Sourdough and the VW Van

For several days I’ve been keeping my sourdough active, ready for the right mixing moment. Late Wednesday I decided to get my hands into some dough, and mix a batch of homemade yumminess for Thursday night. If you want sourdough from scratch, you have to think 20 hours ahead.

My arm muscles got a workout and the physical movements cleared my mind and allowed me to shift into prayer. I do love the miracle of making bread.

Fast forward hours and hours and it’s time to score, and bake, and figure out what to do with that extra loaf. I almost posted a facebook status, hoping someone would be in the neighborhood, want to swoop by, and relieve me of a giving adventure. Giving is an adventure–especially when there’s NO plan.

AHA! I thought. Three weeks ago there was a raffle at school, and my little one needed to sell tickets. We scurried door to door, and at one house we met a new family who had recently moved in. I felt awful that our first meeting was all about exchanging $10 bills, so have wanted to bring them a proper Bread Welcome. Here was our chance.

But they weren’t home. At this point, I honestly wanted to return to the house and settle back into introvert world. I prefer weeding over meeting new people.

But we spied a gentleman down the road who was tinkering with the engine of his VW van. John Ronan was at my side, and he bounded down the road, shouting out hellos. I followed with a bagged loaf of bread. (Isn’t it pretty?!!!)

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Twenty minutes later, after a full tour of the VW van, its two sleeping compartments, a peek at the engine, a few stories of trips to Canada and Mexico, some fiddling with the cool cup holders, radio, etc and a last exchange about my daughter who plays piano at all hours and whom the neighbors adore… well, I finally dragged the little one away, promising we’d return another time for another van adventure. We had met a new friend, put a name to a face of a man we’ve been living near for over a dozen years… Once again, this giving proves…

That chatting with neighbors is better than weeding!

That giving is better than just about anything…

Cheers, friends!

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Stealthy Valentine’s Giving!

Step One: Mix dough for chocolate shortbread cookies.

Step Two: Let the little one cut out the hearts, then bake.

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Step Three: Wrap the cookies, make a little heart-shaped Happy Valentine’s Day note, tie with red ribbon.

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Step Four: Put the gifts in a sweet little handmade bag for carrying.

Step Five: Scope out the neighborhood and make a plan (we decided to leave treats for those folks on our block who are single and live alone–plus give one to the Dunns, whom we love, and one to the folks who are renting on the corner).

Step Six: Sneak and tiptoe so folks don’t see us. Put the treats in mailboxes if mail hasn’t been brought in yet.

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Step Seven: Slowly squeeze treats through Jack’s mail slot, but be quiet because he is home!!! And when he hears us at the door, drop the treats and…

Step Eight: Run!!!

not childish at all…

Once a week since September I have had the pleasure and delight of adding another little boy to the mix. I pick him up from school and the three of us–Ben, John Ronan and I–head out to play somewhere.We’ve hiked up to Douglas Preserve, we’ve baked cookies, we’ve braved the wind at Butterfly Beach, and this week we drove to Haskells–a favorite wild beach of mine, north, at the edge of Goleta.

I promised Silly String–my sister had sent two cans as a birthday gift–so the boys went at it. It was a messy, but incredibly fun affair.

Then, I laid a blanket in the sand and we all plopped down to enjoy chocolate chip cookies that I had baked earlier in the day. Ben was anxious for these, so I was surprised when he asked if we could all only eat one.

Why, I asked.

Are there enough for my family? he asked back.

I counted. How many will you need? 

Six.

It’s sad to admit that at first I was disappointed that I’d only get one! What a lame-o I am. But it didn’t take long for me to get past my gluttony (thank you, Lord!) and really appreciate this opportunity to give. Not only for me to give, but for Ben to be able to be the giver of good things, too.

Sure, I said in between bites, let’s pack up these extra cookies and you can bring them home to share.

Okay, so I was childish, but five-year-old Ben was not. He was thinking of others when he decided that one would be plenty for me,

and more than enough for himself.

Sharing Squared

No baking for me today…

My brother’s bread business is now delivering to several restaurants here in Santa Barbara, which means that every now and then, when the regular delivery guy needs a day off, my older brother John gets the honor of traveling up the coast–the back of his prius loaded with sourdough goodness. He’s charming enough to stop by our home on those days, and in return for his charm we offer him a cup of green tea and our morning smiles.

And usually he has an extra loaf or two of something that he shares with us.

He’s always been good at sharing. 🙂

Well, today he asked if we could use TEN loaves of par-baked sourdough. My eyes goggled a bit, and I saw massive giving in my future. Ten loaves! First, I thought about all my favorite friends and how they could make yummy gourmet sandwiches for dinner. But then, I remembered that this Lent I’m trying to really give to folks who are in need, or with whom I need to make amends. Because of the rainy and chilly weather, many of the truly downcast and desperate head straight to the Rescue Mission for dinner and a bed. So glad I was prompted to think of that…

Okay, my daughter and I were studying chapter 25 of the Algebra One book today after my brother left, and guess what? If (X+3)(X-3) then you can factor those together and get X²-3². Isn’t that cool? Both X and 3 are squared! My sharing today, being timesed by ten, felt absolutely algebraic! My brother shared with me, and I shared with the folks at the Rescue Mission. Algebra in bread-giving action…

The children were happy to go on an adventure. We even had extra fun since Morgan, our favorite neighbor-friend, spent the day with us. Here she is hiding behind some of the bread…

You know what? I felt tremendously fortunate to be the giver of ten loaves of bread on a rainy day like today.

Truly, I did…