Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a holiday honoring one’s father, as well as fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society.

I miss my dad as many of you miss your dad. The influence on ones life, (if you are blessed to have great parents) is reflected by the many times your dad told you or showed you he loved you.

I remember one time when my mom, dad, and I were at Fosters Freeze located on the miracle mile located in San Anselmo on the outskirts of Fairfax California. I was about 6 years old at the time.

We rarely would go out for dinner, so this was a big deal. It was about six o’clock when we arrived, My dad took our order and walked to the window to order our food. We sat at an outdoor table just outside the front door of the fast food restaurant.

Adjacent to us were two teenage boys probably around 17 or 18 years old. They were kind of loud, exhibiting typical teenager behavior. We started to eat our food and somehow I got the sauce from the burger in my eye.

I started to cry and the boys at the adjacent table started to laugh. My dad wasn’t having any of that, got up, and admonished those hooligans for their unruly behavior.

They quickly apologized as my dad was in a fury. He turned on a switch I didn’t know he had. Those boys ate quickly and left with their tails between their legs.

I was quite impressed by my dad sticking up for me. I never forgot that first instance of my dad coming to my aid. There were many other instances (usually financial) where my dad offered assistance, just when I needed help.

Another time that comes to mind was when I was fired from the Caprice restaurant in Tiburon California. I had worked there off and on (because of college) to the ripe age of 22.

At that time I was made assistant manager of the restaurant with one of my duties depositing the receipts for that night and locking up the restaurant. Well, as fate would have it, one night after I closed the restaurant the safe was broken into and the cash was stolen.

Because I was the last one (supposedly) to open and close the safe, they fired me for stealing. I would never steal anything… and so it was a very humiliating experience.

My dad felt my pain. He would call up the Caprice (unbeknownst to me) and make reservations for large parties on their busiest nights giving fake names and phone numbers. This was before cell phones or being able to track the number. So they had to set the table for that reservation that never showed.

Later on, when I found out he was making fake reservations,  I asked him not to do that, but appreciated the spirit in which he attempted to seek revenge.  Interesting enough, a theft from the safe happened again shortly there after.

They caught the perpetrator, a chef, and fired him. They offered my job back after realizing their mistake… but I respectfully declined.

Father’s day, to honor my dad, was a wonderful event. My mom would always prepare a special meal for my dad, which I of course benefited from. Usually the meal was fried chicken and mashed potatoes with Kansas style green beans. The beans were cooked in bacon grease with chopped bacon infused into the mixture. Lovely!

My mom and I would buy a present for my dad which usually consisted of his favorite plant variety… succulents. A plant nursery down the street became my dad’s favorite place to procure said plant variety. That is where we would go for exotic varieties of the succulents to surprise and delight my father.

I certainly miss my dad. He passed away in August of 2011. It is a rare day that I don’t think of my mom and dad. Beyond the measure of love and service to others they exemplified a warmth and forgiveness that goes along with the mantra of unconditional love.

As time marches on I am blessed to have a child of my own. Now I look forward to the beautiful sentiment that trumps all presents as written by my beautiful daughter.

 

Writing, Baking, and Preparing Quality Meals

 

Each week I try to write a blog. Each blog is a different subject meant to provide either factual information, or bits of wisdom that comes with experience.

That experience is usually based upon action, a movement towards or away from something. This strategy is usually constructed on physical or mental attachment or detachment. Experience is the  involvement in an activity that brings you closer to a goal. That goal can be attaching to a concept of discipline that propels everything to it’s desired conclusion.

In the case of writing, for me, it is broaching a subject that contains what I deem to be interesting content. If I’m excited about the content then I have a better chance to succeed in my desired goal… a writing that makes one think.

Living in a peaceful setting enables me to live in the mode of creativity. Being creative translates to many different mediums. Writing, baking, and preparing quality meals for dear friends are certainly satisfying past-times.

Each different task presents challenges that stimulate the brain and triggers the nuance of discovery. Each discovery is a stepping stone to more advancement in the subjects listed above.

When I write, it is spontaneous. It’s not done with an outline or prior thought process other than the subject headline. From there, it’s off to the races. I never know exactly where the writing will take me, but I know that as I progress through the subject I will tie things together. Then, at the end I hope the message is condensed and speaks to the reader.

As I relate to baking I think of the treats I’ve had during my lifetime and how special some of those treats were. The delicious flavors of a Grand Marnier Souffle, or the richness of a bread pudding, creme brulee, or chocolate lava cake that brings the meal to its desired conclusion… a wonderful, captivating  warmth that spells out “comfort food”.

Each baking process is about following the recipe. No matter how complicated the directions, I must be precise in the measuring and order of execution. The desired affect is a smile and sometimes even laughter that captures the beauty of sweet confections. Of course there are also sorbets for those quitters that have bought into the whole, “Sugar is bad for you”, mantra.

Unlike when I was a kid, baking is sticking to a plan. When I would built a model car as a kid, I could never figure out why I should build the engine? It’s hidden underneath a hood. So, I finished relatively quickly as those thousand engine parts were unnecessary.

It’s interesting how important in baking the nuance of altitude, water, and flour or other binding agents that intertwine to become the finished product. Each is a lesson in chemistry that makes you adjust to your circumstance. As you adjust you learn about the importance of things you never considered as a child.

The smells that permeate the air as you bake or cook become the sensory introduction to the meal or the finishing touch, dessert. I always try to start the hot part of the meal with caramelizing onions. The sweet smell of the onions flamed in a sweet liquor or a madeira always entice the guest to wonder, ” What are those fragrant smells?”

Starting off with a chilled salad featuring different marinated vegetables combined with distinct, contrasting fruits and textures makes the beginning an overture painted on a colorful sensory palate.

The same contrast of flavors and textures is important in designing the entree. Color, height, and temperature is equally salient. If the plates are all cleaned at the end of the meal, you know you’ve succeeded in the desired outcome.

Each creative part of life becomes a plant that is fed with practice, determination, and the satisfaction required to maintain that joy from having others smile at the effort.

Each written piece, baking creation, or savory meal is an exercise in skill that improves with repetition. It is however much more than that. It is the love garnered from providing a phrase or a flavor that will create a memory for as long as forever is.

 

 

 

Encounter in the Wilderness

 

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Orofino. The clouds parted and produced a glistening sun that burst through and provided relief from a long winter. The temperature was perfect for our new favorite pastime, pulling weeds.

It baffles me that weeds grow like weeds, and everything else that provides color or sustenance is like Russian roulette at best. You can pull weeds and then another group of the unwanted bastards will rear their ugly heads. It’s truly a never ending battle, especially if you choose not to use harmful chemicals.

I’ve found that the chemicals are more harmful to humans then the very weeds they’re supposed to kill. It seems everything else either dies because of too much water, not enough water, too much sun, not enough sun… come on, give me a green thumb and I will plant like there’s no tomorrow.

Anyway, after I pulled the weeds around the pond I was inclined to further torture myself by going on a bike ride. In all fairness I do have an E bike, but you still need to pedal to get from point A to point B.

I purchased this bike when it was still snowing around this area of Orofino. The first time I rode the bike I went exactly twelve feet before I drove it off the driveway and down an embankment. This led to multiple bruises, including my pride of course. On a side bar I had already fallen off a ladder and had broken eight ribs.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I was accustomed to falling. The next time I rode the bike (in the snow), I went onto Tie Creek road to lot ten and then collapsed from exhaustion. Keep in mind we live on lot fourteen.

On the ride back I was gaining speed down this uneven part of the road. That is when I lost control and toppled sideways, feeling the full weight of the bike and the jagged gravel cutting into my leg.

I was a bloody mess, but felt even more determined to conquer this Tie Creek road. So, each time I rode, minus the snow, I was compelled to proceed farther towards the main gate. First it was lot nine, then seven, then two, and finally lot one.

I was within a short distance from my goal of the main gate. Yesterday, after pulling those bastard weeds I felt strong enough to go on a sojourn to the main gate. I brought my water, gun, and wore my space helmet… I was ready for this challenge.

My legs were a little stiff but I was determined not to stop until I reached the main gate. I passed each lot with a growing confidence, very much like a Navy Seal nearing the end of hell week…but different.

The beauty of this ride is captivating. The many trees, wildflowers, and deer, framed in a picture with the backdrop of the lake. It was certainly distracting enough to take my mind off of the pain.

As I rounded the corner past lot one, I felt the exhilaration that comes with potentially reaching this goal. The gate was within sight, and there it was, I made it.

As I sat on the rock by the gate I had an uneasy feeling that someone or something was peering at me. Being out in the middle of nowhere it could only be one thing or another. It was either a serial killer or a wild animal.

I opted for choice number two. So, I tapped my gun to make sure it was there. Then I looked around, nothing in sight. I had just read a story about two twins that were searching for mushrooms and were accosted by a mountain lion.

The mountain lion had attacked and eventually killed one of the twins. They weren’t carrying a gun, which in the wilderness, is a critical mistake.

I cautiously looked from side to side as my heart beat faster.  Now there was a drop of sweat forming on my brow. I slowly eased away from the rock I was sitting on. As I gazed upward I viewed a mountain lion peering down on me, maybe fifteen feet away.

His eyes were focused on me, possibly looking for lunch. I drew my gun and stared at this vicious beast as he prepared to leap down and attack me. It was only a moment before he leapt from his perch, heading straight for me.

All my instincts kicked in as I fired my Glock 19, aiming at his head. The shot missed and he was upon me in a moment. The struggle for life was a battle I hadn’t faced before.

He tore into my left arm as I used all my strength to separate from this 140 pound muscled creature. I gained just enough distance to get a shot off that hit it’s mark. The beast staggered, slightly wounded, and took off into the brush. I guess he  realized that this prey wasn’t like anything he had encountered before.

I was injured but could still ride my bike. I eventually made it back home, called 911 and was medevacked by helicopter to the safety of the local hospital. The moral of the story is… I need a bigger gun!