Monday, July 16, 2007

I Must Be Insane

I have committed to a forty-miles-each-way bike trip. In ten or so short days, I will be expected to sit my wide ass on a bike and pedal it, steadily, for forty effin' miles. At which point I finally get to rest and take a little ferry ride to a hardly-inhabited island, upon which we (D., other friend D., and I, plus whoever else is silly enough to come along) will relax for a few days. We'll be riding the bikes anywhere we need to go on the island, as well.

Preliminary Shopping list:
Padded butt bike shorts
Several cute and colorful bike-type shirts so I don't look like the amateur I am
Anti-chafe cream
Tissues to catch my tears and blow my nose after I fall down and weep
Personal battery-operated fan w/mount for handlebars
Bug Spray (we have a few gnat-like creatures in the woods)
Many, many blinking lights and reflectors
Super strong pain relief, like Aleve or morphine
Some of those Icy Hot back wrap things that I can wear all day
Alcohol (the drinking kind)

I need more time to prepare for this, but if we put it off too long, it won't happen. Still, there is time to contract any number of minor illnesses that will keep me in bed where I belong.

Or I could ride my bike everywhere I go for the next two weeks, try to lose a teency bit of extra weight, and be (more than I am now) ready for a great ride.

I am, after all, in pursuit of the BEST SUMMER EVER and this trip will definitely be one to remember.

Keep you posted, n'kay?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer is Fine in the PNW

Let's say for the sake of argument that there is a better place to be on this mid-July day than the Pacific Northwest.

Possible contender: Paris.

Definitely not: Las Vegas.

I've been in upstate New York (swelter), South Carolina (gag), Virginia (please), Florida (are you nutz?) and Maine (nice. . . but . . .) in the summer. If you are a fan of sweat and bugs, you are golden in any of these really nice states. If, however, you think that humidity is highly overrated and mosquitoes should be eradicated by any means humanly possible, you should absolutely, definitely see for yourself what a summer day in the PNW means.

Picture it: temps in the eighty degree range (on the high end), evenings in the sixties, a perfect balance of cloud cover to clear blue sky, a fine cooling breeze blowing most days, and absolutely no humidity.

There is nothing finer, in my experience, than the simple duo of sublime weather and breathtaking scenery that occurs in my new home town. And, let's face it--we humans are pretty fixated on the weather and the scenery. And for good reason. As an agri-nation, we are so dependent on our farmers. And here, we are super-focused on keeping local and reducing the impact on the planet each time we buy anything--mostly our food. Luckily, we have an insane farmers market and from April to October I can buy whatever is in season a few hours after it has been harvested, picked, or pinched from its base.

I don't know if the farmers here, where I am so lucky to live, are better than most, but I kind of want to believe in my total naivete that they grow the very best raspberries, blueberries, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, cherries and even hay available anywhere. Anywhere! They sell the produce to the grateful people who flock to the farmers market each Wednesday and Saturday, and the hay goes into what appear to be actual happy cows. And they, in turn help make some of the most sublime artisan gouda and mantasio cheeses I've ever tasted.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest. I cannot believe I've lived so long without it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Where Did All My Girlfriends Go?

When you're in a relationship as long as I have been, you tend to fill your weekends with couple activities. On weekends, D. and I usually hang out together.

But tonight D. has gone to a real, professional baseball game with our friend D. And I find myself facing a solo Saturday evening. What possibilities for fun! Only I really don't have a best friend I can call and say "Hey! Let's _______!" What would we do? Get together at a nice wine bar and chat? Head down to the waterfront park and listen to the band? See a summer stock play? Shop? Have a nice dinner?

I can do any of these lovely activities alone. The thought of having an entire beautiful summer evening to myself makes me really happy in a way. I thought I'd probably write, read, go shopping, relax at home, maybe see a movie. I could take our pooch on a sunset hike. I could go for a bike ride. Clean out several closets. Sit on the porch with a big glass of wine. So many choices! I'm free to do whatever I choose.

But I'm not a loner. I'm not an introvert. I love being around people. So what I'd really like to do is call my best girlfriend and hang out with her. But she's in LA.

Note to self: cultivate some friendships.

What's that? The phone ringing? And it's a (new-ish) girlfriend! She, too is mateless this evening and we're going to hang out and drink some wine. And I'm going to ride my bike over.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Forget Jesus, WWAGD (What would Al Gore Do?)

Imagine Tipper Gore buying a Humvee. Or Susan Sarandon going Republican. What would Al and Tim think? How would they feel? What would they do?

What do you do when your mate chooses to act in ways that are against your belief system? What do you do when the person you love the most lets you down? When you start thinking that he or she is a hypocrite? That's a big, bitter pill to choke down. How do you deal with it?

How do you balance your beliefs with another person's freedom to choose? How do you define dealbreaker and how does that definition change from when you're just dating to when you've been living together happily for ten years?

I have been a vegetarian for eighteen years. It's one of the ways I define myself. My mate stopped eating meat pretty soon after we met. He did it completely on his own, after reading Diet For a New America by John Robbins. I was thrilled; not only was I madly in love with a person I admired and adored, he was now a vegetarian, too! I had never imagined having the good fortune to share my life with a fellow veg. Seemed too good to be true, especially after the years of dating meat-eaters who put up with my lifestyle but didn't understand it.

For five years, nary a morsel of meat passed his lips. Then a temptation became too great and, while I was shocked and dismayed, I didn't go ballistic. I thought (or was that hoped?) it was a one-time thing. Trouble is, the one time turned into several more over the years, and lately they're coming fairly regularly.

Pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut? Like that was good when you used to eat meat? Why? Why? Why did you eat that?

I don't get the eating of it but even worse is the doing it behind my back.

My feelings run deep and strong on this subject—and he knows this. I don't harp on others about their eating habits; if you want to eat dead animals, go for it. It's disgusting—to me—and while I don't hate meatheads, I do hold a very special place in my heart for vegetarians. Besides, I learned long ago that people have a hard time giving up the meat, so I gave up the preaching and converting shit years ago. But animal rights and my respect for the little voiceless buggers are just very big to me. I believe that it's wrong to raise and kill animals for the purpose of eating them. But my hub is his own person with his own free will, and I can't make him do anything he doesn't want to do; nor can I ask him not to do what he wants.

Ok. That's one solution. Leave him be and go on my veggie path alone. Recognize the fact that he is no longer a vegetarian. Get over it. Move on.

Or end it. I can't overlook that option. It is not what I want, but it would certainly eliminate what has been making me weep for two days: how can I live with a person who cares so little for me that they keep doing the one thing that bothers me more than anything? And why should I stay with a person who has changed so fundamentally since we were married? What would Al do if Tipper went off the environmental deep end and started leaving every light in the house on, bought a big-ass speedboat and an SUV, and became a raving NASCAR fan? Would he let her live her life as she chooses or boot her energy-wasting ass out the door?

Each time D. has eaten meat over the past few years, I've either gotten really really upset and angry (and we've had many discussions over it) or I've resigned myself that there is nothing I can do about it (especially when we're dining with others, and I've had no choice but to keep my mouth shut). BUT. IT'S. NOT. OKAY. It's not ok. It's not ok like he never puts shit away is ok. It's not ok like he's not that great at laundry is ok. We all have our strengths, and dear hubby has many. The reasons I love him are also many. He's one of the finest humans on the planet. He is one of the best people you'll ever meet. This is not about him, however. This is about ME.

The biggest piece of my "who am I?" pie chart is "animal lover/vegetarian". The two bits are inextricably linked together. I have been a vegetarian since 1989. That's most of my adult life. And I've defended it, explained it, and snarked about it for all of that time. I've really had it up to my ass with the whole explanation thing. I hate feeling defensive about it, yet I seem to be put into that position far more often than I ever thought I would. Food is a powerful connection point for us humans. If I reject what you eat, I reject you (or some seem to believe).

So while I care what everyone else eats--in the sense that if they didn't eat the animals, it would do a lot to improve the world—I don't make a big stink about it, and I don't choose my friends depending on their food choices. I make one exception; I very much care what D. eats. I care because I love him and he loves me and we are two peas in a pod making a life together in the world and we've been through oh! so much and we're still here and still strong ten years into it. I care because I live with him and I want him to think highly of me and my ideals. I want him to respect my very very strong feelings on the subject. I care because it matters to me that he not eat dead animals because that pretty much disgusts me to no end and I care because I married a vegetarian and thought he would always be one, only he's not anymore.

D. is not a vegetarian.
D. is not a vegetarian.
D. is not a vegetarian.

I'm trying to come to terms with this.

This is very difficult to reconcile.

So, for the past day and a little more I've been pondering this new reality. It is enough to make me weep. I go back to the choices I can make, based on this soul-wrenching issue that he has presented me with.

And this time, I think, I cannot bear it. I cannot turn a blind eye or pretend it's ok with me because it just is not. It's too big a part of me to not expect--or demand--that my life partner support me and respect me enough to grant me this one, very important request: do not eat the meat.

And then the tears come again because I know he won't do this for me. And it's the knowing that makes me so very sad. The knowing that he doesn't care enough. The knowing that he's not the moral person I thought he was. The knowing that he does not have the courage of his convictions. This, the guy who just a week ago was agreeing with me that we need to brush up on which companies conduct animal testing. Now he's eating the pepperoni.

So what do I do with this new, hurtful knowledge? Ouch. Cry a bit more, take the dog for a run with my Ipod on my workout playlist and cry again when the shuffle hits Save Me by Queen and dear Freddie is pouring his soul into the lyrics and he gets to "How I loved you, how I cried. . ."

And, then I get home and I'm still depressed and I can cry instantly and unexpectedly just sitting on the deck. And I realize that I love D. very much. I love him and I love him and what am I supposed to do with that?

I try to talk to him again. He is hurt that I rejected his previous attempt at reconciliation. I thought he was trying to brush it off, pretend it didn’t happen and nothing was wrong. Our nerve endings are raw and we're not as nice as usual. He suggests seeing our counselor, which is great; I was thinking a check-in with her would be a good way to work through this.

Then I ask the question, "Can you stop eating meat?"

And he says, "Sure."

And I think, why didn't he just say so?

I think we're ok again. And I think this time, he's doing it for me. For me. And that feels really, really good. I'm crying again, but for a whole different reason.

There were two ways for this to have ended; both involved one of us giving in out of love for the other. In the end, love prevails. And you don't get through ten years of marriage without it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Best Summer Ever!

We have a goal: to have the BEST SUMMER EVER! To that end, we have attended 1 (one) brewfest (see previous post), traveled out of town for 1 (one) weekend (YAY! Portland!), played in 1 (one) extreme croquet tournament (I did not qualify for the next one), had 1 (one) back-yard party, patronized the farmers market a bunch (rode our bikes down once--yeah!), hiked 1 (one) mountain (pathetic, really), visited the lake to let our dog swim a bunch, took 2 (two) days off work, drank 3 (three) bottles of French rose (that's roz-ay) on the front porch one fine evening, and enjoyed 1 (one) spontaneous outdoor beer-drinking afternoon with some friends.

I realize that the whole numeral (word) thing above is quite annoying, but once I started, it would have been inconsistent to stop.

So far, we are enjoying our summer--very much, indeed. It's been relaxing, and we haven't done much that we didn't want to do, which is always nice. Installed some new light fixtures in our new/old house. Got rid of the previous owners' nasty IKEA chandeliers (one each in the dining and living rooms). I love you, IKEA, but let's be honest: your lights look cheap and dated after a time, and even you must agree that they are not appropriate for a 1908 Craftsman--right? Especially in the living room! What were these people thinking? We also put up some (period-approved)new house numbers and planted some flowers. We're not into large-scale landscape revitalization right now. The yard needs a HUGE overhaul--but after spending the late winter and entire spring packing, moving, unpacking, painting, and hosting three sets of visitors, we decided to let the yard look like crap this year and do something about it next year. There's a lot of freedom in that decision, which was a difficult one, as both D. and I love the accomplishment of a beautiful landscaping job. But the trade-off would be that we would not have the BEST SUMMER EVER, so there you go.

I drove by our old house the other day; the front bed is in full, gorgeous bloom. Three years' of growth have matured the plantings into a mass of blue, purple, and pink. Shades of grey and silver, yellow and green add depth. The lavender is huge, the variety of grasses are lovely; the coneflower and scabiosa were blowing in the breeze, and our weeping Black Swan Beech tree, Abagail, was looking healthy and stately. So much work went into that bed; now, we have to do it all over again. Sigh.

Today is my dad's 80th birthday party in New York. Sadly, I am not there. I so wanted to be; but the airline ticket prices are ridiculous right now, and I'm not up for a cross-country trip (a/k/a hell on earth) of cancelled flights, uncomfortable seats, screaming crying crotch fruit, and rude, pathetic security personnel. I'll wait until fall to see my dad. And I'll miss the laughs, memory-sharing, and closeness of hanging with my parents, six or so siblings and assorted nieces and nephews. And my brother's home brew. Damn, they're going to have fun. Here's to you, Dad. You are all a kid could have wanted in a dad, and more than I could hope for as an adult. Your devotion to mom and overflowing love for us kids and your grandchildren make us all real happy. We have so much to be thankful for; I'm so grateful for you!