The Cookie Crumbles

Many, many years ago — when dinosaurs walked the earth — I worked hard for a living. I had just started working at the place where I was to spend my next 20 years, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was talking to the woman who was the Human Resources Manager and who had interviewed and hired me. We were lamenting about the difficulties of working full time while being a single parent.

“You know the thing that makes me the saddest?” I asked her. “My son doesn’t get homemade cookies when he comes home from school.”

“Will he only eat homemade cookies?” she asked me.

The answer was no. He would of course eat any cookie that was placed in front of him, and I told her so.

“Then why are you worrying about the fact that he doesn’t have homemade cookies?” she said.

I hate when people are logical.

When I was growing up, the family of one of my best friends had a housekeeper named Rosie. Among all of the things that Rosie did for this family that included seven children was cookie-baking. They had a cookie jar in their kitchen that was always — ALWAYS — full of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I literally never remember the jar being empty, nor do I remember any other kind of cookies. I vowed then and there that when I had my own home, I too would have a cookie jar that was eternally full.

Didn’t happen. Well, that’s not actually true. I have a cookie jar that is always full of cookies, but the cookies are always Oreos. That’s because Bill loves Oreos. And as it turns out, so do all of my grandkids. It’s true that if he can get away with it, Cole will only eat the inside of the Oreo and discard the cookie part somewhere where he doesn’t think I’ll find it. I always do. Well, I think I always do.

I have tried making cookies for my grandkids, but the truth is that they prefer Oreos. I’m not sure why, though I suspect that it’s because Oreos are overly sugary, have a delicious artificial chocolaty taste and are full of yummy chemicals. One visit from any of the grands, and I need to go out the next day and buy a new package. Don’t tell their parents. As it happens, even my grands who live far away in Vermont have an Oreo connection, thanks to an afghan I made for Joseph a few years ago….

I like to bake cookies, but I don’t do it often because neither Bill nor I need to snack on homemade cookies. I can resist the Oreos, but a fresh chocolate chip cookie, not so much.

The other day I got a text from Court. Would you like to bake some cookies for a bake sale for Kaiya’s school? It is to raise money for a camp she will be going to. I was thinking snickerdoodles.

I certainly didn’t say no to making cookies, and though snickerdoodles are a bit more time consuming than chocolate chip, I was perfectly willing to make them. I recalled that snickerdoodles happened — just happened — to be Court’s favorite cookie when he was a kid. I’m SURE that wasn’t why he suggested them.

So I spent yesterday afternoon baking cookies…..

and bagging them to look pretty…..

I wonder if we could just cut out the middle man and Court could just donate the money to the school directly? Maybe write the check while he’s dunking the snickerdoodle in the coffee cup.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go

Finally, after literally hours of training, multiple doctor visits (including two cardio specialists), and so much time spent with our visiting nurse that I think I might have to include her on my Christmas gift list, Bill is ALL PUMPED UP.

Yesterday morning, we got up very early to get ready for our appointment. I’m not sure either of us slept too soundly, because the anticipation felt like a rock in one of our shoes. We didn’t want to be late (though when one routinely awakens at 5 o’clock as I do, being late for an 8:45 am appointment is unlikely).

We walked into the doctor’s office at about 8:30, and walked out with dazed looks on our faces at 12:30. Three-and-a-half hours of us (mostly Bill) answering questions about his symptoms, his on-and-off times, his sleeping and eating habits, and whether he entertains thoughts of suicide (a clinical trial deal breaker), and a half hour of the research manager watching us connect Bill to his new BFF — The Pump.

Seeings as it’s a clinical trial, it is essential that everybody in the study do everything exactly the same way. To that end, every time we’ve practiced, one of us had to read the instructions verbatim from the instruction booklet while the other followed the instructions. We have gone through the steps probably a dozen times, but always on an artificial stomach. Yesterday, it was the real McCoy.

Not shockingly, Bill requested that I read while he actually inserted the needles himself. He is a fearless warrior, and I was happy to oblige. I read the instructions as I had done many times before. As I read, he inspected the pump. He got the medication into the syringe. He prepared the cannula inserter. However, this time when it got to the point where the instructions said Hold the inserter by the base; slide the safety catch to unlock position; press the release button, I started to cry. I didn’t tear up. I didn’t sniffle a little bit. I started to cry to the point that I could no longer read. I was simply so sad that this man whom I love so much had to get hurt and I could do absolutely nothing about it. I felt the same as when I used to take Court in to get his vaccines, though I’m pretty sure I didn’t cry in those days. And here’s the thing: By this point, Bill had already pressed the release button and was looking at me like I was completely nuts.

“I barely felt a thing,” he told me reassuringly. “It really didn’t hurt.”And the research manager was thinking, I don’t get paid enough to work with nut jobs.

Bill then placed the pump into the conceal-carry holster which is what he has decided will be the carrying case for his pump. I’d say he reminds me of Wyatt Earp except that you really can’t see it at all. See what I mean?….

And it’s handy because if he ever decides he wants to pack heat, he can do it at the same time! After all, we live in the Wild, Wild West.

What Bill is carrying in the photo, by the way, is what we will use to haul our supplies…..

You can see the month’s worth of medication, minus yesterday’s first two vials.

And what does one do after four hours in a doctor’s office and the insertion of two needles into one’s belly?…..

…..Yep. Enjoy a burger and an adult beverage to celebrate the beginning of a new journey.

Wedded Bliss

One day, a few years ago, Bill and I drove over to Dave and Jll’s house, where they were hosting the family for dinner. We pulled up, and Dagny came hurrying out of the house with a smile on her face.

“Uncle Allen is coming for dinner, and he’s bringing a GIIIIIIRL,” she said, grinning widely.

“He’s WHAT?” Bill and I exclaimed. There was good reason to be surprised. It had been quite some time since Allen — Bill’s eldest child — had brought a giiiiiiirl to meet the family. None of us presumed that he didn’t date; we just all knew that he was very private. For him to bring someone to meet the Fam, it must be serious.

Emma — the giiiiiiirl — is French. Not simply of French descent; she was born and grew up in Paris, an only child. She came to the United States a year or so previously as part of a relationship that didn’t work out in the end.

Allen spent four years traveling around Europe after he graduated from college. He knows a number of foreign languages, but French is definitely the one which with he is most comfortable. He has worked diligently to stay fluent, and for that reason, he was a member of a French Club. It was in this club where he met Emma, who was there to learn English. Do-si-do.

The weeks, months, and years went by, and Emma became like a part of our family. We learned that she is a lovely woman, who, despite being an only child, seemed extraordinarily comfortable with the pandemonium that can be us. She is funny, and smart, and oh-so-lovely. She has taught all of us hillbillies to greet one another in the French way — a kiss on both cheeks. We quickly learned to love her very much, and all secretly kept our fingers crossed that this would be THE ONE for Allen.

A few weeks ago, Allen sent us all a text message. Would you guys be available on September 9 for a party? Emma’s parents will be in town and we’re looking to have a garden party at the studio.

Dum-dum-duuuuuuuum! We simply knew this was it. They were going to announce that they were getting married. We were all certain of it. Well, except for Bill, who — being male — simply thought it was a garden party in honor of Emma’s parents. As if Allen has garden parties all the time.

I will make a long story, well, at least shorter by telling you that a week or so ago, Allen and Emma announced to us NOT that they were getting married, but that they had, in fact ALREADY GOTTEN married. After our initial shock, we couldn’t have been happier. After all, it is Allen we’re talking about. For us to expect a traditional wedding was unrealistic. And see above. We love Emma.

Yesterday evening we did, in fact, go to a garden party at the Skytheory Studio, where we celebrated the marriage of Allen McLain and Emma Glass, along with her parents who are visiting from Paris. They had guessed the truth long before we did, and traveled all the way from Paris, France, to see the truth for themselves.

Emma and her mother and father, who came from Paris for the special celebration.

Allen and Emma, with his sister and brother, Heather and Dave.

The proud father poses with his son and new daughter-in-law.

Getting ready for the celebration.

Allen and Emma, with their nieces and nephews.

May they live happily ever after…..

Saturday Smile: He Man-Flashback

When my son Court was little, he loved All Things He-Man. He watched the cartoon religiously. He collected the little plastic figures. If he wasn’t playing with them, he still carried them around in his little hand. So when this appeared on my Facebook feed the other day (thank you Cousin Stephanie), I watched it, and being so familiar with He-Man, and a fan of Dirty Dancing, I seriously laughed out loud…..

It’s a He-Man thing. And a Dirty Dancing thing. Tip of the hat to the 80s.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Summer Wives

It’s 1951, and young Miranda Schuyler joins her mother on Winthrop Island. She is still reeling from the death of her beloved father in World War II. Her mother is finally beginning a new life by marrying one of the wealthy summer inhabitants of the island, Hugh Fisher, and everyone should be happy.

Shortly after her arrival, Miranda witnesses a young lobsterman diving from his boat to save another fisherman who has been knocked into the water. She runs to help and is immediately attracted to the young lobsterman, Joseph.

It isn’t long, however, before Miranda realizes that though the island’s inhabitants appear to get along, there is an invisible dividing line between the full-time residents and the rich summer residents. Furthermore, there is hanky-panky afoot; hence, the novel’s title: The Summer Wives.

Miranda returns to the island in 1969, and readers learn that much has happened in the interim, including Joseph being put in prison for murdering Miranda’s stepfather Hugh. But now Joseph has escaped and Miranda is suspected of hiding him.

In author Beatriz Williams’ typical style, the story is told from different perspectives and  even from different years. The story flows, however, despite the different viewpoints.

The author has made a career out of books featuring different members of the Schuyler family. It is even possible to obtain a family tree of the Schuyler clan.

The Summer Wives is one of my favorite books from this author.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

This Pear is No Bluff
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we have a pear tree in our back yard that has been fruitful this season……

So I am trying to come up with all sorts of ways to use pears. The other day I made a pear-caramel upside down cake that turned out perfectly. I sent Jll a text saying that if anyone would like to come over after dinner for dessert, they were welcome. No response, but around 5:30 the kids began trailing in. First came Maggie Faith on her bicycle. A short time later, I heard the front door open and Alastair walked in with a big smile on his face. I hear there’s pear cake, he said. Next came Addie and Dagny. I asked Addie to serve it up, and before I could say a partridge in a pear tree, the cake was served and eaten, and the kids were gone. Can you blame them?….

Well, actually, Maggie and Dagny stayed to watch an episode of Death in Paradise on Netflix, a mystery show on which I have gotten them hooked.

One More Pear
There were a couple of pieces left from the pear cake, and I removed them from the cake plate and put them on a small paper plate so that Bill and I could enjoy them for dessert the next day. I had a meeting that night, and when I got home, I noticed that Bill had eaten both pieces. “You ate my piece too?” I asked him crabbily. “Well, since they were on one plate, I thought you wanted me to have them both.” I’m not certain of the logic there, which seems somewhat flawed, though genuine. So the next day I made baked pears with brown sugar and cinnamon…..

…..and told him to make sure he left me one!

Bob’s Your Uncle
I’ve mentioned that Pinterest gets an idea on her own in what she thinks I might be interested. For a while it was chicken coops. Lately, however, she has been sending me suggestions for haircuts — specifically, angled bobs…..

Now don’t get me wrong. I happen to think think angled bobs are absolutely adorable. Still, how Pinterest thinks I can go from this…..

… an angled bob is a mystery. By the way, the other thing she has been sending me is information on something called “puffy paint.” I have no idea what that is, or why Pinterest thinks I am interested in knowing how to create it. Bill and I have been talking about hiring a painter to paint our upstairs once the windows are finished. Since we all know that Google, Facetime, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all eavesdrop, that might explain the puffy paint posts. But I am NOT putting puffy paint on my bedroom walls.

You’re Beautiful
Bill and I were grown ups again last night. We went to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I loved — LOVED — Carole King when I was in high school and college. It was all I could do last night to refrain from singing. The woman behind me wasn’t as successful as I. Just sayin’…..


Spaghetti All Around

There was a period in my life when our family was fairly spread out.  Bec and Terry and their kids lived in Oklahoma or Alabama or northern Virginia or even — for heaven’s sake! — Germany. Dave and his brood lived (and still do) in Arizona. Jen and her family lived in Fort Collins (where she still lives), Court and I lived in Denver, and Mom and Dad lived up in the mountains in Summit County. The family has always gathered together as often as possible, but obviously it wasn’t always easy for Bec and Dave to travel to Colorado.

Still, on a fairly regular basis, those of us who lived in Colorado would meet in a central location. We spent weekends in Golden at the Holidome. We would meet in Estes Park. But one of our favorite spots to meet — especially when the kids were small — was the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Denver. 

We liked it because it was reasonably priced, the kids were welcomed, and the food was predicable and good. Mom, in particular, loved the Old Spaghetti Factory. We met, of course, in the days before cell phones. It was always busy, and whoever got there first would put in our names. When we walked in the door, we never knew who was there or if we were the first ones because see above. No cell phones. We always had to wait in the bar. Maybe a glass of wine for the grown ups and a pop for the kids. If we could sit right at the bar, that was even better…..

The building is historic — the old Cable Building. Inside are room after room full of tables. But if you were really lucky, you got to sit inside the caboose which had its own tables. We lucked out a number of times.

Jen called me up a few weeks ago. Did you know the Spaghetti Factory is closing down for good, she asked me. Mom would be so sad, we both decided. We also decided that one last trip to the Spaghetti Factory in honor of Mom was in order. We did so this past Sunday evening.

I was certain no one would be there. If they had a lot of customers, they wouldn’t be closing down, I theorized.

I was wrong:

Welcome to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Your wait will be two-and-a-half hours.

Luckily, we arrived at 5:30. To kill time, we walked to nearby Larimer Square and had a drink at Capital Grille. After all, we had two-and-a-half hours to kill. Except we didn’t, because around 7, my cell phone dinked. Your table is ready.

You have never seen three people walk quite so fast. We made it there in about five minutes and none of us had a heart attack. Nevertheless, our table was gone. So we did what we had done many times in the past: we went to the bar to wait for a table…..

Our wait wasn’t long as the staff was nice enough to put us at the top of the list. We soon were sitting at our table eating the familiar food…..

As we ate, we reminisced about all of the times we had sat in this same room with Mom and Dad. I also remembered a time — years ago — when Bill and I came to the Spaghetti Factory with some of our kids and grandkids…..

Jen and I took a minute to sit on the old red sofa where we had spent many nights waiting for a table…..

I’m not sure why the restaurant is closing. Perhaps the valuable real estate will be put to a more lucrative use. Time moves on, and for us, a memorable monument is vanishing.

And never mind that there is apparently another Spaghetti Factory in one of the northern suburbs. It won’t ever be the same, because it was never about the food. It was about the family.

Thanks for all the memories…..