Most women of my vintage generation grew up when the future plan was to finish high school. Some would go to college, some would become a debutante, those who could type became secretaries. Or a few chosen went into nursing and most of the others leaped to the altar, and babies were next.

Certainly a wedding took place before age 25. Life for women was an equation that had been developed by the experience and environment of the past. Who could argue with the imagined security these plans would offer?

What happened to the dreams that one might have had growing up? A dream of maybe being a pilot, a writer, an artist or traveling to foreign places alone and photographing the world and its creatures. Those dreams usually were put on a shelf until much later or stuffed in a drawer to be forgotten forever.

Much of that was my young adult life. Such things as hair dryers, curling irons, dishwashers and microwaves helped with the process of emancipation, but they were not the final word.

One could eventually put away the iron because of new drip-dry fabrics. Frozen foods helped with time spent preparing meals and band-aiding the budget.

Black-and-white TV relieved the time spent providing family entertainment. Paper products that could be pitched became a much-used household necessity. Children participated in home chores. Some friends even had a regular cleaning lady who came to help.

One invention, however, did it for me: the Crock-Pot. I am known as the Crock-Pot queen. I still have my first one that was made in a round metal style with an enamel lining that could not be removed.

I have several others now in different sizes as well as the newer kind with a bowl that holds the dinner as it cooks then can be brought right to the table when the dinner is finished cooking.

I can leave home for the day, or paint all day in the studio and a tired husband can walk in at dinnertime to fabulous smells wafting from the kitchen.

My trusted Crock-Pot has done what used to take me hours to complete. It has untied me from a very limited space in life. No excuses anymore to limit my explorations and adventures.

Gaye Sanders Fisher is a watercolorist and has a gallery at 124 Church St. She has written and illustrated a self-published book called "Daily, The Gallery Cat."