30 April 2010

seize the moment.

Hallelujah!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

There are few things better than a hot cup of java on a cool, sleepy morning...

I can remember fondly back to the days when I lived in Germany when every morning, regardless of season, was cool and brisk. My favorite coffee was (and still is) Jacobs Krönung. I used to love to take my hot cup of black coffee out to the balcony which overlooked my elderly neighbor's flower garden on still, silent mornings and just sit, wrapped in my robe and a blanket and silently allow the battle of hot 'n' cold to wage within me... slowly bringing me to life.

There's just something about that feeling of being cold, all over, and the sensation of warmth as it spreads infectiously, traveling from corner to corner - similar to slipping into the covers of a warm bed or dipping into a heated bath - the comforting sensation of returning to the womb... except this warmth, this bliss, begins within, in the stomach, and works its way out. The feeling of life stirring, stretching, waking...

And there is a point when coffee reaches that perfect, exact temperature at which to administer its magic - when it's not blistering hot but still shocks the palate and leaves a little sting as it flows down your throat. The perfect temperature to light the warming fire in the stove of your belly.

But like all magic, it is oh so fleeting... such a small window in which to seize such a contented moment - and then it's gone. And suddenly it's just lukewarm coffee and the morning is but another day.

Roman poet Horace wrote in Odes 1.11 [english translation], "Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next"... Carpe diem - a poem and phrase made re-popular in one of my all-time favorite movies, "Dead Poet's Society." --Horace's message rings clear: do not waste your time betting on a future which has yet to come, take hold of what is sure and before you now, this day...

It's a worthy mantra: Seize the Day. Though sometimes life dictates that we scale down even further and granted, some days aren't worth seizing. But every day is filled with moments that make life bearable, tolerable, likable, entertaining, and occasionally even enjoyable. Sometimes, we can do no better than to recognize and seize the moments as they occur.

Even if it's just a hot cup of java on a cool, sleepy morning.

Odes 1.11 [literal english translation]

You should not ask, it is wrong to know impious things,
what end the gods will have given to me, to you,
O Leuconoe, and do not try Babylonian calculations.
How much better it is to endure whatever will be,
whether Jupiter has allotted to you more winters or
the last, which now weakens upon the opposed rocks the Tyrrhenian Sea:
may you be wise, strain your wines, and because of short life prune long anticipation.
While we are speaking, envious life will have fled:
seize the day, trusting the future as little as possible.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus

28 April 2010

baked apple pancake.

breakfast... YUM!
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
The Atrium Restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a fabulous little "mom and pop" restaurant that serves 25 varieties of pancakes, Belgium waffles, and homemade syrup.

However, I cannot attest to the rest of the menu because this is also the place that serves the sinfully delectable baked apple pancake that I continue to crave and rave about. It was once featured in a 2002 edition of "Taste of Home" magazine along with the recipe, which I copied down when I was there last, awaiting my taste of culinary euphoria:

1 cup pancake mix
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup packed brown suger
1 medium Golden Delicious apple, peeled and sliced

In a bowl, combine pancake mix, oil, and egg.
In an 8 inch over-proof skillet, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and apple slices; saute until sugar is dissolved. Pour batter over mix.

Cook uncovered over medium heat until bubbles form atop pancake.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 12-17 minutes or until golden brown. Invert onto serving plate and serve with syrup.

Serves 1-2.

"Nutrition" Facts
1/2 pancake (calculated without syrup) equals 776 calories, 43 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 179 mg cholesterol, 1,051 mg sodium, 89 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 12 g protein.

"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is two weeks."

...Totie Fields

27 April 2010

the escape.

curvy little road., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
A couple of weekends ago, as previously mentioned, the hubs and I took off back to the mountains for a short-lived getaway while leaving our rug-rats in the loving care of their dear Tante Niki and Uncle Wes. Bless them.

We had chosen Gatlinburg, Tennessee as our destination because 1) it's not too far to drive, 2) it's not too expensive this time of year, 3) Kevin had his little heart set on visiting Smokey Mountain Knife Works in Pigeon Forge (the world's largest knife store, really), and 4) I hadn't stopped thinking about that scrumptiously divine baked apple pancake since Liam and I feasted at the Atrium Restaurant en route back from Kentucky. Yes, the pancake alone was worth the drive back!

So Friday morning, after getting the kids off to their respective schools, we set out for our escape... In the legal field however, one can never truly be out of the office, even when one is out of the office.

Early American lawyer Joseph Story said, "[The law] is a jealous mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship." And boy is that true; a real bitch she is too. Apparently back at the office, everyone was having a domestic emergency or some dilemma or another and chaos had ensued. Thus the attorney husband o' mine was on the phone pretty much all the way to Tennessee.

Upon arrival, we checked into our cheap, seedy hotel and lugged up all of our baggage up only to discover that the freakin' curtains would not close. You've got to be kidding me! Cheap and seedy I can deal with, but the curtains? No way! --I mean, the absolute best thing about staying in a hotel (besides not cleaning up after yourself) is that one can shut the thick, heavy curtains in the middle of a bright sunny day and nap as if it's midnight in a cave. Oh yes, and we planned on taking naps! ...So much for my thrifty savings.

The term "you get what you pay for" rang in my head as we checked into the next significantly more expensive yet much nicer hotel. As it was still early, we dumped our belongings and hopped back in the car for Pigeon Forge and the great knife metropolis. --Of course, I figured that if we went an hour or so before closing, this would alleviate my spending 3 or 4 hours wandering around bored and wanting to stab myself in the eye... that was before I realized that the entire lower level was filled with kitchen wares and fine cutlery - like the sweet German-made J.A. Henckels block set I swindled my husband into buying for "us" as a "lifetime investment."

Well, Pigeon Forge is only a short 4 miles from Gatlinburg, just minutes away on any day that's not during the Spring Grand Rod Run... Holy hell! --Just ten minutes into our drive, we found ourselves at a stand-still engulfed in a massive four-lane sea of hot rods, monster trucks, and drunk teenagers. Lining both sides of the highway were lawn chairs filled with people watching the traffic with their feet in the street. It was like Myrtle Beach Spring Break on steroids, minus the beach. WTH?

After the knife shop, it took hours to get out of Pigeon Forge. OMG.

The next morning, mistakenly thinking that the hot rod hillbillies would be sleeping off their late night festivities, we headed back to Pigeon Forge in hopes of visiting Forbidden Caverns (I love caves). Alas, traffic was backed up half-way to Gatlinburg - which we had to sit in for a half hour in order to creep up to a turn-around... Screw Pigeon Forge. We went back to our nice dark hotel room and took a nap.

For the remainder of the weekend, we stuck close to the strip filled with its Harley Davidson and NASCAR shops - surpassed in abundance only by bible stores. (Hey kids, there's even a Christ museum! No kidding.) --We braved the Ripley's Haunted House, went to the Ripley's Museum, and the Aquarium (so Kev could see the smiling sharks). We did a lot of walking and window shopping, killed a pitcher of beer, and rode the sky lift. We took naps and spoke in complete sentences for a change. And best of all, I had baked apple pancakes every morning.

I had forgotten just what a grandiose redneck wonderland the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area could be. Even having grown up rural and southern, it's still, at times, a bit of a culture shock to me. And I suppose, that is part of the beauty and charm: It's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't wanna live there.

"Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture?"

...David Bohm

25 April 2010

the girl with the dragon tattoo.

movie reels.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Saturday nights are traditionally movie nights with the hubby. One of our favorite venues is The Rialto in Raleigh. Originally built in 1942, The Rialto is a charming time warp of a theater which usually features foreign and Indy films, in addition to Friday night's Rocky Horror Picture Show. As my cousin manages the place, I recently got a behind the scenes tour of The Rialto's projection room, seen in this photo.

Last night's showing was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.

"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is based on the trilogy of books by Stieg Larsson and has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Tragically, Larsson did not live to see the phenomenon his work has become as he died suddenly in 2004 soon after delivering the manuscripts to his Swedish publisher.

Although I haven't read the book, the film was brilliant, thoroughly engaging, and suspenseful, even for a 3 hour Swedish film with subtitles. According to my husband Kevin, who did read the book, the movie was pretty much right on the mark with the first novel.

Despite my love of reading, I'm one of those people who loses all interest in a book once I've seen the movie. I realize that movies almost always differ from the novels they're based upon and are never as good as the original written format, however, once I know the basic outline and the ending, I just can't make myself to commit to the book. --I'm also a one-reader; that is to say, I never read a book more than once no matter how enthralling it may have been nor how long since I read it. Just me.

One almost exception to this quirk of mine, would be Shutter Island. After seeing the movie with it's bizarre, draw-your-own-conclusion ending (nope, no spoilers here), it left me even more curious about what additional depth and insight the author may have revealed in his final pages. Did the author have a slant?... I may just have to pick up a copy to humor myself.

Likewise, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film left me extra curious about the following two books in Larsson's trilogy. I think I'll have to start with the second book before the next film is released.

Meanwhile, if you dig foreign films, murder-mysteries, and captivating dramas, do yourself a favor and see this one. Whether or not you've read the book, it's likely you will not be disappointed!

"Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. Wouldn't you say, she asked, that killings like this are influenced by violent movies? No, I said, I wouldn't say that. But what about 'Basketball Diaries'? She asked. Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun? The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office, and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. Events like this, I said, if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; These two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

...Roger Ebert

23 April 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So yesterday was a pretty rotten day, as indicated in my previous post. Not overwhelmingly bad rotten; oh I've certainly had worse bad days. But Thursday was well, indescribably busy, constant, stressful, and non-stop. Thursday was like a hellcat that bolted out of nowhere attacking without pause until 5:30.

I was mentally and physically exhausted and would have liked nothing more than to go home, strip, and crawl right into bed and die. Alas that is never an option so instead I went home and found upon my doorstep a most pleasant surprise...

A medium-sized package from my dear west-coast friend, Alvin, and a smaller-size package from Amazon (via Alvin). Well, like anyone else, I love getting mail that doesn't include a nasty statement telling me I owe money, be it a letter or package. --But a package, well, that's some real excitement, especially if the contents are unknown.

Years ago, when I lived in Germany, people used to send me stuff from time to time... my mother would frequently send me various knick-knacks and strangely, canned goods (which she got for free even though it cost my father 50 bucks to mail it for which I could have bought twice the amount at the commissary?) and occasionally there were packages at Christmas from friends and family, or presents for baby Isabel... and then there were the boxes from my way-back first kindergarten friend, Felicia, which I think meant the most of all. --Felicia sent me a box of her maternity clothes when I was pregnant; she sent me the latest Dorito flavors when they came out; she even had her mother drive her around the area where we grew up with a video camera so I could see all the changes that had happened since I left... it was these such little random surprises that made my soul smile. --Being stationed overseas, there was just nothing better than finding a notice in your mailbox to say you had a package waiting from "home."

Immediately my day got a little bit better as I grabbed the scissors and made for the boxes... The big one first of course, and what should I find inside but Alvin's previously-loved, black Domke camera bag! ...along with our traditional book and card. (The small box held a Domke shoulder pad for the strap.)

In retrospect, I know I should have been suspicious when he made that odd comment about eBay Domke knock-offs.

In his letter, he dares to say that he hopes I don't find it tacky that he sent a used bag... For real? Are you kidding me? That's the absolute best part! That my friend would care enough about me to send me something that he loved and had used in the art which he loves is what makes such a gift most special! Priceless.

Of course, I'm sentimental like that.

So thank you mucho Alvin. You're the bomb-diggety!
And I will continue the bag's great legacy, with love...

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed."

...Cherokee Indian Proverb

22 April 2010

weird-ass day.

Poppies?, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Something, somewhere in the universe fell out of alignment today... and Thursday hit like a ton of bricks. Screaming. And on fire.

I mean Mondays most always suck. We expect Mondays to suck. We brace ourselves and prepare for the suckiness of Mondays and therefore somehow live to see Tuesdays.

But Thursdays? What's up with that? That's a sneaky, underhanded way to run a universe.

Definitely out of alignment.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

...Albert Einstein

19 April 2010


sky lift strangers. Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Ever the people-watcher, I suppose it was only natural that I develop an affinity for shooting random people, or uhm, rather taking their pictures.

As far back as I can recall, I have on many occasion sat for hours in coffee shops, bistros, sidewalk cafes, bars, and of course airports, precariously positioned so as to witness life unfold around me. I imagined the lives of those around me - what their world was like, where they were going, who they loved, what they had lost - and often I found myself writing poems or stories about the life I created for them in my head.

It occurred to me one afternoon (nearly a decade ago) as I was riding around on a beautiful spring day in a BMW convertible with a handsome fellow I used to know, that somewhere, someone has done the same thing to me...
Cruising ‘round town…
Looking cute in my red lips & shades—
Form fitting top & low cut jeans,
Framing a glimmer in my navel—
Confidently sexy in my new slender curves…
Riding beside my hot Latin stud
In his sleek black Z-3—
Past gazing onlookers, wanting more…
They see this attractive young couple,
Enjoying their good life & fortune,
Thinking, “I want that.”
Because they need to believe in greener grass.
And I smile my fake smile,
Forcing misery down in my gut,
Playing along for the moment
And wishing their assumptions
Were my reality.
I'm certain, more often than not, that the stories we write within our minds of the lives of strangers are far more colorful and interesting than the realities we create for ourselves on a daily basis.

Just like, the older I get the more I am convinced that most people aren't worth knowing, and like wild beasts, are safer looked upon from afar. Once in a while though, life surprises us, and I guess that's what keeps hope alive.

This past weekend, for the first time since my son was born, my husband and I escaped the parental trap and went away by ourselves for an all too short vacation in the mountains. We rode the sky lift to the mountain top and I found, much to my delight, that this presented an excellent opportunity to steal a few photos of strangers along the way.

I'm sort-of sneaky about it, not wanting to get caught at my invasion, though when I do it's kind-of a juvenile rush akin to getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar and sometimes, at just the right moment, produces an awesome photograph, like this one.

Children make wonderful strangers because they still belong to that elite minority who have the wonderful capacity to create far more colorful and interesting realities than the rest of us even remember how.

"I do desire we may be better strangers."

...William Shakespeare

14 April 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So today, I arrive at the preschool to pick up my son just in time to overhear a cute little girl telling the teacher that Liam called her a booty-head. I explain to the teacher that between my mouth and the TV, it's a wonder he hasn't said worse and well, like any good parent would, I made him apologize to his young friend, which he did.

To which the little sweetie responded, "That's okay, I forgive you," and they hug. Awww.

If only life were that easy. That simple.

Working in a law office which serves primarily domestic clients, we see a whole lot of booty-heads and other descriptives as well. If only I could blog about the stuff I see and hear on a daily basis! Wow. I mean really, WOW.

(That's not even counting the criminal clients who bring in pot-reeking evidence documents to aid their defense against drug possession charges.)

And I thought my divorce was bad.

"What guides us is children's response, their joy in learning to dance, to sing, to live together. It should be a guide to the whole world."

...Yehudi Menuhin

09 April 2010

here comes the sun.

Originally uploaded by Zen Cat
No wonder people once worshiped the sun with its incomparable majesty that wakes the whole world every day without fail, that sustains life, delivers warmth... and lots of other good stuff.

Assuming it's not June - August in North Carolina, there's nothing quite as soothing as feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. It's like a big warm hug from the universe that seems to just make everything better. Cleansing. Reviving.

However, if it is June, July, or August in North Carolina or a neighboring southern state, forget this whole little visual pictorial of sweet sunny bliss I have painted for you and think instead of BLISTERING HELLFIRE.

And know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, you will find me cowering indoors where the air conditioner is churning full blast. Damn the Vitamin D.

"Some days you find yourself in the middle of a cactus patch
feeling partially crystalline, partially amorphous
in molecular structure: Like crazy old weather beaten plastic.

And before you know it, the morning sun offers
a notion of what it feels like to have a porcelain soul
in a ceramic world."

...A. Valles

07 April 2010

the dark side.

¡No me joda!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Ya know, it's really, really hard to be completely honest and open with words when one is writing for an audience and without anonymity. There is an automatic censorship that occurs when you know that who's reading you knows that they are reading you.

For instance, if one is having a bad day, a shitty week, or is otherwise overcome with inner foulness, one may take to the blog with such tidbits as, "I'm not having a good day," "life sucks," "I want to run away," or "we're all going to hell in a hand basket and the right-wing conservative wackos are carrying the basket," that is if one cannot resist staying away from such internet communication until the funk safely passes.

But a journal - a private, secret, sacred journal - oh! One may divulge, in delicious sordid detail, such items as, "I hate my mother," "I wish I had more sex," or "I feel like going out in the woods somewhere and blowing my brains out"... 'Hypothetically' speaking of course.

(And poetry... ahh, poetry. Now that's another salacious story all together...)

Just for the record, this isn't my week.

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger."


06 April 2010

she has risen.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
She who? The Easter Bunny of course!

Yes, Liam decided this year that the Easter Bunny is a girl. And well, why not? Delivering baskets full of chocolate goodness certainly sounds more like the kind-of job a girl would happily do... assuming it wasn't her time of the month and she was willing to share her chocolate!

For me at least, there are always two deciding factors in whether or not I will share my chocolate: 1) how much I have, and 2) most importantly, what kind it is.

...Hershey's? Cadbury? Sure! Help yourself! ...Lindt? Maybe. Are you feeling lucky? ...Kinder Shokolade? Godiva chocolates? Gourmet truffles from a German Konditorei? Uhm, sorry, do I know you?! Er, were you missing a hand when we met or did I do that?

So, Easter. I always feel guilty doing the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus) thing because I can't help but feeling that I'm a big fat liar perpetuating commercialized paganism and that one day it's all gonna blow up in my face when the magic is shattered with cold, hard reality. But until that time, the holiday facade is impossible to ignore because everywhere you look, it's in your face, up in your grill... Easter Bunny on TV, Easter Bunny at the mall, Easter Egg hunt at preschool, and the little ones get sucked in like bubbles down the drain tugging mommies and daddies right along with them by their heart-strings. And we all want to see our children happy, right?

Personally, I subscribe more to the "Eddie Izzard" way of holiday thinking and could care less about church or the easter bunny, but who am I to deny my children this deceitfully yummy right of passage?

So yeah, my kids both got baskets overflowing with (Lindt) chocolate eggs and chickens and lambs, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Robin's Eggs, gummy bears, cars, wind-up toys, and a big chocolate bunny... and of course, yellow marshmallow peeps. And something cuddly -- Isabel, a pink talking puppy and Liam, an Easter monkey. Yes, that's right, an Easter monkey.

Less than two minutes after their little feet touched down upon the bottom stair, a feeding frenzy of sugary bliss was underway.

Less than two hours after the feeding frenzy, my coffee has barely kicked in... candy wrappers litter the floors and the children are bouncing off the walls and running through the house, shrieking like maniacs with sticky hands and chocolate ooze dripping from their chins... and I'm left wondering why exactly we do this again?

Oh yes, because we all like to see our children happy! =)

The pagans had big festivals on Easter and Christmas.
Christians had big festivals at Easter and Christmas.
Jesus died on one and was born on the other. Hm-hm-hm-hmm?

Cos... Jesus I do think did exist.
He was a guy who had interesting ideas in the Gandhi area, the Nelson Mandela area - relaxed and groovy.

The Romans thought, "Relaxed and groovy? No."
So they murdered him.

Kids eat chocolate eggs because the color of the chocolate
and the color of the wood on the cross...

Well, you tell me.
It's got nothing to do with it, has it?

People are going, "Remember kids, Jesus died for your sins."
"Yeah, I know, it's great."
"No, it's bad."
"It's bad. lt's terrible. Whatever you want. Just keep giving me these eggs."

And the bunny rabbits, where do they come into the Crucifixion? There were no rabbits going, "You putting crosses in our warrens? We live below this hill, all right?"

Bunny rabbits are for shagging, eggs are for fertility.
It's the spring festival.

...Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill

02 April 2010


Tulip., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

"All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, contain an element of the eternal and an element of the transitory -- of the absolute and of the particular. Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction creamed from the general surface of different beauties. The particular element in each manifestation comes from the emotions: and just as we have our own particular emotions, so we have our own beauty."

...Charles Baudelaire