I’ve written stories to figure out what makes an ordinary person take extreme measures. I want to know: How do you decide to do the thing that can’t be undone? What pistons fire to assure you that’s the path to take? Cut off the arm, ditch your old life, or worse? We've seen these stories in the news. And when I see them, I want to know, because many of these things are things I’m sure that I could not do. I want to understand the movement from impulse to action.
I love that about fiction. I also love the ability to twist language, and use repetition, and create characters in all of their strengths and flaws, and find ways to wield powerful sentences. It’s what makes any story mine in the telling: the way I’ve told it. It’s what makes your stories uniquely you.
I’ve written stories to try to figure out love. How love evolves. And why we’re ignoring important things we’re losing. Sitting in the warm pot, letting it heat up around us. I want to know what it means, as it happens, as the water warms, as the earth crackles and spits, and we wait it out, when we should act.
I want to know why we waste our days, and how we fill them, feel them fully. I want to fill my days with what I mean.
Here’s something extraordinary: Amateur astronomers discover new planet with four suns.
What about you readers, writers? Tell me. Tell me what’s extraordinary about this day, another one of your most ordinary days.
In the meantime, soup for the season cooling down, shutting down the lights, taking out the garden. Today, I’m soaking it all in.
White bean soup with pancetta, shallots, and fontina cheese
*Adapted from a recipe in "Soup” 2009, DK Publishing
6 tbsp olive oil
4 onions finely chopped
4 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 ½ quarts vegetable stock
6 shallots, thinly sliced
6 ounces pancetta, chopped
6 ounces Fontina or Gouda cheese, cubed
Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil, add the onions and garlic and cook over low heat until softened. Add the celery and cook.
Add the vegetable stock, bay leaves, parsley, lemon juice and beans. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
In a different pan, heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan, then add the pancetta and shallots. Cook until golden and crisp, stirring frequently to keep them from sticking. Place the shallots and pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Set aside
Remove the bay leaves and process the soup in batches until smooth.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle the fontina, the pancetta and shallots mixture over the top as a garnish.
What I’m reading: Christopher Hitchens’ “Mortality”
For some lighter Hitchens’ fare, please partake of this lawlessness episode from Vanity Fair, circa 2004.