Before we proceed to the next thrilling installment let us pause for a moment and talk of bread, more particularly the bread of Amazonia.

Now when Amazonia announced that the wheat crop had more than quadrupled people high-fived each other and celebrated. They thought it was beyond fabulous that now everyone would have the chance to share their skills and visions as bakers. Oh sure, they realized that there would be a certain number of bakers whose bread you wouldn’t feed to a starving pig but, eh, how bad could it possibly be?

They hoped that the bakers of substandard bread might realize it wasn’t exactly tasty and improve or that friends and family might gently nudge the baker into improving their loaves or that when said friends and family ate the bread, keeled over onto the floor, clutched their stomachs and groaned, “I’m gonna die”, that those bakers would take the hint. And most probably that happened but no one heard about those bakers unless their friends and family were rushed into hospital or, you know, died.

What they didn’t anticipate was the number of mediocre and bad bakers that managed not to hear gentle hints or calmly stepped over the flailing bodies on the floor in their rush out the door into the world to sell their excellent bread. And what all those new bakers, good, bad, otherwise, didn’t realize was the lack of marketing for all their bread. They had to get creative.

Or annoying. If you ask the people of Romancelandia they will say they got annoying. Oh, they didn’t mind the bakers that approached restaurants, coffee shops, and markets asking if they would give their bread a chance. They didn’t mind little stalls popping up around town offering free samples, the gift bread basket cottage industry or other intriguing and innovative selling ideas. They met a lot of people they might not have met otherwise and had interesting conversations over bread and coffee. They gave advice when asked, helped even the bakers who weren’t so talented if they saw they were sincere and wanted to put in the hard work to improve. Sometimes they pushed a baker to consider making butter or jam if their baking skills were hopeless.

But those annoying bakers-they popped up everywhere. You couldn’t have a conversation in a shop, with your doctor, you couldn’t have an illicit meeting, or plot to overthrow the government without one of those damned misguided bakers jumping out from behind a potted plant and shoving a loaf under your nose. The citizens asked them to stop nicely, then tensely. They posted signs in doorways, then in every aisle, on the theatre marquee, there was one on every house. They took to wearing placards asking bakers to not accost them with bread. Scones started to look more attractive.

It also seemed that a lot of them weren’t all that good at baking and you couldn’t get them to understand that. They got huffy if you pointed out that  the loaf was black on the bottom or unbaked in the middle or glowed in the dark. They told you you didn’t understand their bread or you were a jealous (bread)hater. It seemed all of these lousy bakers (there, I said it plainly) had contracted the Dreaded Whines, too. They whined about not selling their bread, they whined about mean people not allowing them to sell their bread during funerals and church services, they whined about the Bread Bloggers who reviewed and discussed bread.

They clumped together in unattractive groups much like the doughy, unbaked centers of their loaves and whined. Small groups of desperate citizens formed to discuss the problem and the whiney bakers whined about that. Then they surrounded GoodBreads, the place where bakers went to display their breads and the eating public went to sample and discuss and review the breads. The whining got so loud and insistent that a few weak-minded individuals actually tossed bread at other bakers and bloggers.  The small groups of citizens and others banded together and the A(ctively)A(wful)B(akers), group was formed. There was a sharp upswing in the sales of muffins, crumpets, and the above mentioned scones.

The whiney bakers were upset about that and blamed the AABers for saying their breads were bad. The AABers replied crisply that their breads were bad and anyone with half a set of tastebuds would have no problem figuring this out so of course they were turning to other baked goods or only professionally baked breads.

And this is about where everything stood on that fateful spring day when the citizens of Romancelandia met the whiney bakers in front of Summerton’s Fine Chocolates.



Once Upon A Time

Ready for a little bedtime story?

Once upon a time there was a far off country, let’s call it Amazonia, and in Amazonia there were many provinces called forums by Amazonia’s happy and not-so-happy and positively grumpy inhabitants. These inhabitants resided in towns and cities called discussions.

The people of Amazonia were a highly mobile group, moving from discussion to discussion chatting and recommending Amazonia’s many and varied goods and helping to generate a healthy profit for their country.

One day into the happy province of Romancelandia came an unhappy little person. I wish I could say I knew who she was but even she didn’t know who she was. It was evident that she had spent many a year trying to figure this out and, unfortunately, when she saw all the happy people in Romancelandia she was filled with envy and felt that they were an affront to her misery and so she set about trying to make them as miserable as she was.

She picked a nice, largish town and moved to the outskirts and hung out her shingle as the town bitch looney victim. Again unfortunately she hadn’t done her research and research is so important when you are looking for just the right spot to put down new roots, don’t you think? She charged into town consumed with zealous misery determined to Make Her Presence Felt.

Yeah, well…Remember when I said that unfortunately she hadn’t done her research? Like so many, many other deluded individuals our little bitch looney victim thought that the citizens were going to be pushovers and in no time she would have shoved and pushed and sprinkled the dust of her discontent over these amiable wimps and then she would assume her, she erroneously assumed, rightful place as leader and teacher picking and poking and changing this town into the town she thought it should be.

Sigh.  Alas, while Romancelandia might conjure up visions of hearts and flowers, heaving bosoms and passion both requited and un, lace and satin and perfume and illicit love letters nothing could be further from the truth. In all of Amazonia there was no other province crazy enough to try to take on Romancelandia. These people were fierce, they were known far and wide for taking no shit or prisoners.

But our little bitch looney victim was so wrapped up in her (misplaced) righteous misery that she had paid no attention to the world around her. There will now be blood and gore. Sorry. Our little BLV charged into town and plotzed herself into a pleasant conversation and, and, oh, this is hard to say, she, she, well, she whined. Oh God, I feel so dirty.

The citizens on whom she whined were rightfully taken aback and asked something along the line of, “WTF?” She whined some more. Their hearts were touched, plainly this person was in need of help, who would want to whine all the damned time? If you are not familiar with the dreaded Whines disease let me give you a quick description, the afflicted whines and whines and whines until you just want to wrap your hands around their whiney little throats and…. But this is a bedtime story…..apply an increasing, steady pressure until their whiney little eyes bug out.

The whines can be cured but it depends on the individual. They have to want to be cured and while you and I, dear Reader, cannot imagine living the life of an incurable whiner I have seen with my own eyes people perfectly happy whining their lives away. Sometimes an individual can be cured with care and attention and a good swift kick in the ass. The kick will either drive their head further up said orifice in which case you can write them off your list of Fun People To Ask To My Parties because they are incurable or their heads pop out and they go on to lead useful, productive, and interesting lives.

Lots of normal, kindhearted people are beginning to believe that terminal whiners should be isolated away from the general public for their own safety and because the kindhearted people are finding the idea of steady and increasing pressure to the necks of whiners to be an attractive solution to the problem. They are trying to find someone to spearhead this project and someone who claims to do these things will appear in this story. Later, much, much later. But I digress.

Back to our particular whiney BLV. Remember when I said there would be blood and gore? I got a little ahead of myself , sorry. So being fair people they listened to her whine for a bit and figured out she was whining about-bread. Yes, bread. See, Amazonia was a country renown for its bread. Amazonia sold a lot of bread to other countries and Romancelandia produced the greatest amount for export.

Now at the time of this story Amazonia had grown an obscene amount of wheat and anybody who thought they could bake was  turning out loaf after loaf. Before this wheat was not as plentiful and only professional bakers had access to it. Not that all professional bakers turned out fabulous bread all the time but there was less of a chance of getting a bad loaf. So. There was this not very professional baker that had produced some not very good bread for export and the good people of Romancelandia had handed her her bread with a few choice comments.

This did not set well with our sad sack whiner, she felt that any bread produced, no matter how bad, was fit for export. And really, it wasn’t horrible bread, just not very good bread. Not good enough bread, in the opinions of the Romancians. That the baker had described it as first class, better than most bread had made the Romancians who had sampled it, welllll, pithy.

The whiner whined that the baker needed to make money off her bread and the Romancians pointed out that if she made certain improvements that maybe her next batch would be fit for export, and it wasn’t like she couldn’t sell it locally. But since the whiner  liked the bread so much they gave her a few loaves of it, no charge, and also fresh butter and gooseberry jam and pointed her in the direction of her house.

At this point any rational person would have dropped the subject of substandard bread but we aren’t dealing with rational here. The next morning the whiner appeared at the local market with a smear of butter on her cheek, a splodge of jam on her sweater and trailing breadcrumbs like a bad case of dandruff. She waved a rather worse for wear loaf of the substandard bread under the nose of every shopper she could catch and implored, exhorted, and insisted that people buy this bread. This excellent bread.

The shoppers expressed their opinions forcefully and pithily.

The whiner then hit the local coffee shop, both libraries, the mall, a Bible study group, the fire station, three weddings, a car show, a pig farm, she was out of control. Now another side effect of the Whines is when the afflicted get really upset their whining ascends to a pitch only dogs and others with the disease can hear. It’s like a siren call. Sure enough, more whiners started to appear and to make it worse none of them could bake a first class loaf to save themselves.

This went on for days and the Romancians were getting a tad tense. They began to grind their teeth and squeeze sturdy rubber balls until their knuckles turned a shade of white not normally found in nature. They were heard to remark that they wished the friggin’ wheat would develop a mold. Anything to get rid of all these amateur bakers. The noise produced by the teeth grinding and the whining was so loud that they had to cancel the Justin Bieber concert.

Neighboring provinces were taking bets on when the inevitable would happen.

And then it happened.

On a particularly fine spring day when the whiners had ruined a flower show, a wedding, and the local high school graduation a large group of Romancians headed for Summerton’s Fine Chocolates, the premiere chocolate shop in town. Now the whiners, after the graduation disruption realized that the one shop they hadn’t whined in and on was Summerton’s so they went into town and surrounded the building and started to whine about bread and then the Romancians, wanting only to drown their frustrations in fine chocolate, came around the corner.

The world as everyone had known it disappeared forever.

Coming soon: Part II- Things Go Boom 


For Linda, who asked the question