Saturday, October 30, 2004

The ghosts are in us!

Ghosts will roam the streets again tonight! Memories are the movement of that which once lived and now no longer exsist in the form we recall. Their movement is attached to the real world but is not something of weight or density. The movement of these memories, however, will have some form of substance tonight. These mostly happy and sometimes sad ghosts will accompany the millions of children who live in the real world of our neighborhoods. Every doorbell ring and "trick or treat" will be greeted by these ghosts. Make room for some very happy ghosts with children's faces that walk with the force of love. I will set them to roam again tonight. BOO!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Do you know?

What do you know? What are you planning to learn? What has driven you to want to learn about them? What is the nature of this curiosity? I love to search blogs and see what motivates people. I love to hear of their passions and the clattering of their souls in its little box. I empathize with their pains, pleasures, frustrations, and acknowledged foolishnesses. When I look at others, I'm freed momentarily from the constant motivation to self experience. I have become aware that there are some people on this planet who are never outside of themselves. They are interesting but seem often frustrated or offended by the presence of other wills impinging on them. Mostly I find myself fascinated and pleased to experience people who can get outside of themselves, even momentarily, to experience a something that opens out onto a larger and more global awareness. It is my hope that the smallness that confines us can be opened and made more generous and valuable by such experiences!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The quiet corner of silence!

The lean hours of the morning flex restlessly. If you aren't full within, there is a desparation to empty time. Inside of me seems to be the joy of love and its concomitant loneliness. Inside of me is also a pool of wants and doings. The pool is a drowning place. Only love can introduce me to the renewal and real life that comes with ecstatic joy, caring and sadness.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Church lady gets a hand held!

If I didn't know the technology, I would say how romantic! I have been searching in my mind for how it is that there can be some value to these mumble styled ramblings the blog is posting. The question is what do we (people) actually have to say. In my rampant cynicism, I wrote an essay all about how illusory is our impression that what we sense is what there is to be known of and understood. It took a year to squeeze out in spare moments after work. It is almost 9000 words and has 65 footnotes. I have no idea where to send it or who would even be interested in the monster. I thought (and still think) the concept is important and valuable but, really, who cares?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Moments stolen from my pillow!

The day has ground to a close like a badly worn bearing. I seem lost in a jungle of fruitless years. I have a day off from work tomorrow but it is already heavily scheduled. I need to do much internet research for the computer stuff I will have to provide soon but I just don't have any strength left. It's been a hard week and I feel weak, drained, reclusive. I hope tomorrow will see fortune's smile. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to keep creating my life out of my own imagination.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Learning and always questioning

My major challenge at the moment is to get so I am as comfortable using Access as I am using Excel. I really need to switch to a data base program for keeping statistics (and analyzing them) on sales of menu items, waitstaff performance, even the interactive program I've written (in Excel) to cost dishes and run inventory. There are a lot of comercial tools you can buy to do this job but they don't operate well enought in this part of the world with it's primitive purchasing systems and from the very basics menu item preparation. The most popular one in Almaty seems to be ISoft.

I should have done this three or four years ago before I got so heavily loaded up on programs I've created in Excel. If I had started then, by now I'd already be better at SQL and working with these table, form, report formats. It's starting to click now but it was tough to begin with. I went to my old reliable and took a course in Access with HP learning Center and that got me moving in the program. I also did a short tutorial provided by Microsoft but it was so old that it wasn't very helpful. Therefore, I still can't do the work I need to be getting done, especially for this consultation in starting up the new fast food outlet. I'm on a real short time frame to be ready for that and I'm still a long ways away. Hope the learning curve shoots skyward soon!
Love those buritos! Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Monte for breakfast

Had monte for dinner last night too! It was good but it quickly gets boring. Just read a blogspot from a girl from Toronto and felt a little better. She said she didn't like Autum. Its one of my favorite seasons in Almaty. Did she come from the Caspian Sea region, maybe Atyrau or Oktau. If so, she's living in the North American Continent where I was born and I'm living in Central Asia where she was born. Superficial, but all that I can cope with this morning!

Friday, October 08, 2004

It aches!

There is a part of me that is all about what I do in the kitchen, what I do when I create a restaurant menu, what I do when I create a special dish for the "Special Today" board. I am aware of that part when I am doing the work I love and am experiencing the pleasure that is so specific to me during this activity. It is so personal it is difficult to describe what I feel. I have this sensation of warmth within, this feeling of being completely me in the best of all possible ways. I am busy and happy at the same time; I am relieved, for a moment, of my and everybody else's flawed humanity. I am part of something perfect and complete in a greater way than I could ever or would ever have to be personally.

Then there are those times when I must sit with the management team, the ownership, the accountant. There are human resources staff evaluation forms that must be filled out; there are profit projections on menu restructuring to be computed and written up and submitted. There are technology text boxes to be written and inserted in "recipe books" along with the measurements for the new recipe I'm proposing for the menu. There are staff discipline procedures to be done and, once accomplished, to be put on forms and memos and sent to many people who have no idea what a pleasure one can experience in the kitchen. I am not resentful of these people sometimes, when I can look past the frustration of the seperation from doing what I love, I merely sadly wonder if there is anything in what they do that they can enjoy as profoundly as the person who is cooking can?

And then, when I've gone on to that unhappy time between one restaurant or hotel kitchen and the next, when I'm feeling this vacume in that place that is only occasionally perfect and complete, that is when I feel this ache.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Food from scratch

In the restaurant and hotel kitchens it is common to make stuff from scratch, of course but at home the rule when I was a kid was 'where's the box of mix?' If I want mixes here I have to buy them in Europe or America and bring them back. That is a serious inconvenience, with luggage weight restrictions and former Soviet Union customs agents!

After all these years living in Central Asia, I've gotten to the point where I'd really prefer to make things from scratch. The ability to sculpt the taste is probably the biggest reason although, like most people, I have taste preferences that are repetitive. Ruminations over favorite flavors and the extreme shortage of those foods in the C.A. diet pattern have really revividified my home food preperation techniques. Want hot bisquits, a stack of pan cakes -- break out the basics because there's no bisquick or Aunt Jemima here! Like hot soft dinner rolls tonight -- better get cracking early 'cause the dough is going to take about three and a half hours before you can pop those pale, lusterless pearls in the oven!

I've always prefered my sauces freshly made. I can't immagine anything more pedantic than a bottled bechamel with a long shelf life. I have the arrogance to hope that everyone feels the same way. Looking back over the way my process has altered since I've been here, however, I still think that even when I move to somewhere near "shortcut central" I'm going to hang on to to this slower but more intimate way of putting stuff togeather at home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Fatboy chefs in faraway places

Heading nowhere this morning but to the next cup of coffee, I'm on number 5! I'm such a contradiction; how can I have lived and cooked this long in the dandy little Republic of Kazakhstan? It has certainly been a tough but exciting road since the breakup from the former Soviet Union. Twelve years and I am still trying to dance the dance. Tastes here have changed in those twelve years; the restaurant scene is slowly (by my perspective) changing. The best activities are still imports, sadly. Winter is on the way and we are sitting on the edge of discontent. More on the next post.