I believe in conscientious capitalism; that's a kind of driving force with me. - Zachary Levi
Most of us have heard the old story of the farmer who wins a huge lottery, and when asked what he will do with all his money, wryly retorts, "I reckon I'll just keep on farming until it's all gone."
Amusing, but truth is often stranger than fiction. In fact, in both Canada and the United States a large number of businesses close or go bankrupt each year. Yet the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. My father was a small businessman, owning and operating Kuroki Hotel. Two of my brothers are self-employed entrepreneurs, and since I self-published my book I am attending the entrepreneurial school of hard knocks.
The life of the business person or entrepreneur is not always easy. To many of us it might appear to be simply providing some goods or services and reaping the rewards in the form of huge profits. But we rarely see the whole picture.
This fact was demonstrated clearly to me on my recent book signing tour to Saskatchewan. My sister and brother-in-law have been owners and operators of the Wadena Bakery since 1987. They graciously allowed me to spend a day there meeting and greeting customers while signing and selling my book. Small town bakers are true entrepreneurs. From the outside it looks easy. We know bakers are always rolling in dough. ( Sorry! Bad pun.)
Margaret and Steve, my sister and brother-in-law, bake an awesome variety of decadent tasty treats - some of my favorites are Apple Fritters, Boston Creams and Poppy Seed Rolls - as well as some extremely wholesome and nutritious buns and breads. But they work very hard to do it. I witnessed it first hand. They are awake at 3:00 A.M. every day getting ready to prepare the delicious fare that we take for granted. By the time I got to the bakery between 8 and 9 A.M. for my book signing they had already put in half a day of hard labour. Not only do they work long and tiring hours, they also provide employment for five other hard working, helpful and personable staff who clean, stock shelves, slice bread and act as sales clerks.
Entrepreneurial life can be extremely challenging, particularly during economic recessions. There was a farmer who, during the great depression, hauled a load of wheat to the grain elevator. Grain was such a low price that, after weighing the load, subtracting the costs of shipping the grain to the miller, taking off weed seed dockage, and adding elevator handling costs, the elevator agent advised the farmer that he owed the elevator company $5.00.
The farmer gave him $10.00. When the elevator agent asked why, the farmer said, " I'll be bringing you another load later today."
Some days, many entrepreneurs feel the same as that farmer. I tip my hat to all small business people who risk their capital and invest money, talent and energy to earn a living for their families as well as to provide employment for others.
Gerald M. Sliva
PS. If you click on the photo below, of Steve loading his oven with loaves ready to be baked, you will be taken direct to Wadena Bakery Facebook page where you can "like" their page and love their produce.
My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor. - Phyllis Diller
Canada recently celebrated Thanksgiving and Americans are about to do the same. So, if we are all giving thanks for our many blessings, WHOM are we thanking? I have a strong belief in God, a Supreme Being, the Giver of all things, the Almighty – I bet you believe in Him too. My belief stems from the observation that this universe, this earth, this body and brain and all of nature are just too marvelous, too amazing and too incomprehensible to have occurred by an accident. So, if God has provided this fantastic life about which we learn and marvel more each day, perhaps billions more amazing discoveries await humankind’s discovery.
We have family, health and life itself to be thankful for. We have food, fun and friendship. The list could go on forever. Most authors, poets, artists and musicians have said it through word, image and music more marvelously than I could ever hope to achieve. I can not match their eloquence. So, I'll stop.
Instead, I invite you to click on the image to the left to watch a four minute video giving thanks for the wonders of nature.
Gerald M. Sliva
It's recipe time, friends! Autumn is soup time.
If you've read Barking From the Front Porch you will know that good home-cooked food is high on my list of priorities. Slightly spicy foods are near the top of the list. This recipe for a hearty Spicy Italian Soup was on the internet. If you want the original recipe, just click on the image of Anthony Bourdain's quote. Over the past two years I have simplified the recipe and adjusted the ingredients to make it one of our favorite soups for a cool autumn day. I made a large pot full just a few days ago and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with you.
Spicy Italian Soup
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 yellow cooking onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 green or red bell pepper, finely diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano or dried mixed Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
1 package hot Italian sausage ( 5 links or about 20 ounces), preferably the sausage will be bulk rather than in links.
2 cups yellow split peas
1 litre of chicken stock plus another 1 1/2 litres of water
salt and pepper to taste
Use a large soup pot or Dutch oven for this. If the sausage is in links, remove the casings, frying the meat in one tablespoon of cooking oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, breaking up the meat and browning it.
While the sausage is browning, dice the green pepper, onion, celery and carrots.
Tilt the soup pot to the side so the oil/fat drains to one side of the pot and remove as much of the oil as possible, discarding it (makes a leaner, healthier soup).
Toss all the diced vegetables into the pot with the browned sausage, stir and saute over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes. Add the oregano or the mixed Italian herbs, stir and saute another 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, water and yellow split peas. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat. Add bay leaves. (Note: The soup becomes quite thick and it is sometimes difficult to find the bay leaves.)
Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for 3 to 4 hours on low heat. Check and stir occasionally, adding a little more water if the soup appears too thick.
Remove the bay leaves and use a submersible food processor to blend and liquefy the ingredients into a thick, hearty soup.
Serve with Parmesan cheese and fresh Italian bread. Keep some red pepper flakes, Tabasco or Louisiana Hot sauce on hand for those who like an even spicier soup.
Gerald M. Sliva
"Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die." - Herbert Hoover
Today, my blog will be brief. Perhaps silence, contemplation and prayer is the best way we can honour those who gave their lives so that many of us can be free. There is really no way to repay the fathers, grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who stood up against tyranny, who gave their all to ensure our liberty.
The First World War - the war to end all wars - was not the end. The world continues in conflict. Tyranny continues. Millions of lives from the allies of dozens of countries have been lost in the struggle for freedom. Most of us can not even imagine the unspeakable horrors and atrocities these brave souls endured on our behalf. I happen to be Canadian, but I remember and honour the lives of all who fought on the land, on the sea or in the sky for our freedom.
My father and several of my uncles and aunts were volunteers in the struggle against the Nazis in the Second World War. Many were sent overseas. My father was not. He was a Staff Sergeant at the Military Hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan during the Second War. My mother worked in a factory building guns to help defeat Hitler and the Nazis.
Additionally, my father was a bugler for his regiment. Please click on his photo to watch and listen to a stirring rendition of The Last Post played by an Australian Bugler during their Remembrance ceremonies. May God grant us Peace!
Gerald M. Sliva
My most recent encounter with a dog helping people was at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. We had several large bags of magazines which we wanted to donate to the hospital. As we entered, I could scarcely believe my eyes. The image I had chosen for the cover of my book was my intellectual, serious looking dog, Browser, wearing spectacles. Here, in the hospital, was another dog – perhaps Browser's long lost relative – sitting on a stool and wearing spectacles. Both the dog and the owner wore St Boniface Hospital Volunteer identification. I spoke with George, the owner of Rusty, to find out their routine. It turns out that they occasionally volunteer at the hospital, just meeting and cheering patients and visitors. What a wonderful service they provide! I asked his permission to photograph both of them with a view toward using their images on my website.
This blog is a tribute to all good dogs and their faithful masters, but most of all it is a tribute to Rusty and George, the tremendous volunteers who provide such cheer and enjoyment to the patients, visitors and staff of St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.
Gerald M. Sliva
Peace on earth; good will toward men.
Apologies to my readers and followers! I had intended to complete a couple more Blog posts about our furry four-legged friends. Those will be forthcoming, but something has to be said about rushing the season.
I first signed up for Facebook on June 24 of this year. By early July I was already seeing Facebook posts encouraging me to be politically incorrect by saying "Merry Christmas." Hold on a minute! Most people hadn't had their summer vacation. Labour Day was almost two months away. Halloween and Thanksgiving were in the distant future and someone expected me to "Like" the political incorrectness of saying Merry Christmas?
Why am I "barking" about this now? Well, here it is - November 1. I haven't finished choking down the leftover Halloween treats in our pantry. We haven't honoured our veterans yet. Our American buddies haven't celebrated Thanksgiving. But today, November 1, 2015, I see still one more Facebook post about the political correctness or incorrectness of saying "Merry Christmas". I haven't counted them, but my ball-park estimate is that I have seen twenty of these Facebook posts since July. Then I'm supposed to feel guilty because I don't "Like" it? The people who share or "like" these Facebook posts are not the ones to blame. They likely gave in to their guilty feelings and thought, much as I did, that if I don't "like" the post or share the post, I must be against "Merry Christmas".
Don't misunderstand me! I love Christmas; but let's wait until at least early December to start pushing it.
Then the words "political correctness/incorrectness" stick in my craw. Christmas should have nothing to do with politics. Wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" is common courtesy and a celebration of the season. Even non-Christians can wish people a Merry Christmas. If they greet me with a Happy Hanukkah or other seasonal greeting, I'm happy to reciprocate.
I've been trying to figure out who has hijacked Christmas and pushes it down our throats as early as July each year. Christians have numerous feasts to celebrate all year long, Easter being the greatest of all. Advent leads us to Christmas, and Christmas traditionally comes in December - not July. Seems to me there could be some nefarious motive for pushing Christmas all year long, and I doubt it has much to do with celebrating Christ's birth or "Peace on Earth; good will toward men." Might it be instead that someone is trying to get us in the buying mood, to cater to our materialistic tendencies? What do I want this Christmas? A new Play Station? A sixty inch LCD television with surround sound? If I get one of those I'll have a Merry Christmas and there will be Peace on Earth!
I will wish everyone a very Merry, Peaceful and Blessed Christmas --- in December.
Sorry for barking, but I had to say it.
Gerald M. Sliva
Still Barking! Blog of