Reflections in a mirror reveal the present. It is the holidays however that the mirror seems to reflect the past while giving you a glance into the future. I’m sure that most of us during this time of giving thanks also gaze into our souls that miss the loved ones we spent so many holidays with.
The Thanksgiving meal represents a blessing that brings our family and friends into the fold. It is the real beginning of the holiday season. The day brings witness to the special thoughts we have for those we haven’t seen (in many cases) for months or even years. Friends and family travel from near and far to be with the ones they love and care about. Special is the pomp and circumstance that surrounds these festivities. It’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Football, The Classic Meal, and of course the Decorations.
Ever since I was a little boy the Thanksgiving meal was Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Jello Salad, Yams, and of course… Pumpkin Pie. Since the meal I remember there have been additions like ham with a sweet berry sauce, lamb in a whole grain mustard sauce, prime steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, cauliflower in a 4 cheese sauce, and for desert… pecan pie.
Also, we mustn’t forget the beverages. Thanksgiving week is the scheduled offering of Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine is released on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 am. It’s a wine that lasts for just 6 months but reflects the perfect pairing with Turkey. Delightfully light and fruity it is the ultimate reflection of the French vineyards kicking off the holiday season.
Other than the Beaujolais Nouveau the other perfect pairing wines come from the Burgandy region of France or the Russian River area of California. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the chosen compliments to the above mentioned meal. The apple and fall fruits represented in the classic chardonnay (with a hint of oak and a whisper of fresh herbs and spices) enhance the vegetables, salad, and accompaniments.
To me the most elegant, graceful and pleasing wine to be served at this feast is pinot noir. The description would include but not be limited to a little black cherry, strawberry aroma, subtle earth, and mint. This harmonious symphony of flavors produces a balance between beverage and food that is heavenly. When you pair the correct wine with the perfect food, light in character but high in acid that exhibits the characteristics of said wine, you have a wonderful culinary experience that brings out the best of both the food and the wine.
The flawless Thanksgiving is one that begins with a hug and ends with a hug. It is a very special moment in time when the connection with those at the dinner seems like you’d spent countless hours with them over the course of the year. However, in many instances it is the first time in many months or years that you’ve gotten together with these family members or close friends.
Acknowledging how blessed we are in those rare moments where time stands still, is a gift unto itself. To share the love and friendship that is the link between generations, or just the human connectivity that is rendered on this very special day, is a reminder of how precious time is.
As the door closes and we wave goodbye, we often think of this:
If they came back tomorrow, we’d take them back today… because our world keeps growing smaller every second, minute, hour… they’re away.
Happy Thanksgiving to those we spent time with, those we miss, and those that wish they were here.
There are many chapters in ones life that make up the context and composition of said life. Part of that is beginnings and endings.
We have people that come into our lives, make an impact and leave by their own circumstances related to moving, moving on, or death. Each person brings a new perspective on life and another lesson we learn about people and more importantly about ourselves. We can grow from this if we look into the heart of the decision process or we can devolve into the insecurities and timeless adages that stiffle our difficult yet necessary cultural evolution.
We have jobs that take us to other circumstances which involve the complicated nuances of housing, family, and friends. Each step along the way provides a learning curve for exploration. Exploration takes place because of devine guidance or the gentle breeze of change that lives in all of us.
Beginnings are the life blood that provides hope that a new environment will bring education, excitment, and peace of mind that we all search for. If not properly anaylized our “new” beginnings can become a quagmire of hopelessnes and despair.
However, the opposite side of the coin is the bright light of beauty and wonder at the amazing journey we have undertook. Any journey begins with the first step. To ensure a better place filled with the expectation that dreams will come true and reward us we must painstakingly survey our future goals.
As we begin this study of self and take a look into the future for the outcome we desire, a list must be written that conveys the aspiration of time frame and execution. This survey of the future depends largely on our health, timing, and monetary consideration.
Each step is calculated with the help of past experiences and the knowledge that comes with discovery, mentorship, and design. I never thought we’d leave Las Vegas in the time frame we did. However, the political climate and the obvious “Californiazation” of Nevada that once held its own as a conservative respite from the “Left Coast” was a major factor in the decision to move to Idaho.
Nancy and I lived in Las Vegas/Henderson area for twenty years. Along the way we witnessed the city grow into a world-class destination for travelers interested in food, entertainment, and sports. New casinos with beautiful design matched the quality of the celebrity chefs preparing exotic dishes. Then there was the entertainment from Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, and of course Cirque du Soleil to every other amazing musical talent to grace the stages of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has become a self absorbed caricture of itself. Throngs of people that can’t afford the experience lose themselves in the marketing phrase, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” No identity theft here… most lose their identy upon entering the city. The selfi becomes the picture framed in a moment in time harboring no love for manners or self respect. The millennial is a statement unto itself of social networking at the expense of those sharing the same space and time.
So for us the ending of our time in Las Vegas/Henderson brings a bright new light that shines on a state we love. Idaho is what California used to be. Not what you have, but who you are. How hard you work, not how you’ve figured out how to get on the government dole or cheat a restaurant based upon the fear said restaurant has of your Yelp review.
People in Idaho love the connection to each other. They love the open spaces that gives one a chance to breath in the beauty that surrounds them. Leaving Idaho is like going to another country. You won’t see the obsession with cell phones and you certainly won’t see the prohibitive taxes for trains you don’t need, and social programs you don’t want. Each individual has a choice that is honored for themselves and their family to be raised in a place that centers around God, Country, and the Nuclear family.
And so here we are in the middle of nowhere content in our surroundings. We listen to the animals, the birds, insects, and reptiles as they communicate to each other in a dance that is timeless. We see the stars in a darkened sky light up the forest that is the perimeter around our home. We feel the tranquility as a soothing warmth that covers us in the blanket of perception that we have found our most perfect place in time.
Every decade reveals a new chapter that is fraught with challenges that begets a miracle. These challenges help us appreciate the miracles. The vicissitudes of life become the story we write as we turn the page.
The fifties continued its recovery from WW II aided by post economic expansion. The outlook was a cross between “Leave it to Beaver” and the beginning of “Rock’n Roll”. The television shows promoted a wholesome look into the “American” way of life while the youth danced to the jitterbug, boogie-woogie or Bop.
I was born in the fifties. We lived in Fairfax, Ca. in a home that was beautiful, secluded, and a kids dream. I remember the park like setting framed by forest with a creek near-by that moved to the samba of the wildlife it supported. The neighborhood was our playground that expanded as we left our childhood.
The innocence and childlike view of relationships and the world we lived in was magnified by the positive interactions we’d have with our family, neighbors, and even the strangers we’d greet in town. We were all Americans bonded by our work ethic, strong Christian family values, and finally the sense of community we all shared. Then I turned the page.
I remember the sixties for many different reasons mostly related to the one thing that is constant in life… change. The decade began with my introduction to my arch nemesis, school. In all fairness I loved kindergarten. What could be better than a grade that revolved around play, food, and naps. I was good at all three of those previously mentioned tasks and felt that maybe this “school thing” wasn’t going to be that bad after all.
My illusion of school quickly evaporated in the first grade. Reading, writing, and arithmetic was just not the same as play, food, and naps. However I did understand the concept of being able to read the latest Hardy Boys book, writing down notes to girls (yes I started young), and being able to understand the numbers on a clock (because then I could tell when the next bell would ring for recess.)
The sixties was a volatile time in our country. It was a time that pitted Americans against each other for the first time I was aware of. The television showed the Vietnam war as protesters on campuses across America exploded in violence. The contrast to that was the peace and love sung by the flower children which began in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco and ended August 15th, 1969 at Woodstock.
Prior to Woodstock were the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, and the assasination of Bobby Kennedy, June 6th, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. These tragedies were the culmination of a violent decade that began with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, November 22nd, 1963.
Our country was struggling with its identity, predjudice, and the growing political and racial divide between races finally being recognized. With great struggle comes the evolution of thought moving towards chiropractically adjusting the chasm between races (which continues today.)
To cap off the sixties and bring some hope and light to our ability to achieve amazing feats we landed on the moon July 20th, 1969. Then I turned the page.
The seventies started with the ending of the Vietnam war, a president resigning (Richard Nixon) because of the Watergate scandal, and cultural change. The cultural change was on a musical note, (the most iconic rock n’roll band in history), the beatles break up.
The seventies ushered in the greatest music and the worst clothing choices (bell bottoms just one example). This decade also saw me enter college, Chico State University, join a fraternity (Sigma Nu), and actually graduate in 1978.
This decade holds a special place in my heart as I began my restaurant career at the Caprice French Restaurant in Tiburon California. The end of the decade saw me use my communications major earned from Chico State. I secured a job at a country station in Kings Beach on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe selling radio advertising and being a disc-jockey on the weekends.
In my infinite wisdom I chose to sell advertising to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe in the late seventies. Unfortunately the signal didn’t reach the South Shore…This didn’t stop me as I became the number one sales person. Making a little over $800.00 a month I made another great choice which was to buy a Porsche. I crashed it 10 days later on black ice.
In the San Francisco bay area the seventies was a decade of unparalleled violence. The kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst and the emergence of the kidnappers, the Symbionese Liberation Army was just the beginning. Then there were the Black Panthers with the aid of political activist Angela Davis kidnapping and killing a judge in the parking lot of the civic center in San Rafael California. This violence reached epic proportions at the end of the decade.
In 1978 Jim Jones, an American preacher and political activist led the “Peoples Temple” (Located in San Francisco ) congregation (over 900) to their deaths in a commune in Jonestown, Guyana, November 18th, 1978 by drinking a laced Kool-Aid. Then, that same November, Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered at their offices by Dan White a disgruntled Supervisor. Then I turned the page.
The eighties are also known for their extreme fashions, such as “big hair”, new wave, punk rock, funk, and rap music. During the 1980’s conservative politics and Reaganomics held sway as the Berlin Wall crumbled, new computer technologies emerged and blockbuster movies and MTV reshaped pop culture.
The eighties began as I became partners with two restaurateurs, creating a restaurant called “Epanoui” in Tiburon California. I was incharge of the front of the house (wine list, training, marketing, etc.) Our restaurant was chosen in the top ten in the country by Time Life Books. After five years of operation we decided to go our own ways which led to me moving to Florida to become manager of the Plum Room at Yesterdays in Fort Lauderdale.
At the Plum Room I met a customer that introduced me to his property in upstate New York located in Alexandria Bay called “Bonnie Castle”. I became the Food and Beverage manager at Bonnie Castle which led to a myriad of connections in that region.
The eighties ended with me moving back to the Bay Area in San Francicso and becoming a General Manager at the iconic Masons in the Fairmont Hotel. Then I turned the page.
The 1990’s was a decade that brought big changes to me. My mom died and I got married. Two major events within a couple years of each other. Then in 1996 our beautiful daughter, Chelsea was born. Of course this was the highlight of the decade. Along the way of course there was the creation of the internet, cell phones, and the beginning of the erosion of personal freedom due to monitoring our activities through technology.
I had several jobs that tested my knowledge and work ethic. First there was my job which offered the opportunity to be in charge of all the restaurants, room service, and the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins hotel across from the Fairmont in San Francisco atop Nob Hill. In the late 1990’s I designed and opened the “All Seasons Groveland Inn” in Groveland California moving away from my beloved bay area. The main reason was because of divorce and the feelings that go along with that experience. Then I turned the page.
In the year 2000 I opened another Inn the “All Seasons Sugar Pine Resort”. The opening featured the original Drifters. I sold the Inn in 2006 right before the global financial crisis caused in 2007-2008 by the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market.
Of course most people living in that time, around the early 2000’s, will remember the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and the decimation of the twin towers. The war in Iraq, global recession, papal transition, hurricane Katrina, and the war on terror were the events that framed the first decade of a new century.
Personaly I moved on to Las Vegas where I began a new chapter in 2002. This led to being re-introduced to the restaurant business and my new relationship with Nancy Sullivan which continues to this day. I met Nancy in Groveland and she came with me to Las Vegas to begin our new adventure. Then I turned the page.
I worked in fine dining from the moment I came to Las Vegas as I was introduced to union jobs giving me stability and the all important health insurance.
In 2011 my dad died. This meant that as an only child I am working without a net. This is a big thought changing event that makes you realize how precious life is.
I worked at Jean George Steakhouse from 2009 until my final day August 31st, 2022. Along the way I had a home built in Orofino Idaho which was finished in early 2022. Now we summer in Idaho and winter in Henderson Nevada where we own a second home.
We are offically snow birds looking for our next adventure on our own schedule (not wearing a watch) with the peace and tranquillity that comes with freedom. Now we look to the future to see what is revealed on the next page we turn.
This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ ™ Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.
Living in the middle of nowwhere is truly a blessing. Of course this kind of domain location change requires several nuances, or a complete chiropractic shift for it to be embraced to its fullest. Our crystal ball pointed towards the future reveals that a location change could place us on the “Threshold of a dream.”
The first and possibly the most important distinction for future success is timing. So much of our life is based upon timing. Getting the right job at the right time in the right place is all a function of timing. As time accelerates we may even meet the right person at the right time in the right place. Then our life goes from a solo act to a duo and in many cases a trio, a quartet, a small orchestra, or even a big band.
Whatever the case, our destiny is linked to the timing of events. Many such events provide the space between the words that link our future to the present all based upon the past. This existential outlook is based on a journey, an awareness which evolves into a complex phenomenon. This phenomenon has many different phases that define our life.
If we are born into a family that provides us with love, understanding, education and everything else needed for our lives to have the chance to achieve the happiness we deserve then we are blessed. If we don’t have such an opportunity to be raised in a loving and safe environment then we rely on a past life (if we’re an old soul) to subconsciously guide us in the right direction. If we are a young soul then we rely on our friends, teachers, and extended family to provide us with a compass that leads to success.
The bases for a successful job is a strong educational base, enthusiasm, and mentorship. In many cases after college this is the next step in our evolutionary process. Of course through all of this having a strong relationship with God or some spiritual entity is a key component. This provides the much needed strenght we all need as life prepares us through the opportunity of experience. This encounter with emotions helps us become acquainted with the continental divide between happiness and sadness.
Before we can find other people we must be drawn to the inner strenght that is required to hurdle past failure and disappointment. Looking forward to looking back to see how far we’ve come is a great exercise in gaining the perspective required to live the life we dream of.
Today I harvest the efforts of my “job”. I no longer will be under the time constraints of a job for my income. The job and other investments have led to me cutting the perverbial ambilical chord today to reap the rewards. So much luck is required and the all too important “timing”.
I am truly blessed for my family, friends, and brothers that I have had important relationships with along the way. Your love and support has guided me to this finish line (I retired today) which has required a lot of time and effort. Now I look to the next chapter that leads to a path that will lead to satisfaction created beyond my time and effort.
I have a goal to become better, stronger, smarter, and more loving to those I care about. Within the mantra of self-discovery I find that being open to change is key to the adjustment needed to leave a legacy that is defined by love, truth, and honor.
This blog is sponosored by PAZAZ™, “The Magic of Cooking”, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these “AMAZING” kitchen tools.
Along this journey through the clouds of life (which upon entering) unveils the truth about that which we could not see. If only we could see the route ahead of time that revealed the most reward then our decisions would be 100% correct everytime. As we all know… hindsight is 20/20.
However there would be no lessons to learn and no history to be cautious about. We would then be in a perfect world with the greatest of lifes blessings to look forward to. Doesn’t sound half bad. It seems if we analyze this premise that there would be far more arrogant people and less compassion for those that (for whatever reason) seemed to stray from center.
Lessons in life are the fabric that weave their web of conflict and reward. What appears to be recompense like the shoplifter that gives money to the person whom he stole from is but a tutorial written on the white board of life. This widsom then becomes a stepping stone to help us correctly identify the path which is deduced from our past experiences.
In many cases our initial take on friends, jobs, places to live are clouded by our inherent need to satisfy our quest for love, money, and beauty. These three terms (love, money, and beauty) are difficult to capture in a bottle. As time goes on we find fault in each one of these because of human frailty that reveals our own imperfections. The path is sometimes worn with the tears of deception created by a narative that goes beyond our sense of time and space.
Our own wisdom can be calibrated from time to time. This calibration requires unbridled humility coupled with the books we read and the people we associate with. Taking a step back to move forward is a process requiring patience and due diligence. Being patient requires a sense of timing that is found on the path of too much time or not enough time, or perfect timing.
The path is narrow and simple upon entering life’s merry-go-round. That is because our time is dictated by our parents through the constraints of school, sports, music, drama, and any other activity you can think of. Then, the path widens as we search for our identity through a job or other intellectual pursuit. Over the course of this period of discovery we usually find love. Love which is in retrospect, enigmatic and in many cases… fleeting.
A great number of people find the path to be worn by the happiness of conformity. Doing the same thing over and over until there is no more time left is what most people are comfortable with. When that time to leave is stamped on the forhead of those that choose this path, they are left with a conundrum. It seems their ability to enjoy life becomes a struggle because now they are on their own to determine their own destiny. This (in many cases) is overwhelming.
The path should widen at the end of our lives to reveal a landscape of possibility. This landscape can be a treasure trove of adventure, learning, and growing as a person. To be able to give back to the community and those you love and care about is the road less traveled.
Designing your life before it unfolds leads to choices many cannot fathom. These choices reveal the freedom we all deserve at a time in our lives when we should be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Life is a cabernet poured from the worlds greatest winery to be drunk in quantities that heighten our senses, satisfies our palate, and expands our horizons.
This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ (The Magic of Cooking), Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.
The world looked alot different in “The Days of Future Past.” Time seemed to slowly creep ahead at a snails pace. Perhaps it was because of the long summer vacations in-between school years. Or maybe it was that precious time in our lives when everything did move at a slower pace. There were no cell phones, no internet, not much technology of any kind. At least not for those of us in the middle class…. and that was just about everyone.
Delivery was only available through the post office, but milk was delivered to your door by a milk man, and most kids still believed presents were delivered by Santa. I guess most of us possesed a beautiful sense of naivete due to a lack of news which was only disseminated at 6pm by the big three, ABC, NBC, CBS.
We didn’t understand the concept of “AGENDA” and so most of us believed what we were being told through the newspaper (the biggest form of communication), our transistor radios, and of course the nightly news. Did we really need to know about death and destruction locally, domestically, or internationally? Probably not.
In those simpler times one of my favorite activities was the “sleep over.” The “sleep over” consisted of two children selling their respective parents on the idea of sleeping at the other kids home overnight. This “logistically” ment that the rotary phone would be on full communication display. The two parents (usually the mom in each family) would be spinning that rotary dial until a connection was made and the agreed upon date, time, and any other instructions would be convyed. In most cases this was sprung on the parents at the last minute which then resulted in a scramble the kids couldn’t really comprehend. Seemed simple, drop off, pick up and dinner in-between.
As kids we didn’t understand the expanded dinner issue, time schedules, or the most important aspect… “Where does that little neighbor kid sleep?” We only knew one thing, and that was the reality of expanded play time. Expanded play time was the essence of all good friendships. It ment expanding our imagination to make up games, torture the little brother or sister, or avoid being tortured by the older brother or sister. It also ment no homework (which was a huge bonus of course) and then we could improve upon our creativity through what we did best…. play. Most of my friends would recieve on their report card, so and so” is a good kid but tends to look out the window too much.”
Of course we looked out the window. That’s where the playground was and we were only thinking of which game we wanted to play first in the way too short recess period. When that bell rang we all turned into Carl Lewis and exploded out of those desks to our most important destiny… play time. I always thought they got that part of school backwards. We should come to school and play for most of the day while we’d hear the bell and go into the classroom for 15 minutes, then the teacher would blow the whistle and then we’d go back to what we did best…. play.
My parents kept me busy with violin lessons, acting, gymnastics, swimming, and even summer school. This provided them with much needed “me time”, and at the same time helped broaden my horizons and expand the framework of knowledge and appreciation for the arts. I really never acknowldedged their effort until much later in life. I think as a kid we are all so focused on ourselves that we seem to lose focus on the big picture. My parents were gifts sent from God to give me the best opportunity to become a person they could be proud of. That was certainly a rollercoaster ride for them!
Now they are gone and I look back with a quiet respect and love for all they did for me. If their compassion, intelligence, and love could be duplicated… this would be a better world.
This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these “AMAZING” kitchen tools.
As time becomes an envelope we open and close to assimilate different stimuli into our sphere of influence, one thing remains constant, and that is friendship.
Friendship comes in many different forms and is (in most cases) fleeting. Those relationships we are blessed to have our whole lives are as rare as rare can be. From little kids to older and wiser adults these friendships will be tested in a myriad of ways. There is something however so strong when it comes to a frienship that has lasted virtually our whole life. There are certain experiences that only the two of you can laugh about and relate to. There are stories only the two of you can share with each other that reminds us how truly special that person is.
In the beginning our connections/associations are based on simple principles such as, “Does that person like me?” or “Do they like the same things I like?” As life gets more complicated we base our friendships as job related, club related, community related, or family connections.
However, in the end “All” relationships are based on trust. This is the foundation of any strong bond between two people. As we find out later in life (as we take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on other people) life is about beginnings and endings. If it’s a geographical disconnect, that person could come back into our life at anytime. But if its the tragedy of a loss of life then that ember of love and moments together will only become a memory to rekindle in times of introspection.
Last year I lost two very dear friends within months of each other. One gentleman I had known since the third grade. The other dear friend I’d known since the early eighties. Both of them gave their friendship unconditionally within a framework of laughter and timeless experiences we shared that only we could relate to and honor.
That is why sharing moments with dear friends, old or new, becomes such a precious gift as our time together is not guaranteed. The vicissitudes of life change circumstances beyond our control which is why we should honor and hold so dear those conversations and connections that are so fleeting.
Putting off getting togther with friends is certainly commonplace. But what if we knew this would be the last time you’d see that person? Would you make a herculean effort to spend just one more day with that person to tell them how much they’ve ment to you and what a gift they are? Of course you would.
In the future remember that friendship has its ebbs and flows just like life. Those friends you may never see again will remember at some point what a difference you’ve ment to them. The laughter and even the somber moments are vignettes we share in the play we call life until the curtain closes that last time.
Enjoy the gift of friendship and keep it close to your heart because in the end all we have are family and friends. Let’s remember the times we spent together creating a bond of trust and love that will never be forgotton for as long as forever is.
This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “Kitchen tools for the discerning chef”. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these “AMAZING” kitchen tools.