It’s the second week of the HGP, and time for those of us doing it to clean the living room and continue with the lists and planning. We also make a meal to put in the freezer. #2 son was planning to make beef stew, and I am thinking we could double the recipe and put half in the freezer, making that task quite painless.

tuba with sax We went to the farmers market yesterday and found that the Art Festival was also on, so we wandered through the exhibits and enjoyed ourselves very much. Son-in-law especially enjoyed that. There were some amazing paintings, metalwork, stained glass, painted silk, photography — the number of talented people here always impresses me. On the other side of town, the county fair has equally impressive displays of other kinds of talents, including lovely jams and fine quilts. There is even a table setting division. Until the Arts Festival began a few years ago, people used to exhibit their photographs and paintings at the fair, too, right by the angel cakes, one building over from the cattle. I think the co-existence of the two celebrations shows how well we are doing with our shift from rural to slightly urban . I am glad we happened upon the Art Festival.

The square had its share of musicians among the vegetables. I have admired the boldness of this tuba player before. Who would think that he could be an effective busker with a solo tuba? Well, this week, he brought a sax-playing buddy and they sounded quite good.

There was also a fellow spinning plates. He had fiery rims on his plates, which added to the impressiveness of the feat, but he also kept dropping them, which made the whole thing a little too suspenseful.

We saw friends and bought some of the last peaches of the season, but we were too late for salad or sourdough bread.

Back home, #2 son made an excellent lunch of spareribs in hoisin and plum sauce and garlic-herb grilled chicken, cake roasted corn and baked beans.

We also made this nice strawberry cake with chocolate-dipped berries.

My parents arrived to help eat the cake, and it was very nice to have the whole family together. It was the first time #1 daughter had seen her grandparents since her wedding.

We finished up the day with football. Our team lost, but they acquitted themselves honorably and did not bring shame to their state by having zero points, so the loss did not impede the partying.

Now I want to talk about something about which I know nothing. I hear you chortling, but really, I don’t usually talk about topics on which I am utterly ignorant. This came up in our discussions, though, and it seems to me to deserve some thought.

There is a conversation which now takes place in myriad books and movies. This is the one in which the girl asks “Where is this relationship going?” In books and movies, this invariably is a matter of the girl saying “Are you going to marry me, or am I wasting my time?” while the guy feels trapped and tries to escape the question.

Now, I know nothing about this subject because I have never had this conversation, and it is obviously too late for me to have it now, after 25 years of marriage. But it is clear to me that the conversation has become so much a codified scene in popular culture that it is practically impossible to have it in real life in any other way than the one I have described: querulous huntress and shrinking prey. As soon as the question arises, the whole scene from books and movies unrolls inexorably in the participants’ minds.

It seems to me, though, that there are other things this question can sometimes mean. Sometimes the girl is saying, “Um, honey, am I supposed to be being faithful to you?” or “Are you getting too serious about me?” Sometimes she might want to say , “Is this a casual fling for you, or should I be thinking about whether I want to be serious about you or not?”

As it stands, there is no way she can make those things clear, because “I want to talk about our relationship” has come to mean nothing but “Are you ever going to marry me, or am I just wasting ovulatory cycles here?”

And a guy might want to check things out, too, for the same good reasons a girl might want to. He can’t even start the conversation, though, because he will still evoke the pop culture scene, but for him it will be even worse — he will feel as though he is in a comedy from the start. He will be in drag, communicatively speaking. He might as well not bother.

If a man or a woman wants, for good and non-predatory reasons, to clarify the nature of a romantic relationship, how can he or she do it without stumbling into the iconic movie scene?

In addition to contemplating this deep question, we will be enjoying #2 daughter’s solo in church this morning, and then taking #1 daughter and Son-in-law to the airport. This will involve a drive on the freeway, but I have already conned #2 daughter into doing the actual driving, so I am only feeling slightly ill at the thought. I am hoping that today is not also the first day of the Sunday School class I have agreed to teach. With any luck, it will begin next week, giving me some time to come up with a plan for it.