Happy Trails — Part 2

I’ll be 47 years old in a couple of weeks. I remembered I was 12 years old; and one day while walking home from school — for some reason, thoughts of what my life would be like when I’m 47 came to mind… it seems like forever at the time — 35 years away. Yet, little did I realize that it would come a lot quicker than what my childish mind have perceived.  At the time I thought I probably would have kids, have a husband who loves me forever… have a house filled with love and laughter, I would be this great artist, and have the financial independence to travel the world; all the innocent thoughts of a child — full of hopes and dreams — dreams of that perfect life. The only things that came true were the kids. And while not great… I’m an artist.

It has been quite a tumultuous journey… my so call journey of life. Often times I wonder why some people seem to have a life that seems so easy — so perfect. They set out to get what they want: work hard and obtained their desires. Then there are many of us who seems to wander endlessly… like a feather in the wind — seeking the same and yet we can’t seem to get it no matter how hard we try. Perhaps it’s because our destiny has already been etched in stone and we can’t change it — no matter how we tried to rewrite it. And yet, my tenacious personality refuses to let me believe that. I find myself keep trying… wanting to rewrite my destiny. Because I just don’t want to settle for less — at least not all the time. There are situations beyond my control that I have to do whatever to survive. However, what really bothers me more than anything else in this world is to depend my livelihood on people who are undependable.

Last week, I was so happy to finally find a job so soon after closing my restaurant. It was such a relief to know the furry kids and I would not be homeless. And the job has a lot of potential for me to move forward financially. I was told to start work on Monday. The owner said he would call me to let me know the exact time. Monday came and by 10 am, I didn’t hear anything; I called the owner. My alarm sensor went off when I heard his voice. He made some excuses about being busy and that he would call me back in an hour. Well… an hour later and still no words. I try to be optimistic and gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was busy. I decided to call my landlord to let him know the good news and I won’t have to move out of the apartment. Little did I know that phone call would change the course of my life in an instant. I was shocked, disappointed and disgusted beyond belief when I found out through my landlord that I don’t have the job. My landlord had lunch with the owner’s fiancé over the weekend and she told him they are not going to hire me. We both knew it was her who didn’t want to hire me… jealous? But what made me even angrier was the fact that neither the owner nor the general manager had the courtesy to call and let me know personally. When I finally talked to the GM, he sounded very uncomfortable, gave me some lame excuse on why the change of plan and that he would have called me sooner but he didn’t have my phone number… really… I deserved a better answer than that.

Needless to say, this week I’ve been ridding on an emotional roller coaster — pondering about my seemingly torturous life. Why God? I asked. I don’t ask for much. I don’t want all the material crap or the desire to be filthy rich. I just want a joyful, peaceful life where I can contribute some positive difference and to share it with someone who will love me for who I am. Seems simple enough and yet it has been easier said than done.

After beating myself up, and being angry at the world for the week, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this set back get the best of me. As they say… back to the drawing board. Even though once again, the furry kids and I have to deal with being homeless. And my job opportunities don’t look very promising. I try to see the positive things in this ordeal. As I sit and looked through the photos I took on my recent trip, I realized how lucky I am to be able to travel freely and captured the beauty of  my world. I’m grateful to have taken the weekend trip before the bad news. At least, I fulfilled my dream of visiting one of the most amazing landscapes in person.

While I’m not sure where this journey will continue to take me, I know it will not be empty. Until we meet again my fellow bloggers and friends… Happy Trails!

With a view like that… I would be more than happy to live in a box.

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Seeking Truth and Forgiveness on Route 66 – Part 4

They say confession is good for the soul. And that’s exactly what I was hoping to find: to somehow confess my sins without the fear of being persecuted for my follies, and to restore my faith in humanity. I drove hundreds of miles in the hot desert sun — hoping to quiet the turmoil in my mind. Although I wasn’t exactly sure if I would find it on the desolate road of Route 66, I thought if nothing else; at least I got the opportunity to explore and shoot some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.

One of the things I noticed about the desert is how quickly the weather changes; it can be stormy and sunny at the same time. It was fascinating to see nomadic clouds constantly changing across the bright blue sky.

During my on foot discovery, I came across a herd of cattle out in the middle of the nowhere desert. They looked rather emaciated. Poor cows… judging from their protruding ribs, it seems as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks. Perhaps it was the desert heat, or that I was glad to see another life form — I found myself talking to the herd. Asking them if they belong to anyone… if they are hungry and thirsty… and for a moment, I thought about confessing to them my troubles but thought better when they started to move towards me. Quickly, I backed away from them. Don’t need a stampede of cows running after me.

As I continued to explore the desert life, I came across a herd of dall sheep hidden behind a big boulder. I was surprised to see these kinds of sheep in the desert. I always thought they were a cold climate animal. I used to see them often when I lived in Alaska. The male sheep would be very aggressive with each other so I knew better and shot them from a safe distance.

It was getting late by the time I came to the end of Route 66 or so I thought… I later learned that Route 66 starts at Santa Barbara, California and ends in Chicago, Illinois. I decided to seek shelter for the night in the town, Kingman. I have passed by this town earlier on my way to Oatman.

I drove back Kingman’s Route 66 thinking I would do the road again the next day. I’m sure there would be more interesting photo opportunities. However, I wish someone could do the driving so I can focus on just taking photographs. Well… unbeknownst to me, my wish would later come true.

There were plenty of motels of all sizes crowding on both sides of the road to choose from. Out of the corner of my eye, a colorful tower with the word El Tra… something caught my interest as I sped by… and my thought was to stop there but since I passed by it already, I thought I would just find another place ahead. However, my inner voice told me that I should go back to that colorful tower. After driving another few miles, I decided to listen to my inner voice and I made a u-turn to go back to that El something motel. And this is one of those moments that reinforce my belief that your intuition rarely steers you wrong…

Seeking Truth and Forgiveness On Route 66 – Part 3

There is nothing more thought-provoking than driving for hundreds of miles alone on a desert road to reflect about life. While the solitary beauty and grandness of the landscape made me feel grateful for being alive and having the freedom to enjoy the moment, the inner civil war inside my head continues its pursuit of right and wrong.  It’s beyond belief how a moment in life can be so beautiful and full of promising future of happiness… then you make that one wrong choice and puff… that opportunity is gone forever. I know… it certainly wasn’t the first nor would it be the last time I’d make choices like that but nonetheless, I felt like such a fool that I could be so careless. As the battle continues on I came upon another small desert town: Oatman. Although the town didn’t seem like much from first impression, I was glad to have the opportunity to take a break from my tumultuous conscience.

When I got out of my car, I almost stepped on to a pile of smelly excrement from the town’s mascot. Many years ago, Oatman was a gold mining town. And after the gold mines were shut down, the burros used during mining were released into the wild.  Some of the descendents became tourist attractions. The burros come and go as they please around town, leaving smelly piles everywhere.

My first impression of the town was correct. There wasn’t much to do. After reading the sign about the burros, I took some photos around town. As I started to walk back to my car, this burro for some reason decided to follow me. When I got into the car, he still would not leave me alone. He just stood there looking at me with pleading eyes. I told him to go away… I don’t have any food. There were signs all around town warning people about feeding the burros and yet I saw a woman feeding one of the burros her ice cream. The beast still would not give up and thought perhaps he could convince me by sticking his head into the window. Of course being the photographer, I grabbed the camera and shoot — at the same time trying to stay as far back from the beast as I could when he stuck his head further into the car. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do… other than continue to take pictures and ordering him to go away. Then he looked at me for a moment and backed off.

With a sigh of relief I thought he finally took the hint and decided to leave — instead he proceed to eat my car. Hey! I shouted at him. Don’t eat my car! I wanted to reach out and push him away but… just then a man who has watched my comical interaction with this beast came to my rescue. He shoo the burro away from the car long enough for me to escape…

POV of A Cactus Plant

Last week during my daily morning hike with the furry kids, I decided to take the camera with me to photograph the abundant cactus plants in bloom. It was about 5:30 am and as we walked along the familiar trail, I was attracted to the soft glow of the morning light on everything. I’ve been looking forward to taking my first cactus blooms in the wild and when I came upon this plant with clusters of buds and blooms, I knew it would be the perfect subject to experiment with.

One of the challenges I enjoy in photography is to try to get as many POV (point of view) of the subject as I can. While the color version was pretty to look at… I converted them into B&W. Oftentimes, I find images become more interesting and unique when it is in B&W rather than color.

The Belgian Waffle Maker

A few weeks ago, I added a new kitchen gadget to my collection — the Belgian waffle maker. I usually don’t like to buy these counter top appliances because they rarely get used and usually end up being a dust collector. Well… I love this little appliance. Not only does it make yummy, fluffy waffles in minutes, it’s also very photogenic. Since the weather is rainy and cold today, I decided to do a foodie shoot. I came up with this Strawberries & Cream Waffle Shortcake recipe. Enjoy! 😀

Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Waffle Shortcake
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients: Waffle
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
3 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Canola or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Buttermilk

Directions for waffles:
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until all ingredients are well mixed. The batter will have some small lumps. Follow waffle maker cooking direction as directed by the manufacture.

Recipe: Strawberry Cream Filling

1 Cup Chopped Fresh Strawberries
1 Cup Mascapone Cheese
1 Table Spoon Honey

Combine strawberries, mascapone cheese, and honey in a medium size bowl. Mixed well.

Recipe: Strawberry Sauce

2 Cups Chopped Fresh Strawberries
1/4 Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
1 teaspoon corn starch (mix with a tablespoon water)

Combine and bring to a boil in a sauce pan. Reduce heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Add corn starch to thicken sauce. Stir for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Assemble:

Fill one side of waffle with strawberry cream and top with strawberry sauce. Place another waffle on top to make a sandwich. Garnish with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry.

Very Berry Crepes

I went to the farmer’s market yesterday and looks like the berries are finally in season. They looked so good, I knew just the right recipe for them; my famous Very Berry Crepes. I used to served them at the cafe I owned long ago… ahh… what a great little place it was. Okay, back from memory lane… more on that chapter of my life later.

Bon Appetit!

Very Berry Crepes Recipe

Ingredients:

For the crepes:
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Milk (non-fat optional)
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Combined all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until batter is smooth and mostly lump free. Use a non-stick medium size (10 inch) frying pan to cook the crepes. Pour about a 1/4 cup of batter into the heated pan; swirl the batter around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated with a tin layer of the batter. Unlike pancakes, the crepe cooks quickly. When the bottom is lightly golden brown; flip the crepe over and cooked for a couple of minutes more. The batter makes about 5 crepes.

Crepe Filling:
1/2 Cup Blueberries
1/2 Cup Raspberries
1/2 Cup Sliced Strawberries
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoon Sour Cream

Combined all the berries and sugar together; set aside. Gently combine sour cream and the berries just before serving. Fill the crepe with desire amount of filling and serve with maple syrup. Enjoy!