Shelter: Ranger cookies

If I were a different kind of person, I would have us listen to You’ll Never Walk Alone, but instead, here’s the Rolling Stones and Gimme Shelter.

Shelter sounds so much more pleasant than confine. Shelter evokes a cozy fire, at least one dog asleep on your feet, a quilt across your lap, and rain on the rooftop. Confine conjures up a metal cage, tight ropes, and doors that clang shut. So let’s go with shelter. A water view is the only thing our shelter lacks—otherwise we’re content to watch the sturdy gas-lit fireplace, listen to a few tunes, and wrap our hands around a morning cuppa (Sorry, I’ve been watching too much Australian TV).

Summers in 1950s Nebraska often involved sheltering—the day darkened and the tornado sirens wailed. Daddy whistled us in from the neighbor’s backyard, urged us down the dirt steps that went into the storm cellar and, once the last dog was in, latched the heavy, wooden door from the inside. Muth found the cardboard box with the flashlight, transistor radio, puzzles, and the backup Monopoly game (missing all the tokens but the iron and the thimble). The wooden shelves gleamed with canned green beans, beets, corn, and tomatoes—nothing that appealed to us kids—we waited for watermelon pickles and applesauce. The wind howled as we watched the heavy wooden door thump and strain at the hinges, ate baloney sandwiches made for the occasion, and sheltered in place.

Mom and Dad, Jeanne and Nick, 1940s

It seemed like forever, but within a short time the town sirens wailed the OK, Daddy unlatched the door, and led us back up into the light. We were always lucky, we had been spared: tree limbs were down and the dog house was in the alley, but the storm had passed and life as usual returned. This crisis just keeps going—local news bombards us with the latest virus numbers, CNBC is full of dire news about the economy. Where’s Mr. Rogers when we need him? I’m about to start watching Nickelodeon.

We look out the sliding glass door to the backyard, weaving scenarios about the private lives of the squirrel, the juncos, the toheys, and the elusive chipmunk. They give us plenty of giggles—all for the price of a bag of birdseed. Now I’ve heard tell that there are nuthatches and chickadees on Vashon and flocks of goldfinches in Eugene but here in Lacey, our birds are more humdrum, nonetheless less we love watching them.

Anyways, the sun will come out tomorrow, raindrops on roses, don’t worry be happy, all you need is love, you are my sunshine, and…at the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.

Here are a couple links to performances that were created to provide some humor and distraction: #songsofcomfort, available on Instagram from YoYo Ma, and, produced and created by my friends’ son who is studying in Germany.

When in doubt, bake cookies (if you can find flour, eggs, and oats—haven’t heard about a run on Rice Krispies).

Ranger cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats (regular or quick cooking, not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.

Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, either by hand or with the mixer on low speed. 

Mix in oats and Rice Krispies, then stir in chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts until everything is well-distributed.


Drop heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet (approx 1 1/2-inch balls).

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until edges are turning golden brown. Cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

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