Friday, March 25, 2016

Serving Chipmunk

Occasionally restaurants have a homeless guy living around their dumpster that the staff take in and share food and clothes with. I think its because often times restaurant employees live one paycheck away from homelessness themselves.

My own twist on that scenario is a young man that I've recently befriended. I've never met him, mind you, but we've chatted for hours online. I call him Chipmunk.

Chipmunk is an 18-year old high school senior who is gay but not out, and is not in the most comfortable home environment. We've talked about work, dating, and most recently DIY craft projects. All of this happens while he sits in his car using free wi-fi hotspots around town. His favorite is a coffee shop which recently changed its password. I invited him down to our building where we don't use a password, plus I felt it was safer if he was on my property where we could take care of him a bit.

Early on in our "relationship," fearing that he might be homeless (he's not), I asked if he wanted some food near the end of my night. He was so polite in refusing the food, but it was clear from his response that he wouldn't mind a little food. I still don't know if its because of his home life or just being a teenage boy. So I told him I would put a plate on the back of my car and he could get it when he wanted it. No one was in the lot, so I returned to the kitchen only to peek out the window and see that not minutes later the plate was gone. We repeated this process many times over the weeks, always seeing the plate returned in time for my end-of-day dish washing. Always cleaned to the bottom. And always an appreciative text from him. I've learned he is a very adventurous eater, and he wants to learn to make chocolates - my type of kid!

Last week, out of context he asked me what my favorite soda was. Now, I had an inkling so I didn't go into adult mode about how I don't drink sodas and calories and caffeine and blah, blah, blah. I just said Coke. He responded, "Don't leave!!!!!!" So I waited. Ten minutes later I received another text, "Okay, you can go now." I walked out and right by the door was a massive super duper sized coke from Sonic along with this note.

What a sweet kid, right?

Then last night he, out of the blue, asked me if I had ever seen a cloud lamp (go google them), which I hadn't. Well he was going to make one for his bedroom tonight. I assumed he was at home when he texted, he was in the parking lot, in his car again. He texted, "Damn! I don't have an outlet." I asked if I could throw him a power cord. He was reluctant, but I promised it would be easy. Next thing you know I'm tossing a 50' cord into the parking area. I came inside and Chipmunk stretched the cord to his car.

Almost three hours later worth of chatting and I was ready to go home. I always warn him so he can run away. This time I added, "I wish I could see that cloud lamp lit up inside your car." He just sent back "LOL." Moments later my server stepped out the back door first, and one step out and she screeched.  Then I took a step and saw why - pitch black parking lot with an old junky car that we couldn't really see inside except for a glowing cloud lamp the size of a basketball hovering above the stick shift! I burst out loudly, "That is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" And it was. Chipmunk, the king of backseat DIY projects, had built a cloud lamp in the back of his car, in my parking lot, during a busy dinner rush.

I don't know if I'll ever see him, or what impact I'm having on Chipmunk, but he's bringing me immense joy.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Morel Hunting Season Is Here

I'm in a precarious location. On one hand I'm way down south almost to the Mexican border. On the other, I'm up in the high desert mountains of the Gila Wilderness. So as morel season approaches I never know how early to go out looking. So yesterday I did a little recon at a spot that has a strong riparian area - the convergence of Big Dry and Spruce creeks starting at the Little Dry trailhead.

Not an easy hike, which is why I'm willing to share the location. 4 or 5 miles in of rugged burned earth with numerous water crossing. Lexi pooch and I loved it though.
Signs are good for other mushrooms when the rains come. And as with all trails in the Gila Wilderness, wild strawberries are abundant.
But, no morels on this trip. I'll be out as soon as the rains roll in.

BTW, my cookbook is available for pre-order at