Virus Alert

I’ve been infected and I am not happy about it. My first-ever computer virus hit me unawares, and I have unwittingly contaminated everyone I know and love. This thing—with an incubation period of about a nanosecond—took the form of an email that promised great pictures from a good friend of mine. A woman I know well and trust implicitly. A woman who would never lead you astray, drive with one hand on the wheel, or cheat on her taxes. A woman who would never, ever send you tainted email—knowingly.

Because I exceed the tech-savvy cut-off age of 30 (designated by my own traitorous children as the dividing point between those who “get” technology and those who fully believe there are tiny gnomes carrying out the functions in everyone’s computer), I opened this email.

To my shock and horror, the thing immediately sucked up my entire list of contacts and spontaneously reached out to every one of my friends on my behalf. Promising pictures for them. “Something I wanted to show them.” With the lurid undertone that only well-placed italics can properly convey. I should have known better. Most of my friends are over thirty too—poor things didn’t have a fighting chance. And they trusted me as I had trusted my friend. My name was in the subject line of this thing, and until this point, my name had elicited only happy thoughts—I mean, not rainbows and unicorns or anything, but on the whole, pleasant associations, rather than those imbued with mistrust or suspicion. Crazy how fast that can change. My reputation has been sullied.

Despite my frantic efforts to send everyone a cautionary note with a rather hysterical subject line (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T OPEN THAT OTHER EMAIL FROM ME!!!!!), several people did get taken in. I have since received notes from friends and family I hadn’t heard from in a long time, letting me know they were frustrated at missing whatever great thing I had purportedly sent them.

“Email viruses: bringing people together.”

I should send this tag line to Microsoft—they could use it to anchor an upbeat marketing campaign when one of their innumerable security flaws leads to a virus like this one.

Happily, there seems to have been no lasting effect from the virus I have had, although with Boy #1 (our resident programmer) working out of town at the moment, I can’t effect a thorough inspection of the gnomes innards of this machine until sometime near Christmas.

I shouldn’t really say there has been NO lasting effect; in all honesty, I have been scarred. Left with uncharacteristic wariness and a rather unhealthy measure of indignation as a result of this scam. Depressed by the thought that there is likely a significant number of intelligent, but highly antisocial twenty-year-old guys living in their mothers’ basements coming up with bugs like this, just for their own amusement. (Note: If you are the mother of a twenty-year-old son who lives in your basement, do us all a favour, please—go down there and see what he’s up to.)

Several months ago, I asked my programmer son (who—just to clarify— does not live in my basement) if he could tell me how to recognize such email trickery. He was very helpful. He showed me a simple process—I think it was only fourteen or so short steps—by which you could check whether an email was legit or not. It involved cutting and pasting, using Notepad (which I never knew I had), inserting the filename into some diagnostic website’s special search box, and then I think there might have been some magic words you had to chant. Sadly, I neglected to write down this quick and easy procedure, so I will ask him for a review at Christmas time; it can be his gift to me.

Meanwhile, I shall be especially vigilant. I will not open any emails promising a million dollars, a cure for male-pattern baldness, or the enlargement of any particular body part—not even the good ones. And maybe, just to be on the safe side, I’ll bake some cookies for the gnomes.


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Christmas Shopping

IMG_5903The other day, November 15th to be exact, I was at my job at the front desk of the public library when a client let it slip that she had finished her Christmas shopping. Finished. Typically, not a lot of conversation happens between patrons’ dumping their books on the desk in front of me and walking out the door, but clearly, this woman had some serious gloating to do.

I wanted to smack her, but the counter was sufficiently wide that I felt I might achieve only a glancing blow at best. In addition to which, while it’s not expressly forbidden in the library’s employee guidelines, a smacking, I figured, might be frowned upon—even one so obviously provoked.

November 15th.

Remembrance Day was exactly four days ago, and the detritus of Halloween still litters my kitchen. My head cannot jump to the next major holiday with such alacrity. Only just managing to contain the various snide remarks that were fighting for a space on the tip of my tongue from which to launch themselves, I sent this smug woman packing. I secretly wished that one of her books would slide under the car seat on the way home, and she would rack up hefty overdue fines before locating it. Such is the limited vengeance of the disgruntled librarian.

At the basis of my irritation is, I suspect, chagrin. I am no procrastinator, and I know that Christmas comes at the same time each year. Why, then, is it so difficult to initiate the task of shopping at a reasonable time? Instead, I spend weeks in denial that the holiday is approaching, days hand-wringing for lack of good ideas, and even more time with all the other ninnies who didn’t get it together earlier, fighting my way around the mall, the mere sight of which, quite frankly, provokes a headache by association for the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Spirit I end up enjoying most then becomes the bottle of Scotch I crack open following the shopping expedition. Not ideal.

I recognize that it really isn’t charitable to resent those who succeed where I fail miserably in getting this annual task accomplished early. A preferable tactic would be to consider creative options that might work better for me.

To this end, I have tried shopping online, and I must say it can be very effective and relatively stress free, as long as the merchants you choose are situated in your own country. Getting to the end of 15 minutes’ worth of forms on which you have divulged every credit card number and secret code you have, the colour of panties you wear, and the name of your mother’s first boyfriend, only to find that there is no place to enter a Canadian postal code is most discouraging. And unless you own some kind of weekend getaway hut in Guam or some other territory the U.S. Postal Service inexplicably delivers to, you are sadly out of luck.

I’m onto this now. The first step I take when internet shopping is to throw some random item into my virtual cart and try to check out with it. If it’s a no-go, I move on to another store, and if it does work, it’s easy enough to bail on the transaction before the actual purchase has occurred. (I only goofed up on this once, and that hand-painted, middle finger-saluting garden gnome has become like a member of the family. Eternally cantankerous, he fits right in.)

Ideally, I would love to have all of my shopping done before mid-December—early enough to avoid stress, but not so early that I would be scorned as an intolerable overachiever. If I start today, I just may have a shot at success this year. And when that library client returns in three weeks’ time to pay her fines, I will smile and thank her for the inspiration.

Recipe for Disaster


I have never come across a recipe for jam that involved meat. Why then, would I look to Vegetarian Times for a new strawberry jam project? Turning to this publication is really a statement that you wish to avoid all the hideous animal by-products you are likely to find in other recipe collections. That you feel it is the vegetarians who have their heads on straight and who will lead you to the creation of food that is not only delicious and wholesome, but also ethically virtuous. Nothing with eyes gave its life for your jam. Nothing that ever drew breath suffered in order for you to enjoy your morning toast. A lovely premise, no doubt.


Vegetarians, in their zeal to take the high road in the kitchen, may sometimes overlook some critical elements, as I discovered recently.

I stumbled across this recipe for strawberry jam while perusing some articles involving quinoa and chia—two MIRACLE foods of which nobody had ever heard prior to about a year ago, and without which, apparently, we can no longer live.

The recipe seduced me with its photograph. Luscious strawberries look twice as good in the middle of the Canadian winter. They evoke thoughts of springtime, the garden, and maybe even a jaunt to the local pick-your-own farm. On the page, they were glossy, bright red, and delicious looking, set in the gooey texture of jam recently cooked. Checking the list of ingredients, I decided to give it a try. Wow, I thought; hardly any sugar compared to the recipe I had used in the past. And no Certo at all. Impressive. A true reflection of my optimistic nature. What I should have been feeling was suspicion. After all, why would I have been putting in cups and cups of sugar and complete boxes of Certo for all these years if they were extraneous ingredients?  Still, it was tempting to try omitting them. And I believed the highly principled publishers of this magazine would not lead me astray.

Needless to say, the results bore no resemblance to the beautiful picture. The stuff was a dark, runny mess with wizened bits of berry in a watery soup. No gelling had occurred; I guess I now know the function of Certo. Anyone who claims you can substitute an apple or an orange for pectin is lying through his or her vegetarian teeth.

It tasted worse than it looked, if this is possible. More sour than the berries had been before they were cooked. It was unredeemable, by my family’s standards.

The upside to this experiment was that I had gone minimal; there were only 5 small jars of “jam” to dispose of show for the day’s work. I’ll figure out how to use them in such a way as to not offend. Drawing upon the ingenuity of all mothers, I will throw this stuff into smoothies, fruit salad if I can get away with it, and the ultimate mystery environment—spaghetti sauce. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll never notice.

The hell with it—next time I make jam, I’m using meat.


On a recent expedition to Home Depot for a simple mop, we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up with an enormous home improvement project: the installation of a new kitchen floor.

An eager clerk convinced us we could do it, and showed us more options than we’d ever imagined. There were materials of vast chemical, if not interplanetary origin and there were methods of installation ranging from fairly simple to absolutely ridiculous. All considered Do It Yourself. (I suspect that people who design these projects for Home Depot grossly over-estimate the ability of the average Canadian. Or maybe I just happen to fall miserably short of the national average).

We were shown huge rolls of linoleum that had to be cut into One Perfect Piece that would exactly fit the floor plan. I knew how that scenario would unfold. I once spent an hour and a half stumbling around tiny Augsburg, Germany in search of the birthplace of Bertoldt Brecht, holding my map upside down all the while. Spatial perception is clearly not my forte; the One Perfect Piece option would be a disaster.

Other choices included stones that cost a bazillion dollars, and wood look-alikes that didn’t look much like wood. My favourite possibility from a humour standpoint was ceramic tile with slightly rounded edges. You could either lay the tiles side by side then fill the cracks with grout, or incredibly, you could omit the grout. Just lay those tiles and wait for the cracks to fill up with food and dirt. (The clerk didn’t say this explicitly, but any mother of males could see this coming a mile away).

We chose linoleum tiles. We bought a fabulous utility knife and were told we could simply score the tiles and break them to easily fit the space we had to cover. The clerk mimed a quick flick of the wrist and an easy snap. Those tiles were as good as laid.

Turns out, scoring those tiles, with their layers of hard, slippery stuff, adhesive goo and nice soft padding requires about 17 vigorous hacks with that knife and a fair bit of sweat as you try to bend and break them. Once finished, there’s a 50/50 chance you’re going to have to make adjustments, each of which involves the same work as the initial cut. Tough…but not impossible.

I deferred to Hubby’s muscle power for the cutting, and spent my time crawling, waddling and (I am not entirely proud of this) swimming  around on the floor, measuring the little sticking-out parts of the room that I had never noticed—there were many. I traced sheets of paper to model the next required piece, then re-did them when I found them to be upside down or mirror images of what was actually needed. There was a learning curve, but I’d have to say its slope was hardly impressive.

We traded supportive comments like, “Wow, some people would be at each others’ throats by now!” and, “Imagine how much money we’re saving by doing this ourselves!” I kept the other ones like, “What have we done?!,” “Why didn’t you stop me in the store?!,” and “Were you planning to cut the wrong side of that one too, just like the last one?!” to myself. I assume Hubby did the same.

I think it’s this discretion that we both seem to muster in tense moments that accounts for our relationship’s longevity. We have traveled a fair bit (I relinquished the map after the Augsburg debacle), wallpapered rooms, and even put together a barbecue once without undue acrimony. (Okay WE started the barbecue – I finished the barbecue…someone I know decided to wander off to get a sandwich.) I figure if we can undertake these projects and complete them with sense of humour intact, we’re good for the long haul.

I must say the floor looks great. It took 15 hours instead of the 4-5 that internet testimonials indicated (thank you, Creative Writers from Home Depot’s head office), but it was definitely worth doing. Even a little bit fun.

Onward and upwards…the interlocking brickwork out front is looking kind of rough…

Proud Owner of a New Nightguard

You may congratulate me; I am the proud owner of a new nightguard.

In a tawdry romance-inspired imagination, this might be an attractive (if slightly menacing) fellow who stands outside my bedchamber and wards off unwanted suitors.

In reality, it is a rather unattractive lump of synthetic material that fits snugly on my upper teeth and prevents me from grinding while I sleep.

I am unaware of ever having ground my teeth, but my dentist assures me that I most certainly do. And he tells me that unless I wear this particular device every night, I will be consigning myself sooner than later to a diet of applesauce and Purée of Everything Else for the remainder of my pathetic, toothless life. Maybe those weren’t his exact words, but it was something along those lines.

With a prediction like that, how could I refuse?

Now I have to put this thing in my mouth at bedtime, like a hockey player heading out for a shift. It makes me talk funny, it makes me breathe like Darth Vader, and it makes me drool. (Well, okay, I have always drooled; it makes me drool even more). I can only imagine that it makes me a wildly alluring bed mate for my nearest and dearest.

Tina Fey gave a very accurate illustration of nightguard use in the movie Date Night—you really must watch it. It was pathetic and hysterically funny at the same time. And then my dentist told me to get one and it became just pathetic.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, a nightguard isn’t so terrible. I will adapt. People who see me at bedtime will adapt. And I will enjoy carrots for a few more years.

I don’t really enjoy carrots all that much now, but it’s always nice to have the option, right?

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Thanksgiving Shopping List

Canadian Thanksgiving has past, and American Thanksgiving is looming! Ergo, this post, which I did begin to write several weeks ago could be considered late or early, depending on one’s perspective. I’m going to go with early, because it’s kinder. And I do pride myself on meeting deadlines, even if they are self-imposed. Also, in fairness, we did have the kids at home for the holiday, plus friends, so things were a little busier than usual. This translated into less writing time for me (aside from the creation of multiple shopping lists). Here’s the one I put together for our holiday meal:

1. a massive turkey that comes pre-stuffed and claims to be idiot-proof. In the culinary arena, I definitely qualify, so I am sincerely hoping this claim isn’t just a marketing ploy. If it is, you can believe that Butterball™ will be hearing from me.

I’m pretty sure my turkey won’t look the least bit like this one…

2. a Tofurky™. Not a product I would ever have considered buying before, but with Kid #3 a staunch vegetarian, I will try this out of respect for her principles. I have no idea what a Tofurky looks like, but if it actually occupies the rectangular prism that is its box in the store, it’s going to be murder finding the wishbone…

I am so grateful to my forebears who thought to plant soybeans…

3.  sweet potatoes, to make sweet potato pie. You know, the kind with broiled marshmallows on top, like the Pilgrims used to make. Now where in God’s name did the Pilgrims get marshmallows…???

I wonder which visionary thought to combine these two ingredients?

4. 3 boxes of stuffing mix. Each claims to serve 6, so I figure one box for each of the boys and the third for the remaining six diners. (I have decided teenaged boys are MADE of carbs.)

5. two bags of cranberries. I refuse to buy the canned cylinders of gelatinous, je ne sais quoi that are so widely available this time of year, when there are spectacular, fresh cranberries in the store.  Also, making cranberry sauce IS actually idiot-proof. I have proved this many times over. Except for that one year when…oh, never mind. Mostly idiot-proof.

6. 3 heads of broccoli. With 47 tasks in front of me, getting something green to the table has to be quick and easy. Nothing simpler than steamed broccoli, right? Except maybe raw broccoli. Hmmm…Martha would definitely NOT approve, but depending how things go, I may just stoop a little lower than usual this year. Or I could assign the steaming task to Kid #1, who is reputed to eat JUST an entire head of broccoli for dinner, on occasion, while away at school. Surely, he is a pro by now.

7. 2 cans of pumpkin, to make pies. Also 2 frozen pie crusts, because if I try to make homemade pastry like Granny’s on this holiday, things are going to get really ugly really fast. And not just the pies.

8. cloth napkins that both match AND are devoid of food stains (now there’s an exciting thought). I figure I might as well take advantage of Kid #3’s current hobby of creative napkin folding. Last Christmas, we had a mixture of Bishop’s Hats, Birds of Paradise, and some kind of fan-like things. Extremely cool. Not sure what’s in store for this meal, but I know she will outdo herself if I provide the necessary materials.

“Too Lovely to Use” is my family’s motto when it comes to sculpted napkins. Doesn’t explain why they avoid the paper kind as well, does it? Hmm.

9. wine for the multitudes. With both boys of legal drinking age (at least in Quebec, the most morally lax of Canada’s provinces), it will no longer be necessary for Kid #2 to appear at the dinner table with fake i.d. With his brother’s picture on it.

10. some form of chocolate, because really, every shopping list should have chocolate on it. I don’t think any further explanation is required on this point.

Well, that’s it for my list. I know the work involved in this kind of production is just a little daunting, but I also know that getting together with family and friends for a holiday meal is always worth the effort.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Six Word Saturday: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I changed dentists about a year ago for a couple of reasons: my former guy was a lovely man and did nice work, but his office was rather far from where I live AND he had a knack for hiring hygienists who invariably fell into the Tooth Nazi category. I just couldn’t bear this anymore.

(You know these gals—the type who wag their index finger at you if you admit to occasionally missing a night of flossing. The type who stab you with a sharp, metal tool then report to you in a surprised tone that, “…you seem to have a little sensitivity just there.” It never helped at all to reply that I only experience sensitivity when being stabbed in the gums with a sharp, metal tool. Coincidence? I don’t think so. )

Here’s one of the nasty tools they stab you with.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The time it took for me to recover from these traumatic visits was approximately one week less than the interval between appointments. Not ideal, really.

After several months of guilt-induced inertia, I eventually called and did the deed.

I broke up with my dentist.

“Ken, I just can’t see you anymore.’s not you, it’s me. It’s just that there’s been, well, this distance between us…and I can’t handle it anymore. I’ve started seeing someone else…I hope we can still be friends…”

I didn’t mention the Tooth Nazis.

Ken was gracious, if a little mystified.

At my new dentist’s place, the hygenists are somewhat less zealous; I am absolutely fine with this. What makes me crazy is that this higher-tech office has a reminder system that could fell a horse. (If horses could be felled by reminder systems—you know what I mean.)

To date I have had no fewer than four reminders about my upcoming appointment.

Here come the elves…remember Tuesday, 8:45 a.m.! (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Multiple emails and phone calls so far, but given their tenacity, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent elves through my mail slot next, or hired a skywriter to make absolutely certain I got the message. I find this extremely annoying.

Here’s what I think:

1. The dentist doesn’t want to get stood up because he is working VERY hard to pay for the Porsche Carrera with the personalized plates that sits outside the clinic. Fair enough—I respect this. (And only a little begrudgingly.)

2. I have never missed an appointment, EVER, nor have I ever been LATE. I feel this should qualify me for something special.

3. That special thing I would like to qualify for is the basic respect one might confer upon any fully-functioning adult. This should translate into recognition that I don’t need hand-holding and daily support in the form of reminders in order to get my ass to an appointment on time.

I spoke with the clinic staff, of course. Twice—but apparently to no avail. If they continue to treat me as a brainless ninny who has no chance of turning up at the appointed hour without significant intervention on their part, I fear there may be consequences.

A friend of mine, similarly frustrated by this office, told them that if he receives so much as one more call from them, he will take his teeth (and presumably the rest of himself) elsewhere for treatment. I am on the verge of doing the same.

I just hope we can settle this thing amicably; I don’t think I could handle another break-up.

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Six Word Saturday: My Garden is in Mint Condition

I should never have put the mint in the garden.

“In a pot,” she told me, “…keep it in a pot.”

But did I listen? Noooooo. I figured a little mint in the corner of the garden would fill in that shady spot that wouldn’t seemingly support any other life form, so in it went. Just a couple of plants.

Year one wasn’t too bad. It spread a little and we had that lovely fragrance when we went outside to work in the soil or take things to the composter. We had fresh mint leaves in our iced tea. What could be nicer?

By the end of year two, I was setting boundaries. Digging back the plants a bit, trying to maintain space for the vegetables I was hoping to produce.

As of today, the end of year three, I am officially concerned. I have removed every bit of mint I can find from this small garden patch and yet I know there are tubers or whatever you call those innocent-looking white rooty bits growing unimpeded beneath the soil. I know the mint will be back next spring. It’ll be the first thing out of the ground and I will start hacking it back before it’s warm enough for short sleeves.

I fear for the garden.

I fear for the yard.

I fear for the neighbours’ yards.

I fear for the entire city of Toronto.

This stuff propagates like bunnies on hormone therapy. It will eventually cover everything. And I will be held responsible. A team of forensic botanists will trace the oldest roots back to my tiny garden patch. They will arrive with their shovels, gloves, clipboards, and whatever other accoutrements forensic botanists require, and they will quite literally dig up all the evidence they need.

“How could she have put the mint in the garden??” they will ask. “It’s supposed to stay in pots. Everyone knows that!”

Apparently, not quite everyone.

I apologize, Toronto, from the bottom of my heart.

I never mint for this to happen.

Iced tea, anyone?

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Proofing Assignment for Mom

Yesterday, my twenty-year-old asked me if I had time to proof the work report he had prepared for a university co-op course. He had been working at a prominent mobile apps company, helping make cool things happen on iPhones and other such devices for the past eight months. Since he had kept us fairly up to date as to what his projects involved, I figured I knew enough to have a go at the paper.

Delusional mother.

There comes a point in life when your children know far more than you will ever know. I suspect that this moment passed for me a long time ago, but because I happen to have fairly tactful children who would never rub in this sort of thing, I had been largely oblivious to this fact until yesterday.

I sat down at my computer and confidently opened the report file. I began to read. I sort of understood the title. Sort of.

“Developing Cross-Platform Mobile Economy Software.”

Not entirely sure about the “Mobile Economy” part but I figured I would forge ahead and sort it out by context, the way intelligent people approach challenging reading.

It got murkier.

There were several references to C++. This was, coincidentally, the grade I was feeling  that I would be lucky to achieve as a proofreader on this assignment.

There was mention of Android. Well, since seeing Star Wars in 1976, I associate this term with alien robots: more or less how I was beginning to view the people who would understand the paper my son had written. (But excluding my son, of course, because I love him and would never casually lump him in with your average bunch of alien robots.)

Following the Android references, there was a fair bit of talk about “bindings,” which I only understand in the context of ski equipment. No skis were mentioned although things were definitely going downhill for me at this point.

I did understand the prominent word, “code,” although I can’t feel too triumphant about that; I only recognized it as being the explanation for why I couldn’t understand this report one iota—it was obviously written in CODE. Duh.

Halfway through the paper, I was glad to see the word “Java”; at this juncture, I was more than ready for a large cup myself. Taking a break to put the coffee on, I pondered the term, “deadlock,” which had just surfaced. This, I was pretty sure, described my current relationship with this report.

I got my coffee and I persevered, proofing to the end as best I could, with all the good intentions of a diligent mom wanting to help out her kid. I’m pretty sure I corrected some dicey punctuation, and I did remove the forbidden passive voice here and there, but I fear my contribution was extremely limited.

I guess it’s just the way of evolution that this kind of thing should happen. It’s a weird feeling, though, to somehow pass the torch to your offspring (or realize they picked it up when you weren’t looking) and be left watching and wondering just how far they’ll run with it.

No matter where they end up, I know I’ll be somewhere in the distance cheering them on.

Six Word Saturday

I stumbled across the Six Word Saturday challenge this morning and decided to have a go. Combining this effort with a project I had planned for the morning, I came up with:

“Martha Stewart I Certainly Am Not”

I decided to make applesauce today. Not to prove anything to anyone, or even to suggest that I might have made a competent pioneer in days of yore. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d have made a rather crappy pioneer; while I might have managed to eke out a few beeswax candles when needed, and even the odd bar of soap maybe, the intricacies of broom-making and sock-darning, and the spectre of having to kill my own chickens would have been my undoing. (You may note that sadly, my very shaky concept of pioneer life is based almost entirely on the field trip to Upper Canada Village that I was made to endure at the impressionable age of 11.)

Anyway, I decided to make applesauce just because my family likes it, and prefers the kind with no mysterious additives. They also prefer it to have lumps, unlike the stuff you find at the store, which  seems to have been extruded through some tiny screen for the purpose of safe consumption by people under the age of one. (I strongly feel the use of the word “extruded” in any food-related context is not a good thing.)

Before beginning this  project, I actually paused (this is very unlike me—just ask anyone who knows me). I considered using this endeavour as a blog topic, and then thought of the various lovely food blogs I have come across in the past few months. I pondered the attractive photos I have seen, featuring apples, which are in season in Canada right now. I looked at the sorry specimens I had brought home from the store. Note the complete absence of photos in this post.

At this point, I identified various “un-Martha-like” decisions I had made and those I was anticipating making:

1. I chose the biggest apples I could find, and they were anything but photogenic. I did this because I didn’t feel like spending an hour peeling and coring a zillion small, beautiful ones.

2. I did no planning for this experience; I was in the store. I saw apples. I bought them.

3. My recipe (which exists only in my head) involves exactly four ingredients. By my estimation, that is about 127 ingredients shy of any cooking project Martha has ever undertaken.

4. I neglected to paint and re-floor the kitchen prior to beginning my task, thus risking an overwhelming sense of ennui as I worked. Martha would surely not have approved.

5. I peeled and cored the apples alone, instead of inviting a staff of 14 to assist me.

6. I wore no apron. Let alone one I had hand-embroidered using fabric I had home-spun from the wool provided by my small, obedient flock of Merino sheep. Which are so classy they don’t even smell.

7. I tossed the apples carelessly into a large pot. I did not lay the pieces in one at a time in order to construct an elaborate relief of Johnny Appleseed hiking through Pennsylvania.

8. I added water, turned on the stove, and left the room. Martha never leaves the room. But to be fair, she usually takes this opportunity to reach under her sparkling countertop and take out the completely cooked item, with a shameless, “How amazing am I?” flourish, as if one of her staff of 14 hadn’t placed it there when nobody was looking.

9. After a while (this is how specific my recipe gets), I returned to the kitchen, smushed up the remaining big pieces of apple, and turned off the burner.

10. I added a small blob of brown sugar (which I did not personally extract and process from sugar cane grown in my own climate-controlled greenhouse), and a spoon of cinnamon (which I did not go and pick from the wilds of Sri Lanka).

11. I mixed everything up, and spooned it into containers.

Surveying the results of my labour and inhaling the fresh scent of cooked apples, I was rather pleased with myself. I may not have a single Martha bone in my body, but my applesauce rocks.