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Monday, August 29, 2011

God looks after Fools, Drunks and Children (part 2)


When I hear stories about " The Bermuda Triangle "    I just laugh.  I can't tell you how many  ship wrecks , plane wrecks , accidents  we saw , and there was nothing "Supernatural" about it.  
I have on occasion told this story but never from a position that I performed some sort of heroic act. Quite the contrary, I had negligently put 3 people in grave danger and now my younger brother had fallen overboard at night in the middle of a storm he was not wearing a life preserver                                                                                            “John fell overboard” screamed Mary, the urgency in her voice woke me from my state of shocked disbelief . I don’t remember being scared , I remember being focused and determined to turn the boat and find him. I gunned the out board motor to full power and the boat nearly foundered in the large swells as she made the 180 degree turn. Scanning the dark sea ahead a beam of light caught my eye, incredibly John had managed to hang on to our only  flashlight , the cheap K-mart beam was barley visible in the high seas 150 ft dead ahead. I steered strait for it and throttled down as the boat neared the location. I had a sort of tunnel vision not seeing , hearing or thinking  anything,  just  reacting .   Making my way to the bow I looked down to see John struggling in his heavy winter clothes to tread water , with one hand I reached down and pulled him aboard . I don’t know who was happier him or me, but he was now on board, but  not safe as our situation had not improved .                                                                                                                                  There was little time reflect on what had just happened with 8 hours till daylight and miles of open sea to navigate .                                                                                                                                                John striped off  the wet clothes and got in the bunk, he was very quiet, It did cross my mind that he might be in Shock.. We got back on  coarse and we seemed to make progress over the next couple hours, the weather was bad, I would compare it to  being a top a tall building  " don't look down", I focused on the compass heading and not the 12 ft seas or the rising water in the cabin,  now and then a large wave  would break over the deck, and the sea spray was a constant , we  were heading due East at 7 knots.   The first sign of hope was a red blinking light dead ahead , we determined it was likely a Radio tower on Bimini or a near by Island. A quick check of my watch revealed,  I could at least pray for day light as it was around 5am  I don’t ever remember wondering if we would make it, my focus was to just stay on coarse . The rough seas afforded no opportunity to make coffee so warm Old Milwaukee beer would have to do as I chain smoked Marlboro's .                                                  The good news was it was daybreak  and we could see lights and make out the shape of Land!!   The bad news was we had no idea where the safe harbor was on this land mass , 29 years later I can still picture the Island of North Bimini and the huge swells under the overcast grey sunrise.  An area ahead looked like it might possibly be the entrance to an inlet or harbor , but at around ½ mile off shore I could see white water,  waves breaking on a reef and no channel markers                                                               . It seemed a cruel irony that we could come all this way only to end up ship wrecked on a reef 100 yards form shore . We had no choice but to turn North and look for safe harbor,  as we reached  the North end we could see calm water and a beach, making the starboard  turn we were now committed , being that close to land I realized for the first time how fast the boat moved . It was at that time I also determined that we had sailed right onto a reef, the water so clear in was impossible to determine how much water was between us and the sharp coral , I held my breath and waited for the sound of the  boat crashing on the reef.... ( to be continued

Friday, August 26, 2011

God Looks Out for Fools, Drunks and Children


 I had never even sailed out of the Bay, and now found my self in a bad storm in the middle of the Gulf Stream .   ..                                                                                                                                                 Our patience had run thin we had been sitting in the Angelfish Creek mangroves near Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo  waiting for favorable weather to begin our Bahamas sailing adventure . It was February 6 1983 we were aboard the 30 ft. Trimaran “Lovely Lady”. We had sailed South from Coconut Grove before attempting to sail to Bimini , Bahamas. The thinking was to compensate for the drift of the Gulf Stream current . Day after day of bad weather . We were going through supplies and growing more anxious every minute .                                                                 We consisted of my bother John and my friend Mary. Blissfully ignorant of the danger we had just decided to “go for it “ rather than sit in the Mangroves another day. The boat had no power  no radio, no running light’s no maps or charts we had not filed a float plan,  or even checked the weather on that moonless winter night.    Our only “safety” equipment consisted of a few old life preservers a flare gun and a flash light.      Motor sailing  with the Main and  Jib sail up and our 25hp Mercury engine ½ throttle  hoping to make 7 knots.  The seas were rough but we managed to convince ourselves that the seas would soon calm as the lights from the Florida coast  faded .                                                             Sea conditions continued to deteriorate,    and soon the Boat was being slammed by huge waves the sea spray made it hard to see or communicate I estimated 10-12 ft swells,   the  first sign of trouble was the Jib sail had ripped and become useless we were committed ;  no turning back .  There was a real possibility we would end up  dead ,We all sensed danger but didn't panic.  Not long after losing the Jib , a  large wave came up from behind and swallowed our 12’ dinghy,  the smaller boat in tow  trailed  us on a 5/8 nylon rope , It was never seen again...We were a small boat in a bad storm in a big ocean.  I was at the helm trying to keep the compass needle pointed East, John and Mary were below praying for a miracle. A quick check of my watch revealed that it was only 11pm to early to even pray for daylight !      The 5 gallon gas tanks that feed the Mercury had to be changed every few hours , a dangerous task on a slippery boat deck . John was up on deck and just starting to change tanks when he fell over board ...... (To be continued)...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gimme Shelter / Hurricane Survival tips

I just returned home from grocery  shopping, the Cashier put a “ Hurricane Preparedness guide” in my bag. I was appalled at their so call tips . We are talking real life Emergency and that’s the best they can do . The only thing I took away from it is that I’m in the wrong business , I should be selling bottled water .  I took it upon my self as a Public Service to bring " You People" up to speed , I just hope I’m not to late .. First of all I survived Hurricane Andrew , and when a tree fell on the house  I didn't reach for a bottled water . So Tip #1 is stock up on Alcohol !  A tree limb through a window can break glass, so  I prefer Vodka in  plastic bottles and twist off caps . I’m going to finish my Preparedness tips with captioned  pictures  ..   be  safe South Florida .
In the event of a direct hit from a storm, please go check on my house !  I'll be 1/2 way to Nebraska

First thing don't Panic !  you might  spill your beverage
Time to  get in line at Home Depot for plywood , by the time you get home the storm will be over .

Stock up on Medication , It could be 3 days before FEMA shows up to save your ass, and you could run out of Prozac, ,Xanax  and Vagisil
Make sure you have supplies for at least 3 days .  A flashlight  will help you look for you Homeowners Insurance Policy , the  pages of worthless paper can be used for toilet paper  after all the Insurance  Companies declare Bankruptcy

  In case of post storm looting,  I have a ferocious dog to protect my life and property

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Lord works in mysterious ways !


          I’m 54 years old and  I can always think of a reason to stay home,   I rarely go out after dark and haven’t left the State in 20 years. But that wasn't always the case, when I was young I would travel looking for adventure . I guess that’s how I ended up in Key West . The free anchorage in Key West on my 30 ft. sail boat to be precise .                                                                                                                                     By this time I was an average sailor having sailed the last 3 months in the Bahamas, all through the Bimini Chain , the Berry Islands , Nassau , Exuma chain  and back to Coconut Grove. Out of money and lucky to find a job out of season, It was late Spring 1983 .                               Key West in Spring is famous for Waterspouts, squalls and storms that can sink large ships and challenge an experienced seaman, .on many occasions I counted 8-12 Waterspouts a day.     My Job was pantry cook 3 night’s a week at Chez Amile on Front street making $33 dollars a shift .             After work I would hit the package store for 3 tall boys and a Pint of cheap scotch, I would sit on the Conch train benches and get Hammered .. It was on one of these such nights I felt the presents of the  ”Holy Spirit” ! I had just taken a long pull on the Pint of Scotch and had a strong sensation !  My head  was spinning my eyes watering. When I opened my eyes I saw that they had forgotten to lock a large heavy chain, used to block traffic  on the Conch Train. I knew this was The Lord’s way of telling me to take the 20 ft. 70 lbs. Chain.                                      I staggered back to my boat carrying the heavy chain , and the next day used it on my anchor lines , I fastened it to my 80 lbs. mud anchor called “Big Nasty” and then to a 1 inch nylon rope off the bow  (The Lord had also helped me procure "Big Nasty") I had learned about anchoring the hard way, lost equipment , hull damage and sleepless nights.          That very night I was at work when we lost power, a strong squall and Water Spout had hit downtown Key West and wreaked havoc on the free anchorage . A very dangerous scenario was unfolding , all the boats in the free anchorage began to “drag anchor” the boats drift and slam in to each other,  anchor lines tangle other boats and propellers . Numerous boats tangle in to one big raft, and only slow when they run aground . I spent many anxious minutes waiting for the storm to subside and check on my boat, my home all my worldly possessions .                                                                                                                                                    Weather clearing revealed a scene of utter carnage ! All types of boats from million dollar yachts to derelict vessels 20 in all had become tangled “rafted “ together and hit a hard shoal ! Indeed every boat except mine , .. The heavy chain had saved my boat !!  That night I gave thanks to The Lord with a pint !! You don’t got to be Billy Graham . To know the Lord works in mysterious ways :) I'm say'in

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food Service Lifer ( Part Deux)

Deering Bay Yacht and Counrty Club Christmas 1995
Marks Place 1989
The Lifer   2011
After years of liberally giving my opinion (with out any one ever actually asking for it) , It did seem strange that people enjoyed reading “Food Service Lifer” and wanted to hear from me  !  Ok  lets take a look at "The Food Service Lifer "!!  “.. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. J      I can spot one a mile away , pasty white skin , over weight , multiple burn’s and cut’s on the hands , yellow fingers from chain smoking,  wrinkly out of fashion clothes with dog hair, eyes blood shot from pounding Coronas before during and after work, 1:30 pm in the afternoon hair still wet from the quick shower for a restaurant shift starting at 2pm, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot the flour  on his shoes..Classic Food service lifer ! Working 6 days a week partying till sun up after every shift . Usually off on a Monday, time to do the laundry and go shopping , banking and Doctor apt.. pound cold ones ..The lifer is different from most , They hate to hear TGIF on the Radio driving to work because their weekend consists of working long shifts , while everyone else enjoys the weekend . They work Holidays , weekend’s . nights , 6 days a week ,can never make a soccer game or family event . The only ones who really loves the food service lifer are dogs ! Yes, when you come home smelling like food with meat juice and scraps on your shoes and conch chowder spilled on your pants leg you can expect love and attention from your Chihuahuas !                       An average “ day in the life “ begins as the lifer wakes up at the “crack of noon” with cotton mouth and headache from last nights drinking , heads for the frig for some juice or an eye opener, then into the shower . Getting dressed is easy, same thing every day ! Chef coat and hounds tooth baggy work pants. A quick check of your wallet revieles   the night before you were robbed !! What could have possibly happened to ½ your pay check ?? Only then do you remember some one suggesting “lets hit a strip club” .. The drive to work is long and hot ,the 12 year old car you drive has a broken A/C and a $900 repair is inconceivable . Arriving at work you see your second family ( although you spend more time with them than you do your own) what a bunch of assholes , lazy, malingering , hard headed know it all pricks ,but last night you would have taken a bullet for .You get paid everyother week and the boss is an asshole. The shift goes like every other , you doing the majority of the work while everyone else hits on the new Hostess . And then predictably at closing just as you turn off the grill and dump the bearnaise sauce  the Idiot Manager seats a four top!! OMFG Colombians !  They will keep you here  all freaking night .. At least the Manager knows he has to get 2 rounds of Red Stripe , Coronas and Heinekens back to the kitchen before you cut out his liver and eat it with Fava beans.    .Then some one asks “ hey where we going tonight ? “.. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. J

Monday, August 15, 2011

Food Service Lifer

I was reading the other day about the Miami Culinary Institute opening down town. It got me thinking and I realized I have cooked professionally in 5 decades starting in the 70’s. I wondered to my self , what advice I would give to young people just starting out in “ the biz” .              Then I wondered if really had any advice worth giving ??     I worked professionally in Iowa, Michigan , New Jersey, Miami, Key West, St. Croix, St. Thomas USVI and a Charter boat in the Bahamas . I live on an Organic Farm and grow my own fruits and vegetables. In younger days I hunted, shot, cleaned ,cooked and ate all types of wild game form Dove to Deer. I've done fund raisers ( for Democrats and Republicans) cooked for Presidents, Senators , Governors , Congressman, and Mayors. I've done Fine Dinning and worked a hot dog cart ,Banquettes for 2500 , French , Italian, New American, Indian, Sushi, Continental, Asian , Brunch , Lunch and Room service. Pig Roasts , Weddings , Funerals , Passover, Glatt Kosher,Quinces, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah,Baby showers, Birthdays and Golf Tournaments.                                                                              I've worked many 80 hour weeks and shifts 36 hours strait. In Hurricanes , Tropical storms, Blizzards, Floods, power outages under candle light and heat in Excess of 130 degrees . Pancake houses , Cafeterias , Country Clubs , Baguette Halls, Restaurants, Hotels , Night Clubs , Pizza Joints, Bars, Boats and back yards. I have a Hopi wood burning oven in my back yard and bake bread in a Dutch oven, I helped my Father and Uncle make wine. I've dived  for lobsters, conch and shot grouper , snapper and smoked fish and cured Salmon . I've worked sick , drunk, stoned,  bleeding, burned, blinded  and with a broken knee cap in a body cast, in a leg cast, with pneumonia , sinus infection, STD, good attitude bad attitude day in day out... ...  the consensus  is that I’m a real asshole !!   someone once told me.               "if you can't be a good example at least be a horrible warning "                                        I decided that I'm still learning myself , and would offer no Advice ..
Add caption
Playboy Club  at Great Gorge 1977   
Kriss Wessel, me and Laison Pastry Chef  1998 Loews SOS
Michelle B. and me at Loews 1998

Lobester  Night at the Club 2001

1990

Signature Gardens 1988 , All types of Catering ... Left to Right  pictured; Carlos , Andres, Tim and Andy
2011 Deering Bay Yacht and Country Club on premise garden

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yearly Headache

The Growing area  as it looks today , 10 ft high weeds . 93 degree temps. 100% humidity  and Mosquitoes  .
This aspect of Organic Farming I don’t enjoy ; The yearly paperwork . My Farm is Certified Organic , That means it meets or exceeds the practices and standards adopted by the USDA Organic Foods act of 1991 and all its amendments . The Certifying agent is Quality Certification Services (QCS) of Gainesville Florida . QCS is a nonprofit organization that works with all size farms anywhere in the Country . The Certification process is all about Documentation and Verification , generating 100’s of pages every year.. An applicant is required to Document and log every step of farm production from seed purchase to final sale. A complete Plan is submitted to QCS every year and is followed up by a physical inspection of the property buildings and paperwork. My plan is bare bones simple for many reasons , the Kiss (Keep It Simple STUPID !!) principle applies to most aspects of my life.. I give myself 2 weeks to complete the tedious paperwork , because after a few hours It gives me a headache . I think the Certification process is good and works well. Is it perfect ? No. but I think its fair and reasonable . Got to Go… Back to work I got 3 more hours of paperwork !!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Consumerism / Materialism

The term "consumerism" was first used in 1915 to refer to "advocacy of the rights and interests of consumers" (Oxford English Dictionary) but in this article the term "consumerism" refers to the sense first used in 1960, "emphasis on or preoccupation with the acquisition of consumer goods" (Oxford English Dictionary).
I view Consumerism in a most negative light, I think Americans have lost their identities and left them conditioned to covet and worship only consumer goods, and completely forgetting about life’s simple pleasures . This false prophet is marketing happiness , but instead delivers spiritual bankruptcy .. It seems that people are conditioned to buy consumer goods they don’t need , can’t afford and quickly tire of , these “treasures” eventually fill garages and storage facilities leaving consumers empty. I see the Eat Local buy Local and Gardening movement as a step away from Consumerism , In the last year I've met many interesting and informed people , Farmers , Gardeners and Blogers. I’m also encouraged when I see organizations like Slow Food and Urban Oasis/Earth Learning  setting up school gardens and teaching young people good nutrition and gardening . I hope there is a message about the values of working , and less emphasis on materialism ..It might be that not everything important in life is found at the Shopping Mall and a credit card will not buy happiness …

Last season at Deering Bay Yacht and Country Club  we began a program teaching students  Gardening, Nutrition and Ecology
Daniella teaches the students  seed starting
Daniella's  workshop was very popular, the students took home individual plants
The students really enjoy planting !
Temple Beth Am 4th graders  having fun, they took home 2 pineapple plants
End of the season Banquet , sample what you planted
The students sampled the  fresh produce and voted on their favorite
They called it the best day ever ! ( not just because they got out of school )
Our garden had a balance of vegetables , herbs and flowers
The kids really enjoyed pulling carrots and  parsnips
after the banquet we turned them loose in the garden and let them " be kids "
Beginning in the 1990s, the most frequent reason given for attending college had changed to making a lot of money, outranking reasons such as becoming an authority in a field or helping others in difficulty. This correlates with the rise of
Businesses have realized that wealthy consumers are the most attractive targets of marketing. The upper class's tastes, lifestyles, and preferences trickle down to become the standard for all consumers. The not so wealthy consumers can “purchase something new that will speak of their place in the tradition of affluence”.
Emulation is also a core component of 21st century consumerism. As a general trend, regular consumers seek to emulate those who are above them in the social hierarchy. The poor strive to imitate the wealthy and the wealthy imitate celebrities and other icons. The celebrity endorsement of products can be seen as evidence of the desire of modern consumers to purchase products partly or solely to emulate people of higher social status. This purchasing behavior may co-exist in the mind of a consumer with an image of oneself as being an individualist
[11] A consumer can have the instant gratification of purchasing an expensive item to improve social status.
materialism[citation needed], specifically the technological aspect: the increasing prevalence of compact disc players, digital media, personal computers, and cellular telephones. Madeline Levine criticized what she saw as a large change in American culture – “a shift away from values of community, spirituality, and integrity, and toward competition, materialism and disconnection.” [10]