Decision Day

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

It is estimated we make approximately 35,000 decisions daily. The mere thought of all those decisions has me feeling a tad overwhelmed and ready to go back to bed and pull the blanket over my head. That isn’t an option because today is grocery shopping day. Do you feel my pain?

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I’m the domestic chef of the house and most weeks I don’t mind doing the grocery shopping because I have already made a mental note of the week’s menu. Occasionally, I will have a day like this one where my mind is blank. A flip book of photos goes through my mind, scanning hundreds of images in an attempt to plan the weekly meals. Finally, the lightbulb goes off and after much cogitation, my shopping list has been developed and I’m ready to attack the aisles in the supermarket.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

There is a method to my madness. I like to make dinners that will provide us with two meals. However, I do not like eating the same thing two days in a row. Consequently, I will stagger the menu. For instance, today I’ve made lasagna. Tomorrow we will have beef stew and then both dishes will be repeated…lasagna…then stew. The fifth dinner will most likely be chicken and then perhaps goulash. Once per week we either dine out in a restaurant or order take-out. Then, Sunday morning rolls around and the insanity starts all over again.

Each photo posted is a dish I’ve prepared. Whatever you decide to eat today may it be made with the love I put into the meals I prepare.

Dennis L. Page

Keep Your Voice Down

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I was born with a unique voice and loudly spewed words with the force of a cannon. As a young boy, I underwent surgery on my vocal chords and was even enrolled in speech therapy classes, all in an effort to teach me to speak softly. I fiercely rebelled. I could not be someone society wanted me to be. Most of my childhood I was scolded for talking too loudly and was told to keep my voice down. My attempts to “speak normal” were futile.

From early childhood on we experience numerous physical and sociological changes. As we age we learn to familiarize ourselves with social norms and begin to modify our behavior in order to assimilate into our cultures and customs. Parents are usually the best teachers and act as architects while laying the cornerstones for the foundation of life. However, not all educators should be in the teaching profession and there are definitely building contractors who shouldn’t  own a hammer.

Most of us have had the uncomfortable experience of witnessing an adult woefully deficient in parenting skills screaming at their children in public to, “SHUT UP!” or “SIT DOWN!” I’ve seen these people grab the kids by the back of their necks and yank on their hair. They are brutally abusive in their words and actions. Children learn from the environments they are exposed to and if their surroundings are toxic most likely they will grow up having a poisonous view of the world around them. Consequently, the cycle continues.

For many, displaying proper social skills and etiquette come as second nature. As a card-carrying member of the “Baby Boomer” generation, I was raised to respect my elders, as well as being kind and respectful to all. It wasn’t until I was 18-years old when I mustered up enough courage to call an adult by their first name. We were also taught proper table manners, including saying, “please” and “thank you.”  We learned to chew our food with our mouths closed and the correct way to hold our utensils. Additionally, under no circumstances was anyone allowed near the dinner table wearing a baseball cap. Unfortunately, today when we go to a restaurant we see a hilly terrain of people wearing baseball caps and making fists to clutch their forks and knives as they stab away at their plates of food like carpenters pounding nails.

I’m glad I never learned to fit in the mold and speak normally. For you see. people have no problem hearing me when I speak up about bad manners, poor etiquette or social injustices. Rest assured when this lion roars those around me take notice.

Dennis L. Page

 

I Feel Vulnerable

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When I used to be busy doing work around my mom’s summer home she was constantly telling me to put on a hat. I would refuse her repeated requests and then she would turn to my wife and say, “Dennis is always concerned about the way he looks.” My mother did have a valid point, but then again, she was the one who raised me to have a squeaky clean look and to dress nicely.

The rules of making a fashion statement are immediately thrown to the wind once a person enters the sterile and restrictive areas of an emergency room or medical testing sites where they are instructed to undress down to underwear, socks, and shoes and then put on the hideous hospital gown. A patient needs to be a contortionist in order to securely snap or tie the gown in such a manner so they will not be showing off their derriere to all behind them. Success is measured by whether or not you feel a breeze on your backside while walking down a hallway.

It is standard operating procedure in many medical practices for their staff to instruct patients to disrobe and put on a hospital gown. Well, I am not always compliant and quite frankly, rebel when things don’t make sense. On a recent visit to a new doctor the nurse, after taking my vitals asked me to strip down to my underwear, shoes, and socks and put on the hospital gown. “No” was my curt reply. The nurse was stunned and befuddled and I added there was no reason for a gown. I stated, “If the doctor wants to see my chest I will raise my shirt. If the doctor wants to see my legs I will roll up my pant legs and if they want to see my arms I will push up my shirt sleeve.” This was a small victory for me.

I guess, this was my way of mooning the medical profession without even dropping my drawers.

Dennis L. Page

I’ll Get It

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Reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ seems to be a favorite pastime for many. We have a tendency to erase bad memories and instead our focus zooms in on pleasant thoughts of the way things used to be.

Long before answering machines, beepers, pagers and cell phones our homes had one black tabletop rotary dial telephone. In 1959 we were introduced to the Princess phone, otherwise referred to as the bedroom telephone. They all had built in night lights and my mom had a pink one. It was the first time homes had two telephones. Finally, in 1965 the public was offered the wall hung telephone and ours made its appearance in the kitchen, sporting the color of the day…avocado green.

No one was bothered by telemarketing calls back in those days and no such thing as caller ID was available. We called people on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and simply to just say, “Hello.” “I’ll get it” was a common refrain heard throughout, whenever the phone would ring. The only text messages we ever received were in the form of written letters and the occasional pen pals many of us had. There was always the grumpy and impatient person on a party line call who would become enraged if we talked too long, grumble and slam the phone down. Our silent way of getting even would be to quietly listen in on their conversations and try to figure out who they were and where they lived. It was a cat and mouse guessing game, but for some strange reason, we found it mildly entertaining.

Today there are fewer landline phones and the people who still have them are inundated with annoying telemarketers and surveys. The silly intimacy of whispering into the kitchen phone to a love interest, while hoping your parents or siblings didn’t hear you are long gone.

Even though we are connected to the world via the net, I can’t help but feel a tad melancholy surrounding my nostalgic memories of closer family and friends when we communicated through that one old black telephone. These feelings of mine especially ring true when the void of a loved one not calling during the holiday season leaves a deafening silence in my heart.

Dennis L. Page

Roasted Chicken with Fennel and Vegetables

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

I guess I’m a dinosaur. You see, five to six times per week I still prepare homemade meals. I rarely use recipes and exact measuring of ingredients never enter into the dishes prepared in my kitchen.

If you have the time and love to cook then, by all means, making oven roasted chicken with fennel and vegetables will be a “winner, winner…chicken dinner” in your home. Fennel provides a subtle licorice flavor. Lemon slices and wedges add a nice citric taste.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Ingredients:

2 fennel bulbs

2 large lemons

3 potatoes peeled and halved

6 carrots rough chopped

3 celery stalks rough chopped

3 to 4-pound roasting chicken

poultry seasoning

fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme

32-ounce box of chicken stock/broth

1/2 stick of melted butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

rinse chicken, clean out the cavity and pat dry

place vegetables, fennel, and lemon slices on bottom of the roasting pan

stuff chicken’s cavity with some lemon wedges, some fennel and a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and sage

tie the legs

loosen the chicken’s skin and rub some butter under the skin and all over the bird

liberally season the chicken with poultry seasoning.

place the chicken on top of the vegetables and add some more thyme, rosemary, and sage to the roasting pan

pour 32 ounces of chicken broth over the bottom of the pan

bake for 1.5 hours, basting frequently until the internal temperature is 165 degrees

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

This is what the chicken looks like as it is popped into the oven.

Let the bird rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Dennis L. Page

 

 

 

It’s Official – Winter Has Arrived

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Winter has made her appearance known.

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Winter gives us splendid scenes.

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Yes, even in winter there is a bounty of beauty.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Mother Nature’s Christmas tree.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
GE DIGITAL CAMERA

On a positive note, I will continue to remind myself that in three more months the cold and snow should be leaving and will usher in warmer temperatures.

Dennis L. Page

Pet Peeves

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Dennis L. Page

As 2016 winds down I want to make sure I wipe my slate clean for 2017. Yes, I’m fully aware of the turmoil and seriousness of the day. However, there are still those pet peeves that act as little pin pricks into our daily lives and routines.

Many of my irritants occur in the supermarket. If we want to look at a lack of social skills and courtesy then all one need do is observe the behavior of shoppers in a grocery store. From the time we pull into the parking lot until the moment we exit we are assaulted with the “I’m oblivious to you and obviously more important than you” attitude of some.

We diligently make our grocery lists, place our reusable bags in the car and off we go. Driving into the store’s parking lot we finally find the perfect spot. Lo and behold someone was too lazy to return the shopping cart to the cart return and instead left it straddling the line between two parking spots.

The Leaner:  We encounter the leaner almost immediately upon entering the store. The leaner’s arms are crossed and they have a full-body lean on the cart’s handlebar. It is nearly impossible to get around these people because their movements are slow and deliberate weaving ever so gently from left to right.

The Jogger: The jogger doesn’t have a cart. Instead, they rely on their arms or a hand basket as they dart hither and yon at lightning speed nearly knocking unsuspecting shoppers over who happen to be in their path. They offer no apologies because they are totally unaware of our existence.

The Grabber: The grabber is one of the most unapologetic shoppers. They reach above, below, and to either side of you all while acting as though you are invisible. When this happens to me I loudly respond, “EXCUSE ME!”

The Shopping Cart NASCAR Driver: There is no caution flag for these speedsters.  They attempt to set new course records and heaven help anyone who enters onto their private race track. They use their carts as deadly weapons and will crash into the back of your ankles if you stop to look at an item on the shelf.

The Talker: The talker is the person hopelessly connected to their cell phones. Apparently everything is important and nothing can wait until they exit the supermarket. Last week I actually had to ask a woman to move who had planted herself up against the milk coolers as she leisurely spoke with someone on the phone. There is also the person who has their phone on speaker and yells while talking. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have attempted to answer their questions only to realize they were speaking with someone else on the other end of their phone.

Be nice and polite to your cashier. These people are there to help you checkout quickly and effortlessly. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind and no one is any better than anyone else.

As we move into 2017 let’s all take a step back and pause. Be thoughtful of those around you and don’t race through life with blinders on acting as though you are the only important person to walk the face of this earth.

Finally, may you all have a happy holiday! You see, much to the chagrin of some, there never was a war on Christmas.