Nothing proves neighbourliness like a lion’s head rolling off. After the massacre, acquaintances and coworkers approached me with concern, wondering who was responsible for such a thing. When I told them our household was accountable they almost seemed relieved, as if we were having another unspoken conversation. Yes that’s right, we live in a place where people wouldn’t dare vandalize a snow sculpture…and isn’t it a fine little town?
The girls had been planning to destroy the sculpture for months. They finally waged war against winter, rallying forces with Jack, Ainsly, and their mom, Shelly. When Belén cried out, “I call the machete,” and Susanna yelled, “Dibs on the saw,” in front of our company I was glad for a friend like Shelly. She didn’t blink an eye.
Shelly also didn’t blink an eye when I told her what we’d be having for dinner. I’d been experimenting with a gluten-free sourdough recipe I’d left on my counter for 4 days and was hopeful that this time would finally be the time–when the stars would align and I’d discover the traditional, wheaty-tasting sourdough I was after. (Gluten-free bakers have a lot in common with gamblers or gold diggers.) I should’ve known how it would all play out; I’ve been doing this for about 10 years–getting my hopes up and then seeing them crumble, quite literally, before my eyes.
When I piled the cracked, oblong rocks (aka my sourdough baguettes) on the table Shelly said, “Oh, I see you’ve made pocket buns.” Pocket buns, a term coined by her husband, are the kind of rolls you can put in your pocket, and after a full day of hunting in the woods, take out of your pocket and observe no change. The pocket buns will look just the same, and as hard, as they went in. Regrettably, I foresee the title, Pocket buns, getting a lot of use around here.
Susanna had a friend sleep over at our house for the very first time this weekend. She decorated the whole house in advance, taping ribbons to the walls and strewing other bric-a-brac around our living room. When her friend, Kirsi, arrived Susanna led her to a homemade pinata–constructed feverishly, only minutes before, with a cardboard box and masking tape. After the whole thing collapsed, Kirsi pawed through the shredded newspaper for treasures and found a lonely pack of gum.
“It’s half-eaten,” she observed while holding it up to Susanna.
Stan, having just retired the broomstick after the event, responded cheerfully for Susanna’s sake, “But it isn’t pre-chewed now, is it?”
I’ve read a few books lately I’d enthusiastically recommend to the right kind of reader. The first is The Hundred-Foot Journey and if you are interested in cooking, India, or France, this novel will be like a birthday present for you. And I am the child who hands over the present and wants to you to open it RIGHT NOW and tell me how much you love it. But don’t read it too fast… the author’s choice words and sensual descriptions are too rich to gobble down quickly. Another one is Pastrix, a spiritual memoir which will either offend or delight. Then, Stan suggested ordering this book for the girls, which entertains them in short bursts. Tonight, at the dinner table, after Susanna involuntarily growled at the back of her throat trying to eat my soup, I read this quote about a degustateur from the book:
Julia Rogers is a taste educator whose specialty is cheese. If you offered her a piece, she might say: “In this cheese, you can taste brown butter and nuts.” Or: “This cheese smells of ripe cream and melted butter, with just a hint of white mushrooms and earth.” … Julia believes kids are the perfect taste education students. “Kids are especially good at this because they don’t have any preconceptions about what food tastes like,” she says. “Kids don’t hesitate to say it smells like crushed rocks or it smells like poo!”
I continued reading how tasters describe sensations and smells using images unrelated to food and it somehow got us through the meal. Susanna closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the qualities she was tasting. She borrowed “the wet spot in the basement” from the book, but then came up with “the broth tastes like wet construction paper and the scent of pine needles” all on her own. I was impressed with the pine needle comment because I did add rosemary salt for seasoning!
Lastly, we continue to pray for our niece, Lucy. I am amazed at the strength and faith of her parents, especially when I get cranky about it all. Just lately, after talking about the situation, I protested to no one in particular, “Why do we keep praying? What does God need from us? Hundreds and thousands of the same prayers? Can’t He just do something? Now?” I felt testy, ignorant, and impatient at the same time, as if I could thrash around with God like Jacob did–a story I love from Genesis 32 where Jacob is renamed “Israel” or “one who has struggled with God… and overcome.”
Belén and Susanna looked up at me and Stan took them both on his lap. After a moment Stan said, “God doesn’t want us to quit. He wants to change us. And Philip and Anne… and Lucy.”
And so we prayed again for change. For all of us.
Thanks for reading through the patches of our week,