N is for Nevermind

How many blog posts can I start and then discard, consigning them in perpetuity to the Nevermind? N

I could relay the latest story from Thing 2, wherein she was harassed by the sub-slinger at a Subway on a Friday night when she was the only customer and he was the only employee. Summary, she called back the next day and reported him to the manager, who relayed the message to Corporate, who called Thing 2 back to get details and apologize, and she was really impressed by their efforts. So I don’t like your food very much, but huge kudos to Subway.

I could talk about my new business venture, but I’m not quite ready.

I could talk about my weird dream last night, but the only thing more boring than listening to someone talk about their dreams is maybe watching golf on TV.

Pet antics? Eevee is pestering me for a walk, but she does that every day at 11 a.m. She’s not bringing anything original to the game today.

Went to a delightful book launch yesterday for Becky Clark’s “Fiction Can Be Murder,” but I think Becky did a pretty good job getting the word out AND posting photos on FB already.

Got a new phone. Pretty much same as the old phone.

Realized I can’t math after 7 p.m.  Or I’ve lost the ability to differentiate between 3 and 5.

Made a new breakfast dish that was completely meh.

My new (handheld and extremely cheap) spiralizer doesn’t work. No big surprise there, sometimes you don’t get what you don’t pay for.

Wrote a new first chapter and am much pleased with it. Hoping that critique group will feel the same.

I have a lot of thoughts on mopping, but…nevermind.

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M is for MB

Because my ego is THAT BIG.

Or not.

I came up with what I Mthink is a marvelous idea while hanging out with Things 1 and 2 this summer, but I now I seek a broader range of feedback.

A while ago, one of my author friends mentioned that you have to develop a signature for signing books. You can’t use the same one you sign at the bottom of, say, checks and legal documents. Otherwise, you’re giving hundreds of complete strangers your legal signature.

This may seem obvious, but it had never occurred to me. Possibly because I’m not at the point of having any books to sign. But I started speculating on how I would change my bold, swooping, half-legible signature into something my adoring (I hope) fans would want.

And then it struck me. I’ll sign every book with two words that start with MB. My first thought was that it would be hilarious to sign Martin Balsam or Mario Batali, but that was before Mario’s fall from grace, and I don’t want to associate my books or my career with someone who holds such little regard for women, especially those in his employ.

But that doesn’t mean the idea is without merit. I could sign MayBelline. Or Many Beers. Or Moldy Bologna (except I’d have to sing the Oscar Mayer song every time I used that one). Martha Bertha. Marva Belle. Mustard Balls. Mink Balloons. Mauve Bathroom.

I have visions of happy readers excitedly comparing signatures. “I got Milk Beard!” “I got Mossy Bolts!” “I got a rock.” (Couldn’t resist, standard joke in our household.)

I realize that some people would think this is hysterical and would totally get the joke. Some would roll their eyes and tolerate it. And some folks would be completely confused and either think that I was mentally deficient or that I was trying to insult them. I can’t argue the first, but I would never intentionally do the second.

Does this idea have legs? Or should I work on figuring out a new way to just sign my own name? Or should I spend more time on writing and less time fantasizing about hypothetical book signings?

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L is for Laughter

To know me is to laugh with me.

I will go to great lengths, make myself look ridiculous, occasionally risk bodily injury, just to make people laugh.

When I have to give presentations before large groups of people? My worry is always whether or not they’ll find the jokes funny,L whether they’ll laugh at the appropriate points. When I write, same thing.

In fact, when I try to write “seriously,” with no humor, it’s an unpleasant, depressing experience, like slogging uphill through deep, sticky mud.

I’m not a picky laugher, if you catch my drift. Everything from pratfall to cerebral witticisms can catch my funny bone. Confession, though–the Three Stooges generally leave me cold. Groucho Marx, on the other hand, was a genius.

Laughing alone is better than drinking alone, but I laugh more and better when in the company of at least one other person. (It’s possible that I drink more then, too, but that’s a completely different post.) If I can make a bunch of people laugh, I’m in heaven.

I love the subtle ways humor can be used in fiction. Almost all of my favorite novels have a humorous element in them somewhere. Take a horror novel. If the author is trying to beat the reader with the scary stick at every single turn, it gets monotonous and ceases to be scary. But if the author gives the reader a break to catch their breath, gives them something to laugh at, the next scare is going to be even more effective.

It applies to other genres as well. I can’t get enough of Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, which is damn fine sci-fi with a LOT of humor mixed into that glorious cast of characters (but especially Miles and Ivan). Ditto fantasy, where a master like Terry Pratchett can lead you down some very interesting rabbit holes while you’re chuckling at Nanny Ogg or Vimes or Rincewind.

And there are cozy mystery authors out there doing all right for themselves, because they’ve discovered the magic of mixing mystery with misadventure.

Side note: the spouse and I are coming up on our 25th anniversary pretty soon. One of the not-so-secrets for a successful marriage? Laugh together. Life’s going to throw enough crap your way, so having someone to make fun of the tragedy with is essential. And yes, I’m that awful person who always says something funny at a funeral. Sorry, Thing 1, most recently it was you.

(And a final word that will make just one person out there laugh: Bissell.)

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K is for Kippers

Once again, today was a day with a lot of choices in what to write about.  Some I’ll save for the autobiography that will be published after I’m dead. (Certain people might heave a sigh of relief right now.)

Kippers for breakfast. Ever had them? I have not, but I bet I would like them. Kippers are small fish that have been salted,K dried and smoked. You’d think that any one of those would be preservation enough, but the English go for broke with all three.

I want to see kippers on a breakfast menu. There’s a line in a Supertramp song, “Could we have kippers for breakfast?” and I guess it stuck with me.

I like things that are a little outside the norm for breakfast. Cold pizza is a given, but that’s not really thinking outside the (pizza)box, is it? Pretty common. But I will judge a new pizza place on how good the pizza is hot as well as how good it is cold the next day for breakfast.

I’m a big fan of oatmeal. And green chili. And green chili on my oatmeal. Obviously talking about unsweetened oatmeal here. Oatmeal is just a plain, basic flavor, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go savory with it instead of sweet. Although oatmeal with bananas, almonds and maple syrup is also a favorite.

Any corned beef hash fans out there? I still remember the best I’ve ever tasted, at a swank hotel in Newport, RI. And that was 20 years ago.

For a while I was hooked on smoothies for breakfast. Protein powder, coconut water, then whatever fruit I could scrounge up, plus a handful of green if I had any. I find the combination of blackberry and pineapple to be unusually delicious. I also find that arugula doesn’t really belong in a smoothie.

But the kippers. Still looking for a restaurant that offers kippers, so I can fulfill my teenage dreams.

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J is for Jam. Or Jelly.

My name is MB and I’m a jamoholic.

Take me to a craft fair, anywhere, and I’m likely to come home with several jars of the sweet stuff that someone has carefully crafted. I’m especially a sucker for anything with rhubarb in it. And anything with hot peppers. My favorite sandwich is peanut butter with jalapeno jelly. J

Things 1 and 2 are fully aware of this tendency, and have been known to gang up and drag me away from towering, jewel-toned displays of these wonderful creations. (Thing 1 tends to distract me with something shiny, while Thing 2 will use a full body slam to move me along.)

The best appetizer in the world is either biscuit dough or crescent roll dough, smooshed up the side of a mini muffin pan, filled with a blob of either cream cheese or brie, then topped with jalapeno jelly and baked. If you can throw a candied jalapeno in there, under the cheese, so much the better.

Yes, candied jalapenos are a thing. I think I’m down to one (large) jar of them in my fridge. You just never know when they’ll come in handy.

If I happen to travel through Palisade, Colorado, where the best peaches on the planet are grown, you know I’m not leaving without at least three different kind of preserves. Maybe a plain peach, a peach Melba, and a peach poblano spread.

I have the best recipe for cranberry pecan bread that calls for a big dollop of jalapeno jelly in the batter. And a fresh minced jalapeno, too. It’s spicy and tart, with a mellowing influence from the crunchy pecans.

You know where else jalapeno jelly is delicious? Heated and thinned with maple syrup, poured over some really crispy chicken and waffles.

Or stir a little bit into leftover cranberry sauce to make the best post-Thanksgiving sandwich on the planet.

Jalapeno jelly. The world just seems more secure when I know I have a couple of jars waiting for me in the pantry. That’s a small price to pay for security.

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I is for Indecision

At the beginning of this little journey, I printed out an April calendar page so I could write down all my brilliant ideas for blog posts. And keep track of which letters Iwere supposed to published when, because we all have days when we hum the alphabet song quietly just to be sure we have things in the right order.

Some days have several ideas. Some are till blank. (Looking at you, letter O).

There are three ideas written down for I. First is irony.

That’s all I wrote down about it, just the one word. Surely pithy words of ironic wisdom would roll out of my brain and through my fingers to the keyboard.

Still waiting.

Second was ice cubes. I like ice cubes. I find them very useful. I even bought a Halloween-themed ice cube tray and used pomegranate juice and champagne to make ice ice cubescubes for wine. But that’s really all I’ve got.

I guess I could talk about all the crazy things I’ve seen on Pinterest that involve ice cube trays. You can use them to start seedlings in the spring. You can use them to hold earrings. You can use them to make rather large chocolate candies. You can make gigantic cubes, teeny cubes or perfect spheres. (Why would a perfectly round ice cube make your whiskey taste better? Nobody has explained that to me yet.) You can fill them with Kool-Aid if you really hate your children, or melt broken crayons down to make new swirly crayons if you really love your children. You could make a succulent garden, hold paper clips, or give your toddler a completely overwhelming choice of snacks in one inconvenient-to-use container.

But they’re still just ice cube trays.

Third and final: introvert tendencies. Yes, I have them. Yes, sometimes I recharge my psychic batteries by getting out and mingling with people, but sometimes I recharge by sitting on the couch in the company of my dog and cat 1 of 2. Cat 2 would rather seek my affection when I’m going to the bathroom, when he’s either seeking a belly rub or trying to trip me and kill me. Time will tell.

Maybe I stands for interrup–

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H is for Hidden

Strolling through the alphabet, we come to H. A strong letter, well-built with solid foundation.H A letter whose presence softens Ts and turns Gs into Fs. H is a letter with some super powers.

I’m curious. When you travel, what do you look for or at when you first enter a new hotel room? Do you flip back the covers and do a bed bug check? Do you check to see how clean the shower and/or tub is? Do you look at the number of towels to see if you have enough? (Looking at you, Holiday Inn, always giving me three towels when I say I’ll have four people.) Do you look for the binder of information about the hotel and the surrounding area? Do you check in the bedside table for a Bible or the Book of Mormon?

I always want to turn on all of the lights first. I want to see where things are, take stock of my surroundings, and familiarize myself with the location of the light switches, which will come in handy in the dark. If there’s a mini fridge, I check the setting. Most of them are set to “Arctic Tundra,” thus ensuring that anything you put in them will be frozen solid by morning. (Which drives me so crazy that I bought a small fridge thermometer that travels with me. I didn’t bring comestibles across hundreds of miles just so I could throw them out in a strange and exotic location.)

On a recent trip, my husband and I checked into what I would call a pretty nice downtown hotel. The kind I probably wouldn’t stay in, if I were paying for the stay out of my own pocket. (I’m frugal. You knew that, right?) There’s a fairly swanky bar, a nice looking restaurant, and a lobby full of décor.

What surprised me, when we checked into our room, was that we only had about a quarter-roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. That seemed like a strange place to cut corners if you’re trying to keep costs down. And the room had obviously been cleaned, because the rest of it was neat as a pin. Well, I thought, surely they have a spare roll tucked around here somewhere.

Nope.

Luckily there were no bathroom emergencies in the night.

This morning, I opened the closet to look for something, and moved the iron. Behind it sat a black drawstring bag monogrammed with an R. What might this be? It wasn’t the right shape to be a hair dryer. I picked it up and immediately realized hiddenI had found the missing toilet paper. In a fancy fabric bag, at the back of a dark shelf in the closet. Because that’s where we all store our toilet paper, right? As far from the toilet as possible, in a bag sized to make extrication of said toilet paper a difficult proposition.

What were they thinking?

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