Saturday, April 28, 2012

my love don't give me presents

John and I went out to dinner with his parents tonight.  It took a very long time to get our food, and our server sort of disappeared.  I think she should have been a better advocate for our table.  There was a guy at a table near ours, wearing a plaid shirt, small silver hoops in both ears, one of those soul patches that is a stripe from the lower lip to the chin, fratty, and I looked at him and didn't respect him.  The soul stripe was what did it, and the general frattiness of his behavior.  I do not approve of old people who dress and groom themselves like they are college students from a recently bygone era.  His date looked like a blonde Snooki.  There were surprisingly many people drinking Bud Light, even though the restaurant had five or six local award-winning beers on tap.  Is that strange?  Do people enjoy the taste of Bud Light, or do they drink it because they want something that tastes sort of like beer but won't make them fat?  As John put it, "If I were a beer drinker, I have a hard time believing that Bud Light would be my beverage of choice."  But what do we know, we're teetotalers.

I have been a big fat dynamo this whole week.  I can't even remember all the things I've done, so numerous are my feats of industry.  But there was goat training in there, and rabbit medicating and relocating, and strawberry jam making, and basement bedroom painting.  The goats are going to be all right.  I can feel it.  Remind me of this when Sally puts her poopy hoof in the milk bucket and I want to tear her throat out with my bare hands.

If anybody was unsure about how sharp rabbits' teeth are; if anybody has forgotten that Martha bit Sugar's nose off, then let me submit for your examination exhibit B:  Sugar bit the end off the antibiotic syringe.  Snap and it was gone, quick as a flash.  Once my sister Claire was holding a rabbit, and it bit her arm.  She freaked out and flung her arm out straight to make it stop biting, and the rabbit just dangled there in midair with its teeth sunk into her arm.  Gosh, there were so many warning signs.  Why did we get rabbits?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed

A bright spot in last week was the arrival of my new bees.  Bees!  And five days later they are still here, although they may abdicate tomorrow because of the way I inadvertently manhandled them today.  I think I squished a couple.  In my defense, I want to say that Kurt the Bee Guy, as he is listed in my contacts, said that you don't buy bees to just leave them alone and never learn anything, so you should get in and look at your bees whenever you want.  And I didn't mean to knock off a big chunk of the brand-new comb which they have been laboring frantically to make.  Sun!  I blame the sun for making the comb all soft and weak. 

But to back up:  you may remember that all my bees left last year, and perhaps you even heard that while they were here they built their comb across multiple bars of our top-bar hive design, which would make honey harvesting a royal pain in the butt.  So we (by which I mean the Tituses, fellow participants in our Grand Experiment) retrofitted the hives.  There is now a board across the bottom which can be opened during hot weather and closed during cold weather.  Gordon routed a channel into the bars and I glued popsicle sticks into the channel and rubbed them with beeswax to help them figure out how to build straight.  Then Brian (of the Magic Neighbors) brought over two full, straight frames from his bees to provide even more structure. 

I put the hive on the east side of the milking shed, so it gets afternoon shade.  It might not be enough even so, and I'll probably have to put a makeshift awning over it, a real pretty one made from a raggedy old tarp we don't use anymore, or something similar.  I'll for sure tie it down with orange twine, maybe tie it to a rock or a tree stump to make it foxy.  Oh, you guys.  My yard. 

I really don't want to lose my bees again.  When I get the video of the install from John's phone I will show it to you.  I have beekeeping gear and everything.  Aside from my ruination of their painstakingly constructed comb, everything is going peachy and I have high apple pie in the sky hopes. 

I told you about the rabbits, and here is what it looked like:
After the $70 trip to the vet. 

Let's be honest, we all know it was Martha.  Martha, who tricked me by being docile and sweet at the co-op, and then turned into hell on four feet once we got her home.  She bites all the time.  She is, like, the worst rabbit that was ever made.  I regret buying her. 
You know the thing about Martha?  She's got lifeless eyes.  Black eyes, like a doll's eyes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

way to totally miss the point

Thanks, Tori, for linking to this.  Boy, do we all need to read it like a hundred times. 

In a lovely bit of irony the comments immediately devolve into dietary tribalism.  Ha!  People are idiots. 

don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head

Last week was hard.  At another time I might have been better equipped to handle the scheduling grievances, the sudden death of a cousin, the bunny biting the nose off the other bunny, and the fellow parent who was a snotty shrew to me when I asked her if she'd be willing to help with PTA, practically shouting at me that she would have kids in TWO SCHOOLS! next year, boy what would that be like, I wouldn't know since I only have kids in three schools myself, could she not just refuse graciously?

But last week I also lost my grandpa somewhat unexpectedly, and I've been a wreck.  He defies description, because he is what they call "an original," and he was beloved by his entire family of six children, twenty-seven grandchildren, and forty-seven great-grandchildren, each of whom, along with those who have married in, felt like they were his favorite.  I miss him terribly.  This is the man who set up a target in his basement near the wood stove, and used to go stand at the bottom of the stairs and have shooting practice.  He taught me, and Grant, and countless other children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make willow whistles, let us take his four-wheeler down to the river to give the dog a bath, supported all of us in our concerts, track meets, plays, graduations, weddings, baptisms, blessings, mission farewells and homecomings, took us boating, fishing, hunting, camping, and cut unquantifiable amounts of firewood.  Once we were eating at a picnic table, and a wasp flew in and was crawling on the table trying to get into the food.  My grandpa smashed the wasp with his arm.  He was smart, funny, simultaneously kind and hard as iron.  He was like no one else, and if you think I'm not going to make a pendant out of one of the shell casings we found by the handful in his truck, then you don't know me very well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

this turbo tax disc is one quarter terminator

I zip-tied some plastic poultry netting to the top of the chicken gate, and it seems to have performed the dual purpose of keeping the chickens contained while simultaneously making our yard look even more ridonkulous.  It would work even better if the children didn't go through the gate a million times a day and leave it open every time.  Kids!  Whaddya do? 

The animals are getting to be a bit too much for me.  I can't keep up with all the immunizing and trimming and petting and feeding and catching.  But could I really go back to being a person who eats store eggs?  Not bloody likely.  They taste like crap.  And there's no way I can go back to store milk, either.  I'm fully spooked about it.  So I guess I have to keep the goats to offset our winter milk purchases.  And the goats are the cutest ones anyway; aggravating as the day is long, but cute.  Martha (the brown rabbit) tried to scratch the tar out of my arms today, but lucky for her I had on long sleeves, and that is why she is not dead now.   

I did some goat training today, in which I bring them one by one up onto the milking stand and feed them grain while I pet them and trim their hooves.  "And how did it go, Layne?" you are probably asking.  "I remember how you were so diligent in training them last summer, so they are probably great, right?"  Well, let me put it this way: nopes.  They are not great.  In fact they are kind of sucky.  If you took all the tantrums I ever threw when my mom tried to cut my toenails, merged them into one great whole, and plugged the resulting Grand Mal Flidwobbler into Spinal Tap's amplifier, then you would get an idea of what it was like to trim Sally and Rita's hooves today.  What a joke.  I'll be surprised if they don't give their babies dain bramage, the way they were carrying on.  I think Sally made a horcrux.

I have forgiven the cat or cats who barfed on my bed, because it all washed out; no stain, no smell.  I will not destroy them.  Yet. 

I had to go to another PTA meeting today, a luncheon which I'm sure you realize I was very excited about, because if there's anything I love, it's eating with people I don't know and have nothing in common with, save our enslavement to the grindstone of public school.  It was okay, though.  I shared my empanada with Willa, and it was tasty.  I'm not above fried, fatty food, you know.  I like it the same as anybody else.  Maybe more.  But I don't want to hurt my ticker, so I try to only eat fried food when someone else cooks it.  It's the least I can do if I'm going to refuse to exercise. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

thoughts from my trip to and from logan this morning

Maybe things would have gone better if Hilary Rosen had said that Ann Romney has never struggled financially, not that she's never worked a day in her life.  Her comment was tacky and buried her legitimate concerns about Ann Romney's ability to relate to women who are struggling under hyperbolic reactions.

Canada is contemplating going cashless?  Women, now is the time to withdraw your assets and bury them in the backyard/sew them into the mattress.  Don't say I didn't warn you when you end up in the Red Center.

If you know three people who have gone to the same doctor, and they all got diagnosed with Lyme disease, that guy probably isn't a doctor

On the hopefully long-off day when Diane Rehm retires from the business, Susan Page is the only one of her regular subs whose selection as a replacement would not make me weep with sorrowful rage.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

halfway through my trip down the sneaky hate spiral

Just checking in to let you know that I have been locked out of my car twice since last night, because I guess the keyless entry function in the car is kerplooey, and surprise, only one of the ignition keys unlocks it, not the one on my keychain. 

Also I was in my room and I smelled barf, and it turns out one of the cats barfed on my down comforter. 

"Sneaky hate spiral" is thanks to Hyperbole and a Half.  You can find it here.  There is language.  I cried the first time I read it, and Emmett had to come into my room to see what was wrong with me.  Did I tell you that already? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I wonder if mountain goats and domesticated goats could have viable offspring

Remember that thing where I was avoiding processed and/or refined foods where possible and not exceedingly annoying to my dining companions?  Well, I've eaten four Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the last day.  So that's going awesome for me.  I don't feel fat and sluggish at all.  I can't have them in the house, is the plain and precious truth of it.  They are my kryptonite.

If anybody was wondering, I still don't have a president-elect for PTA next year.  I think it's neat how everybody is so busy that they can't do a job that frankly isn't that bad.  The worst part of it is finding people to take over when you're gone, because everyone is like, "Oh, I'm just so busy."  Right.  I understand.  Because the people who ARE on PTA are shut-ins with no lives.  THEY don't have kids and jobs and church callings and houses and yards to take care of and infinite extracurricular activities to shuttle their kids to.  I know I wasn't being maman taxi the ENTIRE day today.  Jerks.  I hope they like it when I disband the PTA due to lack of support.  I hope they like it when none of the classes get to go on field trips anymore because the PTA isn't there to pay for it. 

If anybody could tell me how to make Blogger stop double-spacing my first paragraph and single-spacing every succeeding paragraph, that would be great.  I think pictures are part of the problem, somehow.  Wordpress peeps, should I switch?  Is Wordpress better than Blogger?  Would the switch be a nightmare?  Would I lose all my content?  I don't know what I'd do if I lost the paragraph where I compare the relative grossness of different animal poops or talk about how my grocery superiority. 

I'm going to tell you something foul about myself.  Get ready.

I haven't shaved my legs since oh, probably October.  I have loved every second of it.  I still shave my underarms, because I am not a monster.  John doesn't care (shut up, he is NOT just saying that because he's afraid of me), and since I was genetically blessed (from my maternal grandmother) with relatively sparse and downy leg hair, I have not even had any unsettling hair escaping through my nylons at church.  I'm sorry if you think I'm hideous, but I've so enjoyed casting off the shackles of depilation that I intend to do the same next year, and the year after that, and for all the years.

a wasted day that we'll never get back, is all

Well, we spent the entire first day of spring break making a chicken moat, and I was cocky and full of hubris, thinking that the chickens' tyranny was over.  I was wrong.  They can all get out because chickens are the worst, most aggravating animal in the entire world. They are breaking out in groups of twos and threes, and soon there's going to be a mass exodus.  You'd think that animals so stupid as to not figure out that we don't like poop on our patio would not feel the sting of confinement so keenly. I'm not going to put up with it.  I'll clip their wings if I have to, or put up poultry netting, but I can no longer allow them to bully us with their bowel movements. I hate how their poop is so smeary.  In the pantheon of domesticated poop, dog is the grossest, but chicken is like unto it.  I don't know, cat poop is pretty gross, I guess. It's a fact of life:  anything that eats meat has disgusting poop.  I don't even mind cow and horse poop; they almost smell good to me compared to those other kinds.

John called me on the way home from work the other day and asked if I wanted to get rabbits.  I was like, "Um, have we met?  They suck."  But one thing led to another and now we have four rabbits.  I was very festive and created a treasure hunt for the children to find them at our Magic Neighbors' house, where we had hidden them to avoid pre-Easter detection.  We have twenty-two animals now, which I've never sat down and thought about before, and I'm starting to feel just a little bit like a hoarder.  And it's possible (though unlikely) for us to have as many as twenty or more goat babies this year. 
 We still need to put up the new goat fence, which is going to take forever.  But at least the gate is fixed, so I no longer need two hands and magic powers just to move the latch. 

Sometimes I feel bad that our yard is starting to look like Ligertown.  I think we've done some good things to the (upstairs of the) house, but it really does look like a barnyard outside.  And the basement still looks like a war-torn pre-industrial country.  I wonder if Ruth is looking down from heaven and judging us for ruining her property.  Probably not.  She's probably unconcerned with material possessions nowadays.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm sure they have our best interests at heart


Feel free to join me in a bit of dry-heaving.   Oh, Upton Sinclair, the more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

zanahorias y tomates, maiz, cebolla y coliflor

I sure do hate breaking down fruits and vegetables.  Peeling, coring, snapping, slicing, bah!  It's a pain, and I do a lot of it, woe is me.  I buy broccoli exclusively in those bags of florets from Costco, because I feel like I deserve it.  I wish they did that with cauliflower!  Wouldn't that be great?  I hate how when you start breaking it into florets the ones at the center all fall apart and get everywhere.  You know how I feel about messes!  Last night I had two heads of cauliflower I wanted to use, and I wanted to eat soup.  Bittman helped me, and bonus, you can be way slobby in how you cut the cauliflower, because it all gets pureed in the end.

Cauliflower Soup
(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
serves 8

3/4 stick of butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 heads of cauliflower, cleaned and roughly chopped/sliced
6 C chicken broth, give or take
1-2 C cream (optional)

Melt the butter, then add the garlic, onion, and cauliflower and a few pinches of kosher salt and saute until onion is soft.  Add a cup or two of broth, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is tender.  Add remainder of broth, then puree with an immersion blender.  Heat through.  Add cream if you wish (I didn't, because I was out) and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, April 2, 2012

say the word and be like me

I have three weeks until the bees come, so three weeks to learn how to be a beekeeper.  It's going to be way easy, because I merely need to figure out why the last ones left and how to keep the new ones from doing the same thing, which is a question that experienced beekeepers all over the world are asking and haven't yet been able to answer.  A cinch.

I still haven't painted the basement bedroom.  It makes me tired to think about it, because unlike the remodeling I've done upstairs, after all the work is done downstairs it will still look like a scary abattoir.  So why bother?  Because we have to keep up appearances, I guess.

One of the conditions of our neighbor doing our field this year was that he would do it his way or no way at all.  It's such a small piece of ground that it's extremely difficult to find any farmer around here who'll even talk to us about it, so when he said, "I know you guys don't like chemicals, but I don't do organic.  If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it my way, and it's not going to be cheap.  But if you'll let me do it my way, I can just drive over when I do my other fields."  We said okay, because it was our only choice, and we're thankful he's willing to do it.  So last week he came over and fertilized it with a big sprayer, and he called afterward to say, "You guys don't need to worry about that stuff I sprayed on your field.  It's not poison or anything, it's just fertilizer."  Yeah, he missed the point a little, but I still thought it was a nice gesture.  He knows we're uncomfortable with chemicals, and he even lends a little credence to our views.  Rural life has its problems just like anywhere else, but I've been lucky to meet some very kind, accepting farmers.

One last thing:  about the pink slime brouhaha.  People are saying, "But the fat kids!  They need the pink slime because it's less fatty!"  Children do not need pink slime/LFTB.  They're not fat from beef, they're fat from garbage.  They need real meat, with real fat, that came from real animals treated humanely.

In other news, this is correct (but John wants me to warn you that there is some rough language).  So many parenting and societal problems could be solved by Jill's mantra:  Don't be an idiot.