Grandparents

Throughout time children have revolted against their parents and turned to the love, comfort and friendship of their grandparents.

I never knew my grandfathers, but I was privileged to have been exposed to both grandmothers, great grandfather on mom’s side and great grandparents on dad’s side of the family. The exposure to my grandparents helped me understand a little bit about who they were and how they lived.

My maternal grandmother showed me exactly what unconditional love meant. As a small child, I remember looking at her and thinking there wasn’t a more beautiful woman in the world. When I had my tonsils removed and waking up from the hideous ether, I looked at mom and cried, “I WANT GRANDMA!” Mom was heartbroken. I don’t know how my grandma got to the hospital so fast, but when she arrived, all was right with the world.

Dad’s mom wasn’t anything like my other grandmother. She was senile as long as I can remember. However, I clearly recall her making the best homemade potato soup and southern fried chicken. Unfortunately, she died from smoke inhalation after starting a fire while smoking in bed.

I met my maternal great-grandfather a couple of times. It was like stepping into a Walt Disney movie. He lived in rural northern New York in a one-room log cabin with my great-aunt and great-uncle. The walls were adorned with banjos, violins, and guitars. There was even an upright piano. Although the cabin didn’t have running water and was extremely rustic I noted how immaculate my great-aunt kept it.

My great-grandparents on dad’s side were amazing people who immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. My great-grandfather was from Glasgow, Scotland and my great-grandmother hailed from London, England. They were both active in the Salvation Army and grandpa became a Major in the Salvation Army. Grandma raised several foster children. They taught me what true love was. You see, even in their nineties they would sit on the couch holding each other while watching television. Grandpa raised homing pigeons and I marvelled how these birds could carry messages to other states and return home to roost. My grandpa would also bring out his concertina and play and sing Scottish songs for me while dancing around the living room. I thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment.

Sadly, everyone has died and now I am the old one. I certainly hope I give my grandchildren some fond memories to carry them through their lives.

Dennis L. Page

Another Birthday

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Thank you for all the wonderful and creative birthday wishes. You amaze me and I’m thankful for your friendship.

I was positive some sage advice and words of wisdom would come my way, but alas, I am at a loss. Suffice to say I am a fortunate person and have grown to relish the simple joys of life. I never aspired to amass monetary wealth. For me, the richness of life comes from a myriad of people, places and things.

The substance of my being comes from my children, grandchildren, wife, family, best friends, friends, acquaintances and those who touch me on a daily basis. Each day I ask that we show just one act of kindness to others.The images in my mind and memories created throughout a lifetime have shaped me into a lover of nature, animals and water. I can’t breathe without the ocean, Lake Ontario or the Saint Lawrence Seaway. I need water like an oligarch needs their billions of dollars. Finally, my savings bank is full and earning interest each time I gaze upon the plants, trees, animals, and wonderful home I’ve been so fortunate to thoroughly enjoy with every ounce of who I am.

Yes…today I had the joy of another birthday and realize just how privileged my life has been.

Thank you for celebrating this special day with me.

Dennis L. Page

What I Want People To Know About Me

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I’m fortunate to belong to a writing group that offers a different topic each week. This week the site offered three different topics we could explore. I opted for the above title because it forced me to think how I would respond.

What I Want People To Know About Me…

Quite frankly, my life is not an open book for everyone to have access to and dissect what I want others to know about me.

The best friend I ever had…our friendship lasted over 40 years…died unexpectedly one month ago. We knew everything about each other and had no secrets. We knew about our relationships, both past and present and we knew all about career choices and the stupid stuff we did in our lives. We never judged each other and instead, our bond grew out of the respect we had for our candidness.

I don’t divulge a lot about myself to acquaintances. You see, there is a comfort zone we reach with our close friends because we are aware of how they will act and react to what we share with them. I guess it boils down to who we can and cannot trust. Perhaps it is why I classify myself as an introverted extrovert. For instance, if I’m with a group of people I have the ability to carry on conversations with almost anyone, no matter what their level of education, occupation or station in life. You see, I know a little about a lot and that gives me the confidence to skim the surface of a myriad of topics. However, once the conversation becomes more detailed I simply smile, nod my head and then make a hasty retreat.

Here are some things I’m at ease sharing in this forum:

I love gardening. I am the closest to my Higher Power when my hands are in the soil and I move earthworms from one spot to another.

I’m a passionate home cook who also enjoys doing grocery shopping. Creating homemade meals is not only satisfying but has made me a critic of many restaurants. I’m quite fussy about the quality of food served in eating establishments. Of course, cooking creates many dirty pots, pans and dishes. You may be surprised that I am content is washing dishes. As a matter of fact, I find this duty relaxing as I slip into a form of meditation.

I’m an avid reader. My preferences are mysteries, drama, nonfiction, and history. My least favourite thing to read is poetry. To me, poetry is similar to looking at a Picasso painting. In other words, it is just too hard for me to figure out.

I’m an ardent writer and have actually had some of my stories published in a magazine distributed through Barnes & Noble. I write in the vernacular without using $10.00 words.

I despise racism and prejudices. I subscribe to a philosophy of live and let live. I also believe what people do in their bedroom is their business and it doesn’t adversely affect me.

This was an interesting subject to explore and although I didn’t tip my hat too much, I think many of you will now know more about me than you used to.

Dennis L. Page

Stop the Insanity

Imagine working for one of the best employers in the country and they offer a benefit package more outstanding than any other employer. The only way these rich benefits could get any better is if you were entitled to receive them even though you no longer were in their employ.

A glaring example of wasteful spending in Washington, DC was on display during the State of the Union Address. Our former one term U.S. Representative was seated with the Republicans of Congress on the House floor. She served only two years and was voted out of office and yet, she was still there in Washington.

Our politicians love to preach to their constituents about the evils of entitlements. However, they are the most entitled people in America. Here is a short list of their perks, even if they were only in office for two short years:

Lifetime access to the floor of the chamber they served.

Free lifetime access to the members only dinning rooms.

Free lifetime access to the Capitol’s wellness center and gym.

Free lifetime access to all the parking garages used by House and Senate members.

Free lifetime access to reserved parking spots at Washington, DC airports.

Free lifetime access to a dedicated congressional call desk connected to the major airlines giving them the ability to reserve a seat on multiple flights, but only pay for the flight they boarded.

The potential to receive lifetime health insurance benefits. Although members of Congress must purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act, they do receive a federal subsidy of 72% off their premiums.

If a member of Congress dies while in office, their family will receive a payout equal to one year’s salary…$174,000…per the Congressional Institute. Conversely, the families of military personnel killed in action receive a death benefit of $100,000 regardless of their length of service.

It’s obvious there is a lot of money to be made which encourages influence and power in Washington. That’s the catalyst for spending millions and millions of dollars to elect/reelect our House and Senate politicians who are only scheduled to be in session 121 days for 2019. Both political parties have managed to pad their pockets and enrich their lives on the backs of the American workers and taxpayers.

The next time you hear one or more of these DC fat-cats demonize our Social Security or Medicare remind them that we earned our benefits and they are the guilty party of entitlements for a job that can eventually pay up to $174,000 per year for 121 days of work.

Dennis L. Page

 

The House Beyond A Tree Line

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We are so tangled in the complexities of life we have a tendency to not see the forest for the trees.

The house on Holly Lane had an idyllic backyard with a beautifully manicured lawn, followed by a field and then a tree line that stretched the entire panorama of one’s vision. Deer, wild turkeys, eagles, fox, coyotes, raccoons, possums, falcons, and a potpourri of other critters inhabited the land.

We have a tendency to become complacent with our surroundings. We let our guard down as we relish in the serenity we’ve created. These feelings go part and parcel with the joys of home ownership. Sometimes change is good and other times, it can prove to be an exercise in patience and tolerance.

After years of drinking in a splendid scenery and being wooed by the sounds of various species of birds things began to change. It all started with the constant din of chainsaws which lasted days on end. This was followed by the rumblings of a bulldozer and heavy equipment. Finally, the air was polluted with the rat-a-tat-tat of hammers and the piercing whirl of table saws and circular saws. Obviously, something huge was going on beyond the tree line. It was summertime and the trees had successfully woven a superb privacy screen blocking out of view anything that didn’t represent nature. This was the season the animals didn’t come to visit the yard.

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Autumn came and still the noise of chainsaws cutting down one tree after another was nauseating. At the top of the hill in the back field is a house owned by a husband and wife who own a popular restaurant and bar, a banquet facility and numerous income properties. They are pillars in this small community and love the area they are native to. In an effort to stop the deforestation occurring this great couple and wonderful neighbor purchased 5 additional acres of land abutting up against the property of the “tree cutter.” Now, everyone adversely affected can breathe a sigh of relief.

The fortunate people in this world are those who have the financial ability to pick and choose where they wish to reside. Many like to experience all four seasons and some prefer warmer areas. People like to live in the mountains, the forests, by lakes, rivers, streams, the ocean, the desert, in the suburbs or in an urban setting. Variety is, indeed, the spice of life. We rejoice in the decisions made and embrace our surroundings. Unfortunately, not all things last forever and change is inevitable.

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People are content in familiar surroundings. The mere thought of altering their environment throws many into a tizzy. George Bernard Shaw stated, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart stated, “Change may not always bring growth, but there is no growth without change.” Mr. Bennett is also quoted as saying, “Happiness depends on your mindset and attitude.”

The homeowners on Holly Lane analyzed their situation and realized things really weren’t as traumatic as they had originally thought. After all, the house beyond the trees is completely hidden from sight for 7 months out of the year and only a vague image can be seen for the remainder of the year. The wild animals have returned and birds are chirping and singing once again. Life is much more harmonious when we finally come into acceptance of things we cannot change.

Dennis L. Page

Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Manicotti

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Add flour, egg and water and voila you have pasta. I don’t think there is a type or shape of pasta I don’t like. I love spaghetti and meatballs, meat sauce and shells, lasagna, pasta salad, baked ziti, rigatoni, linguini, capellini, egg noodles, and penne pasta.

Recently I ran across a recipe for stuffed manicotti that I tweaked a tad, but the secret to this dish is in the sauce.

INGREDIENTS

1 10 ounce package of frozen spinach

2 cooked and cubed/shredded skinless, boneless chicken breasts

7.5 ounces of ricotta cheese

6 tablespoons of butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup of milk

48 ounces tomato sauce

2 teaspoons dried basil

1.5 teaspoons garlic powder

1.5 teaspoons brown sugar

1 whole box uncooked manicotti shells (approx. 14 shells)

8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS

Drain spinach in a colander and pat dry. Mix chicken, ricotta cheese and spinach together and then stuff each shell with mixture.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and then stir in flour until smooth and gradually add broth and milk. Bring to a boil, cooking and stirring for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the tomato sauce, garlic powder, basil, and brown sugar. Cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until heated through.

Spread 1/2 cup of sauce into a greased 9” X 13” baking dish. Arrange manicotti over the sauce and then pour enough sauce over the manicotti to cover. You will have extra sauce, but that will come in handy for leftovers.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until manicotti is soft and cooked. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered for another 8 to 10 minutes until cheese is meted.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Dennis L. Page

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

If you want a tantalizing appetizer for the holidays, football, basketball, birthday party or just a get together then you owe it to yourself and guests to try the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.

This recipe is one of my all time favorites and is a home run, out of the park, slam dunk success whenever I make it. I hope you will give it a try. This is definitely the time of year to bring this one out.

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP
LAYERED, BAKED DIP WITH BUFFALO CHICKEN,
CREAM CHEESE, RANCH/BLEU CHEESE DIP AND, CHEESE.
SERVE WITH CHIPS AND CELERY

INGREDIENTS:

1 POUND BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS
8 OZ. CREAM CHEESE, SOFTENED
½ CUP RANCH OR BLEU CHEESE DRESSING (I USE BLEU)
¼ – ½ CUP FRANK’S HOT SAUCE OR FRANK’S BUFFALO WING SAUCE
8 OZ. PACKAGE SHREDDED MOZZARELLA CHEESE OR CHEDDAR CHEESE
(I USE MOZZARELLA)

PREPARATION:

BOIL CHICKEN UNTIL COOKED THROUGH
DRAIN AND SET ASIDE TO COOL
SPREAD CREAM CHEESE EVENLY OVER BOTTOM OF
9″ X 2″ BAKING DISH
SPREAD DRESSING EVENLY OVER CREAM CHEESE & SET ASIDE
SHRED CHICKEN AND MIX WITH HOT SAUCE SPREAD EVENLY
OVER DRESSING IN DISH
SPRINKLE CHEESE EVENLY OVER TOP OF CHICKEN
COVER WITH ALUMINUM FOIL AND BAKE @ 350 IN OVEN FOR
30 MINUTES

SERVE:

SERVE AS A HOT DIP WITH SCOOPS, CHIPS OR CELERY

If you or your guests enjoy a dish that is served warm and has a little spice with chicken and cheese then I don’t think you will be disappointed. This dish is good summer, fall, winter and, spring.

Enjoy!

Dennis L. Page