Monday, July 30, 2012

Helluva Week

Not my license plate, unfortunately.

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster ride - steep climbs, deep drops and (as the previous post mentioned) even some screaming. No barfing though, so that's good.

Once I'd resigned myself to the fact that The Mae Flower was stuck in Fargo for several days, I opted to take the advice of a friend, Andrea Anton, who'd responded to my frustrated Facebook update:

"Staying in a motel for several days while my trailer gets fixed. Feels like defeat not being at the farm."

Her response:

"Not defeat, vacay!" 

Dessert Squash!
That small casual exchange reversed my entire attitude.  So, I took long hot showers, used as much toilet paper as I wanted and occasionally, even turned on the television device. I was especially grateful for this luxury during the opening ceremony for the London Olympics which were spectacular. I just needed to alter my perspective. Too bad the unplanned "vacay" cost me $350 but I did eat a truckload of Cocoa Puffs at the free breakfast in an effort to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, my work week ramped up quickly and and I hosted three analyst briefings. During one call, there was a clear moment of non-truth when everyone stated their location: "London." "Montreal." "Boston." I paused, then caved, and said "Denver." 

I KNOW. But in a previous meeting, I went ahead and stated "North Dakota" and regretted it immediately. The shocked silence was deafening, followed by confusion and inevitably, questions. These meetings are attended by brilliant people who are crazy busy, their days are scheduled up to exact minutes and the hour is not to be about me. During these episodes, I'm a different Heather, a reverse-Heather, one who is crisp, professional, understated and under the radar; I only bring her out as needed because, quite frankly, she's boring. She is also the Heather that pays the bills. 

Because if I had to make my living as a farmer, I can tell you, I'd be living in a trailer out of necessity, not in the spirit of adventure as I do now. Case in point: This week, I debuted at a Farmer's Market, in nearby Cavalier. Though I felt wildly unorganized and totally unprepared, I went anyway; I didn't want the trailer drama to ruin another vision. 

My table set-up, as it were.
It happened to be the week when the town had some big to-do - bouncy castle, musical entertainment, hot dogs, quilts, pies - something that only happens once a year. Otherwise, it's usually just 5 or 6 people and their produce on card tables. Since my beets are radishes had to compete with Rhubarb Slushies, homemade pies, cupcakes and burgers, my sales were about $7, which I immediately turned around and spent on all the things I just listed. 

One strategy I will deploy again is my 'lettuce box' - I filled a cardboard box it with heaps of loose leaf lettuce, plus some Tom Thumb heads, and stuck a sign on there: "All the lettuce you can grab for $1." People are mostly self-policing, especially in small, Midwestern towns, and besides, I have more lettuce than I can actually deal with. If one person wanted to take the whole box for $1, I was fine with that.  

And this is Howard, my first SCRANCH customer. Not only was he game for the grabbing but also photos. I told him: "Look greedy!" He was an awfully nice guy - the perfect First Customer. He even came back 'round again and bought radishes. 

So despite my scrambled brain and jangled nerves, it was symbolic that I be present and reach that SCRANCH milestone - still a success in my eyes. I also saw random cousins there and made a new friend, a woman who used to teach yoga (!) and is a vegan (!!) and grew up in a townhouse in DC, attending private schools and hanging with politicos (!!!!!). We're going to be pals, though she may not know it yet. Best of all, she thinks I'm funny. 

My table, just left of the quilts.
Meanwhile, I call the dealer, Outlet Recreation, to determine when I could get The Mae Flower back where she belongs. "We're still awaiting a call back from the parts dealer. We'll give you a call in the morning to let you know the ETA." 

Fine. Next morning, no call. I not-so-impatiently wait until noon, straight up, before I begin the days' harassment. I get poor Becky again whose days was about to get worse. "Oh, yeah. I think the trailer will be delivered over the weekend or on Monday..." 


Because in the meantime, the motel has let me know that they are running short of rooms, and since I didn't have a reservation to begin with, I may have to leave. Ultimately, they do find me a Smoking room (yes, they still have those here), down at the end of the hall, right next to the exit. I have no choice.

So one early morning, before a long day of meetings and beet selling, I have to - you guessed it - pack up all my shit once again and move it downstairs to a room that reeks of stale cigarettes, a smell that evokes whiskey tears and dead dreams.  There aren't enough Cocoa Puffs in the world to address the grumpiness I exuded that morning.

When Friday finally rolled around, I was ready to play. I knew the day had promise when I went into the breakfast room to fetch my usual juice and puffs, when what do I see on the table? An Entertainment Weekly with Louis CK on the cover! I may have even looked heavenward and said, "Thank you, God!" I mean, it HAD to be divine intervention - the publication was wildly out of place.

Best of all, I received a heartfelt call from the trailer folks, letting me know that Mae would be delivered the following day. The guy, Jim, went into great detail of the drama from their side and the logistical challenge was not something they expected. Ultimately, the entire front door and door jam of my trailer had to be removed to get a new fridge installed. He actually said the words, "I know you've been upset. PLEASE DON'T HATE US." Very human of him, which is all I wanted anyway, just a little bit of sympathy. As a waitress, you learn this very quickly as a key tool in customer service. 

I'm Safety Sadie in the helmet.
Moments after the call, I was picked up by Wayne, my neighbor (a cousin too, I think) and Brent's business partner, to join he and his family for a day of 4-wheeling in the Pembina Gorge. Man, it was exactly what I needed. 

It was a perfect day, weather wise and there were 7 of us on 5 vehicles and we found some beautiful, challenging trails that made me forget everything and instead, worry about not harming myself. Of course, I was the only one with a manual transmission (I borrowed Brent's vehicle) and also the only one wearing a helmet. 

By the end of the day, I had run into a tree, smashed into another vehicle and doused myself in mud. It was glorious. The scenery was just lovely and the company was friendly and supportive, a fun group. After several hours of serious trail riding, we all went back to the house and ate Sloppy Joe's, potato salad and Juneberry pie. The entire afternoon was such a perfect antidote to my awful week, it might as well have come in pill form.

Cousin Donna - ready to roll.
The next day, Mae arrived, and I was back on the farm. Hallelujah! 

 The young man who delivered her, Darryl, checked off the list: 
  • New refrigerator
  • Stove light fixed
  • New outside storage keys - old one bent.
  • Awning wand
I tipped Daryl just enough for lunch and he left. I went to pull down the awning and only half would come down, it was now broken.  I shouted aloud: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" I could still see Darryl's truck driving down the road so I called him and said, "Come back!" 

He did and we spent the next 30 minutes trying to fix the damn awning. He called his boss. We scratched our heads and finally, got it back to normal. When he finally did leave, I was afraid to move, fearing the discovery of the Next Broken Thing. 

Finally, I relaxed, grabbed my pick-up (which is NOT the same thing as a truck, I've learned) and began moving my food from the shop fridge to my new trailer fridge. I was nearly done, when I backed up my pick-up to park into my outdoor garage when I hit something...

Fire pit owie.
I could only laugh like a maniacal idiot. Apparently, too many working parts make up this scene - something must always be broken. 'As long as it isn't me, things are fine,' I thought to myself.  The next day, the shop fridge quit.

Frostfire Theater
So, on Saturday night, I went to see a sweet little show about Johnny Cash, then made a huge meal for myself, got tipsy, watched 'Breaking Bad' - Season 1, Episode 1 & 2 and passed right the hell out.

Week over.


quirkychick said...

Yay! You made it! Had a vacation, sold your first vegetables (they are beautiful BTW), rode ATVs and didn't hurt yourself, you have a new frig and an art piece for a fire ring.

Despite it's challenges you are totally having a bitchen summer.

Heather Clisby said...

Once again, a friend's perspective makes me feel heaps better. Thanks, buddy!

JustAGirl said...

Despite all your hurdles, I'd swap my summer for yours any day! Maybe I can figure out how someday. Love you!

Heather Clisby said...

Or maybe you can start with a visit someday? We can discuss when I'm in the Bay Area next spring.

Anonymous said...

What will I read when you leave SCRanch. I love your adventure. Miss Clisby you are just plain lovable. I have very fond memories of you. WHAT A WOMAn

Heather Clisby said...

Dang! Please reveal yourself, Anonymous, so I can say all the same things back to you!

Sugar Titz, Esq said...

Well, that was a heckuva ride ... so glad you're back on track again. And with Johnny Cash to bookend it all. xo

Lindsay said...

For what it's worth, I think it's really cool you're living in North Dakota. You're doing something fun, adventurous, different and brave. Think of all of the folks living in big cities that are just doing the same shit every day. Bravo for taking a leap of faith and working the land. Nice to meet you last night!

Melissa said...

I sat next to you during your wonderful BlogHer session -- and am now enjoying your blog so very much! Kudos for those luscious looking beets (speaking as one who has a VERY hard time keeping my indoor aloe plant alive and unwittingly kills plants....)....What an adventure you are on! I look forward to reading more!

Heather Clisby said...

Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement, Sugar Titz, Lindsay and Melissa. On my dark days, I go back and re-read them, I swear.