Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fond memories

An old gem from our trip to Costa Rica 2008.  I was doing an around the southern hemisphere inspired trip and Shari chose to meet me in Costa Rica.  Amazing.  I had been traveling for four months when she met me.  I was so happy to see someone that I knew.  Plus, Shari is a badass.  Will try anything.  Zip lining, scuba diving (on a different trip) and meeting all of my crazy friends.  I digress.
We dined at the Airplane bar,the Train and spent a few days in Dominical--by far, my favorite beach in Costa Rica.  We stayed at a b & b in Manual Antonio.  Shari arranged that stay and chose the place since the owner had lost his wife and it was listed as a charming place.  And it was.  However, the owner was very grief stricken.  The cleanliness displayed it.  He was distracted.  We did have a nice hot tub and the view of the town was fantastic.  Neither of us were that concerned with the cleanliness factor.  Our rooms were fine.  It was where he resided that had issues.
The Airplane bar is a popular spot in Manual Antonio.  Brian and I stumbled upon it in 2004 when we traveled to Costa Rica for the first time.  There was a live band, some dancing and a view.  We sat at the bar and b.s.'d with the bartender.  Come to find out that she was dating the chef.  Brian made it clear that he was a chef and I bartended--how ironic.  He befriended the chef and received a tour of the kitchen.  I knew that Shari would have to accompany me to the Airplane bar on our trip in 2008.
I was traveling around with flat Kellen as illustrated in the photo op.  Shari's niece had a project--flat Kellen.  I traveled with the laminated cutout through eight countries.  I sent a postcard to Kellen's class at each stop on my journey. I do feel bad that my handwriting is atrocious.  I am certain they struggled with deciphering which monuments I checked out.  I did make an effort to clean my handwriting up. Still, I know, it is challenging.
I loved the freedom of that trip. It was inspiring.  Scuba diving in Fiji, wine tasting for Thanksgiving in New Zealand, meeting an incredible woman on a bus from Sydney to Melbourne, two weeks in Cape Town which was not enough, my feeding frenzy in Argentina, meeting Shar and bonding over my stolen ipod in Valparaiso, Costa Rica with Shari and concluding in Belize.  Trying to figure out my next step on the journey.  I seriously considered continuing.  I had the funds to do it. Instead, I fell back into what was comfortable.  I returned to Denver and a day later I was back to work.  Silly decision in hindsight.  Regardless, at the time, I thought I wanted to work and do the safe thing.  I wonder where I would be now had I chosen to keep traveling.
Last night, my friend, Shar, messaged me to see how I was doing.  I met her in Chile and we spent five days in Valparaiso together.  She currently lives in the Bahamas.  I visited her, there, in 2010.  We have remained in contact and hopefully, we can meet either there, here, or somewhere else in the next year.
I feel the travel bug again.  I want to go to Spain.  I keep seeing visions of it and feel that that will be my next venture.
I also am trying to figure out how to finance a yoga studio.  There is a definite need for power yoga in SF.  I am having a difficult time adjusting to the more spiritual driven class with terrible music. Today, Mira changed up the flow quite a bit.  My right thigh felt like jelly which I am not in love with.  However, I commend her for altering her flow and challenging us.  I know that I must decide where I want to get certified.  I kick myself for not making it a priority while living in Phoenix. Seriously. I had options.  Many options.  Hindsight is always 20/20....just like my decision to return to work and not keep traveling.
I am happy to be where I am now.  Drinking a glass of wine, relaxing and enjoying a day off.  Thankfully~

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rain and random thoughts

Good morning to Tuesday.  Rain inspired an afternoon of binge watching SOA before work yesterday.  It is easy to get sucked into that particular show.  I had a leisurely afternoon and headed into work.  The evening was great.  Nice mix of locals and tourists.  I enjoyed these two ladies that were visiting from ABQ.  They were kind, gracious and easy to talk to.  There were a few couples from Kansas--one from Wichita and the other from Hutchinson.  Being familiar with both places, I made small talk.  Ironically, the couple from Hutchinson were related to a family I used to babysit for.  That was something unexpected.
It was also funny how different these folks were from the couple I used to babysit for.  That couple was affluent, well established in the community and modest.  I never would have known it by how their demeanor or how they interacted with more common folk if you know what I mean.  They were gracious and truly interested in my well-being.  They stayed in contact with me when I was in college and for a while after.  Their cousins were flashy and typical.  They reeked of what they felt was important--financial success.  Funny how different families can be and are.  At any rate, it made me nostalgic for my childhood and the memories associated with being teenager.  Working to pay for my first car, studying to achieve scholarships and gratitude for the people who aided me along that journey.
There are daily reminders of why we should enjoy every day to the fullest.  My realization of that occurred 8 years ago.  Brian taught me to pursue my dreams, travel and take a leap of faith in myself.  Although sometimes I get caught up in the b.s. of petty things, mostly, I do try to enjoy each day.  Recently a friend of my mother's died.  I do feel awful for her and for his family.  Loss is horrible and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.  It does, however, remind us to live in the moment.  Not to regret taking the time to say or do what you can on a daily basis.
Another childhood friend of my family is in a limbo situation.  This man fell off of his roof and sustained a brain injury.  From what I understand from social media, they are uncertain if he will make it and if he makes it what the quality of life will be.  It is an impossible situation.  In a moment this family's life completely changed.  Their kids started to say goodbyes at his bedside.  It is heartbreaking and they still do not know what will happen.  They hope, pray and have faith that he will recover.
In an effort to live in the moment, I am going to bring some bubbly to work to celebrate my friend, Danielle's, last day of work. She will be missed.  She arranged a happy hour tonight and I hope to attend for a bit.  There is a yoga class where I can display my gratitude for the day this afternoon.
I finally did put together my vision board.  Wine regions dominate, yoga, health and oh yeah, a trip to Spain.  I think it is going to happen in October or November.  It's been a few years since I have been out of the country. I am ready to explore again.
Celebrate, enjoy & Taste Life~

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Decadent 4th of July

My friend, Melody, joined me for 4th of July dinner.  I wanted to be able to speak of some of the items that I serve and enjoy them in a relaxed setting. It's not as if I can sit down with a glass of wine and nosh on food at work.  There is not time to do that.  Instead, I made it a priority to sample some of the fares offered.  I made reservations to dine at the bar.  When I arrived, they told me that we had been bumped from the seats I wanted to accommodate a guest.   There is a couple that have standing reservations on Friday nights. Of course, they should retain their seats.
I waited for Melody to arrive.  I was handed some Perrier Jouet to start the evening. Yummy bubbly--It was a lovely way to toast the holiday and experience.
I told Melody to choose what looked interesting to her.  I mentioned that I would veto a few items--the burger, truffled mac and cheese, halibut--as I had tried those items.  I know that I enjoy them.  Instead, I wanted to focus on trying dishes that were foreign to me.  I wanted to taste some of the newer dishes and see what stood out for her.  Immediately, she was drawn to the foie gras and sweetbreads.  I am not one to turn down the opportunity to eat foie and so I knew that was a definite must.  Ironically, the foie and sweet breads are staple items on the menu.
We chose the foie and beef carpaccio to begin.  I will be honest, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the carpaccio.  Delicious.  I loved the garlic lingering and the egg that congealed it.  Normally, I do not seek out red meat.  I suppose my tastes are evolving.  I always like foie.  The sweetbreads were good but not something that I would go out of my way to order in the future.  It is a texture thing.
We followed the starters with the veal chop, chanterelle mushrooms and onion rings.  Sounds sort of odd but it was a tasty combination.  The veal chop was accompanied by polenta fries and a topping of arugula.  It was savory.  I had heard some complaints that the veal had been overcooked.  Ours was spot on.  Medium rare was perfect.  The chanterelles were equally impressive.  The onion rings are served like the Tower of Pisa.  They make a statement when served.  The other bar customers watched us enjoy our meal.  They seemed interested in when and how we were going to eat the onion rings. I offered to share them a few times.  I think people were surprised at the amount of food we ordered.  It wasn't about cleaning our plates. I wanted to sample the fare.
The conversation flowed as did the wine.  We drank pinot noir to accompany our meal.  Afterwards, we shared the chocolate desert.  It was good, not great.  I think the winter chocolate is more decadent.  Molten chocolate cake, espresso ice cream and mexican hot chocolate.  That definitely makes an impression.  Plus, I am not a huge fan of cherry anything.  Cherry ice cream accompanies the chocolate cake.  Good, but not great, in my opinion.
I observed some fireworks and concluded the night with a book.  All, in all, a lovely way to celebrate the 4th of July.  Good company, food and wine.

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July

When I was a kid, my parents would pack us into the station wagon and head to Iowa.  We would make limited bathroom stops.  Even then, it would be a quick in and out--no dawdling.  We had a mission and in a timely manner.
We would stop in York, Nebraska, for a potty break and McDonald's.  I don't know why it was always mcdonald's and not some other fast food restaurant. What I do remember is that I could never order a plain cheeseburger.  It would take too much time.  Instead, a burger would be ordered for me and I could pick off the onions, ketchup, pickles--basically, anything that I didn't like, I could wipe off of the burger.  I couldn't get my parents to understand that it was gross.  The ketchup/onion combination had already soaked into the bun.  That residue could not be wiped away or made better.  They didn't care.  As mentioned, we had a schedule to keep.  I had to stay the course or not eat.  My parents did not make threats.  They spoke the truth.  I learned to get over my idea of what gross or unacceptable was.
Upon arriving in Iowa, we were free.  We could run up the two blocks to the church that had once been a school.  We could spend time with the neighbor kids who were our ages or find one of the cousins that we would see every summer.  That night, the festivities would kick off.  Fireworks, baseball and beer.  Well, beer for the grown-ups.  We would be distracted by the numerous cousins to play with.  I do remember enjoying 4th of July in Westphalia, tremendously.  The last time I was back was in 1997--I think.  Jade drove her and I up to spend a 4th of July with our dad, some aunts/uncles, and of course, cousins.  We were able to sneak beer at that point.  We saw some of our first cousins which had been a rarity and of course, the extended family that lived in Iowa year round.  4th of July, in Iowa, never disappointed.
This morning, I was invited to a pancake feed in SF with my friend, Danielle, and her parents.  I agreed as I didn't have other plans. Although, I am not the biggest pancake fan.  I think the last pancake I ate was during the summer of 98 while in college.  Study abroad in Mexico.  The senora thought pancakes would be a treat for us Americans.  Every time she made pancakes, I was extremely hungover and the pancakes did not soak up hurt from the previous night.  Pancakes and I are not in a love/love relationship.  So, I was pleasantly surprised, today, when I didn't hate them.  We sat in the plaza and people watched.  The breakfast was well attended.  There were artisans, artists and a car show.  We walked through some of the cars before heading back to Danielle's parents house.  She has to work today.
I am glad that I made the effort to spend the 4th in a festive way.  Although beer was not involved, it did remind me of my summers in Iowa.  The community aspect of knowing everyone and congregating in the town square.  Would I have turned down a mimosa...probably not.  There is always later.  Melody and I have plans to meet and dine where I work.  I figure, why not?   She hasn't dined there and I could sample some of the offerings, relaxed, as opposed to inhaling it in the back.
However you choose to spend this day, enjoy it, immensely.  Cheers!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The first days of July

Quick hike with Yenny and Celi.  I met Yenny through a couple that dined at my bar for a month.  Visiting from Florida, Patty and Glenn, dined at their favorite spots for the month of May.  Thankfully, they became regulars of mine during that time.  I met Yenny as they had befriended her on a previous visit.  They brought her in to meet me and then we all met for dinner on Memorial Day.  Super generous and gracious are Patty and Glenn.
I chose to reach out to her as she had mentioned enjoying hiking.  I used to hike once or twice a week when i lived in Arizona.  I wanted to get back into that habit and so I e-mailed her.  We set up a day to go hiking.  I was looking forward to it.  Not going to lie.  Even if I didn't really know her.  I figured the hike would provide the opportunity to chit chat.  I texted her on Tuesday to confirm our hiking date for Wednesday.  She confirmed and later, mentioned, that she would be bringing a teenager to accompany her.  What?  Of course, I knew, that that would change the already odd dynamic.  Still, I figured, why not?  I met them, early, on Wednesday morning.  I had a coffee and they shared a danish.  Yenny drove us to the spot and I neglected to retrieve my water from my car.  I was too embarrassed to admit that I needed my blankie.  Yes, I am referring to the comic strips depicting linus.  My water bottle is definitely like a blankie.  I thought the hike was brief and so I tried to convince myself that the water was unnecessary.
We started the trek after managing to precariously park in a small lot. Maybe four available spots.  More if you back in according to Yenny.  We parked as close to the no parking sign as possible.  The hike was along the river.  We crisscrossed the river and found the waterfalls eventually.  Somehow, I managed, to not submerge my foot in the water.  A few of the crossings were sketchy. I learned that this teenager had recently lost her mom.  Of course, I felt terrible for this girl. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be 14 and without a mother for guidance.
I admired this girl's patience with us in our conversation.  She had little in common with us and still did not act out.  She hiked the entire way and only sulked on the way back.  Still, she wasn't angry or annoying.  She was quiet and internal.
I figured that since I skipped my a.m. run, the hiking was a great cross-training exercise.  I could always run tomorrow.
Which I did...this morning.  I brought my phone and jammed out to old school rap.  I don't know what it is or why, but I can so, run without going neurotic while listening to baby got back or some dr dre.  Or snoop lion or whatever he is referring to himself these days.  Seriously, it was considerably easier to run while listening to rap. I loved it.
Tomorrow, I will be attending a pancake feed.  Kinda funny, considering, I despise pancakes.  However, it is a local thing.  My friend, Danielle, and her family invited me to attend.  I figure, get up, go running and then eat pancakes.  Maybe I have gotten past my aversion for this popular breakfast item.  If not, well, I will get over it.
I am excited to celebrate the 4th of July.  Celebrate, enjoy and taste life~