A Story Behind Every Cookie

I just made chocolate chip cookies with my eight year old. After the cookies went into the oven to bake, she ran off to play, and I was the one who carefully watched the timer and made sure the cookies came out at the exact right time, quickly sliding them off the cooking sheet onto a cooling rack so they wouldn’t overcook on the sheet. And it suddenly brought back memories. 

My friend Alyssa taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies. My mom was not a cookie maker. No one can beat my mom’s raisin cinnamon rolls or her brownies, but cookies were not her thing. So, I moved to Bethel, Alaska just before my 16th birthday without the great life skill of knowing how to make good cookies. 

Alyssa and I met pretty soon after I moved to Bethel, and our friendship quickly grew into Best-Friend-dom. We were in the same grade at school. Being a Christian was important to both of us. And that’s about all we had in common. Well, we both got good grades in school. She was on all the sports teams, President of the Student Body, involved in every single leadership thing there was and graduated Valedictorian. I practiced piano all the time, loved to read, had a quirky sense of humor, and did not hold any positions of leadership. I ended up being Class Secretary senior year because of her interference. She also would make crazy suggestions like, Let’s Go Running! What??? But, we adapted. I went running, she watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with me. I like to think that we were good for each other. 

But let’s get back to cookies. Alyssa’s family had the secret “Mrs Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe (which Alyssa copied into a recipe book and gave to me for a wedding present and which I have passed down to all my children). One time I checked, very carefully, and was able to see that yes, there were some slight variations from her recipe and the recipe that comes on the chocolate chip bag.. But, I honestly think that the Key to her amazing cookies was knowing the exact amount of time to cook them. It’s a science. It’s taken me many years to figure it out perfectly, but Alyssa, you will be glad to know, I am now a master too! 

Alyssa’s house was the perfect tundra-living house. It was two stories, but all the living areas and kitchen were on the 2nd story. That way, you had a breathtaking view of snow and lights, sky, stars, going on for miles and miles. I remember long winter evenings at her house. We would bake cookies while munching on chips and salsa (also something Alyssa introduced me to). We would make the perfect cookies, play games, talk. Sometimes I’d play their piano and we would all sing together. Or we would go out and play in the snow. Alyssa and her family introduced me to the “STEAM” which is a far-north tradition. Small wooden building full of hot steam, so hot that you end up walking outside in Alaska winter in your swimsuit and it doens’t affect you. Her family also introduced me to Lefse (Norwegian potato pancakes), snowmobiling, and all the thrills of having a Dad who worked for Fish and Wildlife and was a trapper on the side. 

I get up from writing and go in the kitchen to grab a cookie. They sure are good. It’s funny how layered our lives are. We bake some cookies, but oh, all the stories and history behind that simple cookie. It’s good to take the time to remember every once in a while. 

P.S. My husband is back at work, mostly recovered from his covid, thank you for all your prayers!

When a Car Enthusiast Marries a Car Ignoramus

I married a Car Lover. Car Enthusiast. Car Restorer. Car Know-It-All. Yep. My husband is pretty amazing when it comes to cars. I truly believe there isn’t a single car I can point to and say, “What kind of car is that?” that he wouldn’t be able to tell me the kind of car it is, what year it is, and what kind of motor it has. He especially loves really old cars and is always looking at Old Car’s for sale that need fixing up.. Look at this! I just found a 51 Plymouth for sale on Craig’sList!

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I look at it. Honey, that’s not a 51 Plymouth, that is the remains of a 51 Plymouth. (Because, of course, I don’t see interesting old cars, I see projects that are going to cost a lot of money to finish.)

I think I’ve mentioned before that we are opposites. Yes. Well, my knowledge/interest in cars extends to color and basic shape/size. It’s white. Kind of small. Has 2 doors. I think. I suffer from a combination of disinterest and a general absent mindedness which means I’m not the best person to talk to about cars.

So, the other day I was sitting in traffic, waiting for a very long red light to turn, and I noticed the car in front of me. It was one of those brand new shiny tiny bubble-like cars with a cute little antenna sticking out the back… And now you are scratching your head and wondering what kind of car I’m talking about. That takes us to point of this piece. I don’t know what kind of car it was. I thought it was a VW bug and so I texted my husband later and said, “Hey, I think I know what my dream car would be, a VW Bug.”  That may seem random to you, but my husband, being who he is, asks me questions like, “What is your dream car?” and my answer is, “One that doesn’t break down.” (I feel like this is a legitimate answer considering some of the vehicles we have owned during our marriage.) So, I saw this car and I really liked it and I thought, AHA! I have discovered my dream car! I must share this with my husband!

He, of course, took it to the next level. A couple weeks later he says, Hey, I’ve been looking around on the internet and I found this VW bug for sale close by, what do you think? He shows me a picture of an old VW Bug that is cute, but it isn’t the one I meant when I had texted him. Umm. It’s nice..? He quickly pulls up a bunch of pictures of other older VW Bugs so I can tell him what I like and don’t like. We have just now officially stepped out of my area of expertise and I’m just winging it. Well, umm, I like that color…That one looks fun…He picks up on the uncertainty in my voice and asks, Which one were you thinking when you told me you wanted a VW bug?  

Well, you see, I was driving and I saw this car, I’m sure it was a VW…almost sure…and it was kinda bubble shaped and lots of glass and ummm a cute antenna. Or maybe there were 2 cute antennas, that looked like a bug? He stares at me. Looks at his screen where he’s been perusing cars. He says, exasperated, I don’t know any cars that have 2 antennas on the back, “kind of like a bug.”

Considering his vast array of knowledge I figure that if he doesn’t know  of a car with 2 antennas that look “kind of like a bug” that means that I probably was imagining it or remembered it wrong.

I try to come up with examples. You know that family that went to our church years ago, I can’t remember their names, Umm, they were friends with our other friend…and I think their teenage daughter had one. I think. Don’t you remember?? That family?? He looks at me blankly.

Ok, lets try something different. I grab my phone and start googling for pictures of cars, hoping to find a picture of what I saw. Except, of course, I don’t know how to search for a random picture of a car… I know I’ve seen a lot of them so, maybe “popular cars?”  Nope, nothing. Uhh, I think I’ve mostly seen women driving them, lets try, “women’s favorite cars?” Nope. Nothing. I decided to give the VW bug another search, maybe it was just a certain year that I was thinking about? I stare at hundreds of pictures of VW bugs. Weeellll, maybe that’s it? I point at a newer model of the VW Beetle. My husband stares at the screen, then he turns and stares at me, distaste written all over his face.

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He says…I may have to not like you as much as before.

I bristle. Well, I like it! So there! And just so you know, I happen to think some of the cars you like are ugly!

He looks surprised at that…Which ones do you think are ugly?

Those old square shaped Mustangs!

Mustang_SVO_1986

I don’t like square-shaped cars! I like bubble, round cars!

He looks puzzled, but he’s always ready for a conversation about cars..So, why do you like “bubble shaped” cars?

I think for a minute..Well probably cause when I was a kid I would draw pictures of cars and they were always “bubble shaped” and that just seems like the right shape for a car!

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My husband groans, shakes his head, then pulls up a picture of a Miata sports car…Like this?

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Yes! That is what a car is supposed to look like!

He grins, Ok, I guess we can at least agree on that.

It’s ok, it goes both ways. I regularly bore him with accounts of all the interesting philosophical articles I’ve been reading, and my opinions on history and education. He gets the same glassy-eyed look that I get when cars are mentioned.

It’s a good thing we love each other.