Them’s Grillin’ Words

Grill Quote. (©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Grill Quote. (©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

We use our several-year-old Weber grill a lot. I don’t care about the weather outside and have grilled in the rain and the snow. Yeah, takes longer, but it’s worth it.

The other day I’d grilled up some lime-marinated chicken. As we’re sitting there eating, I suddenly wax all da kine philosophical, as I gaze out the window to our grill, so impressed was I with the marinade’s flavor. In somewhat of a food trance, I declare, as if speaking in tongues:

“The grill…really has a way…with food.”

My wife let out a laugh, and said: “I’m gonna write that down!

So she grabbed an orange stickie and wrote it down.

We use this “Mojito lime” Grill Mates marinade, and holy cow how that stuff comes out, especially on grilled chicken!

"Mojito Lime" Grill Mates Marinade Mix. (©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

“Mojito Lime” Grill Mates Marinade Mix. (©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

I would have posted an image of the grilled chicken, but, alas, it had a half life of five and a half minutes. And…well…we were hungry.

 

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A Guy, A Boat, and a Lot of Water

One day, my dad and I were looking out of our kitchen’s picture window in the Lake Clear house. I was a young teenager or thereabout. My dad (as I’ve mentioned) was a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Ranger for Region 5. I noticed he took an interest in this guy who was out quite far in the lake itself, in a small boat (Lake Clear—we lived directly across from it, even had a boathouse).

Anyway, I’m going back and forth between watching my dad watch this guy and watching the guy myself. In no time my dad dashed out of the house and shot down to the boathouse. He took out one of our boats and headed out to that guy. He was out there for a little while doing whatever he was doing….

After my dad returned, he told me that he had seen that the guy was having some kind of trouble…and it looked like he might have fallen out of his boat? That’s my memory of it, but it could have been something else, like a motor not starting. But I just found it cool that my dad had seen something strange going on and darted out of the house to deal with it.

Yeah…my dad…real-life super hero.

 

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A 1960’s St. Bernard’s Children’s Choir Mystery

St. Bernard's School (© 2020 Ray F. Monroe, Used with Permission)

St. Bernard’s School (© 2020 Ray F. Monroe, Used with Permission)

I’m about to solve a something-like-50-year-old mystery.

It has weighed heavily upon this soul of mine!

Okay, not so much…but I have thought about it a lot over the years.

Well, a couple of times, anyway.

I can’t believe I’m going to admit to this. In public. Come clean. But I deserve it.

Surely there must be a Statute of Limitations on stupid?

And it’s pretty stupid, all right…but finally…those who are still alive and remember this stupid little display of stupid (otherwise also known to me-and-only-me as “The Stupid” in the wee dark hours of the night…) can go to their graves in peace knowing just what the hell went on that one crazy night with that idiot Dorchak kid “up there.”

I’m sorry, mes parents, for putting you both through such public shaming—which I’m sure you quietly endured for my benefit (because I never remember either of you chiding me about it…or…maybe…I’ve just blocked that memory and it will manifest itself in something mundane, like stubbing my toe while brushing my teeth, then seeing my pained expression in the mirror, reminding me of…?), knowing full-well it was unintentional what I put you through…and was just part of my…well…how you say?…childhood dramatics?

It all happened one evening in the St. Bernard’s School‘s cafeteria, in Saranac Lake, New York, I figure somewhere between 1966 to 1968 (I went to St. Bernard’s for grades 1 – 3). All the parents attended to see us good little Catholic kids singing our hearts out. Boys standing next to girls. In front of everyone. Like some rehearsal Day of Judgement before God, the Book of Judgement, and all that. Anyway, we’d all been lined up on those elevated and staggered choir platforms (whatever they’re called; they’re those really wide “steps” and are still used today and cost something like $9K [in today’s dollars], I found out just the other month). I believe I was in the very back, or the next-to-last row in the back. The important thing was I was in the back. And I’m stalling.

So…our audience…composed of said parents…sat in the cafeteria-proper. Facing us. Excited to see their little angels performing. What parent wouldn’t be? This was a fairly large room, and had windows at both ends.

We begin performing.

Now, as we’re all singing in this choir…facing our proud parents (and no doubt bored siblings)… me…using my finely honed Kid Logic at the time, of being between maybe seven and nine years old (plus or minus—God, I hope I was younger…)?…I for some stupid reason…um…pretended that…weeelll…”a friend of mine”…(Lordy, this is so stupid)…was at the far windows of the cafeteria, behind everyone…peering into the windows from outside—

And was making fun of me.

Yeah. While I sang.

The nerve.

<insert embarrassed Face-Palm emoji>

And my reaction to this said phantom friend?

Me? Who was facing the entire world that I knew in the mid 1960s?

Was to make all kinds of jerking, stupid faces as I sang.

Yeah, like the Stop It! Face.

We all know that look: Stop iiit!

Or the Get Out of Here! Face.

You know that one, too. It jerks to the right or left in an attempt to show the offending hallucination which direction with which to take a hike, whilest we (i.e., me) continue to put on a brave performance (!) of not being bothered by the offending hallucination. Which of course I was. Deeply.

And perhaps even theRolling Eyes Face.

That is the one where one’s eyes roll. It can be most effective if one has large, expressive eyes. I don’t think that factored into my Kid Logic at the time. Or that I could effectively pull it off while singing. Not that it stopped me. I’m like that. Never taking the easy way out. Ever.

Yes…all this and more…while I was singing my little Roman Catholic soul out. In the back row. Facing an audience of everyone’s parents.

Including mine.

Those standing alongside me no doubt wondering if I’d suddenly become possessed by the You Know Who.

Now…just image this, okay? Because since attending every performance of my nieces in real time, I have…at every performance over the past 12 or so years. Imagine being in the audience and watching such a cool performance…but one freaking stupid-assed kid is making a crap-ton of stupid faces while up there!

Singing.

Twitching.

Singing.

Jerking!

As I sat and sit in my present-day audiences and look upon those wonderful (and talented!) young faces over the many years of attending my nieces school performances, I’ve become quite conscious of the fact at how positively stupid I must have looked. How obvious, how…

POSSESSED.

Instead of full-frontal decorum and pride, I displayed full-frontal stupidity.

What in hell was I thinking way back then?

Well, I think I just told you what-in-hell (that’ll be 10 “Hail Mary’s,” please).

So, Mom, Dad. Seester and bros…I’m sorry for being stupid. I’m not even going to qualify the year.

I think I’m just gonna go riiight over here…in my office…and stand in the corner for a spell.

And I’ll throw in an extra couple of “Our Fathers” just for good measure.

 

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A big Thank You to Ray F. Monroe for snapping the picture for me, and his big brother, Dick, for forcing him to do so (at my behest), through virtual noogies, wedgies, and arm-twisting.

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Not Heartless—Mindful

I have toyed with the idea of suspending my blog posts for a period of time in light of the hyper-seriousness of current events.

But then I thought better.

Almost all of the news out there is grave and serious and about COVD-19—as it should be. The infection and death rates just keep skyrocketing. Is it because people are not doing as their instructed? Is it because we’re testing more and more and just adding to the data? Is it because those who may have been contacted two weeks prior are just beginning to manifest, so though we’re doing as directed, we’ll always be two weeks behind? Or is it a combination of all things and those we don’t even yet know?

Given all this intense coverage, we all need a break. At the end of my workday yesterday, because, yes, I am still working—from home—I found myself pretty exhausted, more mentally than anything. I was tired of all the negativity, not to mention the focused intensity of my own work. Heck, I didn’t even want to take a walk outside. I just wanted to sit and veg and maybe watch something stupid and FUNNY on TV.

So I did.

And I found that that had a remarkable recuperative effect upon me.

This is nothing new. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again, I’m sure. But it underscored my decision: that we all need reprieves if we can get it.

Now, admittedly, not everyone who’s dealing with this pandemic can get a reprieve. Like many of you out there, we know people actively on the front lines battling this beast, actively trying to save lives by placing THEIR OWN LIVES out there. One of my friends is a guy I’ll call “Mike X.,” an ER nurse in New Mexico. He’s been in that line of work nearly all of his adult life. I’ve gotten to know him over the past almost 30 years because he is originally the friend of another family member, but I’ll tell ya…he’s one helluva saint. He plays a Mr. Tough Guy pretty danged well, but you can see by his actions that he cares and any loss (i.e. death) greatly affects him. That means he cares about Humanity. Otherwise he would’ve left the business.

And he’d hate it if he found out I’d been talking about him. Sorry man, you and all you work with deserve a heckuva lot of praise and so much more. To Mike X and all like him, you have our sincerest praise and thanks, none of which can ever do adequate justice to what you are all doing right this minute. Please…never give up…and know that we are thinking about you and pulling for you and your charges.

But it doesn’t help if everyone associated with what is going on are all continually stressed. It just doesn’t help the situation.

We all need relief…and hope all the First Responders dealing with this find their relief, whether it’s for a few minutes of a 24/7 schedule or whatever. So it’s up to all of us to do what we can to help out, and part of what I can do is [hopefully] help divert one for a few moments with something funny or anecdotal. I’m not trained in anything First Responderly (except for my old CPR training, which is woefully lapsed). I’m a writer with a background in years-old satellite operations. Nothing usable in today’s situation, but were I needed in some way, I would gladly help—but having said that, I also realize that it is extremely important that I be there for MY FAMILY. This is just as important as helping the masses.

So…this is my offering to my family and world in this dire state: humor and anecdotes.

And after feeling measurably better last night after having had a few good laughs, I realized that I would continue posting my blogs…but know that I do it not because I’m heartless and am ignoring what is going on around me.

I am hyper aware of what is going on around me, but then I have always been.

I am an observer of Humanity.

And there is not much that escapes me…and I often comment to my wife more than I should.

But while I can be/am critical of the everyday individual, I also feel I understand the underlying mechanisms of many: we’re (yes, I include myself) all just trying to do the best that we can, with what we got. And sometimes we all get tangled in the weeds for the beach.

So though our state’s statistics have again shot up (31 deaths and 1,734 Colorado cases as of yesterday), I offer what I can to help ease the stressed and knotted of us out there, as do many others of my station. This is no vacation, as the front page of our Colorado Springs Gazette signaled this morning, but you can take things seriously and manage your own mental (and of course, physical) health to the best of your abilities, and I hope myself and others like me can help you do that.

So…be smart…follow the guidelines…and keep those in your charge close and supported…in any way you can. Nothing is too small nor insignificant: phone calls, texts, Zooms. We are all connected, as you can plainly see by the insanely rampant spread of something that originated on far, foreign soil and came home to roost in our hometowns.

Peace.

Related

COVID-19 And You

Please, go to this link for more CDC information.

Please go to this link for Colorado COVID-19 information.

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COVID-19 And You

March 25, 2020 Update: Governor Polis declares Stay-In-Place order until April 11, 2020 for all of Colorado.

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You, yes I’m talking to you.

You need to take this pandemic seriously.

Now.

You need to stop thinking this is not real. Not a big deal.

You need to modify your routine. Your life.

Your thinking.

This isn’t a Sci-Fi movie in which you’re an extra. A video game.

This isn’t some non-event where you can revel in your physical fitness or seeming imperviousness over everyone else.

This is a very real situation that needs to be attacked head-on by action by each and everyone one of you.

Why?

Because you are not taking this seriously. You are still pretending you are special and know more than the Smart People out there and that this does not affect you.

It does.

It affects you and everyone around you.

Everyone you come into contact with.

From an update from my state’s (Colorado) Governor Jared Polis: “…the number of cases in Colorado jumped by 116 from Saturday to Sunday – to 591 cases in 29 counties, with 58 people hospitalized and 6 dead, though the data is at least a day behind.”

If you and your friends were doing what you were supposed to be doing there would NOT be a jump in COVID-19 cases in one day of 116 people in Colorado.

This isn’t about “not living in fear” by not modifying your life and ignoring everything Smart People are trying, oh, so desperately, to impress upon all people across the world.

As Governor Polis states, there is only one true Enforcer of your behavior: The Grim Reaper.

Those of you not coming together, those of you continuing to behave as you had before this pandemic struck are jeopardizing lives.

…the number of cases in Colorado jumped by 116 from Saturday to Sunday – to 591 cases in 29 counties, with 58 people hospitalized and 6 dead, though the data is at least a day behind.”

You are helping to infect others.

…the number of cases in Colorado jumped by 116 from Saturday to Sunday – to 591 cases in 29 counties, with 58 people hospitalized and 6 dead, though the data is at least a day behind.”

You are helping to kill others.

…the number of cases in Colorado jumped by 116 from Saturday to Sunday – to 591 cases in 29 counties, with 58 people hospitalized and 6 dead, though the data is at least a day behind.”

You may not know it, may not realize it, but you are.

YOU ARE SPREADING THIS VIRUS. Not somebody else.

YOU.

…the number of cases in Colorado jumped by 116 from Saturday to Sunday – to 591 cases in 29 counties, with 58 people hospitalized and 6 dead, though the data is at least a day behind.”

Additionally an article in today’s Colorado Springs Gazette says that scientists calculate that ONE INFECTED PERSON can lead to 4,142 total infections within a single month.

Please…pay attention to what the Smart People are saying.

Please…to the best of your abilities, to the best of your employment…severely limit all of your activities…stay at home…avoid contact with others. Do what is recommended by the Smart People.

Yes, I may joke about toilet paper craziness, but my family and I take this pandemic seriously. We have modified our lives, our activities. We reach out to our neighbors and family offering help and physical and moral support. Please, do so yourselves. Be mindful. Be helpful. Help spread the correct information that Smart People are disseminating.

Realize that Life has changed. That this is something that won’t go away in one week or two, but will take concerted, focused effort that extends many weeks or months. I appeal to your Better Selves…maybe you are scared…confused…that is understandable. It is not the end of the world, but it is something that is requiring all of us across the world to come together and help each other out.

Stay at home.

When you do go outside, stagger it to try not to be outside in areas at the same time as everyone else in your area.

Keep the six-feet distance when you go out.

Perform exemplary personal hygiene.

Reach out to neighbors and family and friends. Call. Ask how you can help. Just chat to help people not feel so isolated.

Shop once a week.

Be smart.

Thank you for your attention and intention.

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Please, return to the video at the top of my post and watch/listen to it, if you haven’t already. Yes, it’s about an hour long, but it is an incredible display of leadership. This is what is needed in a leader. You can tell he truly cares about his people…it’s in his voice and demeanor. You can tell he knows and speaks the facts.

Please, go to this link for more CDC information.

Please go to this link for Colorado COVID-19 information.

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My Dad Created a Forest

Waaay back behind our house, I’m not even sure if the land was our property or a neighbor’s (or even State owned, for that matter), my Dad created a forest.

My dad was a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Ranger for Region 5. So he was always doing all-things Forest Rangery. So, one year, he, our neighbor, Marie Mussen, and us (well, I know I’d helped, not sure about the rest of my siblings) planted acres of seedlings in an empty field. Can’t remember if they’d been spruce or pine. Evergreens, they were, but I’m pretty sure spruce. Ish. Anyway, I remember helping out, then taking breaks and getting a sip or two of beer from my dad (I never did like the taste of beer, and to this day never did develop a taste for the stuff).

Fast forward some thirty-odd years.

My wife and I return to my old home, and met the current residents. We explained that I lived there and just wanted to check the place out, and, man, were they gracious! They took us throughout the entire house, but even more so, lent us the use of their ATV! Said  go have fun! So my wife and I took a spin “up back,” as we used to call it, taking the dirt road that went up alongside the barn, up a hill, then into the back forty.

Along the way I stopped at the old garden we had in the “First Field.” Not there anymore. Overgrown. I then continued up the now quite narrower trail that was heavily overgrown with the Adirondacks to the next area (also called the “Second Field”), where existed a large granite boulder I used to call “Devil’s Den,” after the Gettysburg Civil War site of the same name (it looked nothing like it, but again, this is Kid Logic, we’re talking about). This was also totally overgrown! It used to be quite open, and you could see the boulder from the trail. Not now. So as I get to the location of where Devil’s Den should be, I quickly hop off the ATV and shout over my back as I launch into the thick woods, “I’ll be right back!

Wife: “What the hell? What’s happening? Where are you—”

Me: Gone.

Animals and birds: making noises.

Woods: cracking and creaking.

Perhaps even a bear or two watching us—well, her….

Okay, maybe not quite like that, but it is funnier. You see, at this point, where I’d stopped the ATV on the trail, it looked like I just stopped in the middle of thick woods! Left her alone in Big Foot territory or something!

But in a few minutes I popped back out from the vegetative obfuscation, smiling, and apologized, telling her what I did, and then lead her back into the woods to show her.

Afterwards we continued on and take the ATV way back through the winding trail and eventually come to a “T,” with another trial now running perpendicular to ours. For the first time…I’m confused.

“I don’t remember this,” I say, staring into a wall of 50 or 60-or-more-foot trees before us, blocking our way.

And indeed I do not…I have no memory of a wall of trees back here. It should all be open and—

Then it hits me: this is the very field where Dad and us planted all those seedlings! They’ve all grown up and become, well, a forest.

Acres of it!

We get off the ATV and take it all in.

My Dad did this.

Wow.

These spruces, for they were all narrow and tall, packed the way in front of us and stretched to the right and the left and deep behind it for quite some spell. Merged with the rest of the trees.

It was so danged cool!

We just stood there and took it all for quite a few minutes, smiling the entire time.

I’m going to call it the Ranger Frank P. Dorchak, Jr. Stand.

Way to go, Dad!

 

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Gym Closed? Used Bodylastics!

Bodylastics (Image ©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Bodylastics (Image ©2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Well, the state-wide mandate came down last night: among other public areas, gyms are closed 30 days.

But that does not mean you have to stop resistance training!

I’ve used Bodylastics off and on over the years, but bought them for when I was doing a bunch of travel. So for a while I was using them for about a month at a time—and they really saved on ridiculously high out-of-state gym memberships! And they give you one kick-ass of a workout!

You wouldn’t think to look at the stuff that they would, but, yeah, they do. Take it from a Gym Rat.

I used it again last night, after I’d done my “cardio hike” for an hour in Garden of the Gods.

It. Kicked. My. Butt.

I think I did a leettle too much after the speed-hike and little food I’d had yesterday.

Anyway, the newer versions of the product are now snap resistant. My green tube snapped as I used it, it’s been so long (I’d forgotten you can lube them with some proper lubrication, but even better yet, the newer versions are resistant to snappage). I ordered mine sometime around 2009-2010? You can snap the tubes by extending them beyond their intended range, but also, it they’re old and haven’t been properly taken care of, but, really, mine are about ten or more years old! I ordered a new bunch, the 19-piece, 202-pound group. Wanted a little more choice of its stretchy poundage.

Now, I love using an actual gym, but given the length of the recent state-wide mandate, these are an affordable alternative to keeping in incredible shape—and they’re actually fun to use! They’re a smooth and non-jerking alternative to weights and machines.

 

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If you like what you read, please share—and join in my journey and buy a book!

Thank You!

 

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