Movie Review: Desierto

“Desierto” is a horror/action movie starring my favorite Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal. It also features Jeffrey Dean Morgan as antagonist/bad guy/monster. Garcia Bernal plays a man trying to get back to his son who is living in California. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a man embittered by conservative rhetoric on immigration who sees himself as the person protecting the US-Mexico border.

The movie features a small group of people crossing the border. The coyotes (slang name given to human traffickers) who are paid to transport these people have a problem with the vehicle. They force their people to walk through the desert (i.e. Desierto) and that is when the real horror begins.

The movie focuses on the action of Morgan hunting migrants. The anxiety of whether or not Garcia Bernal will die carries the movie quite well. Despite the lack of dialogue, the movie is quite good and extremely horrifying. The scariest part of the story is the mind of Morgan. The rhetoric that demonizes immigrants serves to infect the minds of people who listen to it. Overall, I recommend the movie.

Do you like horror movies featuring real life monsters (i.e. murderers) or invented monsters?

Are You An Entrepreneur?

There are people who believe that it would be luxurious to never have to work. They dream of spending days free of responsibilities.

Then there is a different type of person. They recognize that their key to happiness is not to be free from obligation. Instead, their happiness is derived from creation, nurturing, and growth. This is the person who wants to see a vision come to fruition.

This is the entrepreneur!

But beyond being the person who takes on the financial risks and legal responsibilities of starting and running a business, entrepreneurs are people who have a vision for a different future. But, bringing a vision to fruition can be taxing and time-consuming. It requires understanding several things about yourself and your business. If you want to become an entrepreneur, there are five things you need to consider.

Ideas Matter

An entrepreneur without ideas is not an entrepreneur. After all, before you can start a business, you must have an idea of the type of business you wish to have. If you are interested in being an entrepreneur but you are not clear on the type of business you want, use the following list to help you get started:

  • What am I good at? (To have a business, you must have a basis of understanding in the business, ergo, you must have some competence in the area of business.)
  • What do I enjoy doing? (It is not enough to be good at something, you have to enjoy doing it.)
  • How much time will I need to take this concept from idea to executable concept?
  • Who do I know in this field that can serve as a mentor? (Remember, questions are going to come up that you will need to ask someone.)

The idea you have does not have to be revolutionary. You can take a simple idea and turn it into a very successful business. But you have to start developing your idea.

Execution Matters

Entrepreneurship requires starting with a big concept and making it a reality. It means not stopping until you have achieved your desired outcome. Many people get overwhelmed by this. I know I did. At the end of 2020, my husband and I created a retail CBD and smoke shop. When we first got into the building we rented, I was overwhelmed. The space was previously leased by a head shop and the entire space was painted in black!

We renovated it using the colors white and lavender (Party Hat by Behr.) Have you ever tried to paint over black? It was not easy. It took significant time and money. We had no choice but to do the work, one paint stroke at a time. If we had failed at this critical point then we would have not gotten it off the ground. We would not have been able to open the doors on December 12th; so we hustled until the work was done and then celebrated with a grand opening party.

But, that was not the only challenge we encountered. From the moment we conceived the idea, it was a series of moments where execution was critical. Have the concept? Decide on a name for your business. Have a name? Secure the website. Have a website? Decide on marketing ideas.

It keeps going and going. The execution never stops.

Money Matters

A sad reality of entrepreneurship is that money does matter. The old adage that states that you “need money to make money” is an old adage for a reason. You will need to have some seed money to start the business you endeavor. Here are some places where money will need to be spent as you start your business:

  • Business formation (registering your business with your state, trademarking a logo, etc.);
  • Business marketing (purchasing a domain, doing your own website or hiring someone to do your website, preparing and creating signage, flyers, loyalty cards, etc.)
  • Business basics (leasing or buying a location, purchasing products, hiring employees, basic hardware, and point of sale software); and,
  • Business management (employee training, bookkeeping services, and general tax issues.)

There are a large number of places where you can spend money on your business. But, by determining what things you can and do enjoy doing, you may be able to save yourself some money.

Planning Matters

You will notice that in this article, planning comes after execution. But, this is the only time that it will. Planning is what helps you take your idea to full concept. Planning will help you ensure you have a roadmap for your idea’s success. It will help you create reasonable timelines and it will help you budget correctly. In fact, planning is the piece that ties all of the others together.

While it is true that not everyone is great at planning, there are some things that you can do to help you in the planning phase.

Time Matters

Of all of the things that you need as an entrepreneur, the most important is time. After all, you cannot start and grow a business unless you are willing to put time into your business. You must nurture your business every step of the way.

An important caveat, you should not be the only one working your business. For example, if your entrepreneurial concept is a restaurant, you cannot be chef, waiter, dishwasher, and front of house all at once.

If you try to be the jack of all trades, you will end up being the master of none. But, if you select one piece of the business that you can do exceptionally well and hire others to do the other things, you can success. For that reason, I recommend that you devote your time to the things that you a)enjoy and are good at, and b) will help you level up your business. The other things should be delegated.

What words of advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Captured moment

The mahogany squirrel stood still. It’s back flat against the cream colored shed in which it hoped to blend.

The Blue jay saw the woman with one eye as he cracked open a birdseed.

“Damn it’s cold.” She said out loud.

She saw both Bluejay and squirrel nod in agreement.

We are all the same thing. She posited.

A perfect moment to capture, she thought to herself and began to fumble for her iPhone.

“Bitch, just be.” The voices of blue jay and squirrel reverberated in her head.

Just be. And they all went their ways.

In Dog We Trust

I once read a meme that said, “I question people who do not like dogs. But, I always trust dogs when they don’t like a person.”

In our country pets, specifically dogs, are given elevated status. I did not understand why people felt this way. Then, I became a dog parent. In a short period of time, I acquired three mutts- Baxter, Chewbacca, and Shaggy.

Chewbacca

Chewbacca or Chewie was our first puppy. My husband and stepson had been talking about a dog for a couple of years before we got him. But, once we decided to obtain a dog, the boys were on a mad dash to find the right one. We met Chewie during a trip to PETCO. Unbeknownst to me, they hosted shelters on Saturdays to encourage pet adoption.

The minute my husband saw Chewie, he knew. “Go fill out the paperwork because I will not put him down.” My husband said. Within an hour, eight week old Chewie was on our way to our home. Immediately, he endeared himself to us.

Chewie is the most emotionally needy of my pups. He whines if I do not pay enough attention to him. And, if I am on my phone and he is sitting next to me, he will swat my hand. It’s as if he means to say, “Pay attention to me. I am more important than that silly box.” He reminds me that the world is not in my phone or computer.

In sum, Chewie has proven that he is incredibly smart and emotionally attuned to all the people and pups that live in our home.

Baxter

Baxter is the youngest and smallest of our brood. Like Chewie, he was about eight weeks old when we got him. We have been the only family he knows. He is a seven pound blonde terrier. As his hair grows out from the latest haircut his look evolves from little gentleman to old man/mad scientist. I cannot help but laugh just looking at him.

He is independent, stubborn, and completely cute. Baxter has perfected his side-eyed look. You can practically feel his tiny glare upon you when he does it. When I get the side-eye, I know what he wants; a scratch behind the ear or a gentle belly rub.

Baxter wants to be touching me. But, he does not necessarily want me touching him. As I sit here writing this essay, Baxter is curled up next to my outer left left. He just takes what he wants. He does not whine like Chewie. Instead, he asserts himself whenever he requires attention.

Shaggy

We got Shaggy second. He is our middle dog-son. He was fully grown by the time that we adopted him. My son and I met him out front of a Orange Leaf yogurt store. The same rescue shelter, Four Paws, was hosting a dog event there. As soon as we got into the store, my son said, “Mama, he needs to come home with us.”

Shaggy is a mystery to us. What kind of life did he lead before he came to us? Did he suffer? This may sound like a weird thing to ask about a dog. But, Shaggy behaves in ways that make us wonder about his life prior to our home.

Shaggy is a gentleman dog. He waits until you invite him outside. He does not start eating until given permission. The other two will begin running towards a bowl the minute I put it down. But, Shaggy only comes forward when released.

Shaggy has been a bit of a wild card too. He likes to bully the other pups occasionally. He can also be gruff with children. He growls if you pet him too long or you get too close to his face. Still his good qualities outweigh the bad. He wants to be loved but gets scared when he receives attention.

The pack

Over the course of my dog-owning life, I have become incredibly connected to my three pups. I am the person that primarily feeds and walks them. As a result, I have become their alpha. It’s funny, before I owned dogs, I assumed that an alpha met the “strongest” person in a group. But, the truth I have learned is that an alpha is the person or pup that protects and provides for others. I have learned that leadership is about protecting the group’s best interest and providing for all the opportunity to be fed- physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have learned this from dogs.

They have also taught me other things. They have taught me that you cannot give in to pack mentality. You see, the three of them can be big bullies.

The minute I have a snack they become little mafia bosses. They will sit and stare at me in stony silence.

“Feed me.” Growls Shaggy. “How ‘bout you pass me one of them snacks.” Says Chewie. “I don’t want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak.” Says Baxter. He’s a Coppola fan.

But, I must resist the cuteness and Godfather references. I must be the strong one that says. “No, chocolate is bad for you but oh so good for me.”

What value lessons have you learned from pet ownership?

Homemade pasta sauce

I like making food for family and friends. It is a type of nurturing. In a time when everyone feels busy and so many of us rely on fast or frozen food, cooking and sharing a meal with another person feels like a gift.

Most of the time the goal is to get a warm meal ready in 30 minutes or less. However, every once in a while I enjoy dedicating time to a meal. I especially like this because my husband and son get excited about the food that I make for them.

Food that takes time and patience has a special significance to me. It feels like a luxury to devote time to meals. So, on occasion, I make special foods. Recently, I took it upon myself to make a tomato-based sauce.

I was lucky enough to obtain a recipe from a friend (Ann S.) whose sauce I long admired. The recipe is simple, elegant and delicious. And it is the sauce that Ann’s Italian family has made forever. If you are ready to get started, here we go…

A good marinara sauce requires few ingredients and a lots of time. Here is the list of ingredients:

2 Cans of tomato puree

2 Cans of warm water

½ yellow onion

Olive Oil

Fresh basil

Fresh garlic

Dried oregano

Dried Italian seasoning

Kosher salt

I put my fresh garlic and yellow onion through my food processor so that I could get small sized pieces. Then, I placed the garlic & onion mixture in a stock pot and sautéed them in olive oil until they were translucent. I poured two cans of tomato puree and two cans of warm water in the stock pot and added the fresh basil. Then, I added 1 tablespoon of dried oregano and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasonings.

The mixture must cook on medium until it boils. While it is boiling, make certain that you are stirring consistently. Once your sauce has boiled, reduce the heat so that it simmers for two hours. Make certain to stir your sauce every 10-15 minutes. When you are done, your efforts will yield approximately fifteen (15) cups of sauce. Remove the fresh basil from the pot. It is only intended to flavor. Let your sauce cool down properly. Then, I recommend that you freeze some of your sauce for future recipes.

Tomato-based pasta sauce simmering.

Special recommendations

Of course, I do not need to tell you that this sauce can be used anywhere a marinara is needed. However, there are a few things you can do to take recipes to the next level. One thing that my friend does is to drop sausage and peppers into the mix while it is marinating during the two hour simmering process. She removes them from the sauce when it has finished cooking. She then uses them to create incredible sausage sandwiches. I like to use the sauce as a pizza sauce. But, in order to do that I recommend the you finely chop your onions and garlic. This will make a delicious pizza sauce.

What will you add to this recipe?