cooking for 8 or 15 – The Man Cave is missing the wide screen.

I’ve been through this routine before. What are we working on? Who is showing up? What time are you getting there?

Have you any guess as to how many variables go on into a simple trip to Lake Havasu? Over the years I have become accustomed to just being there. Showing up and doing whatever. Now, since my skills are no longer needed behind the wrench replacing a motor, or testing for an electrical short . . . which I still get called for those; The crew I see when I go out to Havasu has become somewhat institutionalized into anticipating some creation from me, all while they sit back and watch. Well they rarely ever sit back and watch as there is always a piece of equipment (toys) to work on to get ready for the next day. The group out at this place in Havasu has found an additional strength in my capabilities as a trade off, so they are willing to keep me away from the equipment repairs and back to searing up the latest catch (not really . . . Havasu?) or ‘Q’ing up the chicken. They also know they are not going to get something ordinary; I’m gonna be kickin’ it up somehow.Johnny's Teriyaki Chicken Skewers.

By the questions asked in the first paragraph, I attempt to rationalize any decisions for how much food I should be preparing, how I should be serving, and what foods are folks going to like; but I have to deal with a lot of unknowns. Just the question of timing is difficult. I just have to be ready to flex and be ready to go “game on”, basically at the drop of a hat. I could be the only person there prepping my dinner, and suddenly 15 people show up . . . and they’re hungry and thirsty, having just arrived after a 5 hour drive from the Los Angeles area.

I just begin creating after my own 5-hour drive from San Diego; actually I have been creating for three days. Did  some prep-work the day before and have been working on a menu for the last few. But, am I cooking for 8 or 15? I plan for 15 . . . don’t know why; because the norm is around 8-10. As any good cook would know, to always recognize that someone else will show up, yet reserving the thought that I might have some leftovers to use for next morning’s breakfast.

Another of the variables I have to deal with is if there is equipment that needs fixed, worked on or pulled out and started. You see, there is a massive toy garage that houses many boats, motorcycles and other manly toys. This is one of the biggest and best man caves I know of. We even have the next level being planned; to add a projector with drop down retractable screen. You see, we don’t watch too much TV out there, but video is the only thing missing from the cave, so we figured we will make it retractable.

Anyway, that story was written some time ago. I really don’t know when. Me seems to think it was from my last trip well over a year ago.

Lake Havasu was a get-away for me, as I’m sure it is for many others. It was a place I had frequented about 3 times a year. When I had to get away, . . . I had to get away. These were usually guy-trips but I would usually always see some of the wives or girl friends from other friends and sometimes their kids . . . even some of the now older kids. I don’t really remember who is always with who. Over the years I have developed friendships with many of those that visited the Lake at the same time as I. I guess that’s why I would cook for 15. I like that fix. It reminds me of being at my current home and anticipating a slew of folks dropping through, often times initiated through a then, very close (dear and distance) relative and family, including his wife.  She is dying of a cancer and has recently been visited by her Priest. I have been told to stay away . . . even from the funeral.

That is hard. Knowing someone whom you have loved with the family along side of their children, whose ages are very similar to mine; and, they live literally just over the hill about 3 miles away. Knowing that she is dying very soon.

That family is husbanded and fathered by one of my ever-best friends I’ve known for as long as I’ve known my wife . . . his youngest sister. A relationship so long that I was even made a Chef Salad in the middle of the week on my 21st birthday. Yes, he turned me into a Chef Salad because I passed out after watching the band RV and The Fabulous Shadows at a club overlooking Mission Beach/Bay. No I didn’t pass out at the club . . . I passed out on his couch; and the next morning was “ouch”! I still remember those times with him. Well that was over 30 years ago. A lot of times with him since.

I remember having those large family celebrations in which everyone would show up. Whether it was at my home or at his Bellagio. He has a very nice home with an enormous and well-outfitted culinarian’s dream kitchen. It is a very nice home. Location, view, pool and amenities. I remember her doing quite well in that kitchen. She always had a local vegetable or some other creation that she had perfected, while my Brother-in-Law would be grilling up something . . . usually quite well. I think I may have finally learned to prepare a whole flap roast just as good as he. Or whether the cooking was at another cousin’s house . . . or in-laws house, good food and cooking were wherever the family had congregated. Unfortunately, he will probably lose that palace since paying for his wife’s deteriorating health for several years. Experiences of helping build part of that home with he, and the very large family parties we would have there. I may not ever experience that again.

This moment is now about lost family experiences and those relationships that have otherwise become tarnished through those experiences. “You’ll never be going back to Lake Tahoe”, my wife playfully hollers at me after learning of another family crisis, if you can call them that; an seemingly eminent family divorce. I guess that other “girl” has been associated with those trips to Havasu. I haven’t been back to Havasu in over a year and was very much looking forward to joining a “guys trip” sometime again soon. To see those other friends and families I have now only maintained Facebook relationships with.

Life goes on. It’s hard when those relationships, whether they are one-time friends that you have only seen again as a selfie, or those that have endured the many years such as long-time family. Yes, the divorce situation has kids that have grown up along with ours, with the same ages as ours. And that long-time wife is part of that equation. She, or the other dying member have been with our families for many years . . . many years . . . like 30. They will always be loved, remembered and very welcomed in our homes, even if it’s only past memories. I’m not so worried because the possibility still exists as all of the kids continue to grow, graduate and marry. Hopefully those times will be never-omitting experiences we all can once again share.

The times are of remembering that family, . . . having always been family . . . even as jacked up as we all are . . . in someone’s (family’s) eye. I’ve been told that I may have said something to my brother-in-law. I’ve been told that I am being vented on as the person to blame for the eminent dying of his wife. Fuck I don’t know. It’s just hard to wrap my arms around long-time relationships that have become destroyed or otherwise bruised. Those memories that linger. Those experiences we all shared; even remembering some of those experiences were also hardships through life. Perhaps these are just more of those family experiences that will shape us. Even remembering stupid shit like recipes or techniques we’ve learned from those relationships. Or remembering that friendships and family will always lead to food. It’s what brings us together . . . always. Even if it’s remembering that family dinners around the table are what develops those intimate family relationships . . . beginning with our own, or even those with other friends of the family.

As we go through life, remembering things that may have been done or said through those relationships need to be vetted out. They need to be mended by time. Unfortunately I may never get to say good bye to someone that was loved so deeply by family, and I. As I get older I know I will lose certain relationships. I guess I never realized that I would lose certain experiences. I guess I could only hope that I can have those experiences once again.

Isn’t that what I talk about . . . experiences?


Michelle died after writing this a couple of days ago. She was loved by many.

Categories: Services


  1. What a sad and beautifully-written post. It’s heartbreaking when things like this happen in families.

    My condolences on the death of your family member.

  2. So sorry for the passing of your friend, Michelle. It is hard to grow older and experience the death of so many…about seven years ago, I came across a directory in the home town I grew up in…and I started to count the people who had died that were listed in the book. I was shocked at how many I knew had died. Since then I have lost my Mom, a sister, a brother, and a nephew…life seems very different to me now…and I tend to view everything around me as on a mystical journey. I realize the only thing permanent is change. As you wrote so well, a moment encounter can mean the world to us, and, then those around us daily cannot be taken for granted. Blessings!

    • Yeah, and then they happen to be dying like famous people, in groups of twos and threes. We had another unexpected death the following week. Been a busy summer so far. Staying positive . . . we really don’t have any time to sulk and complain. Just keep truckin’.

      Thanks for the condolences.


      • Life is a journey…lots of people coming into being…many others leaving…the only constant is CHANGE. Since turning 65…trying to be bolder and not older…I think about my existence here and the meaning of it all…and WHY there is so much suffering…WHY we hurt one another …I wish LOVE was a constant along with Change. Blessings to you. Saying goodbyes is hard for those of us left behind. I do HOPE there is Something more after we leave here…

      • Seems like some people even seek to hurt others at the thought of their own gain.

        Again, thanls for the thoughts.


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