Just a drop

I love the rain. Perhaps it’s just a freak thing about having grown up in the desert, but nothing energizes me more than rainfall. As I sit alone in my contemplation, with monsoon storms building around me, I can’t resist the urge to turn my attention toward the raindrop…

One solitary drop, making an amazing journey from the sky. As it soars through the air, completely vulnerable and exposed, its beauty glistens in whatever remaining light may be found. Hoping not to be part of a storm of destruction, but knowing only few can be part of a rainbow, this is perhaps the most thrilling time for all. Just when the possibilities seem endless, it smashes into the surface of reality and breaks into a million molecules.

Not to be swayed by the harshness of the land, the molecules penetrate in the most unobtrusive manner, until it’s safe to reunite and rebuild. The drop continues to travel through layers of dirt and around obstacles of rock, seeking to bond with others. At some point the drop finds the main stream and goes with the flow, but this state cannot contain it for long. It breaks apart to find its own path and searches for more. After moments of both unity and loneliness, the drop finally serves its ultimate purpose: to support life in the simplest form. Such a brief moment could easily be overlooked, but it has attained fulfillment of which has never been dreamed.

Upon finding true meaning for its existence, the drop disseminates into the atmosphere in anticipation of doing it all over again.

Puma Prowl

Jack’s sense of restlessness has been temporarily silenced. Some of you may have heard bits and pieces about an unofficial inaugural event called the Puma Prowl that occurred on Tuesday May 25, 2010. Mark that day in the history books, as it is likely to start a revolution. Alright, maybe that’s overselling it a bit, but it certainly felt like more than your usual girls night out.

The concept can be credited back to a few male Twitter personalities, @JuxtaPalate, @AZHotDish, and @EricEatsOut who came up with the brilliant idea to meet up for a dine-around to the local establishments that attract the “douchebag” element; dubbed Scene Cuisine. The night appeared to be a bit of a bust, with a lack of a scene at any of the chosen spots. Not to be left out, the single(ish) female Twitter foodie community decided to mock the stereotypical Scottsdale cougar crowd and plan a Puma Prowl around local establishments.

It was discussed that we would all wear some kind of animal print and do this up right in impersonating the native cougars, but apparently some pumas tried to hold on to their pride (pun intended). Needless to say, I showed up with my chest popping out of a jungle-print top, all bejeweled in pearls and stood out as a complete eye-sore… but I can take it! We chose RnR in Old Town Scottsdale as our first stop and hadn’t made the connection that anywhere with TVs would be PACKED for the Suns playoff game, but we temporarily commandeered a reserved table and at least got one round of drinks in us. Mine was a Chambord margarita and, at happy hour price, was quite a tasty deal. After a bit of an annoyance with the bill (RnR boasted happy hour all day with a secret word, but you apparently only got the happy hour prices if you specifically asked for them… repeatedly), we decided some eats were in order and headed to The Mission.

I’m a newbie to this whole foodie thing and had only previously tasted one thing from The Mission, the Almejas al Vapor (Peruvian clam stew w/rock shrimp, chorizo, pan de yucca, aji amarillo, & roasted corn). One word: STELLAR. It lived up to the memory, and went very well with the avocado margarita and chips and guacamole (just trust me). Unfortunately, I’m horrible at names after a few margs, but the folks at The Mission treated us incredibly well and even brought out a beautiful tower of shots made with pineapple, Malibu, and Midori(?) that we aptly named the Bomb Paparazzi, as we made a total spectacle of the event with flashes from our cell phone cameras.

After departing, we hit the Rusty Spur Saloon with some hesitation. We stood at the door of the tiny establishment expressing our uneasiness as the owner came out to coax us inside. Live music and a desire for more shots allowed the owner to win this battle and we were delighted to see that the male vocals of the duet were coming from behind the bar! Indeed, the bartender was slinging drinks with one hand and masterfully dominating a mic with the other. After being called out and having to explain to the entire establishment that we were on a Puma Prowl (with pleasure), the owner showered us with schwag appropriate for the occasion; thongs and condoms.

Following many fun antics with the gifts and crowd at the Spur, we returned to RnR for parting cocktails. Astonishingly, live music had started from the Wilkins Duo and one of them recognized us from earlier in the evening, chiming into the mic “hey, the ladies are back!” They were quite entertaining and we all shared a bottle of bubbly to top off the night.

Above is a general recap of the night’s events, but I haven’t yet addressed my fellow pumi (don’t hammer me for the improper plural, it just sounds more fun). I had a lot of hesitation about attending, as I only know a few of them through previous events; the night could have easily become dominated by ridiculously competitive and catty attitudes. However, we created an incredibly comfortable and naturally social environment that, from my perception, was totally genuine. Not by design, but rather by coincidence, all these fabulous women are in marketing and/or have taken the plunge to start their own businesses. I think this played a big part in making this event a success. Everyone seemed to be incredibly confident and mature, while embracing the immaturity of the evening. This truly wasn’t just another night of chasing guys and talkin’ schmack, we’ve reinvented the typical “girls night out” into a little thing we call Puma Prowl.

A huge THANK YOU to @PetitFromageAZ @DiyaMarketing @CiaoMari @Dragonflytweet @Noshtopia and @SherilynMclain for including me in the fun and cheers to future gatherings!

Memorable quotes from the evening:

  • “Nobody puts Puma Prowl in the corner!”
  • “I like it cause it has protein in it.”
  • “Do you need a big kitchen to do it in?”
  • “Wow! Can I take a picture of your cleavage?”
  • “That would leave a sour taste in my mouth… and my uterus.”
  • “No jackrabbits, please!”
  • “What happens at The Spur stays at The Spur.”
  • “Grab your panties, ladies. Let’s go!”

Case of the Mondays

After a beautiful and relaxing weekend, I find myself with a case of the Mondays. Getting ready this morning, while gargling, my mouthwash forms a giant bubble that pops and splashes in my eye. “It burns, IT BURNS!!!!” As I’m floundering through the cabinet looking for eye drops, I can’t help but have a Fight Club moment:

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. This is your life.”

I am Jack’s sense of restlessness.

Time to Reset Expectations

I stay out of political discussions and I’m not even going to comment on the immigration controversy, but lately I’ve made some observations about the Arizona police force that have raised questions about priorities. These observations are general in nature; I don’t wish to single out Scottsdale or Phoenix or Paradise Valley, but rather encourage everyone to do their part in resetting expectations of those that vow to “protect and serve.”

Observation #1: I’m on my way to work and a guy in the lane next to me is swaying between lanes while entering the freeway. After merging on at an incredulous 45 MPH, he leaves his left turn signal blinking while still straddling the lane lines. He continued along this pace with such erratic behavior that everyone around either slowed to keep their distance or sped past at least two lanes away. Not far ahead there was a friendly police office perched atop an overpass with his radar gun directed at everyone speeding by. Was there any effort made to pull over the hazardous driver that was likely to take out everyone in rush hour traffic? Absolutely not, collecting fines for speeding is much more important to the bottom line. 

Observation #2: I’m driving home and there are two cars pulled over in the carpool lane. By the looks of the drivers that were huddled by the concrete wall, they had either been in an accident or one was a disabled vehicle and the other was there to assist. As I passed by and thought “how dangerous to be stuck in the middle of a busy freeway during rush hour,” a cop drove by in the lane next to me. Again, any effort made to assist these stranded motorists? Not that I could tell.

Observation #3: Now this occurs all the time, but it just so happens all three of these observations were made within 3 days. As I’m chugging along on my way home I notice that traffic is moving surprisingly slow. I check all my mirrors and realize it’s because a cop is driving down the carpool lane with his lights on. Now I’m trying to remember if we’re required to pull to the side of the road and stop on an actual freeway, or is that just surface streets? I don’t hear a siren, but the lights are clearly flashing, I wonder who he’s pulling over? As everyone slows and gets out of his way for fear that they’re the next to get a ticket, the guy speeds right along and cuts across 3 lanes of traffic. Wow, there must be something going on, but why no siren? Oh wait, he finds his exit, shuts off his lights, and goes along on his merry way.

Now I’m not trying to bash our police force, I’ve known plenty of cops that have made incredible sacrifices. That being said, I feel these observations are a reflection on our society.  Perhaps we’ve become such a consumer-based culture that collecting funding through speeding tickets is more important than a possible safety risk. The well-being of our neighbor is clearly only their concern. An environment where nothing is wrong as long as we can get away with it. Perhaps it’s time to reset expectations, not only of our police force, but of ourselves.

She Ra

On this sleepless night my mind is preoccupied with the dwindling time before my big sister deploys to Iraq. I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without it becoming a reality, perhaps a combination of luck and the perception of her indestructibility.

You see, I grew up the youngest in a very large family and she was like a surrogate parent; mom and dad were busy just putting food on the table, ensuring our education, and getting us all to church every Sunday. When the other siblings viewed me as a nuisance, she strapped me into the seat on the back of her bike and hauled me around everywhere they went. When they’d all go out in the desert with bows and arrows and she found I didn’t have the strength to even hit a target, she went to the swap meet and bought a little 25lb fiberglass bow, fixing it up just for me. She cured any fear of reptiles by sitting me down at the neighbor’s house and allowing me to spend hours playing with his baby snakes. She taught me how to drive both automatic and standard by the time I was 12, requiring me to stop on a hill and start back up without rolling backward. She took me to the shooting range and showed me how to handle various guns. And she even took me out dancing to my first bar when I was 14.

I’ve always viewed my sister as She Ra; the only woman who can fix a car, scale a mountain, cry at the beauty of a waterfall, slaughter a deer, and have a great meal on the table… all in a day’s work. She has no patience for pettiness and would be flabbergasted if she were ever forced to watch a minute of “reality” TV. When we shared a room growing up, she’d put ABBA Gold on the record player until I fell fast asleep with visions of dancing queens in my head. But tonight I have no such sedative, as soon she’ll be shipping off to a combat zone.

In my current “city life” I hope she doesn’t think I’ve brushed aside what she’s taught me over the years. It all played a formative role in my independence, keeping me grounded, and gives me confidence every day. I have faith that no one is more prepared than she for this journey. But I must come to terms with the reality that, as a colonel, she has a giant target on her back. I just pray that she doesn’t end up a feather in someone’s cap. There are lots of nieces that are eagerly awaiting her next piggy-back ride or her insightful addition to their tree house, and nephews needing her guidance on how to survive without video games and make it past the breakup with their latest girlfriend. Underneath that uniform she’s still my sister who is fascinated every time she scuba dives, transfixed by the birds while sitting on the porch, roused by a competitive game of ping-pong with her big bro, and entertained while staying up late to do our nails.

Love ya, Giraffener… know that we’re standing right behind you with pride and hope to get you home safe soon.

Confessions of a Closet Cougar… er Serval.

Alright, I have to confess there’s a cute kid working at the corner market that I’ve been eyeing. By “kid”, I mean he’s probably in his early twenties. Trust me when I say he’s hot, taller than me (bonus!), always smiling, cracking jokes, and gives me suggestions on what to make for dinner practically every time I stop in. You tell me, he’s begging for a pounce, right? I swear it used to be me that got picked up in the produce aisle!

Man, I feel old… never thought I’d become a closet Cougar. But I suppose my qualification can be debated. One reference in Urban Dictionary mentions that Cougars are women ranging from 30-50 that are entering the dating scene “once again” and don’t want to be bothered with the usual dating games. That implies any women over 30 that find they want to sink their teeth into a younger man must be divorced, which I find to be a completely outdated point of view. There are a lot of us that have yet to even attempt to tie ourselves to a partner for eternity. That’s it, I’m reclassifying myself as a Serval.

The Serval is a smaller feline known for its long legs (*ahem*), big ears, and long neck. It goes after smaller prey and has a much higher success rate than most other cats, with no need for the attention-grabbing theatrics of a cougar. Servals also have much more interesting markings. They’re extremely intelligent and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making them notorious for getting into mischief, as well as easily outwitting their prey and eluding other predators. The Serval will often play with its capture for several minutes before consuming it, but will ferociously defend against attempted theft by others.

Our population is dwindling, however, due to men hunting us for our fur (*ahem*-squared).

E-Harmony Reality

I’m waiting to see the reality of the typical e-harmony couple, I just imagine the following:

She: Our first date was pretty boring.

He: E-Harmony matched us up based on all these factors of compatibility and we knew everything about each other before we even met. It was like I was on a date with myself.

She: So we went back to his place and slept together (which didn’t last very long either).

He: And low and behold, 2 months later she tracked me down to tell me about the baby.

She: So now we’re married with a beautiful family. We sleep in separate bedrooms, but we’ve got that white-picket fence we always wanted. And our moms are so happy to be grandmothers, huh?

He: Yeah… thanks e-Harmony.

On a separate note, has anyone seen the commercial for Shake Weight? Just take a gander…

Blood Into Wine

As many of you may be aware, a little film has been released called Blood Into Wine that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a couple Arizona winemakers. All right, so there’s a little Hollywood entertainment in the mix, but let’s not start name-dropping. As a huge fan and supporter of Arizona wine, I attended a couple of the events this week to celebrate the movie premiere and thought I’d throw together a bit of a recap.

Thursday night began with a great dinner at Noca restaurant, featuring the winemakers and their tasty creations paired with a wonderful menu. While a little socially awkward because each table had a different seating/serving time, the meal was terrific and Noca will certainly be on a list of future destinations. The film stars also made an effort to stop by each table to discuss the wines when not distracted by the news channel wanting to interview them at the door.

Friday was the world premiere of the movie at the W Scottsdale. It was more than a bit chaotic, with the only entry line wrapping around the entire hotel, the fire marshal not allowing enough seating for guests, the “hosts” only making a brief appearance from an unlit balcony, and free cigars that amazingly smoked up the outdoor venue, but it turned out to be a great time. A few of us indulged in some wonderful bites at Sushi Roku before heading upstairs. We toted a bottle of Caduceus 2008 Nagual del Marzo up to a friend’s room and sampled this wine for the first time (only available through the tasting room). It was a surprisingly light Cabernet with a touch of Sangiovese, coming in at only 12.8% alcohol; however, the fruit really came through without being jammy… very drinkable wine. It was interesting to see the drastic difference between vineyards (this was grown on Merkin East); I didn’t recognize any similarity to the Nagual del Judith. But I’m neither a wine critic nor a “wine blogger”, so I’ll stop there.

Once we polished off our own wine we were ready to hit the event. I have to admit it was quite satisfying to see our logo up on the big screen (Arizona Grape Escapes helped sponsor the premiere). But the greatest feeling was to see familiar faces around every turn, with all just letting loose and enjoying the fruits of this land’s labor! I don’t want to have any spoiler alerts, so I’ll just say that the movie was a terrific blend of the reality of the backbreaking work that goes into each drop with some good ol’ entertainment and personality. While I play a very small role in this industry, I was gushing with pride to see the accomplishments of all these friends we’ve made along the way. The film may have only featured 2 local winemakers, but it was a monumental moment for Arizona wine and I’m so lucky to have taken part.

After the screening I had a chance to meet Marshall Trimble, the official state historian who appears in the film. I love that he’s a confessed wino “I don’t know much about wine, I just really like to drink it!” And I could go on for hours about the people-watching; Scottsdale was in full force as it clashed with Tool fans. As the wine flowed, the spilling, falling, and ear-piercing voices emerged. But it was awesome to see the hard-working crew from @PageSpringsWine, @AZStronghold, and @CaduceusCellars enjoying their just desserts. Also having a chance to socialize (in person!) with @Rubee100, @RedRiverBlue, @IAmTimHardy, @eatSlow, @AZVinesandWines, @AZVineyardGuy, @PillsburyWineCo, @CiaoMari, and of course my very own @AZGrapeEscapes was a wonderful treat. Wish I could’ve taken some pictures, but alas…

I’ll leave you with one final thought: if you have any interest in wine, go see this film. I guarantee you’ll learn something and have a few laughs!

Just Port Me

Anyone who has hung out with me over the last few years knows that I have become strangely addicted to port. I see a port and I simply must try it. Well, tonight is no exception! I tried one of Todd Bostock’s new creations, the 2008 Dos Cabezas Cadus Port. Now I’m no port expert, in fact I know nothing except that I love to sip it and get warm and fuzzy, but I was instantly dumbfounded by the nose on this puppy. Todd says dried apricot and earth and I say underlying evergreens; either way, it smells of no port I have ever encountered. Exciting new discovery!

While we’re on the subject, port should be used to wrap up an evening rather than as the drink of the evening (I say this from traumatizing experience). I don’t care how much you’ve had to drink or how good the port is, anything more than a sampling is wrong under any conditions. That being said, a simple mix with country-time lemonade (replace half the water w/port) can create a lovely, refreshing summer sipper! And, while I have yet to try it, Debbie from Oak Creek Vineyards swears by drizzling a bit of port over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Oh yeah, and a port reduction over a bacon and spinach salad… or really any pork… or… I digress. Did I mention I love this stuff?

Midlife Whatever – Blame it on the rock

Call it a midlife crisis, an awakening, a mental breakdown, or a self-absorbed ego. Whatever it is, I’ve decided to enter the world of blogging. I’ve spent a large portion of my life running in circles, heading wherever the road leads. I may not always know the correct path, but today is the day I take an active role in choosing it. Why today? Blame it on the rock.

Getting ready for work this morning, I found a blouse in the pile of clean laundry on my dresser. As I grabbed the garment something fell out onto my foot. I reached down and picked up a rock. Questions flood my mind, “WTF? How could a rock possibly get into my laundry? Where would a white rock even come from? What else is hiding in this mound of clothing?” until I just stopped and decided that only such a random sign as a rock in my shirt could get me to open my eyes and take control.

On my way home from the office I stopped to get my mail and found my diploma had arrived. After 17 long years, countless jobs, 2 majors, and 2 more minors, I finally have that stupid piece of paper. Time to put it all to use and take control.

So I hope you decide to join me in my journey. It’ll likely involve some entertaining mishaps, plenty of food and wine, and perhaps a bit of a transformation… bring it on!