Hunkered Down, Tidying Up

Y’all, don’t worry!

While it’s true that I am almost done with this box of wine, I have a brand new, not-yet-opened box of wine to get me through the weekend! So we’re all good!

Today M was supposed to catch a bus at 4:45 am to go to a track meet in New York City, and Cute W was supposed to drive four hours away for a business trip even though he’s sick. So the prospect of getting snowed in for the weekend was pretty dang attractive to all of us. Sure enough, these got canceled.

Yesterday, as I hustled through the grocery store stocking up on food for a long weekend of hanging around doing not-too-much, I felt deeply grateful for this luxury of being able to fill up my shopping cart and take everything back to my snug house. Nothing like countless tales of all these folks who’ve been screwed because they work for the federal government and live paycheck to paycheck to make me realize the great good fortune of our entirely ordinary lives.

I spent quite a bit of time looking for my black bean soup recipe. I really wanted soup, and I especially wanted the black bean soup because I had extra cilantro and avocado hanging around the house, anyway. I knew it was printed from a website, and when I couldn’t find it in my cookbook I started Googling like mad, but that was ftuitless because there are roughly a gajillion recipes for black bean soup out in the universe and I wanted our particular favorite recipe. Then I started systematically filing away all of my loose recipes because I know very well that the best way to find an item is to clean and organize. At which point Cute W walked in and asked me if I was going all Marie Kondo and I had to break it to him that, no I was just looking for something.

Cute W, J, and I watched the first episode of her new Netflix show and about three different times since then, Cute W has come across me tidying up something or other and he’s asked me if I’m inspired to go into some sort of massive tidying mode and the truth is, no, I am just always tidying up, whether it sparks joy or not. I really do clean and de-clutter periodically, but that one show was not particularly inspiring — the couple sort of bummed me out, actually — although I do think that Ms. Kondo is an adorable and fetching Japanese sprite of a lady. Every time Cute W asks me if I’ve caught the de-cluttering bug I imagine that this is just him fantasizing that I’ll make the whole house much more fabulous, and sadly, I don’t think that that’s going to happen. But I have been meaning to go through my clothes closet, and getting snowed in for days is the perfect time to go for it, so we’ll see.

But, anyway, I finally did find the grubby paper print-out of the recipe for our favorite black bean soup, which was tucked away on a shelf, and once I was able to locate it, my plan was to link to it both to share with you and for my future reference, but then I realized that it was from America’s Test Kitchen, and in order to even see the recipe it wanted not only my email address but also my credit card information and I was like, hell to the NO. So if you would like my black bean soup recipe that’s really American Test Kitchen’s black bean soup recipe, tell me and I’ll get it to you.

By the evening I had a fully stocked fridge, including all the ingredients for black bean soup, and between that and the huge pile of books on hand since Christmas, I felt prepared and content. Plus we lucked out and J’s ski trip got to go on as scheduled (which is what she wanted) while M’s track trip got cancelled (which is what M wanted, just because she’d had an exhausting week). So all was right in the world. And then I Lost Patience with a daughter. Some daughters have been requiring more maternal patience than usual, and my supplies of patience were dangerously low by last night, and then one final incident just pushed me well over the edge, so after being in a pretty fabulous mood all day, I went to bed feeling like a Crappy Parent.

But that passes, doesn’t it? Or usually it does. I woke up this morning and reported to the JCC for not one but two classes in a row, based on the expectation that I’ll be snowed in starting tomorrow. J and I saw a friend in a play, and I did one final store run when I realized that my wine box was critically low. So far the snow has been basically underwhelming, but I am hoping for some serious accumulation by morning because J, in particular, is dying for a significant pile of snow.

In my wildest fantasy, there will be a big ol’ bunch of snow and M will condescend to go out and play with J, and I will watch them out the window as they break icicles and tunnel forts. Then they’ll stomp into the house with bright eyes and apple cheeks and leave pools of snow melt and drop damp mittens as they rush into the kitchen, following their noses to my homemade cocoa on the stove (I bought the gallon size of milk just in case).

And part of me will be muttering as I hang snow pants over chair backs and set hats on the radiator, and Cute W will walk in to see me tidying yet again and we’ll both shake our heads because the girls know better, there are hooks, lonely and ignored, in that closet by the back door. But we’ve made progress. Not so many winters ago. I’d hear the door slam and would run to help because the only reason a girl would come in so soon was in dire need of a toilet, requiring me to yank off mittens and tug at snow pants, a one-woman bathroom pit crew. And now, if my daughters do go out and play in the snow at ages 16 and 14, it could be their very last time. And if they come in trailing damp clothes as they head into the kitchen to drink cocoa and talk, all hushed tones and stifled laughter, I wouldn’t want to stop them to tell them to hang everything up. Nope, Instead, I’ll listen from around the corner as I gather up the twists of scarves and shake out the jackets. With each item, I’ll pause for a moment, inhale that smell of winter air and teenager, and let it spark joy.


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