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Day 330: Karen and Bob

1 Mar

Karen is such a great lady that God made two of her!  What I mean to say is that Karen has an identical twin, but I like the first sentence better!  Karen and I met a long time ago because our children went to the same schools.  Karen’s children are a little bit older than mine and since I was new to Ashland,  she was a great support for me. I’ll bet that if you asked anyone that knows Karen what she is like, they would tell you that she is friendly, cheerful, thoughtful, and most certainly, a woman you can count on.

By trade Karen is a phlebotomist.  She told me that one day she told that to a young boy and he asked what that meant.  Then she told him that she drew blood everyday.  The young boy thought about this for a moment and said, “You must use a lot of red crayons!”

When my son Coco was in kindergarten, he jumped off a play structure at school and bit his tongue.  I was at work and did not find out about it until about an hour or two later. When I asked him to show me his tongue, he just shook his head no.  When I took him to Helman Elementary to pick up his sister, I saw Karen.  I told Coco that Karen worked in medicine and asked him to show her his tongue.  Immediately he opened his mouth and we both saw the huge gash.  Karen urged me to go to see Jack the Pharmacist at Ashland Drug right away.  Everything eventually worked out fine… Coco took antibiotics for a week, his tongue healed, etc.  But what amazes me still is that he was willing to show her his wound, but not me!

Another memory I have of Karen demonstrates her insistence for doing the right thing.  It seems that one of her boys (I forget which… and really, it doesn’t matter) and his friends decided to participate in some mischief (involving eggs and toilet paper).   A local policeman found them and called Karen to come and pick up her boy.  When she arrived she spoke to her son and then apologized to the police man for the incident and asked when her son could clean things up.  The officer was stunned. He said usually parents yelled at him for “picking on” their kids; few of them ever took responsibility for their actions.  When my own son got into trouble, I had a good role model to follow with Karen.

These are just a few of the stories I have to share about Karen.  Oh… and in addition to all that, she raises lambs!  What a wonderful lady… and to top it off,  her husband Bob is a pretty great guy in his own right.

Tonight I brought an Apple Blackberry Pie to Karen and Bob.  I want to recognize them both for all that they have done in our community and to let them know that we feel so lucky to count them as friends.

If you must follow someone, choose a person with vision, wisdom, love and integrity. -Philip Arnold

Day 186: Adam

9 Oct

For the past eight months a group of people at my church (First Presbyterian of Ashland) have been conducting a search for an Associate Pastor. A few years ago, I served on the search committee for our pastor and I can tell you that it is not an easy task. First you have to determine what kind of person your congregation is looking for. Next, you sort through a multitude of files containing the information about the candidates for that position. When you whittle that group down to a reasonable number, you begin the process of interviewing the candidates on the phone. Then, you choose the top candidates to interview in person. Finally, if you are lucky, you choose the person you think is best and present him or her to your congregation. After that, the congregation must vote to accept or reject the candidate. It’s a long process and it takes quite a commitment on the part of the committee to see it through.

Today, our Associate Pastor Nominating committee presented the person who they unanimously selected to be our Associate Pastor. His name is Adam Walker Cleaveland and this morning he preached the sermon to the congregation. It was the first time that I had a chance to see Adam and I was looking forward to it.

Adam did a wonderful job this morning – with both the children’s lesson and the sermon itself. In delivering the message he was able to make the scripture real and relevant. He also shared a deeply personal story that mirrored the Bible story and was very moving. At the end of the service, there was a meeting and our congregation voted to ask Adam to join our staff and welcomed him with a standing ovation.

This morning I knew that Adam and his wife would be at our church. Though I did not know which way the vote would go, I was hopeful. And I thought this person deserves a pie either way. Now, perhaps an apple pie would have been a good fit (Adam, apple) but I did not have enough apples for an apple pie. Instead, I prepared a mixed berry pie for Adam and his wife Sarah. I want to extend to them my very best wishes and I hope that they are as excited about coming to our church as we are to have them.

Day 185: Paul Giancarlo

8 Oct


A few weeks ago, on this blog, I asked readers to recommend people to be pie recipients. One friend wrote back and suggested that I make a pie for Paul Giancarlo. It didn’t take long to think about this suggestion for who deserves a pie more than the person who has found a way to keep our local food pantry stocked?

For those of you who don’t live in Ashland, Paul is the co-founder of the Ashland Food Project. This is a plan whereby families opt to buy one extra food item per week and set it aside for the food bank. Every eight weeks, these items are picked up by a group of volunteers who then bring it to the food pantry.

The Ashland Food Project is about three years old. It had humble beginnings but has grown significantly in this short time. In fact, this message came via email tonight after today’s food collection:

Hello neighbors,

Another great day in Ashland. 19,000 pounds of food from AFP green bags were dropped off at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank today. Isn’t that remarkable!
Thanks for making this possible.

Isn’t that amazing???

In July, Paul received the eTown E-Chievement Award for his work with the Ashland Food Project. This NPR show was taped at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville and a large group of AFP volunteers were in the audience cheering for Paul. As much as I wanted to be in that audience, I was unable to attend the show because I was preparing to cater a weddding the following day. However, I did get to listen to the show when it aired on the radio and you can see his interview here.

Last night I just happened to be at a restaurant where Paul was celebrating his birthday and I was introduced to him. I thought it best to ask him what kind of pie he liked and told him that at some point I’d be bringing him a pie. And when I woke up this morning, I thought, why don’t I bring him a pie today?

This afternoon I delivered an Apple Blueberry Latice pie to Paul and his wife Mary. They welcomed me in and asked about my pie project. When I mentioned that it started as a crazy idea in the night, Paul could relate because the Food Project was just an idea to begin with as well. Just think of all the wonderful things that could happen if we all were willing to listen to the “crazy ideas” in our hearts?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead Poster

Day 17: Claudia

24 Apr

Saturday is a good day for yard sales here in this little town and today I found a sale on Craigslist with the Y.E.S. logo.  That can only mean that Claudia is at it again.  Claudia is the proprietor of Y.E.S. which stands for Yard and Estate Sales.  She has been helping people sell their belongings for a long time and is the quintessential professional.  Her task is a fine line to walk and she does it with respect and grace.

An “estate sale” usually means that the person who once owned the items is no longer living.  For me, it is necessary to be respectful when walking through the home of a person who has passed on.  I feel as if the person’s space is being invaded and you may be forgiven for being there if you maintain a certain decorum.   Heaven forbid if you are rude or make fun.  Let’s not forget that one day someone may be perusing your “stuff.”

Estate sales are fun in an anthropological way in that they can tell us a lot about the person.  Did they like to cook?  or read?  Were they a film buff or maybe a gardener.   We leave all of our belongings behind when we die and they tell a story about us.   Look around at the items on your shelves… what do they say about you?  Perhaps if you are lucky, someone as nice as Claudia will handle your belongings with the love and care that you would give them.

For Claudia, and her lovely helpers, I brought a warm Marionberry Pie.  Thank you for your kindness.