Sunday, July 22, 2007

To Bugtussle and Back

Today I was thrilled to be invited to the farm where my vegetables are grown. For twenty weeks each year, I get a CSA delivery from Bugtussle Farm, a biodynamic farm about seventy-five miles from Nashville, just across the Kentucky border. And once or twice a year, the farmers - Eric and Cher - invite the families they provide for up for a wildflower tour or a swimming hole party or a farm tour or whatever. The land that they own is amazing. Seriously amazing. Jealousy-inducing amazing. Until I remember that they don't have electricity and then I'm all "Yeah, good luck with that..."

The drive up from Nashville is largely interstate-free, especially after the first ten miles. Then it's two-lane blacktop, through gorgeous countryside and don't-blink towns like Rocky Mound and Frog Pond and Pumpkintown. You also go through some larger ones, like the county seat of Sumner County, Gallatin. I lived outside of Gallatin for a few brief months before going off to college, so it was fun to go through it again and see how little small towns like this change. I was happy to see that the storefront for The Corn Crib was still there, though it's been out of business for over twenty years. I don't know what you bought through that window - popcorn? Roasted corn on the cob? I have no idea, but I've always loved this little narrow storefront.

After Gallatin, there's Westmoreland and then Lafayette ("luh-FAY-et"), where I saw this old theatre. It's not as sad as it looks; it was in the middle of showing Harry Freaking Potter, so there were a thousand cars around and I had to do some careful croppoing to get this Last Picture Show vibe. Then it was just a few more miles to Bugtussle, jsut past the state line. A closed general store and a dog in the road. I couldn't have made it up if I tried. The driveway is a glorious, glorious driveway, the driveway of my dreams: a gravel road that crosses three bridgeless creeks and up and around curves and through glades and wooded valleys.

Then you park and stroll another couple hundred yards and there it is, the house. It's like something out of Dwell, all handmade and tiny with a loft accesible by a tree trunk with wooden pegs jammed into it in a spiral fashion and then an arched bridge from the loft to an even higher loft, which I assume is for their son Ira. As I said, there's no electricity, though I'm sure the wood stove keeps the whole space warm in the winter. they do have a generator of some sort, but I think all it does is power a small refrigerator. It might even be a car battery; I was too crazy with jealousy to take notes or pictures during this part.

There's also an outdoor kitchen, a giant gazebo Eric built (using a chainsaw!) that houses a restaurant-style double sink and a gas stove powered by a big white tank of gas that sits away from the prettiness. It's really beautiful and I'd never leave it. We had a nutty crazy vegan-voodoo -vegetarian lunch with things like raw carrot chewy stuff and uncooked tomato something or other and egg rolls made from soysage and blueberry scones made out of blueberries and, oh, I dunno, sawdust. It was potluck, so I can criticize. I also forgot to bring anything so I should shut right up about that. One interesting thing: there were a lot of children there, belonging to other CSA subscribers, and a lot of them have allergy issues of one sort or another - eggs or wheat or nuts or blah blah and I kept trying to figure it the crazy icky-food diet that makes them this way or are they this way first and this is the diet that works for them? Whatever, the interesting thing was that almost every kid ignored the labored food items (egg rolls, I am looking at you) and just went straight for the just picked tomatoes and watermelon. I know it'll make people leave "au contraire" comments but I think a lot of the allergy stuff is baloney. So the kid pukes. La la la, what kids don't? Anyway.

Then there was swimming in the creek - it was cold in parts and there were fish and crawdads in it so I'm glad Sister Meg didn't come because that would have been the end of that. It was funny to watch the parents who were so cuh-razy about their kids even saying the word "egg" in case they broke out in hives just let their babies float around this creek.

Then the farm tour: a long stroll through the garden where my vegetables come from and I'm glad I've seen it. Eric and Cher provide food for I think 70 families and it all comes from such an amazing small space. Then up to the top of the hill to see the livestock.

The chicken coop was amazing and also the cleanest chicken coop I've ever seen - it's on plastic gliders and Eric hooks the laying house and the sleeping house up to the tractor and drags them to a new spot in the pasture every day. The chickens love this; the movement of the structure stirs up the bugs so all the chickens crowd around while he's moving it. He also moves the livestock paddock every day so that the grass stays healthy and the animals get fresh pasture every day. When he starts to move the fence, all the cows and sheep line up to go through the narrow passage and it's funny, when they get on the other side, you can almost hear them saying I TOLD YOU IT WAS GREENER OVER HERE! They jump around and act crazy. I meant to select the lamb I want for the upcoming butchering but I forgot. Oh well, they all looked delicious.

Then back down the hill and a drowsy hour and a half home. A lovely day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dear Diner

First off, I am not a tipped employee, so this won't be some rant about how cheap you are, though let's face it: you are cheap. I work for a (shockingly low) wage one night a week as a host at an "upscale casual" restaurant. As far as I can tell, "upscale casual" means "better than an Applebee's but still not adventurous enough to scare your elderly parents." Plus, Caesar salad.

Lately, there have been some egregious crimes committed at the many that I wonder if perhaps some book has been issued to the diners of America, a book perhaps called How to Look Like in Amateur Diner in Three Steps or Less. So let's correct this behavior now, before it gets out of hand and I have to contact the police regarding your behavior. Feel free to print this handy list out; I recommend lamination.

1. If it is Friday night at 7 o'clock, do not call to make a reservation for Saturday night. I am already busy and harried and two glasses of wine into my shift. I do not care that you forgot to make a reservation earlier in the week for you and your eight - oh wait, maybe seven or no, perhaps fourteen - friends. Wait until tomorrow.

2. If you must bring your children - and really, I don't get why you must; this is what lockable closets are for - do not make a reservation for "four and a half. Hee hee." Unless you actually have half of a child, like in a jar or something, the child will need a chair of some sort or another. So five. But if you do have that jarred thing, by all means bring it in; I'd like to see that.

3. Congratulations on your birthday. Seriously. I'm as shocked as you are that someone hasn't shot you yet. But don't ask me to give you something for free just because you haven't died yet. A lot of us haven't died but we're not running around demanding a free creme brulee. And really, if you want free cake, just go to Chuck E. Cheese and put up with that animatronic bear; it's totally worth it, especially if you're a little tipsy.

4. If you are making a reservation at a restaurant famous for its "view," well, you are obviously an idiot. If you'd like to sightsee, by all means get on a bus and loop around the city dozens and dozens of times. If you'd like to dine, please join us. And don't call five times to reiterate your need for a view. I will seat you by the restrooms and you will say "I asked for a view" and I will reply "yes dear, but you didn't say of what." And I will walk off. Host: 01. You: 00.

5. I do apologize that your table isn't ready when you have arrived fifteen minutes early. But I only apologize once, so don't bring it up it again. Or you will be seated next to those non-specific view-requesters I just put by the bathrooms.

6. On a related note, if your reservation is for 7:00, do not show up at 7:00 and say "we'll have a drink at the bar first" and then sit at the bar for an hour. I will not hold your table and in fact, I will go out of my way to give it away and then at 8:00 when you have finished drinking your Jack and coke, I will seat you, yes, near the non-specific view-requesters near the restrooms. Or the half-baby in a jar.

7. If you are an old person, congratulations. You made it this far! I think you can make it up the three more steps to the platform seating. Consider it a challenge.

8. If you have a reservation for an early hour, do not come in and peer at the half-empty dining room and say "good thing we called! Hardy har har!" because I am privy to information you are not and I will seat the party of fifteen screaming margarita-drinking Red Hat Society ladies due in ten minutes next to you so fast your head will spin.

9. I'm sorry that you are lost. Really, I am. But we have specific directions on the website - and a printable map! - so if you call me and say "I'm facing the city and it's on my right" I am going to laugh at you silently and also I am going to send you the wrong way just for fun. Make sure you take in the view while you sightsee, because you'll be back by the bathrooms.

10. I know it's loud in here. Yes, we are working on it. One idea we have is that if everyone complaining about the noise level would just shut the fuck up, it'd be ever so much quieter. How's that plan work for you?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Scooter Powers, Activate!

After a long long winter and a short short spring, summer is here. And you know what THAT means! Scooter time! After my contractor knocked my scooter over in the basement, I had a devil of a time getting her started. She has a little auto-start feature but I couldn't get that to work. After consulting the manual - which makes IKEA bookshelf-assembly instructions look like the Encyclopedia Brittanica (seriously, the translated Chinese instructions say to "poke the metal stick with a feet," which I finally deciphered as "kick-start.") - I did finally get Dolores started yesterday. Yes, that's her name, Dolores. Dolores. What's the problem with that? And I duct-taped her little broken mirror back on, which is why her name is Dolores. As in "sad." Dolorous.

So today and yesterday I rode her all over Creation, and I did it at thirty-miles an hour, suckas! I rode Dolores to a party! I rode Dolores to the new ice cream shop, Pied Piper Creamery that only makes homemade ice cream (I had toasted coconut and roasted pecan ice cream, if you must know)...they even have a used book trade program. I rode her to the new coffee shop, Sip. I rode her to the vegetarian roach coach and had a Tuscan Wrap. I rode her to the grocery store and to the liquor store (under the seat there is enough room for one bag of groceries and two bottles of wine; I've tested). And I did a full-day's work! Three hours!

Lemme tell you - if you are shy or don't have your hair done the way you like it, don't get a scooter. People will TALK TO YOU. And they ask questions. How many ccs does it have? Does it have blah blah blah torque? Does it get good gas mileage? I have no clue; do I look like The Fonz? No! I do NOT look like The Fonz! I look CUTE on it! Cute cute cute. HOT even. And I get waves from other motorcyclists, yes I do. They give me the down wave, that's what I call it, where they point out at the ground to their side. Wait! Perhaps they are not waving. They are pointing to the place on the pavement where I am about to have a wreck. Oh well, รง'est la vie! Or as they say in France, "Aaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy..."