Oddments

In search of story


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Fourth of July, 2019

 

All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian. 

—- Pat Paulson, presidential candidate, Smothers Brothers Party, neither right wing nor left wing but, as he said, middle of the bird, in the hallowed ’60s.

 

Happy Birthday, America!

We salute imperfect you!

Blessings on your Ship of State

from your ever motley crew!

 


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April 28.19

The news makes me rabid. The endless rain makes me squishy in the head. Aging plagues me. And to make the world an even drearier place, our excellent local art supply store has been bought out and now closed by Michael’s. Another valued small business pulverized.

I dwell in the doldrums. My only hope is cookies. There is no other way to find good in the world.

In my childhood I learned about the good in cookies. Mom and Grandma O’Hern were cookie-bakers. Not that they didn’t bake other things, but they were believers in cookies, and thank goodness. A cookie fits in your hand so much more easily than a piece of pie or cake (though it’s quite possible to eat either from the hand if you aren’t too fussy).

Besides, there was “Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land,” one of my all-time favorite stories. Cookies that walked and talked and lived in a cookie house? You’d think such things would keep me from ever eating another cookie, but it didn’t work like that. It just added to the magic of cookies.

Maybe you also, dear reader, are driven to the doldrums by the news and by trying to deal with losses and worries in your own life. So I offer you my most favorite of favorite cookie recipes, my drug of choice, my portal to Nirvana. It is based on the old (not the current!) recipe for “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” on the Quaker Oats lid.

 

Better-Than-Phoebe’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 C. butter (no substitutes)

1 C. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 t. plus a tiny dribble Penzeys vanilla

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. plus a pinch of Penzeys Korintje cinnamon

a few grinds of fresh nutmeg

3 C. Old-Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal (don’t be generous)

1 C. dark (not golden) Sun-Maid raisins

1/2-1 C. chopped dates (the best are the ones you chop yourself)

1/2 C. Heath toffee bits without chocolate (my grandchildren’s brilliant idea)

Whisk dry ingredients together. Beat butter and sugars, then add eggs and beat some more. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well, then the oatmeal, raisins, dates and toffee bits. Dough will weigh a ton.

If possible, refrigerate dough at least overnight. Bake at 350 for about five minutes, then turn cookie sheet and bake another four minutes or so, depending on your oven. Cool on wire racks. Makes lots but never enough.

 

These are called “Better-Than-Phoebe’s” because of the episode of “Friends” wherein Phoebe says her oatmeal cookies are the best so she doesn’t bake them very often because it’s not fair to the other cookies.

I mention brand names so you will know exactly what I use.

If you want really chewy cookies, add coconut. Dark chocolate chips are another acceptable addition. However, such additions risk changing the nature of the oatmeal cookie, and that is unseemly to purists.

Wishing you homemade cookies, dear reader,

Maureen


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March 5.19

Of all the rites of spring

as sure as tulip spear

the forty days of Lent

anchored budding year.

Forsaking sweets (so saintly!)

with purpled liturgies

we plodded ash-benighted

with callouses on knees.

Fish and macaroni

— with a ho, for purgatory! —

we loved and gobbled up

in pleasure gustatory,

and through the season’s sackcloth

on temptation’s slippery brink

cinnamony hot cross buns,

penitential wink.

I laugh at memories ancient

and admonishments infernal

but I don’t laugh at the lesson

that spring can be internal.

 

 Whatever your traditions, dear reader,

may Shrove Tuesday bring you spring!

 

With more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.


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Disconnections: December 31.18

Star-bearing elder

tower of green

enwrapped in rainbowed

brigandine

too brief its light

too short its spell

in meaning too

ephemeral.

 

Every night, dear reader, I look across the pond at my neighbor’s gorgeous old evergreen with its brilliant joyful display of light. My own little tree puffs up in imitation.

 


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Disconnections: December 23.18

 

Life has its moments

of bliss unalloyed,

of humor splenic

roundly devoid.

When eye and nose

and memory combine

to flour and fat and filling

enshrine.

In pie, in pie

the toothsome all:

in fragrance, form,

the anti-banal.

If ever our being

you seek to justify,

look but to crusted

invention of pie.

 

 

With many salivating thanks to photographer S. W. Berg.

And kudos to pastry artist Jennifer Berg.

Full disclosure: I couldn’t bake a pie even if you threatened me with Brussels sprouts.

But I can eat it.

 

 


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Disconnections: December 5.18

Now is the time of projects

inspired by the glow of the season

so I undertake insanities

in full-blown leave of my reason.

The proof of project fever

— I needn’t offer more —

is how much December time

I spend upon the floor.

Virtuous organization

visual oversight

can only be accomplished

by wall-to-wall floor blight.

Consuming and invasive,

tentacled, rapacious,

projects change to crowded

rooms that once seemed spacious.

But all of that aside

there’s yet another bane

the consequence to me:

my joints in chorus complain,

“Deck the halls! Hang holly!

Spike the eggnog cup!

But please to keep this truth in mind:

what goes down must get back up!”