Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cookie Mounds

Baking cookies is my greatest passion and this is the time of year when I can unleash my urges and set myself free. I can bake without guilt and in the spirit of holiday sharing, can give dozens away to appreciative souls. The process begins by perusing dozens of cookie magazines and my big binder of recipes accumulated over 30 years from friends, parties, newspapers etc. The pictures are beautiful and mouth watering. I select many old favorites-the pinwheels, crescents, date balls, and pick new additions to try. Armed with my shopping list, I stock up on flour, sugar, dates, decorative sprinkles etc. My exitement builds as I find mixing bowls, cookie cutters and the cookie press. The mixer and food processor will get a workout this week. Like an addict, night after night, I mix and grind and turn out batches of sugary creations. Some are sliced, some dropped and some molded. Most difficult are the pinwheels which have to be carefully cut and folded over. Soon the kitchen ressembles a cookie factory with sheets of warm, soft, and aromatic cookies. Piles of cooled cookies stand on screens, and the counter is full with plastic tubs of finished cookies. At the end of this madness, I have baked 3-4 dozens each of 8-10 varieties. Arranged in paper cupcake holders in a cookie tin or Christmas plate, they spread holiday cheer. Joy is seeing others bite into and enjoying my cookie creations. Until next year... Meanwhile I dream of a time when cookies will be my career.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's a Dog Community

The recent attention to the concept of social networks, especially in the entertainment industry is quite fascinating. I attended a panel discussion last week that focused on this topic as it relates to the future of digital media. Every day, the newspaper reports on yet another social networking site. Are people so hard up for friends that they are turning to the virtual world to find them? Or is face to face interaction so difficult that people prefer to remain pseudo-anonymous? Perhaps it is the attraction of revealing only what you choose to reveal, or not being obligated to reciprocate in a real friendship. I can't imagine that the actual meeting up process on a computer screen more fun than a bar, club, party, hike....?

Lately I have been intrigued by the fact that dog walking creates quite a large social network for people. I have gotten to know the 9am walkers, especially the dog walkers. We have shared home remodellers, hair dressers, vets, child rearing challenges, aging parents, travel stories and cooking tips in our brief morning encounters as our dogs circle each other and we constantly untangle leashes. These are people with whom I have shared the beginning of every day. This morning, Heidi was still in bed with Jen, and I went for a run by myself, down the street which has been my usual route for the past 16 years. A lady stopped her car, rolled down her window, and with a very concerned look, asked, "Nothing has happended to your dog, has it?" I had never met her before, yet to her, I was as familiar to her as the oak tree that sits on the side of the road.
Out of context, without dogs in hand, in stores and social events, we often don't recognize each other! A few years ago, I attended the memorial service of a neighbor. All the attendees were neighborhood dog walkers who had gotten to know her husband well.

Similarly, the majority of my closest friends are those that I have kindled a relationship with, as we raised our children together. These friendships seem to be particularly strong even as our children are grown and out of the house.
Somehow, we created lasting bonds selling 25cent brownies, manning Halloween booths, and shelving library books.
Come to think of it, just about every friend and acquaintance was made through kids or dogs. Perhaps when one has neither, it is difficult to form a friendship, and that is where the online social network plays a role. It will be interesting to see how the world of social relationships changes in this new environment.