Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Others will never taste Grandma’s great cooking.

I’ve had the total misfortune to witness a G.I.D. (governmental intrusion disaster) unfold for months on end now in the commercial space next door to my shop.
A very nice woman decided to try and achieve her dream of opening a great little pizza parlor there. Not just another of the hundreds of standard franchise models but a home made, brick fired oven variety. The kind of oven I’ve seen while watching a travel channel in some far away island community. A place the locals hang out drinking exotic drinks while watching the suns rays slowly sink into the abyss of the Ocean.

I’m guessing now but I can imagine she will use a secret sauce that was proudly passed down for generations in her family. My admittedly overindulgent imagination would also include the dough. Not a dough from a box with an ingredient list in some foreign language as long as the Constitution, thrown together with water but something her Grandmother taught her to make with the main ingredients being love and patience for perfection.

Now that’s one hell of a wonderful dream the lady has, wouldn’t you agree? What could it possibly take to throw together a nice little pizza parlor to serve the locals a great tasting pizza?
Admittedly the building we’re talking about is old. Very old. Probably pushing 100 years old in fact. Still, some wall, floor and ceiling treatments, a little paint, some kitchen appliances, the oven of course and some tables and chairs for the patrons and BAM! “Welcome folks. Come on in. Your nice hot, bubbling pizza straight from the brick fired oven will be ready in a moment. Have a glass of wine or a beer while you wait.”

Approximately 17 years ago, when I rented my commercial space next door, in the same 100 year old building, it was already painted so all I had to do to create a Barbershop was put up some mirrors, install a sink and slide the old fashioned Barber Chair in place. Then some nice rocking chairs for the clientele and “Welcome folks. Have a seat. I’ll be with you shortly.”
If I remember correctly, it took all of a week to open for business.

Now back to the nice lady trying her best to open a little pizza business next door.
The first activity I saw and of course heard, being right next door was a whole lot of demolition. They obviously had to tear out a lot of the old wood, wiring and what little plumbing there in order to upgrade the whole thing to modern standards.
It all seemed to be going well until everything stopped one day. Which turned into not days but weeks, then months.
When I asked, they told me they ran into the dreaded building department monster.

Now my life experience admittedly does not include all the modern requirements in this day and age to create a space to handle food but the things I was hearing from the contractor and workers’ trying to do their jobs was horrifying at the least.

First of all, instead of hiring some draftsman to pencil in some general drawings for the place, they had to hire an architectural engineer for god’s sake. Now his work extended the timeline another month or more. He for reasons unknown did not work out in the end, so they had to hire a new and improved architectural engineer. Of course his work only added another few months to the now ridiculously long drawn out process.
Again I have no idea what’s involved in achieving this little project but was constantly amazed at how long this was taking.

Finally one day, when I came to work it was a beehive of activity with grins on everyone’s faces as they told me everything was in place and it was a go! Then the bangs, crashes, air guns blasting and shaking enough to knock things off my walls commenced in earnest once again.
With every apology offered, I always responded with “No problem. Just happy you’re on your way now.”

Once more silence prevailed.

This new bureaucratic brick wall had something to do with a “Grease Trap doohickey”, which costs thousands of dollars by the way and has to be reviewed and approved by several arms of the permit department, as more weeks flow by.

Using her California bureaucratic travesty as a lead in, as the title of this piece infers, because of these insane food processing rules, our free choices of what, where and how we enjoy food is only going to get more and more mind numbingly generic and tasteless. Because Grandma is flat out not allowed to cook in her own kitchen and serve to the public from her front porch swinging bench, the general public will never get the chance to enjoy the delicious food she regularly prepares for her family. Food by the way she’s prepared and served most of her life with no one turning green and keeling over with some exotic disease never heard of before or since.

No sir. The only food available to the masses (that’s us folks) will be served from the confines of the mass marketed franchise verity. With meat products from boxes labeled “Eatable Meat”, as I observed in the loading zone of a McDonalds on my very LAST visit there.

So no folks. You will NOT be allowed to taste the wonders passed down through the generations from folk’s family recipes, straight from their regular kitchens. You’ll have to settle for the tasteless garbage offered at the McPlastic establishments only.
So at the least, treasure every chance you get to set down in Grandma’s kitchen and savor every morsel of heaven offered therein……..

Lastly, all I can say to the nice lady next door is “Hang in there. Hopefully in the end, we’ll all get a chance to enjoy your offering from the heart.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A little bit of nothing

The dreaded alarm woke me this morning with a sudden start. After slitting my reluctant eyes open to the just brightening sky, I did the only thing I could then.
I rolled over, grabbed the down filled heavenly cloud and covered my head with an almost whimpering, begging hope I could make the world fall back into the softness I’d been so rudely dragged from.
You know what? It worked. I could feel my being drifting downward, getting smaller and losing it’s substance once more.

Aaah. What heavenly pleasure sleep’s embrace hath on our souls
Oh soft embalmer of the still midnight, shutting, with careful benign fingers
Upon my pillow, breathing away the days woes
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
And seal the hushed casket of my soul.

Then…..Whumf! What the hell? As my mind once more dragged itself from the billowy softness below, reality twisted with the beginnings of what had plopped onto my side. As was his usual morning ritual, it was the great ball of fur that considered all else to be beneath his greatness. If I don’t immediately and obediently rise after the Zen like brass bell announces another breaking dawn, he assumes it’s his royal purpose to rouse the troubled masses.
His self-proclaimed duty is to get the show moving toward giving him the substance he demands. No matter he’s over weight enough to bounce the bed into a rock and roll shimmy of resonance landing there.

Still pretending to slumber, hoping against hope he’ll go away, he soon takes the next step. Crawling onto my side, he reaches out, to first lightly tap my face. Within seconds, if that doesn’t get the proper response, he extends the tip of his claw onto the skin of the only little exposed spot available. Then as all furred monsters do, he mixes bread, with little flexes of his hand, just short of breaking the skin.
Now having experienced this many times before, I still pretend he doesn’t exist, even as his nails digs slightly deeper and his bodies weight increasingly makes my breathing labored.
Soon it becomes a contest between the slowly increasing stinging of his claw and the weight of his formidable body pressing down.

During this ever-mounting torture, I kept slipping in and out of my soul’s hushed casket, with the lid becoming heavier and harder to reopen, now with the creepy hinge screeching upon my mind, as if from some horror movie.
There’s only so much even I can take and still pretend to slumber, so with an angry rude grunt along with a resounding whoosh, I threw the down cloud aside leaving in it’s wake a blessed moment of silence as the furred monster flew through the air to once again bounce the bed with refrains of shimmied resonance straight from one of Jimmy Hendrix’s most powerful feedback events. If it’s true that music is what your emotions sound like, the symphony pounding my just awaking mind can go to hell!

After throwing my legs over the side of the bed that’s lost its blessed moment, they hang there. With eyes closed to avoid dawn’s reality a bit longer, I consider for several seconds slipping back under my down filled cloud to deny my curious conscience, that’s just starting to rear it’s lord like dominance once again.
But that’s not to be.

Having been raised with the ridiculous premises of responsibility, honor and duty, the supremely fabulous idea of flaking off life starts losing its luster by the moment. So I force my body to slip off the edge of all that’s wonderful to again stand upon wobbly legs with full body weight bearing down upon the cold hard floor. A weight I imagined I’d lost back upon the beds grace tantalizingly just above me, now gone from my grasp in my need to achieve something with this new day.

Next comes the torturous walk with all its little painful creaks, pops and groans, half bent over, wondering if I might ever walk upright again, much less sans pain. Having finally crippled over to the bathroom’s quiet entrance, I stand eyes closed tight before the dreaded mirror, not yet daring to turn on the stark blinding lights that cold bloodedly allow no falseness.
The most amazing thing happens when one stands before the bathroom mirror first thing in the morn. All ones egotistical notions of who we are and what we look like in our mostly fantasized, idealized worlds stands in stasis at that moment in time, there in the blessedly muted light of dawn.

At that moment, we still hold fast to the lies of our fantasies. Fantasies that include young, hard, smooth skin, stretched over a handsome youthful face. On top of that carved from marble marvel, a head with rich, dark, thick hair cascading down over the ears and falling with abandon down the thin muscularly veined neck. The kind of hair one would imagine crowning a Roman Gladiator’s head.
Then as we revel in our combination of complete denial and robust imagination, we reach toward the light switch, which allows no falsehoods and pause there, finger almost touching, allowing ourselves just one more moment of wishful mind adultery.

Unfortunately, with the growing dawn light slowly beginning to make the whole exercise a sadly mute point, reality finally pushes it’s way through the madness we call early morn life and our finger pushes downward, as we automatically shut our eyes one last time, using the unspoken excuse to not cause them harm.
Then after allowing ourselves one more moment of seeing life through our closed eyelids, now lit from without like a living lightning strike, we finally open the one door we’ll not be allowed to close for another full day.

And who stands there before us? Who indeed? What the hell happened to the Roman Gladiator we knew we were just moments ago?
There is no explanation, excuse nor definition for what we see there in that damn morning mirror straight from the depths of hell. The shock is indiscernible.
We immediately avert our eyes, busying ourselves with the rest of the morning’s standard rituals.
After finishing, we cripple off toward the goddesses greatest discovery. Coffee, a cup of coffee that will hopefully dry the tiny tear still moist below our eyes. Eyes again in full slit mode against this God-awful morning’s realities.