Tonight, I Sliced a Tomato …

Tonight, I sliced a tomato. It may have been the most important thing I’ve done all day. You see, it didn’t involve Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey or Hillary Clinton.

Tomatoes, like people, are ubiquitous, easily found but for the most part bland and sometimes rotten. My go-to source for good tomatoes, the Ferguson Farmer’s Market has closed for the year. I was left with only grocery store options. If you are thinking, what’s the big deal, then you don’t understand tomatoes.

Like you, I am bombarded with news and information to the point I don’t know what to believe. This is when I narrow the focus of my thoughts. There are few things that I know for sure, but one of them is the love of my family, and darn it, they are going to get the best tomato I can find!

I seriously debated just skipping the tomato, a tasteless tomato is worse than no tomato at all. But I was on a mission, and I was in a mood … this was for family and I was going to give it my best.

I paced in front of the produce section. The options were limited, hot-house beefsteak tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and tomatoes pitched as still being attached to the vine. Looking them over, if I were a tomato, I would not have dated any of them. Thankfully, I am not a tomato.

I was preparing dinner for 3 members of my family. It was a simple menu of roasted potatoes and onions and a sandwich constructed of good deli turkey, mayo mixed with a few shakes of Frank’s Hot Sauce to spread over the brioche bun, a slice of provolone cheese melted on top with a garnish of avocado and tomato slices. Can’t miss!

I made the mistake of turning on my iPhone right after sliding the potatoes into the oven to roast. I had a few moments to kill, so I thought I would catch up on the news … big mistake. There was nothing that I needed (or wanted) to know, there were descriptions of things I really didn’t want bouncing around in my head, so I turned it off.

I grabbed the tomato I selected, peeled off the little sticker with the price code, ran my thumb across it’s surface, laid it on my cutting board and raised my chef’s knife. The slices needed to be thick enough to taste but nor so thick as to make eating difficult. A gentle sprinkle of sea salt compensated for any lack of flavor.

There are moments when things come into focus, when it’s easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s rarely big events … most of the time it’s the ordinary, the common. The trick is learning how to spot them.

Screw you Harvey, Donald, Kevin and Hillary, tonight I’m slicing a tomato for my family!



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The Terrible-Wonderful Week


There are not many advantages to having some years under your belt, but there are a few. One of those is perspective. The ability to recognize the inconsequential, the fluff, and yes the BS, from the things that are really important. That coffee stain on a new shirt, the mistake that kept you from getting an “A” on the exam, the guy who just cut you off in heavy traffic, the dead battery on your car, the slight you received at work  … all inconsequential, fluff, or BS.

This Wednesday as I was preparing to leave work, I got a phone call from Mrs. Poppy telling me that Fiona, our beautiful little 14 month old granddaughter, started having seizures at the doctor’s office while getting her scheduled exam and shots. Furthermore she had been taken to the E.R. No additional information was available at that time, so on the drive home to pick up Mrs. Poppy, my imagination filled in the blanks … she’s going to be fine, it’s no big deal … I’m going to have to bury my granddaughter … everything will be OK, just relax … she will have permanent brain damage … it’s just a minor hiccup … how will I live without her … etc. These schizophrenic thoughts were punctuated with prayers that contained heavy theological content with deep potent that went something like this, “Please God, please…please…please”.

Arriving at the E.R. I wanted to find the entire staff gathered around Fiona’s bed, focused on taking care of her and disregarding all other patients and duties. Instead I found our family in a darkened room,  gathered around a tiny figure, unconscious and attached to various glowing, beeping instruments, sporting an oxygen mask that was strapped to her tiny head. I must have landed in some sort of temporal anomaly, because while my head and heart were racing the E.R. staff seemed to move at a very leisurely, almost nonchalant pace. Because of the length and severity of her seizures, the eventual decision was made to transfer her to the children’s hospital here in town for overnight observation and more tests the following day.


Fast forward almost 24 hours later, the EEG was administered and the results were finally in. The emotional pendulum abruptly swung the other way. All clear! No brain patterns that weren’t perfectly normal! Fiona is coming home!


Lessons learned … life is precious … take nothing for granted … family is important in spite of our flaws … all families are not as blessed as ours, reach out with love and empathy to those who are hurting.

In closing, two quotes from sources that couldn’t be further apart.

From a gaming site: “Lives Remaining – Zero” … in other words, this is our one chance to do the best we can, to make a difference, to reach out, to love, to support, to foster the better angels of our nature.

And from the Bible …  Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.