Search results for 'day 151'

Day 151: Reverend Fred

4 Sep

Seventeen years ago today I was with my sister Nancy in the intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s hospital in Manhattan. The previous day she had had a blood transfusion and it had proved to be too much for her poor body to handle and she suffered a heart attack. I was spending the summer in Montana and when I got the call I knew that I had to be there with her. It took hours to book a flight for the next morning. And as I drove to the airport with my year old son, I was crying so much that I missed my turn. That proved to be disastrous.

When I did arrive at the airport my plane was taking off. Through tears I tried to explain to the agent that I needed to get on the next plane. She calmly told me that I should come back the next day (did I say it was a very small airport?) When I told her that tomorrow might be too late, she was not moved. Not knowing what else to do, I retreated to a corner of the airport and sobbed.

The airport manager came to me and asked what was wrong and somehow I managed to explain what had happened. She then went over to the same agent and spoke to her, after which she told me that the agent would help me. I had my doubts, but went over to find the agent busily trying to figure out a way for me to get to NY that evening. She was speaking to someone on the phone when she asked me “And what is the name of the funeral home that you will you use?” Shocked I said, “But I am hoping that she won’t die!” She calmly nodded and explained that this was the ruse they were using to get my flight changed. I mentioned the name of the funeral home we had used for my Mother and she told that to the person on the other end of the phone. “What is their phone number?” she asked. I said, “I have no idea – but the area code is 718.” And then that agent who had been so unwilling to help me earlier, made up a phone number and told it to the agent on the phone. My flight would not get to NY until late that evening, but I would soon be on my way.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the day but I do recall that it was my Uncle Bill (Booey) that picked me up at the airport. We arrived at the hospital at about midnight and I was taken to the room where my sister was. She was in a coma and was hooked up to a respirator – but she was still with us.

The staff let me stay in the room seated next to Nancy. I was able to hold her hand and talk to her for a little while. It was only a few short hours later, around 3AM, when I awoke to the sound of alarms. I’d fallen asleep and did not know what had taken place. The nurse on duty came in and told me that she was going to turn off the alarms. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the alarms had sounded because my sister had died.

A short time later, the hospital chaplain came to the room and asked if we wanted him to pray with us. I did not know that there were people who did what he did. It was exactly what we needed at that time – someone to be with us as we let Nancy go. I was so grateful that, even without knowing us, the chaplain was able to give us comfort.

This morning I knew that I wanted to bring a pie to our own hospital chaplain in my sister’s honor but I was not sure how I would be able to find him. And then I remembered that our pastor knew him well and I could ask her for his contact information. When I arrived at church this morning to help an older parishioner with coffee hour I was surprised by an offer of help from someone in the parking lot. Imagine my surprise when Fred, our hospital chaplain, stepped out to help. When I asked him what he was doing there, he told me that he was filling in for our pastor this week.

As you may have guessed, it was pretty easy to figure out how to deliver a pie to Fred. I hope that he knows that the work that he does is incredibly important – and the people that he serves are grateful – even if they are not able to express their thanks at the time. As for me, it is days like this that make me think that this pie project has a life of its’ own and that I am so very lucky to be a part of it all.

Day 336: Mark

7 Mar

Apple Blackberry Pie

While they were at Ashland High School, both of my children had Mark for a class called “studio art.”  My daughter, Alexandra, came into his class as a senior and tried painting for the first time.  It was after she had had difficulties in another art class and so Alexandra was not sure how this class would go.  Soon after the class began, she was painting in oils, and her first painting was entered into a “best of the best” competition.  She was thrilled to have had that experience!

My own high school art experience was not as special.  In my only art class in high school, I came away discouraged after being told by my art teacher that my drawings were “awful.”  The only way to avoid any further embarrassment was to stay away from art… for years.  How I wish I’d had a teacher that was as encouraging as Mark!

This afternoon, I brought an Apple Blackberry Pie to Mark.  It was to thank him for giving his students a tremendous gift each and every day: the freedom to create art that they can love and be proud of.

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
St. Francis of Assisi




Day 161: Roberta

14 Sep

A week or so ago I asked the readers of my blog to “nominate” a person that they thought would appreciate a pie. My friend Gary wrote to me and suggested that I make a pie for his friend Roberta. This is what he said about her, “She is a woman who will do anything to help others and I have experienced her kindness and “givingness” in so many ways.” With an intro like that it was certain that Roberta was going to get a pie.

When I wrote back to Gary, I asked for more information – Would Roberta prefer a sweet pie or a savory one? If savory, could it include meat (sausage, bacon, etc)? And since I always wonder how someone I don’t know might react to my bringing them a pie I asked Gary if he wanted to call ahead to introduce me. As you might have guessed, I needn’t have worried.

Today I called Roberta and explained my “pie project” and told her that Gary had suggested her name as a pie recipient. When I said that I had made her a Spinach, Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Quiche she seemed delighted. She told me, “You don’t know how perfect this is” and then explained why my quiche was exactly what she needed today. While I don’t understand how this confluence occurs, I am honored to be involved.

As I was saying goodbye to Roberta, she told me that she planned to share her quiche with several friends and that I could not imagine how many people would be touched by this one pie. In a way she is right… and that is part of the beauty of this endeavor.

Day 119: Barbie

3 Aug

A short time ago, my friend Barbie helped me with a major project. She was prompt, professional and prepared. And when the project was completed, she stayed to help clean up. She was an angel when I needed one.

Since she would not accept payment from me for her work, I asked if I could please make a special dessert for her when she needed one. This offer was acceptable to her and the other day Barbie called to ask if I would make a fruity dessert for her son’s birthday. A fruity dessert? That sure sounded like a pie to me and so today I went shopping for some fresh fruit.

At the Ashland Food Coop I noticed the raspberries first – plump and brightly colored – they called out to me. But I didn’t want to make a pie with only raspberries and so I kept shopping. That’s when I saw the peaches and right away I knew what I was going to do.

Once home, I peeled and sliced the peaches. Next, I added the raspberries to the bowl. I have to admit that it already looked yummy!

Then I added sugar, flour and a dash of nutmeg to the fruit and gently mixed it all together. I put this mix into the pie shell that I’d prepared.

In about an hour, I took the finished pie from the oven. It smelled divine!

Tonight I send heartfelt birthday wishes to Barbie’s son. May this be his best year yet!

Day 83: Nancy

28 Jun

Today is my sister Nancy’s birthday. If you are old enough to remember, Frank Sinatra sang a song about his daughter Nancy. It was called “Nancy, with the laughing face.” That was my sister. She was always smiling and making jokes – and she had little reason to laugh.

Nancy was born with a lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis, but at that time the disease was not yet named. My parents were told that she had asthma and that’s what we all believed to be true. Nancy’s breathing at times was labored and when she became upset, she could become sick. I was actually jealous of Nancy when we were told that we could not leave the table until we finished (whatever it was) and then she would begin to gag and toss up whatever we were being “forced” to eat. “Gee” I wondered, “How do you do that?” because I always had to stay at the table and eat, while Nancy was excused.

We did not know that Nancy had CF until she was about 15. Until that time, her ENT (ear, nose and throat) doc was treating her for sinus problems! For the record, he never spoke to us after Nancy was tested for, and diagnosed with, CF. I really never forgave him for that.

Back to Nancy. She was not supposed to have children because it was too much of a risk. But for Nancy, not having kids was a much greater risk. I am sure that she wanted to leave a legacy because she knew that her time here was limited. She raised two boys, Jimmy and Wayne, and they were her reason for living. She was so proud of them… and I think now I know that she knew she would live on through them.

The last time I talked to my sister she told me a joke: A woman goes to the doctor and says,”Every time I sneeze I have an orgasm.” And the doctor replies, “And what are you taking for this?” and the woman replies “Pepper.” It was so like her to make me laugh at a difficult time – for Nancy was getting ready for a blood transfusion. And, unfortunately, it was too much for her ravaged body to handle. At the young age of 34, we lost Nancy.

One of her doctors asked my sister and me if we would consider donating Nancy’s eyes – for they were not damaged by her disease- and could help someone see. One solace in losing Nancy, is knowing that someone has gained their sight. And if they also had Nancy’s eyes, they would be beautiful.

Today, in honor of my sister Nancy, I brought an Apple Pie to the Pulmonary Consultants of Medford, for they help people who have Cystic Fibrosis. I wanted to thank them for helping their patients who are suffering. It is my fervent wish that this disease be eliminated.

My sisters Janice, Nancy and Me

Day 50: Debbie and The Journey Thus Far

27 May

Today is a small milestone in this yearlong journey of making pies.  Yes, there are still many pies ahead of me but it feels like a good time to pause for a moment and take an assessment.  If you were to ask me what I have learned so far, I would tell you that I have found that the simple act of giving someone a pie can have profound consequences.  Many times, though not always, I have felt that I have been in the absolute right place at the right time.  For example, I brought someone a quiche only to find out that they were incredibly busy that day and had not had time to even think about dinner.  And there have been a number of times when I’ve brought a pie to someone and was able to make a not so good day seem a bit brighter.

I will admit that this is not a project that make sense to everyone.  One friend saw me preparing to deliver my pie and said rather dryly, “Go on…. you go make someone’s day.” I left the house feeling a bit put off by his comment.  What was he trying to say?  Later, when I was leaving the house of that day’s pie recipient, she said, “You know Karen, you really made my day.” How about that. I was able to make someone’s day by bringing them a pie!

My friend Debbie told me that this is probably the best possible project for me – because I love to bake and I love to share stories about the people who have touched my life.  If you think about it, this pie adventure is composed of many different threads.  And as the threads come together they create a tapestry that tells the story of my life.  I am truly blessed – and very lucky that I am able to give thanks to those who have helped me along the way.

Today, I brought a Marionberry Pie to Debbie at Southern Oregon University. She is my neighbor, but she has also been a tremendous resource for my family as we have navigated the maze of financial aid for college.  And Debbie was the first person who “suspected” that a pie was awaiting her.  Seems this “project” is not as secret as I thought!

As I continue on this journey, I am buoyed by the encouragement and support that has been shown by my friends.  Below is an example of this support – a necklace that my friend Pam had made especially for me. Such a lovely gift. Didn’t I say that I was blessed?


Nice is a Four-letter Word.

4 Sep


An Apple Pie for Lauretta and Uwe in Berlin.

When I was a little girl, I heard a lot of things from the adults around me that didn’t serve me well.  This phrase was popular, “Good girls should be seen and not heard (wtf?).” And then there were a number of phrases that began, “Nice girls don’t ………… (fill in the blank)”.  For me, talking back was not acceptable… and if someone said something mean to me, I was not permitted to stand up for myself.  Often I heard about the troubles the other person was having (marital problems, etc.) and was asked to be compassionate.  I was taught to care for others, but not myself. I was a nice girl… and I became a nice woman.

Well, it’s taken a long time, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to be nice anymore.   Here is the definition of the word nice: pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory.  Who wants to be referred to as satisfactory?  What a wishy-washy word (wishy-washy is defined as feeble, lacking in strength or boldness)!  There are a host of words that I would prefer to be called rather than nice, including but not limited to the following: courageous, strong, compassionate, funny, determined, loving, reliable,  generous, spontaneous, intuitive, passionate, even crazy.   But please don’t call me “nice.”

A few years ago, when my ex told me about his affair, he thought my response would be “I’m so happy for you.”  Clearly, he thought I was that “nice”.  A few days later, he asked me to watch a movie, and I agreed.  But instead of sitting with him on the couch, I stood and ironed his shirts.  Was I being nice?  Not at all.  I was doing something I knew how to do as I tried to figure out what had happened to my world.

While I might have wanted to dump manure on his lawn, scream at him in public, or toss his stuff in the street, I didn’t.  I was trying to be mature, dignified, and I was learning to walk with grace.  Truly, being nice had nothing to do with it.

In closing, I acknowledge that this post is a bit of a departure for me… I’ve shared more here than I have in a while.  My hope is that in so doing, someone out there may feel more comfortable sharing their story or at least they’ll know that they’re not alone.


Pie prep in Berlin… using a wine bottle for a rolling pin!

“When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone.”  Glennon Doyle Melton

Happy 24th Anniversary in Heaven to my sister, Nancy.   I wrote about that day in this post… and about Nancy here so I won’t go over it again.  I want to say I was so lucky to know her… we shared many happy times and many silly jokes. I miss her more than I can say.


Nancy with her two biggest loves… Jimmy and Wayne.




Looking for the Gifts

18 Jan

We are wading into a brand new year and I (belatedly!) offer my best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy 2018.  The past year for me was a challenging one, and yet, because of the love and support I’ve had from friends and family, I am happily looking forward to this coming year.  I’m on a journey I’d never have chosen, but am doing my best to find the gifts along the path.


Recently,  I was feeling down because I’d fractured a bone near my ankle.  As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room, I looked across the way and saw a pretty mom with her young son. Then I looked down to see that she had not one, but two prosthetic legs.  Much like the quote, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” the universe had reminded me that my situation was merely a temporary inconvenience.

How often do we find ourselves complaining about something simply because our schedules have been disrupted? How we handle these disruptions says a lot about us… and can determine our happiness.  Which brings to mind this quote, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him about your plans.”


Lately, I’ve been trying to notice the gifts in my daily comings and goings and want to share a few with you.  Hopefully, I can encourage you to find the gifts that have been placed in your path.

This year I was lucky to be in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.  It was a warm day and I joined a long line of folks waiting to buy a beer. To pass the time, I began a conversation with the woman in front of me.  Melissa and I were just sharing small talk at first, but then she told me that she had recently battled cervical cancer and was now cancer free.  I was honored that she shared her deeply personal story with me and was inspired by her determination to survive for her young sons.


One of the greatest gifts this year has been the chance to spend more time with my adult children.  We celebrated holidays together, but also did simple things together, like taking walks and cooking dinner.  It’s been such fun to witness the lovely beings that they have become and I’m so grateful to have them in my life.

Finally, on my return trip home, I found myself waiting at the gate for my last flight. The plane was delayed and there were many unhappy travelers.  One of those travelers was a 7-week old baby who was screaming non-stop.  Her parents were struggling to soothe her and I inched my way over to them because I’ve been in their shoes. I began by saying something like, “You know, she’s only doing what we all want to do right now,” and then I asked her name and age.  The baby continued crying and I so asked, “May I hold her for a moment?” Her Mom looked at me quizzically but handed her over.

We continued talking and within a minute the baby stopped crying. The Mom was stunned and I told her, “I think what’s going on is she’s noticing that something is different. Most likely she’s picking up on the fact that my scent isn’t the same as yours.”  We talked some more and as I continued to sway the baby drifted off to sleep.  Then it was time for them to board and we said goodbye.  Later the Dad told me the baby had slept the whole flight and he thanked me.  Then, I thanked him for giving me the chance to hold their baby.  It was such a precious gift.

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.”  Pindar


Creating ripples….

14 Sep

This last month, in addition to baking almost every day,  I’ve had a couple of interesting “pie” experiences that I would like to share with you.

a quiche for Liz

A Quiche for Liz

The first occurred at a party for my husband’s team of managers.  One of the women there asked me if I was still baking pies everyday.  No, I answered, it’s more like a few times a month.  She then turned to her partner and said, “Karen baked a pie a day for a year.”  That’s when he looked at me and said, “You’re the pie lady?  You brought me a pie!”

pumpkin pie for Debbie

Pumpkin Pie for Debbie

I wondered how that could be for I’d never seen this man before.  When he told me that he knew my friend Shirley it all came back to me.  During my “pie year”, Shirley had asked me to bring a pie to this man because he’d been so very kind and helpful to her… and of course I said I would.  Then she told me that he would not want to meet me (he’s pretty shy) and so we arranged to leave the pie in a safe place near his house.  He told me that he had arrived home that night wondering what he would have for dinner and saw a pie sitting there.  He said that pie solved the problem!  How about that… one day I deliver a pie and three years later, I finally meet the recipient!


A quiche for my friend in need

Then last week my husband and his team went to dinner with a business consultant and her husband.  My friend, Amey, was there and casually mentioned to them that Emile’s wife (me) had created a project a few years back, giving away a pie a day. The couple both seemed stunned and told Amey that their friend back home in Sacramento had read about my pie story.  She’d been so inspired by it that she decided to set up a pie stand (much like a lemonade stand).

The next day that same couple popped into the kitchen at the B&B where I am working (they were guests there…  another coincidence?). They were happy to meet me and so excited that they could go home and share this news with their friend. I gave them my card and hope that their friend will soon share her pie experiences with me!

judy's pie prep

Prepping an Apple Pie

Finally, several months back I baked a pie and a friend came to mind and I decided to bring her the pie. When I reached her on her cell phone and asked if she was at home, she told me no… and was in fact on her way to her sister’s funeral. When I told her the reason for my call, she thanked me and said she felt better knowing that I’d been thinking of her. A few days ago, I baked an apple pie and called that same friend.  This time she was home… but shared that her brother was very ill and she’d just returned from visiting him.  She said that she would love a pie and thought it might help to cheer her up.  It seems strange that I thought of her when she going through two very difficult times… but I was so grateful to be able to help in my own way.

Judy's Pie

An Apple pie for Judy

Though these stories are not extraordinary at all, what most surprises me is the fact that years after my project ended, I am still discovering how people – some whom I don’t even know – were affected in some way by the gift of a pie.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa


Cold Pizza for Breakfast?

21 Oct


If you just read those words and thought of Christine Lavin, then you know that “Cold Pizza for Breakfast” is the title of one of her songs and also her new audio book!  If you did not realize that… well, I hope I can change that and introduce you to one of my family’s favorite singer/songwriters.

We were first introduced to Christine in the mid-80’s when my friend Lauretta sent me her CD, “Future Fossils“.   This album is a mix of funny songs and deeply moving ones.  A few of my favorites: The Dakota – a beautiful and touching song dedicated to John Lennon, The Bag Ladies Ball (a poem about what she would do if she became a millionaire), and, one of her funniest songs, “Regretting What I Said.”

Our family played that CD so many times on road trips that we knew all of the words to the songs by heart.  In fact, at our annual camping trip, my daughter, Alexandra and I recited “The Bag Ladies Ball” as our contribution to the talent show.  I really admire Christine’s ability to capture feelings that many of us have, and find a way to put them into words and then match them with music that fits them perfectly.

As I was writing this, I remembered yet another of Christine’s songs… it’s called, “The Moment Slipped Away.” I just listened to it again… and it occurs to me that Christine might have planted a seed for my blog many years ago.  In the song she encourages us to share kind words with one another (and not to keep them to ourselves.)  I’ve certainly tried to do that with the people I have shared pies with over these last few years!

Last Saturday night we were delighted to attend Christine’s concert put on by St. Clair Productions.  As always, we enjoyed Christine’s musical talent, her vibrant spirit, and her showmanship (Would you believe she can twirl glow in the dark batons?)  To thank her for being such an integral part of our family (unbeknownst to her!) for all these years, I brought her a Kick Ass Apple Almond Pie.  Thanks Christine… from the bottom of my heart.

UPDATE!  I just received the sweetest thank you note from Christine!  In her email she sent a short video that she made… and unbelievably I am in it!  What a wonderful coincidence!  This is a day I will long remember…  Don’t you just love it when things like that happen?  


One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.  Bob Marley

Reading Simple Dreams


Christine took this photo of me reading Linda Ronstadt’s book, “Simple Dreams”… after I answered her Trivia Question!