Monday, February 28, 2011

no, not much

I have a theory. Animal shelter workers are hoarders in disguise. I'm going to let it percolate for a minute and we can talk about it tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

after the havoc that I'm gonna wreak no more words will critics have to speak

It's been all quiet on the western front around here because maybe, just maybe, I was busy watching the last three years of the Westminster Dog Show on Hulu. And maybe I got a teensy little bit misty-eyed when the Scottish Deerhound won Best in Show. You guys, she was retiring. It was dang poignant.

As you can guess, I'm in the throes of dog fever again. I hate when I get like this. I just want a dog that will love me, love my kids, love my cats and goats and chickens (not in an eating kind of way), love my family and friends, be kind to trusted visitors, and eat the face of anybody mean and/or dangerous. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

If I do get a dog it will probably be the final straw, and my mom will disown me once and for all, but I'll be laughing all the way to the bank when my dog sniffs out the Terminators/Borg. I'm just ahead of the curve, as usual.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

wine and roses seem too wasteful

For some reason Hazel hates her worm medicine. Traci eats hers with relish and keeps licking my hands in search of more, but Hazel requires me to put her in a headlock and shove it right down her throat. It took me about five tries today, so now I'm all covered with hay and straw and hair and poop. Goats are good at keeping you humble.

Yesterday at Costco there was a lady next to me in the self-check line who had four young kids, and the youngest girl was sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle just bawling and screaming her head off. The mom was very frazzled looking, and trying like mad to scan the groceries and get the heck out of Dodge, and her kids were being rotten, because that's their job. A man and woman with their young son sitting in the cart (the part the store tells you not to let kids sit in--I only mention this because of what they said) came up behind her, and the wife said, "Don't run over that little girl." The dad said, all grumpy and pious, "Where's the parent?" The two of them sat and glared at the mom, still scanning groceries, and she said to her oldest daughter, "Go get Molly (or whatever the baby's name was), please," and the judgy couple said, not even very quietly, "Oh, she's making the kids watch the kids. That makes sense." The big sister came and picked up the baby and put her in the cart next to the other baby, who looked like the girl baby's twin brother. He started slapping her and yanking out fistfuls of her hair, so she screamed even louder. The judgy husband said, "Oh, they don't like each other too much, do they?" I wonder if they felt bad for tsk-tsking when they realized how mean the brother was. I wonder if they would feel bad if they glanced away and their compliant son suddenly stood up in the part of the cart where he wasn't supposed to be and fell out and cracked his head open. I was able to peacefully observe this scene because I had sent my own children down the hall to get a drink, telling Grant to keep an eye on Willa, who climbed out of the part of the shopping cart where she's not supposed to be.

I think Willa might never poop again, and it makes me insane. All I can say is I better not have ANY drug or premarital sex problems from these children, after the hell they've put me through with their broken poopers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

the public don't dwell on my transmission

You guys. It was the scariest thing. I almost got a virus over the weekend, and it was all because I was looking for a picture of a dog. SCARY INTERNETS! I pride myself on my internet scruples, and this has never happened before, so I was plenty ticked. John was afraid that the virus was only going to come out with prayer and fasting, but after careful examination it looks like we got the internet shut down and the computer turned off before it embedded itself and started propagating. So maybe I still haven't broken my virus-free record? I compare it to the time I was at the dentist a few years ago and he found a couple of little pits in the back of my incisors--my very first cavities. I was horrified and ashamed and on the verge of weeping, but he said even though he was going to fill them, there was no decay in them and I could still claim the honor of having no cavities, according to the dental-specific definition.

Today is KRAZY DAZE at R&R Hardware and Smithfield Implement. It's kind of a big deal. I look forward to it all year. We bought two butane burners and some butane canisters for to do tabletop aebleskivers. We learned the trick from our magic neighbors--did I ever tell you about that? It was tremendous fun and it's nice for everybody, including the cook, to get hot aebleskivers right off the pan, with happy little fillings like sausage and cheese or dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.

But here is the biggest news: OUR TILE IS KIND OF DONE. As in, ABG (all but grout in industry lingo). Our next-door neighbor who is a tile sensei insisted on doing it for us, and we were like, gosh, twist our arms why don't you. It took him about two and a half hours to do something that John and I would still be sweating and cursing about on Judgment Day. There was some weird glue that used to hold the tub to the pedestal, and last night I got a hammer and a razor scraper and pounded it all off. It smelled really bad, like moldy taxidermy foam, which doesn't bode well for me having to put it all back on with my nose in heaven because maybe I was breaking the Sabbath. Not sure. But John was healing my computer, and I was just being industrious, because you know me and how I love working.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

not everything is like top gun

A few years ago my brother-in-law Steven asked me what music I would recommend for children. I have strong opinions on this subject.

First, the shameful truth is that most music made specifically for children is terrible. You know it's true. Second, what makes them think they're so special that they need their own music, anyway? Why can't we all listen to the same stuff? And they're clearly not that special, or people would be writing better music for them. So there.

There are some things you don't want to listen to with your kids around, because obviously you don't want the young innocents listening to swears and vulgar language, right? Save that for the school bus. However, within reason, music by artists whose choices conflict with your own can spark some excellent and illuminating discussion. Also, you are responsible for your child's early musical education, a duty which must not be shirked.

In our house we do have some actual children's music that has been grandfathered in from my own childhood, as well as jazz, big band, classical (almost all from John, because he is a snobby music snob), old-timey country and rock. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Pictures at an Exhibition
Evocative, imaginative, and extremely enjoyable. Tell your kids the story behind each of the vignettes. If it helps, sing these words to "The Hut on Fowl's Legs": Stop that truck, it's the ice cream maaaaan! Stop that truck, it's the ice cream maaaaan!" During "The Great Gate of Kiev," we pretend to be going through a series of gates, each larger than the one before, and at the last gate we can bang the gong. I highly, highly recommend this work. You should get the CD that includes Bald Mountain and Pines of Rome, while you're at it.

2. Wee Sing Fun n' Folk
It's cheesy, and the kid who solos on "Old Joe Clark" has serious problems. But you can make fun of him, and you can skip past the neverending "Froggy Went a-Courtin.'" Folk music is American music, and your kids need to know it.

3. Sesame Street music
Not all of their CDs are good (Hot Hot Hot Dance Songs being particularly offensive), but Silly Songs and Bert and Ernie's Greatest Hits are a lot of fun.

4. Frank Sinatra, The Capitol Years
For people who don't love Frank Sinatra because they think of him as a boozy old poonhound, this is a great introduction to how such a squirrelly runt got all the fine ladies. Remember that skit on SNL where he tells Billy Idol he finds pieces of guys like him in his stool? Ha ha ha ha haaaaa. He was phenomenal.

5. Soundtrack from Amadeus
Fantastic, emotional music, plus topics such as why you are not the worst parent and how your children are not living up to their potential.

6. Harry Connick Jr.
We love Harry. He gets played a lot at our house--especially at Christmas, but Songs I Heard is the most kidly.

7. Beatles
Are an indispensable part of a musical curriculum. Solo albums are also appropriate where desired. Favorite albums include Revolver, the White Album (you might want to skip "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"), and Please Please Me. And Rubber Soul. And Magical Mystery Tour. You just need to buy them all, is what I'm saying. They're all on iTunes, why are you being so lazy and cheap?

There's a bunch more. "Russians," Sam Cooke, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down," Johnny Cash, Louis Prima, The Killers . . . I'm sick of typing about it now. Oh! I almost forgot the whole reason I started this subject. A couple of years ago one of John's co-workers recommended this to him:

8. Singin' in the Bathtub
Maybe you're suspicious. I know I was. Who wants their kids listening to the mean Footloose preacher dad? Or Dick Solomon? But this CD is terrific. There are some clunkers, to be sure, but it's a very strong work and not condescending. My favorite is probably "The Gnu Song."

Speaking of Footloose, here is a delightful video. Bless those Conchords.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'll give you a four-leaf clover, take all the worry out of your mind

I have been thinking lately about exercise. I really, really hate it. I like running outside, as long as nobody's dog chases me, but this treadmill bullcrap is for the birds. And I sort of feel like it's weird and indulgent, in a way, because we have spent hundreds of years figuring out how to make machines do our work so we can sit more, so we're all getting fat, and now we have to find time in our schedules to go lift heavy things and climb fake stairs and run and get nowhere. And I have so much hanging over my head, what with the animals and house and garden and children that I could quite literally work from sunup to sundown every day and still not get everything done I should. What a drag! So I have decided that rather than further engaging the treadmill in my hopeless fight against drumsticks, I am going to engage my children, house, goats, chickens, pasture, garden, yard, trees, etc. in my fight for respect and legitimacy.

Today was my first day implementing this new plan. I did dishes, swept and mopped the kitchen floor, took the Christmas tree out of its stand and gave it to the goats, made herbal wormer dosage balls for the goats and administered them (which required some awkward and indecent-looking straddling of a recalcitrant Hazel), hung some pictures, partially cleaned up the broken cake plate after the newly-hung old-timey map of Salt Lake fell and knocked it onto the floor where it shattered into a million billion pieces, took Grant to orchestra and yelled at him for the first five to seven minutes of our drive about how lazy and negative he is, apologized for yelling and calmly restated my point that he can complain or not complain but he IS going to keep taking violin for the rest of the year, bought and cooked a ham, and did not glower at John as he walked out of the door at dinnertime to go and be Oliver Hix in The Music Man. I did some other things too. For example, I also yelled at Emmett and told him he was spoiled and I hoped he starved.

Today was a mixed bag.

A lady in line in front of John at the chiropractor this morning mentioned to the receptionist that today is "National 'Do It' Day."

People are gross. That lady needs her mouth washed out with soap.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

product may stay: haagen dazs five ginger

I think my feelings about Haagen Dazs are starting to get a little weird. I used my coupons to get another pint of lemon and one of ginger. If there were ever an ice cream that was meant, nay, destined to go with apple pie, or apple crisp or crumble or slump or buckle, or sauteed apples, or some other hot fruity things I haven't tried yet, this is the ice cream.

Bonus: my kids hate it.

some tedious and possibly incorrect ruminations

The book series I just finished tries repeatedly to make the point that Americans fight for the freedoms of others.

I've tried not to let my unflattering opinion of the writing color my opinion of the sentiments expressed in the book.

I think that statement is often true. I think that many (most?) of the people serving in our armed forces are doing it for selfless, honorable reasons. But the cynic in me feels that the higher up the ranks you go, the more people you're going to find who aren't honorable, who are power-hungry and amoral, and who will use crises and disasters to further their ends, which have nothing at all to do with "bringing democracy to the world."

Along these same lines, if the citizens of a country choose a particular form of government, don't we, if we profess a belief in freedom, have to support their right to do so, even if the government is oppressive and/or unfriendly to the U.S.? I don't think democracy can be implemented from the top down. But then you get into the sticky wicket of how to give people the tools they need to make an informed decision about how they want to be governed. And sometimes people will make the informed decision to be governed by a douchebag. Such is life.

I don't know how anyone makes a decision in this world without being hamstrung by uncertainty about the chaos effect of the decision. Because I say all this about how the U.S. shouldn't involve itself in the affairs of sovereign nations, but then I think about what life is like for a typical woman in Afghanistan, for example, and I start reconsidering.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I thought we'd get to see forever, but forever's gone away

Well, we've got a lot of ground to cover today.
1. homemade Gouda
2. dairy workshop
3. cheese review
4. Baba Capra mission creep

1. I forgot to tell you about trying my last wheel of Gouda. For those who don't remember or want a refresher course in stupid ways in which I waste time and money, here is the project, which began last year (posts from pre-December 16th are unrelated). A short summary of the results: the first cheese was crappy. The second cheese was moldy.

But last week I took out the final cheese and tasted it. The year has been good to it. It had started to mellow and develop some of that sweet, caramel flavor that is found in aged Gouda. It was no triumph, however. The protein crystals had all formed on the outside of the cheese, the wax was detached, and there was a bit of liquid sloshing around, confirming my suspicions that the reason the second cheese molded was because I hadn't pressed out enough moisture.

You can see that it is ugly, but we didn't die after eating it, so it was a mild success.

Everybody but Emmett (of course) tried the year-old cheese and thought it was decent. I turned it into macaroni and cheese. This experience and my workshop yesterday have increased my desire to get a cheese cave. Will it be a used florist's cooler? Will it be a bar fridge? Will it be an actual cave dug in my back yard (doubtful)?

2. Yesterday, thanks to Barbie Corbridge emailing me the information, Magic Wendy and I attended USU's Artisan Dairy Workshop. Before I start my glowing recap, I have a bone to pick. They spent the first half-hour of the class talking about the many different services USU provides the community through county extension agents and USU specialists. But I've never had a single worthwhile conversation with a county extension agent. Every one of them has been ignorant and patronizing, including the guy I just got off the phone with. This one even said you only get two cuttings of alfalfa in a season. Does he even KNOW any farmers?

But the rest of the class was so interesting. We had classes about food labeling (not needed by me yet), sanitation of animals and equipment/facilities (zones 1, 2, 3 AND 4), and contamination (including listeria and Norwalk), a tour of Rosehill Dairy (I bought a half-gallon of cream and some sour cream), a cheesemaking demonstration, presentations by two local cheesemakers, and a cheese tasting. There were dairy farmers looking for ways to diversify and survive the dairy recession, home cheesemakers, people wanting to start a small cheese business, a guy who has a popsicle business who wants to add ice cream bars . . . it was fascinating to talk to all of them. I want to go again next year.

3. At the cheese tasting we had Beehive, Gold Creek and Snowy Mountain. Gold Creek and Snowy Mountain each did a presentation, but Beehive either didn't get asked to speak, or they are too big town for us these days. They better not sell out!

Snowy Mountain:
They are not impressed by you. They call Utah the Velveeta state. They are determined to improve Utah's palate. Their cheeses are named after Utah mountain peaks. Delano is a great blue, Timp is a milder blue, Kings Peak is creamy and rich and delicious, Strawberry is a little salty and would be fantastic with fruit. I loved, loved these cheeses.

Gold Creek:
This guy is so creative. His boss paid for him to take USU's cheesemaking class, and he is a genius. His Parmesan is great--moister than an aged Parm like you would typically buy, but it has that cool fruity taste it's supposed to. His smoked cheddar is so nice, really subtle and not like you're camping. The feta was good, but I don't really like feta, so I'm not a good judge.

They seem to still be busy inventing new flavors, and yesterday I tried their new one with an Earl Grey Tea rub--it was very good, but Barely Buzzed is still my favorite--it was nice to taste it again. I can't remember which other ones were there, because I got to that table last and my brain was overloaded. Butter rubbed? I think that was there.

Anyway, I gave myself a stomachache and feel no regret. I can't believe the number of world-class cheeses that are made within an hour or two of my house. I mean, we're no Vermont, but I think we do pretty well for a podunk little place.

4. I love sheep's milk cheeses, and they are some of my favorites, so I talked to the Snowy Mountain lady about buying a lamb from her this spring. Her herd came from a woman in New York who became very ill, and wanted her fancy-pants herd of sheep that was fifteen years, much science, and many dollars in the making to stay together and go to someone who was serious about starting a sheep creamery. So the Hansens bought the whole herd of sheep and brought them here to Utah. Coincidentally, Stig said that what you need to succeed in cheesemaking is a lot of money and a lot of luck, because that's what he's been using and so far it has worked well.

I want some sheep to go along with my goats. Think of the amazing cheese I could make! But we're swiftly reaching the point where we'll have to get serious about using our land properly. I can't have this glorified pet situation anymore. I need to do rotational grazing. Pigs! Eating corn out of the manure pile! Chickens eating maggots and parasites, also out of the manure pile! Sheep and goats grazing but not overgrazing our field! And maybe a horse someday so we can drive to town once the Rapture comes. It's a way good plan. Oh, for the funding to make it happen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You guys. I did the coolest thing today. And I talked to cool people and ate a bellyful of cheese, most of it from Utah cheesemakers I haven't even heard of. It was awesome and maybe I am buying a lamb. I will tell you more about it tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

you got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation

I'm reading a stupid book series about the End Times that is sort of poorly written, but compelling and terrifying all the same. So last night I was panicking to John about EMPs (John was being super dismissive about it, if you want to know) and we decided that instead of wetting our pants we should maybe just do a better job of preparing for emergencies.

So, today on my errands I'm going to buy some things to prepare for nuclear winter/zombies/plague/1850s.
1. candles
2. matches
3. bottled water
4. wheat
5. pocket knife
6. horse

Just kidding about the horse! Sort of.

Speaking of wheat, I'm really unhappy with the last batch I got from Honeyville Grain. It's all spotty looking, and three of my last five batches of bread have failed--no gluten development whatsoever. Not cool, guys. You're making me look bad.

Friday, February 4, 2011

ninjas are a constant problem

I just renewed my ADGA membership. Some of the rights and privileges pertaining to me are reduced fees when I register kids, and nobody being able to steal my herd name. Did you know I have an official herd name? It's Baba Capra. It's a pretty cool name, but don't be jealous. I am always thinking of cool names for bands and goats, so I've had a lot of practice. Buck names are the most fun, and surprisingly, they overlap quite a bit with band names. Some of them that are on a sticky note in my kitchen right now are:
1. Clubber Lang
2. Sir Topham Hat
3. Rooster Cogburn
4. Maher-shalal-hash-baz
5. Manwich

Don't steal my ideas. I'm hoping someday to have the need and wherewithal to keep a buck, but it will be hard to choose just one name. Manwich can also be used for a horse, but only if it's a draft horse, like a Percheron or a Belgian. Thinking of names is my favorite part of animal ownership.

John was just telling me that when we went to a baby blessing recently there was a guy in Elders Quorum talking about dates, and he said that dinner and a movie don't count.

What, now?

John asked him to clarify, and the guy said that dinner and a movie doesn't require any thought, so it doesn't count. BULL. Movies are awesome and I love them and I wish I could go to one every week, as long as it was interesting. I think either that guy is an idiot or his wife is a big whiner whose love language is elaborate orchestration of events. I'm not bagging on advance planning and thought, but to never count dinner and a movie? LOSERS!

People say to me, "Layne, I want to eat better, but some of those people are super weird! How do you know how far to go to eat most responsibly without going off the deep end?"

Easy. You stop at the same place I did. Because any less than what I'm doing is not enough, and any more than I do makes you a creepy fanatic. I would think that was obvious! If you think Pop Tarts are food, you have some work to do. If you are raising rabbits in your basement, you are in danger of losing credibility.

It is acceptable to treat a sore throat with garlic, honey and cayenne pepper, but you shouldn't treat cancer with coffee enemas.

I hope this answers some questions.

I hope Armageddon hasn't started.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the animals are comin' two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo

There's a person I know who I think Heavenly Father has brought into my life for the express purpose of showing me what a hateful person I am. Don't worry, it's nobody you know.

In her are all my most unattractive habits laid bare and magnified. It's what I imagine it would be like to know Gwyneth Paltrow. An insufferable know-it-all full of self-aggrandizing speeches about how sugar makes her sick to her stomach, she makes her biscuits with all whole-wheat flour, their family doesn't watch TV, she's going to homeschool her children so they won't be "labeled," she and her husband enjoy reading the dictionary, she just doesn't understand why she would need a cell phone, kombucha this, permaculture that, blah blah blah blah.

I like those causes. I think they make for healthy, happy people. But I get a distinct feeling every time we talk that she's trying to show me how much better my life would be if I just followed her example. I resent being proselyted to in this sniffy, self-righteous manner. You can imagine the horrified soul-searching I've had to do to determine just how many people I have treated in a similar fashion. So let me say this: I am so sorry. Please forgive me.

I think there are stages to discipleship. First there is exposure to the new idea, followed by conversion, adoption of its tenets, rabid proselyting, then realizing how offensive you have become, then shutting up. I'm spending a lot more time in the shutting up stage than I used to, and I hope it translates to me being better company. I should live my crunchiness like I live my religion. Par exemple, I don't discuss my faith on here, except when it's germane to the topic. I assume that you guys know by now that I'm a Mormon, and if you get a hankering to be one too you'll let me know. Not because I want to be grasping and stingy, or because it's not important to me, or because I don't believe it, but because people don't like it when you assume that whatever their deal is isn't making them happy--not TRULY happy. Nobody likes the schoolmarm.

I realize that I lectured everybody just last week about eating cruelty-free meat, and since I, too, am an insufferable know-it-all there's no way I'm going to never scold again. But here's to baby steps toward being the UnGwyneth.

Now I'm off to do a cleanse so I can feel more, you know, centered. I find I'm more present as a woman when I don't have toxins clouding my aura. You don't cleanse, do you? I didn't think so--you just seem so scattered and negative.