August 18, 2015

Cutthroat Pass: Be Careful What You Wish For

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of extraordinary acting, it was the age of annoying summer tourists, it was the epoch of ensuing hilarity, it was the epoch of exhaustion, it was the season of delicious food and eating out, it was the season of stress eating and delirious spending, it was the spring of enormous creativity, it was the winter that was coming on HBO... 
 
 
 
A week prior to the our performance, I decided to NOT do the dishes, NOT clean the house and NOT do the laundry... and to INSTEAD... hike up to Cutthroat Pass.





 

 
Why not?  Being on my feet at the bakery, late nights and early mornings, an entire two months of stress eating, probably an extra 10-15 pounds, why not hike 11 miles up a mountain?
 
 


 
Then again...
 
For this picture alone, it would have been TOTALLY worth it.
:) :) :)
 
Man, this dog loves mud puddles.
 


It is utterly important that I get outside on a regular basis and connect with nature. Because when I am tired? FORGET ABOUT IT.  I hate life, I hate people and I hate myself. 

 
When I am in my mind, I am stressed about work, money, my relationships and I have a to-do list of 12,000 things that can never, could never get done. I demand of myself success in every avenue of my life-- from spirituality ("Be more loving and zen, damn it!) to a cultural success (which is a rather difficult scenario to dream up in a town of 200 where I can't even get internet).  But mostly... That whatever I'm 'supposed to do,' the great reason of the gods that I was born and put on this planet, ...I am doing.  I've got goals set and I'm in alignment with it.  Like a great cosmic hokey pokey Panini press I put myself into. 
 
NO PRESSURE.
 
(SIDENOTE: This is Cutthroat Lake.  It kind of reminds me of the movie 'It' when Ben sees his dad in the swamp water and he turns into Pennywise.  Otherwise, it's super pretty!)
 
 
 
 
 
When I am out in nature, all those thoughts fade away.  They seem so ridiculously unimportant.  My thoughts drift from making dinner to 'just take one more step'... 'just breathe this air'...'people really mountain bike this shit!?'

 
 
There is something that quickly grounds me and screams:
 
 
This is who you are.
This is what matters.
All that is important is this moment.
 
 
Tired. Exhausted. Overweight. Thirsty.  Happy.

 
And after I've had those moments to just be, my real self begins to resonate and remembers what I love about my life, people and myself.

 
 
I connect with the inspired people that have hiked these mountains...
The John Muirs, The Kerouacs, The Cheryl Strayeds...

 
I begin to ponder what I really want my life to look like.
 
 

 
 
And I realize I already have it.
 
D'OH.
 

 
How often have I said I'd love to make a living doing something creative?
The bakery allows me a lot of creativity.
 
 

 
How often have I said I would love to live in the mountains and live off the fat of the land?
I live as close to the mountains as you can get and have a garden.
 

 
I want to live someplace beautiful where I can just be silent.
Ummm...
 
 


I want to be able to travel.
 
I live in a tourist town whose ebb and flow of guests give us a slower November and a muddy rain season in March & April, perfect for travel.  My boss also encourages time off & travel, especially when it comes to workaholics like me.



 
 
 
If I had cultural success, won the lotto, or came up with that million dollar idea, what would I want my life to look like?  I'd want exactly the life I have.   So why the h-e-double-hockey-hell am I putting so much pressure on myself to 'succeed' at God know what and to constantly seek that 'thing' I'm supposed to be striving for?
 
 



 
 
"You big idiot!"  -the movie 'Nebraska'
 

 
 
So my point is...
 
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.  YOU MIGHT BE TOO DUMB TO KNOW THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE IT.


 
 
Now I must stop for a moment to recognize a very important personal triumph.  The only other time I have ever hiked Cutthroat, was with my aunt & uncle and two cousins.  At this very spot, two years ago...
 
...I ate... I ate... 
...A TUNA FISH SANDWICH.
 
My aunt made it.  It was a curried tuna fish sandwich. I was terribly hungry and I ate it. 
 
Let it be known:
I AM FEARLESS.
 
This time I brought peanut butter covered pretzels.
Continuing on...
 
 
 
In my own life, it's only in real gratitude for what I currently that I'm able to truly dream and manifest something bigger.  I thought the only thing greater than what I already have is to be independently wealthy doing something creative.  Hey man, I love sleeping in...

 
And it occurred to me, in a huge revelation of fire and lightening bolts, which is ALWAYS some ridiculous form of common sense... That if I want to make a living doing something creative, I should probably... you know...
 
CREATE. 
 
And... like...
 
FINISH SOMETHING.

 
 
 
After our 11 mile hike, even Sadie was tired.

 
We went back down the way we came up.

 
And I left feeling full in heart & spirit...
(though my feet & ego were a bit bruised!)

 
... with a hopeful determination to finish something.

 
But first?  A nap.  ;)

 
And Game of Thrones on my honey's big screen.
And cocktails. 
 

 
 
Because a little balance never killed anybody. 
(And winter is coming).
 
 
 
 To the mad ones...
Mandi


August 11, 2015

The Top Five Reasons I'm Voting For Bernie

I was born and raised a Republican in a non-denominational Christian home.  My parents got newspapers from Focus on the Family, there were always threats to boycott certain brand names and even as a kid, I attended pro-life rallies in DC and events in my hometown.  Needless to say, we were pretty right wing.  Thankfully, my parents raised me to be a loving kid and to always treat others with kindness rather than damnation.

As I grew older, like most college kids, I began to question these ideas and opinions about religion and politics.  Attending Christian college, I had many thoughts about faith and religion that I've discussed in a previous blog, but these questions eventually got to a point where I dreaded the connection between the two and what it was doing to American culture. Living in Los Angeles and Chicago, through various life experiences, I definitely got a different perspective.  Now I consider myself very much in 'Middle Earth' where I vote for who I want and watch the two sides of friends and family that I love so very much destroy each other online while I squirm and eat 'Second Breakfast.'  During this great spiritual pilgramage, I voted for Bush, Obama and now Bernie and I can hear you all cringe.  I cringe. It's lovely!  Truly.

So it is a gross understatement to say that I have great trepidation in putting my thoughts out there to be skewered or celebrated.  I have a really hard time selling something these days and have no desire to make any human candidate the second coming. Which, sidenote, is the reason I was never completely sold, like the democratic masses, on Obama.  The 'hope and change' inspirational hysteria still had a bunch of slick rhetoric to me that said 'politician' not 'man of the people.'  I wanted a real plan.  I wanted the numbers crunched. I wanted experience. While it was incredibly exciting to see history being made with our first black president--  a well spoken, educated and charming presidential candidate at that, I was left feeling pretty 'blah' about him come voting day. All personal opinion of course.  I have friends that adore the guy. And friends that hate him. (Is it time for 'Elevensies' yet!?)

But truth of the matter is, if my friend from Vermont hadn't posted on Facebook about Bernie Sanders, boldly advocating for him, I wouldn't even know about his candidacy.  The media has hardly given him the time of day and when they do it is always mentioned that Hilary is the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination.  Case in point, The LA Times ran a 'Why a Huge Crowd Turned Out For Bernie Sanders' article.

I commented on the article being shared on Facebook, the following:

"Thank you for the article LA Times.  But regardless of whether Bernie votes go to Hilary later, for the primary, we're voting for Bernie. Hilary vs. Bernie?  I'm registering democrat to vote for him and I've donated.  You best believe I'll be there.  He unites rather than divides.  This is huge.  The media needs to understand that."

In the three hours I have written this comment, it has gotten 867 likes.  And I am just a girl that likes gardening and The Walking Dead that lives in the mountains.  Yodelay-hee-hoo!  Who are these other people voting for Bernie?

So here is MY introduction to Bernie Sanders to you in hopes that you will, as well, do your own research, read with discretion and eventually #FeelTheBern.

1)  HE UNITES RATHER THAN DIVIDES:

Bernie is soooo not slick.  I don't want to have a beer with the guy.  I don't want to instagram a picture of him.  He never needs to be on SNL.  This is a man that I could have an actual political conversation with-- he's a work horse NOT a hair do with rhetoric painfully trying to fit in with millennials.  He writes his own speeches.  To me, he is the guy that stays late and probably always has coffee on his button down shirt. In my opinion, everything a politician that works for the people should be.  He is an independent that has a history of bringing together both sides of the political spectrum. With the glittery hairsprayed, corporate backing of today's candidates on both sides, Bernie is just an old fart with years of experience.  But the crazy kicker is that friends and family on both sides of my life are Bernie supporters. Rich, white republicans to crazy, crunchy liberals are seeing an authentic man. That is a FIRST being reported here from Middle Earth.  (I may not need 'Twelvsies!)

2) VOTING RECORD AND POLICIES:

If you take a look at Bernie's voting record, it is solid. He votes for what he believes.  Granted, you may not like what he votes for, but with Bernie, it is refreshing that what you hear is what you get. Forget about socialism, to me, the fact that he is unwavering in authenticity for his values is the really radical concept. He has repeatedly voted for taking care of our veterans, has a 100% rating from the NAACP on race issues and his votes on women's rights and climate change are unalterable as well.  He has voted against war numerous times and in a recent article in The New York Times, he also backs Obama's Iran Deal. While the Iran Deal is terrifying, I have to stand behind a candidate that values the torment in the decision to go to war. He will always attempt peace first and use war as a last resort.  I don't think that is crazy. His own words:

“The test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, it is how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner. The war in Iraq, which I opposed, destabilized the entire region, helped create and expand Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and cost the lives of 6,700 brave men and women, and resulted in hundreds of thousands in our armed forces returning home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I fear very much that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not a first resort. The United States must do everything it can to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, that Israel is not threatened by a nuclear Iran and that a nuclear arms race in the region is avoided.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry have worked through an extremely difficult and complicated process with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and of course Iran. This agreement is obviously not what many of us would have liked, but it beats the alternative: a war with Iran that could go on for years.
If Iran does not live up to the agreement, and that is a real possibility, sanctions can and will be reapplied. I think it is incumbent upon us however to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed. That is why I will support the agreement.”
Don't take my silly blog's word for it!  For his complete voting record, click here.

3) CHARACTER:

So many politicians throw people under the bus and name call once there is a race to be won.  Bernie has strictly stuck to the issues.  I am not a huge Hilary fan, honestly.  I read her memoir years ago and while I admire what she has accomplished as a woman, and her voice in women's rights across the world, her voting record sways with the money. To me, any authenticity that she once had has now been lost to political celebrity.  (On the other hand, I have a friend that worked for her back in the day that adores her, so there ya go).  Bernie has the character to talk about his own race and his own stance and not make it about tearing down another candidate.  In a recent article on CNN he spoke out against criticism of Clinton as being sexist.  He's doing this while running a campaign against her.  I personally never feel like I see that in politics today?

You may also have heard about the controversy when #BlackLivesMatter protested two appearances he made in Seattle.  Rather than take to martyrdom, venomous tweeting or name calling, he met with members of the group.  He listened.  As a white person of privilege I'm never going to understand how it feels to watch my brothers and sisters die for no reason by law enforcement officials or understand what it means to repeatedly get pulled over just for the color of my skin. Say what you want about the disruption of his rally but at the end of the day, it absolutely raised awareness that these candidates NEED to make race an issue.  There needs to be outrage and change.  As white people, we DON'T understand.  And I, for one, appreciated that Bernie was open to the discussion. Again, in an authentic way.  So much of race discussion in politics is for looks. Yes, his voting record is solid and he marched with MLK, blah, blah, blah, etc.  But he has intense policies on race now. Not for the vote but because it's the right thing to do. I believe it takes humility to drop your ego and talk about what you don't understand.

4) DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM:

The word socialist used to scare me.  It used to mean extremist leaders and revolution, followed by communism and Red Dawn and a false equality that meant standing in line in for potatoes for my freezing family members.  As my political views changed, and I met people outside of the United States, I've realized there are other ways, too. Some of these are great, some are not so great.  My point is... I'm open to the possibility of putting our minds together to come up with something better.

Ex:  Right now we incarcerate homeless people. We treat them as criminals.  There's hardly compassion there except for hand out non-profits that feed people.  "They should get a fucking job" is our American way.  Then a compassionate Utah decided to build homes for their homeless and is currently saving $8k in annual state expenses per homeless person.  In Norway, there is such a stigma against not working, that unemployment is one of the lowest in the world and you are paid while searching for another job. Do I think a small tax on Wall Street trading is worth it to pay for free college for all?  ABSOLUTELY.

There are other ways. Personally?  It doesn't scare me.

NO, the Scandonavian countries and their systems aren't perfect. Neither is Utah. (Ha!)   But I think this country is full of some pretty amazing brains. Maybe we could use them!?  Why can't we have the wisdom to take a look at what works and what doesn't work in these countries and come up with an American Way that makes us better?  It's not throwing democracy in the toilet.  It's improving democracy. There's still checks and balances.  I don't hear much complaining about Social Security except that its running out.  Yeah, yeah, yeah... If I hate America so much I should move to Switzerland.  ;)

5) GRASS ROOTS CAMPAIGN & ANTI-CORPORATIONS

Bernie has raised all of his campaign funds through small donors & labor unions.  He raised over $15 million in his first quarter but the surprising fact is that the average donation was only $33.51. That would require a GREAT support of regular grassroot folks. I also love that he's not afraid to show up at places like Liberty University to campaign.


Okay, folks.  I'm exhausted.  That's the scoop.  For the love of Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene, do your own research.  Consider this an introduction.  Please don't get all troll-y on this blog.  Just do your own research and write your own blogs if you disagree.

In the meantime, Bernie is filling stadiums of 27,000 and my LA Times facebook comment now has 1,637 likes.  Too bad Hilary's the clear front runner.  ;)

Kisses & ballots,
Mandi

July 27, 2015

The Importance of Being Authentic

Sorry, my dear family and friends, my sweetheart Lliam, our chickens, The Walking Dead and The Small Dog... But there are really only two great loves of my life:
 
1)  Eating Delicious Food
2) Eating Authentic Delicious Food
 
I am a very simple girl in this regard!  If given the opportunity, my 'perfect day' would consist of eating delicious food from someone or some place truly authentic for breakfast, lunch and dinner with good friends, laughing and having a ball.  Nothing in the world makes me happier than knowing this is the best I'll ever have or taste.  Addiction?  Passion?  *cough* Such a fine line...
 
So you can imagine my UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT when I realized that these two great loves were going to contend with my tech rehearsals for the play. This is a 1920's Gwendolyn Fairfax feeling 'rather put out' about her state of affairs:
 
 
 
 
Here's the scoop...
 
Our dear friends Jay & Vicki travel down to Louisiana six months out of the year.  The rest of the year when they're back home in the Methow Valley, we get an earful about all the great food, music and culture down there.  It's a real treat!  When you can't travel to these places yourself, it's nice to be transported through story telling.  We go over to their cabin for Happy Hour and Jay usually ends up cooking up something delicious.  Just a few weeks ago I tried frog legs for the first time!  Ahhhh!!! (Again, I say "Ahhhh!!!") Having spent a great deal of time in Louisiana, they've had the opportunity to meet some real Cajuns! 
 
 
 
Gwen asks, "Why is this important?  Is his name Earnest?"
 

 
No, Gwen. His name is NOT Earnest. His name is Marvin Broussard and he's the REAL deal.  His frenc family line dates all the way back to the 1800's-- it's pretty incredible. He is an astounding wealth of information about everything Cajun culture and its history and I find it utterly fascinating to get to hear his stories.  But instead of boring you with history I find riveting, I will tell you why this is important to me.
 
 A REAL CAJUN MAKES REAL GUMBO, DOES HE NOT!???
Therefore, I feel bound to state...
 
SCREW TEACAKE!!!!
 

 
When I learned Marvin was going to be in the Methow for a few months staying with Jay and Vicki, I nearly lost it.  Jay makes a killer gumbo.  He really does!  And I've always been super dreamy eyed about it.  But for a BROUSSARD to make a gumbo?  I would gladly be christened 'Boudoin Princess' if it meant that I got to try it. And, and, AND... even one better?  Learn how to cook it???  Maybe?  Yes?  A girl can dream about her ideals, can't she???

 
 
Well, our lovely friends invited us over for the Happy Hour to end all Happy Hours.  Marvin was cooking gumbo AND jumbalaya... "HELLO!!! Why all the cucumber sandwiches!?" And this Happy Hour was scheduled during the weekend of tech rehearsal. 
 
 
"I BEG YOUR PARDON?"
 

 
I was supposed to work Sat and Sun morning and then go straight to tech from 12-9pm.  There was no way gumbo was going to happen.


I cried. I wept.  I was not okay.  I was selfish and ugly.  I was where Oscar Wilde dreams go to die.

 
I went to rehearsal on Saturday hoping beyond all hope to get out early.  No such luck.  In fact, everyone kept asking where I was.  Because, you know, the gumbo was just THAT good how could I not swing by after? *sigh*  It felt like a cruel joke.

 
On Sunday, I went to work and then to rehearsal, utterly boggle brained out of my mind in exhaustion.  BUT... In a GREAT act of the gods, we got out of rehearsal by 6pm.  SIX PM!!!  Half asleep and drooling, covered in Tammy Faye Baker make-up, with pearl headband indentations on my forhead,  I peeled out of my parking space at the theater-- deer be damned!-- and I made my way back up to Mazama with one thought on my mind:
 
I must eat...
 
EVERY... SINGLE...BOWL... OF GUMBO! 

 
 
And wouldn't you know my dear friends hooked me up with some SERIOUSLY delicious eats.  First, an Imperial IPA from the Parish Brewing Company.Very tasty!!! And by that point, I was TOTALLY ready for an adult beverage.  *Hiccup!*
 
 
And despite CRUEL and HEARTLESS remarks like, "You think this is good?  You should have been here yesterday for the gumbo,"  I had the most amazing truly homemade and authentic jumbalaya you could possibly imagine.  The smoked boudoin is from our local butcher at Thompson's Meats.  Marvin said it's a pretty terrific boudoin for being from Washington.  He said it was a bit different than regular boudoin ("he must have added some things") but that, though different, would rival any boudoin in the supermarkets in Louisiana.  Maybe not the high end shops but he was really pleased just the same!  (Go Thompsons!!!) 

 
Then they gave me more beer.  It was not forced.  I was a willing and happy participant. In fact, I was in a state of bliss.  All of my dreams had come true.  I was so freaking happy to be drinking beer and sitting on my butt with friends!!!

 
And The Small Dog caught and ate about 18 bees.
She was super happy also!

 
They sent us home with the world's most amazing doggie bag.  I'm sorry, Oscars goodie bag, you're Calvin Klein sunglasses, just aren't gonna cut it.  I'll take gumbo from a true Broussard any day of the week!


I was surprised how little rice actually goes in gumbo!  And you gotta watch out for those bones!


After I finished off my bowl, I looked at the bones in an act of voodoo, to see what my future held...


 
A beautiful Banana Bread baked by my honey!???
He's always surprising me.  :)
 
 
After a succesful opening weekend, I am grateful to be a part of a fun show and even more grateful for a bit more down time.  We have two more weekends of runs and the cast is having a blast!  Last night, Lliam and I, with cocktails in hand, finally caught up on Season 4 of Game of Thrones... Bliss.

 

Whether it's gumbo, a performance or hanging out with friends, just don't forget the vital importance of being... authentic.  :)

Roux flavored kisses,
Mandi

July 15, 2015

Peppers and Plane Crashes

You may have recently heard about a girl named Autumn who survived a plane crash in the Cascade Mountains.  Over the next three days she followed water sources and ended up on Easy Pass Trail, found the highway, hitched a ride and ended up at The Mazama Store.  Yes, that is where I work! My uncle was the first EMT on sight just because he happened to be next door.  From what I hear, we've had reporters calling from The Seattle Times to CNN.  The story has been reported on NPR and the BBC.  A truly incredible story...

But guess what?

Though I was only six miles away, I didn't know a thing about it.  I was off Monday and Tuesday. Without Internet, THIS was my big news for the day:

OUR FIRST PEPPER!

This is a Carmen Pepper.  If I had let it get to a pretty red hue, it would have been even more sweet and delicious.  Alas, we have such a short season here, I'd hate for our little pepper plant to only produce one pepper.  I'm hoping she might be able to eek out another before it gets cold. 



It was around the time I was celebrating our pepper, that a friend posted the story on Facebook.  In a such a small town, I could tell you what Polly Pepper wore hiking last Saturday thanks to all the small town talk... Which is why I am astounded I didn't even know a plane had gone missing! 

In the meantime, I was super ECSTATIC that Moonbeam had come back from the Great Deer Buffet of June 2015 and has bloomed two new beautiful roses.


Aurora has also bloomed again as well!


While our little tiny, tiny, tiny world here was turning upside down oblivious me was thinking what a terrible mother I am to our plant babies.  I have been in rehearsals six nights a week for the play and working overtime at work. I have been neglecting our potato plants for sure.  They should have been covered with dirt a week ago!


So I spent a bit of time bringing some more tires and nice dirt over from Lliam's and making them happy again!




I was blown away at how much had grown in the past few days!  I went to snap some pictures when I noticed a voicemail on my phone.  I  got a call from CNN looking for my uncle. Apparently, Anderson Cooper's people were interested to have him on the show.  How they knew we were related or got my phone number, I have no idea.  *cough* BIG BROTHER.

Our plants have taken off like crazy... I'm afraid I may have over planted? Meep.


These are edamame!!!!  The went from hairy little appendages to full grown soy beans in a day, I swear!  Amazing!!  They still have to bake a bit more but nature is truly magical.


I got a text from a friend that said news reporters were calling the store off the hook.  I shared the story on Facebook a bit dumbfounded that this was the same Mazama that I live in.  I didn't witness a bit of it.  Instead, I witnessed two besties hanging out together.  


As I was swooning over this gorgeous romaine, my mom responded to my facebook post that she had also just heard the story.  It occurred to me, my mom in New York knows more about this story having internet and television, than I do six miles away.



I got to work today and a friend mentioned that she heard the story on NPR before hearing it through anyone in Mazama.  That's CRAZY.  But when you hole up in your cabin on your days off...

What we thought were watermelon plants are turning out to be pretty, shall we say, 'cucumber-lookin.'  Zod, the zucchini plant in the background, hasn't seemed ready to take over the world yet.  He talks a big game but he's all bark and no bite that Zod.


Our leaning tower of flower pizza, has also started to bloom!





She's beautiful!  Anybody know what kind of flower she is?


I'm so excited to finally see some tomato bulbs!  These tomatoes are hiding out probably like my aunt and uncle.  I haven't even talked to my uncle about it yet.  I figure reporters tried hunting him down through me, they must be inundated with calls.  I'd hate to add to the chaos!
  

All in all, an interesting few days for Mazama, a courageous, heartbreaking and heroic few days for Autumn. And for this girl?  Just a couple of regular days off.  I am grateful my days were full of soil and shade rather than scrapes and bruises.  I am THANKFUL I get to be inspired by the strength of the human spirit than to be the one having to carry on.  

I was just gardening... But I made sure my eyes were open.

All of our prayers are with you, Autumn.
Thank you for your courage.
And for the lesson.

Mandi