Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

Peter’s Dad, Ron, arrived on Saturday afternoon, and we’ve had many hours to get caught up with (believe it) the last 41 years.
For both of us, it’s been an express trip through a time warp, where 1969 and 2010 have become consecutive. If it weren’t for stiff old joints, it’s like being 22 again.

We are not a couple (Ron bristled when the front desk referred to us as “Mr. and Mrs. McLean”), but even so, I’ve understood for the first time how older couples can continue to feel affection, even passion, for one another. I’d assumed, incorrectly, that this was just a side effect of familiarity, but it’s not; it’s somatic memory, the kind that sets in our nerves.

The first night, Peter treated us to a spectacular dinner at Wicked, one of the few restaurants in Mashpee that are having a successful run in spite of hard times.

We spent almost 24 hours with Ron’s surrogate parents. I wonder if my Marjorie was at all like his Gloria: beautiful, articulate, gracious in the old school way, warm, fearless, direct. It was good for me to hear about Ron’s childhood and his parents and stepmother from a concerned and loving witness.

We got back to the Cape around 3:30 on Monday and got Ron settled at Sea Mist. Peter, Bonnie and the grands came over for supper. We had lunch here yesterday, and Ron put the a/c back in for me, thus proving that it’s nice to have a man around the house.

Afterwards, Ron got a dose of entertaining the grandkids and their friends when James, Emme and the younger Robbinses went swimming with us at Sea Mist and then stayed for pizza. He did extremely well; I would call him a naturally good grandfather.
Ron has spoken at lot about his SO of 23 years. As far as I can, having never had a relationship with a non-relative that lasted that long, I’m sympathetic with what seems to be his struggles to process those years. Sympathetic, but only to a point.

He’s had what sounds like a lot of affairs, some short, some longer term. He was busy for 17 or 18 of the 41 years we were out of touch. I speculate about what he learned in that time, and interpret that as you will.

Adoptees are masters of repression – we’ve had to be – so I’m just surfacing how I feel about that. If I were a lesser person, I could look at it this way: while I was toiling as a damned fool wage slave, maintaining a household and, as Ed Cohen put it, parenting a precocious son, Ron was rolling in the hay with a succession of women, then servicing a somewhat self-indulgent rich girl for enough years to have allowed him to have built a business or raised a child; in other words, to have laid the foundation for his own future.

That would be unreasonably harsh, though, and I know it. During a good part of that period, Ron struggled with overcoming alcoholism and guilt. He also has worked very hard his whole life, doing intense physical labor for a good part of it, but he hasn’t accumulated anywhere near the same fruits of that labor as many blue collar workers have: no house, no swimming pool, no big bank account, no collection of expensive toys.

I wondered why Ron never tried to find us. He said he was scared of paternity suits and the like for the first 18 years. I’m fuzzy about the remaining 23.

Listening to Ron and Peter now, I realize how much alike they are, and how much Peter missed not having his father available while he was growing up.

I’ve considered myself a pretty good “father” as far as being a provider, but until this week, I didn’t understand how much Peter was shortchanged. I couldn’t relate to my son from a foundation of shared male experience. He was as deprived as perhaps I was from the female perspective, my role models having been a ghost on the one hand and a manipulative, nasty, hateful twit on the other.

Ron has a good way with people, easy going and chatty, far superior to my interpersonals, and I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. I always thought James, the social butterfly, was Ed, Junior, but I was wrong: James and Ron are a lot alike.
Ron’s a terrific guy: bright, funny, kind, sweet. He’s easy to talk with, and I haven’t noticed the aphasia he feared I would find unsettling; far from it.

We have some big differences: I wilt when the temperature gets over about 62 and I can’t tolerate spicy food. We do seem to enjoy the same music, though, and we share a lot of common ground politically.

We love our son, our grands and our friends. We work well together on tasks, as if we have a good handle on each other’s proxemics. For me, so hypersensitive to intrusion on my personal space, that’s important.

He is now part of my world, and I will likely miss him when he leaves. I hope he misses us, too.

More Bulbs

daffs.jpgFinished planting bulbs today, put in 34 daffodils in 5 different spots. Squirrel left the bulbs alone, at least for now.
Mowed the whole yard. Cleaned the bottom of the lawn mower; was like hacking cement, unbelievable.
Heavy pruning of the poor Russian olives.
Used Round-Up on what looked like poison ivy (!) and cat briar, did the full circuit.


redtulips.jpgRained again last night. Planted 80 yellow and red tulip bulbs this morning in 13 different spots in the back garden.
Planted them 6 inches below ground level, but dug down a foot; that’s 13 cubic feet of digging, about the size of a twin bed mattress plus box spring. The soil was great except in one spot, next to the hibiscus.
Added bulb fertilizer, ran out of peat moss. Labeled them and put on a horrible-smelling organic to keep away pests, i.e., squirrels.
Did some weeding and pruning as well. Took several hours and I was beat by the end, too tired to plant the daffs.
Turned over the big compost pile, pulled out some branches and other stuff that would take years to decompose to take to the transfer station.
Cut back the second skimmia. The first one is pretty much dead.
Have been restaking the tomatoes, which are out of control. One plant is as tall as I am. The tomatoes were blocking the sun and the basil suffered, but everything else seems to be okay, including James’ strawberries. Good thing, or there would be hell to pay. I think I planted everything too close. Bigger garden next year, maybe.
Deep cleaned under the kitchen sink, which was wafting malodorous.
Had fun playing ping pong with Candy last night.
Met with a potential business partner yesterday, don’t want to jinx it with details just yet. Also picked up some admissions materials for the Royal Megansett. Met with a contractor about doing some work at 20. Busy week ahead, I think.


Good rain last night, an inch or more. Grasses got a bit beat up from the storm.
Fed Miracle-Gro to the vegetables this morning.
Skimmia still not doing well.
Yesterday, I put together a book of photos on the evolution of the garden, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Stuck in some photos of Fluffles and James, too, and one of me.

About Time

Nice cuke and some tomatoes that were almost sweet from the garden.
Mailed the corporate tax returns.
Went to Mary Nowik’s wake. Very different from a Valzie wake, that’s for sure. She was always kind to me, and I will miss her cheerful, welcoming smile. It’s very sad that someone with her talent and energy had a difficult end. Plus, a death in the older generation moves the rest of us up one, as Carolyn once ironically observed.


ClematisI’m tired of fighting my native tendency to be lazy, undisciplined and unproductive.

Things are nice here because I’ve pushed myself to make them so. If they weren’t nice, I’d be annoyed.

To further underscore the hypocrisy of the first paragraph, I take satisfaction in the fact that just about everything here that is nice is either directly or indirectly my doing and the result of hard work.

I’m tired of keeping track of things, like the dates on which bills are due, the cat needs to get his flea medicine, the truck must be brought in for an oil change, or fertilizer should be put on the vegetables, the roses and/or the hydrangeas.

I wish someone would send me a present. It doesn’t need to be something big; a box of caramels would do just fine.

Late Sunday Afternoon

endoftheroad.jpgThis has been my favorite time of the week for as long as I can remember.

Strange, since either school or work immediately follow, and I pretty much have hated both my entire life.

I don’t hate actual work, mind, just the people that seem to be the inevitable part of it.

Come to think of it, same with school. I love learning, just hate the personalities attached.

Maybe the last bit of freedom before the start of the serious part of the week is especially sweet. It is certainly heart-wrenchingly poignant.

Today, James, Tyler, Ethan and I went to Sea Mist. We left around quarter of five, so I got home in time to put on some jeans and totally chill.

Tyler came up with a great idea: they went for a dip in the outdoor pool, then jumped into the heated indoor pool. They must have done this 4-5 times. I wonder if the Capital One commercials are having a subliminal effect on the young.

I’ll bet they felt like a million bucks after they showered and put on dry clothes.

Grandparents’ Day

newhaircut.jpgI doubt that there will be much celebrating in these parts, but I think grandparents are worth having their own day because we fill an important role. Something about giving the unconditional love that people need to develop a healthy personality.

I was thinking about Nonna this morning; a comment in yesterday’s gardening seminar brought back memories of her putting raw dandelion or chickory greens, I’m not sure which, in salads. I think she called them “radich”, although she rolled the r so that it sounded more like “ladich”.

I’ve been up for a while; fed Neptune’s to the hydrangeas, raked the back lawn and watered. Seeded and fertilized some bare spots in the back.

Anyway, to commemorate the day, here’s a picture of my youngest grandchild, sporting his back-to-school haircut.

Started and Ended the Day with Lawns

bench.jpgWent to a seminar on lawns at Mahoney’s this morning. Picked up grass seed and fertilizer for the dead spots.

Drove over to Wareham for gas, thus saving almost $4, and a couple of other errands, including things for kitty.

Got back in time to mow the back and side yards – with the hand mower. Finished around 7. I didn’t want to deal with the nuisance and the noise of the electric mower, and glad for that – with the hand mower, you can feel and hear exactly what’s going on with the grass, where it’s thin, where it’s come in well.

Hadn’t realized until today how nice and level the back yard is after the grading last year. I guess that crazy man with the Bobcat knew what he was doing!

I didn’t have to rake much, left the small clippings in for mulch. The larger clippings collected on the top of the mower, and I used most of those to mulch the tomatoes. It was also easier to do the edging with the hand mower.

Broke off some lavender by mistake; cleaned it and when it’s dry, will put it in with linens.

Tried painting with metallic paint and a stencil today to dress up the switch covers. Didn’t work very well. Visited some “antique” shops in Buzzards Bay. Can’t find 3-toggle switch covers anywhere.

Someone launched a very respectable fireworks display tonight from the vicinity of Kristina Lane.