Jazz and A Mood

Jazz plays on my phone as I sit here and type on a quiet Tuesday night. Today is my parent’s 41st anniversary, though nothing of note happened today. Laundry spins around in the dryer, the rest neatly folded, albeit, not put away. Tomorrow marks the fifty percent opening the restaurant is going into after almost 3 months of closure, though we have managed with take out services.

Life is in a melancholy phase. Work has been…. challenging. Why is it jazz fits every mood? If you are feeling melancholic, jazz is somber. If you are feeling upbeat, it seems like all the high notes are champagne bubbles popping on your tongue. Romantic? The slippery slide of a trumpet’s not gliding down your back like a lover’s finger.

Jazz, currently Miles Davis’ “‘Round Midnight” slinks out of my speaker is hitting the somber notes. The gray mood I am in. The early work week blues.

I’ve been as uninspired as any writer with writer’s block. My dad asks if writers really get writers block. Oh darling, yes, every writer hits a block. Maybe the ideas are there, but they just don’t come out. I have ideas. So many ideas. I scribbled down several poetry prompts weeks ago. So many things to write about. Redacted words in a post…. you know all those black lines? Like a form of blackout poetry, only about the actual aspect of blocking out the bits I don’t want to talk about.

There’s something about an untidy relationship, untidy thoughts… I’m not sure what that was in reference to, other than I …. Oh, now I remember, something about my grandmother and the fact that my mother and her had an untidy relationship.

A cup with three houses and snow falling on it.

Dishes being stacked and the sun ticking its way quickly westward.

And then so many thoughts about work. Lines I’ve scribbled down here and there. Work. I’m in that phase of where I could just shove my workplace off a cliff. Actually more the people I work with besides Miss Holly and Golden Oldie. Everyone else could take a swan dive off a short pier and I would be completely, one hundred percent happy. Give me a perfectly good dessert menu that I came up with. Me, so it’s all on me if it makes a go. I should be ecstatic. Yeah, well, I’m not. Tomorrow begins the work week and I am just not ready. I should have taken a few days off this last month when it was more quiet. Now that opportunity has passed me by.

I think I’m more annoyed that I’m blocked again with what to write. I can’t seem to even force myself to sit down and write in my journal. Piffle.

Side note of nothing related to any of this, but my family has taken to watching Miss Scarlet and the Duke, All Creatures Great and Small, Grantchester, Home Fires, and for my mom, sister and I, Downton Abbey (which I’ve gone through most seasons but the last. Total introduction of that drama for them) We are in a British, all things Masterpiece frame. It’s rather delightful. I’m in love that Sidney Chambers of Grantchester loves jazz.

So I end on that not. Jazz, what’s not to love about it? Play to me, Count Basie, play…

Kate

Booze, Nooky, Hades, and an Existential Crisis

It’s a metaphor. Well, the Hades part is. Maybe.

I didn’t fall asleep till after 4:30 in the morning just the other day. I was listening to music on my mp3 player, trying to fall asleep, when a song by Lauv came on. There wasn’t anything special about the song, but Lauv was introduced to me by my coworker Alex. Suddenly I’m thinking about him, which one thing after another led me to a memory of Lucifer and Wildflower that left me reeling. There, in the wee hours of the morning my heart is racing and I’m remembering slamming out of the kitchen so mad and frustrated that I finally burst into tears outside. I had other coworkers come to find out if I was ok, a manager, a general manager, and finally my big boss and owner of the restaurant. To the point where I was asked if I needed someone to talk to Lucifer. This memory still pisses me off, and I was laying there seconds away from texting Coffeeman, because I was freaking out….. two plus years after it happened. It happened in 2018…. Time has passed, so why does this still get to me?

“What is it about this job that lends itself to freak out moments?” I write later on the whiteboard at work. “From dreams that leave you tossing and turning, to middle of the night panic attacks.” This comes after finding out Astro D has spent the night with wild dreams as well. (mine were panic inducing, to some point) This writing on the whiteboard leaves both Jersey Boy and New York Babe (our bar manager) stumped. “I’m having an existential crisis,” is all I tell Jersey Boy who shakes his head and wanders off. Trust me, he could not handle a K having an existential crisis.

This made my mind go in so many directions

A month ago I was talking to Scarlett St. Clair about a line she wrote for her upcoming novel, A Game of Malice, and her character of Hades, god of the Underworld.

Scarlett: He’s pretty intense right now. LOL
Me: he’s got a lot going on right now. Sometimes this is all that eases the stress…

Long ago TomCat ended a particularly brutal night with the statement, “I need a shower and sex.” I laughed at the time, but later on as I became more and more responsible for bigger things, I started understanding this line. And I used it on Scarlett to explain Hades intensity.

“In my world, it’s like the perfect stress reducer,” I tell her. “…And it actually works… not that I dabble in much more than showers these days…… The adrenaline runs high even after hours of work, so trying to wind down is killer. Hence why I am a serious night owl. Chefs turn to drugs, alcohol, and sex to wind down. It’s funny in the gloss over version, but it’s actually a much deeper issue under the surface. Hades actually personifies a lot of the inner stress and depression that exists in this world. Part of the reason I love him. It’s also why we have sick, twisted, and sex related jokes.”

“Hades is definitely a good metaphor for that,” she replies. “How insane, I had no idea honestly.”

The cooking/chef world is unlike any I thought I would ever join. ( See Note at the bottom of this post) And there is the strangest amount of adrenaline that comes from being in it. New Year’s Eve had me making pizza till 1am, then having to clean up and close down. While I went into work later than usual, I still had all this prep to do, a service time where I was busy with making more pizzas, then winding down for two hours, to start it all up again. I didn’t get to sleep till 5am on New Year’s Day. The adrenaline kept me wired for hours. It is so hard to just let it all drop out of your system. And a crutch of alcohol, or drugs, or sex, is like the only thing that kind of kills all the mental crap going on. I do not dabble in much more than alcohol, but usually at a controlled rate. I don’t like hangovers, and I have to be careful. But to feel pleasantly buzzed after a chaotic night is relaxing.

Sex takes a massive edge off. Probably because it is its own form of a high. Ironically, all the things I mention are also all highly addictive. So is the adrenaline of a service rush. You want to talk let down, have a quiet night when you were expecting busy. New years….. I was running on such a high. From getting glammed up, to having a bunch of fun orders and the speed of getting them done before midnight, then fireworks. I was on cloud 9 till suddenly I mentally crashed and groaned at the smeared eyeliner and mascara.

Most people I talk to do not have a clue about the world I am in. I don’t expect them too, but it can be an insane world. One of the reasons I love Scarlett’s character of Hades is he is a metaphor. His scenes are incredibly appealing to me, especially the vulnerable ones, because he has his highs and lows and frustrations. He doesn’t sleep well. He is up at all times of the night. He’s addicted to whiskey. He’s addicted to Persephone and sex… Not that that’s a bad thing with her, but he is addicted.

I know chefs that go to bed at 3am and are up by 8am. Burnt out is an understatement of what is going on with them. We all get burnt out at some point. Right now I am exhausted. An instagrammer I follow was asking how my new year was going and I said I was trying to be more mindful and healthy, but I am 3/4 of the time exhausted. Cut back hours and I am more tired than when I was working a 40 hour week. There is a lot of mental instability right now with shut downs, and take out, and attempting to maintain products with no pattern to sales.

And this is why even though I am not the executive chef, I have middle of the night panic attacks. I was panicking before work today because I forgot to let Astro D know that we had blown through a specific weight in dough. The two of us are pizza first and foremost, so that is where we back and forth problems. The oven was being a bitch today. The dough was needing to be rerolled. The dough was over proofing. It was too big. And so on.

Existential crisis might be hyperbole, but at the same time, here it is 3:30 am and I’m drinking wine in bed while I write this. Mulled, but wine nonetheless.

Maybe I am Hades….

(Scarlett said I was when I showed her my glass of whiskey at 3am a few weeks ago)

Kate

Note:  I recently started following Culinary Love, a platform for discussion about the culinary world. From taking care of our cooks to discussing the hard things like depression and addiction. I haven’t delved into the whole blog, but I follow one of the chefs who was part creator. I highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in finding out more about methods to dealing with depression, and if you are a non service industry person, a good resource for finding out some of what our world is like.

Click the image below to take you directly to Culinary Love . Or click the link right there.

 

Where Does The Time Go

Summer is more than half over and my writing life took a sharp turn south to non existent. At least here. It’s not like I’m not writing, but I haven’t pulled out my laptop to type but for some poetry a couple weeks ago. My journal is almost full after another year and a half. (my journals always take a year and a half to fill) and I have been writing this and that. Noting about life other than random observations. I feel like life is so heavy that I can’t write about life. Notes to become poems, or thoughts, but rarely anything deep.

Can we do over 2020? Not like actually all the crap that has gone on, but can’t we just chalk this up to a no go year? That being said, I feel like I have gotten places in my writing I might not have gone before. Nathan and I were texting the other day and he commented that one of my poems wasn’t my usual norm. Ha ha, he hasn’t seen my notebooks. But he is right. I sometimes spew off this super long poem with no stopping and no breaks and no punctuation and it’s like I just let a balloon spew out its air, whizzing around the room. Like I couldn’t contain it and I had to just throw it all out in a rush.

I bottle up my thoughts, opinions and emotions a lot, but when I let them out, usually it’s in a rush, a dumptruck of thoughts poured out on the ground. No organization to them. Sometimes cluttered and rarely making sense. Sometimes poems get like that. I can’t contain the box they are in. Personally, I’m rather fond of those kinds. At least of my own. I usually make the point I want without censoring myself. I’m rather proud of some of those poems.

Now what do I do with them. Again, Nathan asked if I was going to get any in print. I want to, but where? It’s all I can do to write the poems. I don’t have the oomph to hunt for journals to submit. Does anyone want to be an assistant and do the research for me? Pretty please? Darlings, I’d pay you in endless gratitude and the option to have me bake you a goody if you happened to be in northern CA and stopped in at the restaurant.

And that ^  is why I can’t get writing done. Work. I am swamped at all points. My day is so busy from the minute I walk in till I leave. I have a boss on my station in the morning who doesn’t believe he needs to do the prep and leaves most if not all of it for me to do, along with, yes, I am still full force making all the desserts. And I have had an entree added to my station that is adding in time. I fire ribeye steaks in my oven and I have gotten pretty decent at it. But for an already taxed station to adding that in. Well, let’s just say my life is one constant busy.

Even on my days off I’m thinking work. Or pestered by work. I want a weekend where I don’t have to think about work. It would be different if I was the chef in charge. But since I’m not, nor am I being paid to be, I want to not think about work.

And now dishes and lunch are calling me. Forget writing again.

Kate

 

A Ripple of Distortion – Poem

It’s so weird. Tax day came and went, the three month mark of my grandmother’s death is today, I need to talk to Jersey Boy about coming back to work, Covid-19 has taken it’s toll on the country. I fight against my body. My sugars dropping every day as I become more and more like my father. Menopause makes me moody. I forgot that when I talked to Nathan this last week and mentioned I was moody on Easter. I forget that I can go from bright and cheery to gray cloud and teary in a flash. As fast as my sugar falls. Hostess Extraodinaire, I need Pepsi, stat!  No, I just need normal.

I combined all thoughts and it kind of flowed into this poem that while not perfect, has it’s points. We all feel a little indecisive. And poet Susan Wooldridge challenged me last year to write a poem about lettuce. I never got around to having anything that worked, until adding it into this gem today. So much is in here, unpacked, emotional. I know Christa would understand. Dona and Mels too.

And for a chuckle, watch this bit from an old NBC show called  Ed. It explains a line from this poem.

Photo by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash

A Ripple of Distortion

It’s tax day, but taxes aren’t due.

Overcast — the sky is more subdued
less spangle sparkle bright — perfect.

I wake up praying. Things are so uncertain.

A line of wobbly silver reflection run down the page
a mosaic of reflection as effective as a rippling pool
distortion is only as good as the subject known
A cow could be a boulder
a tree turns to a feather

What if I’m not who I seem to be?
Maybe I’m not who you’ve ever known

Plant lettuce seed, it looks like a weed
until it has three fourfivesix leaves
say it funny, Le-toose, it’s not what it seems till it is.

What have I become? Where do I fit in ?
I bite, snarl, fall apart into a puddle of razor blade teeth.
Sugar coat me and I’ll be as sweet as the sun is fierce.
Take me out in the rain, I melt
you see the rust hiding under a silk exterior

I’m a heartbeat of uncertainty
a weight of indecision
my feet slap the pavement
I’ve walked more miles than you could imagine
wearing a hole in the asphalt,
a groove runs down my pat
parallel to the imaginary yellow lines.

I’m wobbly two faced in the tiled reflection
Two things at war.
Let me get back to the thick of things.
Or let me sit in the sun and take in all the sky has to pour down on me.

Chaos, Panic Attacks and Memories

The notebook of memories

I was flipping through a notebook I started early on when working at my restaurant. I found it in a stack of things I was going through. I’m not sure why I stopped writing in it other than for the reason of insane frustration that started being recorded in another book titled ‘Night Shift Notes’. My nights have never been that crazy, but if something of note comes along that is important, I record it.

There were some absolutely lovely and funny moments I wrote down in this glittery notebook, and I honestly need to pick it up again.

This is from July 2018:
“The days are calmer with less stress on everyone, so it seems. Nickelle is still a nutcase and is having too many issues, so she freaks out, and doesn’t know what the fat she is doing most of the time. Poor Chef is like at his wits end with her.

I can do the tart dough just fine. The roulade cake alludes me still.”

Ah Nickelle, she was an interesting one. And Coffeeman came into a world of crazy at the beginning. Her, Lucifer, Wildflower. These were the days before Will Turner and me up on pizza. I was a lowly prep chef. Tackling desserts, but the gopher. Golden Oldie has moved up to pantry, out of dish, and now he’s the new gopher. I don’t envy his job. Laughing.

Here’s another gem from July 2018:
“But I must go back to Saturday. Dinner service was starting and Chef, Twin C, and I were busy with Sunday Prep. I think NY Lady (she is our everything manager) was in and out. Then Lucifer called for all of his squirt bottles to be filled and he was impatient and I was rushing to try and fill them. One I started filling with white wine vinegar instead of white wine and the Chef had to stop me, thank goodness. But Lucifer was super impatient and went and got a bottle himself. Then I went to fill his saffron bottle and said I had to go get the saffron on Chef’s desk, and Lucifer snapped at me that it just needed Hot water!
I went back to the prep sing and slammed the top on the sink and must have let out an exasperated sigh because Chef turned to me and told me to tell him “mise en place!”
“What?”
“Take the bottle back to him and say ‘The Chef says mise en place mother f*cker!”
“I can’t say that to him.”
“Yes you can.”
“But he’ll come back at me.”
“No he won’t. Fill the bottle and I’ll be right behind you.”

So I fill the bottle and walk back up to Lucifer and present it with both hands and say, “Lucifer, Chef says mise en place, mother f*cker.” Lucifer looks at me, then glances behind me and says, “Yes Chef.”

And that was that. I didn’t know till later that Coffeeman had stood behind me crossing his arms where his favorite statement “Mise En Place” is tattooed across both arms so they connect when he crosses his arms. ”

To this day, we still all remind each other to “mise en place!” It’s probably the highlight of one of my memories of working with Coffeeman. I may have talked about it in the past, but I can’t remember. I’m just glad I wrote it down.

Those first months were probably the best time of my job, though this last year’s July and August with Coffeeman on pizza were a dream.

Photo by Jesson Mata on Unsplash

For some reason all of these memories had me remembering my panic attacks that were happening later that year when suddenly I went from being behind the scenes to being out in front. And just the overwhelming feeling of not getting it all done in time. I had a sugar crash yesterday while making lunch, and I’m freaking out because my brain is on zero function, and I’m thinking “Gosh, I do this all the time with the added stress of not being able to get something to eat because I have ten tickets up on my board.” I needed my Hostess Extraordinaire with her glass of Pepsi for me!

I miss work like crazy right now. I have not accomplished half of what I wanted while home, but I’ve got a start. If I could just not collect books…. as I consider ordering a couple I wish I had right now. I need help people.

These are just some musings from pulling out a notebook. I have some good poetry to type up here too, I just haven’t taken the time to post it.

Whoops, I went back and started reading other posts about work. They all make me smile a little ruefully, tear up a little cause I still miss Coffeeman too much, and roll my eyes at myself. At least I can laugh at myself.

Kate

When Control Does Not Abound

This, this right here above is the only controlled part of my life. And that was taken yesterday. Today, it’s not. Chaos, overwhelming everything, threatening storms are in the air. August is always an unstable month. The hot weather threatens to overload us, yet the nights are cool, and the winds begin. Storms may float in, wildfires start. Unsettled moments. It’s all very nerve wracking.

I feel out of sorts these days. The transition of a new boss is taking it’s toll on my mental and physical being. I’m tired already to begin with, but learning a new person’s flow, it can be exhausting. Especially, if at times, you don’t agree.

“Keep your head up, stay strong, keep working hard.” — Coffeeman

I’m losing Coffeeman. I might sound quite cavalier at times about it. I’m not. Far from it. I can’t go one moment talking or thinking about it that it doesn’t make me want to cry. I never, never thought that I would be this affected by it. I’m trying to suck down as much time with him I can get my hands on. Which currently is about 10 minutes when I get into work before he’s leaving. I actually got a whole half hour last week on one day. I don’t want him to go. I really don’t want him to go.  And this not wanting him to go has started making me rethink things and changes, and changes I might or could make in my life. It’s nothing even definite, but it’s realizing that when things change, sometimes you have to as well.

“When it comes to things you can’t control, keep your head down.” —Coffeeman

I’m not ready for the summer to end. That’s not even fair to ask, but I feel like it just started. I’m not ready for fall. I am enjoying this interim period of late summer, not fall, when the berries are ripening, or are loaded ripe, and everything is just slowly creeping it’s way to fall.  It’s rather lovely. They sky and light, clouds, moon, stars. It’s all so rather pretty.

There are a lot of changes that are going to happen this fall. I know it. Some good, like next week I take my driver’s written test. I have never driven, had a license… But life changes, and I have to move with the times. It’s been a 20 year journey in the making, this driving thing. I’m slightly apprehensive about the test. I’m excited about the driving.

I’m gonna repeat it because this is kind of where the post all started in my head. I’m gonna miss Coffeeman so much. I wish I could pause time. Pause this moment right now where I have one of the best coworkers of my life. Sure, I liked him as my boss, but meeting up with him each work day and going over the mise en place is the highlight of my day. It is the very best part of my work day. And I can’t control a single other thing right now.

“If it’s not affecting you, don’t get involved.” — Coffeeman

So, uncontrolled me, overwhelmed, transitioning, and trying to not get involved with anything that doesn’t affect me. Yeah, this is gonna be a hard fall.

Kate

The Scales Tilt

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

“Hey Chef, can I talk to you before you go?”

The question is posed after another long Saturday with the exhaustion of Thursday and Friday getting to me. I can see he’s dreading the ‘Talk’ that I have coming, because I have had serious talks at the end of his shift, not always good.

“How do you balance home life and chef/restaurant life? Like how do you get your family to understand the lack of balance?”  The question gets a chuckle, rueful at best from Coffeeman as he flips a milk crate over and sits down on our back dock and I plop myself on the stairs. I’m way past tired, ready to cry, per usual, and that’s not having been working over 40 hours; I still have another two to three before I hit that mark. It’s just the overwhelming feeling of all my focus on work. Picking up after people, stressing over prep not getting done, sugar lows that make me hurl dough at a table and stomp off nearly ready to melt into a puddle of tears and snarling. I could be a puddle of vampire teeth. I know, weird analogy. But I’m a weepy, bitey puddle.

I never balance things well. Relationships, work, poetry, writing. I go all in. I thrust myself into the fray and sink my heels in; grasp with sharp talons. Moderation isn’t my best suit. I have a lot of flaws. I cultivate bad habits…. Okay, not totally, but I’m far from the person I present myself at work. I think everyone there thinks I am a certain way, and I’m betting they wouldn’t quite recognize me on my off days or at home or when I’m in a comfortable setting. I’m me at work, but not. Which is why I cultivate the name ‘K’ at work (psst. people, it’s not Kay. It’s just the letter…. lol) K is a focused individual, a little messy, but put together, dedicated to the point of ocd-ness, passionate about her work, what her guests think, what her coworkers think, etc. It can be exhausting. I’m nice to a fault. I’m not as assertive as I need to be, yet. Much more passive.

But at home I am cluttered, distracted, emotional, snarky, tired, always tired, prone to starting too many projects and not finishing them, a reader, a dreamer, a writer. Writer me is rarely visiting work, and when she does, it’s while making a pizza on a slow day when the clouds are forming to the south and I stare out at the fields, meadows, and mountains, writing about Wilson Tennu, or what he should be writing about…

I guess in that way I’m balanced. A balanced wreck, but balanced nonetheless.

“Twenty plus years in the industry, and I still haven’t got it all balanced,” says Coffeeman.

“How do you unwind? I find myself getting off at 11 and awake till three in the morning,” I say.

“I still do that.” His replies help (and don’t help) because I don’t feel like I’m the only one dealing with it. I know he gets it. He has it seven days a week with ordering or being at the restaurant, family life, a wife, kids, a long commute. I have at least the two days off, which he says to be thankful of.

“Don’t drive past this place, (course you get your mail at the post office behind…), don’t think about work. Don’t plan recipes or menus or specials. Do it at the last minute. Do it on the fly. Don’t talk about work. Let it go for the two full days you are off and the morning before you come to work.”

It’s all easier said than done. Coffeeman… I failed this week, as I sat there discussing work and thinking about hand pies and do we have puff pastry in the freezers still? Do I want to run a special this week?

It’s currently Tuesday evening, my Sunday night, and yeah, I’m thinking about work. It’s one of those bad habits.  But I don’t feel as stressed other than I wish I would have had more time to watch a few things filling up the dvr. I wish I could sleep more. I feel like I don’t get enough sleep. This balance thing is hard.

But again, balance isn’t my strong suit. Nor is patience. I want it to happen now. Drama queen that I am.

I like to think that maybe the scales are shifting a bit though. I took a long walk and hike yesterday by water, which I love. Saw plants and wildlife and just got away from the house. And not just to town, or to the city. Just away from the generals of life. It was nice. Summer is rapidly progressing and I feel like it’s going to be all over before it even began!

I found myself feeling kind of weird about how much of a struggle last summer was, but right now it feels very far away. Some things are not far away, having animosity towards people still, months from when it happened, but it seems ages ago. This year is a struggle as well, but in a different way. Other problems creep in, others fade. I’m still too emotional about things. I don’t think that will ever change, but each day might bring something new and a new perspective.

Coffeeman left me with a hug of serious proportions. The kind that says, “I get you” which I needed because I was so tired and need to find balance. “Just be thankful you don’t have kids,” he says on a final note. And to that, I am fortunate. My immediate family wears me out. I’d hate to think of kids in the picture. And that’s the rueful me talking there.

Kate

Back to Basics

Everyone always goes back to the basics. The tried and true. The first. Working with pizza, having grown up on “American’ pizza, it’s hard sometimes to remember that not all pizza is the same. I work with Neapolitan pizzas. Thin crust, hardly any ingredients. Or at least that is the way it’s supposed to be. It’s hard to not want to fall back on old habits when they are familiar. New tricks aren’t as easy to master as old habits. I’m sure that would make a great Zen proverb.

Asparagus bacon stromboli

So my new challenge to myself, my craft, my pastries, my life, and my restaurant, is to… go back to basics. I am researching classic Neapolitan pizzas. I had an IG picture one of my strombolis ‘liked’ by a pizza place in Philly, of all places, and a now I’m paying attention to the finer details. Fewer ingredients, hardly any sauce, thin it down, bake it fast… taste the dough. “It’s all about the dough.” So says Coffeeman. I wish someone would have told me that from the beginning. No one has explained that Neapolitan is more about tasting the dough. So now I’m forcing myself to light, light, light on ingredients. And I want to try three ingredient pizzas. White sauce, spinach, mushroom. Bacon and spinach. Asparagus and feta, or ricotta.

I played with a new Margherita the other night, where the sauce was not all over the pizza. Just dotted on, along with the cheese. No pesto, just basil. It was divine. Fresh. Alive.

Basics are good. Simple is better. Right now the simple life is taking over. Okay, right this minute it is the ‘not doing anything’ life, but whatever. It’s my Saturday, sue me, I’m tired.

With desserts, I want to try my hand at some simplistic things that are high in flavor. Partly after Mr. B was on my case, the restaurant’s case, etc., about needing a thin cookie with the pots de creme. Whatevs, dad, but he does have a point. I don’t always have the luxury to create, all the time, but Coffeeman gives me lots of leeway. I am thankful for that.

I need simple in my life. (‘I need corny in my life,’ says Iris — The Holiday) I am trying to step back from irritations at work. The boys being brats, grumpy moods, the monthly PMS of every single female in that place (including me) and trying to let it slide off my back. One of the servers tells me frequently, “Miss K, you have to let it go.” I don’t let go, I grab hold and then it eats away at me.

We have three new people in the kitchen, so I am having to relearn new moods and new people. Miss Luna replaced Twin Bear. She is good. But she isn’t Bear. I miss Bear a lot. At one time we were at odds about everything. She drove me nuts. I thought she was going to make me rip my hair out in insanity. Then I just kind of fell in love with her as a person. She’s off learning new things. I’m happy for her, but I miss our jokes. No one quite gets my statement, “I love the game of everyone standing in the pass!” Bear would. By the way, there were a lot of people in the pass the other day. I had to just walk through the bar, much to Fancy Pants perpetual annoyance. (not really, but really. He’s such a drama queen. I think it’s why we work so well together. We both excel in drama queenness.)

Not getting so involved with people’s drama frees up my life and simples things down.
I’m working to scale down my life. The clutter and things I don’t use are getting to me. Like a lot. I want a room that doesn’t look like I’m there much. Or maybe clutter and stuff free. I wish I didn’t collect books like a fiend, but well, I have issues.
Let’s all pair it down and get back to basics. The basics of living and being. (maybe living in the country lends a way for this to happen.

Kate

Sail Away, Sail Away, Float Away – Musings

Dona and I were catching up the other day since I never get to catch up in person what with living in a restaurant most of the time. Plus she has a busy life as well, and as writing groups and such are not in the forecast for me to get to, well an instant message or two is our only chance at communication.

So she is busy; I am busy. She said she wanted to win the lottery so she could stop. Me being the progressive daydreamer I am, or ‘zoning out’ as Walter Mitty does, I couldn’t just let it rest at winning the lottery. In a flip second I had spun this grand exciting idea that was given a thumbs up and an “I like that’ vibe.

So first you win the lottery. It has to be someone from my writing group, as that is the only way for this whole scenario to work. Lottery won, then what we all need is to use that money to purchase a writer’s retreat. Which is another way of saying a grand estate with a large enough house to have rooms for all of us writers, with plenty of extra rooms to wander around writing. Because as writers, it’s a must that you can’t just sit in one spot. It has to be accessible to a garden, or gardens might be more apt. Considering we are almost always Jane Austen fans, a place to walk amongst the country might be good. A pond, or lake. Personally, I would like a folly or two… So it needs to be plenty of acreage to take long walks. Of course I am thinking of the English countryside… with the rainy afternoons and the chance you might run into that handsome farmer just down the road, or maybe he is a gentleman of the peers and you can run off and marry… I’m digressing. Pardon non Jane Austen fans.

Then of course the house must have a large enough library to house all of our book collections. Two level if possible. The size of Belle’s library might be a bit much, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it.

Then there must be a second estate purchased that is for the winter months. Living in the colder climates and the snow and cold, I start dreaming of tropical places to visit right after Christmas. The Christmas Tree might still be up, but ooh do I want to be where there is warm beach sand and the thought of a fruity drink with an umbrella as I sit under an umbrella contemplating sunbathing or swimming.

Now, due to my current work/job, of course I would be the inhouse pastry chef. I would hire someone to help me with the rest of the cooking, because as a writer as well, I would need time to write! But I could play around with marvelous pastries and desserts. Of course we would all take tea in the afternoon. I would have made delectable treats for that. As we all sit around a lovely tea service and talk about what we wrote that day. And what we were going to work on into the evening, provided we were not watching that next marvelous Hallmark movie, or Downton Abbey, or something British and utterly delightful.

Of course, there would be late night snacks, as writers are notorious night owls. If we all went off to bed, within a decent time range, there would be low lights on throughout the house for those sleepless nights one of us got up to write in the middle of the night. Which can’t be done in bed. I mean, it can, but if one can’t, then we must be able to get down to the kitchen without stubbing a toe.

This is much more detailed than what I wrote off to Dona, but I thought, what a marvelous dream. And the thought of a community of close writer friends is rather lovely. I can picture this a little too well. I could actually go on and on about it, but well, you all probably have your own little ideas of what would make a great writer’s retreat/estate for your group of writers. I like the idea of being able to have the two ‘home bases’, but then being able to visit mountain cabins and lakes, the ocean, the prairie, France, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, and maybe Maine or New York and the Hamptons, throughout the year. One must keep the adventure active to write.

Again, clearly, I’m dreaming. And when I dream, I go big. I go so so very big.
So, readers and writers alike. What would your perfect writing life be?
Kate

Stains, Spots, And Smelly Clothes

Photo by Dmitry Arslanov on Unsplash

The cooking industry is murder on your laundry. I am sure that there are a lot of other industries that would be in that category as well, but what with spots, stains, sweat, and who knows what else, professional kitchens are a source of constant obnoxious laundry.

Take for instance this weekend when I accidentally had my gel pen leaking a bright blue spot through my apron onto my nice white chef’s jacket. I stared down at the spot remembering the ‘lovely’ accident of the sharpie mark on my sleeves one day when I didn’t click it closed. That spot is still there, albeit brown now instead of black due to several laundry tricks that never worked.  I was panicking a bit because a blue stain on white seemed impossible.

I have so far, found a trick by accident that works. So people who want to get stains out, get your pens ready and bookmark this post.

Lots of places said rubbing alcohol and vinegar rotated with table salt got the stains out. For me it was Simple Green worked into the stain and agitated out. I used diluted first to start rinsing it, but then full strength and scrubbed the fabric with itself until the stain was itty bitty. I will launder it as usual and expect it will come out.

For standard laundering of my regular whites, which are white, mind you, is Tide with Bleach. All of my jackets are from Happy Chef, so are that 30/60 cotton poly blend that you are not supposed to bleach. But Tide with Bleach is great because it doesn’t bleach but gets the grease and stains out. Odor too.  My aprons and jackets frequently smell of old flour and oil and fry oil smells. If you do a regular load of laundry with warm water (warm is a must, cold will not work) and if you can soak the load for a half hour in the soapy water then rinse twice, you will have sparkling clean shirts. I use it for my semi faded aprons as well since it breaks down the oils so well.

For spot treatment on every stain no matter what I use Dawn Dishwashing detergent. I like the ultra or concentrated ones as they work the best. Toothbrush, scrub it in, let it sit for a couple hours or days and bada boom, out comes the stain.

If the stain doesn’t work, consider trying hydrogen peroxide with the dawn. If it’s a colored item, rinse it out once the stain starts to fade otherwise you will have the color fade out because of the peroxide.  A trick for berry stains that has worked wonders, is to first treat the stain with the dawn. It will turn every berry stain into a blueish stain, then use the hydrogen peroxide to slowly erase the blue stain. Rinse.  Every single time it works.

Irish Spring original scent bar soap is excellent for getting out blood as well as sweat stains. Sweat smell too. I have always had a problem with body odor and washing with Irish Spring keeps it at bay, will break down the aluminum zirconium in most deodorant antiperspirants ,  and also helps break apart sweat smells. I have used Irish Spring for years, but I definitely have to use it now that I have switched from a natural deodorant to antiperspirant.

For oil stains, if it is fresh oil, sop it up with talcum powder. Not stuff with cornstarch in it, but actual talc. Raid your grandma’s powder tin, so long as you can handle the strong scent.  Use a small spoon or popsicle stick and apply a little mound over the oil spot. (I have never tried it on anything larger than a dime or quarter size)  Let it sit. For a while. Like an hour or two. Brush off with a toothbrush and repeat if the talc is oily and clumpy or the spot is still there. Repeat as many times as it takes to magically disappear the oil. Launder as usual, or use Dawn then launder. It’s seriously amazing. I have saved so many things from oil spots with this trick.

Definitely if you have a stain that you can’t seem to get out, do not throw it in the dryer or use heat. It always sets stains or oil marks. This is actually why my  chef’s jackets are never in the dryer these days. I never want to set a lot a stain, and sometimes I never know if I have gotten all of the stains. So best be safe instead of sorry and trying desperately to get stains out.

My mother is expert at getting stains out, more so than I am. I am notorious for cooking at home without an apron on. I splatter so many things. I am queen of that. And my dad is notorious for spilling on white t-shirts and brand new clean things, whatever they might be. So yeah, lots of years of stains. She probably has more tricks that even I don’t know, but these work like charms for me. So, if you work in a funky stain inducing industry, these might help.

On a side note about cleaning things, I have found that the kitchen is murder on my skin, producing a lot of blackhead and blemishes. A lot, and I wear a concealer that has sunblock in it, so it clogs the pores a lot. After I wash my face with hot water and a washrag at night, I clean my skin with rubbing alcohol. I have found it keeps the bulk of the blackheads at bay. I still get plenty, but it cuts down the bulk. And if my skin gets too dry, then I use Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner in the morning and I am good to go.

It’s the little things in life that make it easier. So any laundering or beauty care ideas for the cooking industry? Send them my way.  And hopefully these help anyone else.

Kate