Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cafe at Phoenix Public Market

Last night we enjoyed a wonderful farm to table tasting hosted by Chef Aaron Chamberlain at his newest restaurant, Cafe at Phoenix Public Market.

Small garden growing at the south entrance of the Cafe

You might be familiar with the building, as it used to house the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar.  Chef Chamberlain stayed with the same theme as the former grocery in that he still provides fresh, local food at great prices.  In addition, he added a juice bar, coffee bar, bakery, and he enlarged the bar area.

Yes, I bought a homemade Pop Tart!

The Open Air Market still sets up in the front lot every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning as a non-profit farmers market, hosting multiple local farmers and their fresh products. On Fridays the same lot hosts local food trucks from 11:00am to 1:30pm.

Chef Aaron Chamberlain talked to us about buying local
Chef Chamberlain and Local First Membership Coordinator, Tommy Barr

Our first tasting last night was the best corn soup ever (okay, I may be biased).  It was garnished with corn relish and green chili's and I could have eaten an entire pot.

The next tasting was a sampling of the Eat the Rainbow veggie platter served with two house made dipping sauces.  Mom...I ate my veggies and loved them!


The final tasting was a BBQ pork slider paired with a local Hefeweizen beer, both quite delicious.

Another wonderful event with great people and superb food!

One last note, Wednesday 6/18/2014, is the one year anniversary of the Cafe.  Stop in and help them celebrate!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

To My First Love

I think it's safe to speak for all of us who have lost a parent that we dread 3 days of the year:  that parent's birthday, the date of their death, and Mother/Father's day. 

Dad holding me at one week old

On this day seven years ago my Dad was in the hospital fighting for his life after a double lung transplant.  One lung had already rejected.  I wish I had kept a journal of that time.  I can't recall if I was even in Indianapolis on what was to be his last Father's day.  It's difficult to even try to think back to that time; seeing my Daddy in a hospital bed in so much pain.

Dad holding his bald baby girl...he nicknamed me Fred

My brother sent me an email this week asking me if I thought our Dad would have been a good Grandpa to his son, Gage.  I replied that as great of a Father as he was to us, he would have been an even better Grandfather.  Don't you (imagined readers) find this to be true?  It seems to me that Grandparents kick butt!  They're like parents on steroids!

Bryan and Dad at Disney World (you can see where I get my chicken legs!)

I miss that mustached smile

Growing up, Dad worked second shift so weekends were when we saw him most.  He loved to play games, Battleship and Uno were a couple of our favorites.  We used to work on puzzles together for weeks at a time, starting with the edges of course!  He loved to listen to music and share his favorites. I remember he loved to put the headphones on my ears during Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and have me listen for the music to go from one ear to the other during that "one part".  He loved woodworking in his garage and would carefully show me how to use the lathe or other long-since-forgotten tools. We loved watching old episodes of The Little Rascals and old Ma and Pa Kettle movies together. I used to sit in his lap while watching TV and I would ask him to marry me when I grew up.  He truly was my first love.

We really were stylish, believe it or not

So, do I think that he would have been a good Grandfather?  Hell yes.  As great a Grandfather as my Mom is a Grandmother.  And oh how I, how we all, wish he could have met Gage.  That's probably one of the toughest things about not having him.  Luckily he got to meet Eric and Cathy so he knew mine and my brother's significant others.  But I sure wish he could have met his Grandson. 

Our last boating trip together; he was sharing Vietnam stories...I always told him to write a book.

One of our last Christmas's

To all of you who still have your Father, give them a hug or a phone call today.  Keep posting your photos on Facebook (I love them!). And to my Dad, if you're able to hear me, thank you.  I love you and miss you.

His Son and Grandson

I miss you so much

"Understand that there's nothing that's going to be more precious in your life... And when you're on your death bed, that's the stuff you're going to remember - you holding hands with your daughter."
~Barack Obama 

"It's only when you grow up and step back from him - or leave him for your own home - it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it."
~Margaret Truman

"My Father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me."
~Jim Valvano

Monday, June 9, 2014

My First Gun Class

*Let me start with a disclaimer.  I am uneasy about even writing this blog because guns can be such a controversial topic.  But when I thought about censoring my own self, on my own blog, I decided that was just dumb.  These are my personal feelings...agree or disagree.

I was raised in a small Indiana town.  My father was a Vietnam vet.  He was not a hunter; nor would I even call him an avid shooter.  I suppose my best description/recollection is that he was a gun collector of sorts.  He had several from the war and over the years he would buy new ones.  So, growing up I had many opportunities to shoot guns.  We would drive to the middle of nowhere (a fairly easy task in Indiana), set up old plates, cans, etc., and shoot for an hour or so.  As I got older we went to a couple of shooting ranges in Indianapolis to shoot.  While I never really longed to go shooting, I always enjoyed it when I did go.  My Dad passed away almost 7 years ago now.  And after he passed I inherited a couple of his guns.  Since then they have been locked away and talked about in that..."hey, let's take those to the shooting range someday" kind of way.

"Made in the USA and geared for women"

So, over the weekend I made my first effort in getting my Dad's guns out.  I took a CCW class with Eric (at his insistence) at the Scottsdale Gun Club. A little background on CCW: it stands for Carrying a Concealed Weapon.  And in the state of Arizona, a permit is not required to carry a concealed weapon.  But Eric felt it would be smart of me to know the laws.  And I agree. 

Now, going into the class I never had any plans of carrying a gun around on my hip.  It's apparently the thing to do here in Arizona, however.  Our instructor, who is a former police officer and current defense attorney, told us that 70% of AZ drivers have a gun in their car.  That was my first red flag.  Um...maybe I need to tone down my road rage with those statistics!!!  Not that I get road rage on a regular basis...but with those odds...I best start flipping the peace sign!

Full disclosure...I did kinda like this pink .38 Special!

Another red flag was raised in my mind when he advised us that if we are going to carry a gun we need to make sure that we have $15,000 to $30,000 readily available to hire an attorney should we ever have the need to pull out our gun.  Um...I'm sorry, but I don't have that kind of money just lying around.  And the fact that I even need to think that I might someday need an attorney is just mind boggling to me.

And this is a WAY cooler target than a can!

Then he began talking to us about the consequences of taking a human life.

Let me make something clear here...although it sounds from my class description thus far that he was trying to talk us out of carrying a gun, it was quite the opposite.  I think I was the only person in the 49-person class who raised her hand when asked who was NOT considering carrying a gun.  And he kind of singled me out and said that pepper spray and tazers can be lethal as well but are less effective in saving your life so I should strongly reconsider my decision.  He said he has carried a gun every single day for the past 20 years although he's never drawn it.

Please tell me what civilian needs this, though?

Anyway, back to killing.  He went into great detail about the effects that murder has on people.  He promised us that if we ever had to shoot a burglar/criminal we would most likely crap our pants.  Literally.  He described bubbles of thick blood gurgling from the victim's body; our imagined dog licking up the blood; brain matter on the walls; having to call 911; the police arriving and questioning us.  He basically told us that the law is never black and white; that we could easily say or do something when our adrenaline was up that could land us in prison for life.  At this point, our lives are in the hands of how the police see/hear/spin the story, and, if we go to a jury trial, how the jury perceives our story.  All the while, having to learn to live with the fact that we took a human being out of this world. 

The "Law Enforcement" Section

But, hey, I'm "stupid" if I don't carry a gun every time I leave the house.  Because, well, "you just never know." 

I am not trying to say that he is right or wrong or that guns are good or bad or anything of the sort.  My point to this blog is that I came away from that pro-gun class a lot more skeptical and a lot more afraid of guns.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe that was his intent.  I don't know. 

I kind of just wanted to go out on some country road and harken back to my youth when I was with my Dad shooting some old plates and cans. 

But maybe we don't live in that world anymore.  Even as recent as this morning there was yet another news story about some crazies who went into Cici's pizza in Las Vegas and started shooting cops.  Do I want to be standing in that situation with my lip gloss as my only protection?  Would I even have the wherewithal to react properly if I did have a gun in that situation? 

It's all too much, really.  It's sad that we even have to think about these things.  I wish the only thing we needed guns for was to bond with our Dad's. 

"I have a very strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it."
~Clint Eastwood

"Gun control?!  We need bullet control!  I think every bullet should cost $5,000. Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars we wouldn't have any innocent bystanders."
~Chris Rock

"I don't care if you want to hunt, I don't care if you think it's your right. I say 'Sorry.' it's 1999. We have had enough as a nation. You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun I think you should go to prison."
~Rosie O'Donnell (At about the time she said this, Rosie engaged the services of a bodyguard who applied for a gun permit.)

 "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms."
~James Madison

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bisbee, AZ

As most of you know, I love Arizona.  I should be a tour guide because I love to brag on pretty much everything about this state (well...except maybe our politics...but that's a story for a different day).  Eric and I have traveled over a LOT of this state in the past 7 years since I moved here from Indiana.  This weekend, however, I went to a "new" place and fell in love.  Thanks (once again) to Local First Arizona, who put together a wonderful weekend down south in Bisbee, Arizona.  Most Phoenicians have been to Jerome, but not as many have been to Bisbee.  They are similar in that they are both small mining towns full of artists and free spirits and said to be quite haunted.  But, Bisbee is huge in comparison with an estimated 5,575 people compared to Jerome's population of 444 people!

My friend and I decided to make it a girls weekend and we set out for the 3 hour drive Friday evening.  We drove down into the valley where Bisbee is nestled and went up the winding Main Street until we found our lovely B&B, The Copper City Inn.  What a quaint little home away from home!  We had a room on the 2nd floor called the Jane Colter room (a little Google search informed me that Jane was an architect in the 1930's who designed several structures around the Grand Canyon).  The room had so many special touches...one of the best being a bottle of wine after our long drive!  We stepped out on the balcony to view the streets of Bisbee and met our neighbors who were also on their balcony and were part of the Local First group.  We became fast friends by the end of the trip!

Our Bed and Breakfast, the Copper City Inn

Famished, we walked up the hill to a recommended pizza place called The Screaming Banshee.  Our server was the best, the pizza was the bomb, the wine selections were unique, it was a great start to our stay!  By the time we were finished eating it was quite dark but we decided to walk back toward the main part of town.  We ended up at a lively saloon in the Bisbee Grand Hotel. We sat for a bit and watched some live music and simply people-watched.  Then we headed back to our hotel.  There we found our neighbors and shared a bottle (or two) of wine before heading to bed.

Screaming Banshee Pizza - awesome pizza!!
The Bisbee Grand Hotel - great live music in the evening!

Saturday morning brought another beautiful day.  The weather in Bisbee is about 10 degrees cooler than in Phoenix and there was a slight breeze.  We walked down Main street again and went into nearly every shop.  The people of Bisbee were all so kind and welcoming!  Some of the shop owners knew about the Local First group and were offering discounts and we took full advantage!  A couple of my favorite shops included 55 Main Street Gallery, SamPoe Gallery, Panterra Gallery, and Art Home...just to name a few.  For lunch we stopped at The Table where we had taco's and crab cake sliders and shared a delicious bread pudding for dessert!

55 Main Street Gallery

SamPoe Gallery - my nickname for this awesome artist is "The Fly Guy"
Art Home

The Table - don't pass up the bread pudding!
After lunch we went to the Queen Mine and got dressed as miners and took a tour.  I have to admit, I was quite frightened of this tour, as I'm very claustrophobic!!  But, I put my big girl panties on and straddled the little train and in we went.  Our guide was a former employee of the mine so he had quite the plethora of knowledge and it was very interesting.  It was also a great way to cool off! We went from 98 degrees to about 56 degrees down in the mine!

Entrance to the Queen Mine

Miners (us included!) wore tags as they entered and then returned them upon exit to help keep track of people

Honey Pots...yep...it's what you think!

The ride out...I was glad to see the sunlight!
Following the tour we did a bit more sightseeing, saw some of the local hangouts, some graffiti'd walls, some cats, we did one set of the 1,000 Stairs of Bisbee and then we headed to the group dinner.

Stock Exchange Saloon

Mining and Historical Museum

Bisbee Graffiti

Bisbee Stairs

St. Elmo...the longest running bar in Arizona

Graffiti Art

Silver King Hotel

Yep...the smallest bar in Arizona!
Old Bisbee Brewing Company

Brew House of the Old Bisbee Brewing Company

OK Street Jail House

Bisbee Royale...fly by Poe Dismuke of SamPoe Gallery

Hummingbird, Audrey, and Kitty

Poser!  (photo by Karen Ansaldo)
Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb

The 127 steps that we did!

Bisbee Kitty

Dinner was upstairs of Cafe Roka.  The bartender also happened to be the owner of our wonderful B&B.  They accommodated all 48 members of our Local First group and they fed us well!!!  We had a gazpacho, a salad, a lemon sorbet, short rib with mashed potatoes and veggies, and a dessert of custard and chocolate brownie.  It was a fabulous meal!!

Inside the beautiful Cafe Roka

Roka wineglass

Appetizers before dinner

Local First members at dinner

The "cool" table (just kidding!)

Lemon Ice palate cleanser between courses
After dinner we met on the steps of the courthouse for a ghost tour!  What fun that was!  Renee, from Old Bisbee Ghost Tour, was our guide and she did a great job of leading 34 of us up and down and in and out of the dark, winding streets of Bisbee.  She had some bone-chilling stories of local hauntings.  One of the stories that most interested me involved a little girl who died in a fire and who now comes back to a particular art studio at night.  The current owner of the studio puts out the little girl's favorite toy, a bouncy ball, every night as she closes up the shop.  We walked back past it after the tour to see if the little girl had moved it. She hadn't...yet.

One of Renee's hearse's (yes...she has multiple)
Sweet Midnight - fun shop to buy t-shirts and such

This morning we ended our time in Bisbee only after dining outside at the High Desert Market and Cafe.  We enjoyed a breakfast burrito and a homemade quiche that were both delicious.  Again, the staff were so kind and welcoming.

High Desert Market and Cafe

Notice the Local First Arizona logo!!

On our drive back to Phoenix we decided to also check out the old historic town of Tombstone.  Yes, that Tombstone!  Where Kurt Russel, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, and Bill Paxton filmed the movie of the same name which tells the stories of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and the gunfight at the OK Corral.  Another small little mining town making their living by retelling these old cowboy stories.  We took a tour in a stagecoach that once carried Mark Twain from Tombstone to San Francisco.  Yep!  My butt sat right where Mark Twain's butt once sat!!

The streets of Tombstone
The stagecoach that Mark Twain and I rode in! 
Tombstone shops

After the tour we went to the Rose Tree Museum which has the world's largest rosebush.  While it was past it's blooming season it was still a sight to behold!  This massive rosebush covers 9000 square feet and has a twisted trunk that is over 12 feet around.

We ended our stop in Tombstone by bellying up to the bar of Big Nose Kate's Saloon.  The Sunday crowd was enjoying some live music as the movie Tombstone played in the background on the televisions.  The stained glass artwork around the saloon was beautiful.

 It was a great weekend exploring more of my wonderful state.  It's nice to support local business and learn more about where I live.  I hope to visit Bisbee again soon!

"A small town is a place where there's no place to go where you shouldn't."
-Burt Bacharach 

Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
- http://www.ilsr.org/why-support-locally-owned-businesses/