02 July 2009

Greetings from the non-Midwest

Life keeps unfolding in bizarre and compelling ways, always keeping me guessing. I went and helped my uncle out a bit, but haven't been able to bring myself to go back since.

I'm sitting at my messy kitchen table gearing up for a new phase of the day: the one where I go to the grocery store for a couple of items for dinner and the coming few days, then going to a dance class. Yum! Flageolet beans are soaking and a quick, barely-kneaded bread dough is sitting in a warm oven doing its yeasty thing.

Daily life is about the most basic of things. Yesterday a trip downtown on bikes turned dramatic when I made a mistake that caused an accident. Luckily we weren't in heavy traffic, but there were some scrapes and freakouts, and justified mistrust. But my poor kid might have felt worse when I accused myself of being a terrible mother out loud. "Where's the tissue box, Mom?" she asked, brimming over before she could find it.

Today I had fun making lunch: gluten-free mac and cheese from scratch, with apples, carrots, and brown rice chips. Delish, all of it, and everyone liked and ate most everything, which is always satisfying.

A couple of days ago, we returned home from Iowa, where the heat wasn't bad and the company was good. I still feel I stick out like a sore thumb there, because I seem to have come from folks who were still headed west long after these folks' ancestors settled in the Midwest. (Just a point of clarification for non-Coloradoans: Colorado is not the Midwest in our minds -- at least not until you get far enough out on the plains, in the eastern part of the state that you can't see the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.)

Often communication was easiest through the pets that circled us and begged for scraps from willing feeders. (I joked that dogs think I don't know their names because I'm always telling them, "Dream on.") One of the relatives spent most of her time treating her dogs like toddlers, taking every step with them and attending to their every need as any good mother would. And instead of being horrified, I found it sweet, and only a little sad that she didn't feel as comfortable with the people around her. But they all have a way of not talking about things that is, shall I say, a bit alien to me.

Of course I feel I am alien to them in my analytical qualities. I am always thinking of situations on many levels, trying to see context while trying to hear what people are really saying. In short, a lot of people would say I think too much, have too much time on my hands. Maybe, but I have something I want to make with it. Something I need to say. Because if I try to spill out all these complicated feelings about the food industry right there in their heartland kitchens, it won't be pretty. I can't do that to them. There's an interesting set of choices at work: it's okay to put one's energy into remodeling a bathroom or a porch, and then to talk about one's choices and travails, but they're not going to talk about that person's parents, or this person's tragedies.

All the same, it's good to see everyone up close, to smile and laugh and eat together until you want to burst. It's good to know we're all just who we are, and it's fun for me to be in a group where the grandma sits at the top of this small mountain of people. Events like that involving my own grandparents have been sparse indeed. I can't fill one hand with instances. Amazing. And here's this lovely lady who's had kids and grandkids and still laughs and gets around at 89.

And these aren't folks who are going to let any of theirs fall through the cracks, either. I saw that in how everyone looks after the youngest, who has some special needs, shall we say, but whose community is rising up to meet her.

Aw, jeez, it's raining again!

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