Arm & Hammer to the rescue …

The other day I tried a new recipe, one from a friend. I cooked it in an enamel cast iron dutch oven. To my horror, when it was done cooking and I started to dish it out, I could see that the entire bottom of the pot was pretty thickly-coated with black, burnt, caked-on food. And I do mean the entire bottom.

A kitchen disaster. I could have cried. The pot is new and was expensive.

Gulping, I consulted the booklet that came with the pot. Following the instructions, first I let the pot cool. Plunging a hot pan into cold water can result in cracking or loss of enamel. I then filled it with warm water Continue reading

Pardon me while I kvetch a little …

What a difference a week makes.  This time last Tuesday I was waxing poetic about George, our morning doorman; and how he always puts me in a frustratedgood mood.  Today I’m in a whole other frame of mind.

Maybe it’s the weather.  I am sick to death of sub-arctic temperatures.  Day after day after day after day.  And I am not exaggerating.  It is minus 28 celsius today, with the wind chill.  That is minus 18 degrees farenheit, in case you think I’m being a wimp.  Minus (bleep) 18!!!!!!!  And it’s been like this for weeks, maybe even more than a month.  And every second day it snows.  And then there was the ice storm.

And believe it or not the heat will have to be shut off in my apartment building on Thursday — from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  To fix some problem in the furnace.  Don’t get me started on that.

So yeah, I’m not quite as cheerful as I usually am.

Gotta let off some steam. Continue reading

Day 97. Morning After

Okay, I admit it.  Here I sit, totally uninspired.  For the first time since I came up with this hair-brained idea of using   a different letter of the alphabet for each of my blog posts, every word I think of seems boring, boring, boring.  Unimaginative.  Predictable.  Plebeian.  Pedestrian.

Oh no, no,, no.  Don’t jump to conclusions, tempting as it may be.  Today is not a ‘p’ day, although I can see why you might think it is.

But, I digress.

So I did what I always do when I’m a bit stumped.  I turned to Google and searched for interesting words that start with the letter “K”.

Do you know what a katzenjammer is?  I certainly didn’t.  Well, folks, it’s a hangover.  Yep, it’s a German word, that dates back to 1849.  Katzenjammer.  The literal translation is ‘cat’s wail’; a loud, discordant noise (as in very loud Continue reading

Day 45. This Day

When I woke up this morning I thought, well, it’s just another day.  Then my curiosity got the better of me; and I wondered if anything notable had ever happened on  September 20.  At any time in history.  Both good and bad.  Google to the rescue.

From, where their info goes back to 368,  I learned that  on this day in 1519, Magellan began his first successful circumnavigation of the world.  Also, in 1664 Maryland passed it’s first anti-amalgamation law to stop the intermarriage of English women and black men.  Sadly, almost 350 years later, there are still many states where mixed marriage continues to be an unpopular idea; and now, of course, the real hullabaloo is over gay marriage.

In 1830, the 1st Negro Convention of Free Men agreed to boycott slave-produced goods.  In 1859 George Simpson patented the first electric range.  Do you think that’s when they coined the phrase, “Now you’re cooking?”  And on September 20, 1873 panic swept the NY Stock Exchange because of a railroad bond default/bank failure; and, in fact, New York banks were closed down for 10 days due to a bank scandal (guess we haven’t learned our lesson yet).

But what’s most interesting is that, in 1884 the Equal Rights Party nominated the first female candidates for President and VP.  So I guess Hilary Clinton isn’t such a groundbreaker, after all.

Babe Ruth tied Ned Williamson’s major league record of 27 home runs in 1919.  Ghandi began his hunger strike against the treatment of ‘untouchables’ in 1932;  and the first Cannes Film Festival was held in 1946. Continue reading

Day 24. Immediate Gratification

Several years ago when I was working at BBDO, one of our clients was Ontario Tourism.  On this particular occasion, I was to write a brochure on fly fishing for them — a subject on which I knew less than nothing.  In less time than it would take a fisherman to cast his line (or whatever it is they do), I became enough of an expert to write an absolutely splendid brochure, if I do say so myself.  I even found a great recipe for cooking your fresh catch, over an open fire, in the great outdoors, under a moon-lit sky.  A quite charming addition to the piece.

Google.  Search.

Not that many years before that, I would have had no other choice but to spend hours and hours at the library.  Or I’d have been forced to first “let my fingers do the walking through the yellow pages”, looking for where I might find sportsman-type shops; and then I’d have to schlep myself to one or two of them, where I’d look like the idiot I was, asking the sales staff stupid questions.

While it was always fun to get out of the office on these little field trips, it did take critical time away from the task at hand, which was the writing.  And the deadlines were brutal enough, without having to spend days and days on research.

Some writers love the research part of it.  I don’t mind it.  I quite like digging for info and finding new angles along the way.  But I like to get to the writing as quickly as I can.  That’s my favourite part.

Frankly, at this point, I don’t know what I’d do if somebody took Google away from me.  I honestly don’t think I could do what I do.  Just out of idle curiosity, one of these days I should keep track of the time I spend ‘searching’.  It wouldn’t surprise me if I spent almost as much time on Google, as I do writing.  Even when I’m just Continue reading