Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
Spanning the years, an average American spends six months of his or her life waiting at red lights. We who live in the area probably won’t waste that much accumulated time considering that there are…what, two…maybe, three stoplights in the entire county.

So, I won’t waste away my life anticipating a light to change from red to green. But I do expect that when it’s all said and done, I will be putting in some of the best months of my life sitting in my car waiting. Waiting in front of the middle school, at church, at the sport’s complex, in someone’s driveway, or in the parking spaces behind the high school.

Because I have two kids who participate in sports, and band, and dance, and piano, and everything else they and their friends do and we live in the country and they can’t drive. So I wait. Along with all of the other moms and dads whose kids live too far away to walk to this event or that.

Now, I don’t mean to complain. It could be worse. We only live five minutes out of town, so the trips back and forth aren’t as involved as those who need to travel farther. But there are times when it can be complicated if not downright comical.

Case in point. Last Friday, Meg came home after school while Alex stayed in town for basketball practice. On Fridays, the practices usually run short, so I was anticipating a phone call from my son telling me that he could be picked up.

But when the phone rang, it was Suzy Lindsay asking if Meghan could go to an out-of-town high school girl’s basketball game. Now I had a problem, albeit a small one, on my hands. If I left to take Meg in to town would I miss Alex’s call? And what would he do if he couldn’t reach me?

He would use the back-up plan, I told myself. He has been instructed that if Keith or I are unexpectedly unavailable, he is to walk over to the Lindsays’, whose home is conveniently located near the middle school, and seek refuge.

Problem solved, I told myself. I’ll drop Meg off and intercept Alex in the event that a call was missed. Oh, if it were only that easy.

I took Meg to town and after leaving Suzy’s house, I drove past the middle school looking for basketball boys. The foyer of the school was empty and the usual vans and SUVs of other parents weren’t lining the parking that edges the street.

Good, I thought. He isn’t out yet.

But now I had another decision to make. Should I drive back home and wait for Alex’s call or should I stay in town…and wait. I had no way of knowing just how long practice would be since it was Friday and the high school was hosting a tournament that night. Practice could be over in another five minutes, but then again, maybe it wouldn’t.

What to do. Would Alex want his mom to butt into practice just to ask what time he should be picked up? Uh, no. Could practice run to its usual time instead of being short? Possibly, and if so, that would mean a wait of 30 minutes or more.

But if I went home and missed Alex’s call, he would go to the Lindsays’ and find no one at that home either. Would he panic?

I drove around the block and passed in front of the school again. It still looked quiet. But then I remembered that the boys sometimes practice over at the elementary school gym.

Maybe if I drove over to that school, I might be able to see them leaving practice and returning to the middle school to pick up their books and bags before going home for the weekend.

I traveled the three or so blocks to the other school building and didn’t see hide nor hair of any seventh or eighth grade boys or their coaches. By this time, I was feeling kind of sheepish hoping that no one had noticed the crazy woman who kept circling the same city blocks over and over again.

I went past the middle school one more time before deciding to give up and go back home.

As I walked down the driveway and climbed the steps onto the front porch, I heard the muffled tones of the answering machine. I opened the door and caught my son’s voice.

Mom, you can come and pick me up. Uh, Mom?

I ran to the phone.

Alex, I’ll be right there.

OK, thanks.

And it was back to town again.

It’s estimated that you will spend one year of your life looking for misplaced objects. I estimate that I will spend at least that amount of time driving back and forth from my house to the middle school.

And then back again.

* * *

Did you know that more people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes, that dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors, and that the Bible is the most shoplifted book in America?

Just a few interesting facts that I came upon and now pass on to you along with this recipe for a cookie that is perfect for a Kansas Day celebration.

Sunflower Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds

1 cup coconut, optional

In a large bowl, cream together both sugars and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda; stir into the creamed mixture until just blend. Mix in the rolled oats; and the sunflower seeds. Stir in coconut, if desired. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Leave room for spreading.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies begin to brown around the edge. Allow cookies to set for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about three dozen.

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