• honey

    Last week we got a new cow. (Well, she’s not ours, really — she’s on loan from a friend in exchange for milk — and she’s a heifer, not a cow. But those two minor details aside, my opening statement is one hundred percent true.)

    you can’t see her in the photo for all the people admiring her

    Her name is Honey and she’s due the end of this month or the beginning of April. I’m not exactly sure what breed she is — a cross between Jersey and maybe Holstein and/or Normande? — and she’s super sweet.

    Or at least she’s sweet with humans. With the other cows, she’s pretty much a holy terror, charging them with her horns and chasing them away from the food. It was so bad, in fact, that we got a little worried that Emma’s milk production would drop and wondered if we might have to feed them separately, but things are stabilizing now — i.e. Honey’s learning to share. She’s still somewhat territorial and stabby, but less so. 

    We’ve been trying to spend time with her, getting a halter on her and coaxing her into the milking shed, turning on and off the vacuum pump (for the milker) so she gets used to it, etc.

    She doesn’t like grain, but she’s a voracious hay-eater and goes nuts for alfalfa, so we bought her a few bales of that. 

    thanks for the present, girlfriend

    I thought she’d be delivering in April, but she’s looking close: swollen and hard udder, bits of mucus, leaking teats. I spent a lot of time yesterday staring out the window: Why is she stretched out like that? Is she straining? Is her back arched? Has she stopped eating?

    I ran down to the field several times, too, to poke her udder, check her pins (the ligament between the pin bone and the tail bone that turns jello-y before birth), and give her lots of good brush-downs and neck scratches. Pro tip: always scratch a cow’s neck( instead of the top of the head) so they’re less likely to headbutt for attention.

    checking the pins: they’re beginning to soften

    At one point, the kids joined me in the field, and my older son taught my younger son how to ride motorcycle. There was lots of “Watch out for the poop!”

    And then Honey got frisky from all the excitement and tossed her head at me, goring my boob with her horn. It was just a light poke but that was enough to make me turn tail and head back to the house, thank you very much.

    P.S. Is anyone else getting a kick out of today’s date? Three-twenty-three-twenty-three, wheee!

    This same time, years previous: the cheezer, the quotidian (3.23.20), almond cardamon tea cake, the solo, the tables are turning, the quotidian (3.23.15), the walk home, oatmeal toffee bars.

  • truly wild

    A few weeks back, my older daughter bought herself a sewing machine and now she stays up late at night teaching herself how to make linen skirts, coffee-dyed cotton petticoats, and corsets with zip ties for ribbing. (Next up, buttons, which have her positively buzzing.)

    This sewing streak began when she was living in Massachusetts and made herself a Halloween costume based on a character from Outlander — lots of petticoats and a bustle — though, wait a sec. Hang on. Now that I think about it, she did take sewing lessons from a friend of mine years ago, and before that there was that “dress” she fashioned from an empty bag of dog food, the pair of slippers she made out of masking tape, and the doll quilt. So maybe she’s actually been into sewing a lot longer than I realize? Hm, I may have to rethink my narrative arc.

    In any case, I find her fascination with sewing equal parts hilarious and curious. See, I dislike sewing with a vengence (just the thought of working with bobbins and fabric makes me feel almost nauseated) and yet here I am with a child who loves it, what the heck?

    When I mentioned this bizarre turn of events to a friend, she pointed out that sewing isn’t that big of a jump from making cheese or baking a cake, which is true, yes, but still. I always find it a little startling when a child loves something I don’t — skydiving, horseback riding, motorcycling, chickens, coding, fantasy books, computers — and my surprise is usually greater with the girls, perhaps because I subconsciously expect them to be more like me. (I know better, of course, but this is how I feel.)

    The other day after my daughter showed me one of her most recent seamstressing developments, I just shook my head and said to no one in particular, “Where in the world did you come from?”

    Without missing a beat, she said, “Your hoo ha,” and we both busted up laughing.

    There’s no point to this post, really, except to say that it’s truly wild to watch the evolution of your children as they go from Helpless Blobs to Distinct Humans — quirky, curious, passionate, and driven. It’s so surprising, it’s almost funny. Like a cosmic joke but of the very best sort.

    I love it.

    P.S. While I was working on this post, a box of fabric arrived in the mail for my daughter — yards upon yards of dark green, pinstriped wool — and now I’m beginning to think she may have been born in the wrong century…

    This same time, years previous: any-cut-of-beef pot roast magic, beef tamales, from my sister-in-law in Hong Kong: Covid-19 at the two-month mark, spring hits, what did you eat for lunch?, the quotidian (3.21.16), a morning’s start, an accidental expert, over the moon, roasted vegetables.

  • soup and bread

    The other night for supper, I made a pot of veggie soup — my attempt to replicate the soup we had at our small group gathering last weekend. Our group’s name is Stone Soup, and that’s often what we have for dinner when we get together: the host will set a pot of water to boiling and then we all bring stuff to toss in. That weekend, there’d been both white and sweet potatoes, broth, spinach, kale, tomatoes, beans, ground pork and onions, butternut squash, rice, and probably some other stuff I’m not remembering.

    It was delicious, so I had to make some for us, as well as garlic butter bread with smoked cheese, which was something else we ate at small group. The host had a baguette and, on the spur of the moment, someone grabbed a mortar and pestle and mashed a couple cloves of garlic and some salt into butter. “Eat the garlic bread and smoked cheese together,” someone suggested, so I did and it was so good my head about fell off.

    So anyway, that’s what I made for supper the other night. It was just my husband and me, which is getting more and more common these days: the kids are still here, but they bounce in and out, and keeping up with their schedules is tricky so when the food is ready, we eat, never mind them. My younger son was getting a shower — he had choir rehearsal and wasn’t sure he’d have time to eat first (“Just put my soup in a to-go container,” he’d shouted as he pounded up the stairs to the bathroom) — and my girls had a dinner date with a girlfriend in town.

    We’d just sat down when my husband squinted at the stove. “Ugh,” he said. “I can’t stand looking at that dirt.” He jumped up, dug the vacuum out of the closet and, using the long, skinny attachment, vacuumed out under the stove. As soon as he sat back down, it was my turn to pop up, grab my camera, switch off the table light, and stand on my chair to photograph my soup.

    “Mmm, good,” I purred, shoveling more buttery garlic bread into into my mouth, at which point my husband had the audacity to tell me it had too much garlic and that maybe he’d like it better if the garlic wasn’t raw. And then I snorted and called him The Queen Elizabeth since she’d banned garlic from Buckingham Palace.

    We were nearly done with our meal when my younger son plopped down beside me and began slurping soup. He took one bite of the bread before announcing he’d eat the bread when he got home. “I don’t want to breathe garlic on everyone.”

    “Too late,” I said. “You already took a bite. Just eat it.”

    “Later,” he repeated, wrapping his plate with plastic wrap.

    And then he slammed out the door and my husband and I cleaned up the kitchen. The end.

    This same time, years previous: spiced gouda divino, the milking parlor, the quotidian (3.16.20), pastry, expanded, fresh ginger cookies, good writing, wear a helmet!, the quotidian (3.16.15), smiling for dimples, warmth, cornmeal blueberry scones.

  • the quotidian (3.13.23)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Cheddar: bandaged-wrapped and lard-rubbed.

    Chili oil makes everything better.

    Every afternoon.

    Tis the season!


    Discovering ChatGPD, and the commemoration photo to show their grandkids.

    My mama wrote a play!

    Winter in Virginia.

    This same time, years previous: Colby cheese, cherry bounce, the quotidian (3.9.20), for science, loaded baked brie, the quotidian (3.13.17), homemade pepperoni, raspberry ricotta cake, a love affair, sugar loaf, for all we know.

  • chicken birthday cake

    A couple weeks ago the kids were discussing all the different cakes I’ve made, and my younger daughter said to me, “You’ve never made me a fancy cake.”*

    “That’s because you never let her!” everyone shouted. (Which was true. She’s always had restrictions, like no buttercream, not this flavor or that texture, and no fondant, and my rules were that if I was going to do a fancy cake, then I had to have full creative license.)

    “Okay,” she said, finally relenting. “This year you can make whatever kind of cake you want. Surprise me.”

    Considering her love of chickens, it was pretty simple to figure out what kind of cake I’d make.

    September 2022

    But finding a cake to model after was a whole other matter. After a bit of digging, I found a five-minute clip of a youtube video — no instructions — that was most similar to what I had in mind, but it wasn’t much to go on. There was so much I didn’t know, like how much cake did I need to make? How much fondant? What kind of cutters? Paint colors? What size dowel rods? What about wire?

    Over the course of several days, I made three different batches of cake (four, actually, because the first cake I made was too tender and I realized I needed a firmer, more dense cake that would hold up to carving) and a batch of vanilla fondant.

    And then our fridge went out — cue 24 hours of chaos in which I didn’t know if I’d even be able to make the cake since I needed a large chunk of fridge space in which to store it. But then my husband ordered a new circuit board and got the fridge running by Sunday afternoon, whew. That night my husband helped me think through the construction and sketch out the various cuts (because geometry tangles my brain). 

    And then it was Monday, aka The Day of the Cake. (The birthday dinner would be on Tuesday, and since I’d be working a full shift at the bakery that day, I just had one day in which to build the cake.) To say my stress levels were high would be an understatement. I spent the entire day in a focused, anxious tizz of sugary mayhem. 

    I thawed the cakes, cut the pieces, and then dry stacked them and did the preliminary carving. I made the vanilla whip and the Italian meringue buttercream. I deconstructed the cakes and reassembled the pieces, this time sandwiching the lemon curd and vanilla whip between the layers.

    And then, realizing that the cake layers were pretty thick, I deconstructed the cake again, split the layers in half, spread them with lemon curd, and then rebuilt it.

    At this point, my younger son still had no idea what I was building. A race car? he guessed. A squirrel? 

    Let’s see how long it takes you to figure it out, I said.

    I dirty-iced it with the buttercream — Oh! A chicken! — and then I noticed that the butt and sides were too chunky, so I did some more carving and re-iced it. 

    The cake properly iced, I popped it into the fridge and got to work on the fondant. I used leaf cutters for the lower feathers, flower petal molds for the middle feathers, and hand-cut skinny triangles for the neck feathers. 

    At this point I got so absorbed and overwhelmed and sticky and covered with food coloring that I didn’t take a single photo. There were bits of fondant, cutting tools, and little dishes of gel colors mixed with vodka and paintbrushes scattered everywhere. And then when I got out the piping gel I discovered that — oh crap — it was so ancient it had discolored and I had to make a batch from scratch. (pant, pant)

    Once the chicken was feathered, I settled in to paint, mixing colors, darkening, adding textures. It was both forgiving and gratifying. I sipped the latte my younger son fixed for me and dabbed and brushed the afternoon away. It was the best part. 

    The tail feathers were a pain in the butt (ha). My son figured out how to adhere them to some wire, but we were running low on fondant and they were less than perfect. Plus, I stuck them in the rooster too far up on the back so it was far from anatomically correct, but oh well. This was a cake, not an actual bird. 

    And what kind of fowl was it, anyway? I’d been aiming for a rooster but the tail feathers were pretty piddly compared to the real thing, and the body and neck looked more like a chicken, so: it’s a “poultry” cake, I decided. Whatever.

    I stuck the cake in the fridge, taped a “do not open” sign to the door handles, scrubbed the kitchen floors, scarfed the pizza my husband picked up on his way home from work, and crawled into bed. 

    When I got home from work the next afternoon, my younger son and I took the chicken cake out to visit its brethren, and to briefly bask in the sunshine atop the fence post.

    Fast forward to the birthday dinner. All the presents were chicken related (a chicken necklace, solar lights for the coop, a chicken book, a chicken hat, a chicken mug) so everyone had a pretty good idea what the cake was gonna be. As per our custom, my brother’s family came over for the big reveal and everyone had to shut their eyes while I got the cake out (and my mother clucked and baw-bawked).

    I made them sing Happy Birthday with their eyes closed — they could all open their eyes when we sang her name — and then, ta-da! 

    All their reactions, and my daughter’s delight, made the work totally worthwhile. 

    After we admired and discussed it for a bit, my daughter cut the cake. It actually didn’t look too bad inside, and it tasted better than I thought it would; the additional lemon curd had kinda absorbed into the cake making it taste all lemony, and because I was worried the cake would be dry and wanted to punch up the flavor profile, I served the cake with the leftover vanilla whip and a red raspberry sauce so tart it made my daughter-in-law gasp. Also tea and coffee. 

    And now there’s a remaining feather-spiked hunk of chicken butt (that looks rather like a pineapple) in the fridge, as well as a severed chicken head reclining on a plate, staring at me with its beady little eyes every time I open the door. 

    The end.

    *Other fancy cakes: Game of Thrones Dragon Eggs, Snowboarder Mountain, Snake, The Wood Carver (my niece did much of this one)

    This same time, years previous: red velvet cake, currently, Friday mishmash, the Chicoj coffee cooperative, leap year baby, potatoes and onions.

  • the quotidian (2.27.23)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Note to self: fajita cuts of beef are much better grilled than oven-roasted. Just sayin.

    Raclette cheese, skillet-melted and then poured over roasted potatoes,
    be still my beating heart.

    A thank-you gift.

    Working breakfast: grits and greens, and an iced, brown sugar latte.

    For the homeless shelter: mashed potatoes (plus meatloaf, green beans, corn, and cookies).

    Lunch munch.

    Now working front of house as well as back.

    The goat shed delivery.

    Team Dog.

    Team Pig.

    Preg testing.

    Home blood tests: they’re so new that the vet has never even seen one. (Yay, Emma!)

    This same time, years previous: noticing, perfect pita, the quotidian (2.26.18), the quotidian (2.27.17), old-fashioned molasses cream sandwich cookies, homecoming, my new superpower, the quotidian (2.27.12), what I said.

  • 100% hydration bread

    I’ve got a new bread for you, friends! Introducing 100% hydration bread, otherwise known as pan de cristal, or glass bread.

    I discovered this bread via a video put out by King Arthur Baking Company, and then promptly proceeded to make it four times in less than a week. After the first bake, I had the recipe memorized — and I still do. It’s very, very simple, feels like magic, tastes delicious, and makes everyone extremely happy, and, because I want you to be happy, too, here you go!

    This bread is the perfect weekend side project, something to do when you’re knocking about the house watering plants and paying bills and organizing the shoe shelf and talking on the phone with your mom. In other words, you gotta be home but you don’t need to be fully present.

    And then — and this is the best part — at the end of the day you have fantastic fresh bread to go with that pot of soup you’ve been simmering on the stove, and any leftover bread will make great cheese-and-ham breakfast sandwiches, which are, in case you didn’t already know, the perfect counterpoint to a steaming mug of hot coffee.

    Sold yet? Good.

    Let’s get on with it.

    100% Hydration Bread (Pan de Cristal)
    Adapted from the King Arthur Baking Company.

    500 grams warm water
    500 grams bread flour
    ¾ teaspoon yeast
    2 teaspoons salt
    olive oil, a couple tablespoons

    Measure the water, flour, yeast, and salt into a bowl and stir well. The dough will be the consistency of muffin batter.

    Drizzle some olive oil into at 9×12 pan and smear it all over the bottom and sides. Pour the dough-batter into the pan. Cover with plastic and set the time for 20 minutes. 

    for the folds:
    Bowl Fold (1): When the timer dings, wet your fingers with water and gently lift the edges of the dough up, folding it back over itself to make a squishy dough puddle.

    The dough will be loose, almost impossible to handle. No worries! Set the timer for another 20 minutes.

    Coil Folds (4): When the time timer dings, wet your hands and lift the dough from the middle and then lay it back down, kinda folding it over itself. Turn your hands 90 degrees and repeat the process. Cover and rest for another 20 minutes.

    Do this coil fold three more times, letting the dough rest for 20 minutes between folds; I make tally marks to keep track.

    By the final coil fold, the dough will be satiny-smooth, boingy-firm, and only barely wet.

    1. Oil the underside of the plastic wrap to keep it from sticking to the dough. This won’t fully work, but it will help.
    2. Place the pan of dough in your oven on the “bread proof” setting.

    After the final stretch-and-fold, cover the dough and let it rest for 80 minutes, at which point the dough will have poofed to fill the entire pan.

    to shape the dough:
    Heavily flour your work surface and gently — don’t deflate the dough! — dump out the dough. Flour the dough and cut it into desired shapes: loaves, baguettes, squares, fingers. (Squares are my favorite.)

    Carefully scoop each piece of bread onto a sideless, parchment-lined cookie tray. (If all your trays have sides, flip them upside down.)

    At this point the instructions say to let the bread rest for two hours, uncovered, at room temperature, but I’ve experimented with baking the bread after only a 20-minute rest and couldn’t detect a difference. And when I have let the bread rest the full amount of time, I haven’t noticed the dough changing over the course of those two hours. So do what you will.

    for the bake:
    Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 475 degrees. Use your sideless cookie sheet as a pizza peel to slide the piece of parchment paper with the bread onto the stone. Bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the bread and how dark you want it to be. Repeat with the remaining bread.

    Serve the bread fresh, and store any leftovers in a plastic bag. On Day One, the crust is crispy, almost like a cracker, the inside and soft and airy, and the bread itself feels impossibly light. On Day Two (and beyond), after being stored in a bag, the crust turns soft and chewy, which I love.

    This same time, years previous: perimenopause: Hillary, age 51, baked pasta with harissa bolognese, the quotidian (2.24.20), homemade pasta, steer sitting, doppelganger, lemon cheesecake morning buns, peanut butter and jelly bars, birds and bugs, bandwagons.

  • seven fun things

    I recently ordered this salt spray for my hair.

    It’s pretty much the same as other curl products, just in spray form instead of cream, and does a right noble job of keeping the frizzes down and the curl in. To use, I liberally spray it on my wet, freshly-washed hair and then scrunch. To refresh for days 2, 3 and on, I wet my hair, give it a good finger combing, pump on a couple spritzes, and scrunch again. (The photo below is a shot of the hair on day two, post refresh).

    I was nervous that the salt spray would make my hair clumpy and sticky, and while it does make my hair feel a smidge more crunchy-sticky than my regular curl cream, it’s not enough to keep me from using it. Bonus: it’s only $8, which is considerably cheaper than other curl products. (My older daughter told me some of her friends just use straight up salt water, but I haven’t tried that . . . yet.)


    Are any of you watching Shrinking (Apple TV)? Last weekend I settled in for a long binge only to discover that new episodes are released weekly. Oh well. Guess I have something to look forward to now!


    After years of hearing people rave about it, I finally bought myself a copy of Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski.

    I read the first couple chapters and then ordered three more copies as Valentine’s Day gifts for my three favoritest young women.

    I’m only a third of the way through the book but I can already tell it’s gonna be one of those books that sticks with me for life. 


    I think Yewande Komolafe might be my favorite cook on the NYT Cooking YouTube channel. She’s so understated and chill — and wicked skilled. I am itching to make her Kouign-Amann (above), and am as impressed by her smooth pronunciation of the cake’s name (which I still can’t wrap my mouth around) as I am by the ease with with she makes it.


    My mother sent me the link to this Moth radio episode: The Final Word Is Love. I listened to it by myself, and then again with the rest of the family that evening. It’s a good one, friends. LOVE.


    Last month, one of my girlfriends took a solo trip to Fair Isle, the most geographically remote, inhabited island in the United Kingdom, where she rented a studio apartment and lived, shopped, and made art for several weeks. Fortunately for me — for us! — she documented the trip, and I had a blast following along and keeping my family updated on her adventure (and now I know of one young adult who is making plans to follow in her footsteps).

    dyeing wool to match the colors of Fair Isle
    photo credit: Mavis Butterfield

    She’s back home now, but she filed all the Fair Isle posts on a single page on her blog so you can read through them at your leisure — scroll to the bottom of the page and work your way up. (A solo trip has never really appealed to me, but the older I get less firmly unappealing it sounds. In other words . . . maybe? I’m not sure where I’d want to go, though. Do you harbor any secret fantasies of a solo trip to some exotic, farwary land?)


    And finally, here’s a little pick-me-up girl power badassery for your weekend. Dance it out! 

    This same time, years previous: draft two, the great courses, the quotidian (2.17.20), collard greens, Thursday thoughts, Jonathan’s jerky, the last ten months, the quotidian (2.17.14), buses, boats, and trucks, ginger lemon tea.

  • sex after menopause: Meredith, age 74

    Back when I was posting the perimenopausal interviews, a reader contacted me. “If you want to write about sex in older people, I’d be happy to be interviewed!” 

    Uh . . . yes, please! I don’t hear much (anything?) about sex in older couples (not so much about the actual sex act but rather how physical relationships change as we age). And stories from real people — ordinary, flawed, thoughtful people — are invaluable because it’s through them that I can gain perspective. The more I know what to expect, the better prepared I am to gracefully (I hope!) handle the changes when they happen to me. 

    So thank you, Meredith. Thank you for trusting me with your story and allowing me to share it here. Your openness and vulnerability is an enormous gift. 


    How old were you when you went through menopause? 

    As an older, post menopausal woman, what has surprised you about sex?
    When I was younger, I saw people in their 70’s as really old, so it has surprised me that I don’t “feel” like what I thought 74 would be. In some ways, age really is just a number! On the other hand, my body is a constant reminder that I’m aging. Now, having sex takes more work, but it’s still enjoyable.

    Do you still feel desire?
    Yes. It’s less, but certainly not gone. I look at my 77-year-old husband walking around naked after a shower, smelling of shampoo and soap, and I still want to nuzzle his soft, now wrinkled skin, and have him jump in bed with me! And in those moments, I forget that climaxing takes longer and is more work. 

    What are some of the challenges that complicated sex?
    My husband started experiencing erectile dysfunction in his late 60’s. I wondered if it was about me, which I know is the way partners can think if something is askew. I’d ask him if I was doing all I could, and he’d say it wasn’t my fault at all, but I kept wondering if he was just being nice. Was my crepey skin a turn-off? My soft tummy and saggy breasts? And then when he was diagnosed with circulation issues, I realized it really was physical. We got Cialis, a medication that’s similar to Viagra, but it wasn’t just a simple matter of popping a pill and everything was like it was when we were younger; now making love is less spontaneous. We have to plan for it.

    How do you plan for sex?
    I read an article somewhere about scheduling “sex dates.” While they can be helpful for couples of all ages who need to make an effort to find time for intimacy, they are especially important for those who have to get a little help from drugs like Viagra and Cialis.

    Do you miss the spontaneity? 
    In the car on the way home from visiting friends, I talked to my husband about these interview questions, and he said, “I get a hard-on just talking about this! Let’s stop and find a spot in that cornfield and make mad love.” And then we both were quiet, remembering how BC (before children) we carried a blanket in the car specifically for spontaneous stops in beautiful, secluded places while on road trips. We still have a secret place where we go in the embracing warmth of summer, just a thin blanket between us and the earth, twigs jabbing underneath and swatting at the gnats but surrounded by the grandeur of trees, the filtered sunlight and breeze caressing our septuagenarian bodies. 

    How does sex feel different?
    Just as we were figuring out the right Cialis dose and timing, vaginal sex started to be painful for me. I experimented with various types of lubricants, to no avail. And then an ob/gyn nurse practitioner saved the day when she explained that no amount of lubricant would solve the problem since the vaginal muscles lose elasticity after menopause. As the post-menopausal years of low estrogen pile up, the vagina actually becomes narrower and shorter. Making love regularly can help prevent these changes, she said. But what does “regular” mean? I wondered. How often do I need to have sex in order to counter the effects of these hormonal and vascular changes? Every day? Three times a week? I now think that wasn’t the greatest (or even most accurate) advice. Our bodies age even if we go to the gym every day. 

    Did you ever learn the answer?
    No, but she prescribed Estrace, a hormonal cream, which worked beautifully . . . until I began waking up with the symptoms of morning sickness and my breasts became tender like when I’d been pregnant. So then she wrote a prescription for vaginal capsules called Estriol, a natural hormone, and that worked — kind of. It beautifully softened the vaginal tissues and produced luxurious lubrication, but I also started waking up in the night as if I was in menopause all over again. Agh! Like the balancing act with the dose and timing of Cialis, through trial and error, I eventually kind-of found the right dosage so that I can (mostly) sleep again and make love without pain.  

    That’s wonderful!
    Also, the isolation of COVID was great for our sex lives! We could make love anytime or anywhere in the house without the fear of someone dropping by. We had lots of time, but now that we’re busier again, it takes more effort.

    If you went through menopause at age 50, and you didn’t have vaginal discomfort until age 65-ish, was sex pretty much “as per usual” up until that point? 
    Yes, it was. Of course, there were times when one of us was busy or stressed so we had less sex. We’d comment on it and then jokingly call our talking about it “oral sex.”  We often didn’t have sex every week: it’s the quality of the connection that counts. We like each other, so making love felt natural and right, the icing on the cake. We were fortunate in that neither of us used sex as a weapon and both of us enjoy physical touch.  

    Maybe fortunate isn’t the right word; rather, we made a deliberate choice not to weaponize sex. We chose not to see saying no to each other as rejection, and we regularly worked on our marriage, our communication. We widened our definition of foreplay after we read that foreplay begins right after we make love and extends until we make love again. Picking up the other person’s chores when they’re busy is foreplay. We went to marital therapy two different times over the years, not because we were in crisis, but to prevent one. We have conflicts and fights like any couple, but our counselor told us every marriage has solvable and unsolvable problems. So we chose, and continue to choose, not to let our unsolvable problems define us.

    I’m impressed by your open communication with your husband, and by your tenacity.
    We sometimes look at each other and ask, Is it worth it? Might it be better to gracefully accept that our bodies are aging and let go of the feeling that vaginal sex is the be-all and end-all? Perhaps our bodies are giving us the message that it’s time to focus more on cuddling, words of affirmation, and being together in companionable silence and mindfulness, savoring our memories and the gift of today. Just as retirement made us change our routines, maybe it’s time for a transformation in this area of our lives, too.

    So we decided to try a different approach on our next sex date. We held and massaged each other, and talked. And it was nice. Just, nice. Afterward, we both (independently) decided that wasn’t a go. Even though making love takes more effort and doesn’t end in explosive climaxes like in our younger days, we’re not yet ready for this change. 

    Do you have any good resources to share?
    We found this NYTimes article about Sex After 70 helpful, and the suggestion of sex toys intriguing. So we decided to send for some, which is something we’ve not done before. We’re currently conducting “incognito” research on the internet, not fully trusting but hoping it truly is incognito. We’re both curious about what we’ll choose and what THAT will be like!

    Do you talk with friends about the changes in your sex life as you age? 
    I wish! I’d love to sit down with women my age and have an open talk! I once made a comment to several close friends about needing a new lubricant because sex was becoming painful, and it fell flat. There was a little giggle from one, but then a quick change of subject. I didn’t persist, but I was disappointed. However, writing about this now makes me think that maybe I need a different approach. Like, come up with a few good questions, and send invitations to a few friends for a Women, Wine (or tea), and Sex Talk evening, inviting their questions, too. Then people can self-select. 

    Do you have any advice for younger women?
    Cherish your body, even if it isn’t perfect. Cherish and work on your relationship: there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Find your own rhythm and norms. If your relationship is toxic, go to therapy and you may need to leave. If you’re both happy and content with infrequent sex or a sexless marriage, that’s fine. One size doesn’t fit all. The most important thing isn’t whether you’re having sex at 70, but being alive inside and enjoying the gift and companionship of each other.


    Thank you so much, Meredith!

    This same time, years previous: how to make a menu, how we homeschool: Amber, it gets better, chocolate pudding, Shakespeare in church, the outrageous incident of the Sunday boots, slow thinking.

  • the quotidian (2.13.23)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Leftover oven fries (with lard and mushroom salt) a good breakfast make.

    Upping his latte art, woof.

    Beef curry craving, fixed.

    Dulce de leche cheesecake.

    Apple strudel with einkorn-boosted butter crust.

    Bacon makes everything better.

    The clabber corner.

    Slop bucket, buckled.

    Look, Mom! We match!

    The lengths he goes to stretch out his back.


    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (2.10.20), snake cake, kitchen sink cookies, the quotidian (2.13.17), chasing fog, one-pot macaroni and cheese, colds, busted knees, and snowstorms, how we do things, the quotidian (2.13.12), a roundabout compliment, a meaty lesson.