Thursday, May 29, 2008

see you at the headgate

Me: [Captain America], do you know why I'm so upset about what you did to [The Hulk]?

Captain America (probably lying): Yeah.

Me: Where do we live?

Captain America: In the country.

Me: On a farm. Do you know what happens on a farm when people aren't careful?

Captain America: They get hurt.

Me: That's right. Farms have all kinds of dangerous tools around, like pitchforks and shovels, and people can get hurt or even killed. (Think about telling him about all the missing fingers and other digits/limbs I've seen that were results of farming accidents, but decide to stick within the family tree.) Did you know that Great Grandpa Baugh was run over by a tractor and almost died?

Captain America (losing focus): Wow. How old was he?

Me: It was just a couple of years ago. Anyway, farm kids don't have the luxury of doing something stupid or using a tool the wrong way and finding out it was stupid later. You have to be very careful with pitchforks. Farm kids have to use their brains all the time.

Captain America: (I reject this.)

Now, we don't live on a real, honest-to-Pete farm or anything; we don't have tractors or balers or disc harrows on the premises, but we do have dangerous things around like pitchforks and shovels, animals that will spur or kick or bite you if you treat them poorly, choking, drowning, strangulation and electrocution hazards, sharp/hot instruments that will irreversibly alter your appearance or gender, and that's just what immediately came to mind. So maybe let's not swing the pitchfork around in the hay barn (read: garage) and try to stab each other with it, mmmkay?


While we were in Boulder I was walking around on Pearl Street, and there were fat squirrels everywhere that didn't even have the decency to run away as I passed. They're so checked out of their place in the food chain that they lumber around looking for scraps of food from all the restaurants, and they see people as a food source. They were cute, but I bet they all have The Sugar. Just look at that monstrous beast! He reminds me of Aebleskiver, our Ottoman Cat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

cleaning the rathole

We cleaned out the basement last week, mostly anyway, and it looks sort of not like squatters live here. We have the vanity base for our bathroom sink, the cultured marble is done and looks great. A little more mudding and taping and sanding needs to be done to the bathroom wall, then we can paint, epoxy the floor, call the electrician, call the plumber, and then we will maybe have a functioning second bathroom! We'll be rich as Nazis.

Now we're buying storage for the family room, and I'm hoping to have room to set up a work table for the kids to use for art and school. Being organized is expensive, you guys! Even when you're using Ikea. But since we're basically high-functioning raccoons, we've got to have an easy system put in place, or we'll forever be wading through piles of clutter.

As with many marriages, John and I have different approaches to stuff retention/disposal. I like throwing everything away, and he likes hanging onto it. Like, last week I got rid of a monstrosity called Mr. Blobby, which he bought in England so long ago he doesn't know why he has it. It's a pink empty zip-up stomach with a head, arms and legs, and a face that makes him a shoo-in for the Mayor of Halloween Town.

We succumbed to Big Oil and fertilized our lawn tonight. I hate putting poison on the grass, but I would be telling a wicked lie if I said that I'm going to go around and physically dig out all the weeds, so we're adopting the philosophy that a healthy lawn will crowd out anything else. Once we get our sick, sick lawn in better shape we should be able to use all the mounds of nitrogen-heavy organic fertilizer (read: chicken poop) that are just sitting around our property.

So, advice: should we get a table for the basement family room for the kids to do homework and art projects on? I like having them around doing their stuff, but it seems that the mess breeds more mess and yet more mess until the entire dining room table and all the shelves and the buffet are all covered in it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the only mormons who have horns are those who haven't been disbudded

I had to turn off Radio West today because I found myself getting worked up. They were having a discussion about the whole kerfuffle with the Catholic Church no longer allowing the LDS Church access to their parish records. Lemme sum up:

Doug Fabrizio: "So the Catholic Church has said that they won't let the LDS Church see their parish records anymore, which is a huge deal to the Mormons, what with the genealogy and the proxy baptisms."

First guest, some guy who works for a religious think tank (I think, I didn't hear his title very well because my children WOULD talk): "Yeah, I don't know why they chose this time to do it, perhaps because the pope is about to visit the US, and he wants people to pay attention. Also they used very direct language and basically said that the Mormons are disrespectful and crazy."

Doug Fabrizio: "I wonder why the LDS Church isn't reacting to this?"

First guest: "Probably because they want people to stop paying attention to it."

Doug Fabrizio: "Let's talk to our second guest. What do you think about this?"

Second guest, a Catholic fellow whom we were given to understand represents at least a representative point of view: "It's disrespectful for the Mormons to be doing this, because they are implying that the individuals' previous baptisms aren't valid, and forcing these baptisms on people who would object strongly."

Doug Fabrizio: "Let's take some calls."

Caller A: "I have friends who are both practicing Mormons and former Mormons. If someone wants to pray for me, that's fine, but once they start questioning my faith? That's not okay."

Caller B: "Why are we even having this discussion? If their religion is so great and so wonderful, why aren't they offering it to people before they die?"

Caller C: "I'm mad because some distant Mormon relatives did proxy baptisms for family members they didn't even know, people who really, really didn't want to be Mormons. But they didn't care. They just wanted another notch on the gun barrel so they could continue feeling superior." (That last sentence is almost word-for-word what she really said.)

Here's what I have to say. I totally get that people would be upset about proxy baptisms, for example in the case of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. When your religion is such a focal part of your identity, you're going to get a little wiggety about people wanting you to switch to Geico and save 15%. So I can't blame them for that. And yeah, we are questioning the validity of their religion, because . . . to us, it isn't really valid. But what I do have a problem with is this:
1. We're forcing people to be baptized into our faith.
This, as no doubt all of my readers know, is not true. A rejected baptism doesn't take. So be offended, I understand, but we're not coercing people into church membership.
2. Why aren't we offering it to the living?
Umm. Yeah, why don't we, I don't know, send out a bunch of missionaries or something?
3. Notches on the gun barrel to maintain a feeling of superiority.
Wow. That is offensive. I haven't met any Mormons like this, but I know they're out there, because people get really weird about doing work for the dead, specifically the famous dead, e.g. Anne Frank, C.S. Lewis, Princess Diana. Gross. Also gross are people who think their religion makes them superior. That call just made me mad, mad that she was so hostile and was putting forth as fact an opinion based on a non-representative (I hope, I REALLY hope) experience, and mad that someone gave her that impression of the church.

It illustrated to me that people are still confused about what exactly we believe, thanks, MITT, and of course they don't bother to research before they harangue.

Anyway, that is when I started getting upset and too invested in a debate that has raged on since the Gospel was restored, and will continue to rage until the Rapture, so I'm not likely to be able to do anything about it. So I'm glad that the Church hasn't made an official statement in response to the Catholic edict, because it would be a waste of breath anyway. Focus on the swing group, and forget the hate group, because they aren't going to change. Just keep on doing your job and trying to be a decent human being--that's enough to keep us all busy.

Chucking it!

Monday, May 19, 2008

you hush up, Dingus

Li'l Brudder and Baby Girl

Dingus Squatford

Feeding the triplets is going well, aside from some initial resistance from one of the boys. Li'l Brudder and Baby Girl are great, and now Dingus Squatford has figured out that he's not too good for a bottle. So that's a relief. I guess he doesn't like the taste of Front Leg, either.

Stupid Tilde Whom I Hate Much keeps getting her head caught in the fence. Also she has started sneaking up and biting us when our backs are turned. Which means . . . sing along with me if you know the words . . . she's going to be white packages soon! John says it's an interesting dichotomy that one goat we cry about and one goat we lick our lips about and count the days until her departure. But Finola didn't bite, wasn't stupid, and was generally a fantastic goat. Part of animal husbandry is the necessity of culling the herd, and it turns out that hateful animals are a lot easier to cull. So I guess I'm thankful to Tilde for making this easy on us.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

and this year was going so well . . .

We buried Finola last night. She's facing east.

While John and I were in Boulder the goats got starved, essentially, because we weren't there riding Captain America's back about taking more hay out to them. Before we left John said, "Now, while we're gone you need to take out at least twice the hay you normally do, because we won't be here to make sure they have enough, and they have all those babies, and they're hungry all the time." So, they got about half the hay they normally do, and when they broke out in desperation on Monday, Finola gorged on all the fresh alfalfa, bloated, and died. When we got home Tuesday night they were SCREAMING at us in hunger. John went out to feed them and found Finola off in the calf hutch by herself, already stiff and cold.

So we spent about 5 hours yesterday digging a grave in the goat pen, because I refused to just take her to the "special place for animals" that they have at the dump. She was my favorite, you know? She was a superb mother, she helped me gain patience and taught me parenting skills, her milk was the best I've ever tasted, she was so friendly and personable . . . it's just a shame. We made sure that Grant was out digging with us the whole time, and now he's the one responsible for making sure her orphaned babies get fed. We told him that's the only way he's going to be able to get this off his conscience, is by repairing as much as possible the damage that was done. I can't really get too freaked out at him, because he is just an 8-year-old, and it's the first time he's been saddled with that kind of man-of-the-house responsibility. At the same time, though, I can't deprive him of this painful illustration of how important it is to be a man of your word, and that our actions often have unforeseen consequences.

Other niceties while we were gone include a football to the head, causing prolonged ear-ringing in the same ear that a soccer ball was kicked into last week (also causing prolonged ear-ringing and a headache), a burst eardrum, and pinkeye, of course. We leave, and everything goes straight to crap. I am very thankful to my sister for tending the boys and dealing with all the problems. You don't realize until you start writing a list of everything that needs to be accomplished while you're gone that this is a really hard job, and I'm grateful she was willing to take it on to let me have a little break.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

finola is dead

Thursday, May 8, 2008

the birds we see

We have some Mourning Doves that have moved into the spruce tree on the north side of the house. I love how they sound. There were some that lived in the spruce tree on the south side of my parents' house, so it makes me feel all nostalgiclike.

Also, we have a couple of what I think are Western Meadowlarks that nest somewhere in our yard. They like to sit in the hideous gumdrop junipers and tell us how pretty our town is with their distinctive sound. I got a jank picture of one of them this morning as it roosted in our Shogetsu Flowering Cherry.

The bird is perplexed as to why I would think my camera can zoom so far without a decrease in clarity.

Whenever we drive to Logan we nearly wreck from craning our necks to look at all the birds in the Benson Marshes. We see Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Canada Geese, various kinds of swimmy and wadey birds, pelicans, hawks, eagles, Sandhill Cranes, and occasionally a Great Blue Heron. Some others, too, but I'm probably just as bored typing the names as you are reading them. It's amazing how much is going on out there, and how much more you notice when you look. I am so grateful I took that Discovering Nature class in college. I think it should be required.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Yesterday I got the leeks, collards and swiss chard planted. We still have to do potatoes, onions, squashes, melons and tomatoes. How am I going to forget to water them and let them be overtaken by weeds if I don't get them planted?

The kale is growing, yay. I love it in soup, and it's nice that it has a head start. The peas and carrots are both a total bust. I'm pretty ashamed of it, but not so ashamed that I'm going to replant. Maybe I can poach from my parents' garden.

I've had requests for a couple of recipes, so here they are. Please remember that I am an experimenter, so I don't have exact amounts of the modifications written down. I have no idea if the results are reproducible--they are for me, but that's probably because I'm repeating my own behaviors and I have muscle memory. I'll do my best to judge relative amounts.

Lion House Rolls As Modified By Layne Because She Buys Oatmeal In 25 Pound Sacks
2 tsp. yeast (I use SAF Instant)
2 C warm water (I will sometimes replace some of it with milk)
1/3 C sugar (I use 1/4 C honey instead)
1/3 C melted margarine (you know I use butter instead)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 large beaten egg
4-5 C flour (I replace 1 cup with oatmeal, and sometimes another cup with wheat flour)
1/3 C potato flakes
1/2 C melted margarine (still using butter) for forming rolls

In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar (honey).
Let stand 10 minutes (or not, if you're using the SAF instant yeast, which I am).
Add margarine (butter), salt, egg and 2 cups of flour (flour/oatmeal). Mix well.
Add potato flakes. Mix well.
Continue adding 2 C flour at a time, kneading until it becomes a smooth dough.

Let rise until double.

I do not do the roll-out-and-cut-circles Parker House formation. I grab a glob of dough in my buttery hands (this is where the 1/2 C of butter appears) and squish it up through my fist until it makes a nice little ball on top, like I'm holding an ice cream cone. You dig? Then I put it in the pan.

Let rolls rise 20-30 minutes, or until double.
Bake in a 375* oven for 12-15 minutes.

The Bread Layne Makes In "John's" Dutch Oven
The other recipe I linked to courtesy of All8, and is from Mother Earth News: No-Knead Crusty Bread. I use 1/2 tsp. of yeast, because I didn't think it poofed enough with just 1/4 tsp. I've tried modifying it, but I don't like the results I've had so far, at least not on the first day--the second day it makes awesome toast. When I get it figured out I'll post the recipe. If you want to get started on your own, try flaxseed, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds. I've seen a similar recipe in Cook's Illustrated, but haven't tried it yet.

Usually what I do is start the bread after the kids go to bed, then start working on it around 2:00 the next day, so it's done in time for dinner.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

words of wisdom from the carpool

The other day John was discussing the Li'l Brudder situation with his carpool, and one of them (who is a sheep rancher) gave him some advice. You may have heard of farmers trying to trick ewes into taking in a rejected lamb by rubbing afterbirth all over it or draping it in the skin from a dead lamb, because if a ewe doesn't recognize or like the smell of a lamb, she'll refuse to feed it. So one of the things Jeff does, if he sees a ewe rejecting a lamb, is jam her nose full of Vicks Vaporub, so she can't smell anything. And the pressure in her udder becomes enough of an incentive that she gets a lot friendlier with the baby. Then by the time the Vaporub wears off, the baby is strong and smart enough that, as Jeff said, "They're pretty good at not getting kicked, and he'll figure out a way to eat before he starves or eats his front legs." But goats are devilish smart, smarter than sheep, I think you'd all agree, and I'm a little skeptical. Probably the way it would work with Finola is she would refuse to feed any of her babies until her udder detonated, showering us all in milky shrapnel.

However, I did see Li'l Brudder on tap yesterday morning, and he's been a little disinterested in the bottles, so I think Finola may have grudgingly accepted him. We'll pay close attention, but we're hoping to be out of a job.