wrestling with carrots

carrots - before beauty treatment

I volunteer for an organization that is part public/community garden, part harvest market, part nursery, and part educational resource.

I love it there.

In the beginning, all I did was weed. I didn’t mind. It’s quiet, peaceful work that requires patience and persistence, which it turns out I have when it comes to weeding. I’m the same with untying difficult knots. Can’t get your shoes off? Poor thing…come over here and let me take a look at the problem.

Certain activities bring out my perfectionism – without the Type A personality, of course. Uh, why do you still have your shoes on? I didn’t unknot your shoes for fun, you know. Next time, can you take them off before entering my blog? Here are some slippers you can wear (which I will burn immediately after you leave).

A weeder’s job is never done. Ever. I began to think that I would never graduate to doing anything else.

A few weeks ago, another fellow weeder and I were asked to help with some planting. We were so thrilled that our egos ballooned up over our heads.

We made it!! We’re too legit to quit!!

garden

A week later, the garden manager asked me to help harvest the broccoli:

“Get a clipper from the barn – ” He instructed.
My ego starting floating up into the air again. I quickly returned and started to cut some of the heads of broccoli, realizing that some of the stalks were way too thick for the clippers.
“How do I cut some of the bigger stalks? I don’t want to hack at them.” I said to the manager, holding up my narrow clippers.
“Well…first of all, those are wire cutters.”

Ego properly deflated.

I knew how ridiculous the situation was, so I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. He gave me his clippers and went off to get another pair. I put my head down and started working. I also harvested snap peas and then remembered the manager saying they needed carrots, too.

I couldn’t find him, so I asked someone else which carrots to harvest. I hadn’t a clue.

“Look at these tall greens,” She pointed to a large clump of carrot tops. “You could pull the more mature ones.”

Those were some stubborn carrots. I pulled, dug, and wrestled until I had sweat falling into my eyes (and everywhere else). Sometimes I was left with only the tops in my fist. If I had more time, I could have gotten more of them out, but everyone was beginning to leave and I still had to cut the tops and rinse them. As I was doing this, the garden manager showed up with another basket of carrots. He didn’t pick many mature ones – most of them were quite tiny.

Note to self: always find the manager and ask him how he wants things done.

carrots - after

My supervisors are loose and forgiving. They aren’t looking for perfection, which is perfect for an imperfect person who thinks she needs to be perfect. What they’re looking for is willingness, and  I am more than willing to learn and add to my growing base of knowledge (and superpowers). I predict all of this will come in very handy in the future…

 

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dropping the stick

 

Things were going wonky.

a visual example of wonkiness

a visual example of wonkiness

I moved in February of this year.

The duplex I’m in hasn’t worked out.

I couldn’t keep biting on the stick that kept me from complaining about my neighbor (who is also the landlord’s son) and the paper-thin wall we share. Let me amend that: I didn’t complain much on my blog, but my friends heard plenty. (But it was difficult to understand me with a stick embedded between my teeth: “Dat pun ash bish iza poh-smokeen idit.”)

chewing the stick

I didn’t look this cute biting my stick. I slobbered a lot more.

I’m convinced that finding a place to live has a lot to do with timing and pure luck. The search can be intensified by a tight housing market in a very desirable area. Add to that my unwillingness to settle for just any old place.

A planner like me would be sweating bullets if she found herself without a place to live with seven days to go before her move date. Luckily, that sweaty girl has lovely friends who offered to let her housesit and also stay an extra week if she couldn’t find a place by June 30th.

I was feeling – I mean, SweatyGirl was starting to feel a strange mix of panic and calmness. Sometimes things don’t work out in your favor. Life is like that. Take what you’ve learned, pack it in your trunk and carry it away with you, wherever you may go.

ohmm…ohmmm…

On that seven-days-to-go day, SweatyGirl got a response from an ad she had answered days before. She spoke to the property owner of a small cottage in the country. He asked if she wanted to come by and see the place. SweatyGirl hightailed it over there, fell in love and activated all of her superpowers to try and convince the couple to rent their space to her. She left encouraged, yet she knew that several more people were scheduled to look at the place.

Later that evening, the husband called me. (By the way, I’m SweatyGirl.)

“We’re calling people to let them know that the cottage isn’t available.” He said.
“Oh, I see…” heart sinking…
“We canceled the other appointments because we’d like to offer it to you.”
“Reeeealllly??”

#happydance #sweatierthanever #lucktimingsuperpowers

the view out my window

the soon-to-be view out my window

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice turned out to be a color of the sky.
 
~ Tony Hoagland, “A Color of the Sky”

mirror, mirror

I have two mirrors in my 250 sq ft apartment.

The one above my kitchen sink is purely ornamental because it’s placed really high (says the short girl). I can’t see myself at all unless I jump in the air, which gives me one second to see if I look decent enough to go out in public.

note to self: never jump on a first date.

I know what you’re thinking: why am I even trying to see myself in this mirror? Well, now I know what I look like when I jump and that I should never jump on a first date.

The other mirror is the bathroom medicine cabinet. I have no idea how my outfits look from the chest down. I don’t know if I’m wearing high-water pants. I don’t know if I’m wearing pants at all. I could drag a chair into the bathroom to see my middle/lower section, but I’m too lazy to do this.

As a result, I haven’t given much thought to how my body looks. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I can always look down, but this angle is very deceiving. And friends are usually too kind to tell you the truth.

Squirrels, however, have no such problem.

"Hey, wutcha been eatin'? How come ya never invite me over? Want all the food to yourself, do ya?"

“Hey, wutcha been eatin’? How come ya never invite me over? Want all the food to yourself, do ya?”

A friend of mine has lots of them in varying sizes – mirrors, not squirrels – in her house. It’s a little alarming to suddenly be able to see your whole self from room to room. I either have to walk really fast or avoid eye contact with myself so that I don’t stop in front of one of them.

I’ve worked hard to accept the things I don’t particularly like about myself; I prefer not to give my inner critic any chances to chime in. As long as I’m healthy and I exercise regularly, it doesn’t matter how my body is morphing. I like to eat cheese. With wine. And charcuterie. I like dessert. I have a crush on David Chang. I think I’ve shared a little too much.

Really, the only thing I’m concerned about is if I remembered to put pants on before I’ve left the house. You’d be surprised how long it takes to realize you’ve forgotten them, especially if you have other things on your mind, like running into a gang of handsy squirrels.

 

the portland effect

 

IMG_8922

Pine State Biscuits (top left), Cascade Brewing (middle left), breakfast at Pine State (bottom left), Salt & Straw (right)

…medic…medic!!!…postpone cholesterol test…check belly to see if it has morphed into a biscuit…

I just came back from attending a wedding in Portland, OR. Have you ever been? If you have, then you know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the amount and variety of food and drink in the city. It borders on ridiculous. It was the first time I wished I had kept the baggy overalls I used to wear in the ’80s. What? Text you photos of myself in overalls and poodle perm mullet? How dare you!! You are very lucky my belly biscuit prevents me from coming after you.

Fortunately, I was with a group of friends. I tend to eat less when eating family style or doing tasters of beer. That being said, no one helped me eat my biscuit sandwich with fried chicken and gravy. My fangs – which I try to keep on the down low – would have definitely sprung out if anyone tried coming near my plate.

I was super impressed with the creative and artisanal energy of the city. We would be driving in areas where I would think to myself, “Doesn’t seem like there’s much out here…” and then !kapow! a little pocket of interesting restaurants and businesses would suddenly appear.

While my belly was definitely in charge of this trip, my heart was being pulled all the while, knowing how much natural beauty the rest of the state had to offer.

Wait for me, Oregon, I’ll be back for you.

For those who are interested, this is where I went:

Blue Star Donuts
Voodoo Donut (I preferred these over Blue Star, but am willing to do another tasting comparison)
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Pine State Biscuits (twice)
Life of Pie (best mushroom pizza I’ve had in a looong time)
Pok Pok (delicious chicken wings & refreshing drinking vinegars)
Nong’s Khao Man Gai (keepin’ it simple with great chicken & rice)
Rev. Nat’s Cidery & Taproom
Bailey’s Taproom
Hopworks BikeBar
Cascade Brewing Barrel House (twice) (excellent sour beers)
Breakside Brewery
Upright Brewing
Ruby Jewel Ice Cream
Salt & Straw Ice Cream (super friendly & unique flavor combos)
Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery
Food carts (dizzying amount of choices)

the force of nature

This week’s photo challenge is Forces of Nature.

Hurricanes! Snowstorms! Lightning! Me, sneezing! Richard Simmons!

There are so many directions one could go, but I’ll choose to go this way (all of the photos in this post were taken at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood, CA):

the force of fog

I have a soft spot in my heart for fog. I grew up in it. Coastal fog, that is. It’s not as thick and terrifying as CA’s Central Valley Tule fog.

Coastal fog is wistful, gentle, mysterious, and romantic. The kind that Mr. Darcy walks through to get to you – if you’re into that kind of thing, which I’m totally not. If he tried walking through Tule fog, you’d never see him again because it would eat him alive and spit out his bones, spelling out the words “Darcy Sucks” just to get inside your head.

I currently live about an hour from the coast, but that lovely fog finds its way in, rolls around and then generally burns off several hours later. Recently, I went for a hike and the morning started out pretty foggy (see above). Then…

morning dew

Something weird happens when I go hiking. I don’t know when to stop and turn back. I started to climb higher and higher, my badonkadonk getting grumpier and grumpier. But I couldn’t stop. It was the force, ya know? I had to keep going. I had to get there, wherever there was.

Turns out this is where there was:

above the fog

The force of nature, y’all.

Listen to its call.

tree line

Keep close to nature’s heart…
and break clear away,
once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or
spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.
~ John Muir