After three straight years of 7-day 80-hour weeks punctuated by frequent international travel to the U.K. and the Middle East, my husband, Olof, decided to retire. In the last four blissful weeks, it feels like I’ve reconnected with someone who’s been brought back from the dead, or at least United.
I think most parents would agree that there is no greater theater than youth sports. In T-ball, for example, everyone can hit off the tee but no one can field so home runs are the norm even with a one-base-per-overthrow rule. Every base is an overthrow. In fact, my older son’s T-ball coach used to tell the kids to hit the ball and keep running until someone told them to stop. It was a remarkably winning strategy.
Every neighborhood seems to have its requisite nutcase. Over the years, I’ve done informal research on this subject by querying friends if they have at least one problem neighbor. I’ve never had anyone say no. In fact, I usually get a 20-minute diatribe on the wingnut who is terrorizing their particular block.
When my younger son visited over the Fourth of July, one of his first comments was, “I never realized you had so much agapanthus.” Of course, I knew immediately it wasn’t my real son and that I would have to petition the embassy on the planet Klingon for his release. Because this botany-identifying facsimile was not the one I raised, who knew exactly two types of flowers: orchids for prom corsages and roses for Valentine’s Day.
People often ask me if my husband and children mind that I write about them. Well, they might if they ever read my column. After 21 years in clerical bondage, mom finally gets a chance to shine in her twilight years. But can they be bothered?
In September of 2010 I wrote a column titled, “The cat who came in from the cold,” about Tiger, our neighbor Bob’s cat, who, at a year old, came to live with Bob after a harrowing tale of abandonment by our neighbors to the south, adoption by some kindly neighbor ladies to the north, and a hilarious (if you weren’t one of the parties) custody saga between the ladies and Bob mediated by a pet psychic (hired by the ladies), who aurally communicated with Tiger – over the phone.
If there is one lesson I can never seem to learn, it’s that e-mail is the absolutely worst way to resolve a conflict. The reason, of course, is that it is virtually impossible to ensure that the recipient reads your e-mail in the same (hopefully conciliatory) tone in which you wrote it. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that they won’t.
I think all of us year-round residents of La Jolla feel incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful oceanside community. But just as people on cell phones treat the rest of the world like deaf mutes, one can’t help but notice that summer tourists at a beach resort seem to have beamed themselves mentally to a parallel universe where traffic laws do not apply.
A mere month ago I conducted what I call a Preemptive Rodential Offensive, denuding my orange tree of 700-plus oranges to avert our annual summer rat invasion. A rat accompli, the only fauna I’d now have to deal with was our visiting grand dog, Winston.
As I said to my younger son, if you’re going to have a problem child, better that it be the dog. Our beloved but selectively complaint grand dog, Winston, is back again for another of his multi-month sojourns at Camp Grammy and Grampy.