Blue Januly

The term “Januly” was recently coined by Cliff Mass, the weather blogger and University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences. We, the soaking chosen, are accustomed to Junuary but this is beyond the pale.

I spent an afternoon with my friend Kirstin, exploring the Ape Caves, in southern Washington. We tramped down 3/4 of a mile into the damp, 42 degree tunnel, and there was not a bit of blue cheese to be found. Or bleu. No Gruyere either. I kept expecting to round a corner and bump into a festering, odorous glob clinging to a cave wall. So why, in the absence of cave-aged cheeses, were we down there? Well, where else do you experience the cacophony of your children’s howls echoing off the walls (punctuated by their voices screeching “Let’s howl again!”)? Only in your minivan. And, as Kirstin pointed out, our weather is so unapologetically LOUSY, that we might as well just burrow underground.


I made my way through the ancient lava tube, thinking about miners trapped in the lonely dark. Edison Pena, who spent 69 days in a Chilean mine, went running every day down there in sweltering and terrifying conditions, his future uncertain, his loved ones miles above him. He completed the New York marathon a few weeks after he was freed. I thought about all this on a day when I had been unable to rouse myself from bed to go for a jog. My reason? The weather: too…dank. Just then I heard a lonely howl and tripped over a rock in the dark, nearly braining myself on petrified bat dung. I deserved that.

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In truth, I am not much of a fan of stinky cheeses, though I developed a taste for them when I was pregnant. I know! Blue cheese is on the forbidden list for pregnancy, along with everything fun you want to do. But I am not writing a pregnancy manual, (No one would read that. Who would take advice from someone who developed a cowl of neck fat during gestation?) so I can talk about it. I may have had a small glass of wine as well, but never with the cheese.

But there was a little gorgonzola cheese number that Kirstin and I used to eat on her dock in the summer, back when the sun used to shine here. Nigella Lawson’s version (that she eats on a houseboat in Capri) is quite rich, with sour cream and loads of cheese. The one we made was a basic guacamole* (avocado, cilantro, green onions or chives) with blue cheese added to taste. It is fantastic on celery and radishes, but as the rain persists and your pupils begin to ache from permanent dilation, you will turn to chips, and eventually, to just your fingers. If you need to crawl into a cave due to uncooperative (nay, unjust!) weather, or howling children, then grab some roquamole/guacablue and lower yourself down the hole. It eases, just for a moment, the pain and insult of a sodden July. Need some light down there? Build a fire and burn your bikini. You won’t be needing it.

avocado hair mask
Go light on the cheese here for the hair mask.


*Normally, lime would be an essential ingredient of guacamole, but the cheese complicates this. See what you think.