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.
R, we are just going to travel through life’s little changes at the same time, aren’t we?
Let me know how you like the banana cake. I ate way too much of it, and did you know it is good for breakfast?
Flora, yes, she is sadistic. Freedom, but wrinkles to go with it. I’d just like to get on with it already, either go or no go, it’s annoying right now.
Patchamour, tonka is just smooth, not amberish at all. I think I like it more for what it does to other notes, just smooths them out like a good buzz, makes them velvety.
Precious, that old hag is just around the corner for me, too, although I must admit nothing much has changed from month-to-month for me. I think those details are best discussed in a private email between the two of us, but I wanted you to know that you are NOT alone. :”>
Thank you for posting that marvelous recipe. I was out-of-town yesterday, just got back this morning, so I will send you the carrot cake recipe later on this week.
Welcome to the M-club! I am at about the same almost-getting-there stage as you – and the insomnia thing REALLY makes me cranky sometimes! I can only hope that things settle down when it’s really all done. I look forward to that day with great relish, and I will cherish the freedom that I will have when I am no longer a slave to the calendar. Of course, I will trade that for other unpleasant things as the price of aging – Mother Nature really is quite the sadistic bitch, is she not? :-l
hearing stories like yours is always encouraging and indeed awe-inspiring. My parents got divorced a few years ago, but hey, that’s life!
I’d say that tonka is sweet, fresh and vanillic rather than ambery. Hope that helps 🙂
Dusan and Patty,
Thanks! We were very young and very, very green. We’ve been lucky; kind people have helped us all along the way. What is tonka like? I’m imagining sweet and ambery.
Hope, tonka sniffer in arms! Jicky has it, which surprises me, as does Lancome Climat. There’s a few that I’m shocked that have that note, and some that make perfect sense!
Exactly, Justine, and you put it beautifully. It is harder to dance with such deflated tires. 🙂
Robin, it is good to be amongst those who can understand.
Patchamour, 41st?!?! Wow, congratulations, that is so wonderful. Happy Anniversary!!
Buddy thinks menopaws kinda sucks, especially when mom gets cranky about all the fur that is everywhere when he is blowing coat… like now. Achoo!
BBliss, I feel like a snake shedding my skin all through my life. Though the skin doesn’t get any newer or younger looking. 🙂
you know what’s worse? I keep thinking I wrote this post before, and I honestly cannot remember if I have or not. So fair warning, y’all may see some repeats. I’ll be one of those babbling old women telling you the same story for the tenth time. 🙂
I love Delices de Cartier! It’s fabulous and underrated, imo. I’ve just realized I might be your sister in tonka-bean obsession! Isn’t it in Shalimar & Attrape Coeur? Those are two of my faves 🙂
Patty, It’s refreshing to read someone who admits to feeling a little apprehensive about her hormonal changes and the B side of life in general. Everyone I know is either ignoring it (gonna dress like a teenager and love it) or embracing it (wearing a burlap sack and allegedly loving it). As this time of life approaches me I’m with you, feeling a little wistful and a little nostalgic and of course a little scared too.
As the rhythm of life plays on, we have to learn some new steps, and learn to sing along with the new melody. i keep telling myself, thats what keep life interesting.
“My metabolism has slowed to a crawl, a good nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sleep is a memory, which is good because I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t remember shit.” Yup. Exactly.
…practically half a lifetime!
Chuckling at the “menopaws” :-))
Patchamour, happy anniversary and congratulations! My, that’s practica
The B side — absolutely. Often that’s where the best songs are to be found. The hidden treasures.
But I’m waxing very sentimental today — it’s my 41st wedding anniversary. By the way, what does Buddy think of menopaws?
Oh – I think women are, and live *so* differently – look how our lives are chronicled and marked by hormonal shifts – puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause. But, we’re lucky, it’s like each time you go through these you can become more “you.” That probably doesn’t make sense, but I love how you write honestly about the “B side” – great analogy.
What a lovely cake recipe – simple and easy – can’t wait to try it – it sounds very much like the banana bread we bake. Thanks so much for sharing!
Woo-hoo! You’re back, March! You must tell all about the trip, totally in for NYC, can’t wait! I’ll go visit Ina’s blog, maybe she has an update of what you two did.
Marina, I would have been shocked if you had liked Delices. I’m probably going to throw Iris Taizo under the bus later this week. 🙂 Good Lord, that one I had to scrub off after ten minutes, it was not kind to me at all. I liked the Aomassai much better, even though I keep thinking I just crawled through a muddy forest after I put it on, and I think I mean that in a good way. 🙂
Dusan, I’m really not that bad so far, and I hope it doesn’t get that bad.
I tried Le Baiser one time, and I keep thinking I should give it another go. I didn’t really like it much that time I tried it, but if my chemicals keep going wiggy, it could be my HG before I know it. 🙂 Allure Homme? I’m there. tonka, tonka, tonka!
Hey, Miss Thang — let’s go to NYC and sniff some stuff. Big Cheese says I’m OTR half the time anyway…:x Let’s eat a ton of medicinal chocolate too.
I do not like Delcies nearly as much as you do. Just wanted to give you a big hug ((((Patty))))
Patty, you’re cracking me up, Mother Nature an unrelenting Bitch, :-)) ! Don’t fret just yet, I’m sure it’ll be years before you experience the real thang, if you ever do. My mom was also very young when she hit the big M (she’s 51 now), but it wasn’t until a coupla years ago that the dragon in her started spewing and belching the fires of midlife discontent, to put it mildly :). So, a word of advice: try to avoid being around your boys should the U. Bitch decide to play rough with you, I mean, they’re likely to have wives someday 😉 ?
Yes, Cartier Delices is yummy, love the bitter/sweet interplay. What didya think of Le Baiser?
I’m also tonka bonkers and recommend that you try Allure Homme, if you haven’t already.
Thanks for the scrumptious banana cake recipe!