Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Here are a couple of the definitions of "angel" as found on

- a person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, as beauty, purity, or kindliness.
- a person whose actions and thoughts are consistently virtuous.
- an attendant or guardian spirit.

I have had several attendants of late to whom I owe a very large debt of gratitude.

One, René, I am looking forward to having around the kitchen at Flying Squirrel. She has been helping out in amazing ways: keeping the production line going at the new Flying Squirrel Cabinet Shop that has taken over the dining area, cleaning up all the dirt that keeps getting tracked into the kitchen when I am not around to do it, and keeping our spirits up with background music and smoky little cowboy coffee fires in the parking lot.

It can be so incredibly difficult to ask for help when you need it the most. I have been getting pretty good at it lately. In fact, if anyone wants to join in a work party cleaning day, you can come to the bakery on Sunday between 11 am and 4 pm so I will really feel surrounded by angels!

Several months ago it became clear that Brian and I were losing all of our time for household chores, cooking healthful meals, playing with Oliver, doing laundry etc. So, can you guess who I called for help?

The other angel is no less than my own mother.

The irony in asking my mother for help particularly is that I have recently made the acquaintance of a 21 year old apprentice baker who has hopes of learning something from the likes of me. Upon his arrival from his home in Arizona, I detected several very obvious things about him right away. One, his enthusiasm for participating in our project. Two, his elation at discovering this wild, amazing, unusual and eye opening place called Alaska. And three, his quiet but discernible eye rolling and inner angst regarding the presence of his parents. I distinctly remember this time in my life (don't worry parents of young adults, evidently it will pass). I'm pretty sure my mother remembers it too.

So, here I am, twenty or so years later and not two days ago, weak tears of sadness flowed freely from my exhausted eyes when I had to drop off my mother at the airport, sending her back to Philadelphia after three weeks of cooking and cleaning in my house, carting around and entertaining my son, and even staining a few pieces of trim here and there. Truly, I don't know what we would have done without her. I think even crusty old Brian said a hearty "thanks and come back any time"! She gave it her all and hardly complained except to say that she was worried about me working too hard and that my poor dad sacrificed an awful lot for her to come.

And all I can do is say thank you which doesn't seem nearly enough. Well, at least she got a little tipsy on a few glasses of wine on her last day. And I know she thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her grandson. And I think somewhere deep in her heart she knows that all those things I said when I was in my late teens and early twenties have been washed away and the true appreciation and love that I feel for my mother (maybe even all mothers) is as genuine and real as it ever will be.

I love you Mom! Next time you come, I promise some fresh caught fish on your dinner plate!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Dropping Acid

It's been a relatively innocent 40 years for me. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. I drank my first beer at 25 and my first cup of coffee at 29. I'm all for tempered experimentation and enjoy the pleasures of beer and wine, even an occasional joint shared among friends. But I will admit that I have never tried mushrooms, acid, cocaine, meth or any other mind-altering drugs. So, in the stress and mayhem of trying to push forward with this constantly challenging building and business project, I decided what the heck...maybe it will take the edge off.

Several hundred dollars and several evenings later, it's done. The acid has been dropped. And even though it wasn't a totally smooth ride, if I had to do it all over again, I think I would go for it. Pretty satisfying results in the end - kind of swirly, kind of wild, kind of dark, kind of funky, kind of sexy, a little red, brown and gold, I'd almost say psychedelic.


Just to clarify, the acid in this case was acid stain on the concrete floor of the dining area at the bakery!

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Sunday, July 5, 2009


Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, when it opens it's doors hopefully by August 1, will be a reflection of me. It is the culmination of my dreams and the result of a year plus of blood, sweat and tears with many sacrifices made by my family, especially Brian who works so hard and really needs a break. I am excited for the place to take shape and I know that it will evolve based not only on my vision, but on what customers want it to be and what my employees make of it.

A few things are finally seeming finished or almost finished.

The outside of the building has been looking great for several months already. Cove base and trim are starting to give the inside a satisfying crispy completeness. I think we are at about 75% on the electrical hard wiring and are very happy to see the spider web of extension cords and gang boxes we have been tripping over all winter go away! Mechanical contractors were here last week installing the hood, make up air and duct work - I think they are probably 75% complete also. The floor in the kitchen is finished. And, perhaps topping the satisfaction meter is all the painting. I give painting a 90% completion rating and boy, am I glad! (I still have to do the dreaded polyurethane-ing of the window and door trim and a little more sign painting.)

Not every wall I painted was a great success. One bathroom wall has at least 4 layers of paint on it I think representing 3 attempts at a good looking result. But I am feeling quite proud of the paint job overall. People who come in to work or talk to us for one reason or another have had the most wonderful reactions, my favorite of which was that it feels very Mediterranean. Next to the whole grain crusty breads and rich and tasty pastries I plan to peddle, I think the walls of Flying Squirrel are where the "reflection of me" will shine the most. Partly because I tried to do something with the space that is unique, fun, colorful, artistic, a little classy, and a little funky.

But also, because I am excited to turn those walls over to other artists to show their work. It will be hard to see the first picture hangars leave their marks on these fresh clean walls. Oh well. I am looking forward to the sharing of ideas, creativity, and artistic expression both through food and through allowing artists the opportunity to show and sell their work on the walls of Flying Squirrel.

I have already organized the first show, "Women of the Cloth" a group exhibition of 5 local fiber artists (who also happen to be very supportive friends!). Assuming all goes well this month and we open the doors for business by August 1, there will be an art opening on the Second Saturday in August from 4-7pm. Hopefully this will be a monthly art opening event at the Flying Squirrel. If you are an artist or know an artist that would like to show two dimensional work, please contact me! Below is the announcement about it, please pass it on.

I guess I have to give a little nod to the fact that yesterday was Independence Day. It gets me thinking just a tiny bit about those guys philosophizing our futures way back when around candle light in a brick tavern in Philadelphia. Little did they know where that freedom of speech line in the Constitution would lead. Here's to personal expression....

Art Show Opportunity
Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe extends an enthusiastic welcome to artists, photographers, and craftspeople to hang original, quality, professionally displayed, interesting and unique art on a revolving monthly basis. Only two dimensional work can be accepted. An art opening event will be coordinated for the second Saturday of each month to coincide with Talkeetna Artist Guild/Sheldon Community Arts Hangar openings.

Artists will be responsible for hanging and taking down their work. All work must be framed or otherwise prepared for professional display and hung with appropriate hardware. Artists will also be expected to provide their own publicity (posters, radio announcements, e-mails, labels/prices for each piece, etc.). The dining area, entryway and bathrooms at Flying Squirrel will all have space for art work - 6-12 pieces would most likely be appropriate depending on size. Art work sold through Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe will incur a small commission to cover costs such as wall patching, credit card costs, etc.

Contact Anita at if you are interested in coordinating a show of your work. Please provide samples of the work you would like to display and a short statement of interest.

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