Getting Out of a Hammock & Other Trials of Middle Age & Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad

mom_80sI remember vividly the day my mother discovered she was middle aged. Well maybe not the exact day, I was away at college. Anyway, it was Monday, September 22, 1975. Mom told me about the distressing revelation during our weekly Sunday night phone call. Heck, she was still talking about it at Thanksgiving.

How did it all come about? Well, Sara Jane Moore tried to shoot the president and the story hit the airwaves immediately and nonstop. According to Mom, the reporters insisted on describing Sara Jane as a forty-five year old, middle-aged woman. Not once or twice, this horrifying phrase was repeated constantly in newscasts and special reports that, of course, went on for days. Mom had just turned forty-six but it had never occurred to her that she was middle aged. No self-respecting forty-six year old would.

I’m not sure how or when I discovered I was middle aged. In fact, I’m not convinced that I’ve discovered anything of the sort. In spite of my research or maybe because of it, middle age seems a nebulous concept at best. What research you ask? Well, I looked up the average life expectancy for women and discovered it was eighty-one. Therefore, the middle is, oh heck, you do the math.

Although I never lie about my age, I routinely think of myself as decades younger than what’s indicated on my driver’s license. In spite of this denial (or self-delusion), there are some ever so subtle and other not-so subtle indications that it’s happened. Welcome or not, I think I may have slid into the middle years.

Perhaps you too are wondering if you’ve somehow managed slipped into middle age. Well, there are clues. With warm weather, the menacing signs of aging seem constant. Kind of like those newscasters who assaulted my mother’s sensibilities back in 1975. For anyone pondering the possibility that they have reached their middle years, here are a few clues to consider:

Are you longing to spend a lazy afternoon in a hammock but fearful that once in you will never get out? You imagine the nightmare of waiting helplessly for someone to come along and tip you out like sack of potatoes. Don’t dwell on the negative; buy an Adirondack chair instead. A classic, it will look great in your yard and last forever. At eighty-eight, my dear old dad can still get out of one.

You exercise. You eat right. You have no problem slipping into a little black dress, skinny jeans or hiking shorts. But a bathing suit! Just the thought of it makes your blood run cold. Perhaps it’s time to consider a solitary sunrise swim or midnight skinny-dipping.

If you are worried about swimming without a lifeguard, haven’t you noticed? Somewhere along the line, the lifeguards got younger, a whole lot younger. Too young to buy a beer, vote or shave. Moreover, should the need arise, they are much too busy flirting with other cute, young things to save you.

Then there is summer music. You realize that, except for a couple of new crooners, you know nothing, NOTHING, in the top 100. Okay, you’ve heard of Taylor Swift; even middle-aged people have heard of Taylor Swift. On the other hand, you know all the words to Heat Wave by Martha and the Vandellas, School’s Out for Summer by Alice Cooper and every song the Beach Boys ever sang. Plus, you can Walk Like an Egyptian and do the Macarena. Proving once again that, even if you are middle aged (and I’m not saying you are), life is good.

Have a great summer, stay young or at least young at heart and bon appétit!

Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad
Perfect on a hot night – add this salad to the list for your next cookout or beach picnic. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sambal oelek*
12 radishes, stemmed and chopped
6 small cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Put the vinegar, both oils, fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic and chili paste in a bowl and whisk to combine. Let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes to combine the flavors.

Add the radishes, cucumber and scallions and toss to combine. If serving immediately, sprinkle with mint, cilantro and sesame seeds and toss again. If serving in a few hours, sprinkle with mint and cilantro, toss, cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds and give the salad a final toss.

* Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste. You can find it in specialty stores, on-line and in some supermarkets. If you can’t find Sambal Oelek, use your favorite chili sauce or paste.

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One Year Ago – Watermelon Sorbet
Two Years Ago – Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans
Three Years Ago – Gazpacho
Four Years Ago – Mousse au Citron
Five Years Ago– Thai Salad
Six Years Ago – Sweet Dream Bars
Seven Years Ago – Lobster Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

No matter how old you are, wear your age with pride. What is your favorite telltale sign that you’ve hit the next stage? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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