When we were socked in below zero F for a week or so, we kept hearing about some weather phenomenon called the Arctic Oscillation. Whatever it was, it meant that it was warmer up north than it was down south… and southern Wisconsin counted as south. At the time, they also threw in some factoid about Wisconsin traditionally getting some kind of late-January thaw, usually around January 22nd, and bingo, here we suddenly are above freezing. It’s raining, blustery, and the crummiest kind of damp/cold (with apologies to my Seattle-area friends, as I’ve never experienced a Seattle winter). So clearly there is no pleasing me. There is, however, another soup du jour, again made by NOT ME, which of course makes it even better. This evening it was Portuguese White Bean Soup from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. It had very few ingredients and was really simple to make (at least, it looked simple 🙂 The verdict: it’s no Gypsy Soup, but it’s still pretty darn good.
At the risk of renaming this blog Now Who Died? I feel compelled to mention the recent passing of Erich Segal, author of the famed novel Love Story. If you were twelve years old in 1972 (and who wasn’t?), this book was required reading if you could only get your hands on it. Of course, your mother hid it so you couldn’t read it and contaminate your mind with the sexy parts, but when you found where she had stashed it you read it and then hid it yourself. Of course, the most famous line from that film is, "Love means never having to say you’re sorry," but there’s another line that even more memorable to a few people in this world. During a nasty argument, Oliver snaps at Jenny, "You can go back to Cranston, Rhode Island, and…." well, I don’t even remember the rest of the sentence, because when I saw the movie at the age of 15 or so I actually lived in Cranston, and was left totally speechless. As I recall, the movie showed the oldest, crappiest parts of Cranston, which about summed up the way I felt about it at the time. Little did I know, as twelve-year-old in Madison, WI, that I would someday live in Cranston, much less ever heard of it…. but life is funny in that cosmic kind of way. Anyway, it wasn’t great literature, but that book sure made an impression on me and my entire generation. I wonder whether anyone has read it lately?
On Friday evening we had a total nerd-fest like you’ve never seen. I am married to a crossword puzzle addict, and over the years I’ve been sucked into the madness. It started innocently enough, when he’d bring home unfinished puzzles that he and the guys could not solve at lunchtime. (Yes, they sit down at lunch every day and jointly do the puzzle in the daily paper and USA Today.) He also likes the weekly puzzles in the Onion and Isthmus. Every Sunday, we get the NY Times version, which takes awhile to solve (who am I kidding? it’s rare that we finish it). But last night he happened to bring home two copies of the LA Times Sunday puzzle, and that prompted an almost two-hour word-a-thon….. in which we were together but separately doing our own copy. In the end, we each left nine or ten open spaces we couldn’t fill, and were exhausted but happy. Is this what happens when it’s the dead of winter and all your children have left home? I should mention that we had enjoyed a pleasant dinner of homemade chili and brown rice, the last of the beets, and salad, and could have just as easily watched a movie, played a game, or whatever. Well, to each their own, right? It had been a looooong week….. I guess there are worse ways to unwind 🙂