Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cookies

Cookies Galore

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She’s done it again! Cyndie moves like magic in the kitchen when her weekend of Christmas cookie baking arrives. She made a noble dent in the project all by herself on Saturday to start, then, with the help of friends and family yesterday, achieved a record number of total recipes baked when the flour dust finally settled.

It was a sight to behold, but don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves. (Thank you to Melissa Williams for sharing pictures she took of the extravaganza!)

For the first time ever, Cyndie baked meringue cookies from her gramma’s recipe. They come with a memory of being told, as grandchildren, that they needed to be very calm and quiet while meringue cookies are baking in the oven or the cookies would be wrecked.

After her first try success, Cyndie is inclined to think the strict constraints placed on them back then could very likely have been a ruse by her grandmother, taking advantage of an easy opportunity to command good behavior.

More power to her, I say.

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Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Small Difference

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Life is not as bad as it seems, and rarely as good as we might perceive. Frankly, I have this peculiar notion that the difference between best and worst outcomes is a much narrower range than we are groomed to believe.

There are abundant examples of both good and bad situations simultaneously playing out all over the world through the course of history. Sometimes they are occurring on opposite sides of the globe, but in varying degrees of intensity, good and bad things can happen in the very same place, even at the same time.

I’ve noticed in myself an increasing susceptibility to waves of gloom over news about the state of our planet and about the state of democracy. Each new report is picking up and adding to my gloom from the day before.

I have yet to master the same art for the news of good things in the world. I can’t seem to get the happy stories to compound into greater joy with each successive telling.

In my reality, the gap between the two is small, so resolving the discrepancy doesn’t need to be some Herculean effort. In the grand scheme of things, nurturing the positive is a very “do-able” feat.

Last night, Cyndie and I watched Carrie Fisher‘s “Wishful Drinking (2010) documentary one-woman show based on her memoir. Obviously, it triggered something that got me thinking about good and bad, and mental health. 

Hearing the way Carrie told her stories gave me the impression that she was a writer, which, in fact, she was. Maybe that is one reason the show resonated for me as much as it did. Of course, I am also a sucker for stories of recovery and self discovery.

A lot of her life stories sounded bad, although she delivered them with a dose of humor, and glimpses of moments that were good. I thought, we could all probably make our stories into a show like this. The difference however, is that hers comes across as something of an inside joke which we are all in on, because her life as a daughter of two celebrities and her iconic acting role in the movie “Star Wars” are public knowledge.

We hear her stories of situations we already know about, only from the actual inside perspective.

That aspect wouldn’t exist with my one-man show based on my non-celebrity memoir.

After the movie, I came downstairs from our loft and spotted this:

Really? Cyndie bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies on Tuesday, and a night later, pulls out some Oreos to eat instead.

I look at that picture, and all I see is good right next to bad.

In my perspective as a person seeking to manage a sugar addiction, the difference between the two is actually small.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Some Days

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Yesterday at work I found myself a little short of feeling like my best. Was it simply a result of it being a Monday? Possibly. More likely, it had something to do with a sub-par night’s sleep. I couldn’t get myself to turn off the Cubbies Sunday night as they eked out a victory in game 5 of the World Series. That kept me up past my bedtime.

In addition, my days of having the whole bed to myself came to an end when Cyndie arrived home from visiting the Morales family in Guatemala in the wee hours of oh-dark-thirty. That’s about the worst time of night to have a sleep cycle interrupted.

As I sat at my desk trying to shake out the cobwebs, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should have just stayed home for the day. It wasn’t anything physical. I felt fine, I just didn’t feel all that… fine.

Then an issue needed to be addressed, and another, and another. Good thing I didn’t stay home. I may not have been my best, but I was present and available to at least contribute in the moment. Some days we need to allow ourselves to accept this as good enough. Half-speed is better than no speed at all when there is work to be done.

So, Cyndie got home in the middle of the night and I left for work in the dark of morning. She was back, but I hadn’t seen her yet, so I was getting excited to get home. I had no idea I would find this:

dscn5382eShe had a fire in the fireplace and the kitchen filled with the aroma of fresh-baked cookies, there were scones she’d baked for breakfast, and that bread was rising on the stove. Oh, and it was nice to be able to see her, too.

As it was, a day that started out less than fine, turned out pretty darn good in the end.

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Written by johnwhays

November 1, 2016 at 6:00 am

Try Imagining

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Try imagining that you are daily striving to tightly control the percentage of sugar in your total caloric intake, despite the onslaught of incoming treats at work from a number of generous, well-meaning sources, and yesterday, when you arrived home from work and opened the door to your house, you were met by an overwhelming aroma of fresh-baked goodies that practically lifted you off your feet.

For some reason, as soon as I am home from work, I want to eat something. It is one of the trickier parts of my day, in terms of managing my choices in avoidance of unnecessary sugars. I’m happy to eat anything, as long as it doesn’t take any time to prepare. Crunchy, salty, and sweet tend to be cravings that most strongly nag me.

Yesterday, at my weakest moment, Cyndie was moving fresh-baked cookies off a tray, onto the cooling rack. I don’t think there is any better time to test a cookie than when it is still warm from the oven. I hadn’t even finished setting down things I had carried in the door when I sank my teeth into the irresistible goodness of a cookie that tasted like a cinnamon bun.

Cyndie mentioned that she hadn’t put the icing on yet, which helped to calm some of my angst. Knowing that I was eating less sugar than the cookies would ultimately have helped me justify my choice. See how that works?

Really, try to imagine walking in the door to this:

DSCN4211eI wish I could provide a smell-o-vision feature, to give you the full effect.

Next Sunday afternoon we are hosting a “neighborhood cookie social” for folks living around us, most of whom we’ve yet to meet in the three years we’ve been here. Cyndie printed out an invitation and then drove a loop of the immediate roads surrounding us to the west, where we know a handful of folks, including our good friend and trusty farrier, George Walker.

Multiple locations have mailboxes grouped, and she wasn’t sure about which mailbox went with which house, so she just put an invite in every box. Roughly 30, she said. We have no idea how many may show up, and we likely won’t recognize but a few.

Imagine that. It should be fun!

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Written by johnwhays

December 16, 2015 at 7:00 am

Book Report

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Cyndie enjoys listening to me read aloud, and we recently finished a perfect book for that exercise, allowing her to fold laundry while I recited the last chapters of author Jerry Apps’ “The Quiet Season: Remembering Country Winters.” The book was a gift from my niece, Liz. She said that reading it caused her to think about us and our place in Wisconsin. I can see why.

Hopefully, it wasn’t because the period Jerry wrote about was in the 1930s and 40s. Things aren’t that backward out here. His descriptions of chores and routines do evoke a sense of the familiar for projects we have undertaken in our first year here. As difficult a time as they had carving out their existence on a country farm (he describes winter life at a time before indoor plumbing or electricity, and very limited wood stove heating), it definitely caused me to feel a longing for the simpler time.

Since then, life has gotten a lot faster and busier.

DSC02241eI think the frenetic pace of modern life suits Cyndie better than it does me. Yesterday was her annual holiday cookie baking extravaganza where she converts restaurant portions of butter, sugar, flour, brown sugar, and I think, more butter, into a wide array of delectable works of edible art. Our kids braved the light snow and drove out to be here for the festivities and helped to truly kick off this annual tradition the way Cyndie likes.

They produced a dizzying volume of beautiful cookies that have the house smelling dangerously delicious, causing me to gain weight just breathing the air. Between baking tasks, Elysa fed the horses and Julian helped me shovel the labyrinth. We watched some football, sat by the fire, shared a wonderful dinner –why not? The oven was already hot– and created cookie trays for sharing at everybody’s workplaces.

Much of the day resonated for me with the spirit of the stories I had just read by Jerry Apps. Maybe that is because we almost crammed his whole book worth of tales into one day.

Thank you, Liz, for the book. It was a wonderful treat that we enjoyed very much!

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Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2013 at 7:00 am