Going Underground

Good friends!

I’m about to become a spy of sorts…

And this photo may seem unrelated, but it’s not.

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My son had a play date!

When you have a child with developmental struggles, then you might understand the  underlying meaning of my excitement. We have entered a new season here at the Meyer home.  A season of a new school, and new friends, and new hope.

You see… Last year was hard.

And this new season–a season of play dates!!!–has my mama’s heart, and my writer’s mind headed in new directions. All of my creative energies, all of my practical, and emotional, and physical energies… much of my spiritual life has all been pointed in one direction these last two years. Toward one little blonde boy, whom we adore with all our hearts. But finally I have help. Right now, he has a whole team rooting him on, teaching him things we have tried to share out of sheer instinct. He’s on a new road and progressing well. We are on a new road together.

I’m so grateful that the baking, and the giving have become second nature to me. I don’t mix one loaf, I mix two. I cart the other off to a neighbor, to someone hungry on the street, to a new mom, or someone struggling with illness. I get asked to bake for potlucks, and to add to the homeless meals on Mondays. I’ve felt my heart stretch and have been thankful for this online community who has cheered me on… Thank you!

Thank you.

But I’m ready for my giving to go underground. For it to be between me and my family, and between me and my God. I’m ready to write about other things. To write about others who give. And to write about one little boy and this home that supports him, and my friends who pray for me, and to allow those other words, struggling to come out, to find a place.

This is not the end. This blog will continue to grow and stretch. I’ll still post baking tips from time to time. And recipes. And I’ll find ways to share, but there will definitely be a shift. Just wanted you to know, since you have only offered me encouragement these last many years.

Thank you for being such lovely supporters of my giving, and my blogging about it. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you some of the ups (mostly ups!) and downs.

And I thought it’d be nice to put in some links to some of my favorite posts over the last four plus years. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I sure have enjoyed this space…

Thankful for family. November 2009

A trip back to the family house in France. November 2009

Struggling to give. December 2009

On Silliness. December 2009

Learning from the poor. January 2010

Making salt from scratch. April 2010

Asking reluctant children to give. June 2010

Musings on blogging publicly about my giving. July 2010

A very large, sloppy cake and a birthday party in the forest. November 2010

One of my favorite ways to bake–rolls in the round. March 2011

On being a better giver. March 2011

It really does snow in the mountains above Santa Barbara. March 2011

Changed through giving. April 2011

Morning light. May 2011

The best scone recipe in the world. May 2011

On not blogging, but just giving. August 2011

All about Saint Brigid. January 2012

Slowing down. January 2012

Staying thin. February 2012

Planting wheat berries to grow wheat grass. May 2012

Learning from those who leave us. September 2012

Giving with teens. November 2012

The beauty of Simple and Slow. November 2012

Recipe for making prosphoron. December 2012

At the monastery–the best way to start a new year. January 2013

Making butter from scratch. January 2013

Two reasons I don’t often blog (my children!). March 2013

A short trip to Paris! July 2013

Sending you all love and good cheer, my friends. And happy baking!

In the meantime, you can always find me on instagram, facebook, sometimes on twitter, I log all the books I like and read on goodreads, and you can always contact me through my website.

jane

No Fooling March

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It’s almost April first, and looking back on the last few weeks, I am thankful that some hard lessons learned in the past few years have given me the gumption and the experience to say NO. Do you ever get caught in that place when you have four too many things all happening at once? Or a life that resembles an over-stuffed purse? To stay sane in March, I said no to blogging, and no to volunteering at lunch hour, and no to making soup for church. I said no again and again, because if I didn’t, I’d be much thinner right now and probably a terrible mix of grumpy and sick.

I think I’m through the worst of the fire, and headed back into Yes territory. My littlest son and I have fallen into a nice routine of homeschooling in the morning (long story!!!); I get a bit of work time in the early afternoon while he’s at school, and the late afternoons are dedicated to everything family–driving hither and yon, soccer, yogurt making, laundry, searching out the rabbits from under the nasturtiums–you know!

I have been able to do a bit of baking this last week. Because Teen Star ended, and my duties as Mom Chaperone ended, and, well, my daughter/singer/performer/Miss Madeleine was AMAZING?! We wondered how she would do up on a giant stage, singing her little 16-year-old heart out, and she wozzied the crowd. That girl has guts, and charm, and a mighty big voice for her little body, and she just about won the whole crazy thing! Very fun to see someone want to do something, and then succeed. We’re so proud of how hard she worked and are praying that she will use her talent wisely…

Baking! I’m headed back on track and my first moment of giving that I want to share with you was to support a young mom who’s fighting cancer. She lives kind of far away, so some special friends volunteered to take food the 45 minutes south and fill up that family’s freezer. Pans and pans of food left town, and thankfully I was able to help with the effort and send some warm sourdough along in the car. It was a small gift, but I’m thankful I was able to give alongside so many generous others.

Moment number two and three were both mass bakings for events at church. On Friday I mixed up some molasses bread and carted that off to our akathist service followed by a soup dinner, and today I rose at 5am!!! to bake two enormous loaves of bread to support our Saint Brigid’s homeless ministry. Getting my hands and heart back into giving has made me extra grateful for the gifts I have–of family, home, friends, sunshine, bunnies, time to write, children and a husband to love, words, music, and the occasional burst of quiet. Giving brings gratitude…

So March is ticking its way out as I type. Just a little under two hours until April Fools, and who knows what tomorrow will bring? I’ve got about three dozen bread recipes I’m itching to try, and a list a mile long of people I want to give something to:

Nicole

The new guy who just bought the house on the corner who has chickens

My son’s amazing first grade teacher

The Montecito Library librarians

Kate, who is pregnant

Our mail carrier

I might even mail some cinnamon rolls to my son for Pascha

…what about you–is this a Yes or a No season in your life?

Leave a Note

When I don’t know what to bake, when the kids aren’t asking for one thing or another, I usually err on the side of sourdough. I get to use my starter, the bread can be served with sweet (toast with cinnamon sugar, or chocolate hazelnut spread, or french toast) or it can be wonderful with savory things (soups, bruschetta, sandwich bread, as a side to Greek salad), etc… So last week I baked up some sourdough in the late afternoon and had a warm loaf to share .
My daughter gets to rock climb with school twice each week so I took a loaf to her enthusiastic instructor. It was dark, and we needed to return home quickly, so I left the bag with the bread inside, tucked under the windshield wiper of the school van. I searched and searched my car and purse for a pen or pencil so I could write something–I didn’t want it to look like leaving it was mistake, or some other misconception. But we couldn’t dredge up anything to write with. How’s that for being a writer?!

And then I forgot to call to at least let them know leaving it wasn’t an accident.

So, a week later I see the instructor and mention the bread.

SOOOOO, you are the ones who left it! The teacher said slowly. We wondered. We weren’t sure if it was for us, or??? It’s still on our kitchen counter.

I apologized, and said it might still be good for French toast, or bread pudding 🙂 He was gracious, even thankful, but stale bread? Boo…

Next time I will leave a note. I already packed an extra pen into my purse, just in case. I like pens!

And I will bake another loaf of bread for this dear man and his wife. Stale sourdough is okay, but a fresh loaf?!!!!

Cheers, Friends!

The Gathering of Virtue

Our beloved Deacon Howard George Shannon passed away on Friday, September 21st, while my husband and I were in Seattle, helping my son move into his freshman dorm. We returned home with heavy hearts, yet grateful for so much. His funeral will be this Wednesday at 1pm.

The weekend proved difficult as the sorrow of this time seemed to tug on me, and I found myself unable to be very productive. I swept the floors, and unpacked, and wiped down the counters, then I found myself quiet on the couch, unable to muster much beyond just sitting there. And then I think your prayers all kicked in. A peace settled over me and I found myself filled with joy, and looking forward to celebrating and grieving with my church community.

These days leading up to the service, I’m mindful of Deacon Howard’s legacy of joy. His spirit of giving was infectious and I’m hopeful that some of his goodness has rubbed off on me. I pray so. Over these last several weeks, as he struggled for life, the show of love for this man has been overwhelming. And it’s because he gave us all so much LOVE these last many years–he gave so much of himself–every time, every moment we were together. Always a smile, always a joke and a wink and a chuckle. Always fun and life and the gift of being completely present. And I have this image in my mind of my hands scooping gently up some of the virtue that dwelled in him, that is swirling slowly around us now, here for the taking. A gift from him. A gift to all of us.

And so I’m baking bread, and giving it away, and baking cookies, and sharing them. And I’m so very thankful to have known such a wonderful man…

Behind the Hedge, part two

French bread

Two rings of it

All baked and ready to give by 3pm (here’s one of the rolls that ended up on our table)

So, we braved our new neighbor’s front door again. While heading up the walk with our bread gift I reminded John Ronan (for he is my giving buddy as of late) that it’s a lot nicer to just ring the doorbell once and then wait. And if you think the doorbell isn’t really working, then you knock just once, and then wait again. And the sweet boy listened.

After one ring the door flew open and in about two seconds flat we were invited in, introduced, and John Ronan was off to some play land, where I later was implored by one of the three little ones to help save a fish. John Ronan wanted to pet the fish.

They are lovely, this family we’ve heard playing in the yard behind the hedge, and I’m tempted to scold myself for not getting over there earlier in the summer, but that’s just how things worked out this time around. At least we have this next month, before they move. Three playmates!!! About twenty-seven paces away. And a wonderful lawyer mama, who loves bread, who loves people, who loves our city so much she and her husband bought a house and are staying for good.

So, your cheers worked wonderfully. Another loaf of bread that multiplied. A little food and hopefully love passed from my kitchen to anothers’–and in the exchange people connected, stories were told, and a fish was petted.

On days like this, I’d say this humble experiment is working just the way I’d hoped 🙂

Behind the Hedge

This has been the busiest summer on record for the Meyer Family. There are lots of reasons why: college classes but no driver’s license, music making, summer camp, an open door for visitors… So I suppose I have an excuse for not saying hello to the family who has moved into the house behind the hedge. For many years this house, after an expensive and lovely remodel, has stood empty. My big kids got a tour through it once, and that sold them–they fell in love with the place. It has a sweet, fairy tale feel, but the owners live elsewhere and all we saw for months and years were the gardeners.

But squeals from the backyard, little folk riding scooters up and down the driveway, real people inhabiting the place?!

After two months of squeals and inhabitants I finally made my way to their front door with a ring of rosemary rolls. But even with one car in the driveway and one on the street, no one answered.

So, instead, I asked a woman who happened to be traveling down our road if she wanted the bread and she said, yes. So off drove my rosemary rolls with someone other than the intended. That happens in this business, doesn’t it?!!!

Now that I’ve made one effort, I won’t be stopped. I’ll be baking again, and here’s to hoping that someone will come to the front door, that I’ll finally welcome our neighbors as I should have two months ago.

Cheer me on, would you?

Catching Up

Apart from an amazing week away in the mountains with my family–a week when I napped three times a day and sat by the river more than cooked, or baked, or anything–it seems all I’m doing these days is catching up. The garden needs tending, writing projects await, guests are here, new recipes want to be tried, and kids continually beg for rides. It’s summer!

And I haven’t quite settled into this new routine. I’m still adjusting, but at the same time savoring many sweet and simple moments. Plums. A dinner outside on the patio. Ping pong 🙂 A new draft of a story. Cousins. The fountain gurgling outside my bedroom window.

And even though I’m doing plenty of giving–the rides, the laundry, the cleaning…I’m missing the baking and all that that has meant in my life these last few years. And to feed that missing link–I recently read this inspiring story of nine, very generous baking nanas. If you haven’t read it–take the time. I cried most of the way through. Anyway, today, there’s bread in the oven! I feel a renewed effort welling in me, and that makes me happy.

Tell me, what’s making you happy these summer days? Are you in catch up mode, too?