Saturday, October 22, 2022

Another October come and (almost) gone

I really never meant to give up writing this blog.

Just like I never meant to give up making glass beads.

Yet here we are.

I’m not sure I’m done, but it’s starting to look that way.

The last few times I’ve made beads, I haven’t felt well after. It could be that my ventilation is inadequate, or that I’ve lost my tolerance for some of the fumes, or that I’ve got a slow gas leak somewhere. After a session at the torch I have a feeling of malaise that persists for the rest of the day.

My hands and arms hurt too.

There was a time when nothing would have kept me from the torch, when I’d have pushed through any discomfort or pain. I was that passionate about bead making.

Now I’m usually underwhelmed by what I’m able to make. I don’t know what to do with the beads I’ve accumulated. Occasionally I make a piece of jewelry to wear. But I have plenty of necklaces already, and I don’t feel drawn to wear beads much these days, opting instead for lighter weight pendants and earrings.

So I’ve lost the plot. Why make more beads? What’s the point?

Writing is a more complicated equation. I write for many reasons, to process emotions, to have a record of my life, to go back and re-read how I was feeling a year or 10 ago. It was very therapeutic to write down certain parts of my story.

I find myself revisiting some of those times in my head. Even though I’m very happy on the whole with how my life turned out, some of those experiences of 20 years and more ago cut deep grooves in my heart and mind.

It’s curious which minutes in our lives make lifelong impressions. Things that seemed ordinary or unremarkable at the time come back unbidden, while others are lost and forgotten. Little snippets, little sound bytes surface out of the mists of time. A minute here, a minute there, a lifetime of minutes.

Earlier this month we visited my daughter and her family in Dallas. This was the trip postponed in July when Neil and I had Covid. October is a much better month to visit Texas.

The tension in my relationship with my daughter remains, submerged below a surface of politeness and pretense. We go through the motions, which is better I suppose than abandoning our connection altogether. The elephant still is stoutly in the room, but we must accept what we cannot change or even influence. Perhaps by keeping the lines open, new grooves, new ways of being and loving, will become established.

We flew in on a Thursday. Travel is always tiring, but I felt weirdly fatigued throughout this visit. Neil asked me if I had fun. I thought about that and said, some of the time.

Chris, my son-in-law, picked us up from the airport since my daughter had to be on a work call just when we arrived. We picked up Ryland from school, then went to his soccer practice. My daughter made dinner. Before her surgery in July she had cooked and frozen several meals, so we enjoyed a pasta casserole with chicken. Afterwards she treated us to custard from Andy’s.

Can you tell how tired I felt?

I posted the photo above on social, with the hashtag, bestlittlegrandsonintexas. Although I didn’t find out until much later, it took my stepdaughter just minutes to report it to Neil. It was thoughtless of me, considering that my step grandson Blake also lives in Texas. I own my mistake and regret it, and any defenses such as absence of malice and brain fatigue don’t excuse the error.

Ironically it came up because Neil and I were talking about the awkwardness of having a blended family, and the uncertainty around the right answer when someone asks me how many grandchildren I have. I don’t know why I don’t just say three. I usually say one, and two step grandchildren, or, my daughter has one child and Neil’s daughter has two.

It’s not lack of love or attachment that makes me hesitate about saying three. It’s more the feeling that I’m taking credit for two children who aren’t related to me by blood or emotional bond. I even wonder whether, if my grandson was adopted for example, I’d say one adopted grandson. I don’t know. But I do know that Blake and Alice have two biological grandmothers living right nearby them, while I’m a distant third and essentially a stranger to them, since we live so far away and see them so seldom.

Neil said he tries to think of all three kids as equal. I said, so when you mentioned that you were going to make a contribution to their 529 plans, you were including Ryland? He said, no, I thought you’d take care of Ryland. I said, that’s fine, but don’t tell me you think of all three as equally full-fledged grandchildren.

This was also the conversation that provoked Neil to finally tell me about Laurie’s negative reaction to my hashtag. He actually showed me the photo and said, what’s wrong with this picture, and it still took me a minute to grasp what he meant. I said I wished he’d told me as soon as it came up. He said he didn’t know if I’d be defensive, and claim that Laurie was being too sensitive.

On the contrary, I fell on my sword, deleted the hashtag, and asked him to convey my apologies the next time he spoke to her, which is an average of daily. On reflection, it does annoy me that she seems to stalk my social media, and that she instantaneously “tells on me” to her dad. That doesn’t negate my thoughtlessness in this case, but this isn’t the first time she’s “reported” me for something I said that she read something unintended into.

Back to the trip. High points were playing games and laughing so, so hard. We went to the park and to the dog park, went to Ryland’s soccer game. We got pedicures. We ate, too much for me, a Mexican food dinner followed by a taco lunch and a barbecue dinner. Everyone except me got frozen yogurt, which sounds light, except it’s not when it’s all about the toppings.

On our last evening we went to the Texas State Fair, which is huge, as you’d expect in Texas. I was happy that we all got some walking in. I ate before we went because I doubted there’d be anything I’d want there. It’s literally fried everything. Batter-dipped, deep-fried candy bars. Fried charcuterie platters. Fried lemonade. I am serious. I think the kids dined on funnel cakes, French fries, and cotton candy, washed down with soda pop. I enjoyed a complimentary cup of lightly sweetened iced tea.

Highlights of the fair were the dog show, the car show, the Clydesdales, the parade, a very nice petting zoo, and of course, Big Tex. There actually was a lot to see and do, and I wouldn’t have minded a longer stay, but after spending money on admission, it’s hard for me to reconcile spending a lot more on games and rides and food. Still, I would have enjoyed seeing more of the exhibits and included entertainment.

Next year. Maybe.

I didn’t take a lot of photos on the trip
I do love this one though

And now we’re home and back to the carousel of knitting groups and fitness classes for me, softball for Neil. Although softball is winding down for the year and Neil is gearing up to finally (probably) get his knees replaced. Also, his son Chris got a job in Charlotte and will be here by month-end, staying with us to begin with. I’m a little apprehensive but also cockeyedly optimistic about how that will work out, Mostly I’m happy to have at least one family member nearby.

Bonus points, Chris likes our cats and perhaps I’ll be able to travel with a bit less separation anxiety while he stays at the house.

Well, that’s a wrap for now. Back when and if the flighty muse alights again.