There is nothing more hopeless or depressing than poinsettias the day AFTER Christmas. I know there are happy people, those who think the glass is interminably half full, who are pampering those vulgar red plants with manure and clear water, saying things like, "In California they grow as large as bushes!" Off with their heads! Poinsettias have no place in a non-Christmas world, which is why I carry mine out to the trash the minute Christmas is over. They are weeks old and have already grown spindly, dropping their phony leaves, which curl up pathetically on the hard floor. And it's not that I've ignored them. I take excellent care of them, but they are a planned obsolescent plant. Stick your fingers in the dirt. It's not real dirt. It's Barbie dirt. Little foam pellets. What can live longer than three weeks in dirt like that? Christmas is over. Poinsettias are pointless.
Our tree is finally up. It's a skinny, fake, celluloid thing but I have a lifetime collection of decorations to punch it up. I love my decorations, especially the pink fairy in honor of Lucy, the Santa Clauses, lots of them, the painted eggs from Saltzburg, the Maine lobster fisherman, Mother Goose, the angel, Tom's trout. I could go on and on. In fact, I have. I topped it off with Santa's hat, an idea that I unapologetically stole from Sarah. I always tie red satin ribbons on the tree. I copied that from Dennis Garff, circa 1966. In fact, every good decorating idea I've ever had came from Dennis. He's dead now, dammit. Drowned himself like Ophelia.
I get a little grumpy during the holidays and think about becoming a communist, or blowing up my study, but then I decorate the tree and I know I'm going to live through all that gaity and sparkle another year. I know I'm actually going to enjoy myself. Fa la la la la la la la la.
Someone said I was hard to buy for, but it's not true. Here's a possible list:
1. Any recent novel that has won the Booker Prize or the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award. Or a good mystery. Or a history of tulips or World War II in Holland. Or a book on design or decorating with lots of pictures. Or any book that the giver thought was a sensational read.
2. A DVD from Acorn Media. They carry all the good stuff from Masterpiece Theater like "Cranford," "Foyle's War," "Detective Morse." Any Bette Davis movies.
3. Costume jewelry, especially bracelets or a cheap watch with a red band.
4. A new board game that doesn't require a knowledge of war or diplomacy.
5. A turtle neck sweater, XL.
6. Black leather gloves.
7. Any picture painted by a grandchild or a map drawn by Max. A photograph of your family.
8. Ina Garten's first cookbook. Any cookbook. I'm cooking again.
9. A good looking alarm clock.
10. A vintage hat with a veil from the 30's or 40's.
I am on a new blog with three other writers. My blog appears on Thursdays. The first two were taken from Five Crows, but tomorrow is original as the rest will be from now on. The other women are young professional, young mothers--the operative word being "young." I am the crone in the group.
It's www.theapronstage.com. Or you can just push that blue w in the right hand column. Check it out.
I stare at old women. Can't look away. They are the accident that's happening to me. I could look like this in twenty years, although I plan to keep my teeth in my mouth. And I would never carry a wrinkled toad on my shoulder to further signal my own decay. I don't even like toad jewelry. I did have a yen for a toad purse once. Sam brought one home from the Phillipines. It's mouth was the opening, it's body was lined with taffeta to hold personal items, and its toady appendages hung down like decorative ribbons. There's something appealing about having a dead animal for a handbag be it toad, cowhide or lizard. Personally, I'd rather be a decorative lamp when I'm dead. A gifted taxidermist and an electrician could do the job. The Louise lamp. Let your light so shine!
I took Alice for a walk around the lake today and met a man who drove his bike to the shoreline trailing one kayak behind him. I stopped to talk to him about the bike trailer (he bought it on the internet) and he said it could carry two kayaks as shown above. We agreed that twilight was the best time to be on the water. I was envious when I later saw him paddling effortlessly eastward. If I ever have money again, I will buy a kayak and a bike trailer. If not, I'll keep renting kayaks and walking Alice around the lake or sitting on a bench near the water. I will feed the voracious ducks and maybe again see one hundred geese sitting quietly on the water facing shore like tankers in a harbor.
I made you this cake. It has taken me all week to do it. There was lots of cursing, but I think it turned out rather nicely. Royal Icing. Cinderella and the stepsisters are formed from marzipan. Thank heaven, Cinderella is on her balcony, because the dog ate part of her dress. The flags are melted sugar.
The UPS man said, "No way can you mail this."
"But, but . . ." Tears in my eyes.
"No ma'am. No."
So it's standing on the kitchen counter where it will be until you arrive next summer to eat it.
Meanwhile, on Monday your other present will arrive.
I hope you are wonderfully spoiled today. I hope your man knows what to do!
I did it. I planted the tulip bulbs on Halloween day. Erica gave me a box of them for my birthday and I had to yank a few plants out to get them all in, but I did it and I'm glad. In the spring, I'll have tulips, beautiful tulips.
Saw the family at Erica's last night, including Sam and Sarah and boys. The kids went Halloweening; the rest of us ate soup. Then we went to see High School Musical III. I may be the only person in my age category to have seen all three high school musicals. Thank you, Mira, for keeping me up to the moment!
Will she look like Tina Fey or Groucho Marx? Will she look over the top of them? Will Elliot get to try them on? Will Olive? Are the frames thick or thin? Is the glass tinted or plain? Shouldn't there be a picture of her on her blog wearing her new glasses?
It is Sunday and Tom and I are in our "Founders Cottage" in Kennolyn Camp which is just outside Santa Cruz California. Wendy Wirthlin gets married at 3:30 this afternoon up on the hill, where I hear we will have a view of the Pacific Ocean. Nice. We are surrounded by redwoods and other evergreens all smelling deliciously piney. There's a pool and tennis courts, volleyball courts, a barn with rabbits and Vietnamese potbellied pigs. People live in cottages that look like a barber's store from the front or the post office, so it looks like a small western village. Plenty of places to roam around. We made smores by a fire last night and then Tom and I watched "Lady in White" a Masterpiece Theater production that we had with us (netflix).
The night before last we stayed in Carson City, Nevada which is a homey place (and where Ed spent 5 months of his mission). We drove from there around Lake Tahoe and onto California: an absolutely breathtaking drive and one we'd never done before. Car trips are enoromously satisfying when the scenery is beautiful and changing along the way. It's short, but we feel like we're on vacation.
My second son, Ed, has announced his candidacy for president, and aside from a few grammatical glitches, he is eminently qualified. His running mate is a short Mexican man known as Cheeto Bandito, who is actually an American citizen. Wow, way to go Cheeto! (We're still fact-checking). I will be travelling across America for the next couple of weeks raising money for my little boy. My top-of-the-line metal detector should bring in a real chunk of change. To see his platform go to http//smellsfunny.typepad.com. At last a man for the people!
I remember you, Lanny Berger. You were the fat kid, so shy, you could barely speak. In fifth grade, your appendix burst and you were in the hospital for weeks. Mrs. Nelson said they had you on a bed of ice to keep your fever down. Did she make that up? A bed of ice? You were the kid who always asked me to dance at Emigration Ward dances. I still see you walking toward me, feet pointed out slightly, your upper legs chafing against each other with each step. You weren't my first choice or even my third, but there was something always likable about you.
I never knew you with a moustache. The last time I saw you was when you came home from basic training, clean shaven short hair. You were nineteen. You came to the house bearing gifts: a necklace (a heart on a thin chain?) It was my first awareness of someone's unrequited love for me and made me sad. You wanted to see Dean Collett and I drove you to his house in Rose Park and picked you up later and drove you home. That's our history together. Did I ever write you a letter? I have no idea.
I'm glad you found true love with a woman who found you gentle and loving, that you had children, two dogs, and that you loved to hunt and fish. I'm glad you had lots of friends. Your death has surprised me with emotion. I remember you, Lanny Berger. I remember.
I'm swimming and I've finally got the breathing right on the front crawl. Wednesday, I swam 15 laps, which I thought was a half mile. It turns out that 16 laps is a mile in a 50 meter pool. If I'd known that, I would have pushed myself another lap. My goal is to swim two miles a day. I'm 66 and I can swim. I can. I can.
So I took the unwanted ugly clothes to the D.I. today, and while I was there, I decided to shop-- remembering my stylish friend, Dean Duvander who bought ALL of his clothes at D.I. He had a good eye and was a patient shopper. So I bought a khaki skirt and a denim vest--very classic and my favorite casual wear, barely worn. Nine bucks. Now I need a pair of brown boots. I'm determined not to pay much for them. There was a wonderful red Ralph Lauren blazer for ten bucks, but it was too small. There was also a red coat for twenty dollars, which I'm thinking about overnight. D.I. rocks!
Last winter in New York when I was disgusted with my vasty hips and mammoth hams, I collected all the clothes that were then too small for me and stuffed them into a green bag to take to Goodwill. This included four expensive blazers and an Austen Reed suit that I loved.
The bag was much too large to carry on the subway and I stuck it into the front hall closet waiting for the day when Tom and I would drive down Broadway to Washington Heights and make our delivery. And I thought we did just that.
"I think it's all in a big box in the garage," Tom said to me last week."
"I don't think so," I said.
Today I went out and opened the box. All my clothes were in it. Clothes I thought I would never wear again. I tried them on one after the other: gray wool flannel pants, a navy blue blazer with gold buttons, my Talbots silk shirt, a black velvet vest with red and green embroidered roses on it that I bought at Utah Woolen Mills and is perfect for the holidays; my Austen Reed suit, a red blazer and more. I fit into my wonderful clothes!
It was my reward for being disorganized, for procrastinating. Grasshoppers: 1. Ants: 0
Jonathan and Julie drove down from Boise with Katelyn this conference weekend to make an announcement, which was emblazoned on Katelyn's t-shirt. We were too dimwitted to see it. Later, Charles and Erica and family came over, along with Sam and Sarah and the boys to celebrate Katelyn's third birthday. Sam spotted the message. Congratulatory hoo haws all around. I'll let them post the t-shirt themselves.
I did not take the important pictures: Katelyn opening presents, blowing out the candles, eating the cake, feeding the ducks and just being all around cute. Saved by Photo Booth yet again.
When the depression comes again, will I collect cottage cheese cartons and their lids? And rubber bands and string? Will dinner be chunks of bread dipped in last week's gravy? Will meat night be fried Spam or wieners cut in half? Will I learn to darn our socks or have shoes repaired instead of buying new ones? Will I use the lining in an old coat to make a new blouse?Will we take cod liver oil to stay healthy?
When the depression comes again, will my fixed income dry up? Will I lose my house and live with my children or in my storage unit? Or will my children move in with me? Will we give each other haircuts to save money and will beggars walk door to door for food? Will I keep a couple of chickens on the enclosed patio for eggs? Will I rummage through trash cans, stand in a soup line and march on Washington? Will I lose my teeth?
Or will my life continue with a moderate tightening of the belt and instead of dinners out with friends, we will have potlucks and hot dishes made of leftovers? Will I pick sunflowers for the table and notice that the sun is still shining?
If you want to see a smart and truly scary thriller, go see Transsiberian immediately. In Salt Lake it's playing at the Broadway. We made a note to ourselves afterward: don't take the Transsiberian train from Beijing to Moscow. Just don't.
We made a similar rule after watching Funny Games: don't let anyone into the house especially if they want to borrow a couple of eggs. This remains the scariest movie I've ever seen.
Five days, six nights: that's how long the Plumski grandchildren, Harrison, Anne and Mira, were in the house. I learned stuff. Tom asked Harrison if he wanted to go to the BYU football game and he grunted, "Not really. I'm not into football."
"You are so Charles," I said.
"You want to know what my dad says?"
I rolled my eyes, because I knew it would be salacious.
Harrison said, "Why would you want to watch a football game? It's just a bunch of guys rolling in the grass playing with each other."
Okay, I am the mother of that remark, so of course I laughed.
Tom went to the game with the Bracys.
Anne helped Harrison learn the U.S. capitol cities by giving what Tom and I thought were impossible pneumonic devices something like "connect the heart" for Hartford, Connecticut. Although I didn't do much better: "Providence, Rhode Island is a gay enclave," I said. "Oh no, sorry, that's Provincetown, Massachusetts." I thought Fargo was the capitol of South Dakota. Fargo is in North Dakota and it's not the capitol, but it's a really good movie! I think Harrison finally did master the list after Tom made him list the states on one side of the sheet with their capitols on the other side and fold the paper in half.
Mira has filled the front walk with chalk art including a full-length portrait of me in my pink and white striped shirt. She fed the ducks and got nipped on the back of the legs a couple of times. She can now play 93% of the notes on Guitar Hero. We bought sparkly Hannah Montana Sunday shoes (Samantha would have approved) that created a blister. She served Tom and me lunch on the patio (water, bread, butter, peanut butter and honey). She can whistle. And she can do a mean forward roll but doesn't really get cartwheels yet.
Anne has guys texting her all hours of the day and night. ("Are you mad at me?")
After church today, we took Anne, Harrison and Mira (whose parents and brother, Max, are off to NYC) up to Snowbird for the annual Oktoberfest. I thought this would interest especially Anne and Harrison since they're both taking German language in school. Was I out of my mind? Didn't I remember Bavaria and its oh so quaint villages, kitschy gift shops, lamb shank lunches with oom pah pah polkas playing in the background? Didn't I remember that I threw up violently after one afternoon there? We ate our bratwurst and red cabbage while being entertained by a trio of alpine horn players, a band consisting of accordian, tuba, Jew's harp and washboard, the 1996 yoyo champion, a yodeler and cow bell playing guy. Mira sat in a fetal position on my lap, because even though she's only six, she sensed the creepiness of it all.
The only really fun part was when Anne and Harrison got henna tattoos. Hers was a butterfly at the nape of her neck and his was a spider on his arm. Very exciting.
I can't wait for Elliot to stay over, so he can have a henna tattoo too. Tooh, tooh!
Harrison and Max showed up on our porch Sunday afternoon. We were delighted to see them especially since they shortened the home teachers' visit. Erica had booted them out of the house, because they'd spent the day glazing in front of computers, so I went out to the garage and found two board games (remember them?): Parcheesi and Chinese Checkers. Tom read the rules aloud. Each player gets four little wooden discs of the same color (See above). Green only had three discs, so I added a whole almond. Max got to choose first. "I'll take green," he said. Later, I learned that green is his favorite color, but I think he wanted the almond, which he referred to throughout the game as "my nut," as in "I want my nut to come in first," and "I need to get my nut moving," always said with a droll look. Harrison won.
They ate M&Ms. Harrison suggested that Max was an M&M&M. I made brownies and they ate them.
Then Harrison beat Tom and Max at Chinese Checkers. The first time I've known Tom to lose Chinese Checkers ever.
Then we went to Sam and Sarah's for my last birthday celebration where we ate more cake. What's a Sunday without a sugar high?
Yes, I would like to see a woman as vice-president or president but not Sarah Palin. Her conservative views on women's reproductive rights, sex education, drilling for oil, conservation, gun control, and, God help us, book burning, makes my hair stand on end. She's pretty; she's perky; she's popular, and she probably looks good in a swim suit. Let her be Mrs. America but not vice-president.
As long as I'm posting friends, I'll stick this in. This is Bill and Christine, Carl and Melanie and Tom and Louise. We are at the top of Butterfield Canyon where we were all impressed with the views into the copper mine and surrounding area. God's country, for sure.
For my 66th birthday, the gang from high school came to help me celebrate with a lunch. They brought most of the food including the cake. They also brought funny cards, presents, and an abundance of good humor. I had a real wish and to my astonishment could not blow out seven candles. Christine said, "It's those three cigarettes you smoked." Those cigarettes have come back to haunt me. First I have to have an operation to staple shut three congenitive holes in my lung and now it's going to take five years for my wish to come true. I don't know that the cyberknife can save me. There's some kind of object lesson here. Perhaps for some future word of wisdom talk I can impress upon the congregation the wages of sin: three cigarettes wreaking havoc with my body. Remember children, never never never smoke.
It's okay to have sex, though.
My friends are (bottom row from l. to r.) Marie, Jane (top row) Wendie, Christine, me, Melanie and Nan.
Okay, Saturday night we had a dinner party which included two vegetarian New Yorkers. I have a small repertoire of recipes that I'm really comfortable doing and they have nothing to do with vegetables. The NY friends said they ate fish occasionally, so Tom grilled halibut steaks that had been marinated in honey, oil, soy sauce, ginger and chives and they turned out tender and delicious. Kiss that cook. I made a broccoli salad, a potato salad and an herbed spinach-bake. Vegetables, yes, but mixed with mayonnaise, oils, eggs and cheese. I was hating myself by the end of the afternoon. Christine brought a gorgeous bowl of fruit and I made high lemon pie for dessert (which despite the fact that it curdled slightly was still delicious). I was tired and anxious before the guests arrived and then they came full of cheer and good will, ready for a party, and all exhaustion dropped away and Tom and I had a good time at our own vegetarian/fish dinner party. Friends and food: lovely.
Pictures of 96 Arden, apt. 2F are below. For some reason, I couldn't get it all in the same space.
Okay, summer in Utah has been divine. Now, can I go back until next summer? Can I go back and work in the temple under Sister Kongaika and teach the gospel doctrine in the Inwood Ward? Could we find a one bedroom apartment on 215th and Broadway that is a short block from the 1-train (there's one available for $1200 a month). I could then take the subway directly to 66th and go to the library of the performing arts and work there and not have to walk up from 59th street with my computer. We could live without the car. We really could. Couldn't we?
Welcome to my world. The NY Times says that "narcissism" is the new psycho babble word of choice, as in Tom Cruise is a narcissist. Paris Hilton is a narcissist. _____is a narcissist. You can fill in your own blank. If you use the word loosely then we are all narcissists. Who do we really care about more than our precious selves? I thought Von Watson when she was out of her mind in her nineties was telling the absolute truth: when she was told her daughter, Eunice, had died of cancer, she said, "Oh, I'm glad it wasn't me!"
The summer is wearing down and I am feeling the effects. It's been almost three months since we moved to Daybreak and the euphoria of moving is melting away as it always does. I end up being the same person I've always been: anxious, lazy and morose. My novel seems silly. I will continue writing it, because I'm more afraid of being undisciplined than I am of being silly. I keep thinking there must be something else to write, but I have a feeling it is darker than I want to face. All that is left is silliness.
Olivia gave me a heads-up about this novel. It's beautifully written, laugh out loud funny and, of course, sad. A few quotes: "We're Mennonites As far as I know, we are the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you're a teenager. . . . We are supposed to be cheerfully yearning for death and in the meantime, until that blessed day, our lives are meant to be facsimiles of death or at least the dying process. . . . A Mennonite telephone survey might consist of questions like, would you prefer to live or die a cruel death, and if you answer "live" the Menno doing the survey hangs up on you. "
I checked my copy out of the library. I'm in a new thrift mode.
It's a quarter to eight in the morning and I have been missing them since they left at four-thirty this morning. We said our good-byes last night but I found myself awake at four-fifteen and padding downstairs to get a last look at them and wave good-bye from my lit-up porch. We never played "Golf" and we never ate at Hires (it turns out Ed doesn't like Hires any better than Sam--this doesn't mean I'm giving it up as a family meeting place). I loved seeing all the cousins interact, the brothers together, and obsessing over our looming deaths with Ed. I would feel so alone without my fellow hypochondriac. Thank you, God, for the Cyberknife. I'm a believer!
I'm speaking at the 27th ward summer party next Thursday and I've been driving myself crazy with angst: what will I say? I will speak about being a woman of a certain age and what that means. I will try to keep it light and not mention that death looms in the foreground. I will try try try to forget that I'm hurtling toward death.
On a lighter note: Tom and I pulled a box marked memorabilia out of the garage and were happy to find Mohammed Ali's autograph that we thought was long lost. We got it in Boston about 1968 along with Chris and Bill. I will have it framed.
We went to an open house last night for Tom's 50th high school reunion. Old people. Really old people. Ran into several members from the old Emigration Ward and had our picture taken together. Tonight: dinner at the Salt Lake Country Club. Tom looks better than most of his classmates. A lot better!
I don't know if any of you noticed, but Samantha has let herself go. This is the same girl who photographers used to stop in Central Park and ask if they could take her picture. She was such a beauty. But now it seems her features have grown--dare I say it--porcine. And her body is more swine than slim. Is that an actual point on her head or is she wearing a snow cone? Bless her heart. Be kind to her. Compliment her on how good she looks in pink!
I think Dede had the discussion about whether to get an expensive haircut or just go to Supercuts. I admit that the best haircut I ever had was at Figaro's on 9th South, but was it worth $50 a month? Maybe. We were making more money then. But now that we're reduced to a fixed income, my vote goes to Supercuts. Thirteen bucks for a decent haircut and only eight dollars to have my eyebrows waxed. Can't beat those numbers.
I watched MEAN GIRLS with the teenaged grandkids last night. It was so much better than I expected. Tina Fey wrote the screenplay and played the school teacher, and Tina Fey is hot especially since 30 ROCK has won all the awards for comedy in the last couple of years beating out even my favorite, THE OFFICE.
It was fun last night, guys. Always good to see Charles unveil his stomach and lecture us on the etiquette of going to the toilet. Loved the smores. Thank you Sam and Sarah. I love you all
I'm a swimmer and I wear goggles. I'm not ashamed of it. Goggles make you look cool and, also, they keep the water out of your eyes, and, also, they allow you to keep your eyes open, so you can follow the line in the middle of the lane and not bump into the lane dividers and look like a dufus. I swim to keep fit. My body is toned and tight. I am a sixty-five year old marvel, an example of what the human spirit can overcome. Mind over body.
Tom and I are both awake and on our computers. I think I've been awake all night. It's the curse of aging. Can't sleep, can't poop, can't think without taking some pill. The question is would I rather be toilet training a toddler as Sarah is doing? Would I rather spend the day with eight cub scouts as Erica did or packing my family up for a trip cross country as Dede has had to do? No.
Haven't lost any weight this week. Discouraging. Two trips to Chick Filet didn't help. (Can't think of how to spell that!) I'm amazed at how little I can eat to be thinner. Dieting is more difficult than writing a book, and losing weight may be more satisfying than anything I can think of. Makes me feel like a goddess.
We cleaned up Saturday with Harrison's help. We use his young legs to carry things from the basement to the second floor and vice versa. He lifts things and carries empty boxes out to the garage. The result is we now have a "media room," which to my mind is any room in your house that doesn't have windows. Sounds much better than "basement." I love having the space we have after downsizing for so many years. I love having the two offices AND a guest room. Palatial. Most of all, I love the front porch.
Monday night I was knocked down by a cold. I'd had a small sore throat and thought I had non-hodgkins lymphoma. Of course. When I put my ear to the ground and hear hoofbeats, I think "zebra." I was supposed to go to the temple with Pam, my visiting teacher, at ten in the morning on Tuesday, and I got up to do that, and realized I was not fit to be around other people: sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, cough and intense sluggishness. For once, I did not let my guilt drive me to go, and called her to say I was ill. Then I went back to bed and read one of the books Tom had checked out of the library on Monday: HEAD CASE: HOW I ALMOST LOST MY MIND TRYING TO UNDERSTAND MY BRAIN by Dennis Cass. Tom and his best friend, Al the neurologist, are exchanging e-mails about logic vs. intuition. Al doesn't believe in anything that can't be scientifically proven. This raises a lot of questions about the brain and Tom is willing to ask them. Tom would like to write a book with Al. Al is mostly dancing around the idea, but he does this in such a funny style, that THAT might be a book in itself. Anyway, HEAD CASE was a fine read because it was written by a journalist and not a scientist.
Today I read half a book, THE MIND'S PAST by Michael S. Gazzaniga, who is a distinguished professor of cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth. It is also a pretty good read, although his use of adjectives is disruptive sometimes. I'm especially interested in what he has to say about memory. He says that "starting in childhood and going up to our forties, our brains are cooking up untrue stories about our past." He has this wonderful quote from Bernard Malamud'a DUBIN'S LIVES: "There is no life that can be recaptured wholly, as it was. Which is to say that all biography is ultimately fiction. What does that tell you about the nature of life, and does one really want to know?"
I used to write this quote on the board in the Memoir class: "The aim of memoir is not to nail down facts but to gather impressions of the past." Those are Patricia Hampl's words, not mine. These scientific books on the brain support the idea of our memories fictionalizing our past. I suspect that the way we tell our stories shapes a meaning for our lives. But is meaning an illusion?
I wanted to post the picture below for the 4th of July post but thought it was coming up sideways. Wrong.
I've had plenty of manicures in the last few years, but I was a virgin when it came to pedicures. This is because I was embarrassed with the idea of a stranger having to cut my toenails and scrub the dead skin off my feet. I know I wouldn't want to do it for somebody else. But when Erica invited me to go along with her and Anne and Chantel, it sounded like a party I wouldn't want to miss.
When we entered the shop, the owner, a Vietnamese woman (what is it with the Vietnamese and nail parlors?) called out "Hello Mom!" to me. She had obviously been warned that the old lady was coming along.
We were encouraged to have "French nails," which I don't particularly like on toenails, but I succumbed to social pressure. My pedicurist and I had much in common: I was a virgin having my first pedicure and she was a virgin at giving her first pedicure. The white line was uneven and looked scalloped, although you can't tell this from the photograph. I thought the white line made my toes look like they still needed to be trimmed.
"Make her fix it!" Chantel said in a stage whisper.
"No, I'm Dutch and don't deserve to have it fixed," I said, and tipped the young woman my usual twenty percent, smiling like a satisfied customer.
Then I went to the store, bought some white nail polish and tried to fix the paint job, but made it worse by putting on my shoe before the paint was dry. I tried taking it off with polish remover but it's on there like cement. In the end, the paint job didn't matter. I just enjoyed the company.
In the evening, we went with Sam and Sarah and the boys to watch the Bees play, followed by some terrific fireworks. The Bees lost, Elliot was frightened by the noise and Louis slept through the whole thing.
Thursday morning I drove home from the swimming pool and saw the crane at the temple site. The steeple was already in place. I drove to the temple to have a look. Nice, I thought. Little did I know that the Angel Moroni was to follow and I went home without seeing it. This morning in Relief Society, Pam Stewart, my visiting teacher, showed me the photos she had taken. "I wish I had known," I said. It seemed premature for Moroni to be placed on top. The temple is still yellow, after all. I'm sorry I missed it.
My first instinct is dread when it comes to family reunions. I felt it today. I had a minor sore throat, a headache; my elbow hurt. Symptoms of dread. There's always a good possibility that none of my sons and their families will show up, and that I will be made to feel responsible for this. "Where's your family?" aunts and sisters ask. I don't know. Maybe I forgot to invite them. They are adults. They can do what they want. Still, I feel responsible. I have failed somehow.
So I was relieved when the first people we saw in the parking lot were Charles and Erica and family. I was off the hook. I had some of my family at the Copier reunion. And I made sure people knew. I hauled Anne off and introduced her to the Dutch aunts. She was very gracious and polite about it, for which I was grateful. I also introduced Mira around when she was by my side.
My Dutch aunts and uncles are all in their eighties except for Henny, the youngest, who turns 78 this September. She is only twelve years older than I am. She used to take Gerard and me to primary on the bus in Utrecht. She would have been sixteen and seventeen. Rietje (Marie) said Gerard was her baby. She turned 85 last week. I walked from the parking lot with Govert, who uses a cane. He said he was following the prophet, meaning President Hinckley and his cane. "He's dead," I said. "Is that your plan?" He laughed. He has diabetes and has problems with the nerves in his feet. Floris is 82 and forgetful, although he knew who I was. They all have bad teeth. No one trims his nose hairs. Bad hair. Bad clothes. And yet they share an exuberance, an optimism that makes them instantly likable.
I liked seeing my cousins Anya and Pearl as well as Toni's daughter Jill, who is moving from Nebraska to Maryland, and who was one of my students at BYU. I met Kate Copier, Floris's daughter-in-law, who knows Brenda Zeller in my new ward. Old connections and new connections: I enjoyed myself. The Copier aunts and uncles are the last ones to call me Loesje or Loes or Loesie. I'm going to miss that when they're gone.
Everyone says how easy it is to make your own blog, but I found the technical side impossible. Just the word "template" closes my throat. If it's not made of paper and a glue stick, I can't make it. So I'd like to thank my husband, Tom Plummer, for making this blog possible. I'd also like to thank my granddaughter, Anne, for talking us through the process on the speaker phone. And I want to thank all you bloggers out there, who have set the example with your own, well-designed, picture-perfect and articulate blogs. Thank you, thank you everyone. I am truly humbled.