Another habit I’ve picked up in this phase of my life is to fill the gas tank when it reaches ½ full. Or ½ empty as you may choose. It started when the prices were fluctuating between 3 and 4 dollars a gallon. I thought I could outsmart the oil companies and get more bang for my buck. Sometimes I won. Sometimes they got the best of me. But the other reason is that I forget to look at the gas gage and suddenly the damn thing starts beeping. This usually occurs when I am coming across the state from Ft. Myers to West Palm and am forty miles to the nearest town. All too often I have made deals with my God to just get me to the gas station and I will be better at paying attention to those little things.
I play that game where I shut off the stereo and air-conditioning hoping it will make the gas last a little longer. Only once did I run out of gas and have to walk. I was lucky that time. I was two blocks from the gas station. The guy made me give him twenty dollars to rent the gas can. I pointed to my car, just feet from the entrance, but I must have looked shady in my Capri’s and golf shirt. Maybe it was the two pair of glasses on my head. But then and there I decided to always keep my tank above the ½ mark. It just makes things easier.
Did you ever notice that you buy the exact same things every time you go to the grocery? I get my husband’s weekly contraband, but I was starting to get into a rut with the nightly meals as well. My Mother-in-law had a system where she had the same meal every week. Monday pork chops, Tuesday spaghetti, Wednesday chicken, Thursday steak, Friday pizza, Saturday dinner out and Sunday standing rib roast with rice and corn. It was the same every night of the week. I have a different approach. Whatever I was hungry for that day is what I would make. Mexican, Italian, Grandma’s southern cooking...whatever spirit moved me. It helped that I loved to cook, but I also found that I made the same recipes over and over. As I got older I started to experiment. Maybe a little cinnamon in the recipe.
“Hon,” my husband would ask, “What’s that I’m tasting in the meatloaf tonight?”
“Do you like it?”
“Well,” he pauses thinking about the fine line between criticizing the cook and suggesting that the flavor just didn’t fit. “It’s different.”
Different for all of you who don’t know means bad. Not just bad but usually inedible. That recipe was gone. But there are others. Experimenting with flavors helps when you have been cooking for years and are bored to tears with the same old same old. I actually took a cooking class at the local culinary institute to learn to make Chinese meals. Imagine my surprise when after thirty years of marriage my husband told me he didn’t really care for Chinese cuisine. I guess I need to look into some other classes and Dim Sum.