From the tree.
To the shirt.
To the bin.
To the measuring cup.
To the pan.
To the blue-eyed stir-er.
To the jar…
upside down…on the towel.
A year ago I stood in the same shorts I was wearing yesterday. With the same kids. In front of the same sign.
This was then.
And this was yesterday.
I think the kids are taller. Weird.
Whatever it was about Silver Falls last year, it left an impression on these two. And they yammered about it for the last eleven months.
So it was time.
Here they are near the beginning of the trail.
Um…squirt guns were sort of a seat-of-the-pants decision.
Maybe not the best one I’ve ever made.
The rule ‘you may squirt yourself and no one else’ lasted…
about a minute.
But…here are the falls.
The things my husband crouched a breath away from with my children last year.
And the things–courtesy of grandma and me–my kids are not in the picture with this year.
We’re nervous like that.
Here’s my mom…doing what I hope I’m doing in thirty years…
listenin’ to some yarn from a grandkid while eatin’ a turkey sandwich somewhere in the hills.
‘Cause this is what it’s all about…
a bag of chips…
and a dusty trail…
shared with the people you love.
without proper articulation…
mommy’s had enough.
Enough whining. Enough ingratitude. Enough questions. Enough of all it.
Whatever it is.
for no ONE reason…
mommy needs to be alone.
To breathe. To sit. To be.
To eat without sharing. To read a page in a book…and then the next page. To hear the sweep of the wind and the quick call of a bird to another. To eye a beetle in the driveway. To see the ocean–even if just in the mind. Or the mountaintop.
To put her hands in her hair and shake the whole mess.
because sometimes mommy’s trampled spirit just needs to heal.
Last summer it took the help of a village to get our daughter to ride her two-wheeler without training wheels.
At various times my husband, our friend Kim, and my brother-in-law Jason all trotted or trailed or panted behind our daughter who may as well been trying to ride a piece of limp spaghetti. Our daughter would dip in the ditch and then bounce out the other side. She would weave across both lanes of the road and then-without looking-weave right back.
But they all had it in them to see this thing through.
And eventually our daughter wobbled away on her own.
And I mean wobbled.
Two days ago, our son inherited the red Dora bike, the one our daughter learned to ride.
The one without training wheels.
The one my husband eyed and said, “I think he’s ready.”
I stood in the driveway, bracing for the first skinned knee.
Only I bore witness, instead, to our son tearing up the street on his sister’s old two-wheeler with his dad sprinting behind.
It seems it’s time, when it’s time.
And not a moment before.
I was not in the kitchen when my husband squished out a fart.
But my children were.
At which time my husband said, “did you hear that? Barking spiders.”
My kids went on the hunt, suddenly wary of being barefoot. “Are they poisonous?” my daughter wanted to know.
“You’ll have to ask your mom,” my husband sputtered.
Both kids scrambled upstairs. As my daughter opened her mouth to speak, a big Buwaahhahaaaha erupted from the kitchen.
My daughter went ahead. “Are barking spiders poisonous?” My son’s bugged eyes showed he needed to know, too.
I smiled. Then looked right at my daughter.
“You tell your daddy…they’re deadly!”
My daughter hollered over the railing, “yeah, dad! They’re poisonous!” My husband snickered.
Only I corrected. “No, honey. Not poisonous. Deadly.”
My husband joined us upstairs. At which time–between snorts–he cleared the confusion on barking spiders and simultaneously brought the house down.
My son slunk into the kitchen where I stood beside the sink.
“I had a good dream last night,” he said.
I threw the dish towel toward the counter and bent down to hear the scoop.
A smile took over his face. ”I dreamed I was reading.”
At 9:45 p.m my daughter met me at the top of the stairs bursting with news. “You’re not going to believe this,” she said. “While you were gone, buddy read his first sentence.”
I hugged my daughter. She would have nothing less. Then I followed her to the book, lit only by a night light, and squinted at the words my son had sounded out an hour earlier. “Cat can dig.”
I smiled real big and patted the head of my dreamer, already in bed.
Too soon–I figure– he’ll say, “I dreamed I was driving…”
I uttered to my husband over lunch what probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me, that tomorrow–July 21st–marks a whole year that I’ve been plunking away at my blog.
Happy Anniversary to me.
I had to wipe my eyes.
And then I had to make these cookies. Because…
because I needed them.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Formerly my mother-in-law’s cookies. Only I can’t remember her making them since she handed me the recipe eight years ago. I bet she can’t either.
Somehow these cookies bring life and energy. Sort of in the opposite way a donut does. Ain’t no flour in ‘em. And ain’t no deep fried regret.
Not that I would, ahem, know anything about that.
Here are the ingredients for happiness: peanut butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, old fashioned oats, walnuts and/or pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
I start with the butter. Which in this recipe, helps if it’s melted.
Already in the mixing bowl I’ve got the peanut butter (1 1/2 cups), brown sugar (1/2 cup) and sugar (1/2 cup).
I’ll just pour the melted butter on top and watch the stuff spin.
And…I think I’ll clear my conscience now. My mother-in-law’s original recipe calls for 1 cup of white sugar. Which I have faithfully dumped in for years…except the single time I forgot the sugar altogether. Which then made me wonder if the amount of sugar wasn’t something that could be cut way back. Like in half. So I tried it. And…it’s all I ever pour in anymore. Half a cup.
I also messed with the number of eggs–out of desperation–as in, how is it we have just ONE egg? Recipe calls for three. And I’m hear to attest that THREE it should be. Eggs hold the whole mess together. The fewer the eggs, the crumblier the cookies. Taste doesn’t change a bit.
I’m sliding the eggs in now. And while I’m at it, I’m adding the vanilla and the baking soda. Two teaspoons a piece.
And now the oats. Which are the essence of the dough. I’m adding all FOUR cups at the same time.
Now, I suppose the cookie would be all right if we stopped right here and pretended the recipe didn’t call for nuts.
But we shouldn’t.
The nuts do something. Like elevate the cookies to greatness.
Which is why I always throw a couple of handfuls down and measure later. Should be 1 1/2 to 2 cups worth.
This is also where I capitalize on my daughter’s desire to help. She’s so content chopping walnuts, I almost forget she’s even in the kitchen.
The food processor would work, too. Probably quicker. But I’ve turned my walnuts to powder before without meaning to. And I like having my daughter around.
As for which kind of nut, it hardly matters. I lean toward a mix of walnuts and pecans, but here I’m just using walnuts.
I add the nuts all in one lump and let it mix around.
And then I embrace the chocolate chips. It’s been a whole cookie recipe since we’ve seen each other. Original recipe calls for 1 cup of chips. Which is fine, if you’re ridiculously into chocolate chips. But somewhere less than a cup works a bit better. And doesn’t leave fifty loose chips chillin’ at the bottom of the bowl.
About this time, I sample the stuff.
Occasionally I have help.
Then I baby these things in the oven at 325 degrees. For ten minutes.
Here they are pre-oven.
ten minutes later.
I NEED these in my life.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup chocolate chips…or less
Mix together, peanut butter, melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Add oats, nuts and chocolate chips, mixing between each addition. Bake at 325 degrees for ten minutes. Thank yourself immensely. Makes 4 dozen.
Though my husband and I were twenty feet apart with a volleyball net between us, our son addressed us both.
“Why did you have to marry?” he asked.
I mimed to my husband, “what’d he say?”
Our son postured his frustration with both arms. “Why’d you have to marry?”
We let the volleyball hit the ground.
In full tattle-tale mode our son aimed a miffed finger across the sand at his sister’s back and said, “’cause…’cause she’s a bad sissy.”
Um…all right then.
We’d heard enough of the harmonica, which was when we sent our son outside to honk away.
And then closed the door.
He came in moments later and retrieved the recorder, the instrument known for its single hair-raising note, and blew with gusto til the pets shrank away and no one was sure his own name.
The one-man band was just getting going, when he requested his sister’s guitar, the thing with no living strings, the most benign of them all.
So, um…why not?
It wasn’t until we piled into the van that the concerto antithesis seemed to reach its conclusion.
we’d hardly wheeled backwards when our son whipped out the harmonica from between his legs and blew us out the garage.
Per the new sanity law…
Ain’t no harmonica today.