Sunday, October 30, 2011

Not the Girl He Married

One evening last week, as I was puttering around the kitchen in my apron preparing dinner and setting the table, my husband commented that he’s seen me in an apron more during the last two years than in the previous thirty-two years put together.  I laughed at that, but his observation is probably not too far off.  Up until recently, cooking was something I did plainly (as in, What can I throw together tonight?) and out of necessity since there always seemed to be little mouths to feed.  When we entertained or had a large family dinner, my husband always did the cooking.  Now, we work together in the kitchen for those bigger occasions and I’m actually planning and enjoying the preparation process for our regular dinners.

After the comment about the apron, he went on to say, “Cooking, college football…you’re just not the girl I married.”  True, along with a change in my attitude toward cooking, my thoughts on college football have also taken a 180-degree turn.  I went to exactly one football game while we were in college.  I know this because there’s evidence of it in a picture of me in the stands, wearing sunglasses and an awesome brown suede jacket, looking totally bored.  If you’d taken a picture of me at yesterday’s Oregon Ducks’ game, you’d see me wearing a bright yellow shirt and hat (no sunglasses, though I’d wished I’d brought them from the car), standing up cheering and clapping – anything but bored.

So, am I not the girl my husband married and, if not, is that a bad thing?  We married when we were only nineteen; we weren’t yet adults and we had a lot of growing up to do.  We have both changed in dramatic ways, but fortunately the basis we started with has allowed us to grow up together, not apart.  I picture in my mind those trees where the trunks are entwined, each growing on its own, but still growing side-by-side.  While I’ve grown I’ve not only learned to enjoy cooking and college football, I’ve successfully pursued a career and followed that up with a second volunteer “career”, I’ve raised a houseful of kids, I’ve cared for my mother and his through their last days and sat with them as they left this world, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like in clothes, furnishings, music and movies and I’ve realized that all of this growth was created and made possible by the girl I was.  The girl who didn’t necessarily know where she wanted to go, but knew she was smart enough to get there once she figured it out.  The girl who wasn’t afraid to give a graduation speech that made her senior advisor cringe.  The girl who already knew that her heart was terribly tender, yet stubbornly strong.  In those basic “this is who I am” ways, yes, I’m still the girl he married, but I like to think that, in addition, I’m now really so much more!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hot-Flash Seats

When my husband chose a Lincoln MKS as his new car this past summer, he endured more than a little teasing about the switch from a BMW 7-Series to a Lincoln.  Dubbed an “old man’s car” by more than one person, one friend laughed and said, “Geez, my dad drives a Lincoln!”  Well, the truth is, the Lincoln is really a nice car and has many great features (I’d take one myself – in red, not black) and it really isn’t an “old man’s car” though I’ve come to believe that it is, perhaps, an “over-50 woman’s car”.  As a woman over 50, I find that my body does not regulate heat as efficiently as it used to.  I don’t like to call this lack of regulation a hot-flash, though I’m sure that’s actually an appropriate moniker.  I find that this lack of heat regulation, aka hot-flash, often comes about when I’m running around trying to get ready to leave the house.  I often find myself over-heated and sweaty by the time I get out the door.  However, I have discovered a lovely feature of my husband’s “over-50 woman’s car”:  the seat-cooling system!  The opposite of a heated seat, this feature actually cools the seat and the body of the person sitting there.  My husband recently broke his shoulder, so I’ve been doing most of the driving, and I’ve come to love the relief when I can slide myself behind the wheel, push the little blue seat-cooling button and slough off the stress and resultant heat emanating from my body. 

Maybe I should send the marketing folks at Lincoln a letter to let them know they’re missing out by not advertising this valuable feature.  I can see it now: an ad featuring two cars, a Lincoln and something else that doesn’t have a seat-cooling system, both driving down some beautiful road.  Both cars look good, handle well, but then they come to a stop in front of some luxurious-looking building and an over-50-year-old woman steps out of each car.  Both women are dressed to the nines, but the woman who steps out of the Lincoln looks refreshed and lovely while the woman who steps out of the other car has wet sweat marks on her clothes and her damp hair is drooping across her face.  Wouldn’t that be a strong marketing campaign in this Baby Boomer era?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Donuts, Ice Cream and Music

One of the benefits of gaining maturity is knowing that there are some things you like: some styles, some foods, some activities that are simply your personal preferences, regardless of current fashion, style or trend. I have found this true in myself when it comes to donuts, ice cream and music – or so I thought.

There’s a nationally known, local donut store in our area that carries bizarre donuts: bacon maple bars, raised donuts topped with Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops cereals – and those are the mild combinations. I have never been to this donut store and have no desire to go. Give me a good maple bar, with creamy frosting (not the hard, glazed type) and I’m happy. Ditto with ice cream. In an effort not to be outdone by the donut stores, we also have a new ice creamery with flavors such as brown ale with bacon, lemon basil sorbet and honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper. Again, give me a classic, rich luscious coffee flavored ice cream and I’m happy. Then there’s music. I have listened to various versions of rock my entire life. I’m not embarrassed to say that the classic rock station, along with the “oldies” station, is hardcoded into my car radio. I do listen to other types of music occasionally (quiet times or when I’m working at my desk), but normally I prefer to rock out. Recently a friend told me I should check out Pandora and I was appalled. Why would I want an electronic jukebox to pick out music for me when I already know what I like? I like music I know with words I can sing along with (even if my version of the words if often way off from the actual lyrics).

So, I’m set in my ways. I like my maple bar sans bacon and with creamy frosting, I like coffee ice cream or even just plain old vanilla and I like my music to rock -- as I said, “or so I thought.” Two recent developments have caused me to question my set-in-my-ways beliefs: my husband bought a new car and I drove six 16-year-olds to Seattle and back. My husband’s new car has premier radio programming available and one afternoon, while scanning through channels, I came across a jazz station that took my breath away. While I enjoy jazz as background music when I’m working, I’ve found that this station’s music draws me to it every time I get in his car. While I normally like to rock out and sing along while driving, I’m finding that I am truly enjoying the calming sounds of this jazz station. I can feel myself physically relax as I listen. I dread the day when his free trial ends. On the other end of the music-style spectrum, while driving to Seattle and back with the six 16-year-olds, I listened to what I would call rap and dance music for several hours straight. The suburban looked and sounded like some souped-up hot rod with music blaring and girls dancing in their seats. While most of it didn’t appeal to me, there were two songs that kept running through my mind over the next few days. I found myself on the iTunes store downloading not only those two songs but also a couple of others of the same genre.

So, maybe I’m not so set in my ways. Maybe there’s music left to learn. I did go back and try the sea salt caramel ice cream. It was okay, but won’t be on any of my favorite playlists. The bacon maple bar, though? I don’t think so.