Sunday, April 27, 2008

Putzing and Reading

Some time ago I wrote a piece I titled "On Learning to Putz." (When it was published, it ws "On Learning to Putter" because of the anatomical implications of the "other" meaning of the Yiddish word "putz.") It was essentially on learning to do nothing and enjoy it, an art that's very hard for me to master. But today I putzed or puttered, whichever word you prefer. I slept really late, read the paper in a leisurely way, scrambled some eggs, watched "Meet the Press" (okay, so some people are convinced it will be Obama and others are just as sure it will be Hillary--when will this end?), made a cheese dip that ultimately I didn't like much--it called for ricotta which is too sweet, read through some notes (which thoroughly confused me about any project on Scots in Texas), and read. A lot of reading.
I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert--I think every second woman in this country has read it before I got around to it. It's about the author's quest for spirituality, for wholeness in her life, for meaning, a quest that she decides will take her to Italy (to eat), to an ashram in India (I presume to pray), and to Indonesia (where she must learn about love--I'm not that far into the book). I like Gilbert--she's honest about her fears and failings, her dreams and fantasies. But a part of me is hesitant, The book begins as she is leaving a marriage that no longer makes her happy. In part, from what I read, I thought she just didn't want to grow up and have a baby. Not wanting to have children is an individual choice, but growing up isn't, in my mind. And once you've committed to a relationship, I truly believe you should work to find happiness (and maturity, if need be) within the space of that relationship before severing it. Perhaps that's a reminder of my own marriage, when my husband said he was tired of taking care of others and wanted to take care of himself, a peculiar thought from the mouth of a man with four young children, the youngest of them barely six.
I also got the feeling that Gilbert sees herself as set apart, privileged somehow, maybe just a little bit cute. I thought probably this was my age showing, but my young neighbor just echoed those thoughts to me and said, "You know, if she can afford to go off like that for a year, good for her, but most of us can't." And a friend my age expressed the same reservations. Yet both of them, like me, say they enjoyed the book.
And I do like it. Her adventures in Italy are intriguing, and I truly admire a woman who will set off for Italy, Indian, and Indonesia alone. Especially since I'm the one deemed not capable of traveling alone overseas, which I am the first to admit is true. And I like her quest--like many of us of all ages, I yearn for certainty in my faith but it always alludes me. I am learning, much later than Elizabeth Gilbert, that I may have to look for it outside the church.
Linda came from Granbury for dinner, and I roasted a pork tenderloin, did some oven roasted rosemary potatoes, and a salad. It's good to visit with an old friend (almost 40 years, I suspect) in a leisurely manner--another form of putzing.
I've conducted a scientific experiment, almost accidentally. Ninnie Baird, founder of Mrs. Baird's Bakeries, had a book of household hints, among which was the fact that cucumber peel will get rid of those tiny tiny sugar ants. When I came home from Austin, I found those ants in the kitchen, so I put out some peel. I thought they would run fleeing in the other direction, but the next time I looked they were swarming all over the peel. So much for that, I thought. But the next morning, the peel was thick with very still ants. And today the ants were all gone, so I threw the peel away. Experimental success, though I'm not sure why.
No puttering tomorrow. It's a work day, and I have a long "to do" list.

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