Tag Archives: Coco

Day 252: Happy 10th Birthday!

14 Dec

Today is the birthday of my niece Ella. When she was a toddler her Mom would bring her to work and Ella would sit by my workbench as I baked bread. She was tickled if I gave her a piece of dough to play with and seemed to enjoy watching the goings on in the kitchen.

One thing I remember from those early days is that Ella didn’t talk much. I guess that’s true for second born children – their older siblings speak for them and they don’t have to work hard to communicate. My son, who is the second born in our family, didn’t talk much when he was 2 or 3 because his sister did that for him. Sometimes the conversation went like this, (Alexandra speaking) “Coco wants a cookie” and all the while Coco was sitting silently, watching with wide eyes as the situation unfolded.

Though I don’t see Ella very often, I try to find ways to let her know that I am thinking of her. In the past I have given her baking paraphernalia and she seemed to like that and so tonight I extended an offer of a pie baking lesson. It would be fun to share my love of baking and perhaps a baking tip or two. But for tonight, I brought a warm Apple Crumb Pie to Ella to celebrate the end of her first decade on this lovely planet. May all of her days be happy and bright.

“There was a star danced, and under that was I born.” – William Shakespeare

Day 222: Mark

14 Nov

Mark Buktenica is a biologist and he is the “aquatic ecologist” at Crater Lake National Park. He is “the first person to reach the deepest point in Oregon’s Crater Lake” according to National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Here is his description of what he saw while in a submarine at the bottom of the lake:

“There’s a ring of moss—like a band of hair around a bald man’s head—that circles all of Crater Lake. That was our first surprise; it’s invisible from the surface. The moss starts at a hundred feet in depth and is draped off cliffs and matted on rocks all the way down to 450 feet (137 meters)—so darn deep. Crater Lake has the clearest water ever measured, and that allows light to penetrate unusual distances.

“I made dives in 1988 and 1989 in the Deep Rover submarine, essentially a large plastic bubble with lights, oxygen tanks, and sampling equipment bolted to the outside. Deep Rover fits only one person, so you’re both the pilot and the scientist. It takes a long time—20 to 30 minutes—to drop to the bottom of the lake, going from daylight into the blue, then into darkness. The day I went to the lake’s deepest point, I turned off all the lights and the instruments and just sat there for a few minutes, taking in the silence. Even there, at 1,949 feet (594 meters) below the surface, my eyes could still pick up some vague light from above. Incredible.” You can read more about his experience here.

Our family first met Mark because he was one of the parents who volunteered for the Nordic Ski team when my son Coco was at Ashland High School. Mark is an assistant coach for the team, and has given his time and resources to the club as often as possible. I know that my son enjoyed spending time with Mark and his kids and learned to love cross country skiing in part because of their love and enthusiasm for the sport.

This afternoon I brought a Sausage and Pepper Quiche to Mark to thank him for his participation on the Nordic Ski Team… and for giving me the chance to say that I know someone who has been to the bottom of Crater Lake in a submarine!

Day 216: Leslie

8 Nov

We moved back to Ashland about sixteen years ago. Not long afterwards, I was driving around town and saw a sign for a garage sale. I followed the sign to a street by Ashland Community Hospital and parked my car. My children were with me and as we got out of the car I noticed a sign for “free kittens.” Before we went another step, I told my children that we could pet the kittens but we could not take any of them home. I waited until they agreed before we proceeded into the garage.

Once inside we met a friendly lady who turned out to be Leslie, and my daughter Alexandra went off to play with the kittens while my son took off to play with Leslie’s son. Leslie and I chatted for quite a while and I thought, “she’s got things to do… we should go” and I found my daughter and gently extracted her from the kittens. When I asked where my son Coco was, Leslie brought me to her son Dylan’s room and we found the boys playing together nicely. Leslie then said, “If you’d like, you can leave your boy here for a while since they are playing so well.” I thought, “Really?” It was such a nice offer… and they seemed so engrossed in what they were doing… and so I said “okay.” It was a few minutes later when I was driving home that I started to wonder, “what have I done?” After all, I didn’t even know Leslie’s last name!

But anyone that knows Leslie knows that this was an easy offer to accept. She is warm and kind and gentle and somehow I “knew” that my boy would be safe with her. And as it turns out, her son and mine have been friends ever since… as have Leslie and I.

When I think back to that day, I can’t help but think “what a lucky day that was!” And that is why tonight I brought a Pecan Pie to Leslie and her family. I am very grateful to her for a friendship that has continued to grow over these many years… and for her welcoming spirit that invited us into their lives.

Day 198: Losing a Pet

21 Oct


Apple Pie with Almonds
Earlier this summer, a friend of mine told me that she and her husband had lost their dog to illness. This pet had been a part of their family for so many years and having him suddenly gone continues to be very difficult for them. One of the The hardest things about living with loss is that life continues all around us, and we are expected to move on as well. Even though our hearts ache, the sun continues to rise each day.

Our family lost our dog, Grover, about a year and a half ago. We’d had him for eleven years and he was very much a part of our family. While I knew that he would leave us oneday, I just never thought about “when” that day would come because I knew it would be hard to say goodbye. But even knowing that, I would never have changed my mind about adopting Grover. He brought so much to our family and we’d have missed all that.

Still, there are moments when I tear up just thinking about him. He was a big gentle dog with brown eyes that had a way of melting my heart. I know that my friend’s dog meant the same, or more, to her. I am reminded of a clip I saw of Jimmy Stewart, the actor. He was on the Johhny Carson show in 1981 and he read a poem about his dog. It’s a beautiful tribute to a dear friend.

Today, I baked a “Kickass Apple Pie” and topped it with sugared almonds to give to my friends to let them know that I share their loss and wish them both well.

Grover, me and Coco about 10 years ago

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Thomas Campbell

Day 191: Ramiro and Beatriz

14 Oct

We met Ramiro and Beatriz Padilla from El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant more than ten years ago. Our family would go to their restaurant after skiing on Sundays at Mt. Ashland. We liked the atmosphere, the friendly service, and the fact that El Tapatio was family owned. It became a sort of ritual for us and we enjoyed being among the “regular” customers.

Over time, Ramiro and his family have become more and more involved in our community: Ramiro is an active member of the Ashland Rotary Club, the Padilla family organizes a huge entry in the Fourth of July parade every year, complete with participants outfitted in traditional Mexican dress and caballeros on horseback, and El Tapatio has donated food to such activities as the Ashland Schools Foundation calling nights and the Ashland High School Senior All Night.

Since it had been a while since we visited El Tapatio, and several years since all four of us (me, Emile, Alexandra and Coco) had the chance to go together, Alexandra offered to treat us all to dinner tonight. It was fun to sip Margaritas, listen to the guitar music and share a family dinner.

Tonight I brought Ramiro and Beatriz an Apple Pie to congratulate them on the birth of their baby daughter, Beatriz, and also to thank them for always making us feel like part of the family.

Day 132: The Lifeguards at Daniel Meyer Pool

16 Aug

August 16th is a day that I will always remember. It was on that date that a boy that I cared a lot about drowned in a lake in upstate New York. I was seventeen and my world changed forever.

It was so strange to me that Michael could die in water – for I loved the water and was so comfortable there. I was even a part of the synchronized swimming team at my school. It never occurred to me that a 19-year-old boy would not be able to swim.

Fortunately I was not there to witness this event. I heard about it through the grapevine. Michael had been playing around in the water and must have panicked. His friend Charlie tried to save him but was being pulled under with him, and fighting for his own life, had to release him. I am sure that Charlie carries that memory still.

After this devastating occurrence, I tried to make sure that everyone I knew was able to swim. This “mission” began with my young cousins and nephews and continued on until I had children of my own.

My daughter, who has always been fearless, took to the water immediately. After my son was born, I took him to the “mommy and me” swim class but he was not happy unless he was clinging to me. It was a few years later that he had his first lesson.

Coco was about 2 1/2 when he first went to the Daniel Meyer Pool. He was in a small class and the instructor tried and tried but Coco would not get into the water with her. That’s when a man named Rich came over. I’m pretty sure that he was the head lifeguard. He saw the trouble that the instructor was having with Coco and told her that he would work with this kid.

It was amazing to watch Rich and Coco. First Rich asked Coco if he would like to jump into the water and Coco shook his head no. Then there was a quiet, lengthy conversation between them. And then I saw Coco jump from the side of the pool into Rich’s arms. I was stunned! I don’t know what he’d said, but Rich had convinced my son to take that leap. And before long, Coco was swimming underwater with his eyes open. I was totally amazed at the skill that Rich displayed in helping my son lose his fear of the water.

Today I brought an apple pie to the lifeguards at Daniel Meyer. I wanted to thank them for their commitment and patience in teaching our children how to swim. I hope they know how incredibly important their work is.