Life, Love, and Ruminations on Boredom

Angie is visiting her parents in Texas for the next two weeks, so Caesar and I are holding down the fort. This annual trip usually takes place in June, when the garden is just getting started, but our favorite little human came to visit us then and the trip was delayed. So now, the garden is in full swing and Caesar and I are ever-so-diligently trying to keep up. Okay, truthfully, Caesar is no help at all. This is how he spends most of his time now:

He very much enjoys the $6 patio rug we “stole” at a yard sale earlier this year. (It retails for more than $200 at World Market. Yay, us!)

Anyway, it has only been a few days since Angie left, but they have been busy ones. The tomatoes have been coming off like hotcakes (and so have the field peas!).

Saturday’s tomato and pea harvest. Remember, we only have about 20 sq. feet of garden space.

I spent most of Monday washing, peeling, and cooking tomatoes to can or freeze – which meant that I also had to organize and inventory the freezer.

Almost full!

Yes, there are plastic things in the freezer. We have a “use it until it dies before recycling it” policy here, and most of these plastic things are older than Caesar. (Okay, maybe not that old. He’ll be 17 next month.)

Aside from preserving the harvest of our little garden, I’ve been watching our first ever watermelon grow. This is Angie’s baby. She saved the seeds from a late summer melon last year and convinced my mom to let us put it in the sunniest spot available – right next to the house.

And if that wasn’t busy enough, I’ve been working on crafts for the winter craft show, I picked up a new grant writing gig, and I started relearning the ins and outs of video editing for YouTube.

Now, make no mistake, I’m in no way glorifying busyness for the sake of simply being busy. I’ve taken some time to read and relax with Caesar on the patio too, but the truth of the matter is, I miss my person and staying busy helps tremendously with that.

You might think that two people who spend ever single day together would relish a break. Not us. In nearly a decade, we’ve not run out of things to say to one another. Our [crazy] ideas and adventures provide a steady stream of learning and growing experiences and we truly enjoy doing things together. When either of us is away, we miss the heck out of one another and get an insane amount of projects done at the same time. When I was in NC last fall, Angie took woodworking to a whole new level and even painted my mom’s kitchen!

Our life is never boring, that’s for sure. Speaking of which…

My uncle (yes, this one) is coming to visit my mom this weekend and bringing his kids (age 12 and 14). Right now, they are at the beach, enjoying the last bits of summer before heading back to school. Okay, that last part is a complete lie – not just a half-truth or an exaggeration. They are indeed at the beach but they are not enjoying anything. They are BORED. These kids haven’t left the hotel room except to go eat. My uncle spent $2,100 to stay in a resort right on the beach; and one day in, they are already BORED. They haven’t been to the pool, walked the boardwalk, taken a ride on the giant ferris wheel, enjoyed an ice cream cone, or picked up a single sea shell. My mom says they may even leave early to come here.

I mention this because I have a feeling that even though I’m not a child, I’m going to be expected to entertain them, and that’s just not going to happen. I have zero patience for bored young people, especially ones that have access to a plethora of things to do and deliberately choose not to do them.  And no patience for parents who think their middle-school age children can’t walk a boardwalk by themselves (or go out in their own yard) for fear they will be abducted. My grandmother (the same one who raised my uncle) used to tell me (repeatedly) that if someone were to abduct me, they would bring me back in a hot minute once they saw how much trouble I was. She was joking, of course, but the real message was this – go play, nothing is going to happen. She, along with my parents, taught me not to talk to strangers or get in cars or help find lost puppies; all the while instilling confidence in me instead of fear.

Yes, sometimes bad things do happen and real children disappear but in reality the likelihood of a child being abducted is 1 in 300,000. They are 100 times more likely to get struck by lightning. Yet, neither is a good enough reason to make your children so afraid to go outside that they miss out on the beauty of the world in which they live. I’m not sure how my cousins will fair on their visit to TN if they are already bored at the beach, but we shall see.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of safety vs. independence when raising children. Or your thoughts on life, love, gardening, or any other topic for that matter 🙂

Cover photo: Our niece (circa the summer of 2008) during our 6-week adventure in Colorado. She turned 21 this week and is still one of the most independent, free-spirited, fun-loving folks I know. Happy Birthday!! 

Love Thy Neighbor (if not their lunch)

You just got to love friends! They are the only people in the world who can give you crap about something one minute, only to turn around and bring you a steaming hot mug of your favorite tea the next. We disagree, we debate, yet in the end, we still love each other. Ah, yes, friends!

Like me, many of my friends are LGBT. I write grants for a LGBT organization (sometimes two, actually) and have come to know a lot of great folks through that work. When it comes to equality, acceptance, and living free from hate and harm, we all agree with each other 100%. Those things should be a given for all people. When it comes to other things though, like lunch, we tend to disagree a bit.

Angie and I ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I will be the first to stand at the front of the room and confess – when it comes to Chick-Fil-A, I am an addict. I loved them before we adopted a plant-based diet. Back then it was their Original Chicken Sandwich that I couldn’t get enough of. Now, it’s that darn Superfood Salad. Sure, I can make it at home, but occasionally we do enjoy eating a bite outside our house, and this is just one of those bites I crave. Along with the Ice-Dream. It’s the only ice cream cone in town that does not make my stomach hurt. Even the dairy-free options at Baskin-Robbins are out. And the Ice-Dream is cheap! I just got a cone for 59 cents!

Some of our friends always have a heart-attack when we post anything about Chick-Fil-A. They don’t like gay people. They are all conservative Christians. They donate money to anti-gay causes so buying from them means you support them too! I’ve heard it all and the message doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The problem I have is this – why must everything in life be a battle of us versus them?? If we ourselves want to be included, why do we feel the need to exclude other people? Doesn’t equality cover everyone?

This dilemma of mine goes beyond the doors of Chick-Fil-A though. I’ve come to the point where I’m seriously considering asking Mark Zuckerberg why, with all the other innovations Facebook has come up with, can we not have a better set of filters for our news feed? The stuff I want to see – Linda’s local adventures, Bev’s baseball games, Sue’s outings with her granddaughter, and the fun Melissa and her husband are having running a campground in the Ozarks – gets buried by stuff I could care less about.

Facebook is a platform for social interaction and I get it, some of my friends and family are super passionate about their politics. That’s all well and good, but maybe come at it from a different angle. If you want the rest of us to see your side, introduce us to your candidate. We can’t see the good he or she is doing in the world if all we see instead are the negative campaigns bashing the competition. If I had to go to the polls today, I wouldn’t. When Republicans are calling Democrats “liberal hate-mongers” and Democrats are calling Republicans “gun-toting Nationalists”, I don’t want to stand on either side. I care about this country, I really do, but I care about my own sanity even more.

I’m tired of the meanness. I just can’t do hate. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. And it especially doesn’t work in a minimalist paradigm. We’re supposed to rid our lives of anything that creates clutter – mental, physical, or otherwise – and hate is clutter. It takes up so much room in your heart and mind that there’s no space for anything else.

The world is not going to change on its own but screaming about the way things “should be” isn’t going to create that change either. For me, I simply want to model the behaviors I would like to see in others – love, kindness, and acceptance (or tolerance, if acceptance is too hard). More importantly though, I want to protect myself from negativity, since prolonged exposure can seriously undermine even the best attempts at being positive.

So, what does this mean exactly? It means that I’m going to love my friends, even though they will never know the absolute deliciousness of a waffle-cut fry. I’m going to love them whether they identify as a donkey, an elephant, a lone wolf, or a unicorn. I’m going to love them regardless of who they love, what church they go to, what they eat for breakfast, how many cats or dogs they have, what teams they support (Go Texans!) and I’m going to continue to hope for positive change in the world (and a better filter on Facebook).