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Archive for July, 2013

Worrywarts

My little grandson Max is about 4 1/2 months old now, and I savor every moment with him. For some reason, I can’t seem to get enough of just staring at that sweet cherubic face.  I have heard that having grandchildren is the reward that God gives you for living through your own children’s teenage years.  Although I think we got off lucky with our own little teenage cherub, I am perhaps forgetting some of the craziness, as those years do seem to go by in a blur of friends, social events, messy rooms, and sleepless nights.  Back in those days, cell phones were not quite as common as they are today,  and when my daughter got her driver’s license, we got one to share.  This means, of course, that  SHE got the cell phone and I was stuck at home (she had the car, too), worrying and waiting for her arrival.  Of course she got daily reminders not to use the phone while driving, and I hoped and prayed she was following that rule as well as staying under the speed limit.  Another of the long list of rules was to arrive home on time, at or even better, BEFORE her curfew.  I was a worrywart to begin with, and having a teen driver made it a lot worse. One particular evening comes to mind:  She was supposed to be home by nine, and as usual, I was sitting home reading the Police Beat section of the local paper learning about wild underage drinking parties on the beach.   At 8:45, even though it wasn’t time yet, I wondered if she was going to be late and/or was a participant in the latest wild teenage drinking party, so I dialed the phone. (Yes, I know this was not reasonable, but the worry of the mother of a teenager can easily defy all reason).  It went to voicemail.  (Uh, oh.) After about two minutes, the phone rang (insert sigh of relief here), and she told be she was running about 10 minutes late due to traffic.  At 9:12 (Curfew + 10 minutes late + 2 minutes leeway = a worrywart mother’s expectation of should be home by now) I called again, and again it went to voicemail.  (Uh, oh.) After two excruciatingly long minutes, she called back.  “Why are you late?” I asked. (Insert HUGE teenage sigh here, and in hindsight, how could you blame her?)  “Mom. You told me not to talk on the phone while driving. Every time you call, I have to pull off the road to a safe area and call you back. If you would stop calling me, I would be home right now.”  Oh. I hated to admit it, but she was right.  Not only was she right, but she was having coffee at the local book store and not at the wild underage drinking party.  After that, I was a little less nervous, but never completely calm, and I have the grey hair to prove it.   As I watch her now, all grown up and a wonderful mother, I can see all the signs. Sweet Baby Max will be a teenager in about 12 1/2 years (the equivalent, in mother years, to the blink of an eye), and I’m here to tell you that the worrywart doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Once again, it is time for my semi-annual thought provoking column about the joys and sorrows of gardening in the north.  I think about this garden all winter.  I plan where each vegetable will be planted.  I sketch it out on paper in front of a crackling fire each January, afghan over my lap to keep me warm and Chihuahua under the afghan.  I wait patiently for spring.  This year, I had to wait a little longer than usual, as Mother nature played a cruel trick on us and dumped two feet of snow on the ground in late April.  When it finally melted, my favorite garden tiller (the man, not the machine) was suffering from a bad case of the gout, so he hired a bigger stronger garden tiller (both man and machine) to get ‘er done.   There is nothing at all like putting tiny little seeds into the ground on your hands and knees, then watching the plants emerge from the soil.  Inch by inch they grow, nourished by the warm sun and gentle summer rain. Can’t you just hear the chirping of the birds overhead and the buzz of the bees?  Now for the real story:  I had a couple of busy weekends, and the weeds got away from me.  They are everywhere, and are growing like….weeds!  I can’t find my zucchini plants, and the Canadian thistle is overtaking the raspberry bed.  The mosquitoes are terrible this year, and I have lots of itchy bites to prove it. Some nasty little woodland creature ate my strawberries.  These are the same strawberries that I carefully planted and  nurtured last year and have been weeding carefully this year, noting the dozens of green berries only the week before. I am also wondering how a Farm Woman, and a full-blooded Scandinavian one at that, cannot grow a rutabaga.  Mine are always pitiful looking and this year, something is chewing on the leaves.  They look even worse than the beets, which are tiny and stunted, and I can’t even find the Swiss chard. I decided to grow only a few potatoes this year, as last year’s crop wasn’t that great and had potato bugs.  This year, they are thriving, and not a bug in sight.  There are even some “volunteer” potatoes coming up from where I had them planted last year, and they are overtaking the Brussels sprouts.  All around the garden are volunteer tomato plants, which have so far survived a 30 below winter, three feet of snow, a late spring, a tiller, and a weed-pulling rutabaga-impaired Farm Woman.  Direct-seeded tomato plants usually don’t produce anything due to the short growing season here, but I couldn’t bear to pull them up. They are small, but look like healthy plants and are blossoming already.  It will be interesting to see what kind of fruit these strong little plants will bear.

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Tattoos

Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”  Jack London

I am a people watcher, and I have come to the conclusion that I am one of the few remaining adults around who does not have a tattoo.  It seems like people of all shapes, sizes, and ages have some sort of body art.  Here in northern Minnesota, you don’t notice the tattoos as much most of the year because everyone is dressed for the weather, but this week’s blazingly hot temperatures have brought out the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have never really had the desire to get a tattoo, but if I did, it would definitely be on the small side, and perhaps a heart or a flower or a little banty chicken. Some folks have both pictures and words tattooed on their skin. The words usually have personal meaning, but are the rest of us supposed to read them, or would I be committing a faux pas by staring at a stranger’s arm, back, or chest?  I’m serious here, because I don’t think “Miss Manners” has written about the proper etiquette of  tattoo viewing for her gentle readers.  I’m talking about the visible tattoos here.  I really don’t want to see ALL your tattoos, thank you very much.  Although they are definitely on personal space, they are out there for all to see.  Is it polite to look, or should one avert one’s eyes?  Ask or not ask? Often, tattoos tell a story of children, lost loved ones, or military service, and the both the stories and the pictures can be fascinating.  Grandparents, too, are getting into the act with names, birthdays and even faces of grandchildren, but it could be painful for those with lots and lots of grandchildren. Tattoos on wrinkly skin are not the most attractive things in the world, either.  Before you send me hate mail, I am not insinuating that all grandparents are old and wrinkly, but remember that most of us will be some day.  I recently saw a man with many tattoos of different ladies tattooed across his back, and I wondered if they were ex-wives, sisters, or famous female rock stars of the seventies.  I didn’t stop him to ask, but I must admit I peeked at his back every time he passed just trying to figure it out. I hope he didn’t notice, but then again, perhaps he wanted all of us to look and wonder.  Body art can be plain and simple or large and beautifully colored, and if it is your body, it is your choice to have as many tattoos as you want, or none at all.  I do have a word of warning, however:  Do not have your true love’s name and “always and forever” tattooed across your backside.  Tattoos are way more “always and forever” than true love has ever been.

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