By Shirley Prihoda
It’s no surprise to my readers that my husband and I are prone to wandering.
Some have even called it wanderlust. Our children, however, bypassed the wanderlust category years ago and moved right into the lost category. Not that they are concerned that we are spending their inheritance; it’s more that we will awaken one day and won’t remember in which city we live.
Our thirst for adventure took an advantageous leap in 2010 when my husband retired from Dow Chemical, Texas Operations. His retirement removed constraints that had previously curtailed, somewhat, our wanderings. Now free of the 30-mile radius for the primary breadwinner to show up to work every day, the possibilities entered a new dimension. Not 2001 “A Space Odyssey” dimension, but close.
This new-found freedom came at an opportune time since I had recently received an offer to work for a hospital in Huntsville. With abandonment of those lacking good sense, I accepted the job and called the real estate agent. True to my MO, I headed to Huntsville and left my husband the pleasure (my word, not his) of selling our home. Over the years, his protesting of this arrangement has diminished…to a certain extent. Not so the looks when I tell him he should consider real estate as a second vocation.
My specialty at Huntsville and the previous three hospitals was credentialing the medical staff. It’s a behind-the-scenes function that only takes center stage when something goes wrong, sort of like the West Wing of the White House, where they are trying to keep everyone out of the courtroom. Since I am a list maker and rule follower, except for speed limit signs - but we’re not going there right now - the job fit like a glove handmade for me.
During my years of productive employment, you know the kind when you earn two pennies to rub together instead of one with Social Security, Huntsville proved to be my favorite. As a Medical Staff Credentialer, the job function doesn’t change from one hospital to another throughout the state of Texas, but the atmosphere of the workplace certainly does.
In all fairness, as with all jobs, there are things we enjoy and others that leave us wondering who is at the helm calling the shots. But then, I guess if it were easy, they wouldn’t call it WORK. So, what was the difference in Huntsville? One person, Sally Nelson. In a field dominated by men, Sally stood out like a flower in a barren landscape devoid of color.
While Sally thought she had ended her career at Texas Children’s Hospital, the Board of Directors at Huntsville thought otherwise and appealed to her to take on the CEO position.
She often said her expertise in finance didn’t qualify her to run a hospital, but then most people who look above themselves to God for help feel this way. It’s the ones who are sure they have all the answers and are closed to insight from others who have given leadership such a bad name.
In my years at Huntsville, I watched Sally navigate fun-filled days and very tough ones. In both, she moved with equal measures of grace and justice. Likewise, she inspired, corrected as needed, and valued every person on the team regardless of their official position. Good leaders are like that. Having the confidence that your CEO knows you are there and values you as well as your performance compels one to exceed beyond their expectations. With full assurance at almost 74, if Sally called today and said come back, I would be heading to the car while calling the real estate agent to put a For Sale sign in the yard!
As a Christian desiring to be more readily identifiable as a Christ-follower, I’ve learned (not quickly enough) that people are placed in our lives as a gift to lift us, encourage us, and to coach us. I’ve missed the mark far too many times by enjoying the surface friendship (the gift-wrapped package) while failing to open it and uncover the treasures of wisdom that God had placed there for me to find.
Sally, like French cuisine, had a way of turning the ordinary into something spectacular. This Potatoes au Gratin recipe is like that.
Potatoes Dauphinoise or Scalloped Potatoes with Gruyere Cheese
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup Whole Milk
7 Cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
½ to 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
½ to 1 Teaspoon White Pepper
6 Russet Potatoes (about 3 lbs.), peeled
2 Tablespoons Butter, divided
6 Gruyere Cheese, grated
Grease a 9x13x2 inch glass casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter, set aside.
Bring milk, cream, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to a low simmer. Cook on low for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs and garlic and discard. Set the infused cream mixture aside for assembly.
While your cream mixture simmers, slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick using a mandolin slicer. Place sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water until ready to assemble, then drain and pat dry.
Arrange potatoes in rows, overlapping slightly, seasoning each layer lightly with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle a handful of Gruyere cheese over potatoes and pour 1/2 cup cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat twice, finish by pouring the remaining cream mixture over the potatoes. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter; cover with foil.
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes; then remove foil and continue baking, uncovered for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly and potatoes are fork tender.
(To contact Shirley, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)