Good Dog

It’s Sunday.  No alarms, no where to be.  It’s just a nice relaxing Sunday.  Except one thing.  I feel like I was run over by a truck when I wake up.  Every muscle in my body, including all those little secret ones that I’m always surprised about when I realize I have them, is completely wrenched.  My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts, my hips hurt, my legs hurt, and, yes, every cotton pickin’ toe hurts.  Even my ears feel strained.

When I get out of bed, I walk like a cowboy after a month on the trail.  It’s like my knees won’t bend and I have to rock my weight back and forth from foot to foot, swinging my legs from my hip to move forward.  This is what running down a hill with a glider on my back does to me.  Who knew it was such hard work?

I get the coffee going and then, while I wait for it to brew, I do some yoga.  I end up doing a lot of yoga, trying out virtually every restorative pose I can remember, trying to ease my body back into movement.  By the time I have spent an hour doing these gently relaxing poses, I am able to walk back to the coffee maker looking a little more like I have the joints of a human being than the joints of a barbie.

I take my cup of coffee back to the couch, but instead of sitting there, I choose my office chair instead.  I have a remarkable office chair.  For my entire career, I’ve had a bad habit of slouching down into my chair and resting my head on the back of the chair.  Given that I am tall, this requires scootching my rear end all the way to the front edge of my seat and then stretching out my legs to plant my position so I don’t drop off the edge and fall onto the floor.  From behind, people think I’m sleeping.

In any case, this posture has always left me with back pain and I could never figure out why I always slip into that position when I’m not paying attention.  Well, when I bought my own office chair, I figured out why.  It’s because my neck hurts.  All these years, what I really needed was a neck rest on my chair!  Now that I have said neck rest, it gives me a place to perch my head while I’m sitting straight up.  My office chair has eased my neck pain on more than one occasion, so I give it a try again today to see if putting the weight of my head on the rest and pushing back gently against it to stretch my neck helps.

While I do this, I work on processing photos.  I might as well do something productive while I’m sitting there.  Pat got up before me and is already on the couch nursing his sore muscles.  Although, he is in far better shape today than I am.  He stopped flying early because he wanted to protect himself from pulling his hamstring again, having just recovered from the last time.  So, he did half as many flights and launched on all of them, meaning he didn’t run all the way down the hill like those of us struggling to launch did.

I resent this about him.

After having plenty of time to relax and ease ourselves into our morning in our own ways, we decide we should ride to the market today.  While I hurt, I haven’t actually pulled or torn anything, I’m just sore.  And riding a bike gently and a short distance is a great way to get blood flowing to sore muscles and ease some of the pain.  I’m totally up for that.

We make our way across the Walnut St bridge cautiously–the crowd for the Head of the Hootch is back again today, although somewhat thinner now.  We are prepared to walk our bikes if the crowd gets too thick, but we make it across still in the saddle by riding slowly and watching out for darting pedestrians.  Fortunately, there aren’t any races going under the bridge as we cross, so the darting is minimal.

At the market, we stop to talk to Lou and Eddie, the honey and candle makers we’ve met at the market several times now.  Pat has a printout of some info about a trumpet Eddie wants to sell.  He goes through what he found with him and gives him the bad news that his trumpet is not likely to sell for a lot of money.

We move on to find lunch.  We didn’t realize how late it was getting when we left for the market and after our little ride there, we’re suddenly ravenous.  We find a hot dog stand in the back corner of the market.  It’s called Good Dog, which is a restaurant located about half a block from our apartment.  We’ve eaten there once and they serve the same mustard used in the Cleveland Indians stadium.

We each order a couple of dogs and while they cook, I get into a conversation with the owner.  They are from Akron, Ohio and the owner used to go to watch the Cleveland Indians with her grandparents.  She saw an article about how the mustard on the hot dogs there was part of what kept the Indians fans coming to the stadium even when the Indians had one of the worst records in baseball.  So, when they decided to open a restaurant that serves hot dogs, they decided to serve that mustard.

When our dogs are ready, we say our good-byes after getting directions on where to buy beer.  We didn’t realize they always sell beer at the market, not just during Oktoberfest, but there are only a couple of vendors rather than a bunch.  As we make our way towards the beer, we pause to take a bite of our dogs.  My teeth pierce the skin of the dog and juice squirts out a good 3 feet.  I laugh.  As I chew my mouthful, I’m impressed.  “Good dog!” I say.

We drink our beers and finish our dogs slowly, wandering around and checking out the vendors who are there today.  Some of the same photographers are there, including one that prints the photos on fabric so they look like a photo-painting.  I do not like this look.  As Pat says, “It should be on black velvet.”

We visit the produce vendors next and pick up some watercress, radishes, tarragon, and lettuce.  We’ve decided we’ll make my favorite salad with the first three ingredients, although we will have to supplement with a few items from the grocery store.

Having eaten, wandered, and purchased everything we could use, we decide to head on home.  The crowd on the Walnut St Bridge has grown slightly, but we’re still able to make it safely through without walking our bikes.  We get home, unload our groceries, and collapse on the couch.  Having loosened some of the kinks out of my body, I’m now completely ready for an afternoon nap.  Ahh.  It’s the life of a good dog.

Main Street Market

It’s Wednesday. We plan on going to the Main St Market tonight, but it’s only open from 4-6PM. It’s a true farmer’s market with less craft stuff and more food stuff, from what we’ve heard. We’re hoping to find good local produce priced more reasonably than the Greenlife Grocery store. But, in order to get there with time to shop before they close, I will need to take a break from work no later than 4:45PM.

I am having one of those busy days with a calendar so full of meetings that I just keep collecting action items throughout the day. I manage to get some things done during the last call of the day, but I have only 45 minutes to make sure I get anything I need today from anyone in my time zone so I can finish up on the other items I need to get done today after I get back from the market. This, of course, takes longer than expected and we find ourselves rushing to get to the market at the last possible minute.

We grab our bikes and get downstairs as fast as we can. Then we realize rush hour has started and we need to revise our planned route. We will take Walnut St bridge instead of Market St, although it seems wrong that we would not take Market St to the market. It’s a beautiful fall evening to be out riding, even at rush hour. Once we make it to Walnut and start our way up this wood-surfaced bridge, the old nursery rhyme “To market, to market” starts in my head to the rhythm of our tires rolling over the wood planks. We, however, will not be buying any of the nursery rhyme items.

As we exit The Walnut St bridge, we realize we have the problem that we don’t actually know where we’re going. The Main St Market is somewhere on Main (yep, figured that part out all by ourselves) between Market St and Broad St. We know where Market and Broad are, but not where Main St is. We want to stay on Walnut as long as possible to avoid traffic, but we aren’t sure if Main and Walnut intersect. We cruise South and decide as long as we keep going South, we have to hit Main at some point. This turns out not to be true. Or, at least we run out of road before we hit Main. Then we have to go West to get to another road that goes South and we find the roads so confusing that we aren’t sure whether we could have gone around Main or not and are unsure of whether we’re too South or not South enough. We pull over and google.  As one might have predicted, we are not South enough.

We find just how South we need to be and head on down the road, finding the market just where google says it is. We are somewhat relieved that there are not that many tents set up–we wouldn’t have had time to peruse them all if it would have been a big market. Although fewer tents means fewer options, given that the season for fresh produce is winding down, I don’t know that even having 10 more vendors would have made the selection significantly more varied.

We circle our way around the market, selecting fresh green beans, gorgeous yams, and a bunch of multi-colored radishes that resemble a bouquet of flowers. Then, we get to a stand with wheat and wheat flour. I am tempted to buy some wheat four just to see if it works for bread, but I remind myself how long it’s been since I last made bread and decide I’m not likely to take up bread making as a hobby any time soon. Instead, we strike up a conversation with the wheat farmer and learn that he teaches Spanish at one of the local schools and farms wheat in his spare time. He tells us that he has wheat all year long here and that the market stays open, although the hours go to 4-5 in December when there isn’t enough light to see after 5. I had forgotten about the short days coming–I guess the longer duration of daylight savings time has me thrown.

Next, we visit Lou and Eddie’s stand. We met them at the Oktoberfest market and have been enjoying their honey for the past few days. Although we have met them inly two times briefly and as customers, I feel like we’re visiting old friends. Lou takes me to a cheese maker’s booth and has me try the cheeses. The cheese maker suggests the milder of her two cheeses to try with slices of honeycomb (also purchased on Sunday). I then return to Lou’s booth and we end up chatting about hair while Pat and Eddie finish their conversation. Eddie tells us he’s going to be semi-retired soon. I suggest he should label his honey “Limited Edition” and charge more.

Next, we hit the last few stands, getting a few purple peppers and a small, heavy loaf of whole wheat bread with a crisp crust. Pat selects the bread and then asks how much it is. We are both surprised when the baker says it’s $6–the produce has all be very reasonably priced.  Pat nearly hands it back to her, but doesn’t since he didn’t ask before she bagged it. We contemplate the loaf of bread and wonder if it’s baked with gold, which would explain both it’s price and it’s weight. As we walk away, I wonder if we got the “let’s see how much you fools are willing to spend on bread” price and if, perhaps we were supposed to barter.

As we return to the honey stand to say our good-byes (we really didn’t need to rush so much to get here after all), a car goes by in the street and a man with a bull horn leans out the window and starts saying things. Everyone looks puzzled–either the bullhorn or alcohol has garbled the man’ speech and no one can understand what he’s trying to say. Fortunately, he moves on.

On the way back, we decide to turn off Market St early so we can avoid going up a really steep hill to the Walnut St bridge. However, we had failed to notice on the way out that Walnut is one-way between the bridge and where we are and we are now going to the wrong way.  Because the road is narrow and has parked cars, we decide not to risk it and go around the block instead.  As we wait to cross a fairly busy intersection, a guy with a bullhorn drives buy, also barking unintelligibly from the car window.  I ask Pat, “Was that the same guy as over at the Market?”  and Pat says, “There was a guy with a bullhorn at the market?  What’d he say?”  I have to laugh because of course, no one knows and I am also amused that Pat was apparently engrossed in a conversation to the extent that he missed a guy with a bullhorn.  In any case, since the odds of there being two such men with bullhorns seem smaller than the odds of there being one, I have to assume that it’s the same guy, driving around Chattanooga looking for people to shout something at.  I wonder if he is just having fun and doesn’t care that no one can understand him or if he actually believes he has an important message that everyone must hear and doesn’t realize no one can understand him?  Either way, it’s clearly a poor choice of communication methods.  One of my favorite (mis-)quotes from Emerson pops into my head:  “Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”  The fact that the bullhorn makes the shouting literal in this case makes me smile.

When we return home, I roast the sweet potatoes and green beans in the oven while Pat prepares salmon.  We try the bread and it’s good, but not $6 good.  I go back to work between cooking and eating and then manage to finish up the critical items I needed to get done today in another couple of hours after we eat.  I am wound up after working late all week and take my iPad to bed with me in the hope of getting my mind off work enough to fall asleep.  When at last I drift off, I think of the man with the bullhorn one last time and smile.

Sunday Market

This morning, we will return to the Oktoberfest market, but this time to buy produce and honey.  We pack a couple of grocery bags into my panniers and head to the elevator with our bikes.  We’ve worked out a routine to fit both bikes in the elevator, but I always forget what it is, enter the elevator the wrong way, and end up having to pick up my bike (heavy with gear) and swing it around the make room for Pat.  Each time this happens, I think I should let Pat go into the elevator first, but then I forget the next time.   This is partly because he stands back to let me go in first, which I think is a secret ploy to amuse himself because he laughs at me every time.

We do make it into the elevator eventually.  And the elevator, which has been remarkably better behaved of late (or else we’ve just developed our elevator button pushing skills to its liking), takes us to the first floor with only a slight pause after closing the doors before it starts to move.  We roll our way out the door and down the ramp to the parking lot where we stop to put on helmets and sunglasses.  Unfortunately, I put my helmet on first and then remember that I can’t fit my sunglasses under my helmet unless I put them on first.  I take the helmet off, put on the sunglasses and replace the helmet.

I think it’s taken us longer to get ready to ride than the ride will take.  But, finally ready, we hit the road and head up towards the Walnut St Bridge.  Having safely crossed the river, we work our way through downtown, back towards the Tennessee Pavilion for the second day in a row.  Pat comments as we approach the Pavilion only a few minutes later about how much faster it is to ride a bike 2 miles than it is to walk.  Even at our slow riding pace, it’s about 3X faster.

When we get to the market, it’s far more crowded today than it was yesterday.  I guess all the regulars of the Sunday market are here today along with the extra crowd attracted by Oktoberfest.  There is no place to put our bikes and we didn’t bring a lock anyway, so we walk them through the pavilion with us.  This works well in that it allows me to use my panniers as a shopping cart.

Pat crosses in front of a woman who is, predictably, out of shape.  She has to pause for a couple extra seconds while Pat rolls his bike by.  He overhears her comment to her friend “they shouldn’t allow those in here.”  Pat tells me this and I look around.  There are parents pushing strollers, people in wheelchairs, even a man pulling a wheeled cart with oxygen on it.  I find myself thinking I’ll be walking around her wheelchair in a few more years if she doesn’t start taking care of herself and decide it’s OK if she has to walk around our bikes in the interim.

We work our way around the produce section, picking up some gorgeous bib lettuce (and I don’t call bib lettuce “gorgeous” often), watercress, and another lettuce whose name escapes me.  I also pick up some goat cheese and then we head over to see Eddie and Lou, the honey and candle makers.  Eddie gives us tastes of three different honeys and we end up buying a jar of sourwood honey with a hint of blackberry juice.  Apparently, there were overly ripe berries that attracted the bees enough that it slightly changed the flavor of the honey.  It’s really good.  I had no idea that there was that much control over what the bees collect nectar from that you could end up with honey that was from only one type of flower.  Eddie and Pat are busy chatting about other things or I would have asked more questions about how this works.  Along with the honey, we also buy a honeycomb, which Lou tells us is really nice to slice and serve with cheese.

Next we look for bread.  We’re disappointed by the first bread vendor in that all of their crusts are soft.  We walk/roll over to the second vendor and find only their baguette has a crisp crust, so that’s what we buy.  Next, we look for apples and tomatoes.  We’re disappointed to learn that the vendors there don’t have heirloom tomatoes and the first vendor doesn’t grow their tomatoes organically.  However, the second vendor doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides, although she’s not certified organic.  We buy some of her tomatoes and then head over to the apples.

This is where I get into trouble.  I have a very specific way of placing my fingers on apples and exerting gentle, even pressure so that I can tell if an apple is crisp without bruising them.  The woman selling the apples gets upset with me because she doesn’t want her apples bruised.  While I can understand that she can’t have everyone coming over and squeezing her apples all day and, therefore, she can’t let me squeeze her apples even if I have a special talent for it (is this starting to sound like it’s no longer rated PG?), she really didn’t have to be rude.

Unfortunately, she is having troubles with her inner jerk today.  And this causes my inner jerk to rise from the little snooze she’s been taking.  Imagine the introductions:  “Inner Jerk, meet Inner Jerk.”  Fortunately, before my inner jerk can get one word out, I say, “OK, Thanks,” and run off as quickly as I possibly can, leaving Pat standing with both our bikes, unable to follow.  I recognize that Pat is not behind me relatively quickly and circle back around realizing I’ve left him stuck.  As I get close to the apple stand, I approach from an angle where the woman is unlikely to see me.  I explain to Pat that I need to get out of there and we head off, apple-less.

We ride back a different route, working our way up to Walnut St early so as to avoid a very steep climb up to the bridge.  Unfortunately, it turns out part of Walnut St is one-way the wrong way and we have to take a detour to get back to it.  But, we make it to the bridge safely and navigate the tourists successfully, returning home with our goodies in a much better mood.

I can’t wait to try the honeycomb and immediately slice up some bread and start spreading goat cheese and honeycomb on it.  The bread is more of a “if you can’t find good bread and you need something in a pinch” variety of bread and the goat cheese is good but typical, but the honey comb makes it all seem special.  I am hooked.