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.

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GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Mother Nature’s Christmas tree.

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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

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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.

The Day My Father Died

My dad warned me of his impending death as if he were gazing into a crystal ball.

Those who know me or have read some of my articles are keenly aware how much I revered my father. Like most father and son relationships, once I left my teen years and entered early adulthood, ours grew into a great friendship. In fact, my dad was my best friend.

My father’s aunt was in her mid 90’s when she finally let me in on her secret. It was a secret we had all known about, but never discussed. “You know I have a gift,” is how my Aunt LaLa first introduced me to her special world. “Yes, I know Aunt LaLa,” was my reply. She then went on to describe in detail the death of her nephew, my father’s brother, telling me when and how he died, even though he lived in Virginia and I was the first family member to inform her of the news. Dad’s aunt lived in rural Georgia and she owned a lot of farm land, a trailer park and the general store. However, her side business was one of awe and wonder to me as a boy. In the hot Georgia sun I witnessed people in line to the kitchen door of her home. “Oh, they’ll wait,” Aunt LaLa would say whenever we stopped for our out of state visits, never once explaining why these folks were in line. She played an eerily defining role in my life in many ways. Both my oldest daughter and myself share in some of this gift, although not to the extent of my great aunt.

My dad was a man’s man in so many ways, but especially when it came to sports. Whether it be hockey (his favorite), football, baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse or bowling, he would watch it, listen to it, read it and he knew the statistics for all of them. I was mesmerized at how he remembered all of this information. Many nights, days and week-ends he would be at the coliseum, arena or football stadium to cheer on his team. When I think back on his past life experiences and the drudgery of his job, then it all becomes clear. After all, sporting events provide an outlet….an escape if you will….from the reality of everyday life.

On January 1, 1991 I relocated from Syracuse, New York to Binghamton, New York, a distance of about 80 miles. It was a tough decision to leave my family behind, yet I felt that professionally, financially and emotionally it was the right move for me at that time in my life. I spoke to my family on a daily basis and sometimes more than that. When a nationally televised sporting event would be on, my dad and I might speak a total of three times. We would talk before the game started, half time and then at the conclusion so we could do our own recap. It was a bonding time that was special between the two of us and I miss those moments dearly.

Syracuse, New York has the reputation as the snowiest metropolitan region in our country. For instance, the Tug Hill Plateau region, just north of the city, has had snowfall amounts of over 400 inches. Shoveling, snow blowing or plowing is simply a way of life in this area during the winter months. For some unknown reason it is the people in the 60 plus age group that feel the need to constantly be on guard to keep the snow knocked down. It becomes an obsession of sorts and my dad was no different at 66. Oh, we bought him a snow thrower, but “no” that was too modern. You can only tackle these type of jobs with brute force.

It was late Saturday, January 8, 1994 when I answered the phone. “Hi son, I’m so afraid I am going to die in this house and no one will find me for days,” was my father’s frantic call to me. “Oh dad, don’t be silly,” was my quick retort. “No, seriously son, you live so far away and I’m just so afraid I am going to die here and no one will find me.” Never, in my forty years had I heard my father sound so scared and panicky. He wasn’t himself. He wasn’t the poker player who always played his cards close to the vest, shielding his true hand. He was scared. I tried my best to reassure him that everything would be fine, but my words fell on deaf ears. My father “had a feeling,” a sixth sense, if you will, of what was about to happen.

Sunday, January 9th came and went and I said to myself I would call my father from the office. Monday was an exceptionally busy day at work. I couldn’t get my head above water and didn’t have a moment to spare. Then Monday evening arrived and I had forgotten an item at the grocery store. I had a house guest staying with me and on my return they informed me my dad was dead. The news was as if someone had unscrewed my Achilles heel and drained everything out of me. I was numb and limp. Sunday morning my dad went out to shovel the driveway and go the the store for his newspaper. On Monday evening the paper was under my dad’s body, in the kitchen where a neighbor had spotted him. Sadly my father had died alone in the house, wasn’t discovered for more than 24 hours and he apparently had seen his own death coming.

My telephone rang. “Hello son,” was my father’s greeting. “But, but,” I stammered, searching for the right words. “Yes son, I’m dead and you know what? It’s okay,” was dad’s response. When I awoke I was drenched in sweat. I walked into the living room with a cup of coffee, sat down and a half smile found its way to my face as a sense of peacefulness and serenity set in, realizing that my friend, my dad, had passed on.

Written by: Dennis L. PageIMG_0085