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Mentalpausal Musings

Wow, times have really changed.  I remember when my mom went through “the change”, she was CRAZY.   Certifiable.  Us kids still at home probably should have been placed into some sort of protective custody, but those were different times.  She had intermittent crazy eyes, and a flair for the dramatic, and when she was really feeling it, she would burst into a rousingly mournful rendition of the country tune “Unwanted, Unneeded, Unloved”.  Good times.  Hmmm, now that I see that written down, there may have been some underlying self-esteem issues going on,  but I can’t say for sure –  I’m not a doctor. Or Oprah.

Now that Barbie and I are both 50+, I may have had a couple of menopausal symptoms so far, but all in all I think things are going pretty well.  At work, I’ve pretty much mastered the art of staying focused during meetings, even though I am sometimes dangerously close to bursting into flames.  At home, in spite of the wintry weather,  we keep our house heated to a blistering 62 degrees (as further proof of my age, I still speak Farenheit.  Still not convinced this whole “metric system” thing is going to catch on).  At least at home I can dress the way that I want (HA- and everyone said I was crazy for keeping those tube tops I got in the summer of ’77).    At work I dress business casual, which usually means dress slacks and turkeynecks.  Oh – sorry  – turtlenecks.  Just an unfortunately accurate Freudian slip.

There might have been a couple instances of lapses of memory.  I begrudgingly had to confess to one recently, when hubby asked why I was feeling my toothbrush and I had to admit that it was to see if I had brushed my teeth yet.  He said, “You used to have to do that to check up on the kids”, which naturally made me run dramatically upstairs weeping loudly.

Couple other subtle signs.  I got to the store and read my grocery list and it said:  Milk, Eggs, Mayo, Bread, Peanut butter , Mayo, Coffee, Paper Towels, Mayo.

Plus it’s getting expensive –  I suffer from chronic lack of counter space, so was using the George Foreman grill on the top of the stove to cook some asparagus, and even though the grill was on, “HIGH”,  just for good measure I apparently also cranked the burner underneath to “HIGH” .  What made things worse, as it was snapping and cracking and smelling, I was casually thumbing through a magazine and said “That thing stinks – there’s something wrong with it.”  Hubby leapt into his stop, drop, and roll routine, taking it out to the lawn, as I chased him to salvage the asparagus.  That stuff costs like $3.99 a pound.  Yeah, that’s right – a pound.

I’m not yet singing along to sad Country tunes (mostly because I can’t remember the words) , and I don’t have crazy eyes, and I don’t terrify the children – although rumour has it that their plans to come home for the summer are now “up in the air.”  Come to think of it, I have also noticed that the cats are now a little tentative around me.  Like for example, they meow at the door to come in, but if I’m the one that opens it they crane their necks to see past me to see if anyone else is home before making their final decision, and, inexplicably, when I’m alone, they sometimes opt to just  stay standing out in the rain….        Unwanted ….

Plus I’ve been going out of my way to be considerate, and caring and maternal, and my busy offspring don’t even have the time to acknowledge the motherly comments I make on their photos they post on Facebook,  like “Did you really wear that?” and “Looks like your skin flared up again – maybe should layoff the pizza.”  If caring is a crime then I’m guilty as charged……Unneeded….. 

AND yes I guess when provoked I may have a bit of a shorter fuse, but that Revenue Canada guy on what they laughingly call the “help” desk I spoke to today can’t prove that I said “effing”  – I’m doubtful that they even record those calls.  ALL I was trying to do was file my daughter’s tax return, as she is quite anxious to get her refund to finance her extended travels so she doesn’t have to come home one minute earlier than necessary.…..Unloved….

But one of the scariest signs of mental instability combined with advancing aging occurred on the weekend when preparing our Easter dinner when I, for no apparent reason, felt the inexplicable urge to make … a jello moulded salad. I think it may be some sort of complex psychological combination of longing for the simpler days and Easter dinners of my youth,  combined with a self-preservation instinct,  preparing myself for the institutional food at the third rate budget senior’s facility of my children’s choosing, that I expect to soon call home.

Oh well.  At least I will have my memories.  Or not.

jello Mould

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Filed under Aging, Family, Humor, Memories

Food for Thought

I was reflecting on how our eating habits have evolved over the past 30+ years of marriage. When we were first married, I didn’t know how to cook.  Somebody took pity on me (or actually probably on my malnourished hubby) and bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook at some point, after having attended a “special occasion” dinner party at my house, which consisted of Shake & Bake pork chops, boil-in- a- bag broccoli WITH cheese sauce if you please, frozen French fries, topped off with a nice Mrs. Smiths frozen apple pie.  You put that with a nice bottle of Baby Duck and BAM you had yourself a 1980 gourmet meal.

Next I learned how to be a by-the- book -cook , and my repertoire expanded so that I was making us delicious little numbers like authentic Caesar salad, which the two of us would romantically eat together by candlelight, from the same large wooden bowl, while gazing into each other’s eyes.

Then the kids came along … and I morphed into some sort of Organic Power Ranger type.  I spent hours painstakingly making nutritious meals and snacks.  I made all my own baby food, and became a bit of a freelance in-your-face nutritionist, recoiling in horror when people tried to contaminate my offspring with the likes of hotdogs.    At one young and overly zealous point I joined forces with my close friend Meryl Streep in a letter writing campaign to government officials, demanding they immediately put a stop to pesticiding the hell out of veggies and fruit. I think we know how that turned out.  I blame Meryl.

Once the kids were in school, I mellowed somewhat, but still carefully prepared home cooked breakfasts, and sent ecoli- proof cooler packed lunches. Snacks were strictly home baked treats.  Of course I found out later, that these home baked treats got very old very fast, and were widely traded on the school market at a ratio of one of my chocolate chip cookies to two for Oreos and Chips Ahoy.  And as for the poisonous threat of hotdogs, I was fighting a losing battle.  The school itself declared an actual day in honor of them, and peer pressure and the fear of being shunned as “different” was stronger than the drive to avoid death by nitrates, so on a weekly basis I sent hotdog day money, constantly torn between my own maternal instinct to protect my children from avoidable toxins, and the more immediate and pressing need for me to have a day off from packing lunches.

As the kids got older, they became even pickier with the school lunches.  I was no longer allowed to send egg sandwiches because they stunk up their locker and the hall and the schoolbus, and, they were constantly being accused of having just farted, which was wreaking havoc with their social lives.  They were increasingly jealous of the cool lunches other kids had – loaded with various plastic delicacies posing as food, such as “cheese”  strings and fruit” roll ups.   Side note –  It didn’t help that my sister also had a teenager at the same time, and  enjoyed some fleeting fame as the coolest mom in the world when she, by accident, sent beer on her Grade 10 son’s lunch not once but twice.  The can looked the same and was located in the same area of the pantry as the pop, was the official explanation.   He was thrilled, both times, and his own cool factor at school reached Fonzie-esque heights. But I digress. ..

Nowadays, our offspring are out in the world and preparing their own meals, they seem to have a healthy appreciation for all the food groups, which I take total credit for. They read the nutritional information on the labels, and make wise food choices.

Meanwhile back at home though, mom and dad have taken a giant leap backward.  A lingering pre-dinner cocktail (but only on the days that end in “y”)  now means that dinner is either: A) non-existent or B) a bag of chips or C) cereal. Where I used to feel a need to cover all the food groups and make meat, veg and potatoes every single day, now I’m in the kitchen dumping snack bags into bowls, preparing a basic wine and cheezie tray, or  muttering about how potatoe chips are technically veggies, and too much meat isn’t good for you,  plus I’ve revised the threat level of pesticides up to red, so vegetables are obviously out.

Hubby and I do still on occasion huddle together sharing a Ceasar salad out of the same big old wooden bowl, but we have abandoned the candlelight in favour of Clapper controlled lighting, and we’re usually sitting side by side on the couch, each with a cat in our lap, yelling out incorrect Jeopardy answers to an ever- pompous Alex Trebec.

Vive la romance!

P.S.

As a partial homage to Betty Crocker,  here is my somewhat bastardized version of her  Ceasar Salad recipe, and a pic of my 32 year old  salad bowl.

1/3 cup oil (I use ½ canola, ½ Olive)

1 tsp worchestershire sauce

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp salt

Fresh Ground pepper

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Crush  1/2 large clove garlic and smash it all around inside bowl.    Add dressing to bowl (start with about ¼ cup) toss with washed and spun romaine lettuce pieces, adding more dressing as needed, just enough so leaves glisten but not so much that they get wet and gross.

Lastly,  toss with ¼ cup shredded parmesan or even better, those fancy parmesan “petals” and add croutons and crumbled crisp bacon (but not those gross fake bacon “bits”),  if desired.

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Filed under Family, Food, Kids, Marriage, Memories

An Embarrassment of Riches

A number of corporate events I’ve attended have included ice-breaker sessions where we attendees are asked to share our “most embarrassing moment”.  I’m always amazed when people stand up and rhyme off an anecdote about that one time they did something stupid. Are you kidding? How can I possibly choose just one?  My cup runneth over.  My only consolation is that I’ve tried to take a life lesson from each humiliating incident.

Like that time in Grade 8 when I had a role in a school play, cast as a news reporter named “Lena Lampoon”, and I had to burst onto the stage and fling open my coat and say “Lena Lampoon to the rescue folks”,  – except for I flung open both my coat AND my blouse.  Life Lesson –  Even when you’re a perky teenager, you should always wear a bra.

Or … maybe it should be the time in Grade 11 that I went for a job interview as a part-time office assistant for Ontario Hydro, and underwent a five-minute typing test to see how many words per minute I could type.  I’m a really speedy typist – contrary to popular belief,  that is why they called me “fast” in high school.  During the speed test my fingers flew like lightning across the keyboard.   I knew I was about to impress the heck out of my interviewers, and I would have too, if my left hand hadn’t shifted off the home row, and I hadn’t  typed a solid half  page of letters, numbers and symbols, with a noticeable absence of  any actual words.   What made it worse is that I had to go through the whole charade as the girl took my “test” into the Manager in the glassed in office, and the two of them just stared at it for the longest time, before he called me in to interview me to see if my other skills were as remarkable as my typing.  I completed the interview and was surprised to get a call from them shortly after I got home. It was to tell me that I had left my purse hanging on the back of my chair.  Life Lesson – Public Utility job postings are bogus – they already know who they’re hiring.

Or let’s see … it could be that time we went to Bahamas on our honeymoon, with 2 other couples. (I know, I know, you don’t usually take friends on your honeymoon, but we were going down south ANYWAY, and it kind of morphed into a honeymoon.)  I got a big kick out of teasing one of my girlfriends, because she was shy and self conscious and worried about what people thought of her.  I  was always reminding her that since nobody knew us in Bahamas, we could be as outrageous as we wanted. To illustrate my point, I tried to hold hands with her every chance I got, because that really flustered her and she would get super-embarrassed  (It was, after all, 1979).  One day we were all six of us snorkeling, and I swam up to her and tried to take her by the hand, underwater.  She yanked her arm away and swam from me as fast as she could.  I kept grabbing at her, and then she turned and started swimming like a maniac toward my husband … with me right beside her, groping and grabbing at her the whole time.  The faster she went the faster I went.  Except, when we got up closer to the guy – I saw that it wasn’t my husband after all.  I turned to her to say,  “Wait -that’s not him”, but when I did so I looked into terror-filled eyes because it also wasn’t “her” – it was a total stranger lady, and she was swimming for dear life toward her own husband, trying desperately to escape this underwater, unprovoked lesbian attack.  Life Lesson – Nearsighted snorkeling is extremely dangerous.

(My pals didn’t agree to let me to post this, but I figured that A) snorkel masks hide identities better than black tape across the eyes and B) the bodies we currently reside in bear no resemblance to these)

Or, how about when I had FINALLY matured and settled into my role as wife and a front-runner for mother-of- the year, with 3 little ones, the oldest in Kindergarten.   It was time for my very first parent-teacher interview, and I was feeling like a very capable and contemporary version of June Cleaver.  As usual it was hectic getting everyone ready, but I loaded the kids  into the car at the appointed time to meet my son’s teacher.  I sat across from her, and in my most mature and parental voice, asked a number of important and appropriate questions.  Mrs. Mitchell smiled broadly throughout – I could tell she was impressed with my awesome parenting skills.  We finished our chat, shook hands, and I returned to the car and buckled everyone into their carseats, feeling quite pleased with myself.  I got into the driver’s seat, and then caught a glimpse of my reflection in the rear view mirror.  The turtleneck sweater I was wearing was not only inside out, it was also on backwards.  I had conducted the entire conversation with a very large rectangular gold label right at my throat.   Life Lesson – Teachers have a dark side.

And sadly,  that only brings us up to the early nineties.  I think that from here on in I’m going to see if these corporate events can switch it up a bit – and ask the question:   “What was your most successful, effective and mature moment?”  That way I will have much less trouble standing up and rhyming off about that one time…

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Filed under Humor, Marriage, Thats Life, Work