25 September 2010

It's been a good week, foodie

So it's been a good week for the foodie in me, can I just tell you?  It started with my birthday earlier in the week.  The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML gave me another awesome class - another cooking class.  Five different main dishes are the focus of the class.  We'll be doing shrimp scampi, Moroccan halibut and chicken parm burgers, to name but a few.  That made me all kinds of happy.   Can't wait for next week.

Then I had to go to NYC for some job-related stuff later in the week.  NYC was all kinds of chaos with countless heads of state in town for global shenanigans at the United Nations and I figured it was going to make for a crazy time.  Traffic was ridiculous but thanks to the subway, a co-worker and I made it up to dinner at Restaurant Daniel.

To say that it was amazing, would be about the biggest understatement ever.  The food was stunning.  I am still rhapsodizing over the butternut squash soup starter.  I'm not kidding it was amazing.  And don't even get me started on the spare rib.  It literally melted in your mouth and the flavor was sublime.  It's a beautiful venue.  The night we were there, the President of Israel was in the house and it made things a little, well, interesting.  Suffice to say, the Israeli version of the Secret Service does NOT fool around.  Things got even nuttier when President Obama's motorcade descended on the place. Fortunately, they kept going.  We'd never been able to leave.  When we did leave, we had the pleasure of meeting Chef Daniel Boulud.  He could not have been nicer.  He was genuinely interested in knowing what we'd thought of the meal and how are evening had been.  It was very cool.
Thank you, Chef, for an incredible meal and for being an amazing host!

The foodapolooza kept going today as I met CAL, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, and our friend Nancy downtown.  Nancy is a very talented photographer who took CAL's senior portraits today.  They used downtown Chicago as a backdrop and she's taken a slew of awesome photos.  Check out Nancy's great work here.

Anyway, I met them as they wrapped up there photos as I had been downtown on the job.  We felt we deserved something awesome so we hightailed it to Xoco.  It's one of Rick Bayless's restaurants and it was incredible.  Rick and his team are serving up the most flavorful tortas  I've ever had.  I had the Choriqueso torta and the chorizo was enough to make this grown man/fatty cry.  It was smoky, spicy, and accompanied by a poblano that brought up the heat just that much more.  It was one of the best things I've ever eaten.  The churro that capped the meal was literally a sweet way to end our day.  The meal was worth the 45 minute wait for a table.  I cannot wait to go back!
This photo, from the Chicago Tribune, captures the good Chef Rick Bayless in action at Xoco.  It was an absolute delight to eat there.

So, like I said, it's been a good week for the foodie in me.  And now, I need to pay some serious attention to the runner in me.  The fatty in me may be in danger of making a comeback if I don't!

20 September 2010


Another year older today.  I'm not feeling especially wiser, to tell you the truth.  I'm feeling solidly middle-age today.  As I lamented in last night's post about being tired, I'm still feeling that way.  Maybe it's because I'm smack in the middle of, well, middle-age.  Who knows?

When I checked out what was doing on this date in history on Wikipedia this evening, I learned that today is Respect for the Aged Day in Japan.  I nearly burst out laughing at the irony.  The USA needs to consider such a holiday.  I'm certain Hallmark would endorse it.

When I think about it, I'm really not that old.  I may look like the horse that got rode hard and put away wet, but all in all, my forty four years so far have been pretty good.  I'm pretty darn happy with how life has turned out.  Not much to complain about.  Lots to be happy about.  That's a pretty good place to be, truth be told.

I'm looking forward to a little birthday celebration with memories of my childhood watching the premiere of "Hawaii Five-O" tonight.  I loved, loved, loved the original as a kid.  I can recall watching it once or twice with my Dad, always with a grilled cheese sandwich, and thinking McGarrett was just plain cool.  The previews for the new show, as the Boy puts it, look 'sick.'  So, in the spirit of the Islands, I say, aloha.

19 September 2010

I'm tired.

The title of today's post pretty much sums it all up.  I'm tired.  Just plain tired.  Why?  Well, work has been brutal from a schedule and demand perspective.  September is typically a very busy time of year for me and it's been exacerbated by a new career opportunity.  I'm taking a new job with my current employer which will put me in a completely new role.  I'm incredibly excited about it but it's led to a significant amount of transition work before I move into the new role at the beginning of October.

I'm not going to whine about the work load or the job stress.  I really am grateful for the work that I have.  It's good.  I'm just tired.  I know that it hasn't helped that I don't think I've run more than seven miles since the half-marathon.  I know my body is SO not happy with me.  The fact that I've not been running isn't helping.  At all.  I've just got to get back at it.  And fast.  Fall is here and before you know it that mean she-beast that is Mother Nature will bring her nasty winter mood and no good can come from that.  It will certainly impact my running.  I need to do something about it while I still can.

So I'm looking forward to a new week and another opportunity to revive and get back at it.  I'm traveling and of the two segments that have First Class on them, I've cleared one upgrade and am on the waitlist for one.  Let's see if my luck holds with upgrade lotto.  Fingers crossed.

12 September 2010

In Memoriam - 9/11/01

While it's a day after the 9th anniversary of the attacks on U.S. soil that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people, I've found myself quite contemplative this weekend. My mind has not been far from the events of that horrific day. Much has been said that it was one of those watershed events - one that you'll never forget where were you were when you first heard the news. I know I was in my car on I15 driving into the office and was on the phone with my company's help desk, trying to address an issue with my computer. I'll not forget the gasp of the young woman on the other line as she told me what she was seeing. That was right after the first plane hit. I sensed that whatever was going on in New York City was going to change everything. And it did.

The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I had been in NYC the week before the events of 9/11. We'd gone for a few days to relax and enjoy the city. It was an awesome trip and I'll never forget as we were being driven back to JFK the view we had of the Towers. The Towers were not beautiful. However, on that afternoon nine years ago, they were framed by a gorgeous, cloudless blue sky and seemed, at that moment, to embody New York City. I recall saying something to SML about as we drove. Little did I know that one week later, those towers would be a pile of smoking rubble and the tomb of 3,000 people.

I've thought many times over the years about who died in the Towers, the Pentagon, and aboard United 93.   I believe we are indebted to each of them who died to NOT forget what happened that day.  We must live in such a way that we prevent something like this from ever happening again.  We've got to eradicate hate and fear.  Ultimately, we are all children of the same God and are inherently good.  This hate-mongering that has our world divided has got to stop.

I suspect I'm going to close the evening tonight watching the most extraordinary film I've seen about 9/11. I'll watch, and weep as I do, United 93. It simply is stunning. It's a powerful reminder of what a handful of people can do, and what they did, on that day.

May we never forget their sacrifice and may we live in such a way that there is no longer a need for people to feel that we have to kill one another like this.

09 September 2010


Another big day here in the Den. What makes this day, September 9, a big deal? Well, thanks to Wikipedia, let's see:

- 1850: California is admitted as the 31st state
- 1922: The Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922 ends (whew!)
- 1926: The National Broadcasting Company is formed (Where's our apology for "Knight Rider?")
- 1971: The Attica Prison riot begins, ending four days later
- 1995: The Boy is born in Mesa, AZ

Yes, it's the Boy's birthday! 15 years ago, it all flipped here in the Den when we welcomed our third child, our first and only boy. The Boy has been pretty awesome from the moment he landed here. Our life has not been dull and I don't think it ever will be with him. He's incredibly fun, outgoing, charming, and a natural leader. Underneath the bravado of teenagerness, he's sensitive. He's just quite a kid and I can't imagine our life and home without him.

Happy birthday to The Boy! Love you, buddy!

05 September 2010

A Year On...some thoughts on grieving

A year ago this past week, on September 3, 2009, my father died quite unexpectedly from a massive coronary. It hardly seems like it's been a year. I'm very aware of the blessings that have been extended, especially to my Mom, during this year. She is literally surrounded by angels who have made her life without Dad much easier to handle. It's not been without its trials, to be sure, but how grateful I am for the comfort and guidance she's been given. I see the hand of our Father in Heaven in her life every day.

As I've had a chance to think back on the events of a year ago, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, as well as some close friends, have asked how I'm doing and I've asked myself the same question. I think I'm really OK. From the moment I learned of Dad's passing, my focus has primarily been on my Mom, her care and condition, and the overall status of the Lyons' family. These have not been made unilaterally. There have been lots of calls as a family or in person discussions when I've been back in the PHX-area. So for me, it seems like there's not been a lot of time to grieve.

And what is grieving anyway? Often times, throughout this first year, I've told my Mom there's no rule book to how you behave in situations like hers, losing your beloved husband of 50 years. And I realize, that the same applies to me. Have I wept uncontrollably? No. Have I regretted a conversation that went unspoken between my Dad and I? No. Have I missed him every day? Absolutely. How could I not? He was a tremendous example and a pillar of faith and spiritual strength. Have I tried to live my life better as a result of his example? Yes, with middle of the pack results. Ultimately, there is no play book here that dictates how I have to grieve. Grieving is a deeply personal thing (I know, I know...queue the irony music as I find myself talking about it on my open for all to read blog). I miss him each and every day. There are times when tears have come. Two weeks ago, as an example, as we sang "I Know My Redeemer Lives" at the conclusion of an incredibly powerful Sunday School lesson, the tears flooded down my cheeks, as I was touched by the spirit of that song. And it was that same spirit that has made my sadness so much easier to bear this past year.

You see, I know that I will see my Dad again. There is a "something else" after this life. This life, this time here on earth, it's just a time of learning, testing and probation. There is a life after this one. One where we will be reunited as families for the eternities. I've been so comforted by that knowledge that I believe that's why I've not been so full of grief. And there's a measure of comfort in knowing my Dad believed these same things. He taught them to me. He taught me many things, principles that have made my life better and I am so grateful for that. I'm most grateful for the principle of choice that he taught me. It's beautifully captured in this video:

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me well. I miss you. I'm forever grateful for your example. I'm trying to be the man you were. I hope I can get there.