WARNING — this post will likely mention wimmin stuff. If you are too delicate to read about things like menopause, wrinkles and menses, you should click that Back button now.
About a year ago, I started to experience the wonders of menopause. It’s all stop and start still, but it’s there, it’s happening, and I was horrified. Mother Nature, that unrelenting bitch, was releasing the viney clutch of mommyhood pangs and replacing it with… what? Those “I must reproduce again” attacks had been stepping up in intensity since I hit 40, and now it was just fading, more wistful regret that my active mommy years were winding down than a real active drive to have more children. That feeling was freeing and, well, frightening. What in the world would take the place of that hormone-driven freight train I’d been on since I was 13? (Painting is by Judy Somerville, her Elderly People series)
Mother Nature plants a time bomb in you, set to go off between 40 and 60, and its detonation feels pretty catastrophic some days. My metabolism has slowed to a crawl, a good night’s sleep is a memory, which is good because I can’t remember shit. So far I’ve avoided the biting anger (well, something beyond my normal snappishness) depression and hot flashes, but since I’m still technically perimenopausal, the best may be right around that corner marked Age 47. And I keep thinking I’m pretty young to be doing this since the average age of onset is 52, and I’ve got six more years yet — cheated! So now what? (Painting is by Judy Benson, Mother Nature)
Part of me was thrilled. That monthly visitor was not coming back, or at least was coming round with less frequency, but as annoying as that could be, I just wasn’t ready to get old in that way you have in your head. That picture at the top of the Old Woman and the Frog? That’s how I pictured old age to be. The dwindling of youth and the coming of my aunts’ wrinkly old knees, the faded, wilted flower that was left too long in the vase. The sweet bloom of youth not only gone, but pretty much rotted into a stinking, putrid mess.
Cheerful? Not, not really, and it is taking me a long time to come to terms with the larger meaning of it, that my life is now playing on the B side.
How do I want to slide into the B Side of my life? I’ve seen a lot of bad examples and some good ones. There was a book I read years and years ago, and I wish I could recall the author or the name of the book so I could give correct attribution. It expressed the metaphor of the Old Fashioned being the perfect drink for a good life. Bourbon, sugar and bitters — the richness of life, the sweet and the sorrow. This is how I want my life’s shape — full of all that is rich and sweet, always tempered by the sorrow that is left when you have set down the worst of your grief by the side of the road because it has been too heavy to keep carrying. Careening ’round the corner to the end stretch, I shall be a well-lived-in shell with a whiskey voice and a loud laugh.
Now, an Old Fashioned generally has a little bit of fruit on top too, a cherry in particular, and somehow this all brings me to Delices de Cartier. While in Neiman-Marcus months ago, I whiffed it, found the EDT to be nice enough, though too ordinary The parfum was very rich and wonderful, but not something to buy at $160 for 1 measly ounce, so I did not dally long with it. Since then, I have obsessed about it, tossed and turned, swearing I would never pay that much for an ounce of perfume, but in the end a particularly good sale at Scentiments was what let me cave ($109 for the parfum!!! Woot!! ).
Notes of pink pepper, cherry, Sicilian bergamot, freesia, violet, pink, white and yellow jasmines, tonka bean, amber, sandalwood. If you don’t care for fruity perfumes generally, but might like one good one, the parfum of Delices could be the one. Disclaimer, I do generally like fruity florals, at least the ones done well. This goes on just a little tart and spicy, with the bergamot and pink pepper. You can smell the cherry behind the top notes, but barely when it first goes on. As it dries down, the cherry comes out rich, shooting through all the floral notes, but never overtaking it or being too sweet or cloying. It is blended perfectly. (Note: I’m a freak for tonka bean, this is clearly my perfume crack note that I’d huff on all day long if not taken from me, so remember that anything with tonka biases me in that crack whore kind of way). It is the tonka, amber and sandalwood that fill this perfume out, coloring in the places between the lines, giving it character and depth, steering this perfume away from being just a flibbertygibbet fruity floral and make it perfection. This is a perfume that has dragged the sweetness of its youth over and plays them on the B Side.
My menopausal craving for cherries in a perfume is sated. Like the Old Fashioned, this has all the richness in it with the tonka and sandalwood, the sweetness of the jasmines, freesia and violet, the bitter of the bergamot and amber, and it is all topped off with a cherry floating through it.
A great Old Fashioned recipe can be found here.
Almost forgot the Banana Cake recipe. We made this this weekend and promptly inhaled it. Just delicious.
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or soured milk
1 cup mashed bananas (2 or 3 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift flour once, measure and resift twice with the salt, baking powder and soda. Cream shortening, add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients, alternately with the buttermilk, beating until smooth after each addition. Add mashed banana and vanilla and beat until batter is smooth. Pour into 2 greased 9 inch pans (I always use the 9×12 cake pan) and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until done. I use the regular old Betty Crocker canned cream cheese frosting, which goes on when it has cooled.