Ups and Downs

A lot of stuff has kept me from updating, to the point that one of my five readers asked whether I was still blogging.  ADD: I has it.  Both good stuff and bad stuff has happened lately.

Every post needs a cat picture, even if the post doesn’t actually mention cats.

Good thing: Our backyard was landscaped. We’d been in planning in spring and summer, and the work started the day after we got home from Australia.  Actually, spouse got a phone call while we were still in Australia asking if they could start work “tomorrow”, but fortunately that was postponeable by a few days.  We now have an arbor with circular paving beneath it, a recirculating water feature for sound, many new plants, and lights.  Lots and lots of lights.  There are bright lights on the arbor for easy reading/knitting at night, small lamps in the planted area, and well lights on the hillside illuminating the trees from below.  Not easy to take pics of though.  Another post to come about plants and their similarity to salads.

Hector, the foreman of the workers. He was awesome.
Man at work, cat at play.

Bad thing: My parents’ / sister’s dog died, after a spinal injury that progressively paralyzed him.  He was a very loved dog, and it was really heartbreaking for all of us.  😦

Tuque in his aloha shirt and Dad in his Simpsons pajamas.  Mom is to credit/blame for both.

Good thing: Our nephew was born in September!  We went to Canada last weekend both to attend a party celebrating the wedding of another of Spouse’s friends (the couple lives in Beijing, so Saskatoon was actually relatively close to us to see them) and to meet the baby.  It was a really wonderful trip.  I’ll write a separate post about it.

The baby sweater I knit, sort of modeled by the baby.

Bad thing: When we arrived home from our trip, we found that our cat-sitter had passed away the day before, in our house.  This would be horrible in any case, but it’s particularly bad because our sitter was my uncle.  😦  We found him yesterday morning.  There are too many feelings and such to even begin to get into.  This was entirely unexpected by all of us, and we’re all still in shock.  It didn’t prevent some coping mechanisms like noting that maybe there’s a Law of Conservation of Uncles, since Spouse just became one.  I haven’t been able to cry yet, which is probably just as well.

I don’t have a picture of my uncle to hand, but we were given this flower today.

Maybe thing: Mom (who drove up yesterday) and I needed some fiber therapy today and went to a yarn store.  Sometimes you need distraction.  (As I observed on Twitter, Ace Attorney is not the best choice for this after finding a body.  Knitting seems safer.)

I’m looking forward to knitting a kid sweater for A with this.  It’ll be the fourth sweater I’ve made her.

I have a bunch of cat pics and other miscellany to post now that I’ve gotten my catch-up overview out of the way.




The Wearing of the Green

I don’t pay much attention to holidays, since I don’t celebrate them.  Although I vaguely knew it was St. Patrick’s Day today, it wasn’t until I was driving home and saw a guy wearing a huge bright green hat that I remembered that there’s a thing about wearing green on this day.  Which I wasn’t, but that was by chance; I’d considered wearing a green shirt but decided that none of my pairs of green shoes would match.  Thinking of that brought back a memory of maybe 35 years ago, give or take a couple of years but no days.

I was in a schoolyard playing.  I was wearing a somewhat ruffly dress that was an olive and red print.  (In retrospect, it must’ve been hideous, but I liked that it was fluffy and such.)  And two boys came over, said “You’re not wearing green!” and started pinching me.

I was hurt and bewildered.  Probably not indignant, though I did point out to them that the olive in my dress was a shade of green.  But I probably wasn’t trying to claim that I had chosen that dress in order to wear green, just trying to get them to stop by pointing out that their mysterious and mean rule didn’t apply in this case.  Hurt and bewildered… how could this be okay for them to do?

How do you deal with this as a parent*?  You and your kid don’t observe holidays — more, actively choose not to celebrate or participate, not just ignore or go along with it — but can’t always avoid being around those that do.  And while some activities are self-contained and can be selectively avoided (I used to go home early on Valentine’s Day because cards were distributed in class near the end of the school day, for example), the green-wearing thing and the pinching of those who do not comply is hardly a class activity, nor does it have a specific timeframe.  The choices are:

  1. Wear green (thus giving the appearance of observing a holiday you don’t wish to observe) and don’t get pinched.
  2. Choose not to wear green and get pinched, like a child-sized sample of being abused for your beliefs.
  3. Dress as you please without paying any attention to what day it is and deal with things as they come.

Obviously, (3) was the choice both as a child and today.  But today I am coming up on 42 and moving into the invisibility of middle age; no one is likely to bug me about it.  Nor, I suspect, is pinching strangers as socially acceptable as it was decades ago.  Back then, though, if I’d known about the holiday and the implication of the green thing, I would have had a hard time choosing between (1) and (2) (I was young, but old enough to decide not to participate in holidays and know why not), because there was no way to win.  I wouldn’t be able to choose (3) once I knew there was a custom involving green and the penalties thereof.  And I did know that kids could be mean, especially if they had a custom on their side to give them an excuse, and my having chosen not to participate wouldn’t be the slightest bit effective in keeping them from hurting me.  They wouldn’t care why I wasn’t wearing green, just that they were “allowed” to target me.

In retrospect, probably wearing olive was the best I could do.  It wouldn’t look like I was dressing up for the holiday, since it’s hardly green (it’s really blackened yellow), but I could point out that it was green to people who were intent on pinching whoever they could and weren’t going to care about the principle anyway.

I don’t think I thought it through like that at the time, though.  And obviously it didn’t work, since I got pinched anyway.

* The relevant parent of mine is likely to read this.  I should note that some of the potential conversation could well have taken place and simply not as memorable to me as the injustice of the pinching thing.  Which really does make me mad.

I Am Number X

Since our trip last week was for my older brother-in-law’s wedding, we met a lot of family.  Both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law come from fairly large families (7 and 9 kids, respectively), in which they’re the eldest.  Maybe a third of my aggregate aunts and uncles by marriage came for the wedding from Australia and Singapore.  And the introductions all went something like this one, from the night we arrived:

MIL: These are my sisters from Australia.

Aunt: Pleased to meet you. I’m Number Three.

Other Aunt: And I’m Number Seven.

Me: (blinks and looks hunted) Um, what are your names?

MIL: Fong and Ming.  (Who are often called Samyi and… I forget the other one, but it’s “Third Aunt” and “Seventh Aunt”, by my husband and his brothers.)

The next day, I met some uncles, my FIL’s brothers, and their wives.  I think they at least started with their names before their numbers.  Then, that evening, there was a family dinner with one more uncle and his wife.

Wife: I’m Number Two.

Me (internally): Aaugh.

Thankfully, their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren did not come with numbers attached.