I subscribe to Sports Illustrated magazine. I have for years. I enjoy the magazine. A lot.
I like sports. Baseball and football primarily, but others too. I like them a lot. I like to watch them, read about them, discuss them.
Imagine my heart filling with joy. That's how much I adore sports.
Recently I answered the phone. The caller ID screamed UNKNOWN but I picked it up it anyway, not my traditional modus operandi. I don't know what got into me.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hello, is Mr. or Mrs. my-butchered-last-name available?" asked a young man's polite voice.
"No." I said automatically and mechanically while regretting my uncharacteristic compulsion to answer a mystery call. Nothing good ever comes from such behavior. I considered just hanging up, but instead foolishly blurted "Who's calling please?" while wondering why I asked and why I was still on the phone.
"This is Robert from Sports Illustrated. Do you know when they will be available? I'd prefer to speak to the man of the house."
My jaw dropped. I gaped. Really. I was speechless. Momentarily.
"Man of the house? Are you serious? It's 2009 for Pete's sake, not 1954. Dude." This I said in the treacliest of voices, soft and kind, oozing patience.
There's a reason I don't answer UNKNOWN calls. My impulse control needs work.
This past week has been all about figs here in the 'burbs.
Fresh figs have a very short shelf life. Once plucked from the tree, they cease ripening; daily harvesting is desirable to capture them at prime goodness. The luscious fruits maintain freshness for but a few days, even refrigerated. Timing is everything with fresh figs.
My mind always turns to my grandparents during fig season. From my grandfather, I learned how to determine ripeness, pick them gently, and appreciate the delight of eating them right off the tree. And while I never saw my grandmother "put up" figs, I devoured my fair share of her output. My sister preferred the squished variety while I was drawn to the whole fig preserves.
Whole figs. Preserved in sweet, sweet syrup. Smashed on buttered toast. Or, omg, on a soft biscuit! Or gripped by the hint of stem and dangled right from the jar over my mouth, the sweet syrup dripping on my tongue (and sometimes my chin and, yeah okay, my shirt) just before my teeth sank into the plump rich figgy goodness.
Such are my thoughts during fig season. This year, however, those thoughts were accompanied by an irresistible wild hair to "put up" some figs of my own, Grandmommy style.
Yeah, I know. WTF?
A problem immediately arose. I had never "put up" anything. Sure I understand the basic premise, but canning is serious business. Do it wrong and people get sick. Plus it requires implements. I didn't know exactly what implements, but I was pretty sure I didn't own them. More urgently, it requires knowledge and experience. Knowledge I can get from the OGAPI but experience requires doing. I needed a teacher!
Fortunately I knew just the person. An old friend, a woman who knows about many things I don't, such as the ins and outs of the art of canning. An email exchange later, enthusiasm abounded. While having never canned figs, plenty of other fruits and vegetables met their fate in jars by her hand. She was willing to try something new and had the tools. A date was made, details discussed, duties assigned. Bonus? Canning takes time. Extended boiling is involved, followed by more boiling. We would be hanging out for hours. The perfect script wrote itself. The performance brought a standing ovation.
I did it just now. Dangled a juicy, dripping preserved fig over my mouth and devoured it. Memory Lane is an awesome road to wander.
My grandfather on my mother's side introduced me on to eating fresh figs this way. They had several trees in their yard and I used to help him pick the fruit. Breakfast during those visits often included this very dish in this very dish. Yup, we still use my grandparent's everyday dishes.
In a rare stroke of good fortune, we learned after buying this house that our neighbor has a large fig tree. We neighbors step up each year to help her devour the bountiful crop. Such a sacrifice. Today she even hooked me up with some half-n-half. Hence my trip down memory lane. Good times. Great neighbor.
Am I the only blogger with draft posts that never see the light of day? I was rummaging thru my 287 unposted drafts and came across this oldie written in October 2007. Was this a meme? I don't remember.
I was 14.
A freshman in high school, academic success easy.
I lived with my mother, my step-father and my sister in the suburban house where I grew up, in Alexandria, Virginia.
We had Mutt, the family dog, and two white cats, Angel (mine) and Mush (my sister's).
My father and stepmother lived in southern California.
I knew every inch of my neighborhood and beyond.
I rode my bicycle everywhere.
Except to school. There I walked, carrying my clarinet.
I was in the symphonic and marching bands.
I adored band.
I had yet to become a rebellious teenager.
I was 24.
The Boy was two.
I drove a cherry red 1983 Mustang GT.
I had what could, still to this day, be called my favorite job as the office manager for a 32-person architectural firm.
The Boy's father and I had been married for five years.
We had a husky mix named Paisan.
My sister lived nearby.
My mother and stepfather lived in Norfolk, Virginia.
My father and stepmother lived in Portland, Oregon.
We purchased our first house in the suburbs.
The shit, it hit the fan in 1987.
I was 34.
Divorced, out lesbian. Alrighty then.
The Boy was 12, attending his eighth year of Montessori school.
There were seven kids in his class. Ten years ago, it was all about those kids.
We lived in Woodbridge, Virginia and commuted 12 miles north to his school in Mount Vernon.
We had three pets: Cosine, Detail and Figero.
I drove a 1992 Toyota Corolla wagon.
My sister lived in Sedona, Arizona.
My mother and stepfather lived just south in rural-ish Virginia.
My father and stepmother lived in Portland, Oregon.
I was self-employed as a bookkeeper.
I had yet to meet Wendy, but I knew Tina.
I was dating someone but in hindsight, seriously, wtf what I thinking?
I am 44.
The Boy, 21, is a working actor and college student.
I live with Wendy, my partner of eight years, about five miles from where I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia and over a thousand from where she grew up in small town southeast Texas.
We have two dogs, Dudley and Pixie.
I drive a 1999 Toyota Camry.
My sister lives in Sedona, Arizona.
My mother, a widow, lives in semi-rural Virginia.
My father and stepmother live in semi-rural Washington State.
I appreciate my employer and strive to give my best.
I am a peri-menopausal woman recovering from empty nest syndrome.
My first post in nine months will be about my hair, which seems appropriate after all the whining I'vedonehereonthesubject.
I had it all cut off a couple weeks ago. That's right, it's back to the same short style I've worn most of my life. Did you know me then? I feel free.
There is tree stump a few yards from our screened porch door. The tree that once grew there has been gone for years. A proud holly she was, quite beautiful, with the unfortunate habit of blanketing her surrounds with sharp prickly leaves. A minefield 10 yards in circumference brought woe to the careless person who dared draw near with bare feet. Even the squirrels kept their distance.
The stump doesn't drop prickly leaves. It's a low and flat, not too troublesome while mowing. What passes for grass snuggles up to the edge. We call it Hal's Stump. Felling that tree was the last home project he helped us with before he died. Just a month or so before, actually. I hate surprises.
I began growing my hair out after his death. In hindsight I believe it was part of my grieving process, something I could pretend to control during a time when so much was spinning beyond me. I will say the pony tail was kinda fun. But as I sat in the salon chair, my long-time stylist Katie snipping off my long crazy curly gray locks, an almost physical sensation of lightness washed over me.
Hal will always be in my heart, but the ache has finally dissipated. I am giddy.