take a hike

Now that the snow is gone and the earth is beginning to thaw, our wee doggies have no excuse to lay around sleeping all day in preparation for raising hell half the night. No, it’s walkies time again – or, as we call it around here to avoid tipping them off, waltz time. (As in, “Can someone take the dogs for a waltz, please?”) So far they haven’t caught on. There’s a reason dogs aren’t man’s smartest friend.

Here’s Anna preparing to take Glen for a waltz. Note Glen’s look of discomfort as it suddenly dawns on him that this is no ordinary fashion show:

Or maybe he’s unnerved by the seemingly innocent human WEARING A TIGER’S HEAD. Better do what she says.

As Anna prepares the leash, Glen considers what’s in store for him and doesn’t like it one bit. Cue his superb stinkeye:

Ha. Just like his mama.

Charlotte the chef

While excavating the family dumping ground (otherwise known as my desk) the other day, I came across the following two recipes written by Charlotte sometime last year. I wish I could be more precise as to the dates these were written, but sadly I didn’t scrawl the dates on the backs as I usually try to do.  Must have been out clubbing seals or raiding tourist sailboats on those days.

Like the best archaeologists, however, I’m able to guesstimate a time frame based on the artifacts found immediately above and below the recipes, which is corroborated by what I already know about the development of communications at that time  (i.e. Charlotte’s handwriting and spelling). It’s all very complicated.

Outmeal Recipe

1. Pour in outmeal

2. Pour in a lot of water

3. Put in cinnomon

4. Put in brown suger

5. Put it in microwave for 15 sec

6. Put on raisons

7. Put in a bit of milk

8. And eat it

Smelling good! Thumps up!

Popcorn recipe

1. get out ingreddeints. butter and popcorn nuts.

2. get out other stuff        bowl, popcorn pumper.

3. put popcorn nuts into popcorn pumper.

4. start pumping the popcorn

5. when it’s ready heat butter and pour it in

6. eat it or put in bags For shcool.

Considering Charlotte’s recipes already surpass some of those by the best-known television chefs  (see Rachael’s Ray’s Late Night Bacon recipe and Paula Deen’s English Peas recipe on the Food Network), I predict she’ll be a huge star in the celebrity chef world in another twenty years. Guess I’d better start being nice to her.

The Book of Awesome

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. From the inside cover: “The Book of Awesome reminds us of all the little things that we often overlook but that make us smile. With touching, warm, and funny observations, each entry ends with the big booming feeling you’ll get when you read through them: AWESOME!”

This book was in huge demand at the library all last summer and although I generally shy away from super popular bestsellers (having either truly superior or godawful taste – it’s open to debate), I felt the need for a little more awesomesauce in my own life.

So…I tried, okay? I tried to get in that ultra-optimistic, head-bobbing groove the book wants to create, but I just couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong – some of Pasricha’s awesome things really are awesome, like “Fixing electronics by smacking them,” and “Seeing somebody laugh in their sleep,” and “Saying the same thing a sports commentator says just before they say it.” Some I found odd, like “The smell of gasoline,” and “New socks day,” but whatever. He’s allowed to think those things are awesome. I’m understanding that way.

No, what bugged me most was Pasricha’s trying-way-too-hard-to-sound-hip-and-enthusiastic tone. Take this: “The other side of the pillow, folks. Because it’s flat when you’re sagging, fresh when you’re stale, and cold when you’re hot, baby.” Or this one: “Yes…you’re suddenly a Bus Fleet Fat Cat, swimming in tickets and tokens, commanding your private army of Sugar Rollers around town to pick you up and drop you off as you see fit. Baby, if you’re feeling this buzz, then there’s no reason you can’t get right into it too…” Or this one: “Head in the freezer, hands in the oven, whatever your move, just make it. Pick a temp, baby, then bake it. Pump up the thermostat, bang on the rad, or crank up the air.”

Looking at these Tidbits that Made Me Roll My Eyes (that name is in honour of the way Pasricha likes to make everything into a proper noun:  moviegoers are The Back Row Crowd, Middle of the Packers, La-Z-Boys and Girls and Front Row Crazies, for instance), I realize my first objection might be the repeated use of the word “baby”. I don’t find it funny or hip or even ironic – just irritating. And that sing-songy patter got on my nerves. Just speak normally, guy. I’m sure I can understand whatever it is you’re trying to express without you presenting it in the form of a schlocky pop song.

Would I recommend this book? Well, surprisingly, despite This Blog Post of Bitchy, I would. Why? For one thing, I truly believe gratitude is A Good Thing (that one belongs to Martha Stewart) and we could all practice it more regularly. For another, Pasricha seems like a nice guy and it isn’t his fault I have this life-threatening allergy to kitsch. I can see how most people would enjoy this book. For those like me, with ice water running in their veins and hearts of granite, I recommend reading the titles only and skipping the commentary. You’re smart enough to figure out why “The sound of rain from inside the tent” is awesome. I’m pretty confident of that. And the bonus is you’ll finish the book in about twenty minutes. AWESOME!

Candy and Me

Candy and Me by Hilary Liftin. From the back cover: “Acclaimed for its fresh, wry humour and candid confessional quality, Candy and Me unwraps the universal desire for connection and confection as Hilary Liftin chronicles her epic love affair with all things sweet. As she recounts her record-setting candy consumption, she also reveals the ways in which candy has seen her through many of life’s hurdles.”

This is going to sound like an insult, but it isn’t, I swear: Candy and Me is perfect reading for waiting rooms or subway commutes or any of those occasions during which you can’t/shouldn’t lose yourself in a book. Not that it’s boring. No, it’s a very entertaining memoir, but because Liftin recounts her stories of incredible candy obsession in tidy little vignettes and because candy – not slavery or abandonment or murder – is always at the centre, it’s what I’d call a light but intelligent read.

And you don’t have to be candy-bewitched to appreciate her story, either. I am most definitely not a candy lover (chocolate – oh yes; candy – not so much), which probably made her overwhelming love for it all the more intriguing. It’s kind of like when you find out a new friend loves something like Nascar or hunting and you try not to be judgmental, but you’re just so curious and, well, judgmental and everything comes out like, “You what? Really? Why? Really? But, but…Seriously?”

Oh, and I also learned that what we call Rockets in Canada are called Smarties in the States. So what do Americans call their Smarties? Nothing, because they don’t have Smarties. No Smarties, which should ensure my kids never cross the border permanently. I really don’t care because the best way to eat Smarties is to crack off and discard those stupid candy shells first. Right?