Friday, December 30, 2011

Snickerdoodles and Headless Ducks


   Christmas cookies have a special meaning for my family. My mother begins preparations for the holiday season by stocking up on enough baking goods to make about 4000 cookies. She whips up batches of Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cakes (note - As I type this, I realize that might be a politically incorrect term), and many more.  Great care goes into making sure each cookie is perfectly shaped, packaged and safely delivered to loves ones around town. We laugh that the larger the cookie tin, the better the friendship.    

   I'm not actually part of this cookie making machine because of lack of time to participate, but I do try to keep up the family tradition of making the Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies.  This is a recipe handed down from my great grandmother, Grammie. She gave her cookie cutters to my grandmother, Nana, who, in turn, gave them to my mom.  I have enjoyed forty-seven Christmases, all with cut out reindeer and tiny angels.  My favorite is a 1940's looking Donald Duck in a sailor cap.  His neck always breaks during baking and we end up with a bunch of headless ducks.   All the cut out cookies are always lightly sprinkled with just the right amount of red and green sugar crystals.  They are a sight to behold and a treasure to eat. 

   This year, the cookie cutters were handed down to me and instantly placed in my twelve year old daughter's hands.  She loves to bake and began the process of preparing the family treasure.   I let her go with little guidance as I was literally tied up trying to wrap Christmas gifts, pay bills, sort laundry, and prepare dinner.  It seems she discovered some Easter colored pastel sugars in the cabinet and thought they might be good to use. I assumed she was stamping out red and green reindeer and a few headless ducks and I took comfort knowing the family tradition would continue on.  

  After two trays of cookies, I suppose she lost interest and wandered off.  My mother came in about that time and I found her standing over the counter in a state of shock staring down at a pan full of purple bells, one legged horses, and a glob of unshaped dough all baked to perfection.  I saw her begin to tremble as she tried to grasp what had happened.   I knew her blood pressure was rising and her pace maker was probably jumping into override as she scanned the kitchen hoping to find the sour dough cookies that had been carefully prepared in the same fashion for over eighty years.   I quickly moved her to a chair, slapped some dough on the counter, rolled it out quickly and pressed out twenty perfectly shaped bells and angels and sprinkled them with just the right amount of red and green sugar.  I prayed as I placed them in the oven that I wouldn't discover a pan of burnt Christmas cookies with Halloween colors and tiny bat and pumpkin sprinkles.  That would probably send her straight into cardiac arrhythmia.   I continued with my cut outs and crafted pans of reindeer, Christmas trees and headless ducks.  Before too long, we had a container full of cut out cookies that would make Grammie proud and my mother's heart beat return to normal.   

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Aren't I A Fun Driver

    Of all the Christmas presents under our tree, this one was the most difficult to wrap.   While Allie was thrilled with her new Christmas ride, I don't think anyone expected her dog Jodi to be quite as excited as she was.   All day long we could hear a continuous whirrrr outside the window as Allie and Jodi traveled up and down the street.  Jodi was the envy of every dog. 

    This Barbie style golf cart comes with street glow lighting, cell phone holder and a series of mirrors, none of which actually face the road or oncoming obstacles, but are strategically positioned so that Allie can view herself as she flies down the road.   She took me for a ride around the neighborhood and we flew over speed bumps and rounded corners while Jodi maintained perfect balance and I struggled to hang on.  We flew down a side street and crashed though rain puddles with Allie and Jodi smiling the whole time. I was frozen from the damp cold air and the occasional string of dog slobber that would fly in my face and I secretly hoped we were headed back to our house.  Just as we turned towards the warmth of home, Allie veered down a side street leading away from our house, flew through another puddle and exclaimed with great pride and a giant smile, "Aren't I a fun driver!" 

   I instantly pictured her at sixteen, flying through town in a convertible, with a car full of friends, all having a great time because of Allie's "fun" driving skills.  Suddenly, I wished the golf cart ride would never end and we could just stay stuck at this age for a while longer.  I realize that one day Jodi will be replaced with a girl Allie's age and the golf cart will be a thing of the past.  I can only pray that Allie is a safe driver and not a fun one.  I should probably start saving for a steel framed tank with no mirrors, a hands free telephone system and special seat in the back for Jodi.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When You Call Me Big Papa

My son has the new iPhone 4s that comes with a personal assistant named Siri.  I was unaware that Siri learns about the phone owner and uses that information at later times.  When issuing commands or requests to this new apple product, Siri will respond by calling you by name.  While driving through the city tonight, I heard my son, who was sitting in the passenger seat, inform Siri that he liked it when she called him Big Papa.  I instantly found this both odd and creepy, but even more peculiar was Siri's response...."Okay Master Brodnax, from now on I will refer to you as Big Papa."  I wondered just how bizarre this could get and then decided it was best to let sleeping dogs lie. I had not noticed that my son was going by the name Master Brodnax and had also failed to recognize that somewhere along the line he picked up the phrase Big Papa.   Little did I know this was an internet fad and people around the globe were asking Siri to call them Big Papa.  Big Papa conjures up all kinds of images, good and bad.  It also brings into play images of women lovingly referring to their "man" as Big Papa.  I can't say I have ever used that term and I'm not sure it could fall from my lips without a giggle. Siri says it with no giggle or stumble and I wonder what kind of gal refers to a man as Big Papa with true sincerity, as Siri does.  I picture the Apple personal assistant as a woman with good shoes, a sharp wit, and cutting edge.  Could this be the kind of woman who has a "Big Papa" in her life?   I realize she isn't real and perhaps I should find the lesson in this that some things should not be over-analyzed.   So what if my seventeen year old son finds humor in having an electronic personal assistant who uses terms of endearment when speaking to him.  I suppose the true concern should be when he brings home a date who refers to him as Big Papa. Now that would be disturbing.  Perhaps I should get the iPhone 4S, change it to the male voice and ask it to call me Sweet Mama.  

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...