So that’s why they’re called “love apples”

This past weekend, we stopped at a farm stand and got heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve never had a garden. My only experiences with tomatoes are canned tomatoes (delicious for cooking) and supermarket tomatoes (paint them white and use them for baseballs).

I’ve never liked raw tomatoes. I don’t dislike them; I just never got the point.

My Love insisted that we buy a pound of them. I thought she was nuts, but I indulged her.

She showed me how to select tomatoes. I was amazed that they had a nice firm softness, like – well, like something I would describe in a protected post. Her most important advice:

Always get the ugliest tomatoes.


That was Friday afternoon. Saturday for lunch, we had tomato sandwiches.

Oh

My

GOODNESS!


Tomato Sandwich

  • Two slices of slightly stale bread, preferably something that will disintegrate when wet (e.g., Portuguese corn broa)
  • mayonnaise
  • sliced tomato
  • salt
  • bottled beer

Smear mayo on bread. Stack at least 3/4 inch (20mm) of salted tomato slices between mayo’ed bread.

Eat. Drink beer from bottle. Repeat until sick.


Notes:

  1. Don’t bother with a plate. Eat it over the sink. If the tomato is properly ripe, the juice will run down your forearms and off your elbows into the sink.
  2. Don’t wear a white shirt. In fact, don’t wear a shirt at all. Before starting, my Love stripped to her bra and undies and encouraged me to do the same. I wondered why she was wearing her yoga bra and undies. Now I know.
  3. My Love says you can substitute olive oil for mayo.
  4. Don’t drink the beer from a glass. Be careful with the bottle. Your hands will be slick.
  5. Part of the trick is to finish the sandwich before the bread completely disintegrates.

So, if you see two 30-somethings in their worst bras and undies standing over the sink, drooling red, making obscene slurping sounds, swigging beer from the bottle and laughing, you’ll know you’re at the right place.

My heart leaps up: A sense of wonder

I don’t know much about literature. That’s my Love’s department – although she has gotten me hooked.

I didn’t take any literature courses in college. I had one high school literature course: Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, a novel by Dickens (which left so little impression on me that I don’t remember its plot or title) and some poetry.

I didn’t see the point of poetry, with one exception: My heart leaps up, by William Wordsworth. My Dad will recite it at the drop of a hat. It’s been a touchstone of my life.

Why?

When I was very small, Dad told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a meteor shower was predicted, Dad would take me out into the mountains, where the air would be clear and free of light pollution. We would lay on our backs and look up at the sky and watch the show. He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

When I was small he showed me a video tape of Galloping Gertie. He told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a thunderstorm was predicted, he and I would sit out on the porch swing and watch it roll in over the mountains, the black line of clouds, the indistinct lightning in the clouds and beyond the mountains, the guttural rumble of distant thunder.

The smell, from afar off, of approaching rain in the high desert.

Then the flash of lightning nearby, the crack of thunder, the smell of ozone, the pummeling rain, pouring over the eaves on the far side of the porch.

He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

The older I get, the more important that is to me, the more profound it seems to me. He doesn’t need to tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

It’s the one thing I want to pass on to my children.

Never lose your sense of wonder.


I’m in love for the first time at age 35. I’m glad I never lost my sense of wonder.

Thanks, Dad.

My heart leaps up

My heart leaps up when I behold
    A rainbow in the sky:
So it was when my life began;
So it is now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
    Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

William Wordsworth
26 March 1802

The Supreme Court and us: A personal note

My Love was out of the country in meetings last fall.

I called her repeatedly over the course of half an hour, interspersed with texts, asking her to call me.

Finally, she returned my call.

My Love (extremely exasperated): This better be important. I’m in the middle of a critical meeting here.

Me: A federal court just threw out the same-sex marriage ban in [our state].

[silence]

Me: Did you hear me? We can get married at home.

Voice in the background: Is everything all right?

My Love: I’m just going to go over here in the corner and dance and cry for a few minutes, OK?


I’m just going to go over here in the corner and dance and cry for a few minutes, OK?

Dad

I should have posted this yesterday, of course. Dad will never see it (I hope!), so I’m not sure that matters.


In my memory, Dad lives in my Mother’s shadow. Mother is a force of nature. Dad is quiet, quietly amused at the passing parade.

But the older I get, and the more I look back at my life, the more I see of Dad, the more he becomes a main character.


Dad’s response to almost everything my Mother says is a slightly ironic, slightly exasperated, “Yes, my dear.”


Dad started me in Engineering. When I was little, we built things with wood blocks. He got end scraps from the lumberyard, mostly 2x4s, but lots of oddities, too. We built bridges, railroads, skyscrapers. He taught me about thrusts and vectors, corbelling and arching, catenary and centering, friction and balance.

He’s not an engineer. He’s got a college degree, but not in a scientific or quantitative discipline. Our discovery of engineering was purely experimental and empirical.

He gave me my favorite toys – wooden Brio trains. The Brio box has been in every place I’ve ever lived. I currently have a track set up in my Love’s apartment. I learned lattices and graphs and curves and grades.


Dad taught me the most important thing about Engineering and life:

When I was very young – maybe 5 years old – I was upset about something that had gone wrong. (A common experience in my life. If I start to wonder about what would happen if I did X, I normally try to find out. Experimentally. One of the nice things about having learned Physics, Math and Engineering is that I can get a first approximation before risking life and limb.)

Dad showed me a video tape of Galloping Gertie: The Tacoma Narrows bridge shook itself apart under a wind load. It’s studied by every engineer and physicist in the world. (Really: Please watch the video: It’s amazing. Think of how that would impress a curious 5 year old.)

Dad explained to me that we all make mistakes. Not all of them have results as spectacular as Galloping Gertie. Blame and guilt and fault are irrelevant. They are about the past, and the past can’t be changed. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and use them for a better future. And engineers and physicists have learned a lot from Galloping Gertie.

I learned the most important lesson in Engineering before I started kindergarten.


When I was in kindergarten, the principal called my parents. I was engaging in some experimental activity. (I may have conscripted some other children as experimental subjects. My memory is hazy on specifics.) The teacher told me to stop, I would get hurt. I told her that the best way to learn was from your mistakes and she was stupid if she didn’t let me make mistakes.

I had to sit in the principal’s office while he explained this to my parents. On the drive home, Mother told me off. Dad just grinned. Mother chewed him out for encouraging bad behavior.

Dad: “Yes, my dear.”


Lindsay at Solo Mama reminded me of another event with Dad.

In catechism and confirmation class, I was a trial to our priest. The priest told my parents that I was refractory and that he would tell that to the bishop.

I said (to my parents) that the priest was an ignorant fool and, if the bishop backed him, the bishop was a stupid jackass.

Mother called me “Young Lady” (the highest level of censorious address, worse than being called by my full name) for only the second time in my life, then sent me to my room to consider how I should confess and apologize.

The last thing I heard before I closed the door to my room:

Dad: Well, he is a stupid jackass.


Dad was raised Catholic. My Mother was raised Protestant, but converted to marry Dad. The old saying, “Converts tend to be zealots”? That’s my Mother.

Dad has always been an indifferent Catholic. Mass every Sunday. Kids through catechism, first communion, confirmation. But it has always been a bemused (and, I think, amused) detachment at my Mother’s heartfelt Catholicism.

I knew how my Mother would react if I came out of the closet. (In the event, I was wrong, thank goodness.)

I didn’t know about Dad. I assumed he would not be happy. I assumed that he would back Mother. And he did.


I didn’t come out to Dad. Mother outed me to him before I got the chance. After my Love outed us to Mother, Mother took me back in the living room.

Mother: Your daughter is a lesbian. That was her girlfriend.

Dad: Yes, my dear.

Mother: Don’t “Yes, my dear” me. Your daughter is a lesbian.

Dad: Yes, my dear. I knew it the minute they walked in the door. Anyone could tell those two girls are in love. I’ve spent the last six hours trying to guess what you were going to do when you figured it out. If you don’t give her your unconditional love, I’m filing for divorce.

Mother: I gave her my blessing, and I don’t want anyone giving her any trouble about it.

Dad: Yes, my dear.

My Love: Medical paperwork

Last week, my Love called me from her GYN’s office. She was laughing.

Me: What’s so funny?

My Love: You know that long form you have to fill out every time you go to the doctor?

Me: Yeah. I hate them. Bad engineering. Should be a central record and you just need to update it.

My Love: You know where it says, Birth Control?

Me: Yeah. I always put, “None”.

My Love: I’ve always put, “Virgin”. This time, I put, “Lesbian”.

My Love: [Maniac laughter]

She’s weird.