Archive for September, 2009

Me and my Swiss Cheese Mind

September 30, 2009

I told a lie. Right here in cyberspace, where words float around forever, and nothing can be completely erased. I said my hamburger limerick won second prize in the 1994 Leacock Limerick competition. Imagine my surprise when I looked back into my album, and discovered that it was this limerick that actually won that prize:

CannibalI brought home a nice friend for dinner;
It’s the new guy from work, the beginner.
“Put down that knife,”
Said the cannibal’s wife.
“At this rate, you’ll never get thinner!”

 Oh, well, I knew it was somehow food-related. Still, it bugs me. My memory is definitely on the decline. If I were a computer, I’d be able to add extra RAM and a backup hard drive.  But where is the Geek Squad I can hire to fire up my Personal Recall Quotient?

It’s strictly a do-it-yourself project – and how many of those do I already have on my list! (I’d tell you, but I can’t recall where I put my list.)

My short term memory also sucks. Which is why I’ve switched to sticky notes. The experts suggest making notes to remind ourselves of things as we age. I’m sold on it. I am the largest single purchaser of post-it notes in Staples’ history. I have pens and pads of yellow stickies on virtually every surface in my house, so I can capture my fleeting ideas before they evaporate.

“How is that working for you?” you ask.   How is what working for me?   Oh. Right. My sticky note solution.  Well … here is an actual sampling of the post-it notes currently stuck to my bedside table, gathering dust.

 Note #1:
PVD yellow stickyAn unfortunate choice to begin with, as I can’t immediately recall what midnight brainwave prompted me to print those particular letters in the dark a few nights ago. (I try never to wake Kayak Guy from his kayak dreams by turning on the light.) Let’s see. P. V. D. When in doubt, check Wikipedia. According to Wiki, PVD stands for “physical vapor deposition.” Hmm. As you can see, I think about weighty matters like semi conductors and plasma sputter bombardment while the rest of you are sleeping. Someone has to do it. Let’s move on.

Note #2:
Hmm. Note number two actually appears to be notes number two AND three. Note number three apparently got printed on note number two – and upside down! – which is what happens when it’s dark, and in your sleepy stupor, you previously forgot to remove note number two from the pad.
So note number 2-3 reads:Beth yellow sticky

Which raises the obvious question: Who is Beth? At last, a question I can answer! Beth is a character in the novel I am currently writing. And yes, she is a stalker. However what she is doing stalking ants on my kitchen counter eludes me. Oh, I remember now. My cousin Joanne says you can kill ants by mixing icing sugar with baking soda, which they eat and carry home to their Queen to eat. AntI googled it, and learned that something about the mix causes gas in their little ant stomachs which they cannot eliminate, which causes them to explode. I had been meaning to explode some ants, but I kept forgetting. That part was actually note #4!

What all this has to do with (upside down) Oprah and pork chop bones eludes me, but it may still come back. In the meantime, K.G. wants to know when I’m going to tackle cleaning up all the “yellow stickie” clutter that’s been accumulating. I just tell him it’s on my “list.” 🙂

I hope submitting a limerick to the MillarLITE limerick contest is on your “to do” list!  You have till Oct. 21 to get it in. Details here.

How’s your memory holding up?  Any tips you’d care to share? And does anybody know what I meant by pvd?

© Judith Millar 2009. All rights reserved.

E-mail limerick entries to, subject line: Limerick Contest Entry.

Strange creatures I have known

September 23, 2009

Sea monsterIt’s all over the news: strange creatures have been sighted on Vancouver Island! And right in my neck of the woods! A team of creature hunters is looking for evidence of a serpent-like animal in Cameron Lake.  Which is scarcely a stone’s throw from Nanaimo. If I had a good arm, and an aeronomically-designed stone, I could practically bop the beast on the head!

Numerous sightings since 2004 have convinced John Kirk, the co-founder of the B.C. Scientific Cryptozoology Club to come and take a closer look. (Kirk is no slouch when it comes to stalking weird critters. He’s tracked a jungle dinosaur in Africa and looked for the legendary Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake!)

If he wants to see some strange creatures here on the Island, I suggest he check out the kayakers. I’m not sure what an Ogopogo is, but I think one walked into my garage last Wednesday. Turned out it was my Kayak Guy returning from a five day paddle. Kayakers already look like an alternate life form in their black neoprene Farmer John wetsuits and kayak boots. This particular organism had sprouted five days’ growth of grey beard and smelled like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. (He remembered to pack all his kayak gear, but forgot his shaving kit and toothbrush!)

a rose from pierreYes, cryptozoologers, there are some strange creatures here on the Island. And to think one is married to me – the girl who was once pinned to Pierre Trudeau! Ah yes. The PM once pinned a rose on me – the very rose from his own lapel! Well, OK, he handed it to me across a head table, and I pinned it on as I walked back to my seat. (And wore it for days. Until it was just a stem his fingers had touched.) In my mind, were were “pinned.”

Pierre’s not the only Canadian Prime Minister who’s crossed my path. I bumped into John Diefenbaker – literally – on a stairwell in the Parliament Buildings during my school’s Grade Eight trip. I told you I was a klutz. (Or he was. I recall he stumbled, grabbed for the handrail, and didn’t apologize – so I think it was me.) Things went better with Kim Campbell. She was only in office for about ten minutes, but she found time to sign a gold-sealed congratulatory letter to me when my children’s peace poem won an international prize. Nice!

But politicians can be “strange creatures” too. Take Brian Mulroney. (Some would say, “take him – please.”) He doesn’t keep in touch – but why would he? I’ve skewered him in a number of limericks, including this one, published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on the eve of Canada’s disastrous (for the PC’s) October 1993 election:

Pizza sliceVote for Eenie – or Meenie – or Moe;
Order Parliament Pizza to Go.
“Mozzarella Mulroney”
Had too much Baloney –
But if Grits give us Zits, we’ll eat Crow.

Which brings us back to our limerick contest! You have till October 21 to try your hand at writing your own limerick about a current-day “Eenie” or “Meenie” – or any other strange creatures that happen to catch your attention. See  Let’s Hear it for Limericks! for full contest details. You could win a copy of One Sweet Ride – an anthology featuring poetry and prose by some of Vancouver Island’s strange – but wonderful – writers! 🙂

© Judith Millar 2009.

E-mail limerick entries to, subject line: Limerick Contest Entry.

U 2 can Talk Twinglish

September 16, 2009

Twitter bird funnyAs you know if you’ve read earlier posts, I’ve been skulking around the internet universe (aka the Twitterverse), trying to learn the lingo, stalking Prince Charles and otherwise making my presence felt. And it IS being felt. I think I’ve intimidated HRH! He has not twittered since I snitched on him for enjoying a lazy TV day in his pj’s.

I may not have learned what’s up with Charles lately, but there are some fascinating things being tweeted around. Did you know that someone is surreptitiously shooting a movie inside a California IKEA? Yup, they are secretly shooting scenes spoofing reality TV shows in the room settings of the Burbank store. You can watch episodes of “IKEA Heights” on YouTube. The things I’ve learned!

Mostly I’m learning how to text, tweet and talk Twinglish. Which requires learning how to squish your message into 140 characters or less. That’s often done using acronyms and initials. If you, like me, are acronymically-challenged, listen up and learn:

teacher ASL blackboardIf you are asked for your ASL, think twice about your response. You are being asked for your Age, Sex and Location. If asked, I plan to respond: NYB (none of your business), NY#*#B (none of your blinking business), or – my personal favourite – 101,NoTKS2TRD,DEGT (101 yrs old, no thanks too tired, don’t even go there).

On the other hand, a caring texter or tweeter may just ask: WEU? (What’s Eating You?)  If your relationship’s got you down, you might respond: BF (Boyfriend), GF (Girlfriend) or SO (Significant Other). Or maybe just SOS (same old stuff). I’m catching on to Twinglish, but I can’t say I care for it. I’ve always hated acronyms. I love words – WHOLE words. That’s why I write – and why I’ve launched the MillarLITE Limerick Contest. I just LOVE the English language! But sometimes it’s even CRAZIER than Twinglish. You have to admit . . .


This language of ours is absurd!
“Beard” sounds quite different than “heard.”
“Laughter” and “daughter”
Don’t rhyme like they oughter:
It’s part of a plaught – mark my whirred!

… and the past tense is even worse …

TapI speak. In the past tense, I spoke.
Taps leak.  In the past, did they loke?
My teacher once taught it;
She praught till I got it:
I creak — so, in future, I’ll croak!

Dubioius frog


Hope these inspire you to try your hand at your own limericks. See  Let’s Hear it for Limericks! for full contest details. Keep them coming, and keep me laughing!

© Judith Millar 2009.

E-mail limerick entries to, subject line: Limerick Contest Entry.

Let’s hear it for Limericks!

September 9, 2009

HamburgerI just finished reading Never Shoot A Stampede Queen, Mark Leiren-Young’s collection of true-life tall tales about a rookie reporter’s adventures in Canada’s still-very-wild West.  In keeping with MillarLITE’s commitment to bring more humour into your life, I recommend you check it out. The comic memoir earned BC’s Leiren-Young the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour – and deservedly so. Still, would it sound like sour grapes to point out that Leiren-Young is – how shall I put this? – of the masculine persuasion?

It is a persuasion shared by many – in fact most – of his medal-winning counterparts. Since the inception of the Leacock Medal for Humour in 1947, only four female humorists have earned the honour. (The most recent was Marsha Boulton who won for Letters from the Country – another great, and recommended, read – in 1996.)  Hmm. Do the math! We female humorists are mostly toiling away in obscurity. It is time to stand up and be counted. So, in a shameless bit of self-promotion, I shall step up first.

You see, I too have won a Leacock award. In fact, several. Back in the good old days when the Leacock folks also ran a Leacock Limerick competition, I pocketed a $500 second prize (1994), and earned several honorable mentions in other years. Bill Richardson (the Medal for Humour winner that year) actually handwrote me a note calling me a “master limerick writer.” (I appreciated it, and have kept it, in spite of his masculine persuasion.)

The time has come. MillarLITE is hereby devoting some blog space to bringing limericks back into the winners’ circle!  I’ve decided to share my winning Leacock limerick – and then, invite you to share your best limerick, and perhaps win a prize. Here’s mine:

Smiling Hamburger 1The hamburger saw it was true.
The event was a beef barbecue.
He mustard a smile
And went out in style
Yelling, “Fate’ll ketchup with you too.”

OK, I’m not Margaret Atwood. Nor are you. (I know this, since I have it on good authority that Margaret Atwood does not read my blog. Which sucks.) Still, that limerick won me $18.51 per word, which is the best money I’ve ever made writing! Not that that’s what you’ll win if YOUR limerick wins the MillarLITE Limerick Contest. Who do you think I am – the Leacock Foundation?

OSR_book coverThe winner of this limerick contest will win an advance copy of One Sweet Ride, an anthology being released in November, 2009 which contains three of my humorous short stories (along with lots of other great poetry and prose by Vancouver Island writers). You will enjoy!

There’s no fee to enter, and you can send a maximum of three limericks. (You must have written them yourself, in English.) You have six weeks to polish and send in your best five, 10 or 15 lines! E-mail them to – but do it by the deadline: October 21. The winner will be announced on October 28th – and, by entering, agrees to having his or her limerick posted on this blog. And while limericks are sometimes bawdy, this is a family blog, so keep them light, and clean!

What do I mean?  Well, when it comes to sex . . .

 BeeThe bumblebee said to the bird,
“I’m wondering what you have heard.”
“If you’re speaking of sex,”
She replied, “I’m perplexed –
But if half of it’s true, it’s absurd.”

© Judith Millar 2009.

E-mail limerick entries to, subject line: Limerick Contest Entry.

Julie & Julia & Judith

September 2, 2009

Cook in kitchen

Talk about depressing. I just saw the movie Julie & Julia. It made me miserable. It made me realize I am no Julia Child. I am no Julie Powell, either. I am Judith Millar, culinary catastrophe.

Ah, you say, don’t compare yourself to a culinary icon. Does a gnat compare itself to Mount Olympus? The incomparable Julia Child – played by the incomparable Meryl Streep – how could a mere mortal ever measure up to this double dose of DEEVA?  Yet mere mortal Julie Powell steps up to the (dinner) plate, and manages to both outCOOK and outBLOG me! (Julie cooks her way through all Julia’s recipes AND manages to post about it, 365 days a year!  I am lucky to get a post up every Wednesday.) Like I said, depressing.

Yet I am handicapped in this cooking contest by my admitted klutizness (see Kayaking for Klutzes). Cooking utensils may not be as large as kayaks or box horses, but they are still inanimate objects – and, as kind reader Joanna noted in her comment on my kayaking post, inanimate objects can be evil.  Malevolent graters can leave slivers of “Fingertips Fromage” on one’s Monday Macaroni. Mashers can malfunction, mutilating more than potatoes. Spastic spatulas can – well, take it from me, they can, and they will! – in my ham-fisted grip.

After witnessing a few culinary catastrophes (picture a food-based episode of CSI) and ingesting a few helpings of my Mashed Potatoes Elmer (recall that white glue you used in Grade Two?), Kayak Guy (then known as Fiancé Guy) suggested he become the culinary half of our combo. It was the kindest thing. I am best left slaving over a hot keyboard, where the most damage I can do is the odd tasteless typo.

However, seeing this movie reminded me that, like Julie and Julia, I have (once, briefly) held a lobster. And even flung the poor thing into a pot. The result was no Lobster Thermidor, but there is one lobster in Maine who is sorry he met me. Our kids wanted to call him Larry. To me, he looked more like a Lawrence. I insisted he on naming him Lawrence. Here he is, with a younger (redder-headed) me.

Judy_with_LobsterA cooking tip: If you must shortly cast a live lobster into a pot of boiling water, DO NOT adopt the writerly habit of naming the poor soul first. Lawrence met his maker in a pot in Prospect Harbor, Maine … and when I meet mine, I shall freely confess, he’s been on my conscience ever since. RIP Lawrence. I’ve committed my last arthropodic atrocity. None of your crustacean cousins have a thing to fear from me.

© 2009 Judith Millar. All rights reserved.

Is there a Lawrence in your past? Another kind of culinary catastrophe? Or can you compete with Julie & Julia?