One Day Away

Music is something I love.  Just like Books.  Dogs.  Bourbon.  My Family…in no particular order.

Not sure why, but music often just seems to resonate with me.  Strike a cord.  Leave me thinking or feeling a little different…often better.

One of my favorite types, or genres, is the blues.  I get that from Al, my pops.  He was a “blues man”.   And I suppose I followed in his footsteps.  If I am honest, and I try to be, perhaps I like the blues because my dad did.  I wanted to like the blues…just like him.

But for whatever the reason, I like them too.

Last summer, legendary blues player Buddy Guy release a new CD…I almost said album.   Good stuff.  One of the cuts features one of the “new gun slingers” in the guitar world, Keith Urban…another favorite of mine.  The song they did together, “One Day Away” hit me the first time I heard it.

Every moment has a meaning, and time is a precious thing.
When we wake up in the morning, who knows what it’s gonna bring?

It addresses our mortality…kind of.

Life rearranges, all of our best laid plans.
Better say what’s in your heart, you might not get another chance.

And the mortality of those around us.  Those we love and know.  We share a lot of experiences, joys, life, loves with each other.  But how often do we tell those around us about what it means to us?  What they mean to us?  Answer: Not often enough…perhaps never.

Okay, raise your hand if you have had a friend suddenly die, and you said, wow, I wish I had told them “…….”

Or how about a relative? Someone important in your life?  Someone you loved?

Of all the things we left undone, of the words we’re meant to say.
What if we could all have just one more day?

We take things for granted…I am guilty as charged.  We take each other for granted…again, as much as it hurts, guilty your honor.

So take a step.  A stand today.  Do it differently.

So tell them you love them, and do it today.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wish one day away.

If there is something to say.  Say it.  Don’t wait…don’t procrastinate.  Tomorrow may be too late.  Tomorrow may not come.

I was lucky…kind of.  I had the time to tell my dad things I needed to tell him.  We knew what was ahead and I didn’t like it, but I used it.  Not everyone is that lucky, or blessed in a twisted way.  But we don’t need to wait. We can do it today.

Tell someone how much you appreciated their friendship.  Something they did…said.  Let  them know how you enjoyed their friendship.  Their advice.  Their care or just them.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  As the once coach of the Washington Redskins, George Allen, said, “The future is now!!!!!”  So go ahead.

So, while I do not know all of you whom may read this, I want to thank you.  It is humbling to have so many of you take the time to read my ramblings that would not have earned much more than C- from my high school English teacher.

I hope you will excuse me for a minute, I have a few people I need to contact.

I think you may also…

So tell them you love them, and do it today.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wish one day away.

Published in: on May 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm  Comments (4)  
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Do You Have the Guts?

Every once in a while, you find something that you want to share with everyone.  It might be a thought or idea, a movie, a song, a piece of art, a gift you were given…or a book.

Let’s face it, that is how many best selling books become best sellers.  People share their joy and excitement for the book they read.  Look no further than Oprah and her book club.

In recent times I have been guilty of this.  There are a couple of books that I thought so highly of that I gave them to Diana, Blake, Drew and Tyler… and others.   That says something, when you give a book to those you love.  Not because of any reason, other than you think that much of the book and the person…and they should be together because it will make a difference.  And I believe that it can…if you read the book.

One book in particular is “The Go-Giver”.

I was told about this book about two years ago.  I was struggling with a few things, and trying to find some answers when I wasn’t even sure what the questions were or who was asking them.  A dear friend of mine, Cindy Adams Harrison PhD, told me about this book.  She didn’t really say much about it, other than you need to read it.  It is a “game changer”.  So I filed that bit of advice and kept searching for those answers, with no questions.

For whatever reason, I was in no hurry to read the book.  I looked at the summary on Amazon and put it in my “basket”.  But nothing quite moved me.  Then about last September I decided to get it and read it.  And Cindy was right, it is a game changer if you let it be.

A simple book.  Quick read.  Written in a story like fashion, almost like a parable.  An easy read.  And as I was reading it, I could imagine the characters as people I knew.  Some of them I saw as many people in my life, past and present. Sometimes it was myself.  Sometimes it was Diana, or Blake, Drew or Tyler.  Perhaps it was someone I worked with, managed or reported to.  Aha, there I saw my neighbor, and a team mate from a soccer team.  And on, and on.

Like many similar books, this one has a set of  “laws or traits, principles or habits”.

But unlike others, these are much different.  They force you to look at yourself and what you are doing in a different light.  Wearing a different pair of rose-colored glasses.  That when you take the glasses off, things still look rosey!

The whole story is base on misconceptions in life…that can also be applied in business.  Most of these type of  books look at life from a point of  “Here is what you should focus on if you want to…(Fill in the Blank )…”  However this book,”The Go-Giver”, illuminates the idea of a generous soul…Karma…and how it can change things in your life.  It will take your thoughts on how things should be done, and turn them upside down, in the process changing the way you look at life, business, others and yourself.

Truth is, I am not sure how many people will pick up this book and even dare to read it.  Most people are too negative.  They don’t want to change.  They don’t have the time or the inclination. They don’t have the guts to try something new, they just might like things the way they are.  And as Gomer Pyle would say, “Shame, Shame, Shame”.  

Some will say “it is too soft”.  “Not enough teeth in the idea.”  “I am pragmatic about these things.”  And to those I say, “Okay”.  But, pragmatism is a rather relative term, and perhaps a cop out.  The concepts in this book are certainly full of practical applications as well as theory.

Not sure if everyone I have given this book to has read it.  Or if everyone I have told about the book has bothered to look it up.  I can’t control that part.

But I can control myself and what I do.  Glad I took Cindy’s advice.

I think I waited so long to pick up the book because it was finally the right time.  I needed it and was ready to receive the message.  It was worth it.

I think it will help me to get more out of life.  And if you have enough guts to read it…it could make a difference in your’s also!

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My Father’s Shoes

I like shoes.  Diana sometimes calls me a “Shoe Whore”.  She may be right, but that is also the pot calling the kettle black.  I can even recall liking shoes while I was growing up.  Even though I had just a pair of dress shoes and a pair of tennis shoes…that was all you needed.  And sometimes the “dress shoes” were a pair of Hush Puppy loafers.

But I fondly remember being fascinated by my father’s shoes.  Two pair in particular.  The first pair were a pair of black dress shoes (not Hush Puppies) that had a perpetual shine.  Almost immaculate, except for the sole.  The sole showed a lot of wear.  These shoes were from a men’s store that was here in St Louis, Boyd’s (now long gone).  It was a nice one, perhap a middle class or working class Brooks Brothers type of store.  The brand of the shoes were “Threadneedles” and they were made by International Shoe Company, also in St Louis, also gone.  These shoes seemed to have a steel toe, it was almost like the toe on a military boot.  And the soles were very thick…and I remember my dad’s soles showing a lot of wear.  So much that you could see where a hole had started to wear through and you saw the layers of leather begin to show on the sole.

The other pair of shoes that I was drawn to were a pair of work boots.  Actually dad went though several pair of work boots.  Dad made the transition from a salesman to an electrician.  This helped the sole of the Threadneedles to last a while longer, but he wore the boots hard.  When he would come home from work as an electrician, dad would usually be dirty, wet, sweaty, muddy, frozen or something along those lines.  It seemed like most of his jobs were outside.  So mom had him take the boots off at the front door and leave them on a rug.  I can still see those boots.  I think what fascinated me about these boots/shoes was what they seemed to represent to me.  Covered in dust.  Perhaps they were muddy.  Maybe the leather got nicked and was torn a bit.  Worn laces.  Typically one boot was standing upright while the other was simply limp or on it’s side.  They represented a man and his work.  For his family.

And I guess that is what also drew me to the Threadneedles.  They were dad’s work shoes as a salesman.  Sturdy.  Got a shine.  Dependable.  Tough as steel.  Lot’s of wear and tear left in them.  As different as the two pair were, they were the same.  Belonged to the same man.  Hard work.  Showed a little wear.

As I get wiser (code for older) I understand more.  I understand what it took for my dad and his shoes to do for me and the rest of the family.  The courage.  Strength.  Faith.  Responsibility.  Accountability.  Broad shoulders carrying it all.  Including carrying me when I needed it and carrying himself with Pride.  Not the bad kind.  But a pride in his work, family, life and…his shoes.

I have never tried to fill those shoes.  I can’t.  No one can.  No one can fill another’s shoes.  You just need to do your best.  Find your way.  Have faith and belief.  Be the person you are and not someone else.  Have your own shoes and let them speak for you in a way that stands for something.  Someone.

Be proud.  Stand tall.  Have faith.

They are your shoes.  Make them count.

I suppose dad’s shoes were a reflection of him.  Of his life.  A little polish.  A little scruff.

A lotta life and love.

I hope my shoes are similar…the life and love part anyway.

I thought I would end on a musical note.  One of Leon Russell’s notes.  He has a song, “My Father’s Shoes” which is pretty good and seems kind of appropriate.  Whether it works in the post or not, I will leave it to you to decide. Either way, enjoy the song, the post and your life in your own shoes.

My Father’s Shoes, Leon Russell

What can I say to this child of my own
When he looks up to me for answers?
He’s got trust in his eyes and such innocent ways.
What are the words I can say?

Can I tell him of my life?
And can it be used for his own life’s goal, an example
To follow and finally remember some day?
What are the words I can say?

I could say “I was once wondering just like you,
And I understand the things you’re feeling.”
But gray hair and lines on my face just might say
“The old man is always talking that way.”

And now I think of my daddy, he wore this kind of shoes.
And after all this time, I think I know him.
I’d like to say I love him, but the time has passed away.
What are the words I can say?
What are the words I can say?

 

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Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Thankful, So Many Ways, So Many Days.

Thanksgiving was last week.  But we should not stop giving Thanks.  Really, is one day enough?

I heard the question once, “what would happen if you woke up one day, and the only things you had, were the things you gave thanks for the previous day?”  Pretty powerful and a little frightening.  Frightening in the sense that we too often take things for granted.  Things and people.

I was going to write a post last week, but I thought it might have more of an effect writing it now.  So, now is a good time to write it and to give Thanks.

So, today, here is what I am thankful for…

  • My family.  I have an amazing family.  They are all so talented.  Loving.  Thoughtful.  I am blessed to say that we are all very similar, yet very different.  While politics and even religion may not be something we agree on, we do share the same values and moral compass.  And we share with each other.
  • Health and Prosperity.  When I wake up, I know it will be a good day.  Because, I woke up! You don’t appreciate either until you don’t have either.
  • The roof over my head, the floor under my feet, and protection from the weather’s elements.
  • Music.  Any kind of music.  Especially the “natural music” of birds chirping, wind blowing through trees and my grand daughter laughing.
  • The meals in front of me.
  • My ability to earn a living, whatever I do and whatever I have done.  I may not have always enjoyed it, but I am thankful.
  • Facebook.  Yep, you read that correctly. Because through FB, I am able to connect and reconnect with people I have known throughout my life.  Friends, class mates, team mates and even relatives have all “come back in my life” through FB.
  • Freedom.  Many people fought to give me this one, and shame on me for not being thankful.  So, I am.  Many of us take this one for granted, when we have the freedom of so many things to be thankful for.
  • Those that fought for the aforementioned freedoms.
  • Books.  Newspapers.  Magazines and my ability to read.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of reading, and writing.  So this must be on my “Thankful” list.
  • My parents.  Because they did an amazing job raising us and providing direction.  The rest was up to us.
  • My God and my faith.  They have both helped me get through rough spots on the road to where I am going.  Without this, there could have been an ugly mutli-car pile up.

And the list goes on…as it should.

While it is nice to set one day aside to “give thanks”, let’s not forget to be thankful the rest of the year.  If you are reading this, then you must have a few things to be thankful for…

Which reminds me of something else I am thank ful for…those who take the time to read my posts.

So give it some thought.  What would you be left with tomorrow if you only had that which you were thankful for today?  

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Published in: on December 7, 2013 at 9:51 am  Comments (2)  
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A Good Man, Isn’t That Hard to Find

A good man recently passed away.  Actually, I am sure there were several who did.  But I know of one.

I went to his wake.  Saw his family and a few friends.  Everyone seemed at peace.  And it made me think.  He was a good man. Really, he was.  This is not a cliche`.  A smile or an acknowledgement.  A word or three, not many.  And a helping hand.  A good man, whom I never heard anyone say a negative thing about.  

It made me think…how fortunate I am.  I have had a good life.  Beautiful, loving family.  Close knit, enjoying times together.  God has been good to me.

And I have been blessed to have been around a lot of good men.  Men who were there for their families.  Setting an example with their words and actions.  Putting meaning into their life and into the lives of those around them.  Men I knew growing up and men I know today.  Some I knew in my youth as coaches, and some from the neighborhood.

Good men.  Men like Dick Greiner, John Cordia, Jim O’Brien, John Walch and Jerry Kluge.

Men like Bob Guelker, Ebbie Dunn and Pat McBride.  Dick Zelle, Dan Fitzgerald and Bob Hess.  Men doing for others…without fanfare…without second thought…quietly, softly, unspoken.

These are good men.  Good men whom have been in my life at some point or another, showing me how to live.  Each contributing their own chapter.  Their own meaning.  Long or short.  Big or small.  Contributions from them all.

And there are others.  Many others.  Too many to mention.  Scott Whetzal.  Steve Hadfield. Joe Scheck.  Francis Flynn.

Yeah, hard working, hard loving, caring men.  Good men.  I count my blessings to have been around them.  Learning and living.  Not everyone can say this.  Many people might go a lifetime without being around one good man.  Without an example to learn and live by.  Showing the way.  The way to God.  To life.  To love.  And the way to treat others with respect.  Not saintly or perfect, but a man.  A good man.

Not me.  I have had this kind of man in my life.  In addition to those I mentioned, and some I forget to mention.  I was raised by a good man. Al Schaefering.  A very good man.  And as an added bonus, I married the daughter of a very good man.  Adrian Stahl.  Both similar, but different.  As Yogi Berra, the famed baseball philospher and catcher once said, “Their differences are similar”.  They did for others.  Loved deeply.  Worked hard and enjoyed life and those around them.  

Yep.  I have been blessed many ways and this is one of them.  So have many others.  Many of us are surrounded by good men.  We just need to open our eyes and our hearts to see them. 

So when you do open yourself to seeing these good men in your life, tell them.  Tell them they are a good man.  You appreciate that. You are thankful for what they have shown you and done for you.  They have made a difference in your life.

Tell them today, or soon.  Because one day you may forget.  Or they won’t be there for you to tell.   And it is important for them to know they have made a difference.

It is important for them to know they are a good man.

 

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Published in: on November 17, 2013 at 11:58 am  Comments (6)  

Life is What Happens…

Hello, it’s me.  I took a little self-inflicted sabbatical from Word Press.  It wasn’t thought out or planned.  Just happened.

Like John Lennon’s lyrics to the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” which I referenced in the title above,

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans

This is one of my favorite songs.  Amazing and emotional, for me.  Probably because I can relate to it as a father.  It doesn’t matter that I have three sons (boys still), if you have a daughter, you can still relate to it.  Which brings me to my other reason I have been absent from these pages.

I/We have a grand daughter!  Yes, Blake and Yvonne had a beautiful baby girl on August 2.  Lumen.  A very fitting name for this first grand child since she can bring light and joy into our world with a simple smile and glisten in her eye.  Even through the magic of Skype and Face time.  For those uninformed, Blake and Yvonne, and now Lumen, live in Norway.  So Diana and I do not get to experience the full “grand parent treatment” that we would like.  So, we make the best of it with the technology today and hope we see one another as much as possible.

Back to the song by John Lennon…

The lyrics talk about having a child, being patient, protective, teaching and experiencing life.  It also talks about growing up and coming of age.

I guess these are reasons I get excited about being a grandfather…or as it is in Norway, Far Far (Father’s father).  I will have new experiences, as will Diana, Blake and Yvonne.  Because these are experiences you can only understand if you are a parent and have gone through this.  I realize that most individuals will say,”I know what you mean”, even if they are not parents or just recently became one.  BUT YOU DON’T.  YOU CAN NOT understand.  It is not possible until you go through it.  It is like saying I understand what the color blue looks like without ever seeing it.  Or what an apple pie tastes and smells like without tasting or smelling one.  So just let it happen.  And the experience will come over you.  You will be washed in the joys of parent hood…and it’s many challenges and life experiences.

Blake and Yvonne will be amazing parents.  I have already seen it.  In their eyes.  Their touch.  Their hearts.  Smiles and frustrations…when they are helpless and can not do anything.  Their lives are changing, and I/we will feel the effects.

We will all feel life as never before.  We will all experience things again…again for the first time.

Amazing.  Beautiful.  Love.

And as life changes, and as you experience life through the life of a child, you suddenly understand.  You realize things.  The light bulb is il-Lumen-ated. You hear the words of someone else.  Someone who has been there before.  A veteran at this stuff.  Be it as a parent or a grandparent.

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I say this because I still see the faces and hear the voices and words of my parents and Diana’s parents.  And I often think, “perhaps I should have…Or wow, they knew what they were talking about…And, hmm, that makes sense”.  And they did not have Google, YouTube or the internet!!  Impressive indeed.

So, yep, life changes and we do too.  You realize why things were/are important.  Undertsand actions and feelings with a different perspective.  And know the importance of holding on as long as you can…to that little hand…that smile…the heart and the life…

…the life that changed you.  That forms us into what we are.  What we have become.

John Lennon was right.  “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”.  It goes by fast.  So hold on tight and enjoy it, Blake and Yvonne.

And the rest of you.  Parents or not.  Enjoy life and the life of those who have made you.  Helped to form you as the person you have become.

Here’s to our lives…let’s enjoy it.  Cheers!  Skol!

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God Bless America, Happy Independence Day

Independence Day.  A day we all celebrate.  Yet, why do we celebrate it?  Do we stop and think about it?

Today, stop and give thanks to those that have given so we may be free.

P.S.  4th of July is a date…Independence Day is a celebration.  G.W. Bush.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

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What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

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Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,

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O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

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And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

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Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

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Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

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O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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God Bless America,
Land that I love.

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Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.

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From the mountains, to the prairies,

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To the oceans, white with foam

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God bless America, My home sweet home.

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What Does It Take…?

Throughout our lives we all have been exposed to expectations.  Qualifications.  Requirements.

Going to school, we know what it takes to get to the next grade, or level.  There may be prerequisite classes that need to be taken.  When we apply for a job, we are presented with similar types of “requirements”.  Experience in Word, Excel, Sales, Management might be a requirement.  Another one could be College degree or 5 years experience in the said field.  And for some other jobs it seems that if you can walk, talk and chew gum…well you are then qualified…not even in that order.

And once you have that job, you usually can figure out what it takes to get to the next level…a promotion.

So, expectations are often set.  Qualifications realized.  It makes it easier to navigate around so you may do your best.

But what about fatherhood?

What does it take to be a Father?

Of course I mean on a much grander scale than simply fathering a child.  That is simply being a sperm donor, and the world has way too many of those already.  What are the requirements of being a father?

I can only look at this having learned from three of the finest men I have known…My dad, Al Schaefering.  Diana’s dad, Adrian Stahl.  And my grandfather, Joe Jurczyk.  These are the examples from which I have learned and witnessed.  Far from perfect, each one flawed as we fathers can be, but each one has shown me, “What it takes to be a Father”.  And I thank them for it.

Responsibility.  Accept it.  You are responsible for providing for your family.  Embrace this and wear it like a proud badge of honor.  It is not like being responsible for a puppy dog.  Be responsible and act responsible.  Impossible to do all of the time, but know it, be aware of it and take on the challenge.  Show how to be responsible.  How to act.  What this truly means

Protection.  You are there to serve and protect in many ways.  24/7.  This is not shift work, but you can not be all places at all times.  You can only be ready when needed and be there as needed.  Do your best.  Plan ahead, be prepared.  Stuff happens, but be there when it does.

Provider.  Provide the best life you are able to provide.  This does not mean the most toys, or the most expensive ones.  Nor does it have anything to do with the materialistic world we live in.  Food on the table.  Shelter.  Medical attention. Love.  Time.  Learning.  Make sure you provide these.  Children look to a father for this.

Teacher.  Coach.  This is not about a classroom.  The world is the classroom.  Nor is this about the athletic field.  It is about showing the way.  The right way.  The wrong way.  A new way.  Take the time to make sure you show what is “the right thing to do”.     Then you too,  must “Do the right thing”.  This is not a “do as I say, not as I do”,  type of situation.  Lead by example.

Faith.  We all need to have faith in our lives.  Some of us know this.  Some are still learning.  Others may take a while.  I have strong faith.  I received this from my “mentors”.  I know not all share the same faith that I have.  But we all need it…need to believe in something.  Someone.  Having God in my life makes a difference for me…and those around me.

Love.  And do not be afraid to show it.  Show it to your children.  Show it to their mother.  Make sure they hear it in your words and your actions.  Do not take this for granted. make sure the message of love is received.  Everyone expresses love differently.  Do not be obtuse about this.  This is not the time to be discreet.  Shout it out to them and to the world.

Patience…Patience…Patience.  Did I say to be patient.  Wait for it…because it will happen, just not always when we want it to happen.  I know first hand that getting frustrated and “blowing up” over something insignificant only leads to regrets.  Love is patient, and we need to be also.

Your Time.  Money can not buy this.  It is difficult to measure.  But impossible to do without.  You must be a giver of your time.  Quality time.  Time to talk, learn about each other.  Time to laugh and tell funny stories or recall those “remember when” moments you have shared.  Time to cry, grieve, reflect on your losses.  Moments to pick each other up off of the ground and tell one another,”it’ll be okay”.  Time you wish would standstill, frozen only in memories, but sometimes that is good enough.

I know that this is not an “all-inclusive” list of What it takes to be a Father.  Not a recipe or a secret list.  It is also not a complete list of what I have learned from the loving men I mentioned above, Al, Adrian and Joe. 

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It is only a few thoughts on this day that is set aside to recognize those Fathers in our lives and in our memories.  I hope a lot of people read this.  And I hope something I have said here resonates with something your Father has been able to do for you.

I hope you think of him.  Often.  If he is still with you, please thank him.  Thank him for me, because he has helped to make this place a better world.

One of may favorite quotes is “If you fail at raising your children, nothing else matters”.

Pay it forward. 

Being a Father is a journey worth sharing and enjoying.

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What I Learned…Recently

Keep learning.  Don’t stop.  Avoid complacency.

So, what have I learned lately? 

Well, one thing is I have learned that you don’t always learn something.  Uh?  What I mean is that sometimes you just get a reminder of something you already knew.  You knew it, or heard it before.  But perhaps something happened or took place that brought that memory to the forefront…and you learned it again…perhaps for the first time.

One of those re-learned things would be “Life is Short”.  Regardless of how old you may live to be, our time on earth, with each other is short.  We only have a limited amount of time to share, to love, to care for one another.  And we must do just that.  Share.  Love.  Care.  It seems that recently there have been a number of people whose life was cut short.  People I know.  Too short.  We never know when God will call us…  when our “number is up”.   So what to do about it?  Enjoy life today.  Plan for tomorrow, of course.  But live today.  Enjoy it and one another…it is a gift.

Something else I learned is that “Wherever you are, there you be”.  Again many of you are asking what the hell does that mean.  The best way I can illustrate it is in a little event that recently took place.  Many of you know that Diana and I have three wonderful sons.  But actually there is another amazing person we call our son.  His name is Leon (and his beautiful wife, Marie is our daughter).  Leon and Marie recently moved to Boston.  And a few weeks back he ran in the Boston Marathon.  (which surprised me because he has such scrawny legs, I am surprised they carried him through…grin)  Like all of us, no one expected the terror that took place that day in Boston.  I am sure Leon would agree.  Knowing him, he ate a proper breakfast, hydrated appropriately, talked about his “game”, and then ran the race that was set out for him…but it wasn’t the finish he had planned on.  Shortly after he finished, he switched from being a participant in the marathon, into the medical professional he was trained to be.  He probably planned on a light lunch with Marie.  Instead he was a “First Responder” assisting those that needed his care and medical expertise.  He was there…and Leon did what God had planned on Leon to do…care for others.  I was so relieved to hear he was safe, and I am sure those he cared for were relieved he was there.   Well done Leon.  I love ya.

And in a related story…I learned how pathetic our news reporting has become.  Oh yeah, you learned it too.  How overused was the term…”This just in”?  Or how about the famous, “We have an exclusive…” And both were stories that you had already heard.   Actually they kind of resembled the type of reporting you see/hear after a bad storm or tornado.  In other words, bad…real bad.  Here is a “this just in” moment…there is seldom any exclusives or anything that can be new in todays world with social media and 35 news agencies reporting the same thing.  Sure, there are many news worthy stories, and there is a need to report the latest updates and findings.  But remember…you and your network are suppose to be professionals.  Act the part.  Instead of watching how Ted Baxter does it…find another inspiration and take the high road and do it diferent than everyone else. 

Just as the race that Leon Scott was prepared to run turned into another form of race, our days can do the same thing.  We can be trained and prepared for one thing, but suddenly we are required to respond to a different situation…whether trained or not. 

This is Life.  Let’s live it and live it well.  Run the race before us and deal with the obstacles that fall from the sky.  Life is short.  But do not report it like CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and HLNews…report it with gusto and a feeling of pride.  Do it your way.  Enjoy it.

Maybe Ted Baxter was right all along…do what works best for you.  And enjoy it!

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit…

…the more you eat, the more you toot.  The more you toot, the better you feel, so eat some beans at every meal!

Okay, my mom used to hate that little ditty.  So much that dad use to forbid us saying it in the house when she was around.  But when she wasn’t around, HA-HA, dad was as much a little kid as we were. Giggling and laughing about our song and intestinal rumblings.

That was a long time ago.  The ’60s…yeah, back when the T-Rex was the baddest dude in town, dinosaurs ruled…that long ago.

Today there is another “magical fruit”…or veggie…I always get them confused.  (Seeds?  No seeds?)  And we have been eating it quite a bit lately.  It seems to be catching on and being served more often in restaurants,  featured in magazines, and now it is even “pre-bagged” in the grocery stores like lettuce and spinach.  Nope it isn’t brussels sprouts or beets.  Those are so “last year”…but so good.

Kale.

Yep, kale.  The green rubbery looking leafy thing that is often used as a garnish.  It looks more ornamental than delectable.  Sometimes looking like it was slightly dusted with talcum powder.  For years you would see it in the produce section.  Lonely.  Just sitting there quietly next to the Swiss Chard and perhaps the Leeks or Rutabegas…waiting for someone to pick it up.  News flash…the wait is over!

I went to the grocery store the other day to get some and…gone!?!?  No kale?!?! Is this a First? Almost unimaginable that there would be a run on kale in the produce section.

I guess I am not really surprised.  Like I said, lately it has been popping up all over…and it is good.  Soups.  Pastas. Sautéed.  Braised.  Salads.  It has a lot of great versatility from a culinary perspective and you can add it to many dishes and create an abundance of flavors with it.  Plus… the health benefits are amazing.  It can reduce the risk of  colon and prostrate  cancer…Lower cholesterol…Antioxidents with Vitamins A, C and K…assists in normal blood clotting…and a great source for some of the B-complex vitamins and Iron.

So Popeye, take your spinach and move over.  There is a new legume in town and it is suddenly hip to eat it in several different fashions.  Here is one of our favorites, courtesy of the Food Network and the Neely’s.  This one is easy and delicious.  ( I have substituted a can of Cannelini beans for the Lentils and it is still a favorite)  A great dinner surprise!

Lentil and Kale Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon honey                                                                                                                                                                                     1 teaspoon Dijon mustard                                                                                                                                                                             1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil                                                                                                                                                      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper                                                                                                                                          2 cups cooked French lentils                                                                                                                                                                           1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese                                                                                                                                                                           1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Add the kale and shallots to a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the kale and shallots and toss and stir roughly with tongs, about 3 minutes. You want to gently bruise the leaves of the kale. Once the kale looks soft, toss in the lentils, feta cheese and cranberries. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 1 hour before serving.

Be sure to toss and marinate…it really brings out the flavors.

 

“Caesar” Kale Salad

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CROUTONS:
8 oz. day-old sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and crust removed
½ Tbsp. half-cracked black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch salt

FOR THE DRESSING:
1 sheet kombu seaweed*, rinsed with cold water for 30 seconds and then roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half a lemon
¾ cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

FOR THE GREENS:
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves torn
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish

PREPARATION

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• First, make the croutons: In a large bowl, combine the sourdough cubes, half-cracked peppercorns, olive oil and salt, making sure all of the bread is evenly coated. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned, turning halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place the seaweed, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, mayonnaise and 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan in a blender. Blend until the seaweed pieces are finely chopped.
• Remove the bowl from the blender base and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
• In a large bowl, combine the romaine and kale.
• Just before serving, add the dressing to taste, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss. Top with Parmesan shavings and black-pepper croutons.

So go ahead and be adventurous.  Try some Kale and perhaps one of these recipes…or in soup, in pasta, braised with apples in chicken stock or simply just sautéed with a little lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

It’s the new magical fruit…without as much Toot!