Monday, October 29, 2012

Unexpected Time

The phone rang yesterday morning when I was about halfway through my bowl of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios (yes, rather plebian, I know, but a comfort-food throwback to breakfasts at my grandparents' house) topped with thawed peaches, chia seeds and cocao nibs). It was Lynn from The Farm, telling me she didn't think they were going to be particularly busy and they wouldn't need my help.

An unexpected Day Off! How glorious a prospect! I immediately changed into yoga clothes and planned to leave the house by 0920 to walk up the street to Joe's. In the interim coupla hours, I did some laundry, cleaned the litter box, folded clothes, and generally puttered around the house. After yoga, I admit I mostly squandered my day, lounging on the couch, reading a book, watching football and then some backlogged tv shows.

Oh, and cooking. Apparently, I cook when I have downtime...who'da thunk. It started with mac&cheese, polluted with chicken sausage and one of the last garden tomatoes from the summer. Followed by brownies with pecans. Followed by a melange-mess of a stew...sweet potato, onion, barley, poblano pepper, more of the chicken sausage, veggie stock, lentils, worchestershire sauce and a bottle of pilsner that had been lingering in my fridge for umm, longer than I can remember. Most of the stew has already been transferred to the freezer, back up meals for when I get home after a twelve or fourteen hour day. But the leftover mac&cheese joined the leftover quiche (bacon, spinach and feta...from when the freezer came unplugged a coupla months ago), salad fixings, apples, cheese, mole accoutrements, chestnuts and smoothie-makings in the already full refrigerator.

Speaking of smoothies, the subject of them came up during the office fun-run this Thursday. The XO finally took the opportunity to query me on just what was in them. I rattled off the list: frozen pineapple, peaches, strawberries or whatever else happened to be on hand, lately Swiss chard, but sometimes kale and/or avocado, oatmeal, fresh ginger, sometimes spirulina (a green algae superfood) and/or beets (though the combo of the deep green spirulina and bright red beets does mix into a disturbingly unappetizing purple-brown, somewhat reminiscent of radioactive pond-scum), tumeric, cayenne, chia seeds and cocoa nibs, yogurt and juice. I think I lost his interest soon after "frozen fruit." But the smoothies do pique interest in the office, and I have a standing request from a couple of folks who want to try them. Will take in samples shortly.

The brownies are wrapped up, still on the counter, singing their siren song to me. I don't know that they'll last through the day.

I made some preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy yesterday also. Like putting odds and ends from the yard away, bringing the outdoor trash cans into the laundry room, bringing in some extra kindling (shoulda brought in more firewood than I did...how cozy would a nice cheery fire be to ward off the skittery feeling of the impending storm), plugging in the rechargeable lantern and finding extra flashlights, filling a couple of largish containers with water...just in case. I rode the fence for a while about going to the grocery store, but finally leveraged my lazy ass off the couch with the thought of just how aggravatedpissedannoyedfrustrated I'd be with myself if I ended up not having to go into work but not having any milk for my tea.

And this morning, I made apple-walnut pancakes.

The funny-ironic thing about all this food is that it's not really the type of food that is fit to share with other people. It's good enough for me, because when it gets down to it, I'll eat damn near anything I make as long as I'm hungry enough. But I have sufficient sensibility to realize pond-scum smoothies and melange stew do not appeal to most anyone else. I am gonna make some cranberry-apple bread pudding to take into the office when the storm is over though.

But now I'm rather at odds. What happened to all those things I've always said I'd do when "I got the time?" I've got the time now, and I can't remember a single darn one of them. I think this is actually one of my greatest fears...to become so involved in my work, regardless of whether it's due to demanding hours, long deployments, or inescapable responsibility, that I lose the rest of myself...my interests, my abilities, my sense of fun.

Now, granted, the circumstances of today (unknown amount of downtime, **crappy** weather conditions outside) limit my ability or desire to pursue a lot of what I like to do...The Old Man would probably permanently *revolt!* if I tried going for a ride today, and the garden/yard is a soggy mess that tampering with in these conditions would only make worse. Where are my inside interests though?

I've got bookshelves full of books to read (am saving them for when the power inevitably goes out and I don't have internet access anymore). I could clean house...hahaha -- well, I typed it with a straight face, anyway. Why isn't my loom set up? Oh yeah, no space and weaving definitely takes more of a time commitment, what with planning, set up and finishing, than I will have for at least a decade. Should I pick up knitting or crocheting? The Rocket Scientist recommended remote control boats.

I know...I'll practice writing, ya know, for when I start to write a book as so many people tell me I should. And plan homemade Christmas presents like when I was a poor college student. And, idk, just *wallow* in not having anything to do!

Stay safe, everyone!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Sixth October

Ahem. Yes, I know it's been six weeks since my last post (or is it seven weeks?). Yes, I know I'm an absolute slacker. My litany of excuses includes: OMB roll-out, the Rocket Scientist's safe return from Afghanistan, a brief spate of fomenting minor revolution, a two-week motorcycle vacation in Florida, a backlog of household chores, and volunteering at Larriland Farm for their October weekend madness. And it's not that I haven't been thinking about writing, but I'm definitely feeling the difficulty of being limited in what I can talk about with regards to my job, and, well, a self-imposed limitation about sharing tmi about my personal relationships.

I know I've procrastinated too long when I get a text from FR, "Hey I think you are due for a blog post!" Nothing like getting tasking from an ex-XO...(his comment when I shared that thought with him, "Payback"...tee hee).

So here I am, mid-way through a quiet Sunday afternoon, with a cheery fire in the fireplace (just because I can and there's just a hint of a chill in the house), with the football game keeping me company, finally sitting down to get some of this noise out of my head.

And disappointingly, I'm going to start with a whine session. (No, I don't want any cheese with that whine...the cheesy post is going to be the one I write about the vacation -- two weeks on a motorcycle with my boyfriend cruising through southern Florida -- yes, it was all that. Definitely going to be sappy). But my job is hard. And kinda sucks. The hours are long, the problems difficult, the budget environment is...umm, challenging?, programs are in various states of acceptance, and the stakes are high.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like a challenge. And I don't need my hand held, or constant pats on the back or  atta-boys or public recognition of  how hard I work. But a win for the good guys, every now and again goes a *long* way to making a difficult situation more tenable. Instead, it's been contentious arguments, obstructionist behavior, obdurate attitudes, and even sometimes, unproductive castigations about insufficient contributions.

I'm a little embarrassed about that last one, because that was me. I could have handled the situation much better, but I was *FRUSTRATED!* I didn't say anything that wasn't true; there was just no way that what I said was a positive and supportive addition to the discussion. Especially since I couldn't bring myself to apologize for it. The best I could manage was to acknowledge how unproductive my comment was to accomplishing the goals of the meeting. Unfortunately, it put the receiving individual on the defensive to the point where s/he won't deal with me directly anymore, deliberately removing me from email replies. Dang.

Oh, and I said it in a public forum, with an audience of about half a dozen other people, so there's really no way to allow the recipient to gracefully recover. Double dang.

So yeah, I'm feeling a little beat up. Or maybe beat down. I can't decide.

But after working 60 hours a week in the office, I've been going to the farm one weekend day to help out with their October weekend festivities. Add another nine hours of demanding labor to my work week. I've been wondering why, oh why, I chose to spend my precious weekend hours busting my ass, being polite and helpful to customers, manhandling pumpkins, wrangling bushels of apples, dead-lifting gallons upon gallons of cider, herding teenagers in the packing area and making endless rounds to gather up abandoned baskets and carts.

The Farm has changed a little bit since I first started working there in 1987. I was a puny 14 year-old, at my first job; kinda shy, not much self-confidence, no idea of what work ethic was, nervous, wanting to do a good job, but not sure what all that entailed. Huh, 25 years ago...over the span of four decades (the 80s, 90s, 2000s and 20-teens). I counted it up, and I think this is my sixth October working weekends on the Farm.

My memories of the first few Octobers are covered in powdered sugar. From head to toe. In my hair, in my ears, up my nose. I spent 10 hours in the apple fritter booth, usually both Saturday and Sunday (that's back when The Farm ran the booth internally...somewhere along the way, they got smart and outsourced it to a local church group (?)/non-profit). I was the front-Girl...taking orders and payment, and putting the finishing touch of a dusting of powdered sugar on the fritters hot from the deep fryer. One day it was windy, and I ended the day looking like a ghost. I had more sugar on me than I think got on the fritters. I can eat fritters again now, 25 years later. But the smell of them still takes me back to those first few weekends.

I really enjoy going back to The Farm. Maybe it's an attempt to hold onto my younger days. I can't be old if I can still lift two half-bushels of apples at the same time (I've always been too short to try for three at a time). But, in particular these days, I think I enjoy it because I can contribute to the good guys winning without much effort on my part. I can walk into the market, back into the packing area and pack a peck of apples without thinking about it, look at the display tables and know what needs to be done next, jump onto a register and help whittle down the long lines, back up the clerks by bagging two lines at a time, answer endless questions from customers with a smile on my face. It's all stuff that I did so long ago and for long enough that it is fairly well ingrained in me. I can be good at it without trying too hard. And in these days, when I need the good guys to win one every so often, going to The Farm restores me a little.

It didn't hurt that the ride home was right at sunset, through the rural area of Montgomery County. The golden pink rays of the sun soaked into all the fall colors of the leaves changing, and just *lit up* the countryside. There were some solitary trees that were in full glory that were unbelievable...it seemed like all the goodness of the day was shining out through those brilliant shades.