Pickles, Peeves, And Daniel Craig

It’s been one of those weeks.  I’ve been trying to fit ten days of work into seven, and my brain has rebelled.  I knew I was in trouble a couple of nights ago when I dreamed of Daniel Craig.

That might sound like the quintessential female fantasy; but it wasn’t… because of the pickles.  Yes, I dreamed that Daniel Craig was plying me with a plethora of pickled cucumbers.

Freud would nod sagely and point out the phallic significance.  Normally I’d snicker and agree; but the truth is that I’ve been inundated with cucumbers lately, to the point where I’m even dreaming about them.  The garden is going crazy, and every second day I lug in a basket of strawberries, a basket of cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, and a basket of corn.  And now the beans have found their second wind, too (no pun intended).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our garden is doing so well.  But I’m also a teensy bit overwhelmed, which means the chances of me writing a coherent blog post this week are somewhere between ‘Nil’ and ‘Not a chance in hell’.

So instead, here are a couple of random thoughts that flitted through my mind this week:

I love food, cooking, and eating; but some days the futility of it nearly brings me to my knees.  I spend SO MUCH TIME (and money and energy) acquiring food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up afterward… and four or five hours later I do it all again.  And again.  Repeat the next day, and the next, ad infinitum.  And it all ends up in the toilet anyway.  Wouldn’t you think we’d have found a better solution by now?

And one of my pet peeves:  Stinky soap in public washrooms.  Seriously, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, and MacDonald’s:  Can’t you buy hand soap that doesn’t reek like some unholy combination of burnt transmission fluid, old gym socks, and rotting flowers?  You post big signs reminding everyone to wash their hands, and then you provide hand soap that nobody wants anywhere near their skin.

But… kudos to the PetroCanada at the corner of 17th Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, BC – their soap smells nice.  And BIG props to the Flying J truck stop on Portage Avenue in Headingly, MB for providing GoJo mechanic’s hand cleaner in the women’s washroom – hooray!

Despite my pickles and peeves, I’ve had some wins this week, too:  Our bookshelves are finally finished, woohoo! It’s been nearly two years since I last saw my beloved books. Thanks for all your hard work, Hubby!

And…

The tomatoes have been FABULOUS. That’s one sammich-worthy slice! (This is the heritage variety ‘Brandywine’ – definitely the flavour winner this year.)

Book 14 update:  It was a busy week, but I still managed to get to Chapter 13.  Poor Kane is discovering that fatherhood can be a dirty job…

Well, I’ll Be Spatchcocked!

It’s odd how I can go for weeks or months without running across anything particularly funny on the internet, and then suddenly I get inundated by snicker-inducing goodies:

I was browsing Amazon for Christmas gift ideas, and I didn’t realize some vendors have such a tenuous grasp on reality (and good taste).  Check out this “Lovely silhouette art for baby nursery”:

Awww… how adorable. Not.

Um, guys… it’s a panda waving handguns.  In what world is this ‘lovely’ or in any way appropriate for a baby nursery? Although if this is how parents are decorating their nurseries these days, it does explain a few things.

So I abandoned the Amazon vendors to their delusions and went to catch up on my blog reading instead.  And within minutes I ran across the word ‘spatchcock’.

If (like me) this is the first time you’ve encountered that word, I know what you’re thinking.  I can practically see your thought-bubble from here.

You’re thinking, “There goes Diane down another dodgy research rabbit-hole that leads to a kinky sex website.”

I’d act all indignant about that; but there’s not much point since we all know it’s happened before and it’ll probably happen again.  But I swear, this time I wasn’t reading anything dodgy at all – it was a cooking blog.

There was no definition or explanation; only a note that you could “spatchcock the chicken” if you wanted.

Well.

I’ve lived for over five decades, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never wanted to do anything that sounded like that to a chicken.  Or to any living thing, for that matter (with the possible exception of a couple of guys I’ve known).

I did a Google search for ‘spatchcock’, braced for who-knew-what perversion.  And I found it immediately:  Jamie Oliver spatchcocking a chicken.

I’d love to say that it was as lewd as it sounds; but sadly, it only means ‘to butterfly’ – to remove the chicken’s spine so the carcass can be flattened for cooking.  I’m not sure why they didn’t just say that in the first place, but it’s nice to know there are cooks out there who share my childish appreciation for salacious-sounding words.

Apparently the internet was on a roll, because after serving up panda pranks and chicken chuckles, it rounded out the amusing animals with a plastered possum that broke into a liquor store and went on a bender, a scofflaw squirrel that got charged with criminal mischief and was released on bail, and some hostile hagfish that slimed a car so badly it looked like a remake of a Ghostbusters movie.

But ‘spatchcock’ is my most prized discovery of the week.  I don’t find words that are new to me very often, and I consider it a serious lapse of my professional puerility that I’d never heard of a word with such great comic potential.

’Cause now I’m imagining a new verbal expression of shock:  “Well, spatchcock my ass and call me a chicken!”

Gotta work that into a book somehow…

P.S. Just a bonus to this week’s bounty of beasts:  Yesterday I saw two women walking across the Canadian Tire parking lot in Parksville.  One was walking a large dog on a leash.  The other also held a leash… attached to a goat.  They were going for a walk.  To Canadian Tire, apparently.  Now I have yet another reason to laugh uncontrollably at the word GOAT!

Ping-Pong Brain

It’s a small feather-weight sphere containing nothing but air, and it ricochets wildly off hard surfaces (such as the inside of my skull) at approximately Mach 2.  Yep, I’ve got Ping-Pong Brain.

Between the release of Book 11, a Bookbub1 promo for Book 1, and my website redesign, the past few weeks have slowly drained my brain’s contents while accelerating its activity until there’s nothing left but a frantic sense of urgency and the attention span of a super-caffeinated gnat.

For instance, moments ago I clicked over to the internet to find out whether the Style Guide recommended capitalization on the word ‘Mach’, and I found a site dedicated to those pesky word usages that are so easy to screw up:  http://stage-door.org/stampact/traps.html.  The first few paragraphs are standard fare, but if you scroll down to the alphabetical list below there’s a fascinating (and immensely time-sucking) list.

I got sidetracked and wasted a good 15 minutes before I smacked my brain back in the direction I’d originally intended.

After a few more attempts at concentration, I realized that the probability of producing a coherent post for today was approximately equal to that of being picked up by a squadron of flying pigs for a nice aerial tour of the frozen flames of hell.

So I’m not even going to attempt it (neither the coherent post nor the scenic flight with AirPorcine). Instead, here are a few random things that have made me giggle lately:

The following article is a few months old by now, but I still find it funny (in a sad sort of way) that the people of Siberia preferred Barsik the cat to any of their other political options: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/barsik-cat-siberia-russia-barnaul-1.3373334.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a follow-up article, so I don’t know whether Barsik actually won the election.

Next there was a salvo in the ongoing good-natured culinary skirmish between Hubby and me.  I tend to get creative when I’m cooking, while he prefers to follow detailed recipes.  This creates a certain amount of friction when he’s trying to duplicate one of my dishes:

Hubby:  “How much (ingredient) do you put in?”

Me:  “Um… a bit…  Maybe, um, a teaspoon?  Or maybe a bit more.  This much.” *dumps ingredient into palm and displays the small heap*

Hubby (long-suffering):  “And how long should I cook it?”

Me:  “Until it’s done…?”

Hubby:  *grinds teeth*

So he sent me this:

Measuring spoons for a tad, dash, pinch, smidgen, and drop

Measuring spoons for a tad, dash, pinch, smidgen, and drop

These are the official conversions:

  • Tad = 1/4 teaspoon = 1.25ml
  • Dash = 1/8 teaspoon = 0.625ml
  • Pinch = 1/16 teaspoon = 0.3125ml
  • Smidgen = 1/32 teaspoon = 0.15625ml
  • Drop = 1/64 teaspoon = 0.078125ml

(He thinks this will help, but in fact he’s only given me more obscure units of measurement with which to annoy him.  Shhh, don’t tell.)

And finally, my diminished concentration resulted in yet another silly misread.  A couple of days ago, this article came up in my news feed:

nose hair conditioner

I must have a nostril-hair fixation, because I read “Your Nose Hair Is A Bad Conditioner”.  It speaks to my disordered state of mind that my mental critic said, “Well, yeah; duh.  Who’d use nostril-hair as a conditioner?”  I had actually scrolled down about three articles before I went, “Wait, what?

And that’s my brain this week, ping-ponging from cats to cooking to conditioners.  How was your week?

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If you’re interested in the Book Club, I’ve posted a few thoughts about the format for discussion.  I’d really appreciate your input on 4 questions – please click here to reply.  Thanks! 

1 If you haven’t discovered Bookbub.com yet, you may or may not thank me for mentioning it.  It’s a bargain e-book notification service, and you can sign up to receive emails (daily or weekly) containing free and discounted e-books in the genres you select.  It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to my to-read list… but then again, I’m happy at the sight of 50 books piled up ready to read.  If a burgeoning TBR list stresses you out, you may want to skip Bookbub. 😉

Talking Turkey

No, I’m not referring to “talking turkey” in the sense of discussing business, nor in the sense of a chatty fowl.  What I mean is, sometimes I’m a turkey when I’m talking.

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that my mouth tends to get ahead of my brain at times, and a couple of weeks ago I made yet another conversational gaffe.  But before I reveal it, allow me to digress for a moment (I promise this is relevant, as you’ll see shortly).

The concept of noun gender in French tends to confound most native English-speakers.  Why “la chaise”, a female chair?  Or “le magasin”, a male shop?  It eludes logic.

But have you ever noticed that a lot of English-speakers assign gender to inanimate objects, too?

When a pronoun is required in conversation, one of my friends always refers to her car as “she”.  Plants often end up with a gender-specific pronoun, too (like Fred, my Norfolk Island pine, and his prickly buddy Dick).  Some people arbitrarily assign the female pronoun to all cats, regardless of their actual gender.  And, for reasons unknown, I tend to refer to dead turkeys as “him”.

So.

My sister and I were visiting my step-mom for an early Christmas celebration, and we were preparing “Christmas” dinner, complete with turkey and all the trimmings.  I had never used an electric turkey roaster before, so I was keeping a close eye on the proceedings.  My sister was sanguine about the roaster, but she’s always very careful about food safety, so she was hovering with her temperature probe.  (Which suited me fine – I’ve never been fond of Salmonella Surprise.)

We peeked into the roaster an hour before our meal was scheduled, exclaiming over the beautiful golden-brown bird and the delicious smells wafting into the kitchen.

I nodded sagely (’cause you can’t roast a turkey without sage) and observed, “Yep, he’s done.”

My sister inserted her temperature probe, checked the readout, and concurred:  “He’s done, but that breast still feels a little tough.”

I waved an airy hand.  “Don’t worry, there’s still lots of time.  We’ll just turn him down to 225.  After he goes down low and slow for an hour, that breast will-”

Everyone in the kitchen exploded into laughter.  At last, my sister managed to choke out, “I didn’t think that changed the texture of breasts…”

Bedlam reigned and risqué double entendres volleyed back and forth.  In the end, we agreed we should inform our respective husbands that more research was required.

So there’s your cooking tip for the day (regardless of which kind of “cooking” you’re referring to):  Going down low and slow for an hour will reward you with a tender, delicious breast.

You heard it here first.

But I still feel like a bit of a turkey.

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The internet is down at my house today, so I’m posting from a coffee shop and probably won’t be able to respond to comments until the afternoon (if I’m lucky and the tech gets everything fixed).  Talk to you later…

P.S. If you haven’t entered to win a signed copy of SPY, SPY AWAY yet, here’s the contest link: https://blog.dianehenders.com/do-you-know-me/book-contest/