Bird-Brains, My Butt

I love living out in the country where the air is a tapestry of birdsong and our little feathered friends forage busily in our gardens.  We have everything from the drab but melodic Hermit Thrush to the brilliant Western Tanager; the giant and crazily prehistoric-looking Pileated Woodpecker to the tiny Anna’s Hummingbird.  But unlike my blogging buddy Elephant’s Child, I don’t have any beautiful bird photos to show you.

And that’s my beef, right there:  No photo ops.  In fact, half the time I can’t even get to the binoculars.

I’d comfort myself with the knowledge that they’re wild birds so they never stay in one place for long; but that’s not actually true.  They’re not flitting around, alert to the slightest threat.  No; they’re flaunting themselves within full view of my windows, sitting there only a few yards away and preening.  Even the hummingbirds perch for minutes at a time.

But no matter whether they’ve just landed or they’ve been snoozing there for five minutes, the instant I head for the binoculars, the birds fly away.

One might argue that they’re getting spooked when they see my movement through the window.  I’d like to believe that… but I don’t. I can walk over and stand inches away from glass watching them, and they never ruffle a feather.

But just let me reach for the binoculars that live permanently in the corner of the living room, and the birds zip away, never to reappear until I’m at least ten paces away from the optics.

Reaching for the camera is even more futile.  That doesn’t even require any movement on my part — all I have to do is think about the camera and the birds take off.

So not only can they tell the difference between me casually crossing the room on my own errand, and me crossing the room to pick up the binoculars; but they can also read my mind.

Bird-brains, my butt.  Those little suckers are smart, and probably telepathic.  I just hope they don’t decide to organize and attack like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

But if there’s no blog post next week, you’ll know what happened.

*

P.S. Speaking of bird-brains:  Last night I had a great time presenting Write Your Book At Last at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.  But… at the end of my talk, I forgot to ask if anyone was interested in more in-depth workshops.  I’ve posted topic outlines on my Workshops page, but I won’t set dates unless there’s some interest.  Please drop me an email if there’s a workshop you’d like to attend.  Thanks!

Exciting news:  The audiobook for Book 2, The Spy Is Cast is now in production!  Its tentative release date is in October, and the rest of the series is scheduled to follow it into audio format ASAP.

And… I’m starting Book 15 this week!  Hooray!  🙂

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My Taste Is All In My Mouth

A couple of years ago I confessed my utter failure as an interior designer in Fail! and Fail! Part Deux (Or Is That ‘Duh’?).  It was embarrassing, but at least after I departed that career long ago (to everyone’s relief, including my own) I figured I was pretty safe from future colour-related embarrassment.  After all, there are lots of other people who can’t create attractive colour schemes, and they get through life just fine.

And I have gotten along fine, other than a minor issue twenty years ago with house paint that turned out to be a revolting pale candy-pink instead of off-white.  (But I was the only one who had to live with that particular mistake; so no harm, no foul.)

But this week my self-esteem got slapped down again:  At the dollar store, where I was buying balloons for Hubby’s aunt and uncle’s upcoming 60th wedding anniversary.

The clerk paused halfway through ringing up the sale.  “Are you sure you want these purple balloons?” he asked.  “Were you looking for black instead?”

I whipped out my reading glasses (which I obviously should have been wearing in the first place).  Sure enough, the balloons that looked black in the package were clearly labelled ‘purple’.

“Yes,” I said with relief.  “Thank you!  I’m really glad you caught that.”

He smiled.  “I figured you must have gotten them mixed up.  Purple didn’t go with the other colours you’d picked out.”

I stood gaping wordlessly.  The other two colours were pearlescent gold and dark red.  He was right:  The third colour was supposed to have been black; but I would have thought deep purple, dark red, and gold would be fine together.  It certainly wouldn’t have occurred to me to question somebody about them.

Maybe he knew something I didn’t.  Maybe the balloons are actually vivid purple and screaming red when they’re inflated. But I still wouldn’t have flagged that as a mistake; I would have just assumed someone was decorating for a Red Hat event.

(And now I’m giggling, because if you follow that link to the Red Hat Society site, there’s a heading in ornate script that reads “How It Farted”…  Okay, fine; it actually says “How It Started”, but I can’t help seeing ‘farted’.  Clearly I’m childish as well as colour-impaired.)

Anyway, it’s a sobering thought that even a middle-aged male dollar-store employee has better taste than I do. I’m comforting myself with the fantasy that he’s actually a talented designer moonlighting as a store clerk for amusement, between his lucrative contracts with upscale clients.

At least the party decorations will look okay, because I didn’t choose the colour scheme — I was only the minion dispatched to buy balloons.  So with any luck I’ll make it through another decade or so without any further hue-miliation.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go and eat some of the yummy cinnamon pinwheels I made the other day.  At least I know there’s nothing wrong with my taste there!

Cinnamon Pinwheels
This recipe is tasty but not too sweet… like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie.  (So you can eat lots!)

Dough:
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Sprinkle worksurface with flour, sprinkle dough lightly with flour, and roll out into a rectangle about 12″ x 20″ and ¼” thick1.

Filling
1¼ cups brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 egg
Enough milk to make it spreadable (start with about 2 teaspoons and add more as needed)

For the filling, mix the flour and sugar thoroughly, then mix in the egg. The mixture will be damp and crumbly. Add enough milk to make it barely spreadable. (Too thin and it’ll all run out before you can get the pinwheels on the pan.)

Spread the filling over the dough rectangle, being careful to push the filling out to the ends; but leave about ½” of the dough bare along the long edges at the top and bottom. Sprinkle liberally (or to taste) with cinnamon.  You can also sprinkle on nuts or raisins if you like.

Cut the dough rectangle into quarters2. Beginning from one of the long edges in the middle (yes, the gooey part), roll the first quarter like a jellyroll, out to the naked edge of the dough3. Slice the roll into rounds about ½” thick4 and place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet with lots of space to expand5.

Bake at 350°F approximately 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned. (You may have to adjust the baking time considerably, depending on how big and thick you’ve cut your pinwheels.)

*

1 Despite the layer of flour underneath, the dough usually sticks to the counter when you roll it out. Don’t panic. You’ll have a ridge of loose flour along the edges of the dough rectangle after you’ve rolled it out, so just take a thin metal egg flipper… (Spatula? Whatever those things are called.) …and slide it through the flour and under the dough. It’ll push the flour underneath and free the dough at the same time.

2 This will give you a roll about 1½” in diameter, which yields a baked pinwheel about 2″ to 2½” in diameter. If you want bigger pinwheels, you could make larger rolls.

3 Only do one roll at a time, and only slice as many rounds as you need to fill your pan. If you roll and slice the whole thing, the filling will ooze out before you can get it all baked.

4 You could cut the rounds thicker if you want a more ‘biscuit-y’ size and texture, but I prefer them more cookie-like.

5 Don’t worry when the roll squishes flat and your pinwheel looks like some weird alien/amoeba thing. Just lay it out on the parchment and push it approximately into shape. When it bakes it’ll go back to being roundish.

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Don’t Diss My Beaver

Monday July 1 was Canada Day, and I realized it’s been a few years since I wrote a ‘distinctly Canadian’ post.  It’s time I did, because somebody needs to defend the honour of our national animal (again).

Apparently our own esteemed Canadian, June Callwood, once said, “The beaver, which has come to represent Canada as the eagle does the United States and the lion Britain, is a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off its own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees.”

When I read that, I was crushed.  (Although not as severely as our dumb beavers, I guess.)  I had defended the beaver’s noble image back in 2011.  Surely there was some mistake.  Could I still be proud of our Canadian icon?

So your intrepid reporter delved deeply into the matter.  (Okay, fine; I spent a couple of minutes searching the internet.)  And it turns out that beavers do not, in fact, bite off their own testicles.  Whew.

That little fable started in ancient times.  They believed that if a beaver was cornered by hunters attempting to kill it for its castoreum (the gooey musk which the ancients incorrectly believed came from its testicles), the beaver would bite off its own testicles and throw them to the hunters, thereby escaping with its life.  The legend went on to say that if pursued by a subsequent batch of hunters, the crafty beaver would scurry to a high place and lift its leg to display its nutless status.

On to ‘modern’ times (the 17th century).  That’s when Sir Thomas Browne noted that a) Castoreum comes from the beaver’s anal glands, not its testicles; and b) Beavers don’t even have external testicles – they’re inside its body, so it’d be kinda tricky to bite them off.

Ha.  So once again the noble beaver rises above a scurrilous attack on its reputation.  (Although apparently beavers do occasionally get crushed by their own falling trees; but I’m gonna give our plucky little rodents a pass on that one.  Even professional lumberjacks sometimes have accidents.  It’s not stupidity; it’s just bad luck.)

And while I’m on my soapbox defending Canadian icons, I also want to address poutine.  First:  We Anglophones usually say ‘poo-TEEN’; but the correct pronunciation is rendered with a Québécois accent, which softens the ‘t’ to a sibilant ‘th’ and accents both syllables equally:  ‘pou-thsinn’.

But pronunciation doesn’t matter as much as authenticity.  I’ve run across some horrible bastardizations of the dish, and I want to make sure no innocent reader of mine believes that mess is actually poutine.

Check out the top right photo in this Wikipedia article.  That’s how poutine should look.  It’s NOT heavy opaque gravy poured over grated mozzarella — that’s cheese-fries-with-gravy.  Real poutine has clear savory sauce and nice big cheese curds that are so fresh they squeak when you chew them.  Don’t be fooled by poor imitations!

So that’s my community service for Canada Day.  Now, let’s have some poutine, and bring on the beaver jokes!

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…oh.

We have houseguests this week, so it’s a shorter post today.  Here’s a little cartoon that occurred to me moments after I cursed the aphids for ganging up on my baby fruit trees last week.

I guess the aphids don’t have a corner on that kind of ‘stupidity’…

 

And, in other news…

I’m doing a short public presentation in mid-July.  There are so many artists and writers and other creative types here on Vancouver Island, I thought it would be nice to offer my writing and publishing experience, for what it’s worth.

I’m not sure whether it’ll be a help, an inspiration, or merely a shudder-worthy cautionary tale; but I hope we’ll all have some chuckles in the process.  I hope to see you there!

Publishing and writing presentation by bestselling e-book author Diane Henders

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Gator Bait

You know how sometimes you notice an unusual object, and then suddenly you’re seeing them everywhere?  Apparently this is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon:  There aren’t actually more of the items than before; you’re only noticing them more.

Okay, fine.  That makes sense.

So… why have I been seeing plastic alligators this week?  I seriously doubt that there’s a plethora of plastic gators lurking in the small towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach and I’ve simply failed to notice them until now.

But on Friday I arrived at the art centre for my painting group, and there was this:

Yes, somebody had posed a small plastic alligator on the handrail. With a potato chip in its mouth.

I blinked. Looked again.

Yep, it was still a plastic alligator eating a potato chip.

I glanced around, but nobody was lurking nearby with a video camera to capture the reactions of passersby. (Or if they were, I didn’t spot them. For all I know, my befuddled expression might be all over the internet in a Punk’d video by now.)

I drew a deep breath.  Ooookay, fine.  Nothing to see here, folks; just move along.

So I went into the building and forgot the whole thing for a couple of hours. But when I came out, the gator was still there, noshing on the same chip. It might still be there for all I know. (*Update: The gator was still there on Friday but his chip was gone, and the poor little guy was looking hungry.  Maybe I’ll take him a new chip next week.)

Assuming that this was a one-off experience, I filed it under ‘another example of weird shit that happens to me’, and got on with life.

Until the very next day, when I attended a potluck for our local Rhododendron Society chapter. Now, let me just say that this is not a group of youngsters. I’m 55 years old and my face shows every one of those years; and yet one of the members patted me on the arm and said, “Oh, how nice to see young people taking an interest in rhododendrons. Are you attending the local college, dear?”

So it’s not exactly the milieu where one might expect to encounter a plastic reptile. Particularly not stuck to the ceiling in our hosts’ dining room:

I didn’t spot it for quite a while; but when I did, my mouth dropped open.  ANOTHER plastic gator!  (Turned out it was a gecko; but I didn’t realize that until I zoomed in for the photo.)  Anyway, I was agog.

When I buttonholed the host, he explained that their grandkids had several of the little toys.  Whenever they came over they’d throw the critters at the ceiling, where they would stick for hours or sometimes days before finally dropping off.

I probably should have asked how long that one had been up there (especially since it was poised over the buffet table like the Gecko of Damocles), but I was too busy feeling relieved that I wasn’t hallucinating plastic reptiles in unlikely locations.

I haven’t seen any more in the past couple of days, but now I’m alert for the opportunity.  If there’s a gator to be had, I’ll spot it.  Baader and Meinhof would be proud.

Has anyone else seen plastic reptiles in public lately, or am I just gator bait?

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Flipped Off By The Bird

It’s that time of year again, when even the mildest-mannered gardener turns into a homicidal lunatic.  I wasn’t mild-mannered in the first place, so I’m in full Rambo-mode.

Why, you ask?  (Or maybe you don’t; but tough noogies.  I’m going to tell you anyway.)  Yep, once again I’m locked in a life-or-death struggle with garden-raiding critters.

In March, Hubby took down last year’s bird netting so he could double the size of our strawberry patch.  We now have 22 raised beds, an area 60 feet long and 20 feet wide.  After much anticipation (and much weeding), the first few berries began to blush a couple of weeks ago.

The robins swooped in immediately.

“That’s okay,” I thought.  “It’s a giant patch.  There’ll be enough for all of us.”

Ha.

Robins do not share well.  Nor are they considerate berry-pickers.  When I went out to pick ‘my share’, I discovered that long sharp beaks had plunged into almost every berry that had even a touch of red, and about half the harvest was gone entirely.

Then the robins got possessive.  No longer did they fly away when I approached.  I had to chase them off, waving my arms and shouting obscenities.  (The obscenities probably weren’t strictly necessary, but they made me feel better.)

Then it got to the point where they’d only move about ten feet despite my bellowing and arm-waving; and as soon as I hunkered down to pick the pathetic leftovers, they’d settle in a couple of rows behind me and chow down all over again.

The worst part was their derisive clucking and chirping.  I just knew those little feathered bastards were laughing at me.

So, up went the netting again.  As I secured the last gap, I shot a triumphant look at the robin perched outside the perimeter.  “This is your own fault,” I lectured.  “If you hadn’t been so greedy, you could have still been eating nice fresh berries.”

He let out a loud chirp, flicked his tail at me, and flocked off.  He didn’t have a middle finger to jab skyward, but I got the message loud and clear.  Now I know why they call it ‘flipping the bird’.

At least my berries are ripening unmolested now.  But… last night I spotted a rabbit checking out the veggie garden.

AAARGH!!!  GRAB THE CHICKENWIRE; I’M GOIN’ IN!

Do you ‘enjoy the relaxing hobby of gardening’?

The giant strawberry patch

 

This is how they’re supposed to look: No ugly beak-gouges, just plump beautiful berries. YUM!

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I’ve Learned My Lesson

I thought I was so prepared.  Usually I write blog post drafts on Monday, but I finished this one on Sunday evening.  Secure in my (perceived) efficiency, I didn’t look at it again until 9 PM last night.

That’s when I recalled that I’d been drunk when I wrote it.  Oops.

I think it was the novelist Peter de Vries who said, “Write drunk, edit sober”. Clearly he was a more talented drunk than I; or who knows? Maybe he was just messing with us, and he actually spent every ‘morning-after’ rewriting all the crap he’d spewed while under the influence.  That’s what I was doing last night.

I’d like to say it wasn’t my fault; but… it actually was.

We’ve been saving our pennies lately, but Sunday we decided to splurge and go to the pub. I ordered a pint, and when Hubby discovered that they no longer stocked his favourite Smirnoff Ice, I bullied him into trying a different vodka cooler. When the drink arrived, he hated it; but I thought it was yummy.  So we kept it and Hubby ordered a Caesar instead.

So now I had two drinks.

Have I mentioned that I haven’t been out lately?  And I rarely drink at home; so it had been a while since I’d had anything alcoholic.  And I’d forgotten that I’d taken an antihistamine earlier in the day.

By the time we finished our appetizer, I’d polished off my beer and was completely snockered.  After the vodka cooler, my teeth were numb and I couldn’t feel my feet.  I thought this was hilarious, so I rushed home and wrote a blog post about it.

Isn’t it funny how drunks think they’re funny? (Now that I’m sober, I know the correct answer is ‘no’.)

My draft was lame. The whole thing amounted to, “I’m drunk, hee-hee!” Gut-bustingly funny when you’re inebriated; but it probably should have occurred to me that if I couldn’t feel my feet, my brain might be disconnected, too.

So I’ve learned my lesson.  From now on I’ll drink MUCH more frequently so I’m in shape to handle it… um, I mean… I’ll live an exemplary life of sobriety and restraint.

Yeah. Sobriety and restraint. That’s me in a nutshell.

Wait, why is everybody laughing?

*

P.S. Speaking of ‘learning my lesson’: Thank you, everyone, for all your helpful comments and votes on the cover redesign!  Apparently the original covers ain’t broke, so I’d better not fix them.  I may enlarge the title font a bit so it’s more readable in thumbnail sizes, but that’s all… for now… until I second-guess myself again…

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I Blame The Cucumber

Every now and then my brain gets stuck in a thought-groove.  For example, the other day I reached into our fridge and grabbed a cucumber…

Before I go any farther, I just want to point out that this post is entirely the cucumber’s fault.

Cucumbers bring out the worst in me; especially Long English cucumbers.  I can’t even buy them in the grocery store without smirking.  There’s something about publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects that just tickles my funnybone.  Should I get the ridiculously-long-but-skinny one or the one with average length but jaw-dropping girth?  Will the checkout cashier judge me by my choice?

If I think about it too much, I can’t repress my smile; which only escalates the situation.  ’Cause the only thing worse than publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects is doing it while wearing a guilty grin.  When I catch myself furtively glancing around to see if anyone’s watching, I know it’s time to just grab the first available cucumber and get the hell out of the produce department.

(I’d also like to note that I’ve never seen a man buy a Long English cucumber.  Not once.  Talk about intimidation.)

But I digress, as usual.

So, anyway… I reached into our refrigerator and grabbed a cucumber, and it squished.  Eeuw!

Quoth I to Hubby, as I disposed of the slimy remains:  “Liquidity:  A good thing for investments; not so good for cucumbers.”

Then my brain wouldn’t let it go.  It turns out there are a lot of words that rhyme with ‘liquidity’, and most of them have good and bad connotations.  Such as…

Frigidity:  Good for popsicles; bad for bedmates.

Rapidity:  Great for cheques arriving in the mail; not great for bills arriving in the mail.

Solidity:  Good for chocolate bunnies; bad for ghosts.

Aridity:  Nice for armpits; not-so-nice for climates.

Rigidity:  Bad in attitudes, but great in a… *ahem* …tool. (Would you believe I was talking about the Ridgid brand name?  No?  Okay, fine; you got me. *snickers*)

Flaccidity and tumidity:  Not even going there.

Stupidity: Just never good.

I had more, but I decided not to belabor the point.  (You’re welcome.)

But speaking of belaboring the point:  Many thanks to everyone who weighed in on my proposed cover design last week!  The majority indicated that the original covers were better, although some people said it might be interesting to see a design that used some elements of both.  So here’s my next attempt:

And then (because I can’t leave well enough alone), I also did a version with the photo clipped into a “Top Secret” file folder.

Here it is in blue/green just for variety (because if I go with the bright design, each book’s cover will be a different colour under the yellow titles):

Or… here’s the original cover with an updated font and series number:

Or am I over-thinking the whole thing?  Here’s the original cover:

Please click on the one-question survey below for a quick vote:

And as always, if you have comments I’d love to hear them.  Thanks for helping to preserve my tiny fraction of remaining sanity!

P.S. None of this craziness is my fault — the cucumber made me do it!  😉

 

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The Smarter I Think I Am…

One of the blessings/curses of being a fiction writer is that I spend a lot of time surfing the internet for my research.  (Other people waste time on the internet, but I’m doing research.  Honest.)

I’ve gone down all sorts of rabbit holes, but it really messed with my mind the day I discovered illusory superiority and the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Dunning and Kruger’s tests showed that the less competent a person is in any given field, the more likely they are to think they’re an expert.

Yep, the dumber we are, the smarter we think we are.  (Which explains why 90% of drivers think they’re better than average.  You math majors, stop giggling.)

When I first read about that study, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment:  At last I understand why there are so many idiots out there who think they know everything.  It’s immensely annoying to those of us who do.

Oops…

Seriously, though, I know I’m not good at everything.  In fact, I know I suck resoundingly at a lot of things. But in the things I think I do well…

What if I’m just too stupid to know the difference?

Thanks for nothing, Dunning and Kruger. You’ve made me second-guess everything I once thought I knew.  And seeking constructive criticism won’t help:  Apparently there’s another cognitive bias that lets people believe only the parts of criticism that they want to hear, while disregarding the uncomfortable bits (i.e. the information that could actually help them improve).

So now that my brain has been twisted into a particularly unattractive macrame project, I’m really glad I live out in the country so I can wander around mumbling to myself without anybody calling the nut-catchers. (Fortunately Hubby is used to me mumbling to myself, so I’ve got a free pass there.)

Anyhow…

I have no illusions of superiority in the field of graphic design.  So I’m hoping that all you brilliant readers will help me: I’m thinking of updating the covers for the Never Say Spy series.

I still like the current covers, but the latest trends lean toward lots of colour and bold fonts. Also, the current covers don’t hint that there’s a sense of humour in the stories, and I’m wondering whether a different design might draw in readers who aren’t necessarily looking for a hardcore shoot-’em-up thriller.

Here are the original and proposed covers side by side — what do you think?

Please click on the poll below to vote.  The first five questions are for everyone, and the last question is only for people who have actually read the series.  And if you have any other comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them — please drop them in the comments section of this post.

Thank you so much for your help!  🙂

 

 

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Kiwi Fruit And Toilet Paper

I remember when kiwi fruit first appeared in our local grocery stores sometime around the early 1980s.  The fuzzy brown globes quickly became a fad despite the inevitable jokes about donkey balls.  (No, I can’t imagine who would have started a joke like that…  *crosses fingers and stares at the ceiling, whistling innocently*)

Anyway, it wasn’t long before every fruit tray at every upscale gathering boasted slices of kiwi.  It was exotic and sophisticated and the thing to serve!  But to be honest, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with kiwi fruit.  When it’s good, it’s great… but there are so many ways it can be not-good.

If it’s the teeniest bit unripe, it’s sour with a lingering bitter edge that leaves your mouth puckered and your teeth furry.  Too ripe, and it’s tasteless mush.  Riper still, and the fermentation phase is interestingly fizzy; but I can’t say I recommend it.

If it’s been long enough since my last unpleasant experience, I occasionally buy some kiwis when they’re on sale.  Which is how I came to be sitting at the breakfast table, cutting into one.

Hubby glanced over and said, “That looks very… green.”

I took a bite.  “It’s not too bad, actually.  The last batch I had was an exercise in sour misery, but this one’s okay.”

He frowned.  “Why do you even bother?”

“Well, kiwi fruit has more Vitamin C than oranges.”  I swallowed another virtuous mouthful.  “And it’s very high in fibre.”

Hubby watched in thoughtful silence while I finished my kiwi.  Then he asked, “What kind of fibre is in that septic-safe biodegradable toilet paper you buy?”

I blinked.  “Uh…?”

“Because, you know,” he went on, “You could just eat clean toilet paper to get your fibre.  It couldn’t taste any worse than that kiwi.”

“Except for the nutritional value,” I reminded him.

“Okay; eat the toilet paper, drink water, and take a vitamin pill.”

There was probably a rebuttal to that, but I couldn’t think of it.  He’s right:  Fruit is basically just cellulose fibre, water, and vitamins.  (And flavour; but we’ve already established that kiwi flavour isn’t always an asset.)

I never thought I’d see the day when eating toilet paper seemed like a reasonable option…

*

P.S.  I just found an article that made my day!  I’ve occasionally been chastised by self-appointed Typography Police for my old-fashioned use of two spaces after a period.  They’re adamant that “the only correct usage is a single space after a period”, but that ain’t necessarily so:  https://www.fastcompany.com/90171175/science-just-settled-one-of-type-designs-oldest-debates.  So maybe I don’t have to retrain my fingers after all.  Hooray!  😀

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