Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I can keep rhythm with no metronome

Thanks for all your contraception advice, everyone.  I hadn't even thought of a vasectomy, dur.  My suspicions about having a tubal ligation come from my belief that opening up a body is something you don't want to do without a very good reason--you generally want what's outside to stay outside, and what's inside to stay inside.  It's why we emasculate instead of castrate, for example.  Fewer holes means fewer chances for introducing infection and such.  Not that I believe that I could ever be introduced to an infection, say MRSA, at a hospital!  How silly.  I'm mainly worried about a botfly laying its eggs in my guts.

It's the permanence of the vasectomy or tubal (as well as the possible complications of the tubal) that makes John queasy.  You don't usually unring that bell.   But he agrees that we need to look at something other than the chemistry experiment, as Beckster called it, and I don't trust condoms to keep me totally unpregnant.  We'll ruminate upon it. 

Yesterday the PTA did field day at the school, and there was a fifth-grade girl in one of the groups that came to my station who whined, "Do we have to do it?"  I was like, you're moving a red cup to the bottom of a stack of blue cups, it doesn't require skill or brains, would you rather be inside doing worksheets?  But I just said, "Oh, it will be fun."  She sat out and wouldn't participate (along with some others who followed her bad example) until the time was almost up, and then she decided that she wanted to try it "just for fun."  I am guessing this was the same group that the other helpers said were acting like pills at the other stations.  I am mystified by this attitude of groaning about outside time.  It's not like they were having a hoop shoot contest, which would have scared the pants off of me at any time in my life up to and including now.  It was totally low-key and fun, what is their problem?  Kids today with their long hair and their rock music! 

Yesterday while the kids and I were waiting for an oil change we went to the D.I., and this is what I found:

Why yes, it is a Staub cocotte in excellent, near-pristine condition.  I got it for thirty dollars, and that, my friends, is a major find. I love the D.I. so much.  I get the best stuff there.  You should see our gorgeous white plates.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I like the word "tilth"

YOU GUYS.  Big news.  My parents just stopped by on their way to visit graves and complimented me on my yard.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND.  This is huge.  Don't get me wrong; I deserve it.  Our yard looks better now, today, than it has ever looked, without question.  It's all weeded, the lawn is mowed and edged, the flowers are growing, the garden is lush and verdant, the raised beds are neat and presentable, the patio does not currently have a Gordian knot of bicycles, hoses and lawn chairs sitting in a six-inch deep layer of dirt, and all is right with the world.  It's the first time I've felt, and now my parents have confirmed my hopes, that there will come a day in which our yard is not an eyesore and an embarrassment to our loved ones.

Sick of talking about the yard now.  Sick of talking about gardening.  Let's be done with that for a while.

I want to punch Sally in the face.  She is so mean to Sophie. I don't know why animals are like this; why they'll take a shine to one baby and not the other.  I'm worried that if I don't do something Sophie is going to be stunted, so tomorrow she's getting a bottle.  She's old enough now that she'll be okay if we can just get some food into her every once in a while, and soon she'll be able to eat hay and we won't need crappy Sally's help anyway. 

I did not make camembert after all.  I didn't have the stuff, and I don't have a way to age it at the right temperature.  Bleh, cheese is so picky.  I made mozzarella instead and am looking for an old fridge to act as a cheese cave.  If you know a florist who's going out of business and selling their coolers, you give me a buzz, all right?

I'm going to talk about some girl stuff now, IUDs specifically, so if you keep reading you deserve to be grossed out.  I have the Mirena IUD, and it's due to come out in a couple of months, so I'm frantically researching and trying to decide what to do.  Yes, it is weird that I, who warn of the coming Terminator uprising and look waspishly down my nose at people who choose convenience over nature, have chosen to have a piece of hormone-exuding plastic implanted into my body, but it's an example of how people are better at consulting than implementing.  I love my children, and I want to be a good mom to them, and therefore choose not to have any more children.  So, what do I do?  Here are my preconceived notions: 

"Alternative" and "natural" contraception:  wouldn't it be nice if I had the faith to trust these methods?  I don't. 
The pill: less effective than an IUD, has more side effects, and is a higher dose of hormones, so that seems dumb. 
Condoms:  not my favorite. 
Tubal ligation:  makes me suspicious. 
Mirena:  no problems I've noticed, but there are the synthetic hormones . . . gross.  Plus what about uterine perforation?  That sounds bad. 
Paraguard:  no hormones, but again with the perforation. 
Shots:  equally effective as IUDs, but cause diminished bone density.  Are weak bones better than a holey uterus? 

So, faithful readers, how should I best prevent myself from stretching myself too thin, sanity-wise?  How should I keep the babies out?  Advise me!  Correct my ignorant misgivings!

Friday, May 25, 2012

tuneless humming

It's finally done.  Everything is planted.  Garlic (thanks to our kind neighbors), kale, beets, Swiss chard, peas, tomatoes, beans, and squashes (pattypan, yellow straightneck, gray zucchini).  Hmm.  Looking at that list, it doesn't look like near as much work as it felt like.  That's not even very many kinds of food.  I am part of the problem where Americans only eat a handful of vegetable types!  Speaking of which:  my mother-in-law never had broccoli when she was a child.  It just wasn't available.  Can you imagine how dark and empty such a life would be?  Maybe that's why she loves it so much, because it still feels special and exotic.

I've started milking Hazel and Sally, and it's going as well as I could hope.  Sally is a sack of bobcats while I'm washing her udder, but once I start milking she just stands there and lets me milk with both hands and doesn't even try to put her foot in the bucket.  This is good.  Sophie has a little sore on her ear that was leaking pus, which is gross.  I washed it out and sprayed some Blu-Kote on it.  I have no idea what's in Blu-Kote, but it claims to be a good thing for wounds and such.  I enjoy the font on the bottle as much as anything.  It makes me feel like an old-timey vet.  I need a trochar! 

I am going to try to make some cheese now, with the gallon-plus of milk in our fridge.  I want to attempt Camembert, because Tipsy makes it look so achievable . . . dare I?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

nose to the grindstone

Sometimes people ask me in wonderment something along the lines of, "How do you do it all?"  This is a silly question, especially from people who know me. They know better, or at least they should.  I don't do it all.  I do barely any of it.  And what little I do is almost entirely unnecessary busywork I've taken on to help me feel superior to all the people who don't have their own aging houses on poorly-managed hobby farms.  The stuff I really should be doing, that social mores dictate I should be doing, is repeatedly delayed and avoided.  One of the great joys about my kids getting older, besides the higher tenor of dinner-table conversation, is that they are old enough to clean almost the whole house with very little oversight.  Remember how I was reading all those books during the winter?  It's because I do almost nothing in the winter. 

But spring and summer are very different.  That's when my chickens of busywork come home to roost.  If you read Tipsy's great post a few days ago--this one--then you understand that I was nodding my head and saying, "Preach it, sister."  Goats and chickens and gardens and home cooking are very virtuous, but they are relentless and tyrannical.  I have been a big fat dynamo for so many days in a row now that I hardly recognize myself.  It gets old. 

I have made a raised bed out of hay bales because they are free, and because the hay is so terrible I hate giving it to my goats.  It's mostly June grass, and it's going to make them sick, and I'm trying to get through it as quickly as possible so we can buy something decent.  The next two years of feeding the goats, while we're growing wheat instead of hay, are going to be very painful.

I made the raised bed because I bought so many tomato plants this year that I have nowhere near enough garden space.  But how could I resist them?  I have twenty-two tomato plants now.  If you want to know why I just googled "how long does it take a body to decompose in a shallow grave?" (good news:  not very long) it's because I planted most of the tomatoes in the pet cemetery garden, and realized while I was planting them that we were very lucky not to have accidentally tilled up Skiver and Aggie.  Tender mercies! 
This is what the main garden looks like when it's mostly weeded.  I think I'm going to have to tear out most of that kale, because it is not working like I want it to, and I have nowhere to put my beans.  I'm going to make another raised bed over by the milking shed to put the squashes in.  Potting mix is expensive. 

Last night we disbudded all but Cow, Rita's baby.  It was awful as always, but I am getting better at detaching emotionally.  It's a hateful thing, but it's got to be done for their own good.  Sally is being a jerk and won't stand still to let Sophie eat.  Oweth is huge and really loud all the time.  We'll probably eat him.

Friday, May 18, 2012

shut up, everybody. shut up, lutz

Well, in typical fashion I'm reacting to something just as it's on the downhill slide away from cultural relevance, so here's what I have on my mind about attachment parenting.

What is attachment parenting, anyway?  Someone please explain this term to me, and what behaviors fall within its borders.  From what it sounds like, pre-chewing your toddler's food, "co-sleeping" (and can we please deep-six that term?), carrying your baby in a sling so long he never learns to walk, and breastfeeding your five-year-old are all attachment parenting.  I'm a fan of babies eating table food where possible, I'm a fan of breastfeeding, and I'm a fan of showing your child abundant affection.  But I fail to see how "attachment parenting" is superior to "the kind of parenting you're already supposed to be doing."  I'll be honest, that Time cover bugged me a lot, because it looked like self-absorption and exploitation of a minor.  And can someone tell me where attachment parenting ends and lack of appropriate boundaries, if not sexual predation, begins?  Because I have heard some really hair-raising stories about what sounds a whole lot like sexual abuse masquerading as really involved parenting.  

And the truly ridiculous arguments I've seen over the last few weeks and months!  Anyone who questions the motives behind a woman "baby-wearing" (hideous) her forty-pound toddler, or chewing his food for him long after he's gotten all his teeth, or breastfeeding him when he's half her height and speaking in full sentences is told that they are the one with the problem, because they're not fulfilling their child's emotional needs, or they're sexualizing something that isn't sexual.  Other cultures don't fetishize the breast the way Americans do!  They breastfeed for years and years and it's no big deal! 

Well, by all means let us emulate those other cultures, the same ones that practice female genital mutilation and polygamously marry their grade-school-aged daughters to strange men twenty, thirty and forty years their seniors.  Because their decision process is OBVIOUSLY governed by "what is best for my child," not "how can I best exemplify the most brutal, ignorant folk doctrines collected over the history of human civilization?"  Yes, sometimes breast milk is the only safe and/or nutritious food available.  But not in America--not among the "mom enough" crowd, who are to a great extent educated, financially secure, with access to the highest-quality food in the world.  So what is the purpose of breastfeeding that long?  Please tell me what it accomplishes that snuggling and reading a story together does not.  Please prove to me that it's really about the child's needs, not the mom's.

It's possible this is an outgrowth of what John and I call Nerf parenting.  People want to baby their children and deprive them of boundaries and natural consequences and any opportunity for maturation or growth, until they create a  me-monster who is incapable of functional adult behavior.

Or possibly it's part of the martyr trend--the more you subsume your own selfhood, the more outlandish your self-imposed sacrifices, the more you prove your maternal superiority.  Either way, the results are the same. 

I can't adequately describe how strongly I believe in the importance, eternal importance, of proper parenting.  My wariness about attachment parenting is not born out of a disgust for people who undertake the job of becoming a parent--"breeders," as some call us.  The other day I read a review about a stupid movie in which the reviewer said, "they act as though child-rearing is divinely ordained," and it bothered me a great deal.  Even though it's not news, it was hard for me to have it stated so baldy that there are people who don't agree with that belief.  Because of course (see previous statements re: Mormon) I believe it is divinely ordained.  Not for just the mom, or the dad, but for both partners in the marriage to contribute equally to the raising of each child to become a decent human being.  That is their job. 

But let's not pretend that attachment parenting is offering something superior to competent, affectionate, balanced parenting, that produces children who enrich their family and their world.  Let's not say that women who don't do attachment parenting aren't "mom enough."  Are you as excited as I am to see what new trends will be absorbed by and forced to be evaluated through the lens of the mommy wars?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

when you get caught between the moon and new york city

 You're probably wondering how my bees are doing.

Umm, awesome is how they're doing.  Look at all that crazy honeycomb!  Look at them working so busily and beeishly. 
 I have bee clothes, so you know I am not fooling around.  I am a serious beekeeper. 

It will be really, really great if the bees don't leave this year.  

And here is our new couch.  Don't look at the corner, that picture isn't hung yet. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

wasted! you don't count the "and!" duh!

Something my children need to learn about me is that sometimes I just throw stuff away because I feel like it.  I can go for a good long while with only minor annoyance about the plastic zippy Nerds (R) Rainbow Lipsmackers (R) case that keeps falling off the tub caddy into the tub while I'm showering, or the plastic zippy Disney Princess (R) bicycle case that I keep tripping over on the patio, or the single-purpose Lego (R) pieces I keep stepping on, moms and dads you know what I'm talking about, or the crayons that keep rolling out from under the desk because nobody ever puts them back in the box, or the shorts that keep getting put in the dirty clothes pile over and over, and never put away.  But eventually it gets to me and I grab whatever it is and toss it in the trash.  Sorry, environment!  One time too many! 

Our new couch is pretty.  Tufted red leather, modern, and it plays nicely with the very traditional tufted gray leather camelback sofa that we already had.  It's sort of like two eras of furniture having a pleasant conversation, and the red couch is respectful of the gray couch's elder statesmanhood, and doesn't talk in old man voice and put its lips over its teeth to simulate dentures to make fun of the gray couch.  Likewise, the gray couch doesn't half-close its eyes and say "duh" or make jokes about stupid hipsters to make fun of the red couch.  I think it will be okay.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

sometimes I believe in the goodness of humanity

All8 posted this on her blog and I had to share.  I cried.

all the girlies say I'm pretty fly for a white guy

I can see how farmers would get to where they don't take showers anymore.  It's like, what's the point?  As soon as I go outside I'm going to be covered in poop and sweat anyway.  But I want you to know I did shower, in spite of its futility.  I feel like I got enough done this morning, and there's no reason to make weeding even more of an indignity by doing it in the blazing heat, so I'm knocking off until tomorrow morning.  I mean, let's not get nuts here.  We don't need any heroes.

You guys.  I think I might want air conditioning.  Do you hate me?  I sort of hate me.  I used to be so principled, and now look at me!  Plus I bought a geranium the other day, not even a scented one!  And a petunia!  What's wrong with me?  I hate those guys!  I tore out some of the feral lettuce in the front "flower" bed, and it broke my heart a little bit to be depriving the bumblebees, but I left all the stuff that's growing in the back.  Tall stuff in the back, short stuff in the front, even I know that.  I think I have at least three distinct species of bumblebee that visit my little nature preserve.  Yes, what you've heard is true.  I am better than other people.

I think we are buying a couch.  We'll see.

Monday, May 14, 2012


This morning when I woke up there was something sort of pokey at the back of my throat, which I gag-swallowed down.  Was it a spider or something else?

John says it wasn't a spider.  He refuses to believe that life is magical.

In talking with Grant's orthodontist we discovered that he and I had gone to the same high school, so yesterday when we were at my parents' house I looked him up in my yearbook, and found that he was voted "Best Bod" during his senior year!  High praise, indeed.  I feel much more confident about his orthodontial skillz now.  I want all of you to check with your orthodontists, or failing that, your dentists, and get back to me on how many of them were voted "Best Bod." 

Oh, high school.  It's rough.  It's fun, sure (for some), but all those poor kids are trying to figure out who they are, and trying on different personas, and every one smacks of effort, and they are simultaneously painfully self-aware and self-blind.  Would not go back for a million billion trillion dollars.  Even if I was voted "Class Clown."  But the smart kind of clown--I don't do (intentional) pratfalls, so don't get any ideas.

We had fun showing the kids people they know who are in our ward, or their friends' parents.  I guess it was an okay visit down memory lane, and I was reminded that most of the boys I dated really were decent human beings.  My kids will be the fourth generation of our family to attend that high school, which might mean that I have failed as a human being, since I have not gone off to see the world, but it sort of gives me a warm fuzzy.  When we moved here and I could drive down the road and tell my kids the names of the families in each of the houses I almost choked up.  Roots, you know?  Imprinting is powerful.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

what if my butterfly is a moth?

Happy Mother's Day, all you lovely mothers and mother figures.  I'm not telling you you're lovely because I want to teach you that appearances are the only currency that matters, you know.  I'm telling you you're lovely because I like that word.

I hope it's okay if I talk about goats a little more.  From outside, above me, I can see that the goat stuff is way past being done, and that I need to stop talking about it already.  Shut up about the goats!  They are boring!  But inside me I can't stop.  I am obsessed with my goats.  Obsessed.  I love them SO MUCH YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT.  I talked to John about goats for forty minutes yesterday in one sitting.  That doesn't count all the accessory goat talk I did.  I could talk about them forever; about their colors, whether or not they are eating, which ones are the best mothers, what to name them, their family trees, great goats we have known and loved in the past.  Obsessed, I tell you. 

Yesterday I was riding down the highway in the bed of a pickup truck, holding onto the collar of a nervous pregnant goat, and I thought, "I have done so many things today that I did not foresee."

We were out playing with the goats with my sister and her kids, and Aleece said, pointing to Rita, "Uh, is she having a baby?"  And sure enough, there was a bunch of goop coming out of Rita's hindmost end.  So we hurried and scooted her into the section of the goat pen we call the Annex, or the Mother-in-law Apartment, or the Invalid Grandparent Room, or the Creche.  It's a chain-link pen that we use to keep the babies away from the moms at night once we start milking.  I wanted Rita to have some privacy since it's her first time, and Hazel and Traci and their babies are in the Manor House (the double hutch) and Sally and her babies are in the Cottage (the single hutch that's in the big pen, not separated).  Then I plunked down next to her with my kidding kit close at hand and fed her apple slices while she grunted and strained and tried to bite me.  It looked like a somewhat difficult kidding, but since I've only seen one kidding from goop to squirming baby I can't say for sure.  Aleece and John and all the kids were peeking through the windows  trying to get a look at the miracle of life, and Rita was flopping from side to side crying in discomfort, while I gently tried to push and stretch her vulva around the kid's massive head (that is going to bring some interesting traffic to the blog).  The kids were asking, "Why is she making that noise?"  I was a little concerned that she was going to wear herself out and I'd have to go in there after it, and even sent Emmett into the house to grab some nitrile gloves for me.  But right as I got them on Rita gave a tremendous push and squished out the head and shoulders.  A few minutes later she pushed out the rest, and there was her enormous, beautiful, colorful baby, a buckling OF COURSE.  She got right to work licking him clean, and has turned into a champion mother.  I am so proud of all my girls.  The results are not what I would want, gender-wise, but logistically I could not ask for a better kidding season.  Warm weather, convenient times, all of the babies eating and growing, and even Traci has resigned herself to being a spigot.

As soon as we were done with Rita and her baby (Grant named him Cow) we hurried Julia down to Brian and Wendy's, because we do not need any more kiddings at our house.  I need a nap, is what I need.

So I palpated a goat's ladybits, helped midwife her kid into the world, and transported a pregnant doe in the open back of a pickup truck.  The back of my neck is a rich mahogany color.  I have an ambient odor of iodine and bag balm.  Feeling pretty rural right now.  Feeling like I have earned those multiple pairs of cowboy boots.

Friday, May 11, 2012

results of three kiddings

Okay, we have three kiddings out of the way now, and Brian and Wendy are going to come pick up Julia, so we'll only have Rita's kidding to watch for.  We've more than doubled our herd in two days.  Traci kidded a single yesterday, a boy, obviously.  John was a champion and took care of it while I was gone.  We are monitoring the situation because Traci is a terrible mother, something I had forgotten until yesterday, and she doesn't like to stand still and let the baby nurse.  I need to remember that among my reasons to not breed Traci again.  As Grandpa Max would say menacingly, "If they don't mother the calf they're no good to the herd."  We got a nipple that fits a water bottle and milked a few ounces out of Traci to get a little something in his tummy, because he was about to check out.  Once he got a little milk he perked up and was more interested in pursuing the teat.  Hopefully we'll be able to keep him going for a couple of days, at which point he'll be so persistent that Traci will just have to deal.  None of them are nearly as good at bottom licking as they need to be--I had to take some baby wipes out there and clean off Hazel's triplets.  My kids are horrified at what nature intends for that situation.  "Do the moms LIKE the taste of poop?!"

It's about a month later than we normally kid, but thank goodness for that.  I would have come undone if this were all going on while I had four kids in soccer and a garden to plant.

Grant did all the naming except for Sally's doeling, who is named after our friends' daughter.  Here's what we've got:

Hazel:  triplets, all male
Qui-Gon Jinn--brown, brown ears 
Batman (because he is the dark knight)--black, black ears
Ken Garff (because his ears stick out)--black, white ears

Sally:  twins, male and female
Tex--brown, white ears
Sophie--brown, white ears

Traci:  single, male
Oweth (from an episode of Spongebob)--brown and white

They're so pretty and playful.  It's the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm off to check on them and make sure Oweth is eating, but before that I'm going to take a look at my bees, who are crushing this whole hive-building thing.  They've built comb on every one of my bars, and they are the boss. I hope they stay.

We are down one chicken, because of the skunk.  I'm grateful he didn't eat all of them.  Emmett came in from gathering eggs the other day and said, "Mom?  The chickens have stopped laying eggs in the lilac bush, but there is a dead chicken in there. At least it looks like it's dead.  Because it has a hole in it.  And there are flies on it."

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The girl is named Sophie.


No time to chat today, because I'm headed off to the PTA convention, which is the opposite of where I want to be and how I want to be spending my valuable child-free time.  But I am a grownup!  So I'll go.  I just want to tell you that Sally kidded last night, a boy and a girl, brown with white ears, very pretty (the boy moreso than the girl, wouldn't you know it).  Four boys, you guys.  Darn the luck.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

manna from heaven, sweet nectar of life

Today was a day of extremes. I woke up angry because of yesterday (I smashed my finger with a rock while I was trying to dig weeds out of the front garden while still leaving enough feral lettuce for the bumblebees, whom I have taken on as a special project.  Did you know they're endangered?  Then when I was running my finger under some cold water I started feeling nauseated and thought I had better sit down, but en route to the dining room my vision went black and I hurried and leaned on a pile of folded clothes on the table until I could remember who and where I was.  Home diagnosis:  low iron.  Then I had a PTA meeting that made me late to go pick up the kids and take my sister's piano books to her teacher's house.  Then Ike lied to me about having watered the bunnies.  Then I got sick on some chocolate.  Then we stayed too long at John's parents' house and got the kids to bed at ten for the third night in a row because we are crappy parents.).  Once I had woken up angry I saw that the chickens had escaped and were all over the patio, pooping and eating the cat food that I had to put out there because Rex and Groceries (especially Groceries) still smell like skunks. Then I woke up the boys and told them to go catch the chickens, but instead they messed around downstairs and didn't do their chores and Emmett had left his shoes at the neighbors' house and the chickens were out of water and Ike didn't get breakfast and Emmett missed the bus and at about 7:00 I called John and told him I was done with the day.  He was like, "Already?" and asked if maybe he should come home, which made me feel guilty for being such a developed-world whinypants. 

But as soon as I got all my kids off on their days things started looking up.  While I was helping in Ike's class I called two ladies about PTA, and now I have a new secretary and treasurer, both of whom are bright, capable women that I think I'm going to get along with very well.  My former secretary was also doing yearbooks, which made me feel like she had a bit much to do, and my former treasurer has a full-time job in Salt Lake, and I felt guilty even letting her do it.  

Then when I got home from the school I heard a tiny little "maaaa" coming from the goat pen, and we have three new baby goats!  Hazel's babies, beautiful, beautiful, but all boys.  I'm sad about that, especially the black one with black ears. I've got my fingers crossed for Sally, I hope she doesn't let me down. I think Traci is going to kid very soon.  She's pretty subdued and groany. 

So I feel better.  At 7:00 I was telling John that if he came home to a pile of dead bodies he would know why, and at 11:00 I was gibbering about the miracle of life happening in our back yard and the two new PTA helpers.

Last week my mom said I was "dramatic." That's a shame, because dramatic people are a total bummer to know.  But I guess the shoe fits.  Sorry, possums!

Monday, May 7, 2012

dijon ketchup

Last week while we were getting dinner ready we watched some of the Blue Planet ocean stuff that's on Netflix.  Have you seen those movies?  I love them!  I love all movies about the ocean, even though I hate being in the ocean.  Watching Jaws when you're eight sort of takes the bloom off the rose.  Just thinking about what it would be like to be an aquatic mammal makes me feel like I'm suffocating.  Anyway, there was a part where some orcas attack a gray whale calf.  It was terrible.  So brutal and sad, and I felt a childish sense of anger about it.  Don't the orcas know that whales are endangered?  Don't they know they're related?  Don't they know how long it takes to grow a baby whale?  And then after all the fighting, after they separate the calf from its mother, repeatedly ram the baby and drown it by holding it underwater, the orcas eat nothing but the calf's tongue and jaw.  So awful.  I sat at the dinner table sobbing, while my children looked at me like I was crazy, which I am. It was the most difficult thing I've watched in a long time.  It's frightening and heartbreaking and maybe you should watch it, but it will make you hold a grudge against orcas.

One of my kids has a book that explores a hypothetical showdown between an orca and a great white shark, and they determine that the orca would win.  I concur.  That big brain will take it every time, burn to you Carcharodon carcharias

I've been looking at land and house plans because I'm so afraid of what terrible neighbor I'm going to end up having someday.  But I don't want a new house!  I don't even want a new Craftsman, built in the old way, with lath and plaster walls.  I want this house.  I love this house.  Even with its stupid basement that looks like we've experienced repeated shelling.  John and I were talking about it last night, about the feeling that old houses have, the spirit, for lack of a better word.  Our house has ninety years of happy memories in it, and that can't be reproduced with anything but another ninety years, no matter how much money you spend on it. 

So before we pull up stakes we're going to try to get the zoning changed to commercial, and hopefully help the city council understand that the right zoning to attract the right kind of businesses will increase revenue exponentially more than whatever short-term gain we get from a nasty business that no other business wants to be next to.  Proper zoning will get us new houses AND new business, which in the long run will be much better for the city.  Listen to me!  I am chock-full of knowledge about planning and zoning!  Even if they won't change the zoning, my mom and John both believe that we won't have any problems for a long time yet, because it's a podunkety little town where nobody wants to build.  Why don't they put a tiny little grocery store behind me?  And turn Janice Nicholas's house into a little coffee shop where farmers could sit and drink their coffee and have a slice of pie?  That would be so great.  Ugh, if I had a million dollars I'd buy that land, and the house, and the apple orchard, and I would hire people to carry out my vision, and it would be splendid and I would buy a green dress. 

I had to put the cats' food and water outside this morning, because it seems that they were consorting with (fighting) a skunk during the night.  I didn't know cats did that.  I hope they don't start fighting porcupines, too. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

oh, so you're going to have biden do it

This is a terrific, balanced, sane essay about raw milk.  Thanks to Tipsy! 

this house doesn't burn down slowly

I've got my angry eyes on, so be warned.  

In case anybody was wondering I hate my town again. 

Plus somebody said yesterday, when a group of women were talking about how horrible it would be to have a Hooters next to your house, "There is no difference between Hooters and Joe's Crab Shack.  They're both food.  Hooters just focuses on . . . anatomy."

Uh, I'm sorry, but I need to clear something up right here.  No.  They are not the same.  I will concede that Hooters and Joe's Crab Shack are similar in the quality of "food" they provide (and there's probably a big overlap in the clientele), and they both have a right to exist (since I'm generally a "freedom to" person, not a "freedom from" person) but no, I will not allow someone to claim that Hooters is anything but a disgusting example of the many ways in which men objectify women and women permit and encourage it.  I haven't been to Joe's Crab Shack for a long time, but unless they're putting their waitresses in porno flaps and headlight tanks and changing their name to "KNOCKERS! LIKE BOOBS, GET IT? HAW HAW," then they are still a step or two up on the ladder of shame.  If you really see no difference between the two, if you would honestly have no problem working at Hooters or having your daughter or sister or ANY WOMAN YOU CARED ABOUT work there, being nothing more than a couple of boobs bringing greasy plastic to sweaty, slobbering, braying dullards?  You're doing it wrong.  Let's not pretend that "Hooters waitress" is a job aspiration for anyone but the severely emotionally and/or cognitively damaged.  Having a problem with Hooters does not make you a prude, it makes you a person with higher brain function.  And having no problem with Hooters does not, in fact, make you an open-minded free thinker.  It makes you trash. If life circumstances are such that you find yourself working at a Hooters or similar, then I condole you.  I hope you save your tips to go to school and get a job where you're not selling out your entire gender.

See, this is why people hate feminists.  Can't they ever just relax and enjoy the wings?  

Anyway, the reason I hate my town is because the zoning which they insisted on changing to industrial (by houses, across the street from the park, you remember) is causing me grief again, because the town has been approached by a chicken processing plant!  Terrific.  I have to move.  It's another situation like the biodiesel plant, some dummy with no money and no plans, so it's probably going nowhere, but even so.  I can't do this every year.  I can't feel like this about my fellow ward and community members.  It's not good for them or me, because if I do get those smiting powers I've been asking Santa for?  BOOM. 

Feel free to defend the Hooters family of "restaurants" in the comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

product may stay: greek gods greek-style yogurt with alterations

Please allow me to change your life.

Skeptical?  Resistant?  Don't be.  It has to do with yogurt.  So it's really only the yogurt-consumption compartment of your life that I wish to change. 

I no longer make my own yogurt with regularity, because I was never able to get the thick, creamy texture that I wanted, other than by adding irritating steps to what should be a simple process.  If I'm going to be doing something complex, it's going to be cheese, not yogurt.  My favorite homemade yogurt was the Vietnamese-style yogurt, but to make it I had to sweeten and condense some milk to add to it.  So that's not going to be happening every week, which is how often it would need to happen to supply my yogurt needs. 

I have liked Greek-style yogurt ever since I ate it in England lo, these many years ago.  But this nonfat garbage that populates our American dairy shelves in high percentages is befuddling to me.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  it tastes like chalk.  How can people eat it?  What I like is the full-fat Greek yogurt, and my favorite brand is Greek Gods.  The more I type the word "Greek" the weirder it looks to me.  Moving on.

I don't like an overly sweet yogurt because my tolerance for sugar has decreased as I have aged and begrudgingly started eating better.  So what I do is this:  buy one big container of full-fat plain yogurt and one container of full-fat flavored yogurt, whether blueberry, strawberry or vanilla (my favorite).  I dump them into a bowl and whisk them until they are thoroughly mixed.  Then I dump the mixture back into the empty containers, and I have a week of breakfast ready to go.

So that's the process, and let me tell you about the result:  the yogurt is cloudlike, perfectly tangy and sweet, and silky.  It is the best yogurt I have ever eaten, better than any yogurt except for the Vietnamese yogurt I had with Tipsy in San Francisco, which was technically more like a dessert, I guess, so good, but not better than the Greek yogurt, just different.  I am crazy about this yogurt.  It tastes like creme fraiche. 

I am not consigning myself to a fate of industrial yogurt, and will keep trying to make homemade yogurt that tastes and feels right to me, but until then, Greek Gods yogurt will be a constant presence in my refrigerator.  Product may stay.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

about the strawberry jam

A few years ago I bought some Ultra-Set (I think that's how they capitalize and hyphenate it) to thicken berry pie filling, and one day when I had some leftover filling I realized that there wasn't much difference between pie filling and jam.  I started thinking about how oppressive freezer jam is.  You can't combine batches, you have to measure the ingredients carefully, you use huge amounts of sugar, you have to stir at regular intervals, you can't fiddle with it while it's setting, you have to devote an entire day to the project.  Gag!  And then the light bulb went on.  This new pectin meant I could make jam that tastes like I want whenever I want in the time I have. It's going in the freezer anyway, so you don't have to worry about pH or shelf-stability or anything.  Nice. 

With strawberry jam I clean the berries and chop them in my food processor, put them in a pan with some sugar mixed with Ultra-Set (on Saturday I started with about a cup of sugar and a half cup of Ultra-Set to two flats of strawberries), a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, whatever liquid sugar I have on hand (corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, Lyle's Golden Syrup), and warm it just enough to dissolve the sugar.  I taste it as it cooks and add more of whatever I think it needs; more pectin until it's the right consistency, more sugar until it's sweet enough but not masking the fresh fruit flavor.  At the end I put in a splash of vanilla, then I put it in clean jars and freeze it.  Done, and it didn't even consume my entire day.  It's so liberating! I've done the same with berries, rhubarb, peaches, and plums.  Those fruits need a little more cooking to break them down, but they still taste bright and fresh when you're done. 

So I don't have a recipe, really.  Just an awesome pectin that is probably powdered Alzheimer's, because we all know there's no such thing as a shortcut.  But it's so convenient! It will make you a jam guru.