Monday, February 20, 2012

Dickens of a Day

It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.

No disrespect to ol' Charlie for whom the planet recently celebrated a bicentennial birthday. February 19th actually started off on a high note. It commenced as Dickens but became Brown. As in Charlie Brown. ('Good grief'  is not the expletive I used, exactly.)

Honestly, the day began innocently enough, albeit a bit too early, when I awoke at the hour of my old friend and colleague, 4 o'clock. Down the stairs I tiptoe once again in the wee hours to clean my house, do laundry, and check emails.

Upon opening my flickr account, I discover that a photograph of mine I'd uploaded the previous day has been 'Explored'. This may mean squat to non-flickrites, but every day, from the thousands - I'd even venture to say - hundreds of thousands of photographs uploaded onto the flickr site by its innumerable members, only 500 are chosen for 'interestingness' and are placed into the sacred echelons of flickr's main, public group called 'Explore'. And yesterday morning, my wintry photograph of a favourite, rural, tree-lined drive was chosen to be included. For one day, I witness the views of and comments on this photograph rocket as the Explore group is globally monitored. More than a tad exciting.

welcome to my nightmare

You see, no one can tell how one becomes an Explored Elite. There appears to be no one set of criteria. Flickrites can try their damndest and it may never happen and others may not give a damn or try at all, and suddenly, there it is: a photograph of theirs has been featured as one of the most interesting of that day (as determined by flickr staff. Somehow.)

I am still dizzy from the heights of euphoric flickr states as I happily go about preparing The Sunday Roast. A few days before I'd invited two couples with their daughters and another friend to my home for the meal. As a single parent of a 2 year old, rarely do I get the chance to cook the way I long to, the way I love to and today is the day! As my toddler sleeps soundly upstairs for his midday nap, I dice pears, sautee leek, slice figs and arrange a beautiful piece of pork roast for my guests. A little white wine over the garlic, leek, shallots and pears; some melted creamed cinnamon honey over the pork and figs. A smidge of sea salt here, a pep of pepper there. Yum!

a dream denied

And here's where the grace and formality of Master Dickens is wrestled to the ground by the foibles and good-grieving of Master Brown. My guests arrive and help prepare the salad. I cook basmati rice and sautee a sauce of mushrooms, sugar snaps and mango in coconut milk and apple butter with curry, cardamom and cumin. Everything is going swimmingly. I pull out the pork at 6pm to check its progress. It is very nearly done and I place it back in the oven for another fifteen minutes. Palettable Paradise is mere moments away.

When the oven malfunctions. Or rather, I make it malfunction. The self-cleaning mechanism turns on. I should have been able to cancel at the push of a button, yet no buttons push. I mouth the word, "no". At first, it emits from my mouth as a soft whisper, then a moan, increasing thereafter in volume and repetition as I envision the oven raising its temperature to 575 degrees and my roast becoming, as Thomas the Tank Engine would put it, 'cinders and ashes'. Desperate now, I unplug the oven.

my arch nemesis

Every attempt to replug and hit cancel is taunted by the oven clock flashing at me like a pervert in a public park. I feel just like Charlie when Lucy whips away the football at the last moment. Whatever the mechanisms are that should allow my self-cleaning oven door to unlock and open take a holiday. My oven has kidnapped my pork roast and is unwilling to negotiate its release. Where is Denzel Washington when I need him?

My guests are more than gracious as we sit down to basmati rice with no main course. Jesus wept. And so did I. For the love of all that is holy, I ask myself, why does this oven fail me when it is a Sunday followed by a holiday Monday? There will be no rescuing the pork now until Tuesday. One small consolation: the light in the oven turned off when it malfunctioned so none of us need stare at the dinner we almost had.

And here I sit, at 5 am, still shaking my head in disbelief. For a brief moment, I wonder about the two lovely wives of the couples invited, both of them pregnant (and likely starving for something more substantial than a side dish). Could it be I was envying their round bellies and wanting something of my own in the oven?

Fig me.

No. It' just Murphy's Law disguised as Nancy's Law. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am Lucille Ball reincarnated. A Mary Tyler Moore for the 21st century. When I recall 90% of the special events that have taken place in my life, there is always some unbelievable mishap thwarting my genuine efforts to be Charles Dickens and not end up Charlie Brown. I really should have my own sitcom.

'Tis a far, far better thing I do to just not give a fig and go back to bed. That'll be five cents, please.


Carrie Snyder said...

Oh my. I can't believe it! That is a most cruel fate for your roast. Has it been rescued yet???

nancy said...

I can't see it, Carrie. Yet, I know there it sits, in the oven still, taunting me. :(

rachel said...

Hey Nancy.

I came across your blog recently and love your photo of the tree avenue.Could I buy a copy of it dyou think? I live in England .My email is or you can find me at
Let me know how much a print would cost if you are willing! I'm not rich but I do love photography and this picture really sings to me.
Love rachelx