Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Free dandelions don't come cheap

Yes, I went to my parents' for lunch. Actually, I arrived well after lunch, after getting the tire fixed in Woodland. I stopped by on my way to pick up my older son from school, had some time to kill, got fed, chastised and sent on my way.

It started with a complement from Mom. She liked my slacks, a dark grey wool blend cargo pant from JJill. Every time I have on something she hasn't seen before, she turns it into an opportunity to lament how no one ever takes her shopping any more. Not true...I'll leave it at that.

So next we head out to the backyard. She loves to show me her vegetables and flowers. She showed me a potted burgundy chrysanthemum that she kept since last Thanksgiving. I gave it to her. It's flowering again. Mom has quite the green thumb. When the time comes that she has to move in with me, we're going to have to have a small hot house and a raised bed vegetable patch. Just to keep her occupied.

I saw the new young fava beans that are now six inches tall and sprouting enough leaves for a small addition to salads. The leaves of a young fava plant are absolutely the most delicious addition you can make to a salad. I'm mad for it! Last year, we had a huge snail infestation and they devoured my beloved fava beans. I am going to find an effective barrier to those ridiculous little vermin and protect those fava plants!

So then we commenced with the picking of the dandelion greens. This included being taught how to do squats, which I was told will make me lose weight. I guess she forgot that I was the one that taught her how to do them last summer.

(I haven't lost any weight from doing squats, but I can crack walnuts between my knees now...no, not really!)

Then she told me how to cook the greens...her recipe required me to drink the water afterwards, of course. I'd rather not. We came in the house, and she offered to wash the greens and cook them for me right there. This is why I bookend my visits. Otherwise there's an endless stream of mothering going on.

I reminded her I had to go pick up Quinn from school, in about 15 minutes. So she served me a plate of leftover greens and some green bean briam with, you guessed it, okra. Chunks of okra. She dressed the greens with olive oil and squeezed lemon juice on them for me. I ate, making all the appropriately appreciative sounds. Even the okra was good-ish. That's when she started telling me how I shouldn't eat so many vegetables at meal time because I would stretch out my stomach and get hungry later. She also told me that I shouldn't eat anything else today. It was 2:00 p.m. I just ate vegetables for lunch. I hadn't eaten since 7, which was a small breakfast. I'm 5'11". She's 5'1", barely. And she still thinks our appetites should be about the same.

I'm practicing not saying anything to her when she does this sort of stuff. It doesn't matter if I say something or not. Our relationship sometimes finds a gently rhythm, I drop my guard, and she goes in for the kill, usually something about my weight. She can't just leave it alone. I can either choose to pursue it or not. It doesn't matter. Someday, when her memory finally evaporates, I'm going to replace me with another large woman, I will pay her well and I will be happy, in another location. Well, that's the plan I concocted today.

Thankfully Quinn called me and wanted me to pick him up from school. It only took 10 more minutes to disentangle myself from her web of unsolicited advice. She briefly had me cornered in my dad's study when I went back to say my goodbyes.

Do I ever get to be an adult in her presence?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hunting for my passion

Last night I watched an episode from the PBS show Life (Part 2).  The series is in the format of a panel discussion and concerns itself with issues surrounding the second half of life, like finding oneself in the Sandwich Generation, aging and fear, sex after 50, etc. The show is now in its second season.

The episode I watched last night was entitled "Boomer Dating". During the course of the show, author Gail Sheehy, who has recently published Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life, talked about moving forward as a woman through the second stage of adulthood.

Watching this episode got my brain shifting gears, which led me to another sleepless night...so I'm writing under the influence of heavy dosages of caffeine at the moment. (Forgive me if I sound a little scattered.) I considered how my adult life has been a struggle between doing for others and doing things for myself. I never seem to be at peace straddling those seemingly divergent courses, but I think they're divergent because I'm approaching them without purpose. This has led me to the conclusion that I need to pin down my purpose in this life, to find my passion, and to make peace with the fact that I have responsibilities, some of which I gladly tend to, and some with great reluctance.

In my late-night research, I Googled. I found an excerpt from Gail Sheehy's latest book. She relates a lot of anecdotes from women who, compared to me, seem highly sexualized. Is that what I'm shooting for? I had a problem with that for this time in my life. I'm not feeling very sexual at all. Not that I'm not capable of experiencing and participating in my own sex life. It just feels like the desire for it has been beaten out of me for now. I finally came to the understanding that when I feel more settled and centered in my self-identity, my sexual side will re-emerge, and I will be the one to enjoy the benefit!

So, now I need to pin down my passion in life. Really tough, because my passions are varied and divergent at times, and flare up in the moment only to flame out shortly thereafter. I'll take a little time here to list some items that I feel strongly about right now, in no particular order.

  1. I want to build my own home, a sanctuary of my own where I can be comfortable with being myself, that supports my pursuits and passions of the moment. In that home I will be able to entertain guests adequately, from one close friend to a house full of spontaneous revelry. I will have a lovely yard which will seamlessly flow from the house. I will have a space dedicated to my health and welfare, and another that nurtures my creative pursuits. I envision a lot of windows, natural elements. I don't know exactly where this home will be, but I want it in town, in an older residential neighborhood. I want to take an existing structure, preserve some of its elements and update others. I'm thinking mid-century modern meets Bali style. And I see a 1954 Citroen, black, with cream leather interior in the garage. And a handsome young driver/mechanic to chauffeur me around and maintain the vehicle. (I'm already gaining peace from envisioning this home. I think I'll devote a portion of my time designing it.)
  2. I want to achieve good health and sense of well-being. For me, that requires losing weight, getting physically fit plus resolving sleep apnea, borderline type 2 diabetes and high-blood pressure. I want to feel good, vibrant enough to indulge my healthy whims of the moment. I will be hiking, biking, snow shoeing, fly fishing, sailing and traveling all over the world. I have to be in shape for that!
  3. I want to raise my sons well, equipped to embrace their adult lives, full of confidence, knowing they are loved, unfettered by trauma and guilt.
  4. I want to finish college, completing my degrees, up to MFA in creative writing.
  5. I want to write great books and plays, and see my plays produced.
  6. Eventually I want to find a great life partner, one who is not at all intimidated by me and my passions and ideas. I don't have to marry him. We don't have to be joined at the hip and listen to all the same music. I just want to have him in my life, someone who I truly love, and passionately so, who also truly loves the real me as I am. I am a faithful woman. That's got to mean something to somebody.
That's enough for now. It felt good to write it all down. I'm starting to get a vision.