Farm to Fable

Now things have gone too far! Oh, hi. Sorry. I seem to have started in the middle. Let me back up.
As I approach the Doddering Years I have three joys. A good long chat with a dear friend, Sunday dinner – cooking and eating – with my daughter, and a few hours spent each week fondling ripe produce. (Fondling ripe other stuff is pretty much now confined to unconscious sleep time activities and with much thanks to dreams that forever live in the pre-doddering years.) [Sigh] Now where was I? Right, doddering.
Phones calls, text messages, emails, and a video now and then contribute to maintaining contact with those not with you during this time of not allowing those to not be not with you. I don’t know what others think but I find the art of phone calling rebounding. For a while text messages and direct contact through the various social platforms seemed to have phone calls going the way of pay phones. I believe the desire to hear another voice is driving an increase in calling minutes. Regardless of how much we’ve retreated into a world of contact by social medium, social media isn’t all that social. But the tone of a familiar voice, the lilt of emotions not requiring emoticon augmentation, or the thoughtful pause of reflection contribute to the experience of communication that go so much beyond “on my way, there in 10.” Even isolated I continue to experience the joy of a good long chat with a dear friend.
For some time now every Sunday my daughter packed up her dog and his toys, occasionally added an onion or select chicken parts to her parcels, and made her way to me for a day of cooking, eating, and reporting of the previous week’s activities and upcoming week’s plan. Although we have both been careful with our contact with everyone just about to the point that there is almost no contact with anyone, we have suspended these food fests for the duration or until whenever we say “oh enough of this already!” But still she brings me groceries every 2 weeks and we still cook a big meal each Sunday in our own kitchens and share our results electronically. It’s not perfect but it works for us and keeps some version of Sunday dinner in the joy category.
Our Sunday cooking extravaganza always left me with enough meals and meal compontents that I could spend a good part of the following week just reheating. Several days each week though I still had to construct a full dinner on my own. These days were always such fun. I would rarely wake and say today “I want [insert specific food here]” but would often wake and say “I wonder what looks good at the store today” and then plan a trip to the market to critically examine meats, sniff fish, and squeeze produce. I am very fortunate that I have a small Italian market within walking distance of my kitchen (and uphill only in one direction!) where you are encouraged to use up to four senses before adding a purchase to your basket. (You could sometimes use the fifth after asking.) (Yes, you do know which one I mean!) In the absence of the little market, and it is now absent since the owner decided he would be happier staying alive than staying open, the nearest supermarket has an excellent produce section, a well stocked and maintained fish counter, and a butcher ready to butcher on request. One way or another I had sufficient opportunity to find something that looked good with which to build dinner.
But now I’m stuck at home and the only tomatoes I get to choose from are those my daughter had the pleasure of putting under her thumb – so to speak. No sniffing the blossom end of a cantaloupe, or peeking between the leaves of an artichoke. No examining the fat marbled through a New York strip or glistening in a filet of salmon. No losing oneself in the intoxicating aroma of cheeses and sausages ready to be sliced or portioned to my specifications. [Sigh] [Again] 
Bad as that is, its going to get worse, even as it appears it may be getting better. Last week the pronouncement came down from on high. No farmers’ markets this year. Farm markets to be sure. You can still go to them, but no weekly gathering of all the local farms at a convenient park or parking lot with their most recent hauls of fruits and vegetables, their just baked breads and pastries, their hand cut cuts of beef and pork, their eggs and chickens, or even their kitsch and tchotchkes. [Big sigh]
No, even if I get the chance to go out and shop on my own this summer it won’t be the same. The joys of fondling fresh fennel fronds straight from the farm are just not to be. [Sigh] [Still] But al least I can still dream.

Never Can Say Goodbye

As we get close to saying goodbye to 2016 I have discovered that we suck at saying goodbye.

In this last month of the year I spent a lot of time on the phone. I had to pick a new insurance and because it is a milestone change I used a broker. I have a car due for service and inspection. I was in the hospital, a couple of times, so I got a couple of “Hi! How are we doing?” calls, and I had to make a couple of rounds of followup doctor appointments. And it was the holidays so I had to check in with some folks to see how they were doing. So, when otherwise I might use my phone primarily as an alarm clock to not miss any of the several doctor appointments throughout the year, this month I used it as an actual communication device.

And thus discovered that we suck at  saying goodbye.

All the calls started out right. And calls with people who actually know my first name as opposed to those reading it from a computer screen were mostly able to successfully end a call. But the others. Oh, the others. It was like the final dress rehearsal for the bad movie scene in every bad movie where two people try to go through a doorway at the same time. After you. No. After you. No, no. After you.

It seems that those who have been trained to make appointments had training stopped somewhere before “Thank you for calling. Have a nice day. Good bye.”  Instead it goes more like this.

“You’re all set. Is there anything else I can do?”

“No, thank you. Good bye.”

“Well, thank you. And don’t forget to bring your insurance card.”

“Right. Good bye.”

“And please arrive 15 minutes early.

“Got it. Good bye.”

“Well then, you are all set. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No thanks. Good bye.”

Thank you for calling. If you need to cancel, change, or…”


See you next year. Probably 15 minutes early. Good bye.

That’s what I think. Really. How ’bout you?