Department Of No Answers (Yet), Just More Questions



Moiself calls it The Milestone Blues. I spoke with my friend SSB two weeks ago, who seems to have a case of it.

Sometimes the milestones of your life can seem more like millstones around your neck. This can happen even as you try to appreciate the fact that – as SSB reminded himself and moiself after we attended the memorial gathering for Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Hawley (written about here) – others have not had the privilege of living long enough to reflect upon the downsides of growing older.



There have been many revolutions over the last century, but perhaps none as significant as the longevity revolution. We are living on average today 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did — think about that. That’s an entire second adult lifetime that’s been added to our lifespan. And yet, for the most part, our culture has not come to terms with what this means. We’re still living with the old paradigm of age as an arch. That’s the metaphor, the old metaphor. You’re born, you peak at midlife and decline into decrepitude – age as pathology.

But many people today — philosophers, artists, doctors, scientists — are taking a new look at what I call “the third act” — the last three decades of life. They realize that this is actually a developmental stage of life with its own significance, as different from midlife as adolescence is from childhood. And they are asking — we should all be asking: How do we use this time? How do we live it successfully? What is the appropriate new metaphor for aging?
(from Jane Fonda’s TED Talk, “Life’s Third Act,”
which you really should listen to, or at least read the transcript)

What I have personally experienced and/or seen in others, most (but not all) of these milestones have to do with aging. It can seem like a came-out-of-nowhere-surprise when, for example, you find yourself

* turning 60

* retiring from your job of 30 years

* being divorced by your spouse of 25 years

* making funeral plans for your father

* realizing you need to make assisted care plans for your mother

* helping your youngest child leave home/pack for college

* being given a Senior Discount at the movies by the ticket clerk, even though you didn’t ask for it and don’t qualify

* being told you have to start researching Medicare options


Like SSB, when I entered Life’s Third Act,   [1]  questions of What I have I done that “matters”…however you define that? and What can and should matter now? began to occupy an increasing amount of my limited ponderance  [2]  capacity.  

We Thespians of Life, waiting in the wings for the curtain to rise on Act 3,   [3]  find ourselves wondering, What am I going to do with…

* with our lives

* our “free” free time

* the widower across the street who keeps asking if we’ll invite him to our house when our husband is gone and show him our casserole collection

* those annoying As We Change catalogs that seem to have spontaneously generated overnight in our mailboxes

* those pesky hairs – in the middle of our noses or tips of our earlobes – which keep growing, as if overnight, no matter how many times we pluck them…


Something that takes so many years to accumulate – the dilemma of reconciling, or even recognizing, the actions and feelings of a lifetime – doesn’t resolve itself overnight…nor even over a few months.

These issues can be especially vexing for those of us who’ve spent the majority of our professional lives in certain notoriously low- (or no-) paying fields; e.g., the arts; social service/public advocacy; child-reading and home management….

“…. I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities….the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.”
–Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft

“The rapidly evolving global economy demands a dynamic and creative workforce…. The strength of every democracy is measured by its commitment to the arts.”
Charles Segars, CEO of Ovation

Children are not a distraction from more important work;
they are the most important work
(a quote often -and falsely – attributed to C.S. Lewis; actual author Dr. John Trainer)

The importance of moms and dads… in raising the next generation,
cannot be overstated. The future of humanity depends
on the how well (parents) do….
(opening remarks of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, in his speech to The United Nations,
marking Global Day of Parents, June 1, 2018.  Of course, the Archbishop himself
has no children – that we know about – nor has ever advocated for remunerations
to those who take on this work upon which the future of humanity depends.)

 Our society depends on those of us who labor in these low/no-paying fields, yet pays only lip service regarding their value (have you tried redeeming lip service at the bank or grocery store?).  Thus, the spouses of us low/no-pay fielders have shouldered our household’s main financial responsibility…thus also have reaped the resulting rewards, including credits toward Social Security and pension benefits, workplace connections and credibility, career experience and job continuity and keeping up-to-date technological skills and social status….

no one says it better than The Oatmeal



Wish I had more words of wisdom. Y’all listen to Jane’s TED talk and tell me your solutions, okay?


*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman


* Roast Pepper Spread with Walnuts and Garlic (Middle East)
* Eggplant “Caviar” (France)
* Channa Crunchy Chickpeas (Caribbean)

My ratings:

* for roast pepper spread


For Eggplant caviar and chickpeas dishes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼


Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]    


*   *   *

Bonus Epicurean Excursion – an original recipe:
 (This is from one night last summer when I felt like having Indian-spiced food,
and wanted to use up tomatoes and kohlrabi from my produce CSA farm share.
I named the recipe for my father, whose nickname for me was Robbie-Doll)

Rabi-Dal (serves 4)
– 1/2 t each brown mustard seeds and cumin seeds
-1T neutral oil or ghee
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 2 minced garlic cloves – minced
– ½ T minced ginger root
– 1 large green jalapeno (fresh or pickled), finely chopped
– 1 ½  T pomegranate molasses (or tamarind paste –  you want a tart tangy taste)
– 1 packed t dark brown or coconut sugar
– scant 1 t chili powder (New Mexico, if possible)
– 1/4 t turmeric
– ½ c masoor dal (red lentils), sorted and washed
– 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or canned, to equal ~ 6 oz)
-3-4 med-large kohlrabi (~675 gm – 1 ½ lb) – peeled & diced small
– kosher salt to taste
-chopped fresh cilantro
-Drained unsweetened soy yogurt to equal 1 c mixed w/2T fresh lime (or lemon) juice

-Heat 1 T neutral oil or ghee in a Dutch oven or other high-sided pan. Add the seeds; sauté until the seeds pop, then add the onions and sauté 5m.

-Add garlic & jalapeno & ginger, sauté until fragrant (30 sec – 1m).  Add remaining spices (molasses; sugar; turmeric; chili powder), stir for 15 sec.

-add dal, sauté 1-2 m stirring, until it is covered w/oil & spices

-Add tomatoes and 1 ¾ c water, bring to boil then cover & simmer 20 m. Meanwhile prep kohlrabi: steam or nuke 5-6 m until tender.

-Add steamed kohlrabi to pan, simmer uncovered for ~ 10 m or until lentils are cooked through and sauce thickens, adding more water if necessary for desired consistency. Add salt to taste .

-Serve, over or along side basmati rice (brown or white),
topped with dollops of lime/yogurt sauce and sprinkled w/chopped cilantro.


You really need to cook more with kohlrabi. What’s not to love about a veggie that resembles a satellite?


*   *   *

May you weather your own milestone blues;
May you remember that nearly everyone gets to audition for Act 3;
May you discover how almost everything goes better with kohlrabi;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *


[1] Famously defined by Jane Fonda in a TED talk, Act 3 or Life’s Third Act refers to the last three decades of life.

[2] Yeah, it’s a word…at least in my blog…so fuck off, spellcheck.

[3] I think this is the first (and hopefully last) theater metaphor moiself has used in this blog.

[4] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.


* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin (a character from The Office, who would eat anything) would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.