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Three minus one ways to beat the mid-winter grays

Gee, it’s raining. This extended gloom-fest has found me reaching for a jar of almond butter and loaf of sourdough bread, carbs be hanged, with Claret to wash it down.

It’s so wet I can no longer discern where the lawn ends and my moss-paved driveway begins, which makes for some interesting re-entries after dark. Giovanni the sporty Civic is too new and dashing to appear consistently filthy.

I’ve discovered three antidotes for chasing the omnipresent gray, not including a great Henna rinse I found at Natural Grocers. Email me if you need that type of gray abatement. A visit to the Tudor-style Hummingbird Estate Winery on Old Stage Road for Thursday night Sip and Soup is sure to boost the old morale. Lane and I bought tickets in advance, joining the inaugural group of soupy sippers. They seated us at two dining room tables in the cozy manor living room with fireplace. Place cards marked our seats. Chef Kristina (the owners’ daughter) made for us a sumptuous and filling Zuppa Toscana. Bowls of homemade bread accompanied what constituted a full meal because we were offered, and accepted, seconds.

A tempranillo, my favorite at Hummingbird, happened to be the wine pairing. After our bowls lie fallow, a sweet treat arrived for the perfect finale. We visited with fellow diners, and when we’d finished, I asked who brought the cards. Not everyone is as freewheeling as I, as the blank stares suggested. They have since made it a weekly event through the month of February. It’s a great way to pretend you’re in England for a couple of warm and tasty hours. When motoring off you can imagine you’re exiting the manse of one of P.D. Wodehouse’s aunts in Cheshire, England. That way the weather suits the setting.

Doom diversion number two came as I made my way to the Eagle Point library for their Wednesday book sale by donation. Once inside, I slid my bookish and fog-forlorn self into the back room holding the goods. Today there were others on the hunt. Some of us survive by the page, days like these. We tried to ignore one another as we overlapped personal spaces. I came away with two volumes to add to the unread mount at home. One is the “Home Science Cookbook” (sixth printing) from 1902. It was simply irresistible. I could not understand why this gem had been overlooked. Inside I discovered some handwritten recipes and an absence excuse from Syracuse Technical High School dated 1913. I stared at it wondering why Rosamond had missed classes that Thursday in March. The other title is “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton. It measured out to require at least several days’ worth of gray chasing, but it does begin at a gravesite in 1687 Amsterdam, so I may be glad of the meager investment and reach for P.D. Wodehouse instead.

Last but perhaps least successful for chasing the gloom, hence the “minus one,” is trying out yet again for “Jeopardy” by way of the online test. Failing to log in to my “Jeopardy” account is not a good sign. My chest lifts mildly that I have a “Jeopardy” account. Somewhere deep in their official website I am connected to Alex Trebek by an obstinate password reset code. I have taken the test in years past, just for the solid kick I get out of it, you understand. They say you have 15 seconds to answer while the merry ditty plays, but I’m sure it’s more like six. By the time my eyes read the category, then the answer, my synapses snap, crackle and pop at what’s being asked of me. I work through the Dewey decimal system of my memory. I know this one. Then I hear the clear but definite DING and it’s on to the next answer. I think I did better this year.

Giovanni got his bath. If it rains, blame the Italian.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.