Friday, November 03, 2006

Home sweet home

Ah, yes.

I went to bed at 10:00 last night--actually, 9:00 if you count the hour I spent snoring in front of a perfectly good episode of CSI. I got up this morning, made a pear clafoutis, started drying some Principe Borghese tomatoes in the dehydrator, and have been writing my current article very industriously.

The leaves are in their fullest burst of fall color, and the air is crisp. While I was gone, the s.o. built a new chicken run (they will now be able to be switched back and forth between two, so that they have better pasture) and has almost finished a fence around the garden.

It was a really wonderful wedding, and a productive and well-put-on conference, but I am so glad to have some time at home. I even get tomorrow morning off, because in my absence, my farmer's market friends have decided to close up shop for the season. Yes, I'm a little sad about that, but right now I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

So let's catch up, shall we? There was truly lovely weather in St. Louis for the wedding, and the event was of the relaxed, happy type where everyone stands around with a drink in his or her hand and pokes fun at the groom, who is forced to leave the bride, minister, and audience in mid-ceremony while he procures a set of car keys and runs to get the rings out of the glove box. The venue was decorated with bright-colored Japanese lanterns. There were lots of props--at one point, everyone at my table was wearing wax lips (some regular, some with vampire fangs). I noticed the bride's parents wearing them, too.

Because the groom is a musician and the bride is a booking agent, the music at the reception was outlandishly good: Steve Dawson (of Dolly Varden) backed by Kelly Hogan's band, playing soul classics. Many wedding bands know "Let's Stay Together." Very few can nail it like they did.

I saw a lot of dear friends that I don't see often enough. I also made some new friends: the bride's best friend is a large-animal vet tech student, and we got along like gangbusters. And my roommate, a booking agent from Austin, Texas, was a gem. She was even gracious when I overenthusiastically invited everyone to our hotel room for the afterparty.

Some of you may recall that a certain baseball team won the World Series while we were in their town. One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when some friends and I were walking near the Soulard Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. A very drunk gentleman lurched up to me on the street and demanded: "Where's the parade?" (I don't know, but I do know it was scheduled for Sunday.)

After a little shopping, I attempted to leave town on Sunday afternoon. I didn't get far. About half an hour into Illinois, my car started intermittently losing power at highway speeds. I couldn't get above 60 miles per hour without it stalling. So I stopped at the next exit, New Baden. There was a girl named Holly at the Shell station there who let me use her cell phone (mine had, of course, just run out of minutes) to call AAA. Then, when we determined that AAA couldn't find a single soul within a 40-mile radius to work on a car on Sunday, she called all her friends in order to find some help for me. Two brothers named Sean and Mike showed up, popped the hood of my car, and stood around pointing at things for a while. They didn't fix it--I don't think they could have, unless it had happened to be something really simple--but they did something almost as valuable: They gave me really solid, kind advice at a time when I desperately needed it. I followed their instructions and backtracked three exits to a Holiday Inn Express that happened to be practically next door to a Dobbs Tire Center.

Sean and Mike wouldn't take the beer Holly and I had promised them. All three of the Good Samaritans told me the same thing: "Just do the same for someone else next time they need it." What wonderful people.

Monday morning the folks at Dobbs Tire Center swapped out my fuel filter, which was 50 percent clogged, and I drove without incident all the way to Clarksville, Tennessee. Then the stalling began again, although less severely. I tearfully called the guy at the repair shop (I don't think the recurrence was his fault, but I didn't know what else to do). Their business was a St. Louis-area one, so there were no Dobbs stores near me who could honor their warranty. I was pretty sure there might be rust in the gas tank that was causing the fuel system to re-clog. What could I do?

Finally the old joke came to me:

Doctor, doctor! It hurts when I do this.

Well, stop doing that!

If the car stalled at speeds of 60 mph or greater, the obvious solution was to drive home at 55 mph. So I did. And I got home at midnight, having experienced no further trouble.

The next morning I was due at a big three-day conference in Atlanta that was hosted by my biggest magazine client. (I took the other car, of course. It makes three distinct, er, interesting noises that it probably shouldn't make, but it can be driven much faster.) I got to see a lot of great people, and even took a couple of my editors out on the town Wednesday night. It was a blast, frankly, but it would have been even better if I had had more sleep and less stress the day before it started. Oh, well. Can't have everything!

Did you know we are now getting 5 eggs a day? Sweet.