Who can deny that some of life’s most memorable events are spontaneous—those unplanned occasions which we would not have dreamed up in a million years? Such was a recent serendipitous party in our home, with our granddaughter Leah and her four children.
They dropped in at 3:45 p. m. on the way home after Leah had gathered up the older children at school, to pick up (now 10 year old) Olivia’s birthday gift. There was no question in my mind, that the visit would be short. Leah puts in long hours with her family, with helping out at the children’s school—plus riding shotgun on her very endearing but rambunctious 3 year old, Carter. Still ahead in a long day for this sweet family was a 25 minute ride home, dinner for the children and Daddy Jeff who would soon be at home waiting, and then all the evening rituals—homework, baths, bedtime stories, etc. (After all these years, I still remember when!)
Olivia’s birthday gift was a St. Vinnee’s mint condition treasure: a cookbook with 175 recipes for cookies made with cake mixes. How fun for a 10 year old girl! And, as it turned out, fun for an 83 year old great-grandpa—my Joe!
Joe was almost as enthusiastic about the cook book as Olivia was. Right there on the spot he announced, “We are going to make peanut butter cookies NOW! Although not a gambling woman, I would safely put money on the hunch that Leah’s reaction and mine were in sync. Yikes! Late in the day. Tired. And, in the beautiful words of poet Robert Frost, “. . . miles to go before I sleep.”
But both Leah and I realized that a spur of the moment cookie party would provide a signature memory for the children—and adults as well. So into the kitchen went Joe, Olivia, and younger sister, Brynn (in red) who likes to be in the center of any action.
Over the years, Joe has focused on being a wonderful Husband, Dad, Grandpa, and now Great-Grandpa. He has cared for us diligently and lovingly. While he has worked hard at bread-earning, I naturally have tended the affairs of the kitchen. Joe is very adept at some kitchen jobs. He makes coffee, measures the carbs in his breakfast cereal (he is diabetic so carbs matter), makes wonderful peanut butter and jam sandwiches, mixes a fantastic soy milk chai for me every night, micro-waves soup or left-over dinners, and sometimes creates yummy Swedish meatballs.
But baking? The mad search for utensils amid requests of “Where’s this, where’s that?” was too humorous. We no longer have a gargantuan Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter; all cakes are mixed with a 5-speed hand blender which hides in a round-about cupboard between assignments. All dry ingredients live in decorative tins scattered hither and thither; I automatically memorize the contents by the designs on the tins—but since Joe normally has no need for stowed dry ingredients, he has not learned the code.
Thus Joe looked to the dining room table for the small amount of sugar needed in the recipe. I just happened to wander into the kitchen a split second before he dumped Sweet and Low into the mix—thinking it was real sugar. I have Sweet and Low in a sugar bowl on our table, for our daughter Judy’s coffee. How was Joe supposed to know it wasn’t the real thing?
Understandably Joe had not thought of the fact that cookies take a bit of time to prepare, given the rolling of balls—and in the peanut butter cookie instance, criss-crossing with a fork. Upon my mentioning that the old, battle-seasoned cookie sheets would need a covering of oil, I again forayed into the kitchen just as a pan of cookies was oven-ready—and the raw cookies were swimming in olive oil.
Joe is amazingly proficient at cleaning up as he goes; for this reason I never shudder when he does KP. In college he earned his meals as a “Pot and Pan” boy, and to this day he loves the challenge of washing up.
While history was being made in the kitchen, Leah and the boys—Lucas and Carter—played a game at the living room coffee table.
Well, no one can make cookies without immediately testing them to make sure they are “fit to eat”. So we are right back to the first photo:
The coffee table was cleared for a party with cookies and milk. Delicious! And thanks to a wonderfully imaginative Great-Grandpa, a good time was had by all. Joe has always been loaded for fun. That’s one of the countless reasons why I love him!
Margaret L. Been, February 2015