1986.  My wedding was in August, and his wedding was in October.  If you follow baseball, you may remember that the N.Y. Mets made it to the World Series that year. And won!  But that is beside the point.

In 1986, a week or two after our wedding, I moved to Ashland, Oregon, with my new husband.  Since that time, I have been back to Staten Island many times, but there are some people that I never get to see.  One of those people is my cousin Darren.  He is like me in one big way: he moved away from New York and only returns for a visit now and then.  The anniversary celebration was one of those times… and for the first time in more than 25 years, I spent time with my cousin Darren.

Darren was born the year that I turned 13.  The funniest (or strangest) memory I have from the time he was little was when I was walking with him (at about age 2) and my sister, Janice, who was about 5.  My boyfriend, Michael, was watching them with me and we were walking through the neighborhood when a lady came up to us and said, “The children are so cute… are they yours?”  I was fifteen years old!  and far  too stunned to say anything at all!

Darren and I caught up a bit at the anniversary party… and he honored me with a dance to repay me for babysitting all those years ago.  A few days ago I mailed Darren a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie for him and his son, Tommy, who he named after his Dad. I want to thank him for the memories from those long ago days… and send him love and good wishes for the future.

Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden – Author Unknown.