So, how you doing Oceanside? Are you still clinging to your New Year’s resolutions, or have you already begun to chip away little just-this-once pieces of your determination and begun the short slide to failure?
I’m still good with my pledge, thanks for asking, but I have it pretty easy, really. Yeah, my weight bloomed over the fall and winter, but I have a system to lose those extra pounds and it works really well. It involves chicken and vegetables at the deli for lunch and dinner, as many wasabi peas as I can choke down for a snack.
And that’s it.
Doing this day after day does take a certain amount of bloody-minded determination, but I have anther ace up my sleeve: my spectacularly bad luck with cooking.
Take chicken soup, for example. Pretty easy thing to deal with, you’d think. I certainly did when I picked up a barbecued chicken at the store in Fort St. James. I bought egg noodles, bouillon, celery, the whole bit. This was going to be home-cooked soup, the way mom used to make it.
I chopped everything that needed chopping and fired it up, boiled it up and let it simmer.
Soon, the whole apartment held the rich aroma of chicken soup and I could hardly wait for it to cool at all before I dished myself up a great big bowl.
It tasted as good as it smelled.
I finished it off and went back for seconds. I dipped the ladle in the pot and when I pulled it out, there, nestled in amongst the egg noodles, chicken and peas was a AA battery. The kind you put in your flashlight.
That was one big pot of soup, so it took a couple of flushes.
That was nothing, however, compared to the char horror to come.
Fort St. James borders on the Nak’azdli reserve on the shores of Stuart Lake and I got to know one of the elders, who took me with her when she checked her nets in the lake one time.
Along with the sturgeon, trout and other fish in her net, there was a great big char, which she gave me.
I was delighted and cooked it up and ate maybe a quarter of it for my dinner before putting the rest in the freezer for later.
The next day however, Hydro, with whom I’d been having of a dispute over a bill, responded to my declaration of “to heck with you, I ain’t paying that” by turning off my power.
This latest escalation really got my back up.
“Fine,” I said. “Be like that. It’s summer and it’s warm. I’ll eat in restaurants and there’s a shower at work. You’ll be getting no revenue from me!”
I was about two weeks into my defiance when I traced the source of an increasingly vile smell. It came from the fridge.
I opened the door and promptly retreated, gagging. That’s when I remembered the char.
The only way I can describe the large, moist and mushy horror that greeted me when I opened the freezer is to say it pretty much personified the gaseous, gelatinous grossness of death itself.
I paid the power bill the next day.
It’s pretty easy to keep those — and many, many other — incidents in mind as I line up for my usual at the deli these days and while my diet may leave me feeling slightly unsatisfied and bored, there are no surprises, so it’s a lot more appealing than the alternative.
Neil Horner is the assistant editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News and a regular columnist.