A Second Spring
When every Leaf
Is a Flower.
~ Albert Camus
Morning, Mr. Magpie…
Sister Madly first learned this of custom from the Professor after listening to his lengthy and completely unsolicited dissertation on superstitions. He was saluting a tree- or so she thought- which is not entirely odd in itself; Sister Madly herself has been known to talk to strange things, such as people.
As it turned out, the Professor was not saluting the tree, but a creature he called a Magpie. Sister Madly had to admit that she didn’t know what a Magpie looked like, but if she were to speculate, she would assume this:
Turns out, they look like this:
The Professor told her that it was unlucky not to salute the first Magpie of the day, which was a bizarre ritual for him to adopt; he was a scientific creature completely without whimsy, living an academic life while selfishly refusing to allow Sister Madly to sell his kidneys on the black market. He seemed to imply that if she were to embrace the Saluting of the Magpie, she could forever live a blissful life in a lovey-dovey, vegan butter-spread commercial.
But this raised a few questions for the most rational Sister Madly; to begin with, how is one to know that this is the first Magpie of the day? There may have been a conga line of 57 birds on her windowsill in the wee hours of the morn. And what if the Magpie she salutes is not a Mister, but a Missus? If the idea is not to anger the old bird, knowing its proper title is an absolute must!
Then again, why would Sister Madly salute a bird whose only purpose in life is to poo hellfire missiles all over poor Itty Bitty whenever parked beneath a tree?
It didn’t take long for her to find out.
At the pub later that night, they encountered the Happy Phlebotomist, whom had recently returned from a trip to Canada and was giddy to show off his souvenirs. He led them to the dark end of the parking lot, where he revealed a trunk full of Ketchup Chips.
“If you’re not going to buy Ketchup Chips, why bother going to Canada? That’s what the country was made for!”
No, Canada was created so that Alaska won’t float off into the Bering Sea, flex its muscles at its newfound freedom, and shack up with Hawaii- everybody knows that, Chipper. It would be most devastating for the caribou.
Since the chips tasted as one might expect, it became clear that the Happy Phlebotomist was fascinated not only by the chips themselves, but the brilliant innovation of this time-saving measure.
You see, much of a Canadian’s life is wasted writing that extra ‘U’ in words that need no extra ‘U’; thus the Ketchup Chip was invented not only to save time, but prevent the excruciating fatigue of dipping said Chip into said Ketchup, hence allowing Canada to continue this curious tradition. Of course, food is so much more flavourful with that superfluous letter, everyone knows that; but nearly 6 years* is squandered in composing that character over a single lifetime. The Ketchup Chip makes that loss much more bearable.
* According to Sister Madly’s estimate, which of course is most excellent.
But that was not his only memento.
But before the Professor could question the logic behind selling non-refrigerated Milk in Bag like a Boss, Sister Madly decided to test the strength of the bag by dropping it to the asphalt.
Bag O’ Milk promptly became Sprinkler O’ Milk.
You know why this happened, don’t you, Sister Madly? This happened because you did not salute the Magpie first thing in the morning after your merry frolic through Sunnyside, which has more Magpies than you can shake a stick at.*
* Not that Sister Madly wanders about town, shaking sticks at things willy-nilly. She’d like to think that she’s still a few years away from that particular mentality.
After the Milk-Sprinkler Dance of Panic, Chipper attempted to correct this by sticking ballpoint pens through the tears. It would seem that the Happy Phlebotomist’s solution to every problem is to stick a pointy object into said problem- which is far from comforting.
Apparently, Canada has yet to learn about the science behind the Pencil-Thru-the-Bag-of-Liquid, because this did not work in the least.
“You should have Saluted the Magpie.”
The Professor clearly has no heart- at least, he isn’t using it.*
* In which case, he shouldn’t mind if Sister Madly sells it on the black market.
On the plus side, Sister Madly did get her recommended daily serving of dairy.
While she can’t say the Magpie was responsible, she did leave him an offering of Ketchup Chips, just in case.
- oil/ghee for sautéing
- 1lb beef mince
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1-2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 TBSP ginger, minced
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 4 eggs, beaten
- crusty bread, sliced
- spring onion, cilantro, sriracha aioli, cheese (opt, for garnish)
Sauté onions until translucent; 8-10 min
Add chili, garlic, and ginger; lightly caramelize; 10-15 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 1 min
Remove from heat; set aside
Add beef to skillet; sauté until cooked through
Add onion mixture; stir until combined; 2 min
Remove from heat; cool 5 min
Add beaten eggs to beef; mix well
Heat oiled skillet over medium heat
Spoon egg mixture over sliced bread
Place bread filling-side down in skillet
Fry for 2-5 minutes, or until eggs are cooked
Flip over to toast outside (opt)
Remove from heat; add garnish
Serve open-faced or as a sandwich
THEME SONG: Surfin’ Bird, Ramones
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
It’s said that everyone should work in Customer Service at least once in their lifetime, to appreciate what it’s like to work on the other side of the counter, to understand it’s about mutual respect not entitlement, and to master the art of maintaining a professional demeanor when you and your coworkers start toppling over like a flock of Fainting Goats.
Sister Madly never did achieve that last one.
It was at Utopia, and as was the winter custom, Sister Madly and Co. were passing around the common cold like a freshly-lit peace-pipe. These colds were typically nothing more than a nuisance, and this time would have been no different if it weren’t for one thrilling side-effect:
Imagine, if you will, Sister Madly going about her day, selling crystals and reaping the souls of the righteous, when the floor beneath her right foot suddenly falls away into the abyss. Now imagine this being accompanied by a crushing bout of dizziness, resulting in a full-on face plant into the patchouli incense.
Or into a customer.
Or the Voodoo Fetish.*
* Nkondi, a grotesque statue covered with nails, whose function was to protect villages of the Congo by housing a spirit that hunts, harms, and punishes witches and other enemies of the tribe. Best not to anger it.
Feeling that she was entitled to a little sit-down after that whole ‘face in the Fetish’ incident, Sister Madly lingered amongst the beads and mystery dust, wondering if she owed the Fetish an apology. She’d hate for it to foster a lifelong grudge over this little incident- that sort of thing is not healthy! Particularly not for the angelic, oh-so-plucky, shorter-than-she-deserves-to-be Sister Madly.
But her heartfelt apology was interrupted by Victor, who was crawling across the floor, pushing a shoe box ahead of him with a wooden dowel as though it were a fresh batch of nitroglycerin.
“DON’T TOUCH THE BOX!”
Victor, being the throes of vertigo himself, refused to carry the box lest he drop it, refused to slide it along the floor with his foot lest he fall on top of it, and certainly didn’t want Sister Madly- who had violated the Fetish, uninvited- handling it, lest he be cursed by proxy.
It wasn’t nitroglycerin in that box, but it might as well have been to Victor: a fertility god the size of business card, carved from a single opal. Victor had a pathological fear* of fertility gods, afraid that he would upset one and be cursed with a litter of children without engaging in the enjoyable process of making those children.
* He also lived in fear of the Giant Squid.
Normally, Sister Madly wouldn’t be too concerned with angering the Fertility God- after all, she routinely used the African gods to fan herself when she was hot and has yet to give birth to anything other than some incredibly bad ideas. Still, she had to admit that she, too, didn’t feel much like having children at the moment. There was still so much she did not understand about the universe, like tire treads. Why are they so blasé? If Sister Madly had a monopoly on the tire market, she would implement a line of designer treads, like Celtic Knots. She’d like a set of tires with Celtic Knot tread. Or a string of poetry- just imagine all the joy of happening upon Lovecraft written in the snow.
That is not dead which can eternal lie…
Or perhaps Poe- the entire tread nothing but the word Nevermore in slick, gothic lettering.
Or Dr. Seuss.
I do not like green eggs and ham…
It was absolutely brilliant, this idea of Poetry Tire Tread- but a brilliance the world would never know if Sister Madly ended up annoying the Fertility God. She could combat whatever curse the Fetish was about to dish up- endless William Shatner on the radio, a plague of creepy-crawlies, cucumbers- by hiding in her sock drawer, but children could easily break through this line of defense (she ought to know, having once been a child.) Indeed, a litter of Sister Madlys would be a nightmare.
Victor chose to continue on his own. He didn’t want a litter of Sister Madlys either.
- 1lb lamb, cubed
- 1 14oz. can coconut milk
- 1½ TBSP ginger, minced
- 1½ TBSP garlic, minced
- 1 sm onion, chopped
- 1-2 chilies, chopped
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp cardamom
- salt/pepper, to taste
- ghee, for sautéing
Brown lamb in heated pan; set aside
Heat ghee in pan
Add mustard seeds; roast until seeds start popping all over town
Add onions; sauté until translucent
Add chilies; sauté 2-3 min
Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 30 secs
Add tomato paste; stir to coat
Add lamb; stir to coat
Add coconut milk; mix, and bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally; 15-20 min
THEME SONG: Voodoo Chile, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Be not Afraid
Of going Slowly ~
Be More Afraid
Of Standing Still.
Underwater Sculptures by: Jason deCaires Taylor
Star Cluster Capella
Is 42 light-years Away.
The Light it Generates
Takes 42 years to reach the Earth.
If You were to Travel to Capella
Shortly before your 42nd Birthday ~
You would be able to Witness
Your own Birth back on Earth.
1.) Ablak A Multra
2.) Dear Photograph
3.) Dear Photograph
4.) Ablak A Multra
5.) Ablak A Multra
When One Tugs at
A Single Thing in Nature ~
One Finds it Connected
To the Rest of the World.
~ John Muir
The Bialbero di Casorzo – the Double Tree of Casorzo – in Piedmont, Italy, consists of a Cherry Tree growing atop a Mulberry Tree. Also called Epiphytes, large ‘double-trees’ are a rarity as they require root connection to the ground, often through the hollow trunk of its host.
1) Giulio Colla
3) Enzo Isaiah
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 cipollini 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
Evokes the Mystery ~
Without which the World
Would not Exist.
~ Rene Magritte
1.) Michael Freeman Photography
2.) RONI Photography
3.) Michael Freeman 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
Those who are
Live in a
~ Jack Kornfield
2) Gregory Basco
3) Bill Holsten
Your Sacred Space
Is Where You Can
Over and Over Again.
~ Joseph Campbell
Las Pazoas (‘The Pools’) ~ Xilitla, Mexico
5) Georgina Avila
Just as a Lotus
Never Refuses to Flower ~
A Leaf never Resists
At the Appointed Time.
Portland Japanese Gardens ~ Portland, OR
1) Protik Hossain
2) David Gn
3) Paul Pichugi
Creates Wonder ~
Is the Basis
~ Neil Armstrong
Winchester Mystery House ~ San Jose, CA
The road to Hell is not paved with good intentions.
Unless Good Intentions is the riffraff the state uses to fill the potholes.
You see, Sister Madly has her moments of generosity, cheerfully obliging the appeals of her peers ranging from Knock it Off to Get Lost. In her lifetime, she’s knock so many things off of other things that one of those things must be the ‘it’ that was inferred, and has gotten lost so many times that she is running out of places that constitute as ‘lost.’
But there was one appeal that went largely ignored:
Go to Hell.
This one was not often requested of Sister Madly, but it has been known to follow her late-night victories over the Professors at darts- which, admittedly, is not very often: the Professors need to be drunk at the time, while Sister Madly needs to be sober, awake and actually playing darts for this to happen. Still, this perfect storm has been fashioned on occasion, and the least she could do was honor one of those requests.
Thanks to the music industry, getting there was a cinch.
Sources indicate that the concept of Hell (derived from Old English Hel; Helle) developed around 30 CE, but this is in error: Hell came about on October 13, 1841 when settler George Reeves was asked what he thought the town should be named. The moonshine-loving Mr. Reeves graciously replied with “You can name it Hell for all I care!”
Sister Madly wasn’t certain what she’d find along the Road to Perdition, but according to most religions she would encounter the damned (political candidates) lost souls (telemarketers) eternal punishment (asparagus) and of course, fallen angels (Canadian Geese).
She would later find out she was right about the Geese.
As for the terrain, literature has promised her anything from a Lake of Ice to a Lake of Fire; instead, Sister Madly found a roadside attraction that was unapologetically kitschy! The main stretch is a little more than a dirt lot between two buildings (the County Store/Post Office and the Gift Shop/Ice Cream Parlor) with the Dam Site Inn a little further on down the Road Paved with Good Intentions- somewhere around the 5th major pothole.
It is here in Hell that the position of Mayor is retained only for a day. Sister Madly briefly considered this second honor for one of the Professors, but when she realized that they would not be amused, the urge became almost irresistible- almost. You see, Sister Madly has employed the Get Lost request on occasion, and while the Professors have yet to do so, their sense of humor once strolled off into the darkness one moonless night, and has yet to return.
And one’s duties as the Mayor of Hell begins at 5 AM.
Yes, it was all too tempting…
For those of you who may find themselves wandering through the Abyss, allow Sister Madly to provide you with a few fun facts:
– Hell does, in fact, freeze over
– It does break loose, as it did on June 6, 2006
– Round trip from Hell, MI in the Lower peninsula to Paradise, MI in the Upper is 666 miles (from the edge of one town to the other, utilizing shortcuts, private roads, trespassing and quite possibly, teleporting)
– The Post Office is more than willing to set fire to your mail
– Took several years to build a Miniature Golf course
– Mini Golf is now complete, but never seems to be open
– Painted a picnic table to entertain you while you wonder why the Mini Golf is never open
– There are Canadian Geese
And while you are sitting there wondering why the Mini Golf is never open, some mysterious stranger- who looks a bit like a werewolf in mid-transition- just might hand you a little card that reads:
And the Lord saith unto John: “Come forth, and ye shall receive eternal life.”
But John came in fifth, and won a toaster.
THEME SONG: Highway to Hell, AC/DC
All Images from Tumblr except:
6) getty images
Sister Madly often looks upon someone who is traveling with a bit of resentment, as though they are leaving her behind. She will even go so far as to take it personally.
But not always.
According to some sources, a vacation is a period of time that is devoted to travel, recreation, and relaxation. If one embraces this definition, it becomes evident that Sister Madly has not had a real vacation in years.
Allow her to break it down for you:
- Travel: yes, often extensive and through questionable territory. Sometimes on foot. With pursuers.
- Recreation: yes, but at her expense. Always.
- Relaxation: absolutely out of the question. It is difficult to relax when you are the source of the ‘recreation.’
There should be nothing more delightful than a vacation with friends, but for Sister Madly, that is often not the case. Her particular circle has an uncanny ability to ensure that these excursions contain just enough detail to make the whole thing inconvenient.
Of course, some travel woes are entirely her fault (You say you’re going camping in the mountains, Sister Madly? Sure, the ski resorts are still open, but no doubt YOU will be all warm and toasty in that little pup tent with all the holes and no tarp. That’s not snow; the mountain is naturally white. Has been since the beginning of time.)
As for others…
One such trip was planned over the summer, and held such promise that Sister Madly was actually looking forward to it: all that was expected of her was the provision of ice for the cooler. It seemed more than fair, if not too good to be true.
Oh yes, it was too good to be true, for on the night before they were to leave, one of the Professors handed her a stack of ice cube trays.
“For the ice, Sister Madly. You said you’d do it.”
Wait. Is Sister Madly to assume that she is to make the ice for the cooler? That thing is the scale model of a zeppelin! It’s no wonder, then, that this was the only task demanded of her. It would require all her free time babysitting the freezer when she could be out stealing garden gnomes or pulling the wings off butterflies. She’d rather perform liturgical dance to the Miami Vice soundtrack than waste a perfectly good Friday night making ice.
“You can do them both simultaneously.”
She was then reprimanded for procrastinating, and sent on home like a naughty child.
Loopholes, Sister Madly; it’s all about the loopholes. It can hardly be called ‘procrastination’ if you have no intention of doing it in the first place; that’s called noncompliance, and the Professor said absolutely nothing about noncompliance. You were merely told not to procrastinate. Just buy some ice first thing tomorrow, find a way to survive the weekend, and you can get back to your bleak, meaningless life come Monday morning.
She briefly entertained the idea of purchasing dry ice, delighting in visions of the Professors retreating while the fog spilled from the cooler. Sure, it’s all fun and games, Sister Madly, until Vincent Price rises out of the mist, and you’ve seen enough of his movies to know what happens next.
Real ice. It’s safer for everyone involved.
The Professor, by all accounts, seemed utterly perplexed that Sister Madly had spent money on something that could have been obtained for free.* Having just spent the evening looking up Victorian-Era Post Mortem pictures on the internet (which resulted in a severe case of selective nocturnalness) a groggy Sister Madly was only able to offer up this explanation:
She forgot the recipe.
*This particular Professor is a notorious penny pincher.
PENNY PINCHING ICE
- Liquid Dihydrogen monoxide (thawed if in solid form)*
- Ice Cube tray
- Device that generates sub-freezing temperatures, such as a refrigeration system, a mountain peak, or Northern Michigan
Pour liquid dihydrogen monoxide into ice cube tray- do not overfill.
Place ice cube tray into sub-freezing generating device.
*Some folks call this water, the pretentious fops.
POST’S THEME SONG: Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice (like you didn’t see that coming)