Musette Musings – Milestone

Posse! This past Saturday was my birthday – and it was a milestone!  Not in that ‘you’re XX (XXX) years old!! way, but a quieter, more reflective way – at least for me.  This year I’ve been the same age as my mother was when she died.  And now I’m not that anymore – I’m a year older (because, to quote my papi, ‘you get old – or you get dead’ – and I’ll take ‘Old’ for $400, Alex.  At least for now (fingers crossed it stays this way).   But it has been an odd year, full of superstitions, full of memories… full of personal reflections. 

The personal reflections were, as you can imagine, full of comparisons between my mother’s life and my own.  And what was interesting was the realization that we aren’t all that dissimilar – both of us have/had that incendiary rage, inherited from my maternal grandmother who, allegedly, killed a man in her restaurant, slapping him in the head… with a cast iron skillet. Welp!

at least we all are/were decent cooks.  Right?  (we iz sum murderizin’ bishes, though.  Must be why I love Shelley Laurenston’s shifter women so much – They. Do. NOT. Play.)

I never met my maternal grandmother but something tells me I would’ve loved her!  I still have her cast iron skillets, though, which I use on the daily.  TO COOK WITH.  so far..

Once my actual birthdate rolled around (and I had to roll out of bed at 3a to help set up for a 5k, so I had a minute or two to reflect on how I was feeling.  Tired.  I was feeling tired.  3am is EARLY)… I realized that I felt much lighter than I had whenever I thought of the dovetailing during the past year – the niggling thoughts ‘would I survive past my mother’s death time?’ (answer :  yes).  Insane little subroutines of worry and reflection (my several failed marriages/relationships v. my mother’s…. well… nebber mind) – all of that just vanished!

After the race (I wore great lashings of vinty No5 to hand out race packets) I made several lasagnas for friends  – one of them is a hunter and sent over several pounds of ground venison so after bleeding the meat (omg.  M. Jacques lost his SH!T when he got to eat the blood.  Dogs are weird.)I made a mushroom duxelles  (this was a bechamel-based lasagne – no tomato) and a venison sausage gravy in lieu of traditional meat sauce.

Why am I telling you this?  Well this part of the ‘ personal reflection ‘ was totally positive.  From the venison to the smoked salt to the utensils and bakers I used… every bit of it was given to me in love and affection.  Memories of who gave me X just bubbled up, as I mixed the mushrooms and ricotta (adding a bit of dried apricot to the mix really lifts it up – bleeding the meat ensures a white gravy – not a pink one… I thought about the gifts I’ve been given over the years –  beloved old friends supporting my burgeoning cooking life,  beloved new friends supporting and helping me through the challenges of living here – and giving me a reason to cook again…

So much has changed for me, since my mother’s passing – I’ve had my heart broken, learned to love again, had my finances shattered, picked it up and put it back together, one step at a time.

Learned to appreciate life again.

Missed my mother just a little bit.  Wished I could’ve known her mother.

Learned to better prepare wild game (thanks, Chef Alan S!)

Became vegetarian-adjacent (sort of) but can still field dress a deer without puking (yay!   A useful skill – I love those)

Wore great lashings of vinty No 5.

Still taking ‘Old’ for $400, Alex – for as long as I can.

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Dang, Musette! You are such an evocative writer. You are an inspiration to live loud and large—I love the image of wearing great lashings of vintage No5 to a 5k. I hope you wore red.

    Have a wonderful new year of life, and I know you will love and feast and paint your world in bold swaths. Mwah!

  • Tigs says:

    Happy belated, my dear. Was just thinking of you on the weekend and I guess it was appropriate. So glad you’re taking $400. (And it’s the daily double!) A crazy ride it’s been, for all of us, and you especially, but at least it’s been entertaining, right? I love a surprise, still — eyeing my PP nickname there, a bit overdue to change it, but I am honouring its craziness — and I love that you do, too. And March, too. Lashings for all. XOXO.

  • alityke says:

    Happy belated birthday. Sounds like the day was interesting to say the least. If ever you decide to brain someone with one of those skillets you’ll be able to field dress them to disguise the remains ? Sorry waaaayyy off topic there.
    Doing all that in vinty No5 after getting up at 3am? You deserve a medal the size of a bin lid! I mean the run organising, deer dressing & cooking up a feast not crown a man with grandma’s skillet etc.

    A very thoughtful piece of writing though. My father had his first heart attack at 49 & a stroke shortly after. He died in 1984 aged 53. Living longer than him has had something of a revenge factor for me.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Happy Birthday! What a great read and loving your positivity 🙂 I’ve stopped recognizing birthdays entirely. I don’t want to think about ‘years’ at all–inside I will always be that freewheeling 21 yr-old girl. Did you ever find out why granny took the swing?

  • Catherine says:

    Dear Musette,

    Salut! Many, many more years of your happiness and fullness of joie de vivre for you! You are a light for all. I’d be willing to get up at the witching hour if I’m able to sniff vintage No. 5 on you! Or any of the favorites, especially the chypres, that I remember you gushing about. It’s been a few years since I thought about new fragrances, but as soon as I did, I started longing to smell again all of your old loves. That’s wonderful nostalgia for you!

    Catherine (once from Minn or Oklahoma, now Kentucky)

  • Dina C. says:

    Happy Birthday dear Anita! What a great introspective essay. Sounds like you’ve come far on your journey, and you’re striding out into the future with eagerness and joy. I understand the spooky thing you had about your mom’s death age. I did that too with my dad’s 7 years ago. (He died at 52 of cancer.) Once we mark that date with nostalgia, reverence, maybe some prayers & symbolism, then we’re free to move forward unencumbered. Your cooking sounds very impressive. I have no idea how to dress a deer. Getting up at 3 am? No thanks! To run a race? I’m even less inclined! 😀

  • cinnamon says:

    Happy belated birthday! I totally get where you’re coming from with regard to family things and gifts with meaning. When my father died (20 years after my mother) I had some things shipped over — not a huge amount, as the shipping costs from there to here are a madness. and every time I look at or use something from that shipment it makes my heart do a flip-flop. And now that I have a proper stand mixer I make my mother’s (and grandmother’s — and maybe even a bit further back) bitter sweet chocolate cake for the holidays. It’s both sad and happy — and gives me a lot of time to feel, think and remember ’cause it takes hours to complete. Very impressed you can field dress a deer, and have been able to move through a lot of hard stuff.

  • Maya says:

    Happy Birthday. I’m glad it went well for you starting from the time you woke up, way too early. Your reflections are lovely. I do not miss my mother at all since she died, but I miss my papi a lot. He and I both were blessed with a hot temper, so I can identify with that. lol. He did say that you have to learn to control it.
    Life takes us all to a lot of places, some good, some bad. So lets enjoy all the good, in all its forms, when it’s here! I’m happy for you that a big weight has gone away.

  • March says:

    Oh, honey. I know we chatted about this — the year I was the age my mother died was … strange, and superstitious, and I was thrilled to arrive at the next birthday and put that behind me. We have not had the lives we thought we would have, and oh boy have we had some adventures along the way! But we’ve caught our breath, dusted ourselves off, and are appreciating a lot of small things these days, which — if you think about it — is a big thing when you lump them all together.

  • Tara C says:

    Happy birthday! I can relate to the emotions in this post. My mother just passed away last month after a very long battle with Parkinson’s. She and I were physically like two peas in a pod, so naturally I am paranoid that I will get it too. She was diagnosed at 62, so I think to myself, you have less than five good years left, make them count. Of course we never know how long we will live or how it will end, but a long, miserable chronic illness scares the hell out of me. Sorry for the dark thoughts but that’s where I’m at.

    I wish you a long, happy, healthy life, enjoying all the memories in your kitchen!

  • Maggiecat says:

    A belated happy birthday to you!

    My husband’s father and grandfather both died at 56. My husband tells me his own journey through that year was a tough one – but 20-some years later, he’s still going strong. His mother lived into her 90’s, with lupus, so it seems he got those genes, thankfully.
    Enjoy where you are in life now – it sounds lovely.

  • Tom says:

    Well, first off, Happy Birthday! Lovely post. It’s interesting to reach a point where you have lived longer than a parent. I kind of wonder if anyone looks back after 50 or 60 or whatever and think “this is EXACTLY where I thought I’d be”. I sure as heck am not.

    I think you might be one of the few people I know who not only know what mushrooms duxelles is but has the patience for all that mincing. I’m one. (And yes, go ahead and make mincing jokes. I’ve trotted that one out myself)

    Is there anything more comforting than Chanel No. 5? That still manages to be somewhat outwardly threatening? Maybe Mitsouko, but while Mitsi says “I will hurt you” No. 5 says “I’ll hurt you, but you’ll like it.”

  • Filomena says:

    Interesting post but a tough one to comment on.

  • Filomena says:

    Interesting post. Thanks.