28 August 2010

belt testing @ TKD.

belt testing @ TKD., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Today our little tike had his very first belt testing in Taekwondo. The youngest in his class, he did so very well! We could not have been more proud of our little guy... and more surprised... Who knew he'd actually been listening and paying attention all this time?

"A child's education should begin at least one hundred years before he is born."

...Oliver Wendell Holmes


MO > IE?
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
I'm sure there are more, but here's one hundred and thirty of my all-time favorites...

  1. A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
  2. A Woman at War (1991)
  3. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  4. Amistad (1997)
  5. Amélie (2001)
  6. As Good as It Gets (1997)
  7. Avatar (2009)
  8. Benny & Joon (1993)
  9. Bill (1981)
  10. Blood Diamond (2006)
  11. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  12. Cars (2006)
  13. Casablanca (1942)
  14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
  15. Chitty Chity Bang Bang (1968)
  16. Chocolat (2000)
  17. Crash (2004)
  18. Dead Poets Society (1989)
  19. Dogma (1999)
  20. Don Juan DeMarco (1994)
  21. Donnie Brasco (1997)
  22. Donnie Darko (2001)
  23. Dracula (1992)
  24. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  25. Drop Dead Fred (1991)
  26. Dying Young (1991)
  27. East is East (1999)
  28. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  29. Elizabeth (1998)
  30. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  31. Ever After (1998)
  32. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  33. Finding Neverland (2004)
  34. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
  35. Forest Gump (1994)
  36. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
  37. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  38. Gran Torino (2008)
  39. Groundhog Day (1993)
  40. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
  41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
  42. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  43. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  44. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  45. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  46. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  47. Hideous Kinky (1998)
  48. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
  49. House of Fools (2002)
  50. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
  51. Immortal Beloved (1994)
  52. Into the Wild (2007)
  53. Juno (2007)
  54. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
  55. Kingpin (1996)
  56. Labyrinth (1986)
  57. Life is Beautiful (1997)
  58. Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
  59. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  60. Lost in Translation (2003)
  61. Mama Mia (2008)
  62. Mary Poppins (1964)
  63. Mask (1985)
  64. Milo and Otis (1986)
  65. Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)
  66. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  67. My Neighbor Tortoro (1988)
  68. Nine Months (1995)
  69. North Country (2005)
  70. Office Space (1999)
  71. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
  72. Patch Adams (1998)
  73. Powder (1995)
  74. Pretty in Pink (1986)
  75. Pretty Woman (1990)
  76. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  77. Roommates (1995)
  78. Run Lola Run (1998)
  79. Serendipity (2001)
  80. Scent of a Woman (1992)
  81. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  82. Shrek (2001)
  83. Shrek 2 (2004)
  84. Shrek the Third (2007)
  85. Shrek Forever After (2010)
  86. Shindler's List (1993)
  87. Sixteen Candles (1984)
  88. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  89. Spirited Away (2001)
  90. Temple Grandin (2010)
  91. Steel Magnolias (1989)
  92. The Black Dahlia (2006)
  93. The Blind Side (2009)
  94. The Bucket List (2007)
  95. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  96. The Doors (1991)
  97. The Fisher King (1991)
  98. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
  99. The Green Mile (1999)
  100. The Hangover (2009)
  101. The Hurt Locker (2009)
  102. The Legend of 1900 (1998)
  103. The Matchmaker (1997)
  104. The Miracle Worker (1962)
  105. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
  106. The Pianist (2002)
  107. The Princess Bride (1987)
  108. The Professional (1994)
  109. The Reader (2008)
  110. The Red Violin (1998)
  111. The Ref (1994)
  112. The Saint (1997)
  113. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  114. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  115. The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996)
  116. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  117. The Waterdance (1992)
  118. The Wedding Singer (1998)
  119. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  120. Thelma & Louise (1991)
  121. Thunderheart (1992)
  122. Titanic (1997)
  123. Tombstone (1993)
  124. Up (2009)
  125. Wedding Crashers (2005)
  126. Whale Rider (2002)
  127. What Dreams May Come (1998)
  128. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
  129. Whip It (2009)
  130. Zombieland (2009)

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

...Joseph L. Mankiewicz

25 August 2010

chinny chin chin.

43:365 | hair.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Okay, I know I'm getting old and quite frankly it sucks. --If the aches, pains, slowed metabolism, wrinkles, and failing eyesight (and memory) wasn't a clue, well, I don't know what would be. And we've all heard the complaints of those who have braved this territory before us enough to know that it's par for the course, haven't we?

But what I find most irritating of all is abundant presence of wild, unruly random chin hairs! WTF?

Okay, granted, I couldn't earn a living as a bearded-lady carnie or anything (I mean exaggeration does have comedic value here), but holy hell, it seems like I pluck those little bastards every day and like a magic paper towel dispenser that never needs refilling - ka-ching! - a new one pops out right in its place by the end of the day. Grrrr.

I was never one of those freakish women who's beauty was enhanced with a "heavenly pregnancy glow" and I think at this point I may as well just accept defeat in the "aging gracefully" category as well and pick up an extra pair of tweezers for my purse.

"Old age is far more than white hair, wrinkles, the feeling that it is too late and the game finished, that the stage belongs to the rising generations. The true evil is not the weakening of the body, but the indifference of the soul."


1st day of school.

1st day of school., Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Early this morning, at 0:OMG-thirty, I sent my little 12 year old princess off to her first day of Middle School on the big yellow school bus...

Bella was both happy and excited to be going back to school and make new friends. How I wish it was as easy for her as it is for Liam...

My head is swimming in memories of how far we've come, how hard we've fought to get here, how much my little girl has grown - and thoughts of Special Education, middle school, middle schoolers, school assignments, Special Transportation, WCPSS, administrative politics, advocacy, lame-ass administrators, and people who just don't "get it." --I'm hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised this year despite the flashbacks, but I'm not holding my breath just yet.

We've been very fortunate over the years with some amazingly wonderful teachers, therapists, support staff, and most administrators but we have fought a good fight. It's what we special parents do. --I think we've lucked up and got another good teacher this year, though the rest remains to be seen.

The fish rots from the head down.

It's too early in the morning to write more than that without coffee. =)

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."

...Tom Bodett

21 August 2010

mess makers.

mess makers., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Yet another example of why my house is a wreck...

Here we have my two feral children engaged in water play... and happily flooding the guest bathroom by clogging the sink with toilet paper and my son's feet.

...Wall paintings were askew, an inch of standing water on the floor and in the bathroom rug, a role of toilet paper lost to the flood waters, the hand soap dispenser empty (I have yet to find the top), clothing soaked, and Vaseline and butt cream in their hair.


"Even though your kids will consistently do the exact opposite of what you're telling them to do, you have to keep loving them just as much."

...Bill Cosby

hear me ROAR.

comparing eggs.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
A parent's job is to raise their children to become kind, compassionate, and considerate little souls with good manners who will hopefully grow up to be well-rounded, successful, productive people striving to make a positive difference in the world. Easier said than done. Sometimes we just have to do the very best that we can and hope against all hope that something sticks.

And above all else, our job as parents is to protect our little ones from negative influences and other people who do not have their best interests at heart or otherwise just suck.

I've been told that I can, at times, be aggressive and intimidating and I suppose it is true. But keep in mind that in raising a child with special needs, I have spent twelve plus years of fighting and lobbying the system, countless hours in IEP meetings, and being (for more than half of my daughter's life) her sole provider and biggest advocate... so I am now wired that way. It's what I know, it's what I do, and it's who I am.

This past week, something happened at my son's daycare which provoked my inner proverbial "mother lion"... Those who know me, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to someone I love, namely my children, I am not one to turn the other cheek...

Wednesday morning, when we arrived at Liam's daycare, he insisted upon taking his Chick-Fil-A kids' meal book to class to share with his friends... I began by trying to explain that it wasn't "Show and Tell" day but then realizing that this was a teaching moment in sharing and giving (not to mention, an opportunity to unload one more insignificant item cluttering up my car), I quickly changed my tune and suggested that perhaps we could donate the little book to his class and all his friends could read it anytime they wanted to while at school. Liam was happy with this idea and was very pleased and proud about this generous gift. Yay!

Upon entering his classroom, I explained to the teacher that Liam wanted to give his book to the class. "Oh thank you Liam. That's very nice of you. Go put it on the shelf." Liam beamed.

Fast forward to that afternoon... Kevin picked Liam up from school and en route to his Taekwondo lesson, was told some very disturbing news... His teacher, Ms. T., had thrown his book in the trash. WTF?

Because he was running around with the book, not listening as three-year-olds are prone to do, Ms. T. took the book from Liam and in front of him and all his friends, threw the book in the trash to punish him. He said that it hurt his feelings and he cried and cried...

Okay sure, it was a cheap little kids' meal book of no monetary value, but that is totally beside the point. It was important to a little boy who thought he was doing a good thing by bringing it and giving it to the school to share with his friends. Whether or not a child is behaving does not make it appropriate to purposefully hurt their feelings and embarrass them in front of their friends! What in the world is wrong with you?!!

Have I thrown away cheap and broken toys before? Sure, every chance I get, otherwise we would be swimming in cheap plastic junk. But NEVER in front of my child (I wait until he is asleep and has forgotten about it). And if he's misbehaving, then yes, toys get taken away but they're put on a shelf and he understands that he is being punished and when he learns to play nice, he gets it back.

What upsets me most is that my son is truly a very sweet and loving child. Granted he can be an obstinate handful at times, but he is genuinely a giving little person, shares well, and is as considerate as a child his age could be. He loves to make other people happy. The very idea that he took a cruel and unnecessary blow to his self-esteem and had his feelings crushed due to the misguided, inexcusable actions from an authoritative adult who is supposed to be his role model and teacher unnerves me to no end.

There is NO EXCUSE for being mean to a small child.

Thursday morning, both Kevin and I had a chat with the director. There were other issues that needed to be raised as well, and have been, by other parents. But this was, for me, the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. The director indicated that she was arranging training for the teacher as she is inexperienced... There is no amount of training nor experience, as I explained, that can instill in someone the instinct to nurture and be genuinely kind.

Most of us (myself included) recognize that we are not equipped with infinite patience and therefore it is not productive nor healthy to choose a profession which requires forty hours a week's worth of exposure to energetic, rambunctious young people who need constant supervision, interaction, and attention in a positive, consistent, and caring manner. However, there are those who clearly lack the common sense and self-awareness to see this in themselves and continue to ignorantly trudge on toward carreer suicide. The problem with this is that while these folks are bumbling along figuring out the hard way that perhaps they're not cut out to work with kids, they have already left their mark on the young hearts and minds that have been entrusted to them.

I'm sure we can all think back over our young school years and recall at least one teacher, maybe more, who still, many years later, causes us to recoil at the mere thought of. I know I can.

I'm not sure whether or not Ms. Teacher still has a job after this week (studies have shown that Fridays are the best day to fire people after all) and frankly I don't care as - long as my child is no longer in her class.

I am Mommie. Hear me ROAR.

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

...James Baldwin

17 August 2010

good service.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Working with the public in any capacity creates a unique opportunity to enrich one's life with interesting, often bizarre, often crazy, and sometimes frightening experiences designed to make one question the stability of the world around them and pepper any optimism toward ideas of peace, love, and happiness with doubt and a general sense of "what the hell?"

I'm of the opinion that everyone should have to wait tables at some point in their life, if for no other reason than it is a truly humbling means of existence and an exercise in patience, tolerance, good manners, and the value of a hard-earned dollar. Not to mention, working as a server prepares us for good-tipping habits later in life... I assure you, few things in the working world will make one appreciate good service like receiving a two dollar tip after running your ass off for a six-top table of cheap church ladies.

I've had my share of other humbling public service/customer service jobs as well, from elementary school bus driver and Glamour Shots photographer to nurse aide and dental assistant, just to hit the highlights -- and lemme tell ya, I have seen and heard some crazy shit, but absolutely nothing compares to working in a law firm that serves both domestic and criminal clients!

While it goes without saying that there are lots of people in the world, in this country, and even within the state of North Carolina who desperately need help of various sorts, and many who could greatly benefit from the aid of an attorney, there are some folks out there who are just beyond help. (e.g. Ms. X.)

For instance, neither a lawyer nor the court can make your wife get back together with you nor stay in a marriage of which she wants out... I am still dumbfounded and disturbed that anyone would make such an inquiry, but they did.

Also, just because you are married to a lying, cheating scumbag, this does not qualify you to receive an annulment in the state of North Carolina unless the scumbag happens to be your first cousin... Remember folks, this is the Bible Belt we're talking about not the Catholic Church.

And chances are, if you're wanting to sue someone for slander and liable for defamation of character who has been spreading rumors that you're a drug dealer, you're not going to have very much success with that in court if you were with the blabber-mouth when you both were arrested for felony drug possession, intent to sell, and trafficking.

Also, if you want to sue your dad for bothering you, paying your neighbors to wake you up and disturb you, and putting drugs in the ventilation shafts of your apartment (not to mention your hotel room), you'd probably be best served by calling somewhere other than a law firm. Just a hunch.

Oh and by the way, since I'm setting records straight... Good service is kind of a two-way street. If you call a place of business with a desperate plea for help and are a rude, belligerent asshole to the person answering the phone, there's a snowball's chance in you-know-where of getting through to the person you want to speak to or gaining any sympathy for your problems. So no matter how ridiculous your dilemma, remember: Be nice. We did not do this to you!

You really do get more flies with honey. And that's a good tip.

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

...Emily Post

14 August 2010

today's model shoot.

20100813_0067zB-R, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Anyone who is around me for any extended period of time knows to expect having a camera in their face at some point. That's just the price you pay for being my friend, loved one, or even just a random person who crosses my path and has something about you which I find interesting. --I just really enjoy taking photographs and people make such fascinating subjects!

Among my most enjoyable pass times, I love getting out with fellow photographers for shoots -- be it a walk about historic downtown, exploring old abandoned buildings, or creative staged fashion/glamor photography complete with model, hairstylists, make-up artists, and loads of camera gear... And while I have had the opportunity to shoot in a studio or two, absolutely nothing beats natural light so I really like shooting out of doors. (This is one of the rare few activities that can drive me from the sanctuary of my air conditioner aside from a medical emergency...)

As for me, I often receive compliments and praise on my photographic work, and while it's always nice to hear, I by no means consider myself a professional nor do I pretend to know what I'm doing all the time. In fact, while I would very much like to eventually master all the bells and whistles on my professional equipment, I don't really aspire to be a professional photographer. Mostly I have a really good eye for shots and am pretty darn handy when it comes to digital processing. I do occasionally accept gigs to photograph people/events for folks I know, but the bottom line is that I do what I do because I enjoy it, on my terms, and don't want to burn out on something that both feeds my creative passions and provides invaluable therapeutic benefits to my mind and soul.

That being said... I do have my own "corporate identity" however, mainly because 1) my hubby is an attorney and did the paperwork for me, and 2) purchasing really nice frames, supplies, and other professional services at wholesale prices requires a tax ID. But I digress...

One of my favorite peeps to shoot with is Rob Miracle (a.k.a. Miracle Man) for a number of reasons, namely he let's me tag along, he's a super nice fellow and talented photographer, and he's a good teacher.

So today's tag-along shoot with Rob was of a great gal named Pam Perry who is usually involved in the behind the scenes action as a talented hairstylist and make-up artist. Today, she thought she'd give modeling a whirl and see what the experience was like from another point of view.

20100813_0104z-R, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Despite the unrelenting heat, dripping sweat, and ravenous mosquitoes, a good time was had by all -- and we got some great shots of Pam! =)

"Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man."

...Edward Steichen

12 August 2010

at Taekwondo.

@ TKD., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

I think I enjoy watching the kids more than the kids enjoy themselves at Taekwondo...

This evening there were a few new folks there watching their kidos from the wings. I overheard numerous "oooh's" and "awww's" and comments about how precious, how cute, how adorable the littlest boy was. They laughed and clapped for him and I secretly beamed - for the precious, cute, adorable littlest boy was mine... all mine. =)

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

...Bruce Lee

10 August 2010

Nutella monsters.

Nutella., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Here we have a perfect pictorial of rotten little kids left to their own devices without adult supervision...

So as days go (in the circus that is my life), today was relatively uneventful. I went to work, had coffee, and my sweet husband brought me a Bojangles chicken biscuit for breakfast. I did stuff and was fairly productive, taking only a few crazy calls, and I stayed away from eBay. I skipped lunch and left early for an appointment, treating myself to a soft serve ice cream cone en route.

Kevin took Liam to Taekwondo and we met back at the house where Liam walks in the door holding a Diet Coke in mid-explosion that he'd been shaking which sprayed all over the kitchen, the floor, Liam, and his clean white TKD uniform. Welcome home!

Then per protocol, Kevin and I engage in our traditional "what's for dinner" dance, domestic planners that we are.

Me: "Want me to make some more arepas?"
Him: "No."
Me: "How about rice and vegetables?"
Him: "No."
Me: "Zucchini pasta?"
Him: "No."
Me: "Chinese food it is!"

And so I retreat to the office to place the delivery order while Kevin, struck with the sudden inspiration to clean the dog-pee-stained carpet, sets about doing his thing.

(Since food seems to be the reoccurring blog theme of mine this week...) We usually order from Peking Garden as their cuisine is good albeit unpredictable as it seems the Mexican cooks in the Chinese kitchen have adapted my way of cooking and the inability to follow a recipe so rarely does the same dish taste the same way, but as I said, it's most always good, and more importantly, they deliver and they're quick.

While in the office, I check my email, check Facebook, check Flickr and before I know it, the delivery guy is knocking at the door. I'm in my pajamas already so I task Kevin with getting the door while I collect our offspring for dinner. --A quick look around tells me that the children are missing and therefore up to no good.

They're not downstairs. Not upstairs. Not in the attic (yes, I've found them in there before too). Not in the back yard and they couldn't have gone out the front. What the hell?...

I open the back door to the garage and what do I find but the little monsters hiding and sitting as happily as pigs in slop on the back stoop in their pajamas eating Nutella straight out of the jar with their grubby little hands!

Holy hell.

"When children are doing nothing, they are doing mischief."

...Henry Fielding

dog v. carpet cleaner.

dog v. carpet cleaner.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So the puppy potty training isn't going as well as we would like, to say the least. There's an on-going rivalry taking place between Piper and the carpet. Kevin decided to bring out the heavy artillery tonight but the little mutt held her ground in defense of the territory she has clearly claimed.

I'm not sure if it was so much the offending carpet cleaner that upset Piper so as the fact that Kevin was undoing all her redecorative signatures...

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

...Groucho Marx

09 August 2010

shitty restaurants.

Speaking of food... a list of my all-time least favorite eating establishments (a.k.a. places I do not recommend):

  • Applebee's -- Oh how I loathe Applebee's. Any and all Applebee's. Their food, all of it, quite simply just SUCKS a big fat one. I have never eaten anything at an Applebee's that did not leave me thoroughly disappointed, disgusted, and still hungry because I couldn't force myself to eat the crap I ordered. I would rather eat dirt.
  • Domino's Pizza -- You'd have to be really drunk, stoned, or starving to death to enjoy this nasty, greasy foulness posing as pizza. And their "new recipe?" Not long ago, I fell victim to this misleading hype and decided, after nearly two decades, to give them another try... It's still shit. Again, dirt is a good alternative.
  • Fox and Hound -- A small notch above Applebee's. Their food is bland and barely mediocre at best; everything. Cardboard has more flavor. A total waste of eating out.
  • Kanki -- Well, that was a great place until I got food poisoning from a batch of bad shrimp about 15 years ago. It happens. But a night wrapped around your toilet dry heaving up the lining of your stomach will cure you of ever wanting to eat there again (and we won't even talk about what was going on at the other end...)
  • Sushi Thai -- I used to eat there quite a bit; heck, I should have had stock in that hole as much coin as I dropped there. And as a should-be stockholder, one would expect more courtesy, professionalism, and a bit more couth from the owner when one gets a an order of Pad Thai that tastes sour (and judging by the wilted, dried out lemon on the plate, has been sitting in the hot window pre-made for the dying-off lunch rush crowd for who knows how long) than to accuse me of trying to score a free meal. Excuse me greedy, crazy lady? --I now happily take my business to Thai House when I need a Pad Thai fix and when I'm craving sushi, there's no place (in Raleigh) better than Waraji's. Both Thai House and Waraji's are far superior to Sushi Thai in their cuisine and service.
  • Taco Bell -- What can you say about Taco Bell really? It's cheap, nasty Tex-Mex wanna-be, poor excuse for something edible. I've seen canned dog food that looked more appetizing. --I'm pretty sure I haven't eaten at a Taco Bell since one opened up on base in Würzburg around 1997 and that was purely out of nostalgia... I remember the day it opened at the new PX; there was a 3 hour wait line wrapped around the building. Holy hell, it was nuts -- and there is absolutely nothing at Taco Bell worth waiting for.

Okay, I'm done... but I reserve the right to dislike and bitch about other places too.

Dine at your own risk.

"If you're going to America, bring your own food."

...Fran Lebowitz


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Never do we leave a relationship without taking away something - usually it's baggage, but occasionally we're left with something worthwhile: a lifelong friendship, fond memories, furniture, maybe even some great jewelry or a child... and sometimes, as in this case, a great recipe!

Once upon a time while in college, I had a roommate (turned psychotic boyfriend) from Venezuela... I'll call him "Francisco" (because that was his name). --It was an absolutely disastrous relationship from the get-go, from the point we crossed that treacherous roommie line until I finally threatened to have him deported and married someone else. Ahh the memories...

But I was young and resilient back in the day and quickly moved on to the next romantic catastrophe without looking back.

Besides some fantastic material for my memoirs, the one thing I took away from that relationship was the addictive taste for arepas and the talent to make them.

Arepas are flat, unleavened gordita-like patties made of white cornmeal which can be grilled, baked, boiled, or fried. (I prefer to bake mine.) They are far easier than buttermilk biscuits to make, are very hearty, and can be stuffed with a variety of foods to be eaten like sandwiches or as an accompaniment to a meal.

To make arepas, you need only find a small yellow bag of Harina PAN (if you're lucky, you might find it in the Hispanic section of your local grocery) and follow the directions on the bag, or follow mine...

  • 2 cups Harina PAN pre-cooked cornmeal
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups luke warm water

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt. Pour in and mix with clean hands to form a mass. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Using wet hands, form balls of dough out of about 1/4 cup of dough and press to form a cake about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. (If the dough cracks at the edges, mix in a little more water and then form the cakes.)
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, lightly brown arepas on one side then flip and brown on the other side (most recipes instruct to sauté in hot oil although a nonstick pan works just fine and the arepas are just as tasty sans grease).
  • When all the patties have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they sound lightly hollow when tapped. Serve immediately.

Arepas make great picnic food and can be stuffed with anything that you might put in a biscuit or sandwich or anything that just sounds good to you. Enjoy!

"There is nothing to which men, while they have food and drink, cannot reconcile themselves."

...George Santayana

07 August 2010

Beauty & the Beast, Jr.

20100807_1328z-R, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
Today's family outing included a play: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Junior" put on by a marvelous cast of young volunteer actors and actresses from the Towne Players of Garner at the Garner Historic Auditorium.

Though I had attended past productions, I had completely forgotten about this group. So glad I was reminded (Thanks Kim!)

Despite the uncontrollable excitement of our two little ones - Isabel who simply could not resist touching the poor lady in front of us and licking Liam's head throughout the entire performance and Liam who talked, yelled at Isabel, and was waving his light up "enchanted rose" in the air as though he were landing an aircraft - it was a great show.

I was especially impressed with the beautiful voice of Belle, played by aspiring vocalist and 2010 high school graduate, Arlie Honeycutt. I seriously thought she was lip syncing when she first began to sing; she was that good! I would not at all be surprised to see her name again one day as a new up and coming somebody.

But I have to say, all the young performers did an outstanding job. I enjoyed the show as much as the kids did, perhaps even more. =)

"We all know that the theater and every play that comes to Broadway have within themselves, like the human being, the seed of self-destruction and the certainty of death. The thing is to see how long the theater, the play, and the human being can last in spite of themselves."

...James Thurber

02 August 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
I remember being six or seven years old when I inherited my first musical 8-track tape from a much older cousin - KISS's "Destroyer" album which I listened to religiously on my 2XL toy robot. (Hey, 2XL was THE stuff back in the day!) I knew all the lyrics to every tune on that album and used to perform song and dance routines for anyone I could coerce into witnessing the insane display, which usually was my Grandmother. (Hey, give me a break; I was a bored little farm girl back then.) --Oh those were the truly ignorantly blissful days...

I LOVED KISS. I had a KISS black light poster on my bedroom door (although I had no idea what a black light was). And while most girls my age were fawning over Scott Baio, Shaun Cassidy, and The Bee Gees, my crushes were Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Gene Simmons.

I've been to my share of concerts: Hank Williams, Jr., The Black Crowes, Def Leppard, Melissa Etheridge, Robert Plant, Van Halen, Blink 182, Dave Matthews Band to name a few... Though I'm not really one for big crowds (I can pretty much guarantee you will not find me anywhere near a mall November through December).

But back in 2003, when my favorite local foreigners, Karl and Thorsten, invited me along to the KISS / Aerosmith concert... How could I possibly say no?!!

Nearly three decades later, KISS went on tour with Aerosmith. I can't even begin to describe the nostalgia! What a crazy déjà vu standing there with my two German counterparts, memorable worlds colliding in untouchable, unspeakable ways. And then, there they were, smoke rising as "Detroit Rock City" sounded off and throngs of seventies survivors, many sporting clueless grand-kids upon their has-been shoulders, cheered and raised lit cigarette lighters of tribute into the air while the sweet fetid stench of marijuana wafted through the night. I felt the rippling chill of "once upon a time" wash through us all, like a big magic wave, wistful. And then, as quickly as it came, dissipated into the present moment, when I saw them - my childhood rock stars, jamming fast and furious, as grand as they ever had been in their glory days - larger than life... even as their flabby beer guts hung over too tight leather chaps, even as Gene's heavy caked-on stage make-up and fake blood oozed into the cracks and wrinkles of his forlorn face, even as the guitar didn't break apart on the first slam upon the stage or even the second, even as the crowd absent of screaming, half-naked, sexually-liberated hippy girls - stood hollering, mesmerized and lost in time, wanting more, just a little more, to return, for just one more song, to their lost bittersweet youth, where ever they were. --Something about the near-geriatric rock-n-rollers parading around in their leather and studs, 'shouting it out loud,' wasn't quite the kinder-euphoria I remembered, however, I had to smile in spite of myself, returning, if only for an instant, to simple happy days past.

Though it seems that no concert is complete without an annoying drunk or two hundred and of course, one lone inebriated fellow found us. --Karl, never one to be impolite, befriended the poor soul while Thorsten, ever the gentleman, claimed me as his "wife" when the guy began beer-goggling me. All in all though, me, Karl, and my "concert husband" had a blast. That was the last concert I attended to date and I'm cool with that... it was a perfect note to end on.

And it was an incredible show!

"Flaming youth will set the world on fire"... and they always do... then you grow up, like it or not, and hopefully learn something useful and good and maybe have some interesting tales to tell.

Oh yeah, and Aerosmith kicked ass too. ;-)

"Nostalgia keeps dissolving the ironic narratives in which I have contained my past."

...Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms, Twelfth Selection, New York (1993)

01 August 2010


the last time i saw him..., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

I once had a friend named Chris... He was a soldier stationed at Ft. Bragg; we met back in the day when Benson, North Carolina was the "cruising capital of the south."

Chris was an amazingly fun and charismatic fellow who was as funny and entertaining as he was handsome. It was impossible to not have a great time when he was around and we spent a lot of time together watching movies and stealing into matinees for free second shows, camping and fishing in the middle of the night, rappelling off of base towers and being escorted off post, visiting my friend Karen at ECU, and just generally goofing off. He was a great friend and perfect gentleman and though we never dated, I always thought he would be a great catch for some lucky girl. Life was one great big adventure with Chris and everyone wanted to be along for the ride. To know him was truly to love him.

Once, Chris, his friend Mike, and I set out for a weekend at ECU to see Karen and partake in a bit of East Carolina's infamous college life. It was a hysterically crazy fun weekend until Mike, having exceeded his limit of alcohol, puked all over Karen's laundry. Furious, Karen made us spend the bulk of the following day at the laundry mat washing her nasty, chunk-covered clothes while she went to work at the mall where we were to meet her later. --Even doing laundry was a riot with Chris modeling for us one of Karen's pretty floral sundresses...

"I triple-dog dare you to wear that to the mall!" I said.

And he did. --It was a Sunday afternoon, the mall flooded with nicely dressed couples and families just out of church who all just stopped and stared, mouths hanging open, at this 6'2" smiling soldier with hairy legs and armpits sticking out of a very feminine summer dress sauntering his way through the mall and into a kitchen ware's store.

Karen beet red from embarrassment, could barely contain her laughter as she mustered up her most scolding motherly tone and exclaimed, "You go take MY dress off right now!"

I still have the pictures.

There are so many memories flooding my mind now as I type this and even if I wrote them all down, I still would not be able to sum up the essence of Chris.

Back then, there were no cell phones and no email, and gradually we lost touch as we both began dating other people. He left me a few messages on the answering machine and I tried phoning him a few times too -- which was a challenge calling the barracks because whether or not you actually got through to the person you were trying to reach depended solely upon the willingness of whatever CQ was stuck answering the phones to get up, walk down the hall, and go check their room... But we never connected again.

May 27, 1993 -- For no particular reason, Chris popped into my head that afternoon and would not leave. I dreamt of him that night, and the next... Strong, vivid dreams of nothing specific, just his haunting presence. Something wasn't right and I felt it in my bones.

The following day, I called his barracks and explained to the CQ that I desperately needed to reach my friend, that I was calling long distance and wasn't even sure if he was still stationed there or if he'd already left -- please, please, please see if you can find him... I gave his name. Silence. The First Sergent took the phone and began quizzing me on how I knew Chris, my relationship with him, and when I last spoke with him... My mind was racing - I was thinking, oh no, that crazy-ass went AWOL, but no such luck...

May 27, 1993, just three days after ETSing on permanent leave, Chris was shot in the head at point blank range while visiting a friend in Indiana by some unprovoked, deranged bastard who said he felt threatened by the "military look" in Chris's eyes; his friend, Denise, was also murdered.

I felt numb, empty, in shock. --I spoke to Mike, who gave me Chris's mom's number... Though I'd never met nor spoken to her, she knew exactly who I was. We talked and laughed and cried for hours. --Perhaps that was what he wanted, for me to comfort the mother he loved so much.

Shortly after his death, the girl Chris had been dating found out she was pregnant; she had twin boys - who look so much like the father they would never know.

It's been 17 years and I still think of him.
I still miss knowing him...

A Trick I Learned In The Philippines--

I can see your mouth smiling
At my brain,
As clear as the last photo I took--
that devilish grin
of a boyish man,
full of mischief,
full of life!
--You are still the fun
In my fondest memories
And I miss loving you,
my friend.
They say you're dead.
He stole your mischief--
the fucking BASTARD!!!
But for me,
You will always be
full of life;
it's in your smile,
hiding in my brain...


CLJD 25 January 1994