Tag Archives: Shirley

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 195: Shirley

18 Oct

We are still on vacation… and left Newport today to head into Portland, OR.   But before we leave Newport, let me tell you that the weather on the coast this weekend was SPECTACULAR!!!  Here is a photo I took of my husband and our friends near the beach this morning:

Yesterday I talked about how Bonnie Good found me a place to bake my pies in Newport, Oregon.  And I don’t know how she found me a place to bake those pies – or what words she used to persuade anyone.    When we talked later in the day, Bonnie told me that she had spoken to Shirley who works at the senior center in Newport and she told her that I needed a place to bake my pies.  And Shirley said I could come on over.  She seemed to “get” this pie project and thought it made perfect sense.  Bonnie thought that was just wonderful… as did I.

So, yesterday, I baked two pies at the senior center.  One of those pies I gave to Bonnie because she was kind enough to find me a place to bake… and she did not have to do that.  But she did.  And that meant so much… that she was willing to help me on my pie journey.

And the second pie… today’s pie, was given to Shirley, the person who manages the senior center kitchen.  Shirley told me that she had some folks in mind for the pie I had made and she knew how much they would appreciate it.

What was so wonderful about these two women was that they were taken with my project and really wanted to help me succeed.  Shirley showed me the kitchen and let me bake my pies… and Bonnie lead me to Shirley.  What luck I had in  finding these two women… without them I would have had trouble completing my mission.

Yesterday afternoon I got a note card from Bonnie.  Inside she had written “It’s not always better to give than receive.  The pie was delicious!”  Thank you Bonnie… and Shirley… for your trust, for your willingness to help another person, for your compassion.   I wish you both the very best.

Day 115: Shirley

30 Jul

Fresh Cherry Scones

Today is Saturday and most Saturdays I try and spend time at the Rotary Garden. I’m not much of a gardener, but I love to help with this project (we raise fresh produce for the Ashland Emergency Food Bank) and I also like getting to know my fellow Rotarians better. Often I bring a snack for the group and today I made these scones with the last of the fresh cherries that I had purchased. They were really tasty – and the farm crew seemed most appreciative.

When I got home from the garden I wanted to make a pie and realized that I was out of pie dough. And a number of people have told me that they cannot make pie dough so I thought I would share my method with you. Now, this recipe makes enough pie dough for 8 pies so you will have to break it down, but mostly I want you to see the process.

Pie Dough
5 cups Whole Wheat Flour
5 cups All Purpose Flour
24 ounces butter
4 tsp. salt
2 cups ice water

Now the first step is to get your ingredients together. Mix the flours and salt together. Cut the butter into small cubes.

Now, add the butter to the dry ingredients. There are many tools that you can use to mix the butter and flour, but today I used my hands. It works for me to do it this way, and I think it’s a good way to do it.

Once the flour and butter resembles this coarse crumb mixture, you are ready to add the ice water. Add the water all at once and mix only until combined. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH!

Gently mold the dough into a shape so that you can divide it into the portions you need. For my purposes I use a scale to weigh my dough portions and from this recipe create 8 portions, each weighing 10 ounces.

When I am ready to make a pie, I take out a piece of the dough and roll it out. If you look carefully, you can see that the dough is “marbled.” This is good – it means that the crust will be flaky.

Finally, I flute the edges of the pie crust once it is rolled out and placed in the pie tin. Now I am ready to prepare the fruit for the pie. Today, I cut up some Fuji Apples and tossed them with butter, sugar and a bit of flour and placed them in the crust. I topped that off with crumb topping and popped the pie into the oven while I decided where to take the pie.

Yesterday’s pie traveled far, and so it just seemed right that today’s pie should stay close to home, and so after the pie was done I walked less than a block to a neighbor’s house whom I had not yet met. Shirley met me at the door and welcomed me in to talk about the pie I was delivering. It wasn’t long before she told me about the neighborhood before I’d moved here, about the family that used to live in my house, about her life and family. We spent over an hour talking about all kinds of things.

When it was time to go, Shirley thanked me again for the pie and said, “I bet you’re making all kinds of friends doing this (giving away pies).” And I’d have to say, that at the very least, the people who have received a pie know that I care about them. And that’s a very good thing.