Sunday, August 9

Fables to Cover Foibles

     Those who know me casually, and hear me talk about arranging flowers, or the best technique for peeling apples, or the proper way to set a table, often comment about how I am such a Domestic Goddess. Some have even called me Martha Stewart, in fact, I won a 'Martha Stewart Award' in a fun talent contest once. But just talk to my family -- they'll laugh at the suggestion. Now granted, no prophet was ever accepted in his own hometown. Why? Because those who live in close proximity to that prophet repeatedly witness all faults and foibles.You see, what my casual acquaintances don't realize is that my brain is a massive repository for both useful and completely useless information, and this information resides comfortably in my cranium, rarely being put into actual use in my life.
     What kind of information? Well, my kids will tell you that I wax pedantic over just about any topic that comes up, especially if I actually know something about it. But even if I don't, among my talents lies the ability to sound very knowledgeable on subjects about which I know diddly-squat. For the most part, though, I have what I would call a moderate working knowledge across many topics, vs. some folks who have a very deep knowledge on relatively few topics and a little knowledge about many others. So, while this doesn't necessarily make me smarter than the next guy, it makes me look smarter at times, which is all kinds of fun! My son, Paul, told me when he was in the fifth grade that he had had occasion to announce to those sitting at his lunch table that his mother knew just about everything. His friend John, who hung around our house often back then, said, "She does -- it's scary!"

I sure enjoyed frightening kids back in the day.

      A perfect example of this phenomenon is my extensive knowledge of gardening and botanical nomenclature. I can tell you that many species and cultivars of digitalis are short-lived perennials, often treated as biennials, and are usually hardy only to zone 5, whereas, digitalis grandiflora (my favorite species) is longer-lived and hardy to zone 4 (and that you should really put a hyphen between 'longer' and 'lived' as above, because you are using two words together as an adjective). Or did you know that what we call 'geraniums', with their pretty, bright red, pink or white flowers and unique fragrance, actually belong to the genus pelargonium graveolens? I can tell you that vinca minor will generally be happiest in shade, although in zones 3 and 4 it will tolerate full sun.

blah...blah...blah.....OK, fine, but who cares? Nobody but me, I guarantee it.

      And there are a number of other topics where my knowledge is extensive enough to make you wish you had not run into me at the grocery store. Cooking, sewing, dyeing, construction, health matters, computer graphics, web research, hair and makeup, all kinds of household matters from electrical to faux painting and the list goes on. The drive to learn has created a real treasure trove of knowledge, especially because when I decide to acquire a new skill or area of knowledge, I work it pretty thoroughly before getting bored and moving on to the next thing.

But the minutiae that lives in this head is overwhelming sometimes. One thing that I have learned about myself (and this is important) is that, while I'm happy knowing things, I'm less happy executing them in my life, with my family and in my home. Let me tell you, the day I finally acknowledged this and stopped making excuses for not carrying out all of the ideas in my head, was a painful day for me. I will probably never set that perfect table that I have read about in all the magazines and have imagined doing. I do, indeed, know all the rules for setting a proper dinner table, I own no less than Limoges china, and I have collected all matching silverware. But in reality, I am usually in too big a hurry, or too tired, to go to the trouble of setting any table (even for company) and usually prefer that we eat in front of the television, thank you very much. I am quite a good cook, and in fact have cooked professionally, but I rarely enjoy spending a lot of time making a meal anymore. So, despite all of my resources, it's usually Hamburger Helper and vintage reruns of Seinfeld.

Domestic Goddess, indeed.

      Were it just me living with this reality, I wouldn't mind. But the really painful part for me is that I have had many, many dreams of things to do for, and with, my children, and now they are grown and leaving, for Pete's sake, without my having done all those fun things good mothers do. I have simply hoarded the information for that day when we will do it. Although I'm a very good seamstress, I never sewed one piece of clothing for any of my children, until I made my oldest daughter's prom dress, and the sewing machine went back into mothballs immediately afterward, despite the desperate need in the girls' room for curtains. Now the rational person might just go and buy curtains and be content. But, n-o-o-o-o, not me. They have to be custom. Will they ever get done? Who knows? But they'll be custom, by golly.

You see my dilemma.

      I have tried in vain to discipline myself to do more of those idealistic things that I know all about, and in truth I am a little better than I was. But I will never be a domestic goddess, that's for sure. The impulse to put things off for whatever reason I choose for the day, seems so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I doubt I will ever be able to truly change.
Am I being arrogant, flaunting all my ability right here in print? I suppose it could be seen that way, except that I can take no credit for my cerebral prowess -- I view it as a gift that I just ended up with. And while it's fun at times, more often it's a burden to me, leaving me with a sense that I have squandered it for the most part, that I should be doing so much more with this gift, when I already feel overwhelmed with my life as it is.
     It really is true what they say, at least in this sense: ignorance is bliss. I see others who may perhaps have a lower IQ or less knowledge, and they are content with life. Sometimes I feel jealous of them, because I, on the other hand, am always restless, looking for the next thing to learn. I wish sometimes that I could stop the wheels in my head, and just putter in my house, doing all the mundane things that need doing, but that's not something one can change about one's self. So to-date, after 25 years of marriage, I have never had a 'Cleaning Day', where I just clean the house, something most other wives do as a matter of course.


     So if I were to label myself, it shore wouldn't be 'Domestic Goddess' despite all of this information I have hanging around in my cerebral encyclopedia. Sadly, I must finally acknowledge to the world that I'm merely a 'Collector of Information'. I wish I could be both, but I think sometimes that the two personalities are mutually exclusive.

But enough about me.

      Where do you fit into all this? Well, I have all this information just laying around inside my skull, gathering dust like so many books in an abandoned library,

My Brain
 and I do need a good, fresh excuse for not doing any of the things I should be doing right now (like cleaning out the fridge), so I am dedicating this blog as a compendium of information on household matters, cooking, parenting, gardening, and all the tidbits of random information gumming up my thought process.

So YOU will benefit! Hooray!

(At least, that's what I tell myself.)

     If you want to know how to clip your schnauzer, or the best way to take capsules by mouth, or how to do SEO for your website, I have done it or figured it out, and it will all end up on this blog at some point, a way station for the infogunk oozing out of my grey matter. Ultimately, I'm hoping to alleviate some of my guilt by doing something constructive with all this trivial information. And most importantly, I'm hoping that if I dump some data from my brain into a blog, it will stave off dry-rot while creating more room on my  neuro-hard drive for relevant information, like the answer to the question, "Why am I standing here in front of the refrigerator? I know I came here for a reason. . . "

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