Tag Archives: Denmark

Life, gratitude, and pie

14 Jul

Life feels so strange right now.  Just last Sunday my husband and I drove our daughter, Alexandra, to the airport so that she could get on a plane that would take her to Denmark.  Alexandra has flown to Denmark many times before, but this time was different in one big way: she did not have a return ticket.  She has gone to Denmark to work for e-conomic, an online accounting company.  She was an intern with this company for one year and will be working with their clients in the United Kingdom.

I know this is a pretty awesome gig for a new graduate and I am very proud of what Alexandra has accomplished.  I guess I just wish that Europe was a bit closer.  It’s hard to find yourself with an empty nest and realize that your little birds are hundreds… or thousands of miles away.  That’s a long way for a mama bird to fly to give a hug… or cook a meal.  And a part of me is finding that a little bit of a challenge.

On a brighter note, a week or so ago I was honored to be interviewed by Nadine Natour from National Public Radio.  It seems that NPR had decided to do a week-long segment about pies… and I was lucky enough to share a part of my pie journey.  It was really surreal to be included in their story… and even more fun to have friends across the country tell me that they heard me on their radio.  What a thrill!

Another bright spot in the last few weeks was having a chance to meet with representatives from Guanajuato, Mexico during their visit to Ashland for the 4th of July celebration.  As you may recall from one of my previous posts, the Ashland Rotary Club has worked to raise money to help the poor people of Guanajuato and when we visited that city in May, I saw Francesca, a young girl that we met five years before. It was a very happy moment for me because it was clear that our work had made a difference in her life.

Enrique, one of the Guanajuato representatives, told me that he would see Francesca and if I wanted to send her a card or letter, he would deliver it for me. And so the night before he left Ashland, I brought Enrique a small gift for Francesca – and yesterday I received an email from him with a couple of photos.  Clearly Francesca was delighted to be remembered!

What has all this to do with pies?  Well, not much I guess.  But since I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude I was definitely in a pie baking mood.  Yesterday, while I was baking a Strawberry Rhubarb pie, my friend Maylee sent me a message that she had play tickets and asked if I wanted them.  Of course I did!  And suddenly I knew that a warm Strawberry Rhubarb pie was going to go home with Maylee.  It was my way to thank her for her friendship and thoughtfulness.

And today… I made another pie.  This one was for Marian, a 93-year-old lady from church who was the only person who seemed upset that I had not brought her a pie during my “year of pies.”  I’ve thought about that for a while and felt that it  was about time to correct that situation.  Think about it… if it was within your power to make someone happy, with such a simple gesture,  wouldn’t you want to do so?

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.  ~John E. Southard

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. — Thornton Wilder

Day 250: Another International Pie!

12 Dec


Last evening my daughter Alexandra was packing her bags to get ready for her flight to Denmark today. We watched her pack the gifts that she bought for her friends and then watched her weigh the bag after each addition because she was worried that she might go over the airline’s weight limit.

While that was going on in the back room, I got busy in the kitchen. I prepared pie dough – this time with no whole wheat flour – and made the crust and placed it in the pie tin. Then for the first time, I used my new ceramic “pie beans” to pre-bake the crust – a gift from my friend Gina. Once the crust was done, I let it cool on the counter while I prepared brownie batter. Then, in a flash, the brownie pie was in the oven.

After the pie was done, I let it cool and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer so that it would be firm enough for travel. And about this time, the pie is in a bag next to Alex and she should be somewhere near Greenland, hopefully fast asleep.

This brownie pie is a gift for her boyfriend Kristian, and his father Ole. They have both been hinting about getting a pie since this pie voyage began but I was hesitant to send one in the mail as it might have taken seven days and that would never do. After all, when I visited Denmark last December Ole spent hours preparing a fabulous feast for Alex and me that was topped off with a traditional Danish dessert called Ris ala mande.

What is special about this dessert is that there is a whole almond hidden in the pudding and the person who finds it receives an extra gift.  Well, neither Alex or I knew that and found it peculiar that Ole kept serving the pudding and then taking it back before we had a chance to eat it.  It seems he had forgotten which plate contained the extra almonds (yes he had hidden two!) and he wasn’t satisfied until Alex and I both found an almond in our pudding.   For “finding” the almonds, Ole gave us each a small box of chocolates.  It was so silly but so sweet to include us in this tradition.

Ole took this photo of us enjoying Ris ala Mande using a tripod.

Today, I sent Ole and Kristian  a Brownie Pie with lots of  love and good wishes for the holidays…. and for the years to come.

Day 129: Stephan

13 Aug

Today the Medford Food Coop had its Grand Opening. Many people have been waiting for this event for a long time. And I know that the co-op staff has been working like crazy to make this happen.

My son (Coco), and my Rotary exchange student (Stephan) and I volunteered to help with the opening. Stephan and Coco directed parking, while I sat at a desk with Kay (another co-op spouse) helping folks get their co-op member cards. It was a lot of fun – and the time flew by!

It was about 2PM when we finally left the store to go home. We all were really tired but felt that the day had gone well. So many people had come to see the co-op and we received so many compliments about the fact that it was finally a reality.

When we were heading home I glanced in the back seat and saw that Stephan had dozed off. He had gotten up early and had worked about 5 hours in the hot parking lot. I knew that I wanted to give him a pie while he was here visiting – and what better way to say thanks for his help today than with a Chocolate Cream Pie?

We hosted Stephan in our home in the Spring of 2006. He is from Germany and was able to speak four languages. He was always trying to understand the nuances of (my) english. One day he asked if he could eat something that was in the fridge. I answered, “Sure, that’s fine.” And I was stopped cold in my tracks when Stephan asked, “Is it fine as in – Sure, fine go ahead and eat it (all the while sounding angry) or do you mean, “Okay, sure, it is fine” (and really being okay with it). It was so remarkable to me that Stephan had picked up on this subtle difference in the language (oh, and by the way, he did get to eat what he’d asked about).

The Rotary Exchange program has been a huge factor in our lives. Both of our children have gone on exchange (our daughter to Denmark, and our son to the Czech Republic) and we have learned through them that the world is really quite small; that we are all connected.

Last year we planned to visit Coco when he was in the Czech Republic and I contacted Stephan to let him know that we would be in Europe and hoped that we could see him as well. And as I had been hoping to visit Paris (since I was 19 or so) I sort of mentioned that I would like the chance to fit a short trip to France in our itinerary.

And as miracles sometimes do happen, Stephan (and his wonderful family) helped arrange for our family to visit Paris. We stayed in an apartment near his Grandma and shared Easter breakfast with his family. It was absolutely amazing!

We are so very happy to have had the chance to get to know Stephan – and his family – through the Rotary exchange program. Our lives are richer because of this experience – and we are all incredibly grateful.

Day 76: Meredith

21 Jun

Guanajuato, Mexico

Meredith Reynolds has been my daughter Alex’s advisor/internship program coordinator for the past two years. Alexandra’s course of study took a very different turn when she opted to study in Denmark during her junior year at Southern Oregon University (SOU). When Alexandra decided to tackle an internship during her second year abroad (still in Denmark), Meredith was there to help her navigate the necessary paperwork to ensure that she was on track scholastically.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Meredith knows all about studying abroad. She has attained near-native fluency in Spanish language and Mexican Culture. She taught at the Universidad de Guanajuato for six years (from 1980-86). Guanajuato is the Sister City to Ashland, Oregon and there is a rich relationship between the two cities. In fact, my Alexandra “won” a contest when she was in 4th grade and was allowed to go (for free) to Guanajuato with a group of people from Ashland. Alexandra was 10 years old at the time but she was fearless and eager to go. I think that she was born knowing that she was a child of the world. I, on the other hand, did not get that memo.

It is wonderful that Meredith and Alexandra share a love of travel and cultures. Meredith has an amazing kinship with the people of Mexico, especially Guanajuato. Alexandra seems to have found that same kind of kinship in a small country 6,000 miles from the place in which she was born. I think that this is just a part of our ever changing world. And I count myself fortunate to have visited both Guanajuato and Denmark. What I have discovered is that with every new person that you meet you are given the opportunity to make a friend.

Today my friend Meredith was packing up her office. She is retiring from her position at SOU. I know that this is just a momentary pause for her for she has so much yet to give. I brought a quiche to Meredith today to thank her for all that she has done for my daughter and for all that she has done for Southern Oregon University. We are truly grateful for her passion and commitment and look forward to her next endeavor.