Posts Tagged With: Live Laugh Love

 
 

Happy Birthday

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March 27, 2020

Today is my Mother-in-law’s Birthday 🎂

 

Ethel and her two sisters, Audrey and Anne (in this order), were the first which welcomed me with open arms and open hearts, ♥️ without hesitation or reservation; without judgement. Some believe your marry a family when you marry someone (my wife, Susan Meech Hayden), in it. But there was also my father-in-law, an uncle, three step-sons, their wives, their 7 children and cousins and other kindreds. Marrying any woman is work enough and then there is work with all she is kindred to. Few men are ever good enough for a mother’s and father’s daughter. Multiply this many times, if you marry a divorced woman with children! But, call it Kingly or Queenly kindness, Mom and her two sisters (my aunts), graciously accepted me the first time I met them. And I liked all three of them, the first time I met each of them. Now unless you think this is about me or three sisters, it is not. But it is about a similar trait that all three shared and this merely is my observations of the qualities of one in particular.

Ethel Lovatt Meech, is my mother-in-law, to which I have long dispensed with the factual and formal title and just call her Mom. Blood not, but not any less is she to me, than my birth mother.

Her husband Henry, “Bud” Meech, my father-in-law called her “Lovie”. She was indeed, a loving 🥰 sister, a loving 🥰 wife, a loving 🥰 mother, a loving 🥰 aunt, a loving 🥰 cousin, a loving 🥰 grandmother, a loving 🥰 great grandmother and a loving 🥰 friend!

Our only granddaughter Leona, and one nephew Chase, both have ‘Lovatt’ as their middle name.

Mom was a proper Lady. She was often quiet and a good listener. But she was an exceptional conversationalist too, poignant, sharp and smart.

She also had a fun and funny side too. Both her two true children could tell you about her burgundy red convertible 67′ mustang she loved to drive.

Her comedic timing was often unexpected, but greatly appreciated. I would’ve loved to have been at the dinner table when her husband Bud asked her to throw him a pickle and she tossed it into the air! I remember standing next to her and my wife Susan, was on her other side at the funeral home. We were there to say goodbye to her husband, the father of her children, “Bud” Henry Meech. The grandchildren called her, ‘Grandma Sweetie Pie’. Yes, she was a sweetie, made great pie and was a wonderful cook. But there we were and it was a solemn moment, for all in saying goodbye, as we drew near to see him and pay our respects and begin the grieving process. Mom looked on her husband and friend and just quietly said, “The shell is still here, but the nut is gone.”

I would have loved to have been a fly in the car when she and dad were in the front seats (Dad was driving) and it was the first time she met his mom and grandmother. They were all singing songs and then there was a sudden quiet. To break the ice and cut through the edginess, Mom broke out singing, ‘Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall’. If that’s not funny enough for you, unbeknownst to Ethel, her newly met grandmother-in-law just happened to be the wife of a Methodist minister and her new mother-in-law was aligned with The Women’s Temperance Movement that opposed the consumption of alcohol. 🍹 🍸 🍺 🍷 🤣🤣🤣

But to me, the greatest thing my Mom had been was a career registered nurse. And that fact does not even begin to tell the story. I have met a few famous people in my life and had my heroes and heroines, But never in my wildest dreams, could I ever have imagined, marrying into a family with one hero and one heroine, married to each other. Their family became my family!

But Ethel was not only a registered nurse, oh no, a million times no! She was a proud and lifelong member of, The United States Nurse Cadet Corps.

Logo

The United States Cadet Nurse Corps (CNC), was authorized by the U.S. Congress and signed into law as a nondiscriminatory program, in July 1943. Its purpose was to help alleviate the nursing shortage that existed during World War II. The United States Public Health Service (USPHS), was named the supervisory agency; it was answerable to, the Surgeon General of the United States.

Its origins can be traced to the establishment in 1798, of a system of marine hospitals. In 1870, these were consolidated into the Marine Hospital Service, and the position of Surgeon General, first began.

The program was formed, July 1st, 1943 and was dissolved, December 31st, 1948.

The Media carried the news and offerings everywhere

The program was open to all women between the ages of 17 and 35 who were in good health and had graduated from an accredited high school.

All state nursing schools in the U.S. were eligible to participate in the program; they were, however, required to be accredited by the accrediting agency in their state and be connected with a hospital that had been approved by the American College of Surgeons. The participating schools of nursing were required to compress the traditional 36-month nursing program into 30 months and were obligated to provide the students with the clinical experiences of medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics.

Ethel was an operating room and surgery nurse, for the better part of her career in nursing.

This was an incredible opportunity for women, for financial independence and a lifetime career, no matter the economic situation or societal woes that may befall a nation. If you were a nurse and even today, you always have a job. All of these things appealed to young women which before, may have had little to no opportunity to improve the quality of their lives. The uniforms, stockings, lapel pins, a particular shade of ruby red lipstick, and berets were highly attractive to many. If you were a nurse, a Cadet Nurse, you were in essence, a fashionista!

Status symbols and fashionistas

Many wanted to be one or to be seen with one!

 

There was a lot of prestige being a Cadet Nurse. You were not just anybody or just a woman, you were often gorgeous, highly intelligent, professional, highly trained, in high demand and were often viewed like rock stars of the times. Many women longed to be a Cadet Nurses and along with all these characteristics and compassion for others and the faithful dedication, many men fervently desired to date a Cadet Nurse, kiss one and with an ultimate hope of marrying one!

    

Beyond these things, Cadet Nurses were honored to serve their country as the country was honored by their presence. They filled great voids in this country, when so much of the medical field were on the front lines overseas. But no matter where a Nurse Cadet served, she was also on the front lines and among the ‘first responders’. They did not only give life giving aid and literally saved many a life, they often wrote letters for their patients, read to them, talked to them, comforted them, and kept vigil the whole dark night of their patients’s souls. They were heroes and heroines each one, and often your trusted confidant and best friend! Doctors could never, and cannot ever, survive for any length of time without them! And the greatest medical people in the world are in the USA! 🇺🇸 The quality of the entire medical industry that we enjoy today, are the direct results of The Nurse Cadet Corps that forged it in fire, 🔥 on the front lines, of the front lines of, human trauma and tragedy, crisis and redemption, by what many think on as the ‘angels of grace and mercy!

My mother-in-law, Ethel Lovatt Meech, my adopted mom, was a pioneer on a love frontier. And she is my heroine!

She knew her grandson Jonathan was following, in her footsteps and she spoke of him often fondly and beamed with pride. He wanted her to be the one that pinned him when he graduated from nursing school, but sadly, she passed before. But he did graduate, is a husband, a father of three boys, and a NICU nurse (neonatal Specialist), but he is also studying and soon to graduate, as a Nurse Practitioner. I know she would be (is), so very proud of him as he like her, in our current World War against the Covid19 virus, is on the front lines of the front lines!

Triple Victory- The War is Over, Home Again, & Kiss a Nurse! 🙂

Jonathan was there and Susan and I were there when Mom took her last breath. I have no other way to say this than, it was a beautiful death. She was surrounded by people that loved her and that she loved and she quietly closed her eyes and went to sleep. She was draped with a quilt that was given to her by a Nurse who had also served in the military. The quilt has an American flag woven design. We still have this. It was just a token of a grateful country, for her service!

The Quilt that draped Ethel, in honor of her service to the USA

We now live in the same home that she and my father-in-law lived in, from 1973 until they passed. We inherited a simple little kitchen timer that runs off of batteries. It is just inside one of the cabinets in our kitchen. For some unknown reasons and at different times, when either of us walk by the cabinet, the alarm inside starts dinging. We always think it’s Mom trying to say something and we always say, “Hi Mom,” and then shut the alarm off. And today is, your birthday! Your your daughter Susan, is making a cake for you, to celebrate you today and for as long as we still draw breath.

I don’t know if I ever said this to you, but like the line from a favorite song of mine, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” 🥰❤️

Your Dahni
(Because you made me yours)

A Beautiful Woman inside and Out

Still kept her red curly hair

   


Cadet Hymn

Faithful ever to my country, to the Corps, my sacred trust,
Grant that I may follow wisely, all the guidance offered me.
Give me kindness, grant me patience,
That I may not fail this noble challenge to heal the suffering ones.
Help me to ally the sorrowing in a world torn by strife,
May I hold the lamp of nursing in the sprit of the Corps,
Give me strength, and grant me knowledge,
To pursue my chosen way with courage to heal the suffering ones.
Now I dedicate my service, pledge myself and all I am,
Thus to make of life a triumph, over sorrow over death,
Give me pride in my endeavor
In the service of my Corps, o grant that I may heal the suffering ones

The cadet hymn was composed by the director of music at Mt. Vernon Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. and the words were written by a member of the Division of Nursing Education of the USPHS. It was released in 1945 on the second anniversary of the CNC

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The Gathering Place

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Cherry tree in full blossomed glory

When you live in Western New York and on top of a hill as we do, Spring can be long in coming and short in duration. Trees and flowers at the bottom of the hill on either side, has perhaps already bloomed two weeks ago. Forty-five minutes or so from us, the famous Rochester, NY Lilac Festival ended last week and our lilacs are barely budding. The winds are strong and fierce here, across the 100’s of acres of farmland in back and in front of our home. Winter is long here and is so often, accompanied by snow drifts several feet high, all around us. Atop the the hill, it seems an ideal place for the wind and rain and snow to blow and fly. It is what it is and unless you take this as complaining, it is more, just my observations.

My wife Susan and I, frequently gather on our small and narrow front porch. It was originally built as a two-season room with screens and storms and a screen-storm door. We thought replacing these with thermal pane, dual-glass windows and the door, would extend our usable time here. But the floor has no insulation and is built over a crawl space. Having so much of a wall of glass, there is not really room for much insulation there. And there is probably not much if any, above the ceiling.

We added a little electric heater that looks like a wood burning stove and it warms the room nice and toasty, while adding to our electric bill, considerably. But we love this room! Children, friends, family, Bella our cat and Lady our dog, and our seven grandchildren, love this room. Notice the many toys and Bella on one of the chairs, in the picture below. 🙂

Other than changing the windows, the door, adding a heater and installing an oak-look floating laminate floor, it really has not changed much, since Susan’s Mother and Father lived here. They were the first occupants since the place was built, in 1973. When the porch was enclosed or added-on (I’m not sure which),  her father installed rough-sawn paneling and the ceiling fan we still use today. I can say for myself and think it true for Susan too, it is our favorite room, in all our home!

Our Favorite Room
Sunrise and bird good morning

Most of the furniture has been in the family, for many years. The couch and two chairs were refinished, repaired and re-covered with a blue-jean color, cotton jean-like material. The couch has at times and the floor next to it, has been covered with napping bodies of friends and family. Other furniture is also, family heirloom. Family pictures and military paraphernalia adorn the interesting wall of carefully designed and saw-cut paneling, and are a continual tribute to the man that built this porch, Susan’s Dad. The room is nothing fancy or expensive. It is comfortable, just wonderfully comfortable!

Susan and I often gather here in the morning with our coffee and look out and watch the birds. We also gather here for drinks at Happy Hour, around 5 PM. These are those special times we share together and converse about life and are still getting to learn something new about one another. I call these times, ‘Sips with Susan’! 🙂

Whenever I finish my book, ‘The Gathering Place Feast Book’ (How anyone can turn their home into a five-star culinary experience), under the category of beverages, it too will be called, ‘Sips with Susan’. 🙂

But, for the long wait of spring at the top of the hill, at ‘The Gathering Place’, I came up with not a bit solace, for a sorrowed soul, but anticipation, for whenever Spring in full arrives and for how little in time it may last? For myself, while waiting for anything, any little subtle changes, anything new, it causes me to get excited and my heart all twitter-patted, in anticipation and appreciation!

“They who wait for Spring the longest, appreciate it the most!”

-dahni-

Our lilacs just coming
Azalea just this morning
Susan’s birthday sculpture – hummingbird made with spoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Susan, just this morning, during ‘Sips with Susan’, wrote the following. It captures it all perfectly, from our little comfy-cozy porch, atop the hill at The Gathering Place.

Our red-bud is almost ready

 

 

 

The Gathering Place

By Susan Meech Hayden
©️ 2019, all rights reserved

Our Gathering Place, on top the hill we wait at morn or eve
For sun to rise, burst forth and shine, then sink to take its leave.
Sometimes the sun plays hide and seek in clouds of grey or white
Or mist and fog might cover the fields and stretch beyond our sight.
Our little home, through nature’s powers,
We sit content, because it’s ours.
Oh, from our hill the stage is set for every kind of weather
The blustery winds, the snow and cold, but we stay warm together
We wait for spring’s array of colors beneath the sullen skies
It lags behind, but now and then, bursts forth before our eyes.

 

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The Gathering Place

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Note:

This was written sometime ago. I would come back to it every now and again to edit and add etc. Perhaps I should have published this at or near the beginning of this blog. But it was intended to show what is behind the title of this post and the actual wooden sign (as shown as the cover picture for this blog). It hangs over the mantle of the fireplace, in the great room of our home. This blog and that sign (a gift from family), represents our home which we also lovingly call– The Gathering Place. This post was written to explain why this place, called the The Gathering Place (our home), is so named, The Gathering Place. For one thing, I believe most people understand what a gathering place is and what it is for. That visual explanation works for this place, this blog and our home as well. But I want you to understand the depth of my meaning for it as well. I thought today, April 17, 2018, was as good as any time to publish it. Cheers! 🙂

-d-

(What’s in a Name)

by Dahni
©️ 2018, all rights reserved

When I was a child, I believed in many things. Then I found out I had been lied to. And I decided right there and then– there was no Santa Claus, no Tooth Fairy, no such thing as the Easter Bunny, that people cannot be trusted and there must be, no such person or thing as God. Then I came upon many beliefs about the meaning of life and I just started looking.

Then I found this and that and was told this and that– “Because”, ‘That’s what I was taught”, “Because, that’s just the way it is”,”Come here”, “Go there”, “Look here”, and “Look over there”, and I just kept looking!

I went to the mountains. I went to the desert. I went to the sea. I looked to the stars. I wondered and I wandered. Then I looked to the healing arts. Then I looked to the law. I looked towards anywhere and any place I could find. I turned to the so-called creative arts. I wrote and wrote in journal after journal and would read them from time to time. Then it was discovered I had encircled myself in my own words, trapping me inside them. I burnt them all! The Religion of obscurity and confusion was NOT for me, so I kept on looking.

I went to the valleys of the human kind. I searched the ancients and the currents, their dark arts and their light arts. The Religion of uncertainty, contradiction, hypocrisy and evil, was NOT for me, so I kept on looking.

I returned to the religion of my youth, for some solace and some comfort. I went back to something familiar and discovered the mystery of faith. But faith could not be explained, it was not understood and I could NOT apply it because, I had no faith, not enough faith or I had turned away from the faith. Then I thought, if it cannot be articulated in words it is because, it is not understood. If it cannot be understood, it cannot be applied and there can be no results or consequences. The Religion of faith was NOT for me and I must NOT have been adequate, for the Religion of faith. I found no comfort or solace, so I kept looking.

I thought I must be tried and purified. I must take the chance on luck that by chance I might be chosen. Born to stand upright, to seek and to excel, how could I rise if the fates were not calling me? I was NOT chosen. And the Religion of Fate and Predestination was NOT for me, so I kept looking.

At one time in my life, I considered living a life of self-sacrifice and use my all and everything to suppress my passions, to elevate only logic and reason, much like the ancient Stoics. But that did not seem like much fun to me. The Religion of endless works without ceasing and a joyless existence was NOT for me, so I kept looking.

I saw the dying and the dead. Some of the dying cried out in terror; in fear of the unknown. Some of the dead cried out in losing their lives to the void. They cried out in guilt, for what they had done amiss or had not done, vainly making deals with the unknown, for another chance, more days; more years. I saw them curse when the answers they wanted and needed, did not come and they all died. The Religion of helplessness and hopelessness, was NOT for me, so I kept looking.

I saw and heard the dead eulogized and memorialized. Some were great, near great, just common folk and some were despised. But all of them still had at least a few that sorrowed for them, pretended to cry or were happy at their departure saying, “Good riddance.” And I heard religious leaders proclaim that those embalmed, dead and lifeless before my eyes, were not dead, but alive with God. How cruel I thought and unfair to us that remain. We that are left must continue to bear the slings and arrows of humanity and inhumanity. Even if the dead were hated, they are better off than us poor, pathetic creatures, fragile and miserable. We the left-behind, continued to struggle and even with good intentions, were paving our own roads in hell, in the slim and unverified sliver of hope for, heaven’s door. How much rather better, to go nowhere at all! For to the dead with no coins laid on their eyes (or our eyes), for the ‘Boatman’, without consciousness or conscience, is this not the bliss of ignorance! The Religion of ignorance, favoritism, partiality, inequity was NOT for me and I, I kept looking right there.

Then I looked at the words from the same book these religious leaders read from. I heard them say that the dead which were before me were dead and I could see they were dead. I heard the tears of those left behind. Some were mournful, some pretended and some smiled happily.  And I heard and saw these preachers contradict that the dead were not dead, after they had just read and said they were. And they said they were not dead, but alive and living elsewhere, not needing their shells. And these preachers talked of resurrection and I thought, if these dead were alive, why would God need to return and pick up their dust and bones? Is this not what it means to be raised (resurrected), from the dead? And then I heard my own pastor say, “The whole duty of a minister is to be intellectually informed for their congregation.” I supposed none of this was NOT spoken from some callous hearts; not abject hypocrites, but attempts at empathy, to comfort the mourners? How were we, was I, comforted in knowing the dead were alive and we alive were born to die? And the dead were alive? And the words the leaders read were, the dead were dead and yet they said these were alive! The Religion of stupid and the illogical; false hope and false comfort was NOT for me, so I left, got out and kept looking somewhere, anywhere else!

Then I thought, “Eat, drink and be merry”, cuz’ some tomorrow, I’m gonna’ die anyway, like the ancient Epicureans. But then I thought, surely there is more to life than just feeling and sucking the marrow and all the juice out of life, as much and as fast as I could?! The Religion of burning my candle at both ends, depravity, debauchery, self Indulgence, self-contentedness; total wholly selfishness, was NOT for me, so so I kept looking, but with barely any strength left to continue. It amazes me how fat I can become and yet how weak it makes me so, yes, I kept looking.

Then I discovered people who don’t believe anything (atheists). How mindless, irresponsible, how blissfully ignorant. And I decided that the Religion of nothing, no purpose or reason for the reasons and passions for life or that non-religion was NOT for me, so I kept looking, then nearly crawling, for lack of strength. A mind spent on arguing is one starving, so yes, I kept looking.

Then I discovered the really insane people who can’t decide or even make up their minds as to what they believe or don’t believe (agnostics). And Religion, that Religion or the i-dunno’-religion, the I don’t want to say yes and be wrong and the I don’t want to say no and be wrong either. This without a mind Religion, insanity was NOT for me, so I stayed blind, deaf, and dumb, looking nowhere.

Then I grew really, really grew tired of looking, but more tired of not looking!!!

Then I was found! And my empty hard heart, soul, and mind were pierced and shattered by these words-

“Don’t you know that by his stripes you WERE HEALED?”

Then I came to discover that I already was a Christian; that Christ was already in me, and that the riches of this mystery was, Christ in me, The Hope of glory (future). I found the best of both lifestyles (reason and passion), and the balance of reason and passion for my past, present and future, plus hope for an everlasting life of joy, health and wholeness! I found when I so concentrated on these things- focused, without allowing any distraction in, I was calm and as pure as undiluted and undisturbed water, while the storms of life raged all about me. And my whole life was quickened– physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I have been healed often to the absence of any possibility and without medical explanation. I am alive when I should have died several times that I know of and perhaps more than I know?!

I have been filled according to my appetite. My questions all answered to my satisfaction. I overflow my fullness. I know what and why I believe what I believe and can show the same to anyone that desires to know the hope that is in me. This I can show that they can be filled according to their appetite and their questions answered to their satisfaction and their filling full, can overflow from them too!

I no longer look anymore! Whew, if you only knew how much time, resources and life this saved and saves me!

Then I discovered I have the best possible life going, even if I’ve succumbed to something so foolish and explained away as rapture of the deep and unrealistic euphoria, going nowhere! 🙂

But daily there are proofs and sometimes I prove them to myself and others see them in me too!

Then one day I will discover that I’ve been gathered together– dead, alive; here or there. Then, I’ll one day meet Jesus Christ, in the air!

And now I hope, to see you there! To the some I KNOW. I’ll be gathered together with you!! To all the rest, I hope to see you there!!! Until then, The Gathering Place (our home), is purposed to be like a miniature or mini-gathering together, until the real one or the big one occurs. 🙂

What’s in a Name?

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:25 KJV

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

I Thessalonians 4:16,17 KJV

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

II Thessalonians 2:1,2 KJV

Don’t stop looking, you’ll be found if you want to be!

Oh, and what and where is real comfort?

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

I Thessalonians 4:18 KJV

The Gathering Place,

Dahni

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HellBreak

By Dahni

© 2017, all rights reserved

Well, when all hell breaks out, within and without and it looks like this is your sign to just stay home or it’s just hell trying to keep you home WHAT, wadeeah yah do?

Cold, hot, foggy, snowy, blowy, sick and tired? Either stay and let all hell continue to beat the hell out of you or let all hell beat the hell out of itself and let it stay.

Don’t even bother sweeping the dirt under the rug, or clean and organize nuttN. Don’t make the bed 🛏 just throw the bedspread on and call it good. Shut the door to the office crapola. Turn off the lights, stuff your stuff, grab your two Ladies (your wife and your dog), don your sunglasses 🕶, flip up or down the sun visor, and/or turn on the windshield wipers and just git goN! Don’t stop 🛑 on Go to even collect your Monopoly parking money and just Gooo!!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 🦃 Enjoy the ride! Man what a trip!! 😂

https://youtu.be/eyU3bRy2x44

Love is comforting, healing, restful, peaceful, and a warm and toasty fire 🔥 of family and Friends, waiting on you to arrive! 😃

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No Regrets

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Good Morning!

To live your life without regret, there are four things which are most important, for your every DO IT NOW –

NoRegrets2

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On: Thrill of the First Grill

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

 

Well, today at The Gathering Place, we’re cooking. Yes, this post is abut the ‘thrill of the first grill,’ of the season.

Fresh from sleep ( I think the jet lag is over) and fresh with inspiration from our recent travels to Japan and Australia, we’re cooking up a storm!

Let me first explain the word ‘”storm.” It has been literally “storming” here recently. We have had quite a bit of rain and the temperature dropped dramatically. I’m not complaining, just explaining, for up here on the hill, we have fared better than some that have gone through a lot of flooding and damage. “Storm,” “Stormy” and “bad weather,” can be used and are used here, figuratively.

About a week before we left Australia (OZ-tralia), my wife Susan, was suffering from pain in her right leg. We thought it was just muscular or something like that from the much walking we have done these last couple of months. The day after we got home, I drove her to the doctor. A ultrasound revealed that she has a blood clot in her leg. Rather than go into details, let me just say that she is doing better, but has to take it easy. Now “easy” to you might be easy to you, but not to Susan. She has plenty to do that she both wants to do and needs to do. So, it’s not “easy,” it is scary, different, frustrating and kind of stormy here, at the Gathering Place.

There were things, important things we missed while gone. For one, our only granddaughter has a mouthful of teeth, is walking and is keeping up with and will be soon the boss of her two older, fraternal twin brothers. There’s graduations, birthdays and even a wedding coming up. I’ve painting to do, grass to grow, a yard sale to plan and implement so, we can get rid of this huge pod in our driveway and have a full driveway again. And there has been the loss of a dear family member and the daughter of two of our other dear friends.

We’ve gone through all the mail and junk mail. We’ve a lot of catch-up to catch-up on, about many things. You leave for a couple of months and when you get back, everything you left is still here and more and less. Susan is retired. Me? I only know that we were tired while traveling; tired from traveling and when we got home as we still are, we’re re-tired! 🙂

Sometimes, we just don’t realize how good people are at what they do until, we have to step in and try to do, what they do. Susan is the shopper, the meal planner, daily cook and specialty cook too. I could go on and on about what she does, but the point is, for the present and for an indeterminate period of time, I have to step in and step up. Not complaining just explaining.

Me? Oh, I am a trained gourmet chef. I know how to shop for the best and how to prepare the best. Blah, blah, blah, you want to know what I really am, I ‘m just a show-off chef. I’m the guy you want to have prepare feasts, special occasions, holiday meals and fancy dinners for 100’s of guests! I’m not boasting, that’s a fact Jack (or Jill or whatever pray tell, your name is. 🙂

But there is a whole bunch of differences between what I do and what a daily good cook, like my wife Susan, has done for years. Like what, like feeding a family on a budget, coupon collecting, best-deal detective-ing, and with grace under pressure, adding variety and all, with delicious and nutritious food, day in and day out, 450 days a year (extra days for extra people that often show up extra-ordinarily).

Oh sure, I used to know grams and milliliters. I’ve had a lot of experience with healthy food and shopping on a budget. But that was then and this is now. Like the saying goes, “use it or lose it.”

Well, if I am such an experienced chef with all this training, why have you never heard of me? Why am I not a successful chef and restaurateur with a whole bunch of the famed culinary and prestigious, Michelin Stars, associated with my work? The short answer is, I can’t handle the pressure! But also, I cannot stand to cook the same stuff over and over again, day in and day out! Food is either just something I HAVE to eat, when I’m doing something else that I deem more important, but my stomach won’t shut up until I cram something down my throat. Thank God I married Susan because, at least her food is delicious, balanced, and nutritious! If I just had to feed me, I’d either sort-of-starve, which really means, I gain weight or just eat junk which means, I gain weight. PROVE THIS TO YOURSELVES FOLKS! If you, would just eat three balanced meals a day at the same times and you do NOTHING else, I guarantee you will lose weight! You can even eat my food, BUT NOT A LOT OF IT, ALL THE TIME; EVERY DAY!

I love to cook. I love to cook for others. But in the kitchen, I AM INTENSE! I would NOT want to work for me or with me in the kitchen! I don’t know many chefs that I would want to be like. Many of them are just jerks, bossy-expletive-flinging dictators. And this is another reason I do not cook professionally. Not cooking professionally just means, I am not paid. I am a professional in all other senses of the word. I clean as I go. I cannot stand a messy kitchen!!! Besides, in a restaurant, the person that cleans the dishes is called a dishwasher, not the kitchen-washer or the kitchen cleaner. That’s my job and especially here recently. We have a mechanical/digital dishwasher and we have me, the hand dishwasher, while Susan rests, takes it easy and keeps her feet elevated.

My new roles are: nurse, caregiver, cooking, cleaning, shopping and many other things of which Susan, used to do a lot of these and much, much more.

Me shopping? By myself? Even with a list? Whew, what else do I bring home? How much more do I spend? To be fair to me, from my recent shopping trip, I did think in terms of extra stuff to prepare ahead of time, meals were planned and I purchased extra stuff to have on hand (in the refrigerator and freezer, on the shelves and in the pantry), just for you, when you stop by say on a moment’s notice or just to have extra if you stop by unannounced and we were just sitting down to eat. You are always welcome here though, by the way!

But OMG (Oh my God), we are going to eat well, I’m just not sure how well we will be eating or how well we’ll stay. 🙂  Here’s some clues – French, Italian, cream, butter, sugar, and salt and etc.. Am I communicating? Well, have you ever noticed that many of the people from France and Italy are not overweight, seem fit, firm, frisky, and fabulously, full of fun from food? They eat this way and probably, most of the time. Their secrets are balance, variety, the contrasts, lots of food, but smaller portions. As the saying goes, “a little bit goes a long way.” And there are three other secrets. A little wine with your meal is good for the digestion. I do apologize to those that do not partake of alcohol, but this is a proven fact. Wine aide in digestion, has antioxidants and some stuff in it (red wine has more) that has been shown to prolong life at healthier levels.

Many of the French and Italians take their time to prepare and to enjoy their food. This also aides in digestions and if you are really and truly satisfied, you will actually eat less. The last secret is the quality of the food, the fresher the better. In Japan and in Australia, many people shop, every day. In the USA, we often just buy stuff on sale and cram it all in our huge refrigerators, freezers and if we have them, the extra fridges and freezers. In the USA, we have a lot of OVER-processed, over-sugared, fat-stuff that has a lot of empty calories, chemicals and stuff our bodies can’t use much of, get rid of and promote cravings and get stored as fat.  If you think about it, it is very simple to understand. Every calorie gets used, it’s burnt up through exercise or it gets stored as fat. And this is still true, no matter how old I’m getting or how slow my metabolism is becoming. Eat what you love and love what you eat, just so long as what you love to eat does NOT, end up eating up, your life!

I do not like sleeping and I don’t like eating. But when I have to sleep and it’s needed and restful, I sometimes love it and I love eating exciting food! I love to cook. It’s fun! I love to cook for people. But I’m not real good at hosting, or keeping good conversation going, if I’m cooking. Oh, I’m OK if there is just one, two or a few people present. But more than a few, I can be really shy. I’d rather be behind the scenes watching you have a good time, watching and listening to what you have to say. I keep busy in the kitchen and even though I really do want you here, this is the only way I can handle crowds. It’s OK, go see Susan, she’ll talk to you and make you always feel, right at home!

Hey, wait a minute. I thought this post was supposed to be about the, ‘Thrill of the First Grill?’ It is, I’m getting to it!  I have written all of this in the hope that you can relate and or find it helpful, if not now, perhaps sometime in the future. And it is all in keeping with the vision of, The Gathering Place, our home, this post, and this blog, YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME! We gather together to share. I’m about to share some more and it’s about food; about the ‘Thrill of the First Grill,’ of the season.

Food is like art to me and well, I am a food artist. Food has to smell incredible, taste fantastic and be presented beautifully. Besides the joy this gives to our palette and how it excites our taste buds, all of this actually, aides in digestion. Why settle for something ordinary when just a little extra, can make it extra-ordinary!

Today, I made some heart shaped ginger sugar cubes, for what I call, Gingepagne (Ginger + Champagne). About three little mini heart sugar cubes into each glass of champagne. Made these to have on hand. Tasted delicious, but no champagne on hand to try, but I’ve had something similar (a taste) while we were in Australia (OZ-tralia) and it is wonderful. While making this, I also made fresh ginger syrup or ginger beer. Stored it in the refrigerator to have on hand for my ginger drinks. I have been working on my recipes for ‘Dark & Stormy’ (with rum), Moscow Mule (with vodka), Gin Gin Mule (with gin), Kentucky Mule (with Bourbon) and Scotch Mule (with Scotch). These all use pretty much the same ingredients (ginger syrup, ginger beer, and lime. The only thing different is pretty much the type of alcohol (spirits), the type of glass they are served in and the way they are garnished. Today, I made Gin Gin Mules for the Mrs. and me. They were incredible, especially since I used the fresh ginger syrup. Tomorrow, I’ll try the Scotch Mule.

Got everything together to make fresh, raw beets and horseradish mix. This is great on kielbasa, sandwiches and salads. You can’t get this any better or fresher than making it yourself. Just remember to peel the root and beets, use a food processor, but especially don’t forget to wear rubber gloves (no purple fingers from the beet juice) and a face mask so you don’t fall over and cry like a baby from the horseradish fumes! Hmm, could I possibly know what I’m talking about?! 🙂

Got everything to make my smoked fish dip. Will finish this tomorrow.

Well, you certainly can’t live off of sugar cubes, ginger juice and drinks! No you can’t, but you can LIVE with them when they are a part of your whole Gathering Together! I’m getting to the meal. Actually, I’ll be closing this out with four pictures. As we’ve heard many times, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Surely I must be over halfway of that in words? So maybe my pictures are only worth around 500 words. Sorry, but I won’t try harder, just to try your patience more. 🙂

With the pictures, I will give you some idea how to make what they show. But for more information, details, ingredients and recipes, you will just have to wait until I finish the cookbook I have been working on for some time. It’s title is:

t

The Gathering Place

Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining

 

When finished, this will be loaded with pictures, recipes cards for handy reference and everything necessary to plan, prepare and present incredible and exciting food for all your special occasions. This will include breakfast, lunch, dinner, deserts, beverages, entrees, soups, sauces, salads, bread, rolls and a fool-proof flaky-tasty every time, yummy pie crust.

it also will include plating, garnish and decorating and anything else I may not have thought of yet. All of the food and everything in it has been tried and trued, tested and proved by many, to be all and more I say it is. Why settle for or take your family, friends and guests to a five star restaurant, when they can experience the intimacy and the personal touch of a ten star restaurant at your home, where the food is all made by you! You know, “there’s no place like home!” Well why not add to this, the best feast that can be had anywhere!!

OK, along with everything else done today, we had to eat. Today it was fish. The name of the fish is simply, Cobia. It was farm raised in Panama. Around $12 dollar for two fresh and more than ample size fillets.

Cobia is also called – black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeater, prodigal son and aruan tasek. I like the ‘prodigal son.’ The bible story, from where this comes from in part is, about a man that leaves home with all his inheritance and blows it all. He has no choice, but to come home and even beg to be a servant, just so he can survive. But his father sees him approaching from a distance and prepare a huge feast because, he is so happy that his son has come home. The corbia fish I prepared was so delicious, I have decided to call this meal, ‘The Prodigal Son.’ Why you might ask, because, if you prepare this for those that love fish, they will “return.”

“Cobia is a relatively high priced fish and is sought after,  for its firm texture and excellent flavor. The flesh is usually sold fresh. It is typically served in the form of grilled or poached fillets. Chefs Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali each cooked several dishes made with cobia in the “Battle Cobia” episode of the Food Network program Iron Chef America, which first aired in January, 2008. Thomas Keller’s restaurant, The French Laundry, has offered cobia on its tasting menu.”

 excerpts from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobia

 

‘Thrill of the First Grill,’ of the season.

 

‘The Prodigal Son’

Grilled Cobia

 

I cleaned our propane gas grill and set the temperature to around medium to low. Garlic and herb basting oil was brushed on top, bottom and all sides of both fillets. Lay fish horizontally on the grill. Cook around 2 minutes, then flip over with a spatula, for another 2 minutes. Recoat fish with the basting oil, each time you turn it over. After both sides have cooked each for two minutes, flip again only this time, turn the fillets vertically so grill marks will show up as a square or diamond pattern when finished. It looks nice! Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, the last two times you grill the fillets. Remember to keep basting. Total cook time is around 8 minutes. We were having rice and if you have a rice cooker, it takes about 15 minutes to cook, so plan accordingly so everything is done at the same time. And while you are waiting…

Thrill of the First Grill

Thrill of the First Grill

…hey, what’s in that glass to the left of the grill by the spatula? By the way, the plate to the right with a fork and the yellow basting brush, started with around 3-4 tablespoons of garlic & herb basting oil. Get from any store or make your own! Anyway, what’s in that glass?

Gin Gin Mule

Gin Gin Mule

Gin, fresh made ginger syrup, ginger beer, lime, and crushed ice in a pretty glass with a lime garnish. It was supposed to have a little muddled fresh mint, garnish of a sprig of fresh mint and a chip of crystallized ginger. OK, I like ginger, alright? Well. I forgot to get the mint at the store and I almost forgot the piece of crystallized ginger for garnish, but it got in there! 🙂

Close up of grill marked fish fillets turned once. Repeat second time, turning fillets, the opposite direction.

Close up of grill marked fish fillets turned once. Repeat second time, turning fillets, the opposite direction.

Prepared a fresh salad with veggies and fresh ripe avocado. Sprinkled with feta cheese. I used light sesame seed and ginger salad dressing because, OK I like ginger. I’m not sure what Susan used?

Rice was just plain white rice. Just Plain white rice can be quite boring. I sprinkled ours with a little Japanese rice seasoning, to really make it pop or as chef Emeril Lagasse says, to make it, “BAM!” Find some seasoning you really like and with even just plain O’ white rice, it will NEVER be, “plain O,” again!

Arrange a couple of fresh raspberries for tartness and color, along with a nice piece of honeydew melon. I cut off about 1/4 of a ripe banana and removed it’s peel. I stuck a chopstick up into the center of the banana (side that was cut from the rest of the banana). I used the chopstick to hold the banana piece in one hand. With my other hand and with a butane, long fire starter, I torched (lightly blackened) the banana to add smokiness and a nice color. By the way, you can grill a whole banana in its peel and these are wonderful. I Removed the chopstick and cut the banana piece lengthwise and put one per plate by the honeydew melon. I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon on all of the fruit. Next, I squeezed some fresh lime over the fruit. By the way, just honeydew melon with lime juice alone, is like a marriage made in heaven! If you have not tried this, do your ‘buds’ (taste buds) a favor and try it! Last, I squeezed lime over the fish and twisted the peel and laid it over each fillet. Dinner was DELICIOUS!!!

We had some leftover rice so for desert, I made some fresh rice pudding. I added a little bit of coconut milk to the rice, a little cinnamon and maple syrup to taste. I whisked about 3 table spoons of heavy cream with a pinch of Xanthan gum to thicken. Using two small ceramic custard dishes, I spooned the pudding into them and placed two red raspberries for contrast, tartness and color. Last, I added a little dollop of  whipped cream, and we added our lips and gums and then delicious, here it comes! 🙂

Leftover pudding was placed into a covered plastic container in the refrigerator to have again and again until we run out or I make more. Try this meal.You and all that like fish will say, WOW!

CobiaDinner2_med

Completed Meal – The Prodigal Son (or Daughter) 🙂

Tomorrow (Today), we’re doing: grass seed, taxes, steak au poivre, spaghetti carbonara, grilling ‘white hots’ and corn on the BBQ, making more sugar cubes, making fresh beets and horseradish mix, Scotch Mules, smoked fish dip or whatever my boss Susan, tells me! 🙂

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