Category Archives: humour

Pretzels

My first introduction to a pretzel was the cracker-like, snack-food kind—tiny, crispy. slightly salted and perfect with beer or a glass of wine.  I didn’t know they also came the size of a dinner plate; a twisty bread hot out of the oven with a slightly salty, crispy outside and a soft inside. My cousin demonstrated how to eat it slathered with hot mustard, but I preferred mine unadorned, tearing pieces of it and savouring the warm dough. Being young and skinny, both of us enjoyed our hot pretzels without any guilty thoughts of bread control.

So, it was a revelation to see that food trends had taken a new twist–pardon the pun. I always enjoy seeing “something old becoming new again,” but who would have put the lowly pretzel in the retro box?

I now think  of pretzels as the “perfect” food. You know, like a pizza that has your carbs, proteins and veggies, pretzels can be dressed up or down the same way.  There is a new pretzel cart in town. When I saw the pretzel cart, I dashed over to check it out. I love to nibble on the plain, hot twisty dough, but now I can add my choice of melted cheese, tiny cocktail sausages, teriyaki baby prawns, crispy bacon and a scoop of tangy salsa—see, carbs, proteins and veggies on a dinner plate size pretzel!

And, for all you chocolate lovers out there, there were also chocolate dipped mini-pretzels for dessert.  Heavens, what next?  Oh wait—I just spotted something new at my supermarket—chocolate dipped potato chips. . . Pul–leez tell me that’s not so!

Go Away, Christmas Blues

Now that we’re getting closer to the “Big Day,” I seem to be losing some of my momentum. Two weeks ago, I was out there, enthusiastically elbowing my way through the crowds and picking out a few things for the family. A week ago, I was doing my baking–the mince tarts, the fruit loaves, the shortbreads,–but somehow, between then and now, I’ve lost the oomph that’s needed to carry me through to New Year’s.

I think it’s very important when you start getting into the Christmas Spirit. I use to pop on the music, haul out my already decorated teeny-tiny tree and start my baking—usually mince tarts because the smell of the spices really gets you going. This year, all it got me was the thought that maybe, I started a tad too early because the mince tarts are gone,  only a few shortbreads are left, and we’re already nibbling the fruit loaves. The thought of what’s left to do on the pre-Christmas list is too depressing to think about. So, to cure myself of this blue funk, I did the next best thing to winning the lottery—I borrowed my best friend’s 4-year old twins.

First, we checked out Christmas Village, a miniature village set up behind a huge downtown corner window. It showed Santa’s Workshop with little elves scurrying hither and thither, trying to complete their toy orders to fill Santa’s sleigh.  There was a miniature train winding around and through the Village, its engine huffing and puffing up the steep hill and finally to the Station. The more the girls and I stared, more details became apparent—the horse-drawn buggy with the coachman nodding to everyone he passed; the elderly lady who had dropped her bag of oranges and the little boys who helped to pick them up; the children skating on the pond; the little dog running with the red ball in his mouth; the baker-man passing out cookies from his tray; the tiny houses with lights winking and blinking inside; sporadic puffs of smoke from a few chimneys and much, much more. The twins were fascinated and so was I.

Our next stop was “Tiny Chapters,” a children’s bookstore where we were  just in time for Story Hour.  After that, cocoa and cookies at “Maisie’s,”  then the Children”s Choir and toy-store in Market Square. The joyous sounds of children singing was the perfect ending to a fun day.  The kids and I had a great time. I got re-energized and my best friend enjoyed an unexpected “free” afternoon sans twins.  AND, I’ve got my oomph back so I’m good ’til after New Year’s. . . .

Pens

I love pens. I especially like pens with ornamental or novelty heads at the end. I have a few that are squishy so in those moments, when the pen is willing but the paper is blank, I can get inspired squishing the alligator’s head so that his cheeks and eyes bulge alarmingly. It doesn’t really inspire any great thoughts, just creates a bit of distraction. I also have a pen that, if you bash it against the palm of your hand, its green bulb flashes on and off—another distraction for a few seconds. My favourite had a goblin head but it fell off one day when I was writing like fury. The replacement pen with the squishy monkey-head with pink rubberized hair wasn’t quite the same.  And the weight of the head made the pen top-heavy so that writing was a chore. My bug-on-a-leaf pen is cool but it feels awkward when I write so I tuck it in my pen-cup, along with all the others. I have three pen-cups, all stuffed with pens of fine, medium and thick tips, black markers, highliters of various colours, permanent pens for writing on tapes and DVDs—the list goes on.

I find pens are important. You can never have too many because when you need a pen in a hurry, there they are—ready when you are.  And have you notice when someone lends you a pen, it mysteriously ends up in your pocket or purse?  Or, vice-versa.

Recently I bought a package of regular pens–these were the Bic’s ultra-round sticks with an easy glide. I like these pens because they start immediately—no scratching on a pad to get the ink started.  I’ve left several lying around but they seem to mysteriously disappear, so someone else must be enjoying them too.

Of course, with my collection of pens, I have to have my pads of many colours. Notepads not only have a choice of lined or unlined pages but now comes in different motifs, colours and cute slogans or messages.  I like “Sex is Better than Coffee But Chocolate is the Best” or “Don’t Tell the Boss, Send Him a Memo” or my favourite phone message pad, “Monkey Business Only.” My sticky notepad has a message too.

The other day, I had this crazy inspiration and just had to jot it down before I forgot it. I wrote it on my lime-green sticky pad and tucked it in my purse. Later at the bank while searching in my purse for my bank card, my sticky pad fell on the teller’s counter. Prominently across the top, in big black letters was “This is a Stick-up” and in much smaller letters, directly beneath, “Stick Me on Anything!”  Thank goodness the teller had a sense of humour and didn’t panic.

Okay—enough kabbitzing–back to work!

Hugger-Muggers

As the Holiday Season approaches, I am re-posting my earlier comments from 2012—nothing has changed. Hugger-muggers are still out there!

I’m normally a non-violent lady who enjoys the quirks and foibles of her fellow man, but the one custom I’m not fond of is being bush-whacked by a hugger-mugger. Have you met any? I’m sure you know at least one or two. The reason I’m venting now is because another social season will soon be upon us and there are hordes of hugger-muggers ready to launch their hugs at any given moment.

Generally, these people seem very congenial and friendly until they clasp your hand and haul your unwilling self towards them to give you the mother of all hugs—up close and personal.  I’ve checked my etiquette book and this is one custom not covered well.  Chinese people are usually not touchy-feely unless it’s someone we know well—like really well.  But in social gatherings, meeting some strangers for the first time and discovering too late they are hugger-muggers, makes a person think murderous thoughts or at best, a violent solution like a knee to the you-know-where.

Hugger-muggers are very sneaky people. They always look so ordinary and normal until they get hit with any excuse for hugs at social gatherings.  Give them a glass of wine or two or three and hugger-muggers are in their dangerous zone.  This is when their hands tend to roam all over as part of their friendly hugs.  Hugger-muggers do not read body language well and will translate a verbal “no” as “yes.”

So, to all hugger-muggers who are perfecting their hugging techniques—take note. I’ll be wearing my Kevlar vest, my stiletto heels and bringing my 6′ black-belt, 4th degree, martial arts husband.  I may be short but I won’t be defenseless if confronted by any hugger-muggers. . .

Manual Woes

There is nothing I dislike more than having to read a manual. It’s probably not that big a deal but when this issue comes up, it’s a biggie for me.  Most times I don’t have to read any manuals unless it becomes absolutely necessary–at which point, I become thoroughly traumatized.

Hubby and I have devised a system of sorts over the years. Hubby does the assembling and fixing. When needed, I read these folded bits of paper or booklets with the instructions and important information in sixteen different languages.  Sometimes the assembling instructions are quite detailed but stated in a unique form of English that defies interpretation–especially if the article is made in some obscure place like Outer Bhurkistan.  Conversely there are English instructions and information that are quite sparing in words–leaving you to fill in the blanks.

The one and only time I didn’t mind reading the manual was when we were assembling my desk. This project had a perfect manual. The instructions clearly showed every nut, bolt, screw and washer included. Each piece and part was labeled clearly. The desk was packaged to be assembled in sections that had to be done in a specific order. It was a dream project and one that went smoothly and frazzled-free. Best of all, the instructions were written in clear, concise and real English. To this day, I’m still using the desk which has held up well.  But. I digress.

Manuals were never part of my genetic setup. I’m the type of person who likes to watch how various stuff is put together and then do it.  My brain does not absorb the printed words or pictures of a do-it-yourself manual. I always figured the good Lord did not put me on this Earth to nut-n-bolt stuff together unless it was the edible kind.  And in that case, I can out-perform anyone.

But it’s not just popping the pieces together in the how-to section.  It’s the other part of the manual that explains the what-for, why-for and where-for. I really don’t need to scare myself knowing these things, since the only time I’ll dive for the manual is when something goes terribly wrong.  Hopefully, Troubleshooting will give me the answer or the 1-800 number for Customer Assistance.  For now, I’m stacking all these bits of paper and helpful booklets and stuffing them under “M” for Manuals.

 

 

 

Line-ups

Have you ever noticed that the more you hurry, the slower you are? It’s true, especially in line-ups.

The line-up at my bank had only three people in front of me.  And, checking out the tellers, I could see that two of them were just winding up their business, so  it should be a fast moving line.  No, it was unbelievable how everything slowed down when I got to the head of the line. I’m sure I could have bought and sold some stocks if I had some, moved my meagre funds around the world and had a long leisurely lunch with the bank president.  See, just when you think you’re ahead of the game, you’re suddenly behind.

The other day I was at the supermarket and with my five items, I headed for the Express Lane–you know, the lane that allows  9-items or less and cash only. There I was, thinking It was my lucky day because only one person was in front of me. Yep, you guessed right–that person had 15-items she had already unloaded and her debit card at the ready. The cashier gently pointed out this was a cash-only express lane for 9-items or less, but because there was now 6-persons behind me, the time and trouble unloading her stuff into her buggy and shuffling her off to another line was more trouble than it was worth. So, rather than being 10 minutes ahead of myself I was now 10 minutes behind.

Then there was my experience at the department store. I barely stepped inside the door and there was my one and only perfect wool sweater–-the right style, the right size and the right colour.  Of course I wasn’t going to leave it! So I grabbed this perfect sweater and ran to Customer Service. There were two cashiers working cheerfully and merrily away so the lineup, though long, was really moving quickly. Until it stopped at the lady in front of me.  Suddenly the cashiers weren’t looking so cheerful or merry and neither was working so efficiently anymore,

Three dreaded words when you’re in a lineup—Exchanges and Returns.

See, more proof that just when you think you landed in a fast lineup with a quick get-away, you inevitably can put down roots waiting for your turn to come up. And, from my experience, don’t look for the shortest lines–they’re usually the longest. I think that’s why supermarkets have all the snacks, chocolate bars and magazines close by. Smart marketing and “survival” rations for people held up by lineups.

Silly Thoughts

It’s uncanny how your mind can wander when you’re feeling blah and unable to get out.  Your thoughts tend to roam hither and thither, stopping at memories best forgotten or silly things that can make your head spin–you know, phenomenal events that  occur daily in  anyone’s home.

Coat hangers are an example. Before we moved into our house, we made sure all the wire coat hangers were left behind or recycled. There were no wire coat-hangers in our new home–that’s nada, zilch, zippo–no wire coat hangers, none. It was like some evil-genie who made sure these wire hangers kept popping up in various closets. It was like an epidemic of mass proportions. One wire hanger morphed into four hangers and the next time we opened a closet door, there were eight!

Paper clips must be the mini-cousin to coat hangers. I swear there were only a few paper-clips in my desk drawer. Suddenly paper clips popped out of file folders, notepads, reference texts, my pen-pot and I even found two more cohabiting in my coat pocket.

Buttons are another example. I find it very useful when the manufacturer tacks a “spare” button on the underside of cardigans and blouses. These “spares” are usually tucked away in my sewing box in the event a button is lost,  there is an identical button ready. Somehow, this never works at my house. The spare buttons have been zapped somewhere into the stratosphere as there seems to be lots of alien ones I’ve never seen before.

And one final thought. I am extremely careful in using my supply of straight pins to shorten a hemline or pair of pants. But no matter how careful I am, straight pins will be sucked up by my vacuum for the next six months. The proportion of straight pins sucked up is always proportionately greater than the straight pins actually used.  Straight pins are definitely another cousin to paper clips and wire hangers. They were invented to drive sane humans into a tizzy.

As I said at the beginning, it’s uncanny how your mind can wander and wonder over inconsequential things when you’re house-bound.

The F-Word

There it is again–the f-word.  No, not that one, silly. You know the word. No matter where you look or scan or skim, there it is in your face—the f-word. I’m talking fat. Choices in supermarkets, coffee shops, even ice-cream parlors all offer fat-free selections. Decades ago, fat was never as big an issue as now. Have you glanced at the covers of those ladies’ magazines that’s clustered  by the cashiers when you’re waiting to go through with your groceries? Bet you a chocolate truffle that there were at least two articles mentioning the f-word. One would be eliminating belly-fat by exercise and/or diet and the other would probably target fat around the thighs or butt or arms or chin or. . . .

If I had to describe myself, I think I would say I’m short, slightly roly-poly and love dark chocolates. Not that dark chocolates have anything to do with my physical attributes. Now that you’re stuck with this mental image of a short, slightly roly-poly person devouring chocolates by the handful, I have to tell you that I may feel roly-poly but I’m really not.  I only feel plumper when I see something decadent and delicious. If I virtuously stare it down, I actually feel less rounded. Does that make sense? It’s a constant battle, ever vigilant one—to keep away from the f-word.

Haven’t you noticed that anything fat-free, sugar-free and salt-free tastes like—well, bland and nothingless? I firmly believe you need some fat, sugar and salt in your day-to-day diet. I don’t mean stuffing yourself with all the above, but in moderation from time-to-time gets my nod of approval. Eating lean is a good habit to get into but please leave me my crispy bacon as tissue-thin bacon is not bacon and the one slice in my McDonald’s bacon-n-egger breakfast sandwich was too hilarious to talk about. Fat-free latte?  Egg white scramble?  Enjoy yourselves but I’m still ordering my 2-egg scramble made with whole eggs, turkey sausages and real coffee. Oh heck, may as well throw in a few strips of crispy bacon and some of those fantastic pan-fries too.

Model material? Not me. I’m comfortable being what I am–the main thing is healthy.  It’s nice to read about all the things you should or shouldn’t do, should or shouldn’t eat—but the bottom line is, how do you feel?  Are you feeling comfortable with yourself?  Are you happy and healthy?  Then feel good about indulging occasionally.  We all need fuel but sometimes using a higher octane can make things happen in a good way.  Toss that f-word out the window.  Life is too short to not enjoy an occasional meal having tasty fat—oops, I said that darn f-word. . .again.

Feeding the Brain

Writing can be an isolated life, especially when you’re deep in the writing zone–-or what I call the Zen level.  This is the level where all the background noises and disruptive interruptions fade away and there’s only your characters interacting and creating their own mass destruction while your fingers type frantically to catch up. Good place to be. And of course, it needs nourishment—like Michael’s decadent Mount Hood cookies, Mary’s home-baked chocolate vanilla cake and my Moka-House’s “Dark Chocolate Mystery Brownies,” loaded with a smattering of pecan pieces, chopped sour cherries, the elusive hint of orange peels, mixed into a very dark chocolate batter and later, while still warm from the oven, spread with a thin layer of 72% dark Belgian chocolate.  Totally mind-blowing and perfect nourishment for any writer.

I read somewhere that brain-work depletes a lot of energy. In layman’s terms, it means brain-work sucks up a heck of a lot of calories so a person needs to replenish at regular intervals.  It’s written in very fine print on page ninety-two of the “Ethical Writers’ Manual for Good Work Habits.”  Being a writer gives you few privileges and the need to regularly nibble and nosh is a good one!

Of course your snacks or form of nourishment has to be healthy.  I mean, what’s the point of keeping your strength up if you nibble stuff that may poison your body? My list includes lots of dark chocolate because dark chocolate not only lowers the blood pressure but leaves you with an euphoric feeling—nothing will make you frustrated, depressed or blue even if you’ve just “killed off” your so-called hero/heroine.  Be sure to have fruits and nuts in the cookie/cake or handy on its own.  This gives you fibre and protein to keep moving–I mean, writing.  Most of all, make sure you feed every 2 hours–any less and there won’t be any work done. And, if you make it longer than 2 hours, you may not have the strength to carry on coherently.  It’s what I call fine-tuning, very sensitive–timing is everything. Everyone has their own favourite nourishment to keep them writing, you just have to find your own.

Oops, I think it’s my nibble and nosh time—a few pieces of Purdy’s “Dark Chocolate Dipped Apricots”–healthy fruit that just happens to be wrapped in dark chocolate.  Life is good. . . .

When You Need a Haircut

Until I got a married, I never realized how difficult it is for a guy to find the right barber to cut his hair. All I knew  was when I found a good hairdresser, I was willing to travel across the City to get to her and I wouldn’t divulge her name to anyone. After all, when I needed an appointment, I didn’t want to be on a 6-weeks waiting list.

Each time we moved, it was a challenge to find someone in the neighbourhood who could cut men’s hair well. Hubby’s haircut isn’t anything elaborate or fancy—just a simple short trim on the sides and back, the top left a bit longer resulting in a nicely shaped head.

When we lived and worked close to the downtown area, there was a barber along our route. Jack was fresh out of barber school and eager to please. Short on the sides and back? You got it.  A bit longer on top? Got it.  Jack was a great listener and he tried. It took him 45 minutes with very deliberate and precise snips, but he eventually achieved the end result. Enroute home, Hubby and I discussed the fact that maybe next time, I could disappear for a cup of coffee or something rather than sit and wait. And since Jack already did the head once, maybe—like memory foam—he would remember the style without any distracting chit-chat. So, the next barber visit, I went for a cup of coffee, ate a slice of chocolate almond roll, browsed through several interesting boutiques, checked out the discount bookstore and eventually wend my way back to the barber.  Jack was still delicately snipping.

Next time, we decided to try another place on our way home. Rosie was a stylist, an unisex stylist.  Since the haircut was considered a basic cut, we figured it wouldn’t take any time at all.  It didn’t, but the difference between a “barber” and a “stylist” is about $45. We didn’t go back to Rosie.

A few years ago, we moved to a little house in a neighbourhood surrounded by local businesses including three supermarkets, a huge Home Depot, several eateries, a library, post office. stationery store, medical services, pharmacies and a barber. Highly recommended by several of our male neighbours, Hubby decided to give the shop a try.

Okie is a cheerful person with limited English and a hair-cutting system uniquely her own.

“Okay, how you want it?  One finger, two-fingers or three-fingers?

“Sorry Okie. What do you mean?

“I wrap hair around one-finger or two fingers or three fingers before I cut.”

“I just want it short on the sides and on the back; a bit longer on top.”

“Okay, I do.”  And she did–sort of.  Hubby was informed that he had a one-finger cut and that was the one to ask for next time he returned for his haircut.  When the next time came, Hubby cheerfully said, “One-finger, Okie.”  It was short.  It was one of the shortest haircuts I have ever seen on my husband’s head. In fact, even though the two people ahead of us asked for “2-fingers”, it all came out the same—very short. And forget the tad longer on top, it was very, very short.

On the walk home, Hubby decided it was a language problem. On his next haircut, he would guide Okie on the length he wanted. When he emerged from that haircut, it was perfect—short on the sides and back, slightly longer on the top and nicely shaped.

“That’s perfect, Okie!

“Okay—next time you ask for 3-1/2.”

“3-1/2?”

“Yes, that style I do for your head. I have new system.”

The next haircut is looming in two weeks. We’re not sure what the differences are before or after 3-1/2.  However, Okie’s customers are happy and chatty while waiting; the price is fair and she takes only 7-minutes of your time.  Thank goodness, Hubby has a beautifully shaped head for no matter how short his haircut turns out, the whole experience has been an adventure, a very entertaining and hairy one!