..the grand chef

The Grand Chef Makes Macaroni and Cheese

“I know I can do it; it is my favorite side dish!” These words were proclaimed by Chester Reginald Motsinger. He was known for having a sharp memory, classic culinary skills and being resourceful in all situations, normally in an aggressive manner. “I make the best macaroni and cheese, it is simple, cheesy, creamy and delicious!” Chester was chattering away to his wife, Ella, who was known for being creative, charming and calm in any environment. She was exactly the partner Chester needed and they had been married for over 30 years.

“I have my melting pot and it is warming up”, Chester kept talking away as he would go step by step into making this scrumptious concoction. Ella was casually flipping through a home designer magazine to help her deal with the over eager chef and his constant comments. “I have the pot hot enough for the stick of butter and 2 cups of whole milk” as if Chester had never made this item before. Ella quickly stated, “It has been two weeks since your accident, be careful, please” 15 days earlier Chester fell down the basement stairs and had a small wrap of bandages still on his head due to the massive concussion and 17 stitches that were required to remedy his wound. Unfortunately, there was one minor side effect, his memory would dissolve occasionally, which was a well spring of dark humor at times for Ella, who had seen her mate be more than braggadocios about his cooking accomplishments. The past few days Chester would become speechless with a consequential gaze over his eyes as he would lose all remembrance of the current situation. These moments were treasures for Ella since she was told that it was only a temporary condition.

“It is getting silky so it is now time for the grated cheese.” He would be very secretive to most on what he would use but today it was a combination of cheddar, fontina and gouda. He added some salt and pepper to the melted milk and butter liquid. Slowly he would portion a bit of all the cheeses at one time and then fold the gooey goodness until it was a smooth mixture then go back to add more cheese, a little at a time until he ran out of his cheese.

Chester turned the burner off and got his favorite casserole dish. Glaring at the well-used vessel he amusingly rambled on, “the spinach parm bake, Thai chicken with peanuts and cilantro, southwest black bean delight, oh how I love them all but my macaroni and cheese is always the best, there is none better!” Ella was staring into a cabinet make over, trying to ignore his bragging while hearing, “I simply amaze myself, Ella, you need to be very, very thankful to be married to a brilliant commander of all things cookery!” She just held her tongue, which occurred more often than not and let him keep on patting himself on the back.

The chef decided the cheese sauce was now ready to be poured into the cherished casserole dish. An aroma of cheese, butter, milk and love was gently poured into the dish. Chester was giddy as he plowed away from the oven and set the dish in front of his word weary wife. “Taste it my dear and tell me how incredible my macaroni and cheese is. Please be generous with your words, I cherish hearing you brag on me!” Ella took a small spoon and tasted it, she had only one reply, “Where is the pasta?” The loudest sound of the whole night was the groaning ugh that bellowed from the embarrassed cook.

…all she said was yes

Running up the steps, I struggle to put the keys in the door, which comes from a long life of feeling like I am always late. My day at work was stressful but productive. I stumble through the door as I put my coat and things on the couch. I open the fridge to get some tea but I need affirmation. Every time I need something confirmed, I know where to look to and as usual all she said was yes.

Later on I am watching baseball as the evening creeps along like a three legged basset hound. I had a decent meal for a single man. Bonnie Breadbasket’s Frozen Entrée consisting of meatloaf, mash potatoes, carrots and an almost delicious dessert that had a berry filling underneath the brown, sugary crust. This game is going into extra innings and I want to eat some potato chips. I wonder if I should? I look over to her and all she said was yes.

Morning arrives and I am feeling sleepy due to staying up late watching sports. It is Wednesday, which is a longer day for me due to a recent shift change.  I would rather go to the park than to be at work. I have about three weeks of sick time saved up. There is nothing urgent going on at the office and that later shift can basically do itself. I wonder if it would be ok if I called out of work today. I glance over to her and all she said was yes.

I went to the park after I finally got up. I tossed on some well-worn sweatpants and a ratty old concert tee shirt. I have been to many rock shows and I used the music in my mind to get me motivated. I arrive near the open track. I like to stroll, walk, jog and run just to mix the routine up. As I finish the loop for the third time, I find myself staring at a beautiful lady with a friendly smile. I think I will go talk to her. In my mind I see my source of confirmation, in my mind, all she said was yes.

The girl from the park and I begin to talk. We smile, laugh and chat about familiar ordinary things. I ponder in my mind that I have a freezer full of heat and eat meals. I ask her if she would want to go back to my place to eat and she curiously agreed. My new found friend, Linda, drove her car and followed me back to my place. We climb up the steps, I jingle the keys through the lock and we stroll into the scattered apartment. I am feeling confident about this day. I wonder if I should feel this bold and I look over and all she said was yes.

Linda walks through the room, glancing and observing my everyday world. She sees a portrait of a dark brown haired lady with a smile on her face. Linda asked me who that was and I said that is my Mom. I went on to tell her that she was the only true connection I ever really had due to she raised me by herself and I did not have any other siblings. Linda stares deeper in the picture and asked where was this picture taken. I replied that my Mom was a big fan of concerts and would take me to every show so we could share in the same experience, sound and atmosphere. I told Linda that was the last concert that I attended with my Mom. It was an 80’s band collection of several groups, one of them was a British band named Yes. She bought a tee shirt at that show and I took a picture of her wearing it with a cheap camera that she gave me when I turned 19. I told Linda I keep that picture up in clear view and anything time I need advice; I can look at it. I told Linda I am the man I am today because all she said was yes.

…a day at the park

Sitting on the park bench, which was well worn from use, Alfred adjusts himself for the next hour of viewing. Retirement was a slow jog mentally for the former psychiatrist. This particular spot was located at Coldstone Park, which was nestled between the community college and the public library.  Every day between the hours of 1 PM to 2 PM he would open a small bag of salty peanuts to nibble on during his examination of the local scenery. It was his attempt to keep his diagnosis senses sharp since he no longer had a practice.

This day was the continuation of an ongoing study for Alfred. His subject was a woman who he calculated was in her early 20’s. She had dark hair which reminded him of his favorite binder when he was working full time. If anything made a connection with the old therapist, it had to remind him of his working days, the thing in his opinion that would be his dying legacy. Glaring at a distance of approximately 93 feet away, she would always sit on the grass or occasionally have a blanket or jacket to lay down on the park surface. He was not attracted to her physically but emotionally the connection could not be ignored.

Alfred had been coming to this park at 1 PM for the last 7 weeks and 4 days. He knew that his main subject of observation had only missed every Saturday, Sunday, three Tuesdays and 1 Friday during his time on the bench. A tear suddenly filled his eye on this warm day. He felt a stirring in his heart that had been missing for several years. His breath became a challenge to muster due to his mind was telling him that today this process would have to change. Science either succeeds or fails but it rarely stands still because that either caused stagnation or death, neither was never an option for Alfred.

He slowly stands up and decides to make the journey to the lady with the raven colored mane. An empty peanut bag shuffles off in the light breeze as the resigned professional shuffles toward his subject. His walk becomes forced but steady due to this contact will definitely change the direction of how he spends his time at 1 PM. As he walked over half the way there he described her look as dove with broken wings, beautiful from a distance but appearing sadder the closer he got to where she was collapsed on the ground.

As he made the final few steps his diagnoses was not pleasant. She sat up and just gazed at the former counselor. Her voice stabbed the atmosphere, “I don’t care what you have to say, I am not interested in you anymore!” She pushed herself up off the ground in a huff and dashed away from the place where the silent doctor stood numb. It would be the last time he would come to that park, the last time he would eat peanuts on a bench and the last time he would ever see his daughter.

…releasing the sounds of spring

Sunrises through the office window as Bradley staggers through his door on this blossoming April morning. Pulling off his jacket, he sits down to realize that another season has arrived. “Here we go!”, he says to himself as he tries to energize his thoughts, emotions and actions. There was a big task to be accomplished, it would forever change the landscape of his current world. “I see we have a larger crop of females”, he mumbles as he looks at a couple of charts that are hanging on his wall.  “For every three females we only have two males, that might be an issue” and he grabs his cup of sweet grass tea with a small twist of lemon.  “This day will call for a stronger drink” and he opens his cabinet to grab a concoction with a faded label in bold black letters, SPRING TONIC.

He opens the decanter and slowly gulps three times…one, taking a deep breath, two, his eyes become glassy from the odor and three, the subtle burn he can feel cascading his gullet slowly igniting his whole being from his middle all through every limb and pore of his body. “WOO WEE, that will wake you up in the mornin’” he shouts knowing that he is the only one in the building. He pulls out a handkerchief to wipe a small outpouring of sweat as well as some soft tears that trickled out due to the pungent potation that produced a profound increase of energy.

Sniffing as he picked up the phone, his massive duty was to make the order for the release of the captive cult due to it was time. Spring was 27 days old and the nights were becoming warmer.  Celebrating the yearly festival would start tonight. “Clarence, yeah this is Bradley, the temperatures were in the upper 50’s last night and there is no sign of frost for the rest of the season” The conversation continues, “Yes I know Clarence, I know there are more gals than guys but we cannot hold back, I got the memo this morning from Old Man River, he makes the call, if you want to talk to him, I am sure…oh..you say that won’t be necessary…great, then get them ready, tonight is the night!” Bradley abruptly ends the conversation knowing he will be making that same call to over a hundred other care takers before his day is over.

Several hours later at sunset, the final call was just made by the exhausted manager. His SPRING TONIC tumbler was bone dry, as was any energy or zest that had been generated on this long, hard day. He opens his binder to the day April 17th. He checks it off knowing by May 1st he would be in charge of following up on the production of the season. Being in charge of the earth’s peep frogs was something Bradley managed for over 38 years. On the way home, he begins to listen as the peeping begins, the mating season for the frogs is on course. “I hope those ladies don’t wear those boys out!” as he chuckles while snickering in his car as he drives home on this warm Spring evening.


(Sometimes when you are writing you have to put yourself in a place you have never been and imagine what your thoughts would be…I started thinking what it would be like if I was a surfer and I wrote this poem about it….)


Today is here, the time is now
I will not break, I will not bow
Rocky is the hill, the banks are so steep
Refusing to wade but will journey into the deep

Timing and rhythm barking orders to me
Conquering the roar and riding on the sea
Blood rushing through my heart as I begin to drive
Mastering morning peaks is how I thrive

Daily is the challenge that whispers my name
I go out a warrior, victory will I claim
My board is the chariot, the water is my steed
Brilliant rides at dawn will always meet my need

…the lady in the field

(I have a small fascination with Jane Austin films. In the film “Pride and Prejudice”,  there was an image where Kiera Knightley was way off in the distance and you could barely see her but she was walking in a field that was grassy, muddy and looked like a big pasture. That image sparked the poem below, I hope you enjoy it!)

Lady In The Field

Dark and hazy clouds were all across the sky
Sticky air covered everything that breathed
Trees opened their skin in hopes of a wash
All I can see is the lady in the field

Tall, fading grass begging the heavens for rain
Smells of dry earth rise to my face
Birds seeking shelter from the soon coming storm
All I can see is the lady the field

Gray, long and cheap would best describe her dress
Her overcoat was brown and in need of repair
Mud caked her shoes as she tarried on
All I can see is the lady in the field

Her eyes were deep brown in a snow covered pool
Her hair, dark and radiant and drawing me toward
I had to take a chance and introduce myself
All I can see is the lady in the field

Gasp of chance as I said my name
Feeling like the begging grass and hungry tree
Eternal silence was screaming in my ears
All I can see is the lady in the field

Suddenly a glance that tilted the balance of life
Sweet whispers from her lips simply said, “Hello”
Twenty years later seems like yesterday
All I can see is the lady in the field

…the creation from her hands

Twirling her wrists in three quarter time, it was the most peaceful part of her everyday life. I remember the tiny movement of her foot and a gentle humming in soft tones while as time worn hands and fingers would move at a far rapid rate. She was an artist with the thread and needle. Doilies, glass coasters, mittens, scarfs, afghans, rugs and on and on with different designs, colors and lengths were constantly made at the hands of this woman I knew as Mama.

I can see feet crossed and legs stretched out as her top ankle would tap against nothing while she hummed. An apron was part of her daily garb due to cooking, cleaning or just protecting her dress from the daily chores of life. She would be the home manager of four children and the unpaid accountant of my father’s funds from being on the road most of the week driving an eighteen wheeler. It would often be in the middle of the day as she would take a break from morning chores and unwind until it was time to cook dinner, this was the time to demonstrate her quiet skill.

There was her favorite chair which was a recliner that would normally have the foot rest inserted, she did not open that up fully unless a rare nap was on the agenda. Like an orchestra conductor causing everything to be in rhythm, whipping the thin thread from a single strand into a collection of knots, bows, crossovers and hoops, this was her opus. Colorful creations could be concocted in a matter of moments. Her cloth bag that was always beside the recliner. It seemed to be a bottomless source of loose lines that was waiting for her to manipulate them into art.

Mama was a lady that knew the meaning of hard work, long days and humble settings. Never having material wealth was always assumed but her heart was kind and generous. This attitude in life was constantly resembled through the crochet creations. Simple but complex, colorful but not outlandish, soft but put together to be strongly woven and most importantly, designed with a single purpose, to prove she could make the world a more beautiful place.

Whenever I hear a song hummed low, I think of her. When I see a struggling woman who is trying to do the best she can for her family, I think of her. When I look in a store and see a bin of thread, I wonder if anyone is there that has a recliner or a bag near a chair. Those memories were sewn several decades ago in this grown man’s mind. Mama has been gone many years but the love she knitted is still in my heart each and every day.