Pass the Geritol, Please

We decided to go driving Saturday to look at the changing foilage again.  Bored with Amish country, we headed southeast and drove to Beaver Creek State Park, near the Ohio/Pennsylvania/West Virginia border.  It was beautiful, and I’m sure there was an added bonus for Beloved:  no place to shop.  We’d been gone maybe four hours when we headed home; The Young One was alone, unsupervised, and that was about all the excitement my poor old bod could handle.

On our way back, we were listening to the radio, not saying much, when Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” came on.  I listened to the lyrics for the first time in maybe 20 years.  By the time the first chorus of “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo” started, I looked up, and saw Beloved had a slightly bemused expression on his face – I was pretty sure I had the same look, myself.

“How did that song ever get airplay in the 70s?” he asked softly.

“I dunno, ” I replied.  “It’s just so…wrong.  On so many levels.”

“Yeah it is,” he agreed.

The longer I listened to the song, the more it occurred to me how much I’ve changed since my early 20s.  I’ve been a fan of rock and roll since, well, forever, and I was just as aware of the meaning of the lyrics at 22 as I am at 45.  While I never cared for the racist undertones of the song, the idea of someone singing about transvestites performing oral sex for money never struck much of a nerve with me.

Until now.

I mean, the subject itself doesn’t necessarily offend me – I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination – but someone singing about it while “colored girls” doop-de-dooed in the background?  It just seemed…tacky, to say the least.

It’s not just music, either.  Maybe it’s because I’m at the tail-end of the Baby Boomer generation, but the whole aging process just keeps smacking me in the face.  Sally Fields is doing commercials for osteoporosis medication – is it just me, or does anyone else find the thought of Gidget with a hip fracture amusing?   Dennis Hopper is shilling financial planning services.  The other night while we were watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, when I wasn’t marveling at the complete crappiness of the film, all I could do was wonder where the hell Harrison Ford’s neck had disappeared to.  I saw a recent photograph of Christopher Walken in New Yorker Magazine and wondered when, in the last 15 years, he’d turned into a prune.  But the worst of it is that Kevin Costner – Kevin Costner!!! – has been on the cover of AARP Magazine.

I can accept that I am aging – I have to; the evidence is staring at me from the bathroom mirror every day.  The fact that I am in the throes of perimenopause and am old enough to be a grandmother can be dealt with.  I am perfectly okay with the understanding that my consumption of oat bran and garlic have become intimately intertwined with my serum cholesterol levels.  I am perfectly at ease with the concept of drinking red wine for the taste and health benefits rather than being able to brag that I have no idea what happened the night before.

But when Michael Jackson celebrates his 50th birthday and Jamie Lee Curtis makes a living eating probiotic yogurt on national television, something is seriously wrong with the universe.

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide.  Sid Barrett died of complications of diabetes.  George Carlin suffered a fatal heart attack.  Paul Newman succumbed to cancer.  This isn’t like Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin or John Belushi living hard and dying young, or even John Lennon, whose life was so rudely interrupted – these people were more or less old when they passed away.  Relatively speaking, they weren’t that much older than me when they died.

They are the icons of my youth.  And as much as I may hate to admit it, my youth is a thing of the past.

Don’t get me wrong – if given the opportunity to go back 20 years, even knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t do it.  I like being 45; it has all sorts of advantages over being 25.  It’s just that…I don’t know, the whole mortality thing is kind of frightening.  I’m not ready for bingo and barbituates.

Hopefully, I won’t be for a long time.

TGIF and Hooray for a Three Day Weekend

‘Cause this getting up at the crack of absurd every morning?  It’s for the birds.  Actually, birds aren’t even up yet when I drag my creaky, puffy carcass out of bed every day to make sure The Young One is up and properly fed and watered before he slumps off to the hallowed halls of middle school.

More good news is Beloved came home last night at a reasonable hour, so we were able to eat dinner and lay in bed while we watched Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

**WARNING:  Completely uncharacteristic and absolutely subjective political opinion ahead**

Whether or not you agree with his politics, you have to admit the man is charismatic as hell.  And while this middle-aged babe will be voting for Bob Barr come November, I believe I watched the man who will be the next President of the United States.  It will be interesting to watch John McCain next week when he gives his acceptance speech; how he will respond, and what promises he will make.  (C’mon, Mr. Obama – we’ll be entirely free of our dependence on foreigh oil in ten years and it will only cost $150 billion?  I’m really, really interested to hear the details of that little plan.)

**END:  Competely uncharacteristic and absolutely subjective political opinion**

Anyhoo, no sooner had we had time to raise a skeptical eyebrow or two, chuckle at Jon Stewart’s coverage of the convention, indulge in a little – ahem – cuddle time and catch 25 or 30 winks (because it sure as hell wasn’t 40), when Beloved jumped in the car and headed to Pittsburgh for the day.  I, myself, am making the pretense of working from home today and tried like hell to get him to stay home, too, even to the point of bribery with some more cuddle time this morning.  (Do you hear that, men who are commenting over on Twenty Four at Heart‘s wonderfully amusing gender gap posts this week?)  But like most men, he just turned over and went to sleep got in the car and drove to see a client in Pittsburgh.

I feel so cheap.  Good, but cheap.

And how am I repaying his desertion?  Well, with dessert, actually.  I’m making his favorite, Boston Cream Pie.  From scratch.  Because nothing says “I love you, you cuddle-and-run bastard” like a dessert that calls for a pound of butter and 10 egg yolks.  (I can’t post the recipe because the cake and chocolate glaze are from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, but I will post pictures once it’s done.)

On a somewhat related note, now that The Young One has returned to school, Beloved’s traveling is becoming more manageable and we’re all back on somethng that resembles a schedule, The Sunday Brunch will be back on a regular basis as of this weekend.  I don’t know what it will be yet, but there will be a recipe of something.

I hope you all have a marvelous holiday weekend.  I don’t know what we’re doing Monday, although it will probably involve baby back ribs, sweet potato salad and homemade biscuits, but Beloved has promised me a trip down to Yoder Miller’s Authentic Amish Fruit and Vegetable Tourist Trap tomorrow.  I’ll take my camera along, because it’s a fun drive through beautiful countryside and an interesting experience (I can’t promise pictures of the Amish themselves – they don’t like tourists to take their pictures, but their horses and buggies don’t seem to mind).  Lehman’s Hardware store is always fun, and while I doubt I’ll be able to, I’ll try to get him to drive to downtown Berlin; crowded on any Saturday, it will likely be a madhouse on a holiday weekend.  But there is a shop there that sells the most beautiful, intricate, Amish-made quilts.  I’ve been lusting after one for years, but they’re not cheap; one that would fit our California King bed will run anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000.  If I can pester talk him in to taking me there, I’ll see if they’ll let me take pictures of the place – some of the quilts are simply stunning.

Happy Labor Day, y’all.

And Some People Have WAY Too Much Time on Their Hands

I was getting my daily blog fix when I came across this post over at Boo Mama. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait.


Oh, good. You’re back. Isn’t she a hoot? And she was right – I Googled it, and there are 1,550,000 entries for “unboxing.”

I used to think I was fairly geeky – I mean, Beloved runs a software development company and out of all his minions, I am the only woman. I am surrounded by technogeeks all damn day. I am capable of, and have had, serious discussions about the merits of Kirk VS Picard. I wigged out The Young One’s friend this weekend because I not only knew what Robotech is, but have seen Akira. I have a small, albeit fairly valuable, comic book collection for crying out loud! And I was completely unaware of this phenomenon until I read about it on a SAHM’s blog.

I believe I am ashamed of myself. Not to mention desperately afraid someone is going to revoke my nerd status.

The latter is a genuine concern, because now that I know about it, I absolutely cannot see the appeal of it. I mean, taking videos of some guy opening a box of electronics? And posting it on your blog? And expecting people to watch it? Picking popcorn hulls from between your teeth has more potential for excitement.

You want unboxing? I got your unboxing right here – just come to our house on a Christmas morning. Five kids and two adults, all unboxing all SORTS of stuff. It’s pure unboxing drama – a middle-aged couple, severely sleep deprived, at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning, hacking away at that plastic fortress that is the packaging around an action figure with a butter knife and the tip of a Phillips-head screwdriver. Then you still have to contend with the 387 twist ties holding it in place. And there’s that horrible “scrreeeee” sound of the Styrofoam packing material as it rubs together while it’s being pulled out of a box – just thinking about it makes my sinuses close up and my eyes water.

Of course, I must qualify the preceding rant by saying there are occasions when unboxing is worthy of the pomp and circumstance of a videotaping. It involves a small, square(ish), velvet box that’s been placed in my hands.

Not that I’m trying to give anyone a hint, or anything like that.


But What Am I Supposed to EAT?

The recent exposé of the inhumane treatment of cattle in a California slaughterhouse and the subsequent request by the FDA for the company to recall it’s beef, much of which is sold to school lunch programs, has caused quite a stir. It’s no surprise; the video is gruesome and heartbreaking. Vegans and animal rights activists, as well as those who eat meat but are anti-CAFO (contained animal feeding operations), are up in arms – again, no surprise.

As a result, there is one helluva a debate going on. Vegans are using the scandal as an opportunity to do a lot of self-righteous finger-pointing, as are the anti-CAFO folks, while vegetarians and meat-eaters who are stuck with shopping at the local grocery store out of necessity are put in the awkward position of having to defend themselves.

Falling resoundingly in the last category, I have a question for the vegans and “locavores” (people who think everyone should eat only locally grown, seasonal produce, meat, eggs and cheese – a group I wasn’t even aware existed until very recently): Just what the dickens am I supposed to eat? Because, no matter what I eat, I’m going to piss someone off. I’m already on the bad side of the raw food nutjobs by doing the unthinkable and cooking my food.

I like to think I’m a good parent, and I’ve already acquired an extensive list of what we can’t eat and how much we can’t eat of what we do eat. We rarely eat out and never eat fast food. Preservatives and trans fats are all but verboten in my home, and when I can bring myself to allow my long-suffering family something that is full of refined sugar and flour, it’s something that I’ve made from scratch – not from a box. Quite frankly, I don’t want to give up meat. As a human being I reside, quite happily, at the top of the food chain, and I really and truly do believe that people are omnivorous. We have evolved to eat meat. My youngest son is convinced of this – getting him to eat anything that isn’t meat, milk, cheese or a chocolate chip cookie takes an act of congress.

That being said, I also understand that there are things I can feed my family in place of meat. This is assuming, of course, that they’d actually eat it. I don’t care how cheap something like textured vegetable protein or soy milk is, it’s going to get pretty damn expensive in a big hurry if no one will consume it. And then there’s the anti-soy people who would probably gladly eviscerate me for even thinking about feeding a growing child – and a growing, male child, at that – soy products.

As for the “support the small, humane farmer” faction, I have this to say. In light of the recent scare-mongering involving the presence of hormones and antibiotics in my poultry, meat and dairy products, I decided I’d try to buy as much local, organically-raised food as I could. It only took one look at boneless, skinless chicken breasts at $16 a pound to put an end to that. I’m sorry, but when eggs from inhumanely treated chickens cost $2 a dozen I’m already in enough shock at the grocery store. I’m not going to consider $10 for a pound of ground round, even if it does come from a cow who is fortunate enough to have spent its life eating what it’s supposed to be eating – grass. I have a finite amount of money, people, and some of it needs to be used for things other than food, believe it or not. It won’t do us a bit of good to eat wild, pacific salmon (assuming it doesn’t have unacceptable levels of mercury in it) if we’re living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.

Then there’s those of you who feel we should eat only locally grown, seasonal produce. Where do you people live? It must be somewhere warmer than where I am, because every bit of vegetation in a 200 mile radius of me is buried under half a foot of snow; it has been for about 3 months and will continue to be for at least another four weeks. The only thing locally available here are the squirrels that have broken into the bird feeder and the rabbits who are intent on ruining what is left of our landscaping. Of course, I could solve two problems quite neatly by killing and eating the squirrels and rabbits, which are both local and free-range, but that takes me back to square one and I’ve pissed off the vegans and animal rights activists again.