Saturday, December 20, 2014

Roast Chicken, a recipe de ma chère fille, Elena Marie


  1. Brine chicken for 24 hours (we just use 1/3 cup salt in the brine)
  2. Make sauce: 1 stick of butter, lots of mustard (EM: 'uh, at least 5 squirts'), you can add: spices: pepper, basil, thyme, a little oregano, parsley. Cover the chicken completely in the sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F, cook chicken, covered (not sealed) in foil, for 2 hours
  4. After an hour an a half, peel potatoes and quarter or chunk them, put them in the pan (that's right, into the drippings from the chicken).
  5. After the two hours (that is thirty minutes after you put in the potatoes), uncover, cook for another 1/2 hour to crisp, increasing the temperature to 400°F
Me: Elena, really? All those extra spices in the sauce? I thought it was just butter and mustard.
EM: Eh, you could do it that way, too, if you want.

So, there you have it: the world's yummiest chicken recipe (I didn't put in the spices into the sauce myself. EM: see?). Goes wonderfully with green salad with mixed in dried cranberries, black olives, and anchovies. Or you could serve with a hot vegetable, such as asparagus spears.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eight Months

Dear LORD,

Thank You for this day coming up to the end of this month of October, the tenth month of the year and completing the eighth month of my employment.

Thank You for giving me my family. Please watch over my daughters as they visit their auntie in California.

Thank You for giving me my work. Please bless me with it and make me productive and helpful. Please bless it and my coworkers, drawing it and them closer to perfection into Your Divine Love.

LORD, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. Not what I want but what You will.

I ask this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.

Amen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Friends: Treasures on Earth

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today.

Thank You for giving me this leadership role on the job, and thank You for helping me to grow into it.

LORD, thank You for granting me strength and perseverance these days. Please help me always to worship You, to cherish my family, and to do well wherever You need me. Help me to do good and help me to avoid evil.

My little Elena Marie is growing up . Please be with her as she struggles along with her changing mind and body. Keep her heart in Your care. Help my little Isabel Marie, and myself, and my wife to eat what is right and healthy and to do so in moderation.

Please be with Diane's parents as they visit. Make our home a welcome one, a place of peace and joy. Please be with her brothers back in the Philippines and also with my extended family and friends, treasures You have sent me on this Earth.

Help me to treasure these gifts You have sent me here and help me to treasure the gifts You lay up in Heaven for those who love, serve, and adore You. Help me and all those who seek You find You and love You in Your glory!

I ask this through Jesus, the Christ.

Amen

Friday, June 20, 2014

This is poor Starbucks service

Dear Starbucks,

Thank you for the three, no, four, "I'm sorry"s I just received from your customer-facing, and management, partners at the Crowne Starbucks at 307, Rockville, MD today.

I am not going to provide you the full address of the store. You are capable of looking that up, aren't you?

Thank you for saying

"I'm sorry"

instead of serving me one of your delicious tomato-mozzarella sandwiches on a Friday.

All the alternative sandwiches you had ... they all, every single one of them, had meat in them.

Thank you for not providing a vegie sandwich alternative on a Friday, or, on everyday, to your customers who choose to abstain from meat, or who cannot eat meat, for religious or for other reasons.

Thank you for, when I presented my $10 coupon, with a redemption code right on there, that I received for Fathers' day, thank you for saying "I'm sorry" instead of honoring the coupon.

Thank you for that.

Thank you, especially, for your POS partner looking at it helplessly for a while, then her calling her training partner, and him looking helplessly for awhile.

His quote of the day, "Uh, I don't know how to do this."

So he calls the managing partner.

She looks at it for a while. She doesn't give the excuse quote. No, she tells me:

"It needs a redemption code."

I show her the redemption code.

"No, you have to go online and get us a barcode. We can't do this." (emphasis mine)

So, my family got me a certificate. $10. It has a redemption code.

For Fathers' Day.

And Starbucks took ten minutes to process this order to tell me "I'm sorry" four times, one for the meat-only sandwich options, and one, each time for their inability to process my, hello, Fathers' Day coupon, and then the final not-"I'm sorry" for saying I should have done something that I already (verifiably) did.

Take away

I'm wondering, for Starbucks, how much does an "I'm sorry" cost them. I'm not wondering how much it cost the megalithic-Starbucks. I know how much it costs them.

Nothing. Business at the 307 Rockville Starbucks is on the rise. Their "I'm sorry" costs them negative.

I'm wondering, for Starbucks, how much each of those "I'm sorry"s cost each of those customer-facing partners.

Again, I know the answer to that, too:

Nothing. They said, "I'm sorry" which means "no, tough luck," and they went on with their day, totally unaffected. They aren't sorry.

I wish they actually were sorry when they said "I'm sorry" for me. It would have made me feel a tiny-teensy bit better.

You know what would have made me feel good? As a Starbucks customer? A Starbucks "partner"?

Service.

And honoring my tendered payment, for goods I actually didn't want, but I settled for, because, hm, I was hungry, and Starbucks is supposed to be effective in meeting their customer needs efficiently.

Starbucks. I have a question for you. I have a picture of your store front. I have the original receipt. And I have a really pissed off attitude, and I have a cell phone number and email address.

What are you going to do about this?

What are you going to do to train your store employees (not partners, because I saw no initiative that a partner would take. But I did get four "I'm sorry"s so that makes it all okey-dokey in their book. Not in mine), so that they deliver customer service instead of delivering excuses to customers?

What are you going to do to make this one pissed-off customer (again, not partner, because I do not feel included in your service, I felt very much kicked to the curb) a little bit less pissed off at you?

Served. Ball is in your court, Starbucks. How are you going to return to serviceable standing?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Honesty

Honesty is not what anybody's about anymore, they're about being plugged into their i-device into they way into to work, sitting at their desk, mindlessly, shuffling TPS reports for the next eight or so hours so they can get plugged back in on their way home, snarl at their family until everyone's settled in front of whatever tube feeds their emptied minds mindless drivel so they can fall asleep and do that all over again for the rest of their lives until they die.

Nobody wants to hear honesty anymore, unless it's about Kayne West or Kim Karashdan.

Is it a bad thing that I have no Idea who these people are?

According to the world, yes, yes, it is. I have no idea what's in the news, the status of dead people on a plane or boat or storm nor who stabbed whom in Pennsylvania or Ohio or Connecticut or who raped whom, 'whom' who showed up a party, underaged, without her parents' permission, drank quite a bit and was she chaperoned? No. Was the party supervised? No. So, teens with drugs and alcohol, but we know our Johnny's going to be on his best behavior because we've been there the whole time, raising him rightly.

I have no idea of any of this going on, every day, some of it making the news, most of it not, just showing up on facebook and instagram, two more media outlets I do not frequent like our 'well-connected society' now does more than they interact with their spouses and children.

I wish I could introduce everyone the power and beauty of being able to create. Create what? 'Content'? No. Beauty. Art. You see, I'm well-connected. I come from a family of writers and teachers and poets and I married into a family of artists. You, dear reader, are probably well-connected, too, being a writer yourself, or artist.

Unlike most people. Most people? Are they content-producers? No, they are simply consumers, and their benefit to themselves, their family, and others is ... what?

What are you here for? Really?

Teens get it. Don't they? That's why they party so hard, drinking until they're numb and then killing themselves more and more frequently these days. Teens know that their lives are pointless, and they are totally useless.

And we wonder why we're losing this next generation to sex, drugs and whatever they call rock and roll these days? This is not the griping of an old, bitter man, this is my plea from me to you.

What is your purpose? Is your purpose that? To commute, then to work, then to snarl then to vege? Are you giving your children purpose? What do they have to live for? Why should they be morally upright? Your purpose is them, right? That they have it better, and live happily.

But what purpose are you give them? 'Father, give me a quest, ... a noble quest.'

Who can give their child a noble quest? Can you? And how can you give them a noble purpose if you have none?

You're purpose is them? Okay, but what role model are you? They become what you are now. Do you want them nice, safe and secure in a 9-to-5er, working for the Man, for the rest of their lives until they die, leaving their 'survived-by' family members a mountain of debt and a mess of unfinished tasked and stories never told? What noble purpose are you giving your children? What can they create? What legacy can they leave, so that two hundred years later people will say 'Grace Hopper' 'Rosa Parks' ... and your daughter. Or, 'George Washington,' 'John Adams' (arguably our most passionate and thoughtful and caring Founding Father) ... and your son.

Wow. Okay! I know where this all came from: people being 'taught' in schools what? Nothing but rote memorization, and we're all paying for that, every day we rotely go to our jobs and turn right around and go to work, because that's how we're defined now.

We need to get back to basics. We need to redefine what it is to be a person, a citizen, and we need to reconstrain what others tell us, particularly when they're telling us how to think and be and live.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A(n Easter Egg) Hunting We Will Go!

(Une petite histoire in pictures)

Our girls, about to embark on their Easter Egg hunt! Ooh, an adventure!


Our girls, hunting and gathering Easter eggs


Success! Easter Bunny eggs found!


... and our girls lived happily (or chocolate-hazedly) ever after.

The end.

Please

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Thank you for my birthday supper with my family — Yay! — including my sister, Beki, and my niece, Sofya. What a special treat for me! This week, LORD, I am 47 years old. Help me to be mindful of you today and every day this new year and then every year throughout my life.

Please be with us, LORD, as we place our trust in You. Please be with Howland, Beki, Peter, and Sofya as they face this hard time. Please help Peter to be a person he can be: sweet, gentle, kind, smart, and help him to let go of his hurts and help him not to hurt others. Please be with my parents, now divorced after 30 years of separation. Please heal their hearts. Please love them, LORD, and keep them in Your care, as they kept me in theirs.

Please be with me, LORD, Please be with me at work and help me to be productive and helpful there. Please be with me at home, LORD, to be a good husband and father, a solid rock of strength and stability upon which my wife and daughters may rest assured and safe.

Please, LORD, help us to know, to love, and to serve You.

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.

Amen