Michigan ~ Day 129

Well, the days are getting longer – the work days, I mean. We have between one and four events every week, and I’m thrilled to finally be hitting the busy season again, but that means even less time to blog!!! Which means no time to blog. Heh.

So! Blog! I’m finally old enough to be dating myself at work. Not because I’m very old at all, but because Brandon is fourteen, and when Missy and myself go down memory lane and start singing all the N ‘Sync we can possibly remember off the top of our heads – which is a frightening amount once you get us started – we get questions from Brandon, like, “Where do you hear this music anyway??” He is further bewildered by the service staff requesting a capella covers of Backstreet Boys, a group his blessed being has never heard of. Now Ais, being Ais, considers this to be very good, but she does think he should at least know what Space Jam is.

Space Jam came up, because somewhere in a conversation which included references to college, Brandon ventured to confess that he didn’t think I was “that old.” “And how old do you think I am? Honest question.” “Uhm… I don’t know, like… 18 or 20?” Flattering. No, seriously; after being mistaken as somewhere between 12 and 16 for the longest time, it’s nice to hear someone guess that I’m actually closer to being past my teenage years. The point is, the whole incident caused me to reminisce aloud about the time that I wore my Space Jam shirt to Daveed’s and Jared asked me if I had even been born yet when Space Jam came out. (See? Like that. That would have made me 15 – or younger.) And then Brandon asks, “What’s Space Jam?” SHOCK. Missy and I have made it an assignment for him to watch Space Jam. Incredible.

Did I even blog about Brandon arriving? He’s been with us for a few weeks now, and on his first day, Scott named everyone in the kitchen and then pointed to me and said, “And you might as well just call her Mom…” I did not protest this, but I did glare at anyone who slipped up and swore throughout the course of the day. I should note that [everyone agrees that] Brandon does not look 14. He looks closer to 12, possibly younger. And I don’t want to treat him as a child – he is and is legitimately old enough to be a co-worker, so – but if this first job starts any sort of trend in his life – by which I mean, if he continues to work in the food industry, as many people do after their first job washing dishes and bussing tables – then I don’t want this kitchen to be the kitchen that corrupts him. I really shouldn’t worry that much; Pond Hill is relatively the most harmless kitchen I’ve ever been in aside from my own. And everyone is terribly fond of Brandon and they’re all anxious to treat him well, so really the only person I need to monitor is myself. After all, I probably lose my temper more than anyone else on the farm. Maybe Scott is upset and stressed more, but naturally he still handles it better than I do. Children – or just significantly younger people – really do keep a body in check. When Emma or JJ walk in, of course you’re going to put on your biggest smile and patiently hear what wonderful revelations they wish to share with you, regardless of stress level. Brandon’s [very quiet] presence constantly reminds me to breathe, take a step back, ask how everyone else is doing, dish out a few hugs and thank yous, and remind everyone to be drinking lots of fluids. Uhm, that last one was something that rubbed off on me at Daveed’s… Jared always made a point of telling us to keep drinking water so that we wouldn’t get dehydrated and pass out or anything. In my efforts to reach the appropriate daily intake of water while in a crazy hot kitchen, I’ve found that this practice of Jared’s both motivates me and probably at least helps everyone else a little bit. But then, what else would I expect of something that one picks up from Jared?

We had our Pig Roast last week, and a Farm to Table dinner yesterday. The latter was supposed to be capped at 69, but we were somehow at 73… and had four vegetarians, two of which had dairy and nut/seed issues respectively and had failed to inform us beforehand. But anyway, there were five of us in the kitchen on the night of – Scott, Missy, Ryan, Alise (for prep), and myself – and we had had ‘Stache Pat in the kitchen for the first time to help prep the day before. It was our biggest dinner yet, and we had a couple of crazy spots, but I was informed that guests were happy, plates came back clean, recipes were requested, and apparently the curried kohlrabi was even more popular than the bacon-wrapped liver. Scott let me make up a board of curried kohlrabi, our Summer Sausage, grilled baby zucchini and grilled wild leeks. Missy assisted me with the kohlrabi flowers, and I was instructed to take my time grilling the vegetables to perfection and making the board look pretty. I was ridiculously proud of that board. Ryan was pausing his work to watch for a little bit every now and then. He said the process was blowing his mind.

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It’s not competition-worthy by any means, but it’s a long way from a little girl who didn’t have a clue what to do when instructed to make salami platters for caterings. Scott was pleased. His, “That’s bad@$$,” comment made my night.

Missy and Alise were belting out Disney songs like nobody’s business during prep. I half-frowned to myself when it occurred to me that maybe it was my comeuppance for always wet-blanketing Mike’s attempts to pull me into Disney duets, but then I put on a good face and joined in. Besides, we eventually found our way to Les Miserables, and we did not sing A Whole New World. It was partly prompted by us watching The Lion King 2 the other night in Alise’s room, when we should have been sleeping. The movie’s terrible – I’ve forgotten just how terrible – but it was worth it for the company and our commentary. It was one of those things I wish to goodness we’d had the foresight to record. It was mostly me and Alise commenting to each other and Missy telling us to hush, but we really couldn’t help complaining about how the animation had degraded. And then when Kovu and Kiara are on that crazy heart rollercoaster, we were wondering aloud how long it had taken Rafiki to build the ridiculous thing, and where he found all the naturally heart-shaped plants for it. And then, of course, there’s something terribly odd about how Nala and Simba only have one cub, and that we only see Kiara, and then there all these other lionesses… Aren’t lions supposed to have lots of cubs in their pride? Who decided that, anyway? And then Alise goes, “Isn’t he supposed to mate with all of them?” I gasped. “THEY’RE MORMONS.” It just all went downhill from there…

I have a band!!!!! Oh! My! Gosh!!! It makes me so happy. Ryan, Missy, Alise, and I put together a band for the Pig Roast last week. For only having five hours total to rehearse with each other before the big night, we didn’t do half bad!!! Our setlist included A-Team, Basket Case (Sara Bareilles), City of Black & White, Cry, Falling Slowly, Fire & Rain, I Am Stretched On Your Grave, I will Follow You Into the Dark, Kiss Me, One Sweet Love, Only Hope, Say, Someday We’ll Know, and Split Screen Sadness. Yes, I know, mostly depressing love songs, but considering that we had three days to decide on songs, find instruments and band members, figure out parts and harmonies and rehearse, I daresay it went very well.

Jill’s back!!! It’s terribly nice to have a FoH staff of mostly veterans. I am terribly grateful that they loved it enough to come back and that they were allowed to. Heaven knows how much easier my job is.

I’ve started doodling again =)

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It’s nice to have the time for it, and to have time for letters. I’ve been sending and receiving a lovely amount of snail mail; I’ve had at least one letter or package every week since I got here. Granted some of it was health related, but I’ve had letters from Yena, Steffy, Marybeth, Victoria, and even a card from Nino! I am very blessed.

The Smiths came to the Pig Roast, and they’ll be back again for this upcoming week! It’s so nice to have adopted extended family here to go to Mass with more often than not.

My schedule has finally smoothed out enough (in spite of actually being busier – isn’t that funny?) that I was able to start attending daily Mass again this past Thursday. Ryan came to Mass with me on Sunday and Thursday, and we had a beautiful discussion about the concept/gift of Reverence, among other things. He also finished The Hobbit and is halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring, so we’ve been having lots of fun little discussions about that, sometimes from a theological standpoint. I love how Fr. Joe gives a little challenge or meditation at the end of all of his homilies. Thursday was the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria, and Fr. Joe was explaining about the heresies of the time and St. Cyril’s clarification of the teaching of Theotokos. Fr. Joe’s challenge, then, was for us to speak to someone that day of the Truth of the Divinity and Humanity of Christ. Aaaand that’s mostly what Ryan and I talked about all the way to work. Good times.

I haven’t attended Trivia in two weeks, but apparently we won a second time and now have $50 worth in gift certificates to spend on sangrias. Sassy Loon has really yummy sangrias.

Benjamin and I went wine tasting this past Tuesday. We were checking out the other wineries that were on the new winery trail that we’re currently in the process of co-establishing, and I finally made it Mackinaw Trail Winery’s new site. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see it when the pond is finished and the gazebo, tent, and grills are up. Benjamin and I were treated to free tastings, which was awesome to begin with, but the best part was seeing Jeff again and catching up with him. Hey, he remembers me =) He was teasing about my notes, though. I guess he remembers me having the same notebook when we first met at the tasting room in Petoskey last year. Meh. Anyway, Jeff amiably broke open a number of the reserved & higher-priced bottles for Benjamin and myself, including a Syrah that I think ws selling at something like $75 a bottle. Since I had extra cash due to free tastings, I treated myself to a Mackinaw Trail Winery wine sippy cup. Ayep. It’s a sippy cup, and the inner cup is shaped like a wine glass. Yes, with a stem. Uhuh. Fireworks. Benjamin got one, too. I know what I’ll have with me next time Jos and Kelsey and Danny want to spend a day at the Island. Lolz. After all the wine tasting, it was time to get to dance class, and Benjamin bravely jumped into Week 4 of Cha Cha. We start Fox Trot in two weeks. Since Benjamin wanted to stick around for the free dance hour, I ended up meeting one of the instructors at Bay Tennis & Fitness who trained with Dan Inosanto. Say what?! I highly appreciated his comment that the meeting was God-sent; he practically never meets people in this part of the US that know who Dan Inosanto is. He’s up for helping me keep up with my training after dance class sometimes. And then it turns out that Benjamin trained in Kali in college, too! How did I miss this?! His sticks are on their way and he’ll be training with me, too. God is so good.

Well, it’s time for me to be getting home. I’ve got an early day tomorrow, and today is day four of working eight days in a row. I’m technically supposed to have Tuesday off, but it’s the week of the fourth, and I haven’t been in the winery since my first week back, so I volunteered to back up the tasting room on the condition that I, since I’m supposed to be off, am able to leave early to make it to Mass and Holy Hour. It is the Fortnight for Freedom, after all, and I unfortunately have not yet made it to Adoration. I leave you with card tricks. Au revoir…

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