Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog drought

Johnny Jump-ups make February appearance.
Or maybe that should be blog paralysis.  I've been mulling several topics, all of them languishing in the draft stage. But the following sentiment, or something similar, depending on time of day, obstructs my progress: Who the hell cares?  I should just go watch the Olympics. (Not unlike my thoughts when I started this blog.)

At this moment, I should just go for a walk! or get ready for a vacation that starts in a couple days. But I've decided. I'm not going until "this" is finished, even though I'm not sure what "this" is. I learned during the years I wrote a weekly newspaper column that even though I often had NO IDEA what to say, a looming deadline—like the next morning—would spark an idea. So I'd perch before my primitive 1980's computer and start typing. Anything. Just like I'm doing now. Over time, I developed faith that thoughts that had been roiling in my brain would bubble up and spill onto the screen. They always did, of course, because I took those newspaper deadlines seriously.

Lots of those columns were absolute dogs. But recently I've been looking them over and thinking, Hmmmm. Not bad.  So my younger self is inspiring my 25-years-down-the-road self to keep trying, even though I recognize that deadlines=discipline, and the only deadlines I have for this blog are self-imposed—which could mean more drought.
But anyway. For you faithful (and much beloved) few who check periodically to see if I've been able to cough up another post, here are some topics rumbling in my drafts file:
  • I'm jealous of my kids.
  • Life is senseless. But I like it.
  • Not a goddess. Uh uh. 
  • Southern Oregon Soul Food (series)
  • Characters in ordinary life. (series)
  • Why get out of bed?
  • Girdles are back. Aack!
  • Changing places. (caring for 93-year-old mom)
  • PK's the Man!
Cold frame lettuce abounds.
See anything interesting?

And then, of course, there's all those fascinating garden updates and irresistible "what I made for dinner last night" recipes. Speaking of garden updates, you must be dying to know what's up in February. Quite a lot, really, considering the fabulous spring-like Oregon weather we had for the past couple weeks. (Rainy today, however.) Here are a few edibles ready for harvest, or nearly so. I have trouble configuring blog photos, so bear with me. The captions for photos below are consolidated under the last photo.
 Cilantro not quite big enough to harvest. Magnificent Russian KALE and fall-planted broccoli that survived 8 degree nights in December. We aren't quite rolling in produce yet, but give us another month.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    The belly as public domain

    This is another one for my daughter-in-law and first-time-mother-to-be, who has recently complained about uninvited belly handling. It's rough, I know, but goes with the territory. I wrote the piece below when I was eight months pregnant with Chris. Don't worry, Heather. The bigger the belly, the worse it gets. 

    Grants Pass Daily Courier
    May 7, 1986

    I'm getting to the big-bulge stage of pregnancy that's difficult to ignore. And, indeed, far from ignoring it, quite a few people seem to suffer from the delusion that a pregnant abdomen is in the public domain.

    People I hardly know rub and pat my protruding belly as if it were some neutral object that happened to be between us, like a stone or a puppy. Some grab it with both hands as if it could be removed. They probe through the skin and fat, muscle and womb, right down to the baby. I silently command the little beggar to give the intruder a swift kick, but already the kid is disobedient and curls up sweet and docile.

    There are the strokers who pet it and sort of coo. These are the ones who are speaking to the baby, not to me, and I feel old and in the way.

    "Do you need a moment alone with it?" I want to ask, but don't.

    The absent-minded feelers let their hands wander to my belly during casual conversation, as if walking their fingers around somebody else's tummy was the most natural thing in the world. Usually they're asking baby-related questions at the time time. "When are you gonna pop? or "Is it a boy or girl?" are the favorites.

    Hearty patters give the old belly a slap and a ruffle, much as they might greet a large dog or a horse. "How's that baboo?" they'll ask.

    I grin and bear it. For now, it's a part of my body that, being occupied by another person, is only partly mine anyway, and I view all the handling with some amusement. Depending on my mood, I even like it. When else will my midsection be lavished with so much attention?

    Most of the time people are reluctant to touch one another in casual situations, but advanced pregnancy somehow invites intimacy. People seem to want to fuss over a baby even when the baby is still sheathed in its mother's body.

    They want to fuss over the mother, too, opening doors, carrying groceries, picking up dropped objects, and performing other small services that suggest concern for one who's carrying about 25 extra pounds front and center. It isn't as debillitating as it looks, but most pregnant women appreciate the sympathy.

    What they don't appreciate is people who feel compelled to relate Horrible Birth Experiences in gory detail. Even if you're able to stop them before they get to the worst part—the part they're dying to tell you—the damage has been done. Telling Horrible Birth Experiences to women about to deliver is akin to tell a mountain climber she can't reach the top, or a marathon runner that her lungs will burst at mile 25. It so rude and such a bad idea.

    The absolute worst example of what NOT to say to a pregnant woman was said to me about a week before I was due with my first child. This moron's wife had just had a baby, and apparently the experience was not that uplifting, because he kept tossing out words like excruciating, terrible, and agonizing. His wife nodded gravely in agreement, doing nothing to soften the impression that giving birth is worse than the Chinese water torture.

    He ended his tale with a remark to the effect that he'd sooner do himself in than endure such agony. Rejecting that option, I went ahead and had the baby. I found the event decidedly anti-climatic in the pain department and quite wonderful emotionally, despite Mr. Idiot's last-minute attempt at sabotage.

    Fortunately for him, while blowing holes in my psychological preparation for birth, he didn't snake his oily hand over to prod my belly. If he had, I would have been sorely tempted to return the favor—with the bottom of my foot in that anatomical area where the sun don't shine.