Spinning Plates in Ashfield

Notes from Nan: Damn Plates Keep Falling Off
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parat

Remember on Ed Sullivan the guy with the plates? He maneuvered tall poles with plates spinning wildly atop each one to frenetic music, usually, I believe, the Saber Dance. Somewhere in my reptilian brain I remember having made reference to the plate spinner before in one of these e-mails—so solidly ensconced is this man and his mission in my brain! See, you kids now, you have to depend on fools making further idiot of themselves on Reality TV for your entertainment—we had the plate man! And that was damn good entertainment for us!

Anyway, the plates spun neatly and practically without attention all summer long at Elmer’s (oh! This has to do with Elmer’s!) and I, the head plate-spinner nearly had naught to do but read a book and glance up there every now and again to make sure they hadn’t slowed their centrifugal chore. Much of this was due to one young woman, Gin Brooks who became what Rob continually called Employee of the Month, as she just stepped in and did anything that needed doing all summer long, giving many people long-needed days off from behind the counter and we appreciate that!

Then she went off to college and that, along with a few other motion-stopping events propelled me back into action with my plates.

Waitress Kelly went off to become a full-time, full-fledged nurse in New Hampshire and Molly who was our Monday – Wednesday cook all summer long decided to go off to school. That was bad enough, but then Mary, our longtime since-the-beginning cook decided that life was not quite interesting enough and so, accepted a job offer to cook at a frat house at U-Mass! Apparently the boys are nice ones, not at all the traditional yucky frat boys of other houses, movies and newspaper articles, and they hang out waiting to find out what she’s making for them every day. She will continue to cook at Elmer’s with Jim on Sunday mornings and that makes me happy—not only because we really need her, but because she and Jim are hilarious together at the grill and stove and, if we had a bigger kitchen, I’d invite you to go in and watch them. But since our kitchen is the size of your hallway closet, you can’t do that.

We’ve gotten along pretty well though, even with those exits: Kelly brought in two of her friends who are now waitressing—Meghan and Elissa and we like them a lot. Through a flat-out miracle we got Bonnie who started cooking breakfast yesterday morning (for us—she’s cooked for the rest of the world since about the time we were all watching Ed Sullivan) and her arrival has got those plates calmed down again. And then we found Tom, our new afternoon barista, direct from Double Edge Theater where he was last seen cavorting with Don Quixote. So that was all good and I nearly relaxed.

But then! Just when you think you can go back to reading your book, Little Donna Elwell ends up with a situation in which she needs to be gone for a few weeks and Miss Scarlett, I do not know NOTHING about handling no produce, DESPITE having been fired TWICE from the produce department at Whole Food Company in 1983!

But I’m gonna try. SO! If you think the produce is looking not quite as right as it usually does, that’s because you have me instead of Donna until September 19th. (Mark that date on your calendar.) I will be ordering and stacking produce, so we will still have it (so what ever you do, do NOT run off to somewheres else!) but I also didn’t want you to think that Elmer’s produce was on the decline. It is only on the dip, but will come back to right on September 19th. (Put that date on your calendar.) So we will still have produce, local produce, exotic produce like bananas and lemons and maybe even some things that Little Donna never even thought of! (Like, like lychee nuts and, and cherries and stuff!) So what ever you do, do not give up! And Donna will be back on September 19th. (Put that in your datebook.)


Food! Dinner!

  • Mutter Paneer and Chicken! A curry of peas, tomatoes, fresh paneer (a firm Indian Cheese made by Paul and Amy at Sidehill Farm!) and Sidehill Farm yogurt and chicken.
  • Served with Brown Rice and Naan bread.


  • Mutter Paneer! A curry of peas, tomatoes, fresh paneer (a firm Indian Cheese made by Paul and Amy at Sidehill Farm!) and Sidehill Farm yogurt.
  • Served with Brown Rice and Naan bread.

Y’all see that “Naan Bread?” Apparently there’s another kind of Indian bread called “Paratah” and people from India always think my name is SO FUNNY!

And then, in Spanish Parati means, “For you!”

In Italian Parati means, “Wallpaper.” Now that really is kind of weird.

Rob’s Grocery Talk with Rob


If the real thing don’t do the trick…

It appears that Ann and Nancy Wilson, founders of the rock outfit “Heart”, have issued a “cease and desist” order to the McCain-Palin campaign for using the song Barracuda.

Oooooohh, cha cha- Barracuda! Brings back memories of camping with my brother Chip and his best friend Dale. Chip and Dale. Only we didn’t camp out in the wilderness. Instead, we would bike to an actual campground where they had facilities. Showers, swimming pool, a convenience store. That’s hardcore camping right there, folks.

But the most important facility was the arcade. That’s where the action was. Pinball machines, foosball, jukebox, Tombstone pizza…

Okay, let me back up a bit. It was all about meeting girls from out of town. Bored girls our age who were being dragged around the country in station wagons and campers. The plan was always the same: pick out a cute one at the pool, get her name, meet her at the arcade that night, crank up Barracuda on the jukebox, woo her with your pinball expertise, and bring her back to your bachelor tent for some makin’ out. Yes, very creepy. You’ll be glad to know the plan never worked. Not for me, anyway. Chip n’ Dale pulled it off once, and I never heard the end of it.

But that jukebox had some heavy hitters, man. Life In The Fast Lane, Slow Ride, Barracuda, Jamie’s Cryin’, and if you were REALLY workin’ it, you would throw in a little Andy Gibb at the end of the night, just to show your romantic side.

Just a few years ago, I found myself in a band that had Barracuda on the set list. That song is just hell on bass players. Pluck plucka-pluck plucka-pluck plucka-pluck plucka. Repeat for eight minutes or until your right hand seizes up, whichever comes first. It also occurs to me that unless it is your job to sing it, you don’t know any of the words. Let’s take a look at one verse.

Back over time we were all
Trying for free
You met the porpoise and me
No right no wrong, selling a song-
A name, whisper game.

Huh? (Note to the Seventies: Don’t make me get in my time machine and come back there to kick your ass for that).

So I agree with Heart on this one. Let’s keep Barracuda where it belongs: tucked away on the B side of a 45, next to Hotel California, in a jukebox, upstairs at the K.O.A., where the smell of Tombstone pizza mixes with raging hormones, just a short walk from my tent.

My lonely, lonely tent.

Grocery Talk

In the coming weeks, I’m going to modify (and later expand) our bulk section to include more baking ingredients. Kim, our new baker, (blame her for all those wonderful new muffins and scones) needs lots of fun stuff and I want it to be available to you folks as well! And since we’re slouching toward baking season anyway, please check Elmer’s Store for things like chocolate chips, coconut, almonds, dried fruit, and the like. Hopefully I’ll have things going in a couple of weeks.

Time to call the guy on the BMW motorcycle again because you people are just diggin’ that Berkshire Blue Cheese! Yep, sold right out of that last batch. This cheese is so good you’ll plan a party around it.

See you next week,


So as you know, there is no Farm Report again this week.  Why?  Because I’m in charge of it and I have no idea what I’m ordering!  So it will be an adventure to come in and see what I order!  I know I can’t wait to find out!


Big E

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