Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The phone rang, and before I said hello, my friend Kary said, "Look out your window. I've got my cat in the kitty carrier and I'm ready to go. Flames are coming up over Terrace Hill." I ran to our front door and saw a line of smoke and flames licking up the ridge about a mile from our house. Fires were raging in Santa Barbara and Montecito, and it looked as though San Luis Obispo would be next.

Jeff and I gathered some boxes and began a short, very short, list of the things we would save if the wind changed and the fire headed our way. Funny, but I found that the only things that REALLY mattered were the very simplest things imaginable.

First, I grabbed a basket of photographs from the chest in front of our sofa. Instead of traditional scrapbooks, I keep the photos out and available to everyone and find that nobody can sit in the living room without pawing through the basket of memories. I'm no exception. I can't imagine losing the years of images of beloved people (and dogs) the basket contains.

Next, I took my Grandmother Lovejoy and Grandmother Clarke's framed recipe from the kitchen wall. They were both famous for their Heavenly Pie, and I feel so lucky to have their recipes written in their hands.

Great, Great Grandmother Mitchell's Pennsylvania sampler, Great Grandmother Baker's Pennsylvania sampler, my old teddy bear Patience and her side-kicks Acorn, Raggle-Taggle (the earless bear given to me by Beth Mather), and Tiny Tim, the fearless bunny followed.

Jeff, ever the practical and dependable, checked business records, computer files, and insurance papers off the list. I searched for my box of family recipes and pulled my orginal art work out of the storage cupboard as I reached for a stack of family letters from the late 1800s.

"No more THINGS," I said. Let's take photos so we can remember everything, but I can't handle any more stuff," I said as I closed a lid and tucked the four flaps inside. 

Within the hour, the 60 mph winds shifted, and the fire that raced down the hillsides did an abrupt turn and began to climb up the ridge. Borate bombers dropped chemical retardants and firemen from throughout the county fanned up the hill and fought it in a hand-to-hand combat style. 

We were lucky, much luckier than those who lost their life histories, but not their lives, in the fires that raged through our parched California landscape. The common refrain we heard was exactly what we said to each other, "as long as our family, friends, and animals are safe, we'll survive." In the end, what really matters are the intangible and immeasurable things in our precious and fragile lives.

Grandmother and Nonie's Award Winning (and delectable) Heavenly Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 eggs (separated)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon peel finely grated
1 pint heavy cream

Sift together 1 cup of the sugar and add the cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites until stiffy, but not dry. Then, gradually add the sugar mixture, continuing to beat until thoroughly blended, use to line bottom and sides of a 9 or 10 inch greased pie pan being careful not to spread too close to the rim. Bake in slow oven at 275 degrees for 1 hour, then cool. Beat the egg yolks slightly, then stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the lemon juice and peel.
Cook in a double boiler until very thick, about 10 or 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Whip the cream, combine half of it with the lemon and egg mixture and use to fill the shell.

Cover with remaining whipped cream. Chill in refrigerator about 24 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

Holiday blessings,



Beachbum said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I am definitely enjoying the people and doing less this holiday. It is far more relaxing!

We love the Roots Shoots - so will await for the new book you are working on.

I am glad to hear you were spared in the fires. Here we had them last year. Scary stuff.

I have my Grandma's bowl, rolling pin and egg noodle well as many other treasures. I think they taste better with the extra love that is in them! I still have to go to my Auntie's to get the best peanut brittle - Grandma's recipe, too.

Thanks, again.

Happy Holidays!

Linda Hoye said...

I enjoyed seeing those things you treasure. Love the picture basket and the framed recipes. I may have to borrow those ideas if you don't mind.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Linda, I would LOVE for you to borrow my ideas. Ideas are only good if they appeal to others.

Wishing you holiday joys,