Tag Archives: strawberry rhubarb pie

August Pies

1 Sep

What follows are few pie stories I’d like to share from the last month…

IMG_1486 (1)

Early in August I made a pie for a woman named Pam who owns two golden retrievers named Milo and Chester.  Often I will see Pam when I am out for my morning walk and for a few minutes I get to be loved and snuggled by her furry companions.  Recently Pam told me that she would soon be moving to the coast and I asked if I could make her a pie before she left.  She readily agreed and when I asked where she lived, Pam pointed to an alley and said she lived “at the second house in.”

It never occurred to me to ask for her address… or what her house looked like.  So about a week later when I made the pie for Pam and set out to deliver it I found myself knocking on door after door trying to locate her.  Finally I knocked on a door and a man answered. “Does Pam live here?” I asked, and he said, “I’ll be Pam if I get to keep the pie!” We laughed and then he said, “Pam lives next door.” At last I’d found Pam and her husband, Mike, at home and they were tickled.  It just so happens that the next day was Mike’s birthday! It had all worked out perfectly.  However, instead of just expecting to find my next pie recipient, I might just ask for their address and phone number just in case!


Sadly during this month I have also made pies for two people facing terminal illnesses way too young. My heart breaks for my friends and their families and yet I am also deeply moved by their courage in facing death.  They are using the time that they have left to be with those that they love most. Spending time together and sharing their stories and getting ready for goodbye.  They’ve been dealt a hand that no one would want, and yet, they are living out their final days with grace and love.


Finally, last weekend I made a pie with my old friend Lauretta and her husband, Uwe. They had come to Oregon to see the solar eclipse and then afterwards came to visit me. After a relaxing weekend of visiting, on Sunday morning Lauretta and I gathered ingredients to make a pie.  As I nibbled on a piece of cold Calzone, Lauretta noticed and immediately we both began singing a few lines from a Christine Lavin tune “Cold pizza for Breakfast.” It was so awesome to find ourselves on the same wavelength after so many years!  Later, we sent this photo to Christine and told her that we’d been thinking of her!


Lauretta and me with her Strawberry Rhubarb pie.


Lauretta and Uwe with “Wilbur” their pop top camper.


What ties all these disparate stories together? I’m not really sure.  Maybe it’s just about me trying to make sense of this crazy life… and also trying to trust the universe and absolutely loving it when things work out.  Sending love from me to you.

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”  Margaret Shepard


Giving Thanks with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

5 Jun


Last week I was in West Palm Beach, Florida trying to help my Dad figure out what he is going to do once he leaves the rehab facility.  In a way, I know he would be happy staying there because he knows  the routine and has learned to negotiate the situation, but unfortunately that is not an option.

Next steps  was a difficult topic for us both to discuss.   I know that my Dad would prefer to stay in Florida, but he can’t live alone right now and he has no one to live with there.   Knowing that there weren’t many options, I offered him a place in our home for a while.   I am hoping that this will at least give us some time to explore the possibilities.

While in Florida, I made a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for my Dad’s surgeon, Dr. Miguel Lopez-Viego.  He was the doctor who performed Dad’s carotid surgery a few weeks ago.  When I met Dr. Lopez-Viego in March, I had given him my card so that his office could get in touch with me in an emergency.  He noticed the sketch of a woman holding a pie and asked if I made Strawberry Rhubarb pies.  Then he told me that he had once had a Strawberry Rhubarb pie and loved it, but because rhubarb doesn’t grow in Florida, he hasn’t had one since.

Knowing that story, and feeling tremendously grateful that my Dad’s surgery had gone well, I brought some fresh rhubarb from Oregon on the plane with me when I flew out to see my Dad.  As soon as I had the chance (remember I was spending many hours a day with my Dad at the facility) I put together a pie for Dr. Lopez-Viego.  As it was cooling I realized I had no idea if I would be able to deliver it to him… would he be in the office?  in surgery?  on vacation?

strawberry rhubarb pie

When I called his office, I heard the familiar recording and when I was prompted, left a very long (and dare I say unusual?) message for Nurse Annie that went something like this: “Hi Annie, this is Karen Amarotico, my Dad is a patient.  This will sound strange, but I made a pie for the doctor and want to deliver it today, but don’t know where to bring it to…”  Then I left my number and hung up and wondered how long it would be before I heard from Annie.

A short time later, my cell phone rang and it was Annie – the doctor was in his office and I could deliver the pie there.  Less than thirty minutes (and a torrential rainstorm) later, I delivered the pie to the receptionist with this request, “I made this to thank Dr. Lopez-Viego for taking care of my Dad.  Please give him a hug for me” and with that, I left.  About ten minutes later, the doctor called my cell to thank me for the pie and said it was delicious.   It felt good to know that I could do something special for him, since he had worked so hard to help my Dad.  And though Dr. Lopez-Viego is paid to do just that, I know that a gift from the heart is never bad idea.

You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.  Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Day 121: The Southern Oregon Humane Society

5 Aug

While listening to the radio the other day I heard that the Southern Oregon Humane Society (SOHS) was in serious need of donations to continue its work. What follows are a few facts about SOHS that you might not know: 1) Animals are never euthanized to make room for other animals, 2) It costs about $11 per day to care for each animal, 3) Approximately 12.5% of the humane society’s budget is received through adoptions,etc. The remaining funds must come from contributions by private citizens, businesses and foundations.

I wanted to bring a pie to this fine organization yesterday, but things didn’t work out too well. And that is why I baked a strawberry rhubarb pie today for the staff and volunteers at the humane society. I appreciate the work that they do and want to support their efforts on behalf of the animals that they save.

For more information on how you can help, please call the Southern Oregon Humane Society at 541-779-3215, ext. 110 or visit them at 2910 Table Rock Road, Medford, OR.

Day 99: Uncle Charlie

14 Jul

This morning I was pretty busy and did not get around to making a pie until about 2 PM. As I was cutting the fruit and rolling the crust I wondered, once again, who’s pie is this? After I placed the pie in the oven, I sat down to check my email and found a message from a friend asking “Do you take requests?” She mentioned that her Uncle Charlie was housebound and she thought that he would really appreciate a pie – and she also told me where he lived. I now knew the pie’s destination. Don’t you just love how these pie “questions” get answered?

Late this afternoon, I arrived at the house where Charlie is now living. I introduced myself to his caregiver and told her that I had made Charlie a Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Pie. She thanked me and then brought me in to see Charlie. After a brief introduction, Charlie and I settled in for a visit.

Charlie told me so many great stories in the short time I was there. For example, he went into the Army in 1942 and served in World War II. He spent time in northern Africa, Italy and Switzerland. One day, when he was in Italy, his men were in an olive grove early in the morning. Charlie heard a plane overhead and instinctively dove for cover. He said, “That day fifteen men showed up for duty. The next day, only seven were left.” He told me that he’d been in five combat areas and all he could attribute his survival to was “luck.”

Charlie also told me about how he went into business with a man “on a handshake.” He commented on how “that’s not how they do things nowadays.” He also mentioned that he’d told someone that he was interested in buying her property “when she was ready to sell.” Twenty five years later, when she was ready to sell, others showed interest in buying the property. All of those “others” were told “It’s already been sold.” That was back at a time when people gave their word and it really meant something.

I am very glad that I was able to visit with Charlie and it was great fun to hear his stories. I hope that I get the chance to visit with him again soon. It’s nice to visit the past when you have someone to show you around who has been there.

Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.
— Louisa May Alcott (Little Men)

Day 34: Mother’s Day in Mexico

11 May

In Mexico, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on May 10th since 1922.  In the US, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on the second Sunday in May since 1914.  It is likely that many times over the years these two celebrations have occurred on the same day.  What is most important is that both countries have established days to honor the mother’s of the nation.

Today I wanted to honor a woman who has been a friend and co-worker for many years.  We come from different worlds but deep down we are the same:  we love our children fiercely and would do anything for them.  We don’t know how to behave any other way.

To my friend, I want you to know that I share your joys and your sorrows, for your journey is mine as well.

A hundred years from now… it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. -Kathy Davis

Day 31: Bernie

8 May

If you look carefully,  you will see a path that my cats have made in the grass from my house to my neighbor, Bernie’s.

When we moved into our home 16 years ago, Bernie was our backyard neighbor. He was retired and was sort of quiet; we were a noisy bunch busy with kids and work and so we did not become close friends. However, in his own way, Bernie has become a great neighbor. We have shared gifts from our yards – roses from our yard, cherries from his tree.

As far as I know, Bernie has never had a pet. We, on the other hand, have had a steady stream of pets in our household: 2 Mice, 2 Rats, 2 Bunnies, 2 Fish, 1 Dog, 6 Cats. When you have children, it seems that pets just become part of the mix. My husband and I had two cats before we had children: I thought of it as a trial run. Okay, I now know that there is no comparison but at the time I thought that if we survived pets, we might be able to handle children.

What I did not consider at the time is that I might need help. And in his quiet way, Bernie has been a help. He has given our cats a much needed respite from our busy household. In his lovely British accent he has told me, on more than one occasion, “Well, I gave him some salmon, I hope you don’t mind.” Mind? Are you kidding? No wonder my cats have beaten a path to your door!

This evening I would like to offer my thanks to Bernie for his help with our numerous pets. He has given them a safe berth when they most needed it and for that we are grateful.

Day 23: In Margie’s Honor

30 Apr

Margie moved in next door to us a few years after we moved into our home in Ashland.  She was in her eighties and was still quite spry.  You would see her out in the yard pulling out weeds and doing other chores that much younger people would have long forsaken.  She was a grandmother and she loved the location of her home because she could hear the sounds of children as they walked to and from school.  Best of all, Margie loved living next door to a family with small children.  That turned out to be an incredible blessing for me.

At that time, I was working early mornings as a baker and would leave for work before my children were awake.  When I came home from work, I still had a lot of work ahead of me – as many mothers do.  My saving grace was Margie.  When I was at the end of my rope and my kids were needing attention I could call upon Margie.  I might ask my kids to go ask Margie for an ingredient for dinner or I might send them to bring her something I had made that day.  My children looked forward to spending time with Margie – she had toys for them to play with, she loved hearing about their days,  and  now and then she offered them a sweet treat.  She was their next-door Grandma – and she was a lifesaver for me.  She gave me a break when I most needed it.  And I am forever grateful to her for that.

This weekend, Margie’s family is gathering to celebrate her life.  I delivered a lovely Strawberry Rhubarb  Pie to Margie’s daughter, Katharine, so that she could share it with her siblings and their families.   I hope they know how lovely it was to have Margie as a neighbor and a friend.  We will cherish the memory of her always.