Tag Archives: Portland

Day 348: Kristian

19 Mar

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Today is the day that my daughter’s boyfriend finally reached Ashland, Oregon from Copenhagen, Denmark.  He left Copenhagen on Sunday morning at 5AM… which was 8PM Saturday our time.  His first flight took him to Newark, New Jersey.  Not very exciting as far as destinations go, but Kristian is a brave soul and decided to take the train into Manhattan for the day (he had an 8 hour layover!)  He made it to Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.  He also walked along Broadway and saw Madison Square Garden.  Imagine doing all that on your first day in New York!

Kristian’s flight from Newark to Portland, Oregon was at 8PM… and with the time changes, he arrived in Portland at about 11PM last evening.  We’d arranged for him to spend the night in a hotel near the airport.   His flight to Medford wasn’t until this evening at 5:30PM and so he took time today to explore downtown Portland.  He visited Powell’s Bookstore, walked along the waterfront, and visited a few of Portland’s finest breweries.

Finally, Kristian boarded his flight to Medford at 5:30 PM this evening.  And at just about 6:30 we met him at the airport.  It is lovely that he has come to see our little part of the world… and we are very happy to host him.  Tonight, I gave Kristian a Chocolate Pecan Pie.  I want to welcome him to our town, to our home, to our lives.  And I want to wish him a very happy visit to the west coast of America.

Copenhagen, Denmark


Day 254: Remembering Irene

16 Dec

When we moved to Portland, my daughter Alexandra was just about two. We lived in an apartment in a residential neighborhood in the southeast section of the city. Behind our apartment was a house where Irene and Victor lived and occasionally we would see them out in their garden in the evening. One day I went out into our very small backyard with Alex and Irene came over to the fence to meet us. While we were chatting, Victor walked over to the fence carrying a tomato he had just picked. He was looking at Alex and me when suddenly Irene said “Victor, give her that tomato!” I could tell by the look on his face that Victor was confused. He must have been thinking, “I thought I just picked that tomato from my garden” but yet there was Irene telling him to give it to Alex. In any case, that was the day our friendship with Irene and Victor began.

When I met Irene she was 86 years old… and I knew her until she died at nearly 104. My own mother had died just two years before we met, and Irene helped to fill the empty place in my heart almost immediately. Often I would get up early before my husband left for work and go over to Irene’s in my pajamas and have a cup of coffee with her and Victor. He was a year or two older than Irene and had already had a stroke by the time I met him. This sometimes affected his speech but not his spirit.

One really interesting fact about Irene and Victor is that they were both married to other people for nearly 50 years before they were married. What surprised me is how much they loved and appreciated each other – as if they had waited all those years for true love to come along – and it finally did!

I caught a glimpse of that bond as I sat with them one morning. Irene was telling a story when suddenly Victor tried to say something. When he was excited he could not speak, because of the stroke, and was making sounds like “ba ba ba” as he tried to tell her what was on his mind. Irene calmly looked at him and said, “You are remembering about your brother… and continued on with what she knew Victor was trying to say. When I looked back at Victor he was nodding, tears streaming down his face, because she was right. Of course by then tears were streaming down my face as well because I had witnessed this tender moment.

Today I was thinking about Irene and missing her and thought I would bring a pie to Irene’s niece, Shirley. Though I’d never been to her house, I just took a chance that she would be home… and I was lucky because she was. We sat and talked for a while and I learned that she has recently been through a very difficult time. And then she told me that tomorrow she and her husband will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. How fortunate that I was able to bring a pie in time to celebrate that amazing milestone. It was when I was driving home that I wondered if perhaps Irene had been whispering in my ear to go and visit her niece and send her love. At least I’d like to think it could have had something to do with her.

Day 247: Bringing Shakespeare to the schools

9 Dec

Tonight we had two visitors at our house, Chris and Orion. These men are actors with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland but they have something else in common. They are the two actors that have just spent eight weeks on the road bringing the works of Shakespeare to children through OSF’s School Visit Program. Here is an excerpt from the OSF website: When a team of two actors visits a school, students see and hear works of Shakespeare and other great writers presented in ways that relate to their own experiences and engage their imaginations.

Chris and Orion have been friends of my daughter Alexandra for a few years now and before they left on the school tour they performed a short piece of their presentation for us. One could easily see how these two men could inspire students and make them excited about Shakespeare and theatre in general. They are both very personable and engaging and they breathe life into the works that they perform. How fortunate for our children that this experience is available!

Chris and Orion are on their way home this week… one to Los Angeles, the other to Portland. But before they depart, they will share some Cranberry Apple Pie with my daughter. I will leave you with a line that Chris wrote on our chalkboard on Alexandra’s birthday, “You doth teach the torches to burn bright.”

Day 196: Chuck and Mardy

19 Oct

Karen and Mardy

About 25 years ago, when we came to Ashland to attend Southern Oregon State College, my husband convinced me to take up a sport.  For some reason, I thought that racquetball would be a good sport to learn and so I signed up.  At the time, I knew little about the sport except that it was played indoors and looked fun.  Then the reality of the sport set in: you play in a closed room with people that are hitting a ball hard – which means someone can get hurt.

What I remember about my first couple of classes is that I never hit the ball at all.  It seemed to always be zooming by me or at me and I never got around to hitting it.  And then one day I was on the court with a few classmates and finally the ball came my way at a speed that I could manage and I hit it!  It was the first time I had ever hit the ball!  My euphoria was short-lived however because one of my teammates turned around to see where the ball had gone… and WHACK! It hit him in the face and knocked off AND BROKE his glasses.  Can you believe it? Instead of being thrilled that I hit the ball I was instead apologizing profusely to Chuck… who was not too taken with me at that time.

Somehow, even after that auspicious beginning, my husband became good friends with Chuck. Maybe Chuck took pity on him for living with a such dangerous woman; I don’t know for sure.  What I do know is that because of their friendship, I became friends with Chuck’s wife Mardy and we’ve been friends ever since.

Mardy and Chuck were there to help us when we moved up to Portland as they had moved up several years earlier.  We stayed with them for a few days while we searched for an apartment and they helped whenever they could with whatever we needed.  Having friends in town made our move quite a bit less stressful.

Mardy helped me out in other ways as well.  She was the one who made my first business card for me.  I’d been catering for friends for a while and Mardy often worked with me, and she kept telling me I needed a business card but I never got around to making  one.  One day she showed up and handed my a few cards that she’d printed for me with the name “Kaleidoscope Katering”.   It was perfect – and finally customers had a way to get in touch with me…. thanks to Mardy.

One of the things that I admire about Chuck and Mardy is that they seem to make the best of a situation.  They both work hard, are willing to take on challenging tasks, and are incredibly flexible.  Where someone else might be deterred, they seem to find a way to make things work out.  It’s really inspiring.

We moved back to Ashland in 1995 but have maintained our relationship with Chuck and Mardy.  Sometimes they travel down to see us; more often, we travel north and stay with them.  Last evening we arrived in Portland after leaving the coast and spent the evening at their lovely condo.  We decided to go out to eat and found ourselves at The Oregon Culinary Institute where we enjoyed a wonderful four course meal.  After dinner, Mardy and I went to the store to buy a few ingredients for a pie and early this morning I got up to make that pie.

Pie ingredients with Chuck in the background

While the pie baked, Chuck and Emile played a game of chess… while I snapped a few shots of the view from their living room.

Emile and Chuck

The view north

Once the pie was finally done, I left it to cool on their marble countertop.   I hope they know how grateful we are for all they have done for us.  We are very happy to have met them and become friends, and except for that tiny incident with the racquetball, I think Chuck would agree.

Apple Crumb Crust Pie

Day 158: A Circle of Friends

11 Sep

When we were living in Portland about 20 years ago, we met Julie and her husband because we lived in the same apartment building as them. They had recently moved from Oklahoma. They were both funny, smart and told interesting stories and we loved spending time with them. It wasn’t long before they began to introduce us to their friends and we became a part of that circle. Randy and Deirdre, also from Oklahoma, were among that group of friends who welcomed us.

We’ve shared a lot over the last two decades. Julie was there when my husband and I went to the hospital to deliver my son. She (and my husband) spent many hours walking with me, rubbing my back and helping me make it through the night. She says I was a bit melodramatic near the end – and she is probably right. As I look back, I don’t know if I ever really thanked her for being there with us – Julie, I hope you know that I was honored to have your company.

A month or so later, Randy and Deirdre attended a wedding I agreed to cater when I was still pregnant. I guess I didn’t think things through very well because when the wedding date arrived, I had a plan for everything except what to do with my new baby during the event. Luckily, Randy and Deirdre offered to hold him and keep him for me while I prepared and served the meal. Thanks to both of them my son and I both made it through the reception okay.

Over the years, we’ve shared some challenging times as we have each had to deal with a variety of life’s crisis but we have shared wonderfully joyous times as well. One extra special moment was when Julie married Mike a few years ago. How they met is a long and fascinating story that includes a hurricane, a flood, a bunch of cats and several cross country drives. We are all thrilled that they found each other!

After not seeing each other for a long while, tonight we gathered at Randy and Deirdre’s and shared a feast. We toasted new jobs, an outstanding graduate, grants sent in and papers published, a new non profit, a grand opening, (working towards) a year of pies, and Randy, a man who can smoke olive oil and make chocolate covered bacon ice cream. AMAZING! I thank my lucky stars that we found that apartment in Portland, which lead to meeting this wonderful circle of friends.

Day 71: A Friend Indeed

17 Jun

About sixteen years ago we moved into our house in Ashland. We’d left behind a 1908 Craftsman home in Portland to move into a 1978 ranch style house in a neighborhood called Quiet Village. It was not the house I dreamed of at all. And after the five hour drive with my not quite two year old I was tired and cranky. When I walked inside I was met by the smell of the carpet; not a good sign. As I tried to fall asleep I wondered if we’d made a mistake in moving into this house. The next morning, my husband went outside to get something from the car and returned with a mason jar filled with flowers with a note that said: Welcome Neighbors! From Anny, Daniel, Deb and Armo. I teared up and said, “Okay the house is awful, but at least we have good neighbors!”

Over the years, we have shared so much with these neighbors. We have mourned the loss of family together as well as the loss of our pets. We have shared our gifts: Deb is a wonderful gardener and brings flowers to our table; I love to bake and often surprise them with a treat for their morning coffee. We take care of things for each other when we take a vacation and our homes are like a second pantry as far as household things go. How much more can one ask for?

Today, Deb came to my rescue (again) when I was in a bind and needed some help with a project. She just put down what she was doing and hurried over to help me. She has done this before and I can’t believe how lucky I am that she is there. It is really such a blessing to have neighbors that are also friends. Imagine if this was true for everyone… what a wonderful world that would be.

A few years ago, Deb found out that she is gluten intolerant. Since that time I have learned to bake many things differently with her in mind. Today, I made her a crustless lemon curd pie with raspberries and whipped cream. I did not know it was a favourite dessert of hers from her childhood. And I wish I could show you a picture of it… but I am just learning to use my new camera and today’s “pie” picture is not available. What I can say is that it was delicious – because Deb shared it. I think this is the first pie in 71 that I have actually tasted – and it was well worth the wait!