January 31, 2015

Will Work for Food

It was another busy week at work, as usual--as a matter of fact, the last couple of weeks have been the most stressful since I've started. Working closely with foster kids is enough to get anyone worked up--the more invested in their cases you become, the more your blood boils when you begin to really think about what these little guys have gone through (and often what they're still going through). Point being, I needed a good weekend--but somehow my two closest Fayette-friends coincidentally had weekend-long plans, which rarely happens. At first, I began to think about how I should maybe make more friends; I'm certainly the few close buddies type o' gal. But I had to remind myself it's healthy to have a significant period of solitude every now and again, a sabbatical from socializing if you will. So after catching a happy hour brew (a Hoopty Porter alongside savory beer cheese queso) with one of said friends before they were off Friday afternoon, this is precisely what I did.

I hated cleaning when I was younger--no, hate is too mild of a word. I would've rather shaved off my own skin bit by bit than pick up my messy room as a child (and most people would guess that's still how I am with my car, but as I tell my kiddos, my car is my office). To be honest, if it's something that needs to be cleaned, I still despise it--but I've found that it's an excellent, productive activity to be mindless with after a long week of work. So this is what I did Friday evening, boring as it sounds--granted, it may or may not have been due to my dog getting trapped in my housemate's room, and trying to claw through the door (and the window--he's a smart cookie).

Since I was so good, I decided I should have a treat myself day next.
This morning, I took myself to see the early bird of The Imitation Game ($4.16, can you believe it?). Nothing like trading out your morning coffee for a couple of dapper British gentlemen. The film was good, too. In all seriousness, though, if it weren't for the genius Mr. Turing, you wouldn't be reading these words now. I used to make fun of my mother for crying at films, but I won't deny that even I teared up near the end when--well, I won't spoil it for you. At least it wasn't anything like 12 Years a Slave. I'm fairly certain Hans Zimmer turned me into Pavlov's dog himself, starting the waterfall with each start-up of the violin before anything had actually happened onscreen.
Alan Turing (June 23, 1912 - June 7, 1954)
And after this gay man saved the world and was thanked inappropriately, I was famished. An acquaintance introduced me to the "banh mi spot" a few months ago and I haven't been able to get Pho Quyen out of my head since. I like to start off, as taught, with their housemade peanut sauce (okay, okay, and I go ahead and dip the shrimp & pork spring rolls in it, too) and some Thai tea. I'm used to splitting said spring rolls with a friend, but today, they were all mine--and thankfully, the french baguettes are non-American proportions, because after my shredded pork, pickled veggies, and crisp bread doused in fish sauce, I was about to burst right out of yesterdays outfit (no shame, here). The owner is the sweetest man as well, although you could tell he wasn't used to little ladies dining in alone. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back for some dinner pho I didn't have room for (which reminds me of the pho I made once that tasted something like a candle)... Maybe next time I'll just stick to this recipe.

Next, I knew I needed to hurry up and start a few of my seeds out of my Bakers Creek haul that had swiftly arrived this week. After you spend over $50 in non-Monsanto heirloom seeds, you can't be too lazy. Luckily I have this website to help strengthen my novice gardening skills--I haven't done much gardening since I was maybe 9, and even then it usually consisted only of picking and snapping beans. Only time will tell if I've inherited my mother's black thumb or my grandmother's green thumb. I might have to get some help from the folks in my "backyard" at Tri-Cycle Farms, or perhaps my old roommate down the road in FoodCorps Arkansas.

I was slightly disappointed to learn our local Farmer's Co-op down the street closed seven minutes before I arrived, so I moseyed on down to Lowe's to pick up my first basic gardening tools (where on the way out, a lady behind me laughed at her husband, commenting "that little girl's going off to work!"), and off to work I went. I may have stopped in my tracks when I realized just how much work there was to do, and a certain German shepherd that desperately needed to squeeze in a little fetch (notice the state of the tennis ball--that's how they each become after the first few minutes of life). The longer and harder I worked at weeding out the previous owners' plants (and gumballs--I can't tell you how many I found, multiplying like evil little rabbits), hoein' up the soil--the longer and harder I thought about how maybe renting a pricey tiller would be worth it (and also how great this is going to be for my chicken limbs). 

Thankfully, my neighbor's granddaughter came over to save me before my arms gave out. Sadly, I've been too busy with work and school to have much to do with my amazing neighbors lately, but today was the perfect day to fix that. When I first moved in, I somehow became the Mr. Sweeney of the 'hood (technically, I didn't actually watch much Boy Meets World growing up--a sin for my generation, I know--but it's what I would assume being a Mr. Sweeney would entail). The kids flock to me like magnets (it's as if they know what I do for a living!), and they've taught me that when you purchase a home, there's a lot more than square footage there. These young girls have some of their favorite memories from the property, long before I ever noticed my Sunshine House. They tell me stories of how, owners ago, they would come over (perhaps when :) their families needed a break) and have some of their favorite snacks--carrots and milk, or "yum" (some strange mixture of PB, honey, and drops of peppermint--I'll have to have them teach me how to make it one day). Even their parents have told me how our cul-de-sac actually received its name from a postcard found in the walls of my house! I love how stories like that manage to stick around; I'm sure that kind of information isn't something I could simply Google...well, I suppose it's out there now! Anyways, I just wanted a chance to brag about my neighbors anyways. They're the kind of people to bring you eggs from their chickens or maybe invite you over to split of bottle of red wine (speaking of which, brainstorming Saturday night plans...). 

Back on track, the little pink sweatsuited-upper-elementary student grew bored of throwing the muddy tennis ball scrap for Kafka and invited to show me around Tri-Cycle Farms, where her grandmother works and where I had surprisingly yet to check out. Naturally, I said yes. But what I didn't expect was how knowledgeable she was about gardening! Every other sentence, she taught me how to lay down cardboard for mulch pathways and, better yet, how to spot the purply weeds of wild onions, one of her other favorite snacks to rip from the dirt and toss straight into her mouth. 

I was brave enough to try them upon mild peer pressure/reassurance. I had a bad experience when I was her age of my best friend/next door neighbor's older brother tricking me into eating what I thought was a banana pepper. Let's just say I wasn't impressed by his or his younger sister's laughter, but I bet they were impressed by my wincing expression the second before spitting the mouthful out. And I wonder why trust issues occasionally still pop up...

Our fingers grimy and a certain grandmother calling her name, we parted ways and here I am now. So far, a delightfully solo (or not so solo?) weekend--can't wait to see what the rest brings. In the meantime, a certain dog is letting me know he really wants his supper, and I'm thinking of delving into one of Netflix's finer suggestions...until next time. 

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