I have made six loaves of bread several times a week for something like ten years. I take the raised dough, I divide it in half, then thirds. I did this flawlessly Monday.

This morning I stood there, staring at the ball of dough, wondering how in the world I was supposed to figure out fifths.

It wasn’t until I had carefully formed five—oddly large—loaves that I began to wonder where the number five fit into the scheme of things. I had, after all, greased the same six pans I always grease. Heated the same oven I’ve heated for ten years. That fits six loaves if you load it just . . . so.


When I forget the salt or the yeast or the dough itself and it oozes all over the cupboard—these things no longer concern me. This is who I am. I once lost the M volume from my friend’s encyclopedia set. It was the only thing in my hands and she lived two blocks away. When I retraced my steps an hour later, I found it laying on the sidewalk.

I was fourteen.

But five? Random numbers imposing themselves on my consciousness impelling me to attempt difficult mathematical feats? Really?

This could possibly be part of a larger theme.

On New Years day, 2009, I was standing at the sink, writing. Really. You’d be amazed at how well people respect your space when they think might need help cleaning the kitchen. I had this thought. Clear as anything:

Look at the stove.

Lo and behold there were flames. Tall flames. A veritable bonfire.  I looked again, and the inferno proving itself not an apparition, I clapped a bowl upside down over it.  Took the whole steaming mass outside where it reignited in subzero weather and burned merrily for a good half hour. The cat was intrigued.

A simple matter of turning on the wrong burner, and setting down a dishtowel in passing.

On January 7th, I cleaned off the burners and surrounding countertops, turned on the vegetables, and checked the scalloped potatoes. While waiting for the veggies to heat, I changed D’s diaper.

Why aren’t those vegetables getting hot?

Remember the dishtowel?

Yeah, that was pretty crazy. I must be losing my mind.

Sigh. Look at the stove

 Haha. Very funny. Now that would be really crazy.

There is a pillar of smoke rising from the stove, billowing across the ceiling.

Flame resistant hot mitts don’t actually produce any flame, but they burn hot.  As in, half an hour on the porch doesn’t even begin to cool them off. If anything, fresh air feeds the glow.

Having cleaned up the mess and set out a glowing example of my culinary skills to aromatize the neighborhood–and, of course, turning off the wrong burner–I turned the right burner on. Right rear, to be exact, and once again began my vegetable warming vigil. Emphasis on vigil.

Oh wait. I turned the wrong burner on AGAIN.

And no, I haven’t recently acquired a new, difficult to operate stove. The lady who bought our house sent it along  to our new house as a sort of housewarming gift.

I have recently become very organized and on top of things. In preparation, as it were, for acquiring two new babies—a two month old in February and another in April. I can find my pens, my measuring spoons and Sunday shoes for six children. You can safely eat off the floor in my bathroom (children attempt things like this, it pays to be prepared) and my closets are clean. The state of my mind, apparently, doesn’t mirror that.


The good news is that the bread turned out. All six loaves. By the time the kids get home there will only be five.

It occurred to me, as I proofread this for spelling errors, that I don't smell the ham. It should be done enough to smell.  I set the temperature for a good 325 degrees, just exactly right so it'll be done as the kids drag themselves over the threshold, starving and weak from their afternoon fast. Look, kids–fresh bread and honey glazed ham.  Sandwiches from heaven.

Only I didn't actually turn on the confounded oven!  

Great galloping Gadwalloffing buzzbungs!

Doesn't the house smell nice and clean kids? That's right, just kneel down and sniff–smells like lemon, doesn't it? No?What's that, the smell of clorox makes you queasy on an empty stomach? How about some graham crackers?

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