Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random something resembling thought process

My sister/friend Laura gave me the best key chain ever : Pocket Vlad, (PV for short). His tag says that he will protect me from harm when I am outside past my bedtime. That doesn't happen often, so PV will have an easy life.

Note his classic formal attire; PV has old-school standards. He wouldn't be caught undead in polyester, leather or denim, or Dracula forbid....sparkling. He's going to be my version of the gnomes and barbies and suchlike that people take on trips and photograph in front of tourist attractions.

He's posing in front of cairn-of-the-day. Building cairns in the creek at Prospect Park is a hobby. It's oddly soothing, and very satisfying in a get-your-zen-on kind of way. It's a practice in non-attachment, both in the falling rocks as I build one, and in knowing that it won't stay up after I leave. Wind, water, critters, people, gravity.....something will knock it down. It's sort of like making beautiful pastries and confections knowing that they will be devoured and gone. Impermanence in action.

I am slowly figuring out how to work training an intern into the work schedule. I tend to focus on the production list, and getting everything done, and things like teaching the intern how to do something properly sort of gets pushed off to the side. So, today I delegated something I love to do (making tart dough) and spent some time one on one with the intern, showing her how to shell and fill truffles. She didn't tell me she'd had almost no experience with that when I asked her to fill the molds yesterday. So, there was a lot of overfilling, which makes backfilling (putting the bottoms on) really, really difficult. So, now I know to watch her more closely, and walk her through every new thing, and she knows to speak up and tell me when she doesn't know something. Tomorrow I'll show her how to backfill, and she'll find out why filling the shells with ganache is such an important thing to do correctly. Because some of her filling was a little over-full. It's a great learning tool though, trying to deal with overfilled molds. Mwah hahahaha.

Cold weather is coming in tonight, and I want to make soup and whole-grain bread. I like chilly days, like bundling up in fleece or flannel sheets. I like that the cooler weather and darkening days has prompted Chef to change our start time from 6 back to 7. That hour makes a real difference. Today was the first day, and Puppy was confused and disappointed that sleeping in did not mean this was a day off, and that there would be no morning visit to the park.

I'll be making a new sourdough starter tomorrow. I will try not to kill this one. I think whole grains would be more appealing in sourdough bread.

I finally tried my pumpkin marmelade (aside from the initial tasting when I made it). It makes an absolutely lovely sandwich with smoked turkey & harvarti. My friend Marla said she has been putting it on everything, including French toast. That does sound good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Broken Random Thought Process Whatever

It sounds like the roofers are wrapping up - the incessant thumping has reduced to sounds of sweeping and dragging and clattering ladders. Hopefully it's all done today, and tomorrow will be peaceful. At least on my roof. Some neighbors are still waiting for roof and window repair.

Puppy still smells of skunk. I've learned over the years that it will take several baths and several weeks for the smell to go away completely.

I have the house to myself for a few days while Bevin goes to California to see Laura. Nice.

Today was a learning experience for me & my intern. Somedays I miss working alone. I am still finding my way as a sous-chef/kitchen manager. I forget how much supervision and training people need in order to be successful. I must be looking at this the wrong way. Instead of seeing interns as free labor, I should see them more as a student. A student who can't be trusted to do something as simple as making meringue or loading a tempering machine or cleaning up after themselves without supervision. Ok, meringue isn't that simple until you've done it for awhile.

My brief tenure in the foster department of the animal shelter I worked at was an epic failure. Largely due to the abysmal lack of training and supervision provided by the manager. Eventually, she sat me down for the "help me help you" talk. She told me to provide her with a list of what I thought would help me be successful in this position. So I did. A thoughtful, detailed list of the areas I needed training in, as well as a schedule for doing so, and ways to arrange the necessary time. She said " This are all valid points. It's very practical. It's just not how this department works." I resigned.

I don't want my interns to feel that way. Somehow, I need to make the time to teach them what I need them to know, while still getting my own work done and keeping on top of the production schedule. Especially as we gear up for fourth quarter. There's no time for massive do-overs.

Today really didn't go well in the kitchen. I have trouble letting go of the things I consider "mine". Twice now I've delegated something that's "mine", and both times it's been done wrong, wrong ,wrong. Clearly, I'm not teaching correctly. So, next week, the intern and the assistant will watch me do it. The week after, I will watch them do it. And I will be more diligent
about checking on them as they go along. I will try to remember that instructions have to be repeated. Although 'clean up after yourself as you go' seems like something I shouldn't have to still be saying 3 weeks into the internship.

The roofers even redid the roof of the well. It looks really cute now. Right now, brawny men are picking nails up out of my lawn. Nice.

It's chilly. I'm tired. I think we'll skip the park tonight and go in the morning. Maybe just a walk around the block for Puppy tonight. And early to bed. Looking forward to a morning with no alarm clock.

I never planned to be in charge. Or to be a teacher. Somehow, it just keeps happening. There must be some kind of lesson here. I'm very alpha, in a lonewolf, not-a-joiner sort of way. I have an unfortunate tendency toward a "do it my way or I kill you. oh, just get out of my way,I'll do it myself" management style. Really not that useful unless one is leading barbarian hordes. So....yeah.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bless me, Blog, for I have sinned....

It's been exactly a month since my last entry. It's not that nothing has been happening, it's that I have renewed my practice of morning pages, and I find that it satisfies my craving to write. I've rarely posted on Facebook or Twitter in the last few weeks either. I haven't used my camera much. All my technolove has been saved for iPod & my minimalist ecophone.

Last weekend, Bevin & I went to the Longs Peak Scottish & Irish Highland Festival. As usual, the Scottish weather came to Estes Park. I learned a lot about how to attend festivals. Never, ever go to an outdoor festival without a rain poncho. It wasn't just misty, it poured. It was still great fun, made all the more so by braw laddies in kilts (a muscular guy in a utilikilt and Doc Martens - omg). The shot of Glenlivet 12 year old didn't hurt either.

One of the raptor rescue groups was at the Fest. This beautiful guy is showing his good side. He's missing his other eye. His injury also caused brain damage, and although he is physically capable of flying, he doesn't remember how. I hope for his sake that he doesn't remember flying at all. Remembering that power and freedom, knowing that he's capable, but not being able to figure out how to do it.......what utter torment. Now he helps educate people about raptors, and he's well cared for. He seemed content.
The Frying Scotsman had all things fried, including Scotch Eggs and Deep Fried Mars Bars. The Mars bars were a bit of a disappointment. It sounds so good, but it was a bit bland and overly sweet. The batter needs to be kicked up a notch. Or three.

On the way home, we got caught in a snowstorm. That's right. On September 12th, we got caught in a snowstorm. Tonight a cold front is moving in, and although we'll probably have more 80 degree days soon, a few days down in the 50's & 60's is a welcome change from the heat.

Our new roof should be going on this week. The garden is slowly coming back, just in time to die back for fall. Most of the trails have been cleared at the park.

Last night, I went to my second concert at Red Rocks. Jason Mraz & K'nann. After an uphill climb from our roadside parking spot, through a meadow filled with deer, we began the really steep climb up and up and up the stairs into the amphitheatre. Remember the stairs up to Shelob's tunnel in Return of the King? It's quite similar. Thanks to Ginger's jumping the gun on her birthday present, we had awesome seats. And perfect weather. And music so good that I, the person who tries to be invisible, was up and dancing in public. All through both shows. And singing along during the frequent audience participation segments. After all, as Jason said - "Never let your mind get in the way of a good time". Jason Mraz is very spiritual, in a hip & groovy, non-preachy kind of way. His song 10,000 Motherf***ers is one of my absolute favorite spiritual songs. It feels like an invocation, and I like to play it on the way to work, or when I'm cooking or baking.

So, in the spirit of Jason's Gratitude Cafe tour:
I'm grateful to have been at Red Rocks on such a magical night.
I'm grateful for Ginger, and that she wanted to go to the concert, and that she wanted to go with me.
I'm grateful to reminded of the beauty of my adopted state.
I'm grateful for the hawk that came into my yard and perched on my clothesline.
I'm grateful for the hawk that can no longer fly, yet still has a life of purpose.
I'm grateful for my family, for my friends, for my companions, human, furred and feathered.
I'm grateful to Julia Cameron, for coming up with Morning Pages.
I'm grateful to Najah, for reminding me to do them.
I'm grateful to and for the Source, by all Its Many Names.
I'm grateful to be reminded of the importance of gratitude.
Blessed Be.
I'm grateful, just to be.