Entries from Tucson
Do you ever google how to make a baked macaroni and cheese and all of the results require you to read a short story about a destination wedding before giving you the recipe? Then you discover the writer neglects to say how hot the oven needs to be?
Last year, years after people stopped bothering with personal blogs, I finally got to meet in person a friend I made because of the blog I had a lot of fun keeping at the turn of the century, before we all moved to the walled gardens of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, and the constant blah, blah, blah. He shared with me some of the important work he does and the beautiful images he was making. I wanted to do the same, but mostly I just fretted about frustrations and insecurities. Partly because that’s what I do, and certainly because at the time I needed to talk to someone and he opened the door. (Sorry and thank you!) He encouraged me to write down something I’m grateful for every day, which is something I’ve tried to do ever since, usually when I first wake up and I’m waiting for the coffee to brew, which is probably why half the time I write: “I’m grateful for coffee.” Because I haven’t had any yet and it’s all I can think of.
Today it was zinnias. It’s been a summer fraught with disappointments and things to be anxious about, but the scruffy zinnias really came through for me. They didn’t care about the heat or the bugs or the rains that never came. They weren’t deterred by people not rising to the occasion and doing the right thing. They didn’t wrap selfishness in a flag and pretend it was something else. They persisted. And if I were better at this and maybe if I weren’t typing it all out with my thumb on this tiny glass anxiety rectangle, I’d find the paragraph breaks and transitions to say persistence is what I’m grateful for.
But actually, right now, it’s zinnias.
The next time you find yourself at urgent care, the delivery room, operating table, or even the supermarket and your doctor, nurse or cashier is wearing a mask, suggest they join you in exercising our freedoms by removing it. When you’re done there, go to your car, cut your brake line and drive away as fast as you like without wearing a seat belt. As soon as you get home (or wherever you land) pull yourself from the wreckage, brush aside the bodies, take the gun out of your waistband or bag and shoot yourself in the foot. Because you can.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, combine sugar, milk and vegetable oil. Beat the egg and stir it in. Add the vanilla.
Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir just until everything is combined.
Cover the bowl and let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or as long as overnight.
When you're ready to bake the muffins, place an oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 425 F.
While the oven is heating, oil a muffin tin, remove the batter from the fridge, stir in the chocolate chips and fill the muffin cups to the top. Add some water to any empty cups. Put the muffins in the oven and bake for 9 minutes before turning the oven down to 350 F. Continue baking for another ten minutes or so – don't open the oven door for at least that much time. The muffins are done when you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Note: these times are for a tin of 12 muffins.
What a week. What a day. I lost my cool with a store manager today who said he couldn’t require his employees to keep their masks on. “What if they also took their shoes off, hung them from their ears, and walked around the store barefoot? Would you ignore that also?” I wanted to say but just walked out instead as the mouth breathing MAGAs in line looked at me like I was being hysterical – Guess what, I was! – and I felt bad for losing my cool with someone who was probably doing his best just showing up when even grocery shopping has become a partisan theater of sneers. Memo to all who continue to support or remain silent about our impeached president and his bigoted politics of division and death: It’s working.
I am grateful for my parents' examples – good and bad – and the lessons I continue to learn from them.