Monday, December 13, 2010

The advent of crabs

Pictures are coming soon of the enormous catastrophe that happens to the homes of many people married to general contractors. For a while, the cobbler's children have no shoes, and then one day the cobbler says "Dang! Let's make some SHOES!!" But instead of just making one simple pair, he decides to turn the house into a SHOE FACTORY. So that's sort of where I live.

How would you feel about imposing holiday decorations on a construction site? I could easily skip the whole shebang, but the ten-year-old in my house hangs her heart on tree this time of year. So off to buy the tree we went. And the construction site I live in is now somewhat appropriately decorated.

To give myself a break and to celebrate the winter season, I indulged the other weekend in a local delicacy: fresh Dungeness crab. The season has officially opened to rave reviews of this year's crabs: large and plentiful. It's nice to see the local fishermen catching a break after being deprived of much of their salmon income the past few years. But did I catch at break in procuring said crabs? Hell, no. Because I wanted them on Sunday, when my local fish monger is closed, I was forced to brave

The Market from Hell

Some people really like this Asian market chain. Not me. It is always crowded, and people push a lot. Look where I was in line to buy my live crab:

Fuuuuuuuuck . . . . . . .

And mind you that most orders take at least five to ten minutes each because many people want things done to their fish.

Violent and bloody things.

My order is quick: Four crabs. Live, all the claws. Don't do a damn thing to them. I'll kill them myself.

They don't look happy here, do they? I'm really doing them a service.

In the meantime, I wander around the store looking at all the interesting things you do not normally see at a grocery store.

Would you eat these? I'm one of those people who stranded
on a desert island would surely starve.

How about these? I thought Hello Kitty only made stuff out of plastic.
Maybe I'm right.

I had one of these dolls when I was a kid. Cute! Sort of?

Look—a fish for me!

I am such a giver. Anything for my family. Well, almost.

On weekends we are home, we have the MIL over for Sunday dinner. She often shows up with a game—dominoes, Scrabble, cards—that she, Husband, and Sophie play over cocktails while I finish preparing dinner (I hate games). This Sunday she showed up with something different:

Religious indoctrination material provided by the MIL's church,
which Sophie has attended about four times

The MIL has always been active in her church, but since the death of her husband, who was openly hostile to anything that diverted her attention from him, it's sort of like she's making up for lost church activity. She sings in the choir, goes to meetings, plans meetings, hosts meetings, writes biographies of church members. And she wants to share. Fine, but not this with us. I do not know what part of "We are atheists" she has not heard. We have made a concerted effort to be respectful and supportive of her choice in this area, but I'm not feeling the reciprocation here.

It's not like our choice is one borne from disinterest or apathy. My journey has been a long one from a childhood and youth of regular Congregational church attendance to where I am confident of my ability to raise my child to be a compassionate and ethical person without belief in a deity. So whereas it's nice that my MIL's church thought of Sophie, giving her a handbook that includes, among other things, prayers to a god we have taught her does not exist gets up my hackles. And it's not that I think we need to shelter her from things we do not believe; on the contrary, I think it's useful to talk about different beliefs. This, however, looked too much like my MIL attempting to take on Sophie's religious education, probably with the opinion that I'm not doing too good a job of that myself. And who knows? Some day she may choose Christianity as her belief. But while she's my kid, I'm going to teach her what I believe to be true. We talk, we think, we do. We don't pray.

A couple of weeks later, the advent book has been mostly abandoned, although the chocolate from the accompanying advent calendar has been consumed with something resembling religious fervor. In our house, it's the not the season of divine birth but merely regular birth of a probably remarkable man. It's the season to forgive, although not to forget.

And the season to break crab.

Happy merry.