Tag Archives: short short

2057. Chicken Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage

Thanks so much, Kitchen Cheffie, for yesterday’s fabulous recipe on your website. I used it for dinner last night and everyone loved it, including hubby who doesn’t always eat everything I cook. He’s such a fussy eater! I have never tried Chicken Stew with Duck Confit and Cabbage before. It’s a winner.

As I have said many times before in the comments on your blog, we like to eat healthy. So I omitted everything except for the water and cabbage. Besides, I didn’t have any chicken in the house. Your recommended cooking time was far, far too long and I ended up having to puree the cabbage into a soup because it had disintegrated too much. Seven hours at a low temperature is way too much. Also the yellowing outer leaves of the cabbage discoloured the finished product a little.

Another reason for adapting your recipe was that I didn’t know what Duck Comfort was. You need to explain things sometimes for your readers. I presume it’s some sort of “comfort food” so that was another reason for omitting that ingredient because of unhealthy overtones!!!!!!

I likewise wondered why you cooked it in the oven when the stove top would have been sufficient?

All in all, a wonderful recipe. It’s a keeper. One funny thing happened which I shouldn’t really tell but I simply must! The cabbage was home-grown, so when I took it out of the oven after seven hours there had been a good twenty or so earwigs hiding in the cabbage. They were cooked along with the cabbage! Let’s hope there were no slugs. Next time I’ll cut the cabbage up first – maybe into quarters. The earwigs didn’t matter in the long run because after I pureed everything no one noticed them.

2020. The camel was designed by a committee

(Today is story Number 2020 and will be my last posting for a while. (For those a little slow, 2020 is also the year!) Today too marks my 71st birthday, so what a splendid time to debloggerate for a bit! 2020 stories, 100 poems, nearly four hundred pieces of music – and thanks to you my readers, just under 40,000 comments! (Clearly, some of you can’t shut up!) I shall be back at some stage but possibly to do different things. After all, if a person hasn’t found a single story they liked out of 2020 then… whatever. I thought (inspired by a suggestion once made by Uma) that I might write some monologues. Or (as Iseult suggested) I might write Part II of an “autobiography”. Or (as I have suggested to myself many times) I might write another novel. Who knows?! Anyway, here is today’s story, the final, entitled “The camel was designed by a committee”.)

The Nobel Prize for Literature Committee called a very important meeting. They had invited a group of people to advise whether or not, for the first time in Nobel history, a blogger should receive the award. No one knows a blogger like a blogger. Apologies if your presence and what you said at the meeting was not recorded; the story would get too long – but whole-hearted thanks to ALL who read this blog.

Below is a rough transcription of the meeting. Andrea set the ball rolling.

Andrea: I really don’t think we should award Bruce the Nobel Prize for Literature. He would probably show his thanks by killing us all off in a story.

Uma: I agree with Andrea. Our world is dark enough without our adding to it. Mind you, it’s a Catch 22 situation; he’ll kill us off in the stories whether we say yes or no.

Nitin: What Bruce getting the Nobel Prize for Literature has got to do with Bozo the Clown is quite beyond me.

Yvonne: I’m not in favour of the Nobel Prize for Literature being given to Bruce. Imagine the interminable shopping lists he’d make once he got all that money.

GP Cox: He needs a bomb put under him.

Lisa: I agree with Yvonne on this one. I have tried to play his music on the violin and I think we should concentrate on his stories.

Keith: As a poet and story writer who has lived in France I really think there are cases more worthy, such as…

João-Maria (interrupting): I agree with Keith. I can think of lots of Portuguese poets who…

Ian (interrupting): Since no one knows who I am I can speak the truth without any negative repercussions. All I can say about his getting the Nobel Prize is – balderdash. Bunkum. Hokum. (And (although he might hate me saying) possibly the one who writes enough stupid stuff to be appreciated).

Max: He doesn’t know much about popular music from the 60s and 70s, so personally I’m more in favour of awarding it to Bob Dylan. Someone like that.

Matthew: Bob Dylan’s already got it once. I agree with João-Marie; but not Portuguese poets. Colombian poets would be more suitable.

Noelle: The Pilgrim Fathers (and Mothers) didn’t get off the Mayflower to award the Nobel Prize for Literature to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. I cry Murder! Murder! It’s a “No!” from me because I usually found his methods of killing people under researched.

Sylvie: I suspect he hasn’t written any haikus, so it’s “Non” from me (which according to Google Translate is French for “No”).

Herb: I’ve looked back over my own blog over the years, and if length of service is anything to go on I shall have to recommend the same as Sylvie, only in English.

Chelsea: As a mother of five boys I simply haven’t got any spare time to voice an opinion, although it’s pretty amazing how much I get done in a day.

Terry: From my point of view, all I can say is I’m an Australian, and my excellent stories are…

Sarah  (interrupting): As a published author I cannot recommend the prize going to someone who has never been published. In fact, in researching the history of the Nobel Prizes I can’t think of a single unpublished author who has had a book published. Nor for that matter can I think of a published author who has not had a book published.

Alex: They certainly haven’t made any films using his stories. For that matter, they haven’t made even a sitcom. It’s pathetic. What a pathetic loser! What an insignificant personage! It’s going to be a big fat “No” from me.

Chris: And “No” from me. His poems don’t rhyme. Nor do most of mine but that’s not what we’re on about here.

Cindy: If it’s photographable I’m in favour of it, although he’s not particularly photogenic. Then again, not every bird I photograph is pretty. Some are downright ugly. On second thoughts, I’m voting “No”. Sometimes one has to take into account the feelings of the camera.

Marina: Hello from Greece. I’m standing at my easel wondering whether to write or paint my “No”.

John: It looks like it’s going to be a unanimous “NO”. I should know because I write excellent poetry and have two daughters who live in New Zealand. In fact, Bruce and I have just had a series of poems published in a new poetry anthology called “No More Can Fit Into the Evening”. Published by Four Windows Press in Wisconsin. More of that anon.

Inese: Bruce is as cunning as a fox, although he’s never seen one. I went for a long and very picturesque walk along a river bank in Ireland to think about this award, and I got so distracted by the beauty of the environment that I quite forgot to think. Mind you, I have played all 160 of his piano pieces. Unfortunately there’s no Nobel Prize for Piano Music.

Lindsey: Speaking of walking… who’s this walking up the garden path this very minute?

Gulsum: Why! It’s Bruce himself!

Bruce: Hands up! Hands up! This is a hold up! Stick ‘em up!

Tom: We can’t say we weren’t warned. (And Tom’s publishing company – Four Windows Press – is the publisher of the poetry anthology mentioned by John above. And Tom is also one of the editors).

Paul: Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!

Iseult: Where is a murderous machete when I need it? Help! A machete! A machete! My latest novel for a machete!

Bruce: Ok. Just this once I relent. In today’s story, you’re all going to survive. Well, maybe not all… YOU – over there in the corner in the silly hat – I see you’ve already nibbled surreptitiously on some of the poisonous salami I put out for refreshments later on.

Simon: I haven’t eaten any of the poisonous salami. I eat only what I cook myself – unless someone else cooks it. Why don’t you get on your bike and pedal off?

Bruce got onto his bicycle and pedaled off into the sunset. Of course, he’s so unfit that it’s not impossible he won’t get far.

THE END

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

1998. Practical Felicity

Felicity was at least eighty-six years old. She was still trim and able enough to live on her own, except she didn’t live on her own. She lived with her husband, Laughton, who was eighty-nine. When their dog of thirteen years took ill he was too big and heavy for them to lift it into the car to take to the animal care shelter. They had to get the neighbour over to give a hand. Of course, the neighbour didn’t mind.

But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about how a storm blew in from nowhere and decimated the entire village. The neighbours seem to have disappeared. Laughton was killed by a piece of flying roofing. Felicity was literally alone.

Felicity knew that the electricity and water wouldn’t be turned on for days – such was the serious extent of the storm. She also knew that it could be days before anyone reached her house and could remove Laughton’s body.

Dear practical Felicity! She thought if she hurried, before all the cold escaped from the cabinet freezer, she could perhaps put Laughton’s body in there to freeze until help arrived. Laughton was old and light but an enormous weight for Felicity to push and shove. First she got one ankle on the edge of the freeze, and then the other. Gradually she worked to the knees. Once his bottom was over the edge the whole corpse slithered into the freezer. It had taken Felicity well over an hour and she was exhausted. Everything had happened so fast. It was as if she was in a bad dream.

She went to close the freezer lid. It wouldn’t shut. Rigor mortis had set in and Laughton’s knees were sticking up above the closing level.

It wasn’t until then that Felicity burst into tears.

1994. Magic mirror

Alexander told his younger sister Clarissa that if you take seven deep breaths in front of the mirror something spectacular will happen.

“You need to do it outside,” he said, “because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Clarissa took her small wall mirror outside and propped it up against the leg of the porch chair on the lawn. She looked in the mirror and took seven deep breaths.

That is when Alexander threw a bucket of water over her.

1888. I can’t think of everything at once

“I can’t think of everything at once” was Bella’s way of not only trying to find a reason for what happened, but her way of coping with the situation.

Dale had left Bella quite unexpectedly. One minute they were happily married, or so Bella thought, and the next minute he’d upped and left and was cohabitating with that floosy from the confectionary shop down on the corner of Shelley Street. Bella had no idea what he saw in her. And now Bella was on her own. The dividing of the matrimonial goods hadn’t as yet happened, but Bella was ensconced in the joint house and she wasn’t budging for the time being. Besides, it was winter and the house had a log fire and lots of firewood stack in the shed. She would cope.

On a rather chilly winter’s evening Bella discovered she had let the log fire go out. Dale had always set and lit the fire but she wasn’t entirely impractical. She screwed up some pages of newspaper and wigwammed some kindling over the top of it. That was when she discovered that she couldn’t think of everything at once. Dale had always lit the fire with his cigarette lighter. There were no matches in the house. Matches had not been on her grocery list.

Of course it was a silly idea, but Bella had heard since early childhood that primitive humans started a fire by rubbing two sticks together. She didn’t have a clue how to do it, and suspected very much that it wouldn’t work anyway. For a time she thought she would stay warm by wrapping herself up in blankets. She would buy some matches tomorrow. But then Bella thought of a solution.

She rolled up a sheet of newspaper tightly. She went to the kitchen, turned on the toaster, and from the element of the toaster she lit the rolled up newspaper. On the way to the wood burner with her burning torch she brushed past the lacy curtains in the dining room.

It’s always a shame when nothing is insured.

(Note: Today’s story number of 1888 is out of sync. That’s because a month or so back Story 1888 was missed – so this is a catch-up!)

1984. Honey, I never made it

Granville had made his wife, Doreen, the most beautiful rocking chair. It had taken him months of secret working in the shed out the back. Doreen never knew what he was up to. She supposed he was simply messing about, and then one day he produced the rocking chair and said “I made this for you, Honey.”

What a beautiful chair! Carved legs! A perfect, perfect rocking motion! Even the sweetest cushion on the seat!

“What a clever husband I have!” declared Doreen. “Who would have believed?”

But the truth was, Granville had started to make a rocking chair and things didn’t work out. It was a mess, so he had a rocking chair made. It certainly was a magnificent rocking chair, but he had merely pretended to have made it himself.

“What a clever husband I have!” repeated Doreen. “Who would have believed?” She was over the moon.

Sometime later, Granville was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He grew weaker by the day. He knew, as he reviewed his life, that entrance to eternity perhaps demanded sorrow for sins. He simply had to tell Doreen about the rocking chair.

It was clear that the end was near. Granville still hadn’t confessed to Doreen. And then, with one gigantic effort he declared “Honey, I never made it”. Within seconds he was dead.

Doreen always thought, as she rocked her way through widowhood, that Granville’s final “Honey, I never made it” was some premonition that he had been refused entrance through the Pearly Gates.

1972. Touch type

Hedwig always took the positive view of life. Her biggest challenge came when she lost her sight. It was a very difficult situation of course, made doubly worse by the fact that she was a professional typist. Mind you, she was a touch typist so she could still type transcriptions of audios.

It was a great help that her boss at work was in fact her first cousin. She said, “Hedwig, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to work here. And we shall begin with a short thankyou note I would like typed out that I have dictated on my phone. And make a copy.”

Hedwig typed it out in double quick time. It was easy-peasy. Hedwig’s cousin thanked her profusely. It looks like Hedwig’s job is secure. Here’s the copy:

Dear Mabrl

Thanekypi sp ,icj gpt uypi ;eyyer pg vpmspo;emn cr/ Annie anmd O ertr gr;ohjkyrf up trvrobr oy smf oy jhwbn5 or ,ifj fp,t;67

Kind re4ghartd
Dave

Hedwig’s cousin said she was delighted. She continued to employ Hedwig for years after.

1962. Interplanetary Cultural Exchange

(Today is the first of seven stories to celebrate Science Faction Weak).

Some of the more erudite among you may have heard of the literary genre of Science Fiction. If you haven’t – no matter. It is all made up stuff, which is why it is called Fiction. But this story here is Science FACTion. Those who regularly follow this blog know that it pulls no punches, takes no prisoners, and refuses stolidly to enter the airy-fairy world of make-believe.

This then, needless to say, is yet another true story proving once again that FACTion is stranger than FICTion.

Imagine the world-wide excitement when the Earth Government and the Government of our nearest inhabited planet, Loupchian, came to a mutual agreement; a scheme would be set up to allow for the interchange of students between the two planets. It would last about six months in each case. What a tremendous opportunity for artistic understanding! There was hardly a household on Planet Earth that didn’t want a LICK (Loupchian Interplanetary Cadet Kid).

The Loupchiens were a strange evolutionary line. They were like hairless dogs that walked around on two limbs and wore clothes. They were intelligent and showed an extraordinary facility for languages. Research had shown that it was a tiny insignificant event that had shoved the evolution of Homo sapiens in one direction and the Loupchiens into another. In fact, the Loupchian bipedal dog-look-alikes kept house pets that looked remarkably like homo sapiens. Except the homo sapiens pets were naked and dumb.

The exchange program went almost perfectly for a year. Thousands of LICKs were exchanged. Both sides became steeped in one another’s way of doing things. It was described as “a stunning bicultural enrichment”.

There were two things that rankled on Earth however. Those Earthings who returned could not be re-educated to stop bad habits they had picked up on the Loupchian Planet. The human boys would cock their legs to pee, and both sexes went around sniffing each other’s bottoms.

1958. Apple-Song and Acorn-Rain

Phyllis had a fairy as a friend. No one believed her. In fact most people thought she was nuts. She would talk to her fairy and her fairy would talk back. They were inseparable. Phyllis’s fairy was called Apple-Song. So there you have it! If Apple-Song didn’t exist how come she had a name?

Phyllis didn’t have many friends apart from Apple-Song. I mean, who wants to be friendly with a girl who is nuts?

One day some naughty boys came along and they pretended to kill Apple-Song. Phyllis was very sad. Then people thought she was more nuts than ever. She still didn’t have any friends until Acorn-Rain came along. Acorn-Rain and Phyllis were inseparable. He was a boy fairy, whereas Apple-Song was a girl fairy.

These days Phyllis is a famous writer. She is a multimillionaire. Everyone else works their guts out achieving little in their humdrum jobs.

See? Who now doesn’t believe in fairies?