Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So Wonderfully Wonderfully Wonderfully

The seed potatoes arrived. Hooray! Pete's off researching how to plant them just in case "place compost in bag, place seeds on compost, cover with four inches of compost, moisten and wait" isn't everything a prospective potato farmer needs to know. Upstairs somewhere, I hear him shouting on the phone to his father, who grew up on a farm in Ohio. At least, I hope that's they're talking about. When two men who refuse to get hearing aids wax marble-mouthed on the phone it can be hard to tell if they're having the same conversation.

We've had some successes and failures with Topaz's medication. The drug store promised Topaz would love the tuna flavored medicine, but Topaz wouldn't touch it. Fortunately, flavoring wasn't expensive, and when the prescription refilled, out went the tuna flavor. We discovered that if Topaz was getting tuna water with medicine, Sweetpea and eventually Drusy also wanted a treat, so after further successes and failures, we found we could get each cat to eat at least an ounce of tuna. That was great news. When Topaz got sick, Sweetpea was guarding the food bowl from all comers and both Topaz and Drusy lost at least a pound each. Seven pound cats cannot afford to lose weight, so when they started putting on a few ounces at a time, hooray! Likewise, every Sunday, the vet and I chatted about details. He wanted to reduce her medication to once a week, but when we tried Wednesday/Sunday, Topaz spent her evenings lying on my lap, making a blinky face. After two weeks of limp Topaz, we went back to medicating her Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday, and Topaz is her old cranky self.

So every day around dinnertime, three cats run around in circles, chittering. Topaz leaps onto the counter, complaining about the service in this joint and running around my arms. Sweetpea, stands on the counter, too, protesting that Topaz might be closer to food than Sweetpea. Drusy sits on the kitchen island, waiting for her sisters to act more mature, shaaaa. I pour a teaspoon of tuna water into a custard cup and put it on the floor for Sweetpea at a safe distance from Topaz; then a second teaspoon for Topaz and put that on the floor far from Sweetpea. Finally, a tablespoon of tuna in a custard cup makes Drusy very happy. At just about that moment, Sweetpea and Topaz finish their tuna water and get a tablespoon of tuna each. The remainder of the can is divided between the three cats, and then I chase Drusy across the dining room with her custard cup. Sometimes she finishes the tuna, but more frequently Topaz does.

This takes about 15 minutes and at the end of it, the cats lap up water and I want to lie down. Crap, I'm tired, but Topaz looks great, Drusy's fur is sleek and shiny and Sweetpea purrs dreamily - every day!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

He's Never Seen Trees

This morning, I drove into the parking deck, went up a flight and parked. As I gathered my book bag and umbrella, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a parade of underdressed ROTC students exit the stairwell, drop to their hands on tar covered with motor oil, chewed gum and broken glass and do pushups. I slammed my car door and they got up and ran off. It happened so fast, I didn't have time to draw a breath to yell, but I had questions. First: why were those kids wearing shorts in a driving 40 degree rain? Second: where was that army going to wipe its hands?

Shortly thereafter, a blogger I respect but with whom I occasionally disagree contacted me about health insurance reform. She'd found PIC on some index of bloggers writing on the topic. As Dad used to say, often and with great relish, Well, shit. You've got me there. I'm waiting to hear what kind of plan might involve both a serious academic and a crazy refugee from the art world and the costume shop. If she reads through PIC for more than a few minutes, I expect her to change the subject, edge away from me and loudly declare that she hears her mother calling. My feelings won't be hurt; I'm thinking the funny thoughts. Here's one: I might like her plan.


Monday, March 29, 2010

I Would Buy Myself A Gray Guitar

Pete took this picture in the park yesterday. It rained all today and we're expecting tomorrow a big storm or rain event, as the hysterical weather schnooks now say. I'd taken a vacation day to get tomato seeds into starter trays, but that didn't happen. Instead, to cheer myself up, I took down the weighty winter drapes; then laundered, fluffed and hung the light summer sheers. They're fresh and clean, and almost enough to carry me through the basement flood stories I will certainly hear all day tomorrow.

Winter kicked our asses and spring is sleeping with our girlfriend. Fuck!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hills To Fly Them On Except

Pete and I walked around Princeton in a spitting rain, looking for a pair of black shoes to replace scuffs I'd worn to shreds over the winter. We'd already been through shoe stores every weekend for a month and I was a little testy about it, so today, we went straight to what we knew would be an expensive source. Four stores later, we were about to give up again when The Walking Store lay between us and our car. We walked in, I fended off a salesperson and sat down to scan the shelves. By this time, the pain in my hip was screamy-scream-screaming, so when my eye came to rest on a pair of UC24s, I gimpy-gimp-gimped to them and found the salesman at my elbow. I came clean.

Tata: I'm having trouble tying my right shoe, so I'm looking for slip-ons. The filthy things I'm wearing were a terrible compromise, but they didn't exactly succeed. I'd like to throw them away immediately.
Salesman: You've chosen a shoe that will support your feet and cushion properly. Let me put some orthodic inserts into them. Try this.

I limped across the store. I limped back. I limped to the front window and limped back. These shoes were so brilliant the screaming died down. The salesman brought me Obeo sandals that felt pretty good, but there was something else calling my name: the crazy, crazy, crazy Danskos in colors and patterns that were no laughing matter. I pointed to a pair and said, "Leopard print. My favorite color."

Earlier, we'd stumbled around Stein Mart and found these badass Liz Claiborn kicks with a kitten heel on sale for 50% off. They reminded me of the shoes Sherilyn Fenn modeled for the first few episodes of Twin Peaks - not that these shoes resemble those. No way. But that character would wear these. Also: I hate plaid, but love the patent leather tassels. You can almost smell the Campari, the soda, and the brimstone.

I will wear these to brief special occasions where no one mistakes me for a nice person.

There, in The Walking Store, these shoes looked like the kind of moist temptation you've been warned about all your life. The priest, the minister, the rabbi all agree: you're safer crossing the street before you look at the Dutch shoes, but I tried them on anyway. In 1973, Dad sent us kids sabots - Dutch wooden shoes - which I outgrew immediately. But today, I put these on and the sensation in my feet stirred an old, old memory. I limped to the front window and limped back. Then I stood up straight and walked evenly to the front of the store, free of pain. It was a fucking miracle with a good news/bad news component. On the one hand, I tell people all the time: buy the good shoes to protect your knees and spine. On the other: I bought the cheap shoes and paid for that. The salesman threw away the old shoes like he had freed me from the curse of stupid, crippling scuffs, and I suppose he was.

Then I had to call Daria and tell her I bought wooden shoes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Take the Short Road To the Answer

Things were different when we were kids. Everyone had to entertain him- or herself.

Pete: Remember that decorative brick wall in my house growing up?
Tata: Huh. Yes, I do.
Pete: My parents put it up one brick at a time. They made the bricks themselves. It took forever. Then some lunatic gave me a hammer.
Tata: Really?
Pete: Yeah, Ricky, the kid down the street gave me a toolbox with real tools for my third birthday. My parents took it away until I was a little older. I remember sawing the molding around the front door. Also, smashing the bricks with the hammer with my little brother.
Tata: Your Mom was the get-even type. Did Ricky's get a bouquet of tacks for Mother's Day?

My mother, raised by her grandmother, taught her children quaint old-fashioned traditions you simply can't explain to teenagers, I swear to Jebus.

Tata: I don't know if these were real eggs. They're hollow and decorated with real flowers.
Customer Mom: This has a hole in it. Oh, and another at the bottom.
Tata: That sort of argues for real. Did you ever blow eggs?
Customer Teen: What - I -
Tata: That's the correct term. You stick a straight pin through the shell at the top and make a slightly larger hole at the bottom and gently blow the contents of the egg out through the larger hole while making every effort to not pass out and crack the shell.
Customer Mom: What is the outcome of that?
Tata: Omelets and decorated eggs you can keep without a biohazard event. Oh, and your face feels all sparkly.

Miss Sasha plans to deliver her second child in June, which necessitates my least favorite of all life events: a baby shower. I tracked down my grandmother Edith's cousins.

Tata: Ellie, my daughter's having a baby. Can I send you and your sister invitations to the shower?
Ellie: No, thank you. We wouldn't have any interest in that. My sister is nearly ninety. We hate these things.

I burst out laughing.

Tata: I wish I could skip it. I hate them, too.
Ellie: Don't go! Why should you go?
Tata: I am the mommy. It blows, but there you have it.
Ellie: Arrive late, leave early and bring a good purse. But leave early.

The person throwing this party is the Fabulous Ex-Husband's current wife Karen, who also loathes baby showers.

Tata: Ellie'd rather be boiled in oil than show up to a baby shower. Me, too, but I'll be there.
Karen: I wish I could be anywhere else.
Tata: Once you answer the door, these things conduct themselves. Let's duck out for sushi instead.
Karen: What? I wish!
Tata: Life is short. Let's get spicy tuna.

I may yet get a bouquet of tacks.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smile In Your Face All the Time They Want

In the Oval Office Wednesday afternoon, Obama signed an executive order imposing restrictions on abortion funding in the new healthcare reform law. In contrast to the swarm of people in the East Room on Tuesday, this time it was just Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who led the fight over abortion language in the legislation, along with some of their allies. The only record of the event allowed was a photo taken by the White House photographer. (It accompanies this post.)

This sort of thing doesn't do much for the administration's transparency credentials. But there's good reason, politically, for a move like this. Women, especially women's organizations, are an absolutely key constituency for the Democratic Party, and the White House can't afford to alienate them any more than it already did by making this deal with Stupak. On the flip side, Stupak and crew probably didn't want this moment to get much coverage either - though they did get this one concession, they still essentially caved, and have been taking a beating for it.

Alex Koppelman - like the administration, evidently - thinks women won't notice the bill blows. Certainly, some women care more what the boys think than what other women need. The article's wording is so awkward one can't help but notice the boomerang construction. Read again:
This sort of thing doesn't do much for the administration's transparency credentials. But there's good reason, politically, for a move like this. Women, especially women's organizations, are an absolutely key constituency for the Democratic Party, and the White House can't afford to alienate them any more than it already did by making this deal with Stupak. On the flip side, Stupak and crew probably didn't want this moment to get much coverage either - though they did get this one concession, they still essentially caved, and have been taking a beating for it.

What the hell is this? A justification for something, but what exactly? Congress passed the biggest setback to repro right in decades and the President invited the sore winners over for a private hoedown - get it? A hoedown! And women aren't supposed to notice, and when abortion is unavailable, no hard feelings, mmkay? It's no big thing. Where're your checkbooks, ladies?
That's the kind of "choice" we have in America today—limited to those who can afford to pay. I'd like to say I'm hopeful that feminist groups and progressive allies can reverse this trend, but I'm not. Confronted with the GOP filibuster threat, the Democratic Party wholly failed to deliver on its promise to support reproductive rights for rich and poor women alike, and there isn't any other viable political movement to turn to.

"And there isn't any other viable political movement to turn to." That tired story, too: Shut up, no one else would put up with you, make me a sammich. Well, leaving is dangerous, but staying with the abusive fucker will kill you.

When someone, be it a parent, a lover or a political party, is abusing you and you make up your mind that you determine your own fate, you look for your opportunity to leave. When you find it, you slip away. Sometimes, you don't know where you're going when you leave. You just go.

You're ready. Just go.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Still At Last Your Love

Sweetpea, self-plated.

On Sunday, my brother Todd ran the L.A. Marathon. This is really annoying. What about my needs, hmm? I had no idea he could run a marathon. Neither did he: it was 14 miles farther than he'd trained. You're supposed to run 26 miles at least once before you line up at the starting line. Also really annoying: Daria's high school cross country buddies talked her into doing a triathlon, though Daria hadn't run a step in twenty-five years, but it involved shopping, so one pair of running shoes and three hot athletic outfits later, Daria's determined. She called me up and asked if I wanted to do the triathlon as a relay - apparently this is a thing, and people do this thing, if you can believe that - and take the cycling leg. While I can pedal until the cows come home on the stationary bike in my attic, that is a distinctly different pursuit than painting on skin-tight togs and elbowing my way through a 15-mile crowd. But that's not why I'm the teensiest bit testy. No. As a Jersey chick, I was born to elbow my way through crowds in form-fitting clothes. That's nothing. I'm perturbed because Todd ran a marathon, and Daria's planning a race, and I cannot picture myself as an athletic spectator. No, my new cartoon goal is a photograph* of an in-shape yours truly holding my barbell captioned THE BITCH IS BACK. What the hell! A year and a half ago, I was soft and fat, but not anymore. I stamp my tiny New Balance cross trainers and insist: if not this summer then next.

Sometimes pigs do fly.

*I am shallow and require flattering gifts from me.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

My Little Home On the Hundredth Floor

Take it from a mean old bat: some of the coolest words in the English language are My sisters have a toy store! Pete loves the Angry Little Girl dolls and adds them to all the displays. We now have an Angry Kim doll in our living room Pete swears he hears running around at night. I sit on the toy store floor and read the books. When I find five or six I love, I pop them into an envelope and mail them to my grandson Panky. He's a smart boy. He's gonna read if it's the last thing I do - unless the last thing I do is push Miss Sasha's mother-in-law over the Reichenbach Falls and make an accidental swan dive. Our cats love the finger puppets we've casually dropped all over the house. Drusy brings tiny Peter Rabbit to us like a gift every morning. At least: we think it's a present. It could be a warning to Grover and Stuart Little.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

To Be One Of the Beautiful

Pete and I spent much of the morning in the backyard cleaning out garden containers we will reuse this season. Pete took a pitchfork to the leaf pile and trucked the leaves, now mulch, to a garden bed planted with ornamental trees while I stacked pots and organized the little greenhouse. Later, I planted lettuces, herbs, fennel, pak choi and tomatillos in starter trays. Just before noon, Pete greeted neighbors on the other side of the fence I couldn't see. They too were enjoying the sunny weather after a long, miserable winter. Okay, they might've been a little slap-happy about it.

"It's late enough and nice enough that we're having a glass of wine," blurted Matt, while his wife giggled.
"That's a GREAT IDEA!" I said.

At 3, we sat down at the picnic table with glasses of wine. In the distance, we could hear the thug kid down the street talking about his car, but the warm sunlight had a tonic effect on us and neither of us felt homicidal. A carpenter bee stopped by for a visit and buzzed away. On the side of the house, forsythias budded and promised to flower soon. Our stray cat friends Tom and Cream crunched kibble under the porch. Every once in a while, a breeze brought us new scents from near and far. The weather forecast for the next few days is gloomy; we sat still in the sun, soaking in as much spring as we could. After our morning of industry, for one afternoon: quiet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You Spill Up My Back

Tonight, we went to see our lovely niece Lois's high school performance of Bye Bye Birdie, in which Lois played the ingenue Kim. Before you get nervous: Lois has the high, clear voice her whole family shares and it was a delight to listen to her sing. The plays gender politics utterly blow, but the kids did a great job with the big musical numbers. Two of dozens could dance. Did I mention they sounded great? They sounded great. We left happy.

In the car, Pete said, "Well, that was...wholesome."
I said, "Next time, we have dinner in a strip club first."


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Of A Cottage On the Shore

Saturday morning, I reached into the dryer and broke a thumbnail below the nail line, which while short of being tragic was long on opportunities to see stars. One good whack and I had my own personal Fourth of July. Peeling off nail polish caused me to sing soprano for the first time in two decades. Washing the dishes stung like a very stingy thing, and this went on until - cross your fingers - this morning, when I shut my thumb into a desk drawer and went all blinky for a different reason. Yes, it's the little things that make life worth living.

My mind has been elsewhere lately. It's plain to me that the health insurance debacle will stretch on and on, wounding the vulnerable among us. Our situation will not improve; we will simply change the subject and insist we did, too. Those who should have raised their voices loudest were bought off and kept quiet. If Alan Grayson's simple, sensible proposal passes, I will eat my houndstooth fedora. Today, I sent back another donation request from the Democratic Party with another blistering You've got a lot of nerve asking for money message no one will receive. I need to change the subject, too, or Poor Impulse Control is going to become a smoking hole in the ground on the internets. Or a knitting blog, bless my heart! This weekend, we're going to set up our seeds, clean up the garden beds and give the composter a once-over. It's head out of the muck and hands into the dirt for me.

And gloves. And BandAids.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Virtue Slipped Into My Shoe

It's a dilemma in an envelope: tomatillo seeds.

Two summers ago, one tomatillo plant took over a corner of the yard. True, I didn't know how to cage and support the ginormous beast, but still. Ginormous. Seriously, every day, the thing seemed closer to demanding its own zip code. Now I have an envelope of tomatillo seeds. More than one plant would almost certainly germinate.

The garden is really small. I could plant two or three in pots and place them so they don't blot out the sun. Maybe. I could give seedlings away, too. They're like fruit-producing pets you don't have to walk.

...and hey: Monkeyfister got chickens.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One Step Beyond

These are my friends Smarty and Ben. They're rescue greyhounds sharing a domecile with my boss Gianna and her husband, the gent at the other end of the leashes. When Gianna's family goes on vacation, I sometimes see my friends Smarty and Ben out walking with other humans. Usually I recognize the dogs first. Once Smarty walked up to me in town and mentioned he liked my shoes. I thanked him before I realized I was talking to a dog who would never need shoes, and that was some incredible abstract thinking on his part.


Monday, March 15, 2010

At the Water's Edge In My Dream

Yesterday, Pete and I took our camera and had a frigging adventure. The man can take a picture that tells a whole story.

Midday, Donaldson Park from the Third Avenue Entrance. The water beyond the trees is the river.

We started at the park, where the park rangers had taped off the roadway. The river regularly floods and overflows into the park, which is why it is a park. The county forgot this and put in some very expensive, years-long renovations. They are about to be junk. People in town talk about the renovations in statements that trail off and nobody knows what to make of it all. Officially, I mean. We know these mistakes make for awesome, dramatic photos and fat, obnoxious geese. A whole herd of folks in rugged raingear turned up to see what they knew they'd see and what they'll see again: the floodplain, flooded.

The tree stood next to the old farm house around which the tiny town was built. Just out of frame to the left is a destroyed car barely visible under the treetop. Yes, we were driving by.

We drove around town, dodging fallen trees and crunching over branches. This house is about five blocks from where we live under trees just as tall. The roaring wind the night before had made Pete and the cats antsy.

Early afternoon: Easton Avenue in Somerset, which Trout described as "the canoe-thru Wendy's." Through the trees, the canal and the river are running at the same height as the road, which I can only remember seeing a few times before.

We had to plot and scheme to get to the grocery store in our hometown, about 2.5 miles away. Fortunately, we rode bikes on the back roads as teenagers, but we had to outwit lost yuppies who moved into town ten years ago. When we got to the fence above Easton Avenue, about a dozen other people were snapping pictures before storming the grocery store, where cashiers loudly exclaimed they thought we were crazy to be out in driving rain, which we weren't. The surface of the water is smooth.

Late afternoon: Donaldson Park from the Second Avenue entrance. The county has been renovating this park since Hurricane Floyd wrecked it in a way that looked pretty much just like this, except with fewer brand new backstops and soccer goals.

Less than five miles upstream, two towns sit below sea level. They get creamed in serious, fatal ways during and after nor'easters. It's hard to watch the same drama play out every seven or eight years. We put on boots and take pictures and join in the cosmic joke.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let the Red Flames Light the Sky

In the future, where we have jetpacks and that 20-20 hindsight, let us not confuse what we wish with what we are doing. An example: last July, bluegal wrote:
A fellow blogger had a fit last night via email, because that blogger heard a rumor that possibly abortions would not be covered under the Public Option. I. Just. Winced. All. The. Way. To. Bed. We don't HAVE a public option yet. It's not a sure thing. We have to wait for the insurance companies to fail before single payer is maybe possibly back on the table, but let's pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it's so very critical.

These are the words of a fake feminist, no matter how she denies it. These are the words of a person prepared to change the subject when other people's problems disgust her. I'd like to make a joke, but what is there to say when a woman who makes panty jokes kicks people below her on the ladder? I lost my cool.
but let's pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it's so very critical.

I'm sorry you're squeamish about this but it is, in fact, very critical. Further, I can't really tell what point you're arguing here. Are you saying that we construct a public option, which is already a poor compromise from single-payer, then decide what's in our compromise, and then give away our reproductive rights?

Because: no. No.

I have three words for her: Bart. Fucking, Stupak, whose coming perfidy was visible for miles. She responded:
Tata I'm saying, particularly with this issue, don't throw gas on a flame until you know what you're burning.

We are going to have to work out what's covered and what isn't, sure. For instance, I don't want public option to pay for Arianna's botox injections.

I'm also not going spend one minute this summer getting into an abortion rights versus free-abortion-on-demand rights argument here. And I don't think Congress should, either.

But here's the deal: if Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh get to call Public Option a baby killer option we're politically done.


I wouldn't be surprised at all if some cunning insurance lobbyist floated that rumor just to run the public plan off the rails. It just might work.

That explosion you just heard? Yeah, the top of my head blew off. There was no point in trying to show her the future - except what was certain.
O'Reilly's going to be all over that by dinnertime tonight. You've bargained away the repro rights of the people the plan is supposed to cover without a fight.

Game, set, match for the forced birthers.

The health insurance bill will set back repro rights in ways we will spend decades discovering, which makes me so angry I can hardly see straight. What makes it worse is when women like bluegal, who should have been able to see past her Ick Factor problem to observe that strategically when women's groups didn't get out in front of this issue, we lost everything. Again. The reason it was completely foreseeable is it happened every year since Roe v. Wade was decided. Bluegal is supposed to be smart - her masthead says as much - so she either knows that or doesn't care if repro rights survive. The argument she makes is a dead giveaway.

Here we are, in the completely foreseeable future. If you can't guess what's going to happen next, maybe you could ask her what she thinks won't.


Friday, March 12, 2010

With A Deck Of Fifty-One

I've butted into your business before and I will do it again, but this has to be said: make your own damn yogurt!

Recently, 8 ounce wide mouth Ball Jars changed my ultra-glamorous life. The glass jars that came with my ancestral yogurt makers have become delicate with age and I'd prefer not to take them to work. One day, I was foraging in my vast stores of Stuff Dad Gave Me and discovered the 8 ounce wide mouth Ball Jars. They fit perfectly into one of the ancestral yogurt makers and they don't break when Topaz pushes one off the kitchen counter. You don't have Topaz reorganizing your glassware, but the Ball Jars might help you carry that yogurt you're making to work with you.

Lovely Drusy cannot sniff you without playing kissy face.

Miss Sasha calls and asks questions. Is Jell-O gluten-free? This morning, one of my co-workers stepped into my cubicle and said, "You are a genius, I think. Has anyone ever said that to you before?" A couple of months ago, I was walking to the bank when a woman across the street waved and shouted to me in a peppery mix of Russian and English. From a distance she looked like Auntie InExcelsisDeo, who does not speak Russian and though she speaks no other language avoids speaking English if she doesn't have to, so I approached with a smile and realized we did not know one another. By the time I put my hand on her forearm, she had called me a genius and by someone else's name. I said, "Hello, but I am not her." She said, "I thought you were my niece!" I said, "I thought you were my aunt!" Then I laughed all the way to the bank and checked the name in my underwear - and I was only sure I was me when I wasn't wearing any. Memory can be overrated but being able to work out a problem is good stuff, so I told Miss Sasha to call the phone number on the box and ask a direct question.

In fact, my co-workers ask me questions all day long.

Beth: Can I ask you a question? I was just cleaning off my desk and I moved something and do you know what size mouse droppings are? Have you ever seen them? Are they small or big? We were having a mouse problem awhile ago, I remember, and I was just wondering -

Hmm. That doesn't do this justice. Imagine Beth, who is a gentle, lovely person, talking without taking a breath.

Beth: CanIaskyouaquestion? IwasjustcleaningoffmydeskandImovedsomethinganddoyouknowwhatsizemousedroppingsare? Haveyoueverseenthem? Aretheysmallorbig? Wewerehavingamouseproblemawhileago,Iremember,andIwasjustwondering -

Tata: You saw mouse poop and thought of me?

Beth: [Can't breathe for laughing.]

Tata: Go talk to Hal. He's lived on farms all his life.

Maybe it's the decades of working in a library, but I'm convinced that whatever the question, someone - somewhere - has the right answer. It's probably not me, but someone. For instance, someone knows why this bullshit health insurance debacle has gone so horribly wrong and I am afraid it might be Dr. Marcia Angell.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Earth Is In Your Gentle Hands

Topaz and Drusy chase a moth from a strategic position atop the dining room table.

Open a bag of carrots. Cut off the ends, peel and slice on a diagonal. Heat a bigass frying pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour chicken or vegetable stock into the pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle in: ground ginger, ground cumin, salt, pepper, minced dried orange peel. Add: one teaspoon honey. Toss in carrots and one can of mandarin oranges, whooosh around, cover and pop into the oven for half an hour.

You can substitute 1/2 cup dried cranberries for the oranges if you are so inclined. Don't be shy if you like herbs: basil, thyme, marjoram or sage would be great, but don't be afraid to try savory, cilantro, fennel seed, allspice, get the delicious picture.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This Red Moon Leaving the City

Staring at the blank page.

Staring. Staring. Geez Louise, sometimes I have nothing to say and sometimes I have something to say that is going to burn down the house, baby. My mother now emails me each time she encounters a libertarian propagandist with a cursory knowledge of YouTube - not that she believes in that reheated crap. She just wants to know if I am familiar with the individual mouthbreather. I should just delete these emails. They make me want to scour my cerebral cortex with Scrubbing Bubbles. This morning, I told her today's frother was inciting viewers to commit federal offenses. She thanked me for this analysis. Then I had a squinty headache all morning.

Lately, my co-workers and I are having a misunderstanding. They come to my cubicle and tell me about themselves without taking a breath. I listen. They tell me things I can hardly believe and stories they probably shouldn't. Sometimes, I try to steer the conversation to less revealing, more work-safe topics, but I am not always successful. Because I choose to say little about myself, my co-workers now assume my internal life isn't worth talking about. I realized this the other day when Tabby, another woman in my office with hip problems, asked me a question about my hip, then talked for twenty minutes about hers.

At the moment, I'm struggling with my feelings for the bar. I love the bar. I hate the bar. I loved every brilliant show I remember and forgot. I wish I had known when to leave. I am sorry I learned the hard way who my friends really were, but I'm glad I know now. And the bar needs help, again. In November, we had a nervous few days when everyone searched under couch cushions for change to help the bar pay back taxes before someone came up with a certified check. Now there's a benefit to pay back the good Samaritan, and the cycle begins again.

What is it worth to have your punk rock bar? Tickets went on sale last week and I did nothing. I looked at the website and did nothing. Yesterday, someone asked me about the bar and I told him what I knew and I did nothing. Today, I bought tickets. These are my people. As much as I would like the bar to be less fucked up and the people to get over their co-dependency, neither is going to happen. Good thing I love Patti Smith.

What to say? What not to say? I'm considering starting a Facebook group called IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN'T STOP YOURSELF FROM FORWARDING UNFUNNY RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC, XENOPHOBIC, CLASSIST CRAP, UNFRIEND ME RIGHT NOW. Then again, that'll burn down the house and you don't want to do that by accident.

That you do when you're good and ready.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Love Will Come But Like A Refugee

Seriously, I have a house guest hangover. Sabrina's on a train to Secaucus. I'm draped over my desk, blurting, "I'm awake!" each time a co-worker trots past my desk. Pete, Sabrina and I talked all Saturday evening, all day Sunday and I wish I could have stayed home but I was afraid someone would talk to me, so I came to work, where people are used to me growling and baring my teeth.

Omigod. I'm exhausted! My hair, while really nice, is pointing towards magnetic north. I put on makeup this morning but it's like my face soaked up color and demanded more. I'm wearing a pink shirt. Why do I own a pink shirt?

This is better than when I used to wake up with strange people and mysterious tattoos - but not by much!


Sunday, March 07, 2010

All Made Out Of Ticky-Tacky

Yesterday, I was elbow-deep in a wild gift-wrapping extravaganza at the family store when Pete's friend Sabrina called from Newark Airport to say she was at the car rental counter and her driver's license expired in February. Oh sure, we'd chatted about her flying in for Pete's birthday weeks ago, but time passed and I forgot all about it. I spun around behind the counter and observed three facts: the customers kept wanly saying Take your time, the gifts sat in a field of festive ribbon curls and the airport was more than 40 minutes away. I said, "There's a train right to New Brunswick. We'll pick you up by the bridge."

Since then, no one has used his or her inside voice.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't Be Blind To the Big

We interrupt this blog to point out that playing with your food is funny. For me. If I were you, I'd be dialing the pizza place right now.

Miss Sasha, my sweet:

A couple weeks ago, we were talking about edible cupcake papers and I brought up egg roll wrappers. You are probably right that spring roll wrappers, properly prepared, are the kind of textural nightmare dessert enthusiasts might find disconcerting, but I haven't given up hope. In the meantime, I bought a $1.49 stack of dumpling skins, dug out the mini muffin tins and persuaded the cats to take a powder.

1. Spritz pans with release.
2. Fit dumpling skin into muffin well thingy.
3. Spritz dumpling skin.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, depending on how half-assed your oven is. They came out of the oven crisp and golden brown. The second time:

4. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar. Lightly. I mean that.

Dude, these things are tasty, crunchy, subtle and you immediately shout about things you will be stuffing these cups with, should you stop what you're doing and make more. Which you will.

So I was foraging in the basement for the regular size muffin tin when I came across a bag of my dad's mini fluted pastry forms. After a good soak, the forms still look like murder weapons. That's how you can tell they were well used, not that we'll ever know on whom.

The dumpling skins fit beautifully into the forms but you have fit the skins with a firm hand. Once baked, they slip from the form or pan without any effort on your part, yay!

Baked dumpling skins are pretty. You can flavor them with anything. I wouldn't try serving anything wet in these shells - or any shells, for that matter - but Pete promised me smoked trout salad with goat cheese and chives. Naturally, I will make the great sacrifice of eating that. You know. For science.

My sweet, if you think you could use the fluted forms, you can have them. Let me know what you think.



Thursday, March 04, 2010

When I Shout It Sounds Like Whispers

It has come to my attention that while I go about my business other humans in my immediate vicinity can actually see me. This is very odd. Perhaps I'm blinking in and out of the visible light spectrum. I've given this some thought and I believe I stopped regularly reflecting light in 1999, shortly after I retired my favorite red sequinned dress to the back of my closet. For some time thereafter, I put in bizarre cameo appearances right in front of friends, in bank lines or in the empty seat at the table and disappeared, just so. Ten years of refusing to reflect light except at odd moments will cause a diva to make interesting wardrobe choices. For instance, at this very moment, I'm wearing a sleek slate gray fleece, blue jeans and a baby blue microfiber fleece throw. In my office. Obviously, the reason no one is playing a pro-level game of Point&Laugh is that I am temporarily invisible - but not for much longer.

I've decided to reflect light again. This will involve cleaning out my closet, emptying my dresser, scouring consignment stores and clearance racks, and a fresh haircut. The process will take months and coincide with spring planting and cleaning. By the summer solstice, I expect to be that shiny thing on the Eastern Seaboard wreaking havoc on international flight paths. Sorry, travelers! You know the old saying: you have to suffer for my beauty!

But as much as this is all about me, you matter too - especially where I am concerned. Every morning, I'm on the exercise bicycle before the sun rises and every evening. On Wednesdays, a masseur works on my hip for an excruciating half-hour. Because the masseur said I might be listing to starboard due to scoliosis and I simply refuse to add another issue to my resume, every evening I'm upstairs toning my abs with pert aerobics queen Denise Austin, whom I despise and therefore work harder. I'll show her! Anyhoo, despite all this and the coming of spring, which will really help, the days of easy motion with the hip are behind me. I'm not going quietly, but I am going in style. Of course, I want to know: what do you think of my canes?

My mother, who yelped when I mentioned the need for a cane, came around immediately when I mentioned the flask. She decided it would be perfect if the other end was a switchblade. Perhaps the Swiss Army makes canes with cork screws and tweezers.

At this moment, i could probably use a cane for shopping. The last few times I walked to work I wasn't sure I could make it all the way home, so cycling is probably my transportation method. Once I get off the bike, though, things can get dicey, but what if I had a super cool emerald crystal cane or a slick folding cane to go with quirky vintage outfits?

I am going to rock that. You'll see.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Things I Couldn't Watch

You too can look like an extra in a Desmond Child & Rouge video; you and your friend the hovering antique French lighting fixture.

Why am I dressed like Bea Arthur?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Real Savage Like

Haven't you been shouting "TUSK!" at your best friends for decades?