saturday to everyone else is tuesday on my calendar. I worked a long lunch shift, and took tiny comfort from the fact that at least a couple of the waitresses wanted to be somewhere else as badly as I did. We are experts on each other’s fake smiles.
After my shift I buy toothpaste, because we are out. Walk home in a light rain, tired of being on my feet but grateful I’m walking for myself now, and not for someone’s side of ranch or glass of ice or fresh silverware. The Sound is blue-grey, the sky is blue-grey, and I’ve had the same headache for two days. Another random unexpected side effect of pregnancy. My body is producing whole pints of new blood, and all of it is taking a slow detour around my womb, made slower by my already low blood pressure. Which means, if I manage to trigger a headache, it’s aggravated every time I stand, sit, lean, or bend over. I record this as sort of an anthropological observation, but its true, I’m whining. The not-so-unpleasant side effect of the headache: I’ve begun to walk very deliberately. Gently, slowly, with intention, so as not to jar my skull or rush blood away from my head and to another part of my body. I notice more this way. More raindrops, more faces, more birdsongs.
Somewhere in Seattle, as I walk home, a family of elderly siblings is considering an offer Ryan and I made to buy their deceased mother’s house. Her name was Annie. She raised 6 children in the house and lived out her days there. It sits on a third of an acre in south Seattle, and is ringed with evergreens she planted in the 1930s. I promised her son Roger if we got the house I’d keep her birdfeeders full, something he’s been doing in her memory since the day she died. There’s a damn good chance we’ll get the house, and it won’t break us to pay the mortgage. All of this is surreal.
Walking down the alley to our house, I hold my breath to pass through the smell of the bag of cat litter one of our neighbors poured into the potholes. Our winter garden is still in the evening light, beaded with droplets of clear rainwater. The dog is giddy and overwrought when I unlock the door, and she runs in circles for a while, which seems to help.
When she’s calmed down, I profer her harness, and she walks willingly into it. We set out walking in the fading light. I leave her off leash for a while, and she bounds back and forth between smells, waiting at driveways and sidestreets on command. When we reach the busier street, she instinctively narrows the distance between us, walking in unleashed heel the rest of the way to the petstore. Inside, she greets the employees, all of whom she knows well. They lavish treats upon her in exchange for shakes and sloppy kisses. I buy her cheese hearts and peanut butter bones, and stock up on treats for a care package for my brother’s new dog, a German Shepherd rescue named Kodi.
Walking past the pizza joint on the corner, I find myself wanting pizza. We cross the street to the grocery store, where I pick out baby spinach leaves, two hothouse tomatoes, and a brick of vegan mozzarella. Also a peach and a plum, which arrived at my local grocery store courtesy of a long, fossil-fuel powered journey from Chile. I agonize over buying them for a while, then decide to get them anyway. I’m pregnant, for God’s sake. I’m allowed to do some things I wouldn’t ordinarily. This is what I tell myself in the produce aisle.
We walk home in the dark and the quickening rain. Assata takes her peanut butter bone into the livingroom, and I pour a packet of yeast into a silver mixing bowl. Feed it a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of good sugar, and sit down to wait while it “eats.” Five minutes later, add flour, then salt, then olive oil, then more flour. Easy peasy pizza crust. Knead it for a while, and let it “rest,” then roll it out on a cookie sheet. Listen to an Au Revoir Simone album, which Ryan procured for us last night. Its lovely, whimsical and sad and rambling and poignant all at once… perfect for making dough on a rainy January Saturday night.
Whisk olive oil together with dried thyme and good salt, and paint the crust with a pastry brush. scatter the fresh spinach leaves across, an inch and a half thick, then slice the tomatoes over the top. Grate on the entire brick of “follow your heart” brand mozarella, then slide the entire thing into the oven, listening for the muted clang of the cookie sheet on the hot baking rack, one of my favorite sounds.
Finish the plum, which is disappointing. A shallow imitation of what I’d really been craving, which is, to say, a plum-in-season that wasn’t picked three weeks and 8 thousand miles ago. The kitchen begins to fill with the smell of melting cheese and pizza crust and roasting tomatoes, and I start to think about baking cupcakes.
I’ve baked a lot this past week. Vegan dark chocolate oatmeal shortbread. A vegan poppyseed apple coffeecake. Then a batch of vegan peanut butter cookies. Dark chocolate vegan cupcakes seem like a logical progression. When Ryan gets home, I’m sifting cocoa powder and flour with a fork. We eat pizza and sit on the couch, looking out into the dark neighborhood and discussing the counteroffer the family made on the house. Its not bad, and we’re not sure if its good either, since we’ve never done this before. I am mostly caught up in being mad they want to take the washer and dryer, even though the cost of a new energy and water efficient set would be the tiniest fraction of what we’re talking about spending overall.
Chocolate cake smells fill the house. We rent a movie from the video store on the corner, and curl into each other to eat cupcakes and go gently braindead. Crawl into bed to fall asleep spooning each other spooning the dog, who is using a pillow. The smell of lavender suffuses the sheets. Years ago, when Ryan lived in Bellingham and I lived in Utah, I sewed him a lavender pillow to put over his eyes to help him sleep at night… now he uses a few drops of essential oil before he turns out the light, and his breathing settles out before I’ve even finished tossing and turning. His hand is tucked gently, but firmly, over my pregnant belly, and the newest Au Revoir Simone album is playing softly on the speakers. The dog falls asleep too, and I lay in the middle, hands tangled in both of their limbs, watching shadows from outside flicker on the closet doors. Thinking:
I will remember this moment when I am old.
RECIPES for those who want them:
lovely easy vegan pizza crust (from the Vegan Family Cookbook)
1 packet active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz package)
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs. sugar
whisk together and let sit for five minutes.
Add 1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup light olive oil
and another 1 1/2 cups flour.
knead for five minutes
let rest five minutes.
roll out on oiled baking surface, let rise for as long as you like (i usually get impatient after 5 minutes, but 30 is good).
sauce and top, bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes.
Dark chocolate vegan cupcakes
sift together dry ingredients:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs. butter
2 egg substitutes (i use 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed whisked together with 6 tablespoons water)
1 cup soymilk (or other milk substitute)
chop up a few squares of good dark chocolate and sprinkle the pieces over the cupcakes before putting them in the oven.
bake 15-17 minutes at 350.