Real Cooking

At about 8 o’clock on these winter days, the morning sun comes streaming through my bedroom windows. This would probably be a cheery sight for most people observing the scene-a cozy room dressed in blue, sunbeams dancing across the floor and up the papered walls. But believe me, lately it has brought no joy to my heart.

You see, it’s at this time in the morning that I’m usually standing in front of my mirror getting ready for the day. Oh, I’ve been up for a while making breakfast and getting the kids off to school.

Before eight, the dishwasher has been emptied and a load of laundry has been thrown into the washing machine, the cat has been fed and I’ve usually made it in and out of the shower.

But at about 8 o’clock, after everyone has left for the day, I make it back to my bedroom and stand before the mirror that hangs over the bathroom sink. And the morning sun illuminates my face with pure, natural light.

And I gasp in amazement at what’s staring back in the reflection of my mirror. I’ve got wrinkles. Lots of little wrinkles-and not just the “cute” kind that gather at the corner of the eye when one laughs coquettishly.

And my skin has taken on a tone of, well, I’m not quite sure what color it is-sort of ashen? No, not quite, it’s more mottled than that. Whatever it is, it wouldn’t be considered “peaches and cream.”

But the thing that bothers me the most is that the skin on my neck is becoming quite turkey-like. Every day a new fold or flap or sag in the skin appears that wasn’t there the day before.

Oh I know, time marches on and with it comes change. But it seems that lately time has marched up and down my face.

I’ve never been one to fool with a lot of facials, fancy creams or overnight treatments that are reported to make one look more youthful, but I’m beginning to think that some form of intervention might be appropriate.

Being born of Celtic stock, I’ve been blessed-or cursed, depending on how you look at it-with fair or pale-depending on how you look at it-skin. The sun has never been my friend. Since, from an early age, I was admonished to “stay in the shade,” I don’t have the skin damage that some of my peers might have incurred from slathering themselves in baby oil and roasting in the sun every summer.

With my makeup on, and if the light is just right, I don’t look so bad. But in the naked light of morning, it’s a scary sight.

No, I shouldn’t say it’s scary. I should be embracing my changing body and accepting it as a part of surviving to this stage in life. I should be looking at it as the admittance fee to the second portion of my existence.

And if the second half is anything like the first, there will be many an adventure to look forward to.

Which reminds me. My mother, who is 76 years old, called the other night to let us know that she would be unattainable over the Christmas holidays because she was going away on a trip with her 80-year-old “boyfriend.” It seems that mom and Cliff, along with his daughter and her husband, were going on a working vacation to a lighthouse off the coast of Washington State.

The lighthouse, that’s located out on the end of a “spit”-a sand bar of sorts-can only be reached at low tide and is situated in the middle of a national wildlife refuge.

While they are there, they must maintain the grounds, polish the brass and keep the light shining at all times. There is no television and no phones, although the Coast Guard can be contacted by radio in case of an emergency.

“They say they’ll send a helicopter if one of us has a heart attack,” she assured me.

I’m sure my mom and the others will have a fabulous time. I just hope that when I’m her age, I’ll be calling my kids and saying: “Dad and I are going away on a trip. As soon as we make base camp, we’ll try to get a message through to you.”

But in the meantime, I might just go buy some kind of anti-wrinkle, skin rejuvenating, face-lift cream.

Oh, vanity…. Thy name is Cheryl.

* * *

Well, here we are again, standing on the brink of another New Year and waiting to trumpet it in with streamers, horns and confetti.

But what, I wonder, will 2001 bring along to the party? Peace or unrest? Prosperity or recession? Only time will tell. God’s blessings to you this New Year.

* * *

Here’s different twist on a party punch for your holiday get togethers. This recipe makes 60 four-ounce servings.

Very Special Coffee Punch

1 (2 oz.) jar instant coffee

2 quarts hot water

21/4 cups sugar

2 quarts half and half

1 quart ginger ale

1 pint heavy cream, whipped

1/2 gallon French vanilla ice cream

Dissolve coffee in hot water. Cool and then add sugar and half-and-half, mixing well. Chill. When ready to serve, pour mixture into punch bowl and add chilled ginger ale, whipped cream and ice cream. Let some of the ice cream remain in chunks in the bowl.

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