Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stay out of the kitchen.

It's Soup Day again and it wasn't my turn!!

Perhaps I shouldn't sound so gleeful. I do love making the main part of SD, but I felt distressed by the amount of leftovers last time. Okay, so I made approximately three times the volume of soup I normally make. Okay, so one soup was so pasta-heavy it was practically a casserole. Okay, the other soup was a ridiculously rich chowder. And yeah, there was a bakery's worth of bread on the counter.

But still.

This time, lovely X-ray Vicki made chicken chili. Coworker Tonya brought her ever-popular two loaves of French bread. I made snickerdoodles!!

This was my buddy Erik's suggestion. Ooo! According to Wikipedia, that source of information and relentless amusement,

The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln (lit. "snail noodles"), a kind of pastry. A different author suggests that the word "snicker" comes from the Dutch word snekrad, or the German word Schnecke, which both describe a snail shape. Yet another hypothesis suggests that the name has no particular meaning or purpose and is simply a whimsically named cookie that originated from a New England tradition of fanciful cookie names.

I have no idea why I feel the need to know crap like that. I only know that I do. Anyway.

Be assured, Vicki and Tonya have provided secondary testing [Roommate and I did the preliminary round] and these cookies are safe for our coworkers to consume. I'm certain this bathes you in relief, dearest. Take a moment.

I made the cookies on Sunday evening in an effort to avoid my usual staying-up-way-too-late-making-mountains-of-food nonsense. Wasn't that clever? Isn't that great? Aren't you impressed?

Wouldn't it have been better if I managed to stay out of the kitchen last night?

But I didn't. See?

I had to make Firecracker Cornbread. It's Vicki's fault; she made chili. And...I've had the recipe for a while. I really wanted to try it. And I had fresh corn on the cob for it. Look!

It's moist and spicy and delicious, even though I made a few adjustments to the recipe.

I can take the heat, you know. I can stay in the kitchen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

COTFU, revisited.

In two days, I'm getting on a plane. I am. And yes, the plane will be flying somewhere. We won't just be sitting on the tarmac, screeching "WHOO HOOO!!" for no apparent reason.

That'd just be weird.

I'll be headed back east to visit Very Nice Person. The original plan was to go to Montreal and see the Canadiens play at the Bell Centre, as well as see the city and bop around incessantly. [The bopping-around bit would have had a lot to do with staying warm. VNP really isn't much of a bopper; I do like this about him.]

Plans, however, changed. And changed again. At one point, we were going to Los Angeles, where we could have watched the L.A. Kings, the Anaheim Ducks or the San Jose Sharks play on their respective home ice, but this...


Now I'm flying to VNP's home, outside of Washington D.C. I do not expect to watch the Capitals play live. Maybe, just maybe, we'll take a road trip and watch the Philadelphia Flyers or the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Darling invisible friend, it's not about the hockey. It's--

All right, quit laughing. I shall amend my previous statement. It's not just about the hockey.

Better? I thought so.

Anyway. It's not. It really isn't. It's more about the fact that despite my affection for VNP and his presumed fondness for me, with him, I am never COTFU. I'm not saying VNP doesn't like me. I'm not saying that I wish to become VNP's reason to live. I'm just saying that, as with the ex, every now and then, I need to be COTFU.

Evidently, it's because I'm a Leo. This means something to those who understand astrology. Which I do not. But this is beside the point.

The point is, I find that in this relationship, I am never COTFU. Never. Ever. Never-ever.

Nope. Not even then. Which really hurts my feelings. And/or injures my pride. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. I don't like it and while I do like VNP, this is becoming a sore point for me.


Anyway. How about those Canadiens?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Beloved invisible one, I wish you Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you moments of reflection and gratitude! I wish you good fellowship and convivial gatherings!

I wish you were here to eat some of this freaking food.

Here's what happened. Oh, stop it. You knew it was coming.

Roommate's mother decided that she would spend the actual day of Thanksgiving at her new soon-to-be in-laws. Roommate and I were invited to join. We were prepared to do so, albeit grudgingly.

Actually, I was the only one really begrudging the location. Although Roommate's mother's fiance's parents are really quite lovely, I don't always enjoy holiday gatherings spent in swath of cigarette smoke. Selfish, I know, but if I can't be honest with you, dear one, with whom can I be honest?

I knew you'd understand.

Anyway, we included a friend who's unable to go to family for the holiday, and her young daughter, in the feast plans and suddenly, Roommate's mom was okay with our staying home and having our own feast. I don't know what changed. But I accept and move on.

How very California Zen of me, huh? I know!

..............................Wait a minute.

Oh, jeeze.

Roommate just called. Our friends canceled. Um. Anybody want to come over for a feast? We...have plenty. Plenty. No, really. Plenty.

This is what I did last night. Pumpkin pie. Because.

Dinner rolls. Massive volumes of dinner rolls. More than it looks.

Seriously, the pie next to the rolls is a nine-inch, deep dish pie.

Massive volumes of dinner rolls.

And this is what I made for the breakfast potluck at work this morning. It's egg and cheese and herbs in a pinwheel of---guess what! Roll dough! Baked until golden.

And look! Enough for everyone. Except the PA who's gluten intolerant. Sigh. I didn't know she was working today. I would have made her a GF treat.

We have a 17 pound turkey, a vat of stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, a huge salad, an acre of potatoes, mashed, and an ocean of gravy.

I'm so thankful for the abundance in my life.

Leftovers, anyone?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Because Mo Asked.

She did. She asked. Look!

BUT...what about the NY Islanders??? My home team, from Long Island!
By Mo on Whoa, Canada! on 11/22/11

Um. Well....

Okay, they're not thirtieth in the league! They're not. They're...twenty-ninth.

And Monday's game was not their fault. The one against the Penguins? Yeah. It was a shut-out, 5-0. But I'm not blaming the Islanders.

I'm blaming him.

Yes, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins' captain, is back on the ice after...what? Nearly a year? Two goals, two assists. One would think he'd have had the decency to start back a little sketchier, but nooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo. He had to be all superstarry. Pfft.

But! Tonight the Islanders will face the Philadelphia Flyers. Victory could very well be theirs!!!

Go, Islanders!


See this?

This is a loving little token from one of my favorite people in the world, one of my doctors. He's a sweetheart. It's a toss-up whom I adore more, this man or his partner, but I do adore him. He's hilarious. He's sly. He's a very good doctor.

He brings me food that I really shouldn't have.

These little goodies are four Weight Watchers points for three cookies. That's not terrible, right? I could have three cookies and be fine. I could stop at three cookies. It could happen.


But there are five servings in the box.

Fifteen cookies.

Twenty points.

Why can't he give me apples?????????????????

Monday, November 21, 2011

Whoa, Canada!

Now, before anybody says anything, nooooooooooo, I am not a Canadian. I don't secretly long to be a Canadian. We're just talkin' hockey.

Yes. Hockey. And yowza, what a hockey weekend it was, baby! I don't know what happened exactly, somebody gave the Canadian teams their NHL Wheaties this weekend.

Bruce Jenner had nothing to do with it. I think.


The Winnipeg Jets played...

...the Philadelphia Flyers!

Given her feelings about Pennsylvania in general, Spicy Cuban Mo probably doesn't feel bad at all. The Flyers lost 6-4.

I do feel a little bad for the Jets. Not because they won their game, oh no. But the Winnipeg Jets were moved in 1996 because of financial problems and became the Phoenix Coyotes. Because naturally, when you think hockey, you think Arizona. Then Atlanta, Georgia got an expansion team, the Atlanta Thrashers. Because the next best thing to putting ice hockey in the desert is putting ice hockey in the Deep South. Then the Thrashers were sold and moved back to Winnipeg, where the tickets sold out in minutes. I'm not sure the Jets know who they are and where they live, but they're pretty clear on one thing.

It's freaking cold in Winnipeg.

Moving on. Very Nice Person's favorite/hometown team is the Washington Capitals. I gave him a Caps t-shirt for his birthday, in fact. Tremendous talent on this team, but on Saturday...
...the Toronto Maple Leafs, AKA Roommate's favorite team, spanked the Capitals like red-headed stepchildren. 7-1. Ouch.

Roommate doesn't actually care about hockey, btw. She just made the mistake of playing along and acting all excited about the Maple Leafs during one game. Now, I refer to the Leafs as her team. Because that's what I do. She rolls her eyes. Because that's what she does.

The New York Rangers have been having a pretty good year. They have. But on Saturday... ...they met up with the Montreal Canadiens and...

...got shut out, 4-0. Awww, Rangers. Yay, Canadiens.



Sigh. My head is whirling.

Finally, after a day filled with commentators screaming, "SCORE!!!!" and nobody buying anybody dinner first, my favorite team, the Edmonton Oilers, had their turn.
Yes, they are still my favorites, despite the location of the ex and my efforts to embrace my inner Canuck. They've spent the last two years at the very bottom of the league, bless their hearts, and on Saturday, they faced the number one team in the league.

2010's Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Stellar team. Really. Awesome year they're having, too. Did I mention number one in the league? Yeah.... But on Saturday, the Oilers steamrolled right over the Blackhawks, 9-2. [That's not a hockey score, btw. That's a score that one sees at a baseball game.]

Pretty impressive, given that most of the Oilers are twelve years old.

Canadian hockey teams, I salute you. Go ahead, have a beer. Except the boys on the Edmonton team; you're still twelve years old.

The joys of leftover bread.

Bread pudding. One of many fabulous things one can make with day-old, or stale-ish bread. Easy to make. Delicious to eat. Simple ingredients.

And! And. This is really breakfast food. Bread, eggs, milk, butter. It's the breakfast of champions, really. Well, without Bruce Jenner prancing all over it. Actually, I shouldn't tease Bruce. He's got enough on his plate. Though I doubt any of it is bread pudding. Sad.

Coworkers Vicki and Sandra were extremely disappointed in the lack of whiskey sauce, those adorable little would-be lushes. Coworker Tonya, however, was relieved by the absence of said sauce, as she is our department lightweight. Bless her heart. The upside of this? Karaoke is certainly more entertaining with her around. So this isn't the best workplace idea, so what? It's fun for the rest of us!

I bet Bruce Jenner could use some whiskey sauce. Probably a quart or two.

Anyway. Bread pudding. Damn the Weight Watchers points; I'm having some more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Omnipotent Comedian Strikes Again

Perhaps the greatest conversational invention of all time is the weather. It's safe. It's very difficult to offend anyone with it--and frankly, if someone's going to get offended when weather is discussed, it might be time for some rather serious self-evaluation. Not global warming, of course. Go ahead and get all worked up about that particular topic. Sure. Who can blame you?

Notice I didn't suggest the side one ought to take? That's right. It's not just a hat rack, my friend.

Anyway, several times this week I've had the same conversation with countless people.

Random Person: Wow, it's getting cold out there!

Me: It really is, isn't it?

[NB: As this is the Pacific Northwest, "really cold" is generally defined as anything cooler than 45 degrees. "Really hot" is anything over 80 degrees. We have only two seasons, winter and July. We put on shorts as soon as it clears 65 degrees. We live with cloud cover more than nine months of the year. But we are wimps when it comes to anything outside of our extremely small temperature range. Anyone with real weather should feel free to commence mocking.]

Random Person: They say we're going to get snow on Friday.

Me: [shaking my head] Not going to happen.

[If you are from an area of real weather, please remember: Any snow in this part of the world is hysteria-inducing. People will panic, call in sick to work, keep the children home, have to keep the children home because schools have closed and clear every grocery store around of milk, bread, eggs and toilet paper. All because of one inch of snow. No, I'm not kidding.]

Random Person: No, really, I heard/saw/read it on the radio/KOMO 4/The Weather Channel dot com....

Me: [shaking my head] Not going to happen. I've taken care of it.

Random Person: Really?

Me: Yes. I had my studded snow tires put on my car.

Random Person: Ohhhh.

Me: Yes. We're also completely stocked for food, have bottled water and three years worth of firewood. Chains in the trunks of the cars. De-icer for the steps.

Random Person: Nice.

Me: Yes. So you see, because I'm ready for it, it will not snow. [holding up a hand and shrugging modestly] No, no. You're welcome.

And this morning, when Roommate opened my bedroom door and said:

"It snowed last night."

Sigh. The Omnipotent Comedian wins.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm NOT sick.

I had a tiny little tickle in my throat. It was no big deal, really, but now my voice sounds a little rough. So I wore a mask yesterday and today. No big whoop.

Then Adriane, the person in charge of scheduling, AKA sick calls, came over to use space in my lab to train someone. "I thought you were kidding when you said you had a tickle in your throat!" Yes. Exactly. That's something I would kid about.

Silly goose.

So she called one of the other floats to cover for me. You can tell they're floats; they hover just above the ground. It's adorable, really. The problem? She called the float at 9:30. AM. In the morning.

Well, I couldn't just leave then. No ride! Roommate not done until noon! Sky falling! Run, Chicken Little, run!!!


So we had to discuss it. Loudly. With a lot of arm-waving. Which the float found incredibly funny. Not to mention the trainee.

But I am going home. Because I'm sick.

Damn it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jonesing for the fish.

Sometimes I think people slip addictive substances into food. I told the young lady waiting on us last Saturday night at Toyama this theory. She laughed, confident of her tip.

She wasn't wrong to do so.

Look at this:

It's a tiny, unassuming little place with indifferent heating. It's located in--hmm. What to call it? It's not precisely a strip mall; it's in a block of small shops and restaurants in the parking lot of a strip mall. It's a block mall! Right next to a dry cleaners and a place that sells work clothes. You know, for people who really, really work for a living. Carhartt-y stuff.
Like this.

Anyway. This restaurant has---wait for it---

All You Can Eat Sushi. I know!!! I've made 'em sorry a couple of times. I generally am so geared up for sushi, I say no, thank you to the miso soup. Even though I love miso soup. I just feel it takes up too much valuable sushi space.

Sadly, I rarely resist the gyoza. Potstickers. Yummy wrapped in carbs and fried in fat. What could be better??

Well, fewer Weight Watchers points. But come on! Look at them, in their golden fried glory.

Toyama not only has great gyoza and miso, they also have all the beginner sushi, like the California roll. Krab [the "k" indicating it's the fake stuff] and avocado, rolled in rice. Not scary at all, if you're scared of raw fish.

And, if the California roll just seems to be lacking something essential, like french fries, there's always the crunchy California roll. Because some days, if it isn't battered and deep fried, it doesn't have any value. This is also emotionally reassuring to those who fear the raw.
Which I do not.

Hey, did you know that the Dragon Roll has eel on it? Eel! Go figure.

Doesn't look like eel, does it? It just looks delicious. Mmmm. Almost as delicious as this:

Now, I am scared of spiders, but the spider roll? No problem. Maybe because it's just soft-shell crab. [The "c" indicating it's the real stuff.]

Actually, I don't have a real problem with spiders, either, as long as they stay out of my house. If they come into my house, I assume they're suicidal and I must help them achieve their goals.

But no more talk of spiders! Let's think happy thoughts! Sunlight! Flowers! Rainbows!

Ooo, rainbow rolls....

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. That Keats guy was no dummy. I wonder if he liked sushi. Did he appreciate the artistry?

Or the beauty of its simplicity?

Or did he just want more?

Much, much more?


All I can eat sushi. That's a little bit of heaven on earth.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Last Thursday, Roommate and I went home for lunch. Actually, I was supposed to be done for the day, but coworker Tonya had a family emergency and I offered to work the full shift, so that meant I had to go back to work after lunch. Which I hate.

This is why I usually do not go home for lunch. I hate going back. Going in is hard enough, going back is almost unbearable. You understand.

Anyway. We walked through the door and I said, in a very uncharacteristic manner, "It's a bit cool in here, isn't it?" Roommate is usually the one complaining of being chilly, and usually, when it's 71 degrees inside. Seriously? Cold? Put on a sweater!

Roommate is fairly anti-sleeve. I have no idea why.

I checked the thermostat and the heat that the furnace should have been maintaining was a balmy 64. This is perfectly reasonable when we are at work and the dogs are snuggled in their kennels. With blankies and pillows.

Not that they're spoiled. Oh, no.

The room temperature reading, however, was a nippy 59. This...is a little cold, even for me. So off I went to the basement to check on the furnace. The furnace, oil-guzzling old beast that it is, was silent and ice cold. Now I'm no heating-and-cooling expert, but I took that as a bad sign.

I know. I have a mind like a steel trap somedays, don't I?

I called the oil service company, or as I like to call them, the blood sucking bastards from hell, and shared with the nice lady [for a BSBFH] my theories on the current heating situation. Either we're out of oil---BSBFH felt this was unlikely, given computer records of spending gobs of money on this supply---or the furnace decided it needed a little holiday.

It has pulled this crap before.

This was Thursday and the very nice BSBFH informed me the soonest a technician could be over would be....Monday. Sadly, both Roommate and I work all day Mondays. How about Wednesday? I asked. No, unfortunately, some poor fool was getting a new oil furnace installed that day.

Seriously? With oil at $4.46 a gallon and average usage 3-5 gallons per day???? Okay. Sure.

We finally settled on Thursday. One full week after initial breakdown. Seriously looking forward to this.

Here's what I've learned in the last four days.

1. A snuggly dog in the bed is worth its weight in gold.
2. Pouring boiling water over one's hand instead of into the hot water bottle is not nearly as effective at warming one, despite the feeling of flames erupting on one's skin.
3. I am not anywhere near as cold-tolerant as I imagined. I thought I'd learned this lesson while dating the Canadian and spending a week in January in north central Alberta, but...there you go.
4. Hot tea really will only take you so far.
5. I would actually take an eco-friendly furnace over any piece of jewelry, up to and including an engagement ring. Although I imagine it would be harder to hide in a rose or dessert. And it would probably rule out a proposal at a restaurant unless one wished to have herniated waitstaff.
6. Infomercials on portable heating units that "save thousands and heat the whole house" can be intensely interesting.

Say it with me:


Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wisdom. Whether I like it or not.

Yesterday, Smooth and Groovy Steve was helping me clean up the Break Closet, post Soup Day extravaganza. I didn't even have to make threats or burst into tears. Yay, S&G Steve!

In the process of scraping the last molecules of soup into my Tupperware, I was reminded of this old Yankee saying on the sampler above. I know a lot of people would have just pitched the last of the soup, but really...why? It wasn't a ton of soup left, but it was enough to make buddy Erik, coworker Tonya and X-ray babe Lisa very, very happy this morning.

I love this saying. Yes, I was raised by the cheapest woman on the planet; I'm not sure I could have avoided loving this saying. But how interesting that what was once a virtue [frugality] became a vice [miserliness] and is once again a virtue. People just call it being "green."

By nature, I am self-indulgent. I am. I'm not frugal or economical or thrifty. But as I read this sampler again, I find myself wanting to be better.

Heaven forbid. It might be time to grow.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

That's not so souper. [Souper Addendum]

As I was adding the second vat of chicken soup to the Crock Pot in the Break Closet, a new-ish person came in to the already crowded space. She glanced around and said, "Who made this?"

I paused mid-soup transfer. "Seriously?"

Come on. She isn't that new.

"Oh, you did?"

I attempted a smile and said yes. Encouragement to have some of the food was offered and I turned away to clean the bowl I was using to restock the soup. From behind me, I hear this:

"You must have a lot of free time after work."

I froze, mouth open in utter disbelief. Another coworker, standing parallel to me at the sink looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Then the new-ish person said dismissively:

"Oh, but Crock Pot soups are easy."

I replied.

"Yes. They are."

I think I deserve a prize now, please.

That's Souper.

Welcome to Cafe JobFromHell! As you can see, our Break Closet features the finest of dining experiences. So glad you could join us today!

Today's soup is Chicken Nokedli. Nokedli. It's like spaetzel, but for Hungarians. Because they're Hungarians. Listen, hang out with a few of 'em. You'll figure it out.

Not even 11:00 AM and half of the first vat is gone. I'm torn between delight and horror at the savagery. Wonderful coworker Vicki is on the tasting committee; she and Smooth and Groovy Steve have confirmed that the soup is up to the rigorous standards of all our coworkers.

They have also confirmed the lack of poison in each soup. Vicki was so concerned about the well-being of our colleagues, in fact, that she's tested the soup four or five times already. Such caring! Such dedication! Such selflessness!!

Hang on. The emotion provoked by her giving nature has made me a little misty.

Okay. Better now.

The vegan/gluten free option today is Zippy Tomato Lentil.

Yes. Zippy. It won't take the top of your head off, but it'll let you know it stopped by for a visit. Not hot. Just zippy.

Oh, lord. I've just been informed that most of the Chicken-Nokedli is gone. Must break out back-up vat.

Please leave your name with the host and you'll be seated as soon as possible. Thank you for visiting today!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Comments, comments, everywhere...YAY!

Though I love comments made on my posts with a passion usually reserved for flaky, buttery pastry...mmmmm......I hate the fact that Blogger won't let me comment on my own blog. To be told I'm not authorized to post in reply is exasperating at best. So this is how I shall reply.

In regards to offering recipes, my Fabulous Neighbor Robin expressed concern that it might affect the "magic" of my cooking. When I finished stammering and blushing, I assured her that this would not be the case. And then Gluten Free Jen chimed in:

Your soup description with the fist fights, and johnny come
latelys....really wanted me to make that soup. It'd be a party in my mouth!
By Nesleina on Recipe Demands on 11/3/11

Okay. Sorry. But this just seemed naughty. She called me a twelve-year-old when I said that to her. Pfft.

Then Deb, wonder water therapist, came to my rescue again, as I lost the fight with yet another electronic gadget, the new Kindle:

You can get WiFi free at any AT&T hot spot. I think that ANY Starbucks would be OK, any library, I am betting that you can even get it at work. Any friends with a Laptop at home? They probably have WiFi. Hospitals usually do too, so again, you may be able to take it to work to get WiFi. If all else fails, the next time I see you, bring it to me. I will bring it home to register it and will download as many of the free books as you want me to at Amazon. ALL of the out of print stuff is free, and they have a free lending library if you are on Amazon Prime (free for a month should you so choose.. There's LOTS to do.
By Deb
La Monica
on New Toy! SHINY New Toy!! on 11/6/11

Oh, sweet and wonderful Deb. I love your problem-solving attitude. I say this sincerely; I want to be more like you when I grow up. Maybe I'll have to get a whippet. Or four. But I love the way you think. You little goddess.

[Btw, Connie helped me figure it out. Thank God someone was on Lisa Marie watch.]

In regards to the caption contest, I loved all the comments posted. But this one:

...Hey, wanna see the cat run scared? On the count of three, drop 'em!
One... two... J
By Anonymous on Caption Contest! on 11/4/11

This took the prize. Yes, there IS a prize! It's the baked good of your choice, made by me! Okay, it won't be as good as anything made by The Caked Crusader, but all in all, it shouldn't suck. Now, if only I knew who you were. Hmm. J. I bet I can noodle it out.

I felt a little bad about my faux emails to the ECWC people. A little. But, cheese and crackers, there were a boatload of emails every freaking day!! And since the Droid entered my life, now I know when emails arrive. Kristen understood this.

...I [un]subscribed the day they put me on it. I've no patience for me,
toos and other crap. heheh.. Did you hit send?
By Kristen on Strike up the editor. on 11/5/11

Nooooooooooo. I asked very politely and they helped. It was lovely and kind of them. And now I feel a little schmuck-y.

And finally, in response to this:

I could always tell when a certain housemate had a major paper due-- the kitchen became gleamingly spotless, the living room carpet immaculately vacuumed, all webs eradicated from corners... I now notice that a certain someone has actually *increased* her blogging rate. Yes, having something big to do with a daunting deadline can make one more productive; just often not in the the area it's supposed to.
By Anonymous on Dr. Wicked Was Here. at 8:57 AM

I say, not so, Mr. Poopyhead! Not so. You see, I can't work on my WIP while on the clock, but I want to keep the I-am-a-writer mindset. I can blog, however, in between making small children cry and horrifying countless adults, so that's what I've attempted to do, for these thirty days. [NB: My production has actually increased on my WIP, as well.]

On top of that, I'm a grown-up, it's my party and I'll blog if I want to. In the immortal words [or word] of Charlie Brown, "Nyah!"

Love you. Mean it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dr. Wicked Was Here.

Let me start by saying, dear one, that my first week of NaNoWriMo has not been a raging success. It hasn't. I'd love to say otherwise, but I'd be lying. And we know how well that works out for us.

It's gone so poorly, in fact, that I frittered away an entire weekend that could have been write-a-rific. Oh, I typed in the odd word, but once I got home from work, I was useless in the writing department.

The back yard is poo-free, however, and the garbage and recycling is neatly at the curb. This is neither here nor there and especially now, it's completely irrelevant. 1,667 words per day! I'm supposed to be writing a minimum of 1,667 words per day!! I'm not hitting my goals!!! GAH!!!!

And rather obviously, I'm overdosing on exclamation points.

So. Today I decided to look into something new. Why yes, I will tell you all about it. Get your tea and settle in. Coffee, then. Oh, for the love of Mike! Soda? Juice? Milk? Vodka? I don't care, darling. Just get it and sit down.

Although at my job, consumption of alcoholic beverages while on the clock is "against the rules." I know. But what are you going to do? Once Administration gets involved, we're all screwed. And not in the fun way.

But as per usual, I digress.

Anyway. While at the ECWC just recently, I attended a useful and informative workshop offered by Susanna Fraser called "How to Write Like a Full-Time Author...When You Can't Quit Your Day Job." Or something close to that. Oh, this title--or its reasonable facsimile--screamed out to me. Screamed. In screeching and strident tones. I had to attend, just to shut it up.

Many useful things were discussed in this class, not the least of which was the introduction of Write Or Die. The lovely and talented Susanna told the group, many of whom already knew about it, the clever britches, all about this website. I was initially intrigued. Here's how it works.

One selects her consequence mode. There are four options:

  1. gentle

  2. normal

  3. kamikaze

  4. electric shock.

[NB: My computer does not have the necessary additional equipment to make "electric shock" an option. Therefore, I have not tested the ES mode. I am okay with this.]

Then one selects her preferred grace period:

  1. forgiving

  2. strict

  3. evil.
After these selections are made, a length of time is chosen and the writer enters into W.O.D. land.

A blank window appears and the writer...well, obviously, starts typing away. If she pauses, however, mulling over what she should write next, the grace period starts. The "forgiving" grace period is all of fifteen seconds. Fifteen. Strict last seven seconds. Evil lasts less than two seconds. When in gentle mode, the background changes to a soft, rosy hue that swiftly darkens to eye-searing red. Less than ten seconds after that shade has been achieved, a sweet-natured pop-up appears, noting the writer's lack of participation and encouraging her to write on.

Normal mode uses the same background but instead of Little Susie Sunshine of the pop-up world, an unpleasant sound is emitted. I cannot describe this sound as it doesn't appear on my work computer. I may try it at home. I may not. I shall get back to you on this.

Then there's kamikaze. Here's the kicker. After the grace period elapses and the background resembles a cheese-less cheese pizza, the program starts deleting the work the writer has already typed.

You read that correctly. When Susanna Fraser spoke of this option in her workshop, the horror of such a possibility was so great, I cried out.

It wasn't funny. Other attendees ought not have laughed. I'm still a bit hurt.

Obviously emotionally battered by this, I took some solace in my dear friend Debbie's comforting pat on the shoulder as I wrestled with the enormity of kamikaze mode. I took several medicinal servings of chocolate and a nice cup of hot, sweet tea and I recovered. The thought of the words that are wrenched out of me that, okay, still resemble the piles of dog leaving I clean out of the back yard, being deleted because I pause for freaking reflection, is dreadful. It is only now, a week later, that I am able to speak of it, though still not without shuddering.

It seems like a horrible idea, as horrible an idea as the Hindenburg, Waterloo or eating an entire head of fried cabbage. Or sure, it seems like a great idea to some people at first, but it doesn't take long to clue in that this is a monumentally bad idea. No matter how much one might love fried cabbage. With just a little salt and a lot of pepper...fried to a lovely, golden, caramelized hue.... So beautiful. So delicious.

So deadly the next day.

Truly, how could electric shock possibly be worse?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A shameless theft.

All right, darling. Another double blog day. But I can't help this one, either. It's stolen shamelessly from a marvelous blog called The Uncrushable Jersey Dress. A wondrous place, this blog, that celebrates all things Betty Neels. You remember Betty? Well, of course you do! And suddenly, you need a snack, don't you? I thought so.

The person/people who organize this blog apparently have also been sucked into the NaNoWriMo madness. And before you shout at me, dear one, allow me to defend my paltry blogging. I am not allowed to use my netbook while at work, and find myself singularly unproductive while trying to work on my WIP from the depths of the lab. [The other rats squeak so loudly. Really, very annoying.] This is a nod to the Empress of Modern Romance, Jane Austen.

Jane knew that updating her Facebook status to 'Stuck' wouldn't help her word

Heeheehee! Oh, Jane. [sniff] You slay me.

New Toy! SHINY New Toy!!

It's an early Christmas present from a dear and darling friend!!!! I'm so excited! I'm so happy!

I so wish I could figure it out.

Yes, I know. I've committed "so" abuse. Forgive me. I have sinned.

Evidently, my beloved invisible friend who is now undoubtedly sniggering at me behind my back, one must have a wifi [Wifi? Wi-Fi? Whatevah.] connection to register one's Kindle. Until the Kindle is registered, it's a delightful and handy dictionary. Yes! The New Oxford American Dictionary is included in the purchase price. Of course, when I saw the screen for the first time, I thought it was the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] and promptly fainted with joy. Upon revival, I realized that this was not the case and, while disappointed, am less concerned about concussions.

My own, that is. Other people's concussions still worry me. But we'll discuss hockey another time.

Anyway. Roommate and I will share this pretty, shiny new toy, especially since I'm not allowed to do too much reading until my page goal is reached for NaNoWriMo. This maybe additionally challenging with the shiny new toy in the house.

But it's pretty and new. I think I shall go and stare lovingly at it.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Strike up the editor.

Dear Emerald City Writers Conference Chairperson,

While the endless and unrelenting emails sent via the "ECWC loop" have been
loads of fun to receive, and receive by the truckload, I do not recall asking to
be including in this crap.

Hmm. A little formal and a trifle accusing. Let's try that again.

Hey, ECWC Netminder--

Super conference, really. Now, if you can be bothered, howsabout we throw the off switch on the email bullsh--

Oh, that's not nice. That's not the way to make friends and influence people. Perhaps if I appealed to fellow writers?

Dear, sweet Webmistress,

As a recent attendee of the ECWC, I was inspired to sign up for NaNoWriMo. I did! Yes, so exciting. However, the constant alerts that yet another irrelevant email arrived has been sent is DRIVING ME FREAKING BATSHI--

Now, see. Look at that. This is when writing needs to be controlled. Calm. A teensy bit rational.


I have tried to "unsubscribe." I have tried to reduce the volume of email crap by choosing digest. I have tried to ignore this avalanche of nonsense. But every time I open my email and see four hundred craptastic messages to delete, never mind read, I am reminded that Yahoo Groups is absolutely FU--

Ooo. Almost dropped a doozy there, didn't I? Okay, one more try.

Please. I beg of you, take me off this bloody list. The conference is over. Over. Let it go. Let me go!!! Yes, it was lovely. Yes, everyone was just super. Yes, we're all
godd--excessively grateful. Now stop. PLEASE STOP!!!!!

Ah. Perfect. Now, where is the send button....


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Caption Contest!

Darling invisible friend, please do not faint. I know how two blogs in one day unsettles you. But this picture was emailed to me after I posted for the day. What else could I do?!

Okay, I love this shot. Since I've already got captions flying through my brain, I thought I might open it up to everyone. Post your caption as a comment, please! [If Blogger is cranky, do it as an anonymous post, but put your name in the body of the comment.] And it's a contest! I have no idea what you'll win, but your name shall be whispered in revered tones.

Fine. I'll work on an actual prize. In the meantime, look!

"Look, man, it's very simple. We go to the river. We get some sand in the pan.
We swirl it around, get the gold, and it's bully sticks all around. This isn't
rocket science. Now open the freaking door."

Go! Go! Go!

Help, when I ask for it.

Some people are just lovely. No, really. My dear friend Erik sent this to me, knowing how tenuous my grip is most days: Isn't he fabulous? In the madness that has been the first two days of NaNoWriMo, this has made me giggle repeatedly. Of course, that could just be a sign of my disintegrating mental status, but we're going to see the glass as half full, aren't we, darling?

Debbie, my dear friend and HRHTM's water therapist, has been her usual font of delight and help to me and my wee beastie. She introduced me to this recently:

And in her loving and helpful way, brought one to me to get me through the conference this past weekend. [I know, I know. We'll talk about it soon. Soon. I promise.] Now, while I don't react to this potable the way I can react to McDonald's sweet tea, which is served in the handy keg size, I'm pretty sure I act like a squirrel on speed when I drink this.

Hmm? The sweet tea reaction? Oh, nothing, really. A little excitable, a little louder than usual, talking a bit more like an auctioneer than I normally do. And my blood pressure spiked to 170/120. But other than that, nothing much.

One of the loveliest things Debbie's done for me recently is introduce me to a group of her friends online. Nice, nice people. Nice people who happen to be brilliant and knowledgeable about many things including...

Dogs. How gorgeous are these German Shepherd dogs???? I know!!!

In my current WIP, my hero has a GSD and I really, really wanted to described them accurately and fairly. Plus, the hero and his dog are work partners.

And if one is going to write about these brave people and their awesome dogs...

...one ought to be accurate. Not that anyone asked, but it's really not asking much.

Day Three of NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words to write today. Some of them spelled correctly.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe Demands

It was Soup Day again yesterday! I made nothing!!

Okay, that's not entirely true. I made shortbread, the easiest thing in the world to make. It doesn't even count as making anything because it's just that easy. At least when one shows up with a bag of chips, she's "made" a trip to the store.

I also contributed turkey fake-chiladas, that were left over from the Halloween potluck on Monday, which brings me to the point of this little discussion.

Evidently, I do not share recipes sufficiently. Who knew?

After being roundly scolded for not posting the recipe for last week's white bean soup---it's SOUP! I threw stuff in a stock pot! There's no actual recipe!!! That's crazy talk!---I have decided to post the recipe for the fake-chiladas.

Fine. We'll talk soup, too, though I warn you now, these will only be vague gesturings towards instruction. I'll try harder next week. X-ray Vicki has decreed that next week's Soup Day will be Wednesday. No, she did. Really. Look.

So sayeth the Lord.

I think Vicki issued this decree because Smooth and Groovy Steve [also from X-ray] was incensed that Soup Day hadn't been scheduled on the one day of the week he works in this building.

NB: By incensed, I mean that the smooth-and-groovy, I'm-taking-illicit-substances-in-very-small-dosages smile that usually lives on his face had been momentarily replaced by an expression vague distress. He is, after all, still Smooth and Groovy Steve.

So. The white bean soup. Here we go.

First, I rinsed a package of dried white beans, then threw them, with great force and callousness, into a Crock Pot, drowning them with a bunch of water. The beans had 12+ hours, overnight, to think about what they'd done. After agreeing their behavior was unacceptable, they were drained and set aside.

In the meantime, leeks, celery, onions and shallots were chopped soundly and sauteed in olive oil. Really, some vegetables...! Because everyone was a little quiet, red chili peppers were chopped and tossed in. There was a small fistfight. Then vegetable stock and the beans were added. Everyone spent a little time getting to know one another, then quinoa, arborio rice and carrots joined the party. Johnny-come-latelys. Pfft. After all of this, I ignored the lot of them and magically, it became soup.

I should totally write a cookbook.

Moving on: Chicken [or turkey] Fake-chiladas. You may ask, "Lisa Marie, why are they fake-chiladas?" You may ask, "Lisa Marie, does the inclusion of turkey make any real difference in this dish?" You may ask, "Lisa Marie, isn't it time to get your meds adjusted?"

To the last question, I laugh mockingly in tandem with my other imaginary friend. We scoff at you and your meds!!

To the middle question, I assure you, both chicken and turkey work very well.

To the first question, I can attest that any recipe that starts with Campbell's Cream of Anything is not authentic Mexican cuisine. It just isn't. These are only real enchiladas if you grew up in Minnesota. And if you did grow up in Minnesota, please do not add lutefisk.

Chicken Fake-chiladas

2 cans cream of chicken soup [condensed]
1 cup sour cream
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 can mild green chiles, diced
6 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
8 ounces cheese [cheddar, colby, pepperjack, whatevah], shredded
12 big flour tortillas or 24 taco-sized ones

1. Mix together soup, sour cream, chiles and green onions, then reserve 1 cup of this slurry. Ignore the pouting and complaining about "being left out."
2. Stir in the chicken [or turkey, 6 cups or so] and HALF of the shredded cheese. You won't have to listen to the same whining from the shredded cheese. Shredded cheese knows it sits on top and is really rather smug about it.
3. Slather tortillas with chicken mixture and roll up. If you're especially cool and impressive, you can fold up the sides and make burrito-type pockets. Be sure to do a lot of hair-tossing if this is your method.
4. Swish reserved soup goop over the top, pausing to accept its abject apologies. Sprinkle remaining cheese over that. Block out its incessant bragging.
5. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, depending on the brutality of your microwave.
6. Fall upon fake-chiladas and inhale like the ravening beast you are.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


National Novel Writing Month. It started today. I signed up for it. Rather obviously, dear one, it's a challenge to write a novel in a month. Hence the name. I know! How clever is that?

It's not really a whole novel. It's 50,000 words. Okay, it could be a short novel. But it's an interesting challenge. It works out to be 1,667 words per day, a little under seven pages if one uses Courier 12 font.

Unless one is a dialogue whore in her writing. Ahem.

C'est moi.

Anyway, it's a fair chunk per day. It's not easy. It's especially not easy on days that I work 12+ hours, and arrive at the workplace 1.5 hours before my shift starts because I care about the planet and I carpool. And they give you a bit of money if you carpool. Not tons. But a bit.

Curse my greed and/or conscience!!!

In theory, I could write almost 1,667 words before starting my workday. If I were a faster writer. And a morning person. I gave it a shot today. 432 words.


So all I have to do is quadruple that. No problem!

I don't tell you this to whine--okay, not just to whine. Whining, after all, is as much an art form as bitching and complaining. And by-the-bye, I've never understood it when people say in response to a query of their well-being, "Oh, I can't complain!" Really? You can't? Mm. You're just not trying hard enough, then. I can always complain. But then, that is one of my gifts.

Wait, this wasn't my point. What was my point...oh, yes. The reason I'm telling you about this challenge. Well.


This month might not be the bloggorific experience we all might wish to have, darling invisible friend. I shall do my level best to blog, and fer chrissakes, to blog about something besides this delightful challenge.

But please forgive me if this isn't the case. It is, after all, my latest obsession.

How long could it possibly last?