I was in Penzy Spice Store a little while ago. I bought a very expensive and very small amount of saffron. I was chatting with the sales person. I always chat with sales people and the mail man and cab drivers and anyone else I run across, but I think I am prolonging those conversations these days. I am lonely. Not for more calls from my dear friends who rescue me on a weekly basis from my hermit’s cave, but for a roommate, a housemate, a mate.
I have not really known anyone in my family of origin whose partner died before old age. I could look to my maternal grandmother but her husband who did died in his 50’s died when my mother was a little girl, just a bit younger than Julia was when David died, but I only knew her as a very old woman -- of course, she might not have been that much older than I am now when I was a child, but she seemed so much older than my paternal grandmother. And maybe that was what I knew of her widowhood. Old age, very old age. Apart from her husband, death was for the very old, and the left over partner never remarried, never really recovered from the loss.
David’s family has been different, although it seems that it is the women who die in middle age -- early to late. They leave husbands who mourn and then who find other partners, and I will gripe right now. Here is the rub! Sixty to 80 year old men seem to have no trouble at all finding suitable second partners. And rather quickly. Me? Ok, I am not a nice Jewish man. And ok, I hang around grammar schools and the PTO -- something that Cheshire pointed out. I do not do many things with people of my own age. And granted, I am probably only ready to have tea with some nice man. Nothing more. But from where I sit, I just don’t see that many prospects. And that is somewhat scary. I can live without a partner. Of course, I can. But frankly, I don’t want to.
Again, on the porch before Julia comes home from school. God! It is beautiful! I am within spitting distance of finishing the mulching of the back garden -- I must stop now for another two weeks because a pumpkin vine made its way under the fence from my lovely neighbor’s garden patch. It is growing one large and a few small pumpkins and I cannot disturb it until the pumpkins stop growing. Julia has enjoyed watching the vine and the developing pumpkins. Next year, I will plant a few pumpkin seeds and see if we can have a vine that stretches across the whole back garden. My gardening plans after digging new beds in the back and cleaning out the existing beds, is to plant a perennial garden around the entire back yard with a place for the bench that our therapists gave us that has David’s name on it. I will measure the beds in a few weeks and have the winter to plan what to plant, starting slowly with lots of time between phases of shrubs and smaller plants to enrich the soil. The soil needs enrichment. Badly.
I’ve made my favorite chicken soup for super. I expect this to be the last big cooking before Monday’s demolition of the kitchen. I’ve kept out the small fry pan for eggs this weekend and I’ll make meat or fish during the weekend, but starting Monday, we will be on what can be made in a microwave, a toaster oven, a crock pot, and a rice cooker. And what I’ve put in the freezer. And take out. I am both excited to see the work begin and fearful that it will take so dreadfully long.
And on that idea . . . the sales clerk at Penzy’s commented on my splurge for the best saffron (Now, just to put my splurge in perspective. The “cheap” saffron is $9 for a bit of an once; the “expensive” saffron is $12 for the same amount. So, to me if there is really a splurge it is buying saffron at all!) And I said, that I was splurging because it was the last cooking I would do in my present kitchen for awhile. She asked and I explained about the renovation. She asked, how long, and I said, 3 to 5 weeks, and was going to add that I was mentally planning for at least 6 weeks because from what I’ve heard that is a more rational estimate and allows for some of the unexpected which seems to me is inevitable when you are taking a room that has three layers of wall down to its studs in an old house. But the sales clerk was fixated on the 3 weeks. Three weeks! She could not conceive of being out of her kitchen for three weeks! And considering that I was buying special saffron because I had packed all of my spices two days ago and felt the great urge for one more pot of soup today, I had to agree.
And as I was leaving Penzy’s, I thought that this was a perfect sales clerk for a spice store. Their staff is usually knowledgeable and helpful. I wondered if they were all good cooks. And if they would all marvel at someone willing to be kitchen-less for 3 weeks.
I listened to Sunday in the Park with George as I was on my daily round. Does everyone sob listening to Sondheim? I have read critics who chide Sondheim for his coldness and his lack of emotion, and for me, with the first chords, my eyes tear. I feel the acute pain and joy that he puts into his tunes. The words. The music. It wrestles my soul to the ground every time. Sometimes I stay away from it because I don’t want to be feeling so much. And then there are days, like today, that I indulge. Remembering love and friendship and longing and parting. And sobbing.
Yesterday (and today as well), we had no therapy after school. Julia came home at three and she colored and then we did some math work. Slowly, very slowly, addition and subtraction are coming to light. We still do it with drawings and manipulatives -- story problem: I planted 15 tulip bulbs. A dinosaur came by and ate 8. How many tulips are we going to see next spring? I laugh at us. Julia loves the dinosaur part; me the gardening. We do this over and over. Sometimes we are both planting bulbs; sometimes the dinosaur eats some. Doing it this way, even mixing them up (one addition problem, one subtraction) she knows what to do. Her special ed teacher has been working this way for a few weeks and now our therapists and I will do it at home as well. There are no big lights going off yet, but she is willing to work. This is exactly where she was with reading more than a year ago.
We are reading Little Bear books -- one story a night -- before she goes to bed at night. This is not reading that challenges her. She knows almost all of the words and we can talk about the stories. She understands the stories. I figure that they will push her in school, and she reads now and again with her therapists (it is a reward now, not a mandatory activity like it was last year). When she reads during the day, she always wants to read books that challenge her. She is still memorizing words, but she does initial sounds when she doesn’t know a word and I’ve been showing her parts of words that she knows. Her reading teacher at school does something similar.
On the skin picking front, all is still awful. 47 bandaids today and three bandage wraps that cover a number of scabs. At least twice today, she picked badly. Once was at school. I don’t know whether she peeled off bandaids or they came off but she came home with a number of new bandages. Again, tonight, after her shower and before I could get all the bandaids on. I went into her bedroom while she was in the bathroom. Just to grab pjs, and when I came back, 6 or 7 scabs on her left foot were oozing. They don’t even bleed anymore. They ooze clear. And the healing of a day or two or three is for naught.