Long time ago, when I was about 9, my parents had a huge fight … over butter. I refer to it as the “Bitter better butter battle.” It happened like this. My Da and I were sitting at the breakfast table. Mutti was making coffee. My Da opened the butter dish and scrapped up the short horizontal slick, that represented the very last of the butter, to put on his toast. Mutti saw this and went to the freezer to get a fresh stick. She opened the door, looked in and the pulled out the entire box. Her face turned somewhat demonic, rather like an Oni.
The butter, picked up at the store by my Da, which we’d been using for over a week, was salted. Mutti likes unsalted. There were accusations made. Da brought up the fact that he likes to cut vertical square pats of butter from the ends of the stick, which becomes impossible if Mutti is always taking long horizontal scraps of butter off the top. Seriously, this was the fight. After much rage and recrimination, a detente was reached. Mostly because Mutti had to go change or she’d be late, but partly because they came to an understanding.
Going forward (meaning Mutti was going to the store that day for new butter), they would buy unsalted butter only, and they only cut pats off the ends. Win-win? Mutti vanished upstairs. I looked at my Da, and asked “Couldn’t you just buy a second butter dish?” He smiled and replied. “All good relationships require compromise.” I guess. Then he said, “Your mother actually sacrificed more than me. I can always salt the butter.” True. And he finished it up with, “She really is the kindest most loving person I know, jelly bean.” Uh…did we just see the same person? The one who flipped out over butter?
I think about this episode now and then. I think it’s actually informed a lot of my thinking on relationships, economics, even politics. The Significant Other and I each have a personal shelf in our fridge as well as communal shelves. We can take from each other’s shelf, but, in general, what’s on the shelves is the stuff I like and he doesn’t or vice versa. So, while we don’t have two butter dishes, we do acknowledge we are different people. It’s a different approach. It’s compromise on the big things, but not on the small ones. I think my parents’ approach is the opposite.
Part of why we do this, is because we’re a different generation. But part of it is also because can, economically. We aren’t cash strapped. We aren’t forced to decide on only one butter. He can have Romaine while I eat iceberg. I can use pot holders, while he uses oven mitts. He can spread brie on French bread, while I use the Philadelphia cream cheese ( which he calls “an abomination, and abuse of the word ‘cheese.’ “) on a Nut-thin. I don’t think it damages our relationship. And when we do cross-over now and then, it’s fun and exciting rather then a forced compromise, the result of a hot fight.
I’ve thought a lot about the BBBB this week. After posting last week, I had breakfast, and I found myself scraping the butter, like my mother (does whenever my father is out of town. He buys salted butter when she’s away). I realised I’d made an egregious relational mistake. I called the SO an idiot (I even used the Dutch, idioot, so no mistaking that). And my Da was right, Mutti is a wonderful mother, I’m lucky to have her, she really cares. I needed to mend some fences there. But … I also kept wondering why the SO had spent 3 days at his folks’ if all he did was faint from hypoglycemia. Sounded more TIA cover-up to me.
Health, physical and mental, are dicey subjects. They’re private subjects. If someone, even a loved one, doesn’t want to tell you what’s going on, you don’t really have a right to pry. If a person is in your care, that’s different. But someone like the SO? Or Mutti? Can’t really go there, just have to be there. At least that was the post-breakfast conclusion. So I called the SO, and I told him I was sorry for calling him an idioot. I was just happy he hadn’t fallen off his bike during his ride, or while he was out walking the dogs, or worse, driving the car in traffic. Long pause at the other end. Possible confession? Nope. He did however say he was sorry too, and he really had been an idiot.
I left it there. Next week, I’ll call the Cheese Friends and see if he’s ordered anything recently. He wouldn’t cut back on cheese unless a doctor ordered him to. I moved on to the SO’s folks. I called La Mère. I thanked her for taking such good care of the SO, and expressed how glad I was that he fainted while with them, and they had taken him to the ER to get checked out, and they had all taken the 1st available vax shot so they were safe. (It’s weird but in parts of Canada, there are people making vax appointments, showing up, and then refusing to take the Moderna shot! They reschedule instead, in hopes of getting Pfizer. Holy heck, people! You’re putting off 80% protecting yourself from death within 2 weeks, over a 1% difference in efficacy?!)
Anyway, I asked her how she and Le Pape were doing. Because, I imagine, it must be terrifying to see your son collapse in front of you, knowing your husband has been through multiple cardiac events. She said it was very upsetting for them, and she cried a little, and then trailed off a bit into advanced French words beyond my understanding for a bit. But she seemed to appreciate that I considered their feelings. No mention of anything beyond the hypoglycemia. So maybe I was wrong to be suspicious. I imagine the SO would stay with his parents, to make them feel better and make sure they were ok after such a shock.
On the back of two wins, I decided to go for broke. I called my Da and left a message on his work phone saying I was calling Mutti about upsetting stuff. A heads up is always appreciated. Then I called Mutti’s VM, because it wasn’t really a conversation I wanted to have voz a voz. I told her I loved her, I appreciated her, and I knew how concerned she was about Gran. That I was concerned too. I gave her the number of the RN managing her case. So she could talk/text her. Then I told her that she must be under terrible stress to have snapped at me and called me lazy. That she would never talk to someone she worked with that way.
I told her I was sorry I couldn’t stop Gran from aging, or dying. I have limited tricks up my sleeve. But maybe she needed to talk to someone (she’s been in therapy before), to help her deal with stuff now, to be able to be happy and make the most of the time she has left with Gran, and so when she does eventually hire someone to take care of Gran, she doesn’t have that person quit over misdirected emotions that take the form of employee verbal abuse. Yeah, I went there. Because when you love someone, sometimes you have to put on your asbestos suit and brave the dragon’s flames.
I usually hear from Mutti everyday. She calls to check on Gran and talk to Gran via the Portal. No call Friday. But that was ok. I didn’t think I’d hear from her then. I didn’t hear from her all weekend either. But that was ok too. Saturday I had to take Minka to the vet and get her shots updated, and have her blood drawn for an annual panel, and get her Rx for food. Getting in a 3 month supply of Minka’s food and flea stuff and marking the calendar makes certain Minka keeps getting her stuff she likes and gets her flea treatments on time (very important in summer).
It was kind of surreal. The vet does curbside only. Pets are taken from the car and then you get a phone call.
The vet said something really interesting. That dogs are getting anxious as owners return to work now. But that in beginning of the pandemic, it was the cats who were anxious. They didn’t like their needy owners around all the time. I’m not sure that’s true of Minka, Gran is always around. She’d be upset if I were to be on a “work” schedule I think. Although she does spend time outside everyday, for a little break from the needy people. And at night she does like to sleep on my pillow (it’s extra long). I hope she’s not running experiments on my brain. But, they are a superior species.
On Sunday, a friend who does geological and land surveys with drones came by. I wanted to know, from a bird’s eye view, what the tree in the back looked like to try and understand scientifically what was going on, why were the crows killing themselves there. I had gone up on the roof with binos, but it was hard to see. Her drone made it clear — love me some LIDAR! To the crows, there looked like a clear opening, but it was very shadowed. As they flew, full speed, thinking they could pass through, they impacted head-first on a large branch. I couldn’t really put up a reflector, to scare them off, so I decided to leave the dead crow.
On Monday, the PT lady came out to evaluate Gran. She was very positive. Though she thought Gran might need anti-anxiety meds because she was so afraid of falling, she could barely walk. I texted Mutti her number so they could touch base, since she’d be seeing Mutti next week and not me. I have a last doctor appointment Tuesday, to check on the iron situation and see if the lactoferrin is doing its job. The plan is for Mutti to arrive Weds am and me to leave for NoCal Weds pm — after all the holiday traffic has died off. I thought I’d get at least an emoji response. Nope. Nothing. No response. After PT left, I laid down on the couch for an hour and woke up to the sound of barking dogs and car doors slamming out front.
I looked out to see a large black towncar. Possibly a limo. Impressive. Very FBI meets… prom night? Which neighbor was getting fancy visitors? Turns out it was us. It was my parents, walking up the driveway. Uh….color me confused. My first thought was, Has the SO died? And they came to tell me in person? (Catastrophizing is a go-to I really need to jettison post-pandemic.) Then I realised, they would still drive themselves down. In their own car. They cannot afford, nor would they pay for, a town car. Did their car break down on the way? And what, AAA sent a limo? No, no, no. Why didn’t they drive down themselves?
I opened the door, and my parents were both smiling. Good sign? My mother said she loved me, that I was “the best” and then went to see my Gran in her bedroom. Uh….okay. I went to the kitchen with my Da to make some tea and find out what the H, E, double toothpicks, was going on. Turns out Mutti had taken my call to heart, and called her old therapist. She’d already done a couple sessions. She was feeling much better. Apparently. Gran’s nurse told her I was so contentious, she thought I was a nurse. And PT said I was great with getting Gran to do things even PT thought was not possible. All this did not explain the black limo/towncar with the bespoke driver.
Turned out an old client of my Da’s called him. Now, this fellow was rich years ago, when Da did a project for him. But he was just the worst to work with. Da never worked for him again (though this fellow did ask now and then, Da always referred him to other people claiming to be too busy). Da was entirely relieved when “the rich dude” moved out of state about 3 yrs after. That was maybe 7 years ago. But last week TRD called and begged him to come out and consult. Because of the pandemic, a project that got started went sideways, and now it was up a certain poopy creek.
Da said no. He was busy. TRD countered with “just come for a few days and tell me if it’s salvageable.” Da said he didn’t want to fly, all the hassle of testing and people beating each other up on planes. TRD said he’d send his private jet. Da said there were family problems, and Mutti really needed to see me. TRD said they’d make a layover at our local airport 7 miles away, for a couple hours, and send a town car for them to take them wherever, if he wanted. Da was running out of excuses. It’s not like Da got hurt badly by the pandemic, but hard to say no to that kind of money being offered for a consult. Especially on the heels of fight with Mutti, about money, because Da cosigned a loan for Hugh – without telling her.
Also, turned out TRD, in the interim, had married, divorced, married again, and now had a couple kids. Mutti felt that might have changed TRD and his wife would have made TRD less of a thorn. Also in the interim, TRD became even richer. Like 1% rich. It’s hard for Da to pass up “money is no object” projects and private jets. He said yes, but just a consult for week, all expenses paid, 5-star accommodation, on the Big Island. Just a consult? Sure, Da. Sure. No way Mutti let’s him turn “the project” down. Whatever “the project” is. But Da has other projects on, in progress, including Hugh’s. I’m guessing he’ll spend the summer ping-ponging across the Pacific via private jet. And Hugh will have the house to himself.
Hugh apparently not only got his old job back, he retooled his skills and landed an IT job. Good benefits, room to grow, a whole new career. Which is fortuitous because he put a bid on foreclosure 2-bed, 2 bath, condo last summer, when the economy went south. He did it as “a radical act of blind hope.” And it paid off. He was shocked when the bank accepted his offer. It was a knock down price. His new place, which will be the first home he’s ever owned, is in an “up and coming” (sketchy? gentrifying?) neighborhood. And the fire damage (meth lab?) was “mostly” (not at all?) cosmetic, only minorly (totally?) structural.
Because of Hugh’s new employment picture and lack of debt or any evictions on his record, the bank was willing to do the deal, if he had a cosigner. Enter my Da. Who is entirely convinced that by Sept, with under $25K investment, the property will be all set for occupancy and worth triple what Hugh paid. “Can’t lose proposition,” Da said.
So, post-pandemic life begins with a bang. Or bagpipes. The local pipers were back at it Monday night. Hadn’t heard them in over a year. It was very moving. I’m kind of sad to be leaving now, just as life is about to re-start. BC is on a 4-phase plan to fully reopen — in Sept. Which means, I miss California’s full re-start by 1 week, and then I miss BC’s full re-start as well. But, you know, good news anyway. Things will be reopened when I get to California in Sept. Fingers crossed. At least for a month or two. We’ll see what happens when school starts and cold weather forces people indoors.
People often say they believe in personal responsibility but living in a group, a nation means shared responsibility. It’s bitter better butter battle. In the US it’s often pitted politically as 100% personal responsibility vs 100% shared responsibility. But it should be 50% personal + 50% shared = 100% responsibility. You do what you can, I do what I can, and together we do what we can to build a good society for all. It’s that simple. I help you do what you can, you help me do what I can, we help each other do what we can. There is, still, a vast scope of societal and personal good yet undone, and it’s all 100% possible. So let’s start with vaccinations, for all, please?
I hope by July 4th we really do get the US to 70% fully vaxed. But given the way Canada is vaxing, I’m guessing they’ll beat us to 70% with 1 dose and 20% fully, even though they started vaxing months behind us. There is way more sense of shared responsibility there (the people of Toronto rejecting Moderna vaccines aside). It’s amazing. They don’t even produce vaccine, like the US does. They’ve really had to work to get vaccine, and they are busting guts getting those vaccines they do have into the community. Meanwhile, in the US, people are rejecting a surfeit of local, easy to get life-saving vaccines with a shoulder shrug and a sigh. It’s heart-breaking.
This Tuesday I looked at my planner. Hmm. Do I want to continue? Planning. No not really. But the new Midori journals kinda make me want to start doing some summer journaling. I think it can help with de-stressing. One of the things where women and men differ is post-stress. Men will have heart attacks in a stressful situation. Women will have them after the situation is over. It’s a bio-safeguard. Women make sure the children are safe, then collapse. I expect to see more cardiac disease Dx and cardiac events among women particularly as the US reopening picks up. I dont’ want to be one of either.
Weds I saw the super flower blood moon. Awesome. While I was sitting in the dark, alone, in the wee hours, I had an inspiration. I called my Da’s people in the UK. They were up and having lunch. It was fun. I laughed and laughed, while on the rooftop, in the dark. Thankfully no on e called the police. And because I was up early, I got a jump on the garden and the shopping. While I was out, I went to AAA to pay some car registration fees. It was nice to see it abuzz with happy people planning trips. To be able to think about taking a trip again, here or abroad, is a huge boon. Though I’m not sure the Earth thinks the same.
Since the pandemic there has been a baby boom at reserves in Africa. That fact has fascinated me. It means, despite our best efforts to minimize human impact, it’s clear now that having people “see” that animals at a “safe” distance, isn’t actually good for the animals. That a factor in their decline in numbers is not resources based, but as a direct result of negative interaction with humans (poaching) and encroachment stress (tourism) depressing birth rates caused by humans. There’s a PhD study waiting to be written. It might up end everything we now do to preserve endangered animals.
Other things I thought about this week? The deepening of the social divide via paid media. That is, having people with more disposable income on netflix, hulu, disney+, HBOMax, CBS all access, etc. While people with less, have only free channels. It’s interesting to listen to awards shows, pundits, talk shows, etc, always referencing back to (ie, puffing, often their parent channels) pay-to-watch streams. There are many social divides, but I feel like this one is super significant.
Going back to the fridge, it’s my shelf, your shelf and a shared shelf, all of which are visible and accessible to all. In paid media access, it’s my shelf that you can’t see or access. Your shelf that I can’t see or access. And only a shared lesser, not so relevant or important shelf we can both see and access. I’m not opposed to individuals watching what they want. It’s the exclusionary nature of the paywall. It’s another example of systemic capitalism’s divisive negative impact on culture. I think a lot about systemic capitalism. About how that directly, divisively, negatively impacts education, or religion, or politics in the US, and how it’s really out of control.
It’s not an economic concept that stays in the marketplace. It’s a concept that turns everything, including ideas, into products to be marketed in society, which is no longer an actual society or an actual culture, it’s simply a marketplace. And markets are inherently both unstable and irrational. I think we have to move away from systemic capitalism. We have to regard it as we do systemic racism, sexism, inequality. It’s something we added to society, but it’s something we can remove from it.
Something else I thought about is something a lot of news agencies missed. A couple weeks ago when voter suppression laws were being proposed, and voted on, there was discussion about an organization that was helping draft these laws. It’s called Heritage Action. No one mentioned that in 1952, the GOP, in an attempt to develop their base started to form “heritage groups” among white Christian right-leaning immigrants from Post-WWII Europe. They had names such as “the Hungarian heritage group.”
On the surface, these were about promoting culture. But they were, in reality, promoting the right-wing political view of (post-Nazi era) white supremacy. When you see a place with a name like “Western Heritage Museum” that talks about the pioneers, notice that it only talks about white pioneers. No one else. It’s very selective. And that was on purpose. When you hear the Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank, consider what “heritage” means in this context. When you hear the Heritage Action group drafted the voter suppression laws, it should be no surprise to you.
People think the GOP somehow fell accidentally into authoritarianism via white supremacy. Or that this is a recent wrong turn into a very bad place. But this is incorrect. The GOP chose this course, deliberately. It’s been on this course for many modern-era decades. The trajectory of the party has intentionally been a long game of deceiving supporters into thinking their ultimate end was anything but it actual is: the betrayal of American values and the overthrow of democracy. Any claims Trump and 1/6/20 Insurrection were aberrations and it over, it all ended there, there’s no need for a commission, is simply lying to your face. The Big Lie, voter suppression, all of it, it’s the same train, still on the same track, still intent on sending democracy off a cliff.
Ok, that was a little dark (sorry) and this post was little long (not sorry). Next Friday, about this time, I’ll be on the road, probably somewhere outside Eugene, OR, heading north. So, consider this extended edition a season finale. I’m signing off for the summer. I may be back in mid September. But life. You never know. We’ll see what happens.
I’m sure I’ll pop up on twitter and WP weekly and comment on stuff. But at-home time is precious. You may be tired of being trapped at home, I’m tired of being trapped away from home. As always, I wish you all a wonderful (fully vaxed) summer filled with parties with friends and hugs with family and laughter, and joy, and good times, and baseball, and travel. Make the most of your life!
And now, I leave you with the SO’s Friday love song. Somewhat butter related. Extra points to him for the band’s total obscurity (except in the UK and Japan). Don’t you know? Can’t wait to cross the border and say “Hello. Hello!”