Monday, June 04, 2007


Consider the artichoke. It's a thistle, really. But boil or steam it long enough and it becomes a delicacy for people who can appreciate bitter and sweet in the same bite. My mother is a convinced melted butter advocate, so of course I had to ask her to drive down for dinner once artichokes got down to a dollar apiece, and make her eat them with olive oil instead of butter. That's just the kind of guy I am. She came. That's just the kind of gal she is.

Of course she might not have if I had admitted that there would be no butter...

Anyway, I had accomplished precisely NOTHING on Saturday. So on Sunday I still had all the laundry to do (which I did), two rhubarb pies to make (which I did, including the crust), and pasta to make as an appetizer (which I did -- Vidalia onions and red peppers and garlic and olive oil, and nothing else). Somehow, I did get it all done by the time she arrived, and even had one or two other things on my endless To-Do List checked off. I even managed not to have a drink until she got here, which, considering she was almost half an hour late, took quite a bit of conscious persuading: I really am getting used to my glass of wine at 5:30 or 6 to take the grit off the end of the day... there are some very sobering statistics on the children of alcoholics, but surely they don't apply to me?

So we had a glass of wine out on the porch and watched the traffic go by. Then, when the pasta was cooked, we went in and started in on that while the artichokes continued to steam. It sounds crazy, but the peppers (and I mixed yellow, orange, and red ones, which looked GREAT) and the sweet onion cook together over low heat and both turn soft and sweet, and the combination is delicious. The sweetness is cut by the tang of the Asiago cheese you sprinkle over it. When she had helped herself to two bowls of pasta, my mother allowed as to how she might not have any room for artichokes, but she not only found room, but was even very complimentary about the olive oil option. So you never can tell with people...

Conversation revolved around my kids and how wonderful they are, the stupid things I had done over the last years of my marriage, and slowly some things that had not been entirely clear to me before became clear, and with typical tact I reached out to nail them before they got away. Not for the first time, I heard her say that I had "turned gay." This has always made me crazy, and this time I just told her, pleasantly but with sufficient backing evidence I hope to quash that one in future, that I had not changed -- I might have changed what I let other people see, but I was still EXACTLY who and what I had always been. She even seemed to take it on board.

She had also argued with me a couple of times when I drew parallels between my history and the divorce of my youngest sister, which predates mine by a year or two. The line was always the same: they were nothing alike; they had been in trouble for years, perhaps for their whole marriage, whereas we... I waded right into that one, too. Did she really think that all of this had happened over night?

I pointed out, without going into too much detail, that I had known for almost fifteen years that I was as gay as I ever had been, and had been trying to get Isis to at least recognize it as a problem we had to pay some kind of attention to for ten. That seemed to make some sort of impression. I guess my respect for Isis' pathological need for privacy had not worked to my advantage there, though I cannot even in retrospect be sorry that I put her feelings ahead of my family's lust for gossip. It might have been nice to have some understanding and support in those years -- who knows? my nervous break-through might not have been quite so total if I had -- but it's all sewage under the bridge at this point. It was the way it was.

But it felt great to even contemplate the possibility that those two arguments might not appear again in future. I will admit that it gave me perverse pleasure to be able to make the case unavoidably clear -- not that I needed to go into great detail, just to be very specific about when what had happened, with enough reminders of bench marks that even she had to remember noticing that it made a case. Well, there you have it. On top of being a leather bottom, I love beating up on little old ladies...

Here's the funny thing. It was all friendly and easy, and even the arguments went down easy. And after the rhubarb pie, we had a game of pinochle, which has become the great sin of my mother's old age. And we both played it with her father over and over, over the years, so it has all kinds of emotional layers above and beyond the intrinsic pleasure of the game itself -- and there is no question in my mind that it is the best two-hand game there is. It puts cribbage in the shade.

My only other big news is that the Goat has finally finished his school year, and I am being treated to a visit of more than 24 hours duration in return for bringing a home-made rhubarb pie. The things we will do to get what we want... I am taking two days off from work to make it happen, so it must be something I want...

God knows he is. On my way home from the Goat's, I am picking up my daughter, who will spend the weekend shuttling between here and my mother's. Enough is as good as a feast, as Mary Poppins used to say.

Hang in there, all.
I do my best -- and this week, the blessings are just crowding in on me.

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