Mornings are not always sunshine and good cheer; in fact, they can be downright sadistic. Take last week, for instance: upon fighting the blankets with her usual morning petulance, Sister Madly was assaulted by the blinding flash of a Near Death Experience.
That’s right: she punched herself in the eye.
It is only natural that, in the few moments following a Near Death Experience, one considers the life choices that eventually led to this moment. Sister Madly can’t say that her 5-Year Plan had been ambitious, but it was adequate:
Now that she had been given a second chance in life, Sister Madly was left with a newfound sense of purpose; having long-since accomplished nothing on the above list, she decided it was time to fully embrace the dream of And-Then-They’ll-All-Be-Sorry by playing the role of a mature, responsible adult.
Not that she knows how to be an Adult, let alone a responsible one; as for maturity- face it, there are cheeses more mature than Sister Madly. But ‘fake it until you make it,’ as they say, and Sister Madly started by faking her way to the market; all she found in her pantry that morning was a jar of capers and a sweet potato growing tentacles- epic tentacles. After all, Adults don’t let their cupboards go bare, lest they come down with a mean case of the grumpies.
But once at the market, Sister Madly found no shopping baskets, no carts, not even one of those motorized scooters she has no business using- nothing, but this seething, diabolical dirigible:
The idea of using this apparatus without a flock of squawking children was out of the question. As a single individual well-over the tender age of 25, Sister Madly’s only choice was to purchase whatever she could fit in her arms and forego the rest. But as her pocket-sized physique can carry only so much, it meant either foregoing cleaning supplies, or food.
Her natural inclination was to forego the cleaning; her apartment is tiny- it’s about 80% bed, which means only 20% biohazard. That’s a ratio she can live with. Besides, Sister Madly can’t spend another night with the Tentacled Potato in her pantry; she’s pretty certain it plans to murder her in her sleep, and Adults don’t like to be murdered.
Then again, how do you plan on ridding yourself of the Potato, Sister Madly? If you eat it- thus risking turning into a mutant- you will need food in the morning; but if you throw it away- thus splitting the Earth in two- you will need cleaning supplies. No doubt it’s gooey inside of the Earth.
There is no way around it: all of your groceries are essential.
So Sister Madly tossed aside the threadbare remains of her self-respect, embraced this thing called Adulthood, and with the Despicable Dirigible promptly plowed into a massive display of Cadbury Eggs.
And nearby, a child started to cry.
Sister Madly will be sleeping in the sock drawer tonight. She suddenly finds herself with a mean case of the grumpies.
* Good news: Annie’s Mac & Cheese is 10 for $10 with your shopper’s card! You’ll find the deal scattered along the entire length of aisle 7.
ISLAND PULLED CHICKEN
6-8 boneless chicken thighs, whole
2 sweet onions, sliced
2 TBSP Ginger, minced
1 TBSP Garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
2 star anise
1½ chicken broth
¼ cup oil, or as needed
1 cup guava jam (used Mango, Guava, Passion Fruit Preserves)
6 TBSP pineapple, crushed
2 TBSP ginger
4 TBSP Worcestershire
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 tsp gochujang/other chili sauce, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1 TBSP lime juice, or to taste
TO MAKE CHICKEN
Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Add ginger and garlic; stir to coat; 2 min
Mix in spices, broth, and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in pan
TO MAKE SAUCE
Mix together sauce ingredients EXCEPT lime juice
Add sauce to chicken; mix
Simmer to reduce and thicken; 10-15 min
Add lime juice; stir and remove from heat
THEME SONG: When I Grow Up, Garbage
You will never be Happy
If you Continue to Search
For what Happiness Consists of.
You will never Live
If You are Looking for
The Meaning of Life.
~ Albert Camus
2) Patrick Hübscher
May Not Be Consistent
3) tara mckinney
Don’t set your wit against a child. ~ Jonathan Swift
There was a time when Sister Madly was convinced that people ceased to exist when she was not with them. It was not that they simply disappeared to some mystery kingdom – a nightmare that plagues children from time to time – but that they were plunged into a vortex of suspended animation. Nothing existed nor came to pass unless she was near; nothing really mattered unless she decided that it mattered. The progression of life itself depended entirely upon her presence.*
* Sister Madly should probably mention that she hasn’t believed this for a long time now- that is, for weeks. She is an adult, after all.
While not everyone was familiar with the Laws of Suspended Animation, every child was familiar with the never-ending appetite of the Dark. It’s well-known that when one turns off the light in a basement, one has only 10 seconds to make it up the stairs- otherwise, the Dark will devour you. Losing children to the Dark is unfortunate, that much is true; but those children could be easily replaced. However, the same could not be said about Sister Madly. She had a responsibility to the human race: they only exist if she exits, and if the Dark wins, it would mean the end of all mankind. Sister Madly was well-aware that she was placing humanity in danger every time she ventured downstairs.
It was during one of these expeditions to the basement that a 6-year-old Sister Madly came across a sheer, red and black babydoll tucked away in a shoe box. She had never seen anyone in her family wear this strange nightie before- besides, who would want to? It was see-through, which meant it would be plenty chilly in the winter, and there didn’t seem to be any pants! No outfit is complete without pants. Pajamas are meant to be sensible and comfy, like the footed-sleeper that Sister Madly wore every night, zipped up tightly under her chin.
The logical conclusion was that some wayward sleepwalker managed to defy the Laws of Suspended Animation, break into her basement, and was immediately devoured by the Dark. Her parents then tried to cover this up by hiding the evidence in a shoebox. Judging by the size of the strange nightie- which, of course, was meant to be ankle-length- that someone had been a munchkin.
Sister Madly made it up the stairs in record time that night.
The awful truth about the babydoll was revealed some years later, when her mother cheerfully confessed that the lingerie was hers and had been worn only once- however briefly- on a night that resulted in Sister Madly.*
* No doubt this lingerie was set aside in order to remind her mother not to do the things that eventually resulted in the aforementioned Sister Madly. The world doesn’t need any more of those.
Sister Madly found this absolutely horrifying. Her mother, in this see-through, no-pants nightie, did some sort of ritualistic dance which summoned the Stork to drop Sister Madly on her doorstep!
You know what that means, don’t you? It means that it doesn’t matter if Sister Madly makes it up the stairs in under 10 seconds; it doesn’t matter if she is devoured by the Dark. The human race existed- even thrived- before she was born! And if it did so before she existed, it certainly will do so after.
But that was nothing compared to the utter horror of discovering what that ritualistic, Stork-summoning dance turned out to be.
JAMAICAN BEEF PATTIES
- oil, for sautéing
- 2 garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 chili, seeded & chopped (opt)
- 1 lb minced beef
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- salt/pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- shredded cheese (opt; not traditional, but… cheese)
Sauté onion until translucent; 5 min
Add garlic and pepper (if using) sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; mix until fragrant; 1 min
Add beef; sauté until cooked through
Add broth; simmer until evaporated
Preheat the oven to 400*
Roll out pastry sheets; cut into squares/rounds
Add filling to pastry
Top filling with cheese (if using)
Fold pastry over filling; seal edges
Brush with egg wash; bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden
THEME SONG: Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
We are not the Same Persons
This Year as Last,
Nor are those we Love.
It is a Happy Chance if we,
Continue to Love
A Changed Person.
~ W. Somerset Maugham
Images by Bobby Neel Adams
I can’t make the hills
The system is shot
I’m living on pills
For which I thank G-d
I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart
I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night penciled in
My animal howls
My angel’s upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret
For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers
She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between
For less than a second
Our lives will collide
The endless suspended
The door open wide
Then she will be born
To someone like you
What no one has done
She’ll continue to do
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book
~ Leonard Cohen
We are so Lightly Here.
It is in Love
That We are Made ~
~ Leonard Cohen
An Invisible Red Thread
Who are Destined to Meet
Regardless the Time, the Place
Regardless the Circumstance
The Thread may Stretch or Tangle
But it will never Break.
~ Ancient Chinese Proverb
1.) Salfi Farooq
Love doesn’t Make
The World Go ’round ~
Love is what Makes
The Ride Worthwhile.
~ Franklin P. Jones
1.) Michael Kiev
3.) Michael Kiev
Is not to Seek Love,
But to Face the Barriers
You have Built
~ Rumi (paraphrased)
2.) Gerald Robinson Photography
3.) Brian Stevens
People would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys ~ Terry Pratchett
The last time Sister Madly went on the prowl was at the Renaissance Faire some years ago. The outcome was less than favorable.
Perhaps unwisely, Sister Madly found herself Romancing the Stone, a quest where one picks a numbered stone from a basket with the goal of finding the individual with the corresponding number from another basket. It is the one weekend at the Faire where the wandering minstrels are drowned out by the sounds of a medieval-love bingo game. Yet despite the pretext of feral romance, this venture was not without risks; she was just as likely to end up with a starry-eyed inamorato as she would this salty gentleman:
Or this one:
Yes, even this:
As you can see, the risk was hardly minimal.
But the quest took a dark turn a few hours later when Sister Madly, who had been sharing a pint with the Scotts of Clan Picnic Blanket, noticed that her Stone was missing.
But even more mystifying was how long it took for her to realized that Dum Dums had been left in its place.
Seriously? Sister Madly’s future happiness is to be at the mercy of a corpse-bird in a black negligee? That’s as safe as an ejection seat in a helicopter! The Dodo was an absolute philistine when it came to all-things whimsical; the only reason he would carry a heart-shaped rock was if he was attending a stoning in the square.
Nevertheless, one can’t discredit a fact just because one doesn’t like the reality of it- and judging by the adolescent snickering across the way, Clan Picnic Blanket was a party to this latest bit of skullduggery.
You know, Snickering Scotts, you could have said something when you saw someone pilfering her Stone- you know the Dodo’s fondness for Sock Trafficking; now he’s going to sell her Stone to some little love tart and leave Sister Madly to die an old maid! She might as well go home right now and start collecting kittens.
Then again, how did you not notice the theft, Sister Madly? The patterns in the picnic table were not so interesting to have missed the Big Bird of Creepiness looming over your shoulder. A creature like that should have stuck out like a cactus in a pancake.
While the Scotts freely admitted their part in the theft, they insisted that they were doing her a favor: they didn’t give her Stone to the Dodo to guarantee her spinsterhood, but to secure her a soul mate. Sure, the Dodo had his faults- an unsunny disposition, looks that were in league against him, not to mention that whole ‘plague’ thing- but at least Sister Madly knew what she would be getting herself into, unlike most blind dates. She could still look for the original suitor if she wished, but should she find that suitor, well, unsuitable, she had a backup- how many people can say as much? Just write that number on some random rock, and make all your soul mate dreams come true!
Besides- had she seen the other wandering romantics?
You know, Scott, if Sister Madly had a chalupa, she would so throw it at you right now! She doesn’t take kindly to people who steal her rocks- her vegetables, yes, but not her rocks. And isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?
“Romance isn’t meant to be easy, Sister Madly. Besides, it’s the Dark Ages- you take what you can get!”
No doubt this was intended to console her, as condescending arrogance is wont to do; unfortunately, all Sister Madly heard was a dare…
Yes, the Dark Ages- what a time to be alive!
TOM KHA GAI
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2” ginger, minced
- 2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 Tbsp green curry paste
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- (2) 14 oz. cans coconut milk
- 3-4 cups broth
- 1/4 cup Thai basil, chopped
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
- Ghee/Oil, for sauteing
Saute onion in a stockpot until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, ginger, and mushrooms; saute, 3-5 min
Add curry paste; mix
Add chicken; stir to coat
Mix in coconut milk, broth, chilies, and fish sauce; bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked; approx 30 min
Mix in lime juice and basil; remove from heat
THEME SONG: Made of Stone, The Stone Roses
Is the Evidence of Life ~
If your Life
Is Burning Well,
Is just the Ash.
~ Leonard Cohen
3.) Lucinda Walter Photography
Love is not a Victory March
It’s a Cold and it’s a Broken Hallelujah
~ Leonard Cohen (21 Sept 1934 ~ 7 Nov 2016)
Performed by Petr Spatina ~ Prague, Czech Republic
There are all Kinds
In this World ~
The Same Love Twice.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
And the day came
When the risk to remain
Tight in a bud
Was more painful
Than the risk it took
~ Anais Nin
The Queen of the Night (Night Blooming Cereus Cactus) blooms only one Midsummer’s night a year. The flower takes around 2 hours to blossom, during which it emits a sweet, calming fragrance to the surrounding area. Not long after reaching full bloom does the flower begins to wilt, and has withered by dawn.
Imagine, if you will, the utter joy of waking up one morning to find that a White Castle Sign had blossomed in front of your house overnight.
It almost happened, you know.
Every now and then, Sister Madly has a birthday; and while some pass quietly into the void, others arrive at the insistence of certain friends and family members who wish to observe the day in the most average way possible, such as the time her Ex surprised her by taking her to the skeletal remains of the last White Castle in the state.*
Oh, how you spoil her!
*18th birthday. Possibly even 19th. But definitely not 20.
Surely here was a place of romance, with its crack pipes and graffitied walls; no doubt many a young couple met fate here in the form of the Zodiac Killer. A leisurely walk through the overgrown parking lot proved to be the highlight of the evening as it led them to where the White Castle Sign lay broken and abandoned amidst the prairie grass.
“And that, Sister Madly, is for you!”
This her Ex said proudly, as though he, himself, had hunted down the elusive White Castle Sign while on safari. Yes, this dedicated young man whom Sister Madly was dating, who stood victorious over that shattered carcass, was nothing more than a Big Game Fast Food poacher at heart.
“The Sign is your present! Happy Birthday!”
Surely her parents would find no fault with this! They were rational individuals after all, of logic and sound mind; that’s why the gargoyle was banished from the house.
See, this was not the first such gift from her Ex. Over Christmas, he presented her with a dismal little gargoyle, the sight of which brought about a fit of laughter from her mother upon encountering it the following morning. Things took a dark turn, however, when her mother decided that the little beast was straight from the devil- things had a habit of becoming evil once her mother had time to think it over. Oh, but Sister Madly could keep the gargoyle- she just couldn’t keep it in the house.
So the winged Yoda was banished to the outdoors, where he would reside under the porch (thus meeting her mother’s ‘out of sight’ requirement) for the next several years.*
*The gargoyle would make a lovely comeback later in life, in which he would be painted gold and used as a trophy for a Murder Mystery in a Box Game.
Her Ex sincerely apologized for having to bring Sister Madly to the White Castle Sign, instead of surprising her with it when he picked her up earlier that evening. In fact, the only reason her Ex did not bring the gift over to her house was that he could not come up with the means to transport such a large Sign at short notice.
But what was more important to her Ex than the gifts themselves was the method with which they were obtained; he believed that the story and heroics therein made the gift all the more valuable. His original intention was to steal a gargoyle, but the gardens around town were mostly populated with gnomes and those critters scared him silly; now he was stealing for her a White Castle Sign.* Her Ex was certainly generous with things that did not belong to him.
*Sister Madly is aware that pointing to an object and declaring ‘Mine!’ isn’t technically stealing, not until said object is illegally removed. She does some understanding of the law.
Now Sister Madly doesn’t mean to sound ungrateful- make no mistake, somewhere deep inside that psychotic little snickerdoodle was a sense of wonder at these shameless attempts of deluded grandeur. She sees no harm in re-gifting a present if you believe someone would truly enjoy the gift, but one does not typically re-gift someone else’s property.
But more importantly-
WHY WOULD SISTER MADLY WANT A WHITE CASTLE SIGN?!?!
“Because you like Medieval things.”
Okay… Sister Madly understands that Medieval history is not everyone’s pint of cider, thus not everyone is attuned to the finer nuances of the Era. However, just as one can’t put wings on Yoda and call him demonic, one can’t write the word ‘castle’ on a post-it note and call it Medieval poetry!
Yet, he was so proud…
And so Sister Madly declined the gift, saying there was no place at the house to put the Sign and her parents would outright murder her if she tried. But she did promise to visit the Sign whenever she got the chance, perhaps even pack it a lovely picnic lunch of Pop Rocks and Pixy Sticks.*
*About 3 weeks later, her Ex informed her that someone had removed her White Castle Sign, which “wouldn’t have happened if you had taken it home.”
Amazingly, this relationship did not work out.
Ring the Bells
That still can Ring
Your Perfect Offering
There is Crack
The Light gets In.
~ Leonard Cohen
‘Kintsugi’ is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold to create an imperfect piece of beauty, thus repairing the breakage as part of its history rather than something to disguise.
~ Sculpture “Expansion” by Paige Bradley
It happens to the best of us, that close call of almost having to marry your sister.
It’s the same old story: one minute, you’re sitting at your favorite pub with a few pints of cider, then the next your elder sister is sitting across from you, asking if you’d be willing to take the place of the man who was suppose to marry her in 10 days. He flaked out, you see. How typical.
It’s the classic American love story.
The conversation didn’t begin that way; in fact, they were discussing the wedding cake that Tallulah had picked out. Sister Madly implored her to do away with the
yucky questionable fruit filling, which is an atrocity meant for things like food fights and PB & Jam sandwiches, not heavenly, life-altering cake. Not if you want your friends to actually like you. Seriously, toothpaste or kibble would be a far more user friendly filling.
It was then that Tallulah broke the news of He-Who-Flaked-Out-of-the-Wedding, that she just might need Sister Madly to take his place, which left Sister Madly gaping like a large-mouth bass (albeit, a fetching one.) She should have seen this coming. A few weeks after her engagement, Tallulah had warned that this might be a possibility; but that was over 14 months ago, when Sister Madly had ample time to prepare by drinking constantly. Or joining a circus. Or being institutionalized. Or at least by brushing her hair.
Yet like any decent elder sibling, Tallulah understood her apprehension, saying that if Sister Madly had any better suggestions, she was more than willing to consider them.
Oh, but Sister Madly had suggestions, and plenty of them; yet Tallulah managed to find fault with them all- even with the one that was so logical and so horribly practical, it was clearly above reproach:
Summon Cthulhu, you say? Sure, Sister Madly, that’s a plan- not a good one, but a plan.
But summoning Cthulhu takes a bit of time; there’s chanting and worship and travel and finding about 3000 expendable souls for him to snack on along the way. It would do no good to have him feasting on all the wedding guests in the middle of Tallulah’s vows. That’s bound to ruin a couple of friendships.
But much like Cthulhu, Sister Madly doesn’t just marry a desperate soul on a whim. There needs to be a sit-down where the ceremony is planned out and vows are discussed- and let’s not forget that whole fruit filling issue, although Tallulah seemed to hint that she would be willing to change said filling to a glorious chocolate bliss if Sister Madly would only do her this favor.*
* Turns out, Tallulah never hinted any such a thing. That was the cider talking.
Seeing as her options were becoming all-the-more limited, Sister Madly decided to utilize the barter system- Tallulah was, after all, family.
Will you play Safety Dance at the reception?
How about Dancing with Myself?
I’ll think about it.
How about the bagpipes at dusk?
You hate Twister.
How about Safety Dance during-
THERE WILL BE NO SAFETY DANCE!!!
Will you hire someone to pose as Slender Man in the photos?
Ha Ha Ha Ha! (For those of you who unfamiliar with Tallulah-speak, that is a ‘no.’)
Will you at least pick up the tab tonight?
I suppose I can do that.
When one considers how much cider Sister Madly consumed not only before, but after that initial proposal, the joke was on Tallulah.
As it turned out, Sister Madly did not have to marry her own sister 10 days later; Tallulah, you see- the ever intrepid, down-to-earth Tallulah- found someone else to officiate the wedding, relieving the panicky Sister Madly of the duty of performing the ceremony for her sister and brother-in-law.
Sister Madly still doesn’t understand why Tallulah objected to Cthulhu, as he is the High Priest of the Great Old Ones. Clergy officiate weddings all the time.
For those uncertain: Sister Madly was asked to officiate (perform) the wedding ceremony for Tallulah and the now Mr. Tallulah. While Sister Madly loves her sister, she herself isn’t quite ready for marriage.