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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving; the smell of cooking turkey filling the house, setting up the tables in preparation for the guests to descend upon my mom’s house. Great grandma and Granddaddy would hold court as all of the grand-kids would gather around to hear stories of their world travels. When I think about fond memories, Thanksgiving always comes to mind. It is a time that extended family gets together, each person responsible for a different dish.

Early Thursday morning my mom would get up and prepare stuffing for the turkey, cutting the onions, softening the butter, and mixing the corn bread; finally stuffing the turkey and placing it into the oven. As each of us wake up we would quickly eat breakfast and then set about getting the house ready for our guests later in the afternoon for an early dinner. I always enjoyed the wonderful smell of a Turkey cooking as it wafted through the house. It was always a comforting.

The November mornings in Southern California are always cool but never too cold so that the air has crispness to it, inviting you to dress in your fall sweaters and corduroy pants. After breakfast each child set about their assigned tasks of getting out the folding table, digging to the back of the linen closet to find the table cloths and setting up card tables and folding chairs. Cleaning everything up and then assembling the tables; resulting in a crazy inconsistent pattern of big and little chairs to accommodate the large crowd. The best part of thanksgiving in Southern California is that by afternoon it is warm and that meant we could often sit outside on the back patio to enjoy the fresh air was we ate.

We would hold thanksgiving as a potluck style meal where the host family provided the main dishes and each invitee brought a dish: rolls, drinks, salads, dessert or other interesting creation. It was the experimental dishes that added the interest to our yearly event. Over the years and the marriages and divorces certain dishes materialized as the signature or required dishes for thanksgiving. Three dishes really stand out in my memories, both good and bad.

First was the discovery of cheesy onions. Now I am not certain the history of who discovered them but boy did they become a requirement. Cheesy onions were the small pearl onions were the small pearl and small boiling onions steamed and then mixed into a cream of mushroom soup and sharp cheddar cheese sauce. I still remember the first year I gained responsibility for this dish, learning that the onions had to be cooked prior to putting them into the cheese sauce, boy the family had a laugh that day as I had to strain out the onions and cook them quickly.

We had Pineapple smash which came by way of my uncle’s second wife and while she didn’t stay, the recipe did and it was certain to show each year. I never really like this dish much so it hasn’t made it into my thanksgiving meals.

The one most famous of the family lore was the beet salad from my auntie Margie, the crazy creative aunt. I remember her superb talent in sewing and creating items that sold well at local crafting villages. However, that same talent and creativity extended to her selection of what to bring for her dish to Thanksgiving. And the most interesting was the Beet Salad; though it did end up being the least painful of here concoctions. We all claimed to like it to prevent something even stranger showing up the next year. I am not certain the recipe but I will share that from the red canned string beets and some form of white sauced emerged the salad; it was only missing something blue to make it the ultimate patriotic dish for 4th of July.

Wishing everyone the best for Thanksgiving

Friday, November 21, 2008

Excess Baggage

I was sitting down for my morning coffee on Monday getting ready for my new commitment to write something every day. Actually I am calling it my write one edit two previous writings. The idea being that I can achieve my goal of posting to this blog once a week; if I write every day I may actually have something that I would want post at the end of the week.

While drinking my coffee and pondering on what to write I notice a businessman dressed in his official business attire, a suit, on his way to the airport express. For those of you not familiar with Hong Kong the Airport Express is a train that travels from Central, Hong Kong to the airport in about 26 minutes. He had to two bags with him .the first being the standard issue carry-on or roll-away bag quite normal for the average business traveler. This stood out to me not because he was the only person in the plaza but because of his struggle, one which I find myself dealing with when I am traveling. It was the second bag that caught my attention for this bag was really a briefcase of sorts. Well not an actual a briefcase more of a soft sided messenger type bag, something many of us use to place papers laptops and other stuff when going places. His struggle caught my eye reminding me of how I deal with this on a consistent basis, the annoyance of trying to balance the bag on top of the carry-on while rolling it. Now I don’t know about you but for me I have not discovered the secret trick to getting the bag balance correct and I find myself stopping every so often to adjust the bag back to the center, only to have it fall again and again.

I have tried the accessory bag clip that comes with the carry-on trying to get it set just right so that my bag doesn’t drag on the ground as I roll through the airport. I have studied the flight attendants and captains as you might have notice their bags seem to sit just right no doubt from countless hours of practice. I have studied and applied all of the tricks to effective packing so that your clothes don’t wrinkle, yet still struggle to figure out the best way to balance a bag. I am able to take satisfaction in knowing that I am not alone as I watched the fateful traveler struggling to open the door while his second bag tilted to the side pulling his arm in some strange angle. He did make it through. And as I admired his spirit I grabbed my bag and headed to the office to start my day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Musings for October

I often even have to remind myself that if I am concerned then my team members are in the same situation and it is my responsibility to go out and remind them not to give up on dreams and goals and that life will go on and we need to be experiencing it.

Right now the world feels like it is spiraling out of control and that can cause a lot of concern and worry. Yes, there is much that we cannot control; there is always a reason to stop and give up. But I recommend that you do not stop. This too shall pass; we can weather the storms be they economic or other and will get through and be better for it. Glen Bland in his book Success said, “Your life is defined by the people you meet and the books you read”, I would add and the places you have been. For many of us our life gets wrapped up in our work and we often forget that it is work that is performed for the purpose of living. Each year we should take stock and re-evaluate how our time and effort is being spent. There are many things that we do not have control of but so often I find that there are just as many that we can control.

Earlier this month I was having a conversation with several of my team members and they were trying to decide if they should cancel their vacation plans during the upcoming national holidays. My first question was have you already paid for the trip, all answered with a resounding, well yes of course we have. My answer back was then yes you should go. Why? What the US government, the markets, or our organization's actions are not in our control and will happen whether we stay home or go on a trip. Given the choice between a life experience or sitting home staring at the news channels trying to forecast the future, I will take the life experience every time. I would rather be climbing Mount Fuji, lying on a beach, riding my bike through China, or some other exciting activity and gain a life experience that I can share with my friends and family the next time we get together.

I believe that your life is a collection of the books you read, the people you meet, and your experiences.