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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I've decided I'm not going in to salt lake today, because I don't want to

I did it!  Against all odds I planted the garlic, the kale, the chard, the beets and the peas yesterday.  Normally if I have to do a morning errand in town the rest of the day is a waste.  I just don't feel like getting out and grubbing in the dirt when I've already expended all the effort to shower and do my hair.  But I was valiant and industrious and did my digging.  Only now do I realize that I planted the peas in the worst possible place, for they are climbing peas, and I have made it so the pea fence will block me from the rest of the garden.  I guess I'll have to rip some of them out.  Stupid. 

It's the KUER fund drive this week, and I doubled our normal donation, because now Emmett is listening, too.  I figured he would just tune it out, but last week we were listening to a discussion about D.B. Cooper, maybe?  I can't remember.  Anyway, Emmett said, "This is really interesting."  So if he doesn't pay he's a freeloader. 

I think the health care thing is a real pickle.  I'm not sure what I would decide, so I guess it's a good thing I'm not a Supreme Court justice after all.

There is a Mexican restaurant in Ogden that is "famous," in that it is always jam-packed with a long wait, and I've heard about it as being a great place to eat since I was in high school.  Well, John and I ate there with some neighbors a couple of years ago, and it was truly horrid.  But our neighbors were lapping it up like pigs at a trough.  The older I get, the more I realize that a lot of people I know don't know what Mexican food is--did I ever tell you about my college roommate who claimed that her mother made authentic enchiladas the way Mexicans did, with cream of chicken soup?  She was  weird.  But it makes me wonder if I even know what authentic Mexican food tastes like.  I like to think that Ricardo's and Tacos Hidalgo are authentic-adjacent, but maybe they're just as Americanized as all those other places where irrespective of what you order you get a plate of nondescript brownish goo, covered in melted cheese.  I bet people think I'm a pig at a trough, just like John and I thought about our neighbors.  Hey, if you've seen the way I eat, that's not too far from true.  I don't know that I'd like to bury my snout so deep in the slop that it runs behind my ears, but it really depends on what's on the menu.

Monday, March 26, 2012

when true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed

We spent Saturday afternoon putting compost on the gardens and finishing the garden fence.  When we got it done we shouted at the chickens, "Pwned!"  Then we started a fire in our fire pit to burn all the garden detritus from last year, and oops the fire turned into an inferno and escaped the ring and burned a little bit of the grass around the bricks, but now we don't have a bunch of long grass growing up next to the fire.  So, win.  We roasted brats and hot dogs and marshmallows, and John and I were both able to create the perfect toasted marshmallow--brown and crispy outside, warm gooey liquid all the way to the center.  It was quite an achievement, especially the fact that both of us did it on the same night.  It's just another example of how we are equally yoked.  Willa only got one glob of marshmallow in her hair, and Ike only got a little bit of marshmallow on his shirt and a little bit of mustard on the back of his shirt.  Emmett cleaned out the chicken coop and it looks wonderful.  Grant helped with the compost spreading and turning, and mulched all the trees for us.  We were like Appalachian Spring to the max. 

My goal today, once I get the town stuff done, is to get the peas planted, and the garlic that some kind and generous neighbors/fellow members of the bee & goat collective gave us when we dropped off our beehive for improvements.  The garlic smells spicy and green and I can't wait to try it this fall.  Thank goodness for smart, industrious people who like to share. 

I need to find some golden beet seeds and some more tomato cages.  My favorites are those big heavy-duty green ones that cost like twenty bucks apiece.  But they're the best!  They never ever tip over, and they look nice instead of janky. 

I bought a cherry tree and a combination apple tree from Costco.  They were so cheap!  And bare root, which means less digging and quicker acclimation to our awful soil.  Did I tell you that already?  The apple has grafts of Fuji, Golden Delicious, Gala and Honeycrisp, which is a major coup.  The cherry is a Lapins, which according to the plastic bag is a good companion to Stella, which we already have.  Cherries are the best, unless you suffer from gout, like my grandpa. Now I need an apricot tree and we'll be set.  I would love to try a pawpaw, though.  I dare not attempt peach trees, for they are too fussy.  Instead I will patronize the crap out of Sumida's and count myself blessed. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

but if we can't get compost, we can't get compost

This new Blogger interface is messing with my brain. 

I have started the book blog.  It can be found here.

We tilled the garden last night, and it's amazing how much less trashy our yard looks now.  We almost don't look like squatters.  I can't plant anything until we get the fence up, otherwise the chickens will just pick all the seeds out like big jerks.  They look so beautiful wandering around in the wheat field (our alfalfa field is a wheat field this year), and they're so fluffy and fat right now, I just want to squeeze them.  But they run away from me every time I try. 

The goats are getting pleasantly plump--they're due, at least Hazel and Traci are, on May 7th.  It's kind of a late kidding date, but that's agritainment for you.  I don't know when Sally, Rita and Julia are due, because we never saw the deed actually be performed.  So we'll just keep watch and hope for the best.  Some goat moms put baby monitors out in the pen during the kidding time, so they can make sure to be there as soon as the action starts.  They are better people than I am.  But goats are extremely self-sufficient, and I've never had to help with a delivery yet, knock on wood.  The only deaths we've had were due to circumstances beyond our control.  Ooh, remember when Finola had a dead baby inside her for a week that we couldn't find, even though my uncle Kenny and I spelunked to the best of our ability?  That was sad and gross.  Her business was all red and swollen and poisonous-looking.  Blech. 

There is a good chance that John will be on duty when they start kidding, because I have a stupid PTA convention that I have to go to which I am dreading profoundly.  I hope he's been taking notes on the navel-dipping and -tying and the ear-flattening processes. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

well we tanned his hide when he died, clyde, and that's it hanging on the shed

Last week I was deferred from the blood drive because my iron was too low. I was so angry. I have always loved giving blood, because: Lorna Doones. All I can eat of them. I only take one package, but the knowledge that I could take more is gratifying. They're not even that good--Walkers Shortbread could hand them their rear end in a paper sack--but I love them all the same.

So the battle was lost, all for the lack of heme iron. I was sent away and denied my treat. I ate a steak for dinner and had the leftovers the next morning for breakfast, along with my eggs. I like to braise eggs--I crack them into a hot buttered pan, then add a little bit of water and cover them until they are creamy and soft, with a thick, gooey yolk.

Some housekeeping things I need to mention:
1. The library didn't have any of the books that you guys recommended, except Sense of an Ending, which was checked out. I'll try to track them down. Classics-wise, I haven't read much Austen, but it sort of makes me tired to think about all the machinations required of a woman of insecure means in those days. I don't think Austen will help my mood, is what I'm saying.

2. Tori recommended the Rolling Stones' "Angie" for the list of hated songs. She's right, it is a stupid one. I'm putting it on the list. In fact, anybody who wants to recommend a song for that list, please do so. I will give it a listen, and if I agree, on the list it goes. The music industry deserves our honest feedback! I also need to add Mr. Mister and Steve Winwood. Ugh, "Broken Wings."

3. I am considering starting a blog where we can go to discuss The Handmaid's Tale, and anything else we have an opinion about. Would you guys like to talk about it? Like is the handmaid's attire essentially a more restrictive burqa? What is the connotation of the red, vs. the black of the burqa? Does Offred's conscription alter her personality and intelligence?

By the way, I heard a tremendously apt term yesterday that I plan to use when appropriate. The term is "hatriots." Bah! I love it! It can be used, for example, when describing the sort of people who would enjoy looking at something like this (I apologize for what you see on that website. It is technically SFW, but it is definitely NS for those who value nuance and artistry). Now, there are some things that President Obama has done that I am unhappy with. Much like his predecessor! I am no fan of the gummint, as you know. But this painting is abominable, and I hate to imagine the sort of person who would put something as foul and dark and juvenile as this in their home.

But I do sort of love living in a country in which a crackpot can paint such turds as this, about a sitting president, no less, and not only not be jailed for it, but make a comfortable living selling his "art" to other crackpots. Oh, America. You are so quirky.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

what I thought about "the handmaid's tale"

Here's the thing about The Handmaid's Tale: I can easily envision this in our future--remember how shaken I was when I read The Road? Any dystopian story, post-apocalyptic or not; really anything that demonstrates the rapidity with which humans turn into animals, no matter how hellish and far-fetched, is completely plausible to me. Ender's Game? Sure. 1984, The Jungle, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, The Giver, the entire Vonnegut oevre, all those books they make you read in high school to destroy your faith in humanity? Done.

John asked me what The Handmaid's Tale was about, and I sadly sniffed, "Oh, the horrible future." He looked at me in a perplexed/exasperated way, and asked, "Why do you do this to yourself?" Why do you read books like that?"

Really, why do I read these books? Why do I punish myself and seek for like-minded people to confirm my worst suspicions about my fellow human beings? In answer to John's question I told him, "So I can recognize it when it happens." I assume there is a monster lurking inside everyone around me, and only time will tell how close to the surface that monster is. Thieves, rapists, pedophiles, cannibals, murderers, tyrants . . . humans as a rule are low, repugnant, slovenly, grasping, selfish beasts, slithering around in a fetid swamp of abuse and torture. If they aren't that way now, just give them a little power, remove the fear of reprisal, or just let them pursue the implementation of their ideals to their logical endpoint, and you'll have yourself a nightmarish hellscape the most inventive sci-fi author couldn't conceive.

So The Handmaid's Tale is like if Ceausescu's vision for Romania were to happen in America, implemented by Rick Santorum. I had a general idea about the subject matter, because I have not been living in a cave on Mars, and also a long time ago I picked up my grandma's library copy, and read the part about Offred using butter as lotion. A unique and provocative story, very well-written. I teared up a few times at the sheer hopelessness of it all.

I have note upon note about the book, but I don't want to spoil it for you, so please read it so we can discuss it. I know I probably scared you off, but you want to read this book, and all the other horrible books that will make you regard your fellow man with uneasy suspicion, so you can see the multifarious ways in which our doom can be shaped. So you will know it when it comes.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strident feminist naggery and political bellyaching ahoy

Last night I went to the Democratic caucus meeting, and there was the usual partisan blustering and failure to admit corruption and wrongdoing within the party (just like at the Republican caucuses). There was much discussion of how Obama is trying to help the working man, and very little discussion of how Obama is surveilling the American public and perpetuating our immoral involvement in the Middle East (and considering war with Iran . . . because we can OBVIOUSLY afford another war). There was insulting of Republicans while wishing aloud that Republicans would stop insulting Democrats, just as you would expect from a caucus meeting. A woman mentioned offhandedly that Republicans "don't like women very much." See, I don't think that's the problem. I think they like women just fine. They just don't respect or value women. But here's a news flash: neither do Democrats. Immediately after she made that comment, one man said, "We couldn't do what we do without you women," which is fine (aside from its "you people" overtones), but then another man said, "I wouldn't get up in the morning if it wasn't for a woman." Well, that's neat. Women are valuable because of their ability to tantalize men to get out of bed (and into, snerk snerk duh).

There are numbskulls like that on both sides, but I will say that the news commentators who say that the Republicans have lost female voters for at least a generation are probably right on.

Boo. I wasn't surprised, but it was still sad. Why do people not see that both parties got us where we are? Why don't they see that both parties want to intrude further and further and control more and more of our private lives? Why don't they see that no matter who is in power, the rich get richer and the poor stay poor; it seems to me it's always been that way . . . but I don't worry . . . 'bout what I haven't got . . .

Sorry. I got sidetracked into a song for a minute.

Summary: people are still jerks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

and the lemon flower is sweet

I told you about how I was looking at lemon dessert recipes, because Food52 knows the way I think, and one of the recipes was for something called "Lemon Posset." What a charming name! I had to make it for that reason alone.I am a gulp, cram, shovel, inhale type of eater. I eat too much and too fast, and I often don't take time to enjoy my food before it's all gone, the only reminder a painful bloated feeling. It is rare that something is so delicious that it interrupts my mental program of desperate vacuum and makes me stop and pay attention to what's in my mouth. Lemon Posset is such a dish. It is a smooth, silky custardy thing. It is indescribably sublime. It is simple and fast and there are only three ingredients in the original recipe, but here's how I made it, because I am a tinkerer:
Lemon Posset
from Food52
serves 4

2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 t vanilla

Stir together the cream, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, and boil for five minutes, still stirring--watch it carefully and don't let it boil over. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then pour into four ramekins or custard cups. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

I ate mine plain, but can imagine countless embellishments.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

yes I would, if I could, I surely would

Every once in a while I remember that I have five pregnant goats in my backyard. It is a somewhat unsettling thought, coupled with the new goat fencing to install, new chicken fencing (the moat--I WILL see it done), new garden fencing, garden to plant, plus Grant in basketball, all the children but Grant, and maybe even Grant, in spring soccer. I vowed I'd never do spring soccer again, but Emmett is so freaking melancholic/phlegmatic that I've got to get him to do something, anything at all besides sit and ruminate on his imagined intellectual superiority, and Ike and Willa need to get their wiggles out as well--look at me shuttling my children back and forth to practices and lessons all the day long! I've become everything I ever hated!

What am I going to do when they all freshen? Well, not milk Traci, that's a given. Because she is a train wreck back there--fine for feeding her babies, but I'm not messing around with it. This is what it looks like:
I'll milk Hazel. Have I told you lately how I love her? She is the best goat I've ever owned. Why don't more people have goats? Why don't YOU have a goat? They are wonderful pets, and they increase my Apocalypse Readiness Quotient (ARQ) by at least ten points, I would imagine. I would be able to improve my ARQ score even more if I weren't so close to the highway--that's going to be a problem when the bloodcults start. Hopefully I'll be telekinetic by then, crossing fingers.

I'll milk both Sally and Rita for a while to find out which one of them I want to keep. I know I'm selling Julia, just because she's not quite as pretty as Sally and Rita. She's the friendliest, though, and probably the calmest. But I'm shallow, and it's going to get me into trouble someday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

lazy mary wasn't lazy, just clever

Hoo boy, you guys. The Handmaid's Tale. Grim. I can't review it properly right now, it's still too raw, but I have taken notes and will get it done soon.

Do all these book reviews depress you? I think if there were a blog I liked reading and all of the sudden it started doing book reviews I would feel cheated, like it's not a real post. But I can't talk to anybody in my real life about these books, so what am I supposed to do? John made a gallant promise that he would read books I recommend so that we could discuss them, but how far do you think that's gone? Nowhere, that's how far. I guess "work" and "coaching" and "singing" and "washing the dishes every night" and "keeping the house from falling into total disarray" are more important to him.

Should I go straight on to Brave New World, or should I have a palate cleanser first? I'm tempted to do a palate cleanser. I think my soul needs one for me to retain any faith in humanity. Do you have a good palate cleanser book you can recommend?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

doubled, I walk the street

I saw a recipe on Food52 for a lemon something-or-other last night, and one of the commenters asked if it could be made with stevia, because she is on a no-sugar diet. Now, I know that bodies process different sugars differently, and what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the other goose. But aside from diabetic or similar health concerns, I would opine that if you're replacing the amount of refined sugar (cane or beet) in your diet with an equal amount of a mass-produced, highly processed sugar substitute, you're doing it wrong.

But nobody wants to hear about that! BORING. Food nagging is boring, whether it's true or not. And offensive. Food missionaries are insufferable. Missionaries in general are usually insufferable, unfortunately. But I've said this before; we all go through that stage of zealous discipleship, and I guess the point is to just put up with each other until we get some of the edges knocked off and become a little more humble and tractable. I'll get there someday, I promise. I hope.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

what I thought about "liberty"

Grant bought this book for me for Christmas from the dollar store. It was a bargain. I had forgotten what a funny writer Garrison Keillor is. He is very adept at stringing together sentences and painting a vivid picture of the characters who live in Lake Wobegon, who are all believable and familiar. This is a very funny book, especially for people who live in small towns and have witnessed the extensive planning that goes into putting on town celebrations. I even laughed until I got some little tears in my eyes, so I recommend it. Although either Keillor or his protagonist or both are kind of into pubic hair, like, every description of a sexual liaison included a reference to it, until I was like, "We get it, Garrison. You like the natural look on a woman."