Tag Archives: social

Cookies of perpetual indulgence

We throw a party every year to bake and exchange holiday cookies of no particular affiliation, although there do seem to be a preponderance of Christmas trees in the mix with each year’s collection. I started the annual cookie exchange in 2003, when I was living in a 1-bedroom 3rd floor walk up, which incidentally was the only place I’ve lived that had kitchen appliances younger than me. Unbeknownst to me, Susanne was hosting her own cookie party, not surprising since we both own KitchenAid Artisan 5.5 quart mixers that we have given names. Obviously baking is more important to us than your average bear. No, I do not think that makes us weird.

What was a fun little get-together has evolved into a tag-team extravaganza of confection. We held our first cookie exchange in Wallyworld last weekend and 30 guests came by with all manner of sweet goodness: there were butter cookies, gingerbread cookies, fudge, pumpkin-chocolate-chip cookies, spice-raisin cookies, shortbread cookies, nutty cookies, fruity cookies, and some high-end store bought cookies. 

To cut some of this unending sweetness, Susanne and I made a few savory delights — her well known (in DC) stuffed mushroom caps, spinach dip, and as a joke, I made mini-wieners with Pillsbury dough crescent rolls snugly wrapped around each one. Susanne could not believe her eyes, but I said, “you wait and see, people will love them.” She continued to look absolutely horrified. 

I ran out to the store, buying last-minute things and getting some cider so we could mull it with some spices on the stove. It had started snowing. Walla Walla, although it gets about three times the amount of snow, on average, that DC does, does not own a single plow. So driving gets pretty treacherous. I put on my grippiest shoes, prayed my remaining ACL would hold out on any ice, and hopped in the car. And then drove very slowly to the grocery store. Anti-lock brakes are great, but the jittery dashboard alarm that the road is slick annoyed the hell out of me. I know it’s slippery, car, I’ve been driving for 20 years. You were just manufactured in June. Don’t tell me how to drive. 

After this altercation with our vehicle, I slipped into the grocery, grabbing what I needed, and then heading for the cash registers. In Walla Walla, there aren’t long lines for anything, really, but they’re still painfully slow. People here like to commiserate. It did, after all, take us 2.5 hours to buy a new dryer at Home Depot our second week here because the appliance salesman spent so much time chatting us up. By the end I knew his full name, favorite hobby (hot air ballooning), preferred church (Adventist), favorite restaurant (26 Brix), and had met his current girlfriend and her two children.

I stood in the line of two people (me and another person) for 12 minutes. At this point all the friendly has evaporated from my body and the three-foot radius of space around me. I am thus very consistently a rather terse, unhappy customer by the time I actually reach the cashier, but my politeness stops me from spilling over into rudeness, which is fortunate, because that would be such a difference from Chatty Cathy Cashier that it would rip the fabric of the universe, and then where would we be? Looking at the gates of hell or the 7th dimension or something, at Checkout 1 of the Safeway on Tientin Street? Not good.

Then it was off to get home, get the food prepped, and hop in the shower and find some festive outfit. I was happy, damn it, happy for the holiday party!

I showered too quickly. I left soap on my backside and realized, only after I’d gotten dressed, that this made it hard to walk. Apparently friction keeps our legs from doing the Monty Python silly walk, and I had just minimized my friction. But with 30 minutes until the party, I didn’t have time to remedy my situation. So it was that I realized that inside slipperiness is just as bad, if not worse, than outside slipperiness, like ice. At least I didn’t have a butt alarm telling me that it would be hard to keep my legs together. Actually, that’s not really how I meant that to sound. Oh, bother.

The party went off without a hitch, and two people actually squealed with delight when they saw the mini-wieners. Somehow this post has gotten off track with all the talk about butts and wieners. Sorry about that. I have pictures somewhere, of all the cookies, and when I locate the camera cord (Susanne tells me it’s in the cabinet of no return), I’ll update this post.

How to meet friends and influence…anybody


DC building on a sunny day

DC building on a sunny day

So Susanne, for better or worse, has moved into a veritable community of faculty and staff, and of course, students. As I mentioned in the last post, we’ve gone to one staffer’s house for dinner, and we’ve also been over to another faculty member’s house for a chocolate tasting event which was, shall we say, very Walla Walla. To clarify–in DC, such an event would include a chocolate waterfall, set up next to a Melting Pot-like tray of pineapple, marshmallows, strawberries, cheesecake, and the like; a table of Brazilian and Peruvian or fill in your exotic country of choice dark chocolates, some European chocolate for comparison, and 6 people from the Commerce Department who would espouse on the history of chocolate, whether they actually knew anything about it or not. Out here, well, it was a bunch of folks sitting around a dining room table which barely had enough room for us and all of our host’s houseplants, eating little taster-sized chocolates that she got from a friend. Way more down to earth and simplified. And, I suppose, much less pretentious.


Walla Walla petunias

Walla Walla petunias

The ready-made crowd is nice, but I feel the need to meet some people on my own, as if meeting everyone through Susanne would doom me to a life apart from any decision-making I could do. Which I know isn’t true. But it appeared to me to be healthier to find avenues of my own toward friendship and comraderie. So I ventured down to the local, lonely Democratic headquarters for the county.

Boy, were they happy to see me! So happy! Happy happy joy joy! I thought I might get a Busby Berkeley musical number upon my entrance. Now just for kicks I may have to visit the GOP HQ to see what that experience is like. It also helps that it’s next door to the only Chinese lunch buffet in town. (And the all-you-can-eat buffet, by the way, is $6.49 — eat that, Baltimore former coworkers! So if you want to meet up next Friday, let me know.)

At first, they didn’t know what to do with me. I have hours and hours of free time right now. Should he canvass for us or do some phone bank work? Or be at the phones here? Immediately clear to me was that each person does in fact make a difference. As someone said to me last weekend, one person is the difference between a phone ringing endlessly at the HQ because nobody’s there to answer it, or a person to pick it up and respond.

I didn’t think the canvassing would work too well given the state of my knee rehabilitation, so I have opted for the phone bank. Oh boy. Can’t wait until I get my massively long list of numbers to call, so people can curse at me and hang up on me. But I’m sure I’ll make some new friends there — and they’ll be Democrats. Which means, I’m not sure.

Last Saturday Susanne and I went to a fundraiser event for the local HIV non-profit education and healthcare provider, Blue Mountain Heart to Heart. The idea is that over the course of a specific week, Walla2 residents host dinners at their homes and people come over to donate and eat, and then at the end of the week, the organization hosts another party with desserts to announce how much money was raised, and thank everyone for their work and donations. It’s along the lines of what Food & Friends does in DC to raise money, although for that effort folks go out to participating restaurants who donate a portion of the proceeds of their take for that night. So here I guess Heart to Heart gets more percentage of the donation, since the dinner hosts don’t hold anything back, but the number overall is a lot smaller. At any rate, we met a lot of nice people, and now I have a date for the first debate on September 26 — at Becky and Bob’s house. (I am not making this up.) Which brings me to another question — who the hell schedules a debate on a Friday? Do they think we’re going to watch on a tavern TV with the NBA pre-season games playing on the next screen over? That’ll be the day.

Anyway, the DC Democratic HQ and the bleeding-heart liberals’ fundraising event aside, how else to meet people in Walla Walla? Well, I have a couple more route here. One was supposed to be bowling. I mean, seriously, I love bowlers. They want activity but not too much activity. They want teammates but not too much competition. They typically enjoy beer and other light refreshment. They’re definitely on the dorky side, and generally not very pretentious. My kind of people! I think I have to wait until January, though, because Mr. Knee here had to get overexcited at the Billie Jean song at his wedding, and he’s still not ready to fling the strikes down the lane. So that means…

I hope to meet people at the orthopedic’s office tomorrow! Hurt people here I come!

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