Saturday, November 30, 2013

So Busted, Door Busted

It’s true. You won’t believe this, but Auntie tried to keep a secret from you. Mea culpa.

Yes, you snarky little brat of indeterminate age, there are things which your apparently boundary-less old Auntie won’t blog.

Sigh. Go on, get it out. Ha ha. Very funny. Feel better now? Can we get on with this?

The ostensible and ersatz former secret is that Auntie went Black Friday shopping on Thursday night after Thanksgiving dinner.

Way, way after, but Thursday night nonetheless.

It was actually tremendous fun.

I got a plate! Auntie does love her plates. The newspaper coupon even worked. Double yay!

Now for the double object lesson. Don’t make that face. You knew there had to be at least one.

Object lesson #1: We also got a lovely new red Christmassy tablecloth. It was what they call a “door buster.” The original ridiculous price was temporarily cut by an arcane mathematical series of formulae, down to a fair price.

No math quiz, that’s not the lesson.

Most of the “door busters” were ugly, badly made, still ridiculously overpriced and/or otherwise a complete waste of time, material and effort. That’s not the lesson either.

The lesson is that after one day (count it, 1 day!) our lovely new tablecloth has a mysterious little black squiggle of ink that wasn’t there when we got it.

Sigh #2.

Of course I’m treating it like the dent I got eight years or so ago, the day (1 day!) after my car was new.

But there’s still an object lesson in there. I think it’s something about acceptance & making the best of things, blah blah etc. I’m not entirely sure, but that’s what most object lessons end up being, so let’s run with it.

I’ve forgotten Object Lesson #2.

Sigh #3.

Mea maxima culpa.

But if you come over for dinner, and I’m inviting you right now, I’ll make sure you get to eat off of the new plate. It’s very pretty.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back To The Happy-Happy

I’d apologize for the tone of the previous post, except that the Internet is traditionally used for catharsis. You know what else is also traditional? Family drama at the holidays.

Knock on wood, I got mine done early. Yay, me!

You know what else I got done early? Absolutely everything I can. Could. You know.

There are obsessive Civil War re-enactors who put in less effort staging the Battle of Antietem than I do when mapping out my Thanksgiving cooking strategy. I also enjoy it even more.


Sometimes I think I spend the whole year waiting for Thanksgiving, the way kids are supposed to wait for Christmas, only I’m not disappointed after. Knock wood again, and let’s not think about the year the (fill in the blank) didn’t come out.

That was a joke. Something always doesn’t come out, but I make so much food it gets lost in the crowd.

This year, with Hanukah falling on the same day, I feel like one of those people whose birthdays are December 25th, only not really, because they generally get screwed and my joy is doubled. Bad analogy. Never mind.

So far I’ve made and frozen the piroshkis and both pie doughs. The chicken soup is waiting for the matzoh balls, and the brine is chilling (haha get it? Anthropomorphic humor!) before it meets Sheldon Turkey on Wednesday.

I got Manischevitz ™ brand noodles for the kugel. You know, for verisimilitude. The label says “Quality since 1888”, which really should be 5648 but who’s counting?

Little bunches of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme await their bed of stuffing. Now I have that damned song in my head. Never mind that too.

It’s Thanksgiving week, hooray!

It’s also only Monday. Boo!

Boo because it’s too soon to start the real cooking, so I’m chomping at the bit and pacing around, tidying and sweeping and re-checking the lists, waiting waiting waiting until the roller coaster of the week gets to the top and the real fun begins.

You know, tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, my darlings! And a very happy Hanukah too.

Thanksgiving Day update: Well, at the last minute I decided not to make the broccoli gremolata. And Sheldon Turkey turned out to be a free range organic Cindy. Other than that, though, I have time to sit here and type this, while I wait for the arrival of my loved ones, both human and canine. Very Happy All-You-Can-Eat Day, my darlings!

Friday, November 22, 2013

2 Helluva Things

It’s that time of year, folks. The lite (or soy) egg nog is flowing and twinkle lights have gone up across the land, all backed by a soundtrack of premature Christmas music.

Oh, and Auntie’s seasonal affective disorder started a week and a half ago.

You all know how Auntie is estranged from both sides of her extended family. I say this having been told that my sweet and seriously stunning cousin-in-law reads this blog. (Hi, honey! Hug!)

She’s not related to me via biology, so my thesis stands.

You know what? My thesis doesn’t just stand, it rears back and roars. To wit:

Once upon December 16th 2012, there was a seasonally affected post about “my aunt who was never an Auntie.” We had an interesting and rocky relationship, dependent upon her (occasionally desperate) needs and her (verbally voracious) disapproval.

As anecdotal as the details are, I’ll spare you. (You’re welcome.) The point is that eventually we drifted into semiannual phone calls and cards.

A week or so ago I got a group email from a friend (please note that it was from a friend) with the subject line “Zelda’s Obituary”. Yep, Zelda was the aforementioned Aunt.

That’s the first helluva thing.

She died last July. Neither of her kids, their spouses, or their kids bothered to send as much as a text. Yes, if I had known she was seriously ill, I would have visited to say good-bye. Bad times aside, I would have shown respect.

For the record, the sweet & seriously stunning cousin-in-law is on the other (albeit equally estranged) side of my family and had nothing to do with any of this.

It’s a helluva thing to find out about the death of a family member months later from the subject line of a group email.

The second helluva thing is that I’m telling you about it.

Or shouting it, rather, from the far side of the burned bridge.

Part of why is the whole “what you can’t fix, feature” thing, but part of it is that Auntie is looking out for you. You’re still in the early pages of the Choose Your Own Adventure™ book of your life. I’m here to tell you that even if you jump from page 26 to page 174, all the stuff in between will still happen. Prepare yourself and plan accordingly.

I’m going to have some soy egg nog now.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

(Ask Auntie) Poo Poo Loo

Dear Aunt SC,

My friends -- let's call them Marge and Al -- are soon to go on another lovely cruise. Al is very excited about it. Marge is, well, happy that Al is happy, and it'll be fine. Sure, Marge enjoys cruising. But what do you do about those tiny cruise ship stateroom loos that have no ventilation? Commercial air fresheners are so tacky. Is there another clever option that does not involve flame? Something involving an essential oil perhaps?

Sorry not to be more seasonal. Wish I had a turkey cooking question for you, but I leave all that grief to my sister, who conjures a fabulous holiday meal every year.

With olfactory gratitude,


Dear Landlubber,

Avast and belay. Your timing is exquisite. Auntie just tweeted the following:

We live in a world where something called Poo-Pourri(tm) has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Sigh.

If that counts as "commercial air freshener" then Auntie would suggest getting a dropper bottle and filling it with either lavender, rosemary or eucalyptus oil and using it according to the directions on the Poo-Pourri (tm).

If any of you darling readers have a better suggestion, please leave a comment so Landlubber can see it. We don't want their Love Boat to turn into a stinky ship.

Bon buffet!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dum De Dum Yum

Let’s all bow our heads for the passing of the NaNoWriMo and get on with our November.

Of course all of you dear sweeties realized that Auntie was doomed from the start. Thanks for not pointing out the obvious and for letting me find out my own way. You are adorable and I love what you’ve done with your hair.

Without a chip on my shoulder, there was no way something as invisible and gratuitous as NaNoWriMo could make a dent in this, the Thanksgiving month.

Auntie does love her Thanksgiving, oh yes she does.

As has been mentioned already, this is the first time in 125 (count’em!) years that Hanukah and Thanksgiving will coincide. Cohabitate. Conflate, but not confabulate.

Copacetic cookery! Cooeee…

Okay, I’m getting silly. But I have a damn good reason for it.

It’s almost time to start the cooking prep. Not the prep cooking, that won’t happen til next week, but the Making Of The Lists is almost upon us. Lo and forsooth.

While not the best part, it’s one of my favorite parts of a celebration that is one of my very favorites. It’s fun to gather the recipes and tick off how much butter I’ll need, how many eggs, which herbs, veggies and other goodies will come together as best as I can magic them.

Food is love. Ergo, feeding people I love is the super bestest, and I never feed more forcefully than on Thanksgiving. Quod erat something fattening with nutmeg on top and lots of pie.

The once upon a time start to the story happened this morning when I stopped by our little local grocers to order the turkey for those of my loved ones who might care to partake of double-holiday avian flesh.

Last year’s turkey was named George. At least I think it was, I’m too lazy to go back into the archives to check.

Note for my lovely new readers: Yes, I name my turkeys. It’s a vegetarian thing.

This year, our turkey will be named Sheldon, and I can’t wait to meet him next Wednesday. Cooeee!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Speaking Of Dead Virgins...

Dateline: The Italian deli down the street.

The bent-over elderly Italian gentleman behind the counter peered at me over his picturesque wire-rimmed glasses.

“You want what?” he asked incredulously, in a charming accent.

“Parmesan rinds,” I repeated. “Do you have any?”

He shook his head -- not in negation, but to indicate mystification. Then he went to consult his equally elderly but less stooped compatriot, who pointed to a jar behind the grating machine. He also said not to charge me.

No, I didn’t take them all. I know their street value even if those lovely men didn’t, so I only asked for the handful I needed to cook with today. They’re simmering as I type this.

But Auntie, you ask, and quite reasonably at that. What does this have to do with virgins, dead or otherwise?

I’m getting to that.

This is about a non-existent tweet, with a spoiler for your own dotage.

Of course I was going to tweet about it all, but I couldn’t remember the name of those gnarled little imps from Italian folklore. That’s not a problem, because I have a reference book on European fairies and goblins and elves oh my.

Then I couldn’t find the book. (If you’ve seen my bookshelves, you know.) Then I couldn’t even remember the actual name of the book to ask Robert to find it for me.

This is the spoiler alert: All those jokes about old people forgetting stuff, that’s real.

You’ll see.

Now don’t start with me. Yes, I Googled. I can give you all sorts of links to the Italian rock band “Goblin”.

So I figured I could write the tweet using an imp from another country. I found Iratxoak, which was pretty cool looking, and then I found Kyöpelinvuori, which was way cooler.

The problem is that Ky√∂pelinvuori is a place, not an imp. It’s a Finnish ghost mountain supposedly haunted by the spirits of virgins who die young.

I can’t use that. Sigh.

I’m going to go tweet about the weather now. It was in the high 80s again today.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

U-ey & The Mews

The following isn’t just based on a true story. It is a true story, and it’s being reported a hell of a lot more accurately than anything you’ll see on cable TV.

(I haven’t even put the groceries away yet, that’s how accurate this reporting is, or is about to be.)

Here’s what happened within the last two hours:

Auntie was driving to the first item on her To Do list for the day. Yes, it’s Sunday. No, she has neither church nor football. If that’s news to you, then welcome to Scarycookies and thank you for making your first visit to this blog. You rock.

Now back to our regularly scheduled story.

Anyhow, I was taking a shortcut up a residential street (the one without speed bumps) and I saw, up ahead in the distance, a cat crossing the road in front of me. It was a dark cat but I couldn’t see the exact color from way back there.

Newbies are nonplussed by that. Scarycookies regulars already know what happened next and are snickering mockingly at their old Auntie.

Of course I pulled a u-ie. U-ey. Made a u-turn. Whatever you want to call it, I did not drive over that path.

That’s not the story.

The story is that between items two and three on the To Do list, it happened again, this time with a visibly all-black cat. Another u-turn, another route.

Don’t be a cynical smarty-pants and say that I only did it to have something about which to blog. While I’m not above that kind of thing, too many of you know me in real life and know that I’m perfectly capable of even more compulsively superstitious behavior.

See previous posts re superstitious behavior and self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve posted 524 times here and there’s a limit to how often I’m willing to repeat myself, though I’ll do it one more time now:

To quote my friend Max Maven quoting Nils Bohr on the subject of superstition, “I understand it works whether you believe in it or not.”

Besides, I came up with a cute title while I was at a red light, and I’ve posted worse for less.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Means, Motive & Opportunity

“’Why’ doesn’t matter!” Auntie used to proclaim loudly and often. Back in 2009, before I became really comfortable with this whole blogging thing, I even posted a rant on the subject:

But now I’m not so sure. The older I get, the more motivation seems to matter.

Think about it. When someone says something that hits you the wrong way, the first thing you do is look at why they said it.

If it was a joke that whiffed, then it’s probably nothing. (Unless it suddenly revealed subconscious hostility, an unattractive personality trait or was a reference to some TV show you really hate.)

But if it wasn’t a joke, if the speaker really meant it, or meant something even worse, then you react accordingly. (I trust my exquisitely courteous and polite readers also to react appropriately.)

The “why” is everything.

Maybe Auntie has been reading too many murder mysteries lately, but motivation seems to matter more and more these days. Not in any Machiavellian sense, but just plain having a damn good reason for doing whatever you do. Did. Did do. You know.

If the only reason to do something is to have done it when it’s over, then why should you even bother?

Yeah, okay, you caught me. Busted.

I’m still talking about NaNoWriMo here.

Unless you want to hear about laundry or car repairs or Melva’s trip to the eye doctor, that’s all I’ve got for you at the moment. Tomorrow I start testing recipes for Hanukah-giving*, but until I have to pick up my admirable and adorable mother, I have time to sit here and type. That gives me about an hour either to work on my 1,667 or to wonder to you why I should.

Like last year, Auntie started NaNoWriMo to be one of the cool kids. Like last year, all of the actual cool kids have stopped already. Even the one I didn’t know had started until he told me he stopped has stopped.

(One of them says he’s going to finish writing his novel but not on this particular schedule. That’s not a NaNoWriMo, it’s a perfectly laudable NoWri, or it will be eventually. Let’s all cross our fingers for him, because it sounds like a great story.)

Auntie has finished four and a half unpublished novels, one of which was quite good. I have nothing to prove there. And I did last year’s NaNoWriMo to the end, though I deleted it afterward.

So if “why” matters, then all I’ve got is that I started this so I should finish it.

If “why” doesn’t matter, then I got nothing. Sic.

Nothing but 8,447 fairly entertaining words, that is.

Which is an answer in itself, or if it isn’t, it’s all I’m going to get.


*For the uninformed, this year is the first time in 125 years that Hanukah and Thanksgiving fall on the same day. Blue and white cornucopias for everyone!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chapter One

The fifty two and a half year old woman sighed heavily because her coffee had gotten cold. Oh sure, she could feel the buzz from the half pot she had already drunk that morning, but the stuff on her desk was cold and that was a problem. Cold coffee sucks.

Cold coffee particularly sucks when there’s a lot of cogitation to accomplish.

She took a sip anyhow. Then she took a gulp. Then she tried to define that peculiar, almost metallic aftertaste that cold coffee with soy milk gets.

Then she decided to get on with it.

Note to my darling readers:

This is the beginning of Auntie’s NaNoWriMo. Yes, really.

While it picks up from there, you should know that your Auntie is looking out for you, therefore I promise to try not to post any of the rest of it.

You’re welcome.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Part Two, The Sequel, Redux, As In: Son Of NaNoWriMo

Well, my darlings, Auntie has done it again. Not only has she begun NaNoWriMo (Google it, or search in the Scarycookies search box on the top left of the page because I’ve done this before and you’d think I would know better) but… well, no.

NaNoWriMo is enough, full stop.

I was going to tell you about the ridiculous thing your Auntie did this morning, but then I got caught up in NaNoWriMo and spent two and a half hours getting my first 1,900 done.

Yes, yes, I know, 1,667 words a day is the goal, but it’s so much more glorious to burn out after overextending yourself in the beginning, isn’t it?

This time it’s different. I’m doing it for fun. For once I’m not going to pressure myself to finish at any cost, no matter how bad the product is.

Hahahaha snort!

Auntie made a funny.

Auntie is compulsive about finishing tasks, which makes this even stupider.

I say “stupider” instead of the correct “more stupid” to demonstrate the irrelevance of word count in a blog post. If this was part of NaNoWriMo, I might have said “so very much more stupid” because that’s five instead of two.

You get the idea.

Mark Twain got paid by the word for “The Innocents Abroad”, that’s why it’s so long. The same with Dickens. There is a proud history in Literature of people padding their word count.

Those among us who are by nature sneaky and suspicious might think that there is a connection to NaNoWriMo there.

(If you've ever attempted your own NaNoWriMo you’d be giggling with a tinge of hysteria at that. Well, maybe not this early in the month, but give it a week or two.)

Anyhow, I’ll save the stupid thing I did this morning for later in the month, when I run out of things to blog because my fingers have worn themselves down to the nub on the daily 1,667.

To my NaNoWriMo brethren, I say Excelsior!

To the rest of you, I apologize in advance.