Emily

I’m excited about a new course I’ve embarked upon. I’ll be steeped in the world of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the next year, spanning many Saturdays just like this past one, so I can eventually work with children in our church.

Moving backwards. Friday. I made rosemary rolls. The kids were begging for them.

So, now, back to Saturday. I decided to pack two sandwiches (using the rosemary rolls) for my day at the course. I only live a little over two miles from the church where the class is held–a perfect distance for both getting exercise and having time to gear up, and wind down before and after the session. Since homeless seem to line State Street (the road I was to walk on), whether it’s uptown, or downtown, or mid-town, I thought an extra sandwich was exactly what needed to be in my bag.

And wouldn’t you know, half way there a woman was sitting on a bus stop. No shopping cart, or load of things to tug about, but her coarse, sunburned skin, the bloated and bandaged legs, and the way she looked tired, almost done, gave her away. I guessed food might be welcome.

I crossed over and dug into my bag, pulling out the roll stuffed with cheese. I made an extra sandwich today, would you like it?

She stared. Not at me, but past me. 

I knew I’d be coming downtown and thought I might just bring an extra sandwich, just in case.

Won’t you want it? she asked in a high, sweet voice. She looked at me this time.

No, it’s an extra. My name’s Jane, by the way, what’s yours?

Emily. But might YOU want it?

No, I have one for myself.

Emily. Her eyes were bright blue, highlighted by the bloodshot red that surrounded them.

She took the sandwich and I smiled and told her I was on my way to a course and better keep walking. We said goodbye.

I made it fifty more steps, to the corner, and started to cry.

Her sunburned skin. Her leg, swollen and wrapped. Yet. She wondered whether I would have enough food for lunch. Ha! Enough. I have enough of everything. Of food, and warmth, and clothes, and books, and baking pots, and gardening tools, and figs coming off the tree, and friends, and… love. And all morning, while focusing on learning how to serve children, I just kept thinking about Emily. About her childhood, about her road that must have been filled with many zigzags, and probably is still swerving.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly reading Lewis’ A Grief Observed. Have you read it? What a powerful account of love, of the loss of a beloved, of a shaking of one’s faith. This passage shouted at me–Lewis is describing how the faith he believed he had while things were good was revealed to be weak once tested:

Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination. Yes; but should it, for a sane man, make such a difference as this? No. And it wouldn’t for a man whose faith had been real faith and whose concern for other people’s sorrows had been real concern. The case is too plain. If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards.

I don’t really believe that Lewis ultimately had built a house of cards with his faith in God, he was thick in the midst of his mourning when he wrote those words. But he uncovered a basic truth that I felt while walking away from Emily. I have never been homeless or lacking. I have never been broken, betrayed, battered or cast aside. My concern for other people’s sorrows is superficial and ultimately fits my schedule. And until I am placed in their position, all I can do is keep offering sandwiches and a smile, with no pretense that I am saving the world.

Hopefully I am saving myself, one tiny crumb at a time.
Pray for me!

School Party!

When your calendar says School Party

(being the list-crosser-offer that I am), well, you jut need to have one!

When your school only consists of two people, well, you just need to go recruiting!

So. We said our prayers. We did our reading. We did our writing. We had a snack. We read a book. THEN! We moved into party mode.

We made cupcakes! Yum.

Signs, cupcakes, icing, sprinkles, putting the signs up, sending out texts to neighbors, hanging out in the front yard yelling for people to come! Cupcakes, cupcakes, come and eat some cupcakes!

I can’t tell you how fun it is to follow in the wake of a five-year-old’s enthusiasm. This little munchkin can get excited by the slightest thing–by a little magnet on the calendar, and before you know it you’re baking chocolate goodies and sharing with a house-full of hungry teenagers.

Sharing is good. It’s part of this year’s curriculum!

Our party:

John Ronan. Mama. Madeleine. Morgan. Andrew. Sarah. Papa. Four playmobil enthusiasts. (No photos of the gang, we were too busy enjoying our just-becuse celebration!)

If you ever happen to drive by our home, and see this

…you’re welcome to drop in!

Bleh (Rye) Bread

You know. Sometimes a new fiddling just doesn’t finish well (or even middle well). Ever since the marbled rye in South Dakota I’ve been dreaming of making a wonderful rye bread of my own. I’m not sure why I haven’t dared an actual marbled rye recipe yet. I’m not sure why I keep trying recipes that take days of starter-making and a hyper watchful eye.

So far I’ve tried a sourdough rye of my own invention. Bleh. (My daughter gave one of the loaves away to a neighbor that we don’t know well. Thankfully, it was pretty to look at, and she mentioned in the giving that it was experimental bread. Humbled, though. I wouldn’t want to eat that loaf again.)

I also tried to make a sourdough rye out of The Village Baker. I love this bread book, but it took about two weeks for me to actually get all the steps right. The bread was ugly, and I refused to give one away.

There’s that pride of mine! Refusing to give because of appearances!

And yet, when we cut into one of the loaves the next day, it was actually quite good. We all ate sandwiches using it, but the kids aren’t begging me to try again.

Still in a rye mood, I finally mixed up a batch of rye crackers! Ahhhhhh. So very tasty. My youngest helped, and was excited to use his steam roller (rolling pin) and we cut the dough into hearts, teddy bears, angels, and butterflies. These crackers are amazing. My son actually called me a genius for this baking effort. That’s a five-year-old for you. Tasty rye crackers=genius!

For now I’m done with both bleh bread and rye bread. I need to gain a little steam before more experiments…

(But just in case, if you happen to have any rye advice or favorite recipes, send them along. You never know when a new mood might strike!)

Last news. More Simple Gifts on the way. The next post will be all about Anna Larsen. Can’t wait to share!

Oreganato

Last week.

Two loaves of Peter Reinhart’s Oreganato (from his Brother Juniper’s Bread Book)

Now.
Despite my struggles with new rye bread recipes, I am thankfully still in the mood to experiment. The weather is changing to cool–we even have had rain! When you live in Southern California long enough, you become a great cheerleader for rain clouds. I am cheering those clouds on by turning on my oven. Rain is the perfect time for baking–since while things are rising, or baking, you can sit in a chair and sip tea and read a book. All very perfect things to do when it’s raining.

Last week again.

So, anyway, I made two loaves of this very scrumptious bread infused with garlic, parsley and oregano. I will make it again, because (1) it was good, and (2) the oregano in my garden needs a forceful trimming to induce new fall growth, and using it in bread is just too fun. Nothing stops growing in this place.

Our chicken-owner friends, who live just around the corner, took on the tasting of Oreganato loaf number two. It really is important to have people in your life who will eat your experimental bread and not get mad at you when it’s bad. Thankfully, Mr. Reinhart’s recipes seem to be anything but icky. yum yum…

We gobbled up our own loaf, and with the few extra ends that remained, I cut them into cubes and made croutons. yum yum again!

Now. 

What about you? Do you mind experimental bread? If you’re up for being a guinea pig, and live somewhat near me, send me a quick note, because as long as there are clouds and happy threats of rain, I’ll be baking and happy to share!

Cheers!

New Mom on the Block

Rosemary rolls. Yum!

Mixed: 8:30 am

Molded: 10 am

Baked: 11 am

So… It’s a new school year and things have changed at the Meyer house. Big kids are off at Providence Hall all day, which is different from last year. Last year I was doing algebra with my 8th grader, and history, and writing, and lots of other tasks to keep that young girl busy and learning.

This year is all about kindergarten. And suddenly, I’ve switched gears and we’re working on sharing, and reading, and making lower case g’s. We’re also trying to expand our network of little friends, and that means Park Day!

So off to the park we went. Each Tuesday many of the homeschoolers in our area converge on one park or another… And knowing that I needed to set an example and meet new friends, too, I tucked some rosemary rolls into a bag and buckled the little boy in.

But the rosemary rolls didn’t even make it over to the play set. We parked right next to old friends and that bread headed right through the open window onto the front seat. There’s nothing like a familiar face when you’re the new mom on the block.

And I did eventually meet a few new moms after sitting on my orange blanket for a while as I enjoyed the blessed gift of sun, fresh air and a boy who’d found new friends (who were all wielding imaginary swords, and commanding each other to fight this way and run that way!).

I’m hoping next Tuesday I’ll be brave enough to give bread to a new friend instead of an old one. Keep stretching, Miss Jane. It may tug just a little, but in the end it makes you that much more limber!

Bread as Barter

I actually didn’t barter.

I was on the hunt for a piano bench, but had no coin. Not a penny.

It’s not surprising that Jill, who works with the homeless here in our town, whose heart is so large it almost beats out of her chest, who even has the nerve to rescue a skunk when its head is stuck in a yogurt container in her backyard, offered me her piano bench for free. Now she has a piano, but no bench for a bottom. That’s Jill for you.

Jill should be the one writing this blog about giving. She gives of herself so effortlessly, and daily. But I guess I’m still the one who needs to learn more deeply about this giving–about seeing each and every person as infused with that divine potential that can change the world! We can change the world, you know. You and me. We can change it right now.

Anyway, I’m off topic, as usual.

I think bartering with bread just might be in my future–once I’ve gotten to the point when I fearlessly think of others before myself. Bartering for stuff just sounds more organic and better for the soul. It reminds me of Saint Brigid, and the way things were when life was slower and closer to the land, and to the elements, and when people were willing to struggle for things. Good bread is hard to find, I’ve been told. So bread-trading might be an interesting side step. Homemade anything beats those storebought somethings. Except chocolate.

But maybe I’m just being a romantic. Maybe I’m just full of hot air today and need to get back to baking.

Speaking of baking.

I’ve also had folks recommend that I start to sell my bread. Ha! I think that’s funny. I prefer to sell books, actually. When it comes to books, yup, I’m ready to put on the sales hat and get to work. Every little being should have a boatload of great books at her disposal. She should have someone to snuggle with each night while a book is opened in front of her–new words, new thoughts, new worlds.

Bread right now is for giving… I still have gads to learn.

Meanwhile…

The bread

The piano bench

Thanks, Jill!

Kindergarten Repeat–and Other Stuff–Plus, a Stripety Giveaway

Morning. I haven’t even had my full dose of green tea and yet I’m buzzing with energy. I think I have the new school year jitters–up early, wanting to do a thousand things all at the same time.

Right now Andrew is eating a still-warm muffin. Yum. Madeleine is tidying her room while singing to Mumford and Sons, and John Ronan is literally running circles around our dining room table. He dressed himself this morning and chose the Dr Seuss shorts I made him.

Warms my heart.

My husband is out back in his sweet office, the door open, taking a phone call no doubt. He’ll be heading off for coffee soon at Via Maestra, just like he does every morning. Yesterday I caught him in his dress shirt (because he had a video conference) and shorts and sandals. Had to snap a photo. What d’ya think? Pretty nice working out of a backyard office!

Muffins! Some day I’ll share my muffin recipe–it’s easy and adaptable to all sorts of stuffing. I especially love adding chopped cranberries, but today I baked to please the kids and made them plain… (Those kids...)

Giving. I baked a double batch of French rolls yesterday–and snuck some cheese into the dough, and gave it ALL away (my kids don’t like it when I do that). One ring of rolls to Jack, our neighbor across the street whom we love, who watches over our home when we’re gone and who helps us with strange electrical problems when they reveal themselves through our breaker box. The other, larger, ring went to a family of a dad and his five kids who are all stuffed into a one-bedroom apartment. If I had the time and the strength, I’d bring them fresh bread every day.

Anyway. This year I just have my little one with me at home; we’re tackling kindergarten together. Do you know how amazingly fun it already is? We started our year off by reading Bob Books, drawing mazes

and eating a long, long lunch at the beach. I think we’ll be eating lots of long, long lunches at the beach this year. Wouldn’t you…

…when there’s all that good stuff to learn about tides, and the moon, and the creativity of God Himself!

Giveaways and a Giveaway. We have some fun giveaways coming for you this fall. It was a smart move for me to take the summer off from that sort of thing. But, I’m ready for giveaway giving again. I would bake bread for y’all, but some of you live a quadrillion fourteen miles away. Bread is better fresh.

However. On our road trip I made all those stripety bags. SO MANY of them. Four bags, plus a hat. (Please, admire all those stitches!)

     

It’s true that I’m a Bag Lady, but four new bags is simple gluttony, even if i did get blisters making them. So, I’d like to give one away to YOU! I’m not a professional stitcher, though. These bags come with a disclaimer. For example, if one of my bags falls apart the first time you use it, no weepy tears–you may not cry, and I don’t want to know about it!

Because. I might cry, and then say, I told you so.

  • The Fuzzy Details. First bag. Lots of colorful stripes. Has been sort of felted, which means it’s washable!. Is pretty big–like big enough to carry 25 skeins of yarn. But if you put 25 oranges in it, which would fit, I bet the shoulder straps would lengthen several inches. Which wouldn’t be good…
  • The Fuzzy Details. Second bag, which shouts, ORANGE. Yes, in caps. This bag is not up for giving, unless you want to pay me. 🙂 It’s smaller, would probably hold 15 skeins of yarn, and would certainly hold 15 oranges, and look good doing it.
  • The Fuzzy Details. Third bag. It’s little. Not felted. I’m doubting any of you will choose this little thing over the big stripes, but it’s cute. I have a feeling this bag, which would hold about 8-9 skeins of yarn, is destined for a miniature girly.
  • The Fuzzy Details. Fourth bag. Still under construction. I used every last loop of my $50 dollars worth of yarn for this bag and I think it came out just scrumptious. I plan on felting this bag before consumption. It’s the same size as bag one. Kinda big, and awesome.

The Reason. I haven’t finished the last bag because… we just adopted a piano

and it has upset our whole house, furniture flying this way and that. Couches on the curb for folks to take, chairs finding new nooks, stuffed dogs being displaced…

Today. Is the third day of my second time going to kindergarten, and guess what? We’re going to pray, and read our Bob books, and draw mazes, and THEN, take a packed lunch and picnic at the boulder grove!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn’t it grand?

Summer was great. But kindergarten is better…

If you want to pop your name in the hat for a bag, just leave a comment below. Let me know in the post which one you like best–but just know, the wild orange one that mimicks this wild mood I’m in is mine. 🙂

Cheers! I’ll be choosing names when I get to 100 comments, (or next Friday, whichever comes first–or last–depending on my mood)

so tell your friends!