Suburban Status Report 20200507

Front yard magnolia getting ready to go for it

I am sorry to admit that my house, recently a place of unparalleled cleanliness courtesy of pandemic boredom, has reverted to its former slovenly state. My vacuum cleaner is probably heaving a large sigh of relief, much like people’s dogs that are getting annoyed at the quantity of forced-march walking that is taking place. My lack-of-housekeeping relapse would be less noticeable if the sun would mind its own business. This time of year, it muscles its way through the front window at exactly the right angle to reveal, with the precision of an atomic microscope, the layers of dust on anything that doesn’t move and even some things that do. Kind of fascinating, really. I could watch it for hours. And often do.

I am also sorry to report that I am so far mostly failing miserably at the COVID Olympics, the official set of competitive challenges, specified by whomever governs social media, which require mandatory pandemic participation. I was all set to join the sourdough team (or maybe it’s an individual contributor sport, I’m not quite sure) and used some of my ration of flour (2 kilograms scored from Longo’s before it became clear that flour will never be seen again in our lifetime) to try and start a starter. “Do or don’t do,” says Yoda, “there is no try.” Yoda has clearly never made sourdough starter. My slurry of flour (the fully sanctioned mix of rye and unbleached white, I must add) and water sat there like a lump of, well, flour and water for all five of its five-day incubation period, during which it was supposed to burst forth with bubbling leavening agent. I gave it a bit more time, complete with a very frank Yoda pep talk every day, before I admitted sourdough was not going to happen.

At this point, I had a one-litre Mason jar half-full of ugly looking sludge that was impossible to get out of the jar. I banished the jar to the table on the back deck, hoping that maybe a good rain would dislodge the gunk enough to liberate it. And yes, a good rain did ensue. Resulting in a nice layer of rainwater on top of the congealed flour-and-water paste. At this point, I decided the jar (and its contents) was dead to me. And probably also dead to Yoda.

Then, a few mornings ago, out of my peripheral vision (because I was studiously averting my gaze from the jar-of-shame), I noticed the disgraced non-starter was no longer sitting on the table. Instead, it was lying on its side on the deck in the corner, which is not a place it would be able to get to on its own, even if it had suddenly transformed into super-human, self-propelling sourdough starter. Since it was nice out and garbage day was nigh, I decided enough was enough. If the jar and its contents wanted to commit Hari Kari who was I to disagree? I put it in a plastic bag (in my own defense, we are no longer allowed to put loose garbage out in containers in these parts) with some other non-compostables, and left the bag on the deck to await garbage day.

Fast forward to garbage day eve. Like most urban areas, garbage day (or as I call it, garbage-garbage day) only happens every second week. The garbage czars say you must have your garbage on the curb by 7 am, an hour at which no garbage has ever disappeared from my driveway. And in like most urban areas, if you put your garbage out the night before, you have catered a skunk and raccoon buffet, for which you have signed up to be busboy or busgirl the next morning. And I did not fall off that particular cabbage truck. So I got up at the reasonably reasonable garbage day hour of 07:30, threw on my workout wear, and schlepped my garbage bag out to the curb, then went back inside to have a nice cup of Earl Grey tea, confident that my soured experience with sourdough was forever banished.

I continued along with my day. When I walked up the street for the mail around noon, I noticed nobody seemed to have their garbage out. I came home and double-checked the calendar the garbage czars send me every year. Yup. It was, in fact, garbage-garbage day. The sun set and rose again with my garbage uncollected. As I stared at my green bag the next morning, willing it into another dimension, my neighbour called out from his (safely physically distant front step). “Do you believe that? First time in the past twenty years they’ve collected precisely at 7 am. It’s a miracle!” The sourdough strikes again. It must live in its plastic tomb in the garage for another two weeks. Thanks a bunch, Yoda.      

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