Tag Archives: Stephan

Day 148: My first international pie

1 Sep

Today we said “Goodbye” to Stephan, our Rotary exchange student from Germany. Actually, Stephan was our exchange student 5 years ago. This time around he was “family” home for a visit. We all had so much fun with him – remembering the moments we shared in the past and enjoying the young man he has become. Stephan could probably be a poster child for the Rotary Youth Exchange.

Stephan was here for a month and during that time he reconnected with his high school classmates, visited his former host parents, and enjoyed the amenities of southern Oregon. He had a great time – as did we all. It was almost as if he’d never left; it was really wonderful.

This morning I woke up early to bake a pie for Stephan to take home to his parents, Christian and Gabby. I made yet another brownie pie because this pie had 6,000 miles to travel. I topped it with dark chocolate espresso toffee from Cary’s of Oregon. It is just a small gift to thank them for letting us spend a month with their son – who has become like a son to us.

I think that this is the goal of the Rotary Youth Exchange program – that we get to really know the people involved, and then we begin to care about them, and then we grow to love them. When this happens, we focus less on our differences and instead we begin to see how similar we are. Then the world becomes a little bit better for all of us.

I’ll end with some music by Iz Kamakawiwo’ole

Day 138: Kool 103

22 Aug


When I was about 13 years old, there was a radio contest in New York City. It was held near Valentine’s Day and there were several ways to win, one of which was to send in the largest Valentine to the station. IF you sent in the “largest” Valentine you won the Grand Prize, but if you sent in one of the top ten “largest” Valentine’s, you won two tickets to a Broadway show. My Mom had a roll of red vinyl that was more than 100 feet long and I made it into a Valentine. It was really heavy and so instead of trying to mail it in, my Mom drove me to Manhattan and I brought the Valentine to the station. And lo and behold, I won two tickets to the show “A Little Night Music” which I gave to my Mom and Dad for their anniversary. I think that was all it took to get me hooked on radio contests.

Over the years I have played many radio games and won quite a few prizes. I think that I will save more of that for another post. Today I want to mention the contest that I won about a week ago. It was on a station called “Kool 103” and you had to name 5 things in a category in 10 seconds. My category was “pizza restaurants” and I was able to name the required number of places in the allotted time. And what did I win? A rafting trip with Noah’s River Adventures

It was only when the DJ, Nikki, started describing the class 3 and 4 rapids that I remembered “I have a broken rib.” I knew immediately that I could not go on that trip. But what a trip it would be! Spending an entire day on the upper Klamath – damn! How could I miss this? Well, I had to. There was no way I could subject myself to this and so I thought about who could go on this adventure. And the “who” turned out to be my neighbor Daniel and our exchange student Stephan. They were both eager to go and it felt good to be able to give them this amazing opportunity.

When they came home from the river trip last night, Daniel and Stephan were both tired and appreciative. They could not say enough wonderful things about the day they’d had. And so today, I knew that I would bring a pie to the station to thank them for this gift. This is not the first time I have brought food to the staff. In fact, the folks there know that if I win, they are soon to receive a home-baked treat of some kind. I have been told, “You don’t need to bake something every-time you win.” But I disagree. I am grateful for all the prizes that I win and want to thank them each and every time. It’s a legacy of sorts – and I like to be known for bringing goodies wherever I go. If that isn’t a good way to be remembered, I don’t know what is.

Day 137: For Mikey

21 Aug

My daughter Alex writes a blog that you can see here. She shares her thoughts on fashion, food and living in Copenhagen. About a week ago she shared a post about a food blogger named Jenny who had lost her husband suddenly.

At the time, I was not able to read Jenny’s blog because I was gearing up for this past weekend’s wedding. However, today I took the time to read through some of it. If you can do this without crying (or at least choking up a bit) you are probably made of stone. My heart goes out to Jenny and her children during this very difficult time.

And this from Jenny’s blog: For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

How amazing that in her grief she came up with such a wonderful idea – asking us all to take the time to show our loved ones how much they mean to us – and to do so with such a delicious treat. It is similar to what I am doing with my pies – taking the time to focus on someone and let them know that they are cared for and appreciated.

Because this weekend is sort of an unusual one (our neighbor Daniel is visiting from Houston, and our Rotary exchange student Stephan is visiting from Germany), it seemed fitting to share this pie as part of our Sunday night family dinner with our dear neighbors. (I made only one change – I used gluten free peanut butter cookies for the crust).

I encourage you all to follow Jenny’s suggestion and make this pie- the recipe is easy, the pie is delicious and you will be spreading love in the world. What a lovely thing to do.

Day 131: Ken

15 Aug


Ken and Stephan

My family met Ken more than 10 years ago when we were out hiking in the mountains. We kept going up and up and I couldn’t wait until we reached the summit. After what seemed like a very long time, there we were – at the top of the mountain. And what was there? A fire lookout tower!

I’d never been to a fire lookout tower before and really didn’t know much about them. The lookout, Ken, was happy to have some company and invited us in for a “tour.” That day I learned that from the tower you can see in all directions – and a fire lookouts job is to watch the surrounding area for signs of fire.

Ken remembers that on that first day I was not in a very good mood. I was hot and tired and didn’t seem much interested in the view. I looked around and found a photo album and began to flip through the pages. On one page I found a classmate from my college days and I asked Ken why he had a picture of this gal in his album. “That’s my daughter Lynn” he told me. It was incomprehensible to me that this man and my friend were related. What were the odds of that happening?

From that day we have made it a point to visit Ken at least once a year at his tower. I have always tried to bring him a treat of some kind or another. And today was no different. In fact, today I made two “pies.” The first pie was a sweet treat for Ken – a strawberry-raspberry-rhubarb crumb crust pie. And then I thought that by the time we got up to the tower it would be dinner time and so I baked a broccoli cheddar frittata (which is just a quiche without the crust).

As always, Ken was tickled to see us. He showed our exchange student Stephan all around the tower and explained how he located and called in a fire. And today Ken told us that there are only three lookouts left – that the rest of the towers have switched to using cameras instead of firefighters. He said it was a “cost-efficient” move. But we who have been to the top of the mountain, know that this kind of experience cannot be replaced with a camera.

Tonight I offer my thanks to all the men and women who have worked as fire lookouts. It is an incredible service that you have rendered to your community.

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.