Sunday, July 4, 2010

Waste not, want not.


Waste not, want not. Again. A title I have used before for another post from another time in my life. It is an adage I come back to over and over (even though I waste time and time again), maybe because it reminds me of my grandma Kroeker. I have no idea if she even said it, probably, but I attach it strongly to her. Her fabric shears come with me where ever I go, and stay razor sharp even as the years since they first came, pass. Sometimes I forget all about her, this tiny woman named Annie, my dad's mother. She was around growing up, it wasn't like I never saw her. She frightened me a little, if anything. But I also loved her fiercely and respected the way she kept the things that made sense (most of the time, from what I remember) and the way moved, quick as light. That woman worked. Go Annie go. She liked to garden and had a way with plants. Lately, I have been drawn to flowers and gardens in this city like a bee to the hive. I think of her then. Not sure where this is coming from, but a grandmother shout out (dead or alive) is nothing new around these parts. Gr. Annie, respect.

Moving on.

It is unquestionably summer. That fact became quite factual last night near four in the morning while Mitch and I walked a sad lap around the block in the wet heat waiting for the fire trucks to clear from our front door and the Listener from the second floor to go back to bed along with the rest of us. I was half asleep anyway and was surprised how the groggy details stayed with me today, and replayed themselves as I worked my second shift in yet another hot kitchen (a really good one).

Just before said lap, we were asleep under a sheet with yellow stripes. A siren went off and woke us; but not the same kind of siren one would expect to beckon other sirens in the dead of the night. It was two sounds all at once; a startling hi and a disturbing low wrapped around each other in pitch, like a droning coil of rope. The kind of drone that made sense after five, maybe three minutes of confusion. When Mitch said the word, "fire" in the middle of a string of other words I wasn't able to catch, our quiet but urgent search for passports, cameras and pants ensued. After that, Mitch steered a half sleeping Megan down three flights of stairs and outside into the heat. Then the worried/confused/semi-conscious stroll around the neighborhood began when really, we should have been twitching in our separate sleeps all along.

Regardless, there was no fire. But there was a good lesson: know where your (important) shit is. Set one's priorities (god only knows what set in motion said chain of events last night, but it was still a good lesson). The closer we drew to Point B, and the further away we walked from where we first began, the easier I was with the idea of not having to pack a damn thing for Montreal. "It is only stuff", said the handsome man who hauled the kerfluffled little woman down the grey stairs. "I know", le sigh.

Interesting night, at the least.

And then I slept through my alarm because SLEEP IS IMPORTANT (under the S section on our chalkboard). How I am able to maintain a job at times is a mystery. I was an hour late (on my second shift, shit!) and my boss was firm lipped, but gracious (I cleaned the fridge as penance in between buttering toast and mincing garlic). This kitchen job? What a job so far. Definitely one of the most challenging I have had in quite some time (save for bad and or swamp planting days), I like it a lot. This kitchen is tucked away inside the back of the Black Sheep Diner on the corner of Ellice and Langside. We have an interesting clientele. Today we served every one from students to babies to complaining hippies to happy hippies to hipsters to grandmothers to tea parties to strict vegans to pastors to that guy who burst in at close with a sticker on his nose while us four women ate a meal together in our aprons. "I'm looking for fries". We were closed and we don't serve fries. We sent him to the Albert Street Diner. They have fries there.

It is a sparse kitchen but well planned considering the amount of space. There are two skinny work stations (that make sense; the kitchen was clearly planned by a person who understood food service) and two sinks. There is a flat top (a piece of kitchen equipment that is completely foreign to me) under a speaker that plays whatever Naomi is in the mood for (today it was Tool and the 'Wild at Heart' soundtrack, go figure) and a large fridge filled with only things that are necessary. Well planned, no waste. Angela cooks and I prep. Usually in the last hour or two of my shift, she will announce that it is time for me to take over the flat top. Okay, holy shit. I didn't know how to make an omelet until a few days ago. She, whose resemblance to Charlotte Gainsbourg is uncanny, taught me how to poach eggs last week. Today it was pancakes. Thanks Ang. On my first day, she turned to me while I was standing in front of the stove wielding the short metal grease scraper (awkwardly) in my left hand and the long metal spatula/lifter (awkwardly) in my right, and said, "Megan, the eggs can tell when you're nervous". All this while I was busy mutilating my over easies nervously. Still working on it. I like it.

Anyway, it is a great little restaurant with warm service that makes honest food for nice people. Bringing out the garbage today, again I couldn't believe how little waste there was (in comparison to other kitchens I have worked in) and it was a nice reminder to buy and cook only what is necessary. People eat the food they order there. That that is a novelty is a shame.

There are lots of things going on at the moment as days ease themselves away from the one before. We are really moving, and it is starting to settle in. Erin is getting married to Derek. Andrea is home to a baby. Sula is moving to Berlin. Mitch is kind and patient as the day is long and I am happiest in my home or in this new kitchen or riding my bike or looking at flowers. But most of all, I am so glad we are going together.

Enjoy your summer.

Margot Polo

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