Monday, August 7, 2017

Embracing 70 (Especially Considering The Alternative)

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 9, 2017] ©2017
I’ve said this before: 60 may be the new 40, but 70 is still the old 70. Olof and I decided, therefore, that our ideal joint birthday celebration would be a low-key three-day weekend with kids and grandkids.  Amazingly, given everyone’s preponderance of activities, we managed to get everyone here on Olof’s actual 70th birthday. And so, on a beautiful Friday morning in July, the Destroyers of Peace (as Olof fondly refers to our five young grandchildren) showed up en masse with their folks. Trying to keep dishes down, we used enough red Solo cups over the weekend to rival a fraternity kegger. 
For the record, the only person in the household who has officially turned 70 is Olof. I still get to be a trophy wife for a few more months.
My two granddaughters, neither of whom has an actual sister, bonded like long-lost siblings. I adore all five of my grandchildren but since I only had sons and nephews, I am deliriously happy to finally have little girls in my life. The granddaughters and I collectively decided to wear pearls to dinner, a lovely milestone moment for me. I could just never interest my sons in jewelry.
Our pool got a total workout. We initially felt bad about the noise level on the neighbors until we remembered that this is now the third consecutive summer of jack hammering and skill sawing on our poor beleaguered neighbor’s endless remodel project, now in hardscape/landscape mode. Olof wistfully observed that he would love to have had the concrete removal contract at their house.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a family Water War in the front yard. A selection of water guns spraying an average of 20 feet were procured, then loaded. It was important that everyone have equal fire power.  A bucket of 50 water balloons completed the arsenal.
As I was explaining the rules to everyone, Olof opened fire on me from the front porch and got me in the forehead.  The grandkids said, “Is he allowed to do that?”  From that moment on, it was a free-for-all, which my younger son Henry observed later “was what made it so much fun.”  At one point, Rory filled up the water balloon bucket and poured it over my head. Just to make sure no one escaped total saturation, Henry turned on the sprinklers. Decades of conflict dissolved in 30 minutes. I highly recommend it.
Like a lot of grandparents, we keep toys and games at the house for use by the grandkids when they’re here.  But who knew that the number one entertainment of the weekend – besides the pool and the water war – would be….cherry tomatoes. 
This was actually the first year Olof and I’ve grown tomatoes, cherry or otherwise. The grandkids loved being sent out there to pick them as part of our Friday night dinner. My younger granddaughter was actually eating all of hers leading me to wryly suggest to her father that maybe she had a lycopene deficiency.  Looking at her empty bowl, he replied, “Not anymore!”
I had a sudden déjà vu to Rory’s movie-making era when he was ten and he filmed a dramatic short called “Attack of the Killer Cherry Tomatoes” by exploding ten baskets of cherry tomatoes in my microwave. It definitely killed the microwave, let me tell you.  Maybe that’s why I subliminally never grew any. 
It went without saying that the grandkids picked waaaay more cherry tomatoes than we could possibly use that weekend but they were having so much fun at it that I just let them have at it. On Sunday morning, they proposed setting up a farm stand just inside our front gate. Not many people walk by our house on a Sunday morning so I doubted they’d have a single customer.   When I went out to check on them a little later, I was somewhat surprised to see $6.00 in their jar.
Veterans of farmers markets with their parents, they were adept at touting the nutritional benefits of the tomatoes: home grown in our own garden! Totally organic! Just picked this morning! In true farmers market tradition, they were offering free samples. 
Where I was a little aghast was to learn that they were selling these cherry tomatoes for $.16 each.  How they arrived at that number, I have no idea. They weren’t old enough to have the math skills to total up the sale in their heads and didn’t even have change. I think what happened was that people came by, gave them a dollar, and the kids handed them a baggie of cherry tomatoes.
So I want to say thank you to all the nice people who bought cherry tomatoes at extortionate prices from my grandchildren. I hope you enjoyed them.  Because believe me, there isn’t a cherry tomato left in our garden.
6- and 7-year old granddaughters glam up for dinner


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