“I’ll go to bed when I feel like going to bed. Don’t tell me to go to bed you fuckin’ lyin’ cocksucker!”

August 28th, 2014

There was a terrific fight this afternoon in front of my bedroom door. I was trying to get some rest after going in to work for a couple of meetings, which were, somehow, unexpectedly draining. I guess I say “unexpectedly” because that is what I used to do all day, work and go to meetings, and being there for three hours felt just as tiring as being there for eight-plus. I don’t know how I functioned as a zombie for so long. (The answer to that is: “not well.”)

Franny was in my doorway trying to ask me something, when Strudel interrupted her. I saw Franny give her that “NOT NOW, SHUT UP” look, which immediately piqued my interest. I knew something was afoot and decided to watch it play out.

“I just want to know,” Strudel said, “when you are going to finish walking the dogs so I can come with.”

“I finished,” Franny said.

“Uhh. Mom says to walk them for an hour and that was not an hour. I checked the clock before and after we left and that was 30 minutes.”

“I know how to tell time!”

“So do I!”

“Does this fight need to happen in front of my door?” I asked.

“She’s MAKING THIS UP,” Franny said.

“Why would she make this up?” I asked.


“I just assumed she was splitting the walk into two like she does sometimes,” Strudel said.

This carried on for a couple more minutes until I broke it up.

“You,” I said, pointing at Franny. “I’ve noticed you’ve been cutting corners with the dog walking. I said an hour a day for the rest of the summer. I check the clock when you come back, and it’s usually anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. Which is not an hour. So I do wonder if either you don’t know how to tell time or are being a lazy corner-cutter. Based on my OWN PERSONAL OBSERVATION I believe that you cut the walk short today.”

Tears. Door slamming. It’s kind of fascinating to see them get into this death match where neither will back down and it’s obvious one of them is lying. If I think I know which one is lying, like if I have some kind of proof or prior experience like with this chore, they get SO PISSED on being called out. I think in the moment they absolutely believe whatever crock of shit they’re trying to peddle to me.

It took Strudel a couple of weeks of her sister being gone visiting her dad to finally grok the idea that she couldn’t knee-jerk blame everything on Franny because SHE WAS NOT HERE. I even saw her start a couple of sentences and them bite them back. “Fran—” No. Nice try.

I wandered into the kitchen after lying down for about 90 minutes and puttered around a little. Made myself a panfake. Futzed with today’s batch of water kefir. (Yes, it is that bad now that I am making water kefir like all those woo woo online hippies I hate. Thanks for the recipes, hippies. No thanks for quoting Joseph Mercola.)

While I was cooking, Strudel hit me up for chores to do so she could earn some money to fuel her current obsession, which is owning a goldfish. I had to decline, because they did chores for me a couple of days ago to earn money, and I tell you what, I did NOT get what I paid for. “No thanks,” I said. I asked her to wash her own mac and cheese lunch pot, which she agreed to. I think she knew how tired I was because she even offered to do the other dishes.

“No, no, it’s okay.” I hated refusing, but I knew she would kind of wave the sponge at them and put them in the dish drain dirty and soapy, which is what happens when she washes more than, like, two things. I am so tired right now I am at “IT’S FINE I WILL DO IT MYSELF” parent because I don’t really have the juice to hardass them about doing jobs right. And they know it. I should have recorded myself giving lectures before I got sick. Man, I gave some good ones.

Strudel scooched out of the kitchen and I saw the lunch dishes, powdered cheese mess on the counter, and two open soy milk containers in the fridge. I opened the older one, to confirm that Franny had indeed opened the new one, and I realized the older one had gone bad. I immediately assumed she had found this out this morning as well, and rather than pour it out, had moved on to the new container. My brain was going seethe seethe “I AM NOT A GODDAM MAID” and “ARE THEIR ARMS BROKEN” and other assortments of things that would be right at home in a Lifetime movie about someone’s nightmare mother from when they grew up in the 60s or whatever.

I thought about writing up a list of rules to post in the kitchen to keep me sane this week and going forward, and it was going to be LONG. And detailed. Then I realized, you know what? These little shitbirds just need to GO BACK TO SCHOOL. And that is about to happen in less than a week.

I love them but between their fighting and their thoughtlessness, they are making me insane.

But panfakes make everything better: whip one egg with one ripe banana, fry like pancake, eat, be less homicidal. Add ins include: cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, nuts, coconut chips. Good with almond butter on top.

Advance to Dream Speaking

August 15th, 2014

Twin Peaks! I went to Twin Peaks. And then I didn’t write about it until two weeks later. I am making a resolution to blog more, because I think it will be good for me right now, like when I was whacked out of my mind on steroids a few months ago. I drove the El Camino, which is VERY comfortable on long trips, and enabled me to have many conversations with 60-year-old white men, as usual.

I stayed in Fall City this time. In case you are not familiar, there are a few towns that are close together that were used as Twin Peaks filming locations, and Fall City is one of them. I stayed at the Roadhouse, which was the exterior site of the Bang Bang Bar in the show.

A river side room

My room was called a “river side” room and technically it was, I am aware there is a river out there somewhere. I just can’t see it. I suppose it would not do to call this the “biker bar and burned-out gas station view” room.

Friday night was Lynch movie night, and the fest was showing Fire Walk with Me, which I have never seen on the big screen. Charlotte Stewart sat right in front of me and Chris Mulkey was nearby. I didn’t want to bother him, but he was being monopolized anyway by a guy who writes TP fan fic, which is definitely an avenue worth exploring. I assume in his universe, Agent Cooper and Audrey Horn were crashing the custard truck from about day one, and if not, someone (cough) should rectify that.

I sat next to two men from Sweden, but I was feeling introverted so I kept my nose in my book since I arrived pretty early. Movie night is a long night that involves shorts and special features when the VIPs are there, and then the movie afterward. It can easily go four-plus hours in the most uncomfortable theatre seats known to man.

The RR Cafe, across from the theatre.

I tuned in and out of my book, eavesdropping on the conversations around me, especially the Swedes who were next to me. I gleaned that the one nearest me was a scientist, and had been working in another state for six weeks. His friend left during the intermission and when the theatre was almost empty the scientist let out a loud yawn and stretched a little.

“Oh, don’t do that,” I said, startling him. Whoops.

“What?” he said, looking alarmed.

“Yawn,” I said. “Sorry. It was a joke. You’re going to make me yawn.” And I did.

“Oh, I thought you meant don’t do this.” He yawned and fake stretched. “Like I was going to put my arm around you.” It made me laugh so hard.

“I am only offended by yawning,” I said.

I REALLY want a copy of this game.

The back of the instruction booklet.

Saturday morning I came down to breakfast at the restaurant below the inn’s rooms too early, before they had opened. The inn allows access to the dining room from the front stairs. I encountered a very nice waitress there who let me sit for the fifteen or so minutes it took to properly open, and she even poured me some coffee while I waited. I had spoken to her yesterday while I was waiting for my room to be ready, and she grilled me about the events of the festival.

An empty cafe with HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN? posters outside.

I was working on a Lawrence Block book, naturally, since I always buy him second-hand in whatever city I’m in. It’s vacation reading.

A few minutes later the other servers showed up. One woman who was not my waitress had a lot to say about the bus tour that would arrive twice that day.

“And they get out, and they take a picture of a WALL, and they get on the bus and leave. They don’t even come in. It’s about the dum–”

“SHE’S with the festival,” my waitress said, by way of dropping hint anvils on her moronic coworker. I looked up from my book to find the nice waitress pointing at me.

“Hi there,” I said, giving her a little wave.

“Oh but the festival’s awesome though,” the other woman finished.

“They kind of rush you on and off the bus,” I explained. “I did it last year. There’s a lot of sites to visit.”

“And now, look, she’s staying here this year,” my server said.

“Did you watch the show?” I asked the tour critic.

“No, that was the one with John Corbett, right?”

“I think you’re thinking of Northern Exposure? That was filmed in Washington, too.”

“Oh, okay, right,” she said. “What should I say if I see some of them today?”

“Ask them if they’ve seen Bob,” I said.

“Okay. Have you seen Bob,” she said to herself.

“And I’m not yanking your chain,” I said.

“Ha ha! I guess you could be and I’d have no idea!”

On Saturday afternoon I noodled around and ended up at Snoqualmie Falls. Last year when I was with Morgan, the hiking trail was closed due to rain, but it was open this year. I knew I would be exhausted but I was compelled to go anyway.

I was greatly reminded of the last time I had hiked in a beautiful park on a warm day, which was in Maui in February. I thought about how my calves were seizing up and my system was shutting down that day, and barfing and a high fever was eminent. I felt nervous but like I had to keep going.

No one knows who built these pipes or what they are for. Pudding?

I hiked down to the falls, slowly. I climbed over the wooden railing to the “emergency falls access” like dozens of other people were doing, including hugely pregnant women, people with toddlers, dogs, and so forth. It didn’t seem like a big deal, even though strictly speaking it was not allowed.

I triumphantly slumped on a rock in the middle of the river, an unenticing, tired mermaid. “Sure, steer your ship to the rocks, what do I care?”

My hair is so dry right now. I know I am still growing out bleached hair from a few months ago, but what is coming back in is finer and dry. Also it is coming out in clumps and wads. It’s maybe hard to tell from the picture, but my face was also swollen. Normally the cartilage at the end of my nose is kind of articulated and makes a divot. Totally gone here.

I found a Sophie Kinsella book in a second hand shop that morning and I chucked it in my purse in case I wanted to sit somewhere and read something mindless that did not involve pistol-whipping and triple-crosses. I pulled it out at the bottom of the falls so I could sit in the sun and listen to the whoosh whoosh sound and dip my feet in and out of the river when I got warm. What a mistake. I should know I only like romance novels for men, like Max Allen Collins or Block.

As an aside, I am watching The Sopranos fifteen years after it was popular, and there is so much he-said, he-said that it is like a butchy Desperate Housewives. Except they do actually blow up and start punching and shooting each other, which I guess separates it from chick lit.

So I did all this hiking in flip flops and a denim pencil skirt, because I am an idiot. I only scraped my knee a little and cut my hand on the “emergency access only past this point” sign.

This is “The Bookhouse,” a secret club in the Twin Peaks universe for good guys. I talked to the bartender about it and he said last year during the festival, there was a dust up with a squatter who was living there. I told him we had been shouted at by the squatter and we heard he was brandishing a gun, though I didn’t actually see it. Shortly afterwards, he had been chased out, and now it stands empty. Adjoining businesses have tried to purchase the lot, but the landowner won’t sell.

I felt safe approaching it from the Roadhouse parking lot this year.

When I came back I took a shower and loafed around for a bit, trying to decide if I was going to the banquet or not. I figured I had pretty much used up all my gas for that day, but I put on my dress and lipstick anyway. I have been trying to force myself to do social things since my desire to interact with other people has pretty much vanished for the moment.

Ultimately I decided I had had enough fun for one day and that it was too hot to bother. I took off my dress and lipstick and put on my summer robe, and cranked up the tiny AC unit in my window. Plus I figured the buffet-style dinner would be a lot of cheap stuff, like pasta and bread, that I couldn’t really eat. I heard later that the community center where they have the banquet was miserably, boiling hot and I felt that affirmed my decision.

I dressed later and went to the bar and had a Laura Palmer (tea, lemonade, strawberry puree, vodka), a salad, and some lamb chops. I took a walk around Fall City, nibbling blackberries off the vine here and there as the sun set, and then relaxed in my room, reading.

Unfortunately, I slept very poorly because my door kept rattling due to a vacuum effect from an outside door in the hallway. So when I woke up on Sunday morning at 6:30, I decided to skip the cherry pie picnic and just come home and see my people. I’d had my fill of solitude at that point, though I found it very refreshing to have an excuse go alone and noodle around. Next year Franny wants to come, so I will do more festival stuff then.

Franny, my sister, and I also have plans to do a viewing of Fire Walk with Me, and the recently released “missing pieces” soon, which will double the length of the movie and supposedly makes it all more understandable.

I was happy to come home to a giant crock of fermenting pickles.

P. said he was going to clean up before I came home (the kitchen had exploded some) but I was too early. I was glad to be home, mess and all.

In Other News

Okay, so, obviously I have gotten my thyroid results back by now, and they are “high normal.” This means that some endocrinologists will not see me at all. I have found a “liberal” one who is interested in the fact that my grandmother had hers out and my mother has Graves’ disease. Unfortunately he is booked until October. For sanity until then, I am back on my off label self-medication that kills a lot of my inflammation. My nose divots are back! I don’t want to stick my head in an oven due to pain! An infected wound that would not heal is finally flat and painless, healing! FML! I am also going to get allergy testing done on Tuesday, so I will be able to eliminate some foods as a ramp up to seeing this endocrinologist.

The basement is creeping along. Yay! P. bought some goop from Florida that is a by-product of juice oranges. It’s basically super Goo-Gone. It ate the mastic off the floor that glued on the sad, ugly floor tiles.

We’ve decided to acid etch/stain the original floor. This is going to be quite an experiment.

Hello, HR?

August 12th, 2014

SJ 10:25 AM Do you remember when we were talking about bad butt implants?

Coworker 10:26 AM lol no

SJ 10:26 AM Umm
Who was that then???

Oxtail Enchiladas for no reason really

August 10th, 2014

I know you woke up this morning and were like, “SJ, I have too many hours in the day. I need a dinner that takes at least 4+ of them.” And I’m like, “Yo doggy, I am here for you.”

Sometimes I like to make little cooking challenges for myself, and Saturday’s was, you know what, I have never had enchiladas with oxtails. Let’s makes this happen. I got inspired at the store because I saw one of my favorite things in the world, Hatch chilies. My only bummer is that I feel like oxtails are more expensive in the past couple of years. NUTS. I’m writing this down because I’m sure I will not remember what I did by, like, Tuesday.

So here is what I did, without a million pictures, because I am not Pioneer Woman and I trust you have not been sucking on a tailpipe. However I do like to roll like Chris KimBOLL so let me tell you a wacky story. Oxtail soup is one of the first things I made in my Victorian year. The recipe was so greasy and awful that to this day majorly shitting yourself in this house is called “making oxtails.” Bon apetit and wacky Vermont local color in the hizzle.


3 lbs oxtails
2 yellow onions
4 oregano sprigs
6 Hatch chilis
2 bell peppers, anything but green
28 oz. can ground peeled tomatoes
garlic paste or 6 garlic cloves, chopped
ground cumin
8 oz. feta or queso fresco, crumbled or shredded
bunch of cilantro
10 corn tortillas (6-inch size)
olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Set oven to 500. Place oxtails upright in a heavy pan with a lid (like a dutch oven), if possible, or something that foil can be wrapped over tightly. Set oxtails in pan–it helps to have a pan that the oxtails fit in pretty well, since you’re about to make a meat/veg parfait, and you’re going to want to separate part of it later. Slice one onion and scatter over oxtails, then sprinkle half the chopped garlic or about a tablespoon of garlic paste over the onions. Set oregano over the top of the mixture. Pour pureed tomatoes over the top. Even if there is a lid, I recommend a tight foil layer to keep in moisture. Cover and place in oven and immediately turn down to 325. Cook for 3.5 hours.

2. When oxtails come out, let it cool without a lid for a few minutes. Steam is not your friend. Pick off oregano stems and using a slotted spoon, scoop out as much tomato and onion as possible into a bowl or blender (avoid oxtail grease at the bottom if possible, but don’t go crazy). Use tongs to pull oxtails out onto a plate, spread out to cool slightly.

3. In the meantime, set oven to broil and halve 4 Hatch peppers and quarter one bell pepper. Toss them in olive oil on a cookie sheet, and place them skin side up. Broil for 5-6 minutes 4″ from heat or until they are pleasingly charred. When they are finished, drop them in with the tomato mixture that was spooned off the oxtails. Set the oven to 375. Add about 1/2 c water, 1-2 tsp salt, and some black pepper to this pepper, onion, and tomato mixture and then blend into a sauce (I like an immersion blender for this, but a regular blender or small food processor would be fine). You should have between 2-3 cups of sauce. It should be fairly thick. Eyeball it, don’t panic.

Fire roasted!

4. Wrap the tortillas up in a sheet of foil and put in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. The goal is to make them a bit more flexible.

5. The oxtails should now be cool enough to handle. Separate the meat from the fat and bone to the best of your ability. If you have never worked with oxtails, you should know they are slimy, treacherous, delicious bitches. Shred up larger chunks of tail meat.

6. Chop remaining onion, Hatch chilies, and bell pepper. Saute onions in olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they get semi-translucent. Then add peppers and the rest of the garlic (three cloves, chopped, or another T garlic paste). Saute for another 3 minutes or so. Toss in oxtail meat, 2 tsp cumin, and 1 T paprika, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in half of the cheese. Salt and pepper this mixture to taste.

7. Spread about 1/2 c. sauce in the bottom of a 5.5 qt rectangular dish. (This is like the baby cousin of the 13 x 9 casserole. If you don’t have this size, you can go larger and leave some room or you might be able to squinch this into a 9 x 9, the world will not end.) Load this filling into the shells, fold up, and place in pan seam side down. I ended up with 2 rows of five. Cover with the rest of the sauce.

8. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top, and bake for 10 more minutes to brown the top slightly and crisp up the exposed edges of the shells (so good). Let set up for 5 minutes and then serve with Uncle Tapa, cilantro, and sour cream if desired.

Sad Clown Good Summer

August 1st, 2014

I have been waiting to tell you for almost two months–I have quit my job. Well, I tried to quit. I handed in my resignation letter and everything. My last day in the office was yesterday.

I cleaned out my cubicle, which sent the message “how about send me an email instead.”

I was feeling a lot better around the time I resigned. I felt like I had a lot of clarity. That generic life kind of clarity and a lack of brain fog. I probably felt about 85% healthy at that point.

This is the closest I come to an Instagram filter.

And then they offered me a short-term contract that I could do in 15 hours a week until the end of the year. I’m only like medium stupid so even I knew that was a good deal. I’m keeping my hand in and avoiding a gap on my resume.

In the meantime, I will be writing. I have a terrible pornographic vampire novella to finish. I would also like to edit an unpornagraphic short story I wrote in a laundromat around xmastime when I had time off that I will kick out under my real name. So I need to see if I can do this–write and edit and self-publish when I have concentrated blocks of time. If I can consistently make enough royalties, then I can leave Techworld…FOREVER.

Now as an extra-curricular activity I will be working on my health too, which was another hard thing for me to do in an office.

So things could be a lot worse. I could live with someone who writes messages in eyeliner when my toothbrush head gets ancient.

Wait, that is me. I do that to people.

Anyway. I think I will be off the wifis this weekend in Twin Peaks, and I’m not really going to seek it out, so I’ll be out of touch. I’m bringing my laptop and I’ll probably be writing offline. And I will take pictures, lots of pictures. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.

Once more with phlebotomy, OR, Asshole, Heal Thyself

July 27th, 2014

Up betimes Saturday morning and off to get blood labs done again. Honestly, I don’t think the results will bring answers, except I am guessing they will show I am inflamed again (CRP results), but probably not as bad as in March. I will be interested to see if I am low on any kind of vitamin, that should help.

I was having thoughts about this as I was troubleshooting the Elco this morning. It leaks transmission fluid, just a little, and slowly, over time. It’s the kind of thing I could spend thousands on (replacing the transmission) or hundreds on, at least, trying to locate the source of the leak. Or I could spend $7 on a bottle of tranny fluid every few months and roll with it. It runs great. It kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong with the transmission.

You see where this is going. I’ve found a handful of things that seem to be working, and it kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong, even if they could figure it out. I sometimes take a drug that acts as an anti-inflammatory (though that is a very off-label use for it, and yes, I wish it was bourbon or Darkside Skittles but it is not), and it seems to make the engine go okay. As long as I am eating well also and eating very little sugar, in the form of cake or booze. What’s going on with me looks like hypothyroid, or Hashimoto’s even, but I bet it’s not to do with my thyroid. I bet my thyroid levels will be normal.

This is all fun guessing, though. I will find out for real in a few days. Sometimes I just like to throw a message in a bottle where I cannot retrieve it and see if I was right later. One thing I’m thinking of doing is getting an allergy test(s), because it is obvious I am very intolerant to certain foods.

I was feeling VERY sorry for myself and pathetic on Friday because it hurt to move and live and I knew I was going back to the doctor so I went to a coffee shop and got a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, which is something I have not had in months and months. It was SO FREAKING DELICIOUS and I relished every bite, and even licked cream cheese off the wrapper, hunched down in my car like some kind of disgusting garbage-eating sewer kobold. I spent the rest of the day sick like a dog who finds a whole pie and gobbles it up. Yes, I am so dumb. A boatload of dumb.

Soooo. I need to watch what I eat and get onto something anti-inflammatory that interferes as little as possible with the weird science project that is my body. I am looking into medical marijuana now as an anti-inflammatory, and if nothing else I think being stoned a medium amount of time would greatly improve my outlook.

In the meantime, I keep cooking and noodling around my house, even if I can’t eat all of it. This weekend’s ice cream is Baracky Road and Elvis (the fat years).

Franny requested Baracky road, which is a lot like what it sounds like (rocky road). The ice cream base has caramel added to it, and there are walnuts instead of almonds. I kind of blew it and didn’t add the dark chocolate to the base like I was supposed to, so it was much sweeter than it was supposed to be, which greatly pleased the girls. I added more dark chocolate as “chips” at the end when it was done spinning as a compromise. It’s much more of a kid flavor than most of the recipes are intended to be.

P. went to his gaming night last night and brought a store-bought bucket of Heath bar crunch to be a nice guest.

“It was gross,” he said. It is so easy to get spoiled with homemade stuff.

I was home with the girls and we watched Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It is hard for me to express in my native language or in any other how terribly, terribly, incredibly bad this movie is. They are excited to see the fifth and final one in the series. :[ FROWN TIMES INFINITY. Yet it’s kind of hilarious how into it they are. I was thinking about how I was blogging recently about what a garbage disposal I was for any sci-fi when I was a kid, up to a including dandelion porn. So I guess I can relate. (They see classics, too, I swear.)

The Elvis flavor is interesting to me. I see it referred to around the web as “peanut butter ice cream” but the only peanut butter is in the bacon peanut brittle. The base is really banana flavor.

It all starts off pretty dark, because you cook bananas with brown sugar, kind of like bananas foster. Bananas foster is a thing I used to see mentioned in passing in old books and yearned to try in college, when I was on cultural ice in Phoenix, pretending it was 1959. Restaurants in Phoenix and Seattle did not serve it in the 90’s.

I think I even searched ye olde internets for a recipe sometime around that time and it was just not up on the linkable web yet. I was not smart enough to go find a cookbook from the 1950s then like I might now if there was no internet. I go find those cookbooks sometimes anyway, for fun. You know.

So you have this banana slurry, which is awesome and smells amazing. The recipe says to add the banana slurry to the egg and sugar mixture, which becomes the custard when you add hot cream in the other recipes. I didn’t think adding something so thick to the egg yolks and sugar would go as well as adding it in once you had your normal custard. I was afraid I’d end up with hot sweet scrambled eggs, basically.

So I did as normal and added half the hot cream mixture, taken off heat, and whisked it into the eggs and sugar as usual, and then added the banana mixture. It’s a small quibble but I didn’t want to have to unbreak custard. Yuck. Jibblies. The banana base is in the fridge now, and I will spin it tonight and fold peanut bacon brittle into it, which is sitting on my counter now, lying in wait to clog everyone’s arteries, but especially my sister’s, who is coming over to have Indian food tomorrow night.

I made paneer for that.

Start with hot milk.

Get excited like a fool as always when the cream melts and creates a butter galaxy.

Then add the juice of three lemons and be horrified when it encurdinates. Cooking is gross, special magic.

Then I strained it in a butter muslin and captured the lemony whey out of it. I let the paneer block sit for another hour with this pot and a gallon of distilled water on it so it would keep pressing and draining. Now it’s chilling and waiting to be sacrificed to a curry tomorrow. I am supposed to make naan dough as well, but I have exploded the kitchen and there is no more room. I do not feel like doing dishes. I AM A CULINARY ARTISTE MAN.

I doled out some of the whey into bowls and gave it to greedy animals, who were thrilled. The rest goes back in the fridge in a milk bottle where I will continue to give it out as treats all week.

There is some balking because it is so tart.

This morning I loafed in bed before the dump opened (my life is G-L-A amorous flossy flossy this summer) and watched Michael Pollan talk about why cooking has become alternately something people don’t do, or completely weirdly fetishized. I thought about it again when I dropped a couple of Bon Fronklins and didn’t even leave with any junk food. ARGH. Now that I have seen into the processed food portal that is Trader Joe’s I know I could be spending less money and less time…. INFINITY ARGHS.

I have to remember that I may not live longer, but at least I will feel somewhat better as I do live on. I really, really, really hope that at least one of my children picks up cooking. I know too many people without any interesting, just for the fuck of it skills. It’s a bummer.

Til next time, Upper Northeast siders.

Asshole Girl

Recursive; or, Damn Dirty Grapes

July 22nd, 2014


Last weekend’s ice cream was chocolate malt. I am starting to think that these recipes have a wee little bit too much salt for me, in general. But it’s still good. I’m buying the nice cream in glass bottles, which I also use for piima yogurt and such.

Egg in sugar and malt powder and chocolates.

It was a really nice weekend in that way that people go crazy about here–upper 70s, overcast. I am worried about the tomatoes. A cold snap now that they are on the vine and green will turn them into mealy pulp.

Franny’s back for two weeks. She was weird for a couple of days, like a little satellite who had ranged too far out on her tether. I am glad she was gone for almost a month. If she was here all the time, we would have moved on, but it seems like kind of a reset. We are still talking some about what happened at the end of the year with her grades and the Japan trip and the mood she was in at the end of the eighth grade. I think she was just way outgrowing that nest.

So she seemed a little aloof and distant at first but seems to have settled in. I feel bad about how hard it’s always been for her to transition from two different lives.

“The floors are so clean here!” she said. They are not super clean, but they are free of toys.

She said she had a marvelous time with her dad and I believe it. She said he seems calm and like he has his shit together now. It takes some people a really long time to grow up. I grew up fast but it took me a long time to realize I was human, too. I happened to come outside when SeaFed was dropping her off and I always feel so irritated when I see him because he looks so old now, which means I do too. This is not about vanity but mortality.

I’m home today. I wanted to work every day this month but I didn’t make it. I woke up with a pain on the back of my head like I’d been hit with something. My lymph nodes are huge back there, like olives, and I’m just off. It’s not like a normal headache that feels like it comes from inside your brain somewhere or like a band squeezing. It’s like my actual head aches.

I’m giving it a little time, because I need a little time, and then I am going to dive back into the world of doctors and testing. People ask me about my health and I say, “It’s fine.” I cannot say how I’m really feeling all the time. They say they’re glad I’m feeling better and I nod. This is how the transaction goes, I think. I cannot pretend I am getting better, though, and no amount of taking care of myself or altering my diet seems to be completely licking it. I’ll make an appointment for after Twin Peaks.

I’m going off of some medication to get myself to flare up again. I know for the next round of testing I will need to have accurate inflammation levels. I’m dreading this. I cannot go back on steroids. I know I was on too high of a dose, but I really don’t want that look into my id again. I have this pattern of some life-changing event and then I get what I am afraid is a look into who I really am. I don’t like what I find there. It’s an asshole who likes to wear fringed leather jackets.

I don’t want my life to be about being ill. Some days I cannot bend over because of my joints and I feel afraid. I need to figure out how to be unafraid again.

Franny was saying the wants to see the new Planet of the Apes movie that’s out now. I think I would rather eat ground glass than sit in a theatre right now, so I offered to show her the original at home. I think Charlton Heston is appropriate for any season, but especially summer. We have now watched the first two and the girls have made me promise to show them ALL FIVE this month.

I always enjoy watching movies with them. I had Strudel convinced that she had misread the title and that it was Planet of the Grapes, and it was all about winemaking.

A thirteen-year-old hath given me a mani-pedi during Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

I am counting down to going out of town, but not too far away. I am really looking forward to taking a trip in the Elco. FDR had mineral springs, I have an El Camino with a couch for a seat. I have a long history of traveling alone and sometimes it’s horrible but usually it’s fine. It’s always transformative, at least, which is what I need right now.

“Meathead.” “Do not call me this.”

July 15th, 2014

My sister and I stayed up tooo late last night talking shit about the apocalypse and some other stuff. And drinking rosé and eating rosemary fried chicken.

I forgot how much she remembered about way back in ye olde days when she was like, six. She gave Strudel an earful of how I was in some kind of Harry Potter situation. I was kind of cringing as she was telling her niece about my parents’ plans to lock up the food, so I would go away like some kind of stray cat, and the other plan to spend all the college money. Among other things, but she didn’t mention those.

It was true though. I can’t imagine how this sounded to Strudel. Probably completely fucking absurd. There’s A LOT the girls don’t know, because why?

It’s a weird thing to think about, the fact that my sister was subjected to watching me be treated very poorly. I know my mother had a lot of “survivor’s guilt” over how brutally my grandma would beat her step siblings. And I think about how my mother put my sister through that. Rinse, repeat.

I don’t hurt children; I have always turned the knife on myself.

“You are VERY lucky,” Morgan told Strudel.

It’s not very hard, I said. Step one: don’t be crazy.

Afterwards I went out to lock up the chickens, late, and there was a disgusting slug orgy happening on my porch. They were LITRILLY

fucking in a slimy pile.

I got out one of my work gloves and threw them all VERY FAR over the fence. PROPER. My porch is the perfect storm of chicken pellet crumb, since the bucket is stored there, and moisture from plant pots. There are jizzy slug trails over the sides of my house, on shoes, on window screens, errrwhere. YUCK.

Speaking of stray cats and chickens, Goethe decided to stomp around in the chicken run tonight.

What are you DOOIN?

Last weekend, after months of saving money and waiting for it to get warm, Strudel and I collabo’d on a lemonade stand. She is saving up for a laptop so she can geek out with her creek out. I bought her a bank in April and glued the buttplug in so she could not embezzle from her LLC. She has been counting down to smashing it.

Don ye now our mom’s onion goggles.


It was successful. I piled the table and such into the Elco and took it to a busy corner in our neighborhood. “You should write on the sign that it’s fresh-squeezed” a guy in a van said. We’re going to do it every weekend until the rains come.

Krumpy was in town and we met at Matt’s, which has to be one of my all-time favorite Seattle restaurants. I hoped she would like it, since she has fancy NY taste. I wore a silk dress and was on the verge of sweating the whole time, but not quite. This is a pretty awesome summer.

The ice cream of the weekend was salted black licorice. I like ouzo and fennel and absinthe but I cannot hang with salted licorice.


It was for Mr. P., who has like only seven taste buds.

Look who got a summer buzzzzzzzz.


Dumber and Dumbest

July 6th, 2014

Edith has now lived through her first fireworks extravaganza. In fact, she was not alive a year ago on the fourth. New Year’s came when she was six months old, and was pretty quiet up here in the northlands of Seattle, with only a few scattered bottle rockets and bangs, but the fourth pretty much goes on all week. I think it was a little calmer leading up to it because everyone knew it was on a Friday this year, kicking off a longer weekend.

Hot doggy

I keep prescription dog drugs in the house for fireworks. We call it Sleepy Cheese and it is a joyous event to receive druggy dog Communion in the form of half a pill in a cheddar packet.

I doped them up well before sundown, but with Edith, I’m not sure I needed to bother. She’s just so unflappable about things that seem like they’d be a big deal in Dog Land. Mysterious, unseen booms send Horace skittering under a chair, or better yet up on the bathroom counter, or, ideally, up on a person. Edith, outdoors, raised her head slightly at a sound that could be downtown being attacked by bomber jets, blinked slowly, and squatted to pee, her complete lack of fucks evident.

Horace is also terrified of most other dogs, even ones he knows well, except Edith, of course. I took him to a dog beach recently, and he spent most of the time skittering at my legs with sandy paws, or on my lap, crying like a toddler past his naptime, howling in terror when another dog approached to say butt-hello. A dog belonging to a person I know from work approached us and Horace turned away, facing in to my chest. “SAVE ME FROM THIS,” his eyes pleaded. So I did.

Edith stood on the edge of the lake as the water lapped in, her perpetually wagging tail greeting all passersby. She didn’t much care where we were or what was happening, and was just as excited that we were leaving, since that would mean ONWARD OMG.

“Aw, look at the cute little Cavalier,” dog owners said as Edith smiled at them as we left.

“What was that? Was that dog having a seizure?” others said, as they saw Horace squirming in my arms, eyes rolling around in his head to expose the whites as we quickly made for the exit gate.

They do work as a team, though. For a while I thought Edith was about as smart as a bag of hair, and then I realized that Horace is simply her guide dog. She does not have to think or look at me, she can just follow exactly what he’s doing. She is nearly silent, but her bark is slightly different than Horace’s, and she never barks on cue. There is something about her bark, no kidding, that sounds like Judy Garland’s singing voice (pre-1960s comback concerts). It’s nice.

“Speak!” I say to Edith, and she sneezes at me. Noting that cookies are being issued, Horace runs up and begins skittering around, doing his pre-bark behavior, which is sneezing and quiet woofling. Finally, he barks and I give him a cookie, as if to say, “See, lady, this is how you do it.”

“Speak,” I say again, to Edith, giving her the hand signal at the same time. Every time she looks at Horace, and he speaks for her. If he dares to remain silent, she kicks him and bites his ear.

Horace looks at me as I give commands throughout the day. Inside, outside, up, down, sit. Edith watches him every time. If I speak directly to Edith she runs to Horace and begins kicking him frantically. “This is the guy you want, see? I was nowhere near the park at the time the mugging took place.” He succeeds in her stead and she literally steals the cookie out of his mouth. He opens the food puzzles at work, and she follows in his wake, gobbling up his spoils like Ms. Pac Man on dots.

Recently at work Edith ran over to someone in my area who was giving their dog a treat. “I don’t have any for you, sorry.” Edith saw the hand signal that I use for “No more,” which can apply to food or the end of one of our futile training sessions. Edith took this in and immediately turned and came back to me.

“So you do know things, you devil!” I said to her, louder than I meant to.

Edith looked away from me and promptly kicked Horace like a recalcitrant jukebox. “Translate,” she said to him.

Edith is a family dog, no one’s dog. She seems to love everyone pretty much equally, especially if they are holding food. She’s happy as long as we’re somewhat nearby, and will lean on someone’s leg or sit in a lap if it’s convenient and not too hot. She doesn’t make demands, really, just shows up and is confident someone will pet her or say hello.

Horace, the Edward Cullen of Cavaliers, is MY DOG and wants everyone to know it. When he sits on a foreign lap he stares intently at me constantly as if to say, “I know if looks like I’m visiting someone else, but I’m thinking of you the WHOLE TIME.” He likes to be glued to me. I think if he could be, he would meld his furry body into mine, or climb into my mouth.

This morning I let the dogs out and left the back door open, so they could let themselves in through my curtain style screens. I went back to bed, which is a luxury of summer Sundays when I don’t have to wait by the door or outside in the drizzle to let them back in. After a couple of minutes I heard jolly trotting in the hall and SPROING! Edith popped up and flopped down next to me in the crook of my elbow. Horace’s spot.

Horace followed about a minute later: SPROING! He thought he would scootch in to his customary place but there was a hateful red dog there, Precious. I could see his tiny brain working and his eyebrows crinkling as he decided what to do. It was simple–he would climb over the other dog and lay on her head. I stopped him, my hand out like a traffic cops’s, at the edge of where she was resting comfortably. He gave me a hurt look of confusion and spent several minutes stewing at the end of the bed, staring at me, glaring at Edith, making impatient little huf huf noises and sneezing. I ignored him and continued reading.

After a couple more minutes, Edith got too warm as she always did, and moved to her preferred space nearer to my feet. Horace whooshed in to be spooned, making a satisfied grunt as he settled in, gazing into my eyes creepily.

Moodily waiting for me to get this blasted laptop off my lap.

What is comes down to, ultimately, is that Horace is very concerned with what we are doing and what is happening, and Edith just isn’t. Edith is not smart enough to be scared of sensible things, and Horace is smart enough to do a bundle of tricks but not smart enough to know what will and won’t hurt him. Edith’s got a strong interest in dog work, like running and rolling in disgusting crap and hoovering the floor after I cook. Horace is afraid of my feisty cat, Nightmere, smoke alarms, chickens, fans, Ceiling Dog (there is a mirror on the ceiling of the elevator at work), and of being ignored by me.

However, I walked the dogs to Strudel’s camp the other day, and saw a different side of Edith the Glib, Edith the Feckless, Edith the Casualier. As we crossed the parking lot, Edith lost her mind. If she hadn’t been leashed, she’d probably be halfway to the border by now. I looked for a squirrel, a cat, another dog–nothing. A perfectly ordinary orange cone was tipped on its side in the parking lot and was apparently giving Edith the hairy eyeball.

“THE FUCK IS THAT THING?” Edith barked, yoyoing around to the limits of her leash and back. “THE FUCK IS IT DOING?”

Horace looked similarly puzzled; though, to be fair, puzzlement is not an uncommon look for him. I subtly cheated our route towards the sinister cone so we could all investigate further. Edith dropped to her belly and crept towards it like it was a giant hissing cobra. Horace walked to it nonchalantly, barely sniffing it, since it was so uninteresting.

“What is that, Edith?” I said. She continued to squirm on the ground, trying to be brave with every fiber of her doofy being.

Horace gave it a little kick and Edith’s face went WOOOOOW and set off another round of barking. He gave me a look, which, if he were human, would have involved him jerking his thumb at her and saying, “Can you even believe this lady?”


I spent some time in the backyard today, hogging all the vitamin D to myself while P. did more demo work in the basement. I came downstairs after to take a shower and change. I was freshly out of the shower and in the midst of switching laundry when he called to me through one of the open studs.

“Are you naked over there?” he asked. Wishful, bored thinking.

“No, but I am wearing a very unflattering robe,” I said.


“No, I said ‘unflattering.’ Also my cellulite is especially prominent today.”

“Wow are you doing this wrong,” he said.



Strudel had a bunch of reward tickets stolen from her on one of the last days of school in June. The tickets were awarded for good behavior, extra effort, and various jobs throughout the year, and were meant to be spent on the last day of school in a classroom prize “auction.” It was especially a bummer because she had earned the most tickets in the class, and her name was written on all of them, so whomever stole them could not even spend them.

She borrowed a ticket from a friend and left it out on her chair, while she went to another part of the classroom, and watched her desk. Sure enough, a kid came along and looked in her desk and ganked the ticket. This led to a full search of his desk, which turned up all 300-plus tickets with her name written on them.

She excitedly told me the story, which was great to hear after the previous day when she had returned home defeated and glum about the theft. P. and I discussed buying her some prize to make up for it, since it really wasn’t her fault.

“You’re like Sherlock,” I said, high-fiving her. “You solved the crime and now you can go play your violin.”

“I went into my mind palace for ideas,” she said.

Keep practicing, kid.

Happy Fourt…zzzz

July 5th, 2014

Shit shit shit I am sick again. I have lumps on the back of my neck (swollen lymph nodes) and I am dragging ass. I kind of ignored it for a couple of days but it’s not going away quickly, anyhow, and I am just sleep sleep sleeping, and turning to my usual coping mechanism, cooking. With mixed results.

I keep touching my neck bumps and going YEP STILL HURTS like a dog touching its hotspots. Why does human nature compel us to lick chancres and probe burns? I’m sure there’s a reason. Don’t answer that.

I’ve been pondering how much time I’ve spent in the 19th century, not in a just glue some gears on it sense, but just reading and cooking and thinking about that whole cool syphilitic cobblestoney situation. Now I kind of feel like I’m unraveling, slowly, in fits and starts, but I don’t have a lady’s maid and I have a job and children, so I can’t sit around writing gloomy poetry and sucking on a shisha all day, like some kind of plump overeducated caterpillar, which is probably what I would be doing right now if it was 150 years ago. This too shall pass? Don’t answer that either.

This weekend’s ice cream was chosen by Strudel. It’s fruity miso. The cookbook’s authors recommend using whatever ripe fruit that will mix well with the miso and is in season–pear, apple, or peach. I used two smallish nectarines, which is what I had (it called for two “large” peaches), and augmented with a couple of small red plums.

You caramelize sugar, and then mix the fruits in and cook them down, caramelizing them as well.

This was all well and good until it was time to stir the miso in and then blend everything. BLEH! It really called back to some unfortunate times later in high school when payday meant takeout sweet and sour chicken and a couple of bottles of Boone’s sangria. The flavor part of the ice cream base really reminded me of that–fruity but also kind of sour. I made myself taste the custard once it was all blended together before it went into the fridge to cool and steep and it was…okay. A little vomity, though, really.

I’m not going to say anything to the kid. By the time I was her age I was a professional vomiter (allergies, poor parenting, etc) but I think she’s only technicolor yawned three or four times in her life so far.

Oh hey, look over here! Shiny thing.

I was a plus one at a BBQ yesterday. We didn’t stay too long in part because I got really cold and tired. The weather suddenly turned and I had dressed for sun. I brought this cake, which is a Texas sheet cake, and comes together very quickly. The frosting and part of the batter is boiled. Patriotic sprinkles for the win.

I like to experiment on people at parties, so I also tried a cherry slab cake. My pan was too big and I didn’t like the way it looked, with the juice leaking and and slightly burnt at the edges, so we kept it at home.

Strudel declared that we would have to have black coffee and cherry pie for breakfast, like Agent Cooper. She is getting into character to be him for Halloween. She spent the entire meal exclaiming that she was drinking a DAMN FINE CUP OF COFFEE. I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. I told her I would rent her a small FBI agent’s suit for trick or treating.

I am also getting excited to go back to the Twin Peaks festival this year.