Kitchen Disasters

This is something I wrote for Fun in Writing Group May 28, 2014

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerAnyone who has ever set foot in a kitchen knows what potential disasters lie therein. Whether it’s from mis-measured ingredients, substitutions that didn’t quite make the grade, or an obstinate, uncooperative oven, disasters happen. I’ve had a lot over the years, but a few stand out in my mind.

One of my early disasters included my sister. It was our parents’ anniversary and we wanted to fix them breakfast and take it to them in bed. I’m not sure whose idea this was. I was only 7 and my sister was 9. Our kitchen skills were minimal. We had no idea how to fix coffee or pancakes or even scramble and egg. We decided upon toast and fresh squeezed juice.

Unfortunately – no fruit to squeeze, so we fixed ice water. That decided upon, we embarked on toast.

Our toaster was an old fashioned kind. It didn’t have a press down button or a timer. It was triangular with slotted doors on each side. It had one temperature setting—ON. To operate, you opened the door with the little knob on top, slid a piece of bread into the slot, shut the door and waited until it browned. How long you left it depended on how brown you wanted it. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop automatically.

You can imagine the disaster potential this presented for two industrious, and somewhat oblivious, children. We forgot about the toast until it was flaming. I’m not talking smoking a little, this was full on flames! They shot up, igniting a picture of a rooster I’d made with colored macaroni. It burned beautifully, blackening the wall and the calendar.

Our screams woke our parents. Our father ran to the kitchen, yanked the flaming picture from the wall and threw it in the sink. Our mother unplugged the toaster and carried it outside, depositing the bread cinders in the backyard.

I know they wanted to yell, but once they found out we’d been trying to fix them breakfast, the stopped. We were forbidden to use any kitchen implements without adult supervision—especially the toaster!

Many years later, as an adult, I wanted to bake my mother a special birthday cake. It was her seventieth birthday and wanted something more than a box cake. I had a wonderful recipe I wanted to try, so I set about gathering ingredients and mixing it up. I popped it in the oven. It smelled fabulous. I made the frosting and put it in the refrigerator, waiting for the beautiful cake to bake.

It was perfection! I poked a cake tester in a few inches. It came out clean, so I let the cake cool a little and inverted it on a plate. To my amazement, it slid out just right, not sticking to the pan. The bottom touched the plate and I heard a SLUUUURP PLOP! The inside was RAW! It got all over the table and floor before I realized what was happening. Although the outer crust was baked, the core was still liquid.

Upset, but determined, I cleaned it up and started over. I’m sure you can guess what happened. By the time the second cake came out, I was hysterical, but stubborn. I was ready to make a third attempt, but my husband put his foot down. He went to the cupboard and pulled out a box mix and handed it to me.

No more! You’re making yourself crazy! Your mother will appreciate the effort. It doesn’t have to be a from-scratch cake.”

I wanted to argue, but I knew he was right. He helped me clean up the second disaster, which was nearly as bad as the first, and I made the boxed cake. Damn thing came out perfectly!

To this day, I don’t know where I went wrong with the other cake. Maybe it was a bad recipe. Maybe it was a fluke of my less than stellar oven. All I know is that, wonderful or not, I’ve never made it again. Nearly all my cakes are from boxes and I haven’t had any trouble with them.

My husband, wonderful man that he is, reminds me from time to time that I haven’t had a major kitchen disaster in years. I tell him that’s because I’ve got mad kitchen skills now.

Nope,” he tells me with annoying confidence. “That’s because you’re good enough to skirt the every day ones. That means when you have one, you’ll probably burn the house down.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Shakazhan Outtakes Part 3 by Dellani Oakes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]We all like outtakes. Admit it, sometimes that’s your favorite part of a movie. Authors also have outtakes. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing outtakes from my novel, Shakazhan. This is a continuation of the same section I’ve been sharing. You can imagine, if I’ve got 3 posts from it, it must be long. That’s one reason I cut it. Though it was fun from my point of view, exploring my characters, it didn’t move the plot along. I could imagine people flipping the pages saying, “Is it ever going to stop?”

Before reading, in case you haven’t read Shakazhan yet, there are several sentient ships. I don’t mean just cognizant, I mean fully aware beings who cater to their crews by creating whatever they need. Want a bigger bed? The ship will provide it. Thirsty? What’s your favorite beverage? Need privacy? The ship will create a private room that only you can find. They are characters just as much as the humans and aliens are. Their names are Anvil, Hammer – her mate and Styx, their daughter.

The Kindred are another alien species who are highly advanced technologically and telepathically. This scene takes place on board one of the alien ships. Ariella and Caprilla are Fellician warriors commonly called The Cats.

Matilda found Wil a little later, he was talking to Caprilla about the match between them earlier.

“You move like a water buffalo with a limp.” Cap shook his head. “You must learn grace, the muscles must flow like water over pebbles. Yours is water, yes, but over rocks, big fat ones.” Shaking his head, he clucked his tongue.

“Yeah, Cap. I should move like you. You’re so big, your idea of quiet isn’t to set off an avalanche when you walk. I’ll bet you anything I can move faster and quieter than you any day of the week.”

“Put your money up, Old Man. I’ll accept that wager. In fact, although it is being overly generous of me, I’ll give myself a handicap. I’ll allow you to remove those big, hulking boots you wear.”

Wil laughed loudly. Cap was quite drunk and he knew it. However, even drunk, the big cat could move more silently than most humans.

“It wouldn’t be a fair contest, Cap, you’re drunk.”

“I’ll remedy that immediately, Lone Wolf. One moment.” He ordered an Everafter, an all purpose detoxifying treatment, which Hammer supplied directly to his hand. One nice thing about a sentient ship, there was no need for food synthesizers. Cap drank it down, making a face, shuddered and stood erect.

“I’m ready now, puny human. Where shall this contest take place?”

“How about here, Cap? In front of all our friends?”

“Hmph, how shall we be judged? They will make too much noise.”

“Let Hammer monitor us, I feel sure he can.” He was given an affirmative in the form of blinking lights. “See? Hammer will keep track of us. Is that fair?”

“It is the best I can expect, I suppose. I accept. Very well, what do you propose we do for our contest?”

“How about a full series of the drills with the weapons? Each of us does the sword, staff and Banderatta?”

Caprilla bowed deeply. “That is acceptable, Friend Wil. I’ll allow you to go first.”

“I insist, Cap, you go first.” Bowing deeply, he backed from the stage. The crew members grew as quiet as they could.

Caprilla took the center of the stage, standing in his ready position. Hammer indicated he was monitoring and Caprilla began. His movements were indeed like water over pebbles. Not even his breathing made noise above the sound of a moth’s flight. He began slowly with his kata, gradually gaining speed. He was so fast, he was a blur of blue black fur and dark red clothing. His weapons spun and glittered in the light like propellers.

He struck his final pose, bowed deeply to Wil once again and descended from the stage to tumultuous applause. Wil tried not to look cocky as he stepped to the center of the stage. He had stripped to the waist and removed his boots. He moved slowly into position, standing still for a heartbeat before beginning.

He too, started slowly, but his speed increased by the second. If Caprilla had been a blur of two colors, Wil’s colors blended into one. He was nearly impossible to see. The only sound he made was the whir of his weapons in the air. Not Marc and Caprilla, nor even Matilda, could mark his speed and progress, he moved so fast and silent.

His drill was over in seconds, and he stopped in the ready position before bowing deeply to Caprilla and the rest of the crew. There was an awed silence. No one said anything, no one could even move. It wasn’t until Wil stepped off the stage that the applause and cheering began. The noise was deafening!

Hammer flashed his lights, indicating he wished to make an announcement.

“After careful deliberation, it is my decision that the human, Wilhelm VanLipsig, performed his drill 10.23890572 seconds faster than the Fellician Caprilla Mayeese. Further, it is my finding, Human VanLipsig also was 9.856% quieter than aforementioned Fellician Mayeese.”

Caprilla looked stunned, but took the loss in stride. He could tell by looking at Wil perform that he had been faster and quieter than he. Cap wasn’t displeased, in fact he was proud of his old friend for besting him a second time in the evening. When the competition was friendly and no one’s life was held in the balance, Cap was completely willing to accept defeat.

He came forward, greeting Wil as he stepped off the stage. Bowing deeply, he stood quietly for a moment before speaking. “What shall I give you for your win, Friend Wil?”

Wil clapped Caprilla smartly on the shoulder, reaching up a couple of feet to accomplish it.

“Cap, I already have the most important thing you can give me. You’re my friend and ally. No man could ask for more.”

Caprilla roared loudly. “That is well said, Wilhelm, very well said! you’re quite astute for a mere puny human.”

Shortly after, the party broke up and the two crews headed to their quarters on either ship.

As they made ready for bed, Matilda looked at Wil, as if seeing him for the first time. “I had no idea you could move like that, Wil. That was incredible.”

“You know the crazy thing about that, baby? I don’t even think that was as fast as I can move. I felt like I was holding something in reserve.” He shrugged casually.

She laughed lightly. “Well promise me something, you won’t ever move that fast with me. I think maybe you’d light a fire.”

He chuckled, taking her in his arms. “Matilda, you always light a fire in me.” His kiss was heartfelt and warm, loving and compelling. “I promise I’ll always take my time with you.”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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