Hell of a Guy
Do, or do not. There is no 'try'. - Yoda

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hot Chocolate, Anyone?...

11/29/2007

My of my favorite people on the planet sent this to me.  I liked it so much that rather than pass it to a few by e-mail, I decided to post it here for more to read and enjoy.

Life Is Like Hot Chocolate

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired.  During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives.  Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said: “Notice that all the nice looking; expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. The cup that you’re drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate.  In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups.  They are just tools to hold and contain life.  The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have.  Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us.  God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything that they have. Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy your hot chocolate.

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Aftermath…

11/25/2007

Here it is three days past Thanksgiving.  All of our wonderful guests have departed, the house is back together; bed clothes washed and beds remade for the next overnighters, the furniture moved back to its original places, carpets vacuumed and about a ton and half of refuse ready for pickup, but not until next Wednesday.  It took The Nancy and me about an hour to rid the house of all evidence there had been twenty-three people tramping through it.  The house became eerily silent after the last of our guests departed yesterday morning and the cat came out of hiding.  I am missing the activity, but it’s nice to see the cat again.

Our dinner went very well – we have this almost to a science these days.  Well, almost a science.  The Nancy did let me know I did not prepare enough mashed potatoes for our guests.  Allow me to qualify this: the judgment was made by her after all our visitors had been served and she was letting me know there would be no leftover tators – and that’s how she determined not enough potatoes were mashed.  We did manage to fill the fridge with a myriad of other unconsumed side dishes – leftovers!  We have sweet potatoes, carrots, Alton Brown’s green bean casserole, three kinds of dressing, gravy, ham and just a little turkey (I planned the turkey right on the number, but The Nancy thinks I should have made more).  We also had a bunch of desserts left, those we couldn’t send home with anyone, and some fudge and another homemade candy.  I’ll take care of the sweets.  Most of this stuff will sit in our refrigerator until we toss it sometime early next week (before the trash dude comes) or after it turns green and moldy.  We have decided to eat out for the next few days.

Thanksgiving heralds the upcoming Holiday Season (aka Christmas Season for us professionals).  This begins the time of year when folks in this country get into the spirit of giving.  Personally, outside of springtime, this is my favorite time of the year.  People get nicer, kinder and gentler.  It seems inappropriate to flip anyone off in December, no matter how much they might deserve the gesture – even though it may be offered in the “spirit of giving.”

Today is Sunday and it is a perfect day here in Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia (aka Town of Bath), population 711.  Soon the village will be bustling with Christmas shoppers and adorned in Season decorations.  Many of the houses in the village and around the county are already lighting up at night dressed in multi-colored lights and Christmas décor, and some will just turn on those they never took down from last year.  Thanksgiving 2007 is behind us now with Christmas and the first day of 2008 is just a little over a month away.  Where did the year go?

I am thankful for so many things this day.  I don’t think there is enough space here for the entire list.  So just know this Hell of a Guy thanks you for being a part of his life.  Today for me is just an opportunity to spend another day in paradise.  Shucks, if I were any better, I’d have to be twins. 

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Remembered…

11/22/2007

Today is Thanksgiving Day and it’s just a tad after 6AM.  I awoke this morning thinking of all The Nancy and I have to do to prepare for our twenty-plus guests for today’s feast.  As I lay there, all snuggled in the warmth and comfort of our bed, I began to mull over some of my past Thanksgivings.

The one with the most impact occurred just ten years ago on a Thanksgiving Day.  That one is the day in 1997 that my dad past away.  He was ninety-three.  I still miss him and think of him often.

As a kid, Thanksgiving was a really great day for me and my brothers and sisters.  It was turkey day, and those only came twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Thanksgiving dinner was always at home.  With seven people making up the White family, we never got invited to anyone’s home for Thanksgiving, but that was okay; Thanksgiving was still a very special day.

In addition to turkey, Thanksgiving was one of two days in a year when cranberry sauce would grace our table (same as now, for the most part).  The memory of cranberry sauce is very vivid.  It came in a can and it slid out of it in a homogenous glob once the ends of the can were removed.  It tasted better than it looked.  The turkey generally looked better than it tasted.  My mom was not Betty Crocker.  Turkey, as was most other meats she prepared, was cooked until the meat began to separate from the carcass.  It was as dry as a paper napkin, and had to be smothered with the lumpy gravy she made to make it palatable.  Still, it was the best meal of the year and we all loved and looked forward to it.  I think the Thanksgiving aromas wafting through the house had a lot to do with specialness of the day. 

Thanksgiving Day was also the day of the City-Poly Annual Football Classic.  “City” officially known as The Baltimore City College and “Poly” the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute had the oldest high school football rivalry in Baltimore, and for years it was played on Thanksgiving Day at the old Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street.  City won the contest each of the three years I was in high school, and my Thanksgiving meals in 1959, 1960 and 1961 probably consisted of a couple of hotdogs and a Coca Cola.  Good Years for sure. 

These days The Nancy and I are making our own Thanksgiving memories.  Four out of the past five Thanksgivings we have hosted between eighteen and twenty-five people for dinner.  This year I think we have twenty-two.  After about seven trips to the grocery store and the depletion of our check book, we are ready.  One turkey cooked and another to go in the oven around ten this morning.  Three kinds of stuffing, Alton Brown’s green bean casserole, streusel sweet potatoes (fancy for crumbs and marshmallows), garlic mashed tators, Hell-of-a-Guy made cranberry relish and sauce, sautéed Brussels sprouts, kale with caramelized red onions and garlic, hot potato rolls, five pies, a cake, homemade vanilla ice cream and a partridge in a pear tree.  Yep! We is ready!!!

Thanksgiving, though, is so much more than a meal, especially this one for me.  I am so thankful for so much, now that I have a personal relationship with God (we are friends again).  Today I get to be with a whole bunch of people I love.  I get to cook and I get to entertain.  I get to hug.  If there is any sadness in this day, it is only because of those I so dearly love who cannot be here to enjoy this day with me, and I will miss them.  And, I will miss you, too!  Thanks to all of you for being a part of my life. 

And that is all I have to say about that…

PS to Dad:  I miss you. 

 
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Dog Named “Stella”...

11/14/2007

I have hesitated writing anything about The Dog named Stella and her visit with The Nancy and me, but my daughter Michelle is shaming me into doing this.  So, let’s start off with a little history and a smidgen of background.

Stella came to live at the Farm sometime in or around October 1, 2005.  The idea was for Stella to grace our home for a few of months.  The “couple of months” turned into almost two years, and had Stella not sustained a little injury and be in need of lot of TLC just about the time Michelle moved from an apartment to a house, she might be with The Nancy and me, still.

My photograph and bio will never show up in the “Animal Lovers Hall of Fame.”  It just isn’t in my nature.  Now I could never be cruel to an animal; that also is not part of my nature.  Hell, I don’t even eat the damn things, but having animals in my home is not thrilling to me, either.  I can take them or leave them, and if I have my druthers, I’d leave them to someone else.

So here’s the thing: The Nancy and I have a cat.  The cat tolerates me, but loves The Nancy.  Stella, on the other hand, became my girl-buddy.  She followed me everywhere.  If I moved from one room to another, it wouldn’t be long before she came to where I happened to be.  If I went to the basement, Stella wouldn’t follow me, but I would find her very often at the top of the steps when I would come back up them.  Saturday and Sunday mornings when I got up (and The Nancy slept in with orders not to be awakened under any circumstances on penalty of death) Stella would follow me to the car and ride with me on the seven-mile trip to Sheetz (gas station) for coffee and a newspaper.  When I cut the grass and moved around the Farm on my lawn mower, Stella would follow and lay in the shade of a tree watching me until I moved to another section, then she would tag along and do her thing again.  Stella loved the Farm, but rarely wandered more then a couple of hundred feet from the house, unless The Nancy and I took a walk in the paths through the fields.  Stella loved to tag along and loved to take a swim in the lake as we passed by it.  She became my shadow.

Stella was a pain in the ass.  She threw up on the carpet, spread black hair all over the house, though she never got up on the furniture.  She smelled like a mildewed, black blanket, and she was always licking on me because I know she knew I didn’t like to be licked.  She has breath so bad that it could take the paint off any surface.  She busted the screens out of two doors on our front porch.  She scratched up doors when she wanted in the house, and we had to have our carpets cleaned twice to rid them of her puke spots and oily dirt spots where she like to plant her overweight body and sleep.  Yep!  She was a pain in the ass.

The part of this that is inexplicable to me, and solely the result of propinquity, is that relationship between that old dog and me grew into a love affair.  Stella now resides with Michelle and her step sister and brother (Gypsy and Rambo).  I believe she is in a better place now where she can spend her last days in a very loving household with her buds.  I will miss her at times.  I know this because Saturday and Sunday mornings aren’t quite the same any longer.  My daughter shamed me into writing this, but the shame is just my not wanting to have to admit to anyone that this Hell of a Guy could possibly miss an old dog named Stella.

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
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