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.

 

A Look Into the PAST… PAZAZ™ Style!

spring is about to spring pazaz style

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.

 

 

 

Friends are Gifts

friends forever

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.

 

 

 

Which Road will we take?

learn about yourself experience life

If we had a crystal ball, everything would become clear. Which road to take and which path would lead to our final destination?

If we could only view our life before it unfolded and see mistakes before they happened! Our vission would be 20/20 and that view would include our health, relationships, investments, career, and of course where we chose to live. If only…

The path less traveled has been a mantra of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper. This “mantra” has led to some crushing defeats and some wonderful victories. I wish I’d focused more on others while listening to those with vast more knowledge and experience to determine which path to take.

In our youth many have wasted those years in self medication and other indulgent expressions. We ebb and flow as the sands of time erode our constitution and leave us with an aging perspective of what could have been. But through this veil we see the blessed moments that bring everything into a clearer view, like the adjustment of the rear view mirror in our car… but different.

Our blessings are counted with family and friends that we have planted and harvested along the way. Relationships of any kind take time to cultivate and become stronger as our trust builds into foundations of love.

The paths we travel are simply the magnetic pull of the universe stearing us in one direction or another providing trials along the way, testing what we’ve learned and how we apply it. Any path begins with one foot forward into a faith driven abyss based upon the knowledge we have accumulated up until that moment in time.

As we get older our vision goes from years ahead, to months, to days, to moments. But with most of us the ethos of discovery and the latest adventure is what keeps our soul vibrant, young, and interesting. These characteristics unfold into an experience that translates to expanding our layers of wisdom.  By not only reading about a place or person but going there and meeting those different people in different cultures we give ourselves a greater perspective of the world.  We also can see how truly similar people are within the context of family and friends.

Each road we travel has curves and bends to the samba of lifes challenges. These challenges make the gifts we receive that much more satisfying. For without conflict, disappointments and setbacks our comebacks, triumphs, and rewards would not be quite so sweet.

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both, and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  A poem by Robert Frost

Which ever path we take, we end up in the same place… the end of the road. But that ending can be the beginning for whatever lies beyond our understanding of God, the universe, and what part we play in this drama we call life.

This blog has been 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.

Simple Recipes, PAZAZ Style!

pazaz premium bakewareWhen I was much shorter I saw my mom had a couple cook books. I figured that (at that time) she wasn’t using them too much. She’d gone from using them alot, to some, to not at all. After I was out of highschool (other than special occasions) she would open a can of Campbells soup and pour it over whatever protein was on the menu for that night. It was actually pure genius and nothing could have been simpler than that.

The cookbooks she had were everything from good houskeeping cookbooks to “The Joy of Cooking”. I took one look at that book and decided that at that time I would have to defer that semblance of creativity and enthusiasm for another date and time. There were items in that cookbook I couldn’t pronounce, and even if I could, I didn’t know what they were.

The idea of me learning how to cook started when I worked at the French restaurant, The Caprice, in Tiburon, California. This overture into the unknown was the first interlude I had with fine dining and the desire to actually cook myself.

Fast forward to now and we are inundated with cooking shows. The formula of conflict, competition, or pre-prepared meals being magicaly pulled from an oven has run its course with me, especally having been in the business my whole life. Within the confines of our own home we can have the tools needed for the preperation of an exceptional meal. Those restaurants and cooking shows can never replicate the love that we have for those we care about and how that translates from the plate to the stomach.

Keeping food simple is the key to a duplicatable experience, and one that is much appreciated. There are several million options but I will focus on just a couple easy to prepare dishes that don’t take all day to prepare. First we have to pick the protein keeping in mind what preperation we will choose and the skill set we have to execute the dish.

Before we start keep in mind that the success of any dish depends on the ingredients we choose. Wild caught salmon versus farm raised, and organic vegetables versus greenhouse are important distinctions that will help elevate your dish from the ordinary to the sublime.

I will choose Salmon for this example. Of couse we could grill it, broil it, poach it, saute it, smoke it, or even cook it sous vide style. However in the spirit of keeping it simple we will grill it. Having said that, now comes the choice of what type of briquettes, flavored wood chips, or even hardwoods. Cedar plank has become popular but for my taste I prefer apricot wood to reveal other subtle flavors in the fish.

The fish should be properly cleaned and prepped prior to placing on the grill surface. Lightly salt and pepper the fish always placing the salmon on the grill skin down cooking the thickest part to 120 degrees for approximately 12-14 minutes. I like to place a little oil on the grill surface to make sure the fish doesn’t stick. Then upon retrieval from the grill let the salmon rest. After plating the salmon drizzle a little dill oil and lemon over the top.

Prior to “letting the Salmon rest” there is the starch and the vegetable to consider. Many restaurants prefer mashed potato to rice as an accompaniment to the protein. Not I. I prefer Jasmine rice with its nutty and floral character accentuated with a fluffy texture. Served with this would be several different vegetables that are easy to prepare and yet set a standard above the usual afterthought.

Poach brussel sprouts in boiling water with a little sea salt and pepper. Take out when they are lovely bundles of delicousness and place them in an alfredo sauce you have already prepared. The textures consisting of the salmon, rice, and vegetable morph into creamy and course, complimenting the flavors a reflection of salty, savory, and sweet.

The interesting mosaic of color paints the canvas with a landscape that creatively reflects the love and thought that went into this culinary expression.

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

Waterfalls and the Magic of Solitude

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

As water falls into pools of quiet deep thought the answers we seek are the illusions of wisdom we hold close to our heart. The walks along paths through forests and glens appear to captivate the senses in a way that frees the best part of whom we are and how we see the world.

Everything seems so simple as sung by those that have felt the deepest expressions of musical sonnets. And yet, we find within our souls the wonder that is life and its nuances that carry us to our next adventure. Our experiences/adventures take us in many cases to uncharted territories that expand our horizones and deepen the layers of interspection.

The simplicity of staring in a vacuous manner at the beauty before us frees us from the complexity of dissecting the picture that unfolds within our spacial consciousness. To see the efortless scene changing within the framework of a picture is both inspiring and bewitching. Our base line ebbs and flows to the samba of movement provided by wind, water, sunlight, insects, birds, deer, and all those wonderful expressions of nature we will never see but only feel somewhere as a sixth sense.

For me it is the sunsets and the projection of different colors… the way light dances across the horizon that is most entrancing. And then there is the prospect of an unparalleled visionary involvment that combines the sensory with the sublime where imagination grips a beautiful memory that erupts over the embers of a thought we will never forget.

To become stress free within the body of nature and therefore experience it to our fullest requires the untethering of those obstacles that hold us to the constraints of the greatest hindrance we will ever know… the six inches between our ears.

This Blog is sponsored by PAZAZ. The Magic of Cooking and the Kitchen tools for the discerning chef that make this an unparalleled cooking experience. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase 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.