Friday, July 30, 2010

Surf's Up for August

The Men of York (Maine) and their spicy calendar (raising money for charity) are back for another month. Sam Douglass and Ben Goodwin are the August pinups.

Would you post nekkid for a charity calendar? (I have it on good authority that Indigo would pose and recruit others for a "Men of Blogging" calendar.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday's Word: Kudzu

Kudzu-covered house and trees
The first time I heard about kudzu, "the weed that ate the South," I was--what?--horrified... grossed out... frightened, even. I mean, it looks downright spooky when it covers entire landscapes including houses and trees.

I have met my kudzu.

Out behind our garage is our sunniest garden spot. Currently, it's planted with catmint, a few coneflowers, and liatris. Only you wouldn't know about the liatris, because it's been smothered by a nasty little vine that has wound around the stalks and heads of the liatris, binding them together before forcing them down with its weight. 

Liatris covered in vines
I recognize this vine. It was a tiny thing, just barely making an appearance over the last few years. I didn't bother pulling it because it seemed harmless. Now it has not only taken over a big swath of garden, it has gone to seed! This hummer will be sprouting up everywhere, including all up and down the alley, where most of the neighbors also have plantings. How could this happen, I asked myself. The answer is simple. I've been enjoying the garden outside my office window, and tending to its needs. Haven't been behind the garage for weeks. Barely even glance in that direction when I'm driving in or out of the garage.

We often paraphrase the quote, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."* Also, apparently, the price of freedom from kudzu.

Healthy liatris
*This quote is variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and abolitionist Wendell Phillips; it apparently originated in a speech by John P. Curran in Dublin in 1790.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer 1985: Getting to Know You

Most people know each other pretty well when they get engaged. We had known each other two months, and had only been dating for half that time, so there were many moments over the course of the summer when we discovered things about each other--or about ourselves. Some of these moments also set things in motion for our future.

Fruit tarts vs. fish fillets. I've already mentioned that Peter did--and does--all the cooking and laundry and other what we used to call "woman's work." Meanwhile, I drove the boat and cleaned the fish. One weekend I went to my family's cabin without him. While I was gone he made "fancy French fruit tarts" for a party we were attending Monday evening at my boss's home. The way Peter told it, he was toiling at the kitchen counter with his complicated French cookbook and lovely fresh fruit when I strolled in, slapped down a handful of fish fillets, and commanded, "Fry these up for dinner." I don't think I commanded. But I may have placed the plastic bag of fish in or near the area where he was working with French pastry. It became a motif of our conversations at the party, underscoring his devotion to me and our openness to mixed gender roles. And as he reminded me this morning, he has been feeding me regularly for 25 years now.

Career vs. family. Shortly after we got engaged, Peter flew to Providence to interview for a job producing publications for the American Mathematical Society. It would have been a huge career move, and at another time in his life he might have jumped at it. But he didn't want to complicate Abby's life, or our still-new relationship. I was grateful that he didn't ask me to leave my job, family, and friends behind. It worked out for the best for him, too. Within a year or two, he would establish his own business, working from home with a flexible schedule that has made possible our major projects including the carousel and Wild Rumpus Daycare for Grandkids.

What's in a name? I decided very quickly that I would keep my own last name. I'd already built a 20-year career with it, and besides, I had thought for a long time that it was cool to keep one's own name. Which brings me to....

Telling our story. I found myself telling our story again and again, partly because people were genuinely interested and partly because it was a way to process this major life change. Certain details came to represent unique aspects of our relationship...and perhaps, in some ways, to strengthen them. Me keeping my name, him doing the cooking...these details surprised few of our friends but many of our family members.

Punchlines, part a. Sometimes in telling the story I'd go for a little shock value. Example: "Oh, I think I'm just getting married so I can keep my own name." Not true, but fun to say.

Punchlines, part b. "I met him, and two months later we were engaged....I've taken longer to pick out shoes!" This one was very true. In fact, it still is.I have very narrow, hard-to-fit feet, so I mostly buy from catalogs or online. I study styles and shapes and try to figure out what will work for me. Probably half the shoes I've ordered have gone back. In this case, my "impulse purchase" has turned out to be a wise and fabulous investment.


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