Monday, July 4, 2016

Humor: Spicy food stories

A test of bravery or sheer craziness?

What is it about some men (people really, but in my particular experience it was all males) and the need to prove they can eat the hottest of foods without blinking an eye? The following is a scene witnessed a few times in my life, but nothing will ever match that first time it occurred.

Image credit: Pixabay

Several years back we used to frequently gather at a friends' home. One night a group of approximately six of us were sitting around the kitchen table having a few drinks and laughs. Suddenly, my friend's husband comes over with some recently picked jalapeno and habanero peppers from his impressive garden. A few of us looked on curiously at what was about to unfold but, being a bit unsure, we continued our discussion.

As we're giggling over the stories and jokes being told, out of the corner of my eye I see my friend's hubby and another guy each pop one of the hot peppers into their mouths. It turns out these two men were having a private little contest to see who could eat the pepper without being the first to flinch. 

After a few moments, the rest of the table caught on to what was going on and conversation came to a standstill as we watched in awe as their two faces turned pink, then transformed into a deep red; eventually, they finally took on a slight purplish tint. Finally, one of them gasped and grabbed a beer to drown out the heat, then begged for a glass of water; the other guy also finally called "uncle" and he too took on a beer chaser.

The expressions on their faces as this was occurring was so darned funny! They acted so brave, while inside it was clear they were in agony. The rest of us, while awed and full of disbelief, couldn't help but burst out laughing at their quandary. We didn't feel too badly though because the two of them brought it on themselves.

The next thing I know, they're at it again, but this time another guy decided to join the fun. The rules changed; they decided the first one to take a drink loses. The third friend takes a bite and tries really hard to disguise the fire so obviously burning in his mouth, but he's failing miserably. Yet, he forges ahead and takes the next bite despite his pain. 

Tears are streaming down his cheeks and once again he takes yet another chomp of the pepper. The first two look at each other with a knowing nod, then join back in; their tactic was different, they opt to eat the full pepper at once. Suddenly, we're sitting there watching three grown men gasping for breath, turning red, and crying their eyes out; subsequently we watched their jaws clench in pain as each desperately strove to "win."

As stubborn as they all were, the third guy finally gives in and chugs down a full glass of water, which he can barely drink. The tears are coming hard and fast by now. The second two finally relent and each chug down another drink.

To this day, while not really understanding the why of this "contest", admittedly, it was rather funny, but I couldn't help but question if it was pure bravery or sheer stupidity. Later on, out of bizarre curiosity, I took a piece of pepper and just dabbed my tongue on it, and boy was it hot! To this day I'll never understand how they were able to sit there chewing on these extremely hot peppers, trying to act nonchalant.

That evening was the start of a routine ritual -- at least for a time. Each time, as more peppers came into maturity, the guys would sit around that same kitchen table, each trying to outdo the other. What was even more amazing is eventually the gardener's little girl joined these contests.

Then again, she was eating raw onions as a toddler -  definitely her father's daughter.

Poetry: Precious memories

Their eyes met and she saw that first look
One undeniable hug was all it took
A bond grew quickly and feelings grew strong
They knew from the start it couldn't last long

The time was short but was time so sweet
She savored the rare moments they could meet
Alas too many obstacles stood in their way
The longing had to end, she could not stay

He said the only thing constant is change
With those words was their last exchange
Clutching those words she knew she had to leave
As they hugged her tears trickled down his sleeve

She cried and prepared to leave all that was good
Things ended that night as she always knew it would
As she turned away to leave him behind
A last "I love you" flowed through their minds

Connection so powerful despite time so brief
She buried those feelings deep underneath
Every so often she sees the moon beam
And sometimes wonders if it was real or a dream

Years have passed and as her hair goes gray
She still remembers that one fateful day
Her sadness had faded as years went by
Precious memories remain but no tears left to cry

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Humor: Dealing with squirrels

Dealing with Squirrels: Why they are not as cute as they pretend to be

Squirrels are such cute, wide-eyed little furry critters. What's not to like about them? They are fascinating as they leap from tree to tree, gracefully racing across utility wires and gleefully prancing across lawns. As you watch them, you might even think to yourself what a wondrous treat it is to be able to view these sociable creatures frolicking around. 

Yeah, right. The fuzzy heartwarming scenario ends right there. Dealing with squirrels isn't always as "cute" as it seems.

Sure squirrels may be cute, even amusing, but in reality those creatures are nothing but audacious and condescending furry little critters. Their secret beneath their adorable guise is that they are evil at heart. They cleverly cloak themselves in an aura of beauty under the pretense of being too cute to resist. At first glance their persona illuminates one of delight, but in reality they are really mischievous little critters who are conscientiously plotting to launch their attack. Don't let the cuteness fool you!

Have you ever really paid close attention to a squirrel's antics? Not just watch them, but truly observe just what it is they do. If not, you should really try it sometime. Upon closer examination of their activities you'll probably notice a few things that escaped your eye before. If you really scrutinize their behaviors, you'll see under that manifestation of beauty is a true streak of wickedness.

As their true motive shines through, you'll see how they defiantly eat your tulips as they try to bloom. You also may as well forget the idea of getting the chance to experience the beautiful explosion of color you had been anticipating all winter because you won't even get a glimpse. Those tulip buds will be eaten by the little stinkers before your flowers even show off a hint of color.

These furry little rodents with bushy tails will also spend the days away digging in your flowerpots and stealing whatever botanical marvels you toiled away planting. Chances are you'll also never get the chance to see these blossoms either because those bulbs will never experience the warmth of the sun. No, instead they'll be dug up before they can even reach the surface of the soil.

Not only do the little rodents attack your lovely flowers and lawns, watch how their beady little eyes light up when they come across a vegetable garden. Imagine spending your weekends diligently planting your vegetables, lovingly covering each seedling with anticipation of eating the fruits of your labors later on in the season. 

Unfortunately, come Monday afternoon you'll probably discover your vegetable garden has been ravaged by the bushy tailed rats. As a parting gift, they'll likely have left you some lovely little holes in the spots your seeds were implanted to give birth. Your poor seeds never even had a chance to see the light of day.
You can also forget that luscious green lawn you've dreamed about all winter because the squirrels will use your turf to dig numerous trenches. Their intent is to use your lawn as a sanctuary to hide their stolen treasures which were pilfered from the gardens toiled by others.

Chances are if you kindly try and shoo them away you'll find they simply look back at you, stand upright and stare you down with the haughtiest smirk you've ever seen! Squirrels are very defiant that way.

You can try to place chicken wire, plant herbs and other vegetation to try and deter them, but forget it. It'll all be for naught. The little critters will maneuver their way around and then look you squarely in the eye with the "neener, neener" look as they boldly make their next move. Some squirrels are even brash enough to drop an acorn on your head or throw one straight at you. Oh yes, those squirrels are plotting little creatures, not only are they clever, they possess a streak of meanness too.

The next time those fuzzy rodents enthrall you with their cute little antics, remember to keep these attributes in mind. In reality squirrels are just suckering you in so they can unleash their true wicked intentions when you're not looking and least expect their attack! Oh heck, some of them are are so bold they'll do it even when you are watching.

But gosh darn it, as evil as they are, they sure are fun to watch. I can't tell you how many times I've fallen under their spell.

(The fellow in the photo pretty much destroyed the bird feeder, but he was funny to watch!)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Flash fiction: Because of betrayal

Vicky and Frank met in college. She strived to be a teacher and Frank majored in technology. After graduation the duo married. Two years into their marriage Frank was struck with the realization Vicky was obsessed with money. The sudden change surprised him, but he loved her.

Instead of getting a full time teaching job, Vicky sporadically worked as a tutor. Frank went to work in an entry position in the local bank's IT department. Money was tight.

Frank was dejected his wife was always so unhappy. Vicky was frustrated, but never seemed to equate her spending habits to their empty bank account.

"Vicky, I know we don't have much, but someday we'll have money.  I'm sorry I cannot provide the way you want right now, but I promise it's not forever," Frank said. 

He truly believed Vicky would love him again once he made money.

"OK Frank," Vicky mumbled. She turned back to her magazine.

Frank bored her. Recently, her eye had been on the wealthy father of a child she tutored. But he was married and she wasn't going to play second fiddle; still it was fun to entertain the idea.

Eventually, Frank started his own company which took off and quickly went public. Money was no longer an issue. Vicki quit working altogether. 

Despite a financially secured lifestyle, Vicky had her eye on Mike, a software designer working for Frank. Vicky wanted an affair, but Mike wouldn't reciprocate. For years Vicki pursued, but Mike would only allow a close friendship to develop. In Vicky's arrogance, she believed Mike's loyalty was solely due to fear of losing job security, it never crossed her mind he wasn't attracted.
Frank reached early retirement and sold the company for a tidy sum. Vicky concocted a plan and recruited Mike for the job.

"We could poison him," Vicky said.

"I'll take care of the details, even the funeral," Mike replied.

"Good, I don't want to deal with it. I'll be at the spa this weekend. Afterward, we'll finally be together," she added.

As promised, Mike took care of everything. Frank was even already in the coffin upon Vicky's return. She played the grieving widow to perfection.

Soon afterward Vicky was met with the surprise of her life after dinner with Mike. Frank walked in followed by police. Minutes later Vicky left in handcuffs.

Mike was loyal to his employer, always.