Sunday, November 13, 2016

Memphis Farmers Market

Pecans at the Memphis Farmers Market! Yep, it's that time of year and I'm back in the south! My grandparents lived on a bayou in north Louisiana and had at least one pecan tree in the back yard. My brother and I used to take paper grocery sacks and pick pecans up off the ground. I was never good at cracking them  open. My grandfather and uncles could do it with their bare hands. We also used to go crawfishing in that bayou with nets and raw bacon. Our haul wasn't even enough to compete with a shrimp cocktail but we were thrilled.

I always feel a little rude at a farmers market, mostly because I want to buy something from every booth. But I know that's not reasonable. It's almost the end of the season for the vendors here in Memphis and sadly, this was my first trip down there since moving back. The weather was chilly Saturday morning. I wore a fleece, but I always underestimate how cold my fingers will get. I needed gloves.

Naturally, there were lots of gourds to be had, but the peppers were plentiful too. I can't get enough of the colors of fresh produce!

Krista and I did a lap to check out the produce, then came back around to buy.

In my bag: a basket of peppers, mustard greens, garlic and chive goat cheese from Bonnie Blue Farm in Waynesboro, TN, basil, and lots of bread to split with friends. For me, fresh english muffins, a bag of chiabatta rolls, half a baguette and half a loaf of the garlic rosemary focaccia. Clearly I was in it for the carbs. I'm going to have to get inventive with my recipes.

While debating exactly how much bread might be too much (no such thing), Krista and I ran into a husband and wife team out shopping for the week. These two were the epitome of supporting the local farm-to-table tradition. They were proud to say they brown-bagged lunch every day, and only ate out once every six months or so. Impressive! It's not a life I want for myself, but I'm kind of in awe of their discipline and dedication.

I think the focaccia will go in the freezer and get cubed up into a Thanksgiving stuffing.

Not to be forgotten, there was even a little something special for the pups from Farm House Barkery (get it?)! It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas!

Just two more markets this season, then it's the produce department at Kroger until April. Get downtown while you can!

The contents of my basket of peppers!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Eleven Addresses

In my adult life, I have had eleven addresses. Is that a lot? It sort of feels like a lot. What's worse? I'm definitely moving once my lease is up. Twelve.

I am a renter. Home ownership has never been part of the Meg Dream, though I have considered it a time or two. 99.9% of the time I am perfectly happy writing a monthly check for someone else to unclog the drains, paint the trim and deal with issues homeowners sweat.

The first time I lived in Memphis, I was here for nearly five years when I started to think that this might be it. I was driving around Midtown on the weekends, searching for that perfect craftsman bungalow. I didn't want a yard, but surely I could find someone to take care of one for a reasonable price. I had applied for a promotion at work and was so certain I was on the right track.

But the universe had different plans. The economy tanked, promotions evaporated and my need to advance in my career led me down the road. That's they way the cookie crumbles: one week I'm googling mortgage calculators, the next I'm pricing movers to take me to the next city.

Three years in Baton Rouge. Learned what I could. Onward.

After about five years in Cleveland, I started to think this might be it. I was driving around Bay Village on weekends, searching for that perfect craftsman bungalow. I didn't want to shovel snow, but surely I could find someone to take care of that for a reasonable price. Sound familiar?

But again, the universe had different plans. I lost my job, and instead of googling mortgage calculators, I was once again pricing movers to take me to the next city (ironically, back to Memphis!).

So you can understand my aversion to the mere thought of home ownership. It's like this poisonous fruit that hangs low. I could grab it and take on the challenge, but in the end I just know I will regret it. And frankly, I'm afraid to make the commitment. I'm a renter. I'm free to pack up and go, moving from city to city with ease. No tether. And I love that.

So when my lease is up here at my current apartment, I will give them notice that I won't be staying. I will find a place that makes me much happier in Memphis, closer to friends. Maybe even a house. To rent, of course.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Memphis National Cemetery

What do you call it when you spend part of your weekends searching for cool cemeteries? I can't find a word for it, but surely there is one.

I've been putting off a visit to Memphis National Cemetery, thinking it was just going to be row after row of white tombstones. That's pretty much what is allowed in a cemetery for fallen heroes and not much else. And that is exactly what I found and so much more.

The cemetery is laid out in what I've discovered is typical Memphis fashion for a place of final rest and history: hidden in the middle of a commercial area/sketchy neighborhood.

I almost missed the turn because you can't see the entrance from the main road. 

There's no easing into this cemetery. Right behind that wall, the monuments line up one after the other. There doesn't appear to be any space left, and as I learned, the cemetery stopped accepting new burials back in the 1990s. There are veterans from every war from the Civil War to Vietnam interred here, including one Medal of Honor recipient, James H. Robinson.

I was the only person there for a long time, giving me a great chance to take in the peaceful setting. Lots of robins and blue jays were hanging around and didn't seem to mind me. The grounds were well-kept.

As I made my way up one road and down another, one thing stuck out: there seemed to be a huge number of unknowns. Thousands of them.

Turns out, of all the national cemeteries, Memphis National Cemetery has the second highest number of unknowns, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,500 from what I could tell. Naturally, I could not find which cemetery has the highest number.

Most of the unknowns are remains recovered from local battlefields during and after the Civil War, when their graves were marked by little more than wood which had become weathered an illegible. Those soldiers will now forever rest under 100-year-old oak trees with the sounds of the nearby railroad tracks (also a Memphis cemetery scene-setter).

There are a pair of monuments on the grounds honoring Union soldiers from Illinois and Minnesota who fought in the Civil War.

Very few tombstones were adorned with any sort of memento. The rules are strict when it comes to flowers and what can be placed graveside.

I confess I really had to brush up on my history after my visit. I was truly shocked by the number of unidentified remains, but also humbled by the fact that each one received the same dignified treatment as those who will be remembered by their names, ranks, and service to our country.