New information gleaned from folks during visit thus far:
My mother has four stepsisters whom I had never heard of before. Now, for some reason, when I was a child, my mother withheld basically all family history from me on the grounds that I was "too young to understand." This has left me with a fragmented understanding of my family tree as she also confusingly insisted that I call all of her female friends when I was growing up "auntie." My dad skipped out on us when I was three, and family information from his side was, consequently, a bit sketchy as well. Hence, when my doctors ask me about my medical family history, I stare blankly and go "ummm." I actually have a better idea of my step-dad's family tree. Anyway, two of these newfound step-aunts have passed on, both apparently to breast cancer. It leaves me feeling quite strange, knowing that I had kin I could've met who have died before I even knew their name. You'd think, since they were strangers to me, that it would leave me unaffected, but I feel quite sad that I never got a chance to even talk to them. . . . And I still don't know their names.
My mother also keeps in touch with my aunt's husband, a man who I didn't know existed. Obviously my aunt was married, she has two kids--my cousins--and they all lived with us for a while (which, I suspect, is the only reason I know about them) but her husband was never mentioned. I thought he was either dead or some sort of nefarious super sekrit military operative of which One Did Not Speak.
My mom's taken up belly dancing. She introduced me to dance, had me taking ballet lessons when I was three, and she's always done Tai Chi, so yeah, a lot of kinesthetic appreciation when I was growing up. But now she's doing belly dancing. I am inordinately amused. I bet she doesn't wear midriff-bearing outfits to class, though.
Things that made me go huh:
In the course of their visit, my mom grabbed one of Hobkin's hind legs (while he was napping, so she didn't knock him over or yank him off his paws or anything), and commented that it had plenty of muscle, that this would be the tasty part to eat. She also said that his fur would make a nice coat, and upon seeing his teeth, wondered whether his fangs could be filed down so they weren't so sharp, and as a corollary, whether we had a muzzle for him. Err. She likes animals, really she does. More amazingly, Hobkin continues to like her, even though she wants to muzzle him or file down his teeth, or turn him into a casserole or a coat.
My folks have a very different philosophy on supervisory philosophy. My step-dad's is much like fosteronfilm's and mine, namely: In the end, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. My mom thinks you should whip your subordinates into shape so they can take over from you when you leave. It sounds like she yelled out, threatened to fire, and intimidated her staff when she was working--which, uh, sounds a lot like her parenting style. My folks get into arguments about my step-dad's work. He's kept on as a consultant at the university where he was a professor, so they call him in for the really hard stuff they can't solve themselves. My mom wants him to delegate the most recent project, which is apparently a pretty complex and tricky one, to his students, but he doesn't think they can handle it so wants to do the key parts of the research himself.
They really want me to visit China. And I'm wanting to more and more, thanks to my step-dad's influence. The gardens, and palace, and great wall, and the history of the place just makes me go all "oooo."
Moose Man wishes to go to China, and I have said that when he goes, I will go with him. He wants to walk on the wall and visit people who live out in the country.
These updates are making me giggle. I am likening the tales of love and eat with Hobkin and your mother to the people who kiss babies' hands and feet and say things like, "I'm going to eat you up!" All the time they're doing that, the children are laughing wildly and thinking it's a great game.
So. It's a great game- no threats. Honest, Hansel, honest, Gretel. ;)
Hee! Yeah, I'm sure she wasn't seriously thinking "pop Hobkin in stew pot" or anything like that. She doesn't think he should be butchered and eaten, and she knows how much I adore him. Plus, she really does like animals. But tacked on with the fur coat discussion and teeth filing, it was a very odd topic of conversation.
"She also said that his fur would make a nice coat, and upon seeing his teeth, wondered whether his fangs could be filed down so they weren't so sharp, and as a corollary, whether we had a muzzle for him."
Hee. Hee. I was getting visions of Cruella DeVille. ;)
she also confusingly insisted that I call all of her female friends when I was growing up "auntie."
and commented that it had plenty of muscle, that this would be the tasty part to eat. She also said that his fur would make a nice coat
OMG, what a mean thing to say to a daughter!!! Holy macaron!!! She is prolly a huge meat eater she would eat a furry animal too!? Yikes.
And you know, that calling anyone "auntie" even though they're not you're real aunt, that's the same way in our culture. It means "respect". When older people are being called on their first name, they think it's disrespect. That's the reason behind there. But heck, I'm not really attach to this culture, they can call me my first name. I don't care. But I really do get offended when a nephew-in-law call me by my first name...I dunno I think that's disrespect. But people who are not related to me, I'm cool about that. No biggies.
I'm sure she wasn't serious about having Hobkin turned into a stew or anything like that. She just entered into an odd conversational area and then, standard operating procedure with her, she just kept going with it.
And yeah, I'm sure the "auntie" thing is totally cultural. But since my mom never talked about her side of the family, it meant I ended up being even more confused about who was related to me by blood and marriage, and who were just friends and acquaintances.
my dad does the commentary on muscle mass of animals, too. specifically regarding eating, and shooting them, etc. I think it has to do with not forming an emotional attachment to the animal: thinking of it as something over which they theoretically have power. This stymies people on the other side of the equation, as it were, and I'm sorry it happened when everything else seemed to going so well!
Well, the thing is, my mom does like animals. She thinks they're cute and all. She doesn't really have the same sort of empathy and concerns I do with them with regard to the meat industry, but she likes them well enough. I'm sure she wasn't serious about making Hobkin into a stew et al. The conversation just turned . . . somewhat surreal, as it can with her.
It's not just Chinese culture. When we lived in Spain, my mother refused an offer to take our cats and their kittens off to be stewed. I don't know what happened to them when we left. I sure hope the next attache who stayed in the house took over cat guarding duties.