Life Of The Rodeo Horse

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The Sun’ll Come Out… Tomorrow…

The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!
Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!
When I’m stuck a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh
The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow!
Tomorrow!
I love ya
Tomorrow!
You’re always
A day
A way!

The Shit Eating Butterfly

I was out walking around Willow Lake yesterday with my camera — looking for something creative to shoot while pondering on the recent abrupt departure of someone I’ve come to care a great deal about. As I came across a field of little yellow daisy like flowers, I saw a few butterflies. When I proceed to photograph them, I noticed one landed on the ground. Upon closer look, it was sitting on a pile of dog poop and next to it was a fly watching. After my initial surprise of seeing the butterfly choosing to land on the poop while the others continue to hover from flower to flower; the shit eating butterfly reminds me of my friend’s recent erratic behavior.

It is difficult to understand why a beautiful butterfly with so much potential and opportunities would leave everything behind…

to hang out with the dirty fly and eat shit…

when she had a whole field of beautiful flowers to choose from.

And get the real love she deserves…

Hopefully the beautiful butterfly will find her way back home before it’s too late…

The Cook and The Photographer

How quickly time flies when you’re having fun. I can’t believe it has been five months since I became a restaurant owner. And what a challenging five months… hopefully, things will continue to work out for the better. Needless to say, the cash flow continues to be a challenge and dealing with the government is a pain — you wouldn’t believe the amount of fees I have to pay every month just to keep the door open. It’s almost like dealing with the mafia. I have to pay up or else… ¬†ūüė¶

Well… at least the cooking part is easy. I am having a great time doing what I love and seeing the joyful reactions of the customers when they eat my food, made all the challenges worth it. I finally got the restaurant website up. http://www.alohagrille.me¬†. Here are photos of some of the dishes from the menu. I think being a food photographer definitely have a big influence on the way I cook — my food is very colorful and the presentation had to be picture perfect. Which sometimes can make things a little difficult for my servers — such as when I see a bean sprout sticking out of place… and I want to fix it before I let them take the plate out… but it’s all good. In the end it’s the satisfied smile and wonderful compliments from the customer that lets me know I am doing the right thing.

Hawaiian Style Plate Lunch

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

Hawaiian Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

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.

World’s Oldest Rodeo

Since I opened my restaurant a few months ago, it has been none-stop work, work, work… and more work.¬†After taking over the restaurant, I discovered many challenges left by the previous owner. I’ve been working every day trying to increase business and rebuild the negative reputation the last owner had created for the restaurant. Slowly but surely, I am making very good progress. I am getting more repeat customers and my reputation of having amazing food is growing. And many of the customers the previous owner chased away are starting ¬†to come back after hearing the restaurant has a new owner. However, I am still struggling to get the cash flow to flow… unfortunately, it is flowing more like a drippy faucet right now. And then there’s the employee situation — since the restaurant isn’t very busy, the servers are not making as much tips — keeping them has been a challenge. And finding a good server who can follow directions is even more challenging. It’s amazing when I asked people not to attach their resume but to cut and paste it in the email, and yet I still get so many people who didn’t bother to read and send the resume as an attachment. So much for being able to follow directions. Which was one of the¬†criteria¬†that I’ve listed in the ad.

Not that I’m complaining… I am still astonished that I was able to buy the¬†restaurant with only my determination and trustworthiness. I am very grateful to be blessed with this opportunity. However, as much as I am passionate about it, I could feel all the hard work the last few months was starting to take a lot out of me. ¬†I know I have to take care not to burn myself out. Finally, I forced myself to get away from the restaurant for a few hours last Sunday to have some fun with my camera. There was a big rodeo competition event happening and since I’ve never been to a rodeo, I thought it would be interesting to see what it’s like and of course, hoping to capture some good shots. ¬†As I walked around the large stadium, taking care to not step on steamy green piles left from the hundreds of horses; the rodeo life is definitely very different from anything I’ve seen… people dressed in cowboy/cowgirl attires, horses in fancy saddles, menacing¬†looking bulls huffing and puffing behind metal gates, large groups of calf and goats crammed into holding pen and country music blaring over the loud speakers;¬†I felt like a fish out of water. It’s definitely not an environment that I would feel comfortable fitting in. However, the people were very friendly and polite. And I got to see some really brave cowboys in action. It felt good to get away from the restaurant and recharge my creativity using the camera.

There were many events. While it was amazing to see the brave cowboys in action and perhaps it’s my lack of understanding of the rodeo life; But I couldn’t help but feel sadness for the cruel treatment of the animals used in the events. They were chased… roped…

flipped and hogged tied…

Although, I have to admit… it certainly takes a lot of courage to grab the bull by the horns.

Or face the deadly possibility of being¬†trampled¬†by an angry bucking horse when you can’t hold on…

As I enjoyed all the actions of my first rodeo from behind the viewfinder — quietly I applaud and felt some satisfaction for the animals when I witnessed their determination not to let the cowboys win…

Don’t mess with me cowboy!

Ask And You Shall Receive

It has been exactly two months since I left my hometown of twenty years behind… to move to a completely new place to start my life over. I didn’t have any ideas or plans on what I was going to do, other than to seek peaceful life and hope that I would find a job before I run out of money in a few months. During the first couple of weeks in town, everyone I met kept telling me how bad the economy is and that there are hardly any jobs. While I was optimistic about my ability to find work — I thought if I ended up homeless, I could always pretend to play my guitar; Max can hold a “Please Help” sign, and Evie knows how sit up on her hind legs and look pretty. People would take pity seeing my furry kids or either that give money just to keep me from playing my awful guitar noise¬† music. ūüėČ

Luckily, the furry kids and I didn’t have to go that route. When I met my roommate, she told me that our neighbor next door owns a restaurant. I thought… great! Maybe I can talk him into giving me a job. About a couple of weeks after I arrived to my new home, I finally met my neighbor. We went for a hike. During the hike, I told him about my 20 something years of restaurant and cooking experience. Blah.. Blah… Blah… I went on. Shamelessly selling myself, hoping to get a job. Well… to make the long story short. I didn’t talk him into giving me a job that day, instead a week later, I end up talking him into giving me the whole restaurant. He had purchased the restaurant six months before and by the time we met, he realized that owning a restaurant was more work than he had thought. He was at the point where he wanted to give the restaurant back to the previous owner. So during one of our daily hikes, I simply asked him to give me the restaurant. Ask and you shall receive. Well… this is one of those times where that statement came true. I didn’t have much money, but somehow I knew this cute little place was going to be mine.¬†Well… after a month of paper work, dealing with the government, ¬†jumping through many other hoops, and most of all; the help of some guardian angels — my dream came true. I am now the proud owner of a Hawaiian style restaurant — Aloha Grille, located in the beautiful town of Prescott, Arizona.

This is one of those opportunities in life when it hits you in the face and you are actually ready to receive it kind of moment. I had owned a small cafe many years ago but at the time, my kids were very young — among other challenges of life, the cafe didn’t make it. Anyway, I told myself someday I would have another one when the opportunity is right. And when I made my New Year wish, I didn’t know that I put in motion for me to find my opportunity. When I look back at my New Year’s post, A New Journey Begins. I am amazed by my predictions. If you read what I wrote, you will see that my journey for the last couple of months have been exactly as I have written.

My little herbal garden. I hope to harvest the mint for the noodle salad dish.

Nope, I didn’t paint the mural. It came with the restaurant. Although, at the end of a hard day; I love to sit and stare at it. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the waves crashing on to the beach.

It is a small place… but just right for me. People commented on how comforting they feel when they eat there. So far, all the orders come back with empty plates. It’s a good sign that my food is tasty. One good thing about being a food photographer, I will be able take photos of my cooking. Which I hope to do when I get more settled with running the restaurant. So far, I’ve been running around none-stop. And yes, I feel sleep deprived but at least I finally lost the 15 lbs that I’ve been trying to get rid of for the past few years. ūüôā

I have to admit, it has been a crazy last few weeks. I changed the menu, did a lot of cleaning, bought supplies and even sewed the table clothes. The biggest challenge I discovered was the difficulty of getting the ingredients I need living in a small town. I had to drive all over town and search four different stores just for coconut milk, bean sprouts and snow peas. I couldn’t order from the food service companies because of the small quantity I need. On top of that, I have to learn how to bake at high altitude. I thought it only affects baked goods, but I spent all day today, trying to modify my Easy Breezy pancake mix recipe without success. And I’m suppose to open for breakfast tomorrow. So… I cheated. I went and bought pancake mix. Until I can figure out this high altitude problem, I have to cheat and use store-bought. Yikes!

I know there will be more challenges ahead… especially, the cash flow issue. However, all is good. I have my excellent cooking skills, experience and determination to make this place a success. And this time around, no kids, no husband, and other family obligations to distract me from my goal. This time, I have only me, myself and I to deal with. ¬†ALOHA! ¬†ūüôā