soup troop arizona 2018

Of Chefs, Friends, Laughter and Messes

AZBWB cooks for Hospice

On December 3rd 2017 Arizona Burners Without Borders (AZBWB) and friends gathered at the Hospice of the Valley central office and prepared food for 40 hospice patients in 2 patient care facilities. We also donated $500 to Hospice of the Valley who are champions for dying with dignity and comfort.

– by Ron “Buddha” Russell

I’m prepared, everything is planned, I’m in route and 20 minutes early… oh crap, I forgot the donation check for HOV at home! Really? I pull off the freeway, turn around and start rushing. I don’t enjoy rushing. It’s one of my least favorite activities actually. It’s why I arrive at the airport with LOTS of time to spare. Michelle calls asking “which building”? I call Kelly (with HOV) and she tells me it’s the 2 story building. Number 2. I call Michelle back and give her the info with the assurance that Chef Eddie was already in swing in the kitchen and to go on in.

I arrive AT 1:00pm (when the event was supposed to start). As the event organizer I should have been early. I come into the kitchen that HOV uses for these events and I meet Kelly, and see that Morgan and her small troop (Kenny & Lily +1), Michelle, Susan and Chef Eddie and his friend Cate is already there.

I spent some time talking with Kelly and indicate there are more in route and we should wait about 15 minutes to start without them. Playa time jokes were made.

Over the next 15 minutes Corinne and Conan arrived, Pam Schuler, Lisa Brashear- Ford, her daughter and her friend arrived.

I soon learned that we were not starting from scratch at 1:00pm as I’d thought. But the chicken was done already, and the cheese for the homemade mac and cheese was grated… Apparently Chef Eddie showed up around 11:30 because as he puts it things don’t ever go to plan at events, and if you can get started earlier, you do. Well, I was grateful for the work that Chef Eddie and his friend Cate had done in preparing ahead of time.

We took a few pictures and Kelly told everyone about Hospice of the Valley, and where the food would be going and what it meant to people in Hospice care, especially around this time of year. I thanked everyone for their time and talent to the work ahead, that I was glad that we as group could give back to the community in this way, and introduced my friend Chef Eddie who while not having attended Burning Man was a burner in his heart.

We got started doing different tasks around the kitchen. Morgan and the kids were put to dishes and grating carrots. Susan, Pam and Lisa created the apple cobbler out of filo dough, apples, butter and spices.  Corinne sent all the curry through the blender (with the semi-functional lid) for the sauce. Michelle and I whisked the hell out of the caesar dressing.  Lisa’s daughter and her friend sliced all the chicken.

We were winding down with most of the major tasks. The Mac & cheese and apple cobbler were out of the oven when all the lights went out. The power was out. A puff of smoke from the generator as it auto-started and out goes Corinne, Chef Eddie and Michelle to go see if anyone needed help. Everything turned out to be fine but the power was out and there was Chef Eddie saying “Oh man, that would have been horrible if we were in the middle of cooking”. We were all in agreement that it was a good thing we were mostly done.

Everyone finished up cleaning and we were making sure that Leave No Trace was in effect. I still remember saying Leave no Trace when one of the youngsters tasks were “complete” but they hadn’t taken care of the mess left behind.

Carrot Carnage
No carrot was safe from the wrath of the children. When the children were asked about where their pent-up hostilities toward carrots comes from, the children just glared! Hey, better than doing the dishes.

We all said our goodbyes and Michelle and I loaded up our cars to take the food to the care units. The nurses at the care unit I went to were all gathered around and “Ooo-ing and ahhh-ing” as I described each of the dishes and wrote on the tin-foil trays – Rosemary Chicken with a cream of Coconut curry sauce, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Caesar Salad, Cinnamon Apple Cobbler.

Driving home I reflected on the event, the genuine connection and the laughter and smiles that were had by all while doing something kind and generous for others. My spirit felt buoyed & elevated by my service to others, and I feel as though better friendships were forged through the work and shared experience. Today I cherish what we did for the altruistic intent behind our actions. Today is a good day.