PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Snow Blind

Snowy-Chilton-Road

Bostonians claim to be incredibly hardy when it comes to winter weather, but the truth is that the massive blizzard we were treated to this past weekend was a rare event in these parts. Yes, we get nor'easters ever few years, and this was a classic one, with wet air from the south merging with cold air in the north to create the huge counterclockwise swirl of wind and snow that dumped two feet on us. But for coastal Massachusetts, winter weather tends toward the drizzly more than the snowy, and the cold more than the frigid, without the lake effect barrage of squalls that harass Syracuse, NY every year, nor the negative temperature values that you see in Little Canada, MN.

I'm OK with snowstorms because I like to ski afterward, but the irony of this and many other winter nor'easters is that precious little snow falls in the mountains where chairlifts tend to be located. Instead, it falls on our driveways and sidewalks, where it needs to be removed, causing a great deal of strain on the backs, necks, arms, and legs of me and my fellow Beantown citizens. Some people choose to leave the freshly fallen snow right there on the walk, hoping that the sun will melt it away, but that scheme can backfire when the snow melts just a little, then freezes overnight. Now the two feet of innocent, fluffy snow is transformed into evil patches of ice. The only people who benefit from that are personal injury lawyers.

My family did our snow removal via shovel, both the push variety, which acts like a plow, and the bent-handled sort, where you pick up large masses of snow and toss it onto your neighbor's driveway. Shoveling is better for the environment than a snowblower since no fossil fuels are burned in the process, but after a few hours my back screams for mercy and I'm tempted to go to the Home Depot to see what's left. I admit that we did get assistance from a neighbor with a screaming two-stroke gas-burner, who creating a narrow alley on the sidewalk for dogs to leave yellow stains in the pristine snow and letter carriers to deliver much needed fast-food flyers.

I was appreciative, of course, and handed over my small can of gasoline for when he ran out of fuel, as well a couple of quarts of homebrew from my keg fridge for when it was time to head back inside and put his feet up. The pandemic is still present and we don't do a lot of entertaining these days, so someone has to help me drink the beer. 

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Souper

I have made it through many calendar months of my hitherto short life without having spooned any broth, consommé, stock, or even hot water into my mouth. This is not that unusual. The warm summer months don't put me into much of a soup mood. I prefer a cold drink on a hot day, believe it or not. Occasionally, I'm treated to a bowl of creamy, cold zucchini soup by my better half, or an amuse bouche of gazpacho at a local eatery.

Recently, it came to my attention that January is National Soup Month. It turns out also to be National Hot Tea Month, National Oatmeal Month, and National Slow Cooking Month. The latter I might refer to as National Braising Month, but efforts to reach wider audiences have caused the National Month Naming Committee to go with phrasing that people can understand without having to reach for a dictionary (which, I imagine, not many people possess these days in a form that one has to "reach for"). On the darker side, January is also Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and National Bath Safety Month, the latter reminding us that not everyone has been careful enough when they draw a bath for their wee-little or aging family members. So, lots of causes to be mindful of in January.

Soup is the one drawing my attention these days. First, because the prepared food section of our local supermarket has inexplicably been unable to keep up the quality of their minestrone. It's either a supply chain problem, or a staff retention problem. Maybe both. But my wife won't eat the stuff any longer. Second, because we had a bone-in ham pre-Christmas, which gave me the opportunity to use the bone for French Canadian split pea soup a few days later.

Not French Canadian Split Pea Soup

Now that we're in the middle of National Soup Month, I made a batch of chickpea and harissa soup (a.k.a "lablabi"), a Moroccan concoction (say that 10 times fast) that is far spicier than what us New Englanders are used to but is perfect on a frigid day. I've eaten this stuff three times for lunch this week, as my employer has asked me to work remotely until at least January 24th, and I have a kitchen at my disposal. Then, yesterday, in a bold move, my wife served us sausage and spinach soup for dinner. So, although I am no stranger to soup, yesterday was one of the few days in my life when both lunch and dinner were unquestionably soupy.  

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Let's Cut To The Chase

It seems like just yesterday – ok, maybe two or three days ago – that the Red Sox were disencumbering the 2004 Yankees of yet more American League Championship hardware by winning the final four games of that seven-game series to cap the most excruciating and scintillating era of sports in my lifetime. The series included Dave Roberts' stolen base and tying run, an 11-inning game, a 14-inning game, a bloody sock, and the absolute pummeling of the despised (by me) Yanks in the Bronx. My life was changed forever!

Prior to that moment, everything was shit. I had nothing to live for. Sure, I had a wife who loved me (well, liked me – I think) and a dog who loved me as well (well, appreciated that I fed her), a house, a good job, and bike. But I also had one hell of an attitude and clothing that fit poorly.

When the Sox finally won a World Series after 86 years of frustration, avenues of hope opened for me. I became the head of a large corporation and everyone, even my dog, became effusive with adoration. (You can fact check that; I'll give you some highly reliable sources.) People threw jobs at me for which I was completely unqualified. To show my appreciation I rose to the occasion, mostly by taking night classes. I became famous in the quiet sort of way that humble people like myself become famous, which is to say not terribly famous at all. Still, people looked at me differently. They said that I had a bounce in my step, which people had formerly misinterpreted as a limp. Ha, me, limp. Not a chance!

Anyway, today those same Red Sox (sort of) will be playing those same Yankees (kind of, ish,) to determine who has the right to lose to the Rays in the divisional series. (Why does the world have to have Rays anyway!). A one-game long series in which you win or go home. No six-game lead-up to the final chapter or any of that other nonsense!

I'll be watching. Will you? 

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Hurricane Leg Approaching

Thirty years ago today, I became an uncounted casualty of the last hurricane to disturb the Massachusetts coast. It was a blood and guts event, as an airborne pane of glass found the middle of my right calf in mid-flight and nearly did me in.

I was given Last Rites, now called Annointing of the Sick (better messaging, according to a team of Vatican communications professionals), and was nearly pronounced dead. The Pope came to my bedside, declaring me a saint. There is now a hospital wing named after me because during my recovery I entertained sick children by popping wheelies on my wheelchair while juggling stethoscopes.

Some of the aforementioned isn't true, but what is true is that my favored right calf was sliced pretty much in half, and if it weren't for the efforts of drunk street people on Harvard Ave in Allston, I might not have survived. (In truth, the drunks just watched; other passersby helped).

Tourniquet in place, I followed that godforsaken hurricane (named Bob, not Leg) right up into Canada and gave it a piece of my mind, cussing it out while I bled all over the north country.

Hurricane Bob is now dead and gone, but I'm still limping along. How ya like me now?! 

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J'Biden Era Haikuage

 

People's Arms. That's right!

200 million shots

In 100 days

 

We are good people

But we still have far to go

Repair. Restore. Heal.

 

There's nothing new here

The Affordable Care Act

We're restoring it 

 

America's Day

Democracy is fragile

The world is watching 

 

Strategy is based

On Science, not politics

Truth, not denial

 

 

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