Thursday, October 31, 2013

oh it took Bell to make the telephone ring and it took Edison to turn on the light

Every day I hear something on the radio that makes me feel excited to get home and start writing a story or a novel or whatever, and then I come home and start visiting my internet haunts and before you know it the kids are home from school and I've pissed away the entire afternoon.  Whoopsie, that's what happens when you have no self-control.  

Can I just say that I am digging this new Pope?  On balance he seems like a class act.  Not that the Catholics are looking for validation from me, I'm sure.  But if they are:  thumbs up, guys.  

This morning on Diane Rehm they were talking about Frankenstein, and I decided that I really need to read that book.  I read a graphic novelization of it when I was young and liked it, but I'm interested to check out the original recipe and see how it compares to Dracula.  Dracula is gripping and scary, but also very much a product of its times re: gender stereotypes, as I've discussed before.  I wonder if Frankenstein is the same way, all paternal/controlling men and wide-eyed wonder every time a woman says something intelligent.  

Maybe I've told you before how the first few times that Grant and Emmett went trick-or-treating we exchanged their candy for a toy and sent the candy to work with John to pawn off on his coworkers.  Then for a few years we rationed the candy and only let the kids have a few pieces a day.  But now we have almost no involvement with their Halloween candy intake, and all the better for it.  Our normal diet is pretty decent, so a yearly candy glut is not going to kill anyone, and it'll allow them to learn how to govern themselves.  I'm trying to turn these people into self-sufficient beings; I don't need a bunch of adult babies walking around not knowing how to control their intake of treats (like me!).  And this lady on Slate agrees with me, so that's nice.  

Now I'm going to try to write a scary story about Thomas Edison.  SPOOOOOOKYYY!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

be gentle and loving in deed and in thought

Ha!  We watched Jaws on Saturday night, and Grant thought it was scary, just like I told him he would.  Emmett said it was not scary, just gross, but I bet he was being macho.  They didn't have nightmares or anything, so I'm still a good parent.  I guess we won't really know how scarred they are until we see how they feel about swimming in the ocean when we go to Port Townsend next summer.  They are finally members of the enormous, undiscerning club of people who have seen "Jaws," and we are their sponsors.  I'm glad that it seems to have been a memorable experience.  They both drew Jaws-related pictures in sacrament meeting today, which was probably irreverent, but they learned irreverent church doodling at my knee--recently I drew a picture of Beethoven scolding the dogs playing poker, so there you are.  Not sure what the talk was about that day, but I'm sure it was meaningful.  Here is Grant's picture:

In case it is too small to read, Jaws is wearing a name tag that says "Hello My Name Is Flaws" and saying "In real life I wouldn't deliberately attack the same boat but this is a movie" and Chief Brody is going with the classic "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Our new neighbors are finally here!  If they turn out to be horrible I may change my tune, but for now it is just really nice to see lighted windows in the house.  Empty houses make me sad, because statistically they're so much more likely to be used as a portal to a Hell dimension, and also because mice will ruin an empty house.  Raccoons too, probably.  Gotta keep an eye on those empty houses is what I'm saying.

Have any of you ever had a pet raccoon, or known someone who did?  One of my dad's customers had a pet raccoon, and I think they finally had to turn it loose because it was so destructive.  They are little whirling dervishes of mayhem.  At my sister-in-law's ranch house we found a smelly puddle that was dripping from the ceiling and it turned out to be pee from a raccoon that had secreted himself between the walls.  Tasty!  Even with those behavioral problems they are pretty cute though.

We pressed 34 gallons of apple cider on Saturday with some of our friends and neighbors.  It was hard work and I got sunburned and I halved so many apples and hauled so much wash water I can't even tell you.  But now we have nine gallons (our share) of sweet, spicy, gorgeous apple cider in our fridge, waiting for us to figure out how to fit it into our freezer.  There's the issue of the side of beef hogging all the shelf space right now.

Another week.  Are we ready?  One thing I know for sure is I am going to eat a crap-ton of candy, and I'm definitely ready for that.

Friday, October 25, 2013

you've been keeping love from me just like you were a miser

What are your feelings on tarts?  I don't care for them.  Last night I was reading my Cook's Illustrated, which I really should cancel, since I have become such a slapdash cook that I rarely remember to make a new interesting recipe, and there was a recipe for a chocolate tart in there, and I had the same reaction I always have to tarts:  Bored Now.  Why is that?  Let us dissect my aversion.

1.  The crust.  I am prejudiced against cookie crusts.  There are some tarts/pies in which a cookie crust is imperative, but they are by far the exception.  When I think about a tart crust, here are the adjectives that come to my mind:  Gritty.  Sandy.  Dry.  Too Sugary.  Too thick.  Gummy in the center.  These are not descriptors that invite intimacy.

2.  Delving deeper into my issues with the thickness of said cookie crust:  I have bought a few fruit tarts at pastry shops here and there, and they always, ALWAYS disappoint.  The crust always throws the ratio off and it makes me mad every single time.  This also happens with mini pies.  If you're going to make a small version of something, then for the love of all that is holy, reduce your crust's thickness to match!  This should be common practice!  Why are we even talking about this?

3.   Their ubiquity.  Why are tarts everywhere, everywhere, with their stupid fluted edges and their dumb little arranged fruit on top?

This is a nonsensical aversion; you're not telling me anything I don't already know.  I love shortbread, I love tender, cleanly-slicing filling, I love fruit pizza, I love lemon bars, which are basically just a rectangular tart.  I love food that has thought behind it.  I love fluted edges!  I guess I'm just a mystery.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

won't they be impressed I am a genius

We have our Halloween costumes almost all the way ready.  I have given John the year off . . . no, that's not quite true.  What happened was I told him that I was done thinking of costume ideas for him and he's on his own from now on, and if that means he doesn't dress up anymore, then no big.  He just doesn't feel the Halloween spirit like I do, but he has been as supportive of my Halloween zeal as a giant wet blanket could be.

I put together a seriously fantastic outfit yesterday (exaggeration mine).  I'm glad that at the tender age of 37 I'm already able to dress myself in a way that is comfortable, flattering, and context-appropriate.  What I love about this outfit is I used a sweater that I've worn a number of times but never been quite sold on, and it made the whole outfit better.  That's the best, when you find a new, great use for something you've struggled with.  And while we're talking about how old I am, what is up with people who lie about their age?  I had a choir teacher in high school who always said she was 28, and she wasn't fooling anyone, to put it gracefully.  I think they're related to the women who try to be mistaken for their daughters' sisters.  Gross.

Ha ha, the lyrics of "Crazy Train" are so un-Ozzylike.  I remember when someone gave me an Ozzy tape when I was a little girl (don't ask) I played "Killer of Giants" for my mom and explained earnestly to her what a neat song it was because it was anti-war.  Good times.

Some people bought Vilda's house across the street from us.  Word on the street is that they are moving from California, they have young children, and they want to have chickens and a cow.  Are they coming to the right place or what?  They're Chucking It!  It remains to be seen whether they have the California disease, but at least they're among like-minded people.

Monday, October 21, 2013

we would have taken state, no doubt in my mind

Oh, I forgot to tell you guys that I had a post published over on By Common Consent, one of the thinky Mormon blogs I like to read.  My piece is of course not thinky, so I appreciate them slumming for me.  You may read it here if you wish.

have I possibly gone daffy? what is this?

We are back, and I must tell you it is good to taste vegetables again.  Our entire time in Mexico was spent consuming mass quantities of celebration food (our fault, not Mexico's), and I think we gained as a family roughly eleventy billion pounds.  But what else are we supposed to do in the face of such trials as cocos frios?  The last time I had proper coconut water to drink was on the trip I took to Mexico with my fellow AP Spanish students in high school, and I have held mythic affection for it lo these many years hence.  The Spanish department no longer does that trip, possibly a result either of Senor Allred retiring, lack of funding, or the district finding out how many students sneak rum and Cokes while they're there.

Question:  how many wars, if any, could be solved by the antagonists going grocery shopping in each other's grocery stores?  For as negative and pessimistic as I am, there is a tiny little Pollyanna inside me who believes that one of the first steps of diplomacy is through cuisine.  I think it helps humanize a culture you might have previously seen as unrelatable.  But maybe that's just me.  All I know is I used to hate everyone, and now I just hate all the people who have gross food.  Hurry, let's invade all the places that eat grubs and testicles, ready, set, go!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

tocapillo barranquilla and perdilla I'm a killer

Estoy en Mexico, possums!  It is maravilloso to the max.  Today I bought a big old painted Dia de los Muertos skull that I am going to display for Halloween and probably the rest of the year and nobody better try to stop me.  Plus I bought a necklace in which the beads are carved to look like skulls, which is going to go great with the necklace I'm going to make someday out of all my children's wisdom teeth.  Stop looking at me like that, it's no different from those weirdos who save locks of hair from the child's first haircut.

We saw and petted a wild Mexican seal and were not bitten, we looked at tide pools, we saw meth-heads come tear all the sea stars off the rocks and try to sell them for ten dollars, and then when that failed, offer to return the sea stars to the ocean for ten dollars.  Ah, meth . . . is there any situation it doesn't make worse?  We have seen La Bufadora, watched game upon game of futbol, spent hours in the ocean, spoken embarrassing Spanglish, haggled with vendors, and eaten many, many tacos.

My internet connectivity has been extremely limited, and it has been good for me.  I'm pretty sure the internet causes as many problems as it solves.  Sure you can find a community of like-minded folks, which for me has been--well, I won't say lifesaving, because that sounds so theatrical, but it's been very helpful for my sanity--but you are also bombarded daily with confirmation that people are just the absolute worst.

If any of you are looking to do some sort of humanitarian/charity-type work, and if you happen to be a veterinarian, then they could really use a spay/neuter clinic down here.  There are a whole bunch of intact male dogs with their junk hanging all out the back like they sat on a pair of hamsters or something, and female dogs with their teats hanging down to their knees . . . it's not a good thing is what I'm saying.  I would do it, but I left my tools at home, darnit.

Well, keep America safe for me until I get back from 45 Minutes Away From America.  I think I heard that the government is functioning again, is that right?  It has been nice to not have to live through every peak and valley of the shutdown resolution negotiations.

Oh!  Another thing we did today is buy churros.  I've always wondered what is the deal with churros, because they taste like play-doh, you guys.  But the ones we had this morning were superb, and I am forced to conclude that churros must be added to the list of things that Americans have imported and subsequently ruined.  Good job, us.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

you better stop the things that you do

Pretty much I want to watch scary movies the whole month of October.  Like all normal people I love Halloween, but not the gross, weird bloody satanic sex orgy it has become.  I like Ray Bradbury Halloween.  The Halloween of my youth and my mother's youth that maybe never really existed.  Neutered Halloween, basically.  ANYWAY, I have all these scary movies I want to watch, and I was showing Grant the trailer for Jaws, and he sat through all that spooky music and narration ("It is as if God created the devil . . . and gave him . . . jaws.") and said, "Umm . . . people used to have a very different idea of what was scary."  And I was like, "Uh, this movie is the reason I am terrified of open water and swimming pools.  Imagine watching it when you were eight years old.  Still not scary?"  Pfft.  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  Maybe I'll show him The Village, too, if he thinks he's so smart.  Question:  which is more scary, the Jaws shark, or Those We Do Not Speak Of?  Hard to say.  Those We Do Not Speak Of gave me nightmares, but . . . great white sharks are a real thing, becoming more used to and less afraid of people all the time because we are a stupid, interfering species.  And people say how slim your chances are of being eaten by a shark, but we're all usually on the land, which I think skews the data.  I would like to see the data for people who make their living in the water.  When I first heard the story of my grandpa whose ship was torpedoed in WWII my greatest concern was that he had to swim to Java through shark-infested waters.  Shudder.  But regarding The Village, should we also talk how you can't ever truly escape evil?  That in fleeing, they brought the evil with them?  What do you think is the long-term prognosis for the village?  I'm guessing failure, ultimately.  Really all they did was press rewind, and their society will doubtless one day be at the same evolutionary (or degenerative) state our world was when they grabbed their go bags.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

in which I am a seventh grader who has recently realized that animals feel pain

I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown last night.  Our neighbor is taking our old chickens and extra goats to the auction today, and for some reason I chose last night to re-examine my place in the food web and my complicity in the miserable fates of countless suffering animals.  One of the anticipated benefits of raising our own animals and living in the country was the ability to extract ourselves to some extent from the chokehold of the industrial food system that tells us that animal cruelty is an inextricable cog in the great machine of feeding ourselves.  But have I really made a difference?  Or have I just added "supplier" to "consumer" in my placement in the food web?  So I was sitting on the bed, sobbing great hot tears of confusion and dismay, laughing a little bit at myself, and wondering where such strong emotion had come from so suddenly.  Anyway, I was wondering aloud to John about what if when I get to heaven all the goats I've butchered or sent to the auction over the years confront me and ask, "What did I do?  What was wrong with me that I was sent away while you kept the others? Why didn't you love me?"  Basically like Lisa Simpson's vision of that lamb at the petting zoo.  And now I'm crying again.  Maybe I'm starting menopause?  Whatever it was, last night was the closest I have come to becoming a vegetarian.  And I believe in eating meat, mind you.  I think it provides necessary nutrients that can't be replaced except synthetically, and you know how I feel about synthetic foods.  Is there anyone who has the emotional attachment that compels them to treat animals humanely along with the emotional detachment that enables them to slaughter the animals?  I can do it with chickens, but I haven't yet met a mammal I could kill. So I outsource it, like everybody else, and am I really so different from the people who buy roasts in the store without thinking about the life and death that put that roast in the refrigerator case?  Not to my animals, I'm not.  And I hate, hate, hate that the last memory my animals have of me is an act of betrayal; that I use their trust to trick them into approaching me and then drag them kicking and screaming either into a horse trailer to be transported and sold to someone whose feelings about animals and plans for them I have no way of knowing (but I have some guesses), or to a butcher to spend their last day alone and hungry before they're killed.

Have a great day, everybody!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

that's our job but we're not mean

I have become such a boring conversationalist lately.  I don't know if I'm more mired in the back-and-forth of the Great Mormon Woman Problem coming to a head because I live on the Wasatch Front in the middle of the Mormon bubble, but it is all around me at all times, and I feel like I keep getting forced into helping people see the difference between doctrine and policy and custom and tradition.  And then there's the Great American Woman Problem wrapped around that, and then the Worldwide Woman Problem wrapped around that.  I don't want to only see the world through oppression-colored glasses!  Believe me, I would love to never talk about modesty again.  I would love to not have to listen to sexist and incorrect opinions masquerading as truth.  I would love for every one of the Woman Problems to not be problems anymore, so we could all get on with our lives and spend more time worrying about and solving all the other problems in the world.  So dumb.  So I'm sorry that I tend to keep taking my dipper back to that same well, but unfortunately it's kind of what is going on in my life all the time.  It's so divisive.

I'm reading one of Tim Gunn's books right now, and I wish so badly that I had someone I trusted who could help me figure out who I am stylistically.  He mentions "soul-stirring" clothing, and the frustrating thing is I think I have a handful of pieces that stir my soul, clothing-wise, and they're mostly very casual.  I think I have a good idea of what kind of shoe person I am, and I think I usually pick a flattering shoe, but there are so few outfits that make me feel like I nailed it.  And sorry, Tim, but leggings are often a factor in my successes.  I can do a cropped ankle now and then, and boot cuts are easy for most people, even "dewdrops," as the pear shape is currently being rebranded, but other than that I have to be very careful.  A near-knee-length dress with leggings and either boots or flat sandals is a lot kinder to me than most other outfits.  But I keep buying stuff either because I think I'll love it, or because I think I need to get out of my young-children-at-home-must-dress-like-slob rut, and then it just languishes in my closet.  There are some successes.  A few years ago I got a red and black plaid wool car coat, and it has surprised me with its staying power. I could wax rhapsodic about my new boots that seem like they were designed just for me.  An orange cardigan I got from Target a couple of months ago fixes almost all my shirts.  I have found that wrap dresses are my friend.  But I have yet to find a really good classic trench coat and a white button-down shirt.  I have bought so many white shirts over the years, and with each one the relationship has soured almost instantly.  But I keep trying because I am an American, and therefore both wasteful and eternally optimistic.  Not so optimistic that I'll ever buy another pair of corduroy pants, though, no matter how thin the wale.

See what a boring caricature I've become?  Sexism and fashion?