Posts Tagged ‘Family’

The Great Christmas Eve Flat Bread Pizza Challenge!!

December 25, 2010


“Celebration of the Caribbean Sun”

It’s Christmas Day so of course we had Champagne and pizza last night to Celebrate Christmas Eve. My niece Cait, who had just arrived from DC, and we decided to have fun making them. We planned and executed “The Great Christmas Eve Flat Bread Pizza Challenge.” We started by going to the store where we both brought our favorite ingredients but the rule was that we could use each others ingredients. Since there is noting tough about making flat bread pizza the goal was not to make the tastiest pie but the best looking one.

We both worked our art in secrecy and then placed them on the pan for cooking.

Since Cait had just come down from the miserable weather in the Northeast, she made her pie a celebration of the sun using turkey pepperoni, red onion, and red and yellow peppers. She managed to fit four suns on an 8 inch pie. I made my Santa’s helper with the turkey pepperoni, stuffed Spanish olives, yellow pepper, and anchovy stuffed with capers. We both used the tomato sauce and sliced fresh mozzarella.

“Santa's Helper”

We both ate our own creation but never did declare a winner. She actually believed that her “Celebration of the Caribbean Sun” was superior to my “Santa’s Helper” so there is no accounting for taste in art. But they were fun to make and eat.

Another very successful Christmas Eve celebrated in the Boyd Family Tradition.

Merry Christmas to all and Peace on earth to men of goodwill.

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The Dear of St. Croix

December 4, 2010

I guess that when my wife was alive I still talked to all the other dears in my life. Now that she is dead, it is ironic that this is the only deer that listens to me and doesn’t run when I talk to her and tell her how beautiful she is. Without further comment, I present my new dear.

This is my back yard and she is about 50 feet away and I took her picture and talked to her for about a half hour I used to do this when Dolores was alive and she thought I was nuts back then. I guess nothing much has changed. I am starting to see my dear on a daily basis..

The Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Zachary H

December 2, 2010

On my recent vacation, I had the opportunity to explore the great island of St. Croix in the Caribbean Sea. Before I embarked on any great adventures, my skills of survival were to be tested although my great Uncle John differed with that description. His point was if there is no failure allowed, there can be no test so we settled on describing my meeting each challenge as a right of passage.

The Artifical Wall

The first adventure was the artificial rock wall which was easy despite having no safety harness.

Hand over Hand

Then it was hand over hand across the drop.

 

Until you returned to the starting point by way of the fire poll.

At The Fire Poll

After that the challenges got increasingly dangerous as I climbed a real cliff to the top of the mountain without safety harness and with loose stones everywhere. I was only the fifth person to achieve this feat and the other four were grownups.

Climbing a Real Cliff

The next challenge was my favorite as I crossed the ravine on a zip slide, once again there was no safety harness or mats to either stop or cushion a fall but which never happened as I held on for the ride.

The Zip Slide

After all that work I became famished and decided to cook some Mac and Cheese from Scratch.

Mac & Cheese from Scratch

Of course a real explorer uses what ever tools are at his disposal and I used my Uncles’ coffeepot as he is prone to do.

Coffeepot Mac & Cheese

That afternoon I decided to do battle with Poseidon and went into the rough surf somewhat reluctantly while my father and Uncle charged in. The next day I was the one to charge into the sea as my Uncle gingerly entered because he said it was cold. I told him it was his Karma to be punished for teasing me the day before about my reluctance to enter the rough and dangerous sea.

Ras Lumumba & Zack

There were other adventures and places visited but one of my favorites was a trip to the Rain forest where I met a Rastafarian Ras Lumumba) who taught me about his beliefs and about all the plants and insects of the forest.

On The Great Swing

Along the 4 mile hike, I climbed the tree house and the huge swing.

Helping to Hoist the Main Sail

Another of my favorites was a trip on the Roseway where I helped the crew hoist the sales.

Captain of My Destiny

After that I took the helm and assumed my position as Captain of my own Destiny.

My apologies to Zack as this is really his Uncle,  Poppa John who is living vicariously through the eyes of his 10 year old Nephew.  It was a great vacation for all.

Hey Zack, I hope I didn’t misrepresent any thing you said or did.

Cooking Adventures with my Grandaughters!

August 29, 2010

While on vacation with me, my Granddaughters love to cook during quiet time. I enjoy it because once they choose the recipe and cook the meal, they eat it without argument. For the most part, they choose meals that are weird and fun to make so we may end up eating various forms of chicken for six days in a row. The only limits I make on the selection process is that it must be real food that I like and we can’t have the same meal every night. The only concessions I make are that I leave out the scotch bonnet pepper and if Cayla chooses a recipe that is really spicy, I may make an alternate meal for Ana.

Pot Roasted Chicken, Ready to Serve!

They prefer the coffeepot for both the weird factor and the convenience. Once the pot is stuffed and turned on, we can go to the beach or do what ever else we want.  One of their favorites and mine is Coffee Pot – Pot Roasted Chicken.

Rot Roasted Chicken Ingredients

The most amazing part is that all of the ingredients actually fit into the coffeepot.

All In The Pot

The chicken is actually a Cornish hen and the onion, garlic and celery mixture is stuffed inside, but it even amazes me that it fits and the girls are fascinated. And yes, if the original recipe calls for Cruzan Rum, I cook with it.

The Girls Checking the Pot, Again

Of course, they ate every single piece of chicken and potatoes and they know that their Mom always saves the juice to make soup so of course they wanted to make soup for the next day so they could make the dumplings. Now no matter how many times I carefully pre-measure the water and tell them to slowly add it to the flour to avoid a sticky mess, they always dump it in and play and I have to help in the end. I cant complain, their dumplings always come out perfect even if the process is a little messy.

Fun Making Dumplings

Of course this had to be done on the stove top to get it hot enough to cook dumplings and, I had to add more chicken, potatoes, broth and the dumplings to build a full pot of soup which only lasted the one day. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention and get a picture of Cayla making a rue to thicken the gravy. I doubt that many of her friends know what a rue is.

Rasta Pasta and Chicken

Another smash hit was Rasta Pasta which has summer squash and green bell peppers and I used Wacky Mac veggie pasta. When I described the meal to a friend, he asked for a sample and there was nothing left. They had it for dinner and then lunch the next day and finished all the pasta and sauce. I am not sure if I agree with purely vegetarian meals for young people because my Mother swore more than a half a century ago that protein was essential for brain development so I still make sure the kids get a portion of meat for dinner and they can eat their nutritionally worthless cereal and jelly bread sandwiches the rest of the day.

Is My Daughter a Chick Magnet?

July 3, 2010

I went to urbandictionary.com to confirm the current usage of “chick magnet” only to find that young hip people have it all wrong. Contemporary usage seems to imply that it’s a hot car or really good looking well built guy that just seems to attract all the woman.

I can tell you it is definitely not a hot car. It scares the crap out of most of my dates when I speed and over- drive my Toyota MR 2. The only woman I know who enjoy the power are my daughter, my niece and my former wife Dolores. As a matter of fact, Dolores’ self image had her drive a 4 wheel drive Jeep, but when we went out, she wanted me to take the MR-2, drop her at the entrance and go park the car. Now this could hardly be called a chick magnet as it’s all family even though Dolores encouraged me to have sporty cars from when we were first dating and before kids.

The reason that the new definition leaves me cold is that there is nothing much I can do about my age and looks to become a contemporary chick magnet so I have to assume the definition is wrong or give up on women flocking to me. However, in my youth, the concept of chick magnet was something a man could control and is still apparent to this day.

A man with a baby strolling through the mall always attracts attention and some women with the biological urge to reproduce just can’t help walking up to touch the baby or comment on the child. You don’t have to beg for an introduction, the women come to you. Unfortunately, I don’t do babies until they are out of diapers and toilet trained and by the time they are three, babies have lost the chick magnet appeal and may be more a chick repellent as young women are forced to ponder the inevitable end result to a close sexual relationship.

Another popular chick magnet is those cute little dogs with fluffy hair that are not much bigger than a cat or a rat. Once again this ploy wouldn’t work for me as I think animals are not to be seen in public places but to be eaten. I would rather be celibate than to be seen walking a little rat dog around the mall pathetically seeking solace from young women.

Thank God I have discovered the concept of success breeds success. I really try to never fight with ex-girlfriends as they or I move on in life and since I seem to have the luck to be with attractive, intelligent wonderful woman, there is no reason not to go out and be seen with them and just have fun when the romance is out of the relationship. One ex-girlfriend is the life of the party that many want to be like and get to know. If I notice someone who is attractive to me hanging around the edge of my ex’s circle of friends, I check with the ex and if she agrees, I invite both out for drinks.

I have never been turned down and half the time it ends up in the Hot Tub. My ex is my best advertisement and link to new friends. Of course, I have other ex’s who would do everything to sabotage future relationships and keep me celibate.

I have a young friend who has the body of a Greek God and the personality of a TV star. Unfortunately, she has no personal interest in me whatsoever and in general she is living a life of celibacy. It’s almost a total waste except that if I take her to a place like Hooters everyday for a week and then go alone inevitably a waitress will come ask me about my friend and breaking up and start a conversation about relationships etc. It seems the waitress wants to know what I have that allows me to date young attractive people and how can she get some of whatever good is there.

This curiosity runs to me and my daughter and in a weird sort of way she is a much better magnet than my celibate friend or ex-girlfriends. Seems my daughter actually cares about whether I live or die and am happy or not and is not just there for a drinks or a free meal. When she notices an unduly interested waitress, she draws them out in an unnatural fashion and I hear the darnedest things. “Oh, he’s your father, I was wondering what made him special” at which point my daughter actually pitched my virtues to someone half my age.

My daughter the Chick Magnet, you got to love her.

StarLite Adventure with Dagny

July 2, 2010

Dagny asked where I wanted to go for Dinner on her last day here. We were not cooking in the hotel room because she was poor, we were doing it for the adventure. Since food and money were not really issues as I am still trying to lose weight, I opted for a 2 ½ hour Smooth Jazz Lunch aboard the StarLite. This moderately priced adventure features “Ken and Barbie” singing and playing guitar music that occasionally sounded like jazz but was really closer to piano bar pleasant.

Dagny & Dad Start our Cruise

The ship left from Clearwater Beach which is a pristine, clean. Florida beach (at least until, BP and a Hurricane make land). The ship loaded on time and left on time and the waitress started tanking her orders from patrons. Of course, we disrupted the flow by having our picture taken and she didn’t mind at all.

The cruise along the inland water way was fairly typical for the genera pointing out housing occupied by philanthropists and the rich and shameless. We skipped desert and headed to the Ca pain’s Wheel House and started to walk in and say hello. The first door was locked but that didn’t deter Dagny as she went around to the other side of the cabin and knocked on the door and we were admitted. Of course, I had to take a picture to prove our presence and Captain Mark approved.

Dagny & Captain Mark

Actually the welcoming speech had invited everyone up to say hello to the Captain but we seemed to be the only ones who actually went. Their was only one other person who was acting like she owned the boat and that was a teenage girl who had moved a chair to the upper deck rail and was lounging with her feet on the rail watching the tide, time and boats pass by.

I totally approved and hope she has a life of adventure. I mean what’s the point of spending $10 on a cruise if you don’t act like you own the ship.

My Serious Daughter

I captured this picture of my daughter at the start of the cruise. She makes me laugh and we have a great time but when required she can be very intelligently serious. I am not sure what had her so attentive but would like to believe she was describing her fathers virtues to a sweet young waitress.

Tarpon Springs Adventures

July 1, 2010

Tarpon Springs is North of Clearwater with a population less than 25,000. It is notable for having the highest percentage of Greek-Americans of any city in the US. In size, the community is less than 20 square miles with about half under water. The first Greek immigrants arrived to this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry. Like most fishing communities, there are good years and bad based on the whim of mother nature.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where the sponges were sold, into tourist attractions. And somebody was bright enough to put a silly plastic Turtle in the middle of the town square. While logic would dictate that it should have been a tarpon, a ninja turtle is definitely more huggable than a Tarpon which is best described as a pugnacious, smelly, inedible, cold-blooded fish.

The first time Dolores and I saw the Turtle was probably 1999. I had always kept in touch with Carol since the day I first met her. When we both married and had kids we kept in touch and our families visited each other in New Jersey, Santo Domingo, St. Croix, Florida and watched each other raise families and pass through life’s transitions. We had comforted each other from afar on the passing of our respective spouses.

Lunch at Hellas with Tracey and Carol

Carol is a gracious hostess and when I was here in May to get probed by aliens. Tracy and I went to visit and have lunch at Hellas a Greek restaurant.

John, Tracey & Turtle

Naturally everybody laughed, had fun and told jokes with an awful lot at my expense. And as we were leaving, I insisted on pictures of us with the turtle. First it was Tracey and I and then it was Carol and I.

John, Carol & Turtle

On Fathers Day, Carol had me join her family for a fantastic feast. I have know her father for over 50 years and he is still earning spending money by betting on his skeet shooting skills and constantly winning. He travels as far as Ohio where he finds people who bet against him because they see an old man on the line. They soon find out he has the eyes of a hawk, reflexes of a bat and nerves of steel as he wins most bets. George is pushing 90 and his family gave him books on sports memorabilia to read for his birthday and Fathers Day. My mom gave up on reading in her late 80’s because it was too tiring so it’s nice to see George keep going.

I told George, I wanted to be just like him when I grow up as we caught up on old times. Carol’s daughter Tara was there with her husband as was Carol’s boy friend. I have know Tara all her life and everybody just adsorbed me into the family. Carol asked to see my daughter when she came to care for me and even though Saturday was my most painful day, we kept our date.

I am glad we did as the walking and company took my mind off pain and I instantly felt better. At lunch, I toasted the special 50th anniversary of our first kiss and Carol asked how I could possibly remember such trivia. Then her eyes lit up as she told me I made up the anniversary story because the first kiss was more than 50 years ago. It made me laugh and smile because she also remembered. Unfortunately, she also remembers all the pranks and tricks that she played on me based on my teenage insecurity and raging hormones which is why we never made it past that kiss..

Dagny and Poppa John

When we were leaving Tarpon Springs, I reminded Carol of my need to capture the Day with pictures of the Turtle. She pointed out that there is far more complexity to the culture of Tarpon Springs than the Turtle. I reminded her that when Dolores and I first came to Tarpon Springs with her, we all did the Turtle thing and if I searched for them, I would find those pictures. I also pointed out that I am not running from her memory because after 43 years of marriage, there is no way to even dream of erasing Dolores from my life. Besides, I believe that she was there both days enjoying the outing as she knew everybody including Carol’s family and Tracey and never missed a pleasant social event.

Dagny, Carol & the Tarpon Springs Turtle

The worst part of the day was thinking about what BP and a hurricane could do to the town. This is not about money, because the cost to relocate 25,000 people is nothing compared to the cost of disrupting all of the population of the Gulf Coast. But once a town like Tarpon Springs is gone, not even Disney could resurrect the authentic version.

As they say in the islands;

“God spare life”, I will live to see Tarpon Springs in a decade, just the way it is.

Adventures with Dagny

June 30, 2010

Evans Road

When Dagny told her friends about the family trip to Space Camp, one of her friends asked if we always went on adventures. Dagny explained that we didn’t always have money for things like space camp, hot air ballooning, and white water rafting but there were always adventures large and small.

At 18 months Dagny wanted to join Andy and I on a Camping trip on our Island and I explained that she couldn’t go because she was too young and no one ever took pampers on a camping trip. She declared she was done with pampers and was trained and she really was. She went and the weekend was full of adventures for both of us.

The first big adventure was when Andy came yelling that Dagny was floating down the river in her life preserver which we had made her wear for safety reasons. When I finally found her she was “happy as could be” just floating down the river and didn’t even get the concept that she had been rescued as we probably didn’t bother explaining it to the happy contented child.

The next big adventure was mine and it occurred when we went to bed. Seems that Dagny declared herself a grown-up and wanted a bunk to herself just like everyone else. I had not planned on this but as she stubbornly kicked me in the back and pushed me, I finally yielded and slept on the floor of the lean-to without blanket or mattress.

We spent a lot of time on the river fishing, floating in tubes, camping and soaking on hot nights. When we first moved to St. Croix, we had little or no money and Andy became Andrew as he gave up on adventures to play man. Meanwhile Dagny and I would wander wherever and whenever we liked. We would head to the beach or a walk in town, stop by a friends house or go to a beach bar where I could get a beer. We had no idea what we were going to do when we left home on an errand and I believe that Dolores would send us on a mission just to get rid of us so she could have quiet time.

With Dagny and I everything was an adventure. Thank God, now that Andrew has Pippa, he is engaging in building Castles, Fighting Dragons and putting out fires. All are credible solid adventures for 3 year old Pippa.

Now the night before they cut my throat, Dagny and I decided that a pleasant “Last Supper” would be in order and we headed to Red Lobster because Dagny had never been and I was in the mood for seafood. It was a pleasant meal with a few glasses of wine and when the waiter found out the purpose of the celebratory feast, he declared us both nuts: Me for drinking and eating prior to major surgery and Dagny for celebrating with her Dad. Regardless, no one at Largo Medical Center cared about our antics because I was done eating at 6:30 pm and done drinking by 9 pm well within their guidelines for preoperative behavior.

Dagny knows that I almost always have a camera in my pocket and that was the basis of the challenge. We had discovered that the road north of the read lobster was called Evans Road and that her daughters would appreciate a picture. Could I make my cheap camera shoot a credible picture in bad light from a few hundred yards away that would be good enough to show my granddaughters.

I really didn’t know the answer because telephoto and electronic enhancement is always a challenge with all the things that can go wrong such as shaky hands, poor contrast, etc. But then who cares because with the electronic cameras working on memory cards, if you don’t like it don’t print it.

I would not know until after I left the hospital because as we completed our mini adventure, I promptly put my camera aside and was operated on the very next morning and forgot all about it.

The purpose of little adventures and taking the time to do weird things is the joy of doing it, not the outcome.

If You Can Tolarate the Food, You Can Leave the Hospital.

June 30, 2010

Tolerate is an interesting word and I wish I had my camera to take pictures of the food I was being asked to tolerate.  I went to the hospital at 5:30 am and woke up about 4:30 pm. I had leggings on my leg working in a peristaltic manner that could move the blood through my legs two days after I was dead,  I have  already written about the catheter but also had six needles and two blood pressure devices probing my body and my first quest ion was when would it all be removed and when could I leave the hospital.

My first test was if I could tolerate the liquid food, I would get solid food and then they would check me for discharge.  If I didn’t eat the food, I couldn’t go home.  Dinner that night was the color and surface texture of old-fashioned concrete blocks with their characteristic gray color and white pebbles occasionally poking through the surface.  I protested that this was an unfair test as on the healthiest  day of my life I would never cook, serve or eat a meal that looked that bad.  There was no way I would tolerate food that bad and rejected the whole meal.

The next morning was an equally unfair test.  They served a chicken broth made from the powder base that institutions use.  It was barely warm and the salt, fat chunks, and spices were laying undissolved on the bottom of the bowl.  I tested the so-called broth and once again was forced to reject it because it had enough salt to stop my heart and make me a lifelong resident of Largo Medical Center.

I ate the jello, but would have preferred jello shots, drank the juice and drank my tea and begged my nurse for administrative relief from the requirement to tolerate their liquid foods.  She asked about Graham Crackers which was one of the comfort foods of my youth that I rarely eat anymore because of the sugar but jumped at the offer.  I inhaled three packages without problems and was declared fit to eat solid food.

Amazingly, the lunch was tender morsels of beef in a  mushroom onion gravy served over  a bed of noodles. Now this was real food that I would make in my coffee pot, serve and eat.  It was the only meal that I actually ate in the hospital in 36 hours because I simply couldn’t “Tolerate” he thought of anything else.  This is a long ways from the days of my “see food and meet diets”.

I still remember those concepts well, if you see food, eat it.  If you meet food, eat it.

Looks like I have to really thank Cait and Dagny for changing my eating habits and having me start to focus on preparing and eating “meals for one” with flavor, taste and substance that I like and remember from a lifetime of cooking.  The family remembers my Mother as a fairly bad cook,  but in her defense, the poor man’s chicken broth and potato soup that she made and served was a lot better than the hospital food I couldn’t tolerate.

The Concept of Pain

June 25, 2010

The Happy Face Pain Measurement Scale

About one week ago I sent this email to my sister Anne Marie

Leave tomorrow to go to Florida to get my throat cut. Just in time – I am starting to understand the concept of pain which I more or less rejected since football at age 12. This is beginning to piss me off as it is far more bothersome than getting shot at age 14. Broke down the other night because my standard bottle of wine was not enough to put me to sleep so I actually got up and took 4 aspirin.

That’s probably the first step to Oxycontin addiction.

Hope I can get the doctor to prescribe wine in the hospital. I have excellent tolerance to that pain killer over a lifetime of experience and it seems to have muted all physical and even mental pain in my life.

When the doctors do all my strength and blood tests and liver function tests they kind of don’t accept that I drink my bottle a day because I am very well preserved and one doctor even said” it must be red wine.”

Love John

Well I did not get myself a disc fusion because I was worried about pain, I was worried about the thing moving more than the 1/8 inch it had already wandered out of place, crushing my spinal cord and making me a paraplegic. The doctor suggested that with my lifestyle an accidental whiplash was a high probability event. I can stand and live with the concept of pain, I cannot stand the idea of being paralyzed.

I guess that most people who get back operations need them to mitigate pain because that is all the doctors and nurses are trained to talk to you about and I simply wasn’t interested. They give you a pain manual with a happy face chart to define your pain level, the manual describes all the pain medications that you will get including a self administered drug pump to pump pain medicine into your vein until you pass out and wake up in enough pain that you want to do it again. In addition to the injection pump medicines, you can get needles and pills including narcotics.

I told them I wanted none of it and all I wanted was wine and aspirin but couldn’t have the aspirin because of bleeding. Most wanted to know why I wanted the operation if it wasn’t for pain and so I explained the floating disc which didn’t really bother me except for the fear of paralysis. They asked about how I found out and I told them about my ill defined stroke with no know cause that I walked off in an hour and they told me I would need pain medication afterwords, I said not.

On the actual chart that was used on me, the ranges were 0-1, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10. I told them that since 1995 I have never had a pain free day, I just stopped worrying about it because the pain medicines I tried killed my libido and appetite and also gave me nightmares. I decided that sex, food and sleep were three things I needed so I gave up on pills and drank wine and it worked for years.

After my neck was diagnosed as possibly crippling I was told to start thinking about pain and the warning signals I was getting from it. With fear in the picture and listening to the pain signals, I began to feel pain at what I described to be the five to six level prior to the operation.

Just Woke Up to Dagny and My Class 3 Happy Face

I woke up knowing the operation was a success and even had my little 3-4 happy smiley face in place. I refused all pain medicine as I told them I was leaving the next day – no drug pump, no alcohol withdrawal pill, no pain pills, no nothing.

Getting Ready to Dance a Little Irish Jig

The next day I got out of bed alone and the picture of my class 3 happy face was actually pensive as I stood up and did a little Irish jig for my daughter and the nurse to convince them I was fit to go and besides if I hung around the hospital and tripped all over those hoses and wires I would be a liability hazard.

I was disconnect from the wires and hoses and sent upstairs to be checked by the Internist, nurses, physical therapist and every resident and 4th year med student who was curious to see the guy who was insisting on leaving drug free and out of pain the day after his surgery so he could start exercising and get back in shape. The only comment came from the professor who had checked me in and allowed the procedure despite the moderate risk and he told me that perhaps I had understated my pre-operative pain because he thought I looked like I was at the 7-8 level.

I told him I doubted it as when they had pulled the catheter from my penis, I had screamed “Holy F#@*ing – opps, sorry” and accidentally slammed my arm with bandages on the bed rail as I was blinded by pain and swore in front of the nurse and bled about a pint of blood all over the place as it spurted out my vein. I gave that a nine which was at least 4 to 5 hinger than what I was used to and if I was really at 7-8 that would have had to be a 13 which was off the scale.

I guess my every day pain tolerance is different from others and I am glad for that. If I really felt a temporary 9-10 and others live with a daily 7-8, I don’t know how they can stand it and no wonder many resort to pain killers. I hope I never feel a 9-10 pain level again even on a temporary basis.

The sweet nurse forgave me and even apologized even though I was the one who lost it and swore and she was just doing her job.

You just have to love the wonderful staff of Largo Medical Center.