Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teachable Moments

When I was a little kid, my parents had a friend named Mr. Scott. He was a former principal at an elementary school in Minnesota and a very nice old man. He used to tell my mom that I'd be a great teacher when I grew up. I'm not sure why, but maybe because I was a bossy pants, I guess. As an adult I knew I'd never be up to the everyday-ish-ness of being a school teacher. A sub? I'm your gal. But I would never fit into The System, and I'm certain there would be a public flogging from some scandal and my big mouth would get me into hot water.

And although I never really liked school per se, I do love learning. As an adult I have really started to dive into all kinds of subjects that weren't even mentioned all through high school or college. How can that be? 16+ years of formal education and not one class on floral arranging? Financial planning? Herbalism? Or cooking for that matter. An "elective" I never took...I took welding instead, I could learn cooking from my mother, after all. But welding? Exotic.

Yes, and the irony that I grew up to be a self trained cook who opened 2 restaurants over 10 years is kinda funny. I still have never taken a cooking class. And I'd love to. (In Italy.) But I was obsessed with the restaurant business more than cooking which is nearly as important, if not more, than what's on the plate. Sadly.

Eating? Yes. Wine? Yes. The details of service? Yes. Cooking I'd figure out. I was terrible at production but I knew the key was hiring people who had the skills that I lacked. And I lacked a lot of skills and techniques. I have a couple talents...the best one is imagining a plate, a flavor experience, an evening, a stage set, a smell. And I can make exactly ONE of something. Then it's about showing the production people how to make 100 of them. Yin and Yang. I had a great time learning and watching the people I worked with. I cooked in my kitchen like I was making lunch for one first grader. Plate to pan and all that. My line cooks of course made up in experience what I lacked and showed me how to plate 25 things at once. Ohhh, that's how you do it. The sheet pan full of salmon. Got it. But if I could show them how to know when there was too much lavender and not enough ginger in the butter sauce for halibut, I'd be free to go do other things. Like manage waitstaff or place orders or try to learn reservation software or wait tables because someone didn't show up.

Not so much a teacher, but a trainer.

All of this is to say that when I first bought this big old goofy bowling alley of a house (or as one friend who lacked vision put it, "oh good, you've bought a funeral parlor...") I pictured parties, weddings, retreats and classes. I'm finally getting around to the classes. I'm not the teacher though, you are. I will make lunch, though.

Now that I'm finished with the duplex-i-fication of the main house, one side is a self contained vacation rental --the other side is the big main open kitchen and dining room with fireplace and terrace is now an intimate space to have small classes with pros and experts and lunch. Something light from the garden or a seasonal crop from a local farm.  Classes will be affordable and limited to 20 or so people, so hands on learning and Q&A will be easier. Set on the beautiful park like grounds at The Hacienda, I'm really looking forward to it.

Classes will include:
Gardening, painting, craft/woodworking, internet marketing and computer skills, floral arranging, writing, cooking, WINE, herbalism, plant identification, landscape design and more. If you'd like to be considered for a class instructor shoot me an email and I'll send you more info. You'll get paid, have the ability to sell your book, CD, DVD, salves, creams, potions and you'll get lunch! Come meet and create a new community with me up here in the mountains---solfood at mindspring dot com We'll post the schedule on the website and here as it develops.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Contrary Rabbit? Get in your burrow!

Today's Animal Medicine card pulled was Rabbit in the contrary position and 'tis apropos I suppose. Rabbit totem signifies fear and maybe a little unwarranted paranoia. Rabbit in the contrary position let's you know you're right to be hiding out from the energy vampires. Don't let anyone steal your power. Someone pushing your buttons? Brush them off. Paralyzed with indecision? I know that one, just sit a minute and do nothing. You'll get a clear message soon enough. It's time to wait. Nurture yourself. Re-evaluate.

"Simply put, you cannot have your influence felt until you rearrange your way of seeing the present set of circumstances. There is always a way out of any situation, because the Universal force will move on."----is the interpretation from Sams and Carson

For me, it is high time to stop trying to move mountains. Sell. Flip. Renovate. Market. Rent. Change. Worry. About this property. I hate moving. Am absolutely not in the mood to do it right now. Yes, I wish I had a teeny cottage with no upkeep in my fantasy real estate daydream, but it will cost to live anywhere. It will be work to live in anything. There are dozens of reasons to stay put and dozens more why I can't find a proper agent or buyer. So my lesson? Do something ELSE. So I am. And we shall see.

If something's not working for you right now, just walk away and put your attention elsewhere. Maybe you're trying to force a relationship that just isn't fruitful. Or trying a hobby or sport that really is cramping your flow. There is no failure really. Just re-organizing your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You want it or not?

I've been married since 2005. To a house.

It was love at first sight but over the years it has soured into an awkward arranged marriage. Turns out, a relationship of this magnitude was more difficult than I imagined and it also turned out that we didn't really like each other. I wasn't ready for sure. I wanted to change everything about her and she resisted change at every turn. She communicated her needs passive aggressively. A burst pipe and a caved in ceiling. A septic back up. A roof replacement that took 3 months and $60,000 which ruined my chances of getting affordable insurance ever again.

The old ball and chain.

Built to house a huge family of a very rich man who owned concrete block factories in 1960, the estate in the middle of rural acreage boasted tennis courts and a heated swimming pool...all the things that baby boomer parents flashed as signs of wealth and status. Maid's quarters (in the garage no less) and a private kitchen with little doors to pass cocktails without seeing the help or hearing the drudgery of dishwashing. Very mid century, very appearances matter, very dark. A Southern episode of Mad Men.

A very naive 'I can do it ALL' attitude (and desperation to leave Atlanta) clouded the realities of what it would take to renovate, change, repair and maintain a property this size. Even to paint a wall...you need 4 rollers and 5 gallons of paint two people and a couple days. For the living room. Cut the grass? 6 hours on a riding mower. The heated swimming pool? Filled in and growing cucumbers for 5 years running now.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Steve Miller was right. Time keeps on slippin' into the future. Do you remember 30 years ago? I do. It seems like a world ago but at the same time it was my senior year in high school. That doesn't seem that far behind me. I still know the words to all the Tears for Fears tunes. I graduated early and was already at college before my class marched--I never have been one to stand on ceremony. I was pretty sure that it wouldn't be a milestone I'd miss. And I never have.

Many spend a great deal of time looking back but if you cut to 30 years from now? That's sobering. I will be 78. Seventy. Eight. And I don't know if you feel it too but time rushes faster the older we get. It's freaky. A friend of mine has recently relocated to Hawaii. Seemingly on a whim, but it took her 6 years and she says the timing has been perfect. The gist of that?  If there's anything you want to do? Do it. Get started. Now. Build the bridge. It's not going to happen in a hot minute. And you will lessen your frustrations if you just let it develop. But you have to commit. This is my theory anyway.