Friday, April 22, 2011

Oven Lovin'

For the past few years I have been cooking with an oven that works intermittently at best. My range has only two working burners. It started three Christmases ago, while I was roasting some sort of huge hunk of meat, and my oven began beeping with an ominous repeating display of F-5.

What F-5 meant was my oven just stopped working and I had eight people at my house to feed and the roast beast was medium raw at best.

Over the years I have learned how to adapt to my stove's incompetence. I know that once I turn my oven on, I may have to keep it on for hours at a time, because once I turn it off, it is done for the rest of the day. I have kept my oven on for eight hours at a stretch. I have been cooking on a daily basis, for my growing and always hungry family of four with only two burners. It has been a frustrating experience, because I really do enjoy cooking and feeding my family and friends. Some people out there that hate cooking. I am not one of them. (My hatred for CLEANING however will be another post!)

When owning a home, there is a never ending list of working parts to purchase and maintain just to keep the house treading water - such as a furnace (a luxury in New England) and washing machine. Unfortunately, the stove worked it's way down the list. We knew we needed a new one, but I kept muddling through, crossing my fingers while cooking our traditional Thanksgiving lasagna that F-5 didn't appear and shut the entire operation down.

Until the last six months. That frickin oven has taken a nose dive. The remaining two burners began to do what I called, "The Big Finish". I would turn the burner off, there would be a pause, and then, there would be a final poof! of blue gas flames. Safe. Very safe. And then the oven. I could not use it if I had the burners on - it was one or the other. And then when it was on, it would be inconsistent at best. Sometimes it stayed on long enough to roast a full chicken dinner. And then sometimes it would stop after 15 minutes, leaving me to slow roast brownies for hours using only the residual heat to complete the task.

I could not take it any longer. I meet Cliff at the door one Friday night like a crazy lady, screeching to the tune of "we're not going to eat dinner until 11o'clock tonight and if we don't get a frickin oven pronto! We're going to be eating take-out until it happens!"

And now, after much research and haggling on my part with salespeople (I love the haggle!) we just had a gorgeous, shiny, black stove delivered first thing Thursday morning.

I have to admit, it is taking some getting used to. The power and precision of the four burners. The oven turns on and off. And on again! I find myself a little clumsy when cooking. My rythym is off. It is like having a new lover. We need to get used to each other. It keeps catching me in the corner of my eye. I giggle when I walk by - I have even caught myself saying, "Oh, hi. Well, lookit you here. All new and wanting to be touched. I'll be right over." Excuse me for a moment. I have some cooking to do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Because I'm worth it

I began playing with my hair color at thirteen by dousing it with Sun-In, hoping to get those blond highlights so coveted by most American white girls. By high school I was making the cool girl pilgrimage to Astor Street haircuts in The Village in New York City, trying out oh so 80’s asymmetrical cuts and painting my hair with uneven blond peroxide chunks.

My best friend is a hair stylist and when I first meet her in 1991, she often needed a hair model. That means whatever technique she was learning at the time, she had to try it out on a real person, not just a mannequin head. In turn that model received a free cut or color. Since I had little money, and she was -and still is - fantastic company, I would ride my bike up to where she worked at Vidal Sassoon’s on 5th Ave and 59th street. I found it very NYC exciting, locking my bike across the street from the Plaza Hotel and walking into a busy, uptown salon dressed in my grunge uniform of baby doll dress and bike shorts and Doc Martins. An assistant would bring me a coke to drink and my girlfriend and I would laugh and cackle as she worked on my hair. My hair was very short for a few years, and a range of colors.

My hair has grown longer since then, but I have remained a (drum roll for pun) die hard hair colorist - red being my preferred shade. I have been happily coloring my hair for twenty years. It is a fun part of dressing up and being a girl, in the same way that I wear lipstick and jewelry every day. But one new color has crept in that I want no part of – grey. I am late in the game of getting those first grays. Only because of genetics have I been able to put off the inevitable this long. But, they have started to creep in, through the swirl of my cowlicks at my temples, sticking up at the top of my head, like a grey middle finger.

My body is playing a new trick on me, this aging thing. This in your face grey hair thing. I don’t like it. Not one stinking bit.

I have been through the major body re-shifting after having two kids. I’ve experienced massive weight gain and weight loss and the various flabby body parts that I have tried to tone and keigel over the past few years. I’ve come to a place of acceptance and pride at the magic that my body has performed. I try to be aware of being positive in how I talk about my body, especially having daughters. They will never hear me call myself that awful, ugly word – fat.

I am at peace with these changes that having a baby has done to my body. I am not surprised at most aspects of getting older. Body signs like the classic small crinkles around the eyes. I learned from reading newsstand tabloids that as Demi Moore ages, her knees sagged (she had a lifting procedure to correct this abnormality) so I was prepared for this knee, skin drooping thing to happen. And of course, I know that humans get grey hair as they age, so it is no great surprise that I too will join the ranks and have graying hair.

However, I find grey hair to be the most unsettling part of this growing up process. I think that I can gracefully handle when the sweet crinkles become lines – I don’t see spending money on Botox or silicone fillers. But I will be very happy to color my hair for as long as I can. I have yet to be an all-over, shimmering, golden blond.