Hell of a Guy
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 30, 2006

And on to December…


Well, we can kiss November a fond adieu, an adios, see ya, goodbye.  December beckons and is about ten hours away.  Christmas, too, is just a couple of weeks down the road, as is the end of 2006.  It’s been a great year for me and I will miss it…for about a minute.

The Thanksgiving leftovers are just about gone.  The meal that took me four days to put together was consumed in about twenty minutes and reduced to dirty dishes and some stuff we just could not completely devour.  Some stuff will languish in the freezer until it turns white with freezer burn and it gets tossed out, yet another inedible dish.  The Nancy and I do this a lot.  It was a great meal with loads of food and fun guests.  We actually ended up with seventeen for dinner and had a simply wonderful day.

Now the Christmas Season will come at the speed of colored lights and fruitcakes.  The Nancy and I will begin to shop this weekend, but not for Christmas presents…for some reason we have reached the time in our lives when checks seem to work out very well for us as gifts to others.  I think this is something that happens when one reaches the “Fifties,” we begin to subscribe to the “KISS” method (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  This sounds good, but a Christmas tree with a bunch of envelopes beneath it loses some of it holiday luster.  Will this cause us to alter from the program?  Nope!  The hell with luster, we are now into easy.

So, if you should receive a check from me as a Christmas present this year, don’t think of me as lazy.  Instead, just think of me as simple.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Monday, November 20, 2006

Parsnips, Rutabaga, Kale and another Thanksgiving


The Nancy and I get to spend our second Thanksgiving at the Millennium3 Farm, nestled between the Sleepy Creek and Cacapon mountains.  We are so looking forward to having guests here in our home and sharing some meager victuals with them.

Unfortunately, not all our invited guests are going to make it to be with us this year.  Our oldest and youngest are both RNs and will be working Thanksgiving Day supporting others.  So their work schedule keeps seven of our family members from being here.  The middle daughter’s husband’s birthday in the 23rd and they will spend the day, a tradition at their house, with his parents and family.  Some invitees have other issues that are causing them not to be able to be with us.  So now it appears we will be down to about eleven instead of the twenty six we thought we might have…or were hoping to have.  This will make it a little easier but not nearly as much fun.

The turkey and other stuff are all purchased and ready for action.  As I speak the bird and a half (breast) is brining in a refrigerator in the basement.  I made a chestnut stuffing, meatless of course, for me and the more adventurous souls.  Monday I baked four pies – two of which look very much like I made them, both are a little lopsided.  Sunday I got four dozen potato rolls made and ready to serve – just need a little heat in them.  Tomorrow it’s sweet potato casserole.  I’ll roast the turkey breast on Wednesday and “Big Bird” Thursday morning, just so the smell of roasting turkey hits the arriving guests as they enter our home on Thanksgiving.  Kind of takes me back to Thanksgivings when I was growing up.

My mother, God bless her, was not a great cook.  I think she could have been, but it was never her passion.  Thanksgiving dinner consisted of the mundane: over done turkey (dry and grainy) stuffed with very moist dressing, watery gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe some carrots and peas, and the requisite store-bought pumpkin pie.  We grew up thinking this was the way the meal was supposed to taste and that it was the traditional meal.  Since we didn’t have any others to gauge, this one was perfect.  No one ever died or even got sick when my mother cooked.  Everything was cooked beyond thorough.

I began to cook early on.  My mother always told me if I didn’t like what she fixed, fix my own.  I often did just that.  I began to cook in earnest when my first wife was pregnant with our first child.  Once that happened I began to cook a lot and I also began to love it.  When I moved into an apartment alone, I began cooking all the time and experimented with a wide range of stir fries and soups.  It wasn’t until I quit eating animal flesh in 1995 that I really began to “cook,” as Emeril says.  Cook books dotted my counter tops, recipes were cut from magazines and saved.  I can do good soup.  Hell, I thought this morning about assembling all my favorite recipes and putting together a cook book, more a cook pamphlet.  I am not good at originated dishes, but I can follow a recipe.

Nancy enjoys cooking about as much as my mother.  She has no issue with me playing in the kitchen.  She allows me to plan our meals and is happy with them as long as there is a hunk of critter on her plate (palm size to meet the government’s standard).  Nancy has had a tremendous effect on my cooking skill or whatever the hell one would call it.  I do love to play in the kitchen.  Nancy is content to sit at the kitchen counter with a crossword puzzle as I mess up the counters, floor and cabinet doors with flour and grease, bits and pieces of onion and potato and carrots and whatever else is on the cutting board, and lot of pots, pans and dishes.  Passion is in direct proportion to the mess created in the work area…at least in my case.

Things I would have never dreamed of putting in my mouth as a kid seem to thrill me these days.  I love spinach.  I never ate it as a kid.  I so remember my dad saying “try it.”  Me so wanting to say, “I ain’t eating that shit.”  But convention kept me from it and so did the thought of a dad backhander.  He ate some weird stuff like collard and mustard greens, kale, turnip greens and loved them all.  I couldn’t get past the look (they were always cooked into a mushy looking substance reminding me of something a newborn would pass anally).

I have grown so much.  Today one of my favorite root vegetables is rutabaga (aka Swede).  I adore parsnips and Swiss chard.  Celery root makes an excellent bisque and adds a succulent flavor to other soups and mashed potatoes.  Garlic is something my mother would never have thought about using in any dish.  The Nancy and I buy it almost every time we shop.  I love to hang out in the produce section at the grocery store – that is any but the Food Lion…theirs sucks big time. 

I suppose the point of all this babbling is that one should never limit themselves (big talk for a guy who won’t eat critter any longer) whether it be in what they eat or what they do.

Gee!  I think I’ll go sky diving, and that is all I have to say about that…   

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Definition of a Good Day and Today’s Test


The title of this piece kind of says it all, but I’ll expound any way.  It’s a follow up to the piece I posted yesterday.  This hour finds me sitting in Terminal B of the Cincinnati Airport (which is actually in Kentucky) when I should have been waiting for my bag having just arrived in Baltimore and just in front of my two hour drive to Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 711.  Instead, Delta Airlines summarily decided that I needed to spend an extra five hours roaming the terminals and enjoying this facility.

I arrived in Cincinnati on a flight from Omaha and was to have an hour or so layover.  At some point Delta, for whatever reason – that was never disclosed to me – switched the aircraft I was to fly on from a 70 passenger to a 50 passenger.  Yours Truly, along with 20 others, was told there was no seat for me to occupy and therefore I was not allowed to board the aircraft.  This did not make me happy.

Having just written not having bad days, I had to make a very quick shift.  I did.  I allowed myself three minutes to give Delta a chewing out and a verbal finger, and then I let it go.  There was no use in beating this drum any longer; it is what it is.  I practiced what I proselytized.  I have put it behind me.

I had to chuckle a couple of times because I know the Delta folks – they were thoroughly embarrassed by this issue – wanted so badly to change my ticket, give me a very generous coupon for my dinner worth an astounding $7.50, my coupon worth $400 (Delta Dollars) so sometime when I have completely lost my mind, I will book another flight on Delta.  The people behind the service counter couldn’t get it all to print, and it took them about twenty minutes to get me out of their faces.  I hadn’t so much as said another word, and I think it totally baffled them…they wanted me to be an asshole.  It would have made them feel better.  I did very nicely thank them for their assistance.

Allowing oneself to be upset is not profitable.  Allowing oneself to stew over stupid little things is absurd.  All in all, it’s been a pretty good day.

And that is all I have to say about that…   

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Definition of a Good Day


Ever hear the question, “Are you having a good day?”  Well, if you are a Hell of a Guy, everyday is a good one.  It all depends on how you define it.

A good day for me is any one where no one hits me and I don’t throw up.  That doesn’t leave many to go south on me.  Since I adopted this definition a couple of years ago, I have not had a single bad day, as in “any.”  Now there have been some, and I would be lying if I denied it, that have not gone as well as I would have created them, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow and enjoy a not-so-good day.

The Nancy has heard me say if someone has a cold they might as well enjoy it.  We don’t get the damn things that often.  Why not sit back and enjoy the extra attention we get, and wallow in our misery?  Think about this for just a second: over a lifetime how often is the average human being actually miserable…really miserable, a couple days a year, maybe 10? or 15?  For most of us it is not that often.  So enjoy it when it happens!!!  Sometimes you just gotta say “what the f…!”

If you read my last post you know I get upset with people who want to drag me into their misery.  I say screw ‘em!  They created it.  They are responsible for it.  Let them enjoy it to the hilt.  I get to enjoy my own when I choose to.

Next time someone wants to drag you into their misery, tell them “No Thanks.”  Perhaps you should just grab them and hold them close in a bear hug and tell them “Thanks for sharing.  I hope it gets better for you.  Bye!”

I feel good today.  I knew I would when I got up this morning.  I have a very sneaky suspicion I will feel the same way tomorrow.  I think I am going to find someone to hug tonight here in Omaha, Nebraska.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

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