Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I am blessed to be alive and reasonably healthy today. At my age, one can no longer
take such things for granted (and the experiences of my life have taught me that we must never take them for granted at any age). Today's post is an incomplete listing of the many blessings in my life...


St. Peter's Catholic Church, Council Bluffs, Iowa

I was raised in a Catholic family, as were all of my relatives, and I was fortunate enough to attend Catholic schools through 8th grade.

I am grateful for the comfort and guidance my faith has given me through the years, and for the moral grounding I received by reading the great scholars of the Church like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.


My best friend Skip, posing with UP 4023 on a visit last year
I am grateful to have almost always had one "best" friend in my life. It hasn't always been the same person, but
I have rarely been without one.

I am especially grateful for the good fortune that brought my current best friend into my life. He lives in Philadelphia, so it is a minor miracle that our paths ever crossed.

Opening Night 2009 with the most talented cast I ever directed

I am grateful for all the wonderful men and women I taught alongside in my career, and even more grateful for having had the opportunity to help shape the lives of so many wonderful young people.

My Iowa neighbor Patty Patrick and my hero Joe Bonamassa

Sometimes my enthusiasms bring me into contact with wonderful people I would never have met otherwise.
I am deeply grateful to have found the Joe Bonamassa online fan community.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to meet Joe himself on a couple of occasions, as well as many of his devoted fans.

My roommates, relaxing

Things get a little lonely sometimes when you're single, but I'm never really alone these days. I am grateful for the company, if not for the soggy hairballs...

Oh, stop. You know I could never forget you...or our mutual friend...I miss him, too...


Food is always a wonderful thing, of course, and I am grateful that I have all that I could possibly desire on that score. Thanksgiving is at least in part a celebration of favorite foods, 
and I'll be enjoying a number of my traditional favorites today. Some highlights...

For noshing during the day, with some Ritz Crackers, naturally.
Nothing but dark meat for me, please

My mother and I shared a fondness for dark meat, and we were both grateful every year that dad and my two brothers preferred white meat exclusively. Fools.

Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy

Thanksgiving is really the only time I ever have gravy on my mashed potatoes when I'm eating at home. My mom made awesome gravy from the turkey pan's drippings, but mine will be Heinz.

Baked beans with bacon

My mom had a lot of really terrific recipes, but being the kind of cook she was, none of them were really written down anywhere, which meant those great dishes died with her in 1996. After years of trial and error, I have managed to come pretty close to duplicating her baked beans with bacon recipe.

Harvard beets

Ironically enough, I first encountered Harvard beets at a university cafeteria, but it was love at first taste. Since no one I have ever known was willing to try making them for me, I consider myself very fortunate to have discovered Aunt Nellie's.

There will be other items on the menu, too, including deviled eggs, stuffing, flaky biscuits, and cranberry sauce. The crowning moment will be dessert, naturally...

Village Inn Pumpkin Supreme Pie


Sports are a wonderful escape from the stresses of everyday life, and I am thankful
for all of the teams for which I root, including my beloved Kansas City Chiefs and,
of course...

Kansas City Royals, 2015 World Series Champions

Favorite Arts

Raymond Chandler

I am thankful for all the writers who have inspired me over the years. In the pantheon of mystery writers alone I am especially grateful for having met Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Robert B. Parker, and Dennis Lehane.

I am thankful for all the wonderful movies
I can watch over and over and always enjoy, including The Last of the Mohicans, A Man for All Seasons, The Lion in Winter, North By Northwest, Sleuth, Seven Days in May, Patton, and Anatomy of a Murder.

I am thankful for having been around to witness the Golden Age of television drama, led by shows like Justified, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, and The Walking Dead.

Favorite Places

One of the Kansas City traditions I miss the most is the annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony, which happens each Thanksgiving evening and draws hundreds of thousands of people to the Country Club Plaza area...

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Funny Stuff

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read regularly,
as I do.

And here's my all-time favorite Thanksgiving cartoon:

Until Next Time...

Music, of course, is one of life's most sublime pleasures, and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for all of the wonderful music that always has and continues to enrich my life.

My first thought for a song appropriate for Thanksgiving was the great Sam & Dave 1968 hit "I Thank You." It got tons of airplay during the second semester of my 9th grade year, and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The versions I was finding on YouTube were all unsatisfactory for one reason or another, though, so I began to consider using the Z.Z. Top cover version instead. Released in 1980 as the second single from the band's 1979 Deg├╝ello album, it features a great bluesy vocal from guitarist Billy Gibbons and a nice guitar solo as well. I'm thankful that I expanded my search, because I found something I hadn't heard before that I liked quite a lot.

Today's send-off features Gibbons performing the song with Daryl Hall and his house band on the Live from Daryl's House show on January 15, 2014 (not long before Hall and his longtime partner John Oates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). Enjoy...and be thankful for your life's many blessings...


  1. Thank you for the thank you and I liked it......

  2. You're very welcome! Hope your Thanksgiving rocked!