Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting Grateful

Sundays are my Fridays and the next couple of days are usually spent doing things I like to do... even if it's going grocery shopping or hiking with my friend, Don. I like that I get to sleep in on Monday mornings when the neighbors are all starting their cars at 7:30 am and getting their little jitterbugs off to school. Of course this week I have swapped days with my coworker, Marty so she can attend a family function. Tuesday, I will be doing a tour for Houlihan's restaurant execs after my regular business hours. Any opportunity for a few more shekels is much appreciated in today's economy. Last night I attended the "Quencinera" my neighbor Anotonia had for her daughter, Jessenia. It was held at the fairgrounds and I saw a lot of people from the Hispanic community, and a few people from work. I enjoyed cake and got to dance a Latin celebration number with Antonia. All in all it was a nice time. Jessenia is a sweet teenager who takes care of her little brother and works out dance routines in her spare time. Many times I will come home and both she and he boyfriend will be making out on the stairway up to my apartment. I always greet them by saying, "Good evening, young lovers!" They always smile coyly and wait until I pass to go back to their business. This is just another aspect of life in the hood.Below is one of the dance routines that Jessenia performed with her crew.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another day, another 5 cents

Today was payday and it is also the same day my direct deposit turns around and automatically pays my rent. Let me just tell you that it takes two paychecks to pay a month's rent.This is insane. I am not getting ahead, and yet I still live here in the lap of luxury. This past weekend I created the logo above for the new pool that is opening this summer. I have entered in a contest that may fetch me some passes when the place opens up. It also may give me some publicity if anyone wants to enroll my services as a logo designer. This week I took a health screening and found out that my cholesterol count is back to normal but my blood pressure is still high. I am also about twenty pounds overweight. Maybe if I win these pool passes I can start getting more exercise. That would be nice.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Sad Day

We leaned today that two of our Students were killed in an accident that happened over on Pratt Avenue, not far from our off-site housing complex.It is suspected that alcohol may have been involved but the toxicology reports have not come back from the autopsy yet. The driver who was not a student, was driving a white BMW too fast down the straightaway on Pratt Avenue around 1am on Friday morning. It is alleged that the students were participating in Karioki night at Ana's Cantina, a local watering hole where a lot of the students go for a beer. Apparently, they came up on a turn and lost control of the vehicle and plowed into a tree. A security guard from the CIA happened to be driving down Pratt Avenue when he discovered the tail lights. He called 911 and the Local Police along with an ambulance were summoned. Their were three deaths total, including the driver who was a 45 year old man from Petaluma. The entire campus took on a stunned silence as classes took place during their regular times on Friday.Many students were seen sobbing as they learned the news of their classmates.Our managing director, Charles Henning called a meeting in the Teaching Kitchen to announce this unfortunate incident to the entire student body. Funeral Services are still pending.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week

I drew this picture after having an idea of making this into a T-shirt and selling it to a tourist shop down the coast at "Half-Moon Bay." Obviously, this visual pun may appeal to the people there... then again, it may only appeal to the tourists. This week really marks new beginnings for me. Easter Sunday has always represented rebirth and redemption in the Catholic tradition. Starting thursday, I plan to fast for four days. This will both be a cleansing and an attempt at making a spiritual connection. If this sounds a bit sanctimonious, I don't mean it to be. The past winter was probably the roughest one I have had in many years so I am getting with my program to the best of my ability. Also, I am still trying to recoup my losses, not only after the motor scooter accident, but also after being suspended from work for three weeks ( some defects of character I've held on to tenaciously and the price is getting to high to pay to keep them ). Material growth only comes after spiritual growth I've learned . So I cannot rest on my laurels in sobriety, it's grow or go! The fast will be about conditioning as well. Working at the Culinary Institute has made it all to easy to overindulge in fabulous food, and now I am at least 20 pounds overweight. On another note, I was planning on moving into a new apartment here in Calistoga, but the place is too small, does not have storage or a deck, and I would have to take a downstairs apartment. Staying where I am is about the best I can do for now. Not long ago, I was interviewed in Napa Valley Magazine for an article about Affordable Housing ( where I live is managed by the affordable housing group ). I have been living here for over 13 years and it used to be affordable... now it "barely affordable". I have to earn two paychecks before i can "afford" to pay my rent each month. That does not leave a whole lot of money to pay bills and buy groceries with; But I have learned how to budget and buy only that which I can really afford. Needless to say, I purchase most of my clothing from second hand shops and buy my groceries at the Grocery Outlet ( formerly the Dented Can Market ). The article featured a picture of me and some glowing remarks about the affordable housing market in Calistoga. Nowadays,My luxuries are hiking, swimming, artwork,digital photography and doing other stuff on my computer like blogging and maintaining a portfolio site. So, I pay my bills and look for some extra money doing art/graphic commissions and hope for a brighter future.I live a very modest life if you must know. If you are reading this, you might consider having me do a design for you. Check out my portfolio at: Thanks !

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Healthy Kitchens

The Harvard Medical School along with the Culinary Institute of America has this conference twice a year now.First one in early October, this one in April. The Conference goes over four days and features the best recipes using sustainable ingredients and organic produce along with locally grown ingredients and foods. Being that the Napa Valley is an agricultural preserve, we have numerous vendors and cottage industries in this area who come here to showcase wares and upcoming trends in the industry. Doctors are very interested in these trends, because it dictates what can be considered a varied recipe structure for an optimum diet which they recommend to their patients. Some attendees will suit up in their running clothes to go for a jog during the lunch breaks which gives you an idea as to what particular clientele are drawn to these events.The conference ends tomorrow afternoon.