Saturday, 25 February 2017

Party On: You Won't Wake Me

I never met the man, but after reading his obituary, I feel sorry that I didn't; I'm sure I would have instantly liked him.

Meet the late Paul Culligan, formerly of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He apparently had a real zest for life and knew how to make people laugh, as evidenced by his obituary.

Oh, and did I mention that he wrote the obituary himself?

That got me thinking that I would love to pre-write my own obituary as well. What would it say? Hmm, that remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain, it would be humorous and witty, in keeping with my repertoire of puns and one-liners. And why not?! If that is how you are known in life, if laughter could often be heard from those around you because of some joke or anecdote that you just told, why should you go out in death any differently?

I also like the idea of a non-traditional funeral service or memorial. Rent a hall or restaurant back room and invite friends and family to come and share a few beers and some pizza, and share stories (or jokes) in memory of you. Take the event out of the pews and make it less a spectator event and more a participatory event. Who knows, I may even have to leave instructions with the funeral director to dress me in my favourite jeans an shirt, put some sunglasses on me, put one last beer in my hand, and sit me in the corner for the event. Here's a party I wouldn't want to miss, and besides, the cremation can always happen later. Or would that be just a little too weird?

Well there you have it. If you could write your own obituary, what would yours say?

Story / Photo Source: CBC News, 2016 July 22

Monday, 20 February 2017

Cure for a Boring Job?

Got a boring job? Rest assured; I'm sure you're not alone. So what are you going to do about it?

Well, as this cartoon seems to suggest, no matter what the job you find yourself in, there is probably some sort of unique and/or creative approach that you can take to make that ho-hum job a little more, well, interesting. So go a-"head" (pun fully intended), get creative. Who knows, you may even "strike" it lucky. But seriously ... oh never mind; nothing serious here.

Cartoon Source: Unknown

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 2

"Elephants and
grandchildren
never forget."
~Andy Rooney

My grandson is now into his second week of life on this rock we call Earth. The cuddles I got yesterday were sweeter than candy and melted this old man’s sometimes cold and hard heart. There really are no words to properly describe that awesome experience of having that little man laying against my chest as he slept. Sure, like everyone else, we had kids before we had grandkids, and they cuddled too. But for some reason that I haven’t figured out yet, it’s different with a grandchild.

I also learned this week that some things simply are more important than others. I guess I always knew that, but it took the birth of a grandson to remind me of it. In my office, just to the top left of my computer monitor, is posted an 8 ½ x 11 picture of my new favourite little man. As the stresses of this week mounted, and sometimes unbearably so, I found myself repeatedly looking at that picture, and don’t ask me how, but every time I did, I almost instantly began to calm down and breathe semi-normally once again.

Sure, work is important, and barring a winning lottery ticket, it will always be there. But a lesson I was reminded of this week is that family is, and must always be, more important than the job. A former priest and friend of mine once told me that he prioritizes everything in his life into five categories, and he adheres to it almost religiously (I know, it sounds almost ironic that a former priest would do something “religiously,” doesn’t it? -LOL). If I remember correctly, he said his list was something like this: (1) Faith in God, (2) His wife, (3) His children/grandchildren, (4) His personal physical and mental health, (5) His career or job. I remember wondering if his employer knew that he put his job in last place in terms of priority. It seems to me that employers usually expect a higher priority for themselves from their employees, despite their “Work/Life Balance” jargon. Hmm.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with that priority list. It’s interesting that it took my young grandson to remind me that many of life’s stressors are perhaps our own fault, and in many ways, they come about because we have a screwed up priority list. Sort out that task list of life back into proper priorities, pick up a sleeping grandson and hold him close, and feel the tension and stress slowly ebb away. There’s something quite therapeutic about cuddling a baby grandson that can be learnt no other way than by hands-on experience. That’s a powerful lesson!

So as I sit here on the eve of yet another workweek, knowing full-well that there is a mountain of paperwork on my desk, and that Monday also commences my 24/7 on-call rotation, which in and of itself can be stressful, I will also remember what my grandson taught me: Properly prioritize everything, and don’t allow anyone or anything to make you so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life. And if he could already talk, I imagine him also saying, “Opa, come back soon for some more cuddles.

Yes, the lesson my grandson taught me is that work will always be there, but if I prioritize it in the wrong category, I just may miss seeing him grow up, and that would be terribly unfortunate for both of us.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Jalapeño Ecstasy

"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat.  The people who give you their food give you their heart."
~Cesar Chavez

Another Super Bowl is upon us, and what would it be without some amazing munchies? Being a self-confessed Foodie, you had to know that I would be up to something. This year, it’s bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeño peppers. Keeping in mind that I never use specific measurements in my cooking, here’s what I did:

PREPARING THE STUFFING

This began with about two pounds of ground chicken. While it browned, I added a whole finely chopped onion. Then came a generous shaking of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper, and a couple finely chopped habanero peppers. Once the chicken was virtually done, I stirred in a can of tomato soup. I then set it aside.

PREPARING THE PEPPERS

I washed 20 jalapeño peppers, having purchased the largest that I could find. These I sliced in half length ways and scooped out the insides to make 40 boat-shaped halves. The seeds from the peppers I set aside to be used later to spice up the dip.

STUFFING THE PEPPERS

The pepper halves were then stuffed with the chicken mixture. A thin slice of habanero pepper was placed on each stuffed jalapeño, and then the whole thing was wrapped with a slice of bacon, holding it together with a toothpick.

COOKING THE PEPPERS

The stuffed bacon-wrapped peppers were then cooked in the oven on a raised rack to allow the grease to drip away. After turning them about half way through the cooking process to allow them to brown better, the peppers were then basted with some Bulls Eye barbecue sauce.

PREPARING THE DIP

The dip was a blend of Kraft Peppercorn Ranch Dressing, a tub of Philadelphia Jalapeño Cream Cheese, about three heaping teaspoons of Woodman’s Extra Hot Horseradish, and all the seeds from the peppers that I had set aside earlier. I served the dip out in small individual sized dishes to allow double dipping.

And that was about it. Nothing boring about this Super Bowl munchies dish. Now on to the game; Go Falcons!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 1

As I sit here on this semi-cold early February evening, my mind is filled with all sorts of memories; mostly good, some not so good, and others, well, let’s just say that the jury is still out on those. Old photographs lay strewn across the dining room table as we reminisce of yesteryears of long ago. A couple old photographs even found themselves shared on Facebook, tagging their unsuspecting victims for all their friends to see, in what I like to think is a parental right to occasionally (lovingly) embarrass one’s children.

What is so special about tonight?

Well, before all is said and done, several lives will be forever changed. Before this night is through, or perhaps sometime tomorrow, my wife and I will be welcoming our first grandchild into life on planet Earth. Wow! As natural as next generations are in the human race, I still cannot believe it! Opa Will; Nana Ginny. Who ever would have thought it? As most of our own siblings and friends have long enjoyed grandparenthood, and some even great-grandparenthood, this joy has always eluded us; that is, until tonight. Yes, I expect our lives from here on forward will be forever changed. And, quite frankly, I look forward to it.

But it’s not all about us; obviously our daughter’s life and our son-in-law’s life will also be forever changed, as they both are about to venture out into parenthood. What a big responsibility is suddenly facing them. As someone once joked, grandparents can always give the child back; parents not so much. Still, I know and have the utmost faith that they will make wonderful parents.

Other lives will also suddenly be changed. Our son and daughter-in-law will suddenly have a nephew (yes, though we have not yet learned his name, we do know that this child soon to enter this world is a boy). How will that change their lives, remains to be seen, but apart from purchasing a few extra birthday and Christmas presents each year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, as this little boy grows, his uncle will occasionally have a new companion at a few Edmonton Oilers and/or Eskimos games. This too carries with it a big responsibility, but also some big-time fun.

I joked with some coworkers that the timing of his birth could not be better. After all, this Sunday coming up is Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m sure that Opa Will would love to share the big game with his new grandson. He may not be ready, however, for the chicken/habanero stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers and dip; standard Super Bowl fare in our house. Oh well, his Dad and Opa will have to look after them for him this year.

So here I sit, jumping every time the phone rings; is he here yet? Though he’s not born yet, he’s already taught me my first lesson: Life is about to drastically change, for all of us. But I don’t bemoan that; rather I’m up for the challenge of doing my part in helping to raise my grandson, and I eagerly look forward to it.

Now, how do those diapers go on again? It’s been a while.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons