I burned the bread

What I did: soaked 125 grams of whole spelt grain in 125 ml of water for two hours; rinsed, aerated, and rested every 6 hours until it sprouted (about 18 hours); mixed it into a batch of sourdough bread dough, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator, got up in the morning and baked it, and burned both loaves.

What I did beforehand: took pictures of the cat 

What I wore: “MAYBE I LITERALLY CAN EVEN” t-shirt, pajama pants, Birkenstock clogs

Who went with me: the dogs

How I got distracted: looked at the news

Why I saw this show: you bake enough bread and the stuff you can buy will never be as good as what you can make.

Where I sat: just out of earshot of the oven timer.

Things that were sad: no bread for dinner; no bread to take to the barn.

Things that were funny: my brother suggested I cut off the crusts. What remained looked like a crouton the size of a large eggplant.

Things that were not funny: the burnt crust shattered when cut, and black crumbs large and small flew in several directions.

Something I ate: not this bread.

What it is: 200 grams home grown sourdough leaven, dissolved in 800 ml water, plus 200 g spelt flour and 800 g bread flour, plus 25 g fine sea salt in a almost-no-kneading technique. 

Who should see it: fans of rage cooking.
What I saw at the end:

Dog Diarrhea

Cherry would like you to think that she isn’t crate-trained, so she stands and looks at you, fawn-eyed and faux-sad when you put her food dish in her kennel. “Please,” her eyes plead, “Won’t you hold me on your lap, feed me by the spoonful, and let me sleep on your bed?” Captain thinks everything is wonderful, including dinner, dinner in his crate, treats in his crate, going in his crate, jumping on your bed, putting his butt on your pillows, going for a walk outside, eating grass, eating deer manure, lying in the sun, seeing dogs he knows, and meeting dogs he doesn’t know. Ok, I’ll stop. I could bore even the most dog-loving person with the list of what Captain loves.
Now that Cherry’s an old, sugar-faced dog, I sometimes find her in the morning with a single nugget of poo, pressed into her orthopedic pad, and baked firm from her body heat overnight.  I would always rather clean the pad cover than the carpet (or my own bed).
Except for diarrhea, Captain’s more of a barf-in-the kennel type than a mysterious nugget-o-poo dog. There’s a point where the grass must come up, according to Captain’s digestive tract. Diarrhea, when it happens, is infrequent, but memorable. And it appears overnight, as it did last time.

It was a savory smell, like someone was reheating beef stew. It might have been the soup-stock from the roast chicken the night before, back on the stove, but, then again, it wasn’t quite a chicken smell. The way smells carry can be strange and hard to predict; for example, I can smell from upstairs if the door to the basement is ajar, but I’ll miss the acrid evidence of my kids burning toast in the kitchen. Sounds, too, move, or don’t, in ways I can’t totally explain in this house. I can scream for someone upstairs and they won’t hear me at all, but if someone goes pee in the bathroom next to the office, I can hear every drip and drop. When a crow walks across the roof I can hear it, but I can’t hear a car on the driveway.

I came down to find the houseguest already at work; she was officially “working from home,” a moderately amusing concept for me, a chronically underemployed person. Only her dog greeted me and my friend called out, ”Oh, I had to put your dogs back in their kennels. Captain had diarrhea all over his kennel and Cherry’s. I wiped him off, but I had to put them back because I didn’t know what to do.”

Good morning.

I sent my dogs outside to begin the cleanup, and all three dashed out. The guest was new to being allowed off leash and I didn’t want today to be the day she really tested her new freedom, galloping off into the woods forever, but I had a huge mess to deal with.

I stripped the covers off the dog beds and put them in the wash, and put the beds themselves out in the sun. I was already pretty sure I’d gotten diarrhea on my arms. The wire kennels themselves were going to need hosing, so I had to take the pile of stuff that had accumulated on top of the kennels since the last time I had had to do this and put it someplace else. Picture me, in my jammies, chucking packages of wire and zip ties into any available toolbox drawer and throwing a stack of empty boxes into the garage without waiting to see where they landed. Do you have a vision of mania yet?

I dragged the kennels out to the patio only to discover that the hose had been moved from the side of our house to the spigot by the upper horse paddock. There is an ongoing Hose Borrowing War on the property, since a good, unpunctured hose is always in short supply at the horse barn down the hill. I had the choice of moving the hose or moving the kennels, but concluded that the liquefied dog diarrhea water that was going to be coming from the kennels was acceptable on the driveway (where we drive) and not acceptable on the patio (where we eat). So, I moved the kennels one at a time to the driveway, and this was the point where I am pretty sure I got dog diarrhea on my pajama pants. The guest dog bore witness, and correctly surmised that I was not to be messed with, and asked me to please, please let her in the house so she could be with her much-less-deranged owner.

The sprayer nozzle was nowhere to be found—another casualty of the Hose Borrowing War–so I had to do the hosing “I have no nozzle, but I’ve got a thumb” style, which works great for everyone in the world with well-functioning thumb joints. I am not among those with healthy, well-functioning thumb joints. I collected some preliminary data on my materials science research: big, gooey chunks of dog diarrhea are water-soluble, while dried-on smears of dog-diarrhea are more solid than epoxy.

In my growing irritation, I capped my geyser of profanity to call the dogs. They were not coming. What dog would? They probably thought I was ready to kill them.

I went to the door. Last night’s chicken stock was still sitting on the porch; it had been cold last night, but now the sun was warming the pot. I picked it up; I had a new mission! Diarrhea momentarily forgotten, I had soup to rescue. I let myself in.

Captain had been keeping out of reach, but saw his chance to get back inside (where the nice woman was quietly working) and away from the outside (where the other, terrifying woman was cussing and had a hose). He tore into the house, top speed, hitting me in the back of the knees and himself in the head on the soup pot. In the time-expanding magic of a moment of crisis, my mind filled with the image of me tripping and falling, the soup, carcass, pot, limp and overcooked vegetables, and pot lid flying into the house in a wave of savory slime. But I managed to take that soup-saving giant step and regain my footing. The energy of not falling was translated into the mightiest of mighty yells.
Damn that dog! Running into the house, still covered in now-dried, epoxy strong diarrhea. The roar coming from me had the power to stop a bad dog in his tracks, backed by the rage of a lazy housekeeper, not interested in shampooing the fucking rugs, amplified by wet pajama legs from the splash back of the cold hose. There was still dog diarrhea on my arms. It was a fierce, “FUCK!” full voice, the syllable drawn out as long and as loud as I could. And then, both syllables of, “CAPTAIN!”

My houseguest rose quickly and silently from her chair, turning towards me and fumbling her phone. Her eyes were wide. She was on a work call.

Frankenwind Sandypants

I had a warm check-in email from the Super yesterday, full of details about alarms going off in this and the other buildings he cares for, a picture of some almost-NYC-marathoners he met, best wishes to JP for his 30thbirthday, and love and hugs. Of course, I don’t know a JP, 30 years old or otherwise, and don’t believe that my super has even one warm feeling for me at all. Nor is he, as he signs his note, my dad.
But this apartment is now my home, and I have been living in it for two long months. In my dreams I still live in Seattle, or in that funny house up a dirt road in the country that rambles on and on and has wallpapered rooms beyond rooms beyond rooms. Two nights ago I spoke to one of our old Seattle neighbors in my dream, and when I woke up I was in a hotel by Lincoln Center, having fled the cold and dark apartment with the kids for a few nights of electricity and room service.
The storm warnings began the week before. The media was calling it a ”Frankenstorm,” a triple whammy of a late hurricane, merged with a Nor’easter, coinciding with a full moon and high tide. We were supposed to get ready. We felt ready; we had candles.
Water supply, 10/27/12
Saturday the 27th we had a nice Italian dinner out and stopped at a supermarket afterwards to buy some water. Already the shelves were emptied of certain items.  On the way home, we saw a guy parking his BMW motorcycle on the street, testing its stability and analyzing its chances of staying upright.
By 5 pm on Sunday the 28th the city had published a map showing that Zone A was a mandatory evacuation area. I spent some time convincing myself with maps provided by several sources that we were a few blocks from Zone A (and were, in fact Zone C). While the wind started to blow, we went out for sushi, thinking that we should eat the fish that would most certainly spoil if not consumed before the storm. The red Japanese paper lanterns swung erratically while we ate.
School was cancelled Monday the 29th, in anticipation of the storm, so we slept in.  Walking the dogs around noon, we could hear a loud whistling sound that seemed to be coming from the construction site of the Freedom Tower, a few blocks south.  The Hudson River was much higher than normal, and green, and angry-looking. Plenty of other New Yorkers were out walking, too, and no one hesitated to duck under the strips of caution tape tied across the paths leading into the park by the river. It was obvious to everyone that if there was something interesting to see yet, it would be behind the yellow plastic caution tape.
Lots of wind, a little rain
As the storm arrived, it was mostly wind. One of the dogs dug herself a den in the couch, pushing all the cushions aside and settling in, surrounded on all sides. The cat watched with all that creepy cat excitement as the water droplets ran down the windows. Out on our street, a large piece of sheet metal landed on our street and thrashed around out there for hours, finally coming to rest under the bumper of a minivan. Our power went out around 8:30 pm, and we went to bed pretty early. The dog had a nightmare and woofed and growled in her sleep.
Broadway near Worth,
facing north, 10/30/12
Tuesday the 30th we still had no power, little mobile phone reception, and I invested a bunch of time and phone battery into trying to see if Con Edison had an estimate for restoring power. The answer was that they didn’t know. Our unreliably delivered daily New York Times arrived (along with Monday’s paper), and though we would see no mail all week (until Saturday), that newspaper came every morning.  We recharged our phones off of my weird Japanese model Panasonic Toughbook, which has a long battery life, is supposed to be able to survive a bad fall, and even has a tiny drain hole under the keyboard so liquids spilled on it won’t ruin it. Everyone complains about my machine because it has a wacky Japanese keyboard, but it still had juice Thursday when we gave up and headed for a hotel uptown. 
Tuesday we enjoyed the novelty of life in an apartment with no power. We played board games, burned candles, and ate things we could cook on the stove. We walked the dogs, getting in and out of the building via the emergency exit stairs, which are dark, steep and spooky.  Everything was a big deal. The BMW motorcycle lay on its side, leaking oil. The traffic lights were dark, and the buildings were dark, and mostly there was the sound of generators and sometimes sirens. Businesses were beginning to clean up their broken windows, pump out the water, throw out the spoiled food. Every few minutes the police came silently up the middle of Church Street with their disco party lights bubbling.
On Wednesday we woke up and it was colder and not as much fun. The Bacon Provider started scrambling for a hotel room, but in the end he and I took a cab uptown and went grocery shopping instead. The cab ride made me very car-sick, and had I not been on the verge of barfing, I might have gasped at the hustle and bustle of perfectly normal-looking midtown Manhattan. People were on their way to the gym, sight-seeing, and shopping for fancy shoes. Though I did not care very much about it when I saw it, we got to see the brokenconstruction crane at 57th street which we had heard caused many buildings to be evacuated, and we got some new food to carry back downtown.
Dangling crane at 57th
Schlepping several blocks to escape the gridlock, we snagged a cab around 44th Street. The taxi driver took us back to TriBeCa, passing the threshold of civilization at 34th street (where the stoplights stopped); at this point he simply drove down the West Side Highway as fast as he possibly could, through multiple intersections.  That night we made grilled sausages and artichokes and the Bacon Provider stood, stirring his risotto by candlelight, and it was perfect as always. After dinner we played Loaded Questions again, and laughed our heads off.
By Thursday the iPads were dead, everyone badly needed a shower, and we packed overnight bags and took a cab uptown again. Once in a hotel room, we took turns in the shower, charged our stack of devices, and had a decent dinner across the street. The Bacon Provider went back to the apartment to feed the cat and walk and feed the dogs. It had dropped into the 50s (F) in the apartment so he slept in a big pile with all the pets on the bed.
Frog skeletons at AMNH
Friday the boys and I went for a walk, thinking we could go to Central Park, but the combination of New York City Marathon preparations and the damage from the storm meant the Parks Department had erected barricades to keep everyone out. As we made our way up Central Park West, a long line of media trucks was assembling, firing up their generators for a weekend’s coverage of the marathon (which was not yet cancelled at this point).  Knowing that pretty much everyone below 34thstreet was still without power (not to mention the flooding and homes destroyed in New Jersey, Staten Island and Long Island), it seemed to us that the resources being poured into the marathon set-up alone could be much better utilized lighting a dark hospital or pumping out a flooded subway. In search of a distraction, we ended up at the American Museum of Natural History, where we looked at an Ivory Ornamental tarantula and some hominid skulls and a giant crystal and a turtle skeleton and some taxidermied tigers and marveled at how most of this museum is like a time machine that takes you on a science filed trip to the 1950s. On our way back up the elevator to our room, some enormous and fit Dutch people lectured us about American politics and the decision to cancel the marathon.
Saturday we packed up, checked out of the hotel, bought groceries, and got picked up by the Bacon Provider in our own car, because the power was on at home and at our garage.  Now we are back in the apartment, which was 4 1/2 days without power and yet the milk never spoiled. Halloween never happened. As glad as I was to get here and see the lights on, it still feels like part of a long, bad, weird vacation.