Impressions: Next time he feels roly-poly, it won’t involve layers

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By Johnny Teglas

The heat is on.
Last weekend’s frosts convinced me to switch the HVAC system at the office over from “cool” to “heat.”
I’m betting you did likewise at your home.
Of course, I judiciously nudged the thermostats down a gnat’s eyelash under 65 Sunday morning — no need in running the heat when I was the only soul on my side of the building.
While I’m a cool weather fan, many of my colleagues are not.
Since we’re looking at regular frost warnings this week, I figured the least I could do was provide a relatively comfortable workplace. Especially after they had to either run out early to start their cars — or like me — spent a couple of minutes with an ice scraper.
To be honest, I enjoy a cooler climate. But even I have limits.
Last Thursday afternoon, like more than 65,000 other football fans, I bundled up. Make that I bundled up big-time.
Having spent my college years enduring harsh winters in Blacksburg, Va., that began early and ended late, I knew I didn’t want to spend the big primetime ACC matchup between Georgia Tech and my beloved Virginia Tech hanging out in a restroom trying to stay warm.
Hence, I laid on the layers.
On top of my skivvies and socks went my very reliable ribbed long-handles. Then came an extra pair of socks and a long-sleeved Hokie t-shirt. On top of that was a thick pair of heavy duty khakis, another pair of socks, a Virginia Tech golf shirt, a maroon wool sweater, a thick hoodie sweatshirt, my Hokie windbreaker, all-weather boots and warm insulated gloves.
Let’s just say I felt like a tick about to pop when I headed toward Lane Stadium. Perhaps I wasn’t especially fashionable, but I wasn’t cold, either.
And I never did feel a chill.
The boss looked like a cute little tick about to pop. She robbed Jon Clark’s closet of his Hokie wear and had as many layers, if not more, than me.
“I feel like Ralphie’s little brother,” Kimberly mentioned when she had to try a couple of times to climb into the car for the short trip to the shuttle bus parking area.
Ralphie’s brother? No … she was too cute for that. But I could relate. Remember the poor little young’un who played second fiddle to Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” and had to endure morning wrappings in a snowsuit by his mom?
Do you remember his name?
I suspect you don’t. I had to look it up.
His name was Randy, and he experienced some pretty long, harsh winters in Hammond, Ind.
Luckily, we don’t face those here in our corner of normally sunny and warm East Tennessee. But a good cold snap isn’t so bad.
Know why?
Because it signals the onset of two seasons … the holiday season and soup season!
There’s nothing better than a big bowl of goodness to warm your bones while planning Thanksgiving dinner or holiday shopping expeditions.
Folks here at the office occasionally enjoy a big pot of my famous (or is that infamous?) “Johnny Soup.”
The concoction is vegetable based with plenty of chicken stock and tomatoes.
Depending on the mood, I can stoke it up with beef, Italian sausage or chicken.
Variations with Jalapeno peppers, chili powder or a healthy dose of oregano, rosemary and thyme add even more character.
I must admit there is no real recipe. My guide is whatever happens to be in my cabinets. These days, it’s not much.
That’s because my wife had ordered me to “eat down” my pantry. Hence, the latest variations have been, well, creative.
Speaking of creative recipes …. next week, we’re publishing our annual “Taste of Roane” section in which readers like you submit favorite holiday recipes.
I always look forward to it because I LOVE to eat.
From reviews we’ve received over the past five years, you enjoy it, too.
This go-round we’re adding a special twist. Be on the lookout for some celebrity cooks from across the county.
Then make up your grocery list and hit the stores!
You might want to grab a light to medium jacket before heading outside. That’s what I plan to do.
You see, the next time I feel like a tick about to pop, it’s going to be after munching down on a glorious meal.
See you in the aisles.