Missing Pieces, The Sequel

Last week’s blog generated lots of conversation. Several people requested that I post photos of those hand-written recipes from the 1930s I wrote about; even more wanted to know how the pie turned out.

“As you wish,” as Westley of The Princess Bride would say.

Below are photos of the recipes and the women they came from, my maternal grandmother and her sister. They were gritty, independent, no-nonsense women who followed their hearts and their own drummer regardless of what “conventional wisdom” said, and were as capable and comfortable working outside the house as they were inside.

As for the pie, well, I didn’t make the pie.

Just like I was come lately to Mary Oliver’s poetry, my daughter Lisa came lately to cooking from scratch. Early on, with a physically demanding factory job and a small child, there wasn’t time and energy for that. Things are different now. She works retail, not the paint line, and the toddler is a teenager.   

She texted me out of the blue last Friday (an unexpected day off for her) to ask if I needed anything from the store or wanted to come with her, since she was going grocery shopping. I made an executive decision to forego cleaning and went. I can clean house anytime (or not); we rarely have the chance to do things together during the work week.

I told her about the blog and wanting to try making Aunt Mary’s chocolate pie, and she thought we should go for it. We got groceries, came home, and consulted all the chocolate pie recipes we could find to ballpark the ingredient amounts – my daughter-in-law Deborah’s mom’s legendary Fudgey Chocolate Pie recipe; The Fanny Farmer Cookbook; the 1935 Mason County Home Bureau Cookbook, the 1952 edition of Meta Givens’ Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, and The Pioneer Woman.

When we figured out the proportions, I made another executive decision and suggested she make the pie. I talked her through the pie crust and the filling and gave suggestions as needed, but she really didn’t need that much help.

It was So. Much. Fun. to spend the day hanging out, learning the ins and outs of Aunt Mary's chocolate pie together, and sharing family stories and pictures with Lisa so she could learn not just how to bake a pie from scratch, but also who she was and where and who she came from. (She has, we discovered, a lot of Aunt Mary in her).

The day was such a gift. And I am so grateful and blessed.

My friend @kpatt5 captured what I experienced perfectly in the opening line of her Wednesday morning Instagram post: “Joy is hidden in what are simple daily tasks, and appreciation or gratitude is the light that makes it shine.”

In the simple daily tasks of grocery shopping, cooking, and talking with my daughter, I found pure joy. What was an even bigger deal for me was being able to experience that joy in the moment.

When loss of the magnitude I suffered when Bill died becomes part of your life, joy can be hard to come by. All those experiences that would normally be joyful ones wind up first being filtered through the (often painful) reminder that the one you love is no longer physically present with you to share them. You have to wade through all of that before you can feel anything else.

Last Friday I felt joy and gratitude first.

That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten Bill or miss him any less. It means that healing is ever so gradually taking place and The Holy One, through the gift of my friend’s words, gave me “eyes to see and ears to hear” it.

Since this is a sequel, I want to hear the rest of your story too. I asked at the end of last week’s post what next step you were going to take. I’m curious. What did you do?


Oh, and the pie? The pie was amazing and fabulous, and we will definitely be making it again.


A Litany of Thanksgiving

We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the US next week, but it is never too early (or too late) to offer gratitude.  Giving thanks is never out of season, and rather than a once a year or occasional practice, it is (or should be) a way of life, woven into and embedded in the fabric of our moment-by-moment existence.  The Litany of Thanksgiving that follows is what I am most grateful for at the moment.  As you read, I invite you to use my words and thoughts as prompts for creating your own.


A Litany of Thanksgiving

For music and singing,

joyful noises and rhythmic beats,

harmony and melody, praise and lament…

… and for the musicians whose gifts of song

personally touch my heart, bring me joy,

and transport me into the presence of the Holy.

For the glory of nature:

stunning vistas, earth’s bounty,

crunching leaves, gentle rain,

rolling waves, spectacular sunsets,

blinking fireflies, crystal snowflakes…

…and for the photographers who capture

and share all these images and more.  You feed my soul.

For light that shines in the darkness and illumines our days:

the pink edge of dawn, cloudless sunny skies,

glowing candles, silver moonbeams, starlit nights…

 …and for those who offer their light to me and to our world.


For simple pleasures: morning coffee, afternoon tea,

walks on the beach, clean, cool water,

good books, creating and crafting…

…and time to enjoy them.

For life and all that infuses it with meaning:

holidays and Holy days, first cries and last breaths,

compassion and care, laughter and story-telling,

history and heritage, anticipation and memory,

companionship and communion…

…especially Sunday breakfasts, Thursday lunches,

and Friday night dinners.

For those who share my life and share their gifts:

family and friends, artists and poets,

writers and readers, comics and muses…

…especially my companions on this writing journey

and our Wednesday calls and Saturday afternoon gatherings.

For raw beauty, fierce determination,

brazen hope, defiant faith, relentless trust,

unbridled joy, cleansing tears.

For those who also walk “the valley of the shadow”,

whose shared experience binds my life to theirs. 

Your encouragement, love and support offer me visions

of possibility and life,

even in the face of death.


For redemption, reconciliation,

restoration, resolution, Resurrection.

For Sacred mystery,

unlimited grace, unparalleled peace;

for Love that will not let us go

and which companions us in all things

and through all things.

To each one of you and for each one of you, dear readers,

I offer my deepest thanks

for your companionship on this grand adventure! 

May your days be filled with blessing and gratitude,

grace and peace.