The Nightmare During Christmas


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‘Twas lunchtime on Christmas when all through the kitchen two creatures were cooking, both on a mission. The turkey was robed in bright foil with care in hopes the 20-pounder would not be too rare. The pies they were resting all snug on their racks, their pumpkin-y glory worth two sore backs. With squash in the oven and dressing to make, we looked towards the sink to find a small lake. When in the disposer there was predictable clatter, I went into the pipes to find what was the matter.

But first we tried dumping white wine vinegar and baking soda down the pipes to see if that would help and I’m not figuring out how to put that in this rhyme scheme.

So as I implied above, things went wrong in the plumbing department while making Christmas dinner this year. It was ground to a halt around the time we were both putting the fixings for dressing together and cleaning up behind ourselves. Suddenly, it became clear the sink was not draining as intended. This brought the proceedings to a screeching halt during a period of time that we traditionally use to relax before finishing all the prep for dinner. There would be no such indulgence that afternoon.

The first lucky break came when I remembered we had a vacuum capable of sucking up water. This only came after I spent time googling how to fix a clogged sink and the internet recommended one so I can’t credit it as an original thought. It was also the internet that gave a variety of home remedies for clogged pipes. I went with what seemed a reasonable combo of vinegar and baking soda. I did this… several times.

After about the third trial of experimenting with the concoction, hitting it with warm water that failed to drain, and Mom’s increasing dismay at the notion of hiring a plumber on Christmas, the creeping little voice in the back of my head that had grown louder over the past hour finally reached a decibel I couldn’t ignore.

“You need to open the P-trap.”

“Okay,” I said to the voice as I vacuumed out the sink yet again, “but I don’t know what that is.”

“You’re about to find out.”

Armed with a towel for my knees, a bucket for whatever was about to fall out of the pipes, and about every tool I thought might be relevant to the task, I went under the sink. Mom was on the phone with my aunt behind me so she had the opportunity to narrate the excitement to a third party whose Christmas was going in a considerably more sanguine direction.

Technically, the second lucky break was how easy to was to twist the pipes loose and pull the offending piece away for cleaning. I just have difficulty describing it that way. You see, when I managed to negotiate the P-trap away from the pipe attached to the wall, I immediately beheld a nest of green slime peeking its little head out of the pipe’s opening. I remember my face creasing at the sight, pulling down and back, as though every loose inch of skin was trying to crawl away from what I’d brought onto myself.

Using the scrub brush that’d been left beneath our sink by some either prescient or diabolical individual, I began to wiggle the sludge out of the pipe. It plopped into the bucket with thick, moist slaps, and my accompanying groans.

Eventually, it had to be said. “Being a strong, independent woman sucks.”

And you know what happened, reader? My own mother laughed at me. Laughed. On Christmas. The cruelty exceeds all bounds.

Still, I persevered. I washed the pipe as clean as I could, made sure water was running through it unimpeded, and put all the pieces back together nice and snug. At last, I pulled myself out from under the sink and watched in triumph as water poured down from the faucet with no obstruction. People talk about the Grand Canyon but sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the real wonders.

Mom declared me the savior of Christmas so I graciously forgave her laughter. You know, like Jesus would. That’s two things Jesus and I have in common – forgiveness and miracles.

We got to take a very short break during our preparations after all, which I used to peel off a layer of skin in the shower. Once I was as red as the nose of that other guy who saved Christmas, we got back on schedule and still managed to have dinner right on time! We even almost had enough energy left at that point to eat it.

Happy Belated Holidays, everyone!

It Made Sense in My Head



Ever since March and the commencement of the quarantine that never ends, I’ve been getting a lot more invested in cooking. I mean this both literally and figuratively. My covetous little eyes are stalking a potato ricer on the regular these days.

I decided that if I was going to have a lot of time on my hands then I should start trying all the dishes I had mentally put in the category labeled ‘Wouldn’t that be nice someday?’. Things I assumed were way outside my skill wheelhouse suddenly became realistic expectations. I made a dark roux in under five minutes, I’ve baked a three layer cake for the very first time, and I cooked a deep dish pizza that slid right out of the skillet without issue! (don’t ask what happened to the second pizza. we don’t talk about second pizza). And naturally I’ve been making a lot of bread with the exception of sourdough. I’m not emotionally ready to invest in sourdough. However, I did bone a turkey without making any massive error or cutting myself! No, I had to wait until I was dicing shallots for that. A few days ago I’d just been thinking about how much I’d improved with a knife and wasn’t it nice I was nicking myself anymore? Oh, hubris.

After having recently lost some skin off my left middle finger, it made me reflect on mishaps that I’ve had in the kitchen in the past. I’ve mentioned burning my hand twice on the same pan in a ten minute time-span on this blog but I have yet to talk about the towel incident. It’s these little embarrassments that keep things in perspective. I may not be a master chef these days but the me from the towel incident absolutely couldn’t have made brioche. We grow, we improve, we get seen doing a colossally stupid thing and so the shame lives inside us to prevent a recurrence.

Right, I should probably actually talk about the towel incident now. Can’t get out of it.

On the evening of a Christmas Day oh so many years ago –

(I was in college but let’s not quibble over dates)

– oh so many, many years ago, we had guests over for dinner and Mom had gotten drained the drippings off the turkey so she could start making gravy. The bread rolls were sitting on the counter, raising contentedly under a towel. Now that the oven was empty of its avian occupant, there was plenty of room to pop the rolls in and essentially finish the last step of Christmas dinner. We were all talking and enjoying ourselves, guests happily stationed at the kitchen table, Mom at the stove, and me standing between the oven and the counter where the rolls innocently dwelled. Once the oven had been adjusted to the correct temperature, Mom asked me to put the rolls in the oven. And so, I did.

With perfect confidence I pulled down the oven door and scooted the rolls across the grate to sit in the middle of the heat. Then I shut the door, returning to the conversation as I leaned against the counter with nary a care.

A savvy reader may have already spotted the problem. Well, you were ahead of my brain in that instant. Actually, you were more than just ahead, your wits were functioning correctly. See, when I had looked down at the rolls covered by that towel I had only the slightest niggling thought about it being there which went along the lines, “Yeah, that’s supposed to be on top of the bread. Always is.”

This was incorrect.

It took a distressing amount of time for this realization to occur. I will always remember standing there, basically lounging in the perfect confidence that what I had done was correct. Obviously bread rolls bake with a towel on top of them. Obviously.

Then, like the one intrepid scientist in a disaster movie who saw it all coming but no one would listen, the thought manifested. It raced through the empty corridors of my head, feet slapping desperately against the floor as it sucked in ragged breaths. Finally, it propelled itself through the doors of HQ, startling all the other thoughts that had been mainly occupied with relaxation and the warm anticipation of a good dinner.

It pointed at them all, shrieking at the top of its lungs, “YOU DON’T PUT FABRIC IN AN OVEN!”

Suddenly there’s a panicked crowd in my head, all understanding the same thing at once. There was a towel in the oven and that oven was on and that oven was HOT. I immediately fell on the oven door, pulled it down, and whipped out the towel that had thankfully not started smoking. It did, however, have faint brown marks across the top where the oven had, probably with a great deal of confusion, begun its work.

I was then stared at by my mother and our guests as everyone figured out what I had done. There was a mix of disbelief and laughter. Not any among them were in quite as stark disbelief as I was. After all, none of them had lived the moments where they were completely and wholeheartedly convinced that putting a towel in the oven was the right thing to do.

In the long run no damage was done. The rolls were delicious, dinner was served, and even the brown marks faded away with a few washings. But I’ll never forget. It took me damn near three minutes to realize towels weren’t magically fireproof and some poor fool had actually given me a high school diploma.

So yeah, these are the things I think about when I have a little oops in the kitchen these days. It could always be worse.

It could have been a towel.

The Clockwork Trilogy Finds Its End


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After centuries spent trying to thwart the rise of his species’ progenitors, not once did Zachary Platt expect to survive their return.  Now, not only has he stared the Fount in the eye and lived but Prudence Whitby has told him she loves him.  For the first time in his life as a vampire, Zachary has a reason to fight to see the next sunrise.  With a little help from an unusual source, he may even succeed.

Prudence has discovered the terror of having everything to lose.  Over the course of a seemingly unending blitz of attacks, her life and the lives of her family are repeatedly put at risk.  A devastating loss changes her perspective forever, putting her fragile human body between the Fount and the fate of the world.

The devastation of the Fount has swamped them all.  Salvation lies between breaths and the precise ticking of a clock.

Available for pre-order now on Amazon.

The Escape Wheel – Chapter One


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Chapter One

Zachary had always had awful luck with storms.  He reflected on this while sopping wet and smeared with dirt halfway through what looked to be an unsuccessful hunt through the woods outside Seattle.  If he had been alone once the clouds had erupted above him he would have immediately returned to the Jeep he’d rented for the excursion.  Unfortunately, the solitude he had enjoyed most of his life had become a rare commodity of late.

Continue reading

The Clockwork Trilogy Continues…


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Separated from the woman he loves and trailing the carnage of an abomination, Zachary Platt has spent the past five months feeling useless. That sense only grows when their enemies strike a terrible blow and threaten them with ruin if the last pieces of every vampires’ progenitors are not surrendered. However, the box containing those remains disappeared along with Prudence Whitby and Zachary has little hope of seeing either again.

Prudence had not cut all ties when she had run from the reality of monsters and a love she couldn’t trust. She knows full well the danger she’ll face from friend and foe alike when she returns. An unspeakable monster haunting her steps, she chooses to rely on her family, her aim, and her unshakeable nerves to see her through the battle ahead.

There is little time for reunions with war on the horizon but Prudence and Zachary both are dogged by figures from their pasts. They have no choice but to face the pain and the peril together as the hour of the Fount’s return has finally struck.


Available for pre-order now on Amazon.


In Which the Author Finally Understands Sport Fans


I went to the Critical Role live show last Saturday.  As a person who would never go to a concert because I can listen to the music more comfortably at home, this was a slightly out of character decision.  For those not in the know, Critical Role is a dungeons and dragons game played by hugely talented voice actors that’s taken the internet by storm.  I’ve been watching regularly since 2017 when I got hooked by the prospect of a show that would never disappoint me.  Quite the heady concept after quitting more than a few actual television shows that I realized were not contributing joy to my life.

Due to the fact the show won’t be available to watch until February, I can’t disclose any explicit details.  Generally I’m a big believer in spoilers but the prospect of the cast being disappointed with me after being in the same room with them is more than enough to stay my hand.  So general impressions it is! Continue reading