Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Smell of Popcorn and Waffle Cones Always Takes Me Back

I would like to introduce another recurring feature on this here blog - Tales from the Walk-In: Vignettes From Restaurants In Which I've Worked.

My first real job was in the snack bar for an attraction in our odd little hippy, Christian, gay, hillbilly, Victorian, Ozark tourist town. Blue Springs was a place that people could visit, buy some popcorn to feed the many ducks, and see a very deep natural spring and the surrounding bluffs. And I guess that's pretty much it? Legend has it that this place was a rest stop along the Trail of Tears. Back then, there really wasn't much to the place, but they did their best to attract tourists using the connection to the Trail of Tears and the springs.

Much later, after the owners' nasty divorce, Blue Springs was purchased by the Bank of Eureka Springs who planted tons of flowers around the property and it became the Eureka Springs Gardens. Now it is known as Blue Springs Heritage Center. Incidentally, it was also the location of my sister and brother-in-law's wedding four years ago and looked more beautiful than ever.

But back in the late 80s, it was sort of an out-of-the-way, sleepy little place tucked miles down the road from Inspiration Point. I was 14 and this was my first summer job. I popped popcorn and bagged it, made waffle cones, and scooped ice cream. I listened to my Cure tapes and tried not to get caught reading on the clock. It was pretty boring, but I loved making my own money. My mother, whose rationale was that I "wasn't home to contribute to the family," deducted 30% from each of my paychecks and kept it. Can you believe that? (If you know my mother, then yes, you can). In hindsight, I am still flabbergasted and highly amused. So even though I only had 70% of the probably $360 a month to spend, I loved being able to go shopping on my own, go to the movies with friends (a bunch of us piled into the bed of a truck to see Batman), and not be handicapped due to lack of finances. Earning my own money was my favorite kind of freedom.

The job only lasted the summer, but I've been working pretty much nonstop since then.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Because I Have Plenty Other Things To Do

I HATE MY INSURANCE COMPANY SO MUCH!!! Seriously, I need to look into private insurance, but don't have the time right now. I pay out the wazoo for the worst coverage in the world.
This guy should be fairly evident.

This photo is on here mostly because I hate her hairstyle so bad! It's the reverse mullet and it's hideous.

Too Much CNN At Our House

I cannot stand this guy, John King. He's like a newscaster out of The Simpsons.




PS - I think I should work more in MS Paint, don't you?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I ♥ Three-Day Weekends

Despite the rain that didn't really ever let up, Stella and I joined some friends today for a float on the Kings River.

The Kings is one of only a few rivers I know of that runs South to North. Do you know of any others? What is the geologic reasoning behind this?

We got soaking wet, but it never got all that cold. Stella and her friends only tipped once. I flipped my kayak. It didn't matter. It was still a relaxing, completely enjoyable day. Like the bumper sticker says, "A bad day at the river is better than a good day at the office."

These girls had the best attitudes all day. They laughed and carried on, no matter what happened.





Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Multi-talented

Last night there was an art show at Stella's school, where her art teacher hung some of the best works of the year. I hadn't seen most of her work this year so I was really eager to see what she'd been making. Junior high is so different from younger schools - they hang on to the works until the end of the year! I was used to Stella bringing things home every few weeks.

I was not disappointed. There are quite a few really talented artists at her school. I've always thought Stella had particular artistic talent (duh; I'm her mom) but she has really come into her own these past few years.

This is a print of an album cover. I think she did a tremendous job!

Her self-portrait collage. Stella makes collages a lot (it's my excuse for saving old magazines), but I really like this one!

Green color study - acrylic painting. My grandmother (Hi Mommom!) bought this one.


Okay, this is so cool. She took an old shoe and turned it into a rocketship!


Her teacher also gave them an introductory Photoshop lesson. This is what Stella made. It's too overexposed to really see the cool font she used for the word, "Remember." I love this one too!

I hope to make this a regular feature. She's got some amazing stuff in her room, too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When The Rain Finally Stopped

Friday afternoon was so crystalline beautiful, sunny, and warm enough for me to ask the Internet on whose porch would we be sitting for the evening. You may recall I have a thing for porches. "What's wrong with our back patio?" D. asked and I had to admit he did have a point. We get a full western view which means a lingering sunset. After wiping down the patio furniture, there was nothing stopping us. After a flurry of impromptu texts and two pizzas ordered from Little Bread Company, it was so nice to just crack open a bottle and wait for our guests to arrive. And let me tell you, we really lucked out in the friend department - you'd be hard-pressed to find more informed, entertaining, talented, no bullshit, helpful, (not to mention easy-on-the-eyes) folks around here.

D. couldn't believe I posted the spandex and dog collar photo from all those years ago. Here's how he looked Friday. No photo could do his eyes justice. And even after 2+ years, I am thrilled and grateful to have met someone so complementary. His patient, quiet, fair, and measured thoughtfulness offset my insane, emotional outbursts somehow.Sunshine again. We've known each other for 21 years and have been closer this year than ever before. This girl has got it going on.

Kelly! No matter what she says, I will continue to bring my camera and take her photo and I will not quit until I am able to get a picture that begins to capture her inner glow, beauty, and captivating eyes. She's also one of the funniest people I know and her emails during the week are often all that separate me from heavy duty medication.
Darren, wearing a great t-shirt and showing his even better smile. We haven't gotten to see Kelly & Darren as much lately so it was really good to catch up. Good, good people.
Orion was my hero during the ice storm. He brought me firewood every day so that we didn't freeze at night. I've known him since I was 14 and he probably has more potential blackmail material than anyone else outside my family but he likes me anyway! Just a stellar person. And an incredible cook! Who says real men don't make quiche?

Chicklet is judging you.
How many men does it take to assemble an oil lamp?

Saturday morning I took students to the Fayetteville Farmer's Market. These radishes caught my eye. They're so fresh and perfect. I need to buy them and eat them the French way (dipped in butter and salt). I have fallen back in love with the crunchy, pepper-y, delicious radish.

A few months ago we went to my brother-in-law's birthday party and D. couldn't get enough of the birthday cake, a perfectly spongy and rich chocolate cake. My sister said she got the recipe from the box of Hershey's cocoa powder. Last night I thought I'd try to recreate it for D. because he'd worked all day on his garage project and I had taken Lucy on a very long walk and then did the Wii Fit for almost an hour. So somehow I thought that evened it all out?

The end product was just as good, if not better, then the cake my sister made. Who knew? You've got to make the cake from the Hershey's cocoa box. Simple to make and so very good. The icing was a simple chocolate/butter/powdered sugar affair that I heated up a tiny bit so I could pour it over the top.


Oops, forgot to take a photo until I'd already dug in. I sprinkled cinnamon on my piece. MmmMMMM!

Next Up In The Queue: The Visitor

I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but I had much higher (bam!) hopes for Pineapple Express.

I thought it was stupid, unnecessarily violent, poorly structured, and a complete waste of some good actors, especially James Franco.

I'm irritated that I wasted any time at all on it. How can I write that last sentence without ending it with a preposition?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That's My Sweetie!

This is my favorite photo of D. ever.

He's the one in the middle - in all his silver spandexed and dog-collared glory. This was back when he was a member of a teenage Judas Priest cover band, which in itself is pretty awesome.




I just love it so much.

Spandex!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Next Ten

It's been far too long since my last installment of 100 Things I Want To Do Before I Die.

Here are ten through twenty:

11. Eat at French Laundry, Chez Panisse, and El Bulli. Preferably more than once!

12. Rent a house on a beach for a week with my sisters.

13. Make a documentary.

14. Feel comfortably conversational in Spanish.

15. Stay at The Ice Hotel. For one night.

16. Keep my house spotless for more than one week.

17. Learn how to sail.
17b. Have my own boat

18. Live as off the grid as possible: solar panels, well water, wind power...whatever it takes, as long as my electronic and kitchen needs are still met.

19. Find a good therapist. Go consistently. Exorcise my inner demons.

20. Attend a taping of Saturday Night Live

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Karmic Comeuppance

This is what Bristol Palin should have said:

In order to be a good parent you can NEVER lose your focus, attention to detail, or purpose. That purpose is your child. You can't slack off. You can't look the other way. It is non-stop work. FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS.

I'm feeling so very tired of parenting, but experience tells me that is when I have to rally the troops (troops = me) and be extra vigilant.

Stella is a great kid; I want to be sure everyone realizes this. In the larger scope of things, we're pretty lucky. She is smart, creative, beautiful, and witty. Schoolwork comes very easily to her; she doesn't have to try all that hard. This is a blessing and a curse, especially when I'm trying to instill a sense of drive and ambition in her. She's an average teenager in that she is testing boundaries and seeing how much she can get away with. Like most parents, I want her to push herself to accomplish far more than I have. I want her to know the value of hard work and the satisfaction of achieving difficult goals. On the other hand, I don't want her to be consumed with neuroses and stress.

I just feel so very alone, confused, and unsure. I am lucky to have a supportive partner, but he is not Stella's father and is very careful not to ever step into that ring. That is a wise decision, for the dynamics of our household...but so very hard for me. I feel like a single mother more than ever. I'm bad cop, and bad cop only these days.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Derby Day

I was so excited Saturday to realize that I didn't have any obligations and could watch The Kentucky Derby. I freakin' LOVE the footage of little, wiry foals running next to their mamas over rolling bluegrass hills. I decided to invite my friends Pearl and Emily over for lunch and to watch the festivities during that soggy, gray day.

I decided on a menu of quinoa salad and quesadillas filled with thinly sliced potatoes, asparagus, and gruyere cheese. As I was cooking those I also decided to throw some stuff together and make some cream & goat cheese/shiitake mushroom/ginger/scallion dumplings with a toasted sesame oil and soy dipping sauce.


Ingredient still life. Yeah, that's right. I posed my vegetables.

I got to use my mandolin!

Blanching the asparagus and potatoes. First they were in salted boiling water for about a minute for the potatoes and 30 seconds for the asparagus...

...then tossed in an ice water bath.

Grated gruyere.

Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas. So nutty and flavorful!

Just before I folded over the tortilla to make the quesadilla.

Bowl of cream cheese. To this I added some herbed goat cheese.
Chopped ginger and shiitake mushrooms. I sautéed them in butter and garlic until soft and added them to the cream cheese mixture. Then I added a handful of sliced green onion tops.

A dollop of the filling mix in the dumpling wrapper, and then you a wet finger around the outside and seal them tightly.

I made them like gyoza because I didn't want to fry them. So I toasted them in a pan until they were crispy on the outside. Then I poured a tiny bit of water in the pan and quickly put a lid on top to let them steam.

I completely forgot to take photos of my quinoa salad! Oh well...too bad. It was really good. I guess I forgot because the race was starting. And what a race it was!! A total underdog (underhorse?) came from dead last to win by nearly 7 lengths! At 50 to 1 odds! Amazing.