Yes, I find myself “between contracts” at the moment. That’s an euphemism consultants use when one contract ends before they’ve found the next one. This is the nice thing about consulting, you are never out of work, just between contracts.
While I devote a large chunk of my day towards finding the next source of income, I also can tend to some neglected chores, such as straightening up my disaster of an office, or finally painting some rooms that need a touch-up.
My favorite part of this time is to leave the house and do something fun: extra walks with my dog, a weekday visit to the wonderful museum in town, or maybe finally stop in at the artisan bakery that receives such rave reviews.
I’ll bake some bread myself, of course, because I enjoy doing it. Besides, I have family traditions to keep alive.
After my Polish grandmother moved in with my aunt, she stopped cooking entirely and only baked at Christmas and Easter. She would call my father and tell him to get a 50-pound bag of flour. She made a poppy seed roll with a sweetened dough, grinding the poppy seeds to make the filling, kneading the dough with her misshapen arthritic hands.
She saved Wonder Bread wrappers all year to ensure she had enough bags to wrap the three loaves she distributed to each of her seven adult children.
We devoured it. It was part of our Christmas and Easter morning breakfast menus and an evening snack with a cup of coffee. Chew slowly, we thought, because this is a rare treat.
After she died, my mother and I might have missed the bread more than we missed my grandmother. (She had mastered the art of passive aggressive behavior before the term existed.)
My mother was a collector of those small, self-published cookbooks that churches used to produce as fund-raisers. Want to know how to make scrapple or funnel cakes? I have a Pennsylvania Dutch cook book for that. How about chicken paprikash? I go right to the little green cookbook that our neighbor’s Hungarian church in town created a half-century ago.
Mom scooped up a Polish cookbook (hand typed, mimeographed, and spiral bound) at a summer church festival because it contained a recipe for the poppy seed roll. It was written from memory and a little sketchy on the ingredients, but we were able to replicate my grandmother’s bread after some trial and error and a little tweaking. It was back on the holiday menus!
After my parents died and I sold their house, the cookbooks came to reside on my bookshelves. And now, with the extra time that comes with being between contracts, I will plunge my hands into the sticky-sweet dough of a family tradition once again.