Blessed by God

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You know that maybe you’re aging when CBS Sunday Morning is your favorite TV show. 

This morning they had a segment about hunger in the US.  There is a photo from earlier this year with thousands of cars in San Antonio in line waiting for a food distribution center to open.  THOUSANDS.  Thousands of hungry people right here in the US.

Last Tuesday I spent several hours at the YMCA in Garner, North Carolina, helping to distribute boxes of food to people in my community.  They drove up and volunteers loaded a small turkey, hamburger meat, a large casserole and a box of fresh produce into their trunk.

My job that evening was greeter.  As each car drove up, I welcomed them, determined how many folks were in their family and logged the amount of food they would take. 

I arrived at 4:30 PM, the distribution was slated to start at 5.  There were about 30 cars already in line.  For two hours I did not stop – greeting family after family after family.

A few of the folks I met were a bit reticent, seemingly fearful I would ask a ton of questions – maybe auditing who they were picking up for or logging their address.  Some seemed a bit embarrassed to be there.  Understandable.  I might feel the same way if in that position.

The great thing was that we had no questions for them – they just told us how many people they were feeding, and we loaded. 

I worked really hard to put folks at ease asking if they had a good day or if they were feeling well.  I thanked them for stopping by the Y as if they could have chosen to pick free food up from a competitor.

What I noticed is that many of these folks who are concerned about where their next meal might come from seemed joyful.  Not all, but many.  I could see it in their eyes, the way they lit up at my questions or expressed massive gratitude for our work.  A genuine smile, one you can see in the eyes; a belly laugh; or happy kids singing in the backseat. 

When responding to my question, “How are you doing today?” one lady responded, “I am blessed by God.”  She then added, “I just have to keep reminding myself.”

A friend shared with me that they were lamenting about a problem in their life when another friend suggested:  You should go volunteer, help someone else.  (i.e. – take the focus off yourself!)

It is surprising to me that I don’t always readily see how blessed I am by God.  Last week was certainly a good reminder for me.

Oh My Grumbling Stomach

My motivational calendar

And then he starved to death.

My blood sugar is high.  My cholesterol is high.  I don’t sleep well.  And I just got rid of a bad case of toenail fungus.

A nightly phone call from my bride to be often goes like this:

Julie:  “Hey honey, what are you doing tonight?”

Me:  “Eating Toll House cookie dough.”

Julie:  “Hmm.”

Did you know you can buy a tub of that stuff for $5.65 from the Food Lion?  No baking needed.  Just a spoon and a willing mouth.  I have both.

Julie wondered if we made a slight adjustment in our diets, perhaps we could reset our systems, clean up my bloodwork, and get her to her fighting weight before the holidays.  We had exactly 30 days between our last parent weekend and grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner.

“Let’s try Whole 30,” she suggested.

“What is that?” I inquired.

“It is a thirty day plan that helps cleanse your system and reset your relationship with food.”

“I like my relationship with food!  I eat what I want when I want.  The food just lies there in the box until I call upon it to meet my needs.  It’s extremely uncomplicated unlike a lot of my other relationships.”

Whole 30 bans breads, pastas, sugar (including cookie dough), dairy (did you know cheese is considered dairy???), beans, peanuts and alcohol.  I live on Wheat Thins (banned), cheese (nope), red wine (uh – oh) and cookie dough (OF COURSE NOT).  This was a nightmare waiting to happen.

My problem is that I am very determined.  All Julie had to say was, “Well if you don’t think you can do it…”

She knows I can’t back away from a challenge.  “Besides,” she reminded me, “you can have all the vegetables you want.”

Oh.  Yippee…

The first sixteen days I was golden.  Well, not really golden, but at least a slight shade of yellow.  I will admit one night I had to brush my teeth and take an Ambien to keep myself from driving to the gro to pick up the dough.  The urge was significant.  But I set up a star system to reward myself when I saw success.  A red mark for following the diet.  Green for a workout.  I like praise, even if only from myself.

At the beginning of week two, when I reported to my competitor that I’d lost eight pounds, my partner in crime was not happy.

“You have to eat more!  Your goal is NOT to lose weight!  Your goal is to clean up your blood!”

I was actually eating more food than I had in decades.  But it’s hard to take in 2,700 calories a day when all you can eat is bib lettuce and salmon.  It’s truly amazing how much you can eat when you put the right things in your body.  All day long I’d nibble with three big meals in between.  I felt like a grazing cow.  And yet my weight was falling off.

On day 17 I headed to Vancouver for a work trip.  I knew I was in trouble when I got to the restaurant with my co-workers and the three appetizers on the table were:  pizza, bread, and chips with guacamole.  Julie was with me but had stopped at the bathroom before we sat down.  When she arrived at the table, I looked at her longingly, “We have a problem…”

She looked down the table.  She could see flour in my thought bubble.  We took the day off – and then headed straight back to cauliflower and broccolini the following night.

As I write, we have eight more days to go.  And actually, with our infraction, we’re doing the Whole 29.  The creator of the diet says that if you break the diet you have to start over.  If she thinks I’m heading back to day 1 after 16 successful days of wheathinlessness, she’s can think again.  I challenge her to eat cookie dough 29 days in a row… not as easy as it might seem.

I do think this experience is changing my relationship with food.  I have greater respect for spinach, am finding an odd attraction to boiled eggs, and I don’t think I’ll be upset if sourdough only shows up on special occasions.  But cookie dough – un, still can’t get her off my mind.

CBS, Here We Come!

eggo tyson nuggets

Several years ago the girls and I ate dinner at Beasley’s Chicken and Honey downtown.  Mmmm.    They fry up this incredible hen and plop it on a homemade waffle, a little honey drizzled randomly over the bird.  A couple of weeks later, as I struggled with supper options, it hit me:  I could replicate Ashley Christensen’s (Beasley owner) entrée.  I already had the ingredients in the freezer.

I pulled out four Eggo’s and opened a bag of Tyson nuggets, a little Mrs. Buttersworth, and swala!, dinner was served.

I believe that may be how we were discovered.  She heard about my cooking prowess.

Last Thursday, I got a call around 5 PM.  The conversation went something like this:

“This is Jessica from the Rachael Ray Show.  Is this Danny Tanner from The Real Full House blog, the one who wrote the book Laughter, Tears and Braids?”

I assumed Uncle Jesse was punking me, but I chose to play along.

“This is Danny.”  Rachael must need some help in the kitchen, I thought to myself.  Probably working on chicken and waffles.

“I’d like to talk with you about your family.  If you’re interested, we would like to consider flying you and your girls up to be on the show.”

Well, I’ll have to see if I can fit you in between Ellen and dinner at the White house.  I’m receiving a Metal of Honor for my literary genius.

“We are finding that our male viewership is increasing.  We are working on segments that appeal to that audience.”

“So, this isn’t Jesse?”

“Jesse who?”

I didn’t get too excited.  I still wasn’t convinced this wasn’t some sort of elaborate hoax, and we’d had some odd offers before that didn’t pan out.  Three groups have talked to us about reality TV shows.  When I express that I’m not about to have open season in my living room with no editorial control, the conversations tend to wane.  A documentary on pushing through tough times I’d be interested in; the Raleigh version of Honey Boo Boo, not so much.

We’re supposed to fly out today.  I’m not exactly sure what will happen – I think they’re doing some videos of our family on Wednesday and the actual show will be taped on Thursday.  It could be a 15 second snippet with us pointed to in the audience, sort of like Funniest Home Videos, or perhaps we’ll get to sit at the kitchen table and sip on a cup-o-joe with the star.  Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to teach her how to make chicken and waffles.  Talk about a ratings bump!

Chic-fil-AAAAAAA

ChickFilA-ChickenSandwich-e1395231520696

Last Tuesday evening, l ate THE fluffiest, tastiest, Chic-fil-A sandwich I’ve ever had in my life!  It was like thick and juicy.  It sort of melted in my mouth.

I always remove the pickles cause I don’t like their texture, but I LOVE that pickle flavor.  Mmmm.  It just intertwines with the bread casing adding just the right zing.

DJ and I were heading to Columbia, SC, for our second visit to USC.  I had a meeting in Garner, NC, at 6 PM, so we swung by the poultry pad right after as we headed out.

Chic-fil-A has been a part of every college tour we’ve been on thus far.  It’s become part of our relationship.

That same night, when we neared Lumberton, NC, amid Pedro’s South of the Border billboards, we spotted it again.  Another indication that there could be more.  I mean, it had been almost two hours since we last partook.

“Need to stop?  I sort of need to hit the potty.”

“Yeah.  Me too.”

We pulled in.  DJ got in line.

“I’ll be right back.  Order me the Oreo shake, no cherry.”

As I walked toward the restroom, I could hear the southern clerk who, by the way, is happy to serve us cause as I understand it, her time hand spinning our milkshakes is paying for her college tuition.

“Maaay I help ya?”

When I returned, DJ informed me that she’d ordered larges, “Just in case.”

“In case of what?”

“Just in case we wanted more than a small or medium.  You don’t have to eat it all.”

“Yeah right.”

The sales clerk returned to the counter with our humongous ice cream treats.

“Thank you” DJ and I echoed.

“Iss my plasure,” Missy Mae Bell drawled.

And it did genuinely seem like her plasure.  She was excited to help us.

A local in line behind us struck up a conversation.

“Oooo.  You got a long receipt!  You know what that means!”

“I paid too much?”

“Oh no!” the lady informed me.  “You get a free sandwich if you go on-line and fill out a survey.  I’m really lucky.  I get those all the time!”

I thanked her for informing me of my good fortune, and bi-golly she was right!  I should have given my prize to her.  I forgot to complete the survey, and she specifically told me that I had to within 48 hours or I would forfeit my prize.

I’d be the guy who won the $97,000,000 lottery and discover I had the ticket two days after they’d given the prize money back to the education fund.

I have a lot of respect for my favorite fast food chain.  When it’s not Sunday and I’m not hunkering for my warm bagged breast, I sort of admire that they observe the Sabbath.  Not many places do that anymore.  But I will admit, I get a little irked when I’m driving down I-95 on the second day of the weekend, and I notice the fine print under the big beak decorated C:  Closed on Sunday.

It’s a downer.

Yeah, D J and I are building memories at a restaurant that sells $5 chicken sandwiches. It’s sort of sweet, yet kinda weird.

Sunday Post 188: Good Day

photo

I remember getting my first Izod shirt for a birthday.  I coveted the alligator!  I picked out the color in advance – burgundy with a green crocodile.  When September 29th rolled around, I tore open the package.  I looked so stinkin’ cool!  Sam McDade had NOTHIN’ on me when I pulled out that shirt.  I think I wore it every Wednesday.

I didn’t really care about anything else.  Cake was irrelevant.  Those celebrating with me?  Not as important as that left chest emblem.

I was 15, and t was ALL Izod for me.

Last week I turned 49.  I didn’t get a shirt, but what  I did get was so much more.

Michelle painted a jar with blue and red polka dots and filled it with my favorite candy:  peanut M & Ms.  She taped a small glittered card on the side:  For my sweet and nutty dad!  Buying those boogers must have put her in the poor house.  Interesting way for a kid to spend her savings.

Stephanie took time on my birthday eve to short sheet my bed.  I understand she was intent on an effective stunt.  It clearly took her a while, because there wasn’t a wrinkle in the covers when I crawled in at midnight.  Although I didn’t find it very amusing at the end of my day I was tired.  But when I awoke the next morning, I decided it was probably a fairly appropriate way to celebrate her father.

My mom made me my favorite birthday cake – it’s enormous!  Chocolate, fudge-like icing as thick as a slice of bread.  When her baking career is over, my years of eating that cake are done.  There isn’t anyone else in this world who can or would make that thing for me.  It’s an eight hour process.  I think she must love me.

My mother-in-law picked out a six pack of my favorite wines.  She told me I was getting to the age that gifts should be consumable!  That’ll last me a while.  Took more thought than an Izod ever could.

Oh, and my oldest, DJ, she came through too.   She texted everyone in the family and asked them their favorite song.  She then made a compilation CD.  We took a college tour the day after she gave it to me.  On our way down I-95, we listened to the 15 tunes, and I guessed the family member who chose each one.

It was a thoughtful and hilarious gift.  John Denver was represented as was Outcast.  From Frozen to Blue Grass to “We Need a Little Christmas,” my mom’s favorite holiday tune, there was a wide range of genres represented.  I’ll listen to that CD until it simply won’t play anymore.

DJ added my current favorite song in the mix and it appropriately represents last Monday, Good Day by Nappy Roots:

Hope yours is as meaningful as mine was this year.  Can’t wait til 50!

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful:Click here. And thanks

“Thank you, I’ll just have an orange.”

oranges

Dr. Goldman:  “I think you should go gluten-free for two weeks.  See if it helps.”

Me:  “What can you eat if you’re gluten-free?”

Dr. Goldman:  “Oh, there are lots of things you can eat without gluten.”

That is a lie.  If you go gluten-free, you can only eat oranges.

I returned home, hungry.  I opened the snack drawer.

Wheat thins?  Nope.

Goldfish?  Nope.

Cheese-Its?  Nah.

Maybe I’ll order Chinese tonight – oh no, soy sauce has gluten too.

FRICKIN’ SOY SAUCE HAS GLUTEN.  How can soy sauce be made out of wheat?  It’s insane.

Finally, I purchased some items to make my two week food adventure a possibility.  The new spaghetti noodles looked fine in the package.  When I poured them out of the pot, they had grown.  Not length wise, but in width.  They were bloated – like the woman in the Midol commercial.  And gray – talk about unappetizing.  I felt like I was eating the stuff from Beauty and the Beast, “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious!”  No, no it’s not.  I’ll just have the sauce which I’m not even sure is g. free.  But I didn’t check because I’d already lost 3 pounds and it was only day two.

I bought some crackers, made from brown rice.  You can’t make crackers out of rice.  I put one in my mouth.  Tasted like a crispy paper towel or an old man’s toenail.

I dipped it in pimento cheese – added jalapenos to cover the yuck.  But I just kept thinking about my grandfather’s feet.  Un.

I haven’t had a beer in 10 days.  I can’t eat lunch meat, my mid day staple.  Bread?  Forget about it.

Went to get dessert with a friend one night last week – bread pudding?  Double chocolate brownie?  Peanut Butter pie?

Nah, I’ll just have nilla ice cream thank you.

I feel like I’m four years old.

I think I’ll just have an orange.  Bought two bags of them.  At least I’ll have my daily allowance of vitamin C.

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