Monday, December 23, 2013

Not an "Appetite for Destruction" nor is it "Eat, Love, Pray"

Paul Moeschell's Pope Soap and Candle
It's been a very busy time in my life.  It's kind of like turning soil to get the oxygen back into it.  I decided to update this blog with a visual representation of things I have been involved with or acquiring sans the philosophies I tend to regurgitate here.
My Hippie Self

Also I would like to thank the 40,000 global visitors to my little world.  I tend to think of myself as a global citizen, since I have walked down some of your streets, been in your valleys and have seen some of your mountain tops.  By no means am I done exploring.
Chicken Chausser, Rice Pilaf and Glazed Carrots
 This summer, I decided to return to school, to do something I love, for the benefit of others.  I am in culinary school, doing well, and I thought I would share some of the things I am learning.  As one of the chefs shared with me, "you must learn the rules---then you can break them."  How many things does this proverb apply to?  Countless.  At least for me, I found a number of times in my life where I followed everything to the letter only to scrap all of the 'rules'.

Winter Approaches
It's winter.  It's Christmastime.  It's the end of a year where you shouldn't really ever look back, but look at where you are right now in order to see where you will be in the future, and ahem, not really so damn much about the future IF you are happy doing what you are DOING right now.  The future does take care of itself.  I didn't get that  for a long time.  I was so damn busy planning my life, I don't think I was really living my life.  The consequences, well, I may have slept through about 17 years of my life.  Maybe that's a bit harsh, but when I think about it, I may have been operating on auto-pilot for a bit there.  A living coma where one day bled into the other and I forgot how to live.  There were so many promises I made to myself that I almost forgot about them.  (I know, good for me...yadda, yadda, yadda).

Primal pork cuts

A nice transition point, just doesn't seem to be found.  There was a lot of taking dead animals, processing them into beautiful meals to nourish others.  I had been a practicing vegetarian, most of my time abroad.  I started thinking about life, death, the way we deal with death as a culture and how we tend to judge others by what we eat.  Everything has life.  Everything dies.  We sometimes have different experiences that take us into  different experiences.

Gnocchi and Pork


Dinner at French Meadow


Brussel Sprouts


Lapin with Risotto 

Liver and Onions

There I was, eating meat again.  I made the decision before I went to culinary school.  However, there was a difference in my approach.  I held a deeper respect for what I was consuming, whether it was plant or animal.  Their lives were sustaining mine and made me think of how we all sustain each other.  It's a very intricate system of life/death.  It made me a lot less judgmental, yet, that doesn't lessen the need for us to be more respectful  and balanced in our utilization of our resources, no matter what they are.  Some people eat the way they do for a reason or a season.  They change for a variety of reasons they came into on their own.  We all own our decisions, live with the consequences and go from there.  If we really tried to please everyone, we please no one, not even our fragile little ego is horribly damaged by catering to others.

So I came into this experience, telling myself, "I know  nothing."  I ate everything, even things I would have never dreamt of ever eating again.  

It was a slaughter of indulgences.  However, I was careful to keep track of how much I was eating.  And it was A  LOT OF FOOD.

To be fair, I did give a lot away because I did listen to my body and cut myself off before that critical explosive point.
Veal Blanquette

First Avenue
Complete emptiness 
Mayor R.T. Rybak's Farewell Bash
Chastity Brown

In the midst of all of this creating and replicating I was discovering all of the rules I wanted to break in the future.

I was really learning about was our bodies have for wants and needs.  Like realizing we really do need protein and there are things that animals to give our bodies to help them heal.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a local Minnesota Folk Singer, Chastity Brown.  I actually didn't really know who she was when I met her, which is good.  We had a nice conversation about literature, words and Ernest Hemingway.  I was talking about myself, which more about my excitement about being home and how bizarre it seemed to me.  It's kind of like waking up from a coma, though I was away for 23 years, my friends are older, the places have changed with time and I wasn't here to see it all.

First USA Edition Acquired
Chastity was gracious and patient as she listened to me quote Hemingway's theory of life, as being a "moveable feast".  Perhaps  there is a certain bit of gluttony on my part.  The same kind that Henry Miller had about life, wanting to experience the zealousness of the eternal moment.  In any event, I am glad I discovered the music of Chastity Brown.  I liked what I heard, she uses and choses words well and has a powerful voice.  It's authentic.

So much great food

 So  as I go through the pictures of some of my culinary productions from this year, I pinch myself because I have never worked in a professional kitchen and I realized that not once did I say to myself, "I can't do this."

Perhaps I said to myself, "don't know a damn thing."  When I realized I wasn't the expert I was able to do by 'not doing'.  "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."  -- Socrates                  
Writing Again
So, after all, of what I could, or should, or would be doing is right in front of me.  Lessons or no lessons.  The action of inaction was my teacher during these wonderful months of learning how NOT to know it all, and meeting a lot of wonderful people along the way.  It's a break for a season.  In the depths of the cold snows of Minnesota, where life is just waiting under the surface to be reborn.  
Looking forward by looking at my present

That really is why I love being here.  You witness rebirth every year.  A clean slate for the world.  Isn't that beautiful?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Culinary Photo death

This is the very last image my Nikon shot.  I squeezed every bit of life out of my camera I could.  This object, that was a companion in South Korea, China, throughout Europe, in Washington DC, New York City, and now home here in Minneapolis threw itself into spasms while I was taking photographs of a duck that I had respectfully fabricated.

An object that ceased to be useful, yet I was accustomed to its usefulness.  That is how technology has been for me this year.  I was really impressed with how it lasted.  Almost all of the images on this blog were taken with that camera which I had purchased in South Korea, when my other camera could no longer handle the task.

I have to say, I haven't wanted to migrate to a smart phone.  I spent hours looking it over, and each time, I close the window without a purchase.  It's just not the same.  I don't want to post every picture.  Sometimes, I just want to look at something differently.  Sometimes, its a random moment that I am trying to capture.  Sometimes, I learn from the simple things, by how they stack up and I just stare and I think about what I learned through those pixels.

Those are my lessons.  I chose to learn something for the moment that made it tangible to me.  Just as all of you, out there, do for yourself.  I opened the cart, looked at the new phone, with built in camera, but I don't have that same excitement.  I made a realization, that I don't want that jazzed up phone.  I realized in a moment, when my camera died, why I loved my camera.  The editing I can do and though I don't have to 'share' those images, I just don't want them on a phone.  I think it's kind of strange to all of a sudden feel this strange aversion to technology I normally love.  I just can't explain it.  So I opened the cart and closed it a few more times this week.

And I realize I just want another camera.  I don't want or need the other gadget.  I am thankful for what I already had.  So I will pick up another camera.  One that I feel good about using.  That if I drop it, it won't shatter on me in tough times.  I need a workhorse.  I need a good shot.  Down to the last kill, with over 48,000 miles under its belt, through x-ray machines, ceremonies, artists homes, strangers on the street, to solar eclipses on the other side of the world.  It was a well used, and somewhat abused piece of equipment that served me well since 2009.  It died in the presence of me.  One knows the difference between a low battery and equipment failure and this was equipment death, the screen went black.

I tried to coax it back to life, pushing the power button, taking out and reinserting the battery, and it flipped open its lens for one last shot, I photographed my efforts and then the screen went into all assorted colors, withdrew its lens and closed up for good.  It was dead.  Even mechanical things die.  We also die.

I recently got news that I wasn't so excited about hearing.  I have a growth.  I have to have it removed.  I have to make other decisions.  The last thing I wanted to die around me was an object that had nurtured my global voyeurism.

I am going to be fine.  So many of my friends have survived so many forms of cancer, it's become an expected thing to go through it.  As I told one of my friends, "death has kissed both of my cheeks and forehead, it has yet to kiss my mouth."

As many of you, who have taken the time to read my blog, by now realize that I like to use everything around me to tell a story.  Sometimes it's in a very old parable sort of way.  Sometimes, you get the point right away and sometimes, I just let you figure it out for yourself.

Truth, will, for most of our lives, be debated as absolute knowledge.  It's never that way because life is always changing.  We one were babes who couldn't walk.  One day we could run for miles and never tire.  Nothing is wholly one thing or another forever.

I am enjoying my culinary life.  I am taking pictures.  I am making wonderful food and I am writing again.

This blog was special, because it was my note behind to let friends and family and whoever else was interested, that I was OK.  I am horrible with talking on the phone.  Always have been.  I wanted them to know what I was seeing and learning along the way and that I loved them very much without ever having to say the words.

This is going to be my only public confession of my struggle, because I don't want to talk about it.  We all die, but a friend of mine said to me, dying is easy.  Not everyone really lives.
This is what I am taking with me, my heart and my memories.  I have already had an intense life and it's going to be that way until I die.  It's too easy to love sadness.

I recently received a ring, with my birthstone,  the inscription simply says "Life goes on with you or without you."  Life is life, and for many, it's not really a full comprehension of what it really means to get this experience of actually being.

I cannot afford to be negative.  I remind myself of a very important fact.  Without death, there is no life.  It would be merely, existence.  That is why everything will always change.  So even if I win or lose this battle, it really doesn't matter.  It's inevitable.  Death is coming because we all live.  We aren't merely existing.

One of my favorite lines is, "The darkness doesn't last forever."

To be able to do what you love with complete enjoyment is a rare and treasured gift.   Perhaps that is a horrible way to end this piece, but when you start trying to think of a profound thought to finish with, it just comes out forced and preachy.  We all go through something.  Big things, little things like paper cuts on our hearts.  It's the little things we ignore, that we shouldn't.  They set the tone for our life.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Joy of Art and Supporting the Artists You Love

The Bride - By Paul Moeschell
Recently I came into possession of a wonderful watercolor by Paul Moeschell, an artist, whose career I have been following for around 5 years.  What fascinated me about Paul, was that he loved art and he creates art because he LOVES his creations.  When I met him in Denver, Colorado for an interview, one thing immediately struck me, he also wanted to make his art within reach of people who loved his work.  Money was not a huge driver in his life.  He was prosperous, but not greedy, not arrogant, very approachable and you get a feeling whenever you look at his world of work, you are looking through his eyes at how he would imagine the world.

I had been waiting and waiting for that one work that he would post on his facebook page that said I had to have.  This beautiful relationship of how an artist connects and creates their work multiplies when the viewer comes in and then that work connects to them.  I knew the second I saw Paul's posting two things; I wanted to support his work and I wanted to look at this work on my wall.  Something about it excited me.  It was more.  I was excited about the acquisition for so many reasons.  Paul had survived a stroke this year.  I wanted to tangibly not just give lip service to someone I genuinely believed in.  His brush with death reminded me of how often we take for granted all of those who are around us, that create on a daily basis.  It's not enough to tell someone you really like their work, their art, their creation (no matter what it is).  Instead of buying prints from a large nameless corporation, search for that local person that inspires you with their work.  What would you like to see on the walls of your home??  Original works from artists within your community or a boring mass-produced print that is little more than a corporate inspirational poster?

I think why people are afraid to buy art is because they think they have to know what art is supposed to be.  The truth is, art is just a word that gets in the way.  Anything that you make a connection to, for whatever reason and is something that provokes you, inspires you, thrills you is something YOU have made a connection to.  YOU are the one 'getting' whatever you are looking at.  The rest of it, doesn't really matter.  That's the deep truth about art, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'

For me, the multi-eyed Bride has a significant meaning.  For Paul Moeschell, it was a vision he had during a period of time and he just created what he saw.  There didn't have to be a meaning, but he did have to just go with the flow.

There's a framing shop two blocks away,   I realized I am going to be more acquainted with them and I am going to be looking for more work that I fall in love with, to put on my bare walls.   Happy Hunting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Photo time and Random Thoughts, Just because it's My Thing

Downtown Minneapolis on a Summer Day 2013
Where's my camera? I am sorry.  I still love my camera and I KNOW there is a camera on my phone and it can do all sorts of wonderful things, but I love my camera.  I have taken my Nikon with me around the world.  I have edited my own imperfect pictures because it was as it happened, while I was out and about doing whatever it was that I was doing, seeing, perceiving, know, those action word things, called verbs.  I didn't say I did it well, good, or qualified the quality.  I was using and living those -ING words.  The chant of "ING".  Today, I felt a hunger for my camera.  It started again.  I saw moments that I was livING, that felt the familiar crush of words,  'Haya YOU!  Take a picture it's gonna last longer!'  Really, my skull screams at times.  So, I fished it out and realized with incredible sadness that my camera is dying.

The Urban Art of Lake Street
I retrieved the memory card and saw images I hadn't played with yet.  A forgotten walk, with a few pictures that actually warmed me up when I saw them.  The active walkING, the Art viewING, the doINGs of LivING.  
 So why is there this emphasis on the INGs of LivING?  Two words:  "I WISH".  I hate "I WISH".  I read a piece that has been circulated on the webisphere for a few years and I happened to see it again.  The first time I read it, I thought it was so-so.  I shared it.  I became part of that blase meme by sharing it.  I saw it today.  I shared it again.  Top 5 regrets of dyING people.  Notice the action...even in death there is a process.  I stopped and READ it, which means to actually CONSULT, CONSUME, to INGEST the contents.  Not just to let the words flicker, but to let it finally reveal itself to some dark recess in my mind.  And in my case, the nut finally cracked open with a mustard seed of truth.  Two words.  "I WISH".
Minneapolis to the Left and St Paul to the Right.
Wishes are like prayers.  Prayers are like wishes.  "PLEASE, SOMEONE ELSE..."  wait, are you following this train or are you ON the train yet?    Chuga-chuga, chuga...wait.  The whistle is going to blow...

"I wish I had..."  Nothing is more annoying than a person, who had all of the time in the world and didn't realize they didn't come to the understandING that life is NOT about a passive experience.  ExperiencING life means you GOTTA GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.  
Leaves for Pressing
You can't be afraid.  You have to talk.  You have to act.  You have to stop on the side of the road and pick up the leaves out of the dirt.  You have to OPEN the door and get out there.  Those words are FOR ME...

Do whatever YOU want to do.  I found my camera, my dying camera.  I recharged the battery, but it's still dying.  Even my camera doesn't have to wish.  It traveled around the world with me and it helped me to remember that I didn't wish to live.  I smiled.  I hope I find a really good camera that can take as many pictures as this one did, suffer being dropped without breaking, and an ever faithful companion in strange lands and questionable venues.  

-ING doesn't include wishING.  wastING nor wantING.  That's the way I am goING to think about it. That's my choice.  It's not an absolute truth...there is no such thing because life constantly is movING.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Something has Changed

Perhaps it is because it is Sunday.  Perhaps it is because I am up to my eyeballs with books telling me what I must do.  Perhaps it was a message from a dear friend.  Perhaps, it was the last beautiful day we will have for a long time in Minnesota.  Winter is coming, and I went for a walk that reminded me of all of my walking tours around the world.  I walk around with a secret smile, because it's unnatural to be perpetually happy.  I am happy with a content feeling, but I have perfected hiding my smile.  It's just a calm state of being without showing my teeth.  It's a thin lipped action that lifts up my cheeks, but, not too much corner of the mouth, and definitely no teeth.  I am not snarling at people.  People don't quite get this expression.  It almost looks neutral, like Switzerland or even the Mona Lisa.  Perhaps it is a look of quiet discomfort, like a person who hasn't had a bowel movement in weeks.

Whatever, that ever is...something has just happened.  It's not the weather.  It's something quite special. I think, no I am almost certain that I have finally worked through my subconscious sludge and I am finally able to write what I see.  I think I have finally feel that surge, to pick up that quill and go at it again.  Three years, in a flurry and three years in a silent mode.

And there are times when you get to a bit of information that takes you that long to work on and work out.  Sometimes you find you are too cluttered and you have been hoarding your thoughts to such a point that everything comes out as complete rubbish.

And sometimes you're dealing with a whole world of hurt, and the more you try to deal with it, the more it explodes in your face.

I don't know if I ever shared the story about the psychic with the purple hat in Colorado Springs.  He looked like a cross being a Tele-tubby and a Harry Potter character.  Actually, if I am to be absolutely truthful, I wanted to ask him if he was Brent Spiner.  However, he didn't look like the character, Data, that he is famous for.  No, I happened to get the Area 51 version.  If you remember the scientist from the movie, Independence Day, yeah.  I got that Brent Spiner character.  Complete with long straggly hair, nerd glasses and a Harry Potter purple wizard's dunce cap (decorated in Lucky Charms).

Why I go to these people, from time to out of a hope that I would run into a real one.  Then I realize, the real ones don't do this stuff for money.  They run from this crap like the plague and it's usually not fun nor is it funny (well it can be).

It was the fall of 2000, and as crazy as it sounds, this guy was border-line real.  I mean he was a hot mess.  Out of all of the stuff he was seeing and saying (like predicting a global war (a really big thing is coming, but don't worry.  You are going to be completely safe)).  He predicted a divorce, a death and he ask me not to write, "THE book."  I think the reason I got into such a writing frenzy was I didn't want to worry anymore.  I wrote 5 books and I already found a book called "The Book".  Alan Watts wrote it and it had an infinity sign on the cover.  Someone already had done it.

All of these barriers, road blocks and stop signs are of my own doing.

Sure, I may be going through a medical crisis.  Small potatoes.  We all die of something.  Right now, I am too tired to care about dying.  I am more excited about living.

I am resisting the temptation of a 'you' message at this point.  You know, a lot of people forget a very important thing.  They forget what they really are taking with them.  If all that you are is contained in your heart and your mind...when that energy surge hits and you dissipate into the ground.  However your essence leaves your bodily host, it will not return.  If all you could take with you were your memories and a version of hell was to relive your entire life over and over again, WOULD you be able to stomach your own life??

What an interesting thought to leave with.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Next Chapter...

As the pages have turned in my life, I find myself on a new journey, or more aptly stated, in a new relationship, and that is with the culinary world.  I now find myself as a student at Le Cordon Bleu.  I remember the first graduate of Le Cordon Bleu I met in South Korea.  She had spent two years in France and was at work at Club That in Daegu.  In our conversations, we spoke in the universal language of food.  The wine flowed, the food poured out of the kitchen and a lot of laughter.

Who argues with a full mouth??  As time goes on, let's see what gets added.