Monthly Archives: January 2011

Cooking – a Right- or Left-brain activity?

By Guest Blogger Margaret Loyer

The answer lies with recipes. A right-brainer scoffs at a recipe. If they use one, it’s only as a starting point with guidelines. They decide how to make something based on what’s in their cupboard.

A left-brainer follows a recipe religiously. It may be one from a book or from their memory because they’ve made it a hundred times. However, the base instructions must be there and only minor tweaking is allowed.

My sister, Cathy, is a right-brainer without par. Case in point, when my husband and I and Cathy were in Hawaii several years ago, we were invited to attend a welcome party with others at the timeshare resort where we were staying. I pulled out a piece of paper on which to write a shopping list of ingredients needed to make a shrimp appetizer that I knew by heart. My sister started looking in the refrigerator to see what was there. She ended up pulling out leftover chicken, tomatoes, onions, and salad dressing, then putting together an amazing topping that she spread on crackers. I was astounded that she could just wing it with whatever was on hand. What does that make me? A left-brainer.

I can look at a recipe and decide if I’m going to like it based on the ingredients. However, I cannot look at a recipe and decide what I have to change so that I will like it – unless it’s something simple like replacing peppers with celery. I have to try a recipe at least once before I’ll change more than that. Sometimes I’ll get really adventurous and I won’t put in the salt or I’ll decrease the amount of sugar. I may get palpitations as I’m doing it, but I persevere. No one can say I don’t live on the edge.

Next time I’m in the kitchen, I’m going to consider creating a meal based on the wildest combination of ingredients I can find in the refrigerator and cupboards. I may not do it, but I’ll consider it.

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Poofs and Paranoia

By Guest Blogger Jim Luce

I need a new poof basket before I can shower again. As a guy it’s vital that I make noise when I shower so I play basketball. That’s easier than it sounds, our shower is tiny—3-foot by 3-foot—so a full court press isn’t that tiring. A poof, by the way, is a puffy spherical soft plastic shower thingy that you squeeze liquid body wash onto, Oil of Olay® for example, while reminding yourself that it doesn’t make you less macho since you normally shower with muriatic acid and a wire brush.

A poof basket hangs in the shower for storing the poof. Or for basketball. Anyway, while in the shower the other day I fired a one-hand shot from outside the key and missed. Fortunately the poof bounced off the rim and rebounded back to me. I drove for the basket, leaped, slam dunked the poof and hung from the rim for a moment while the crowd roared…and the basket broke.

I haven’t found a replacement yet and since I can’t sing I’m afraid to take a shower. I might be overstating this—I’m second in paranoia only to Woody Allen—but a poof and its basket are my defense against the number one shower danger we all face—and have for the past fifty years. Norman Bates.

I saw the movie Psycho when it first came out in 1960 and I’ve been playing basketball ever since. The crowd noise is key. That’s because Alfred Hitchcock forever changed the way we shower. Forget form and style, think noise. Janet Leigh was quiet as she showered and look what happened to her. Since then guys have learned to stand with their face in the spray and snort and blow like sperm whales. We grunt, talk to ourselves, swear, choke, play basketball…anything to keep a little noise going. Women have an opposite philosophy on shower defense. Women are very quiet. They’ll stick their face into the spray quick, then back up and say, “Mm.” Just “Mm.”

Very softly.

I’ll bang an elbow on the faucet handle, and go, “Ow!”

Women go, “Mm.”

I drop the soap, and say, “Damn!” A woman says, “Mm.”

I bend over to wash my feet, hit my head on the faucet and yell, “@#%&$!dammit! Who put those @#%&$! faucet handles in here!”

A woman slips in the shower, crashes out into the bathroom through the shattered glass door, lands on the tiles naked, broken, slashed to ribbons, and says, “Mm.”

That’s because Norman’s out there.

Ever since 1960 when we get into the shower, man or woman, we’re aware of Norman Bates. We’re so vulnerable when we’re in the shower it’s terrifying. We’re naked. We can’t see through the shower door or curtain. We can’t hear anything over the noise of the shower spray. We climb into the shower, turn on the water, and realize: “Wait, Norman isn’t growing old in a mental institution somewhere, he’s in the house. Sure, maybe this won’t be the time he slips into the bathroom with that 16″ butcher knife, but maybe it will be.” We don’t know. We’re naked, nothing to defend ourselves with but a half-ounce sliver of Soap-On-A-Rope left over from 1964. What if this is the shower?

That’s why we behave differently.

Every woman alive today was Janet Leigh in a previous life. When women pull that shower curtain shut they know Norman is in the house somewhere, maybe in the kitchen. That’s why they’re so quiet: “If I’m really, really quiet, he won’t realize I’m taking a shower. He’ll just grab a couple of cookies and leave. Or maybe he’ll hang out for awhile, waiting for someone to take a shower, get bored, hack Jim into bloody chunks and leave. Whatever. Gotta be quiet. Mm.”
You know how when you shower this little pool of water builds up on some concave part of your body, up on your shoulder blade maybe, then when you move the puddle falls onto the shower floor with a tiny splash? Sometimes when a woman is showering you’ll hear that little splash, and right away she’ll go, “Mm.” She’s in there thinking “oh, crap, now I’ve done it, Norman won’t be content with cookies now.” In an instant she’s got the Soap-On-A-Rope in one hand, the back brush in the other, the towel wrapped around her arm for a shield…it’s just her and Norman now, mano a mano.

Guys are just the opposite. We’re ostriches. If we can’t hear Norman, he doesn’t exist. If we make enough noise that we can’t hear that squeaky shower-scene music from Psycho, Norman isn’t going to come into the bathroom. Keep the noise going, you got no problem. Make sure Norman knows that’s a guy in the shower. He’ll grab a cookie and leave. Or get bored and hack Judy to pieces. Whatever.

Me, I’m going for the high risk shots, the three-pointers…get the crowd on their feet and loud. Gonna be good to get another poof basket, get in the shower again, get a pick up game going. Maybe with Woody Allen.

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