Monday, February 17, 2014

We talked about our dogs (hi Laurey)

She has always been there

In my mountains, Laurey has always been a part of the view. When I came to Asheville to bake bread, Laurey patted the empty seat next door on Biltmore Ave. We thanked her at our home with dinner and my bread; she brought a strawberry cake that had beautiful, crisp, meringue layers and a generosity of whipped cream. She had understood immediately what I wanted to do here and knew that it would work.

So we opened Blue Moon Bakery next to her tiny kitchen and storefront at 60 Biltmore. She used her space to cook and to meet catering clients. She hoped our bakery cafe would thrive and helped to spread the word. 

Our first Thanksgiving celebration in Asheville was in that small storefront; she had cooked for the crowd. There were about 20 of us, friends, employees, family and neighbors. A kind of guest of honor was her nephew who traveled with a nurse. He had been very badly burned and could no longer care for himself, but he had Laurey's spirit and refused to quit. And Laurey taught all of us (or at least me) to fight back against the instinct to cringe with pity. She loved her nephew and wanted to share her friends with him and he with them. 

She had already dealt with round 1 of her cancer battle. She is tough, we all know that. I admired her grit and wanted some. But the real gift I have from Laurey has been the rewiring of my mind. I've always been too cool. The protective layer of cleverness, sophistication and sardonic wit are the tools I use to keep emotions in check. I have privately snorted at all of the repeated phrases that form the soundtrack of living in these mountains. Be here now, live and let live, one day at a time, you doin' all right? 'preciate you?, have a blessed day and, worst of all,..Don't Postpone Joy.

I thought (again, to myself), what the hell does that mean? It's just a cute way of saying, "buy more of my food." A Chamber of Commerce slogan and something to embroider on a pillow. A bumper sticker and I never use bumper stickers, what could be less cool than a bumper sticker? I have always been a land snark. I almost feel apologetic for all of my cynicism. Almost. And it would have to be an apology to myself.

Of course that hasn't lasted, I've softened. I've mellowed for a lot of reasons but the greatest piece of it has been because I've directly witnessed and experienced so many expressions of love in the 22 years that I have been here. There have been many, many powerful examples of heroic living. As I think of friends who are gone and all of us who have come close, I see that I am changed. I no longer have time to be cynical. For myself and for everyone that I can touch I need to thank Laurey for her demand that we generate positive thought and choose joy.

The last time we talked, in late January, it was about the amazing the love of our dogs . How they sit next to us and press their warmth into us when we are not well. They are incapable of negativity. I hope her dog is with her now.

Thank you Laurey



  1. I really enjoyed reading your tribute to Laurey. I'm reminded of her generosity when i needed help after being hospitalized after I contracted viral meningitis.. It was Laurey who saved the day and responded with kindness and took care of my scheduled catering obligations so my customers weren't left in the lurch. It was a lovely gesture that I never forgot. Remember when we both sported an eye patch Chris? I miss you in that bakery.

  2. Read this morning, shortly after Laurey's passage. Thank you Chris. KM