~ Reconciling Our Irreconcilable Differences ~
I remember watching Lucy walk over to Ethel’s apartment to borrow a cup of sugar. And visa versa.
I remember when DJ Tanner talked on the phone with Kimmy Gibbler.
I remember playing baseball in the street.
I remember when neighbors actually spoke to one another.
I remember when a new family moved into the neighborhood, the locals would trek across their lawns, ring the doorbell, introduce themselves, welcome the newest residents, and drop off some baked goodies - whether it be a loaf of bread, or a plate of cookies. And it actually didn’t matter what form of food the calories were melded into, what mattered was the act of the offering.
And that was it.
They were now neighbors.
And - They were friends.
It didn’t matter who was a republican and who was a democrat.
And, all the politics in the world... wouldn’t stop a neighbor from helping a neighbor in need.
Someone would always be there to shovel the snow for the people nearby them.
Someone would always have time, or desire, to organize that infamous summer block party.
And at Christmas time, there’d always be that neighbor who wanted to host a cookie exchange - or even - set up matching light-up plastic soldiers lining the entire block.
But does any of that matter anymore?
Does anybody still do any of these things?
Do you even talk with your neighbors?
But I do know it's becoming increasingly rare. With our phones in our hands, and our heads bent down, we can’t even see our neighbors, let alone talk with them, through that black and desolate screen.
So, over time, with less one-on-one communication, we have now ended up in the situation we currently find ourselves: Anger. Hate. Violence. Incivility. And worse.
And, no I’m not blaming the smart phone for all our worldly problems.
I’m blaming us.
WE - are bigger than a phone. WE - are bigger than the internet. WE - are bigger than social media.
But - WE - have forgotten all this.
In this crazy covid world, we have forgotten that humanity is more important than how many likes we get. That communication isn’t just one directional. And that the world isn’t one size fits all.
We have even forgotten how to speak simply with one another. And how to speak civilly with one another.
And without communication with another - we are no longer unified.
Why does a couple, or a union, divorce? Separate, or break up? Why does a relationship end?
Is it because they no longer love one another? They can no longer agree? They’re not on the same page? They have different aspirations and life goals? They feel anger and hostility toward each other? They cannot even communicate with each other any longer? They are disgusted with one another and cannot stand the sight of the other? Maybe, maybe all of the above… but maybe it’s the simple fact that they no longer want to share a life together. After all, love cannot be forced.
So, what happens when we, as a nation, no longer agree with another?
What happens when we no longer love our neighbors?
When we cannot agree on the definition of words?
We are basically speaking different languages at that point, right?
Speaking different languages is not always a problem. There are people who speak different languages all over the world, and they all don’t disagree with and hate one another.
It’s the actions one takes that lead to agreement or disagreement. Civility or incivility. A smile and a handshake go a long way, especially if two people standing before each other do not understand the words coming out of their mouths.
But what happens when two people who do speak the same langage stand before each other, attempting communication, and one word means something to one of them, and the same word then means something else - something completely different - to the other? The meaning being contradictory, the opposite of intention… leading to anger, or violence over perceived meaning?
Are we in the denial phase of breaking up our relationship in this country right now?
I don’t know… maybe we are well past denial at this point. Maybe we’re well engulfed in the anger phase by now?
Yes, that must be it. Because all I see is anger and hostility - on the news anyway.
In real life, it’s a completely different story.
In real life, I see the sun rise. I see people walking on the beach… passing each other and smiling. I see myself shopping in the grocery store. And real people being real nice to one another.
I even still see neighbors helping neighbors.
Could it be that the news and media paints a different picture of real life? Are we in denial of what’s really happening, or is what’s really happening just happening differently in different locales? Is one person’s perception of the same matter differently perceived by the other? Can we even wrap our heads around that question? Yes, maybe that’s it. What’s happening online really is happening, but some people can’t see it? And maybe some people see the same thing but completely differently.
Who knows? But, either way, I still see us falling.
My perception is I see the country falling apart. As some are still baking cookies for one another, others are beating people in the streets. Bloody and bruised. Chocolate chips and cinnamon rolls. Hatred and anger. Lemonade stands and block parties. Fires and bear spray.
And, due to all this disagreement we have with each other - Is it time we broke up with one another?
No. I argue, No.
It’s not time.
We have a long road ahead. With each other.
Side by side.
Agree and disagree.
We should not divorce.
We have reconcilable differences.
We have differences - yes. But they are NOT irreconcilable.
In any good, healthy, solid, and long term relationship - continuous work is required.
We have work to do, indeed.
But, that work must be together. Not apart. Not separate. Not under disunion. Not under false pretence. And not under a guise of fake mediation.
We MUST work hard at living as good neighbors to one another. We MUST be civil. We MUST be noble. And true. And kind. And do it all for nothing in return. When did everything become about what you will get out of it? When did actions become simply about the reaction? And nothing more? After all, every time Lucy borrowed a cup of sugar, did she ever repay it?
When did we start not dropping off a plate of cookies when a new neighbor moved in next door? Expecting nothing in return, except maybe a smile. A handshake. An introduction. A civil conversation?
A long, long time ago, I guess.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. These cookies... they don't have to be homemade. They don’t have to be the fancy recipe straight from your Grandma’s kitchen. They don’t have to be gourmet.
These cookies could be a plastic box of store-bought chocolate chip cookies, sealed with a bar code and priced at $3.99 for a box of twelve from the Publix down the road.
But, here’s an even bigger secret. You don’t even need to bring cookies with you. You just need to say hello.
No, you see - It’s not the cookies we have forgotten, and it’s not that we cannot afford $3.99 with endless bills to pay, with worries over rent and healthcare. It’s the act of walking next door that we have truly and utterly and sadly forgotten and completely eliminated from our lives. The act of crossing the lawn, getting shoes wet from the morning dew on the blades of cut grass. Walking up the front lawn, climbing the porch, and ringing that gosh darn effing door bell - with good intention in our heart.
Cookies not included.
Cookies not needed.
Just a Hello.
Just a Welcome to the neighborhood.
We have definitely forgotten this simple act.
And who am I to even write about it? I have forgotten it too. Well, I haven’t forgotten. I do THINK of it when someone new moves in. But that’s about it. I THINK. I don’t ACT on it. After all, who has time for all that, right?
I’m the busiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I am living my very best life. But I am NOT partaking in dropping cookies at people’s doorsteps. And maybe that’s where this whole thing has gone wrong. Right freaking there.
I am truly happy. Extremely happy. Immensely happy. I am busy. I work hard. I love my family and friends. But when’s the last time I welcomed a new neighbor? I have no freaking idea.
I must give myself some credit though where credit is due. This Christmas, my husband and I made hundreds of cookies - piles and piles of cookies. The proof is on my Youtube Channel if you don’t believe me. And I did deliver cookies to neighbors and strangers alike. But this is simply one small act.
And today, I made a double batch of cookies for work tomorrow. A coworker's last day. For a ‘party’ and for my best wishes to send this person onto their next adventure in life.
One other small act.
These little acts. They do add up. They become our life. And our lives. If we are not interacting with one another regularly, in real life, then how can we have a civil relationship with each other in real life?
We need to say hello. We need to get to know one another. We need to have a relationship, other than by our avatars and screen names. Outside of the computers and not reflected through our phone screens. Let’s toss aside our usernames, and use our real freaking names.
So, is it time we broke up? Should we be getting a divorce?
I still say NO.
Now is not the time to call it quits.
We have still but a fleeting moment.
Not even now, as cities burn once again. Not even now, as the world seemingly readies itself for another war. Not even now, as more death engulfs the world. Not even now, as Evil reigns. And Evil thinks it’s winning. The flames having the upper hand. With fireworks in the night sky, and the Devil staring straight at us front and center. World War III on the horizon.
We can still work this out.
And we can stave off a civil war. But, we must heed the warning signs.
We can find the reconcilable parts of our hearts. And join together once again. As one nation, undivided.
And then we can have a simple block party. Hot dogs and beers all around. Slip, sliding away. Party in the USA. Everyone’s invited - Kimmy Gibbler included. And cookies are not required.~
*Part of Bean’s Baking Series*
With the holidays fast approaching, I’m here to broadcast a friendly reminder. It seems everyone may be a whole lot better off if we all stopped to smell the roses, even for a bit, during this festive, yet often hectic, time of year.
And while according to commercial advertisements, the holidays have already arrived, and yes, Thanksgiving is coming up quickly… whether we like it or not, Christmas will be over in the blink of an eye.
Snap. Just like that.
It’s always over too fast.
Don’t let it all go by so quick that you don’t get to enjoy those special, slow moments.
So between now and that blink occurring, I highly recommend baking some cookies. Whatever cookie you want, just do it. Because baking takes time. It forces you into your kitchen. It makes the oven come alive with wondrous scents.
But baking also allows you to slow down for a bit. There’s no rushing allowed in the baking process. You have to mix your batter to the correct consistency. You can’t undertake. The dough must rise. All of this takes time. And patience.
So don’t wait for the perfect day…
Just bake away.
Because sometimes, in life, you just have to stop what you’re doing and bake some cookies.
To me, food, baking, and the holidays go together like a ham sandwich. Or an oreo cookie. One part just doesn't happen without the other.
And I LOVE to bake throughout the month of December especially. I’ve got quite a few types of cookies in mind that I want to bake this year, so I figured I’d start now with the chocolate chip. Yes, even if it’s the simplest of simple baking… the classic and undeniably original chocolate chip cookie. Baking, and the scent it releases into the home, reminds me of Christmas… Probably because that’s the cookie we put out for Santa! Those, and some carrots, of course.
And baking cookies really doesn’t have to be an all day project. Never forget that dough can be made in advance and then frozen for later. Or even mix the dough on a Saturday, put the bowl in the fridge, and bake on the Sunday. By doing your prepping ahead of time, when it comes time to turn on the oven, it’s then the easiest and most enjoyable part of the process. Just turn the oven light on and watch ‘em bake.
I suppose I could say that chocolate chip cookies are a staple in our house.
Well, not really.
But I want them to be.
Can’t I enjoy cookies as often as I thoroughly enjoy eating slices of completely boring 100% whole wheat bread??? I guess not on that one either.
But if cookies were an everyday food, they wouldn't be as special when you do go ahead and make them, would they?
So that’s why it’s always important to treat yourself. Have those special foods. Don’t eliminate them from your life altogether. Go ahead and eat a cookie once in a while.
And you know those sayings that start off something like:
“You know you’re getting old when…” ???
Well, that thought temporarily crossed my mind the other day.
My entire life I could always simply walk down the baking aisle at the grocery store and quickly grab a bag of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips. It was the perfect bag size too… not too big - not too small. And it corresponded with the cookie recipe perfectly, of course.
Well - everything changed.
And I didn’t get the memo.
Never, did I ever have to look up the recipe for chocolate chip cookies online before. Because in the act of grabbing a bag of chips, the recipe was always printed on the back of the bag. That printed recipe would then direct me on through the rest of the grocery store to grab the sticks of butter, vanilla extract, etc. etc.
So, here I am at the grocery store, in said baking aisle. I grab the bag of original Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips - not the extra dark, not the mint or other random flavors that have been added to its selection over the years, but the original semi sweet that the classic recipe calls for. And the bag might as well have weighed five hundred pounds.
Let’s just say it was the Costco sized version of chocolate chips. And that’s what was available for me to purchase, no other option. They changed their portion size! Gasp. They messed with the original recipe portion. I could always just slice open the bag in the past and pour the chips into the mixing bowl, no measuring required. But this bag was much, much too big. This meant that I would have to go back and remember how many chocolate chips corresponded to the original recipe and divide it out myself or look it up online. Plus, I had to purchase about four hundred ninety nine extra pounds of chocolate chips that I didn’t need.
Never fear, I thought. I could very easily figure out what the portion size should be... I would just read the recipe on the back of the bag to figure it out, right?
I turn the heaping bag of chips around…
The bag reads something along these lines…
“Visit our website for the cookie recipe...”
We have now reached a point in time when the chocolate chip cookie recipe is found online, not on the back of the bag. Too funny.
I did find it funny, and kind of sad, at the same time. Just for a moment.
So there we stood, both hubby and I - in the baking aisle, on our phones, to pull up Google, find the website, and figure out the ingredients I needed to buy. And actually, I’ve made these cookies so many times in my life that I know the recipe by heart. But I still go through the motions and double check the printed version to make sure that I have everything in my cart. And that printed recipe on the yellow bag of chips was always my reminder. So in one trip to the grocery store… they changed the portion size, and took away the printed recipe. Sad face.
The bag of chips ended up being so big, and so much, that I just decided to wing it, and just poured in a ton of chips into the mix in the bowl. I was done. When we got home, I didn’t want to look up one more thing online in order to make and bake my precious and simple little cookies.
I just wanted to be in the kitchen.
Light a lovely cinnamon spice scented candle.
Turn on a podcast to enjoy.
So we guesstimated on the chips. Those cookies we baked were extra tasty this time around.
In a world now where everything is GOOGLED for an answer to life’s problems, I just wanted to solve this minor little dilemma on my own. Not everything needs to be Googled. Not everything needs to be looked up online in order for the decision-making process in one’s brain to take place. Right?
Sometimes you just need to make a decision on your own. Small or big.
Don’t Google it...
Just Do it...
If it comes between guessing and Googling, go ahead and add some extra chocolate chips into the mixing bowl.
(But for all those bakers out there baking to perfection, I have included the ORIGINAL, CLASSIC, NESTLE TOLLHOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE recipe below for all your baking needs.) Yes, you can read the recipe here, but just know you can’t read it on the bag.
So go ahead and make some cookies. Light a candle and listen to something you love… As you mix, and scoop, and watch the dough rise in the oven.
And next time you are faced with the almighty decision of reaching for your phone and pressing G O O G L E, I encourage and challenge you to S T O P right then and there.
Whatever it is, whether it's the address to a destination you are going to drive to, or the answer to why your arm currently hurts, or what the name of the movie Tom Hanks starred in where his character goes back to college after a twenty year career in the navy? Oh, what’s the name? It’s on the tip of my tongue….?????
Don’t GOOGLE it right away.
CHALLENGE your brain for the answer.
Call up the person on the phone whose house you will be driving to and ask them what their address is? Think about Tom Hanks for a while… Contemplate where he is in the movie… think of the setting. Oh yeah... he has a crush on Julia Roberts in the movie? That’s right! I’m getting close…
Oh yeah again!... Julia Roberts is a college professor in the film.
A young and rising star named Rami Malek is also in the film… sitting in the back of the classroom.
The answer is coming to me….!
Oh yes, it’s from 2011 and takes place after the Great Recession. Before you Google up Tom, or Wikipedia search the list of movies he has been in throughout his long and very successful career, ultimately your brain might remember that the name of the movie I am referring to is Larry Crowne.
And Larry Crowne is WELL WORTH a watch by the way. Without giving away any spoilers, his speech at the end is priceless. And is spoken in such a way that only our dear Tom can deliver.
Yes, I AM in love with him.
But challenge that brain. Just as Tom Hanks’ character did in the movie by going back to school. To change. To grow. To nurture his brain.
The funny thing is Julia Roberts’ character in the film ‘suffers’ through listening to her GPS device while driving the same route from home to work every day. It’s not like she can’t remember the route from her house to the school. But it keeps talking to her and telling her where to turn. She was going crazy. Tom Hanks comes along and helps her turn the device off. It was running on auto-pilot and driving her mad during her commute.
While GPS is quite a perk of modern life, it’s definitely not always necessary.
And nope, not all change is bad. Even if the change is sad for a tiny bit of a moment in time while you are standing in the baking aisle at the Winn Dixie. And think, am I getting old? No, you’re not getting old. The world is just spinning onward a little bit more.
In the movie, Larry Crowne suffers some sadness and heartbreak. But because of those aches, he was also able to change his life most definitely for the better.
I picked up Larry Crowne from the Jacksonville Public Library. I had seen it before, and always remembered it for the speech Larry gives. It was well worth another watch, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of those films that has it all.
Romance. Sadness. Tears.
Action... If you count riding around town on a scooter with a scooter gang - action.
Comedy, and A LOT of laughter.
So next time you’re looking for a film to watch, choose to revisit one from 2011, instead of one from 2019.
Stop and smell the roses once in a while.
Or the radishes.
Order a cup of classic Hot Chocolate. Yes, with the whipped cream on top.
Look up at the stars in the sky. And remember that each one is so very different from the other.
Get up early and watch the sun rise.
Because just as each chocolate chip cookie is unique from the next…
One sun rise
Is never the same
As the other.
Embrace change. Go with it. But challenge it too.
And stop what you’re doing once in a while, bake something delicious, and put some out for Santa. ~
Christine’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (Just slightly amended from the Official Nestle Tollhouse Recipe)
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup densely firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag of 12 ounce package (2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix everything but the chips together slowly into a creamy dough, stir, then by hand or with a spoon as it gets thicker
Add chips last and mix and mix by hand together
Scoop roughly tablespoon drops of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet
Bake roughly 9-11 minutes
Cool on the sheet for about two minutes
Then cool on cooling rack completely
Share & Enjoy! ~~
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