19 December 2009

Energy Circle

A common tradition in community theater - especially community theater involving children - is the "Energy Circle": the cast and crew gather together in a big circle and hold hands. After a few words about having a great show and maybe a suggestion about staying focused, the Director squeezes one of the hands s/he is holding. That person then squeezes the next person's hand and so on, sending the energy surge around the circle, all the way back to the person who started it.

My role in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is playing one of the Church Ladies, a small group of women who serve as the critical, judgmental Greek Chorus. When the Director announced the Energy Circle and one of the Stage Managers came to round every one up, one of the other Church Ladies asked if that really included the adults. Yep.

So I told the Stage Manager that I would participate, but she should know by now that the real Energy Circle in my life is the rim of a Martini Glass.

Snowpocalypse Tomato Soup

The DC area is covered in snow. At first we were told that we'd get a few inches on Saturday. Then it was a few inches on Saturday and some on Sunday. By the end of the day on Friday, the predictions no longer included the word "inches." We were expecting one to two feet of snow over the weekend.

It was snowing by the time that I left the theater at 9:45 pm. (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is basically an extended one-act.) Just a light dusting, but coming down pretty steadily. I had drinks and gumbo* at a friend's house and set out for home around 1:15 am. By then the roads were snow-coated and slippery, so the driving required a decent level of skill and focus.** I was home by 2:00 am.

Today's performances having been cancelled, I got to have an at-home day. There were several inches on the ground this morning and we're over a foot now. It's still coming down pretty briskly. The Blizzard Warning has shifted to a Winter Storm warning and is expected to last until about 6:00 am.

So for lunch I made tomato soup from scratch. I looked through my cookbooks for ideas and then sort of went my own way. It was easy and tasty and I'm glad that I made a large enough batch that I have leftovers. Here's what I did:

Snowpocalypse Tomato Soup

Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic;
Mince a quarter of a medium onion;
Sauté the the garlic and onion in a generous splash of olive oil over a low flame while considering whether to add some Vermouth to the recipe;

Open two 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes and empty into a two-quart pot;
Warm the tomatoes and add the garlic and onion;
Stir and decide yes on the Vermouth - pour in a healthy splash;
Add a cheerful amount of oregano, parsley, and thyme;
Shake in Cayenne pepper until you think you may have overdone it;

Let it all simmer for a little bit, then ladle about half into the blender;
Blend on "chop" for a few seconds;
Pour it back into the pot;
Let it simmer a little longer for good measure;

Grate enough good cheese over it to bring a smile to your face;
Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

*Really good gumbo, with okra and gumbo file. Must get the recipe ...
**Snow driving tip: Proceed at a moderate speed, stay away from the brake pedal. Would that everyone else on the road with me knew that.

02 December 2009


Something happened at precisely that moment. Both Claudia and Jamie tried to explain to me about it, but they couldn't quite. I know what happened, though I never told them. Having words and explanations for everything is too modern. I especially wouldn't tell Claudia. She has too many explanations already.

What happened was: they became a team, a family of two. There had been times before they ran away when they had acted like a team, but those were very different from feeling like a team. Becoming a team didn't mean the end of their arguments. But it did mean that the arguments became a part of the adventure, became discussions not threats. To an outsider the arguments would apppear to be the same beause feeling like part of a team is something that happens invisibly. You might call it caring. You could even call it love. And it is very rarely, indeed, that it happens to two people at the same time -- especially a brother and a sister who had always spent more time with activities than they had with each other.

From From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, the only juvenile fiction I've ever read that contains a map of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.