Tag Archives: vanilla

The Luxury of Choice

“Everyone has choices to make; no one has the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love..”  Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely? (Daily Prompt: 32 Flavors)  Yay, an ice cream question!  But it could just as easily be saying – Black or White, Right or Wrong, or a million shades of grey?

I am thirty-two flavors and then some
I am thirty-two flavors and then some (Photo credit: harry harris)

The minute we open our eyes in the morning we’re faced with choices – simple, complicated, life defining, meaningless.  Sometimes we think we don’t have a choice, but that just means we’ve already made up our mind about whatever it is.  And that’s our choice.  Other times the shere number of choices available is overwhelming and paralysing, so we cross our fingers, close our eyes and point, hoping for the best.

On the grand decision-making scale, which starts at wishy-washy and goes all the way to carved in stone, I like to think of myself as being somewhere in the middle with a fair and open mind.  (Hey, it’s my choice to believe whatever I want about myself, even if I’m wrong,  right?)  But I do think it’s important to listen to more than one side of a story, to consider sources, and to respect the choices that other people make.  None of us that I know of has reached the point in life where there is nothing left for us to learn.

I once read off all the flavours listed on the board at a Baskin-Robbins store at the request of my then five year old daughter so that she could decide what kind she wanted.    I thought she might choose oreo cookies and cream, pink bubblegum, rainbow, strawberry shortcake or cotton candy.  She was a little girl in love with hot pink, lime green, every shade of purple, and eating drink crystals directly from the package.  But what do mothers really know?  Not everything, that’s for sure.  Except it’s a given that their kids will constantly surprise them.  When I finished reading the long list I was prepared to make a shorter one to help her decide, but she only needed to hear it once.  I’ll just have vanilla, she told me.  (Really?  That’s the perfectly white ice cream with nothing in it, you know.)  I know, that’s the one I want.  And so that’s the one she got.

Baskin-Robbins Baseball Nut Ice Cream
Baskin-Robbins Baseball Nut Ice Cream

I suspect it was the one she knew she would be getting in the first place, and the recital of the ice cream flavour list was merely to satisfy her curiosity as to what else was out there.   Or purely to make her mother do something time-consuming and ultimately useless in the name of love.  Now she’s much more an adult of the “something else entirely” genre.  But still making her own informed choices and living with them.  It’s all any of us really want for ourselves.  My own ice cream choice has always been boringly predictable – chocolate in some form or other;  fudge brownie, jamoca almond fudge, tin roof, rocky road.   It’s lovely to have some chocolate choices, but it’s all still chocolate at the end of the day.

What a luxury it is for us, to live in a world where there are so many choices and where we are free to do what we want to do, and be who we want to be.  Even when there are limits imposed, no one can tell us how we must react, or make us feel any way other than how we ultimately choose to feel.  Maybe one of these days I’ll go way out on a limb and try baseball nut. or lemon custard.  Or maybe  I won’t.  It’s my choice.  And how wonderful it is to be able to make it.

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The Story Behind Vanilla Grapefruit

The REAL title is G is for Grapefruit, but nobody would get sucked in and excited about that so I spiced it up a little.  Somewhere I read if there’s no “hook” right at the beginning of a story you might as well stop right there and type a letter to your grandmother instead.

Grapefruit is always sour and usually bitter, but has a lot going for it otherwise.  It’s an oblate spheroid for one thing.  I bet you were thinking it’s merely big and round.  The only way this fruit even vaguely resembles a grape is when seen from a great distance growing in grape-like clusters on trees.

Can you imagine buying a cluster of grapefruit?  That would be a lifetime supply for most of us.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a real live fresh one.  However, it’s managed to infiltrate my cosmetics and personal hygiene products in a big way.  Along with other fruits and spices and flavors.

Everything I know about marketing is from a consumer’s point of view, but I’d say they’re on to something when it comes to naming products which people like me find hard to resist.  I have vanilla/grapefruit, honey/apple and cocoa/shea butter lotions.  Nectarine/white ginger,  grapefruit/lemon grass and plum/sukura blossom deodorants.  Cherry blossom/ginseng, apricot/almond and tropical coconut/lime shampoos.  Pomegranate and guava and cranberry – I’ve worn them all.

I’m a great advertising target because obviously I’ll buy anything if it promises to smell weird.  Don’t even get me started on body washes, soaps, lip gloss and candles.  (I’d like to wrap this thing up before midnight.)  The thing about grapefruit is that it goes with just about anything.  It’s been described as zesty, energizing, uplifting, invigorating, crisp, kissed by sunshine, romantic, and refreshing,

Yeah, I know, romantic is a stretch – soft music, sparkling wine, grapefruit and candle light.  But who paired it up with vanilla and made that work?  Or gin, or jicama or mint?  Maybe the same people who mixed it up with orange juice to make it palatable.  Or with quinoa to make me gag.

My title was not just a hook, it was also misleading.  Because the truth is, I DON’T KNOW the story behind vanilla grapefruit.  I googled it and came up with some less than helpful information about Crown Royal Whisky – butterscotch, vanilla, grapefruit pith, simmering spices, and dusty rye.  Whoa.  They should make a body wash out of that.  I’d buy it.

Sounds and Smells and Buttons

She is awake, but not yet ready to open her eyes. She hears the magpies on the back lawn where they often choose to have their morning arguments; complaining, scolding, squawking, and then flapping off in mad little bird snits.

She takes a deep breath of the fresh fall air, and detects just the smallest hint of wood smoke, all that remains of last night’s fire pit party next door. No echoes this morning of the teenage shouts and laughter. She imagines all of them blissfully sleeping in.

The clock radio buzzes and blasts out a bar or two of some inane music she can’t identify because her hand is so quick to reach up and silence it. There are more buttons to push, so she rolls out of bed. Computer button, coffee pot button, light switches, button to pull out to turn the shower on.

The shampoo smells like apples, the body wash like cranberries and the bar of soap like peaches. Then she spritzes the tub and tiles with something that smells like oranges. Thank God the coffee still smells like coffee.

There are still more morning buttons to push – the one on her electric toothbrush, the one on her blow dryer, the button on the garage door opener, and the one she can press to start her car if the mood strikes her.

Her hand soap has some kind of yogurt name and comes out foamy from a pump. It smells like summer. Her perfume smells like spider webs when she first puts it on. She knows this is a ridiculous thing to think, but there the thought is anyway. The scent mellows in a minute or two to something like a red door in the sunshine.

Her life is a strange parade of sounds and smells and buttons, she thinks. From habit she has been relatively quiet getting ready, although her husband is out of town for several more days, and she could have been singing at the top of her lungs and dancing on the table if she wanted to. Best not to get into that habit she supposes. Time to leave for work. No button to beam her there and back. But it’s Saturday, and there won’t be much traffic. She can breathe in the vanilla scent of her car deodorizer and push the buttons on the radio. Woot. And all day long she will have in the back of her mind that the next three days she is off.

She thinks it would have been really funny if the Plinky prompt for today had asked her to describe her life using nothing but sounds and smells and buttons. Of course it doesn’t do that, but she decides she will write about those weird things anyway.

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