“I am a dreamer. I always have been and probably always will be until God says enough is enough” ~ Wilber E. “Bill” Horine (1915 – 2014)
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The recent passing of a patriarch, in a family my parents are close to. He hasn't been far from my mind this past couple of weeks
There are some people that pass through this world, who truly are treasures. Their lives telling stories more beautiful than anyone could ever pen. The kinds of unforgettable people who forever live in the hearts of everyone whose lives they've touched.
Bill Horine, most certainly, was one
I wonder if part of the reason I don't fear aging is because my life has been filled with so many beautiful examples of people just like Bill. People who've not only lived but lived incredibly well, through all seasons of their lives
The kinds of people one gravitates toward, their spirits filled with laughter and gratitude, instead of sighs and complaints. They're active, are engaged and present in the world around them, and always make sure they have something to get out of bed for in the morning.
Her friends knew her as Goldie; to us, she was Granny. She visited twice a year, staying for six weeks at a time. She knew every card game ever invented, filled our freezer with the best cabbage rolls, knitted afghan, watched baseball on tv, and drank a screwdriver every night before bed.
I too had a Grandpa Bill who lived in a separate house on our family's farm when I was a growing up. He died just three years shy of 100. Bib overalls were his fashion statement, he drove me back and forth to the pool in the summertime and spent long afternoons teaching me the game of cribbage. Candy corn was his favorite snack, he never complained when I mowed over his flowers, and he was still driving a tractor at the age of 95.
I wish I could know him in my adult years
A few on Bill's incredible list of accomplishments? Seventy years of marriage (!!) service in the Navy, writer, photographer, educator, illustrator, and mail carrier. He wrote articles that appeared in over 15 regional and national publications, hosted an “Outdoor Talk” radio program, and made many contributions toward the cause of conservation.
I couldn't help but pause at one of my favorites, remembering his long, white beard
“Generations of children have a photo sitting on Santa Bill’s lap. With a twinkle in his eyes and his deep, gentle voice, he would tell them to be good. Bill instilled trust and hope” ~ An excerpt from Bill's obituary
Reading through his list, I couldn't help but wonder if I've really lived and loved my life enough? The answer?
Over the years, as much as I've tried to pay attention, tried to remind myself that nothing lasts forever, I couldn't have possibly anticipated the speed with which they've flown by. I wonder if he ever felt the same.
“A few weeks ago, Bill was still pondering what he could do with his life at this point. ‘I'd like to teach, but now I can't hear or see well, and my body just doesn't work anymore. God has been so good to me. He gave me the ability and talents to do everything I've loved. I've had this great life because of Him. I'm ready to meet my Maker!'” ~ An excerpt from Bill's obituary
Over the past couple of years, I've been watching people of my parent's generation navigate the journey of aging. I listen to them as they talk of retirement, signing up for Social Security, and how they'd like the next chapter of their lives to unfold. Maybe there's no “supposed to” they seem to say.
By watching these inspiring examples, I've come wonder if the art of growing older is somehow about finding your own song in this new season and choosing to sing it fearlessly, joyously, even when it seems no one else is listening.
Maybe the secret to aging gracefully isn't submitting grudgingly to loss, but rather accepting and choosing life simply as it is. Being present in the moment, and giving the nod to all of it, the joys, pains, and conflicts
What I know for sure, out of all the life lessons Bill leaves behind, if there's only one I could wish for in my own story, may it end as beautifully as his obituary
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 ~ Bill Horine's Obituary
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“Yes, I understand that every life must end .. uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go .. uh-huh
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks have just one, yeah, others, they’ve got none
Stay with me
Let’s just breathe .. ” ~ Willie Nelson | Just Breathe
This past Thanksgiving, an invitation from friends to join them for dinner.
Turkey is, well, it's a turkey. I've yet to meet anyone for whom it was their favorite dish. No matter if you brine, dry, spatchcock, or baste it, it's still going to be, turkey. Sure, sides are important, and dessert is a close second, but for me, stuffing just might be the star of the Thanksgiving meal
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better recipe
Traditional stuffings can often be dense and almost cake-like. This is a lot looser, although still incredibly moist. We loved the great flavors, texture from the pecans, the cherries added a slightly tart note.
If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, simply reheat and serve with an over-easy fried egg for breakfast
ps: I couldn't help but think of an article with an essay by Lewis Lapham in the New York Times. These octogenarians are the coolest, most inspiring people: After 80, some people don't retire. They Reign
pps: Boxed cornbread can be very sweet, I've included my favorite gluten-free cornbread recipe here as well. One batch won't be enough to yield 10 cups. I doubled it and froze what was left-over
— — —
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit
Cornbread, Chorizo, Cherry and Pecan Stuffing
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- 10 cups cornbread, coarsely crumbled and dried out overnight (see recipe below)
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped pecans
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lb fresh chorizo, casings removed
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 2 eggs (large or XL)
- 3 cups chicken stock or broth, divided
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a shallow 3-qt. baking dish and a sheet of foil.
- Bring vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and add cherries. Let sit until cherries are plump, 15–20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spread out cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool. Place in a very large bowl.
- Drain cherries, reserving soaking liquid, and add cherries to bowl with cornbread (do not mix).
- Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Toast pecans on a clean rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; add to bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook chorizo, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a spoon until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with a slotted spoon.
- Add onions and celery to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10–12 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved cherry soaking liquid in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all evaporated about 1 minute. Add ½ cup butter; cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture.
- Whisk eggs and 2 cups stock in a medium bowl; pour over cornbread mixture. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed (you may not use it all), until combined and cornbread is hydrated. Mix carefully to avoid breaking cornbread into crumbs. Transfer to prepared dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup butter.
- Cover with buttered foil; bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450° F. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal, coarsely ground
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg, beaten (large or XL)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter melted, but not hot
- 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt (or buttermilk)
- ¼ cup honey
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Prepare your cooking vessel. (I've had good luck with a 10" cast iron skillet, 2 6" cast iron skillets, or an 8 x 8" square pan)
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients
- In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until they're well combined
- Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. It will be relatively thin (thinner if using buttermilk).
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes (a little longer if not using a cast iron skillet), or lightly golden brown on top and around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
- Slice and serve immediately (it's best when warm and drizzled with a bit of honey)