Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rare Laundry Monster Sighting

The mysterious laundry monster is difficult to spot because it's extraordinary camouflage allows it to seamlessly blend into its surroundings. A rare sighting of the monster was recently recorded in a college apartment. The monster prefers dry clothing, slightly warm from the heat of the dryer. The colorful melange of t-shirts and shorts can sometimes distract the monster long enough for a lucky observer to snap a quick photograph. Images of this monster are extremely hard to come by and therefore highly prized. If you spot a laundry monster in your area, remember to stay calm and fold your laundry as you normally would. Such a monster will seek warm places and retreat from the receding pile of clothing.

The laundry monster attempts to assess its surroundings
while exposing as little of its body as possible

Half Moon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I babysit Mary-Kate and Ashley pretty regularly and we often bake. A few days ago I was babysitting Ashley, the younger of the two, and she decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. As we were concocting the cookie dough, she came up with a splendid idea that a chocolate lover such as myself could never say no to: dipping the cookies in melted chocolate.

After putting a tray of cookies in the oven, Ashley began melting the chocolate chips for the cookie dipping. I watched her sneakily snack on handfuls of chocolate chips as she melted the chocolate chips that somehow hadn't made it into her mouth. After the chocolate was melted she exclaimed, "I better taste it to make sure it's ready." Yes Ashley, make sure the solid chocolate you've been eating  this whole time tastes just right in liquid form.

After the melting was complete, Ashley brought out two cooling racks and carefully labelled them so we would know the difference between the plain chocolate chip cookies and the ones that would be dipped in chocolate. I'm glad she did that because it would have been impossible to tell otherwise.

Despite my sarcasm which I kept to myself through this whole process, Ashley's cookie recipe was absolutely superb. She made some of the best chocolate chips cookies I have ever had. It's easy to want to make fun of little kids sometimes, but when they bake delicious cookies, it's better to keep your mouth shut (because it's full of chocolate chip cookie, duh).

Cookies on the left, cookie cups on the right. There's a big

The very necessary cookie labels

Yeah I can't remember which ones were
dipped in melted chocolate...

Dumb Shaggy Dog

Sometimes Shaggy is smart, and sometimes he is really dumb. He has an awesome rope toy that he shakes the hell out of when he feels like being rough. It's funny to watch because the toy is long enough to whip around and whack him in the head as he flings it between his jaws.

Sometimes Shaggy likes to mess with things that aren't his, and it usually doesn't work out in his favor. One time he ate three pieces of raw chicken and then had really bad poops all over the white living room carpet two days later. This other time he tried to pick up an eight pound weight with his teeth. He didn't get very far. The weight was sitting under the dresser in the hallway, and Shaggy stuck his fat furry head underneath and grabbed the weight with his sharp chompers. He couldn't even pull it out all the way. At least he didn't break any teeth.

Fleeing the scene

That's a heavy piece of metal

Naughty Shaggy Dog

My grandma's old english sheep dog is a nut case. He's super hyper and really good at herding. I know this because if I stop too suddenly walking anywhere at Grandma's house, I'm sure to get a wet nose jammed up my butt. It's hard to be annoyed when all he wants to do is be right next to me all the time. He is the snuggliest, sweetest dog, and even though he's a heavy breather who won't let me nap on the cough without a big slobbery lick across my face, we are buddies.

That WAS until he ruined Friday night dinner.

Shaggy has a reputation for stealing food off the counter, but only if we are foolish enough to leave it out when we leave the house. Last Friday I had marinated six chicken breasts and left them in a dish on the counter. Afterwards I decided to snuggle with Shaggy in the living room. After scratching his ears and rubbing his belly, I went to sit on the couch to relax. No sooner had I plopped onto the squishy leather cushion did I hear a strange crunching coming from the kitchen. I knew Shaggy's food bowl was empty, so I could only guess what he was chomping on as I entered the kitchen. He was standing right next to the counter, and as I peered into the bowl of chicken, I immediately realized the feat he had accomplished. Without knocking the ceramic bowl to the ground, Shaggy managed to snipe three chicken breasts from the bowl with his apparently dexterous jaws. There were a few splotches of teriyaki splattered on the counter before I wiped it clean, but other than that he left no mess. Well, except for his white fur that was now exuding a very strong teriyaki scent.

His astounding accomplishment almost made it difficult to be angry. I was also quite stunned by his bold move, knowing I was sitting in the adjacent room. I was forced to throw out the other three pieces, unsure of what dog germs may have contaminated the meat. As I cleaned the counter and washed the ceramic bowl, I could hear Shaggy licking his sauce-stained fur, trying to savor every last drop of teriyaki dripping down his fuzzy beard and chest. The sound made me angry because he was still enjoying his victory as I cleaned up after him, lamenting the loss of three perfectly good chicken breasts.

Contaminated chicken

"I didn't know teriyaki was so good
but then I ate that chicken
and now I know ..."

It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)

If you were to walk in my room this second, you would immediately comprehend which band I idolize from one glance at the posters plastered on the walls. If you were to open my T-shirt drawer, you would grasp the same information by tallying the number of this band's T-shirts in my posession. If you were to read the title of this post and recognized it as a song title, you might also conjure a guess at my favorite band. I'll give you a hint: it's The Rolling Stones.

They're old, they're wrinkly, and Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood have succumbed to dying their signature hair to hide the gray hues that Keith Richards and Charlie Watts proudly display. Despite their looks, they can still play the hell out of their songs. I was lucky enough to see them perform this past Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto with a friend.

We waited anxiously in our seats as stage hands and audio engineers all dressed in black tuned various guitars and plugged in different cords. We leapt to our feet as soon as Mick came skipping out on stage, and didn't dare sit back down again that evening. Mick kept us on our feet the whole time with an energetic and captivating performance. Lisa Fisher poured her soul into the microphone during "Gimme Shelter," much to my delight. I was only slightly worried something else was about to pour out of the top of her extremely low cut, tight fitting black gown. "Midnight Rambler" had the crowd cheering excitedly in the middle as it slowed way down before speeding back up at the end.

Keith can't sing well, but it was still great to see him take the mic and mumble out most of the lyrics to "You Got the Silver" and "Happy." At one point I heard him murmur "...better late than never.." before letting out a growling laugh, flashing his perfectly white, fake teeth. My friend miraculously discerned a string of Keith's jumbled utterances, and explained "gold rings on you all," is a phrase Keith says regularly. What a cheeky British thing to say.

Mick pulled out all the stops during "Sympathy for the Devil," donning a ridiculous black feathered cape that hungrily swallowed his skinny frame. A phenomenal rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want"was performed with the help of the renowned Cawthra Park Chamber Choir. This sweet symphony of sound was then followed by a snappy performance of "Jumping Jack Flash" as Mick flitted about after his fiftieth costume change into a ruby red sparkly crop jacket with coattails flailing behind his legs as he darted across the stage.

And despite the title of this post, "It's Only Rock 'n Roll But I Like It" was not the highlight of the show. Carrie Underwood has an impressive set of lungs, but an awkward, shifty eyed blonde chick following Mick around stage like a lost puppy is not what I expected from a six-time Grammy Award winning singer. Despite Underwood's disappointing performance, Mick and the rest of the gang solidified my love of the Stones and the rock and roll music that never gets old.

Mick and his massive cape

End of the show

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Butterfly Garden Song

I wrote this short poem for my Survey of Environmental Writing class this past spring semester. It is inspired by the beautiful floral displays blooming throughout Highland Park in Rochester, New York in spring:

Butterfly Garden Song

The rhythm of the garden endlessly pulses as I walk
barefoot between lilac bushed of humble heliotrope
and bold byzantium. Gazing at grey clouds
and the deep sea of Kentucky bluegrass,
both are shifting in time with the billowing breeze.
Soft winds propel my tiny winged friends,
a sweet symphony echoing quietly as the monarch butterflies
silently beat their wings to a secret song,
sucking sweet nectar from petite purple flowers.
Occasionally one will dance across my cheeks,
greeting my fluttering eyelids as if they were old friends.
The lighter purple shade is heliotrope and the darker shade is byzantium

Photo cred
Monarchs really do feed on lilac nectar!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Rainy weather and wet earth always seem to compel the earthworms to surface from the dark depths of their  muddy subterranean habitat. I admire their bravery as they boldly squirm across the cement sidewalks, but I pity their foolishness as countless pairs of sneakers, sandals and boots stomp carelessly on their soft, pink bodies. While earthworms need the wet weather to keep their fragile bodies moist during the dangerous sidewalk commute, I can't help but fear for their safety. I imagine the tiny, inaudible scraping sounds their flesh make as they  wriggle over the rough cement terrain. We've all seen the earthworms who don't make it back to the safety of the moist earth before the sun beams waves of burning light over their delicate bodies, drying their skin and stiffening their movements. Perhaps in panic an earthworm has tried to eat through the rock hard sidewalk to reach the safety of the soft soil below. But such efforts are in vain. The worm is trapped in a cement desert. As the moisture evaporates from the earthworm's skin, it's slimy body adheres to the sidewalk, creating a sort of temporary fossil until a curious child picks at it's hardened corpse or a hungry dog scrapes the worm up with it's sharp teeth for a tiny snack.

I have a special fondness for earthworms and I'm not ashamed of it. They are fascinating to watch, but also play a crucial role in the ecosystem by breaking down dead plant matter and enriching the soil. Whenever I must commute along a wet sidewalk, I can't help but look down and try to avoid crushing my wormy friends. I stomp along the worm desert at record speeds, tinged with guilt as my worm friends squirm inch by inch with all their might to reach their dirty destinations before the sun swallows the life out of them.

Close encounter