Monday, July 23, 2012

So Many Consultants - So Little Time!


Holed up at the cabin enjoying perfect weather and the company of an old friend from way back when daysLast night over a bottle of very good wine and dinner we traded stories of time  spent in the internet dating pool.  No names mentioned but we both had a very similar experience with the Big One.

Being of a certain age - past 65 - and single, I'm widowed, she's divorced - we fall into a far from endangered group of women.  No way even close to prime as far as we are concerned but apparently less savoury than three day old fish to men in the same age range!  To be fair to men, we are both in evolving relationships  at this stage of life, and to men three or more years younger,  but neither of us met them through the the magical matching system of E Harmony.

Despite adherence to the rules, filling in the interminable "matching criteria " questionnaire there seemed to be little precise about the matches sent our way. Both of us have a loathing for extreme religious and political posturing - both of us were sent potential soul-mates spewing extreme point of view and showing little tolerance for anyone who disagreed. We each narrowed down a geographic area yet were were sent matches from the furthermost borders of the country.  And for age range, no offense guys but 92 is simply too old, just as 50 is too young! She's a townie - you have no idea what it took to convince her to visit my boonies far from civilisation - and I will add that she arrived without one pair of shoes suitable for even a gentle off-road walk, and yet she was matched with 'off to the woods and let's survive on what we catch' men. Me on the other hand am a resolute out-door gal and many of my matches had no interest in any landscape not paved over.

And as for the consultants. It would appear based on our experience, that 90 percent of men over 60 list an occupation as "consultant" but give no hint of just what they consult in.

I know I'm exaggerating but come on - someone needs to get real here. Be very interested in hearing from men and women over 60 their real-life experiences with internet dating.  I know the pond is small, especially for women but like the heron and osprey who fish my pond on a regular basis, you've got to have hope of landing a fish to keep you coming back!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh My Aching Back

If you are anything like me, you take good health, great health even, for granted. I'm of the era and breed of women who while not exactly out milking the cows, grinding the corn and shoeing the horses, certainly figured I could hold my own with a man! "I'll do it myself" is my mantra. Rarely daunted by not having a live-in handyman I've abused my body in many ways - need to move a heavy credenza - no problem - just put back to it and push.  Right before Christmas, impatient with how much time it was taking to prepare a floor for new hardwood, I was right there with the guys, crouching, hammering , levering.

And then it hit! The woman who just two weeks earlier had hiked the Escudilla Trail to its 9,560 foot  elevation  summit couldn't move and was in  agony - screaming in agony, pain like nothing I had ever felt before radiating down my left thigh and calf.

Lord knows how many heavy-duty pain pills, MRI, direct steroid injections to my spine later - I was still, first week of February, a blubbering, immobile wreck.  My Valentine's day was spent in surgery - out patient at that,  and the surgeon performed what he described as a "text book laminectomy decompression" for spinal stenosis.

An eternal optimist I simply assumed that day two I'd be hitting the trail again and back to my old routine. Not so - over four weeks now and week two into physical therapy I can finally walk a mile (my old routine was five miles a day), climb stairs. I cannot squat or bend! So to get the dog's bowl filled I kneel to pick it up, haul myself upright again, fill bowl, kneel to put it back on the floor. Dog is absolutely convinced that I have finally figured out he is  a deity and giving him the respect he deserves.

One other take-away from all this is the havoc that narcotics wreak on your system. I was a full week in withdrawal from the pain killers I'd been taking - night sweats, nightmares, skin crawling, nausea, splitting headache. 

The lesson from all this - do not take your back for granted! Stay limber, flexible. Learn the correct way to bend, lift, move furniture.  Take advantage of Silver Sneakers gym memberships, pay attention to warm-up stretching - and in my case, get off my high horse and ask for help once in a while.  My therapist showed me a neat way to get into a car - one I note the royal family uses - turn sideways, fanny on the seat, gently swing legs in! Saves a really nasty twist to the back.

I'm not pain free yet , might never be - but I am humbled and resolved to take better care of my back in future.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I love you Rick Bayless but it's over ...

Not an ingredient in a mole sauce! My dog.

We're breaking up, really, you've tested me enough, and now that the smoke has cleared, the debris been shoveled out and the company gone, it's over!

For the third year in succession I hosted the whole gang up at the cabin for the holidays. The gang includes my daughter, husband and boys 10 and 14 - who incidentally arrived with stomach flu but that's a whole other story. Oh, and they also arrived with one of their four Standard Poodles and a 7 week old rescue puppy - supposedly adopted by a friend but in need of a place to stay over Christmas. Then my unmarried son and his two dogs, June and Cash - he did bring wonderful fresh roasted coffee beans from his coffee shop, ROASTED, in down town Tucson - so for as long as the beans lasted, he was favorite child. Then there was the other son, his lovely wife and the "toadlets" - 2 and 4 - little enough to believe in the magic of the season. And then - my daughter-in-law's parents who arrived loaded with goodies of the eatable and drinkable kind. So in residence, snowed in - four children, five dogs, eight adults and all twenty-seven ingredients  for Rick Bayless' Oaxacan Mole.  No partridge, no pear tree but a Bald Eagle cruising the valley, Lewis Woodpeckers making their way into the house -    ( and not being subtle about it), two horses and a mule who consumed all the apples we had, and eighteen or more inches of light, dry, beautiful snow.

I've learned over the years to respond graciously to offers of "what can we bring" and a system has emerged of shared responsibility for meals. My only responsibility this year was for Christmas dinner itself.

We have a tradition of a New Mexico , give or take a cultural inch or so, Christmas Eve dinner and my sons are in charge. Loosely speaking that is!  Daughter-in-law's parents scoured the back streets and side alleys of Tucson to find all the specialty  chilli peppers needed for the mole (in reality they went to 17th. Street Market); one son brought up a small turkey, and the other one, technically in charge of the dinner, informed me about 4 p.m. on the 23rd. that since dinner was covered on that night - my birthday as it so happens - and I had "nothing to do" and the kitchen was "under control" why didn't "we" ( note the "we") start on the mole*.

This recipe involves, charring, deep frying, pureeing, grating, slicing, dicing, walloping, pungent fumes and CHAOS. Total and utter CHAOS. However, since it was accomplished by an army of chefs for a White House State Dinner, who was I to say we couldn't do it too. Always up for a challenge. I had made it solo, two years previously but down at the Tucson house where I have access to an outdoor cook top. We "improvised" this year. I flat out refused to allow the charring of chili seeds and the frying of the dried pods to be done in the cabin. Middle son was banished to the garage where he improvised a field kitchen using the big panini press and propane camp stove - even so the pungent, cough-inducing fumes seeped through cracks and crannies ( this is a log cabin) and filled the great room. The 4 year old informed me "Daddy is burning things in the garage". I chose not to look - couldn't - I was in the kitchen roasting peanuts, mashing banana, peeling tomatillos, chopping green tomatoes the recipe and you'll get the picture.

"How black are the onion slices meant to be?" - the question relayed by another son from the garage. "Black" I responded.  Be more explicit - memo to self. Onions came in charred into  nubs of solid - well, charcoal would be a good description. Don't be offended by the following but my Yorkshire grandmother had an expression related to toast - "when it's brown it's done, when it's black it's ......"  rhymes with sugared.

Not a surface free in the kitchen, not a dish clean, not a person free of the nagging cough induced by release of capsaicin. I did read once that the fumes do not cause permanent nerve damage.  Final stage in this glorious dish involves simmering for an hour or so and them forcing through a fine mesh sieve so that the sauce is a thick, ebony colored, and oh so amazing sauce.  Flavours of chocolate, nuts, hints of heat but not "hot" - make this the most wonderful, versatile, give me more, mole sauce imaginable.

So Rick, I'm only breaking up with you until next Christmas when I know I'll be talked into making this again. And Rick, you probably don't remember me but I did shake your hand once at Topolobampo in Chicago - the time I sat next to Rachael Ray who insisted I try her dessert. I know it was Rachael you came out to talk to but a girl can dream.

*Mole (Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl mulli or molli, "sauce" or "concoction") Rodents do NOT feature in the recipe - despite what my 10 year old grandson may say.