Last Sunday I suffered another heart attack. Around 9am I felt that tightening in my chest. I was home out on the porch watching the serenity unfold around me, morphing into bird calls and the hummingbird ballet. My pain was great enough for me to retreat to the bedroom.
I turned on the TV and was watching an episode of Daniel Boone I hadn’t seen before. My pain increased, but honestly I wanted to wait until the show ended to witness it’s exciting conclusion.
Then I told Nancy I needed to be driven to the hospital. This is a hospital we’d not been to, but I knew where it was. As she drove, Nancy did her best imitation of my driving style. She passed a neighbor with her emergency lights on and her headlights flickering on and off to get their attention. Then she channeled my spirit as she passed an RV across a double yellow line, repeating this action, speeding past a truck pulling a boat.
Needless to say, as I slumped in the passenger seat, we arrived in a timely fashion to the hospital. The emergency room entrance was hidden, but we eventually found it. There was a button to press and a voice responded with the question, “Can we help you, what’s your emergency?”
Nancy told the receptionist I had chest pain. They opened that steel door quickly and admitted me, as Nancy gave them all the necessary insurance cards.
Dr. Howe and nurse Dawn responded swiftly placing me on a gurnee, setting it up with fluids, testing my vitals, and securing me for the EKG test. Everything happened in literally a heart beat… the efficency was surprising for a small rural hospital.
After the EKG Dr. Howe determined it was necessary to call the flight for life service offered in most rural areas in Idaho. I asked the insurance person, Jess, if my insurance covered the flight for life. She said it didn’t but that we could sign up right now and it would cover the flight.
I asked, “How much would it cost?”She said,” Seventy Five dollars.” Then I asked, “How much would it cost if I paid out of pocket for this life saving ride?” She said, ” It would cost twenty-five thousand.”
Needless to say I went with the seventy-five dollar charge. Within an hour the flight for life crew was on the helipad, ready to transport me to one of two hospitals. Either Sacred Heart in Spokane or Kootenai Heart Clinic in Coeur D’ Alene. I asked Dr. Howe, “Which hospital would you choose?” He said, “They’re both quality facilities.”
Well, between the two, weighing safety for Nancy and the better restaurants, I chose Coeur D’ Alene, and so the 45 minute life flight began.
The helicopter touched down on the roof of the Kootenai Heart Clinic in Coeur D’Alene. I was then put onto a portable gurnee and whisked away to my room at the hospital.
The single room was beautiful with a view of the trees quiet and relaxing. The doctor came in immediately with two nurses. The doctor, Dr. Jones, told me that he wanted me to be without pain. They gave me some painkillers that stopped the pain. I was amazed at the quality and speed of their attention to my health.
Later that afternoon I asked Emily, the nurse, if I could have some food. She gave me a menu with 40 items to choose from. Everything from Wild Caught Salmon to pasta, and a Mediterranean salad were included in the choices.
Anyway, the next day I had the surgery around 7:45am. The doctor afterwords told me he placed a stent in my widowmaker artery thereby unclogging the clogged artery.
That same day the doctor offered an option for me to stay or leave the hospital. Needless to say I left and went to a hotel in Coeur D’ Alene and then to a restaurant, just like nothing had happened.
Don’t take life for granted. You never know when circumstances can change placing you at Heaven’s Door.
Through-out our short time on this planet we have very special people that come into our lives. Some disappear in a heart beat while others are there for a lifetime. Whichever the case, most have an impact on our lives and even the direction we choose. These very special people we call friends.
Life is about beginnings and endings. Relationships can come and go but the kind of friends that you don’t see for months, years, or even decades, but feel like they’ve never left… are as rare as a unicorn. We may connect with them much later but it feels like they never left.
When we are first interacting with others, there is a learning curve. We learn to communicate, share, laugh, and feel the importance of that experience. Sleep overs, make-believe playing, building forts, acting as adults, and the funny situations we will never forget becomes a part of whom we are.
Pretending is an integral part of playtime either by ourselves or with others. This is a very important piece of the puzzle we are forming. This puzzle is the chemistry we feel when the reality of time taps us on the shoulder to acknowledge how special that moment really was.
The friends I have from long ago I count as treasures. They know the past memories we share which still bring laughter and the classic phrase,” How did we live through that?” Perhaps there are fortuitous connections that involve God, the universe, or some other factor we have yet to discover.
When I think about all the places I could have been born, all the parents I could have had, and all the friends I have met, and those I am still to meet, I feel truly blessed. There has to be some divine intervention, some type of timing beyond our ability to understand. Factor in all of the coincidences and multiply that times ten, and we have a life full of the surprises that make our journey such a roller coaster.
The best things in life are free. The joy we feel when the connection occurs opens up a dialogue that transfomrs mundane conversation to that of “expanding our horizons”. Then the most important factor in all of these interactions is that of trust. To be able to trust someone outside our immediate family is a gift. Looking back in time I remember several instances when the toe is in the perverbial water of trust and the secrets shared become a bond that is forever strenghtened with time.
Put to the test through-out our lives are those fellowships that bring a smile to our face. To think of that moment in time when the boundrary or dividing line becomes larger is an enrichement which adds to our perspective. This perspective adds color to substance and laughter from a smile within.
My dear friends know whom they are. It is very important to let them know the importance they have in our lives. Weddings when we’re young and funerals when we’re old are events we attend because of the love and carrying we have (by extension) for all those important enough to them and to us.
Family’s feel the friendship between their circle of blood and the consentric arc that shares the same center enriched by time. As valuable as the most precious diamond and kept close to our heart, with the love of many moments, this is a gift that is center to our universe. We call this very special feeling, friendship.
Friendship is simply the state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people. This state of being shines a light on our own perspective. If we are self centered, petty or simply a complete narcissist then our future could be one defined by being alone.
However, if we are magnanimous and giving, and our thought process starts with “random acts of kindness”, then our life will be filled with the type of richness that only comes when we put others above ourself.
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.