FIVE-Minute Wonder

timer, time, five minutesI only have five minutes to bake.

Now, who can make scrumptious, tasty chocolate chip butterscotch oatmeal bars in five minutes? Not I, but that fact has never stopped me. Because I always try to fit in too many things in too little time. And then I whine, “Why can’t I get everything done?”

Nice, the way I psychoanalyze myself, I decide, as I soften the butter and pour in 1½ cups of white sugar, mix, then add ½ cup of brown sugar. The purple mixer, a sweet Christmas gift from my son and his wife, whirrs along like the hummingbirds outside our window. hummingbird, time, baking

Until we moved back here to the temperate climate of the bay area, I’d never heard the soft buzz of the hummingbirds’ wings as they compete for the sugar water in our feeder. Hard to replicate in words or even human sounds. How to describe? Like a hundred bees racing by my ear, only without the buzz. No, that doesn’t do it. It’s a hum as indescribable as the sound of a mixer’s beaters swooshing in the creamy butter/sugar blend.

I watch another hummer whiz past as I crack in one egg, then the other. Of course, I cogitate; my son had ulterior motives for giving me a new beater for Christmas. He loves my cookies. And he’s smart, I’ll hand it to him. He moans with delight and appreciation every time I bring him a new batch of chocolate cookies or, his favorite, my ‘forgotten cookies.’

Shoot! Speaking of forgotten, I am now 2 minutes late for my yoga class. I add another egg and a teaspoon of vanilla. The smell of the extract gives me a sense of serenity usually experienced after an hour of yogic gyrations. Total nirvana. Funny, how one of the synonyms for vanilla is ‘bland” or ‘plain.” Vanilla is one of the finest aromas in the world – up there with honeysuckle or the ocean. ocean, time, yoga

Ocean! Oh no, I promised my brother I’d send him the pictures from our summer seashore vacation. Has it really been a month since then? Where’d the time go? I almost sent those photos two weeks ago, but I got immersed in writing some new chapters of my book, and visiting our Berkeley grandkids, and my ‘day job,’ and our four out-of-town visitors in the past month.

I measure 2 ¼ cups of flour and slowly add it into the bowl, attempting to not sneeze as the white powder tries to escape the impending merger.

Speaking of merging, my daughter calls, interrupting the cookie making, and talks about the latest ultrasound. She and her husband merged again, and a third child is on the way. How the hell did I become a grandmother of five, soon six? Last time I looked, I was tucking our children to bed after reading them the fourth chapter of The Witch, the Lion and the Wardrobe.

Oh damn. I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning again. My wardrobe is suffering for it – will I need to wear the same blouse from three days ago? Horrors.

The mixer moans and I remember that I’m beating the hell out of my concoction. Quickly, I add the oatmeal and the chips. I’ve missed yoga, I’ll have to add a load of clothes to the washing machine now, and the potatoes are bubbling for the casserole tonight. Where was I?

Ah yes, five minutes to get everything done. I glance up at the clock. Well, I only have five minutes now before I need to….The dog hits his head against my arm. “Feed me,” he says, “Now.”

“Henry, it’s too early!” I tell him with a twinge of sympathy. But I glance up at the clock. Twenty minutes past his dinner time. Where oh where did those five minutes go?

cookies, chocolate chip bars, time, baking


Time – A Cruel Thief?

As we begin to be inundated with “the holidays,” I shiver at the thought of how fast the time has gone.

If someone came up to me and said, “Fooled ya, it’s really May 25,” I’d gladly and willingly believe them.

In fact, just this past month I told two different people that it’s spring. And I was being sincere! Embarrassing? Yes, but my brain really can’t fathom the fact that we’re into late fall already.

Where does each day go? The goddess in charge of the calendar just swoops days up into her apron, juggles them around as if they’re playing cards to be shuffled, and then (the clinker here) snaps her fingers like a magician to make them disappear.

The weird thing is how this same goddess, when she and I were much younger, tricked the days into being as long as a string that encircles the earth. I remember a day in my 6-year-old life, for instance, when my mom and I were visiting her sick friend.  The morning crept by tick tock tick tock tick tock one minute at a time, slow slow until hours and hours later, it was still morning and I still had to play with the friend’s smarmy kid.

Once in high school, the days were still excruciatingly long: each year – freshman, sophomore – took a decade to complete. The idea of ever being an adult, on my own, away from my parents’ grip, was too ludicrous to even contemplate.

But now, spring has become fall in the blink of an eye. If time keeps racing on, laughing at me, daring me to slow it down, I will be an old lady in two blinks, feeble, stooped, alone, and lonely.

That horrible reflection turns my thoughts to Elizabeth Haileys’ quote from A Woman of Independent Means, “Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death.”

Then I berate myself for cogitating so negatively. After all, without time, we’d all be without family, loved ones, friends; in fact, we’d be unshaped and unbeautiful.

And each of us are so lovely in our own time, shaped from our own experiences, bent and doubled over sometimes, yes, but still standing strongly, still looking that time goddess in the eye and saying, “Bring it ON.”

Pauline Fisk explains it superbly in her book The Secret of Sabrina Fludde:  “The flow of time is always cruel. Its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it. A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days. Something that grows over time is a true friendship, a feeling in the heart that becomes even stronger over time. The passion of friendship will soon blossom into a righteous power and through it, you will know which way to go. Time passes, people move… like a rivers’ flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition, young love will become deep affection, the clear waters’ surface reflects growth. Now listen and reflect upon yourself.”

So I am listening, and I am reflecting, celebrating my righteous power and deep affection for life.

And trying not to look at the clock while doing so….

A Face in Time

A pool of thought

stares back at the past in the

shining shimmer of glass.

A mirror of moments reflects that

time exists – physical time –

etching crow’s feet, wrinkles in time.


This face is nothing like the one

from 30 years ago – it’s wise now,

sad yet beautifully joyful, delivering

a message of hope – time

wears away the pretty, but adds

the love –