Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dahlia season


September in the garden is fabulous. This is the first year that I have grown dahlias, but it most definitely will not be the last. I got these as tubers, back in May,at the Proud Market of the Rochester Civic Garden Center, from the Rochester Dahlia Society. They have done much better than any that I have gotten as plants. They're so big and bushy that I have tomato cages around them to contain their exuberance!


Most of my tomatoes were hit by the blight, but my tomatillos are very happy, as are the pumpkins twining around them.

I have had green beans ALL summer, and they just keep coming.


And for the first year, I'm planting a fall garden. Peas, lettuce, spinach, and radishes are all poking their heads up. Looks like I need to thin, which I have a very hard time bringing myself to do. It seems like such a shame to just destroy perfectly good little plants, so I usually try to transplant them elsewhere in the garden. It doesn't always work, but I feel better for the attempt.


More pictures of my September garden are at my September 2009 set on Flickr.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Transitions



For her eighteenth birthday, back in the spring, DD's best friend got a tattoo. DD went with her and got one too. The best friend's mom went with them and got one too. I went with them too, but I hadn't found the right design, so I deferred. It was really fun, though, two best friends and their moms. When each girl got her tattoo, the mom held one hand and the best friend held the other. The other mom chattered on to help distract them from the sound and piercing of the needle.

Funny, that seems to be just what young adults need at this stage of life. Their peers have a huge influence on their choices, from clothing to body art to socializing and beyond. They need to have close relationships with their peers, because becoming intimate with people outside the family is essential for their self-development into mature adults.

They also need to have adults in their life, in strong supporting roles, to serve as additional role models and resources outside their family.

And yes, they need their parents. We have more and more of a background role as time goes on, of course, but it seems to me that they still need to know that we are there for them. And when something big happens in their life, be it a source of joy or pain, they are likely to want us in on it in some way.

After the three of them got their tattoos, DD made me promise that we would go back before she left for college, and I would get one, as soon as I had a design. Well, summer always goes too fast, and before I knew it, we only had a couple of weeks left. In fact, she text'ed me from an out-of-town trip to say, "We need to get you your tattoo. Oh, and btw, I want another one too!"

Schedules being what they were, it came down to the LAST night before she was set to leave, and we agreed we would go get the tattoos. I still didn't have a design. I figured I would just get something small in a non-public location, just for the experience of it. However, I really liked hers and indicated that I would consider getting it, but I wasn't sure how she would feel about that. Turned out, she was fine with that, so off we went.

The first tattoo shop we tried didn't have time for both of us before closing time, so we went to another place that came recommended. I have to admit, although I have two tattoos, I didn't quite know what I was in for. My others are pretty small and not too intricate. This one took about 1 1/2 hours for me, and 1 hour for DD (hers is smaller). And yes, it hurt. By the time we finished, it was 9:30, and we still hadn't had dinner! We went off to DogTown for some veggie sandwiches. (By the way, I really liked our artist. He had a great demeanor, and he stayed very late so that we could both get ours done!)

The whole experience was a memorable way to mark the transitions that we each are facing. Here it was, her last night before college, and (although she had been with friends virtually every moment that week), she was spending this night with me. I feel very grateful for that.

The very act of getting a tattoo can represent self-expression, independence, commitment, a turning point. It seemed like all of those to me, and I think to her as well.

And this time, not only was I by her side as she got her tattoo, she was also by mine to support me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How climbing a mountain is like raising a child


In the beginning, everything looks placid and beautiful. You look at the adorable pictures of other children and mountains and think that this will be a piece of cake.

Then, you realize that you are actually climbing a mountain, not just looking at a pretty picture of one. It turns out that the actual climbing requires a lot more endurance than the picture-gazing. At these moments you swear at your partner and blame her/him for making you do this/not making you completely and totally happy and comfortable/the size and steepness of the mountain.



Occasionally, you notice that the mountain/child really is a work of wonder and beauty.


You reach the summit, and if you're lucky, you and your beloved are still together, albeit a bit dorkier and more middle-aged than you remember becoming.

After taking a good long time to celebrate and enjoy the view, you start downhill. You figure you're practically done now. After all, downhill means easy, fast, once again, piece of cake. Then you get a late night phone call, or some other wake-up call that no, you're not done yet. For example, perhaps the sole of your boot (which you've only worn four times, but has fallen apart due to disuse of about 12 years) falls off just as you begin your descent. It looks something like this.

And then, a little further down, the other one falls off. You now have very little support, and even less traction, and the trail is extremely slippery. You are not really sure if you can get through this without some major injury or trauma.

Still, with the patience of your partner (and probably quite a few other friends and family members), you make it down/through the latest trial, traveling much more slowly and painstakingly than expected, using 2 instead of the usual 1 walking pole.

Again, you celebrate, this time over a delicious romantic dinner.


And then, quite willingly, you make plans to train even harder for the next mountain, and vow always, always to enjoy the view.


(For more Adirondacks pictures, see my August 2009 Flickr set.)

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