Ritual Chaos

Weekends are a little sketchy around here. As much as we all enjoy (and I crave) all of us together for a few hours on a Saturday morning, the reality is a scene of barely-managed chaos. Jonah is forever looking for some piece of some costume he can’t find, demanding our help. Or doing flips off the climber in the front room. Or “wrestling” his wrestling guys, which translates to repeatedly throwing them at each other or into a cheap plastic wrestling ring I’ve already glued back together at least three times. Here’s hoping the Gorilla glue holds. J’s also taken to turning himself into a Transformer. He dons his backpack (“It helps me transform! It’s my transforming box.”) and lays prone on the floor until John yells “Transform!” J proceeds to throw himself across the floor, settling in the prone position, elbows by his ears, fists in the air. He will remain in this position until someone calls out “Transform!” again. Then it’s back to robot position. The key to being the robot is, in J’s words, “everything opens up.” He shows me his palms, fingers extended.

Gabriel takes an unadvised cue or two from Jonah’s activity on the climber. He runs from room to room with his Home Depot drill, asking for help to swap out the bits (it’s currently housing the Phillips screwdriver attachment). He finds a truck or tractor and rolls them across any rollable surface, including the icons. Big no no. He periodically points out the window and pleas, “ow-sie!”  Or he runs through the house, chest out, body loose, letting out what I’ve come to call his war whoop. Yesterday, while circling the table on our deck, he tripped and face-planted in the herb garden. I found him clawing his way out of the basil and lavender.

John enters into their play from time to time (he does a compelling Optimus Prime) and tries to do his own thing at our big library dining-table while I make the scones. This morning I was a mess. Sad and tired (I’d stayed up too late again sorting laundry and watching Mansfield Park). Nothing felt right; everything was irritating.

Saturdays have always been a trouble to me as an adult. Growing up, saturday was a work day. My sisters and I had household chores. Come saturday, you cleaned. It’s in my DNA. Letting the day go its own way, well, it makes me a little anxious. Like Jonah, I love saturdays, but I don’t quite know what to make of them. My schedule’s off—and I’m not going to clean the toilet to make it feel right. At least today I’m not. Some saturdays I can’t help myself.

As I measured and dumped, chopped the butter and worked it into the flour with a fork, I wondered why I go to the trouble. Besides the fact that a freshly baked scone and a cup of dark, steaming coffee represents one of my (and John’s) favorite pleasures, which is probably the point. I realized that in a disordered, chaotic environment, making the scones gives me a place to head toward. A small ritual of creation, rather than maintenance (as cleaning the toilet would be). And when I sit down to eat—even if I only get five minutes, even if I’m interrupted half a dozen times before I finish, I experience at least a modicum of joy. And joy feeds upon joy, don’t you think? Not unlike hope.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine with whisk:
2 cups flour
2 T. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. grated orange peel (I just zest an entire orange)

Add:
1/4 cup butter, chopped in pieces

With fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Beat together and add to dry mix:
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk

Stir in:
1 cup dried fruit (I use less–sometimes too much makes the dough fall apart)

On floured surface, knead dough for a few minutes, until smooth.

Divide dough in half. Pat each half into 6 inch circle. With floured knife cut each circle into 4 wedges. (I sprinkle cutting board with a little cornmeal to add a little texture to the scone and keep it from sticking to the pan.)

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine about a cup of powdered sugar and juice of one orange to desired consistency.

Drizzle mixture over scones. (We do it individually so that scones don’t get soggy.)


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