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The power of love

Debbie came all the way from south Florida to visit me this weekend. What strength and courage that must have taken. She is as brave as she is beautiful and I am a lucky man to know her and to be in her heart.

Thirty three years had passed since we last saw each other in person. Thirty three years since we had even spoken until January of this year, 2011. We had both taken radically different paths through life’s journey that led us to the same spiritual and emotional place all these years later. It is such a crazy story that it is almost unbelievable.

We re-connected through Facebook and then immediately began texting and instant messaging online. It wasn’t long until we fired up the web cams and since then we’ve been face to face enjoying each other’s company for hours on end every single night, but a thousand miles away from each other. There was much to teach and learn about each other’s past and life’s experiences. There still is much for us to learn.

We were in love with each other when we were sixteen years old, but what do sixteen year olds really know about love? At 49 years old now, I have a new deep respect for the answer to that question.

I thought I had been in love before. I even got married in my early twenties. That didn’t work out. I had several long term relationships throughout my life. I thought they were love too. Each and every time I had my heart handed back to me, quartered and diced, and a few ounces shy of when I gave it away. I built walls after a while. I didn’t let anyone in. For the last decade I’ve lived alone, keeping any relationships at arms length. I had some soul searching to do and I did it. I know who I am now. Wisdom has taught me many lessons and I know what is important and what is not. I know what is shallow and what is deep. I’ve spent a lot of time here alone. I learned to like being alone and I never felt lonely. And then Debbie came back to me after all these years and everything changed in a flash.

Debbie arrived Friday morning and it was although time had stood still for all those years. The chemistry is amazing. The romance is strong. The passion is deep. The love that we felt for each other way back then never died and it wasn’t just laying dormant somewhere. It was growing, unseen and undetected. It seems to have grown exponentially over the years as if someone or some thing much greater than ourselves was nurturing and feeding it as if it were some kind of prized botanical treasure.

I have just spent three of the best days of my life with her. Every embrace felt like we were sculpted by the world’s greatest artist to fit perfectly with each other. We are like two pieces of a valuable rare puzzle that can’t and shouldn’t fit with anything or anyone anywhere else in the universe except for with each other. There is not a doubt in my mind that she was meant for me and that I was meant for her.

I have never felt this depth of love, this level of trust or this magnitude of caring before. I just spent three days of total, undiminished, unabridged happiness with her and never in my life have I felt so complete. The piece of me that was missing all of these years is no longer missing. She makes me feel whole.

Our visit is over. I drove her out to drop her off at her mother’s house in Pittsburgh today where she’ll spend the rest of her vacation. Every mile I drove home I felt just a little less complete and a lot more empty. I’ve lived alone for a very long time but I’ve never felt as alone as I do at this very moment. But while my house is empty and my soul is lonely, my heart is full of love for her and hers is full with me. I’ll drive out to see her next week before she goes back to Florida and we’ll embrace each other again with the strength and passion that it will take until we see each other again this summer.

We are one.

Home made beef jerky in the oven

I love beef jerky but it’s so expensive to buy, so I used my black belt in Google Fu to research how to make beef jerky. I came across many recipes and I combined a few and came up with a pretty good one. Here’s what I do.

The store where I shop sells thinly sliced top round steak. It usually comes with 2 slices in a pack, about 12 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1/4 of an inch thick. It usually weighs in between a pound or a pound and a half. I take that and cut it down into about 1 inch wide strips and if they are real long I cut them down to maybe 6 inches in length. Once the meat is cut it’s time to make the marinade. In a big ziplock bag add

1/4 cup liquid smoke (Hickory)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
15 drops of Tabasco sauce

mix it up real good and put the meat in the bag and squish and mix it all around. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours. I let the last batch marinate for 24. It’s up to you, but I’d go at least 12.

When your ready to finish it, take it out and put it into a colander to drain it. Put a sheet or two of tin foil on the bottom of your oven and put the oven rack in the top position as high as you can get it. Then take a tooth pick and poke one through the end of one of the beef strips and put it up through the bottom of the rack and turn it sideways so that it hangs. Hang them all like that.

Turn the oven to 180 degrees and let it go for anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat and how you like it. Remember, it’s not about cooking the meat so much as it is drying it out.

That’s it. Let it cool, remove the tooth picks and enjoy!