Seek Hunger

I was just sitting here counting the cash in my pocket - $52. I have more in my wallet that I’ll use before the week is out.  As I counted, I had a flash back to not to many years ago when I had a little less, and that was all I had in the world.

I remember a day I felt very hungry and wanted badly to walk to the nearby store and get food. I counted $5. I sat there thinking it wasn’t enough to actually plan “meals” and so I would have to buy food that would fill me up and stretch my remaining dollars. I searched the couch cushions, dresser drawers, and under the washer and dryer. I managed to find another dollar in change and started walking to the store, still wondering what to buy. I walked around the store, carefully planning and doing the math in my head. The last thing I wanted to do was get to the checkout and have to put something back. I remember the thoughts I had that day - “What? Eggs are really that much now?” “I’m not walking past the fresh meats because I know I can’t afford them.” “What’s our tax on food again? 6%?”

I ended up walking home with a bag of rice and a bag of beans and hoping I had something left in the cupboard to season with. I got home before noon and decided not to cook anything before evening because it was such an upsetting thing to go to bed hungry, which I often did. I managed to stretch that rice and beans to almost a week, cooking my only days meal in the evenings. I slept a lot, to forget hunger and frustration. All my life I would see people going through hard times and whisper a prayer - “God, help them today.” Now I laid in bed at and prayed, “God, help those people, and let someone help me.” Very, VERY few people did. I can count them on one hand.

Those days made me a much better person and I am thankful. Hunger opened my eyes and my heart that had been shut by so many years of gluttony and indifference. Today I look for opportunities to help people. I don’t make much money by anyone’s estimation but I do what I can, and it makes me feel good. DO NOT fall into the trap most people do by thinking, “Ha! They need to help themselves!” That’s the world’s biggest, most unfair lie, propagated by the ignorant.

I’m not knocking organizations that run TV commercials and put on big fund raisers, but it doesn’t take all that to help someone who is hungry. Just look around you. They are there. It takes more courage than most people imagine to ask for help, so don’t expect them to come running to you. Seek them out!

Carpe Diem

This time of year I always think about one of the most interesting characters for many years, I ever met, my friend and coworker Roy. And so we I saw move Dead Poet Society was on TV I had to watch it.

Roy was a man’s man. He walked much bigger than his statue, with hi chest thrown out and always, even in the dead of winter, wore his sleeves shoved over his elbows. He could quote from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and tell you the manufacturer of fine glassware in shop windows. He was, the Renaissance man. Born and raised in the West Virginia panhandle, Roy was one of three coworkers who grew up in the same neighborhood as the infamous Charles Manson, and used to tell me interesting stories of their childhood.

In the late winter one year, Roy and I were required by our company to attend a management seminar for an entire week. Every day we ate lunch together and discussed the good and bad points of the class, and his retirement plans. I knew I would miss the skills and expertise he lent to our company, and our talks, but I was very happy for him and excited to hear the plans he had made for the leisure of his later life.

One day in the class, the instructor used a video clip from the movie Dead Poet Society as a teaching tool. At lunch Roy asked me if I had seen the movie. I told him it was one of my favorites and he said he would love to see it. So the next day I brought him my copy on VHS, the format of the day. Roy watched it that night and the next day during lunch we discussed the movie. We both took the story as being a strong and true statement of life, and how each of us, through our interactions, have a profound influence on others. We mostly go through life not realizing this until it is pointed out abruptly, and usually too late to improve upon. As Puck would say, “What fools these mortals be!”

Roy loved the movie, and often quoted from it the remainder of the week. We walked out of the building after the last day of the seminar talking about work issues, and as I got in my truck I yelled, “Have a nice weekend Roy!” Roy yelled back, “Carpe diem, Timmy!” I smiled, and that weekend watched the movie again myself.

I will always remember our conversations of that week, and all our other talks as a very special gift from my friend, who was sadly taken from us three week later by leukemia. I never saw him again, an although that has often tortured me, Roy would be proud to know how much he continues to influence m life. 

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At Baristas where the beer flows like wine! (at Baristas)

At Baristas where the beer flows like wine! (at Baristas)

Is spring coming?

Is spring coming?

Morning Coffee

Somewhere in a home centered between concern and content, and between the hours of warm quilts and cold look from coworkers, an old man walks past an old lady and without throwing her a glance sits down at a kitchen table. The table is tucked inches under a window, it’s glass steamed over from the warm, moist air inside meeting the barrier which keeps the cool autumn air outside. As the old man scoots his chair inward, the old lady sets before him a cup of hot coffee and a plastic milk jug, and picking up her cup sits 90 degrees to his side. She picks up her cup, and gently blowing to cool the brew, turns her eyes to her husband of more than 40 years. She anxiously awaits the moment to come as she has done for all her adult life. In over forty years, the moment has rarely deviated from expectations. There was the time doctors had given the couple unfortunate news, and the time a neighbor cried for help, and a hand full of other interruptions, opportunities, words, sighs, and tears. But the vast majority of the time this moment was consistent. The old man raised his cup to his mouth, sipped and smacking his lips exclaimed, “ahhh”. The sight and sound were received by the old woman and coaxed the first smile of the day. The compliment was given with respect and received with love, as all sincere compliments should. Here is where happiness lives, and what better way to start a day, what better gift to give? In a few short months, ‘retirement’ might be the word most frequently spoken in that home. But for today it still waits.

What happens next for this couple, every day, day in and day out is not only unworthy of mention but insignificant to the lesson they give us, and truly we can say most good lessons go past us like insects in a jungle - without the slightest thought. It may be best at this point to just picture them sitting at that small table, stuck in time, surrounded by a moment. But for you and I there is a lesson to move on with, to carry away from this brief scene.

The great tragedy in life is we take one second snap-shots from our world and draw a lifetime of conclusions. One might think it subservient for a woman to wait on an able-bodied man. Another person might take exception to an old man passing his wife without saying good morning. And yet another might wonder how two people can draw such pleasure from such a seemingly drool existence. Conclusions can be right or wrong at times, and after all, we all draw lines. We all constantly develop definitions from a few details, and lines in the sand between us and nonthreatening

matters. But those lines we draw are ours, and ours only, and therein lies the tragedy. Because the lines we draw get shoved, refined, and utterly scuff out by the feet of those around us. Most people are blind to this fact. Perhaps there is a fine line between kindness and servitude. Perhaps there is a fine line between cuddle and smoother. The tragedy is most people walk their lines with a confining, disrupting fear. They struggle to keep their balance like a high wire walker, and are terrified when another person seems to shake the cable beneath their feet. They lash out, “You’re crossing a line! You need to re-center!”, and move on as if the world obeys. When this happens we’ve assumed the part of an extra in the theater of life. We’ve denied others of understanding, but also ourselves of enlightenment.

And now, seeing in your mind’s eye an old man and an old woman sharing a moment each morning, or any morning, can you image anything more precious? Can you image anyone not wanting such a thing?

Where does the universe end?

A young science student was asking me about the physics of our solar system and then asked, “Where does the universe end”. I could have started a long explanation of different theories on the subject, but decided to answer with this;

There are many theories on how the universe is expanding, changing, and where it physically ends. But to me it’s easier to define it philosophically rather than physically.

This is just the opinion of this scientist, but to me the universe ends at a distance from here that cannot be measured in miles, but in the quality of stimuli. The universe ends where all the fat has been taken out of burgers. Where pasta is boring because there’s nothing on top worth tasting. There’s no mayonnaise there, no real sour cream, and no chocolate chip cookies. Sodas are outlawed.

There are no medicines, because what cured your cancer gave someone else diarrhea, and so it’s been outlawed.

Conversations are 100% politically correct, with no flavor, no opinions, no joy. And speaking of joy, there are no toys for children or adults because any toy can be harmful. It’s where our lawn darts and cap guns went. It’s the place where things are banned based on the opinions of small but influential groups.

There’s no art because there’s no imagination. There’s no imagination because imagination is a very personal thing so of course, no one else will understand your tastes, and that means your opinions and tastes are dangerous!

It’s a place where no person with a love of life dare go or the life will be sucked out of them by a vacuum so great it can swallow black holes into it’s void! Only one thing can over-power this void, and that is what you hold dear in your heart.

at Baristas

at Baristas

Gilled Nachos

This is an incredibly colorful, fun, and flavorful dish for summer. This will be great for a group of 6-10 people, or for tailgating.

Seer a steak on the grill so that both sides are crispy on the outside, tender and blood red on the inside. Allow to cool enough to be handled and slice as thin as possible and set aside. Dice a yellow onion and a green pepper. Place a baking sheet on the grill on high and drizzle with olive oil. Grill the onion and pepper until they begin to brown, then add a can of whole corn. Stir and turn until the pieces are slightly brown and remove the sheet from the grill to cool somewhat. Place the corn, onion, and peppers in a bowl. Drizzle the baking sheet with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, then line with a bag of tortilla chips. Spoon the corn, onions, peppers, and a can of black beans on top of the chips, a jar of salsa, and the slices of steak. Top with ¼ cup of fresh chopped cilantro. Place the baking sheet on the grill and grill for about 10 minutes at a medium temperature of 400 degrees. Top with a bag of shredded Mexican cheese blend and grill for about 5 minutes.

This makes a big batch of nachos but the flavor is fantastic!