Thursday, February 14, 2013

30 Questions Thursday--Part 5

 Happy Valentine's Day!

(For previous 30 Questions Thursdays, use the tags at the right or the little search bar on the upper left.)

20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.

I have a very strong memory of sitting on my mom's lap as she was watching "The Secret Storm," her soap opera of choice. Given where we were living at the time, I could've only been maybe two or three years old. I just remember the feel of being on her lap, of feeling her breathing, and watching the opening credits of show. I mostly remember feeling her breathing, and how soft and comfortable and safe I felt. 

The second memory that pops to mind is not soft, comfortable, or safe! When I was turning five, we were building our new house out in the country. And I mean, literally, we were building it. My Dad and Mom had decided to do a "back to nature" thing and my Dad was determined to build as much of our house with his own two hands as possible--never mind that he wasn't a contractor nor an architect. But he'd read a lot of books about it. Given that, he actually did a remarkably good job--it kept us warm and dry for many a year, even if it was never finished. I have a lot of memories of the building of that house, but specifically I recall the pouring of the concrete in the basement floor. Dad had my older sibs helping with rakes and shovels to smooth out the concrete as it was being poured--there were planks criss-crossing the framework every which way to give everyone a dry place to stand and walk as they were doing their work. I'm sure I'd been warned many times to stay out of the way, but as five-year-olds do, I was determined to be right in the action. And, of course, I slipped off one of the planks as I was running and my foot plunked right down into the wet cement. I remember Dad grabbing me as fast as he could and carrying me in his arms as he ran up the hill to where the trailer we were living in was so that he could rinse off my foot before the concrete set. I thought of it all as a grand adventure. I'm sure my Dad remembered it quite differently!

The third memory is more of a montage of scenes around a theme flashing through my mind: My Mom and my sisters and I trying to shove cows back into the pasture. Seems like that was a general past-time. We only had one cow at a time--we'd raise it for a year, then it would feed us for another year as we raised the next one. My friends used to ask if we were sad when it came time to move the cow along into the next life--and I used to respond, "No, by the time it's time has come, I'm ready to see that dang thing go!" Cows are stupid, and cows are stubborn. Or perhaps they're cleverly stubborn. Anyway, they managed to work our last nerve on a regular basis. Our fence wasn't electrified, just barbed wire. The cow would lean against it to reach the grass on the other side, eventually managing to knock it down, and then it would just casually wander out into the yard. One of us would notice it wasn't where it was supposed to be, and we'd call in the rest of the troops. Mom would haul on the halter strap and the rest of us (four girls) would lean as hard as we could into that cow's rear end--and dang if that thing wouldn't just plant its feet and refuse to budge. So many many shoving matches. Sigh.  

21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

The power to shove really, really hard--and I'd go back in time and get all those dang cows back in the pasture quickly like a bunny.

Okay, really...

Probably teleportation. It would be so super-cool to just show up wherever I wanted without having to deal with flying coach. 

22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

In five years, I'll be in much the same place doing much the same things. In 10 years, it's within the realm of possibility that I could be grandmothering. That would be cool. In 15 years, I'll be within a few years of retirement and hopefully making some grand plans! 

I know that may all sound terribly dull--don't I have ambitious goals for things to accomplish and ways my life will be wildly different? Not particularly. I like my life very much. And what  I've learned in 47 years of living is that whatever I think will happen is not likely to, and what actually does happen is something I've never imagined. So I keep my eyes and ears open, but basically just enjoy the flow.

23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

Oh, this is such a gimmie.

First: Yep, there would be that quilting thing. Although I'd quibble with whether I call that a "hobby" or not. But I did an entire episode on the nuance of "art", "craft", and "hobby" so I won't go into that now. Why do I love it? So many reasons: connection to my mother;connection to my ancestors (I'm at least 6th generation so I'm carrying on quite a heritage); the social network that develops--many of my besties now are people I've met through quilting; the fact that there's ALWAYS something new to learn and new to try and fun new things to play with; the opportunity to play with color and shapes when most of my day is spent with words and numbers; creative expression in general; spiritual expression on occasion; and I could go on...

Second: Writing, although I don't do near as much of that as I'd like to and should. I spend too much time quilting, really. But when I've allowed myself the time to get deep into writing fiction, I absolutely love losing myself in a time, space, and people that only start with something in my imagination and then grow from there, surprising me with who pops up and what they do next.

Third: Reading. Is that a hobby? I guess maybe someone needs to give me a really, really good definition of hobby--whenever I name something as a "hobby" I always find myself thinking, "but is that really a hobby?" Hmm. Things to ponder when I'm awake at 3 a.m., I guess. In any case, I'm a voracious reader. Even cereal boxes are fair game. 

Fourth: Photography, although this ebbs and flows. I enjoy doing it; sometimes I do a lot of it, then I can go through months of not picking up my camera except for utilitarian purposes. That's something I always think, "When I'm retired...." I'd like to own a digital SLR with all the lenses and filters but haven't bought one yet because I don't want to haul it around with me. So I guess that means I'm not a "real" photographer, heh heh.

Fifth: Travel. Is that a hobby? But my husband and I often spend evenings tossing around ideas for places we'd like to go next. By the way, our next trip? New Orleans in March. Can't wait. 

24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

So here's an example:

When each of my sibs and I turned 12, my dad took whichever of us was the birthday kid that year on a week-long camping trip in the Adirondacks as sort of a "coming of age" thing. I didn't really question why he did it at the time--I was the youngest, so I just recall thinking, "it's MY year this year! Yipee!" It felt like it was a benchmark of some sort, even though I didn't really know what it was a benchmark of. Dad was a big fan of Thoreau, though, so I'm sure in his head it was a way of marking our coming of age by getting back to the land, connected to nature, and all that. I really enjoyed my week on the island with Dad, although (see above) there wasn't a whole lot of talking going on. Mostly reading and writing and hiking. But it was a good memory. I didn't feel like I'd grown older or learned anything particularly through the experience. I think I had more of a sense of now knowing the secret handshake that my sibs all knew--I was part of the club of "Those Who Had Camped with Dad." And I had my carved walking stick to prove it.

My sisters continued the tradition with their kids--taking them on a trip to the Adirondacks when the kids were 12, and Grandpa went with them.

When my son was coming up on his 12th birthday, my father had recently passed away. As Ben approached his birthday, I kept telling my husband, "you should really take him camping!" This treasured memory of mine seemed an important tradition to carry on. My husband loves camping and was willing to go for it, but my son wasn't interested. "Mom, I'm in Boy Scouts. We go camping all the time. Why would I want to go camping for my birthday?" I kept pestering him about it and he kept saying, "Why do I have to do that?" So we sat down and talked about what that camping experience actually meant, and I realized it was really about my dad trying to stay connected with each of us as we moved from childhood into adolescence and on into our teenage years. It was to mark that this was a special time. "So, Ben, what would mark this as a special time for you?" I asked. "A weekend in New York City!" he answered immediately. So that was it: His dad and he went to NYC for a weekend; took in a Rangers game, ate at restaurant that featured as much meat as you could want (a big deal for an almost 13-year-old, by the time they went on their trip), and generally had a great time being guys-about-town.

For my daughter's birthday a couple of years later, she chose a spa day with me. Honestly, I'm not sure I even suggested a camping trip since I don't enjoy the camping thing as much now as I did when I was a kid. But we had a really nice day being women together, and talking about women things. I look forward to more spa days with my daughter in the future. Bonding over facials. Gotta love it.

And so we change our traditions to fit the times and needs of the current generation. 

 Coming soon...

25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.