Sunday, September 29, 2013


So apparently if anyone is over the age of 12 they are not supposed to have any knots in their hair. I on the other hand, seem to struggle with this phenomenon at break neck speeds. I recently shopped through droves of product to help me with this struggle, only to find this saucy little number. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good strawberry-scented hair product just as much as the next person. But what got me so perturbed was the age limit for tangles. As if after a certain stage tangles miraculously disappear.

But this is just not true! Both literally and figuratively speaking.

Real life is messy too!
It has lots of knots and tangles. And those don't all just stop happening after a certain age. And they certainly don't get any better by spraying fruity scents at them.

Last Sunday came on the heels of a tangled week. Schedules and travel and difficult days at work left me feeling like a shell of a woman. And not a very hip/put together woman. Any other time I would have beaten myself up over having only been 2 weeks into a bread baking stint only to have been defeated already. But that was before my No More Tangles revelation.

Instead, I was able to tell myself to take. it. EASY.
That, and I also was able to tell myself to veer left and to pick up the closest BOX recipe I could find.

So I did. And I made it in 45 minutes. It was not awesome but it was not terrible.
I didn't find it on Pinterest and it didn't have any nostalgia attached to it.
But the bread was made and I got to read for twenty minutes and go to bed at the same time as my husband, which is a long standing tradition that was in place long before Sunday/Bread days.

All this just to say that regardless of box recipes or knotted masses of hair, that just because something may not seem smooth and perfect, doesn't mean that it's not good and happy.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day is done.

Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in recipes and plans of baking the bread,
that you forget the importance of breaking the bread.

A full table of family (not by shared blood, but by shared heart),
and a full plate of a Rosemary loaf warm out of the oven
is what makes this girls' heart full.

To hear the crust tear in the hands of those that we love and who love us in return,
to watch the oil pour out in abundance as laughter spills over the room,
to be met with caring eyes, reflecting every candle's glow and warmth...

For these things, the rest of it can wait.

I pay no heed to rough drafts or weekly chores.
Because this day of heavy rains and heavy news was meant to be buffered with communion such as this.

So as I dry the final dish and glance at the lateness of the coming hour,
I whisper a song of thanks to the true Bread of Life,
and perhaps understand a little more now, the significance of that name.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Windows and Doors.

There are some evenings when it feels as though the every day activity of taking a walk with the dog, turns into something different and quite unexpected. Those are the times when it feels that I am floating through a work of art-a grateful yet invisible onlooker. Whether it is a poem, a painting, or a sonata, I cannot say. But every sight becomes story, bathed in golden light and told without effort.

Tonight for example.

One moss covered walkway just into the journey leads up to a screen door. It opens and the orange tabby cat rushes silently out into the yard, seamlessly dodging between muddied garden boots.

The brick tudor down the street has it's kitchen window overlooking a side garden of hollyhock and lavender. A silver haired woman washes dishes at the sink. I catch her smile to herself as she adds more soap to the water. Behind her on the back wall there are family portraits and people sitting at the kitchen table with their coffee laughing.

Several houses later the youngest of the three daughters is learning to play Clair De Lune. I know because I have seen them in the yard before and their mother has called her in to practice. She struggles to focus tonight. There is the start and stop of keys. The phone rings and the TV competes for sound waves.

On the way back the dog on the cement steps just a few yards from ours keeps his usual post. His chest rises and falls with his breathing. I am afraid to interrupt his slumber with our passing, but no need. It seems all we warrant is a raise of his ear and a sigh. We are not who he is waiting for.

Back in my kitchen, I knead the dough and place it into bread pans given to me before I was married. My husband hands me the embroidered dish cloth that used to belong to his Grandma Ruth. Now we use it to cover the cinnamon raisin bread as it rises. The sound of the coffee maker finishes its last gurgling spurt. He pours me my cup and I go to water the fiery, orange mum under our lamp post.

A young boy passes by the driveway with a baseball glove in hand and looks up at our front porch. In a brief moment his observing gaze catches mine and he smiles. It has come full circle. He is seeing me and the stories I have to tell. It is there in that moment with his freckled,boyish grin where it all becomes clear. None of us on this block or any other are the onlookers. Rather we are part of a street-symphony greater than any composer could convey,any writer could attempt to narrate, or any painter attempt to convey.

We are living the untouchable masterpieces of the every day in between.

As I rolled up the hose and walked back inside, I couldn't help but think of the silver haired woman over her sink of dishes, and that maybe, just maybe, the grandeur of this idea was the secret behind her knowing smile.

Monday, September 2, 2013

She Maka da Bread.

Over another frozen pizza picked up while running last minute errands this weekend, my husband and I both lamented to one another how this summer was our most elusive yet. It seemed just days ago we were opening up the pool and dreaming of outdoor barbecues with friends, and now here I sit with the windows open, the leaves outside our driveway already beginning to fall, and talk of trips to the orchard on our calendar. As children we are told how quickly time will come to elude us, to enjoy the days of our fleeting youth. And so a small part of me is tempted to believe that these split second seasons shouldn't come as a surprise. That I ought to accept the inevitability of it all. But then I catch glimpses of things like the neighborhood children playing baseball at dusk or the elderly woman in her garden on my way home from work as she softly tends to each vine ripened tomato. It is in those moments when I know deep down in my bones that I cannot admit defeat. That somewhere, somehow, we are meant for more than a race. That we were built for hard work, but never built for busyness. God used this fleeting summer and a few of those still moments in between to teach me that this skin covered soul doesn't have to be lost to the tide of the hours.

Out of His kind dealings with me something a tad out of my comfort zone has come about in the form of an offering. It is quite small actually, but an offering none the less. And I'm trusting He will do with it as He always does with these types of surrender. Bless and multiply.

On this alter lies a stack of dusty cook books, an old wooden spoon, and a lot of flour.
Each with the growing hope that the act of baking bread once a week and taking the waiting in between to write might be just one of the ways that God wants to teach me this art of stopping time...or at the very least giving it a run for it's money.

Fresh bread was always part of the DNA of our family life. On the way out the door to school or coming home from school for that matter. The seasons always changed but the presence of "the bread" was always a constant. Some days we'd help make it, other days we'd sit at the counter working on home work as the aroma carried us through until an evening snack. And while I do remember having some really great tasting kinds of bread, it's everything that came along with it that I remember so fondly. Things like warmth, fullness, a sense of patience and sore arms. Even things like knowing the importance of each ingredient to it's success and how nothing is too small to make a big difference.

Whatever my family ends up looking like years from now, I don't want us to miss out on a good loaf of homemade bread, just because I've labeled myself a "bad cook". But even more importantly, I don't want us to miss out on everything that accompanies the discipline of it simply because I let my calendar carry more weight than my Bible.

To be still. To "Live Life Slow" as Starlight Radio sings. Some may call me neive for thinking that a loaf of bread can do this while simultaneously UN-doing a workweek of stress,grocery shopping,picking up dog hair etc. And to those critics I would say that it's of course not about the product but rather about the process. That, and perhaps I would also tell them that clearly they have never truly had a good slice of bread.

And so, it will never be about the food itself, but rather what I find along with it while waiting for it to rise, cook, and cool on the rack. Things like I was able to find tonight.

Like the warmth of my sleeping dog, resting on my bare feet.
Or being able to hear the children's laughter echo down the sidewalks as the cicadas carry on their ceaseless tune. Or contemplating the way the flour feels on my hands as I knead out the dough while marveling at the wonder of it all, how women just like me have been kneading bread for centuries in their kitchens.

Tonight's batch of Rustic White Bread is out of the oven. It's crust is golden brown and crunches in my hand beneath the oven mitt. I am euphoric. But not because I managed to produce something actually edible and somewhat resembling the picture of the finished product. But because I just finished my first class in time travel. And the joys I found along the 3 hour journey are some that I have not had the pleasure of experiencing in a while. All because I was stripped of my schedule, and prompted to don an apron for one night instead.