Though I haven’t written in a while, I want you to know that I’m still here and in the last few weeks I’ve made a few pies. One, a Triple Berry Pie was delivered to a nurse named Nancy at Ashland Hospital. She was very kind to my Dad and I wanted to thank her for all the care that she showed him.
Another, a Mushroom and Pepper Quiche, was delivered to a friend shortly after she returned home from the hospital. It was much appreciated by my friend and it felt good to know that I could help her on her way to recovery.
Another pie, my go-to Apple Crumb Crust, was delivered to a woman I met when she was having a yard sale. Her name is Josie and I overheard her saying that she is moving to Guanajuato, Mexico – one of my favorite cities! I was amazed at the idea of her packing up a home that she’s lived in for years and moving to another country. That kind of adventurous spirit certainly needed to be rewarded… and what else would I bring but a pie?
And one day last week I made these delicious Gluten Free Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies to thank my friend Don for coming to my aid when my car battery died at the worst possible time. I made one phone call to his workplace and in just a few minutes he showed up and got my car started. I didn’t have time to bake him a pie (so much going on!) and I hope that these brownies gave him some indication of how grateful I was for his help.
This last week was especially challenging as my dear kitty of 18 years, Pepper, was preparing to leave this world. She was the epitome of grace as she ate less and less, and then not at all. The last few days she sipped only water until that too was unnecessary. In the end, she left peacefully with a final “meow” as I held her close. I feel that we were lucky that she chose our home to come to live in all those years ago… and am grateful for all the time that we had her… but I’m still very sad to see her go.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” Will Rogers
In the spring of next year, we are planning to go to Italy. My husband has a classmate who has lived in Italy for many years, and she is organizing a class reunion… in a villa… in Tuscany. Can you come up with any reason why we wouldn’t we want to go? Neither can I!
Likely because he is pretty darned pragmatic, that same husband signed us both up for beginner’s Italian lessons via Ashland’s Parks and Recreation programs. However, since his work schedule is pretty full, he has had trouble making it to class. In fact, I also missed the first class because I misread the schedule. Instead of arriving at 5 PM for class, I arrived a few minutes before 7 PM… which meant I was showing up for the first class of Advanced Italian!
Imagine my surprise when I walked in, thinking I was early, to hear the instructor loudly exclaim, “Ciao Bella!” She then followed that with a rapid-fire series of questions. My deer-in-the-headlights look must have given her some indication that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and soon she had me all straightened out. What was wonderful is that I left feeling sorry that I had missed my first class rather than embarrassed by my error.
Since then, I have been to three more classes (with five to go!) and have learned a little bit more each week. Italian is such a beautiful language to listen to and I look forward to becoming more fluent as time goes by. Who knows? Maybe by the time we get to Italy, I will actually know how to speak in Italian.
If that happens, then it will be in large part due to our delightful teacher la professoressa, Ms. Rountree. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she is making the class fun. And because yesterday she told us that today is her birthday, I baked her an Apple Crumb Crust Pie. When I gave it to her, I spoke these words: Buon Compleanno e Tanti Auguri per Prossimo Anno.
Mille Grazie Signora!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain
Apple Crumb Crust Pie
This pie journey has introduced me to many people that I might not otherwise have met. About four months ago I gave a pie to Adam Walker Cleaveland and his wife Sarah. It was the day that our congregation was to vote to confirm Adam as our new Associate Pastor and I thought that in the stress of that moment, this couple deserved a pie whichever way the vote went. Fortunately for us, he was voted in.
Afterwards Adam shared with his readers (he writes a blog called Pomomusings) that a lady at his new church had given him a pie. And what a wonderful response came back from his last church… they were so pleased to see how much we appreciated Adam and Sarah. It was a lovely beginning for us all.
Just a week or so ago I received an email from a man named Don. He knows Adam from the last church he was in and he told me that he’d been following my blog since he’d heard about it from him. Don asked if I would please consider bringing a pie to his cousin, Wink who lives in Ashland. Don told me that when he was a teenager, his father got a job in San Francisco. That year, Don moved to California from New Jersey and lived with his aunt and uncle while his brothers and Mom stayed back in New Jersey to sell and pack up the house. During that time, Don shared a room with his cousin, Wink.
Don said that that year in California was his best year in high school. I can imagine how it could easily have been the most difficult – with a new living situation and being separated from his family, but it seems that his aunt and uncle and cousins welcomed him with open arms, and that made all the difference.
Tonight I delivered an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Don’s cousin, Wink. I hope that she knows how much it meant to Don to have been treated so well by her family. It is a gift he will never forget.
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories. ~George Eliot
Apple Crumb Crust Pie
A little more than a year ago, I tried out for Kirby Shaw‘s choir at Southern Oregon University. My friend Leslie encouraged me to try out because she knew how much I liked to sing. In fact there is a joke at her house about a night I seemed to sing every song in their music book. Her family referred to that night “Karenoke.
To be in Kirby’s choir you must “try out” and you can do that over the phone or you can do it in person. Since I felt much to shy to try out in person, I chose to audition over the phone. I’d heard that many students audition with the song, “Amazing Grace” and I tried it but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Then I remembered an old song that I used to sing to my children, “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread” and that was what I auditioned with. I sang into my phone for less than a minute and before I knew it I was in the choir!
All of the songs that we sang that term were sung without accompaniment. Some of the songs didn’t even have actual words but instead had sort of scat sounds. What a challenge that was! And then there were songs that were so beautiful sung by talented people with amazing voices. What a class!
Of course, what really made it a great class was the instructor himself, Kirby Shaw. He is encouraging, enthusiastic, and his love of music is so infectious that soon everyone in the room is loving it too.
Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Kirby to thank him for the gift of music that he so willingly shares with us. We are very lucky to have him here at SOU.
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
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.
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.
Having been in the food service industry (catering, working in restaurants, etc) for most of my life, it is only natural that I would get to know the crew at United Grocers. They are a great group of people that are willing to help you with whatever your project may be.
Back when I worked in restaurants, at times I would pile my cart high with products and whoever rang up my purchases would help me load the goods into my car. They are all so helpful and full of information!
A few years ago I needed to make pulled pork for a friend and I had never made it before. When I got to Cash and Carry, I walked into the meat cooler and was overwhelmed. A moment later, Garret asked me what I needed. I told him what I was looking for and he had me outfitted with exactly what I needed in a flash. I was thrilled to have his help.
I am tremendously grateful for all of the help that these folks have given to me (and here is a partial list of the staff: Garret, Brandon, Don, and the “retired” Clint). Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to the crew at Cash and Carry to acknowledge their terrific customer service… and to thank them for the all of the assistance that they have given me over the years.