Saturday, November 29, 2008

computers are fun

On Wednesday night John broke my laptop down to nanoparticles, replaced the power jack, then put the computer back together again, and even had two tiny screws left over. I am a lucky girl. I mean, using all those tiny tools? Occasionally grounding himself on the napkin holder so as to not fry the motherboard? And economizing in the rebuild so we have two extra screws to use in case we build our own eyeglass frames? Hott.

Anyway, it turns out that the power jack isn't the problem--the power cord is. Which John thinks would have been cool to figure out before the taking-apart, but . . . bygones. So as soon as my new power cord arrives I shall return with great pomp and ceremony to my little internet fiefdom.

Monday, November 24, 2008

infernal machines

I may have mentioned a while ago that my daughter the Destroying Angel did smite my laptop, and now it is a sad paperweight. So I'm using our backup computer, the Hamsterworks Home Abacus and Typing Machine, and things will therefore be a little quieter around here until John has broken my laptop down into its elemental components and put it back together again in a worky sort of fashion.

Friday, November 21, 2008


1. This caught me in my funny bone. I know, barrels? The Comics Curmudgeon, he is a funny sort.
2. I love this cooking website, but I can't in good conscience do a perma-link because I know there are some of you who like to partake only of wholesome media. Have a good time in heaven with the Camdens.
3. Remember these? What an awesome toy. Oh my gosh, I wish I could do this with my own clothes. Then maybe I'd be eight feet tall, willowy, and fiercely stylish, instead of wan and drab and wearing frumpy momwear.
4. Speaking of which, this is is a fun little place to look at clothes that you either hate or can't afford. And to see famous peoples looking like buffoons. Also, let's be honest, to get great ideas for outfits that you'd wear if you weren't a frumpy mom. Maybe I'm projecting.

Earlier today I realized that we haven't had chocolate chip cookies around here for over a week, and that is some bull crap right there. Besides, vitamins.

with a swatter that shines like justice

Big Orange, my trusty steed.

On this, the (cross your fingers) last day of the Wasp Dynasty, let us pause for a moment of reflection. I will not miss the wasps. I am glad they are dying. I hope they all die, especially the mothers and children. It may surprise you that not only do I thinkswear, but I also harbor repressed violent tendencies. I know, next I'm going to be telling you that a dog/cat breeding will not bear viable offspring. But with the recent necessity of killing numerous wasps daily, I have derived a great deal of pleasure from swatting a wasp out of the air, then beating the living snot out of him until his exoskeleton bursts and the gooey innards spill forth, while his stinger stabs and stabs and stabs. Yippee ki yay, indeed. I realize that the wasps don't care if I dispatch them with extreme prejudice, but I do. It's satisfying to take an autonomous being and bend it to my will, since I'm only SURROUNDED by all these other autonomous beings that care not a whit what I say. In the absence of parental programming I would have been a terrific dictator. Thanks a lot, mom and dad, geez. Way to kill my career goals.

So long, wasps. You were a worthy foe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

pay for every dance, sellin' each romance

Because no day would be complete without me haranguing everyone on the origins of their meals, here's an interesting article.

Today I did some more prep on the garden--I really hope that green-waste-on-cardboard thing works. Also I bricked the ground in front of the chicken coop so when it turns into a sloppy mudhole we'll have a place to stand without sinking ankle-deep into a morass of poultry excrement. Our rooster Fauntleroy has passed on (I think it's neat how I said "passed on" instead of "involuntary manslaughter"), and I don't feel in too much of a hurry to replace him. I got mighty sick of taking a beating stick into the coop every time I needed to feed or water them. I will miss his noise, but not his spurs.

The goats are in a real state. Well, not really, but we're in a real state concerning the goats. Traci needs a bro (or a braaaa), and Catwoman is like an orange on toothpicks. I don't think her legs can take another pregnancy. She had been flushed really well last fall when Cyclone did his dirty, dirty business, and her prodigious weight gain from the triplets knocked her shoulders all out of whack. Now she walks like a nasty old bulldog. Here are the problems I see:

Traci's udder is so poorly attached that she may end up stepping on it.
Traci's milk is fine, but nothing amazing.
Catwoman's legs are terrible.
Catwoman's milk is not as sweet as Finola's, but it's good.
We can't find a Nubian buck to breed to our does.
Goats can't be by themselves.

So we have a goat that we can breed, but don't want to, a goat that we want to breed but can't, and no Nubian buck in any case. So we'll probably have to breed Traci to Cyclone and use the babies for meat again, and I don't know what we'll do about Catwoman, because we can't sell her, or Traci will get all Louis Prima on us (or if you're an 80s remake fan, all David Lee Roth on us). This is the life of an agritainer.

And some good news--I have only had to kill 4 wasps* today. This is what they look like.
Would you say wasp or hornet? Or yellow jacket? Or bringer of pain and discomfort both temporal and spiritual?

*Never mind. John killed six more this evening.

Friday, November 14, 2008

wasps are ruining my life

Today's wasp tally: somewhere around 10. I didn't count very well.

I called an extermination service because I will lose my entire mind if this doesn't stop. They're getting faster and more aggressive, and one of them dive-bombed me today and got in my hair and I had a grand mal seizure trying to get it out before I got stung. You know how I know they suck? Because when you swat one of them and it's in its death throes, its stinger just pokes and pokes and pokes until it dies, probably of exhaustion. Stupid wasps.

I went to the feed store this afternoon and the feed store dudes gave me some guff about how I've never brought them any goat cheese. I promised them some next spring, and one of the guys asked if goats don't make cheese in the winter, so I told him, "No, I don't make goat cheese in the winter." Because there are fun things to do on a gentleman's farm in the winter, but milking a goat is not one of them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger bun today

Chucking It as a life philosophy doesn't always make one's life easier or simpler, which may come as a surprise to you, my gentle readers. "But!" you query.

"What about living in a house with character?
What about those placid mornings spent milking small ruminants?
What about gathering eggs like Easter every day?
What about the smell of fresh-cut hay in your field?
What about spending time at home with your family, rather than driving from lesson to practice to recital to appointment?
What about feeding your family honest food?"

To you I reply,

"Wasp infestation.
Trimming hooves, castrating and disbudding.
Cannibalizing eggs.
Hay usually moldy and no equipment of our own.
Still a bunch of stupid errands to run.
Me in the grocery store deciding that I can't in good conscience purchase hamburger buns."

And I wouldn't trade it, but don't be thinking that it's always as fun as I make it sound. Thank goodness I have Heidi to be my spotter and put on her blog a great recipe for homemade hamburger buns. I modified it with honey and some whole wheat flour, and I've got to say, I felt totally unconflicted serving these sandwiches for dinner tonight:
Delicious, despite the bad picture and the presence of out-of-season greens, non-local avocados, sweatshop chicken and early-puberty cheese. Okay, make that only partly conflicted.

We accompanied them with edamame (which had gone south--we tried to save them in the freezer forever because we were desperately hoping Costco would start carrying them again, but maybe three years is too long?), hummus, and seared spinach with garlic (yum). If you're interested, here is the basic makeup of the sandwich (NOT sammy. Unacceptable terminology.):

baked chicken thigh or breast
cheese (we used Neufchatel, but Monterey Jack would be better)

Embellish as you wish with condiments and toppings. Not complicated, but good for your body.

Today's wasp tally amended to 18.

talk of bond, james bond

Today on Talk of the Nation they were interviewing Roger Moore, and I got an embarrassingly large smile on my face. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rog, because he was my first James Bond. I think I can agree with most people that Sean Connery is the superior Bond, but I do feel that Roger Moore brought an irreverence to the role that was endearing. Sean Connery was a little bit scary, which is probably more true to what a James Bond sort of person would be like in real life, but I liked Sir Roger's playfulness. Would you agree that the pendulum sort of swings back and forth like that? Connery--scary, Moore--suave, Dalton--scary, Brosnan--suave. And Daniel Craig is back to the scary. (I don't count George Lazenby, because I haven't seen his film. I know, what kind of Bond fan am I?) So, who is your favorite Bond?

Today's wasp tally: 13 (I KNOW!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

friggin' wasps

Today's wasp tally: 4

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

product may stay: RJ's Natural Soft Eating Licorice

I cannot support licorice that is hard or in any way waxy. To my mind, Twizzlers are the lowest form of licorice--lower even than the hated Red Vines, because at least Red Vines are soft-ish. I really believe that you could melt Twizzlers down and make candles out of them. Until recently, the best black licorice I'd eaten was Kookaburra, but its softness is highly variable according to packaging--the bags are usually safe, but the clear tubs aren't, no doubt from exposure to air and light. Stupids, have Doritos corn chips taught you nothing? A foil-lined bag is imperative in maintaining freshness and flavor!

What I'm trying to say is I bought some RJ's Natural Soft Eating Licorice (Hey! This licorice is for eating, not for washing your backside.) from The Good Earth (store, not book) today, and it doth rock. Soft, not waxy in the least, no weird aftertaste. They're like licorice ropes of varying diameter cut into about 2 1/2" pieces. Spectacular. I imagine their All Sorts are good, too, but I like my licorice straight up.

Today's wasp tally: 6

ETA: I should have clarified: this licorice is black, because black is the good kind. YES, IT IS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

or what? you'll release the dogs? or the bees? or the dogs with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you?

So, awesome: we have a wasp infestation. Inside our house. Yes, you heard me, INSIDE. We never had wasps when we had crappy wood-framed windows! Outside, sure, all the time. They love to build their little hatenests in the awnings over our windows. But starting a couple of weeks ago we have to kill at least 5 wasps a day. Yesterday John went on a hunt, stamping out evil wherever he could find it, and killed probably about thirty of them.

So, tell me, how do you determine whether you have hornets or wasps or yellow jackets? Mud daubers we've ruled out already. But we can't tell what these beasties are. Wikipedia, our go-to information factotum, has given us only more confusion and misery. We can't tell if their bodies have little to no hair, or are fuzzy. We are suspicious that they are hibernating queens looking for a good place to build a nest in the spring.

I did find out that they are good predators of other insects, so my anger is appeased somewhat. But they are still a creature conceived in and hatched from Pandora's box.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

food declaration

A comment on my last post reminded me of this thingie I signed recently. I did it with some misgivings, since I tend to distrust governmental involvement in the food industry, seeing's how that's kind of a huge part of why we're in this mess to begin with. But it's worth reading through and deciding how you feel about it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

turning animals into food

Part of raising animals for meat is the unsavory fact that at some point they have to be harvested. Now, I'm pretty out there, but butchering my own animals is not something I'm willing to do at this point in my journey toward self-sufficiency and sustainability. There is one exception--about 5 years ago we had a chicken who was eating the eggs, and she had an insatiable appetite. We couldn't keep her around, and we decided that if we were going to call chickens food storage, we should probably know how to process one. So we headed over to Steve and Marilyn Adams' house, because they were lucky enough to possess a stump. They also had a number of their own chickens, and were well-versed in the ways of dispatching them. Steve showed us how it's done:

1. Hold the chicken upside down.
2. Lay it across the stump.
3. Give it a good whack through the neck with a nice sharp hatchet.
4. Let the blood drain into a 5-gallon bucket.

And there's your dead chicken, to do with what you wish! Here are the steps we added:

1. Hang the chicken upside down from the braces of your step ladder.
2. Skin it.
3. Cut the meat off the carcass.
4. Use the meat in a recipe for chicken and dumplings.

Let's imagine for a moment how awesome John and I must have looked as we stood in the backyard of our house, in a Utah County subdivision, butchering the chicken that was hanging from our step ladder. It was like the pre-story to an SNL "Appalachian ER" sketch. The chicken and dumplings were great, though. It's become a favorite at our house, but we do sweatshop chicken now.

Anyhoo, last month when Edna lamed herself with the twine I spent an entire day trying to find a meat packer who could fit us into their schedule because: not going to kill my own goat. At least not on purpose, not right now. And for a lot of reasons (high oil prices, high transportation costs, hay fields being converted to corn fields, corn being turned into gas instead of food, don't freaking get me started down this path), it's become terribly expensive to own animals, therefore the six-months-to-a-year waiting list to get your animal butchered. But luckily Edna healed up nicely (she is at her new home now), and we were able to get an appointment for our two wethers with a mobile packer who took them out to the plant in Tremonton and helped them shuffle off this mortal coil. A week later they were frozen white packages, and they reside in our freezer now. I've said this before, but there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from serving your family meat that you know while it was alive was treated humanely (the wethers are like, "Excuse me? The castration?"), was not diseased, was not given antibiotics or growth hormones, and was raised on a diet of the food it was meant to eat. We do so much damage when we try to circumvent natural laws.

The other day Superman was pointing to an ad in a magazine of mine, advertising those bagel pizza things (the ad was saying how healthy they are compared to the pizza rollup things--seriously, people?) and said, "Those look good! Can we buy them?" And Killjoy Mom said, "No, we can't." And Superman said, "They're plastic?" Does he know me or what? So I'm one of those weird mean moms, but it's something I believe in. I think we're killing ourselves with our food. So if I try to feed them real food as much as possible, then I don't feel as bad when they go somewhere else and eat plastic. And I'm glad that my kids know that when they eat meat, they're eating a tremendous amount of hard work and money, and that a living creature was sacrificed to provide that food, something not to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

blogging the election

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I wish they'd stop showing that putz in Grant Park who's hanging out with Oprah--you know, the weak-chinned fellow who's covered in flopsweat, even though he's at the winner's rally? Shut up, pasty guy.

I thought McCain's concession speech was gracious, and reminded me why anyone might have wanted to vote for him once upon a time. I wasn't in love with him to begin with, but I felt like he became unrecognizable during the campaign--just a total caricature of all the things people loathe about Republicans. And how about those gross, tacky people who were BOOING Obama? Shut up, classless weirdos.

Oh! They're playing my kryptonite song at Grant Park--the Ghostbusters 2 one! Awesome.

I wish they'd stop yammering and get to Obama's acceptance speech. I never thought I'd say this, but: shut up, Brian Williams.

FINALLY. The speech.

John just said, "They've been married only 6 years longer than us, and he's the president. I'm not even the director of my group at work." Hee.

Oh, this poor man. The road ahead is indeed long, and the climb steep. I just hope for our sake that he can live up to all that's expected of him, because he has a steaming pile of mess waiting for him.

Well, that was fun. Happy new president to us! My initial good impression of Obama faded, as you know, but I am interested to see how this plays out. I'm excited, because it's times like this that remind me that we do live in the greatest nation on earth. Our ability to vote, to have confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome, to know that no matter what party takes what office, we can rest assured that we're on the whole in competent hands . . . well done, us.

vote pie!

We had a red, white and blue dinner today. Red represented by corned beef, white by potatoes and blue by the blueberry pie you see here. There was also rutabaga and carrot, but we won't concern ourselves with their orangey color. Also some bacon and black pepper scones, which were nothing great.

I made some more quince jam as well (it takes too long to type "preserves," just to sound like a prig when you're done). And by "some more" I mean "all of the quince jam I or any of my descendants will ever need."

What with the dinner and the jamming I have literally (yes, literally) been on my feet tending to a no-foolin' hot stove since about 11:00 this morning. Here are my conclusions:

I could really do with two ovens
I could really do with all four of my burners working all the time
I love using pate brisee, and I'll NEVER GO BACK
I'm very thankful that Wendy has a food-milling attachment thingy for a Kitchenaid mixer, because that last time of mashing the quinces through the mesh colander sucked deeply

you know what I'm going to say

VOTE! It's super fun to be a grownup!

let's all play stick your leg out!

I am so the target demographic for this parody, which I poached from All8.

Monday, November 3, 2008

voting, gross crushes and pants

This is an absolutely fascinating article about voting. I was able to get my mind off the fact that Netflix was RUINING MY LIFE and not letting me watch Batman Forever while I was running. Which reminds me--does anyone else think that Tommy Lee Jones is pretty foxy for an old dude?

I've had something on my mind for a while, and I'm going to get it off my chest--some of you have already heard my views on this, but please be patient. Pretend I'm that old lady across the street who keeps talking about her great-grandson named Peter and calling him Peter, Peter, Pumpkineater.


I implore you to watch this informative video: Mom Jeans

Skinny jeans are merely Mom jeans that are tight all the way up, and you don't look good in them. "But--" No. You don't. Nobody does. I can accept them worn inside riding boots, but have we learned nothing from the 80s? Your typical woman does not need help making her thighs appear bigger. Straightleg and flared pants are your friend, even if you are luckier than I, and do not possess a delicious pair of drumsticks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sorghum vs. molasses

Saturday we were talking with some friends of ours about molasses, and Richard brought up sorghum. I wondered if maybe molasses came from sugarcane, and sorghum from beets, but as it turns out, molasses comes from both sugarcane and sugar beets, and sorghum is a variety of grass (of the genus Sorghum) from which one can extract a sweet syrup, as with cane (to which it is related) and beets. So there you go, Richard. The Wik to the rescue once again.

Also, has anyone else heard that you will get different (read: inferior) results when you use beet sugar instead of cane? I had heard that somewhere, and the interwebs seem to back up that assertion. I have bought almost exclusively cane sugar, so I haven't had the opportunity to do any testing of my own.

Also, does anyone else feel annoyed with honey producers claiming their product is organic and pesticide-free? Because don't bees kind of get to choose for themselves from which flowers to sup? I guess if you put the hives in the middle of your organic field that is at least 12 miles across you can reasonably say it's not sweatshop honey or whatever, but how many honey producers do that? I claim OBFUSCATION!