Thursday, August 30, 2007

Easy Street

It seems that Blogging is much easier than trying to post to my own website, although most of my art work can be found there. Luckily, I have linked my best photography and illustration work to the menu on the right.Recently, I have created designs that look good on t-shirts, posters, stickers, slideshows, wine bottles and other substrates.I am familiar enough with native graphic programs that I can now do pretty much anything digital, and burn it to a CD/DVD or upload it to a website. As the techonology improves, this process will get easier and easier as information refinement and transmission becomes more relevant.I absolutely love being in Communication with people, and to be part of a larger community. I am not one for isolation, except when what I want is Peace and Quiet. Admittedly, I do relish my privacy as I think most people do, but their has to be a balance. Tonight, I am attending my second class of " Comparative Religion" at the Napa Valley Junior College. We have to have a total of 10 enrolled students or the class gets dropped. My friend Dieter wants to go see the movie, " Hairspray "at the Cameo Theater. I may just join him in the event that the religion class doesn't fly.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chips and Salsa after Barney's

Watch the video
I started this blog behind the library in St. Helena, on Sunday evening after my date with Kitty Jackson. Now I am home trying to reflect on the week I have had off, and Today in particular. I started my vacation on August 20th by attending an "Insurance seminar" at the Culinary Institute which was a mandatory presentation about changes in our policy with regard to health maintenence.

The next day was the Train Town adventure which I already covered in my last blog. Earlier that day I helped stuff grocery bags and break boxes for the Food Bank which is a committment I have honored every third Tuesday for the past 5 years. I stopped volunteering after witnessng the chaos our local high school kids bring to the project, and I feel better working around mature adults, anyway.

Wednesday evening marked our monthly Men's Club dinner and meeting at Our lady of Perpetual Help Parish Hall. I am the current president and group leader. It is my job to call all the guys together and encourage their participation in maintaining and developing Church projects. We assure our local Catholic men unity and solidarity as we go forward building a healthy community. The meetings are every fourth wednesday of the month.This particular club meeting was all about coordinating volunteers for the Parish Festival which was held today (more about that later.)

Thursday morning, I went shopping at the Grocery Outlet ( bargain basement groceries), to keep myself well stocked with food during my time off. Later that day, I had lunch with my friend Reid who was back from working a trade show in Oklahoma where he promotes Flexiblocks, a building block toy he invented some years ago. He was happy to have a day off where we could just hang out together and go have lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in western Santa Rosa. I sampled their Spring Rolls and Reid had a Rice and Beef Curry dish which did not agree with him later. Reid spent most of the time telling me about and operation he had to remove a blockage in his colon. Delightful lunchtime conversation wouldn't you say?

That night, I attended the first class of a Comparative Religion Class taught by my fellow parishoner and lector, Kitty Maguire. It is funny how these Kittys show up in my life. This one has an M.A. from Stanford, and is well-equipped to bring enlightenment and understanding to a broad subject.The discussions were so lively, that she drove off the campus leaving her coffee mug on top of her Chrysler ... which I help retrieve for extra credit points I am sure.

Yesterday, I went to the Les Amis Frerer picnic held every year up at Mt. La Salle to honor Christian Brothers and former Christian Brothers like myself. I brought my friend, Noreen Mulaney whose now-deceased brother, was a former religious in the Order. She enjoyed being introduced to most everyone and had a nice lunch and visit of the grounds . Later we took in the Mont La Salle Archives where we got to view memorabalia of the Western Provincilate. We saw old photographs of many Monks I have known over the years.Most all of these teachers have been buried in the cemetery there on the property.

I ended the day by helping the men's club set up the tents for two hours for the Parish Festival. This event was to take place the next day from one to six PM. Four of us guys banged the job out without much fanfare and I was glad to be home early.

Sunday, I did not feel like being particularly sociable, but upon entering the church for the 8 am mass, I discovered that the primary lector was late, which sequestored my preparation to do the first reading.Eventually, the scheduled lector showed at the last minute, so I did not have to "pinch-hit" so to speak. Kitty Maguire was the other reader, and she and I will be doing the readings next week anyway, so it gave me a brief oppurtunity to rehearse for that. After mass, I got back home, and all I wanted to do was to get some good coffee in me, and explore the digital world wirelessly on my Mac laptop. As I left home to hop on my scooter to head off to the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company in St. Helena , I did not want to see my next door neighbor who was sure to invite me to his son Ceasar's sixth birthday party. I had wisely bought by a gift of a train whistle that was purchased at Train town earlier in the week. This would help to asuage some of the guilt I was sure to feel for not attending. His father, Raphael made a point of making sure my car was out of the car port so that they could set up chairs and tables for the Festivities. I am really not into Mexican Celibrations anymore, to tell you the truth. I don't care how many Pinatas or Mariachi bands you have. I am just not into it. I would rather spend the whole day drinking Iced Coffee at the Roasting Company and chatting up my sister Rita online than attempting to speak pigeon Spanish with my neighbors' neighbors. It turned out that this was not that much of a better plan though. I stuck around there until a little after four.

Then I drove my scooter over to the St. Helena Library, just to see if I could get wireless access outside of the building itself. I found out that I could, only after several vain attempts at uploading a quicktime movie from "Barney's Backyard" which is a spot with a small picnic table by the back parking lot. It was then I began to wonder if Kitty would remember to come at five.

I used the cell phone she gave me to call her, and discovered that I had deleted the number. I called her home number figuring she may have called my number to say she had made other plans or just forgot. I was truly grateful when she walked through the door of the Roasting Company after going back there to meet her. She even brought gifts with her! We changed our plans a little, after realizing that the movie would be letting out too late for her. So we opted to visit the Amigos Mexican Restaurant further down the block from the Cameo Theater (instead of seeing the movie,Hairspray).There, we got to enjoy a little appetizer and some lemonade. It was a joy to spend time with her and to catch up on her life. She recently told me about a treatment she received from her "Anatomist' who was able to alleviate some of the pain she has had with her hip. I was happy to see her in such good spirits.

When I returned home, I correctly discovered that the Birthday party was still going on and the car port area was still set up with tables, chairs, food, balloons, etc. Immediately, Raphael invited me over to have a plate of meat with pasta, beans and other fillers. Of course, helping them break it down and have a plate full of grub was only the neighborly thing to do. Now it is five o' clock in the morning, My car and motorcycle have been left outside, I can't sleep because of acid relflux, heartburn and indigestion and I have two days left on my vacation. Ahhh, the joys of taking a little time off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Train Town

Today I went ot visit " Train Town" in Sonoma with my neighborhood pal, Alejandro Sanchez. He will be going into third grade this fall and enjoys watching Wrestling on channel 12. His favorite wrestler is a guy named, "Rey Mysterio" . As far as I can tell, this guy looks like a stuffed sausage in a spiderman outfit, but Alejandro digs his action. When noontime arrived we discovered that my relatives who we were supposed to meet, had already taken the train ride and were somewhere in Sonoma Square having lunch... So Alejandro and I went on the train ride, fed some goats and when the train pulled into the minature station, there were my relatives! It was just like the movies, i tell ya. We all decided to head over to my nephew, Edward's house in Napa for awhile. So after having a quick bite to eat there, Alejandro had to make it to soccer practise at 4PM, so I jammed back to Calistoga on the Silverado Trail via my scooter. All in all... I hope that it was an enjoyable adventure for my little friend.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Razor's edge

It is Saturday morning and I am just getting myself ready to head off to work. Today is another oppurtunity to get it right. I had a nice conversation with my program pal, Alphonse (not his real name). He is twenty years my senior, but I have some years on him as far as "The Program" goes. He works at the Vets home, and he is a Veteran of the Korean war. I find it difficult to write this blog, because I am couching some remarks with thoughts that he might end up reading this stuff.

At times, I think these petty concerns border on paranoia. Anyway, AL is a counselor there and he is a very affable fellow. It is easy to chat with him, and we both come from large families. He and I both were the baby boys in our respective families.We talked about our backgrounds and things that might be bothering us lately. Mostly, that we have a hard time trusting women, and that this is reoccuring theme that keeps playing itself out the lives of recovering alcoholic men. Were we scolded by domineering mothers that keep reappearing in our lives? It is especially difficult to reframe situations where we can just as easily be ourselves, but end up stuffing our emotions. Why must this difficulty surfacing ? More will be revealled in time, I am sure.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Modern, undelivered communication

This is the beginning of August, and the days seem to blend together this time of the year. It also makes me feel a certain longing for summers past. In many ways, Summer has always been filled with fun and excitement. Lately though, the long hot days have become rather monotonous and uninteresting. Admittedly, I've been giving into self-pity and resentment a little. I haven't heard from any family member in weeks, and that really pushes my buttons. As I kid, if I felt left out I would fly into a tirade.

All the members of my immediate family are older then me. All except for our eldest sister, have children. She and I have not been blessed in this way. My question is...Has the internet brought families closer together? To me, the answer is clearly No. The internet has created more emotional distance. Having access to one another is not the same as being in Communication with one another.I am going to leave this blog at this point to ponder what I have just written...

I do not know what my siblings and relatives are thinking. I don't really know what they are doing unless I call and ask them! (duh!) With email, I have come to expect that they will report to me anything that I need to know that would involve me (i.e. if someone is planning an event like a family gathering). Other than this, they can reach me via phone, cell-phone, Instant message, blog or snail mail.So many devices, so little time.

What if all of that were cut off ?

There have been long periods throughout modern history where family and friends have been kept separate from one another through no fault of their own. Without blaming someone for not being available, hasn't the occasional inaccessability of our loved-ones made us more irritated with modern communication devices? One can only imagine what the emotional climate would be if their ability to communicate was limited to a weekly post via pony express. Although I am holding out, I am still miffed that no one has bothered to call me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer Highlight

I went to see the film "Ratatouille". I only wish that my friend Kitty would have gone with me to see it. I really loved how the film reached out to kids as well as adults. It was very accurate in it's depiction of chefs in the kitchen...especially a French Kitchen. I read that Thomas Keller actually was a consultant and advisor to some of the scripting. This helped maintain the film's authenticity. I learned a lot by watching this movie. Mostly, it confirmed what I have learned second-hand, by working at the C.I.A.

Today, I am back in the saddle so to speak.Even though it is Wednesday, It is my "Monday" and my spirits are up. The weather is beautiful outside. I look forward to meeting some of the new students from ACAP and Baking and Pastry. It looks like the parking lot is close to spilling over again.