Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

How The Barter System Works In Coronavirus Land

Gramps and I did not do any stock-up shopping at the beginning of the virus outbreak.  We had what we needed at the time and the thought of the world running out of toilet paper never occurred to us.

So last week we were running low on paper products, including tp.  But by that time the stores were completely empty of anything paper.  Even Amazon was sold out.

As it happened, I made chocolate chip cookies one day and thought I should share them with our daughter and grandson Mac.  Mac says I make the “best” chocolate chip cookies ever.  Music to my heart!

They assured us they would love some cookies.  So over to their house we went with cookies in hand.

We had a lovely visit.  We talked and shared and laughed.  Until the subject of toilet paper came up.  How many stores did you go to?  How many rolls did the store have?  How many rolls do you have?

Finally we confessed we were down to three rolls.  (Can you believe this is what we’re talking about?!).  Our daughter offered to give us some from her supply, as she had just found a large package the day before.

We were saved!  Chocolate chip coolies for tp.  The going rate appears to be one dozen cookies for four rolls of toilet paper.  Not bad really.  They stay fed and we stay dry.

My Favorite Possessions

I think about the things I would try to save if there were a fire in my house.  Those objects that are precious, have memories attached to them and can’t be replaced.   Those possessions that can give you a hug and a good feeling just by being there, being seen and being touched.

I have several of these irreplaceable items Some are out to be seen.  Some are safely tucked away.  And some are used daily.

My quilts are very important to me, but one is especially precious.  It’s hanging on the wall in our guest bedroom.  It’s so valuable to me because it is made from linens stitched by my grandmother and mother.  There are tablecloths, towels, napkins, dresser scarves and doilies in the quilt.  Then it is bordered in colorful handkerchiefs.

I can just feel those women around me when I am in the presence of that quilt.  It’s like a great big hug.  It speaks to me through its stitches and linens.  I would definitely grab it first, if there was a fire or a flood.

My great-grandmother’s bedroom set is in our bedroom.  Gramps and I have used it since we were married.   My grandmother was born in that bed.  It is made of cherry wood and is very ornate – very Victorian.  It has a tall headboard and footboard.

I can’t even tell you how cuddled and comforted I feel in Gram’s big bed.  I can just imagine the generations of women dusting those wooden boards and changing the linens and fluffing the pillows.  It’s an honor to keep up the tradition of loving my bed.  My dilemma?  I’m not sure I could carry it out in a disaster.

Now my mother’s silver tea set is very portable in case of a calamity.  It’s tucked away in a cupboard because we never use it anymore.  That’s not to say I don’t get it out and pet it periodically.  My mother had it sitting on the buffet, always polished and always shiny.  It reminds me of her in many ways.  She too was always polished and shiny.

I have some of my Daddy’s tools, which also are not very useful but are a treasure to me. He was a carpenter in the CB’s during WW II and was a general all-around fix-it kind of guy.  To have those tools that were used and touched by him so many times is a gift for me.  When I see them, I can almost hear him working and banging away on some project. Thinking of it now almost brings tears to my eyes.

Then there’s the diamond ring that Gramps gave me many years ago as a birthday present.  I wear it all the time.  It’s a daily reminder of his love and devotion to me. Coincidentally, the large diamond in the center is surrounded by six smaller diamonds, exactly the number of grandchildren we have.

The whole ring is a little remembrance of my entire family – all three generations.  I don’t go anywhere without it.

So obviously, all these possessions could not be gotten out of the house very rapidly.  But they could in a slow evacuation.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter if I have any of these items really.

Because I carry all the people and memories in my heart, where they are safe from every disaster and can never be lost.

Goodbye Libby

Libby was a swell dog. She was happy to see anyone who came through the front door. She would run around the room and wag her tail as if to say, “Oh boy, someone to play with me!”

After awhile she would calm down and lay at your feet quietly. And she would do almost anything for a treat.

She was Mac’s dog, for his whole life. Until two days ago when we all had to say goodbye to a swell dog.

Mac loved her very much. They played together and slept together as most boys and doge do. He fed her and watered her – his daily chore. They were very close as most boys and dogs are.

When it was time to say goodbye to Libby, Mac was right there by her side. He held her close until the end.

Even though he was grieving, he didn’t back away. Even though he was sad, he held her. Even though he was afraid, he remained brave.

Mac talked to Libby in a soft voice. He told her what a good dog she had been, how much fun he had with her and how important she was to him.

It was so important for Mac to do all this but it was just as important for Libby to receive such a send off. She needed to feel safe, loved, warm, in familiar arms and surrounded by a voice she knew

She got the proper medication, so she was calm, comfortable and relaxed the whole time. That was important as it took a few hours for Mom, Dad and Mac all to get to the Vet’s from different points.

The final minutes together were very meaningful for the whole family and provided a thoughtful closure for all of them

The hardest part now is dealing with the quietness at home without Libby there. She has left a definite hole in the lives of Mac and his family.

She will be missed for quite some time especially by Mac. He has not known life without Libby. He will have a lot of adjusting to accomplish in the future.

But he will do fine because he not only lived well with Libby, he let go of her well also.

When it was necessary, he gave her the best goodbye ever.

The Best Of Retirement

I started working at age sixteen and retired at age fifty nine. My retirement came suddenly and unexpectedly. I had no plans or expectations. I was completely blindsided and unprepared.

The first year was difficult. I didn’t know how to feel about myself with no job and no income. There were feelings of worthlessness, confusion and anxiety. It wasn’t a good transition. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

Slowly I started to fill my time with some worthwhile activities. They certainly helped but I was still floundering.

At the same time, my first grandson was born. Now that was super! I had plenty of time to spend with the baby and I did. What great memories I have now.

That started the formation of my philosophy of being a Granny. I knew then I wanted to be intentional about my actions and positive about my attitude.

I started sewing for my grandson and found some likeminded women to sew with. Life was getting better and I was more active.

It seemed the more I sewed and the more I joined other women who sewed, the happier I became. So, of course, I did more . . . . and more . . . . and more.

Now I am a quilter who belongs to six sewing groups – from a quilting bee to a wool embroidery group to an applique group. And my grandson, now 14, is one of six grandchildren that I have sewn many items for.

Retirement is such a blessing to me and I am busier now than when I was working. My life is also much more joyful. I don’t have to rush or be in a hurry. I have no deadlines, unless they are self-imposed. I can take my time now.

Retirement gives me time to do what I want, when I want. That includes more activities at church, lunch with the girls, sewing and maybe a good nap now and then.

Gramps and I have more time together. We talk more, share more, laugh more and hold hands more. We have time to go out for dinner, see movies, visit with friends and sing in the church choir.

Combining grandchildren with retirement is absolutely heaven sent! I can’t think of a better reason to keep working to retirement age.

In a word, retirement gives me time. Over the years I have learned the best ways to spend that precious commodity to enrich my life and my family’s life.

In the beginning, I wasted my time and I regret that very much. But no more. Every moment is a gift and it only comes once.

I have plans now. I have expectations of myself. I’m looking forward to every day. I’m excited. Know why?

I’m retired!!!!

 

My Phone, My Friend

I may be an elder woman but there are many modern technologies I love.  My television is very nice to have, even though the old black-and-white movies are the best.  My computer is a must and I use it daily for blogging and such.  But my favorite all-time, high-tech invention is my phone.

Remember when all you did with a phone was make a call?  I remember.  In fact, I remember rotary phones, phones on the wall with long twisty cords and party lines.  Our ring was two longs and a short.  It’s been long time!

I recall very well getting my first iPhone.  It was my birthday and I told Gramps I wanted one of the phones where I could scroll all my photos from bottom to top.  I didn’t even know what it was called!

I got the phone.  When I took it out of the box, my then-five-year-old grandson grabbed it out of my hand and began tapping buttons with his little thumbs.  Within seconds, he declared, “Granny, you need some apps!”

I didn’t know what apps were either.  I’ve come to learn he meant games, games and more games.  Which, of course, I now have, because I am the Granny and Granny always has entertainment for grandchildren.

But back to my phone.  It does make calls, of all kinds.  Local, long distance.  I suppose it would call the moon, if I knew anyone there.  But making calls is the least of its gifts.

My phone keeps me in touch.  In touch with the world, really but most especially with those I love.  We can, of course, call and talk to each other, which is a real treat.  We can write instant letters to each other at any time.  That is most precious to me.  I can keep up with all the generations all the time.

My phone keeps me safe.  I’m always just seconds from getting help at the push of a button.  That is huge in my world.  At my age, as much as I drive alone to events and gatherings, that support is priceless.

My phone keeps information and data always at the tip of my fingers.  I have phone numbers, addresses, photos, notes, calendars, reminders, deadlines, etc., all at my beck and call.  If it were all on paper, I wouldn’t be able to carry it, much less access it.

My phone gets me where I want to go.  The GPS, named Helen, is very reliable.  She speaks in a very monotone voice, pronouncing everything a little bit weird.  But she seems to know where she is going, so that’s okay.  It’s very reassuring to know Helen is always there, always awake, always ready to travel with me.

My phone takes great photos.  Can you even imagine being able to say that about a phone?  As a result, I have a wonderful record of places, events, friends, quilts, family and projects.  Many of them are completely irreplaceable and would never have been taken without a small phone being so handy in my purse.

My precious little phone is a real life-line and I can’t go a day without using it.  Yet it hasn’t been that many years that it has been a part of my life.  How quickly I have adapted!

Yet it can also be a nuisance.  Sometimes I think If I hear that ringtone one more time, I will scream!

Oops, there’s my phone.  Gotta go!

See you tomorrow!

Becoming A Granny

I was recently talking to Mac about the day he was born. Every time I told him an interesting fact about his birth day, he answered, “I don’t remember that.” (He’s 14 remember. Enough said!)

All that remembering got me thinking about the significance of that day – the day I became a Granny. Another Grandmother was born that day too – Carol, Mac’s other Granny or Grams, as she is called. Grams and I have talked about that special day and agree it is a day we will never forget for many reasons.

First, it’s the  day I became a Grandmother. Sounds simple but is quite profound. To see your daughter become a mother is quite an emotional, touching moment. Certainly more overwhelming than I was expecting or was prepared for.

I laughed, I cried, I applauded, I whispered, I hugged everyone and I fell in love with a new baby boy. What a feeling it is to instantly know you love someone completely, overwhelmingly, with all your heart. Except for my children, I can’t think of another relationship that begins so intensely and so immediately. And then lasts for a lifetime!

I knew at that first moment that this precious boy could have whatever I had, share anything of mine he needed and claim any of my resources that were necessary for him to succeed. If required, I would give my life for his. I knew that and I told him so, on his first day of life.

Mac brought a kind of joy that I had never felt before. It was different than the glow of childbirth. Not better or brighter but certainly as life changing and character altering. He filled a spot in my heart that could not have been filled by anyone but him. I couldn’t have been happier or more blessed.

I also became aware of my responsibilities as a Granny. I suddenly had a new job in the family – that of Grandmother, elder woman, Mother of Mac’s Mother. My new title was a bit sobering in the midst off such great happiness.

My mind was full of all the plans I had for being the world’s best Granny. I would be funny. I would be supportive and say yes as often as possible. I would learn sign language. I would encourage Mac to be kind, generous and fair. I would provide music. I would smock outfits for him. I would teach him games. I would take him outside. I would read to him. I would take him camping. I would teach him to swim and ride bike. I would write him letters. I would kiss him hello and goodbye, every time!

Hard to believe all this happened in an instant. But it was a very special moment of a very special day that I never want to forget.

Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome back! Let me continue my story of the great vacation with the grandsons. Let me see, now where were we? I think Day 6 – yes.

It started with a two-hour boat ride on the Wisconsin river. Two stops for refreshments and a look at some great rock formations. The boys got wonderful pictures and may have learned something about Geology.

The afternoon was spent at another water park. Yessirree – four hours of sun and water, AGAIN!!!! By now I was practically glowing in the the dark!

While driving into the parking lot and going over a speed bump, we heard a strange noise from the truck but, seeing nothing, we parked. Walking to the entrance, we came upon a tire next to a speed bump in the parking lot. Gramps and I looked at each other. This couldn’t be our tire, could it? Gramps went back to the truck and sure enough, our spare had fallen out. What were the chances?!! So we loaded it back in the truck, shaking our heads at the unbelievability of the whole thing.

This being the 4th of July, we later joined the residents downtown for a spectacular fireworks show. Nothing beats fireworks, patriotic music, red/white/blue colors and the national anthem surrounded by families of every color and nationality under the sun. Another great day!

Day 7 was a really slow starter – I think we all slept until 11 am. Being a tourist is hard work! By early afternoon, Gramps and the boys were off for some golf lessons. They planned a round of golf, but all three decided it was too hot. So back in the pool they went. It seems boys and water are a natural combination. Just add suits.

That evening we had a campfire at the RV site and roasted huge marshmallows. The boys looked up a list of the 100 best jokes, and told us one joke after another until I thought I would die from laughing – mostly fourth-grade jokes but still pretty funny.

My favorite? OK here it is. The Lord said to John, “Come forth and I will give you everlasting life.” John came fifth and got a toaster.” I know! I’m still laughing!!

That night was the best ever. We talked, we laughed, we interacted, we got to know each other better, we looked at Jupiter’s moons through the binoculars. How perfect! We kept the fire going as long as possible because we didn’t want the night to end. I wish all nights could be as wonderful as that one was.

Ready for another absolutely miraculous coincidence? The next morning Gramps was getting a new tire put on the truck to prevent another flat. A piece was missing from the spare tire carrier that had fallen off in the parking lot two days earlier. So he drove to the parking lot and there, on top of the now infamous speed bump, was a little washer. Just the right size washer, mind you, that fit the holder for the spare. Really?!! No kidding!! He found it days later in the parking lot of a water park in a resort town on a holiday weekend! One single 1″ round washer!!!!!

Now I need to tell you that throughout the week it rained – everyday. But sometimes it rained at night or early in the morning or if it rained during the day, it only rained for about 5-10 minutes. The timing was unbelievable. It never interfered with our fun or ruined any activity. Uncanny really.

Day 8 was devoted to a Drum Corps performance in Whitewater, about two hours away. We met some friends there and had a tailgate dinner with one of the Corps. Both of the boys play musical instruments – one the sax, the other tuba and drums- so we knew they would enjoy the musical extravaganza of Drum Corps. Well, it was perfect weather and a great show. Shawn, who had never seen a Drum Corps performance before, was enthralled. He sat on the edge of his seat all evening.

The next morning we all got up early for the long trip to Kansas City to put Shawn on the plane back home. Thanks to modern technology, the boys again entertained themselves in the truck for hours.

We also reminisced about our days in Wisconsin, the fun things we did and some of our favorite jokes from campfire night. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the memory of it.

Shawn got on the plane for his second time in the air. He was evidently a “pro” by then, of course. How funny to see a thirteen-year-old who thinks he knows everything about a subject, but still needs help.

Mac and Gramps and I got home the next night with no problems.

Were we alive? Barely! Were we exhausted? Completely! Were we still laughing and telling grand stories? You bet! Was it the best vacation ever? Absolutely! Would I do it again with two thirteen-year-olds? In a heart beat!

Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 1

It started out like any other camping trip. No serious problems really. Day 1 both propane tanks turned up empty, so we had no hot water or refrigerator cooling on the road. Day 2 was a quick stop for propane, then we had our obligatory flat tire on the way to the airport to pick up grandson Shawn. (Grandson Mac was already with us.) That makes about five flat tires we’ve had on camping trips now. It turned out to be a blessing though, as we were able to limp into the airport, and Gramps was able to get the tire changed there in the time we waited for Shawn to arrive. Perfect!! (We are actually getting pretty good at changing flat tires after all those previous flats!!) Like I said, no real issues!!!

So on Day 2 we had two 13 year old grandsons in the back seat of the truck. Now that was an issue! I’m talking entertaining two teenage boys in a vehicle for 8-9 hours. Yeah! (Thank goodness for I phones, Netflix, earbuds, video games, chargers and just plain sharing of devices.)  That turned out to be a long day, facing an enormous thunderstorm all the way to Iowa City, but we didn’t reach it.  Arriving at 11pm, we were fortunate that the one remaining spot in the campground was ours – reserved.

Next day was shorter, and after setting up camp near the Mississippi, we enjoyed a great day with relatives, but only after Shawn fell trying to spin the bicycle in the RV campgrounds and gouged his left knee. Who says thirteen year olds are coordinated? But the boys were lucky enough to see a river barge pass through the locks in Dubuque.  When out tour continued at the riverfront, our wine-tasting was made more memorable by a severe thunderstorm and a tornado warning.  The boys held the restaurant door closed!  Perfect ending to a perfect day!

How about keeping enough food and milk to feed said boys in a refrigerator the size that would fit in a Barbie Doll house? Uh huh! And then there’s keeping enough sun screen on two teenagers at a water park, so I don’t have to explain to their mothers why I am sending home two crispy fried critters. Now that is a real problem!!! Can I get an AMEN to that?!

Day 4 – we arrived in the Dells and chose a list of activities.  First was the famous water skiing show, so we didn’t spend much time not having fun. That night we started a rousing game of Monopoly that wouldn’t end, so we put up all our individual holdings to finish the next night.

Of course, I have to mention here that our RV space was right next to the railroad tracks. Now I personally love the sound of a train going by. The rest of the family, not so much. Some sleep was lost due to the frequent passing of the loooong trains carrying grain south.

Day 5 the two boys spent the morning testing their Go-Kart skills. Pretty good actually! They sped around passing each other, waving each time they went by and smiling from ear to ear.

The rest of the day was spent at the Mt. Olympus Water Park (Just so you can get an idea of its size). Now I’m talking in the sun, in the wave pool, being buffeted by a 9 foot wave every two minutes for 5 ½ hours!!! Who can do that?!! Well, two thirteen-year-olds can! And of course, Gramps and I in chairs with cameras taking pictures of both boys the whole time.

What a day! We all looked rosy and sunkissed, were exhausted and starving. Back to the RV for dinner. Now just so we all understand . . . “starving” to a 13 year old means eating while dinner is being fixed, eating dinner and then snacking all evening until bedtime. No kidding!!!

In the evening, while snacking, we resumed the Monopoly game from the previous night. Tension was high! No one had a monopoly! Trading was about to begin! Everyone had a plan! Everyone was determined to win! Then the dice rolled – cut-throat Monopoly began!

But, as usual, Gramps had the best properties, the most money and won by a huge margin. He always wins- we can’t figure it out. This is a game of chance, right? So how come he ALWAYS WINS!?! Ah well, we had a great time. I found being in Jail to be the safest place – no rent to pay to Gramps and his many houses and hotels!

Day 6 started out slow, We slept in, late breakfast. Then took the boys to a hands-on science laboratory. Lots of interactive fun there and we even learned a thing or two. Took a video of Mac on the Gyrotron, spinning around. He did fine – I got a little sick just watching him turn every which way but up.

We ate lunch while watching women’s soccer on TV. We hit the proverbial tourist’s wall about then and came back to the RV for some rest. As my Dad used to say, “Having that much fun can kill you!”

As I look around the room now, everyone is on their mobile device, in a reclining position. One is playing a game with a scowl on his face, another is watching a movie, laughing out loud and the third is playing solitaire with a look of satisfaction. Does it get any better the this? Surrounded by my family, feeling such contentment and love, and so completely ignored by everyone!!!

I’m going to end this now and check in with you all later when I have recovered my dignity.

We are planning more activities, July 4th fireworks, a Drum Corps performance and of course, daily trips to store for food.

Check in later for the rest of the story.

Granny