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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For Morgan

Some people officially live across the street, but they also feel like they’re one of your own. They pop in when they want. They sometimes are in their pj’s. Sometimes with big grins. Sometimes with frowns and tears. Sometimes they just plop down on your couch and start texting. They are always welcome to just open up the front door and not even knock…

Well, I’m missing one of those someones. She’s busy, and we don’t see her much, except when she’s driving away in that new/old Volvo she just bought. So I baked her an apple cake.

Love you, Morgan! Miss you…

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 🙂

Heartfelt

One loaf of Molasses Bread

Mixed, molded and baked on Monday afternoon.

Gave to: Well, tried to give to Sparky’s mama, but it ended up at the corner house.

We’ve lived on this street in Santa Barbara for many years now. We love this neighborhood for many reasons, and one of them has been Sparky, a beautiful and docile white shepherd who was built to gallop and lope with those lovely long legs of his. Sparky adored lounging in our neighbor’s front room, which has a floor to ceiling window that faces the street. He would peek his head out of the closed curtain and secretly watch all that passed by in his regal way.

Well, Sparky was put down not too long ago. His owner, C, loved that dog–we loved him–and it was hard to say goodbye.

My daughter said the other day, “We need to bring C some bread!” And I thought that was a fine idea. So, I baked up two loaves of molasses bread and Madeleine and I shuffled across the street to offer the bread and our condolences. We talked on the front porch for a long while, but the bread stayed in our hands–turns out, like so many others these days, C’s trying a diet that’s free of wheat.

So, I promised her some kumquat marmalade (which I just made yesterday) and we scooted next door to our dear friends on the corner, who are also bread lovers and eaters.

I’m so grateful for my daughter’s heart–that she thought of this giving and not me. Shows that this idea of sharing isn’t mine alone, and that as a community we can make our little street an eensy scooch more connected, sharing our sorrows, our loaves of bread, and our kumquat marmalade– together.