Tuesday, May 25, 2010

god save the tomatoes

it snowed last saturday. SNOWED. on may 22. not just wimpy, couple snowflakes in a rainstorm, nothing sticking kind of snow...snow snow.

it had been pouring rain all day, and at first the snowflakes were nothing to worry about. the temperature stayed above freezing, the ground was wet, so everything was just melting on contact. i stopped paying attention for an hour or so, then i looked outside again and it was white. probably half an inch on the ground in some places. panic-stricken i flew out the back door with towels and newspapers to cover things up, slipping around in my sandals, fumbling with numb fingers to gently remove snow from leaves, seriously pissed off.

i lost three cucumber plants (and one other isn’t looking so good) and a handful of pole beans which chose that fateful day to stick their heads out of the ground. i’m not upset about the cucumbers because i have extras waiting to be planted, and the beans are not a big deal because i didn’t like where i put them in the first place.

most importantly, the tomatoes came out of it just fine. losses wouldn’t have broken my heart because i have another three dozen waiting in the wings, but if the basket tomato died i would never get to solve the mystery, and it would eat at me.

the last time we had snow this late was just two years ago, spring 2008. snow fell on june 10! that was the weirdest, coldest spring ever. i had just started work at a new place, this little old house-converted-to-offices in hyde park, and i can’t remember if there was actually no heat or if we just didn’t turn it on, but it was freezing. plus i was sitting behind this monster of a metal desk, a striking commission piece from a local metal artist that i didn’t fully appreciate for the first month or so because it was ice cold:

coolest desk ever, literally. at my current temp job i use two neat old wooden desks, plus a fold-out card table because i keep doing things that require a multitude of paper piles and i like to spread out. here’s the place where i’m working for the rest of the week:

it’s a log cabin built in 1939 by the civilian conservation corps in honor of idaho’s 50 years of statehood. it’s located downtown next to the library and the ann frank human rights memorial, on the greenbelt with a view of the river. the literary center is a nonprofit that does all kinds of stuff to promote reading, writing and discourse in idaho--they bring in big-name writers for “readings and conversations,” facilitate writing workshop camps for kids during the summer, etc.

working there has been really fun. after that first day when i hardly did anything the workload increased by a ton, i’ve been constantly busy since then, but busy in a very manageable and enjoyable way. this is the first job i’ve had where i feel like i caught on super fast--normally it takes a few weeks to really know what i’m doing/how to do it, and to get that sense of fitting in and becoming part of the operation, but this time it took me just a few days.

i receive embarrassing amounts of enthusiastic praise on a daily basis, not just from my mom...mostly from her coworker j, who’s basically been my supervisor. she’s the sweetest woman. we have extremely similar organization styles, which makes our collaborative work go very smoothly--everything she asks me to do makes total sense to me. also we’re both perfectionists with pathological attention to detail. yesterday we hovered over my computer for about ten minutes staring at an excel spreadsheet because a single row of data was out of place and we couldn’t get it to sort properly.

she’s already fretting about losing me. it will be weird leaving so soon after starting. i think i’m going to volunteer there a bit this summer, maybe as a teacher’s aide for the writing camps. and i want to do more photography for them. my mom asked me to make up a newsletter and she showed me the folder where they keep all their photos, and none of them are usable by my standards.

another great thing about working there is meeting all the awesome people who walk in or call. a lot of the cabin’s patrons are high-profile community members who are obviously interested in the arts, so it’s good for social networking, although i’m not into that. i don’t like the idea of knowing people just so you can say you know them, you know? "in every case as an end, never as a means only," goddamnit.

but i do like meeting interesting folks. the other day i got to meet two of the artists who have pieces in the museum exhibit i’m doing a story about. luckily i remembered their pieces in detail and was able to ask a few questions and give a few compliments, then i took their contact information for an interview. they were so completely thrilled, it was great.

i had the pleasure of speaking with the cutest old man over the phone. he explained that he’s 97 years of age and his third book has just been published--he asked me to check and see if we had it, then he expressed interest in participating in a reading. he said some of it was rather “risqué” and that i’d better watch out for old men like him. we talked for a long time...i think he mostly just wanted someone to listen to him, and i was happy to. i’m totally curious what his book is like.

one more anecdote, because i don’t want to forget this: last week i answered the phone then left my desk to look up paperwork for the guy i put on hold. the second phone line rang, j answered and it was my dad. she accidentally told my mom to pick up line one instead of two.

mom: “hi honey, i was just about to call you!”
random guy: “you were?”

the guy’s reaction was just too fabulous. the three of us laughed our asses off.

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