I was invited to dinner last night at the Bridgeside Super Club south of Grand Rapids on Pokegama Lake. I have fond memories of this place for many reasons. Years ago, I used to sell pull tabs here from a booth in the corner of the bar. Then, a few years later when I was on hard times, Harry and Ruby, the former owner of the club put me to work in the kitchen washing dishes and prepping for the chef.
Last night I had the most incredible lobster dinner that I’ve had in years.
After dinner, we were all invited out to the deck overlooking the lake to enjoy a 40 year old bottle of brandy. Then I learned the real reason that I was there. My friends Steve and Amy, the couple who adopted Pedro, took on another cause that is near and dear to my heart.
Just a little background here.
The North Country Animal Rescue, north of Grand Rapids was on the verge of closing their door. This shelter has been operating since 1978 from monies from the estate of a woman who passed away in 1976. Before she passed she had 2 dogs and 23 cats. Unfortunately the money finally ran out due to poor financial management in the last 10 years.
This is the front view of the shelter.
And a rear view.
Enter Steve and Amy.
A real estate developer has been making offers on the property where the shelter is located for nearly 8 years, but the people managing the shelter always refused to sell. Now they were in a bad place, and the management was ready to sell out.
Steve wrote a check for $1.4 million to purchase the property. Part of his decision was personal. He knew the real estate developer very well and he didn’t want this guy to build another row of condominiums. It was part of an age old battle between this developer and Steve’s father that had gone on for a great many years.
It is going to cost Steve approximately $4.5 million to update the main building and the surrounding facilities. The surrounding facility have housed over 150 dogs and cats, and has housed horses, goats, and many others over the years. He plans to expand all of these buildings.
I used to volunteer at this shelter, so I know that what he is planning is going to be on a grand scale, and I’m actually looking forward to helping out with what I can.
Steve and Amy also added another member to their family.
Molly is 14 years old, and according to the vet, if she receives good care, may live for another two or three years. Steve and Amy took Molly in so that she could spend her remaining days not seeing the world through the bars of a cage.
Molly’s previous owner abandoned her in the bathroom of a gas station 4 years ago, and she has been at North Country ever since. She is such a little lover and deserves to live out her remaining years with a loving family.
A quick update on Pedro:
Pedro will be going to a dentist tomorrow to have some teeth fixed. Otherwise he is having the time of his life. Steve had a catio built that I could only describe as a wonderland for any cat. When I get a chance, I want to get some pictures of it. From what Amy described to me, and knowing how Steve is, it has got to be close to a 5 star luxury hotel for cats. I can’t wait to get out and see it.
I’m thankful today for people who have more money than they know what to do with, who use it to make lives better rather than to just make more money.
By the time everything is done, Steve figures that it will cost them nearly $8 million to fulfill their plans for the shelter. They both consider it some of the best money they’ve ever spent.
Here’s hoping everybody has a great Thankful Thursday. Mine started out great last night.
I’m a chili lover from the word go. I’m not talking about the chili that a lot of my friends make and think that it’s the greatest chili in the world. They think that chili is supposed to be hot enough to melt the bottom out of the spoon, and they add enough beans to choke a horse. For me, chili has to have a good balance of seasonings, spices, and beans. This one really fits the bill for me.
This is a recipe you’ll want to be making year round, even as it starts to get warm outside. It’s probably different than what you’d expect with the label of “chili” in the title but it is amazingly delicious!
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14 ounces each) chicken broth
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans, drained, divided
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sliced jalapeno pepper, optional
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook chicken and onion in oil until lightly browned. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, chiles, cumin, oregano and cayenne; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. With a potato masher, mash one can of beans until smooth. Add to saucepan. Add remaining beans to saucepan. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and onion is tender.
Top each serving with cheese and, if desired, jalapeno pepper.
Freeze option: Freeze cooled chili in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally; add broth or water if necessary.
Now before I end this, there is something that you should know about this incredible chili recipe. This chili has actually won 6 awards from 6 national chili cook offs. Unless you make this one at home, there is only one place in the world where you can have White Chicken Chili with this particular recipe.
That place? The Salvation Army Soup Kitchen in Virginia, MN. The chef who came up with this recipe is a regular volunteer there. I’m most thankful for good people who donate their time and always give their best.
This is going to be a long one. There’s been a lot going on. So you might want to fill your coffee mug before you start reading.
It’s been a rough couple of days. I had my apartment inspection yesterday and I passed. I think they are getting the idea here that they are on the verge of a tenant revolt, so they are walking on egg shells. The manager came in and didn’t say one solitary word to me. I thought it was kinda funny how she came in and looked at Johnny sitting on the couch. He just glared at her and growled the whole time she was here. Most often my boy is a better judge of character than I am. As they were leaving, the maintenance man pet Johnny. The manager tried and he growled and swiped at her. Good boy…
My friends Steve and Amy called last night to let me know that Pedro and Sammy are getting along famously. Amy was working at the kitchen table and Pedro kept trying to swipe any small shiny item within in reach. She’s already taken a ton of pictures. Steve told one of his friends at the Grand Rapids Herald-Review about how they found Pedro, and it’s going to be a news story in the next couple of days. Steve said that Amy wants to thank whoever it was who abandoned him in their car. They have fallen in love with the little character.
Steve and Amy couldn’t make it over, but their son Riley came over later last night and took me out to dinner for pizza and Buffalo wings. Riley and I both share the same birthday, May 31st. Tomorrow I turn 57 and Riley turns 27. He said that this was my first birthday present from the three of them. It’s nice to know that somebody still remembers my birthday, even when I try to forget it.
To tell you a little bit more about Riley, he is a character to be sure. Steve owns a company that since 911 has specialized in putting up security fences around airports and government facilities. Amy was and is still one of the top female martial artists in the country. She finally stopped competing when nobody had beaten her in over 12 years. While Riley really does have his Dad’s business acumen, and a small portion of his mother’s martial arts ability, he went an entirely different route in life. Riley trained to become a ballet dancer, and a very good one at that. He has performed for Elton John and several other big names. He spent two years at the Royal Ballet in London, and may very well be performing with the New York Ballet next year. He got me tickets to see Billy Elliot when it was in Chicago, and Steve flew me there to see it in his own private plane. Next year, I could be watching Riley perform with the NYC ballet for my birthday. I’m looking forward to it.
Riley stayed here until almost 4 in the morning and only left about 2 hours ago. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all last night, and I barely slept the night before due to the inspection, but I’m still pumped. Johnny and Daddy are going to be taking a little nap sometime today and probably pretty soon.
I just realized something yesterday. I’m really losing weight which is something I’ve tried to do for a long time ago. Just over 6 months ago, I weighed 239 pounds. Yesterday I stepped on the scale which I had hidden in the bedroom to avoid any more personal disappointment. I had to do a double take when it said that I was down to 216 pounds. I grabbed my glasses to be sure that I was seeing it right. I washed the top of my glass digital scale and I even changed the batteries just to be sure. It still read 216 pounds. So I’m happy about that. Considering the things that I like to eat, I’m most certainly surprised, but I’ll take what I can get.
Another point on my birthday, Steve and Amy are going to take me to Duluth for another gift. Everybody I know tells me that I’m hard to shop for. I really don’t think so. I’ve always told them that if they really want to buy me something, buy for Misty and Johnny. I’m always open to gift cards from places like Petco or PetSmart, and I can’t say that there has ever been a time when I would turn my nose up at cash. In the next week or two they are going to take me down to Petco in Duluth and we’re going to spoil Johnny rotten. I’m looking forward to that. And since I’m losing weight, I’m going to have to start getting some new clothes. I’m sorta looking forward to that too.
More about dinner…
The place that we went to last night looked like a total dive. As we drove up, there was a drunk passed out on the sidewalk in front of the place. And when we got inside, there was actually a real honest to goodness bar fight going on. I didn’t realize that I was going to get entertained so well.
We grabbed a seat way in the back of the place and Riley ordered. I wasn’t really expecting to be so impressed. The pizza was totally incredible and the Buffalo wings were absolutely divine. We both left with takeout boxes, and it’s not too tough to figure out what I’ve been nibbling on for breakfast.
Today I have to say that there are a lot of things that I’m thankful for.
- I’m thankful for good friends who remember my birthday even when I try not to.
- I’m thankful for people not throwing me birthday parties. I have one person who I’m sure will try. I just like to have a quiet meal and spend time with friends.
- I’m thankful to find out that I’m actually losing weight. I’ll be thrilled to death when I get below 200 pounds.
- I’m thankful that Pedro now has a great new forever home and will probably become as spoiled rotten as my Johnny.
One other thing. Riley, Steve, and Amy all said that they like this theme on my blog the best. I told them that I changed this theme out because of some problems that I was having. This is the updated version and it is running flawlessly (knock on wood). I told Riley that I couldn’t really afford the new version, so he whipped out his credit card and solved that problem for me.
Oh yeah, one other thing that I’m most thankful for, especially this morning…
I’m thankful for coffee which I will probably be drinking a lot of today.
Here’s hoping everybody has a great Thursday. I plan on it.
I’m most thankful that there are people in my building that realize that cats sometimes need a little feline companionship too. When I take him out for his walk through the hallways, a few of the tenants will let their cats out to play with him. Sometimes they only play for just a few minutes, but every little bit counts. Even for a cat.