Quiet Nights On the Back Porch

Panky visited my house, pushed over my washboard a couple of times and sat on the stairs in time out. At 27 months, he is already trying out impossible alibis. For instance, when we saw him knock down the baby gate, he blamed it on Sweetpea. Miss Sasha said, “I now understand why you could always tell when I was lying.”

Too exhausted to declare myself crosseyed. I’ll work up to it tomorrow.

To Come Is A Verb Intransitive

What, was yesterday April Fool’s Day again?

I’m sure I’m not the only girl who enjoyed playing this imaginary game [dressing up like a bride – ed.]. Unfortunately no one ever warned me that reaching my childhood fantasy was much easier said than done.

Let’s take this one slowly. In the Huffington Post, where one assumes grownups may be talking, this young woman complained that childhood fantasies didn’t come with warning labels. Maybe we should sew them into pretty-pretty princess costumes: Warning. Actual magic wand, singing mice, happily ever after not included.

My cousins who gathered around me then are now happily married, most with children and still living in Iran. On the other hand I have become a “therapist” and shoulder to cry on for every girl I know who can’t find Mr. Right or even land a date with Mr. Maybe. Some of these women are intelligent, beautiful and successful but spend half their time on dating website getting matched up with people with whom they have to force themselves to have “chemistry”.

Translation: I hate my friends. They are my social inferiors, but since they are less attractive than I am, I feign interest in their problems.

Others are at clubs and bars competing with tons of girls who are dressed in provocative outfits (read: slutty) in order to attract men’s attention.

Yes. We can all read slutty.

The last time I walked into a club with all my single girlfriends it occurred to me that I had just entered into a casting room and I was about to audition for some sort of sexy horror movie.

Well, duh. Who hasn’t walked into a club with all her single girlfriends looking their flaming red-hottest only to find that guy with the chainsaw on the dance floor isn’t going to take Piss off, doofus for an answer? Sweetie, that’s a Saturday night in the Meat Packing District.

Not only was[sic] every girl’s breast implants barely covered by their tops but their short skirts made me want to take off my skinny jeans because I seemed too conservative and felt the pressure to fit in.

Yes. Please take off your skinny jeans – for modesty!

At that moment I started to reminisce about the years I lived in Iran and how I witnessed so many of my relatives finding love in a level that is completely foreign to what we are familiar with in our society.

Amazing! I’m reminiscing about a time before I became acquainted with this wretched column.

A woman doesn’t have to go hunt for a man or stress about the possibility of never getting married; instead she finds love and courtship in the most relaxed, respectful way possible.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but Pegah Patra can kiss my fabulous ass – not a little bit of it, but in fact my entire ass. See:

Could this be the fault of women who for years were fighting for feminism and wanting to be free and equal to men? Of course we believe in equal rights and a woman’s independence but maybe the concept of feminism has also taken us to the extreme level of sexual freedom. By making sex so available and accessible for men it allows them to lose respect and not value courtship the way they did years ago in western cultures or as they still do in many parts of the world.

Listen, some folks think sex is something you let someone do to you – as opposed to something awesome you do with someone you like, love or just met in the hot, sweaty elevator on the way up here. Those people also think women in short skirts are asking to get raped. They don’t like, trust or value women, certainly not women who have an afternoon free and think, What the hell, that person of my preferred gender smells great. I could have some sex. If you’ve never done that, by the way, it is awesome.

Feminism doesn’t solve women’s problems. It is the outlandish notion that women are people just like men, and may even want some of the same things men want. No one studies feminist theory to find a husband. It’s not the fault of feminism either when women like Patra act as enforcers for the Patriarchy. Here she offers one more kick to the ribs.

To be clear, I love my independence, freedom and the power I have as a woman in this country which I am sure most other woman do as well, but we must admit that sometimes we all have the fantasy of old fashion respect along with the guarantee of one day having a house, husband and children. But it seems that the fantasy of courtships like the scene in The Godfather where Michael meets the virgin Appolonia in Sicily and conveys ultimate respect to her and her family is now passé.

Thank your lucky stars it is, sister, or you and your slutty girlfriends would have every reason to be nervous whenever a man picked up a rock.

Or to use another movie term, Gone With The Wind.

What? What?

And for many women, that is nothing to celebrate.

Actually, there is. If Patra’s friends back home are happy, good for them. If Patra’s happy living with her cognitive dissonance, good for her. If Patra’s friends are unhappy, let us hope they find ways to make themselves happy. I’m happy, quoting Gilmore Girls:

Miss Patty: It’s times like these that you realize what is truly important in your life. I’m so glad I had all that sex.

Except it’s not really about sex, is it? The column in which Patra claims to know the secret to women’s happiness comes off as sad; happiness is ultimately unavailable, she says. Women in America cannot have it as long as they’re slutty-slut-sluts, but if they stopped all that sluttiness, regained their virginity and moved to Iran, men would be respectful. I suppose that’s a plan, but it’s about as likely to succeed as the one with the singing mice.

Crossposted at Brilliant @ Breakfast.

We Can Dance If We Want To

Fucking Blogger, which has often sucked like a giant thing that sucks giantly, has decided to cut me off because this blog uses FTP. Here, enjoy this bedtime story:

FTP publishing will no longer be available after May 1, 2010
You currently have blogs that are published using FTP. You must migrate your blogs to a new custom domain URL or a blogspot URL.

Yay! The bum’s rush it is! Clean cup! Clean cup! YAHTZEE!

I hate Typepad. Siobhan recommends WordPress. If you’re not using Blogger, what are you using? Do you like it?

Thinking Anything If You’re Thinking

Miss Sasha, Mr. Sasha and Panky will be staying overnight with us on Friday. We keep our house as clean as two people with multiple jobs can, which is to say that it’s tidy with cat fur tumbleweeds. That’s fine for us, but when we started thinking about what a two-year-old might pick up and sample for flavor, out came rubber gloves and the shop vac. Tonight, Pete boiled the bathroom. Tomorrow, he’ll set up a bed, I’ll clean the cat boxes, vacuum everything and we’re going to shampoo a carpet. At home in North Dakota, Panky lives with cats and a 125 lb. dog, so the little guy’s unlikely to nibble cat poop. I think. Anyway, it’s been awhile since I lived with a toddler, but I remember that no matter how clean the house, the child will find something that formed its own disastrous ecosystem.

You’ll be pleased to hear I made fresh yogurt. You know: to boost the immune system.

It Rains You’re Here

Today, it was finally warm enough to leave the car at home and bicycle to work again. Last year, I rode around with a basket hooked to my handlebars, but everything I dragged back and forth made steering feel I was riding a two-wheel Titanic. Pete decided he hated his matching panniers, which are like skinny backpacks that snap onto a frame screwed onto the back tire hub, so he removed them from his bike and attached them to mine. It’s a relief to not to hit the brakes and feel the weight shift. This morning, a cop on a corner asked if I was ready for long-distance biking. I looked down at the day-glo vest Pete insists I wear in the gray-blue morning light and said, “Well, no. My husband wants me to be eighth grade class president.”

The Road That They Walk On

About a week ago, seed potatoes from Seeds of Change arrived, so we were waiting for a sunny weekend day and today was one!

It was one of those breathtaking early spring mornings as we drove out to Lowe’s for vermiculite and organic garden soil. A light muddy smell on the breeze along the river reminded us of the recent rains. The ground hasn’t dried out yet and probably won’t until later this week. It’s warm enough now for the doors and windows at home to stand open, but as car speeds, the air still feels cold. Perhaps a couple of weeks ago, the doors to the garden center were chained shut, but today, they were thrown open and rows of flowering pink and purple geraniums lined the sidewalk. The hard winter is over. For a moment, I stood in the parking lot and let my heart sing. Then I got over myself and we got a cart. The cart proved too small for four bags of organic garden soil so we commandeered a giant hand truck, and not a moment too soon: those bigass bags were really heavy.

The square foot gardeners on the Yahoo list went on at length about how hard to get vermiculite can be, so I was both surprised to find only three bags on the shelf and looked both ways before I grabbed two. We are trying to eliminate the front lawn so we spent about half an hour looking over the perennials and small shrubs, but we we’re not ready to buy.

At home, everything came together rapidly: Pete opened a bag of soil, shoveled in an almost equal amount of compost, tossed in about half a bag of vermiculite, mixed and suddenly we were ready to retrieve the seed potatoes from their cool, dry storage place. Pete shoveled about six inches of dirt into the first potato bag, I placed Yukon Gold seed potatoes at even distances from one another and Pete topped off the bag with another few inches. In the second, we planted blue potato seeds. We had so many leftover seeds we decided to plant more of each into the half-barrels, which are inches from falling apart. At the end of this process, we still had more seed potatoes than we knew what to do with. We will share them with my sisters most likely, but we will certainly share them with someone.

With all these potatoes going into the ground, you’ll be pleased to hear the first thing that shot up a couple weeks back was the pot of chives. It was a great sight a few weeks back when the weather was so miserable everyone just wanted to kill themselves with demitasse spoons. About half of the seeds planted two weeks ago germinated; today, I got a few of them into containers we will leave in the little plastic greenhouse for another couple of weeks as I continue to take the tender little ones from the sprouting medium to the containers. We are concentrating on lettuces and herbs. Today, I transplanted four kinds of lettuce.

This afternoon, we also took a really fast seven-mile bike ride to test out our bikes and tomorrow, I start riding to work. It has seemed like it took forever to warm up enough for me to get out of the car and onto the bike, and I am thrilled the time has come. Ooh! What am I going to wear?

In A Whirl ‘Cause She’s Not

A bazillion years ago in blog years, our delightful friend Georg convinced me to make my own ricotta and on this very blog, I documented my cheesy experiments. I didn’t really think it would work because Georg can do anything and I can’t add and subtract, but I followed her instructions and – BLAMMO! cheese! I did have to think about the cost effectiveness of the process, though: one gallon of milk produces 4 cups of cheese, and milk, while wholesome, is fucking expensive.

Then again, sometimes you’re minding your own business in the health food store, find quart bottles of goat milk and you think, By gum, I could eat a good pizza. Sometimes a small amount of cheese goes a long way, and standing there in the health food store, I decided I wanted to help it.

Georg’s recipe must have been in the comments that disappeared ages ago because I couldn’t find it. I resorted to searching for recipes on one of Dad’s favorite websites and found one that was both enthusiastic and fully crazy. I thought, Yeah, bring it. First, I did not have a gallon of goat milk, so that meant I was going to do some math. This is not promising.

The recipe called for 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. I could divide the teaspoon by four with the help of my handy measuring spoons, but I couldn’t remember how many tablespoons went into 1/3 cup, which someone made me memorize in eighth grade. So I got out those measuring spoons, measured how many tablespoons of liquid filled my 1/3 measuring cup and did what I was bound to do from the beginning: I guessed. I heated the goat milk, poured in the vinegar, sprinkled in a tiny amount of salt and let that bitch sit for two hours while I did several things that are none of your beeswax. After two meow-meow hours, I spooned and then poured curds into wet coffee filters sitting in a strainer and let that bitch sit for another two hours before I squeezed out any remaining clear liquid and put the curds to bed in the fridge for the night. The one thing that must be said about this process is that, other than the math for me, this could not be easier for you to do.

The yield is about one earthy, grassy cup. Pete and I tasted tiny bits of it and were surprised by the subtlety and complexity of flavor. This is not a lot of food unless you’re putting it on a pizza for two middle-aged people to eat after their second jobs, where a cup of goat milk ricotta is just right with one thinly sliced turkey meatball, spinach, a tiny bit of fresh marinara and a few shrimp on a thin, admittedly store-bought crust. Not to be frou-frou about this, but precise: fresh ricotta is easy to make, offers the assurance that little if any unwanted chemical crap is in your food, and tastes like real food.

I feel a batch of ravioli coming on…

The Highway Is Alive Tonight

This is a guest post by Barbara O’Brien of Mahablog.

Health Care Reform: The Morning After

Many politicians and pundits warned us that the health care reform (HCR) legislation that just became law will destroy America. Government bureaucrats will take over health care decisions, we were told. The old and infirm would be hauled away by death panels. Everything about the way we receive our medical care will change, and change drastically, they said.

Medicare recipients have been frightened by stories that their benefits will be cut. Middle-age people are worried they will lose their jobs when the law’s dreaded regulations, or taxes, or maybe regulations with taxes, would destroy their employers’ businesses.

The truth is, very little will change for most people. If you were insured by employee benefits before HCR, you will be insured by exactly the same policy in exactly the same way after HCR. You will have access to the same doctors on the same terms. “Government bureaucrats” will no more be involved in your health care than they were before.

And the same is true of Medicare, which of course is a government program, although many of the people who opposed the HCR bill don’t seem to know that.

Here are the “cataclysmic” changes to health care that are now in effect, or which will go into effect within the next six months for people who are already in group insurance plans:

• The law says you can’t lose your insurance coverage because you get sick. Before, in many states, if you were stricken with a severe illness such as mesothelioma cancer that would be expensive to treat, your insurer could use just about any excuse to cancel your coverage. That is over.

• HCR has ended lifetime limits on coverage. As long as you are receiving medical care, your insurer pays the bills.

• Your children can be covered on your existing policy until they are 26 years old.

• In six months, insurers cannot refuse to insure people under the age of 19 because of “pre-existing conditions.” This provision will go into effect for everyone in 2014.

And if you are on Medicare, you will be asked to struggle with the following:

• You get a free annual checkup.

• The co-pays and deductibles on many preventive care services are eliminated.

• If you are in the Medicare D “doughnut hole,” you will get a $250 rebate check in a few weeks. The hole itself will be closed gradually and will be gone by 2020.

But what about all those terrible regulations and taxes that are about to drive businesses out of business? Um, there really isn’t much to report. Oh, wait, here’s one — a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps will go into effect July 1. That’s about it.

However, beginning this year a tax credit will be available for some small businesses to help provide insurance coverage for employees.

Soon the politicians and pundits will start trying to frighten you about the provisions that will go into effect after this year. I assure you they are about as scary as the provisions that go into effect this year, but I will discuss them in a follow-up post.

— Barbara O’Brien

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!