Just A Day

Every now and again, you just need to take a day off.  You have been burning the candle at both ends.  You have been working hard, playing hard.  Whew…time for a breath.

That is what I am doing today.  I know I should be out riding.  Or doing at least something since the weather is finally warm.  But I just can’t get motivated.

It is Memorial week, meaning I will be working my ass off this week.  We (meaning my job, you know, cooking for folks) cater for the staff and volunteers at the Memorial Golf Tournament next week.  It is a lot of folks to feed.  We are talking 5-6 hundred per day starting Monday.  Bottom line…a lot of food.

Then there is the stress of food ordering.  Did I order enough?  Did I order the right stuff?  If I didn’t, where can I find it if I need it?

So, that is my world right now.  I think I will take today and chill.  Tomorrow I will ride, because that is what I do.  And Monday I will jump into the shit, because I also do that.

Let’s just mark it up to the joys of chefdom.

Thank You Ohio Lottery

In the kitchen where I work, we listen to Pandora on the radio for our musical pleasure.  It offers a wide variety of genres and we can normally find a common ground between all of those that work in the kitchen and their listening preferences.  But since we are too cheap to pay for premium Pandora, we must endure a few advertisements during the day.  One the ads caught my attention recently.  It was an ad for the Ohio Lottery.

The advertisement started by saying how everyone should start playing instant tickets and was suggesting how easy it was to win hundreds if not thousands of dollars if you do.  I’m okay with this so far.  I have played instant tickets before.

As a matter of fact, a former co-worker and I used to play multiple tickets every week while we worked together.  And for the record, we did normally break even while playing.  So as you can see, I am not opposed to playing the lottery.  I will even play when the mega millions and those type of lotteries get up into the millions of dollars.  And for the record, I am not breaking even on this front.

Anyway, the ad that caught my attention did go on to say that we could all win and now it is even easier to play instant tickets because you can now purchase game tickets, that could win you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, by using your credit or debit card.  The lottery made easy.  The advertisement then ends by saying please gamble responsibly.

I am going to let this sink in for a moment.

So be sure to gamble responsibly.  Use your credit card to buy lottery tickets.  That is the way to go.  Put yourself in more debt to gamble so you might win hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars.

“Honey!  Let’s retire and play the lottery!  We can put it on the credit card and not have to pay for it for at least a month…or more if we want to pay interest on it, but it is responsible gambling!  We could win hundreds or even thousands!”

Am I the only one seeing the irony of this logic?

I’m not a big gambler.  Will I gamble?  Yes. Do I feel the need to visit the local casino?  Nope, not really.  Will I gamble if I have to use my credit card?  Probably not.  I get that carrying cash is not that popular anymore.  Everyone uses a credit card for just about everything.  It is a convenience thing, I get that.  Call me old school, or just old, but to encourage debt in order to play the lottery just might not be responsible gambling.

Anyone know any lucky numbers?

 

 

 

Slow Down and Meander

There are times that you just need to slow down. Just meander down the road.  I’ll stop short of saying “smell the roses” (okay, I guess I just did it anyway).  This can mean when you are at work. It could mean when you are in a relationship. It can mean just walking. Seriously. The Zombies have slowed walking way down. I have often meandered walking with a limp just like Hollywood portrays the walking dead.  I often wonder if they copied me with that walk after seeing me after a few 12 hour shifts in the kitchen!

This also applies to biking. Sometimes, slow is good. There are times when it is best to beat hell on a bike and just go as fast as you can. There are also times when you just need to say “Whoa, back off cowboy, take a look around!”

This past weekend was an example of that. I went on a ride with the usual suspects, (Tedd and Sandy) and we just meandered.  It had just rained about 2 inches in the surrounding area.

The amount of water that we encountered was amazing.  We did not encounter any road blockage, but the evidence of the amount of rain was everywhere.

I was also packing my good camera, so we would stop and take pictures where it seemed the scenery seemed to be good.  I took about 50 pictures.  Two were good, or at least in my eye.  I’m posting both here so you can tell me they both sucked.  I’m okay with that.

None the less, it was a good February jaunt across flooded plains of Delaware County.  And being slow is not bad.  Being aware of the surrounding beauty is a gift and sharing that with friends is priceless.

A Bittersweet Day

Valentine’s Day has never been a favorite holiday of mine. And a few years ago, it became a bittersweet holiday at best. I lost a family member to suicide. Yes, a very tragic event that shook the entire family.

But because of this tragedy, our family drew closer. I was able to re-establish ties with family members that I had lost years before.  I was able to form new bonds with my brothers and sister and also renew a kinship with a family that had been lost to me.  So while I lost a family member, I regained a family.

I have posted this song every year since we lost Ben.  It is a great way for me to remember him.

 

 

The Olympics or How I Spent My Weekend.

I am not going to lie. I got very little sleep over this past weekend because I have been sucked in by the Olympics.  There was also this little cold I picked up that made breathing, well, difficult, but we will ignore that fact for the sake of this story and blame my insomnia on the Olympics.

I missed the first two nights.  I didn’t see the spectacle that was the opening ceremonies on Friday.  From the highlights that I saw, I think I would have liked the drones. I picked up on the coverage late Saturday afternoon, but only saw a little bit of the action as I had to leave for a get together with friends.

When I arrived back home, I turned on the Olympics and, boom, I was hooked.  I wasn’t watching the skating on NBC, but I tuned into NBCSN on my computer so I could watch in bed and fall asleep to the boring sport of curling.  Yep, the good old boring sport of curling.  The one that combines ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool.  Well, forget the boring part.  I was hooked and enthralled.  Not was it only all of the above, but it was mixed curling meaning that there was a male and female partnered on a team.  Brilliant.

42 pounds of thunder

So now we have the chess match that is ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool coupled with…couples.  Not as in married couples, although there were brothers and sisters, but just two paired together.  Now, mix in the high pressure that is inherent in competing in the Olympics and you have better drama than any reality show.

In curling, they have brooms in order to sweep the ice to effect the stone on its path and length.  So you have one person on the team telling the other player to sweep “harder” or not at all.  All the while, the players are miked up for the crowd to hear and the add in the tension from the competition.  As you can imagine, not all was well with the competing partners.  Since they were speaking languages I could not understand, I had to interpret the conversations the best I could.  This is what I came up with.

Female:  I thought we agreed you would curl that stone left to take out that other stone!!

Male:  I gave it my best shot, I thought the ice was faster.

Female:  I told you to throw harder, but did you listen…no!!!

Male:  We are on ice, how could I have thrown it harder???

Female:  Thought you had more in you.

Male:  I thought I told you to sweep the damn ice harder!

At this point we take a commercial break (of which there are many), and leave it to the audience’s imagination of just where that next 42 pound stone will be placed.

Yes, this is no lie.  I really was thinking this while watching the couples perform.

My next thing I watched was the luge.  I watched the men’s single live and it was very exciting.  But what crazy people!!  Who thought this stuff up?  It had to be a bunch of guys sitting around drinking one day during the winter, since all the farming chores were probably done, yes, probably.  Anyway, one brilliant guy says to the rest, “Hey, lets build an ice hill, grab a board, put a couple of runners on it and slide down this ice hill at 80 mph!!”  The rest of the guys look at each other, grab another beer and yell “Dilly Dilly” while running for the hill.  The rest is history.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was looking forward to the ice skating because, well, I only watch it every four years so I tend to forget why I don’t watch it.

I will tell you it was not because of the looks of Johnny Weir or the outfits some of the skaters had on, though, I must admit, I was scratching my head a bit.  Mr. Weir looked like he was straight out of the movie “The Hunger Games” with his hair-do.  I did do a “YIKES!” when I first saw him.  But I later saw a commercial with him mocking himself and I did like his commentary on the skating.  Not that I understood a single thing he said or did I understand how this damn sport is scored.

I back my claim by this.  How in the hell does the one guy who falls twice during his performance, win?  Even the commentators were at a loss to explain.  They fawned over the excellence of the American skater, yet he scored low and he didn’t fall.  Next up was the Canadian skater, he fell twice and won the event.  So at that point, I was done and went to bed. I fired up the computer and only had commercials to watch with a few snowboarders thrown in order to fill in the time between commercials.

So as I went back to work this morning, bleary eyed and weary, I realized there was something missing from this edition of the winter Olympics.  The one thing that made 2014 in Sochi so real.

It is Bob Costas and his pink eyes.

But His EYES!

I felt so bad for him during the last Olympics, but damn, how easy it was to make fun of him.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Mr. Costas and his work.  But that was just good stuff.  I tuned in just to see how he was recovering.

Bottom line.  I know we are just getting started and I may need to take a break and get some sleep some nights, but you can count on me watching and injecting my own warped sense of humor into  this great show.

 

 

Light That Torch! The Olympics Are Here!

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of the Olympics. Yep, bring it on.  Speed skating. Downhill skiing. Bobsled.  Luge.  And yes, figure skating.  I will admit I like to watch figure skating.  Every four years.   I like the grace and athleticism of the skaters.  I have no idea how they are judged or how the scoring goes.  Might as well figure out the NFL bobbled catch rule and then you might understand figure skating.

The cross country skiing and shoot arrows…yep, not sure about that.  Or the one that shoots rifle instead of arrows.   Um, well I’m sure the Greeks had a reason for that…

So I will watch these coming 2 weeks with fun.  It will actually be live.  8PM here is actually 10 am there.  So the live feeds should be fun.

But most of of all, I look forward to the backstories.  The ones that will make my eyes misty.  You know what I am talking about.  “She/he was raised in poverty and rose up to meet the challenge and became a Olympian…and so forth.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love that story.  But why not this…”Kid was motivated a worked his ass off and became an Olympian”  I like that also…

TOSRV 2018

I am signed up and ready to go for TOSRV 2018.  Okay, I might not be quite ready to go just yet.  I might need a few training rides before I take on the two day, 210 mile challenge route that is TOSRV.  For me though, this is the grand-daddy of all the rides I do.  I know it isn’t a charity ride.  I know it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things as I ride for.  But it does have the most history.

This is the first organized ride I ever did.   And what a ride that was.  It was a whirlwind of tornado warnings and hail, pinging off my helmet.  Rain and discomfort, and finally 100 miles of satisfaction knowing I can cycle this route.

Since then I have done 13 successful TOSRV’s.  I have braved weather elements.  I have peddled through many of storms and rain showers.  Cold and wind are things that mark my memories of the ride.

But the real reason I do this ride and, for that matter, all rides that I do, is inspired by my mother.

You see, in 2001, my mother called me and told me that he was going to buy a bike and do this ride, TOSRV.  At the time, I was a pack a day smoker, habitual couch potato, and general doubter.  So I laughed at her.  “What ? Are you crazy?”

It wasn’t a mere two months after this that we learned that she had lung cancer.

It was then that I decided that I would ride TOSRV for her.  And I did.  I called her every chance I got during the first couple of rides I did for her.  After that…well, I remember.

This is an important ride.  It is still the reason I ride.  I remember well.

 

It Started With A Kiss

It started with a kiss.  I was on the floor.  We were watching the Super Bowl, or at least I was, when she crawled onto my chest.  She then went up to face and planted the wettest, most sloppery kiss I have ever had.

She then had a grin that could light up Time’s Square on a busy night.  I melted.  This is a memory that will stay with me forever.

Of course I am referring to my daughter.  And we have celebrated this moment for the last 21 years.  Over the years we have had cakes, presents and, of course, kisses.  It has been special for us over the years.

It is a wonderful thing, memories.  I can’t think of a thing that is more important than this.  I know that she is an adult now, but the fact that she still remembers this and is willing to celebrate the fact, well, that is just priceless.

This year we went a Blue Jackets game and just spent time together. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

 

 

 

 

Just Another Specialty…

I have been a chef for over 34 years now.  That is a long time in a very demanding profession. Over the years, I have been asked many questions such as, “I can really cook do you think I am a chef? ”  (No).   “I have been told that I throw great dinner parties, do you think I should open a restaurant?” (No).  “Would you like me to share my mother’s recipe to you for use in your restaurant?”  (NOOO!!).  “Do you cook at home?” (Of course I do, I have to eat also!).

It’s all good though.  I know it is all about being part of the profession.  I am sure other professions endure the same type of questions.  I really feel for what doctors have to endure.  But my least favorite question that I was asked repeatedly was, “What is your specialty?”

A fellow chef shared the following with me a few years ago and I was a little pissed that I didn’t write it, but it really nails what being a chef truly is.  I was reminded of this letter today when I had one staff member on vacation and another chose to call in sick.  So I really had to chef it today!

“I’m a chef” I say.
“Oh! What’s your specialty?” they always ask.
My “Specialty”…? I’m a chef, I said.
My specialty is maintaining peace among a staff of professionals, immigrants, part-timers, waiting on my real job-ers, burnouts, disgruntles and people genuinely motivated by service.
My specialty is knowing how to do everyone’s job so they respect me but also at the blink of an eye I could be pulling their function as they are pulling that crumpled suit out of the closet, for the job search has begun yet again.
My specialty is delivering high quality food in a timely manner within the constraints of archaic equipment, new fads, ancient techniques all while abiding by the unfair, unrealistic, ever-changing demands of the health department.
My specialty is receiving the same products every other chef across the world receives but somehow convincing you to come eat mine. Taking ingredients that are already expensive, putting them together & somehow trying to squeeze every possible nickel out of it.
My specialty is being impervious to burns. Using duct tape as a band-aid. Standing, running, pacing within the same 10 foot square for 16 hours at a time. Specializing in walking without a limp although my ankles feel broken, my knees pop with every step & my back is one gigantic (albeit muscular…very muscular) cramp.
My specialty is sleeping very little. Waking when a lot of people are going to bed. Never seeing the sunlight during the holidays. Working countless days in a row. Being the first in & the last to leave.
My specialty is actually having fun in such a high demanding, stressful job. Taking pride in a job well done. Seeing doubt in people’s eyes sometimes & somehow pulling it off.
I’m a Chef, I said.
That IS my specialty.
-Author Unknown-

I could not have said it better…