Tuesday, July 1, 2008


It's always hard to know how to help the ones we love. I never know what to say or how to respond when my sister's heart is broken again by the louts she seems to choose as boyfriends. I can't come right out and say, "Stop choosing assholes," and have to dance around the issue so I don't offend her. I think I make all the right comments and balance my advice with sympathy, but I'm never really sure. The last boyfriend, whose nicknames we gave him are not fit to print here, had everything we kept telling her to find: a solid job, a car, a home of his own, an education, some drive.

But we didn't think we had to tell her he should also have some kindness, some acceptance, and support for her dreams, not just his. We wanted desperately to like him, but he talked non-stop, was condescending to her (the part I couldn't forgive...I could always buy earplugs), and thought he had to be a know-it-all about everything so he could impress. He was also moody and insecure. A barrel of laughs, that boy. But, and this is an important but, she thought she loved him and would marry him. And so even though we're relieved that she broke up with him, we're sad that she's so sad again. How do we help? How is it possible to help her understand that there is no rush to be married, and that being single is not the worst thing in the world?

I know, easy for me to say because I'm married. But I didn't get married until a month before my 32nd birthday. And while I lamented being single the 9 years that I was, I also made peace with it. I started to view myself that way--the single aunt who takes her nieces to Europe sometimes during the summers--instead of as a "spinster," which seemed to be how society viewed me. I dreamed up all kinds of glamorous options for the single me. And then Larry came along and it didn't matter... But if he hadn't, I would have been just fine. More than fine--happy. How do I help my sister find that?

Dilemma #2: My husband LOATHES his job. He hates it so much it's upsetting his stomach, keeping him awake, and giving him hang-dog face. Last night he talked about the three things he sees as critical in relation to work: time, money, and enjoyment. Of the two, he said the only thing he gets from his current job is money. And sadly, he said that he's not willing to give that up even though the other two are lacking. Larry used to like his job, trading currencies for an investment firm, but he finally was able to explain why it's not fun anymore: no satisfaction from having done something for someone. He talked about the joy I get when a kid who comes to me a non-reader leaves with a changed attitude at the end of the school year, and said he can't find anything to parallel that in his job.

I suggested finding something that would give him that joy: volunteering to play baseball with kids, doing some kind of service for others, or even taking something like a wood-working class so that when he was done with a project he could say, "I made that, and it's awesome!" He didn't love the baseball idea (said he didn't like kids, which I think is hooey--he's great with my nieces and my students) but he was less critical of the wood-working idea. So maybe I should look into that for him. And maybe I should look into a job counselor. There must be something else he can do to make himself a little happier. (That's the key though, isn't it? We have to be responsible for our own happiness, and find it wherever we are.)

Enough deep thoughts.

Have you tried Terra Chips Sweet Potato Cinnamon chips? Good God, they're like amazing crunchy candies. They've hit on a winner with those suckers! (And they're high in fiber and vitamin A, so they're almost healthy. Lower fat, too.)

I've been playing around with salad dressings--with so much lettuce coming in from the farm, we're eating it every night. Last night I made a salad with mixed lettuces, chopped apples, sliced zucchini, and halved grapes. I was making my favorite vinaigrette--white wine vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, olive oil--when I thought, "Hmm. Grapes, apples. Cinnamon." I sprinkled in a pinch of cinnamon, whisked it all up and poured it on the salad. After I did it, I thought, "Wait, cinnamon?" But it was good! It didn't clash with anything, and it enhanced the grapes and apples. Who'da thunk it?

I planted a climbing rose yesterday, near the front porch steps. It's fragrant, and my hope is that as it grows up and vines around the railing it will be strong enough to blow in the front windows during breezes. My mock orange, planted outside the kitchen window, was finally tall enough for that this spring, and it made me very happy to have the kitchen filled with the scent of orange blossoms when the breeze blew.

I've been photographing flowers and plants this spring and summer, and I think I'm going to make a "scrapbook journal" of my garden. I need to get on to printing some of the photos currently warehoused in the camera. Digital cameras are great, but it sure is easy to let the pictures languish in them. :)

1 comment:

Lee Ann Spillane: said...

Mmmmm, cinnamon and mock orange--I love both and the scent of roses wafting in an open window. How delightful is that? Jobs, boys, gardens... wish we could meet at the bookstore and just talk it all out.