Gritty Chocolate Chip Cookies


Without fail, every autumn, the crisp air and bright foliage cause me to recall the time in 1979 I went with my girlfriend Carol and two of her friends—a married couple, Greg and Dorinda—on a day trip to Philadelphia.  We lived roughly 150 miles from the city, on Long Island, and Carol’s friend, Greg, drove.


I well remember that period in my life—my late teens; I had a particular fondness back then for strolling about big cities—especially on clear, bright autumn days such as this one.  And in Philadelphia, I recall how the crisp October breezes formed colorful whirlwinds—leaf devils—that skated through intersections and up and down the sidewalks—how the immense cumulus clouds, caught in 30-mile-per-hour winds, pushed massive shadows in their wake, down the streets and up the sides of buildings.


It was interesting to see how the Old World existed alongside the New.  Buildings that might have been built in 1770 stood beside structures from perhaps 1970.  We ambled along a cobblestone road where a plaque in the ground informed us we were also traversing the roof of someone’s house from the late 1700s.



Carol and I had been arguing (as usual), and (as usual), there were some hard feelings between us that day.  And although I was silent and morose as we walked from one historic place to another—learning new things about Ben Franklin and George Washington, seeing the Liberty Bell and all the touristy stuff—Greg and Dorinda were used to ignoring the tension between us.  And Carol, as was typical for her, had a great time with them—while ignoring me.


I was nineteen, and although I worked full-time, I never had much money in my pocket.  I’d started the day out with maybe $10—but I knew I wouldn’t need much.  Most of our activities were free, and if we did pay an admission fee to anything, it wasn’t more than a dollar or two.  But everything cost me double because I also paid for Carol.  By late morning, Greg was a little peeved that I no longer had enough money for certain spontaneous activities or admission fees.  Greg and Carol were close friends, and so this created a kind of solidarity between them; now they could both be angry with me, and I could be angry with Carol—and now I could be a little peeved at Greg for being peeved at me.  Dorinda was never angry with anyone.


We grabbed a table at a pretty decent restaurant for lunch, and I found something on the menu that I really wanted that cost $6.  And although I was now down to about $2, I knew that Carol had a twenty, recently earned from her new job—her first steady employment.  So naturally, I figured that even though I was almost broke, like any long-time couple—friends—who are “there for each other”, she’d be there to pick up the slack.

When I gave my order to the waitress, Carol looked at me and asked, “Do you have any money?”  The waitress paused, Dorinda looked up at the ceiling, and Greg smirked.

“You do,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s mine,” she responded.  Thoroughly deadpan.

“Wow!”  (I actually said, “Wow!”)

Despite all the money I’d spent on her that day—indeed, over the past two years—all the gifts I’d lavished upon her—Carol clutched that twenty bucks as if her life depended on it.  It was hers.

And this was incredible.

I calmly asked Greg for his keys, got up, and politely told them I’d be waiting in the car.  I was so angry, I didn’t want to be anywhere near her.  She actually let me go hungry that afternoon when it was within her power to do otherwise.

The three of them took their time while I waited outside; it gave me time to think of all the times I had treated Carol to lunch during the past two years.


Later, at a museum, while the three of them watched a short film about the city’s history, I sat alone in a common area outside the small indoor theater, fuming and brooding—and trying to comprehend my girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to me, the architecture was such that the audience exited from a place below the balcony where I was sitting, and when the film was over, I was unaware that everyone was leaving.  While Greg and Carol walked (hurriedly, I presume) toward the street exit, I heard Dorinda’s shout from somewhere below me, “Eric!  We’re leaving!”  Had it not been for her, I would still be sitting there.



So … long story, short … Philadelphia is one of my worst memories—but it’s also one of my best.

And it’s because God designed us so that time would smooth the rough edges of our less-favorable times in life—causing even the terrible experiences to somehow seem “not so bad, after all”.  We tend to gloss over the bad parts—and extol the good ones—so that in our minds we end up with an amalgam similar to sand in chocolate chip cookies.


Still, I hope my old girlfriend has better learned how to treat people who love her.  And I hope she has realized by now that I didn’t deserve to be abandoned in a city far from home—with no transportation—hungry—and without even enough money to buy a sandwich for dinner.


And every autumn, I reminisce about the events of that day—over and over.  I gleefully indulge in my gritty chocolate chip cookies.

So I guess it wasn’t so bad, after all.



It Pleases Me

Love Those "Hands at Home"

working handsA folklorist, traveling in rural America, meets an elderly farmer. The old man is tired, from hard work with his herd and his land, yet works in the evening to make chairs he needs for his home.

The chairs he has crafted could be considered finished—they are strong and sound—but the old man continues, with weary hands, to carve flourishes and curlicues into the wood, to decorate his utilitarian creations.

The folklorist, a specialist in material culture, asks the man, “Why? Who do you take the time to decorate the chairs when they are perfectly serviceable?” The old man is silent, thinking, perhaps for the first time, about his motivation, his desire. And then he answers:

“Because it pleases me.”

I heard this story, told by folklorist Henry Glassie, many years ago as an undergraduate when Glassie came to visit my college. Since then, I have thought often of the…

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“It’s the thought that counts” is MESSED UP!


We hear people say, “Well, it’s the thought that counts.”

Um… WHAT?!?

Maybe those are not the best words to live out.

For example:

I saw her drowning and I THOUGHT about helping but I don’t run very fast and by the time I got there it’d probably be too late sooo…

“Yes it’s our anniversary and I THOUGHT about saying something or getting flowers but you know, Honey, it’s the thought that counts!” (Yeah. How did that work out?)

I heard you were grieving the loss of your child and THOUGHT about checking on you but it’s probably not my business.

The teacher said this homework was due today but I’m sure she knows it’s the THOUGHT that counts so it’s an easy “A.”

I thought about Jesus and I think He is real and I THOUGHT about Heaven and Hell, THOUHT about accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and…

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It Is OKAY To Like YOU


Remember that time when you did that thing you thought you couldn’t do? And remember how you were a little amazed by that? And if you’re honest with yourself, maybe you did it better than you thought you could?

When you think about YOU do you think more about that stuff or the “other” stuff… you know… the times you messed up… again?

The way we think about us in our own heads, about how we messed up, about how often we mess up, is just too much for our spirits sometimes. Be kinder to you.

Would you let someone else talk to you the way YOU talk to you? Would you let someone else talk to your husband, wife, kids, or parents the way you talk to you? Is it kind of… possibly… bullying yourself?



Take a breath and think something nice about you.

It is OKAY…

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Recipe For A Perfect Summer Day

Love Those "Hands at Home"

pretty campI spent a lot of the day yesterday stewing. I thought about the things I should be doing and didn’t want to do any of them—I didn’t want to blog. I didn’t want to quilt. I didn’t want to iron linens or list them on Etsy. I didn’t want to thread the damn heddles on the loom. I didn’t want to follow Weight Watchers.

It was a thick and heavy stew.

Then it dawned on me—stewing in the summer doesn’t make sense. Stews are for winter and, even then, they taste good only occasionally. They have too much stuff in them. They weigh a person down.

I wanted a different concoction for summer. Something lighter, easier. I had just the recipe but hadn’t made it for far too long.

I needed to dig out my old favorite recipe for “camp,” and make a big batch.

I started with…

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It’s Just a Matter of . . . Thyme

Love Those "Hands at Home"

Good morning!

It’s been a long thyme!

IMG_2852In June, there’s a moment of thyme . . .

IMG_7501When I have thyme on my hands . . .

IMG_7487 And thyme is on my side . . .

IMG_7494Here, thyme knows no bounds.

IMG_7486I have all the thyme in the world . . .

IMG_7495To enjoy some quality thyme.

IMG_7491But thyme is of the essence . . .

IMG_7485Because, before long, it’s thyme to call it a day . . .

IMG_2853After a good thyme was had by all!


And, truly, there’s a thyme for every purpose under heaven.


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