The pursuit of perfection has been a ‘hobby’ of mine for as long as I can remember. Former work colleagues will acknowledge this with a knowing smile; my work ethic and high standards were well-known. Family and friends will also recognize this trait, as applied to topics as various as gardening, Halloween costumes, board games, cross-stitch projects and cooking.
With Number One Son (#1S), this characteristic evolved into a family joke that came to be called “Letting Go of the Bay Leaf.” During his high school years, I was looking for a way to spend time with him, and we agreed that we would cook one meal together each week. We used the Web to choose a recipe, and then engaged Spousal Unit to buy the necessary ingredients.
As many of you know, bay leaves are a common ingredient in numerous dishes. Inevitably, the recipe will instruct you to remove the bay leaves after the dish is cooked.*** This led to quite some discussion – do the bay leaves really add that much flavor that it is worth the aggravation of the ‘seek and remove’ routine? Why add them at all? I argued that anything listed in the recipe should be included – the recipe was my definition of perfection, and anything less than that would not do! Over time, I learned that it WAS possible to exclude the bay leaves and still have a perfectly delicious result. (It helped that Spousal Unit refused to buy bay leaves.) From that point forward, #1S would encourage me to ‘let go of the bay leaf’ in other situations when perhaps perfection was not required.
So, when it came time to choose a name for my blog, #1S immediately suggested “Letting Go of the Bay Leaf”. I did consider other options. Good friends proposed numerous ideas, all relating to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (Honey Jack) – inspiration might have come from a bottle! At a family breakfast, Spousal Unit offered “Wandering Aimlessly” and “Skidding in Broadside”, both of which have strong family meaning. On vacations, I usually had the map and ensured that we covered an area completely, whether it was Walt Disney World or a cute village. No wandering aimlessly for us! Skidding in Broadside is derived from a Hunter Thompson quote, which has been our family motto for almost 10 years. My test blog was called Toes in the Water, partly a metaphor for dipping my toes in the waters of retirement, and partly a reference to the Zac Brown song. Ultimately, I felt Letting Go of the Bay Leaf was the most apt description of how I want to approach my retirement years, so here we are!
So, how is it going, this pursuit of a more relaxed state of being? For the most part, it has been a seamless transition and every day is a new adventure. At the same time, there have been adjustments. In running a household, there is ‘work’ to be done, and we are figuring out the proper balance of ‘fun’ and ‘work’. There has been some re-negotiating of who does which tasks and when. Spousal Unit had managed the family as a stay-at-home Dad for 15 years, and now I was ‘intruding’ on his schedule and way of doing things. We’ve had to consider how to decide when something is a priority – when you have a lot of time on your hands, it can seem like nothing is a high priority. For many years, we have had limited time together, and now we are together almost 24 hours of every day. Is it OK if we want to have time to ourselves to go fishing (Spousal Unit) or to blog (me)? As in most situations, the key has been communication; I am grateful that we came into retirement with a firm foundation of trust and open communication. And above all, I just ask myself – should I be letting go of this ‘bay leaf’?
*** Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous. This is not true — bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect. However, they remain unpleasantly stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces, they may pose a risk of harming the digestive tract or causing choking. There have been cases of intestinal perforations caused by swallowing bay leaves, so unless the leaves in the recipe have been ground they should be removed from the food before serving; otherwise the risk of a surgical emergency remain. Thus, most recipes that use bay leaves will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished.
Linking to Mosaic Monday
Love the name you have given your blog and the meaning behind it. I continue to enjoy your advetures, while I sip my Honey Jack :-)ReplyDelete
You won't believe it, but your bottle of Honey Jack is almost gone. That means you have to come out and bring us another one!Delete
Very interesting how your blog name came about. I'm with your husband, I never buy or add bay leaf to anything. I used to many years ago, but now I add spices I think will work and never ever follow any recipe to a tee. I just use what I've got and make it work to my liking. I always had a very strong work ethic, but now that I'm at home, I just do whatever, whenever and don't get caught up in feeling like I have to do certain things at certain times. I'm just enjoying the moments rather than rushing towards anything.ReplyDelete
You are my model! I am "working" hard on changing my old habits - I am sure I will get there eventually!Delete
Fun story! I leave my bay leaves in!!! :)ReplyDelete
OK - so far the "votes" are half for leaving in and half for leaving out!Delete
That was a fun read! While I understand and appreciate the metaphor my thing is to just leave the bay leaves in the stew and tell whoever finds it that they've won a prize (like the tiny baby dolls in a Louisiana King Cake). But of course either one could kill you if you're not careful. Maybe that should be my motto ;>). I know you'll love retirement and find as much happiness in this chapter of your life as we have (and at this point, this chapter in ours has become quite long!) ... it does take some work and adjustment but it is so worth it and so much fun!!!ReplyDelete
Sallie - thanks for the feedback! I'll keep your idea in mind. If you have any retirement tips, let me know! I am always curious to get insight from those who have gone before!Delete
Dearest Angie; Oh My! For a person whose mother tongue is not English, a bit challenge to read and I've never tasted 'bay leaves' p:-) Well, I'm SO interested in the part or the word "Spousal Unit". My husband retired 7 years ago, since then I reduced the number of the students I teach English at home.ReplyDelete
Some years before his retirement, luckily he got two hobbies ( playing saxophone and making Soba noodle). Despite my concern, we have been doing well with our life together (helping each other). I really appreciate him his understanding for my writing blog and taking me places (no driver's licence) and I could go through my hard times (when I lost my side of family members) with his help. He handled all the Public Proceedings for me. Haha, what I meant was; we both have hobby and appreciation each other.
Hoping for your happy future life style♫♫♫
Thank you so much for your sweet comment.
Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan to my Dear friend, xoxo Miyako*
Miyako - for someone whose mother tongue is not English, you certainly understood my post in a deep way. I am so pleased that you and your husband have adapted well to his retirement. I look forward to getting to know you better through the world of our blogs. Love and hugs from Montana!Delete
What a great post! For a start 'wandering aimlessly' I'm glad you didn't choose that name as that could be my next blog haha! We are both at stages of transition in our lives, I get where you are coming from. I love, love, love the bayleaf!ReplyDelete
Best of luck with it all!
Wren - I love calling you 'Wren' - it conjures up such a feeling of cuddly softness.Delete
With your 'vote', it definitely seems that most readers like using bay leaves ....
Angie, Congrats on retirement. I enjoyed the naming of the blog story. Have a great week. Sylvia D.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sylvia. When I was writing the post, I wondered if it was a topic that some might consider too intimate for a blog, but the feedback has been very positive. I appreciate you visiting my blog!Delete
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, Angie it's nice to meet you and hear the great story of how your blog came to be. Quite a few of the MM crowd are retired like you, myself included. I look forward to hearing your stories as you start to say farewell to that aromatic leaf.ReplyDelete
Thank you Maggie - and thanks for hosting Mosaic Monday - I am meeting so many wonderful people!ReplyDelete
Enjoyed reading the etymology of your intriguing name of your blog! We Greeks use bay leaves in so many of our dishes, and although I am aware of its life threatening trait, I have to admit, I leave the bay leaf in because I believe its aromatic attributes continue to linger in the food.
Lovely to meet you and wishing you a great start to your retirement!
Poppy - we have been to Zakynthos and found Greece to be a beautiful and very friendly place. I am so glad that someone from Greece is sharing in my blog journey! Glad to make your acquaintance!Delete
My mother used to use Bay leaves in her Italian dishes and I always enjoyed the flavor, but for some reason I never have used them. The other day I purchased two Schip Laurel shrubs for our garden and I can't wait to see how large they grow. they are already right at 6' and I am thinking another two feet to their full height. Thank you so much for your recent visit. Happy weekend~ReplyDelete
Mary - you have brought a little more balance to the voting to use/not use bay leaves! I would love to see a picture of your Laurel shrubs - they sound fabulous!Delete
Love the name - and the reason for your blog. Looks like an interesting time for all. I retired some years ago - after being downsized to one day a week I was then downsized right out of my job at age 62 and decided that I'd had enough and took up retirement as my "full time job" - and I've loved every minute of it. My husband is 72 and still works full time at a job he loves (he works with developmentally challenged adults in the job market) and doesn't ever want to retire. We've just spent 10 days together 24/7 as he was recovering from a very successful surgery that is making a big difference in his life - but those 10 days did show us that he really needs to keep working - it is his main "hobby" as well as his job - and though we have a grand time together, it is nice for him to have his work to go to. We both have interests outside of our together time and I think it is good for couples to have their own space - fishing, or blogging, or sewing, or crocheting, or painting - or just spending time in the garden peacefully from time to time. I'm looking forward to following your adventures - where ever they may lead you.ReplyDelete
JoAnn - I loved your story - laugh out loud funny. I shared it with my Spousal Unit and we can really relate. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to getting to know you better!ReplyDelete
I can relate to the desire to do it right, and the equal desire to have fun doing it. LeeAnnaReplyDelete