A & E, Enter Stage Left

Sugar cookies, icing, and ultimate loss: The full catastrophe

Sugar cookies, icing, and ultimate loss: The full catastrophe

I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the past months by stopping my intake of refined sugar. Truthfully, I did it because I was frightened of what the doctor told me at one of my last checkups: My blood sugar levels were up, and I’d better see to it. So true to my nature, which is to respond to emergency with a clear head and immediate action, I stopped sugar and shed sizes.

Aren’t I admirable? Aren’t I great? Merry Christmas to me!

Merry Christmas, indeed. And Happy Chanukah, too, since we celebrate both.

Because now begins the season of true testing: the months where sugar plum fairies dance all over the place, and refined sucrose consumption occurs in bulk. Why? Because in the darkness of December, we try to remember that happiness and light still exist, so we put colorfully iced, moist, and crunchy home-baked sweets upon our tongues to remind us. Holiday time is sugar time!

To wit, even I, in my newly dubbed role as Sugarless Plum Fairy, will make my annual trip to one of my favorite Bay Area stores: Sugar ‘n Spice Baking Supplies (2965 Junipero Serra Boulevard, 650-994-4991). Again, why? Because holiday time is cookie time! And I am a baker for all seasons. I have made massive batches of springtime cookies, where Easter bunny ears may have broken off, but they were still iced and delicious; or where large, blue-frosted pastry rounds proclaimed Happy Passover, complete with white icing Stars of David.

Sugar And Spice has everything you need for even the largest all-out cookie-baking orgy that will leave you and your kitchen covered in sprinkles, dough crusts, and lickable rainbows. I immerse myself in the cookie-baking, much the way I garden, wallowing around in rains of sparkling sugar and thick mud puddles of icing, looking nothing like Martha Stewart.

I am a messy creative.

But then, life is messy, isn’t it?

At the end of a long year, it’s time to reflect on just how messy life has been in the past 12 months. So along the lines of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” let’s look at the “snails and puppy dog tails,” the salty along with the sweet.

There’s been bad news aplenty in the year we are now ending: bad news for bacon lovers (did we ever really think it was good for us?), bad news for retirees (no cost-of-living social security increase), and bad news for Playboy magazine (now readers really will be forced to be loyal only for the articles and interviews), there’s been wretched news for middle-aged white Americans, more of whom seem to be dying younger, due to big killers like heart disease (hello again, bacon), heroin overdose and prescription opioids. Watch out, all you poorly educated white folk, it seems our education systems are failing us as well, because there’s been an increase in the mortality rates for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than high-schooling. Playing hooky has never been less fun or promising.

But while we are on the subject of death, any 12-month period is bound to include losses we mourn either individually (bye again to my poor darling pup Cyrano), or collectively, as in 2015 we bid goodbye to such familiar faces as Leonard Nimoy, Maureen O’Hara, Yogi Berra, Wes Craven, the brilliant Oliver Sacks, and my childhood crush Omar Sharif. Talking about feeling old.

And speaking of getting old, what passing of another year doesn’t make us feel that? Plus, along with that come-to-Jesus-down-home-truth realization come the inevitable truths there’s simply no use in denying, like illness, sore bones, and that chair in the den that’s all too comfortable, so why bother getting up from it?

All the above, and the deep, bone-chilling stupidity of the entire Republican presidential slate. I mean how much can one year bring us?

Life’s “full catastrophe,” as both Zorba the Greek and Jon Kabat-Zinn have called it.

So you know what I say?

Sweet welcome to holiday time 2015, complete with its overspending, the killing of perfectly healthy trees to shed needles all over your living room floor, and most especially, “Happy Hello!” to sugar and all that it will decorate! Unearth those cookie cutters, mixing bowls, and butter-soaked pastry recipes; get out that hand mixer you use once a year, and go to work! And why not stop by Sugar ‘n Spice Baking Supplies and spend some of your dough on decorative sprinkles, edible silver decor, and yet one more adorable Santa cookie pattern?

Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet.

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