Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ad Astra Per Aspera, Y'all

The first time I was married I wore a ladies tailored jacket and skirt set from the 1940's.  It was all the way style and sharp as hell and fit my curvy little frame like a glove. No I don't have any pictures. Just believe me when I say that the outfit was the only good thing about that marriage.

I love well-tailored clothes, and when I'm forced to interact with my fellow humans I'll go thrift something vintage and show up put together like a brick shithouse, makeup, hair, the whole package, looking good.

Now here comes 2021 and this shit is in style:

                             Look at my crotch dammit! Look at that red stain ON MY CROTCH!    


Why in Gods' name are people spending money on deliberately ill-made, deliberately ugly clothes? Patterns that accidentally on purpose seem to be shooting out of your babymaker or your barking starfish? Immense images of Nicholas Cage? Shirts made out of 1/3 a shirt from Goodwill and 2/3 a shirt from Ship n' Shore for the love of Christ, deliberately askew so the buttonholes don't line up and the collars don't match? And what's up with the palette? Everything I look at seems to be variations on 'oatmeal and homicide' ffs. The general effect that the designers seem to be going for is 'What a dead-cat hoarder would throw on to go dumpster diving'.  And the models-!  Grim anorectics without eyebrows, man and woman!  I've been all over the web looking into this trend and it's just a joke. A very bad joke. The intentional asymmetry, the intended ugliness, the absurd 'Whoopsie! This pattern looks like it's shooting out of my ass!' bullshit just eludes me.

This is not to say that I'm a fashion plate by any stretch of the imagination. But then, I live in rural America and I'm 61.  We all look like bull studs from the 1970's out here, and yet our clothes are bilaterally symmetrical and don't look like they were sewn by people experiencing a psychotic break.  

I've lived through some unfortunate trends, and of course there's always the extreme-o schlock that you wear for shits and giggles. But this crap has made it from the edge runways all the way onto the racks in Wal-Mart.  Hell, even the lady at the counter in my pharmacy here in Sumas is wearing this shit!  If anybody out there can explain the thinking behind this trend I'd be grateful.  Puzzled, but grateful.   


 So far I'm into attempt #3 of Watching Aquaman All The Way Through. The only thing that keeps bringing me back is Jason Momoa, and not just because I want to roll him in sugar and pretend he's a lollipop, either. 


Well of course I looked up 'Images/Jason Momoa Naked', do you know me?  Let me tell you, the sheer amount of Photoshopped Jason out there is astounding. The one where he has a blank white stubby little dad bod, a pop can - sized black dick and a Jason head is a masterpiece of surrealism.  All from ultra-sketchy Russian porn sites, per Image search, so please don't send me any pix that you might have found, because I'm not running a very robust antivirus program.

Long story short, I finally succeeded!  I would have written Aquaman off as time wasted never to be regained save for the presence of Mr. Momoa, who to my astonishment and gratitude turns out to be one of the most natural, funny, and accomplished hot male actors since the notoriously lickable Brad Pitt also turned out to be a fantastic actor with infinite range!

He is way more than just another '2nd tier action stud', and I'm looking at you, Mr. The Rock. Take a seat.  (Vin Diesel gets my pardon because motherfuckin' Vin Diesel. Similarly Shane Diesel, another action star. Ahem.) I can just picture Jason in one of those quirky Wes Anderson movies alongside Bill Murray.  Tell me what you think!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Future Is Now!


                  Me in my newly updated home, chillin' in my electric throne, all metal and shit. 


Electrical service up to code and brand spankin' new from the pole to the plug-ins! A clean attic that is entirely innocent of dead starlings and heaps of old remodel detritus past!  And as of 12:30 today, FULLY INSULATED!

Hell yes!  I have polkadots all over the outside of my house since we went for blown-in insulation, and yes, I'll have to go around and seal those, but the heater hasn't gone on since they left!  It literally feels like a different house altogether!  Rancho FirstNations rises from the mire to reach for the stars!  Somewhere a horse neighs!  A flock of birds darken the skies! Lightning strikes a distant hilltop! I CAN LIVE IN MY HOUSE AND NOT FREEZE MY FUCKING ASS OFF!!!!!!

So naturally, I decided to watch 'Aquaman' to celebrate.

It is a very bad movie.  

Of course, like everyone else, I am not watching it for the plot.


Superhero movies don't need much of a plot, of course. What matters is making the action, props and backdrops look credible and all of a piece.  Aquaman is just a whole lot of no style, bad CGI, and Jason Momoa wearing jeans to swim in the ocean.  WTF jeans. You'd think being Aquaman he'd be ready to deploy at a moments' notice and always have a banana hammock on under those Wranglers, but no. Kicks off his shoes, though. 

How do I know so much about swimming in the ocean in jeans?  It's a thing in Oregon, where most of the beaches are gravel and there's a lot of interesting cliffs, rocks and huge piles of giant beach logs and trees and wrecks and shit to climb around on.  You don't plan on swimming, but you're near the ocean and things are slippery and covered in barnacles and old rusty spikes, and you'll probably fall off something, so you wear jeans and cheap tennies. And when you do fall in, it's not fun. It's cold, sandy, smelly and salty. You chafe and bitch for the rest of the day. So would Aquaman.

What I have enjoyed lately is 'Suicide Squad' (despite the overbearing presence of Will Smiths uninteresting character,) and 'Harley Quinn - Birds of Prey.'  In fact, Birds of Prey is DC getting back to it's roots, when superheroes had a sense of humor and weren't all dismal, angsty carnage junkies in weird costumes.  Plus hot women who kick ass WITHOUT being metahuman!  About fuckin' time, DC


And now a message from the 1930's!

I made the mistake of trying to follow a curry recipe that I'd seen demonstrated on a cooking show.  There is no way you can make a proper curry without the right utensils, come to find out.

 Heretofore I'd been doing my best with a broad, shallow frying pan and making all kinds of mess, trying to strain tiny ingredients out of hot oil quickly, using a ton of paper towels, strainers and bowls, desperate for curry.  


                          The indignity of Curry Desperation. It isn't pretty and it isn't pleasant.

After watching the nice man from India make his curry, my brain finally kicked in and I dug out my big ol' cast iron chicken fryer from about ninety-some years ago and cranked it up.  

My high-sided chicken fryer with the lid was the TICKET.  Here this dude on television had been merrily straining and frying and seasoning and adding and subtracting and flipping shit around using something like a deep, high-sided wok.  Well of course he wasn't a mass of orange oil stains and onion fragments; he had a decent pan to work out of.  Once I had that chicken fryer crackin', it worked like a charm! AND I HAD CURRY!  

So if you've been struggling to make curry, buy one of these beasts.You can get one new, but they're expensive -$40.00 is about midrange - and you'll have to season it in the oven about five-ten times before it's ready to use. Do you want to spend two days oiling, baking, cooling, and burnishing a seven pound mass of iron? Lid and all?  No you do not.  And no, the new ones are not pre-seasoned for sour birdshit. They're just blackened and have had a spritz of canola oil. That is not seasoning. That is a recipe for culinary disaster.  The solution?

           Here is what you want.  High sides, two handles and a domed lid with a loop handle.  

Get one from an antique store. They're usually cheap, because they don't display particularly well. They're already deep-seasoned, too.  All you'll have to do is wash it out and give it a couple of fresh seasonings in the oven and you're off to the races. You can use it as a Dutch Oven. You can deep fry with it on the stove top. You can even make bread in it! These damn things are handy as all get-out.

As for mine? I inherited mine from my mother in law, who inherited it from her mother, so free, so HA.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are!

 I'm here!  I'm Bi!  Get used to it!

Today is National Coming Out Day in America, and I thought I'd just publicly own my URGES here online!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Home Movies

 I have had a...let's say, 'dramatic' relationship with my daughter since the time she hit puberty until she moved to De Sout'.  

                 Not her, not her banjer. Not even her Sout'.  But I'm leaving it here because De Sout'.

I guess it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, because since that time we get along great.  (And to my vast amusement, she has turned into a huge Star Trek geek in her old age.  She used to be so embarrassed that I liked 'such a totally uncool thing' when she was younger. HA.)  

Well today she gave me the best gift - after a long discussion about who was the best Trek captain -


Kirk will always be My Captain, but Janeway didn't break the Prime Directive every other     episode, nor did she go around screwing everything in the damn galaxy.     


- she gave me an account on her HBO Max account!

Did I hit Turner Classic Movies first thing?  LIKE THE FIST OF AN ANGRY GOD!

Man I have missed my Turner Classic!  The first thing I did after The Biker insisted on getting us hooked into the channel, which he did with ill grace and lots of swearing because he and The Future are enemies, I landed on 'After The Thin Man' and watched it hard! I had a huge grin on my face the whole time!  Jimmy Stewart in one of his rare 'screen heavy' roles! Asta and Mrs. Asta! The sets!  The clothes!  Myrna Loy and William Powell!  Heaven!!!

 Back when there was still such a thing as True Elegance, Myrna Loy had that shit sewn up.  Her costumes in this movie are astounding!

Now I am about ready to cue up 'Blazing Saddles'!  Next?  'The Producers'!  Next? 'The Penalty'! Next?  'M'!  Next?  'Metropolis'! Next?  'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum!'  Do you have any must-see suggestions?  Do tell down in the comment lounge!


When my mother was young, she was an usherette in one of the grand movie palaces in New York. Yup, my young, sparkling, beautiful mother in a domino hat with a tassel, a flirty little skirt, mesh stockings and a majorette jacket!  

 Not her, but  you get the idea.  Imagine a gorgeous Greek girl with amazing black hair, legs for miles, a cute figure; and all in navy blue with gold trim and high heels.  That was my mom.

 She was a past master of Hollywood lore and had seen everything, starting with the very first silent films (back when you had to scrounge a penny selling old bottles to see 15 minutes of film shown on a white sheet in an alley.) She hung around the silents so much that she attracted the notice of a moviemaker, and had been scouted to be in an early 'Kiddie Kast' movie - she was a beautiful child, too. No, she didn't get a role. Her mother forbade it, and after knowing how Shirley Temple and other child actors were treated back in those days, I'm glad.  

Her and I used to watch all the old movies when they came on television, and she would even stay up with me until midnight for Sinister Cinema if they were going to play a movie with one of her favorite old time stars.  She always carried a silk handkerchief with a lipstick kiss from Colleen Moore tucked into her purse for good luck all the years I knew her.  

Colleen Moore, who looked like my mothers' identical twin back when this shot was taken. She was a V A M P, vamp!

She taught me about plot, film techniques, directors, different genres, she filled me in on all the Looney Toons and Merry Melody 'in' jokes and references, introduced me to old radio shows, even took me to my first live stage play - All About Eve with Don Ameche and Ann B. Davis!  She knew all the dirt, too. All that  scandalous stuff coming out about old movie stars? I already knew it all by the time I was ten.  

Yes, I am that cool, thanks to her.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Quaint Vignettes From My Charming Rural Idyll

 I woke this morning by sitting up and announcing "It's Waldemar!"

I don't know anyone named Waldemar.  I wasn't dreaming about anything remotely Waldemar-ish.  It is a mystery.

I also learned that one cannot change channels with a cell phone; neither can one make calls with a remote.  This is a lesson that I apparently need to re-teach myself about twice a week.

This afternoon, I went to visit the lady next door, who wanted some divisions.  When I knocked, I heard her say "Go see who that is" and a kid ran into the front room, looked at me through the glass and announced "It's some man!" and she replied "Don't answer it then."

It has been one of those days.


Last Monday The Biker hauled home an entire wood turning setup, from lathe to blades and everything in between, that he lucked into on Ebay.  I can't fault him for it - he got a couple of grands' worth of quality tools for $125.00.  Yeah, he had to drive to Montlake Terrace and back, but that's still a bargain even with fuel costs added.  

Had he asked, I would have had him bid on this vintage Feldman-ator.  

 No, what I can fault him for is the fact that 1. He does not know how to turn wood 2. He has only partial use of his left hand, and 3. The garage is packed full of tools, equipment and crap already.  Fine, it's his garage and his domain, but I've had an industrial wood turning lathe in the back of my pickup for a week now and I need my pickup to go grab another load of lagoonage dammit.  Add that annoyance to the annoyance of knowing that at this very moment that man is outside trying to move the stupidly heavy thing by himself into the maw of Chaos.  Yes I offered to help. Of course he refused any help whatsoever.  He is German, after all.



So far I haven't heard any loud 'SPLAT' sounds, nor have I heard screaming and pleading, but I wouldn't, either.  He is German, and thus far too macho to make a 'SPLAT' sound, or scream and plead.  He would simply lie on the concrete under the lathe and feel very grouchy until he expired.  I should probably go check on him.



I keep forgetting that The Biker has fabbed himself several moving dollies of different heights for just such purposes.  He has a chain hoist and a welding set-up (of course) and access to lots of scrap steel and punched bar stock and casters and whatnot via his job.  I needn't have worried.  But I did, and I feel better about myself for having worried, although I never did lift ass and go check to see if he was bleeding out on the garage floor.

                I searched 'man crushed by machine' and this came up.  I liked this better. Here it is. 

The guy who put together this turning set up was a real engineer, and given that he lived in Montlake Terrace, he probably worked for Boeing.  The stand, custom rigs, and mounts are works of  great skill and mechanical know-how. It's kind of a shame that all this hard work was wasted on the dudes' son, who couldn't wait to get it off the property.  Of course the fact that the dude was so quick on the trigger that he offloaded $2000.00+ worth of quality equipment to the first bidder means that he is almost certainly a fucking idiot.  


I was able to get all of my tomatoes ripe and inside this year for the very first time ever in the history of my growing tomatoes!!  

                                     After two weeks of dry aging in the crawlspace, naturally

The last batch of tomatoes just got processed, and there was just enough to make a big pot of Pork Marinara.  (From a long pig, naturally.)  I had to make ground pork anyway, so I carved the meat off the bones and ran it through the grinder on my Kitchenaid, baked the bones in the oven and then into the pot full of fresh, raw tomato sauce with some garlic, olive oil, black olives, red wine and coffee;  a little oregano, a little basil, cooked for a couple hours on Low.  

I was able to make a nice lunch out of the pork left on the bones once I took them out of the pot,  I've got five pounds of ground pork for sausage, half a gallon of marinara, and a nice smug feeling that makes up for being mistaken for a man by a small child this afternoon.


The attic cleaners have arrived!!!!!!!!

Went right to work, too.  They're up there right now making alarming noises with a ginormous industrial vacuum cleaner.  They're even running it down between the walls (gotta love balloon framing) to suck out all the antique Hantavirus.  ONE IS STOKED Y'ALL!!  Insulation next week!!!!!!!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Frankie Says Relax


For Mr. Mago, who was puzzled.

 Since I've referenced this band and their excellent song here several times recently, I'm going to post up the video version that was banned (!) in the U.S market when it first came out:

                                    Damn, I need a glass of icewater and a smoke after that

Now here is the version of this rampaging, danceable disco anthem to anal sex that was released in America! It too was juuuust this titty-close to getting banned for the suggestive sound effect at 0:15, which was deemed 'too liquid' by reporters on MTV:

                                     Oh go ahead.  You know you want to listen to it twice.

And here are the lyrics to the American version:

Mi- hi-hi-iiiiiine....
Give it to me one time now
Well, whoa, well
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna go do it
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna come
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna suck, chew it
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna come
When you wanna come
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna go to it
Relax, don't do it
When you want to come
Relax, don't do it
When you want to suck, chew it
Relax, don't do it
When you want to come
But shoot it in the right direction
Make making it your intention
Live those dreams
Scheme those schemes
Got to hit me (hit me)
Hit me (hit me)
Hit me with those laser beams
Laser beam
Don't do it
When you wanna come (come)
I'm coming
I'm coming (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Relax (don't do it)
When you wanna go to it (what's inside me?)
Relax, don't do it
When you want to come
Relax, don't do it
When you want to suck, chew it
Relax, don't do it (love!)
When you wanna come
When you wanna come
When you wanna come
Get it up
The scene of love
Oh feel it
Relax, don't do it
When you wanna go do it
Relax, don't do it
Relax, don't do it
When you want to suck, chew it
Relax, don't do it
One time, one time, one time (hey!)

Yes children, it was 1984, the Stainless Steel Amazon was but an infant, and I was living on Capitol Hill in the middle of Seattle. Our top 40 Hit was 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' by Yes, until this song came down like dynamite! This song had them literally dancing in the street when it came out!  You heard it everywhere on The Hill.  It wouldn't be until 1991when local boys Nirvana pushed it off to the side with 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' during the height of the Grunge movement, which overlapped the post- Punk, NuDance club scene. I didn't make up those dopey genre names, btw.  That was the fault of The Rocket magazine, which was for a brief while even more prestigious than Rolling Stone here in the U.S.

I had just left my first husband and moved back to Washington.  I had gone right back to my club clothes and my Bowie-Meets-Bernadette Peters look, and there I was, on Welfare, not a dime to my name, literally an outcast living amid a whole community that was also on the edge of acceptance, and this song wasn't asking anybody for acceptance; it was celebrating what it was.  That needed to happen.  People saying 'Your foot is no longer on my neck, and I'll never express myself in terms of victimhood again.'

So you can probably see why it stuck in my mind.  Not only was it fun and irresistible, it was winning a kind of battle.  And face it - who doesn't like a rousing tune about butt sex?

I'd always wanted one of those huge block print t-shirts, the long ones that were so fashionable in the 1980's, that had FRANKIE SAYS RELAX on it, but I felt at the time that would be going a little too far, seeing as I had an infant and was at the beck and call of the Welfare agency.  Surprise visit by your caseworker? Oh, it happened.  And had it happened go me, sure as shit,  there I'd be in my 'Frankie' t and nothing else, fighting off the cockroaches in my little railroad flat with one bathroom down the hall - unacceptable living standards by Welfare's rules right there.  Nope. Sorry, Frankie.  And so I waited until last January, in 2020, to order myself the t I'd craved for so long.  Trump was in office.  It was practically a necessity.

The henbiddies in Lynden, home of Christian Separatists, homeschoolers, and the practice of Abusive Home Birth, absolutely freeze in horror when I come rocking up wearing this bad boy.  And they should.  That is the revenge that lifelong hatred enacts upon the ageing bigot.  Let them pay in anger, high blood pressure and palpitations for being shitheels.  Because they know what the lyrics to that song mean, and just knowing those lyrics is SINFUL and my t-shirt grabbed them by the throat and rubbed their noses in that meaning, right?  Ah, displaced blame.  Nothing like it.  Suffer, motherfuckers.

Do you have any memories associated with this song?  Do share them, in detail, in the comments!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Time! Marches! On!



Lord, I am so done with this remodel.  However, there is good news in the midst of my angst!  

We have a stellar company coming in to clean our attic, which is an eccentric maze of old rafters, old rooflines, strange narrow runs where none should exist and birds nests the size of an exploded bale of hay, among other perils. Like critter shit. Ah, life in the country in a pre-code house.

We also have the insulation company lined up and scheduled, which was a dog and pony show, let me tell ya.  There's a lot of men out there in this, the reddest corner of the bluest state in the Union, that see an older woman and get jacked full of aggression and paternalism and try and TELL you what you want.


Like that is going to work on me?  Did you not see the Klingon Empire insignia on my dorklord t-shirt?

                                Abandon hope! Knittin' and prayin' grannies don't wear shit like this! 

                    ...or like this either.  USE YOUR EYEBALLS YOU APPALLING MANCHILD!!! 

 The worst offender by far was one contractor  (KAZ Contracting, for anyone who lives in 'Fourth Corner' country) who came rocking up into MY house and insisted that he do the whole job, cleaning and insulation. INSISTING. That he do it, and for a laughably inflated price!  Over and over again! Each time just a little more sternly! What, I ask you, the actual fuck.  I thought he was going to plop his ass down and invite himself over for dinner.  I had to turn on that 'Mean Mom' voice and put my fists on my hips in that 'Tellin' YOU' stance, and that finally chased the idiot.  Never pass up an opportunity to exercise a little street theater, kids.

Can you imagine how this dude must speak to his mother?  That attitude stems from breeding.  Dad probably spoke to women in exactly the same way.  Here's calling that shit OUT.  Just remember, the hand that rocks the cradle, cradles the rock - and also the checkbook. Just because I'm female and old doesn't mean that I'm sweet or docile.  It means that I have had many more years than you to steep in evil practices and hone my methods to perfection.

 I'll get you, KAZ Construction!  And your little dog! 

Similarly anyone who doesn't call back on an inquiry.  I guess you don't need my cash, Chuckie, because you just wasted my time like it's cheap.  Oh this pisses me off!  It's a common courtesy for fucks' sake, and a standard business practice!  In the age of cell phones there's literally no excuse whatsoever for this shit.  You don't have a single minute to at least shoot me a text?  You're off the island, Paco. 

Now in other news, I've had to cut down my poor Camperdown Elm that had succumbed to a case of slime flux that engulfed the entire tree in one Summers' time.  I got it down leaves and all, and into the burn pit it went.  It's the only thing you can do when a plant is this badly - and suddenly - infected by so virulent a disease.  I was so appalled and so very sad when I discovered the extent of the problem, but when I smelled the overpowering rotten, fermented aroma that the burning wood gave off I felt like I was finally at peace with the decision.  I'm still bummed about it, though. 

This was by far  my favorite plant in the whole garden.  I've wanted one since I was six, going past the Poulson House on the corner of Powell Boulevard and McLaughlin Boulevard in Portland Oregon, and seeing the fantastic specimen that lived in the front yard and crawled like a  giant carniverous spider down the steep lot toward the sidewalk.  What a lovely thing it was.

This is the Poulson House as I remember it, back in the 1960's and 70's when it was painted black with pink trim!  Scary as hell, with ghosts dripping out of the windows!  The tree on the right side is the old Camperdown, and out of shot is the side of it that went down the hillside.  This place still stands and has been fully restored, but sadly the Camperdown was eliminated, which sucks.    

The way you have to look at it is, now I have room for something new next year. I sulphured the trunk and the surrounding soil, and I'll let it freeze out over Winter.  Next year I'll layer it over with lagoonage and plant something extravagant - and disease resistant - in it's place.  I'm thinking a Star Magnolia.

My garden is absolutely alive with bumblebees and other native pollinators!  It's like a miniature version of the movie 'The Birds' out there!  I've seen them teem to my blue asters before, but this year it's gone totally berserk.  Even the hornets are getting in on the action, next to the bumblebees, honeybees, the hoverflies, the regular flies and what have you.  The hummingbirds are absolutely enraged by all this competition and are out there swearing like sailors about this whole state of affairs.  Then in the evening the sphinx moths and hummingbird moths come and the second shift takes over, with tiny bats and ground sparrows sneaking around the flowers.

        Hummingbird Moth.  Isn't it almost too perfect a disguise? They even sound like a hummingbird too!  Absolutely nuts about the color blue, in case you want to attract these wonderful little pollinators. 

I can deal with most insects, bugs and arachnids.  But there's something I find distinctly icky about moths with big fat pulpy bodies, like Sphinx and Hummingbird moths; and if one gets in the house I go full on Squealing Moron, flapping and dodging and brandishing magazines trying to chase the poor confused thing back outside.  I think this comes from back when I was first riding, and in the evening the moths would hit the windshield and the visor of your helmet and leave a huge heaving splatter of icky pudding to mark the scene of their demise.  GAAAAAAAH!

This is why I chase them outside instead of flattening them.  That and I'm not a monster ffs.  I know they're harmless, but they're also all...mothy.  Those of you wishing to send me moths, I'm sorry but you'll have to return them to Hell from whence they arose.  I already have enough, thanks.

Friday, September 17, 2021

God Make It STOP

Wherein I Bitch and Whine

 Well, we didn't pass inspection.  (For those of you tuning in just now, we just had every single bit of our wiring torn out and replaced, from the least outlet to the breaker box and right out to the light pole.)  There are STRANGERS IN MY HOUSE AT RANDOM INTERVALS and they keep SHUTTING OFF MY ELECTRICITY!

Thankfully we are still on warranty, because they company that did our wiring and called it done and billed has been back 4 TIMES since.

Long story short, I went full-on Icy Rage Queen on that action because

This worked.  They got real prompt and obliging.  I mean management, of course.  The electricians were great.

Still, though. Do you remember being a kid at a family gathering, and all the grownups were talking about their property taxes and lawns and their bills and leaking roofs and lot lines, and thinking "Dear Christ just kill me now if this is how I'm going to be when I'm their age" ?  Well, I'm their age now, and here I am, and this is the biggest thing in my life at present, and it really is just that sad and boring.

Here's the way we see it:  A house is a box to keep your shit in. BOXES SHOULD NOT BE COMPLICATED! I've lived in a shed twice in my life, and I liked it just fine. One was an actual metal garden shed, just a place I slept and kept my important papers and stuff locked up. The other was a full-on Tiny House the size of a garden shed, and it rocked. (I also lived in an abandoned house for a couple of months.  I had to shit down the sewer pipe in the bathroom and then 'flush' it with a bucket of water.  Yes I've had a strange life.)

The Biker feels similarly.  He lived for five years in a one-room cabin that he'd built in Alaska. It had room to park his Harley, fresh running crick water, electricity, a toilet, a fantastic view of the mountains and rivers; and the only pests were the grizzly bears that would crap next to his mail box. 

 Of course ours would be a lush, high-living, plumbed and insulated shed.  With solar panels. Like this:

Here it is:  The FirstNations Dream Rancho For Two!  This is not to scale; the plans are around here someplace and I'm just too lazy to look for them. 

We've talked about this ever since we decided to live together.

 At first we put it off because we were 1. raising a kid and establishing credit, and then we put it off because 2. we were busy good-timing it up because the kid moved out, and then we put it off because 3. we wanted to money up and have a plan B in place, and now here we are, 4. twenty-some years in the same place, our separate spaces and our shared spaces established, everything about our relationship working smoothly - with contractors clomping in and out at the beginning of monsoon season. 

 Lesson: Be born into wealth.

Well, the last electrician just walked out saying 'It's finished!' and it better BE FINISHED. It's a good thing all this was on warranty or I'd light this fucker off and watch it burn.  One is exasperated, y'all. 

And I still have to sort out the attic and the insulation! 



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Electric Boogie!!

 Finally the electricians arrived to replace ALL the wiring in our house!  One more step toward TOTAL INSULATION AT LAST!

I'd always told my husband that we were running live 'knob and tube', which he did not want to hear, but then he can't get into the attic and I can, and it was pretty obvious up there since the remodeler didn't even bother to close the junction boxes.  I'm not a dumbshit ffs.

Presented here on a bed of Filberts because presentation is everything.     

Behold!  This is the kind of horror that was up in the attic and all over the house.  The electricians were appalled!  More importantly,  I was vindicated!  

That this house ever passed inspection before being sold was probably a matter of an inspector having driven by and going 'Yeah, it's standing,' and receiving his kickback.  This shit was illegal twenty-five years ago and it's illegal today.  The company that did the remodeling is notorious around town for his shortcuts and shoddy workmanship.  We figure, what the hell, it only has to last us until we go into assisted care.  We're throwing money at it now just to stay comfortable until then, and part of staying comfortable is not waking up on fire.

The kitchen and dining room are up and running, and we've been playing 'Outlet Roulette' for the past three days.  The power is glitching since we're on temporary connections until they can run new service to the house and replace the master fuse box. 

Where is the fusebox?  Why, in my bedroom!  HUZZAH!

Still, the outfit we hired is really banging it out in record time.  Most importantly, they're running the lines through the attic instead of under the floor joists.  We flood, and it's only going to get worse over time, so we're planning ahead for the time when the floodwaters reach the actual structure.  Here's hoping that never happens, at least while we're in residence. 

I have made many discoveries and had many core realizations during all this activity.  I discovered that a family of Gods' little creatures was living in my kitchen by hearing the sounds of an electrician gagging when they moved the counter out from the wall.  That was embarrassing as hell.  I did a record time deep-clean on that and apologized profusely.  

I discovered that we own entirely too many tchotkes.  Entirely. Too. Many. And I discovered that all our furniture is really heavy, too.  That's the tradeoff for owning original Mid-Century Modern pieces because we are super cool and trendy here at Rancho FirstNations.  Yes I am bragging.

Core realizations?  I am not the housekeeper I used to be.  I used to be, as one woman noted years ago, The Hippie Martha Stewart.  I was very exacting about order and cleanliness.  Now, the combination of being really short and having crappy glasses has resulted in accumulations of crud that I simply didn't see until I had to move things around.  The stuff in my linen closet is aligned with geometric precision, but spiders, mice, and wildfire soot have added to the overall state of entropy despite that crucial detail.

Another core realization was that I have internalized the tenor of my social environment to the point of going to the trouble of hiding certain things from the gaze of the electricians, such as my copies of  The Autobiography of Aleister Crowley, Witchcraft In Europe, and the Malleus Malificarum.  Every one of these guys live here in town, and I'd rather be known for my garden than I would be for my reading material. (I have actually had problems with this before, when one of my daughters' friends told her mother what I had on my shelves and her mother forbid the kid from ever visiting again. Yeah.  We have well over a thousand books in our collection, most of it non-fiction, but no - the kid zeroed right in on the three eeeeeeevil titles and narked to her mom. The rumor went all over the school and straight to the parents: SSA's mom and dad are Satanists!!! which we are not.  Still, thanks, ya little shit.)

Still, as much of a nuisance as all this is, I am very happy despite my bitching and whining. We won't have nearly as many power dips and surges as we have had for years, and the likelihood of death by rodent - assisted fire will be greatly reduced.  Then the insulation will go in!! This Winter isn't going to be anywhere  near as hard as last Winter was.  I'm really looking forward to that!  And similarly, next Summer isn't going to be as rough, either.  My house will be a refuge from the weather instead of being at the weathers' mercy!  Imagine it!


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Jesus lives! In my old bedroom.

Absolutely nothing like what I'm describing.  There aren't enough objects, they aren't big enough, and they aren't covered in nicotine, dust and cobwebs.   

This isn't a fun post.  But it is a freaky one, and I'm responding to a request, so hang on - we're going on a ride into Bat Country without Dr. Gonzo and his bag of tricks.

In 1975 my mother found Jesus the way a Peterbilt truck finds a raccoon on the highway-sudden, hard and messy. At first it was a positive thing...for a short (and rather confusing) time, she went from being God's miserable hemorrhoid to being Jesus ' little sunbeam. Was this my mother? Smiling?  Happy?  Not calling me a whore?

Well, that didn't last long, that smiling, that 'I must be a living Witness for the Word, I must present the best possible face to the world' stuff.  It took about a year for the vicious harpy I'd known all my life to sneak back into the picture, a cigarette here, a drink there, cruel remarks  when I was the only one listening, that would be denied if mentioned.  The only lasting change in her after all was said and done was that she would sprinkle the phrase 'Praise the Lord' into her conversation.

I moved out late in 1978.  My former bedroom was taken over instantly by my mother to become what she termed 'a study'. By that time her pious horseshit had moved from the 'Jesus loves you happy rapture' stage to the 'blaming and shaming, Bible thumpin', Satan is everywhere' stage.  I knew what was coming next, and got the FUCK out of Dodge one month after I came of age.  

Jump forward three years.

I had come to visit, to introduce the Biker to my parents.  He got the whole house tour.  I followed along closely because I had a feeling there would be things I'd have to explain to him later.  Turns out I was right.

My old bedroom was the last stop on the tour.  Oh, I had those forebodings of doom real good by then.  My mom was grinning at me, her eyes filled with vindictive glee as she literally threw open the door.

It was filled to the ceiling. 'Well', I thought, 'I expected that. The woman is a hoarder.'

But at second glance I realized that my former room was now filled to overflowing, from floor to ceiling, only a narrow path from the door to the desk, with religious things - and only religious things.

-Religious posters, banners, framed saints, and holy cards were taped to every wall, behind all the other crap.
-Bibles - not singular, plural - were stacked. Each one was a different edition. None of them had ever been opened. 
-Concordances, study guides, cassette tape courses by every charlatan in the Jesus game - remember how those cassette courses came in big binders? - towered along one wall.
-Devotional statues in abundance, to the point it resembled a Santeria chapel. Collect 'em all!  
-A holy water stoup that was also a switchplate, with Jesus and his bleeding heart above the switch, and the little cup beneath it.  It was covered in crystal glitter and glowed in the dark.
-Boxes and boxes and boxes and piles and rubber banded clumps of religious tracts, magazines, and Christian books up to the ceiling and out into the room.
-Rosaries, scapulars, plaited palm fronds, and other Catholic home accents.  Basically everything in this catalogue: 

Seriously, hit the link.  You'll be...amazed.  Yeah, that's a good adjective.  Amazed.  

There it was. The most insane, over the top collection of Christ-related articles all thrown together in one completely un-used, stale little dusty, stuffy, cobwebbed room where the curtains were clothes-pinned shut.

And topping it all off was the Crucifix of Doom.

This was a full on, 'bleeding Jesus' Catholic crucifix, really a rather beautifully executed thing, and that easily enough judged for its being FOUR FREAKING FEET TALL.

Where does a layperson even find a thing like that?

If you've ever seen a life-sized waxwork statue of the Agony of Christ, or ever been in the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Tijuana, then you know exactly the type of over-the-top, S and M, eerily lifelike - special effects realism I mean.

And there it was in my room. Bleeding. A lot.  Christ in his last agonies, nothing spared.

I have never.
...been so taken aback in my life. I mean I literally did take a step back in horror. I was scared, and I was appalled.

And she laughed at me.

The Biker didn't get it.  This was something tailored entirely for me to experience.  He didn't get it because he wasn't meant to get it.  Her meaning was absolutely clear to me, though, and that's why she stood there laughing at my reaction. I'd grown up with the woman and I knew how she thought. She had 'exorcised' me from her house and her life. My evil, filthy, stinking, dirty, whorish presence - all epithets that I regularly heard applied to me for 18 years - had been utterly cleansed from that space and her life by filling it with a massive shitpile of God.  
This was a hate installation, and I was the targeted audience. 

"Now whaddya thinka that?" she laughed. "Oh!  You should see ya face!  Whaddya think of that, now?  Go in!  Take a look!"  Just laughing.

We declined.

That was the last time I ever visited them.  Two years later I had to cut them completely out of my life, both parents, for a whole slew of creepy, abusive reasons I won't go into.

I'd done my best to prepare the Biker for what he was likely to see.  He has a fair amount of crazy in his family; alcoholics, hoarders, bulemics; child abuse, drug abuse, crime - you know, a typical American family - but what he saw that day went entirely outside his experience.  He got that it was weird.  What he didn't get was the sheer malice behind it.  And who expects malice presented in the form of Blessed Jesus, meek and mild?  That was a level of mindfuck that it took him years to understand. 

So anyway, there's my little bedtime story.  But take heart - she died years ago.  You could probably summon her up with a Ouija Board, but don't blame me for what happens next.  

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Barbecue Decks and Magic Charms

 Now that the heat has broken I am up off the couch, the fans no longer run in multiples all over the house and I am able to go outside and actually do chores, which my ass appreciates because I don't have much of an ass, and so sitting on what I don't have all day long ends up being a literal pain in the ass.  It's like I have a pair of elbows back there instead of nalgas.  Being up and around is infinitely better than just sitting on a cold gel pack watching YouTube.  This is one of those weird things they don't tell you about getting old.  You get assless.  And I was no bass star to begin with.

So I've been outside working in the yard and doing errands and minor household repairs, puttering, which I love.  Just dipshitting around doing all the little necessary things.  And a few big things too, like cutting out a couple of trees and hauling in a few loads of nice, dry lagoonage before monsoon season arrives and getting that spread around.  Doing some touch-up work on the house paint.  Repairing the barbecue deck. 

We have a barbecue deck made out of machine grade oak boards that's finally giving up the ghost after 18 years, and that's not bad for a free deck that the Biker made out of huge oak shipping crates made for carrying sheet steel blanks.  I've been repairing it with old license plates, and it looks pretty kewell.  You end up with lots of old license plates when you're married to a motorhead. He throws them away, I fish them out of the shop trash and we have the most awesome barbecue deck going.  

I am convinced that the barbecue deck is the male version of the She Shed.  It is it's own whole sub-deck one step down off our main patio deck specifically for outdoor cooking purposes, with a  wood grill, a smoker, a propane grill and a utility cabinet-worktop.  It gets used all the time, and it's a two-man setup. I did not know this was a man thing, but apparently it is.  His buddies come over with large chunks of raw cow or what have you and they all set food on fire outside together.  This deck has seen a lot of testosterone, beer and grease.  And license plates.


I have a shed, and I'm a she, technically, but my shed is full of power tools and various cutting implements powered by gasoline.  And saws and shovels and, you know, yard shit.  Tomato cages and flower pots and stuff. Tarps.  And a bit of pagan symbolism to draw in the fertile and creative properties of the universe.  

Come to that, I went around a couple of days ago and took a look at all the 'good luck' stuff I have around.  Horseshoes with nails over the doorways to chase off what needs chasing, a couple of giant fish hooks jammed into the wood next to the door (This is an old Finnish thing that my grandparents had and meant that you'd never go hungry.) I have 'hand of blessing' doorway charms, and I have a few ring rocks here and there just in case.  I painted the ceiling of my front porch blue, which is a sure way of keeping out haints and demons and the influence of the evil eye and general badness.  

The blue porch ceiling was another thing that my grandparents had.  My grandmother painted it over when she converted to Seventh Day, but she never took down the horseshoes or the fish hooks, oh hell no.  

Or the scythes.  

You want to scare some bad shit, and you were raised rural and German, you put a Grim Reaper scythe up on your house.  She had three!  They were out on the back porch where they used to entertain company; all mixed in with misery whip sawblades and ox bows and elk antlers and cart wheels and all that kind of stuff like you used to see on older peoples houses or barns, old hand forged tools and signs and so forth. But those three scythes were meant for purposes other than rustic ornament. NOTHING was gonna get past those things. 

Now my mother was all about the holy medals and crucifixes and light switch plates with Jesus on them that glowed in the dark.  Every single doorway had a holy medal over it. Crucifixes in every room, including the garage and the basement. By the time I moved out Jesus had pretty much taken over the place, so at least she had a spare room to put him up in.  (And she did.  Oh boy, did she ever.  Ask me nice and I might re-run that story for you.)

It's funny how you might not quite believe in it, but it makes you feel better having those things there just in case.  Does my little tribute to celestial influences out in the shed make my garden grow better?  Do the fish hooks keep us in groceries?  Does the blue porch roof really repel evil?

Maybe not.  But maybe so.  And maybe is where magic lives.

Friday, August 20, 2021

WARNING: Gardening Post


Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!!      

I have grown every single tomato in this picture.  I'm basically awesome.  

This years' varieties were Black Prince, which is a saladette-sized tomato with a purpley-brick to mahogany color, and Early Beefsteak, which I suspect is held by Monsanto, but don't quote me on that.

The 'Early' line throw fruits which are red and round and apple sized on big, sturdy plants.  In the past I've grown Early Girl, Earlier Girl, and Early Boy.  All of them were disappointments in this climate.  They were prone to crack and blossom end rot, and didn't set a very robust root system, even though I practice deep setting, (where you strip off all the lower leaves and leave four on the very top and then plant the whole stem, leaving the leaves above soil level of course.)  They produced an average tomato, on the watery side, with a lot of seeds and very little 'meat' - and what was there wasn't firm at all.

Early Beefsteak, however, is an entirely different beast.  

I have softball sized tomatoes out there on a beast of a plant with a root system like a fuckin' willow.  The fruit is solid, firm, with lots of meat, scarlet all the way through, and not at all watery. The flavor can become very sweet very quickly, and one day is the difference between tomato flavor and just too damn ketchuppy, so you pick them when they're firm and then let them go another day on the windowsill.  It is great when cooked. There are very few seed cells, and that's not by chance.  Big Seed Inc. does not want you saving those seeds and planting them for free next year.  I don't regret having grown it for an instant.  I am saving time on processing with these big old hummers, and they fit the bill.

I've grown Black Prince before.  Nothing about it is beautiful.  The plant is rangy and the root system is shallow. The leaves curl in the sun and get spotty in the shade.  The fruits will crack just from a heavy dewfall. They split, catface, grow odd protrusions and look ugly. Some will actually turn coal black; most don't. You cannot tell a ripe one from an unripe one because they generally come in all different shades of a color best described as 'Old Worn Out Brown Carpeting With Green Parts.  You have to go in and squeeze them and then pick the ones that give a little, once they've started to color up. They have a hide like a rhino, are more juice than meat and full of seeds.  Why do I grow it?

Because it tastes like the very soul of a tomato, astoundingly fine, and never varies.  I grow it to up the ante on whatever else I've got growing, because sometimes I'll pick a real loser (like 'Taxicab', a screamin' yellow tomato, which, while novel, was basically just a characterless, bland saladette that was half water.)  

I like to grow a good, solid, big tomato for slicing into big ol' slabs and putting on burgers, sandwiches, or frying in olive oil and eating with a little salt. Early Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple and Brandywine all fit the bill. But mostly, I sauce and freeze my tomatoes.

Now, you take Black Prince and mix it with a Brandywine or Cherokee Purple, you've got Heaven.  Mixed with my Early Beefsteak, it brought a utility tomato up to excellence. 

When I sauce tomatoes, I just seed them, run them through the food processor, and then bake the slurry at 275f in a 9 by 13 pan (or the next size smaller depending on how much I have, or even multiple pans on the racks) until I can smell them in the front room - at about the 45 minute mark - and then I stir it and let it go a little more until it's reduced by a third. I might give it another stir if I feel like it. With all that surface area exposed to the dry heat, this process goes fairly quickly, even with multiple pans.  Then I cool it and freeze it and done. Boom. Takes about three hours, no matter how full the oven is.  

Why not reduce it on the stovetop? Because in the oven,  you don't get flies committing suicide in your sauce.   

Yes I've tried a spatter screen.  You have to weight it down with silverware to keep the flies out because rural flies are some weight-lifting little fuckers and will fight their way into that hot tomato sauce to die. You also have to stir your sauce A Lot on the stovetop to keep it from scorching on the bottom even on the lowest setting because of all the natural sugars = spending five hours running in and out of a hot kitchen in late Summer because you're working with a deep pot with poor evaporation properties = NO.   Then when it's all done, you've got a dirty pot and spoon and auxiliary silverware, and the screen is all gunked up with syrupy condensate and you have to soak it in hot water and Dawn and scrub it with a brush and seriously fuck that.

Reducing it slowly in a wide, flat pan in the oven also carmelizes the top of the sauce just a bit, so that when you stir it, all the flavor gets deepened without getting scorched. This is THE way to sauce tomatoes, hands down.  Took me a lot of years to figure this out, and look at you, getting the benefit of my culinary wisdom for free, you lucky people.

What I am making here is an ingredient, not a final product.  That's why I don't use anything but tomatoes in my sauce.  I can thaw some out and jump in any direction from that point, and I always know exactly what flavor to expect.  This kind of plain tomato sauce is EXQUISITE in Indian dishes, and in a minestrone soup it is to die for!  Cream of tomato soup, beef stew, you name it - it even makes a fantastic 'Frappe Style' Bloody Mary!  It's a perfect way to control flavors, and it doesn't have that canned taste.

So, there's that.  No, you can't have any of mine.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

They're Heeeeeeeeere

 And just who are they?  Asian motherfucking murder hornets.  They just found the first live nest in Blaine, Washington, which is entirely too close to where I live.

Story here:

Picture here:

What exactly did this thing evolve to kill?  Water buffalo?  Why does this even exist???   

Murder hornets don't murder people. They murder wasps and honeybees. Now me, I'd have a fuckin' heart attack if I saw one because they're the size of a goddamn field mouse, no lie; and scaring old ladies to death is manslaughter in my book.  

Canada is doing it's part in eradicating them, and a hearty THANK YOU, CANADA for that.  But us?  It's complicated by the fact that up here in the Fourth Corner, there are Vast Tracts O' Land all along the border that are uninhabited. One the opposite side of the border, literally the width of a two lane road that is called, oddly enough, Boundary Road, it's pretty well suburbs and well-managed farms, right up to the line, but on this side it's forests, hillsides, and open fields.  

  The person who found the murder hornet here seems to have found it up underneath an overturned boat, from the photographs.  Blaine is a town on Puget Sound, and it has a fair sized population, but not everyone in Blaine is poking around underneath boats looking for murder hornets either.  I say GET ON THE FUCKING JOB, BLAINE.

I've done my part and have ever since the first mention of the issue.  I have also laid in a stock of wasp and hornet killer. I am not ashamed to use chemical warfare on these things.  Hornets are aggressive!  They will literally come after you for no good reason and sting you just to be assholes.  They'll even bite a chunk out of you!  No shit.  It's happened to me, I saw it happen to my husband, they will literally take a bite out of you and leave a bleeding hole, particularly if you've been sweating.  But stinging isn't good enough for them.  Blind rage isn't enough. Having a whole town in Washington named after them isn't enough. (Twisp, Washington - onomatopoeically named for the sound that hornets make flying in a swarm, which they do like mad bastards there in Twisp.) Flying isn't enough. They are insane flying megalomaniacs, and if they don't get you, their big brother WILL.

Native hornets do have their place in the grand scheme. They are pollinators. Yes!  And the wilderness would be tit deep in dead animals and deer shit and bear crap and old rotten trees without hornets.  Ever wondered why the forest is such a tidy place?  Hornets.  Then people came along and started building boats and turning them over and providing hornets with predator-free areas to build their nests. The murder hornet in Blaine was found snacking on a regular hornets nest up underneath that boat.  I don't know who to root for in that situation.

In the wilderness, hornets are kept in line.  They're basically snacks once the sun goes down.  They go dormant and just cluster up on on the outside of their nests.  A pine marten or squirrel or what have you comes along and gets a crunchy late night snack, like the wilderness version of ghost pepper Doritos, I guess. 

There are no pine martens here at Rancho FirstNations, and damn few squirrels.  We get regular sized hornet nests in the eaves of the garage, in our cars up under the sheet metal (which is demented but who can divine the purposes of these fuckin' things?) and in our TWO SHEDS. Yes.  We have TWO SHEDS. Insert Monty Python jokes here!  TWO SHEDS BABY!!  RANCHO 'TWO SHEDS' FIRSTNATIONS!! SHEDS SHEDS SHEDS!  IT'S SHED MADNESS!!!!!!!!!

Where was I.  Oh. Hornets.  So we get hornet nests, and we destroy hornet nests, and they build them again, and we destroy them again.  Come August, you better have destroyed those hornet nests and cleared them away completely, because something about the month of August really pisses hornets off .  I don't know why it is, but it is, and it's a damn fact.  They are everywhere and they are all in an insane rage about something. 

Now supersize all those propensities.

You got you a Murder Hornet, Paco.  

They have a stinger that is 1/4 inch long and they can SPRAY poison out of that stinger if just stinging the fuck out of you hasn't made enough of an impression, and they can sting your ass multiple times and just fly off laughing.  The venom can cause kidney failure, and does cause your tissues to break down and liquify at the sting site, which is utterly horrible. They hunt in packs. Yes! And they live underground, taking over old rodent holes, like rat, mole and vole runs.  So now, I get to go around hunting up critter holes and vole runs and plugging those, which I've added to my gardening routine.

I've been stung by a ground wasp, which has the same kind of venom, just in a vastly smaller dose.  Now a ground wasp is a tiny, sad little excuse for a wasp the size of a house fly, but that sting raised a welt that spread all around my ankle and turned mushy, and then just kind of sloughed for a few weeks, which was not beautiful or appropriate. And it itched.  A murder wasp sting feels like having a hot nail driven into your leg.  Plus, you lose immune response the more times you're stung, per Wikipedia. 

1. Who is out there in Asia dicking with the murder hornets and getting stung so many different times that they're losing immune response? 2. Presumably the people who go out and harvest the fucking things to be fried and eaten, because hey, let's eat it before it eats us.  I can kind of get with that sentiment, but I'd also be wearing a Kevlar suit while I did it, and I am in no hurry to apply for that job, so there's that too.

Here's another reason to police those little hornet nests you find around.  Murder hornets?  The big fuckers?  They scent-mark.  They go around scent-marking hornet and honeybee nests, and then they come back later in a pack when they're hungry and eat them ALL.  Having regular hornets flying around being assholes is one thing.  Leaving up multiple hornet nests, empty or not, with MURDER HORNET SCENT TAGS on them is tantamount to standing on the roof of your car and screaming  'Come sting the fuck out of me, vast murderous hornets, and then feast on my remains!'.

As if this weren't enough to stress my shit, Canada is on fire again, and we're in the middle of a heatwave/drought.  I wake up to the smell of smoke, the sky is yellow, everything an acre distant is buried in haze, and there is not a breath of wind.  Oddly, it's also incredibly humid, so after the sun goes down and the dew falls, it smells like an old rotten cellar hole outside.  Like the kind you find in the dank woods that has a gross puddle in one end?  That cellar hole. That smell.  

I've been getting up early and doing all my outside work in the morning, when it's cooler.  I just speed - trimmed my umbrella alder this morning, trying to beat the heat, and the kid next door learned a lot of new swear words in English from me as I went around with the hedge trimmers, clippers and loppers like a maniac. That was at 7:00.  By nine in the morning it was 80f, and it's 86f now, which amounts to 30C and too goddamn hot everywhere else in the world. Not a breeze.

What do I have instead of a breeze?  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in my driveway, bugging The Biker, roaming around like this is a public park, wanting to go in the garage and play with the air compressor.  The Biker finally chased them off.  Five minutes later one comes back and stands outside yelling 'Hey!' at the house for a few minutes.  What is up with this?  When you were a kid, did you go around bothering random old people?  No!  You avoided them because they would smack you with their canes and yell at you in Norwegian.

Right now I'm inside with the fans going and quilts nailed over the windows to keep out the heat, which works surprisingly well.  It's pretty pleasant in here.  I've got my kim chee going and there's tomatoes being processed, and I'm feeling like I accomplished something, which is nice, because I intend to spend the rest of the day doing exactly nothing.  And so should you.  

Unless you live in Whatcom County.  Then you should go outside and clear all your damn hornet nests. The life you save may be your own, but more importantly, MINE.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Rancho Recipe: Kim Chee!

 One of my favorite things in the entire world to eat is Napa kim chee. It is DELICIOUS.  I go through the stuff like a buzz saw.  It's my breakfast of choice, in fact.  Kim chee over rice with a little sesame oil.  That'll put lead in your pencil, boy. It is among one of the top healthiest things in the world to eat, too. Look it up!  But the problem is, the stuff is expensive.  

So I goes online, I does, and I looked up recipes.  Come to find out, making napa kim chee is absolutely dead simple and need not involve the use of vast crocks and burying things for a year and all that. No!  You can make it in your kitchen!  No cooking involved! 

The core process is soaking room temperature, bruised napa cabbage in just enough room temperature salt water to cover it for about four hours, or overnight, doesn't matter.  The salt, the water, and the compounds and natural bacteria found in the cabbage mix and create what's called a lacto fermentation.  How? The salt kills harmful bacteria but not the benign ones, and those benign bacteria produce not alcohol, but lactic acid.  It's that lactic acid that pickles the ingredients.  You get that process started and it's off to the races! 

First and foremost:  Do let's start out with clean hands and utensils, and do rinse off your ingredients too.  Unless you like botulism.  Do you like botulism? No. Nobody likes botulism.

Now the following is all 'to taste', and take into consideration the fact that I'm the only one in the house who eats the stuff.  I make it in small batches, and it lasts me about, eh, two weeks if I'm being conservative.

The salt water should be as salty as the sea.  Please don't use sal gris or himalayan pink salt because those products are not pure.  Ideally, use kosher salt.  I like the 'Diamond Crystal' brand.  Iodized is fine. Smoked is also fine. The idea is, you don't want dirt (pink Himalayan is full of clay) or seagull shit and fish assholes (sal gris) in your kim chee. 

  My particular taste is more cabbage than anything else, so I use a smallish head of napa as big around as a magnum bottle of wine (how's that for a measurement?), four red radishes,  two tablespoons of crushed garlic, one teaspoon of crushed ginger, one cup of cut scallion greens, a healthy few glugs of fish sauce and about 1 tbl of oyster sauce, or less.  I use two heaping tablespoons of Nanami Togarashi spice, and once it's all mashed together and packed I end up with about a half-gallon of kim chee.  

Now to get things happening, you chop the head of Napa in half. (This is to help keep the ingredients all in a bunch and submerged than it is aimed at end use, when you'll cut it into bite size with a scissors.)  Use the core too, removed and sliced fine.  Put it in enough salt water to just cover it.

Now, scrunch the cabbage around in the salt water with your bare hands until it gets soft. Spend a couple of minutes really squishing this stuff. Put a cheesecloth or a splatter guard over the bowl to keep out flies, roaches, hippies and what have you.  Then walk away and find something to keep you busy for the next four hours (or overnight, doesn't matter.)   

The salt water and the cabbage juices and natural cabbage bacteria all start doing their thing and lactic acid begins to be created.  Once it starts, it doesn't stop, although it will slow down to almost nothing after being chilled in the refrigerator.

After this initial soaking, strain out the cabbage into a bowl - but keep that salty water handy - and add the rest of the ingredients to the cabbage, which will now be very flubby and glossy.

Squish the ingredients together in a bowl to make the juices flow. Use your hands, gloved or not, or use a potato masher and a spoon and turn it over and around and just really mistreat it for awhile. Don't make a paste out of it, let the ingredients keep their structural integrity, but get them juices flowing!  

Now pack it all in a jar, a Tupperware, what have you, and pack it in tight.  No air bubbles. Tip in a little of the salt water, tap the container on the counter until there's no bubbles coming to the surface, squish it down and then put a plate, or pickling weights, or whatever you can on top of that, and then top it up with the leftover salt water until it covers the ingredients by an inch. The idea is to keep as much of the vegetation underwater as you can, though naturally a few bits will escape (and you will throw those away, because they'll spoil the batch.) Leave some 'head room' in the container, about an inch or two between the lid and the contents. With the weights in place, put the lid on very loosely, set the container in a bowl out of the way, at room temperature - not in the blazing sunlight, of course,  and wait three days.  

Some liquid might burble out due to the fermentation process. I've never had this happen, but my daughter, who makes it in huge batches, has. Wipe that up with a clean, dry paper towel (no soap!) if that needs to happen.  Three days later, tighten down the lid, and put the container and the bowl it's in into the refrigerator, and there you go. Done! Ready to eat once chilled!

Now you're worrying about botulism and salmonella.  Me, I'm assuming you rinsed off your vegetables and you have a clean workspace.  That being the case, lactic fermentation is pretty safe.  You're working with an acid, after all, (lactic acid!) and like vinegar, also an acid, also used to pickle, it kills the 'bad' bacteria, and only the acid producing organisms survive. 

 Like anything that's been canned or pickled, once you open it, put it right back in the refrigerator.  If you don't, then you're courting trouble.  Otherwise, be neat and clean and you'll be OK.

And you'll have kim chee!