Thanksgiving… a Time for Thanks and Giving

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.

 

Leaving Las Vegas

a place that lives in your heartThere 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.

Another Path to Explore

 

it really is about the journey

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.

 

Living in Orofino is a Dream

Sometimes we make a plan, and sometimes the plan makes you. In this case there was a short list of criteria that took an idea and sent it to the next level of consciousness.

Simple: Look for a place that has a great water source and can offer the luxury of a view to look out to a river, lake, stream, or creek . Find a place that has like minded people that care more about their family and friends than they care about the things they have.

Finaly, this place has to be semi-remote. Close enough to a fire station and hospital so that any emergency can be taken care of relatively quickly. One last caveat; Far enough away that your neighbors can barely be seen.

I eliminated Oregon and Washington because of expense and politics. I gravitated towards Idaho because of the affordability, the wonderful people, and the political climate which is more aligned with my own beliefs.

Idaho is what Marin County California  (where I grew up) used to be. Nobody cared what you had, only who you were (your word was your contract), and how hard you worked. So, having never been to Idaho before I researched the best path to lead to a successful viewing of the state I targeted to be part of my retirement haven.

First there was the flight, “Where do I fly to?” I’d never been to Spokane Washington before but I realized this would be the most affordable flight. I’d have to rent a truck (needed four wheel drive just in case) and then plot a path to a centralized location in the panhandle. I picked the panhandle because I wasn’t interested in the over-run Boise area and other areas were simply either too cold or too expensive.

I picked a B&B (The Laird House) in a small town just north of Moscow Idaho and south of Coeur d’Alene. This seemed a centralized place that could act as my base for exploration. Loved this little B&B.

Prior to coming to the B&B I set up appointments with three realtors that covered three different parts of the panhandle. There was the Sandpoint/Coeur’d Alene area, the Potlatch area, and finally the Lewiston area. Of course none of these places I’d been to and never (in my wildest dreams) did I expect to view the beauty I eventualy encountered on my sojurn into the unknown.

Potlatch is a very small town on the edge of the Palouse region of Idaho, originally built to house the employees of the worlds largest white pine sawmill. In its almost eighty-year lifespan the mill produced millions of board feet of lumber. Not knowing any of that I left the guidance to a local realtor as we explored such small towns as Princeton, Cora, Hampton, and Chambers.

I remember vividly the pouring rain as we traveled to properties for sale that fell well short of my expectations. We went to places that were difficult to find and even more difficult to get out of. We almost became stuck in the mud on several occassions but soldiered on through the monsoon like conditions. It became clear that this part of Idaho was a little to rustic in its constitution and too far from medical, fire, and commercial conveniences.

This led me to the next part of the journey, Sandpoint Idaho. Once again I knew virtually nothing about Sandpoint Idaho except that I had read that it had been  voted “the most beautiful town in America” in 2012 by USA Today. 52 miles north of Coeur d’Alene  I was amazed at the entry point to Sandpoint (a 2 mile bridge over the largest lake in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille). The beauty was captivating and led to a well planed community that blended hand-crafted artistic license with old fashion family owned retail businesses. The pubs, and the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market which is a collection of boutique shops a restaurant and a wonderful view of the Sandpoint Harbor added to the town’s flavor and composition.

I was really looking foward to seeing the area. We visited land for sale in Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and Priest River which eventually made one thing perfectly clear. It wasn’t going to be easy to find land that looked out to a water feature. The closest I came (with several visits to the area) spanning the course of 4-6 months was in Priest River. First I found the most spectacular property (9 acres) that had panoramic views up and down of the Priest River. I loved it until I noticed a cellphone tower on the property that could potentially lead to health issues.

Another property in the same area was not quite so spectacular (5 acres) but had a mini version of the view we had just witnessed. I made an offer on that property (in a gated community) but was perplexed to hear the agent hadn’t informed me that the property was already in escrow. I realized after taking a jaunt around Sagle (the last town I would visit in this area) that this area was not going to afford me the type of experience I was looking for (within my budget).

I felt that somewhere in this state there was a place for Nancy and I that would provide us with the criteria I set forth on this mission. Finally, my last expedition would lead me to the place we now call home.

After returning to Potlatch to rest I ventured out the next day to meet the last realtor on the list, Russ Martin. Russ is a character exactly like you’d expect as a guide to both entertain and inform you about the history of the area. Russ grew up in the area of Lewiston/Orofino and provided some very colorful accounts of the locals, the hunting and fishing, and the wonderful history that is indigenous to this part of Idaho.

We traveled to places for sale that were weird, beautiful but remote, and then came upon what would become our property in Orofino. There were many trips to this area and many unusual experiences with sellers but the property we would eventually settle upon checked all the boxes: Fire station – 5 miles away, Hospital – 8 miles away, and the town of Orofino offered the conveniences we were looking for with Lewiston (and many more conveniences) only 45 minutes from Orofino with a population of 31,000.

The process to acquire the property at Tie Creek was relatively painless. However, it took three different mortgage brokers, a pandemic, supply chain issues, and a heart attack before our dream home would be a reality. Now we have a beautiful home in an area that’s like a park (bald eagles, elk, bear, deer, wild turkey’s, and even a cougar).

Whoever said the journey is the reward is an idiot… the reward is the reward.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ (Kitchen tools for the discerning chef). Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

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The “Magic of Cooking” implies the creation of something special in the kitchen, a transcendent experience by which all other experiences are judged. 
Music and Cooking are very similar. Both require passion, attention to detail, and a love that transcends the musical score or the recipe.  As you are the conductor of your life, we take very seriously our responsibility to give you the greatest kitchen equipment to help create your culinary experience. 

Mother’s Day…

mother's day - pazaz bakeware
I would like to think that if your mother is still alive you hold this holiday very dear to your heart. I would also like to think that if she is not alive you cherish the memories you shared over the course of a lifetime.

Mother’s day is a day to honor your mother. Usually this takes on the form of a card, flowers, and even a meal (if you are lucky enough to have her close to you). The many times we shared this special day revolved around how blessed I was to have her in my life. The very special moments I remember sometimes seemed like mundane events but looking back, accentuated the fact that I miss her everyday.

My mom, Dorothy, used to consume her steak a certain way with each bite using a different condiment until the very center of the steak, the prize, was delightfully enjoyed. I remember the smile on her face and her hands giving a happy sign to signify the utter joy in this simple yet satisfying experience.

“How Grateful I Would Be To Have Just One More Day”

By Kathy J. Parenteau

“If I could have just one more day and wishes did come true,
I’d spend every glorious moment side by side with you.
Recalling all the years we shared and memories we made,
how grateful I would be to have just one more day.
Where the tears I’ve shed are not in vain and only fall in bliss.
So many things I’d let you know about the days you’ve missed.
I wouldn’t have to make pretend you never went away.
How grateful I would be to have just one more day.
When that day came to a close and the sun began to set,
a million times I’d let you know I never will forget
the heart of gold you left behind when you entered Heaven’s gate.
How grateful I would be to have just one more day. “

When I was younger she would help me with little booklets that taught me English, history, and math. She would also help me memorize my lines for the many plays I was in. In addition to teaching me just about everything I knew she also helped me with my violin lessons.

My mom was a concert pianist and would go over every piece to help me with my intonation and violin lessons which I would have to complete for that week. She would read my homework to make sure I completed the assignments, and through that process exhibited the patience of Jobe. My teenage years proved to be a bit challenging. Not because I was such a problem but because I didn’t drive.

Orchestra was at 7:15 am, football practice after school, then drama practice across town. Each day was some type of practice which involved orchestra outside of school, singing, violin lessons, etc. My mom never complained about the schedule and many times would wait for me to complete my lesson or practice.

Through-out all of this she had debilitating arthritis. Never once did she complain about her maladies though it was hard for her to walk. In addition to that her hands showed the arthritis disease in the form of swelling and curvature. Her inner strength, intelligence, and kindness were on display everyday. My mom was chairman of the Cancer Society for Marin County and she orchestrated drive schedules for many drivers that would pick up cancer patients that were either too frail to drive or were less fortunate and didn’t own a car. This led to her receiving an award where she was recognized by a San Francisco radio station as a person that gave so much back to society. I can not begin to express how grateful I was to be blessed to have my mom in my life (though it was for to short a period of time).

I look back and smile at the time we spent together. If ever there was a person that made the world a better place… it was my mom. I hope and pray that all that read this will either reach out to their mom or remember that time together you hold so dear.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to pazazshop.com to purchase these “AMAZING” kitchen tools.

Magic in Nature, Bidwell Park, Chico California

magic in nature bidwell park chico pazaz bakeware
Magic in Nature – Bidwell Park

Last weekend I literally strolled through Bidwell Park. The reason I “strolled” through the park is because I didn’t want to miss one tree, one flower, one butterfly or any part of the creek that meanders through the park.

The beauty was breathtaking. Each turn revealed a new path with 200 foot Oak trees, Birch, Western Sycamore, Northern California Black Walnut, and the mighty Redwood. Then to frame these majestic trees are the flowers; California sandwort, Bird’s eye gillia, bladder parsnip, California buttercup, wild cucumber, and Ceanothus ( a shrub that blooms in clusters of white or blue flowers) very fragrant. There are hundreds of varieties of trees, flowers, insects, and animals that shall be revealed when you journey to this magical place.

Along the trails by the creek you will find convenient places to rest with park benches and tables (with some spaces even having a grill to barbecue). The canopies of foliage are so thick in some places it is difficult to see the sky. I have really never been in a park so encompassed with wild life (except a zoo) that if you blink you will miss some part of the experience that is inches from you.

As a college student we spent many a day driving through the park, hiking in the park, or passed out in the park. I remember the first time I ever spent time in Chico, going to the park, and attempting to tube down the creek eventually leading to a picnic lunch…so peaceful and tranquil.

Fast forward to today and the same energy that is beauty, solitude, and the wonder of nature captivates your senses. The only difference I see is that today the majority of young people are engaged with their phones while the older students that never left Chico (the smart ones that found a way to stay) walk leisurely through Bidwell Park taking in the nuances created by light, sound, and imagery.

In July of 1905 Annie Bidwell donated approximately 2,500 acres of land to the City of Chico. Since that time, the City has purchased additional land, such as Cedar Grove in 1922, and 1,200 acres of land south of Big Chico Creek in Upper Bidwell Park circa 1995. Bidwell Park ranks 26th as far as the size of municipal parks in our country.

As many of us know the original Robin Hood (The Adventures of Robin Hood) with Errol Flynn was filmed in 1938 in Bidwell Park. The park simulated Sherwood Forest, and the movie (a box office hit) also stared Olivia DeHavilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains. When King Richard the Lionheart is captured, his scheming brother Prince John (Claude Rains) plots to reach the throne, to the outrage of Sir Robin Locksley (Errol Flynn, the bandit of Sherwood Forest). Rounding up his band of merry men and eventually winning the support of the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Haviland), Robin accuses Prince John of treachery. When the escaped Richard returns covertly to England he joins forces with the King to prevent Prince John from taking the crown.

Today as in yesteryear the park adds a level of peacefulness created by the visionaries that established the park and the town of Chico. With the beloved University so many hold dear to their hearts it is not uncommon to witness the camaraderie between generations because of the bond between Bidwell Park, the town of Chico, and the University… so rare.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.