8 Year Old Vinnie Returns Monday

Wondering What Vinnie Is Up to? Vinnie’s Dad attempts to tell Vinnie the facts of life. Bad move – LOL

Chapter 22 ~ Doing It Our Way

Chapter 22 ~ Grace Discovers Matt Is Missing

Brad pulled his pickup truck in front of Grace’s cabin. He turned to her and said, “Grace, I really had a great time this morning. Thanks for having coffee with me.”
Grace extended her hand toward Brad, “I did as well, Brad. Now, I’m going in and find out what Matt’s been up to. He’ll say, ‘Nothing much, Mom. You know. I hung around.'”
Brad laughed and said, “Matt’s sounds a lot like me when I was his age. I’m going to change and if you don’t mind, I’ll stop by and walk over to the fireplace with you and Matt. I’ll bet Larry already has it fired up and is making a great lunch.”
“I don’t mind at all. Give me five minutes to freshen up,” Grace said. She opened the door. Stepped out of the pickup truck, grave Brad a smile, closed the door, turned and walked toward the cabin. She heard the pickup drive off the short distance to Brad’s cabin. It was only when she was at the cabin door she dared to turn back towards Brad’s cabin and watch him. Grace watched he get out of the pickup. He closed the door and raised his arms over his head and stretched. She thought he was happy and peaceful. When Brad turned toward his cabin, Grace quickly turned away and opened her cabin door. She stepped inside, she didn’t see Matt, She called, “Matt?”
Thirty seconds later, Grace swung the cabin door open and raced towards Brad’s cabin. She opened the door to the cabin, Brad was stripped down to his boxers. He looked startled to see her. Then, he sensed something was wrong, he grabbed hold of his dirty jeans and said, “Grace, what’s wrong?”
“It’s Matt. He’s not in the cabin. It’s not like him. I should have never left him alone,” said Grace. Her brown eyes wore all the marks of a coming super storm.
Brad slipped on jeans. He sat on the edge of his cot, and pulled his boots on. “We stayed a bit longer than we expected. Matt may have taken a walk around the lake. Do you have your cell? Call him,” he said.
“Why didn’t I think of that? That’s the first thing I should have tried. My cell is in my handbag. I left it in the cabin,” said Grace as she turned toward the door.
“I’ll go with you, Grace,” said Brad following her out the door, hitching up his pants, holding his boots in his right hand, and running in stocking feet behind Grace.
Grace ran to the cabin, jump up the two steps and went through the door. Her handbag was on the floor by her cot, right where she dropped it when she called for Matt.
She picked up her handbag and began to dig through it for her cell.
Brad said, “Matt left his phone on his cot.” Brad walked over to pick it up. He turned and took a step toward Grace handed it to her.
“I just know something terrible happened to him. I just know it, Brad. We’ve got to look for him,” Grace said with a sense of urgency.
Brad took hold of Grace’s hand, “Panicking is the wrong thing. We can only help him if we are calm. Remember how Matt said he wanted to go for a hike? Boys are boys and the lure of the hike may have gotten the best of him.”
“You think so, Brad? I couldn’t bear to lose Matt after losing Mike.”
“Let’s think positive. We’ll talk to Jane and Larry and see if they saw Matt. If they haven’t, we’ll go to the park ranger and get help. We’ll find Matt, don’t worry,” said Brad.
Grace felt reassured. There was something in Brad’s voice that settled her and eased the deepest fears within her.
“Give me a moment to slip my boots on and we’ll head to Jane and Larry’s cabin,” said Brad.
Grace walked over to Matt’s cot. She looked underneath it. She looked behind it. She said, “Brad, I think you’re right about Matt taking a hike. His backpack isn’t here. Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”
Brad pulled his last boot on and slipped his jeans down over the boot. He stood up and motioned toward the door. Grace followed Brad’s arm and walked out of the cabin. Brad was right behind her. He said, “When we went running this morning, I saw four trailheads. All four were temporarily closed because of the frequent sightings of black bears and mountain lions.”
“Oh God, no!” said Grace and turned around to look at Brad. Her eyes were filled with tears.
Brad gently placed his right hand on Grace’s arm and turned her toward Jane and Larry’s cabin. He said, “Animals generally stay away from humans, unless they think the human is a threat. It’s hard to predict how an animal will respond. I think Matt may be in more danger from poison oak and poison ivy than a bear or mountain lion.”
“You really think so,” said Grace.
“I do, Grace,” said Brad, knocking on the door to Jane and Larry’s cabin.
The door opened, the fringe bikini clad Jane answered, “Oh Brad, I’m so happy you came by. I’m feeling better now, thanks to you. Larry went to town to get some steaks, do you want to come in. Oh, hello, Grace.”
Brad said, “We’re not here for lunch or a social call, Jane. Matt’s missing. Did you see him after we went to the coffee shop?”
“No, matter of fact we didn’t. When Larry came to pick me up in the canoe, we decided to lay out on the raft for a while and enjoy the sun. Why? You know boys, they have a mind of their own. He’ll come home when he smells the steaks cooking.”
Grace was about to say something, when Brad said, “Thanks anyway, but we’re headed to the Ranger station.”

Courage To Try

It takes courage to live an honorable life.

“To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thoughts About Courage

It takes courage to live.

It takes courage to live an honorable life.

It takes courage to rise from defeat and begin anew.

It takes courage to stand up for what is right in the face of many who think you are wrong.

It takes courage to be a good mom.

It takes courage to be a good dad.

It takes courage to study in school and excel.

Doing the right thing. Living the right way. Leaving a legacy for which to feel proud takes living a life of courage.

It can be done

Luscious Lucky Leftovers

My brain is in a dangerous place, it’s playing with alliterations. Try saying Luscious, Lucky, Leftovers ten times as fast as you can. Let me warn you of the potential side effects. In a few cases there are reports of the overwhelming desire to put Siracha on toast, scramble eggs with edema, and one report of a baseball announcer always alliterating announcing. Oops. I knew I shouldn’t have subbed for the guy. Moving on, I’ve never found a four-leafed clover, hit all the number on the gillion dollar Powerball, or caught a fish that weighed more than I do. That’s okay. What am I going to do with a four-leafed clover, gillion dollars or a fish that weighs more than me? I can do something with leftovers. I’m a lucky guy. I like leftovers. No, I love leftovers. Make that i love luscious Lucky Leftovers. I can think of a few things that taste better as a leftover. How about reheated pizza? I’m already hungry. Soup is another one. Maybe, I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

I live a simple life. I don’t buy what I don’t need. I’m at peace in nature. I like to be around family and friends. I like good music. And, I like to cook healthy, easy, with as little clean up as possible.  Today, I’m in luck. I have leftovers. Leftovers are a big deal. A really big deal. Having leftovers means I don’t have to go to the grocery. If you live alone, you know what I mean. I think HEB (my grocery) wants to hire me. I’m there nearly every day. I can’t buy a week in advance, I’ll waste the food. I can’t even think that far in advance. I buy day-to-day, sometimes I’ll go out on the edge and buy two to three days in advance. Not today. I have leftovers – Lucky luscious Leftovers.

Do I have a question from the audience? There’s a first-time caller from Dallas.

“Howdy, first-time caller from Dallas. What do you want to know?”

“I don’t like leftovers – convince me, pardner.”

“I’m going to grant your wish Dallas. Follow along, it will easy, healthy, and you’ll get your mess all cleaned up in no time.”

I’m glad Dallas didn’t ask me about BBQ. I don’t eat red meat. Don’t get me wrong carnivores. I’m not biased against red meat eaters. In fact, some of my best friends are red meat eaters.

Here’s what I’m working with: Mom’s leftover bean soup, quinoa, and black beans. Please notice the slow cooker liner. The soup is going in on high about noon. I’ll toss in the black beans and a splash of low sodium chicken broth, and forget about it until dinner.


“Hold on, Ray. You’re going to make a meal out of that pittance?” Darn right. I head to the fridge and see what else is in there. I say a little prayer before I open the door. I hope there is something more in there besides flax seeds, wheat germ, and carrot juice. I’m in luck, look what I found: a bit of asparagus, a broccoli crown (in my last recipe post, I told you broccoli and asparagus were going to hook up), and a chunk of cabbage. I have a good idea on how to mix these three together. Read on.


I get out my large pan, put non-stick Reynolds aluminum foil on it.


I line the pan with my veggies. They are soaked in EVOO, my staple, sprinkled with ginger and crushed red pepper. Time to turn up the heat on these babies. I preheat the oven to 450, go into the study and check Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I hear the bell on the oven. Time to go to work. Not much work – slide the pan in and check it in ten minutes. I use the ten minutes to make a healthy salad and put some frozen, organic blueberries in a small bowl.  Easy is the code word, folks. I check out the soup. It tastes great. It’s hot. And, I’m hungry. One caution, my asparagus is first of the season and tender. It finished up about three minutes ahead of the cabbage and broccoli. Asparagus is jealous of cabbage. What is it with broccoli?

Here’s my meal. The first photo is my plate of veggies. The other photo is the salad, quinoa, berries and soup. Are you going to eat all that, Ray? I took no prisoners.




My Mom’s Lesson

My mom grew up the hard way. A daughter of immigrant parents, her mother died when she was two. Her older sister raised mom and her three other siblings. She stopped attending school when she was in fourth grade. This uneducated woman was one of the most intelligent and compassionate people I’ve known. I recall early in my life when she took me to the library and made sure I had a library card. She made sure I read, read, and read some more. She never asked me, What did you do today?” She always asked me, “What did you learn today?” In her wisdom, she reminded me over and again, “Ray, learn something new every day.”

Learn something new every day. A simple sentence from a simple woman holding a deep, profound truth. If I am learning something new, I am growing. I am capable of changing. I am capable of adapting. I am not quitting. I am not deferring. I am capable of doing much, much more than I am doing at the moment.

Her simple lesson has helped me through my grieving process. I discovered grieving throws you on a steep learning curve with only two choices: Learn and grow or stop learning and atrophy. I’ve chosen to learn and grow. Thank you, mom.