Where were you when JFK was shot?

Where were you when JFK was shot.  It’s an expected question on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I’m not sure why, but I guess it is really a way for the person asking the question to be able to tell their story, get it off their chest so to speak.  So when I ask the question of you, I’m really preparing to tell you where I was.

I was thirteen years old, an eighth grader.  As a thirteen year old, Kennedy was the first real president I knew.  Oh sure, I grew up under Eisenhower, but he was kind of just there.  It wasn’t until Kennedy was elected that I really understood the presidency.  We were Democrats and had a lot invested in this guy.  He was different…. young, handsome, beautiful wife, funny….pretty  much just the opposite of Ike.  I was too young to understand the politics of it all.  I only knew that I liked him.

I can’t remember how I found out about the shooting.  I’m sure there was either an announcement on the intercom or our teacher told us.  What I do remember is being on the school bus going home.  It was unusually quiet.  Nobody was talking.  Even the bullies and bad asses were quiet.  All I remember was I wanted to get home.  Bus stop after bus stop…nobody saying good by, no shoving or tripping the good kids by the bullies, no girl friends giggling…..just quiet.

When I got to my house, I saw my fathers car in the driveway.  It was parked on an angle.  That’s when I new that Kennedy had died.  You see, my father always parked his car in the same exact spot.  You could draw chalk marks around the tires and they would always line up.  His car was parked on an angle and the president was dead.  When I walked in the house, my father was sitting on the couch watching the breaking news.  I intuitively knew not to say anything to him.  He looked scared and didn’t seem to recognize that I was home.  He was sitting on the couch.  That in itself was very unusual because he always laid on the couch unless he was eating his dinner.  He was sitting in middle sort of staking the couch out and making it awkward for anyone else to  join him  His president had just been assassinated and he was sad and scared and confused and he wanted to be alone.  But I stayed with him because I was also sad and scared and confused, but I didn’t want to be alone.

Over the next four days, he stayed in the room.  I don’t recollect my mother’s presence or my sister’s  either.  All I remember is my father.  I remember him when they reported from Parkland hospital.  I remember him when the police tracked down Lee Harvey Oswald.  I remember him when Ruby shot Oswald.  But I especially remember him during the funeral.  As it began, he stood up.  He didn’t say anything to me, but I knew that I should stand up with him.  The funeral was very long, but we stood the whole time.  It was a sign of respect.  It was the right thing to do.

My father taught me that a great sports announce was one who would not saying anything after a great play.  He said you should be able to feel the moment like the fans do.  My father did not say a single word to me those four days.  He let me feel the moment and I will never forget him for that.


I’m a survivor (sigh)

Today is a great day.  My wife concluded her six weeks of radiation therapy for breast cancer.  After having cancer cells successfully removed from both her breasts, we were told that the radiation treatments were  a precautionary measure just in case they missed some.  Mrs. Big Guy handled the challenge with flying colors.  Not only did she have to go for treatments five days a week, she started a new job to boot.  She is so strong and I am so proud of her.  She is amazing!  She is a survivor!

Somewhere during this journey, we learned the definition of cancer survivor varies.  But the one most widely used considers a person a survivor once they have been diagnosed with the disease.  Also included in this definition are the caregivers and loved ones of the cancer victim.  So that would include me.  At first, I thought it was a little bit of a stretch, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to accept the title.  I am a survivor!

I have always had a problem with panic and anger.  Over the past few years, I have worked on controlling it and have had much success.  I heard someone say the other day that all anger is caused by fear.  So if that is true, I should have been very angry over the last six months because I sure was scared.  The thought of losing my wife was crushing and the thought of her suffering was unbearable.  But something came over me when she was diagnosed.  I have to help her get through this.  This is my chance to make up for all those times I let her down in the past.  This is a time to be kind, and thoughtful, and understanding.  This is my opportunity to listen and be supportive.  It is time to be what a partner is supposed to be.  So I did it and let me tell you, it has been a privilege.  She is absolutely the best person I have ever known and I am so fortunate to have her in my life.

Now as our lives move on, and the fear of cancer diminishes, the challenges of every day life will start to slip back in and become more important.  But I will never let them get out of proportion and overwhelm us again.  They will always be below the line.  Above the line will be us, our sons, our family, friends, and faith.  Cancer….see ya, Fear….bye bye, Anger….take a hike.  We are much stronger than you.  We are survivors!


for better or for worse

My wife has cancer.  It’s been over a month since Mrs. Big Guy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was on that day that I began to write this post.  I wrote the first four words and stopped.  I couldn’t go on for many reasons.  For one reason, I didn’t want to invade my wife’s privacy.  For another, writing down those four words stopped me in my tracks.  It made it more real than just hearing the words.  It was like my thoughts were paralyzed.  All I could think was Cancer.  Cancer?  What does that mean?  Cancer?  What are we going to do?  Cancer?  Will she suffer?  Cancer?  What am I going to do?  Cancer?  How will we tell our sons.  Cancer?…Cancer?….Cancer?….Cancer?

It all started a couple of months ago.  We had just returned from a 9-day road trip.  We needed to get away from it all.  Mrs. Big Guy had just got laid off, and my new business venture was not doing all that well.  Instead of dwelling on our situation, we decided to hop in the car and travel around a bit.  We had a blast…it was just what we needed.  I’m not sure when, but at some point, Mrs Big Guy admitted that she had neglected to get here annual mammogram for two years in a row.  Not the best move considering she lost her mom and her first aunt to cancer.  So she found a doctor and set an appointment.  The results came back with some concerns, so the doctor recommended a needle biopsy.  One thing led to another, and another, when finally we received a call from the surgeon with the news.  She was encouraging and said it was caught early and that the survival rate was high, but that went in one ear and out the other.   It was a Friday afternoon when we found out and we couldn’t meet with the surgeon until Monday.  That weekend we talked, and hugged, and drank a lot, and talked and hugged some more.  But alone, we went through our own personal hell.

Both Mrs. Big Guy and I have a big sense of humor.  We’re both a little sick when you come right down to it.  So, it was inevitable that we would find a way to laugh our way through this at some point.  On Monday we met with the surgeon and she said that Mrs. Big Guy had “nice” cancer.    She had stage zero cancer in one breast and stage one in the other.  Stage zero is not really cancer we found out.  It’s a bunch of cells trying to become cancer but can’t cut the mustard.  They are just a bunch of losers trying to be tough guys.  Stage one cancer is a bunch of cancer cells that haven’t found a way to move around and cause trouble.  They have no legs.  They’re not a bunch of lumps, they’re a bunch of chumps (now that’s better…. enough of this negativism).

Over the next few weeks we met with many doctors with our sense of humor well intact.  We met with the radiologist who said he would have to tattoo some marks on her breasts to help guide the radiation machine.  Hmm, could we sneak in a “I love Big Guy” tattoo?  The reconstructive surgeon went through the options for rebuilding “my buddies”.  One option was to take some of Mrs. Big Guys tummy and use it for the bodywork.  He explained it as kind of like a two-fer, a tummy tuck and a boob job all-in-one.  The problem with that was that Mrs. Big Guy doesn’t have enough tummy to rebuild those beauties back to their original magnificent state.  I offered to be a donor, but I guess the insurance companies frown upon that.  Where’s Obamacare when you need it.   Another option is implants.  The idiot passed around samples of a silicone and saline implants for comparison.  Mrs. Big Guy and I couldn’t look each other in the eye during that drill.  The last option was to whack them off and do nothing.  I have nothing funny to say about that.

Seriously, this isn’t funny, but that is how we choose to address it.  We believe that laughter cures all evil.  We know we are going to get through this.  We have to.  In our wedding wows we promised to love each other for better or for worse.  It’s odd but I have found that better times had a tendency to drive us apart a bit, but the worse times have brought us closer together.  I love Mrs. Big Guy with all my heart and I am privileged to be able to support her through this challenge.  She certainly supported me through mine.  For better or for worse…..what a great deal.

PS  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Please use this opportunity to remind your loved ones to get their annual mammogram.  Early detection is the best way to beat this beast.


a cook’s tale

I’m not a great writer, but I’m beginning to understand the process.  To me, it’s kind of like cooking.  There are some natural steps involved.  First I have to be inspired (what to make).  Then I need some words (ingredients).  Next, a story (recipe), then words on a paper (cooking), editing (tasting and adjusting the ingredients), then finally creating the cover and publishing (plating and presenting the meal).  Wow, that was pretty deep, huh?

Here is the breakdown in last night’s story:

The inspiration:  The vegan culture.

The words:  arugula, Japanese eggplant, sea salt, San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, raw hot cherry peppers, 0recchiette pasta, asparagus, white balsamic vinegar,  plum tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, dark balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, and cracked black pepper.

The story: Pour 1 cup dark balsamic vinegar in small pan, bring to a simmer until liquid is reduced by two-thirds.  Saute thinly sliced garlic until soft.  Add crushed San Marzano tomatoes, salt, pepper, and ripped fresh basil and bring to slow simmer.  In another fry pan, bring water to rapid boil, blanch asparagus for one minute, remove and put into an ice bath.  Thinly slice Japanese eggplant.  Wrap about 3 or 4 asparagus spears with the eggplant and secure with a toothpick.  Fill large pasta pot with salted water and bring to rapid boil, add pasta.   In another fry pan, saute wrapped asparagus spears in extra virgin olive oil until nicely browned.  Drain pasta and add to simmering tomato sauce for 2 minutes.

Creating the cover and publishing:  Spoon vinaigrette over arugula salad.  Plate pasta and eggplant wrapped asparagus (don’t forget to remove the toothpicks).  Drizzle reduced balsamic over eggplant and asparagus.

pasta in marinara sauce with eggplant wrapped asparagus

arugula salad with white balsamic vinaigrette

The end


Culture Shock

A few years ago, we hosted two boys from Korea through our church’s exchange program.  That’s when I learned how to make Kimchi.  After returning from a business trip to San Antonio, I obsessed on making Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas.   A trip to Rochester New York resulted in the perfect Buffalo Wing.  Of course there are, Muffalletas from New Orleans, Cincinnati Chili, Miami’s Cuban Sandwiches,  and one of my favorites, Hot Lobster Rolls from my home state of Connecticut.   On a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to try Scrapple.  When I got home and researched the recipe, I was disappointed to find out that I would have to simmer a whole pig carcass for a day or two  if I wanted to authentically reproduce the recipe.  On St Patrick’s Day, I make Corned Beef and Cabbage, on Columbus day, I have to cook Italian (I know that’s a stretch), and while I haven’t got around to it yet, I know Mrs. BG and I will be sipping Mint Juleps on Kentucky Derby day one of these years.   I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I love to learn about different cultures through the food they create.  What I enjoy even more, is mixing and matching their ingredients and techniques into my own concoctions.

My little side trip into juicing led to vegan web sites, which led me to vegan recipes, which led me to quinoa and seitan (meatless meat).  Which led to this.

peppers and seitan in Korean brown sauce over quinoa

Have I mentioned how much I love cooking.


Basta!

I love to cook.  I warned you all that I did.  It’s my passion.  It consumes me.

About mid-way through Day 5 after returning from the store with a new batch of veggies, I overheard Mrs. BG suggest that she was going to cook dinner for her and my son.  What?!  Wait a minute, wait a minute, that’s my job.

I was already having trouble gagging down my juice drinks, so what followed seemed like the natural next step.  I was at the sink washing the vegetables…zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, celery, etc.,  when suddenly I had two visions of the future at the same time….kind of like a split screen, out-of-body experience.  On one side I saw myself jamming those precious pieces of God’s creation into the dreaded juicer….spilling their blood in one direction, and shooting their guts in the other.  The smell that occurs when this happens is indescribable, but violent death usually is.  On the other side, I saw my self gently caressing those beautiful gifts from the earth into perfect bite size pieces just waiting for me to perform my magic on them. I had just finished reading Planet Sarah’s Juice+Protein plan and saw that she had decided to start juicing AND eating so maybe I was influenced by that also.   So as I finished washing the rest of the haul, I slowly made my change.

Cooking comes naturally to me.  I can cook anywhere with anything.  For example, Mrs. BG and I used to be sailors and one weekend out on the boat while I was sleeping in the V-berth, she decided to surprise me and cook dinner on the cockpit grill.  It was dusk when I woke up and looked out at the cockpit and saw a silhouette of her sitting there with her head in her hands.  I got up and ask her “what’s the matter honey”?  She replied sheepishly,  “I dropped the grill overboard”  Really?  “Don’t worry” I said, “I’ll come up with something”.  Fortunately, the grate didn’t fall in the water, so I had a place to start.  So with an old pot, a colander, the grate from old grill, and my magic, within 30 minutes we were sitting down to scallops wrapped in bacon, with grilled chicken and corn.  I think I would do well on one of those cooking challenges where they give you a box of ingredients and tell you to have at it.  I’m sorry, I’m way off track here, aren’t I?

So I chopped an onion, garlic of course, zucchini, celery, carrots, and a little cabbage.  What to do, what to do?  I looked in the pantry and the freezer to see what else I could find that came from the earth and had never had a face on it.  Frozen corn, black beans, and canned tomatoes…that’s it, Chili!  I sautéed the veggies in a little olive oil, added a chopped jalapeno, some cumin, chile powder, some other spices, and some vegetable stock, and voila,  I did it.  The kitchen smelled like heaven.  The veggies that didn’t make the cut were giving me a standing ovation, and Mrs. BG easily relinquished the chef’s duties back to where they rightfully belonged.

Vegetarian Chili Big Guy Style

So have I totally copped out here?  Maybe.  Will I continue to juice?.  Absolutely.  Will I become a Vegan?  No.  Will I become a vegetarian?  I doubt it?  Will I go back to my old habits?  I really hope not and I hope all of you will help keep me some what on track.  It’s now after mid-night and it’s day 7.  Day 6 was very interesting also and I learned a lot of new tricks for cooking with vegetables, but I will share that another time.


Exit 250

For quite a while now, I have weighed more than 1/8th of a ton.  Quite a stretch from the guy they once called worm.  Yesterday, for the first time since I can remember, I broke though and I weighed in at 247.8 lbs….9.2lbs lost in 3 days.  From what I’ve read from my fellow Rebooter’s, this kind of loss is quite normal, and from the female Reebooter,s more common in men that women.

I’ve been religiously following the program, 6 juices a day, 80% veggies and 20% fruit.  Do I like it?  NO!  Will I continue it?  YES.  Will I grow to like it? From what I read I will.

To be perfectly honest, I’m really not in the mood for writing and being clever today so I’m going to end this post.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  Sorry.


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