I've heard from several people in the nether (net+ether, my construction, very proud, use with caution) regions about Austin and the bombs. Most people who read me are aware that I have many friends and family in the south-central Texas hill country region, Austin and San Antonio and places in between. It's probably on par with Phoenix as far as being a localized area of personal-connection density, and I grew up in Phoenix. Quite a few people I know in that part of Texas.
And we know nothing, of course. One of the recent explosions was close to the home my daughter and her family lived in a few years ago, when my grandson was born. But it's a large area, and nerves are on edge but that's about it.
I make a lot of bread, and almost all of it has a purpose. I began 20 years ago or so, dragging a spontaneously-purchased bread machine out of the basement, where it was slowly developing an outer layer of dust. I eventually decided to branch out, and after a few half-and-half experiments (mixing the dough by machine, kneading by hand) I ditched the hardware and never looked back. Bread machines make machined bread, which tastes fine but is what it is.
I just remembered. This all started with a cookie dough sale, through the elementary school or Scouts or something. We had this tub sitting in our fridge, and I started baking cookies. I was a Dad cook at the time, and my baking had been limited to brownie mixes and the back of a Toll House package, but this small thing, pre-made cookie dough, pushed me forward.
But I probably wouldn't have stuck with bread, and probably definitely not after the carb paranoia at the beginning of this century, with the burnishing of the Atkins diet. They were right, too; bread is hardly a necessary food. I rarely eat my own bread, in fact, even though I've long since lost any fear of the carbohydrate.
Once people find out you bake your own bread, though...they start asking. And communion came up almost immediately.
I can explain about this sacrament, but I'm not going to. Maybe one day. There are times when I become inspired toward apologia, but I've got stuff to do today. Let's just say it's an ancient ritual practiced by certain people for a variety of reasons and with a variety of awareness of the purpose, although in my world it's symbolic and functional at the same time. One takes a piece of bread, dips it in grape juice (Presbyterians, go figure), and eats it. It's supposed to nourish the soul, but sometimes people skip breakfast. I never have a partial loaf to take home.
That's because my bread tastes good. A standard communion tiny portion, in some cases barely crumbs, never resembled bread in my mind, and I'm sure it was processed, cheap bread pulled off a Safeway shelf by some deacon, sliced and diced and expected to carry the spiritual burden of sleepy parishioners.
Screw that. I added a ton of sugar, lots of butter, and milk, so that when folks popped a piece into their mouths, they knew they'd popped something.
So that became my bread. Very rich and soft dough, appropriate for rolls, not sandwiches so much, and certainly working for communion.
But, again. Kind of a roll dough. A small piece is enough for me. It's not the kind of bread for soaking up tomato sauce or covering with butter.
I made a lean loaf last night, then, just on a whim. It was fantastic. There's a lesson here, but pardon me for writing with my mouth full.
I had a short conversation with my wife last night about winter. I offered my opinion that we didn't have this particular season, this particular year. She was surprised, suggesting that our White Christmas was a real thing. We've got pictures.
Yeah, but not really. I know, I know. This is what happens when you live through sixty winters; they begin to accelerate into afterthoughts, a huh and then spring. I get that.
And we're pretty moderate in terms of weather up here anyway. We get cold blasts, Arctic air that shovels down through the Fraser Valley in Canada, making our thermometers all jiggly for a while, but it's not all that common. Our average winters have a high around 44 and a low around 43, and I'm pretty serious.
This was nothing, though. No windstorms to speak of. No deep freezes, although we had some days of subfreezing. Really, not much of anything, winter-wise, and while all sorts of adventures can await us in the spring, the storm season passed weeks ago. It'll be wet only from here on through to Independence Day, when summer actually begins.
I'm OK with this winter break. I'm OK with spring being here today. I'm just generally OK.
And you know that stuff I wrote about Lent, and always trying to change things up at this time of year?
It really worked. Dunno. More later, as they say.