Posted by: stillironic | June 1, 2010

Revenge of the Chicken Water

Saturday was a grueling afternoon of pruning skip laurels that I should’ve pruned two years ago. Considering that last summer is now lovingly referred to as “that shitty monsoon that lasted three fucking months,” you can imagine how overgrown the bushes were. What kept me from procrastinating yet another year was the deep abiding respect I now have for these bushes.

This past winter after an ice storm turned into an 18-inch snowfall many of the skip laurels were flattened. And I don’t mean flat like bent over. I mean Kansas flat. When the ice started melting and I was digging out the branches, one by one, I was astounded so few were broken. All in all only two skip laurels had to be tied to the fence to pull them upright. The others rebounded on their own. If ever bushes deserved a good pruning, it was these guys.

skip laurels

Skip laurels (from L to R) Archie, Veronica, & Betty. Jughead is out of the picture.

While pruning, I tried to rely mostly on my left hand because of the surgery on my right. (I only mention the surgery so people will think I’m Wonder Woman. “You say she prunes AND has the use of only one hand!”) JJ was over at his shop polychroming* our new front door. This was exactly where I wanted him to be. Our current front door is rotted. I won’t embarrass JJ by saying how long the door’s been falling apart. (A long time.) I’m just surprised someone hasn’t kicked a hole in it.

(Notice to burglars: now is the time to break into the house. You won’t have to jimmy your way in through the French doors in the back like last time. And it didn’t matter that you left fingerprints—hell, whole handprints—all over the side windows as you were testing their potential break-in ability. The police never showed up to dust for prints. Obviously having important crimes to attend to.)

The note to burglars is actually a shrewd motivation tactic to speed up the new-door installation process.

But I digress. After my pruning marathon, I dragged myself into the house with the idea of collapsing on the sofa. But first I boiled up a batch of simple syrup for mojitos later on. Even the cooking challenged can mix sugar and water together and let it boil for 5 minutes. Then while the syrup cooled, I plopped on the sofa and fell into a semi-conscious stupor.

JJ returned home high on boat-paint fumes.** I mumbled something about having made simple syrup. He started to make dinner.

Now about chicken water. It sounds like a Native American name, especially for someone who’s more or less deranged. But it’s not. It’s what I once called a large pot of something that looked disgusting: liquid with yellow and brown foamy things on top. It was sitting on the stove, almost cool. I had figured it had something to do with the chicken dinner we’d just eaten. I wasn’t interested in knowing what role it’d played in our meal. I was doing clean up, so I dumped it—the chicken water—into the sink and threw away the bones and skin and other chickeny things that had been floating around in it.

When JJ saw the clean pot he asked me what I’d done with his stock. Thus was born the noted proverb: Better to light one candle than to curse the chicken water.

Back to my stupor. I wake up to find broccoli steaming in the pot where I’d left the simple syrup.

Me, shrieking: Where’s the simple syrup?

JJ: I don’t know.

Me: It was in that pot.

JJ: It was water. I just poured it out.

Me: It was simple syrup. For the mojitos I’ve been looking forward to. All afternoon.

JJ: Sorry. It looked just like water.

Thus was born another noted proverb: Better to be silent and thought a fool than to throw out simple syrup and remove all doubt.


*Fancy way of saying painting using several colors.

**Boat paint is more durable than the regular kind. Except when it isn’t. As demonstrated by the current door. But whatever.



  1. Our word for the day is COMMUNICATION. Can you say COMMUNICATION? Good! Now maybe the next time you make simple syrup, and JJ makes chicken stock, it just might be worthwhile!

    • Right your are. Seems so simple, doesn’t it?!

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