Last night, our PTA meeting ended in bloodshed ~ Welcome to Night Vale
Once upon a time, fellow WordPress wayfarer, Locksley, embarked upon a sweet little escapade around the Archipelago of Malta– albeit without the saintly Sister Madly. Not that he should feel the least bit guilty about this, mind you, with Sister Madly being something of a stranger;* however, it should be noted that any misfortune that befell Locksley during this Madly-free holiday- such as a plague of flying ants falling from the sky- was simply a coincidence.
* Yes, yes- rumors persist about how Sister Madly’s traveling companions are never seen nor heard from again, but these are the risks one takes when traveling. Besides, no one has ever proven a thing.
So after rambling around this exotic locale (without her) the valiant Locksley passed along to Sister Madly a recipe for a local delicacy- seriously, it uses an entire bottle of wine; what’s not to love? A most gracious gesture indeed, my friend.
However, finding rabbit meat in her hometown was not as easy as it should have been. The local butcher scene remains rabbit-free to this day, no doubt from the appalling lack of such creatures in the immediate area. Apparently, her town is nothing like the lush, fertile landscape of Malta (where she as never been) which is essential to the cottontail diet.
This search eventually led Sister Madly into the dark recesses of a farmer’s market, where she found a freezer simply labeled ‘game meat.’ Not wishing to look like a vegetarian to the crusty ol’ rancher, Sister Madly approached the situation as carnivorously as possible:
What sound did this beast make when it was alive?
While she didn’t find rabbit that day, she now knows what a quail sounds like.
So just as Sister Madly was threatening to eat a chicken nugget for every minute she went without a rabbit, the universe came through with an unexpected source: the seaside-residing, yet ever resourceful, Tallulah.
Now one would think that a small, coastal town would be known for its fresh seafood, not for its exotic meats- but then, who is she to decide what tickles the fancy of a seaside hamlet? Even if the carcass looked suspiciously like Tallulah’s intrepid little feline, Caviar…*
* Sans fur. And head. And feet. And everything else that makes amateur forensic identification impossible.
Until that moment, Sister Madly had been rather ambivalent on the subject of small game butchery, and would have remained so had the rabbit already been jointed. Sure, she’s cut up a chicken before, but it takes a great deal of imagination to tie this:
… to this:
Really, Mr. Butcher, if you took such care to remove the head and the feet, could you not also joint the creature? No doubt the savage finesse with which you wield a cleaver is nothing short of a culinary ballet, but stopping short of jointing is much like flossing your teeth halfway through a pirouette.
And by the way, it was most considerate of you, Mr. Butcher, to leave the kidneys in tact. It’s like finding a pearl in an oyster- a delightful, disgusting, little pearl.
At least, she assumes those were the kidneys…
After watching a video of a posh British lady jointing a rabbit on the internet- and indulging in a cider or two- Sister Madly found herself uttering those fatal words: how hard can it be?
But what started as an evening full of Let’s Make Rabbit Stew! optimism quickly became a nightmare of hacking, sawing, and a few choice words for Posh British Lady on the Internet. It’s no wonder the butcher didn’t joint the creature- it’s virtually impossible. The state penitentiary should consider reinforcing their cells with rabbit bones- nothing short of the Holy Hand Gernade was going to cut through those suckers. It would have been easier to slaughter and joint her brother-in-law.*
* Not really. Well… no, not really.
Needless to say, Sister Madly’s stew appears to be less than traditional in its presentation- that is, not served on the bone. She says ‘appears’ because she has never been to Malta, thus cannot say for certain. No doubt this was merely an oversight on the part of the valiant Locksley, much like the way one forgets to pack a toothbrush.
* A special ‘Thank You’ to Locksley– even if you did forget to take her along. She’ll overlook it- this time.
MALTESE RABBIT STEW
- 1 Rabbit, jointed
- 1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6-8 sprigs of thyme
- 6 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp sumac
- 3-4 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 16-18 cippolini or pearl onions, peeled
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 10-12 baby potatoes, cubed
- 1 cup peas
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- oil, for sauteing
Marinate rabbit in garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 cup wine 1 hour to overnight
In dutch oven, brown rabbit on all sides; set aside (reserve marinade)
Saute chopped onion in oil; 5 min
Deglaze with 1 cup wine; 3-5 min
Add sumac and tomato paste, mix
Add carrots, potatoes, cippolini/pearl onions, mix
Add rabbit and marinade (including bay leaves, thyme and garlic)
Mix in stock and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours, or until meat is tender
Add peas and capers 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking
Remove bay leaves before serving
THEME SONG: White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
Mothers are strange creatures. They can be very contradictory in nature.
Take the Mater Madly: one Christmas, she gave a young Sister Madly a lovely box of crayons, then became most displeased when Sister Madly used those crayons to create a masterpiece worthy of Michelangelo* on the living room wall. Her mother displayed the same mystifying irrationality when Sister Madly, after receiving a stamp with her name on it, used said stamp all over her face.
* The Ninja Turtle, not the Artist.
Clearly Sister Madly didn’t know how to utilize the toys to her mother’s satisfaction. Hula Hoops routinely found themselves stuck up in trees, Frisbees spent weeks upon the roof, while the her dad’s cologne – which, apparently, wasn’t a toy at all – was often spotted consorting with the condiments in the refrigerator. The complexities of these toys bewildered Sister Madly so much that she would give up and wander into the woods, where she would be found playing with her growing collection of odd-looking rocks.*
* This shouldn’t have surprised her mother in the least, as ‘rock’ was Sister Madly’s first word- or so the story goes.
The final straw, no doubt, was the day Sister Madly was found living out an especially whimsical South Seas voyage in the toy box rather than with the toys kept inside of it. Her parents thought it best to procure some toys that would require Sister Madly to associate with other living beings- in this case, people- lest her isolated world became so extraordinary that she decided to dwell in it permanently.
That is when the dolls started appearing.
Now Sister Madly had nothing against dolls per se, other than the fact that all of her sweet, demented adventures would now be played out through the dolls when it should be through Sister Madly herself. They would be the ones uncovering sacred artifacts, they would be traveling in gypsy caravans, and they would be the ones exploring haunted houses on nonexistent planets accessed through secret panels located inside the bread box, while Sister Madly gets to sit there and watch. So unfair.
But that isn’t to say Sister Madly didn’t enjoy playing with the dolls; after all, she and Tallulah were typical little girls who did typical sibling things.
Take this storyline, for example (a popular one in the Madliverse) :
Aleister, who worked as an elevator attendant at a swanky resort, had one task and one task only: to retrieve the elevator whenever it went awry, as it habitually shot through the roof and landed somewhere down the beach. He was also hunted by the resort’s Head Chef, who used the Jacuzzi to make his culinary masterpieces and found the soupe du jour to be especially tasty after Aleister fell into said Jacuzzi (when one is returning an elevator to its proper place, one tends to walk blindly.)
Meanwhile, the entire town is haunted by a serial killer whose chosen M.O. includes a butcher’s knife. However, said Killer finds himself plagued with that pesky misfortune of being assigned a theme song at birth (‘The Pink Panther’ in this case) which starts to play whenever he raises his hand, thus alerting his potential victims to his presence. Due to his symphonic affliction, he is known as The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History, with a victim count currently in the negative.
These two worlds finally converged the day Aleister retrieved the elevator from the Waffle House (where it was found working as a line cook) when he encountered The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History. This startled Aleister so much that his legs broke off and ran away, which resulted in his arrest for indecency as his legs ran off with his pants.
Aleister’s coworker, Elliot, learned of his friend’s predicament when he encountered Aleister’s legs on the treadmill (they were training for an upcoming marathon.) Elliot, disguising himself as a Bean Sprout, broke into the jail and found a pair of diamond-studded swimming trunks (appraised at $4.2 million) in the Sergeant’s locker, which he gave to Aleister so he would not be arrested of indecency once again after escaping from jail. This theft, of course, made the Sergeant very cross…
The retrospect does not do it justice! It sounds so incredibly dull.
The bartender, however- having just overheard Sister Madly relate this story to the Professors- had but one nagging question:
“So, what was the soupe du jour?”
THAI CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
- 4-6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 1 large sweet potato, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 chili peppers, chopped and seeded ~ OR ~ cayenne pepper, to taste
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 14oz. can coconut milk
- 2-3 Tbsp red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
- salt to taste
Saute onion in ghee/oil until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, saute 1-2 min
Add curry paste, chilies, spices and bay leaf, cook for 30 sec
Add sweet potato, chicken, broth, fish sauce and coconut milk
Mix and bring to a boil
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 min
Uncover and shred chicken (in sauce) with 2 forks
Continue to simmer uncovered to reduce and thicken, 10-15 min
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat
THEME SONG: Your Favourite Toy, Michael Cretu
2.) Doll Created by Julien Martinez
Every Child is an Artist.
The Problem is
How to Remain an Artist ~
When we grow up.
~ Pablo Picasso
1.) “Autumn Rose (Self-Portrait)” Autumn de Forest, age 12
2.) “Sea Breeze” by Kieron Williamson, age 10
3.) “Eagle Nebula” by Aelita Andre, age 7
4.) Dusan Krtolica, age 11
5.) “Limit of the Apple” by Victoria Yin, age 12
The smile that greeted Sister Madly that December day of yesteryear was one she hoped to never see again, for it was the smile that always preceded something disagreeable. And clearly, this was going to be more disagreeable than simply hauling a wagon through the snow to deliver homemade bread to the neighbors.
But it ended up being much more ghastly than anything the 8 year-old could have imagined.
It was the Living Nativity.
What made this so disagreeable was that she was living in Michigan at the time- the ideal place to have an outdoor Nativity in the dead of winter; absolutely ideal.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Great Lakes Region in the middle of December, allow Sister Madly to provide you with a brief synopsis:
…as opposed to where she lives now:
It was after a proper period of sulking (and a lecture from her parents) that Sister Madly decided to see this unsolicited obligation as the opportunity to flaunt her most excellent theatrical abilities- after all, who knew what Hollywood guru would be in attendance that night? Her dread was further mollified by the news that she was not to be a shepherd boy as was first thought, but rather, a King.
But this was no ordinary Christmas Pageant: there were no lines, indeed no speaking of any kind, not even a song- which was most fortunate for those within earshot, as Sister Madly cannot carry a tune with a forklift.* In fact, there was nothing required of her but to stand perfectly still, and be completely silent. While this ventured dangerously close to mime territory, Sister Madly refused to cross that savage boundary and decided to convey kingly majesty through her presence alone, just as any brilliant thespian would.
* She is not licensed to drive a forklift, either.
So on the appointed evening, Sister Madly, along with her parents and Tallulah (all of whom were, no doubt, plotting to steal her spotlight) found themselves at the First Church of the Middle of Nowhere. There was no sign of the Hollywood Guru, but he most likely wanted to be inconspicuous and hid the Rolls Royce.
Now Sister Madly knew better than to expect Broadway quality costumes from a country church, but even her simple expectations proved to be too high. The King’s costume wasn’t so much pulled over her neon, insanely-puffy winter coat (which glowed sweetly beneath the blue fabric like a cartoon x-ray) as Sister Madly was stuffed inside of it. And she had to wear the puffy coat- not for any sensible reason, like the weather, but because it made the robe fit more snugly as the costume was meant for an adult, not an child.
A child… Sister Madly was seriously offended at being lumped into a demographic to which she actually belonged- an indignation that was further provoked when she was told that she would be standing on a milk crate because she was too short. Of all the nerve…
While the other Kings wore winter coats as well, they had nowhere near the puffability as her neon monstrosity. Sister Madly was almost perfectly round, and moved with all the grace and speed of an imbalanced washing machine. She looked less like a king and more like Violet the Blueberry in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
It was as terrifying as it was magnificent to behold.
But Sister Madly reminded herself that this wasn’t just a still-life production centered around the Baby Jesus- who was noticeably absent from the Manger- it was an epic tale about a Mysterious King of Orient-R. And Sister Madly, with her plastic jewelry and her arms sticking straight out at her sides, she was that King, chosen to bear the hallowed gift of Murder-
Myrrh? What in tarnation is myrrh?
“It’s a burial spice.”
…because the person’s been murdered?
“Because the person is dead.”
Where does murder fit in?
So no murder, then. Just gold and something called myrrh…
Wait- what about about Frankenstein? Sister Madly’s wrong about that too, isn’t she? It’s actually Frank-and-Beans?
“Frankincense. Also a spice.”
And just like that, a piece of her childhood slipped away. Gone, now, were the days of Gold, Frankenstein, and Murder; gone was the mysterious land of Orient-R. Sister Madly wasn’t a King, nor royalty of any sort; she was just an 8 year-old moppet in a puffy coat, standing on a milk crate in the midst of a Nativity that sadly lacked a Baby Jesus.
There had better be cocoa afterwards.
THEME SONG: King of Wishful Thinking, Go West
Sister Madly recently told a friend that when it comes to a Crazy Cat Lady, ‘crazy’ depicts the cat, not the lady.
She stands by this claim, by golly.
Now Sister Madly, herself, has 13 cats by proxy- 3 through the Professors, 2 via Tallulah, 1 outside the Pub, and 7 throughout the neighborhood. But this was not always the case; just a few years ago, Sister Madly had but 1: Tallulah’s cat, Caviar.
On the surface, Caviar is all fluff and cuddles, driven by a bloodlust for moths, canned peas, and pine needles, and is as much of a fan of hard cider as Sister Madly. Many a winter’s night he would curl up in her lap, licking cider off her fingers while Tallulah tutted her maternal disapproval, which was largely ignored. Indeed, Caviar was a lazy, languorous drunk.
But if one were to look straight into his soul: madness- sweet, cider-marinated madness. Yes, Sister Madly is proud of that little demon psychopath, having perfected the art of crazy with methods entirely of his own devising. It was most unfortunate that Caviar was not around during Sister Madly’s childhood to pass along some Tallulah-terrorizing tips, although her own signature move of sitting as close as possible to Tallulah- without actually touching- was a wicked success.
Unfortunately, Tallulah was not around for Caviar’s Masterpiece; no, she was out on something called a ‘date’ with someone called a ‘boyfriend’ due to this newfangled thing called ‘love’ the moment Sister Madly realized that half of her shoelace was missing. Had Tallulah mentioned that she would be away for most of the weekend (like a good elder sibling should) no doubt Caviar would have postponed his gastronomic escapade until she was all cozy at home in pink bunny slippers, painting her nails.
One would think that the rancid, I-hope-that-was-mud-I-just-stepped-in aftertaste that all shoelaces possess would have persuaded Caviar to abandon his hearty consumption, but being of the Madly mindset, he reasoned that there could be no funky aftertaste if he just kept on eating.* This resulted in an unhappy Caviar who spent the weekend deliberately making himself unsoft- thus no fun to pet- all the while giving Sister Madly the evil eye as though she had stuffed him full of shoelaces like a turkey on Thanksgiving.
* Hearty shoelace consumption causes tummy-aches. For your FYI.
Once Caviar grew tired of that shoelace mucking up his system, he decided to rid himself of it in the most natural way possible- and by that, Sister Madly means the way that Mother Nature had designed.
This turned out to be rather unpleasant for all parties involved.
You see, the shoelace that is ingested whole is returned whole; it does not magically separate inside a cat’s tummy, nor does it disintegrate (as Sister Madly was hoping it would.) Thus the feline that consumes 20 inches of shoelace returns 20″ of shoelace.
Unfortunately, Caviar could only manage 18” on the return, which immediately sent him into a Prima Donna’s tantrum, hissing and caterwauling about the apartment willy-nilly. Sister Madly tried to reason with him, explaining that while his situation was not ideal, it was impossible to run away from the shoelace while the shoelace was still a part of him. She likened it to the few times he had tried chasing his tail, but Caviar was having none of it. Cat logic, you see, holds no respect for the reasoning of mankind.
Now the one thing Sister Madly was told was that under no circumstance should she pull the shoelace out, as it could harm the pathetic little creature. Not that she had any desire to do so; the shoelace made him look like a pull-string doll, and she wasn’t too keen on finding out what Caviar would say if she gave it a tug. She had seen the Talky Tina Twilight Zone episode and had learned a thing or two.
But what’s more is that, thanks to Mother Nature, the returning shoelace was not a clean shoelace, not by any stretch of the imagination. This presented a whole new set of problems as the apartment was rapidly become unsanitary; and as ignoring the problem wasn’t making it go away (oh, how she tried!) Sister Madly- accompanied by Dean Martin’s That’s Amore– spent upwards of 10 minutes chasing Caviar around with a towel, hoping to somehow herd him into the bathroom where he could work out his issues like an adult.
But it was not necessary; throwing the towel over Caviar resulted in a spastic, get-this-neon-terrycloth-horror-off-of-me ritual exorcism, which was enough to free him from the shoelace as well.
Five minutes later, he came begging for cider.
* To those with the horribly twisted minds that Sister Madly so admires, no- the shoelace was not reusable.
THEME SONG: That’s Amore, Dean Martin