Since she was a wee little Moppet, Sister Madly never questioned her existence. In fact, she never even considered how she arrived on this planet until one afternoon at the Museum, when she encountered the Exhibit that depicted fetal development from fertilization to full-term.
What the Exhibit (or her parents, for that matter) didn’t explain was how the baby got there- and Sister Madly didn’t wonder. She cheerfully assumed it spontaneously* happened now and then after one got married… marriage being the catalyst, of course.
* Like hair loss, or human combustion- you know, the usual pickles one encounters in adulthood.
In fact, Sister Madly continued to not wonder until the day she watched a TV movie down in the basement with her childhood friend, Serafina.
With the innate knowledge that Hollywood was most accurate in its depiction of reality, Sister Madly was more than willing to accept that it wasn’t marriage that caused pregnancy. Apparently, it was the result of a boy and a girl sharing a bed, which leads to some uncontrollable yet creative gymnastics, which was clearly the process of a baby spontaneously being made- and quite frankly, Sister Madly thought it looked most unpleasant.*
* Although not as unpleasant as, say, a salad.
This confidence lasted until the day Serafina turned up with a book found in her sister’s room, which explained the Science behind creating children- that is to say, the steps that lead up to fertilization, which the Museum Exhibit had omitted. This newfound knowledge, however, was not accompanied by the expected horror that her own parents suffered* through this ordeal when creating Sister Madly; instead, she and Serafina went next door next to pester the neighbor for some jellybeans.
* The wee little Moppet did not read as far as the pleasure aspect of the activity, as she bored quickly in those days.
Since sharing a bed leads to the uncontrollable urge to engage in the Science of Making a Baby, Sister Madly wasn’t too worried about being saddled with a baby at the tender age of 8ish, as she likes the bed to herself and tends to shove out anyone who tries to share it- usually with ice-cold feet. Wearing socks to bed is just weird.
But even this was short-lived, as Sister Madly & Co. happened to overhear Serafina’s mother talking to Serafina’s older sister, who was about to go on her first date. The Mother was giving the Serafina Sibling a pep talk on how to resist engaging in the Science of Making a Baby,* which the Serafina Sibling seemed to “already knooooooooow, Mom…” and please, give her some credit.
* Apparently, it was not sharing a bed that caused this uncontrollable urge, but when a boy and a girl came within close proximity to each other, which undoubtedly would cause many problems during the local Hide-and-Seek Marathon the neighborhood kids play on Saturday afternoons.
But as they listened in on the motherly lecture, it became clear that this impulse would only arise during a date, which was a such a relief; as long as no one called the Hide-and-Seek Marathon a ‘date,’ there would be no sudden urge to create babies. Sister Madly made a note to address this topic ahead of next Saturday afternoon.
It’s frightening, really, the depths of her genius…
PULLED CHICKEN PROVENCAL
- 2 onions, sliced
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 1½ – 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tsp herbs de Provence
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp basil
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- ¼ tsp chipotle pepper
- Butter/oil, for sautéing
Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 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 sauce
Simmer to reduce liquid (if needed)
THEME SONG: Kiss Me Deadly, Lita Ford
On her way to Tallulah’s Olde Peculiar- a Marketplace where she is a Vendor– a rather chipper Sister Madly passed by Pompous Name Laboratory, which proudly displayed a banner that not only announced their Grand Opening, but invited the public to ‘Come in and say Hi!’
Do tell, Pompous Name Laboratory: why does Sister Madly have to make the first move? Why don’t you come out and say ‘Hi’ to her? Friends just don’t make themselves, you know.
Now you may think that Sister Madly is being tiresome, but rest assured, her skepticism is warranted. Businesses that invite her in to say ‘Hi’ always seem to have ulterior motives: Car Dealerships hopes the ever-so-seductive dance of the inflatable man-thing will convince her to buy a Pinto, while Credit Unions tempt her with promises of coffee mugs and folding camping chairs in the hopes of opening an account.
So naturally Sister Madly was curious as to why a Laboratory would want her to drop in for a little new-to-the-neighborhood tête-à-tête. Is there a shortage of Lab Rats? Do they need someone to ‘drink this solution’ or ‘press this button?’ Is it National Adopt-a- Pathogen Month? Or do they simply wish to showcase a happy and healthy strain of Free-Range E.coli?
Nevertheless, there is the possibility- however remote- that the Science-y People of Pompous Name Laboratory are simply lonely, as is the norm for those who choose to work in Labs. And while Science-y People are making terrific discoveries for which they should be applauded- such as finding cures for disease and creating new dyes to make red M&M’s edible again- being around smoking beakers and big Latin words all day is bound to render one more and more out of touch with reality.*
* At least with Sister Madly’s reality.
The fact that Sister Madly was even contemplating speaking to a Science-y Stranger- and of her own volition, no less- shows how much she’s progressed in venturing beyond her most excellent anti-social skills. True, she doesn’t speak science,* but this language barrier can be balanced with a good first impression, which includes poise, a toothy smile, and covered in someone else’s blood.
* She also doesn’t speak accounting, Trekkie, or bird.
Unfortunately, Sister Madly’s Travel Companion did not want to pop into the Laboratory and say ‘Hi,’ and most certainly did NOT want to represent ‘someone else’s blood’- which is totally unfair, because why else would Sister Madly have a Travel Companion? Without a good first impression, Sister Madly will have to resort to sign language and smoke signals, which will be misinterpreted as a biological warfare, cause widespread panic, burn down the Lab, and send her fleeing into the streets, shouting, “The lab coats are coming, the lab coats are coming!” before ultimately finding herself strumming her lips in a padded cell.
Perhaps she’ll send them fruit basket instead.
HARISSA CHICKEN WINGS
- 2-3lbs wings
- 1 TBSP harissa sauce
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- oil, as needed
- ½ cup harissa sauce
- ¼ cup honey, or to taste
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- salt/pepper, to taste
Mix together marinade ingredients
Add chicken; mix to coat
Cover; refrigerate for 30min-24hrs
Add sauce ingredients to pan; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until thickened
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake 30 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with sauce
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining sauce straight from oven
THEME SONG: The Lunatics, The Specials and Fun Boy Three
We are so Lightly Here.
It is in Love
That We are Made ~
~ Leonard Cohen
I Often Think the Night
Is More Alive
And More Richly Colored
Than the Day.
~ Vincent Van Gogh
All Images: NASA
There are Two Ways
To Live your Life:
One is as Though
Nothing is a Miracle.
The Other is as Though
Everything is a Miracle.
~ Albert Einstein
All Images: NASA
She thought she was safe that night, when she slipped past a group of protesters into the pub. However, it was here where the real danger was percolating: once again, Sister Madly found herself facing the Happy Phlebotomist.
Through no fault of her own, Sister Madly found out that much has happened in the life of this cheerful mosquito since their last encounter, including co-authoring a vegan cookbook (which, incidentally, no one has ever seen) as well as making a batch of vintage wine- which should be ready “by the end of the year.”
Sister Madly, however, maintained a healthy level of skepticism. One just can’t call it a ‘vintage’ wine if it hasn’t been made yet; that’s like calling milk ‘butter’ when it’s still inside the cow. Life just doesn’t work that way, no matter how much one prays.
But the Happy Phlebotomist was quick to point out that wine-making was merely his passion, perhaps something for retirement. In the mean time, he gets by through a lovely regime of Spinning, Zumba, and Hot Yoga, through promoting a line of ‘natural’ supplements, and through phlebotomizing unsuspecting souls.
Now don‘t get her wrong- Sister Madly has nothing against a vegan lifestyle, nor the Spinning/Zumba/Hot Yoga Combo Plate that the Happy Phlebotomist now champions; it’s just that Sister Madly finds no joy in feasting on topsoil or twisting herself into a well-cooked pretzel. Still, she has a hard time believing that anyone who habitually depletes the human race of life-sustaining fluids for a living is as humane as his routine leads one to believe.
As for the vitamin supplements, one has to be cautious around these products- after all, most of them are not FDA approved, unlike American Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food, which is.
But that didn’t stop the Happy Phlebotomist, who achieved a freakish level of joy when he discussed the many uses of Colloidal Silver- surely even you, Sister Madly, would benefit from this miracle ‘cure-all.’
Sister Madly has to admit that she is not the spring chicken she was last week- why, just the other day, she managed to turn basic strength-training into a most spectacular pageant of twists, flails, and fancy footwork that any respectable jitterbug would envy, and has walked like a hunchback ever since. She also has a fair amount of illogical allergies, becomes exceedingly deranged when life withholds from her a decent amount of sleep, and when it comes to medieval weaponry, Sister Madly has all the self-control of a starving vulture over a zebra carcass.
But while Sister Madly loves to wear silver, she admits that her enthusiasm stops short of drinking it.
“There are some who swear by it.”
Some may swear by it, Jolly Ol’ Blood Extractor, but Sister Madly is more curious about those who don’t. She wants to know what, exactly, she is getting into before she starts melting down her jewelry for breakfast.
Oh, there was a reason, all right, but he was suspiciously evasive about it: any natural remedy has its risks if not used properly, he said, such as stomach upset, headaches, or rendering certain medications ineffective…
“…and then there some people who have been known to turn blue – permanently – but I don’t think it’s something you need to worry about.”
Hold it right there, Chipper: you are trying to pitch Sister Madly a miracle supplement whose potential side-effects include turning into a Smurf, and you don’t think that is something she should worry about?*
* A condition known as argyria, caused by prolonged exposure to chemical forms of silver, resulting in a blue or gray discoloration of the skin.
In an effort to reassure her, the Happy Phlebotomist explained that one could reduce the risk of this Technicolor discoloration by becoming nocturnal, as exposure to sunlight increases it. His pathological good cheer quickly escalated to psychotic levels when he realized all the delightful possibilities of promoting a substance that has adverse effects when exposed to the sun, such as creating a package deal consisting of Colloidal Silver and Vitamin D- the latter of which would be lacking in an individual avoiding the sun.
Yes, somewhere there is a world where that idea will work…
To tell you the truth, Sister Madly spends precious little time contemplating what life would be like if she were blue, but even then it didn‘t take her long to reach the conclusion that, if she woke up one morning the color of her recycling bin, she was be apocalyptically cross about it.
Then again, there is something appealing about having a choice of what color one turns after prolonged exposure to the sun. Mother Nature can be so thoughtful, the dear.
In the meantime, Sister Madly will be implementing her own health regimen by routinely disinfecting her insides through pints of lovely, local ciders.
THEME SONG: Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington
There comes a time in every child’s life where one must face that dreaded rite of passage: the ambiguous ‘science project.’
If Sister Madly had known all the loopholes, such as time machine = clock, or better yet, cooking = chemistry, she would have had her mother bake a couple dozen cookies and be done with it. With little hesitation, both parents deemed proving the existence of unicorns impractical to the scientific community, yet supported her decision to dismember her sibling and replace the limbs with butterfly wings so long as Sister Madly was willing to clean up afterwards (which she wasn’t.) In the end, Sister Madly chose an experiment out of some How to Scientifically Take Over the World book that she once found wrapped up under a Christmas tree.
And that experiment was to bleach a rose. With sulfur.*
* The book mysteriously disappeared after the completion of this science project.
There was some concern about this project from the onset, in particular the obtaining of the roses. After all, Sister Madly knew just how expensive these flowers could be (He got you a dozen roses?! It MUST be love!) which was why they were so treasured. Growing the roses herself was simply out of the question- to this day, plants refuse to photosynthesize in her presence. She decided that her parents’ budget would allow for 3 roses: a practice run, the actual project, and one unbleached rose to compare. She wouldn’t need more than that because science projects always turn out perfectly the first time around- especially when it involves an 8 year-old playing with fire.
Her parents, however, had a slightly different- and, in Sister Madly’s opinion, utterly preposterous- concern: where, dear child, are you going to get the sulfur?
Contrary to popular belief, one does not just pop off to Sulfur Express to get this element, nor does the average citizen keep a stockpile in the garage next to the Harley. And while certain religious texts believe sulfur* to be an important ingredient in the Lake of Fire, neither her parents nor the school board approved of the lengthy, transcendental holiday it would take to obtain the sulfur, much less the destination. Her school wasn’t very Hell-friendly.
* Brimstone = Sulfur
Then again, she once heard that onions contain sulfur, thus saw no reason why setting fire to an onion would not produce the desired effect. Her parents did not agree.
It was her science teacher, through a connection at the local college, who later obtained the sulfur. As Sister Madly now had all the components, she was quite ready to bleach the rose and successfully take over the world.
However: Rose + Chemical + Fire = Father doing the project while Sister Madly watches.
With her father at the reigns, the project went off without a hitch (although it took a total of 5 roses.) But it wasn’t enough for Sister Madly to walk into school the next day and announce that the experiment had been a success; no, not only was she required to turn in the completed project, she was to present it to the class.
What do you mean that Sister Madly has to understand and explain the science behind this project? Isn’t the fact that a rose transformed from red to white in the seclusion of her own backyard with absolutely no witnesses cool enough on its own? The How to Scientifically Take Over the World book didn’t explain how this experiment worked, only that it does work and quite frankly, that’s good enough for her.
Mind you, when all this occurred, the average family was still several years away from regular internet access. Sister Madly didn’t know any pro-science adults who could explain to her the sulfur phenomenon (she wasn’t very social) and didn’t know where to begin researching it in the library (not that she had any desire to do so.) Faced with these impossible options, Sister Madly decided that it was necessary to bluff her way through, figuring that if she threw enough scientific-sounding words around, she would pass.
And bluff she did, attributing the bleaching phenomenon to static electricity: when exposed to fire in an enclosed area, the sulfur produces an electrical charge which causes its particles to cling to the rose, thus turning it white.
It is not known whether the teacher bought this snake oil sales pitch, or whether he simply admired her audacity, but that day Sister Madly adjourned for recess with not only with a passing grade, but the confidence that school was a waste of time as her science teacher was no more wiser than she.
20+ years later, Sister Madly finally knows the science behind this experiment.* It hasn’t enhanced her life in the slightest.
* When sulfur burns it produces sulfur dioxide- which acts as a bleaching agent- reducing the pigments, thus turning the rose white. Re-oxidizing the reduced pigments restores the color, which can be as simple by exposing the reduced dyes to the oxygen in the atmosphere.