End of April

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It’s May now.

37 minutes into May 2016…

But we just went through our busiest week of the year and proved a couple things:

  1. Yes, it is the busiest week of the year.  I believe on December 31st it will still prove true that this was our busiest week.
  2. We killed.  We made it look easy. Anytime someone can do something super hard and make it look easy you know they are good at what they do. Tonight was our busiest night EVER and my dishwasher Al?  He made it look easy.  He was always caught up. He took a 9 O’clock smoke break. He killed. All around the place we made it look easy. We had plenty of staff. We all worked hard but it never felt insane. We made the busiest day ever look easy. All week seemed easy.
  3. There is always a new frontier. While we had the “busiest night shift” ever and the busiest “entire compound” day ever, we did not break day shift or LSE records. What will it feel like to break every record at the same time? Busiest day, busiest night, busiest LSE, and busiest all time? It’s bound to happen eventually.
  4. We all feel like it’s basically like any other week or weekend. It doesn’t feel especially insane. (This is due to the fact we have more people and are better prepared than any other week or weekend.

Here’s the most exciting part for me:

The ovens are fixed.

I spent over $15,000 for brand new ovens over a year ago and they burned the pizzas all the time. I spent lots of money and “days off” working to fix the problems with only slight results. Finally, after more than a year of trying, I figured it out….  It was a combination of MAJOR flame diverter additions AND over $1500 on new oven stones to cook on. I had my welder friend at ALL STEEL SECURITIES make a plate to go over the oven flame and then went to JACKSON STONEWORKS and found 1.5″ granite to put on top of the oven diverter plates to finally abate the flames and keep them from burning the pies in less than a minute. This was the FIRST weekend since getting these new ovens that we had full flame diversion in place for BOTH new ovens and were able to cook “normally” and avoid black bottom and burned pizzas. I almost feel like I should be a pizza oven engineer at this point, or I should be starting a new company that designs the perfect pizza oven… (It would look quite different from the Baker’s Pride 452’s that I now own and have majorly altered…)

It was a great week. I had a bad start (TMI to get into in this public space) and it was difficult for me all the way through (TMI to explain in writing here……………)

But now I am excited to 1. Put it behind me and 2. Take a day off and 3. Try and sleep late and 4. Think about the future.

I have lots to be thankful for and many exciting things coming up soon.

I’ll maybe tell all about it here.

Maybe I’ll even  post to Medium.

Maybe I’ll even make a new podcast…..

Later I might tell you why I have a black eye in the picture above.

Good night.

 

 

 

tesla and other stuff

tesla unveiling their model 3 car tonight, even though it is actually the fourth model.  there was the roadster, the model s, the model x and now the 3.  i follow this story closely. i follow tesla more than any other company after my own. i am a super fan.  i see the potential downsides of the company and i still think they can overcome the obstacles because basically i believe what they are doing will be the future of automobiles. autos will be electric like our cell phones.  we will charge them nightly. we will get updates over the air.  there will be very little maintenance.

work is kicking my tiny little butt.  my butt is really small. small butt, big belly. that’s the modern man for you.  currently kicking my small butt is work.  i have more things to do there than i can comprehend. however.  in the interest of interest, i will share with you the top 50 things:

  1. painting designs on the porch.
  2. moving the speakers to make way for air conditioning.
  3. finishing mosaic behind the shed
  4. repainting decorative stripes in LSE
  5. repairing mosaics around everywhere.
  6. replanting things that need moving
  7. moving sculptures for better visibility
  8. adding shelves and more product placement in the gift shop
  9. designing new bumper sticker
  10. designing new coffee mug
  11. designing new t shirt
  12. thinking about how to get people into the plane
  13. thinking more about the design for getting people into the plane with complete safety
  14. working on stained glass windows
  15. working on cleaning everything everywhere all over the property inside and out and every nook and cranny
  16. thinking about new lighting behind the shed
  17. working the ovens on friday nights
  18. working a new station on saturday nights
  19. working on a new kitchen schedule
  20. trying to find a solution to a new bacon dilemma
  21. cooking and trying all sorts of new bacon
  22. fixing equipment
  23. ordering parts to fix equipment
  24. trying to get faster at everything
  25. problem solving
  26. cleaning up the back area where everything is staged from.
  27. taking excess junk to repurpose
  28. fixing things
  29. making things better
  30. starting the process of covering the kitchen walls in stainless steel sheets
  31. writing newsletters to employees about everything i can think of
  32. thinking about how to make wires disappear everywhere
  33. making new pamphlets
  34. constantly ordering new things on amazon from new viewmasters to new walkin curtains.
  35. installing new stained glass.
  36. getting a/c’s yearly maintenance
  37. trying to be positive
  38. trying to work hard
  39. trying to find new things to clean
  40. trying to find new places to decorate
  41. thinking about safety.
  42. making sure pizzas are  made right
  43. making sure pies are cooked right
  44. making sure lighting is optimal
  45. making sure music is optimal
  46. making sure we have enough employees
  47. emails to specific employees about specifics
  48. going to lowes again
  49. thinking about new projects
  50. thinking more about new projects.

i guess that’s my “top 50” things.  i wrote that list in about 3 minutes. I can;t stop thinking about work. i am manic.

 

it’s strange lately how much i am invested and how much i am getting done. i make time for kids and my wife but i spend lots of time tightening up everything at work.  i know i can get it real tight before the summer and then spend some extra time with the family.

i am more manic and more excited lately than ever before. i am more excited about work and more excited about everything. i have more ideas and more energy but i also get more tired. it’s a strange see saw.  i’m up up up the down and tired for a second.  then up up up then tired and weary for a minute. its mania.  i looked up the definition of manic. it’s great:

 

man·ic
ˈmanik/
adjective
  1. showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy.
    “his manic enthusiasm”
    synonyms: mad, insane, deranged, demented, maniacal, lunatic, wild, crazed,demonic, hysterical, raving, unhinged, unbalanced; More

    • frenetically busy; frantic.
      “the pace is utterly manic”
      synonyms: frenzied, feverish, frenetic, hectic, intense; More

      it describes me a little too well…

      i get to work and i am manic. i wonder why everyone around me is moving so slow and seems to be so calm.  i wonder how they get anything done as i ramp up to 3x speed.  i am even avoiding caffeine.  i do not drink coffee and only occasionally sweet tea.  i avoid caffeine because i get headaches. i have learned caffeine is too strong for me. so i have decaf coffee.  i drink decaf tea. i try and try to avoid cola although i have a swig of lola cola here and there.  a full glass of sweet tea every other week.  sometimes two.

      caffeine seems like the strongest drug to me. it propels me to crazy places.  if i am manic without caffeine then with it i am insane.

    i am so happy that i take no medicine daily.  no pills.  i don’t take blood pressure meds or anti anxiety or anti depression or anything.  i don;t want to take meds. i hope i never have to take meds but as i get older i guess i will have to take something.  high blood pressure pills will probably be the first thing i need.  my blood pressure is getting up there lately.

    teslas model 3 unveiling is about to happen in california.  the live video has begun now.  started watching the video and then it went blank.  crashed the server i guess.  enough from me tonight. more soon.  buy a tesla people.  it’s the future.

Cutting tomatoes and folding boxes

 

My daughter is 11. Tonight I showed her for the first time how to cut a tomato for a pizza topping and how to fold a medium pizza box. You see I have a pizzeria and she wants to work there, and she even dreams about running it one day.

She comes with me to work more and more lately. At 11 she has learned to work the register, deliver food (memorizing the 20+ table numbers,) take orders and bus a table. Oh, and also to work the new host station app from Open Table.

Tonight as I was frantically making pies she came to me and said, “What can I do now?” I said; “Go bus tables.” She said, “ But that’s easy and I want to do something hard.” At this point my mind raced thinking about how hard it really is to be a good table busser, to be fast and efficient, to clear everything in one swoop, to inform the host quickly, but instead I said, “Let’s cut tomatoes.”

At our pizzeria fresh tomatoes is a topping and they are diced and very ripe tomatoes so you get a bite of tomato in every bite of pie. We cut them throughout the night so they are fresh as possible. We needed tomatoes but I was afraid of letting her use the knife. Everyone who uses a knife cuts themselves at some point, I thought and I never want her to cut herself.

But reason won the debate and I decided she needed to learn. I got a cutting board and a good knife, some ripe tomatoes and starting my simple instruction. “Let the knife do the work.” “Saw the slices because this tomato is so ripe.”

She was visibly excited. She cut a tomato. I could see that her skinny arms needed muscle. I watched her hesitation and caution. She cut a couple tomatoes and they were great. I felt like a proud father. My daughter could use a knife to cut tomatoes for a restaurant. She was taking her steps towards ownership. She was enjoying what I enjoy, working at simple projects to create a larger and healthy career. I felt like I was cutting a tomato for the first time and I loved it like she was loving it.

Two or three times later she came to me claiming, “You need tomatoes? I can cut your tomatoes” or “Tomato cutting is my specialty. I’m here to cut your tomatoes.” She was beaming. She was ready for me to tell her we needed 5 more tomatoes diced. She had learned something hard. And something new.

Later we were out of medium boxes. Someone needed to fold a stack of 14″ boxes. No one has time for this nonsense, we are all so caught up just trying to keep the onslaught of tickets moving through the rails. I am looking for my girl. She was bussing a table in the garden last I saw her. Could she still be bussing that table? No. She had worked 3.5 hours and she was now waiting for mom to pick her up. She was atop the fort in the restaurant playground. She was close to the table she had just bussed but 5 feet up on the fort, pulling herself up above the 5 year olds around her. “Hey! I need you to fold boxes!” She jumps down and follows me while she tells me how hard it is to fold boxes. You see, she had only learned to fold the clay boxes. The clay boxes are the super thin small paper boxes that require tabs and pushing slits to insert tabs to fold. Even the most veteran employee has to struggle to fold a clay box. But I needed 14″ legit cardboard pizza boxes. Folding them is as fun as spinning a pizza dough, but easier. I showed her one and she says “WOW! These are easy! Why can’t the other boxes be designed like this?” I explain that these are 45 cents a piece boxes and the others are thin and 10 cents a piece. I tell her that these fold easier because the cardboard is thicker. I know how fun it can be to fold these boxes really fast and I see that she gets this by box #3.

I paid her $21 tonight for her 3.5 hours of work. I praised her for learning new things like tomato cutting and box folding. Tonight she delivered her first hot pizza to a table and I told her to stop and have that “human interaction” at the moment of dropping off the pizza. I had her visit a few tables with me while I asked how the pizza was and made small talk. I thought deeply about how what I do is what she will learn. I want to be perfect. I want to be the best example possible to my daughter who is so hungry to learn.

As much as I love making pizzas, and as much as I love cooking pies and taking them to tables…. As much as I love to check back on folks who I know are having taste bud bliss, none of that ever felt as good as teaching my daughter tonight to cut a tomato, fold a pizza box, and greet a customer. I know she loves me and learns from me. I know she is learning more than I am teaching. I know she is filing away the secrets of making a restaurant hum. And it makes me happier than anything has ever made me before. I am elated. I am the glowing proud father and teacher. I am humbled. I am eager. I am a kid again.

But I also have a 14 year old boy. Today we spent 3 hours working on a graphic project for Satchel’s. Six or eight years ago I quickly drew a map of the property. I made it into a trifold pamphlet that we offer to customers to navigate our Disney like experience. It’s terrible. It’s outdated and jumbled. It’s bad. So, my son is now digitizing a modern version. He is helping me by making the new trifold on the computer instead of the old honest to goodness paper cut and paste style. He loves it. His hands move like lightning across the Macbook Air keyboard. He saves in a high resolution jpg file straight to my Google Drive folder called Satch’s Graphic Projects which is a file chocked FULL of logos, posters and flyers he has made in the last couple years. He made $30 in 3 hours today. A great deal for the best graphic artist I know. He was jammed full of suggestions but knew when to let well enough alone. Am I the best dad in the World or do I just have the best kids?

Nothing is better than my kids. My kids help me love my job and my kids help me forget it is even “work.” My kids keep me inspired and compelled. My kids have taken over as my #1 Love in life. My kids are the most beautiful thing I ever made.

I am in the profession of serving people. I love it. I want to make you the best dinner you’ve had, maybe ever. I want to make you dinner in the best environment with the best lighting. I want to make your eyes light up and I want to make your brain find new places. I am after your top five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, plus I want you to be happy, satisfied, full, satiated and content. I actually hope to serve up all of this when you’re visiting my restaurant.

tonight

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i think a lot about how lucky i am.  how good my life is.  how amazing the people around me are.  i think A LOT about it.

because i notice that the people around me are cool.  they are smart and funny and they get my sense of humor and make me laugh and laugh with me.

mostly these are the people i work with, the ones i see day in and day out.  the ones who always seem to work doubles. i am constantly impressed with my staff.  constantly.  i meet their mothers.  i watch their kids grow up. i even have a mother/ daughter that both work there now…. and a mother/ son.

i want to write about how much i am humbled and in awe but i know it will just sound sappy.  that’s one of my big flaws.  i’m a softy and a sap.

i paint and make stained glass windows.  i hope that my joy is apparent in the things i make. my contentment is so complete that i push it out every day by way of art. i love the studio.  i spend more hours there than the bed some days. hard work produces results. i want brightness. i want light. i want everything to shine.

how many people get to do what i do for a living?  how many people are truly happy and excited to get up each day? i don’t know because i only have this one body and mind i inhabit, but i feel deep down it would be rare to enjoy the days as much as i do. it’s got a lot to do with my amazing wife.  she teaches me so many things.  it’s got a lot to do with my smart funny kids. i know that i am doing something right when i look at them. my mom has a big influence over me.  she is strong and solid and a mentor.  if you then add in the people who work for me, five days a week, and mostly always smiling and happy to be in their skin…. if you weigh that in you would find it’s hard to compete with this level of contentment.

i do often times feel guilty that i have it so good.  but i spend a lot of time in an attitude of thanksgiving. the feeling of being thankful can overcome the feeling of guilt.

religion is a big part of my youth. understanding the life of christ is the biggest part of my spiritual foundation. understanding the value of humility, love and kindness, faith, forgiveness, and thanksgiving.  these are the building blocks of my happiness and contentment.

i wrote and ranted last night from 11:45 – 1am about a frustration i was having. i put it in drafts so i could sleep on it and read it over in the morning. this morning i decided to leave it sit where it was.

i asked a couple of women tonight, as they walked to their car after their meal, how was their night and experience?  one women said “it was fine.” and the other said “…but the service was slow.”  and i asked “did you sit out back or up front?” and the woman replied “out back.”   i said “well, you know we don’t really have any service back there as it the take out seating option.” and she said “well it took 45 minutes to get our food.” i apologized and explained that saturday nights were our busiest night, (but i had been in the kitchen on and off all night and didn’t think anything had taken longer then 35 minutes.)  the other woman then said how good the food was and good night.

i can appreciate that sometimes my time gets wasted. elon musk wasted a couple hours of my life one night waiting on his “model X launch” party online back at the end of september 2015, and when

some guy wrote a medium post about how inconvenienced he felt

musk decided to not sell him a model X.  

seems like a jerk move but hey:  1. there could be a lot more to the story and 2. how useful is complaining?

i love to complain about stuff.  when i see stupidity and inefficiency i can get my complain train ON. but i shouldn’t.  i have way more to be happy about than i have to be pissed off about. by focusing on the good i set an example to those around me. i set an example to my kids. my employees. my friends. i want to be the guy who spends more time happy than unhappy.  the guy who you are glad to see not avoiding interaction with. i can learn to dwell on the good.

tonight i left work proper and ended up in the studio finishing up a new stained glass window.  in the photo above the window i finished belongs in the top left corner, but on the right side of the double square. this work in the studio is strangely enough part of my job because all these windows are at my restaurant.

going to work is fun.  i enjoy the people who work there. each one has their own unique personality and quirks. the customers are fun. they look around and they “get it. ”  they appreciate the work i put in and they tell me as much. the food makes me happy. i take pictures of food and it’s like taking pictures of art. the job becomes food becomes photo becomes art. i come home and make more art in the studio, but for the restaurant, and for the customers and employees. no part of this entire scenario is a bummer.  each part of the machine is in sync.

there is certainly no book or meme or quote that can make your life work like this. there is no advice or blog post or 7 step solution to really making a person happy and engaged. i write about all the things i think of as i think of them just hoping that some tidbit might help someone else unlock the safe filled with answers. i know that being thankful is beneficial. i know that much. even if you can’t be thankful about a hundred things, you can find one thing to be thankful about.  being thankful about one thing leads to better outcomes. maybe that’t the best advice i can offer on the subject…

but maybe it’s all luck. maybe i’m lucky because i was born in jacksonville in 1968 as a white male to a dysfunctional family.  maybe that’s why i feel so contented.

my hands came here to write and my head didn’t know i had anything to say. i try to just stay open for expression. i may feel guilty and be lucky. i may feel lucky and be guilty. but the older i get the more i think of luck and guilt as things i make up to explain other things.

i am thankful. i want to express gratitude tonight. my mom is on the mend. she is here to live another year on the earth with me. my kids are vibrant. my days are full to overflowing.

forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tired

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fortunately for me i have a dedicated team that runs the restaurant at a high level with or without me.

that is not by accident.  i planned and worked for that outcome.  i’ve spent many years trying to build a machine that runs whether i am standing beside it or standing in the next county. what good is a machine if it only runs efficiently when i walk by?

but well laid plans and good intentions do not always guarantee good results. however, i am fortunate because whatever i did seemed to work and i believe in the people who work for and with me, and i see they are all genuine, honest, and admirable people. they take pride in their job and they do their best like i do my best.

now that a personal crisis has come along, i am spending more time with mom and less time at work and the restaurant does not seem to suffer much and i feel confident about how things operate in my absence.  i feel very thankful about this.  so thankful indeed.  so lucky. so blessed. so fortunate. so humbled.

today i picked up my sister from my favorite airport: GNV.  i love it when i can park in the first space nearest the airport exit.  it’s a much better parking space than i ever get at publix. what airport can you park a one minute walk from baggage claim?  GNV that’s where.

it’s usually $1 to pick someone up in Gainesville Regional Airport. Yeah, a dollar. Today I got there too early so it was $2.

when you get to be my age, your main concern is how good you can sleep at night. some nights sleep comes and some nights it doesn’t.  last night i could not sleep at all. i think it’s stress built up as a toxin in the muscles of my shoulders and neck that keeps me from sleeping. stress and anxiety from worrying about mom, and work, and mom, and kids, and mom, and work, and my own health….

it’s hard to imagine people luckier than me. i have so many advantages from the get-go. i’m a guy.  white.  with money. great family. job i love. doing what i love.

but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. it may well be easy but it feels hard sometimes. it’s just what you’re used to i guess.

i don’t know what i wanted to say here.  i don’t know what i am trying to get across.  i just want to write.  to push the next post down the page.

speaking of the next post… i had quickly cut and pasted it from where i originally wrote it (on a site called medium…) and tonight i looked at it here for the first time and realized that the screen shot of my phone text had not copied over…. and that a bunch of random stuff from medium HAD copied over…..  and so i fixed it here.  it should look just as it did on medium.

i write more here than there these days but occasionally i post to both places.  you see when i go to look at the list of things i have published there (on medium)  i am impressed the list of writing is so long. i feel like i should post there too now and then so i can make that list of writings longer.  readers of my writing may remember that i like stacking things up.  lists of posts.  stained glass windows.  paintings. collage.  podcasts. pizzas.

but i also write in a private journal so writing in one place is hard enough but writing different things for 3 places is more than i can make time for.  so sometimes i may write there and copy it  here also. or write here and copy it there.  i have done both but last time, copying from there to here made for a sloppy copy. i like the sound of that.  the sloppy copy.

i also sometimes write a menu back for some light reading on the back of the menus at my restaurant. that has slowed down to a near halt in the last few years. i guess because i am now mostly embarrassed by the concept of writing for the masses eating at a pizza joint. or writing for an internet blog for that matter.  if i look back at any of my writing it seems dumb, too exposing of myself, often cliche, confusing and self absorbed.

how is it that i wish i wrote only for my own private binder but i publish these pages and pages online? where is the button to delete myself from the internet altogether forever? all my writings, pictures, videos and trail of breadcrumbs.

it’s just late and my day was busy and often stressful and i didn’t sleep last night and i’m tired and worried about a few things.  worry is just part of my genetics. anxiety.  it’s in my dna.

this blog should not be linked to my pizzeria homepage.  maybe in the beginning it was ok, a link to show that the restaurant was connected with a real story and family in the community.  a family business.

but now, 9 years later (from when i started writing here), this has become a personal journal that really doesn’t belong as a link for people looking up their local pizzeria.  it’s just too much.  too personal, too boring, too intimate, too much.

i’m tired. so tired.  tired from my own personal struggles.  tired of writing.  tired of reaching out into a vast internet of strangers. tired of using words as my expression. tired of tossing and turning in my sleep. tired of trying so damn hard all the time.

but i’m not tired of feeling new things.  not tired of thinking of new ideas.  not tired of talking to strangers. not tired of painting and making things.  not tired of pizza and not tired of people.

it’s sunday now. 30 minutes into this last day of my favorite month.  january 31st. sunday. i love sundays. i love january. maybe tonight i will sleep for a change. maybe not. maybe. maybe not. maybe. maybe not. but maybe.

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mom’s cancer

That was 15 days ago. she is still recovering from that of course. she is home now and there are good days and bad days. today i installed 2 grab bars by her toilet. we rearranged her room for easier access. the meds are constant. the surgery affected her jaw, throat, neck, thigh, calf, ankle, and 2 bones were cut out.

i slept at the hospital A LOT. too much maybe. i did surprisingly get one good nights sleep there, near the end. i slept at my mom’s twice, and she’s been home 3 nights. today i was at her house 4 times.

the people that love her are numerous. she has support from here to china and back. she is strong, positive and even under the influence of anesthesia, oxycodone, and ativan she will catch things that i miss…. the nurse who touched her glove to a chair and now needs a new glove, the fact that her temperature was 98.7 not 98.9, noticing one of the IV bags in empty before the nurse.

her recovery is fast but to her it is slow. she cries. she is tired of having people do things for her. she wants to be independent. but she has a bone and “flap” from her leg now thriving in her jaw.

2 weeks more (after 10 days in hospital) with a feeding tube through the nose. no food in the mouth so the flap can take and become just another part of the mouth. no water or anything at all to be taken by mouth. her throat is fire.

her trache hole is slowly closing. the “braces” in her mouth are digging into her lips. they want to be able to wire the jaw later and straighten the face if needed. the skin graft on her thigh is a huge scab. the scar on her throat is from a horror movie.

she cries.

she tried to put her head on my shoulder one night at 4am when she was at her wits end. but then she realized it was her “bad side” and she could not put the pressure of her ear and cheek on my shoulder.

she was born 8.15.1943. they asked her that all the time when they came to take her blood or give her meds. is she old? what is old? how does one recover from a surgery so severe?

it’s been 15 days. she gets up and around by herself. doesn’t even need the walker but uses it for safety. she gets up 10 times a day. she talks. with effort but talks. she worries. she makes jokes. she cries.

we give her meds. we crush pills. we change the feeding tubes and bags. we hold the pump the flush the tubes. we give her antibiotics through an injection in the nose tube. we give her protein 5x a day. like a body builder. we inject oxycodone into the nose tube. we inject ativan. we inject aspirin. we inject a list of things.

my son made a chart for us to manage the meds every day. he’s 14. he made a nice daily chart where we caregivers go to check the last time she had anti-anxiety and the next time she gets pain meds.

my daughter made some jokes and jumped around. she’s 11. she brings joy to everything around her as she bounces in and out of the living room making jokes and throwing herself on the couch a hundred times. throwing her legs up in the air. jumping. telling jokes.

i bought her a pink zip up moo moo 2 days ago and she was wearing it today. i bought her underwear at walmart today. i installed those grips by her toilet that she says look like “refrigerator door handles.” she’s right. they are white and curved like a refrigerator door handle. i got rid of the slippery bathroom mats and replaced them with rubber back mats today.

a mother is a terrible thing to lose. i am in the serious business of saving my mother right now. i am letting my work life slack as i reel in my mother. she needs me now. i am there for her like she was there for me.

that’s what you do in a family. you be there. when you are needed. when times are tough. you are there. solid. like a cement sculpture. like a hard packed road. like a fist against a slab. solid.

my sister sent her a magnet for her frig. my mom loves shit on her frig. my mom loves sayings. my sister loves saying too. the magnet says “if you are going through hell keep going” and it is attributed to winston churchill.

i texted my aunt

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what an ordeal this whole thing has been. cancer in the jawbone and the leg bone getting cut out to replace the bad jaw bone. we call her leg-jaw 2016.

this story is still being written. will she get radiation? will she have a full recovery?

let’s hope. and pray. and wish. and think. let’s love. and live. and remember. and express. let’s help. let’s commiserate. let’s communicate. let’s talk.

hospitals are hard places to be. but also good places, and healing places.

moms.

love

sorry and good morning

The sorry is for Jean Claude. I realized that by calling him out here I have been rude.  There’s a French speaking fellow named Jean Claude who is fond of reading and commenting on my posts.  This always amazes me.  The fact that anyone reads my posts amazes me but the fact that some guy, likely in another country, is reading it, I find this quite interesting.  I don’t have much to say.  I say a lot of things and seem to find myself navel gazing and chasing my tail. It is rare for anyone to comment so having this mysterious Jean Claude commenting in French is exciting for me.  Because of my excitement I’ve used his comments as a talking point too often.  It is bad form. The poor chap probably reads all day, probably has a hundred blogs he reads and leaves comments along the way. He should be able to do so in peace. The comments are smart and sweet. He is not a troll.  I become the troll when I make him the subject of my writing.  For that I apologize. If Jean Claude comments again I will not be talking about it here. Besides, I’m guessing he’s French and likely annoyed and sees me as a loud American bully. I’ve been traveling. I know that the Americans are seen as loud and obnoxious. When I traveled I was quiet and thoughtful. I made sure that I let the culture I was in remain the dominant force. I was determined to be the American that a Frenchman could like. Or German, Italian, etc.  Honestly I think I was just looking for something to write about. That’s my excuse. Getting a comment that isn’t spam on my writing is novel.

The good morning is from the beach.  I hear the waves as I write this and the sun is rising over the Atlantic. I’ve taken a week off work to celebrate New Years and relax. I have already worked some.  I was on the phone 3 times yesterday for work, discussing employees at length with the HR department, talking about equipment repairs in length with the repairman, and chatting with the day kitchen manager about, well… managing the kitchen this week in my absence. I think about work when I’m gone.  I know it’s good for me to get away but I miss it. Last night I had a kitchen nightmare. Things were intense and going badly in the kitchen. A health inspector was there watching, and an annoying customer was waiting to talk to me. Later at a party a guy was complaining to me that he had gone in for a deep dish, waited an hour, only to be told they were out.  I was so frustrated because I was trying to enjoy the party and here was a guy ruining it for me. I was venting to my wife and quite upset when I woke up.  There had been another scene just before that when I was attacked by a gator in a lake but the lake was mostly infested with sharks.  Sharks and gators in the same place., imagine that. Lucy, a friends daughter, was there and in danger of a shark attack.  My brother-in-law, Skip (a retired Navy Commander), was going around saving Lucy and others. I feel like all of the intense and vivid dreams and nightmares I have while at the beach must be good for my subconscious. Since I rarely have (or remember?) such intense dreams at home, this whole vacation thing must be useful. One thing worth noting though, is that I’ve been here two days and the restaurant has been closed.  This morning the place is getting cranked back up for business and there’s a part of me that is cranking up too, a worrying part. I would love to report that I forget about it when I’m away, or that I allow myself to fully enjoy vacation but the truth is I will be texting for an update by noon and at least 3 or 4 times more as the day goes on if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky then some problem will have me on the phone trying to solve problems with my voice and mind, from this remote location.

DING! It’s 8:18am and a text just came in. It’s got to be work related.  Damn.

 

Course

Keeping up with the blog, my own private writing, the stained glass windows, my collage and paintings, my weekly podcast, my family, my mom, and my business… can be challenging.

But for me it’s about fitting each thing in a slot. Finding the way the puzzle of time fits together snugly like the glass I cut for the windows.

Like taking a break from the stained glass to spend a half hour on an audio journal…. or having a project going on in the studio and one in the shop and office at the same time, so a break from one just takes me to another creative endeavor.  If I get too tired or frustrated working on the glass I just have to visit the electric whirligig in the shop, or the audio journal on GarageBand in the office.

Currently I have 18 new painting/collages up at Satchel’s.  This isn’t the best year I’ve had in regards to the quality of the work, but I experimented and learned more than usual. I am working on my 34th podcast in 34 weeks.  I skipped 2 weeks but made extra ones in 2 other weeks thus the equal numbers.  I came so close to giving up this hobby several times but now feel like I’ve been able to work it into my schedule without too much trouble most weeks. While I am still not ready to share the podcasts on twitter or even link to it here in obscurity, I think that eventually, maybe by #50, I will feel good enough about it to share.

I am somewhat concerned about the reality that all I want to do is be in my shop or studio and my days tend to be about knocking out my list of things to do so I can get to the studio, but I am also “on schedule” at getting one stained glass window per week completed for the porch at Satchel’s. At this rate the porch will be closed in and air conditioned for the hot weather in 2016.

I want to make elaborate whirligigs.  Some wind powered and some electric powered. I want to make a sprawling fort at the Repurpose Project. Eventually make little huts for adults as well as kids. I want to make a shanty town of booths under the airplane at Satchel’s. I want to write more. I want to decorate the train tracks at LSE with mountains, buildings, clouds, cows, trees and tunnels. I want to invent a new product for the World. I want to have my own Roadside Attraction. I want to learn to make bowls and plates on a wheel. Pottery. Raku. Glazed designs. I want to make movies.  Short films. Funny videos.

I kindof want to open another pizza place where I take all the lessons I’ve learned from this one and make the ultimate efficient pizza machine. I want to be a consultant for Google, Tesla, Apple.

I want to get to bed by midnight and it’s already 12:07. Next time…. Next time…..Later today maybe my dreams will all come true.

 

 

 

dining out

Every once in a while C and I go out for a date night. We usually just go to dinner. C isn’t into movies too much and she has slowed down to basically a halt in the drinking department so while we once went out for drinks before or after dinner now it’s just dinner. Which is fine. We have a good time. We like to get back home to the kids and the projects. I always need to clean off my desk and work on audio or stained glass or a T-shirt or email or something.

This morning when she said she wanted to go to Carrabba’s I thought she must be joking. She never wants to go to a chain. But when the time came and I was backing out of the driveway she indeed was interested in Carrabba’s. I was shocked. I like hitting up a chain now and then. I like seeing the decor, checking the prices, how busy they are, and the food of course too.  I like knowing what the corporate restaurant experience is like. I like to know and feel like it’s my job to know. Since I have a restaurant I want to know how the experience may compare to the big guys, OR any other restaurant, but if I never go to the chains then I don’t know what they’re like.

Anyway, a friend had said Carrabba’s had a good marsala and so she was thinking of that.  I was thinking of pizza.  I like getting pizza anywhere and going out where I can get pizza is rare. C thinks I’m insane for my obsession and so while I might want to go to Pizza Hut once every year or two, she would flat out refuse. The few times I have been to Pizza Hut since I opened I went by myself and got the personal pan pizza. I love pizza.  Pizza Hut reminds me of my childhood.

So I ordered a pizza with pepperoni, sausage and onion and asked for it to be crispy. It was not crispy.  I did not send it back. Mostly because I didn’t want to be more of a bother. I had already asked for extra lettuce because my Caesar salad was too heavy on the dressing.

She liked her marsala fine but thought for $20 they should not make you pick between a starch or vegetable to go with the meat.  She chose spinach and could have “added” potatoes as well but the plate of veal marsala and spinach was sorta sad. Seriously?  You can’t include a scoop of mashed potatoes?

My pizza was nowhere close to crispy. It was white on the bottom and the ONLY crunch at all was in the last bite of crust. I had to hold this limp thing above my mouth and lower it. Sad. The flavor is ok. The dough was chewy and not dynamic. But had it been cooked right it could have passed muster. As it was it makes me want to never return. At least not for my favorite food, pizza.

The decor was simple. There were some Christmas decorations around: red bows and gift wrapped cylinders that held colorful round ornaments. A string of cut out Holiday shapes across the kitchen.

The service was amazing. Mo, the server, was about as good as you can get. Attentive. Knew when to check in. Never overdid it. And seemed genuine. Mo thanked us at the end for being friendly and polite customers.

I don’t know.  Not much to say really except for all that stuff above this paragraph. I’m probably not telling anyone anything they didn’t already know. Carrabba’s is just ok.  We both got wine and I got these “mini cannolis” for dessert. They were so small.  I mostly just tasted the shells because there wasn’t enough filling.  Who thinks they need to mess with cannolis?  Why mess up a perfect dessert by making it in miniature without proper filling to shell ratio? And $5 for those 2 little turds? At Satchel’s they are 10x better for $3.

We spent $64 before tip. I thought about what we could have enjoyed for the same money at Satchel’s and came to the conclusion we would have had a WAY better time. But then C reminded me that I’m Satchel and so it wouldn’t have been so great because I would not be relaxed. From what I gathered via text to my GM, Satchel’s was busier than Carrabba’s anyway so there’s always that refreshing fact.

We both miss Stubbie’s pretty bad. We used to go almost every week. It was out favorite spot.

And on a side note, I recently tried pizza at Dough Religion which was pretty good. Also tried Blaze when they opened but it was “meh.” Been thinking about Big Lou’s lately, hitting them up again soon. I love pizza. Having other pizza helps me enjoy mine even more sometimes. Sometimes though it’s just as enjoyable having a different pizza. When it’s done right.  Blue Highway and Lou’s do it right. Italian Gator too. We’ve got good pizza in town. I want to try the wood fired pizza out at Cymplify soon but I don;t want to drive way out there during the limited times they sell pizza.  That’s been the downfall. I drive my daughter out past Cymplify every morning for school so it’s not attractive to drive BACK practically to the MALL again in the evening.

Speaking of Cymplify, Ken Eats ( a food reviewer on facebook) broke the story yesterday that Cymplify is re-branding and changing their name to Root & Pecker. The majority of the facebook comments are not thrilled with the name and asking them to reconsider.  It seems they are pretty set on the name. Strikes me as odd. I mean, I guess they want to stand out but I also feel a little weird about going to a place with Pecker in the title. I know it’s dumb to let the name matter but branding is important and alienating anyone by the name is questionable in my opinion.  That will be an interesting story to follow. I wonder if I’ll be ale to convince C to go to Root and Pecker for dinner.  People will talk about it so there’s that. I say more power to ’em. It’s hard enough getting any restaurant off the ground and getting return customers. Add a weird name and the job just gets more challenging. Go for it. It may be an uphill battle but maybe they can make it work? I’ll be paying attention.  I always do.

…Black Friday deal….

Today I went into Home Depot, on Black Friday mind you, to drive home with a new refrigerator but they said I had to order it. So I cannot walk into a Home Depot on Black Friday and but a refrigerator to take home? NO.

I started at Lowe’s. I’ll buy a simple cheap white old fashioned frig. The kind with the big top freezer and the low refrigerated section. I lived most of life with a frig like that and I hated it. I hated that I had to bend down or get on the floor even to get at my food. Am I spoiled? Yes, but it always seemed just like bad design to me. “My Granny had a frig with a pull out freezer on the bottom. Why weren’t their refrigerators like that anymore?” I thought for the decades of my youth.

Then they started making some like that, bottom freezer models started to gain acceptance and become popular again. I am a big fan. I don’t use a freezer much so I don’t like it when it’s stuck right at my chest or my face. Give me beer, juice, milk and yogurt at my face. Put the frozen stuff down and out of sight.

When we first started living here at my Grandparents house, the frig was in an alcove that was 32″ wide. As we started to have kids and grow into a family, refrigerators were also getting bigger and more fancy. We were constantly having the issue that there wasn’t enough room in the refrigerated portion of our appliance to fit all the food. There was always an old school frig on the carport and that had a HUGE freezer at the top. Being the problem solver I am I thought, “We could keep all the frozen stuff in the freezer on the carport and use the whole 32” space for refrigeration. Well, there’s not a store in town that sold a 32″ refrigerator only so I found one online and bought it. A refrigerator. To be delivered to my home in 2003. It wasn’t easy finding a refrigerator only and the one I found was made by Woods and cost $1000. Nice refrigerators at Lowe’s were less than that but they took up so much space with the freezer part. I thought I had solved the problem of getting the most efficiency from our small space.

The Woods never seemed to get cold enough, even turned all the way to the coldest setting. It was loud. It whined all the time.

Eventually after that fiasco I convinced my wife to tear down the wall that held the frig in and get a wider frig. The Woods took the place of the old carport beer frig.

But back to today: I went to Lowe’s and the simple old timer white big top freezer model was $450. Ugly. Expensive. And it was Black Friday. Isn’t everything supposed to be free today?

I thought I should check Home Depot. But they had 4 white ugly big top freezer models: bottom of the barrel refrigerators, all about $500. I tried to buy one. They said I had to order it. I said, “Can’t I just take a floor model?” They said “No.” It was Black Friday. I could not give them $500 and take home a shitty frig. This blew my mind.

I was hungry. I had been out longer than I anticipated and I kept thinking about leftover Thanksgiving dinner back home. I went home for that.

With a satisfied belly I sat down a the computer, determined to bring a refrigerator home this day for my beer and kombucha. Craigslist. I searched frig, refrigerator, & refridgerater (how some hicks spell it). It seemed that each search brought me different results and I was bound to keep my search to Gainesville. I don’t plan to be driving to any other towns around here. I don’t want to go to Ocala, High Springs, Alachua. I found a lot of side by sides (so 80’s) that were almond and ugly and $350-$400. “What happened to the simple $100 frig you could get used back in the day?” I kept asking myself over and over.

I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to get a black one that we could maybe use one day in a pinch if our frig went down? One that was halfway decent.”

20 minutes and 2 months back into my search I find a listing. No picture. The guy says call only, no emails. Here’s the ad:

may tag refrigerator — $300

I have a black may tag refrigerator that’s 3 years old…..it has a couple of blemishes but works great….. I has double doors up top for fridge part… a big pull out drawer on bottom for freezer… contact me with more questions……I have pics if u want them…..

do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

In my mind I thought, “Maytag is a good brand. Double doors at top and black with bottom freezer, that’s like the one we have. That’s an expensive frig. 3 years old?? $300 is cheap.”

So I called the guy and he was not in Gainesville. He was in Newberry. 45 minutes from me. Damn.

But I know the frig. I have the same one in a Samsung model. I think we paid almost two grand on sale. Best frig I ever had. Hands down. So I go.

Sure enough the frig is legit. Robert said he moved it from Texas 7 months ago and it’s been in storage ever since. Said he paid $2500 for it in 2012. He unloaded it and never bothered to wipe it down but besides a good cleaning the thing looks practically brand new. I don’t think a vegetable ever went in the crisper drawer. That thing is a BEAST. We slide it carefully into my truck. I give him $300 in 20’s.

Once home I made soapy hot water and scrubbed it down. I hosed it out. It’s finally on now, after waiting the requisite time for the oil to settle. It’s quiet. It’s real quiet. It’s not in the shop but in my office. Behind me right now getting down to temp. It’s gorgeous. It’s fancy. It’s awesome. It’s full of beer and kombucha. Full.

I have not hauled the Woods to the road YET. Tomorrow.

I feel like I won the ultimate Black Friday deal. I got a $2500 frig for $300. Just had to drive to Newberry to get it, and give it a good cleaning. The best Craigslist ads are the ones without pictures. That’s my new theory. He didn’t want to photograph it because he didn’t want to clean it.

Robert was in the Army. He had moved in with his dad here and he said they were both disabled vets. Robert looked in his early 20’s. He seemed able bodied enough but maybe he has PTSD. He left a cool Army magnet on the frig. He said he wants to buy a house with his dad. He is looking for the right place. Somehow the cigarette dangled from his lower lip like it was glued there. Somehow it never seemed to go down or get smoked but just hung there while he talked and helped me load the frig.

I’m glad I met Robert and didn’t buy the frig from Lowe’s or Home Depot. While I think by washing the frig and posting a picture Robert might have gotten twice as much, I got the feeling that he was happy that I had come along to buy it.

I like refrigerators. I own 13 of them including the ones at the restaurant, my home and rentals. My favorite is the big walk-in one at work. Today I bought another good one. I’ll let you know if it has any problems. But I feel pretty good about my Army man Maytag Black Friday black frig deal.