I Love Thanksgiving

Instead of going out to dinner, buy good food. Cooking at home shows such affection. In a bad economy, it’s more important to make yourself feel good. ~ Ina Garten

I love Thanksgiving and this year I decided to go all out for dinner. So this year I made a full seven course meal. My favorite holiday and one of my favorite things to do, cooking. So after my annual Thanksgiving hike, the meal started and below I bring you along with the experience and provide some recipes as well. Happy Thanksgiving my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Course 1 – Appetizers

Deviled Eggs – standard deviled eggs although I do add horseradish and some cayenne pepper and paprika on top

Bacon wrapped cream cheese bites, stuffed celery and spanikopita. The spanikopita was store bought, the celery was stuffed with veggie cream cheese and here’s the recipe for the bacon cream cheese bites.

Course 2 – Soup

Spinach and Lemon, Orzo Chicken Soup, this might have been my best dish.

Course 3 – Second appetizer course

Roasted Honey Nut Squash rounds with goat cheese, walnuts and cranberries. These were fantastic, toasted the walnuts, used dried cranberries and a maple bacon goat cheese. The recipe calls for butternut squash which would have been great, but I used honey nut squash.

Course 4 – Main Dish

Bacon wrapped Honey, Garlic Pork Tenderloin – basic pork tenderloin with a little honey and a bacon wrap.

Course 5 – Salad (I eat my salad like the French, after the majority of my meal)

Asian Chicken Salad this is a pure cheat, Asian salad kit from the grocery store and some pre-cooked chicken, add some scallions.

Course 6 – Dessert

Chocolate pudding pie with bananas – simply graham cracker pie shell, sliced bananas, cover with chocolate pudding, decorate with some sprinkles.

Course 7 – Digestif – fancy damn way to say after dinner drink. Not quite the equivalent of aged agave, but very smooth and tasty

Agave Tequila Liqueur with a slice of lime.

Hope you all had a lovely and happy Thanksgiving. ~ Rev Kane

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A Happy Vampire Memory

When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers I kind of wanted to be a vampire. ~ Angelina Jolie

It’s been a really lousy week and I’ve just recently moved so I was cleaning up some things today when I found this image. It made me immediately smile. So tonight I thought I’d tell the story of my vampire dam.

It was my first or second year in the dust, those early years run together. I was bartending in camp at the Nowhere Bar. It was a typical night on the Playa with the normal, if I can use that term, cast of Burning Man characters. It was getting late and three exquisitely dressed people came into the bar, a man and two beautiful women. The man came to the bar and got them drinks. I got busy and didn’t pay much attention to them for a bit when I felt someone looking at me, I turned and she was staring at me. She crooked her finger in a come here motion and I thought, what the hell. As I walked over she stood and offered me her chair, I declined and she stared deeply into my eyes as she reached down and took my hand, “take my chair,” she said directly, so I sat down. She straddled my lap and sat down facing me. We began to talk, quietly but very intensely and the entire time our eyes were locked on each others. At one point she leaned in and kissed me, slowly but incredibly erotically. We continued kissing for a time when she slid around and sunk her fangs into my neck. It was one of the most amazing, shocking and confusing moments of my life.

She came up after a minute, smiled and said, “you’ll always be mine now.” The she stood, kissed me sweetly and left. At that moment I realized her friends were already gone and I wondered how much time had passed, there was almost no one left in the bar. One of my campmates came over and said, “what the hell was that?” I sat there relatively stunned and told them that I think I just met a vampire. At this time Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a pretty popular TV show and one of the theme camps at Burning Man was called Spike’s Place. The camp was effectively a vampier camp that ran a bar. I didn’t make it to Spike’s that year but always wondered if she was part of that camp.

The next year on the playa I was having an amazing night. There was a camp that I was destined to interact with, It was a pizza delivery camp whose name I’m drawing a blank on and can’t track down. Their gig was that they basically made pizzas and randomly delivered them to people on the playa. So we were having a great night and Bubbles and I were walking down the Esplanade and I was ranting about how ridiculous it was that someone who loved pizza as much as I did, had never gotten one of these random pizzas delivered to me. About a minute later a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “did you order a pizza?” We call it playa magic, when really incomprehensible and magical things happen at Burning Man. Even more amazing it was a pepperoni and mushroom pizza, my go to pizza and it was magnificent. So Bubbles and I chowed down that entire pizza in minutes. I couldn’t imagine the night getting any better and we were wondering near Center Camp when heard music and wondered toward it. We’d wondered our way to Spike’s Place.

We walked into the bar and looked around a little bit, got a drink and I had a really weird feeling. I spun around and there she was, my dam, five feet behind me, staring at me, “what took you so long, I’ve been calling you all night, I told you, you were mine” Bubbles knew the story and asked if that was the vampire from last year, I said yes. Then I said goodnight to Bubbles, because my dam wasn’t wrong and that night I was hers.

That memory is what brought me such a smile when I found that picture tonight. Hope you’re having happy memories as well my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Monterey, one of my favorite places

Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased. ~ John Steinbeck

In 1988 I came to California for my first time, I was coming here for my best friend’s wedding up in Eureka. I flew into Sacramento with a plan of going over to the coast for a couple of days and then back to Sacramento to fly up to Eureka for the wedding. The place on the coast I had decided to go was Monterey, mostly because I wanted to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I landed in Sacramento and picked up my rental car and drove out onto I-5 heading for Sacramento. A few miles out of the airport a car started to pass me, slowed down, and a beautiful woman smiled, waved and drove off. I immediately thought, I think I’m going to like California.

I made my way to the coast and checked-in to my hotel. I spent two days in Monterey, going to the aquarium, driving around and exploring and I absolutely fell in love. Monterey is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The weather was excellent, the ocean wonderful and the aquarium spectacular. I told myself I would live there someday and it would take almost 15 years but eventually I would for three years. Monterey has always been one of my happy places. It’s been a place where some big things have happened for me, the photo at the top is San Carlos Beach. It was off this beach that I did my one and only open water dive. It was an amazing morning, diving at the edge of the giant kelp forest. I even had a sea lion pup come and play with me for a bit as mama kept a nearby watchful eye.

On the way in from the dive however, I got a reverse block and as a wave rolled over, my ear drum ruptured. While many people describe this as insanely painful, for me it wasn’t, but I knew something had happened. When I got out and pulled off my hood, the husband of one of my classmates looked at me and said, “dude, you blew your drum!” So instead of doing my second checkout dive the next day and getting certified I ended up at the local hospital where they basically said, your drum will heal, don’t fly for three weeks. So I always make a stop at San Carlos when I’m in town to remember that day.

Recently I went back to Monterey for a weekend. It’s been a stressful time lately and I just needed to checkout and take a break. As always, Monterey delivered, great weather, good food and just a nice mellow weekend. I spent one morning at the aquarium, walked along the coast and generally just relaxed. It’s important at times just to stop and be and that’s what this weekend was for me.

Of course I brought my camera so I thought I’d share some of the photos from my time at the aquarium and at the bay. Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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A Happy Memory

So I’ve been moving this weekend and as always it’s a big job and it sucks. But in fact I’m getting away from a neighbor who plays electronic dance music sixteen hours a day so I’m pretty happy about it. It’s a bigger apartment, moving from a studio to a one bedroom, I gain an extra 100 square feet, a dishwasher and a balcony and a nice little rent increase, nothing is perfect, except a Pizza Pit pizza and you can no longer get one of those.

So just a quick post this week, I was making a trip to Walmart to pick up a few things for the apartment. Since Walmart is banned in our county, although our county is fine with having there online ordering headquarters here, it’s about a 40 minute drive to the store. I figured the round trip total time matched up pretty well with the full duration of Pink Floyd’s, The Wall so I decided to crank it up and listen on the trip. My favorite song on the album, although I literally love every song on that album, is Comfortably Numb. The line in the quote at the top of the post is the lyric that resonates the most with me.

Before I became a Pink Floyd fan, back during the The Wall tour, a friend offered me a ticket to see the The Wall performance in NYC with him and his older brother. I passed, something that haunts me to this day. And I spent over a decade trying to rectify that mistake and catch Pink Floyd live, but Roger Waters left the group and honestly to me, Pink Floyd isn’t really Pink Floyd without Waters AND Gilmour. However, I was able to catch David Gilmour on a solo tour at the Saratoga Performance Art Center in upstate New York. To my great joy near the end of the show I heard the first notes of Comfortably Numb and I was thrilled to get to watch Gilmour perform it. And this is what I always remember from that night and it’s a great concert memory for me.

As I was standing there I caught some motion out of the corner of my eye, and as the big guitar solo fired up I had the experience of watching David Gilmour play my favorite solo, while watching this other guy air guitar it next to me. Gilmour, a consummate professional musician who had played this solo untold number of times, was calm and controlled and perfect. The guy next to me was flailing around like some kind of epileptic musician playing while having a grand mal seizure. In the moment, I almost said to him dude, look at the stage, but he was as deep in his air guitar bliss as I was watching Gilmour so I let him go unbothered.

It was an important lesson. You see, what’s important is that people are happy, that they enjoy themselves. That’s likely to look very different for different people and that’s ok. You see, at a concert I like to sit quietly and enjoy the experience that the performers provide, others need to jump up and down and sing along. Neither way is wrong, it’s just a matter of doing what brings you the most joy. The epitome of the different strokes for different folks cliche.

For those of you who don’t know the song or now just need to here it, here is,Comfortably Numb.

So remember, to bring joy and happiness into your life do what brings you that joy, not what brings others joy, be good with that and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happy Day of the Dead

My favorite DOTD painting by my favorite artist Heather Calderon

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~ Richard Puz

I have been fascinated with the Day of the Dead celebration for decades. I really love the way this celebration extends family and community to beyond life. It’s a really amazing way to keep those who have passed as “living” parts of our family. A way to keep family history something that is a dynamic part of our lives.

I started collecting DOTD art, about 15 years ago, my prize possession is the painting featured above. Grave Sight is the most amazing painting I’ve ever seen and now it hangs on my wall, I love it. The artist Heather Calderon is incredibly talented and I own two of her pieces. About 10 years ago I bought a piece from an artist in Oaxaca, a lovely little sculpture. In talking with the artist, he was from Oaxaca, he really painted an amazing picture of Oaxaca and the DOTD celebrations there including the skeleton madness. A few years ago I lived in Oxaca for three months and got to experience it for myself.

This weekend I went to Monterey, and the Monterey Museum of Art had a nice little exhibit of the work of the work of Victor-Mario Zaballa.

So happy Dia de los muertos and on this Day of the Dead may the spirits of those you have lost and miss be ever by your side. ~ Rev Kane

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Happy Halloween

Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves. ~ Elvis Duran

I dig Halloween, always have. As a kid it was candy night and we always made the mos of it. We would get our parents to buy us a costume. Back in the 70’s that meant some silky cheap pullover and those awful plastic masks that never fit, the rubber bands always snapped and they had lots of sharp and jagged edges that would cut your face. We of course could always also scrape up an old mask from our toy boxes or closets. So we’d do round one in the new costume, round 2 with the old mask and then round 3 as a hobo. Hobo was easy, a little dirt on your face and a pillow case. I miss those wild fall nights, rumors of razor blades in the apples and all.

Now it’s about the munchkins for me, had hoped to go to Brooklyn to trick or treat with my littlest niece and nephews but work obligations blew that up. So instead I’ve set my sights on my favorite activity of the year at work. On Halloween the little ones from our child development center do their costume parade and it’s glorious.

I went out of town this weekend, so here are some Halloween shots from the trip, enjoy. ~ Rev Kane

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Take a breath, be kind, give grace!

It feels a little bit like the world has gone mad. At almost any point in life, we all know someone going through some struggles. Right now, frankly, it feels like I don’t know anyone not going through some kind of struggle. I have good friends going through custody battles, another dealing with a parent going into hospice, another recovering from a stroke. Even one of my nieces just had an incident of cyber bulling.

At work, it isn’t any better. I’m dealing with a couple of instructor issues that have students up in arms. I have instructors lying to me, unfortunately people are showing their true colors and too often that color is black. It doesn’t help that I’m not feeling incredibly supported by the people in the system who have that responsibility. It feels right now like everyone is putting me on an island and then driving the boats away.

I’m not alone in this, right now some of my best people are really struggling. As one of my people said recently, I’m in my thirties and had heart palpitations last night, it’s not supposed to be like that. And they’re right, it shouldn’t be that way. Work shouldn’t be such a struggle that it damages your health. But in fact, that’s exactly what it is for many of us. For me, I had dreams of retiring from my job this year, that is not going to happen. Not that I can truly retire until 65, you see I have a couple of heart conditions that make me uninsurable outside of work or medicare and medicare doesn’t start til 65. So I’ll have to continue working after I retire from my current system. However, I won’t need to make a lot of money, and I will be able to work a job where I don’t have the responsibility, madness and stress of managing sixty plus people like I do now. Not to mention the ten programs and two centers and all the associated students, budgets, legal issues and politics. So I’m on the clock, 52 months and a week.

So what do we do to preserve or physical and mental health? My suggestion, take a breath, be kind, give grace.

First, take a breath. I know, it seems like ridiculously simplistic advice, I assure you that it is not. And I mean this literally, take a deep breath, even better, spend a few minutes just breathing. There is a really simple breathing technique I really like:

Find a comfortable position with your back straight to allow optimum oxygen
absorption into your lungs. If acceptable, close your eyes.

(5) Count to five and breathe-in through your nose.

(2) Hold this breath at its peak for two seconds.

(7) Slowly release the air in your lungs for seven seconds by
making a small “o” with your mouth.

~Repeat~

~Repeat~

Post-awareness: How do you feel now? What’s different? Notice the various parts of
your body that feel recharged, heightened, more relaxed, etc.

And take a breath has a bigger meaning, it also means take care of yourself. Taking some breathing breaks each day is great, but if there are bigger things you need to do, find the time to do them. For me, it’s time by the ocean and travel. So I’ve started planning a trip to Mardi Gras in February and today I took a drive down highway 1.

Second, be kind. It’s a really funny thing but when you’re not feeling great, when the world feels like a horribly unsafe and unkind place, being kind to others make you feel better. This can be something big and organized like volunteering at a homeless shelter or even rounding up donations for the shelter of your choice. But honestly, it can just be the small things. It could be as simple as being kind to strangers, letting someone go ahead of you in a line, paying for the coffee of the person in behind you in line, giving someone a hug or smile, or just taking a few minutes to help someone with something they need help with. Somehow, small acts of kindness also help you feel better as well, kind of a two for one.

Finally, give grace and this is the hardest part. When we’re stressed we lose our emotional reserves. That thing that allows us to take some hits without reacting. it’s hard to give people that space. But if we can find a way to do that, in the end, like kindness, it will pay dividends and we’ll feel better later. One note, this is where and when it makes sense, not when people are being consciously inconsiderate or mean. Giving kindness and grace should never be given if you’re being taken advantage of, this is about being a good person, not becoming a door mat.

So my friends, do your best to take care of yourselves, breath, be kind and give grace and we’ll all have happier day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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It’s about being considerate

We’re living in the golden age of selfishness and entitlement. There is a lot of debate about why this is, but frankly I don’t care how it has come to be. What I’m interested in, is what do we do about it? As adults, we all have to take responsibility for our current actions.

You see this everywhere, people who walk up in front of lines at the supermarket and then if someone says something, they feign not noticing the line. The place you see it most however is on the road. The person who tailgates you even though you’re driving over the speed limit. The massive amount of people looking at their phones while driving who don’t know the light has changed, are suddenly driving super slow or my personal favorite, the people who stop in traffic to look at their GPS and figure out if they’ve missed their turn. I’ve not just seen this on city streets, but even on two lane state highways, on a turn as a bonus.

People in apartments don’t care about the impact of their TV’s or stereos have on their neighbors. People will arrive home at night with music blaring out of their cars no matter what time it is. And don’t get me started on people who purposely put tailpipe amplifiers on crappy little cars so their exhaust noise is super loud. We see it at the gym, the people who never wipe down machines, never put their weights back or wear enough cologne or perfume that any one within ten feet is choking on their scent.

I see it at work, I have faculty I supervise who make requests that are completely about them to the detriment of the students. Typically the same faculty who are always screaming, students first, at the administration. And here is a great example, faculty have access to a copier in our workroom. We ordered a lot of paper and so the garbage can was sitting on top of some paper boxes. Someone moved the can, took out paper and left two reams vertical so they were standing above the box rim. They put the lid on which of course didn’t fit it was at an angle, then they replaced the can. Setting up a situation where someone would toss in some garbage and it would slide off and spill the garbage. But they didn’t care, they couldn’t be bothered to take one second to correct things and besides, someone else would have to pickup the garbage. (cue Alice’s Restaurant)

Selfishness and entitlement makes life worse for everyone. It increases people’s frustration and anger and that can lead to issues like the violence associated with road rage. It doesn’t take much to turn this around, because truly it’s the small things and comes down to one simple question. How will my decision or current action impact others? If it could impact others negatively than mitigate or change your decision or action.

Lot’s of little things can help as well. You don’t always need to be the first to go if two of you arrive at the same time, smile and wave at people to show them you know they are there. Be apologetic if you make a mistake and do something inconsiderate. These simple acts could make for happier days for all of us my friend. ~ Rev Kane

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Meaning in Life

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I think all of us, as we age, start asking some of the same questions. What impact have I made in my life, do I have any regrets, and we start to question the meaning of our time here on Earth. I’ve been really in this head space the last couple of years, along with the related questions related to what I’m passionate about.

The pandemic put a lot of life on pause for a lot of us. But that pause gave us all time to think and consider our lives. Including a lot of people who have never stopped and thought about what they were doing in life. This has led to what the media has called the great resignation, the fact that a lot of people after considering their lives decided to change career paths.

Many of us are like logs in a river, just floating along and going where life takes us. But I’ve always thought I needed to steer some. But steer toward what? That’s where meaning in life comes in, because it’s that meaning that determines where you steer yourself in the river of life and guides you as to what you will do.

At times I have to admit that in this respect I have felt like a failure. I’ve always been a person who’s interested in everything, so there is no single overriding thing that is the focus or meaning in my life. Recently, I’ve realized that there is another way to look at this. You see I’ve fallen prey to the American script in this respect. You see in America there always has to be a gold medal, an award, a big finish if you will. But is that really how things have to be?

Recently I saw a post on social media that talked about meaning in life, meaning with a small “m” they called it. It was a short post but an incredibly eye opening one for me. Meaning doesn’t have to be some large thing you accomplish, every pyramid is made up a huge number of blocks. In your life, meaning can be the accumulation of those blocks.

So the homeless student I worked with Friday to help get them a hotel voucher in order to make getting through a medical procedure more easily is a block. Helping people I supervise realize their goals and get into better positions is a block. All of the small meaningful acts of support and kindness that we do for others are part of that meaning, the blocks that make up the meaningful pyramid of in our life. I really appreciated this perspective and it’s frankly made me feel a bit better about my own journey and I hope it does the same for you my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness and Weight Loss

There’s a huge emotional component to weight loss. ~ Carnie Wilson

This week my post was inspired by a lovely human I work with who also happens to be a regular reader of this blog. We were having a conversation about weight loss and I realized there are some things that were worth saying on the subject in relation to happiness. First a tiny rant.

Have you ever noticed that the people who most often give weight loss advice are usually really skinny. It reminds me of these drop dead gorgeous actresses and models who do those no make-up photo shoots in order to show everyone’s natural beauty. They always look good, of course they do, they became famous based their natural beauty, so yes, with makeup they are these flawless beauties. And without makeup, they’re just incredibly gorgeous, so brave of them.

It’s the same attitude when I hear skinny people who say things like, “nothing tastes better than skinny.” First off darlin, have you ever had a cupcake, a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie a slice of real NY pizza? These are the people who can relate, because you know, they once put on 6 pounds over Christmas break and went up to a massive 138 pounds. I mean hell, I can put 6 pounds on at dinner and I haven’t seen 138 since junior high, but yeah, solidarity sister.

Being overweight is unhealthy, we all know this but losing weight is hard. Particularly for someone like me, due to my blood sugar issues, there’s one pathway foodwise and that’s of course a low carb diet. Unfortunately very low carb, the fact is for me to lose weight and get my blood sugar in line, I have to consume less than 60 overall carbs per day and need to get that as close to 20 net carbs per day as possible. This is life with a pathetic pancreas. Of course I’m an Italian-Irish kid from NY who loves Asian food, so life without bread, pasta, potatoes, pizza and rice, well that’s really tough for me. Especially given that nutritionist will tell you to reward yourself for making the right decision. At this point in my life I’ve given up drinking, drugs and womanizing, so I’m left with gambling or eating as a reward system. Gambling is not the best choice and eating is the problem so it makes things tough, but not impossible and I’ve had some success. In 2002 I weighed 250 pounds, which is 65 pounds more than I do today. Sure 65 pounds and twenty years isn’t a massive pace, but it’s consistent progress in the right direction.

Of course we all know that weight loss is most effective when you eat appropriate types and sized meals mixed with regular exercise. Sounds so simple, but like many things it’s the practice that’s hard. And there are things that get in the way, for a lot of us those things are lack of sleep and stress. Lack of sleep does a number of things to your body. First it makes you tired (duh) but being tired makes it easier to be lazy and not exercise that day or order some takeout that’s less healthy than what you would have made for dinner yourself. For emotional eaters like me, lack of sleep reduces your emotional reserves and so a stressful day makes it far more likely that you’ll turn to food for a dopamine burst, and those foods are likely to be high in sugar, fat, salt and calories the things that make us feel good. Lack of sleep also reduces the effectiveness of your body in preventing Cortisol spikes, so to oversimplify it, lower sleep, higher levels of Cortisol, more stress leads to a vicious cycle of you eating to make you feel better. Then of course, after you’ve spent a night eating badly you beat yourself up, which impacts your sleep, adds to your stress and so you exercise less and eat more, vicious.

I’d love to tell you I have a magic bullet for getting out of this cycle, but all I’ve got is pure will and determination. At some point you have to force yourself out of the cycle. And this is where the microhabits I talked about in a previous post can help. It’s not a reasonable expectation that you’ll suddenly start eating perfectly and exercising the full amount you need to. But we often try exactly that then crash and burn and the failure pushes us right back into the cycle. So do yourself a favor and work yourself into gradually keeping in mind the goal is to do a bit better today or this week than you do the next. And most importantly to be consistent about what you’re doing. That’s the best advice I’ve got, anyone selling you easy weight loss is almost certainly lying to you my friends.

There is a question of philosophy that comes up, being less healthy will certainly shorten your life. But if the only way to extend your life is to be miserable all of the time, is it worth it? Most people, citing getting to see their grandkids grow up or other important future milestones, would say yes. But I think, as with all things in life, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis. Years versus misery, and where I typically come out on this analysis is the following. As with many things the middle of the road feels like the right path. to do enough so that you extend your life a bit, while being able to enjoy the time you have. So yes, eat right, exercise at a level you can handle and when you’re at that birthday party have a piece of cake. When you’re on vacation for a week, eat dessert, have that pasta dish and then come back to what you should do and be consistent again after. It’s the formula I use and it seems to strike a good balance between doing what I should, with what I want, and helping me have happy days my friends. Maybe it will work for you too. ~ Rev Kane

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