Thursday, March 31, 2011

sittin' downtown in a railway station, one toke over the line

Remember how we moved up here to "chuck it?" How we were going to be all earthy and primitive and embrace a simpler way of life, in which we could count fireflies, calmly make gleaming rounds of chalk-white chevre, welcome new animal life into the world, and teach our children imagination, respect for life, and a strong work ethic? Boy, what a mare's nest THAT has been.

You guys, I had such lofty aspirations. We were casting off the shackles of suburbia and its attendant always running getting nowhere. Our kids were going to dig for worms, pull weeds, show pigs at the county fair, spend their summers outside getting all leathery and glovelike, like mini Robert Redfords. We weren't going to have any of our peers' problems of kids watching too much TV, playing too many video games, doing poorly in school, whining and sassing and swearing and downloading porn as fast as they could get their hands on it. None of this running to lessons and practices and meetings for us!

I don't know where I went wrong, but I'm failing on all of those counts except swearing and porn (as far as I know!), and sometimes school. My kids love TV maybe even more than I do. They loathe the out-of-doors unless they're hiding from work. When allowed, they play video games for five or six hours at a stretch without even getting up to go to the bathroom, and I allow it every time we go to visit John's parents, because they're so much easier to tend that way! I can't be a responsible parent in these modern times! Even if I do live in a quaint little town where everyone is on a first-name basis and we have Fourth of July celebrations where the firemen stock a makeshift straw-bale pond with trout for the kids to catch (albeit a town which is currently stabbing me in the back, but we won't talk about that now biodiesel). I am in the middle of all the mess I didn't want, the pressure to pile on responsibility upon activity upon lesson upon sport upon errand upon calling upon blah blah blah killing everyone now.

Today I did visiting teaching, saw some brand new pit bull puppies which I did not steal, failed at exchanging my sexy new stockings for the correct size, bought goat chow, petted the goats and got grossed out by Traci's goopy eyes, saved the chickens from all being murdered by Aggie, "made" kippered snacks and frozen peas for lunch, did more visiting teaching, drove in our car with newly broken air conditioning to four different stores in Ogden to buy cleats and shin guards and pants and fruit, went back into Costco for Willa to fake pee, bought two rotisserie chickens, spilled the chickens on the ground, drove home with the melting frozen food, threw it all in the freezer, discovered that the grapes I just bought from Costco are full of greenish-white mold, found Willa who had snuck over to the neighbors' house, grabbed the dog and rushed Ike to his soccer game twenty minutes late, rushed over to Grant's game to give him his new shin guards but not his cleats because I forgot and anyway I bought football cleats on accident, drove back to Ike's soccer game with Willa, found Willa who ran away while I went to find Ike and got a puncture weed in her foot which she deserved because she won't wear shoes and runs away, drove home and snarfed some spilled-in-the-parking-lot chicken with Ike and Willa, crated the dog, went to pack meeting in time to miss Emmett getting his bobcat, saw Grant get his Arrow of Light, got bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes in March for some reason, came home and began damage control of our disastrous house so I can save face with the dog behaviorist/trainer who is coming tomorrow, sent my filthy children to bed without showers because it was a half hour past their bedtimes, glowered at John as he walked out the door to go and record a hymn about drawing nearer to God, walked the dog and got creeped out by what was almost definitely a cougar but maybe a horse in the bushes by Bryce Tolman's house.

This is not a special day. It's a pretty standard day for any regular old mom, I would guess. But I wasn't going to have this kind of life! My life was going to be so different. Most days I like my life a great deal, and I can't imagine how I lucked out to such an obscene extent. But days like this where I forget to go to the bathroom because I'm so harried? Man. That is for the birds.

A few days ago I heard a thing on NPR about how people who exaggerate their misfortunes and describe minor setbacks as terrible calamities tend to die earlier. So maybe John and I will die at the same time after all! That makes me feel better.

conversations with my family: salsa and yorkie bars

Me: "I need your advice as someone who eats spoiled food. The salsa that I left out on the counter all night: is it safe?"
John: "Yeah. But we have a bunch of salsa downstairs, so just throw it out if you're going to worry about it."

Ike: "There is not very much girl stuff about the world."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Ike: "Only boys can hold the priesthood, only boys can do this, only boys can do that . . ."
Me: "What do you mean by 'this and that?' Because so far you've named one thing that girls don't do."
Ike: "I can't think of it right now. Oh, there's a candy bar I can't remember that girls can't eat."

The joke's on him, though, because I eat Yorkie bars ALL THE TIME.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes

Okay, my working theory is that Aggie is just a little skittish because she hasn't been around people too much. So we'll talk to her foster mom, who is an animal behaviorist, and see if she feels like we should be concerned, and what we should do. She might be better off with a no-kid family, but it may be something we can work through. What do I know? I mean, she hasn't even eaten anybody's face yet, and she's only peed in my house three times and pooped twice. Should I have started off with a puppy? Maybe.

Something that frustrates me is that my kids hate my homemade yogurt. It's probably because I'm a little stingy on the sweetener, and of course the texture is different. But I had a genius-level idea for how to get past that. It involves gelatin and lemon curd. Also a lot more sugar. I'll let you know how it goes. Because I really need to come up with a homemade version of Liberte yogurt, not just because theirs has monster in it, but because buying it at the rate I want to will bankrupt me.

I bought some sexy new stockings yesterday, which are maybe a little edgy for church, but that's about the only time I dress up, so it'll have to do, I guess. They are still tasteful--they don't have "MILF" stitched into the weave or anything, which gives me a great idea for a new business. Another business idea I have is this: since sex, food, and danger are the three driving impulses for the instinctive brain, we're going to make a line of indulgent foods with a buxom lass on the box, holding a gun. The brand will be "Eat This or I'll Shoot You." I know, I'm practically a millionaire already. Don't steal my idea.

Monday, March 28, 2011

to eat without a spoon

What do I do about a dog that has started snapping and snarling at us, and has bitten John and Grant?

I'm pretty sure what my grandpa would do in this situation. I don't want to spoil the surprise or anything, but it involves a gun that he uses to shoot the dog.

More as the story develops.

Friday, March 25, 2011

friend only to the undertaker

I want to talk to you about the biodiesel plant that is almost certainly going to be built just west of my house. As in, about 600 feet west.

I am cautiously in favor of biodiesel, at least this version of biodiesel--it's supposed to be less explodey, it's not a fossil fuel, and it doesn't steal from the food supply to create fuel, which . . . why would people do that in the first place? Stupid. Anyway, it's not the process or the landowner I have a problem with. But being the high-maintenance fussbudget that I am, I kind of super really don't want a factory behind my house, and we are going to the mat.

Here is where I would like to make disparaging remarks about exactly what kind of people would be in favor of putting an industrial park in my backyard, by calling them ignorant hillbillies or somesuch, but that would be unkind. Almost as unkind as loudly supporting a biodiesel plant in a residential area! I do not think that a handful of low-skill, low-wage jobs and a little bit of property tax are a good reason to lower property values and erase the homey, provincial nature of our community. But John and I fundamentally disagree with the master plan of the community, which wants to encourage business development. We like our town the way it is, and think that it's okay if we have to drive fifteen whole minutes to the nearest strip mall. Iconoclasts!

So it's to be war.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

me and my friend saw a platypus

Yesterday John and I went out to lunch at Christopher's Prime Steakhouse and Grill. We brought Ike and Willa because we are crazy. They did pretty well, considering. Here's my review:
1. lobster corn dog (a tempura lobster tail on a skewer): fantastic, perfectly tender
2. hot rolls with balsamic butter: crusty and delicious
3. house salad: unremarkable
4. clam chowder: fine, not great
5. grilled halibut: breaded and fried (?), first one was astonishingly dry, second one was perfect, but still breaded and fried
6. BBQ bacon cheeseburger: the best hamburger I've had not cooked by my brother-in-law Matthew
7. tenderloin sandwich: extremely tender, juicy pieces of steak, overpowered by a hair too much spice
8. carrot cake: fine, but not nearly as good as mine or Ricardo's

It's a fairly expensive restaurant--not quite in the neighborhood of Fleming's, but darn close. The food was good, but not impressive in any way, and I've had better at quite a few places. Fleming's, however, stands out as two of the best meals I've ever eaten. Their carpaccio is indescribable. I do not regret a single dollar we (and Matthew and Emily) spent at Fleming's, whereas I left Christopher's feeling irritated that they put themselves in a league where they're quite frankly outclassed. At that price point I'd far rather go to Zucca, which is remarkable, or Bistro 258, which exhausted my store of complimentary adjectives. My point is, there's so much food out there that's so much better, why would you spend your time and money on an inferior product?

For storytime last night Ike wanted "Rikki Tikki Tavi," but I refused to read the abridged version we have in a children's storybook because it's so stupid. I looked it up online and read the real one instead, and Ike bucked and fought quite a bit because it didn't have pictures, but a few paragraphs in all three boys were listening raptly. I think I better buy The Jungle Book, and I'd really love a recording of Sterling Holloway reading Just So Stories. I love the way he says "that is the way all bi-coloured python rock snakes always talk."

Last night I had a dream that I saw my high school History teacher at an event and told him I had a crush on him. In my defense, his dream self has lost a lot of weight and has a gorgeous mane of feathered silver hair. However, his dream self also has a weak, moist handshake, so I don't think it's going to work out.

The other day we were listening to "The World is Not Enough," and Grant said, "This reminds me of The Incredibles." SO PROUD YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the dirty bum bum bum bum bum

Good morning, possums! We had a weekend of extreme cleaning, and there are many, many surfaces in our house that are beautifully clear. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but my parents did come over to visit on both Saturday and Sunday night--do you think they are trying to send us the message that People Like Clean Houses?

I guess since I've woken up in a pool of my own sweat for the last week it's time to change to summer weight bedding. Martha would agree, I'm sure. Oh, I love to take the mick out of Martha, but you guys know I love her. I love competence and proficiency. It makes me cry.

When I was cleaning the fish tank on Saturday I found one of Ike's frogs in the early stages of decay, stuck to the top of the ceramic shark's mouth.

I've had the chickens out for the past few days, only occasionally remembering to shut the coop at night (hopefully no skunks or raccoons are reading this), and they have only left one poop on the patio, which is a big improvement. We used to feed the cats outside, and last summer whenever we let the chickens out they spent their time almost exclusively on the patio, eating the cat food and pooping on all of our stuff. On our precious clutter and garbage! It makes John so angry. He doesn't really enjoy farming at all, and I think that living here would slowly devour his soul if he didn't have a job in the pulsing center of Salt Lake. When our kids grow up and we don't have to simulate Colonial House to teach them a good work ethic I bet John will say, "Okay, now it's MY turn to live my dream," and we'll move to a loft apartment in Seattle or something with no yard to speak of, and we'll spend our days discussing macroeconomics and listening to experimental jazz, and we'll never smell like Bag Balm again. But it's silly of me to say that, because of course by then we'll be living in the police state of Oceania.

I am considering a blog series wherein I elaborate re: blood feuds, and then you can all hopefully be converted to my way of thinking.

Friday, March 18, 2011

product may not stay: bountiful baskets

Shall I tell you about my new blood feud? Okay, I'll do it.

I am a boycotty sort of person, and I enjoy getting disproportionately upset about stores, laws, TV commercials, billboards, use of the word "allergy" when I feel that "response to a physically introduced irritant" is more appropriate . . . you see how it is. I currently boycott or have rage-induced seizures about (some of these you already know):
1. Walmart
2. Kay Jewelers
3. stores with novelty spelling (such as Kar Kwik)
4. the city of Provo
5. Logan city's Summerfest
6. Katy Perry/Kesha/all other inauthentic train wrecks
7. almond extract
8. the majestic plural

I'll stop there, but you get my point.

Last year I tried the Bountiful Baskets service and enjoyed it immensely. I got a warm fuzzy feeling from volunteering, I tried new fruits and vegetables, and it was a good time. I put up with their turdish website, because I understand that the service is run by volunteers. But then one week they double ordered a basket for me and never refunded my money, then my strawberries were rotten and they promised another refund that never materialized, then my shopping cart kept showing a basket I hadn't ordered which they wouldn't let me delete, and then the ordering website kept refusing me access to my account. I have emailed them no less than five separate times about the various problems, and have never received a response of any kind.

This is unacceptable behavior for a legitimate business, even one run by volunteers. They are in hock to me somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty dollars, which is unprofessional. So I will no longer use their service, and will instead actively seek to destroy them by telling everyone I know about my terrible experience.

I'm just one person, but I like to think that even one person can make a difference.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

we're your friends to the bitter end, the bitter end

If the world goes all supernova here like it seems it might, I want you all to know that I wish I hadn't spent so much money on a faucet that doesn't fit my sink.

Monday, March 14, 2011

and though I lose a friend, in the end you will know

I buy Suave shampoo for John and the children, because they don't need/deserve expensive shampoo, and since I've been having to shower downstairs I've had to use it. It works fine and everything, but the bottle SAYS lavender, and it SMELLS like bubble gum. Why?

Yesterday Ike was "sick," so I brought him home during church and finished reading "Marley and Me." It was pretty good, and I cried at the end because it reminded me of Skiver.

At the dinner table every night we go around and ask everybody what was the best thing that happened to them that day, the worst thing, and something nice they did for someone. Ike's best thing was "I got to go to part of church." I think he was trying to make us think he was grateful for being able to go to at least some of church, but all of it would have been better, but everybody at the table knew that what he really meant was that he was glad he only had to go to sacrament meeting. The worst thing that happened to Emmett was he had to sit on a small chair during primary, but he said it wasn't really that bad.

I would happily clean the algae and scum off the decorations in the aquarium, but it says to use a Top Fin Ornament Cleaning Brush, and I don't have one of those.

Aggie sits in the office closet most of the day, and then we take her out when we want her to go potty or take her somewhere. It's almost like not even having a dog. I think it might mean that she's severely emotionally stunted, but it sure makes dog ownership easy. Last night we went on a walk with my mom and my sister, and there were a number of ill-mannered dogs roaming the streets and causing us grief. I felt pretty superior that OUR dog was obeying all laws appertaining unto her.

Should we get bees now? It's one of the next things on the list, and I figure, why not? We'll check into it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

stubbed my toe on the table leg and stuck my nose in the butter

Something Kacy said on her blog got me to thinking. Breastfeeding is what's best for your child, we all know that. And I think you should know that I do actually think less of people who choose not to do it. I do not think formula is food. Not at all. There are circumstances that force us to use formula, myself included. But as an either/or choice? Not cool.

And yet . . .

I breastfed all four of my children, and they are in varying amounts disobedient, mouthy, mischievous, sloppy, pessimistic, hyper, rebellious, cunning, stubborn, obsessive, and lazy. They are terribly smart, except when they're being willfully obtuse (Ike). They take pleasure in seeing each other suffer (standard child behavior, I realize).

Could it be that breast milk is more than just milk? Is it also life force? Is it concentrated Essence of Mom? Perhaps the reason my children are so uniquely the way they are is that when I sat there hour upon hour filling their tummies I was also filling them with me-ness. Maybe I am an unfit breastfeeder, because my milk is toxic and cancerous with spite, elitism, self-righteousness, and all the other faults mentioned above that my children and I share.

The other day Grant asked me if he could dye his hair, and I said no. He argued a little bit, and gave an example of a boy in his class who dyes his hair. I said all the things about why does he want to change himself because he's so handsome as he is blah blah, but I also said that he can't do it because he's a boy, and boys who dye their hair are trashy, that it shows poor breeding, and it's declasse, which is just French for trashy. I have all kinds of corrosive opinions like this (like the one about formula moms), and most of them I don't even feel bad about.

I think I might be a terrible person, but I still think I'm better than most people. Does that mean I'm a little bit of a sociopath? Or just a mean narcissist?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

There were some things about today that were friggin' awesome, and some other things that weren't. Both the lamb curry and the caramel sauce were awesome, but Aggie (the dog) having what I believe Bill Cosby calls "a conniption" was not awesome. When John and I took her out for her evening deuce she was a total kookoopants and would not settle down, so I had to sit out there for a coon's age waiting for her to reach a calm, submissive state that I could reward with attention. She poops three times a day, which seems weird, because she only gets 1 1/2 cups of food a day, and each of the poop piles is easily two cups in volume. Is this a law of physics that is being circumvented?

Aside from the out-of-body experience and the perplexing input/output discrepancies, Agatha is a good dog, and we took her to the park today while Grant was at orchestra. She had a great time sniffing all the bark pieces in the playground, saturated as they are with the smells of dog waste from days of yore.

Another great thing about today was that our tub got refinished (just the inside--I did the outside myself) and it looks brand new. I am elated. Willa climbed in the guy's primer and he very nicely sponged it out of her pants and told me I'd better go wash them now, before the cleaner he used (acetone?) got on her skin.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've been standin' here, waitin' mr. postman, so-wo-wo patiently

This is the dog. Her name is Agatha. We like old lady names at our house, what can I say?
She is a 3-year-old beagle, and so far she is purt near perfect. Quiet, calm, submissive, no accidents, no houndy smell. We got her last night from the Salt Lake Humane Society, which I highly recommend as an ethically superior, clean, and well-run place to get a pet. She will not chew anyone's face off if they try to attack me while I'm out running, but I don't think I have the mad Cesar skills to raise a personal protection dog at this point in my career.

The whole drive home Grant kept saying, "I love this dog so much. She's such a good dog. I feel such a connection to her. We're definitely keeping her, right?" I only got about four hours of sleep last night, even though Aggie didn't make any noise at all. I think it was Christmas Eve syndrome.

A while ago I ordered a spice blend from Kalustyan's to make some macacheese that Tipsy recommended. I felt so fancy when this box came.
I figured as long as I was paying so dang much shipping I might as well get some dry mustard and some marble halvah to show for it. I felt very multicultural.

Dog toys smell gross, even before they've been chewed on.

and I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain?

This is very exciting, and I have more for you in a minute, but right now I'm sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor and folding all my laundry and vacuuming the whole upstairs so I can prove to my parents that an inside dog is not the end of the world, and does not mark my final descent into hillbillyhood.

Because we have a dog now!

Chew on that for a minute.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

should have known better when you came around

A major breakthrough. Hazel ate her wormer today without fanfare. I smooshed it up in my fingers, and she picked it daintily, piece by piece, out of my hand and ate all of it, without even spitting it into a mound of poop first. I gave both the goats some raisins to show them how much I love them and to buy their affection.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

nobody wanted my action dead or alive

Sorry, I lied about getting back to you about the animal hoarding. But I'm here now and we can get started.

I think we can agree that animal hoarders are crazy. (Aside: sometimes I am concerned that I am becoming an animal hoarder, but does it only count if you have a bunch of the same animal? Because aside from my herd of mogwai I have one or two of lots of different animals, so maybe I am a zookeeper instead.) When we are staying with John's parents I sometimes watch that animal hoarder show as reassurance and aversion therapy (especially when the Food Network is showing that "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" show that I HATE), and a trademark, a lagging indicator, if you will, of the severity of the hoarding is when the hoarder looks around at his or her eighty-seven dogs or cats, fighting amongst themselves, bald from untreated mange, blind from untreated infection, oozing pus from myriad sores, running hither and yon in the inches-deep sludge of urine and feces, scratching and yowling and displaying their abject misery, and the hoarder will look at the interventionists and guilelessly assert that the animals are happy and better off this way.

Over the last ten years I have spent a good deal of time with animal shelter workers, both on the phone and in person. Depending on the worker, here are the things that count as animal cruelty:
1. no fence
2. not allowing the animal to sleep in your bed like he would in nature with his pack

They would rather keep the cats and dogs penned in their tiny kennels, unexercised, unsocialized, every day becoming more and more psychologically damaged, than adopt them out to people without a fence or who don't want hair on their bed. I do think dogs need to be fenced in many situations because they're more alarming to people encountering them unchaperoned on the street, and also because they poop on people's lawns without burying it. But if you have to choose between keeping the animal at the shelter or running the risk of them someday being hit by a car, or sleeping in the backyard or a crate in the house, what person who genuinely cares about animals would choose to keep them at the shelter? They're not sleeping with a pack at the shelter, are they? Faugh, the cognitive dissonance makes me irritated. It's just hoarding with slightly cleaner facilities and a tiny bit more financial assistance.

Last night we went to Grant's orchestra pops concert (his group played the prelude), and I can say unequivocally that the orchestra program, top to bottom, is unexceptional. The songs were recognizable, but barely. So I join Grant in his eager anticipation of the end of the school year, when he can ditch the violin and begin his introduction to the trumpet, which will go swimmingly until the first day he tries to play it for longer than a few experimental blasts and his lips begin to hurt, and then we'll start hearing again the constant complaints about WHY DOES HE HAVE TO LEARN AN INSTRUMENT ANYWAY THIS IS SO STUPID.

We went for ice cream at Peach City after the concert. I have a soft spot in my heart for Peach City, and am enthusiastic about the new management/ownership, which has given the establishment a markedly diminished meth-house/pornography ring/health code violation air. I bet people hardly ever get somebody else's ice cream at the bottom of their shakes nowadays.