Our eyes stick to the media coverage like flies to flypaper at times like this. Isn’t it miserable to think that we have a list, a long one, of times like this? I feel as powerless to affect our ludicrous right to bear military rifles in private life as I do to prevent the fourth estate from using my constitution to pry, in my name, into the most private moments of grief of devastated families. “The family declined to comment,” means, as we all know, that the reporters amassed on the front lawns of Newtown thought the rest of us out here in TV land might have an appetite for a tear-soaked shred torn directly from the source. When they don’t decline to comment, when the greedy, predatory grabs at them succeed in plucking words and pictures, I feel ill.
We have such a low bar that the newspaper “of record” seemed to think this statement qualified as news today:
Despite the errors, Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, the nonprofit journalism organization, said he was “touched and impressed by the nonstop coverage so far.” He said he had not seen any children interviewed without a parent nearby.
Please, don’t knock on their doors on my behalf. Don’t feed these appetites.
Anything I need to know about how these parents in Newtown or the Middle East or Africa or anywhere else are mourning is found in my heart, when I pair up my son’s socks in the laundry so he can wear them, or find a hair clip by the sink and return it to the daughter it belongs to, or I consider what to pack for lunch today to build energy for the first home basketball game after school. These losses in my near backyard are so painful because the facts of these lives are so familiar to me, but the loss of any parent’s children should hit me just as hard.
A friend of mine refers to reading the comments below news articles as “sinking.” I try to resist it. But as a measure of the thinking of fellow citizens, it is instructive. Where I live, you see a handful of “This Car Protected By The 2nd Amendment” and “.45: Because Shooting Twice Is Just Silly” bumper stickers, but most of the talk runs to questioning why our right to possess weapons designed to kill lots of beings quickly is as rigorously defended as our right to bear arms intended for things like hunting and self-defense. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that all people must surely feel the same. Comments remind me that there are plenty of people who think the solution here–duh–is more guns. If only we all had them, we’d be safe. There are people dangerously claiming that the solution is to corral and control (and demonize) people with mental illness or autism. The virus of opinion is dangerous and potent. Only we can prevent forest fires, by spreading with intention.
If data will help you as you talk this through, which we all must, then consider this item from the Washington Post. An excerpt:
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not.
If it is solace you are after, my friend Maria Sirois is a good source. She had this to say today:
Bear witness without flinching from darkness.
Tell the truth.
Hold onto the bits of light that emerge wherever they do so and from whomever.
Surround those who grieve with care that is authentic and wholehearted.
If it is something to eat, or to make for others to eat, that will ground you in the possible and fuel you for the way forward, how about soup?
Bear in mind that the rice needs to be soaked overnight before you make this. I don’t want you coming upon that suddenly, mid-construction.
In place of broth, I used the whey leftover from a batch of ricotta. Have you not made ricotta yet? It’s time. Lay down your resistance. You get cheese, and you get whey, and you get a whopping sense of accomplishment. Tell me which of these are not useful at this time. I also used that vegetable broth concentrate I told you about. You can skip both of these things and use chicken broth and still hold your head up high, but you know I am behind you all the way if you go the other route, too.
Wild Rice Soup with Surprising Little Meatballs
- a generous glug of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 leek, quartered, cleaned and sliced fine
- 1/2 a red pepper, finely chopped
- 2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1/2 t ground coriander
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1c wild rice, soaked overnight in cold water to generously cover; drained
- 8 cups broth, or a combination of whey and water to make 8 cups
- 1 T vegetable broth concentrate, if you have it
- one half bunch broccoli rabe, which admittedly is not to everyone’s taste but I adore it, cleaned and chopped, or other sturdy green, like kale, which is of course universally appealing, stemmed and chopped (you’ll need the other half below)
- 1# ground chicken (or ground meat of some type)
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1/2 t ground coriander
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t turmeric
- 1 1/2 t salt
- fresh pepper to taste
- 3T fine bread crumbs (I used a GF version)
- 1 egg
- 3T of something fresh and green, minced–parsley, basil, kale, spinach
- another glug of oil
- the other half-bunch of stemmed and chopped greens
In a large and sturdy pot, heat the glug of oil and sauté the onion and garlic with a good dash of salt until they soften. Add the leek and the red pepper, and continue to sauté until things are lightly golden. Add the spices and stir to release their fragrance; add the potatoes and stir to coat; add the drained rice and the broth concentrate, or another good pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and leave there, for about an hour, until the rice is sprung and tender.
Meanwhile, mix the ground chicken with the breadcrumbs, egg, seasoning and minced greens until well-combined. Heat some oil in a heavy skillet, and use a pair of teaspoons (or in my case, my tiny ice cream scoop–I love any excuse to use my tiny ice cream scoop) to drop tiny scoops of the mixture into the hot oil–the smaller the better. Toss the pan around so all sides get nice and toasty golden. Go ahead and try not to eat all of them right now.
All of this will wait patiently now, until you are ready for it, and the soup will be the better for it. When that time of readiness comes, heat the soup back up, and drop in the greens. Separately heat the little meatballs up, in the oven or their skillet on the stove. When the greens are nicely cooked, taste for seasoning (it should be pretty subtle, as the meatballs pack a wallop), and divide it among the bowls, dropping a healthy cluster of meatballs into each serving.