Not Above the Fray

It’s difficult to hold on to her best intentions when Himself seems to deliberately attempt to create conflict. First he does or says something he knows will make Fairweather uncomfortable – they’re at the bar for supper yesterday with his sister and brother-in-law, and he invites them home to watch the last half of a football game that is on the big screen at the bar – and then he makes a point of grinning, turning to her and saying, “Oh! I guess you won’t be very happy about that!”

Talk about turning up the heat! What is Fairweather supposed to say?
Lie? “I can sit through a couple hours of TV football; maybe I can get into it.”
Truth? “Indeed that may be a rather unpleasant way for me to spend the rest of the evening.”
Or a Bullshit attempt at humour? “No big deal, I can just put in some earplugs and go work in the office while you three watch TV, right?”

In the embarrassment of the spotlight Himself chose to shine on her, and not knowing how to handle it with ease and grace, she picked the third option. She couldn’t lie, as they already know she has no interest in TV sports. She couldn’t tell the truth, as that would make them feel unwelcome. She tried to keep her tone and expression pleasant, while her insides were roiling. Why was Himself doing this? Why draw their attention to her assumed dislike of the idea?

He wanted to spend more time with them and he wanted to watch the football game with them (“I don’t watch the games when I’m alone.”). Okay. He was knowingly being inconsiderate of Fairweather while putting his own sudden inclination on an equal or higher level of importance, and that’s normal enough. Why not? He has every right to invite people over, whether it please her or not. She couldn’t look forward to the next couple hours, but she’d try to make the best of it.

He then goes out of his way to help her on with her jacket, being a little more attentive than usual, as if to show her he’s aware of her discomfort and now will be a gentleman. She’s turned off by this phony remorse, but tamps her repulsion down; she doesn’t have to express it or make things worse for either of them. It’s not like a couple of hours of TV football will hurt her; a little boredom never killed anyone.

They drive away; the other couple is following in their own vehicle; Fairweather has time to dig some lip balm out of her purse and apply it before Himself says obsequiously, “So have I fucked up again?”

He pokes the goddamn dragon!

“I don’t know,” she says. “Have you?” She doesn’t want to have an argument. Why not leave her alone? But no. First he hits the gas real hard as if to drive like a bat out of hell.

“Don’t drive stupid,” she says. “If you do, it’s the last time I’ll ever ride with you.”

“Promise?” he says.

“Guaranteed,” she replies. “It’s abusive to drive so as to scare someone on purpose.”

He has the sense to slow down. But then he baits her.

Why shouldn’t I have people over if I want? I’m nothing special? You think you’re so special but you’re not. I don’t get any say in it when you invite your friends to stay at our place for a whole week. I provide the goddamn house. It’ll sure be nice when we each have our own house next week.

Unfortunately she takes some of the bait, which is stupid because he’s saying stupid things:

You think you’re special (Where does he get that idea?) and you’re not.

Why should it bother him when she has an out-of-town friend stay – does he help make any meals or do the cleanup or change the bedding? Is he even in the house much? He even gets better meals when they have company. (Not that she’s ever had anyone stay for a week, but one friend stays for two or three nights when she comes, and once when she came with a troubled friend to seek treatment from a local healer, Fairweather said they could stay as long as necessary and none of them were happy about that in the end, even though they only stayed one night, to the relief of all.)
Maybe I’d like to have no one around when I come home at night. (First time he’s told her this; was she supposed to read his mind?)

Oh my god yes it would be great to each have our own house, she says. Anyway, I wasn’t going to say anything about you inviting them over to watch the game. What’s the problem? You’re getting what you wanted and I wasn’t saying a word about it or acting pissed off.

Oh but you’re too good for it; it’s okay for you to fuck off into your office with all your computer friends while they’re there, right?

No. I can’t do that, much as I might like to. It would be rude. YOU do that when I have a friend staying over (which isn’t all that often, as none of her friends live around here) and we are all here in the evening. You can bugger off to the bedroom early (that is if you’re not bogarting the conversation by talking about yourself; she didn’t say this to him but he does have a habit of it; visitors probably find this interesting as it’s the first time they’ve heard his stories about, for example, his trip this summer, but she’s heard them many times already so tends to tune him out while keeping a look of polite attentiveness on her face) or you can sit on the couch and scroll through your Facebook page or fall asleep if we watch a movie, and that’s all fine and dandy because you’re a man and no one takes offence or feels unwelcome. If I did that when there is another couple visiting, I’d look like an ass. (Not that she could fall asleep sitting up, like he does.)

And who is he to accuse her of spending all her time with “computer friends” – what are those? If anyone has “computer friends,” it’s him, with his nose in his phone every chance he gets, no matter who’s there or where they are. She didn’t say this, but thought it. He used to bitch about other people texting and looking at their phones when they visited – but that was before he had a phone of his own. Now apparently it’s perfectly fine. It’s okay when he does it; but when other people do it, they’re assholes.

Anyway, after all the loud sarcasm he laid upon her (for having feelings she was struggling to keep to herself but no, he had to poke her till they came out; she hopes someday to be able to ignore his mocking, angry bullshit, but is not there yet), they drove home in silence and focused on their guests while the three of them settled in to watch the game and Fairweather offered, and made, tea.

They wanted plain black tea and she poured all the boiled water into the teapot, not leaving any for Himself to make the herbal tea she knew he’d prefer and not offering to make him any. She saw him check the kettle for water and set it aside, and thought “I was inconsiderate of you, wasn’t I?” She’s not above such spiteful thoughts or inactions; oh no. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

It seems to Fairweather that he was looking for a fight and doing what he could to pick one. Is it his way of trying to create drama or connection? All it does is make her long for her own home so she won’t have to deal with his shit. It destroys connection and creates distance. She hates it.

black and white
Navel-gazing in her pyjamas
Advertisements

Making a Difference

Relations around here have improved dramatically. Why? Yes, Fairweather has caught her angry, resentful, negative thoughts and replaced them with a simple positive one that is easy to remember: “All is well in my life.” It creates a shift. It’s not a magic wand but it changes her focus.

But also, she has stopped herself from saying whatever comes into her mind.

Instead, she has kept quiet and let herself “sit with” the feelings instead, and she has discovered this:

Disapproval or criticism of Himself’s actions or habits … why does she want to express this? Where does the urge come from? She’s come to understand that beneath her perfectionist attitude is “resistance” to the way things are. She wants things to be different. So, what if she accepts that each moment is what it is, and doesn’t rail against it?

It has taken Fairweather many years to see that her “speaking up” is resistance to reality, and that if she just lets it be, it passes and she hasn’t added to the problematic condition.

If something needs to be said, she’ll say it — that’s who she is — but now she is giving herself time to think more, and deeper, and to consider whether something truly does need to be said.

 

 

Two Different Mornings

When her father was here last week and they were sitting at the kitchen table, Fairweather swiveled in her chair and put her slippered feet up on the window sill. She may even have still been in her pyjamas.

He chuckled and said “You sure have a hard life.”

“I know,” she told him. “I’m enjoying it while I can.”

This morning she was in bed with her books and journal and cellphone (listening to a video) when Himself called out that he was leaving. And called a few more times as he came closer, and she got up to meet him and kiss him and hug him a long time.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too,” he whispered.

And then the phone rang and interrupted a lovely rare moment.

There are more of them lately – little sweetnesses, affectionate caresses. He’s been having a lot of pain and discomfort in his arms and neck for weeks if not months, and no lasting relief even on the infrequent occasions when painkillers help. She tries to comfort him as often as she can.

Seriously?

It looks like Fairweather hasn’t written here since July. That’s three months. Tsk.

She hates it when other people don’t update her favourite blogs regularly. She stops reading them.

Oh well.

She read a blog comment recently that said the writer stops reading blogs that don’t permit comments, because it’s the exchange of ideas she reads blogs and their comments for.

Fairweather doesn’t often read the comments on her favourite blogs because she doesn’t much care what the commenters have to say. She’s there for what the blogger has to say.

She’d ask what you think, but she doesn’t permit comments here so what would be the point?

An update:

Himself arrived home from Europe in one piece. He brought gifts that failed to thrill Fairweather, though she knew she must be grateful he brought any at all. She must at least act appreciative, and so she did.

One was a short-sleeved T-shirt with large ugly lettering saying ‘I [heart] Stockholm.’ Why would he think she’d ever wear that? She doesn’t wear short-sleeved T-shirts and never has. It’s in her pyjama drawer and maybe if she’s ever desperate she’ll wear it to bed some summer night. So far she hasn’t. Maybe next year.

Another was a blank journal with an image of an elk (because Fairweather is so into hooved wildlife? nope) etched into it. She’ll never use this because she prefers coil-bound journals that open flat. Journals she has to hold open while writing in them are just annoying. He’s probably not aware of this so let’s give the poor man a break. She’s stuck the book into a drawer in hopes that someday there’ll be a use for it.

The third item was a book about the Vikings that she has so little interest in, she hasn’t even looked inside it yet. He’s the one who’s fascinated by all things Scandinavian, even though Fairweather’s veins carry far more Swedish blood than his do.

Finally it was one of those stretched-potato-sack “pictures” with the “Recipe for Love” on it, something that she would never, ever hang in her house anywhere it could be seen. He doesn’t know that? She’s stuck it into the corner of the house that she feng shui’s for “love and romance,” where it belongs: out of sight.

So much for thoughtful souvenir-type gifts. He brought two of those ugly T-shirts for her two grown sons, too,  knowing full well that the youngest one wears a size 3X and would never fit into the Medium he bought, and also won’t wear anything with any sort of advertising or lettering on it and has said so more than once.

Why bother spending your money on items no one will want or use? Clearly these were mere placeholders, not really meant to please. Somebody probably told him he “should” bring gifts home for his family, and Fairweather wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was his son or daughter-in-law who made the purchases.

The blank journal was a worthy attempt, mind you, so he gets a little bit of credit. At least it shows he notices Fairweather uses similar things. Also she reads a lot, so maybe the Vikings book was bought in hopes it would be up her alley? She’s pretty sure he actually bought it for himself.

Okay, he tried. He’s always said he’s a poor gift-buyer, and here’s more evidence of it. At least he tried, or tried to make it appear that he did. There’ve been Christmases when he didn’t give her a gift or even a card.

Aren’t you wondering why this stupid woman stays with this man? Her friends have wondered for years. She wonders herself, often enough, and has to remind herself that he has many good qualities and that’s why she loves him. He’s not perfect and neither is she.

Now she’s reminding herself daily to make an effort to approve of everything he says and does. This weekend will be a good test because her best friend Birdie is coming out from the city, and Fairweather has promised herself not to say anything negative about Himself to this person with whom she’s accustomed to being totally honest. She’s sure to be asked “How are things going with Himself?” and Fairweather will be ready: “Oh, we’re living happily ever after,” she’ll say. Birdie won’t believe it, but at least Fairweather won’t be complaining.

Not All Days are Sunny

Fairweather is having a crappy day. That’s rare enough to be noticeable. Maybe it’s because the sky’s grey and the wind’s blowing and it’s cold outside. Maybe it’s because she woke up nauseated in the middle of the night and had to go make herself puke a little so she could get back to sleep. Maybe it’s because she’s been up since before 7 and she’s actually tired and should go back to bed.

It’s so hard to make herself do what she should probably do: have a bath, get dressed, wash the dishes, go out and feed the cats, maybe even hop onto the lawn tractor and mow the lawn before it rains more. Just getting moving would likely adjust her whole attitude, make her feel better. Just having the dishes done usually works for that.

Gloomy days affect her outlook. She’s just realized this. At her ripe old age!

Also, she’s had a slight headache since Sunday. That isn’t helping.

She simply does not know what to do with herself today. She’s hungry but doesn’t want the leftover spinach salad in the fridge. She’s made two meals out of that already. There are tiny mandarin oranges washed* and ready to eat … yeah, there’s an idea … she’ll take two, please. Maybe a little higher blood sugar will do the trick because hey, we can’t go on feeling like shit all day, can we!

(* washed because they’re not organic and that means the peels could have pesticides and even if they were organic they have been touched by strange hands and whatever is on them will get on her hands and end up in her mouth)

She turned on the TV in hopes of watching a morning news show, and the frickin’ thing is off the channel and the remotes don’t fix it no matter what she tries and oh lord how she hates remotes sometimes and the buttons on the back of the TV aren’t giving her the options she needs either. Last time this happened was less than a week ago and Fairweather pushed buttons and then walked away and pushed buttons again and walked away again and finally pushed a button that magically altered the screen and the sound et voila! But do you think that will happen again? She hopes so. Not because she needs the TV in any way, shape or form but because she’ll know what she’s missing on Friday night if it’s not working by then. Her favourite series are on the weekends.

This should be her last weekend having the place to herself before Himself returns from his travels. She can imagine how difficult it will be for him to tear himself away from that baby he has been doting upon for the past three weeks. The way he acts when he’s here, she wonders why he’d want to come home. She has relished this time with him gone and doesn’t really look forward to having him here again. It’s been a holiday for her, too, and she’s been grateful to have this space to stretch out and not have him around.

Though he’d have that TV shipshape in a jiffy.

Most every day he texts her and sends photos of the sights he’s been seeing. He complains about being dragged around shopping and to tourist destinations, and he’s tired and wants to spend more time with his English cousin, but when she responds “Quit running around then” he replies “I might like some stuff.” Whatever. Stop bitching then and let your son run your life for you. Maybe your son and his wife wouldn’t mind going somewhere alone for a few hours, either; did you think of that, old man?

Then she thinks about how she bitches about him to her best friend Birdie, and how she bitches about him on this blog, and how she tells herself to Just Quit Bitching and Make the Change You Think You Want But Don’t Really When It Comes Right Down to It but What Other Way Is There To Go, Really, If Not That. Crike-ees. Complaining is a terrible habit that sucks the force right out of a person. And that’s all it is: a habit.

She’s been reading Jen Sincero’s book and wrote this down:

“Own your power by giving all your anger, resentment, and hurt the heave-ho.”

Exactly right. It might be hard to believe if you’ve been reading this blog, but that’s what Fairweather’s been trying to do. For years. And not successfully.

The nice thing about Himself being away is that she isn’t disappointed, hurt, or angry. Life is peaceful. She’s not irritated by his presence or his words. She doesn’t have to pick up her cellphone or answer his texts if she doesn’t feel like it. Actually she’s happier with him away … it’s almost as if they are more intimate than when he’s here. He sends her all the x’s and o’s and luvvystickers that he neglects to give her in person. She’d almost think he actually misses her, but so what if he does. It won’t alter his behaviour when he gets back. Though wouldn’t it be great if it did.

Exactly as She Expected

The kitten, surprisingly, rallied. It lived through the afternoon and into the next morning, though weak. Fairweather decided to take it to the vet, even though she felt certain it wouldn’t survive. The vet treated the kitten and kept it for continued care, but called Fairweather three hours later to report that the kitten had died anyway.

That was a waste of $75, the cost of the clinic visit. Fairweather had surrendered the kitten then, so that the vet would treat it without further charges and then find a home for it if it lived.

Thank goodness for credit cards.

Life and Death on a Farm

Fairweather is waiting for a kitten to die.

It’s on her kitchen floor, lying on top of a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm fuzzy towel.

It’s still breathing, but she’s sure it will die.

Yes she could drive to a vet, give the vet $100 for examining it, and the kitten will probably still die.

But she doesn’t have $100.

She has swabbed its gummed-up eyes open with a wet cotton ball for the past three days, when they were glued shut. This isn’t uncommon for barn kittens; usually you just leave them alone and they get better. Today the kitten was in the middle of the barn and its eyes were open and she thought Hooray, We’re Finally On the Upswing! But no. The kitten was cold and weak and appeared lost. She brought it to the house, got a syringe, warmed a little milk, got some into its belly. She gently cleaned its nostrils so it could breathe properly. She cuddled it and encouraged it and rejoiced when it seemed to rally a little.

The little creature is resting peacefully, but cannot even close its eyes.

All she can do is try to keep it comfortable. So that’s what she does. Every once in a while she strokes its orange fur and offers a few words of affection and hope. Come on, little one! You can do it!

Someone on a pet rescue group on Facebook was ranting recently about farmers having barn cats and not getting them all their shots and having them neutered or treated by vets when they’re ill. This person claimed to have reported some farmers for animal cruelty. Fairweather didn’t respond, because there’s no talking with a person who doesn’t have a clue.

Sure it would be nice to be able to afford to neuter (and all the rest) every barn cat you have — but it’s an impractical dream. For neutering alone you’d spend one or two hundred dollars or maybe more on each cat, and then true to its nature it would head out hunting at the first opportunity. Eventually it will become prey of a fox or coyote and after a while you’ll get another cat (usually they come from another farm where there’s been a population explosion and the farmer is desperate to re-home some), and the cycle continues. Few farmers can spend that kind of money repeatedly on vet bills, but every farm needs at least one cat to keep the rodent population in check, and quite often if you didn’t take those “extra” cats, they might not have much of a chance.

Fairweather has seen many barn cats come and go. It’s difficult when you’re attached to them; this is something most farm kids are forced to accept. You care for and about the animals that live on your farm, but livestock is often raised for meat and it’s out of your control when the time comes either to sell or butcher. Farm kids get broken hearts early and often.

While barn cats have short, high-risk lives, they also have complete freedom. Fairweather doesn’t believe they’d have it any other way. They’ve got a barn filled with straw to call their own, and numerous outbuildings to patrol. The tame ones are petted and talked to and loved every day. The wild ones are talked to and loved, too. All are fed and watered. There’s more than one, so they have their own little colony; they’re not lonely out there.

One of the cats became a barn resident last fall. It had been a stray that came to a farmyard and was cared for by the property owners, but it had taken to scratching and biting. Since they had small grandchildren, they couldn’t keep it and couldn’t find anyone to take it. Fairweather was asked as a last resort. If she wouldn’t welcome it, they were on their way to have it euthanized. Her big concern was that it wasn’t accustomed to being outdoors all the time and would have a hard time of it. But it has adapted, survived the winter and seems content out there. At least it got another chance to keep living. And it’s a big loverboy. Should she have said no, I can’t afford to do more than feed and house it, so go ahead and put it down? She did what she could and she’s doing what she can and for people who’ve never lived on a farm and just do not get it, that is never enough.

And don’t get her started about the stray cats that just turn up at the farm. Or the assholes who drop them off. This is a regular occurrence.

It doesn’t get easier when one of her favourites disappears one day and doesn’t come back. Waiting to see what happens with this little one isn’t easy either. If she had that $100 she’d take it to the vet, even knowing it won’t do any good. She hasn’t given up hope — you never know, right! — but she doesn’t hold out any either.