Monday, August 11, 2014

tough conversations


We all have them. A life well lived cannot exclude tough conversations. But you can do them well or you can do them poorly. Learning how to do them well is an ongoing thing. Ed and I do them significantly better than years ago. I suppose that's good.

There are a couple of ongoing conversations that really haven't an end and I suppose those are everyone's fate. You think you've found a way to accommodate both your idiosyncrasies and then you see that you haven't really and so you finesse and massage the sticking points once more. So there are those talks.


But then there are the ones that arise because a major shift has to occur. For one, for both -- either way. Change is needed. We had one back in February about travel. A conversation where convictions had been mounting but each hadn't wanted to hurt the other and so we remained silent on the topic until finally, among Greek ruins on an island mountaintop, Ed blurted an admission: he had reached his travel saturation.

In that conversation, I understood. I surely wasn't happy about it, but there was nothing to discuss. The expression of true feeling was so genuine and heartfelt that there was little more to say. Sadness to process, but few needed words.

That one's over and done with. We've moved on.


This morning though, over a wonderful breakfast, as we talk about other difficult (for me) topics, explaining things, giving perspectives -- all marking progress which is all you can hope for -- we got to one topic that really came out of the blue: the cheepers.

I blurted out that that in the scheme of things, we were better off without them.

Ed took that to mean that I would prefer for them to be gone and so he put on the table the idea of finding another home for them. And of course, it's not so easy. Both of us are tremendously attached to them. We like their personalities. (Well, I don't quite get Oreo, but I like that he likes Ed and Ed likes him.) We like that they trust us, that they find happiness in the various favorite corners of the farmette. That they depend on us and we don't let them down.

And so we begin to weigh the benefits of finding a home for them, against the modest but significant benefits of constructing a bigger enclosed space for them (so that no one *has* to let them out or lock them up every single dawn and dusk of the calendar year).

For now, we decide to leave things the way they are. The pang of imagining them gone was too strong. We're not ready for that quite yet.



And, of course, that shifts us into fields and domains that have nothing to do with chickens and that is how the morning passes because such conversations if done well, or at least fairly well, take time.



As promised (here on Ocean!), today I bake a peach cake. (With a modest sprinkle of pecans.)


Again I mess with ingredients, substituting yogurt for cream and again I am lucky with the final outcome.


That's not the end of it. My older girl and her husband are coming over for a postponed Sunday dinner and since she is still having a tough time with many of the dinner foods that you or I may want to put on the table on a Sunday evening and asks for pasta just one more time, I decide to at least step up from the spaghetti with home made sauce that I've been feeding them for very many weeks now.

When my girls were small, on evenings when I absolutely had no time for a multi-course dinner preparation, I would open a bag of frozen gnocchi and serve that as my go to fast-food (with tomato sauce). Gnocchi became fashionable here in the last decade or two and now there are many good recipes on how to make your own. It's a labor intensive task (boil the potatoes, make a dough out of them with flour, roll them out, cut them into morcels and then roll each one on a fork for that classic gnocchi ridge), but after a morning of conversations, I'm ready to rest my brain and work my hands.


I'll serve them with a mixed mushroom sauce and lots of cheese. Lots of cheese.


My older young couple comes over after the afternoon storms rumble through.


And as always, dinner on the porch is a time to listen to stories and to exhale. We do a lot of both.


And the light fades earlier and as I wash dishes afterwards, Ed sleeps on the couch and when I remind him to put away the chickens, he says (quite rightly) -- it's beginning to feel like autumn outside.