My Journey to Vegetables

If you’ve been to my blog before, you’ve probably read about my CSA boxes of vegetables.  Well, today I’m going to tell you about my long trip to attain this much sought after box of vegetables. 

The pick-up for my veggies is on Thursday, between 4:15 and 5:15.  Yes, you read correctly.  I have exactly one hour to pick my vegetables up.  Usually I can make this happen because my jobs are so flexible.  But sometimes, I don’t want to turn down a good day’s work just so I can pick them up.  Such was the case in this instance.  I had to work all day on Thursday, morning and night. 

In the past, I had a friend who was in the same CSA group, so I could just have her pick up mine as well with very little inconvenience to her.  However, now I am doing a winter CSA with a different farm as the other one ended, and she chose not to participate.  So, it’s all me.  When considering my options for what to do, I thought about asking a friend to go get them for me.  I have a couple who live not too far from the pick-up location.  However, the time window is so small…with my summer CSA, I had 3 hours.  I hate to make anyone who is just getting off of work drive extra during rush hour, possibly having to hurry in order to get there before the pick-up ends.  Besides, the two friends who live closest and I feel comfortable asking are the two friends that I somehow always end up asking favors of.  Although I’m sure they would not want me to feel this way, I feel like I am favored out.  And so, I opted to contact the farm and ask if I could do some sort of alternate pick-up arrnangement rather than chance inconveniencing a friend.

The lady from the farm said they had a pick-up today (which was Tuesday) in ________, TN or I could just come to the farm and pick it up there.  After I told her where I lived, she said the farm was probably closer and so she commenced with directions. 

I knew it wasn’t close, but when I got off the phone and did my yahoo map search (mapquest is consistently incorrect), I discovered that this was going to take me [approximately] 1 hr. and 21 minutes.  Hmmm.  Not really what I wanted to do with my day off – spend 3 hours (round trip) picking up vegetables, you know.  However, I had already arranged it, and they were doing me a favor by offering the option and I hated to call back and change what I had just set up.  I resigned myself to it, and upon realizing I was going to be driving on the Natchez Trace (official scenic drive, no trucks allowed, mostly 40 mph speed limit) for 30 miles, I decided I would just enjoy it like I was purposefully taking a scenic drive. 

I drove and drove through the hillside, and finally was somewhere around one mile from the farm, according to what I understood of the directions, anyway, when I received a phone call.  From the farm lady.  There was a problem with my box.  It got sent with her husband to __________, TN by mistake.  Oops!

At this point, I not only have to go further than the farm would have initially been anyway, but I have gone about 30 miles out of the way.  I wasn’t mad…I mean, I caused the confusion by changing the routine up in the first place.  That’s what I get for being difficult.  And attempting to be self-sufficient. 

And so, the directions commence again.  Farm lady’s directions the first time were sketchy.  For example: “Go to _________, TN and take Hwy ______.” ____________, TN was a town to which I have never been.  And also, “Take every possible right after that turn until you see a big red barn.”  Does this include driveways?  I was confused already and I hadn’t even started driving.  Hence, the reason I went to yahoo maps.  Only now I am [approximately] 1 hour and 21 minutes from my house.  No yahoo maps here. 

I listen to farm lady’s new directions.  Follow this road until you turn right on nameless highway.  When you get into ___________, TN, turn right on the “main road”.  When you get to the street “where you would turn left if you were going to the square,” [Oh, the square in said town where I have never been!] turn right instead.  Then, of course, there is the obligatory church where you turn.  This is understood in the South.  All directions must include turning somewhere at some church.  I’m pretty sure it’s a rule.  It might even be in the Bible.

I have been pretty hard on farm lady.  I say this because, amazingly, I had absolutely no trouble whatsoever finding the pick-up location in __________, TN.  Thanks, farm lady.  I’m sorry I doubted you. 

I also should tell you that by this point, I have been driving for about 2 hours and I have REALLY got to pee.  So, I’m thinking I’m going to run up the the vehicle, get my veggies and then go to the nearest store that looks like it might have a bathroom.  I turn in to the parking lot, and see my farm guy.  And then I see the news camera.  And the reporter.  They’re in the middle of an interview with him.  I pull in and watch the interview taking place in my rearview mirror.  Besides the fact that it seemed rude to run up in the middle of their interview with the camera rolling, I spent the first part of my day staining the unfinished wood trim in my bathroom.  And I looked like I spent the first part of my day staining the unfinished wood trim in my bathroom.  And I possibly looked like I had spent every day of my life staining the unfinished wood trim in my bathroom.  It wasn’t pretty.  There was no way I was going to risk appearing on any newscast anywhere. 

I waited.  And waited.  And waited. 

Oh, all right, it was only 10 minutes.  But have you ever had to watch a farmer get interviewed when you had to pee super-bad and you just thought you were going to get to pee within the next 5 minutes? 

I didn’t think so.  Moving on…

That’s really about the end of the saga.  Without further incident, I picked up my vegetables, went to a gas station which turned out to have working restrooms although both restroom doors had “Out of Order” signs on them, and “bought” my restroom visit with a bag of chips.  (Am I the only person who feels it necessary to do this?  I can’t just go in to use the restroom; I feel like I am taking advantage.  So, I ‘buy’ my bathroom trips by purchasing something cheap that I really do not want.) 

Picking up my vegetables turned out to be a four hour venture.  I don’t think that I would have said to myself, “Self, I think it’s the best idea in the world for you to spend four hours of your day picking up your vegetables.”  But then you would not have gotten to read my lovely story.  And I wouldn’t have gotten to take a nice drive in the country.  And I wouldn’t have learned to trust farm lady.  Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t have gotten my vegetables. 

That said, to the friends of whom I spoke when I said I felt like I was favored out, expect a phone call next time I cannot make it to pick up my vegetables, favored out or not.  Hey, you can always say no, right?


Trees are Green – and Brown?

My meaningful epiphany for the week is this:

Trees are not brown.

I do have a disclaimer and that is that SOME trees are brown.  Maybe in some areas of the world, even MOST of the trees are brown.  This is not, however, the case in any place I have ever lived.  Take a look around you today while you are outside, while you’re driving or whatever.  Trees are GREY. 

If I took a box of crayons outside with me and had to match which one was closest to the color of the tree trunk, it would be grey – hands down, at least 90% of the time in my neck of the woods.  Can anyone tell me where this very serious lie originated?  😉  And how we managed to brainwash everyone in America into drawing all of their trees with brown trunks? 

I am 30 years old, and just realized it wasn’t true.  I did a painting last week with a brown tree in it.  Aaargh.  My painting is a lie!

I did an experiment to see how far the brainwashing went.  I asked a guy I was working with what color trees were (while we were outside).  He looked at me kind of weird and said, “Green.”  I said, “And?”  He said, “Brown.”  (Remember we are outdoors where he has a forest right in front of him.)  I said, “OK.  Look at the trees.  What color are they?”  He looked straight at them and said, “Green and brown.”  I said, “Are you sure?”  He looked at them some more, hesitated and then said, “Well, I guess the trunks are really kind of grey-ish.” 

It took me asking him three times, and making him doubt his answer before he noted the truth. 

Point: Think for yourself.  Even things we believe to be obvious can be lies (or at least only partial truths).

I could expound, but you can see exactly where I would go with that.  Besides it’s 4:35 AM, and I’m not really certain I could do it justice.  Your homework is to consider the implications for yourself. 

P.S. I am officially an insomniac.  Well, officially may be a stretch.  Nobody gave me a certificate or anything.  I just figure if I’m up writing about what color trees are and eating eggs and drinking coffee at 4:30 in the morning because I can’t sleep, it’s a pretty good indicator.  So, if my concern about being lied to about the color of trees seems disproportionately dramatic, please attribute it to the fact that I went to bed at 10:30, woke up at 12:30, and have not gone back to sleep.  Yay!

Things That Fly In Your Face

I like things that fly in my face.  With exception of things such as mosquitos.  But every time I drive my car during the Fall when the leaves are all on their way down, and all the colors are fluttering at your windshield, it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  It does the same thing in the Winter when it is snowing.  I don’t know why.  Honestly, it kind of reminds me of watching Star Wars when I was a kid.  You know, the opening credits?  Where the words are coming at you?  Or Star Trek when they go into warp speed.  Yes, I watched Star Trek. 

Anyway, I just like it.  Thought I would let y’all know. 

Going OUT the Door

I just moved into a house with a cat door.  This was a big bonus for me, because my cat is indoor/outdoor with no litter box inside.  This means I have to let him in and out frequently…and consistently around 5 or so in the morning.  Well, we’ve had the cat door for 2 1/2 weeks, and we are still adjusting.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think there is something I am supposed to learn from this. 

From the time I moved in, I have ONLY let my cat in and out the cat door (except for the times he slipped by me and I didn’t notice).  If he wanted out, I shoved him through the cat door.  If he wanted in, I went outside, and shoved him back through the cat door.  After a few days, I thought he had it down pretty good.  Well, at least he seemed to have coming IN down pretty good.  Going out is still a battle, and this is what I am writing about.  He definitely knows what the door is for.  And now when he obviously needs to go out, I don’t shove him through the cat door anymore.  I just make him stand in front of it until he goes out by himself.  Which he does.  Eventually.  After he stares at it and sniffs at it and paws at it for a few minutes.  Now, he MUST go out it when I am not here because I actually went out of town last weekend and left him here, just hoping he would use the door, and when I came back there were no accidents around anywhere.  However, I have never seen him use it when I am home without a) yowling at me for an hour (or more), me ignoring it, and him finally giving up and very tentatively going out or b) me making him stand in front of it as I mentioned above because I get tired of listening to the yowling.  I will say that we keep having some understandable setbacks.  I moved out into the country.  There are things a city cat is not used to.  The day they came to bury the phone line, with much digging right next to the house, was probably the worst day of my cat’s life (or you would have thought so by his sheer terror).  And the turkeys are pretty horrific.  I mean, if you didn’t know there were birds twice your size and you saw 6 of them coming at you, wouldn’t you run back in your little cat hole? 

Anyway, I thought, initially, that my cat would love having his own door.  Oh, the freedom!  (For both of us!)  But he seems to think that going out this door is some sort of punishment or chore that I am making him do.  He has not grasped that he can come and go at will.  However, if I push the cat door open, he will walk through it.  It’s like because I am there when he wants to go out, he thinks I am just supposed to do all of the work for him, but when he is outside and I am not outside, he knows to do it all himself.

Thing to learn #1:  Just because something is routine does not mean it is necessarily the best way to do things.  Leo and I had a routine.  That routine has changed.  The change, if Leo lets it be, is for his benefit.  But he doesn’t like it because it is change. 

Thing to learn #2:  Sometimes we are supposed to do things for ourselves.  Sometimes God provides a door, but He really does want US to push it open and go through ourselves.  He gives us the freedom to choose, but instead of seeing the freedom, we see the work we must do in order to accomplish it.  Freedom comes with responsibility.  There is no freedom to come and/or go as you please without determining if coming and/or going is a good idea.  The nature of freedom is that YOU are the one making the decisions, which requires action, thought and foresight on your own part.  Freedom is not the easy road where someone else does everything for you.  I am not saying that God tells us to call our own shots in every situation.  Just saying that sometimes He does.  Because sometimes what we need, in order to discover what is good for us, is to make the decisions and follow through ourselves.  God is not being mean when He makes you do things for yourself.  He is saying, “Look!  Look what I have enabled you to do!”  It is taking a step forward in our spiritual maturity when God slowly gives us more and more responsibility and takes away the safety nets we have grown comfortable in.

Thing to learn #3:  Sometimes the thing God provides the door to is scary.  Sometimes it takes us out of our protective shelter and sends us into things that are unknown and frightening.  I think possibly that this is part of the reason He wants us to make our own decision to go through the door.  He wants us to come to a level of understanding where we can recognize that scary things are not necessarily bad things.  Unknown things are not necessarily bad things.  For instance, I know that the turkeys are probably not going to hurt my cat.  I mean, I guess if they got into a fight, I don’t know that he would win, but the likelihood of him getting into a fight with some turkeys is pretty slim, right?  He does not know this.  He just sees unknown creatures that are big enough to be a threat.  There are a lot of things out there that might look scary to us until we understand what they are…and Who is behind us.  Meaning God.  He’s got our back.  He doesn’t send us out a door unprotected or unready.  If we walk through a door unprepared, that is because we picked the door ourselves.  This does not mean that life will be peachy outside the door.  Just that whatever the thing is that He is sending us out the door to accomplish will be worth whatever risk we are taking by going out it.  And I warrant that going out the door will come to be enjoyable and rewarding, whatever the risks, once we let go of whatever it is out there that we fear. 

I feel like there are more things to learn from this, but I have to ponder a bit and it is time for me to get ready for church.  Ciao.

How Bad Things Can Be Good

Well, I am moved.  I have been moved for 2 weeks, but it does not quite seem like it.  I didn’t have internet for the first week and a half, and I’ve been playing catch-up otherwise.  I am somewhat calmed down from my frenzy, although I still have tons of things I want to do.  My place is unpacked and settled if not quite how I envision it when I finish all of my projects.

There were several things that happened around the move that reminded me that even things that get on your nerves can be positive sometimes.  To put it God’s way, “All things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  That is something that is easy to forget when things happen that are frustrating or annoying or not how you planned or due to someone else’s mistakes. 

Situation 1:  I work for a caterer, you know.  And at this job, I do almost all of the office work, some serving at events, a smattering of food preparation, and if there are no males around, anything you would get the “guy” to do, i.e. taking out the trash, breaking down the boxes, climbing the ladders, carrying the heavy things.  I don’t mind doing this stuff when I’m there.  However, it can be a point of contention for me when it comes to the boxes.  These are not like packing boxes – they are boxes made to transport fruit and stapled and folded and doubled, etc.  They’re tough boxes.  No one else wants to break them down.  So, for a while there, I would come to work after not being there for a few days and there would be stacks of un-broken down boxes all waiting for me.  Doing it when I’m there is one thing.  Having stacks of boxes that will not be taken by the trash pick-up left outside getting gross for me to breakdown when I get there is another thing.  It started getting on my nerves.  I mentioned it to my boss.  You know, that it would be good if someone else would break down the boxes when I am not there.  She mentioned it to the other girls, and it has drastically improved, but there are still the days where I come in to random un-broken down boxes lying around.  The day before I moved I worked for my caterer, and this is what I found.  Only this time, I had run out of packing boxes when I only had a few small things (read, difficult to carry individually) to pack.  There were just enough un-broken down boxes at my caterer’s to fit all of those little odds and ends I needed to pack.  And so, what usually gets on my nerves was, that day, exactly the thing that I needed. 

This next thing actually involves something that is annoying to someone else and not me, because it involves their things and not mine.  It counts, though, as an example for what I am talking about.  The day of the move, we used my boyfriend’s band bus, my caterer’s van and various friend’s cars.  The fun part was that the power steering went out on the band bus the night before on the way back from their band’s show.  If you’ve ever driven a car when the power steering went out, you can imagine the difficulty that presents in a bus.  My boyfriend was trying to figure out if it was a quick fix of adding power steering fluid, so he took the catering van to the store to get some.  (I just drove the van home from work, so I did not even have my car.)  He came back and that was not the issue, so he just had to drive the bus with no power steering.  Because of this and the fact that I moved to a place on a very curvy road, he decided he would leave before the rest of us because he would have to be driving so slowly and he didn’t want anyone else to have to wait.  He left, and then about 10 minutes later, the rest of us were about to get into our respective vehicles and head out when it occurred to me that he never gave the keys for the catering van back to me after taking it to the store.  Uh-oh.  I said, “I hope he left the keys to the van in the ignition.”  Someone looked.  He didn’t.  Uh-oh.  This meant that he and I would have to come back later and then take the van & unpack it by ourselves because everyone else was not coming back to my old place.  Not the end of the world, but definitely an annoyance.  Well, my catering boss finally a couple of months ago had multiple extra sets made of her keys because they would frequently be accidentally taken home by whomever drove to whatever event we had going on.  This was, of course, not good when she needed to drive her vehicles the next day only to find there were no keys.  The day of my move, one of my catering co-workers was helping me.  When we realized I had no keys to “Bertha,” as the catering van is affectionately dubbed, this friend pipes up, “Wait!  I think I accidentally took a set of Bertha keys home the other day…I think they’re still in my car!”  She runs to her car, and emerges, triumphantly, with a set of Bertha keys.  Moving crisis averted all because of something that is a continual frustration to my boss…forgetting to return keys.

The third situation involves my cat.  I think I have mentioned his obsession with the linen closet before.  Well, while I was taking a shower the morning of the move, he managed to get in there, and I thought, “That’s not actually a bad idea.”  And I closed him in so I would be able to find him when it was time to leave with him.  Since he is indoor/outdoor, with all the commotion of people moving everything and doors being open constantly, I knew he would disappear somewhere outside and I wouldn’t be able to find him when it was time to go.  He did not mind being shut in there, so this is not like a punishment if you are worrying about him.  So, we loaded the bulk of my things and only left my cat and some cleaning supplies at the old place.  I don’t like to take him in the initial run because he gets freaked out driving anyway, and I would have to leave him in the carrier until everything was inside and doors closed.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him to an entirely new place, not giving him a chance to get acclimated and then him running around outside.  Anyway, after we unloaded everything at the new place, we went back to my old house to do a final cleaning and pick up the cat.  He is a terrible traveler – always gets sick or goes to the bathroom in his carrier…he’s just terrified.  My boyfriend recommended tying his collar to my porch so that we could maybe get him to go to the bathroom before we got in the car, but still be able to find him when we needed to leave.  I decided it was worth a try.  I think it was not such a good idea.  🙂  Try tying up a cat who has never been tied up before.  He was NOT happy.  But he was out there, and I was cleaning inside, when I was informed that he had made a break for it.  I went outside to find that he did not just slip out of his collar.  He BROKE it.  OK, tying up not such a good plan.  Of course, then he was mad and disappeared and would not come when I called him.  I had to leave, though, because I had some pieces of furniture that I had bought to pick up from people while I still had the van, and I also needed to get some necessities at the store before heading back.  These errands were kind of lengthy, because I had to drive about an hour out of my way to pick up the furniture and I had two different things to pick up, plus you know how things just take longer than you think they will.  It ended up taking us about 4 hours before we were ready to go back to my new place, at which point we stopped back by my old house, my cat came running, and I scooped him up & took off.  And it all worked out beautifully.  I don’t think driving my terrified cat around for 4 hours would have been a very good idea, or at least it would not have been very positive.  Initially, I was frustrated that I had to go back and get him.  In the end, it was the best scenario. 

Now, these are all sort of petty situations.  There was nothing severely detrimental.  But they were clear pictures of how things I think of as bad can end up being good.  The bottom line is that if it happens in petty things, it can happen in important things as well.  And I am sure that most of the time we are not able to see the full circle of events enough to understand this.  These events were clustered and it was spread out in front of me like a lesson plan so I could see the beginning and the end of how it all worked together.  I’m hoping that I can translate this into a little bit of faith…that I would be able to accept events calmly as they come and not freak out about whatever difficulties they bring…that instead of waiting until, if ever, I can understand how they work for good, I will trust God’s word and know that what He said in Romans 8:28 is true.  Because it is.