jiggedy jig

I guess I have a thing for midwestern boys. One of my college loves was a Minnesotan, who took me back for the winter carnival and the state fair. We went sledding and toured the aerial walks of St. Paul. He introduced me to A Prairie Home Companion.

Then I had a crush on the Boy from Illinois. This one was unrequited but I fell for him all the same. I visited him in Chicago and he played the harmonica. He liked to bake pie.

Operaman was from Wisconsin. When he finally invited me out to meet his family - nervously, reluctantly, as if he was out of other options - we went to a dairy and a lake and an evangelical church. Add a Packers game and it would have been the complete Wisconsin Experience.

The AD is a… Michigonian? What do you call them? So I’m going there tomorrow. I guess it was only a matter of time. I’ve never intentionally sought a Midwest Conquest but apparently there’s something there that resonates with me. Maybe it’s the cheese curds and the custard. Maybe it’s the earnestness. Maybe it’s that I meet the particular midwesterners I meet only because they have left the midwest, so they have the kindness they were brought up with but also the curiosity to head for the coast.

I was about to muse on what it is the midwesterners like about me, but in the end my lack of midwestiness has been as problematic as it has been appealing. The Minnesotan wanted me to settle down and stay still. The Wisconsinite hated my sarcasm. The Illinois Boy was scared of me altogether.

The AD is surprised sometimes by my cursing, and sometimes he’s so literal I think he must be trying to pick a fight. But otherwise we seem to do ok with our respective origin-inspired tendencies. He opens doors for me, and carries the heavy things when we go camping. When he disagrees with me I disagree back, which he likes. And here we are both of us rerooted in the northwest, enjoying the hot springs and harboring mixed feelings about the hippies.

Tomorrow I’m going to Michigan, and so far I’ve only ever been to Detroit. This time I’ll see Ann Arbor and Jackson and some little town on a lake near the Ohio border where his sister lives, and there will be fireworks and motor boats and an RV and extended family and probably meat loaf. And this is why going to the midwest feels oddly like going back home.



I bought a pound of peas at the farmer’s market that cost me more than five dollars, and I thought, this is crazy. Five dollars for a pound of peas! But they are bright green and so so crunchy and they taste like sweet and like summer, and the peas in my garden are still only as high as my hips.

People spend five dollars on less all the time. You might spend five dollars on a beer or a pack of cigarettes or a very fancy coffee drink or a Big Mac, and I hardly spend five dollars on those things ever at all. Whereas these peas will make me happy all week long, if I don’t eat them all at once.

This evening after work I will pick up my first CSA box, filled with fruits and veggies from a farm a few miles north of town. These mysterious boxes will come once a week all summer. I don’t get to choose what’s in them - whatever is ready for picking each Wednesday morning is what I will get. Today I expect strawberries and onions and maybe beets. It’s going to get thorny when the arugula and parsnips start coming in, because what do you do with these things? I guess I will learn.

Craigslist magic has got me my first chest freezer. There’s nothing like frozen blueberries in March to remind you that the sun will be back. But it’s a not-so-fine line between throwing plastic bags of berries in the chest and pickling kohlrabi, which is more than my current putting-over proficiency allows. Sure, I jar jam. I grow carrots. But I don’t own a food mill. I don’t make my own yogurt. I’ve never brewed a beer or a jug of wine. I’m not sure where on this slippery slope of urban homesteading I will settle.

For now I’m crunching peas. I will miss going to the farmer’s market for little indulgences like this. I’ll still swing through for eggs and bread. But for the next few months my veggies will be whatever grows in my garden (the kale continues to thrive while the slugs have consumed all the pole beans) and whatever comes in the box. Lettuce, anyone? I have a whole lot of lettuce.



No one is writing much anymore and I’m no exception. I don’t think anyone has time for reading, either. It’s practically summer. The days are so long now that life seems to have doubled. My friends are frenzied. My camping gear stays packed. My radishes are as big as your head. Ok, not really that big. But big.

This year is going somewhere fast, and I’ve given up keeping track of it. At this point I’m just holding on. I’ve been to Bend twice so far, for the hot dry days of hiking. I’ve been to fireworks and parades. I’ve pinned up my laundry in the yard. The AD pruned my maple and hung my gutters. All the babies I know keep doing things they didn’t used to do. What if this is how it goes from here on out?

I’m sitting at my desk right now, sipping chocolate milk, being in the moment. But in one hour and five minutes I will head out into the sunshine, and the bright warm world will be mine for four more hours, and suddenly it will be September. My calendar keeps filling up so I print out more pages.