2007.03.07 Somewhere in a chocolate chip muffin lies a lot of virtue

Written by David Green.


My husband made Sunday Soup this weekend. It’s never officially been called that before; I dubbed it just now when I realized he mostly cooks this soup on a Sunday.  I’m beginning to think he’s moved to make it on weekends when he sees how little I’m accomplishing and fears for his famished stomach in the forthcoming week. I see Sunday as a day to languish with the Detroit Free Press. He needs Sunday to catch up on his writing and talk to coaches for sports stories. He’s Diligent David to my Lazy Leddy.

Diligent and willing to make his own grub—what more could a woman want? And this soup has improved greatly over time. I never used to eat it because it was so bland—it always had a thin broth and lacked flavor and variety. He just threw a few vegetables in a pot of water without even frying the onions first. Potatoes, carrots, brown rice—I think that was the extent of his ingredient list. Lately he’s been jazzing it up. Tofu, celery, cabbage, jalapenos, dried basil from last year’s garden—all kinds of new and nutritious things are being added to the pot.

I ate a bowl today and with a shake of salt, it wasn’t half bad.

“I feel almost virtuous eating this,” I said.

“Virtuous?” he considered the word. “What do you mean? Good? Full of virtue? Virtual vegetables....”

He went on, but I tuned out. I was thinking about that word, virtue.

I tried to make Saturday a chocolate-free day, vowing not to eat any of the gourmet dark chocolate chips I just should not buy. But sometime that day, I cajoled Maddie into doing something in exchange for baking her some chocolate chip muffins. She reminded me of my promise late that night. I don’t mind making her muffins, but I have no self-discipline. I can’t make her Hershey’s chocolate chip muffins without adding my sinful chocolate chips and some pecans or walnuts to the last bit of batter for the last six muffins. I could see the pitfall coming in my chocolate-free day.

After popping the muffins in the oven I looked at the clock.

“Hey, I wasn’t going to eat chocolate today and I didn’t,” I said to Maddie. “But now it’s tomorrow!”

I pointed with a flourish to the clock which read 12:45 a.m. How’s that for virtue? And, boy, those muffins, thick with my heavenly chocolate chips, were so delicious hot from the oven.

The start of national reading month is probably not a good time to note that those of us in the business of reading have a tendency to extol the virtues of reading and promote it as if reading is more virtuous than other pursuits. Who could argue that learning to read and loving to read are anything but good wholesome pure pursuits?

But what about thinking? Is there a National Thinking Month? No, I find, after a google search. There isn’t even a National Thinking Week. It was a cursory search; I didn’t go to any great lengths to see if maybe on the 6,679,999th hit there once was a philosopher type who proposed such a thing. (The Girl Scouts do have something called World Thinking Day but it’s not the kind I’m talking about.)

Although reading is a great way to develop the powers of thinking, just talking about ideas, listening to wise people tell stories, tuning in to the kind of radio programs on National Public Radio all contribute to improving the thought process. Considering other points of view instead of making kneejerk responses to issues—now that’s a virtue.

It’s really not that I think reading is a bad thing. We read to our kids religiously when they were younger—even into the middle school years. I love to see kids read and enjoy the many wonderful aspects of it. I just think we go a bit overboard on its virtues. A whole month devoted to reading and not a single day devoted to the benefits of thinking?

And what about thinking’s lazy cousin, daydreaming? I hate to report: it appears there is not a National Daydreaming Month. A month where the virtues of staring out the window, gazing blankly into space, lying in the grass and looking up at the clouds are celebrated and encouraged.

And where chocolate chip muffins figure prominently in those dreams.

    – March 7. 2007 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016