Wednesday, February 03, 2010

28 Days of L-O-V-E

I'm kind of a Valentine's Day hater. I am willing to own it. I have never really had a romantic or a great one. One year, while living in Texas, we did eat at a fabulous hole-in-the-wall Italian place on Louetta, but I don't think that was right on Valentine's Day. Come to think of it, that may have been an anniversary thing. The truth is that I'm happily married to a man who makes me feel loved every day, and "big" occasions for gift giving are more just a part of the continuum. I am also highly practical. He will sometimes come up with some big, dramatic plan for fun and I'm the one to say, "Uh, what about . . . ?" and the fun stuff gets lost in the logistics. As the years pass, a lot of my practicality has rubbed off on Plantboy and any spontaneous, romantic gestures we might have once had are pretty rare these days.

Case in point: Last weekend we went on a date. To Sizzler. Topped off with a rented movie.

Thrilling, eh?

It's okay. Just as I freely embrace my general dislike of Valentine's (s'?) Day, I will also freely embrace that I'm as comfortable with Plantboy as my favorite old jeans, and that I'm totally happy with that. Am I a romantic? Hm . . . that is a really good question, and I'll have to think about that one. After all, I am learning my own version of happily ever after. I might be too practical to really earn the title of romantic, but I still get weak in the knees every time I read Austen and wonder if, once again, Mr. Darcy will really change his nature for his beloved Elizabeth. And I really want my movies to have happy endings. (Thanks very much for those of you who recommended 500 Days of Summer, by the way. I might still be depressed over it.)

So while the jury is still out as to whether or not I believe in the sappy, book version of romance, it is totally safe to say that I believe in love. Absolutely. Totally. Completely. I think those that we truly Love never leave us, but that they each touch and change our life fundamentally in some ways. I think the relationships we have with one another are the glue that holds life together. I think the things we love (with a small letter "l") can brighten our days and give us outlets for our pleasures and interests. As long as we keep the people we love ahead of the things we love, I think it is okay to love things too.

I once met a woman who was very devout and faithful to her version of Christianity, which differed rather sharply than mine. In fact, I had seldom met a person of such faith in any religion. She was militant about her dislike of the word "love." She believed it was so overused as to be meaningless and would only use it in context of talking about God. She even believed the term "in love" should also only be used to express love of God. (Correlation is not causation, of course, but she was divorced.)

It's true that our language would better serve us if it had multiple words for "love," like the Eskimos and their dozens of words for "snow." But it doesn't. And so I will freely use the word love for my religion, skiing, my mother, fresh vegetables, farmer's markets, pretty baskets, my children, flowers, my husband, ice cream, and chocolate. Though not necessarily in that order. (Chocolate should be higher. Oh, and Plantboy too.)

All of this musing brings me to my point. I've never done one of those post-every-day-for-a-month things, but I'm going to try this month. (Please don't point out that I've already missed two days. I'm making up for it here.) Each day I'm going to post about something I love. Some of these will be things I LOVE, and others will just be things I love. I hope that you will understand the difference, and that posting about chocolate chip cookies one day and my children then next doesn't mean that I take cookies too seriously or my children too lightly. It just means that there is a lot of dang good stuff to embrace in this life. I'll post three today, but hopefully just once daily from here on out.

1-- I love music. It is odd really, as any actual talent I have in this area is minimal. I play the piano a very little bit and my singing voice could probably just be termed "adequate" as long as I'm in a group and have other melody-singers to follow. I've got dozens and dozens of hymns memorized and love to sing loudly at church, my adequate voice harmonizing with Plantboy's sweet tenor. When you sing without the book, you are free to look up and imagine the music swelling toward Heaven where the angels join you and make even the mediocre godlike. It makes me feel like I'm worshiping instead of just reading text.

My iPod is one of my most-used possessions and I download between five and ten songs each month. I have thousands of songs organized onto 45 playlists, and I think most activities should have some kind of theme music in the background. My tastes are pretty broad, but not necessarily daring. I read music critics and admit to being a bit clueless about what they are talking about most of the time. If it makes me sing along and evokes some kind of emotion, then I'm happy. I love the lyrics of music and will sometimes decide after several listenings that I really do like a song after all, once I really know the lyrics. Probably because I love words also . . . oops, that is a separate love.

2--I love Australian accents. After living in New South Wales for 16 months, and connecting so deeply with so many amazing people, the barest phrase spoken in that lazy, sloppy drawl evokes such wonderful memories that I could listen all day. Learning Aussie slang (of which there is plenty) was like unlocking the key to some mysterious code. This slangy, accented talk is such a part of the fabric of Australian life, that they don't even realize how delightfully charming they are. And that makes them even moreso. Fair dinkum.

3--These cookies (my own version of Ghiradelli's Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies):

Mix 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups quick oats, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp of salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar together until SUPER creamy--beat like 4-5 minutes. While beating add two eggs and 2 tsp vanilla. Add the flour mixture and combine until all the flour is moistened. Get out the BIG wooden spoon. Here is my favorite part. Add 3 (that's right THREE) cups of your favorite goodies. Any variation is fantastic. My favorite is 1 1/2 cups of the really fat milk chips, 1 cup of chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (not semi-sweet, dark) and 1/2 a cup of peanut butter chips. Oops! Does that add up to 3 1/2 cups? Too bad. Plantboy prefers raisins to the nuts (ick!) and my kids like them with no nuts or raisins but with extra peanut butter or white chips. Can you tell that we divide the batter at our house?

Anyway, once you have made this decadent batter, get a spoon and start eating. NO!! Don't be a fool! You don't want to waste a single baked gem! Drop them by oh, I don't know, whatever size you like, onto an ungreased* cookie sheet. I use a small scoop that holds about a tablespoon and a half. Bake them at 375 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Your first batches on cold sheets will need closer the 11, your very last batch might only need 7. The key to keeping your cookies soft and luscious for days after baking is to get them out of the oven just as the shine comes off of them (NOT BROWN) and leave them on the sheet for a minute or two before removing them to a wire rack for cooling. As soon as you are no longer in danger of burning the roof of your mouth off, pour milk into the largest glass you have in your house (quart-sized mason jars come to mind), and start two-fisting these.

So there it is. Three days of things I love. Because I'm sure you were hanging out for it like that. Stay tuned . . . .

*My great-grandmother used to say, "Any cookie that can't grease its own bum, isn't worthy of the name 'cookie'." You can take that advice to the bank.


Jenny said...

Cookie-that was a very sweet post.

Janssen said...

Okay, that comment by your grandmother? I am going to be using that until the day I die. Which is hopefully many decades from now.

Desmama said...

Yeah, I love that comment from your grandma. Can I guess which side of the family it's from?

heidikins said...

I think I am one of the few people who loves Valentine's Day even without the schmoozy romantic conotations.

Growing up, we always had "Valentine's Pockets" which, in their simplest form, are two paperplates, one cut in half, placed together with the "plate" side together, hole punched, and laced together with yard. Decorate with stickers and marker and doilies and such. We hung them on our bedroom doors on Feb. 1 and every morning there would be a little surprise in them. A new pencil, or a fun-size candy bar, or some stickers. We got a "real" present on Valentine's Day--a new shirt, or mittens, or something really small like that.

I still love this tradition and I still do it, every. single. year.


Johnna said...

There's something so wonderfully comforting about the Sizzler-then-rented-movie date. For that kind of thing, I love being married. I think that sort of everyday/every week familiar indulgences are such a hallmark of having someone (my husband) in my life.

Valentine's Day or the occasional thrill is fun. But it's really those everyday pedestrian joys I appreciate.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your love series!

emandtrev said...

What a great idea--I will absolutely look forward to your posts this month.

I too love your grandmother's comment.