PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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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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Oh Canada!


I'm starting to wonder if our neighbor up north decided to throw in the towel. "You guys go ahead without me," says Canada, rooting around in an old metal cooler for an ice-cold Molson's and cracking it open with its teeth. "I've had a nice career, but it's time for me to put up my feet and watch 'Hockey Night in Canada'."

Hockey Night in Canada? It's not even Hockey Week in Canada, thanks to the wicked Coronavirus variant du jour, Omicron. 

This bodes not well for my Canadian family. I sent a friendly, personal letter to the maple leaf country in the spring of 2021 asking if it would be a terrible imposition for it to verify that my children were bona fide citizens, able to travel freely across the frozen tundra and maybe attend one of the lower-priced institutes of higher education that Canada has on offer. Alas, no response. I had done the same in the spring of 2020 and waited more than ten months before Canada sent back a terse note rejecting the applications on technical grounds: "Your children's photos aren't dated."

Darned Canada and its bureaucratic red tape!

I didn't whine but sent applications anew with dated photos, knowing that arguing with such a large country would be a waste of time. I've tried to argue with countries in the past, and I always lose. Large nations have lots of lawyers who advise them to stall, and an inbox that no one monitors. Plus, Canada is too busy trying to figure out how to make the best use of newly melting artic ice to respond to my queries. The scheme Canada hatched to fill 2-ounce plastic containers and sell each as "a former chunk of iceberg" that is "refreezable" was thwarted when the original bottlecaps it ordered leaked, undermining the marketing message that "tubes of melted iceberg make perfect stocking stuffers." Canada tried to get replacements before the start of the holiday shopping season but were stymied by supply-chain issues. Meanwhile, the ice keeps retreating and there is no room to store additional water. Serves you right, Canada!

I expect that our wintry pal next door will eventually come to its senses and will send me a response along the lines of, "We reject your applications on the grounds that your children's photos are out of date." Though technically true, this is only because Canada has been rooting around for more beer in the ice-filled cooler instead of processing my application.

I cling to a small measure of hope, given that as Canada is settling into its Barcalounger and reaching for the remote, the NHL is postponing all games for a week. Just enough time to open a few more applications and make good on my request. 

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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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