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Posts Tagged ‘adulthood’

I always wanted a rock tumbler when I was a kid. I eyed the same one every year when the JCPenney catalog arrived, picturing myself polishing rock after shiny rock.

I was a bit obsessive, even as a child. Our driveway would have simply gleamed with polished rocks.

I saw a tumbler on the shelf at Michael’s today. It hit me that now that I have enough money to buy myself a rock tumbler, I don’t have any rocks.

So goes adulthood.

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14-year-old cat requires four medications per day, plus subcutaneous fluids. Husband has a dermatological bandage to be watched and changed. The refrigerator is making a noise reminiscent of angry bees.

I have never felt more grownup, married or inept.

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Buying cookware is the final stage of entry to adulthood, right?

I am SO there.

I’ve been using the cookware pictured here for about 16 years. Liberated from the home of my dearly departed paternal grandmother, it’s likely older than I am. Wear and tear wasn’t really a problem, however, since she hardly ever cooked much more than a can of chicken noodle soup.

It was some kind of enamelware, with hints of an Australian origin. I was always sort of vaguely aware that I should buy something “real,” since who knows what that stuff was coated with.

One of the larger pots developed a small dark spot on the bottom in the late ’90s. While boiling water one day, I watched the spot rise to the surface, followed by a powdery, brownish red cloud. It seemed to have rusted through from the inside out.

Other than that incident, it was incredibly durable. The only reason I had to get rid of it was because of another very grownup purchase my husband and I made recently: a new stove.

It’s a stainless steel model with a ceramic cooktop that, in theory, will make the kitchen sleek and sporty once we’ve replaced everything else that makes the kitchen non-sleek and frumpy.

The only caveat: The safest way to use the ceramic cooktop is not to use it at all.

It is the drama queen of cooking surfaces. No enamel. No cast iron. No aluminum. Only the flattest of flat-bottomed cookware will do. No hint of moisture on the outside of the vessel. If you spill anything with sugar in it on the cooktop, immediately turn the stove off, call a priest and get him to pray that you can remove the spill before it makes a pit on the surface.

I kid. Sort of. It’s actually a really reliable cooktop, once you get used to it, and the oven is the most accurate model I’ve ever used. And it does make one end of the kitchen look very sporty.

I think I’m even burning extra calories, because cooking without the fear of instantaneously destroying your cooktop doesn’t produce any adrenaline at all.

It might all be hype. Several people have told me that they use anything and everything on their ceramic cooktops. But older enamelware seems to be a consistent no-no – the surface coating has every possibility of actually melting onto the cooktop.

So we bought a set of stainless steel, the only “sure thing” to use. I was pleasantly surprised by the price; my husband found a five-piece set of Tramontina, recommended by Cook’s Illustrated, for around $150 at Wal-Mart, a real bargain compared to most of the luxury brands.

I’ve got no complaints about it. Best of all, some lucky thrift-store scavenger is going to get a few more years of use out of my grandmotherly enamelware. Just beware the small dark spot on the bottom.

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Remember training wheels? For me, they were the last bastion of bike safety, and they became more of a security blanket than a training tool. I remember being reluctant to let my dad take them off, until one day I realized that they didn’t seem to be touching the ground anymore. Sure enough, I took a short test drive on a neighbor’s non-training-wheeled bike, and I could totally ride on two wheels.

I could also totally crash on two wheels, as evidenced by the latticework of tiny souvenirs on my knees and elbows.

I’m still removing metaphorical training wheels from my life, some 30 years later.

Two weeks ago, we had one very sick cat. Yang was showing signs of kidney failure, a diagnosis that would have fit his age of 13 years.

I spent four days and nights convincing him to eat and drink. I drove to three supermarkets in search of no-sodium-added tuna. I baked him a chicken and made a salt-free stock. I woke up at 2 a.m. every day to check on him. I made sure my phone never left my side so that the vet could give me the results of the blood tests the minute they came in.

Most surprising of all, I made peace with the situation.

I realized that it was the first time I had truly been in charge of an animal’s care. Sure, I had pets as a child and even as a teenager, but my mother was, in the end, the decision-maker, the one who had to decide on treatments, the one who had to decide when to let go.

It’s not a small thing, deciding when to let go.

In the end, the blood tests came back normal and Yang started eating like a lumberjack again. It does appear that he and his brother have permanently added a couple of servings of baked chicken and homemade broth to their daily menu, but that’s a small price to pay for the return of a healthy cat.

I realize I’m not out of the woods on this forever. I have teenage cats, and they won’t live forever. Pets break your heart, every damn time.

I won’t say that the decisions I’ll be faced with one day will get any easier, but I’m on two wheels now, ready to brave the hills.

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