Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Edited to add: A few readers have written to inquire about the flora in the photo. This plant is malva alcea 'Fastigiata,' a perennial version of the hollyhock or mallow family. It grows to about 4' in height and blooms this lovely lavender-pink bloom like mad. This particular sprig comes from a root that I planted at least 10 years ago, and despite the fact that all the gardening manuals claim that hollyhocks prefer sandy to normal soil, this baby is planted in unforgiving red clay. If you want some of your own, I highly recommend Bluestone Perennials. In fact, there is no perennial catalog I recommend more highly than Bluestone. They're the best. Period. End of editing.

Ugh, what a day. I didn't feel like doing anything, but I managed a whole bunch of procrastinating, anyway. I'm worn out!

My MIL doesn't like me. She called Thursday morning, and in the span of a two-minute conversation managed to drop no fewer than six slurs about my general uselessness.

I have never gotten into an out-and-out fight with my MIL. We would have to actually speak to each other in order to get into a quarrel. She just manages to make her disapproval known with the tone of her voice. It's amazing. Someday I have got to develop a similar disdain for another human being.

So what were her complaints on Thursday? One, she derided my sleeping hours. For weeks, I've been waking up at the inexplicable hour of 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, hours that have been anathema to me for years. I have absolutely no idea why I'm suddenly waking up early, but I have to wonder if it's connected to my sudden onset of somnambulism. Anyway, Louise was absolutely shocked that I managed to answer the phone at 8:30 in the morning! She so expected to get the voice mail! What a surprise! Yeah, it was great to talk to her first thing in the morning, too, thanx.

Two, someone told her I was a finalist in an essay contest. She barely held in her giggles as she "congratulated" me on my near-miss.

Three and four, Louise chided me for homeschooling. She hates it on principle. What principle? Damned if I know. And she thinks it's been too long since I brought the kids to see her. When Louise says "see," she really means, "The children need to come pay homage to me." She has no understanding of or sympathy for normal childish behavior. We were freely invited not to come visit her when the kids were little. They might have made her house messy or disturbed her cats. Heaven forbid. She doesn't want a normal, grandmotherly relationship with my children -- she just demands their respect and fear, and I guess they haven't paid it recently enough. She isn't interested in who they are, she wants to ensure that they reflect well on her.

Five, she asked -- in a totally shocked voice -- if I really had gotten a job.

Six, upon finding out that I no longer work at the grocery store, she laughed snottily and snorted, "Of course you quit a perfectly good job -- that is SO YOU!"

I struggle so hard to remember to be grateful to her for raising my husband. I like Wesley a lot, after all. He can't help it that his mother is -- well, she's difficult to understand. She's just utterly different from us. She doesn't understand creativity or creative people. Louise is the sort of reliable, responsible person who makes the world go 'round, decade after decade. She's only retired because she was basically forced to do so. It wasn't like she wanted to stop working.

Years ago, I can remember, she launched a vicious diatribe about the movie Steel Magnolias. She hated it. Couldn't understand why anyone thought it was sooooooooo good. (Not that it's a great movie, but c'mon, it was a good 'un, and amusing in a rip-your-heart-out kind of way for its time.) "Talk talk talk talk, TALK," Louise complained, "All they did in that movie was TALK. I was so bored!"

I was so flummoxed by this proclamation, I couldn't do anything except snap my mouth shut and sort of wobble my head around on my shoulders, in a gesture that she could interpret as either, "Yes, you are right," or "Noooooooo, it was such a pathetic waste of film."

I'm entirely too introverted to go head-to-head with her on any of the things we ever talk about. But laws, we just do not speak the same language. If you say, "The sky is blue," to Louise, you had darned well better be talking about the weather. Metaphors and analogies are lost on that one. Which probably explains why she dislikes me so much.

The upsetting thing? I always thought I was such a unique individual that I would be able to break the MIL-DIL mold and be friends with her. It's such a boring cliche not to get along with one's MIL.

I can only take solace in the knowledge that Wesley himself is nearly as foreign to her as I am.

Man, ruminating on all this just makes me miss my mother that much more.

Here's to the weekend. It cannot possibly be worse than the week!


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