I had two New Years Resolutions for 2013 year. The first was to leave my former job. I wasn’t sure what form the leaving would take: transfer to another group in the same company, finding a new job in a different company, quitting outright and being a stay-at-home mother/student for some undetermined length of time. At the beginning of the year I didn’t think that I would ever be in the position that in now; forced out of the company, with a settlement, staying home with the kids and going to school. And I never thought it would take all damn year to leave. There were a lot of times over the past few months I thought that it would never be over; that I would end up going back to work, in the same job, miserable forever. I so happy to be starting 2014, released from those shackles.
The second resolution was much less grand, quite simple really, and yet it sometimes it seemed laughably ambitious given the chaos of my life. It was quite simply that I would not purchase any bread in 2013. If we wanted bread – I would have to make it. I honestly wasn’t sure it was even possible. I baked my way pretty smoothly through January and February. Then in March all five of us succumbed to a bout of the flu (yes, despite all dutifully getting our flu shots. I thought the virus might be the end of my resolution, but, in a fit of baking the week before, I had filled the freezer with loaves of rich, buttery white bread and earthy, comforting wheat bread. We went though seven loaves of bread over the week of sickness. It seemed that all anyone could stand to eat was toast. But as I pulled the last loaf out of the freezer, I felt well enough to start another batch of dough and we made it through. When Middle went from he to she, I stayed up late crying and full of worry for her and made bread. When my job beat me down and I couldn’t work anymore I stayed home and made bread. In between memorizing all the muscles in the human body I would take a study break and work some dough. I found the key to keeping us in bread to be baking in large batches of four to eight loaves at a time and then freezing all but one loaf. If you’ve never tried it, well wrapped bread freezes beautifully. Nothing beats bread still warm from the oven but my frozen bread certainly beats any store bought bread into crumbs. Now, half an hour before the year turns to 2014, there are still two loaves of bread in the freezer (ciabatta and a loaf of white sandwich bread). I made it!
I realize that it is just bread. Lots of people around the world never buy any bread. I doubt Ma Ingalls ever bought any either. I know it probably won’t say on my tombstone: “Here lies Emily. She baked all her own bread”. But I am, my friends, a control freak. And this past year my world was very out of control. So I took a bread knife and carved out one tiny, flour dusted, corner of my universe and made it something I can control. And it feels and tastes damned good.