April is indeed the cruelest month

Dear Uma: This morning it was snowing when I got up - yes, Uma, snow in April. Last time I wrote to you I thought I had been suffering from the blues, but got over it by the time I'd ended my missive.

Dear Uma:

This morning it was snowing when I got up – yes, Uma, snow in April. Last time I wrote to you I thought I had been suffering from the blues, but got over it by the time I’d ended my missive.

Today I think I am suffering from the crazies: I found myself feeling cheered and uplifted by the sight of the big white flakes. It was exactly the same feeling of gladness I get when winter starts.

Do you think it might be time for an intervention of some sort? I am imagining you and Andrew bursting into our house some night and, with Pete’s assistance, spiriting me away, protesting vehemently, to a place where outside the walls of the institution would be a warm and sunny place.

I had an interesting morning, drinking my tea while I read an article entitled The Strange Case of the Vanishing Penis, thinking as I began it that somewhere in this erudite coming together of words there may be some explanation for Canadian politicians.

Disappointingly, it was not to be, though the piece was a good read anyway; I had never heard of “koro” before, which is the Indonesian word used to describe the condition in which a man believes his penis has vanished. Sometimes the victim thinks someone else has his penis, or it has been replaced with someone else’s dangly bit. There have even been cases where all that is left is a husk.

Although the condition is labelled a “culture-bound” syndrome, I don’t find it too much of a stretch to think it has infiltrated western culture. We are after all living in times where nothing is less than global; we share everything from food to cars to viruses, so why not syndromes?

I am partial to the one where the man thinks his penis has been replaced by someone else’s; it provided me with some merriment as I drank my second cup of tea and imagined all the switched dicks.

Stephen Harper’s was easy; it is becoming clearer and clearer he believes he has Napoleon’s package. It is a good explanation for the behaviour of he and his cabinet when faced with sticky questions – they grandly ignore them, even going so far as to walk away from the podium during a media event.

Dennis Fentie would love to have had Napoleon’s balls, but he has such a small political arena in which to exercise power that he was forced to settle for a switch with the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Klaus Tschuetscher. Neither has much presence on the world stage.

The Liberal leader, Iggy, as he is fondly referred to, has not had the good fortune to choose his genitals and has been left with a husk.

And so on and so on until I was bored with the game and decided to be more creative with my morning and do some cooking and baking.

A hearty soup would be a good thing on this chilly day. I put on some music and got to work peeling and chopping, putting everything into the crock pot where it could simmer and release a warm and welcoming odour.

That done, it was time to make muffins, another cool weather food that is much enjoyed and appreciated in my household.

I had a recipe for muffins that included ginger and peaches; it had come to me via a neighbour who advised me that in order to enjoy success with this recipe it was necessary to follow instructions carefully.

Being fairly new to baking, I did exactly that and was rewarded with a dozen really marvellous muffins.

The next time I made them I experimented just a little, putting in an egg and some cinnamon. Again, a dozen very proud-making muffins.

This morning I went a little further, tossing in some yogurt and a bit of ground clove. Having a happy history with this recipe, I didn’t bother to look at it for every little thing, confident I was remembering all the ingredients and the instructions.

When the kitchen was smelling heavenly and looking hellish I took a break to go on the computer and find out more about “koro.”

The smell of smoke alerted me seconds before the alarm started its high-pitched wailing warning of danger.

Muffins were burned, but only on the bottoms. Thinking they were salvageable, I buttered one to go with a third mug of tea. Ick! They had a downright ugly taste; if one were to grind some old wool socks with yogurt and spices in a blender and bake it, this would be what they’d get. Into the backyard they went, a breakfast for the ravens that have learned to visit regularly for scraps.

A little while later, I tasted the soup. It was on a par with the muffins insofar as the flavour was not merely ‘off,’ but decidedly foul. I had had some suspicions about the carrots when I peeled them; they’d been in the fridge a long time and had grown yellow hairs, but jeez! Who knew carrots could go so bad? The soup joined the muffins on the raven’s breakfast table and I retired to a plate of toast and cheese.

Oddly, I found I was not feeling crushed and embarrassed by these two failures. I regretted the expense spent in the preparation, of course, but nothing could change or take away the pleasure I had enjoyed in making them, hands busy and head full of music. This is a brand new way of looking at my culinary fiascos and I like it.

Just before settling to write to you I took a look in the yard to see how the birds were relishing the bounty of the morning. I had heard them as they gathered, cawing and yelling the news to all and sundry.

They were gathered but they were not partaking. There they stood, looking at the colourful mess of potables spread out for their dining pleasure. Every now and then one would hop close to the food and dip her beak, but no one was eating. They appeared more puzzled than anything else.

OK, so the ravens put the tiniest of dents in my mood of “it’s all OK”- until I remembered the newest residents of our town, the rats. Rats, I am told, will and can eat anything; the food will not go to waste. If we are to have these rodents, they may as well eat healthy stuff.

Further to some cursory research on koro there are cases of “retracting” penis found in all cultures. This condition is one I have heard of; sumo wrestlers are said to learn to retract their penises as part of their training. Having seen sumo wrestling, it would seem to be a good idea.

However, sumo professionals aside, there is evidence of penis retraction in many other instances, one of them being the after effect of a stroke. Not a stroke as in a caress; a stroke as in a medical condition. Not too unreasonably, this is a cause of great concern and tremendous stress for the victim.

Koro can occur from a handshake! If this bit of trivia hits the mainstream media politicians will forgo that particular gesture for certain. For the clearly boring but still necessary meeting and greeting of constituents, perhaps a nod of the head, a slight bow from the waist or a knocking together of knuckles would suffice?

And while on the subject of the disappearing penis, have you heard from Andrew since he ran off with his admin/ass? You are taking his defection with perfect aplomb, and I want to know why. I have some suspicions, the seeds of which were planted when I saw you last; you were entirely too happy for a scorned woman.

When you are ready….



Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.