Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dreaming of Chocolate Lumps

Nesquik is my user name all over the internet and it's starting to play with my brain. I type it in and remember that wonderful chocolate milk of long-ago. I have moments when the urge to go down to the kitchen and mix up a glass washes over me and then I remember that it's all gone. And I'm sad.

On a happier note, Skooby is starting to grow teeth. I've been waiting for this. Grandchildren exist, as far as I'm concerned, to eat the stuff I give them. He seems to know the routine: arrive at my house, get locked into the high chair, reach for the honey-butter Ritz cracker that I hold out to him, and look happy while he gums it up.

I've been waiting to feed him (and his cousin ) cookies. I've held off long enough and tomorrow I give in to the urge. These are the cookies I've been dreaming of sharing with the little guys:

Cinnamon Crackle Cookies

Over on the Finished Book Pile, we have Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism by Donald T. Critchlow. I know, I know, Phyllis gets a bad rap. And she married herself the kind of last name that Hollywood agents would change half a heartbeat. But I really admire the lady.

For those of you who are too young to remember rotary dial phones, Phyllis was a housewife from the St. Louis area who led the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment. Actually, calling her "just a housewife" doesn't paint an accurate picture of the woman. Spurred by a Catholic sense of duty, she worked in Washington when she was a young single woman, which is where she learned the art of political organizing. After marriage and a first child, friends approached her husband Fred and asked him to run for Congress. He wasn't interested. "Then how about Phyllis?" they asked.

She didn't win the race, but she brought her considerable skills to bear on cause after cause. She fought against communism, for national defense, for Goldwater and Reagan. Not long before the ERA fight, she sat down to dinner with her husband and six children and announced that she'd decided to go to law school.

This is a woman who subscribed to 100 magazines and newspapers, who seldom got caught spewing mistaken facts. Her energy seemed endless, although she surely must have had household help. I just don't think she could have made all those phone calls, published all those newsletters, or run around Illinois making all those speeches without somebody back home to make dinner and clean the bathrooms. (I don't think money was a problem. Fred was a lawyer.) And when Phyllis' name became nationally known, she would hire a ballroom and throw a reception for her supporters.

Phyllis' enemies saw her as "doctrinaire, intolerant and self-righteous." Her supporters found her "logical, morally passionate [who] spoke on behalf of the average American." In later years, a very seasoned Phyllis had refined the art of maintaining her cool in a debate. When Betty Friedan said she would like to burn Phyllis at the stake, Schlafly calmly replied, "I'm glad you said that because it just shows the intemperate nature of proponents of ERA."

The book can be heavy wading. I endured the parts about nuclear stuff, but ate up everything the ERA fight. If the political stuff doesn't appeal to you but you'd like to read about the woman, I suggest Sweetheart of Silent Majorityby Carol Felsenthal. I think I read that one decades ago and enjoyed it.

Next up, Character Studies by Mark Singer. This book is a collection of profiles, all on "the curiously obsessed." People who collects Tom Mix memorabilia; a group of guys who meet every week to discuss how to find the skull of Pancho Villa (we didn't know it was missing!) and return it to Mexico. Then there is the chapter on Donald Trump, throughout which the author seems to be rolling his eyes. As Singer says, Trump, for all he has in this life, completely lacks a sense of irony. I really gotta read that chapter out loud to John.

Next up, When the Messenger is Hot a short-story collection by Elizabeth Crane. All of her stories take the tone of a gossipy friend, telling you her latest troubles over a couple tall cups of Starbucks' best. Some stories suffer from too many cow patties, some from a structure little better than a fleshed-out list. Crane's sentences run on and on. Taking her all in one chunk tried my patience some, unless it was a really charming or compelling story, i.e., "Privacy and Coffee," "Year-at-a-Glance,", "Christina" and "Something Shiny," which was about a girl who wrote her memoirs. Then Hollywood wanted to make them into a movie. Then the actress hired to play the author came to study her habits and mannerisms. Great fun.


  1. Now how exactly do I sign up to be your grandchild??? Sounds like a great gig to me!

  2. I happily feed anyone who visits.

  3. well, than I'm coming to visit. Shall I make a request?