Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sometimes .... just shut up

(This is the last day of June, the last day of NaBloPoMo. I made it through an entire month of daily posts. Thanks for sticking in there with me, those of you who did.)

I had a great weekend. Mostly I  hung out downtown at a local music festival with friends, listened to live bands -- swing, reggae, Indian, rock .... breathed in the mixed and intoxicating smell of fat, sugar and meat cooking over open fires. I volunteered one entire night in the international beer tent. The only thing I'll say about serving beer with 13 other people at a festival is that I prefer to be the tender of my own bar. When I was a bartender, I owned my bar. The people I volunteered with Friday I would have fired within 5 minutes. But they were volunteers  and so was I, so I had to put up with them.

Tonight a bunch of us invaded my friend Maria's downtown condo for delicious food and drink, and then stood on her roof in the drizzle to watch the fireworks over the river. It was the perfect vantage point high (OK, 4 stories) above the zombie apocalypse teeming masses.


Zombies leaving the fireworks

It was a fantastic weekend ....

Until I came home and fired up my Facebook feed so it could kick me in the taco with some real-life shit. An entire crew of wild-fire fighters killed in Arizona. 19 young men. I cried for them. For their mothers and fathers and wives and children. For all of us who depend on heroes to be there when we need them most.

I read on and learned that Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature forced their way into my vagina once again by signing into law one of the most restrictive women's reproductive laws in the country -- one the majority of voters do not support. Obviously we are not Texas, because the fuckers sneaked it right into the budget.

Two of my close friends were commenting about how sick they were about this. How the governor and the legislature hurried it through, and we didn't really get a chance to rally. They said they were crying and close to throwing up.

And then a man trolled in and made a comment about all the musicians and artists and gay people who would never be born into this enlightened, liberal world if this bill hadn't been passed. His sarcasm was both unnecessary and cruel.

So my friend, who is one of the sweetest, kindest, most patient people I know, tried in spite of her grief to back him off as nicely as a human possibly can and said she loved and respected him, but she needed to just disagree right now.

So he came back and goaded her again, and tried to engage her in a debate about abortion, which is not entirely what this "budget" is about. Even after she made it clear she couldn't bear to talk about it.

Now we all know the abortion debate isn't one we're going to change anybody's mind about. And some of us know this debate isn't only about abortion. It's about the right of women to own their own bodies. And it's about our access to birth control, and about our choices if we are raped -- because we are raped and we are raped often, both physically and by fucking politicians who think they need to force themselves down our throats and into our vaginas for our own good.*

I digress. So my friend tried again to tell him she was in pain, and she respects him but she can't talk about this with him right now. She obviously was wearing her skin inside out. So am I. So are many of my women friends.

So I posted my own comment. I said, "Sometimes you just have to say shut the fuck up. This is one of those times."

I will probably catch hell for it in the morning. I wasn't nice. I wasn't polite. I didn't respect his opinion. I really don't care what he thinks. I've had it with respecting the other guy's opinion while he plunders my reproductive rights. He can have his opinion as long as he stays out of my vagina.

I might be willing to have this discussion once every single child we've (that means women) given birth to in this country has access to equal health care, a decent education that leads to decent employment, and a full belly at least once a day. You give me that, and then I'll talk to you about reducing funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that has very little to do with abortion and a whole lot to do with making sure women don't ever get to that point.

Oh .... but maybe if we took care of children instead of trying to control women's genitals, we wouldn't even have to have this discussion.

And I might be willing to talk about defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization that helps women through rape and trauma and birth control choices, if men ever stop raping women so we don't need places like Planned Parenthood. That's a novel idea, right?

Oh, but maybe if men stopped raping women and pressuring them to have sex in all the various ways men do that, and if schools started teaching kids about the realities of owning an adult, sexual body, which includes birth control, we wouldn't even need Planned Parenthood.

I might have this discussion if that happened, and if there was still a discussion to be had.*

Until then, I think it's time for a lot of men (and some women) to pipe the fuck down. I mean it. And for those of you who are allies, carry on. I appreciate your support.

For those of you who want to legislate my personal medical business, here's a video for you. And for those of you who are the choir to whom I'm preaching, watch this because it's funny and we all need something funny sometimes.


*(Please note: I haven't given my opinion about abortion here. It doesn't matter what my opinion is. I'm too old to ever get one, and it's not my business if somebody else makes that choice for herself.)


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Medicine Trailer

Remember when I wrote here about the movie I worked on a couple of months ago? The one I produced? Billy Montana has been hard at work editing it, and it's due to come out to the public by the end of July. I'm so excited. And kind of scared, because as I said, I don't do horror. I'm a big pussy when it comes to scary movies.

And this one will be scary. Don't believe me? Watch this!




Bad things happen in horror movies. And in Billy Montana's head. He has this room where he .... well, nevermind. That's probably another post.


Friday, June 28, 2013

What was the minister thinking?



I prefer to use my words. Or pointing works. Sometimes ... just a glance. Who doesn't love a man on his knees?


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paleo food: it's what redheads eat

I haven't shared a recipe here in quite a while, so here are two. My daughter Elvira insisted I try these, and now I insist you try them too, because addicts love to spread their crack to others. These are easy. Even if you can't cook, you can surely make a pancake and shake a jar.


Paleo Pancake

Elvira calls this first recipe a paleo pancake. I'm not sure what's paleo about it, but that's what she calls it so that's the name. I struggle with the idea that our paleo ancestors ate bananas; humans didn't evolve in the tropics. Nor, I suspect, did they make peanut butter. Even the egg is suspicious .... But what-the-fuck-ever. Here's the recipe.

1 egg
1 forkful of natural peanut butter (Jif and Skippy are shit. Throw that crap out and get something that's made with peanuts and salt. Don't get the kind without salt because it will taste like shit and then you'll want to buy the damn Jif again. No Peter Pan either.)
1 ripe banana

Smash those three things together in a bowl to make a batter while you heat up some butter in a skillet or on a griddle. Once the pan is hot, dump it all in there and spread it out so it looks like a pancake. If you've got room, it's easier to flip if you make 3 or 4 smaller pancakes.

Cook it (or them) until it's golden brown, and then flip it over and do the same on the other side. Eat it with some fruit. You could also eat it with maple syrup -- do not put that fake shit on this delicious pancake -- but it's sweet enough without syrup.

Sweet potato paleo pancake
Modifications: Montana, my daughter-in-law-to-be, came up with a healthier alternative to the banana. After she tasted mine one morning, she suggested trying it with sweet potato or pumpkin. She's brilliant! The sweet potato is delicious, and not as high in sugar. Throw in some pumpkin pie spice and it tastes like Thanksgiving. I bake a large sweet potato and use it to make pancakes 3 mornings in a row. I haven't tried the pumpkin yet, but I'm sure it will work.

Montana also reported that she likes adding some cocoa powder (no calories!) to the banana recipe. About a teaspoon would do.

Serves 1

Chia Seed Pudding

If you try this, you're going to hate me -- and not because it looks like fleas in Elmer's glue. You'll hate me because you won't be able to stay out of it. Yes, it's made with chia seeds, the same seeds used to grow chia pets. No gardening is required to make this pudding though.

Chia seeds (click for the wiki) are supposed to be good for you. I'm not sure how much of that goodness is well documented, but what the hell is these days? Despite the hype, seeds are good for you, so just eat your pudding. Chia seeds also swell up kind of like tapioca only without the high starch content, which is what makes this pudding as opposed to seeds in milk. 

You can buy chia seeds at the health food store, on Amazon, or even at Kroger. I recently paid $17.00 for 2 pounds on Amazon.

Make it thusly:

1 cup of milk or unsweetened almond milk (I use whole raw milk; Elvira uses almond.)
1 blop of pure maple syrup (You can omit this and it still tastes good.)
1/4 cup of chia seeds
Optional flavors like cocoa powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice

Basic recipe
Put everything in a jar with enough room for shaking. I use a pint mason jar. Shake well. Continue to shake every few minutes for 15 minutes. Just do it while you're checking your Facebook. Refrigerate until thick -- if you can wait. It's best if you can stay out of it overnight.

Go ahead and eat it out of the jar. You'll eat all of it anyway. No, this is not a low calorie snack, but it is healthy. Take a vigorous walk while you eat it if that shit's important to you.

Serves 2, but you'll eat it all.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer's Promise



Summer's Promise

I feel uninspired tonight.
Heavy … damp … flaccid.
Fevered.
I love summer. I do.
Summer makes the best promises …
and she keeps them on a whim.
I love summer. I do.
I love her challenging heat,
and tomatoes, corn, chilled watermelon,
bare feet, whirling fans, baking pavement and cool shade,
bicycle AC, open windows, clear aqua pools,
fireworks popping, children laughing in the street,
people spilling out of bars downtown,
summer flings.
I love summer. I do.

I just want the hair at the nape of my neck
to dry for a few minutes tonight …
or if not, I want to get completely drenched.
I want the thunder that’s grumbling in the distance
to man up and blow in with a chilly breeze,
send one electric goose bump up my arm.
It’s the waiting,
not the heat,  not the humidity, not the falling barometer,
but the waiting.
I want the lightning to crack,
tear the sky in a blinding rip.
I want the thunder to pound the air,
and cool rain to fling itself at my windows.
No more super-moon parlor tricks --
I want something to fucking happen.
Soon.
I’m tired of waiting,
of the promise of summer solstice,
the rhythmic chant of the wild, sweaty goddess
who dances and flirts
and beats drums around fires of her own making.

Today I heard the whine of the first cicada
signaling the end of summer.
Too soon.
I’m waiting for something to happen now,
and I don’t mean the shit that’s been happening.
I want summer to keep her promise for once,
because she’s been unreliable the past few years:
moody, teasing, giving and taking away in the same goddamn minute,
and it will be another long year before she can fool me again.
I could never hate her for her capriciousness.
I love her too much.
But I want something back …
I’m not even sure what.

Something only summer can give.
Soon, I hope.


Monday, June 24, 2013

And the concern is free




As I've been gearing up for another round of 10 Dates, 10 Men™, I've been scaring myself shitless researching various dating protocal and opportunities. To be frank, I talk a lot more about dating than I actual go out and date, but that's another post.

Tonight I ran across a helpful website called bConcerned. It's a free check-in service run by a police detective and someone else with legal expertise (apparently serving subpoenas) for people who want extra security if they're going on a date, traveling, or doing anything that might require someone to check up if they don't check in.

Here's how it works. A member checks in on the website before she leaves -- on a date, for example or maybe to go to the Kroger up the road from me -- and gives the company information about where she'll be, what the guy looks like, his phone number, which vet he takes his dog to, and his photo.

Then she goes on the date where she will find out he's married. If she hasn't checked in within 8 hours, the service sends her an email reminding her to log on. After another 8 hours, the service sends an email to the member and to the member's "alert contact." And then after 24 hours a third email is sent to the member telling her she's going to be slapped on the hand for worrying everybody while she was getting married in Vegas and enjoying mind-blowing sex in the hot tub of a hotel on the strip locked out of the service.

I was surprised calling the police wasn't part of the procedure, but I guess that would be up to the contact -- given the contact gets the message, of course.

I also thought a lot could go on in a period of 8 hours -- anything from a long poetry reading to fantastic sex to rape and murder. By the time her contact got the email 16 hours later decomposition would have set in.

It's an interesting service. Personally, if I were stupid enough to go out with a stranger to a place where he might press upon me his evil intent, I'd have left that information with a dozen friends, including the ones with guns. And they would expect me to check in way sooner than 8 hours.

In fact, last time I went on a date, three people texted me within an hour of my arrival at the restaurant to make sure I was OK, my son insisted I keep Skype open, and I glimpsed one friend hiding behind a potted plant. My daughter didn't want to hear from me unless I got laid.

The question is would I use this service? Maybe, but only if for some reason I didn't want my friends and kids to know I was going out. And it's unlikely I'll be doing any undercover dating. (Hee.)

But I can certainly see how this might be valuable for someone who doesn't have close friends to leave the information with or for someone who doesn't want her friends and family to know what she's doing. It doesn't provide a high level of security, but it could give the person using it some peace of mind.

I do have to add one note about the website: Somebody needs an editor. A professional editor. Like me. I give another kind of peace of mind.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tastes like beaver butt

This might go in the "shit I wish I didn't know" column, but I feel I have to share some information that's strictly for your own good. Did you know it's possible you've eaten a stinky yellow substance that's excreted from a pseudo gland found in a beaver's ass? To be specific, it's possible if you've eaten anything vanilla, raspberry, or strawberry flavored that has "natural ingredients" in it.

True story. It's called castoreum, and you can click that link and wiki that shit if you don't believe me. Castoreum is also sometimes used in perfume to  create a leathery scent, and in cigarettes to improve the flavor and odor.


You can purchase three grades of dried castoreum from castoreum.com.
In case you want to make your own flavorings from it.

Tastes like vanilla; smells like leather. Yummy. Who wouldn't want some in their ice cream? How about rubbing some all over your body?

Honestly, I hate to look too closely at castoreum. It gives me the heeby jeebies in the back of my throat to think about eating anything that came from that dried dog shit those beaver-butt parts in the photo above.

But I do have to wonder why somebody somewhere at some time decided to taste this thick yellow liquid that beavers use, in combination with urine, to mark their territory. Did a hunter who was skinning a beaver just pop open one of those glands, discover that inside there was a liquid that has what snopes.com calls a "strong, penetrating odor," and decide to stick his finger in it and taste it? Did he then say, "Mmmm. I think I could use this substance to enhance the flavor of foods, especially those that taste like vanilla and raspberry"? And then did he lick his finger clean?

Or maybe somebody was in the woods and happened to randomly lick a tree where a beaver had marked his territory. And then decided right there on the spot that this beaver piss would taste really good made into candy. 

How else could it have happened? Beaver-butt glands don't just appear on the kitchen shelf like magic.

Also why the fuck would the FDA, once they were made aware that someone wanted to put this secretion into other people's food, determine that it's safe to eat? And then allow it to be labeled with the vague name "natural flavoring"? I realize they're a bunch of lunatics over there, but this is ridiculous. Call it beaver-butt juice so I can make my own decision about whether I want to eat it or not.

And I don't .... for reasons.

I really don't care if it's put on cigarettes. If you don't know cigarettes are a deadly chemical cocktail already, you're probably about as smart as a beaver's ass. Go ahead and light up. 

I not only don't wear perfume myself, most perfumes on other people make my nose itch and my tongue hurt. I'm not likely to spread eau de beaver ass on my skin, so go ahead and put it in perfume.

And I'm not a vegan. I've eaten many animal parts that for some people would defy consumption. Like hog nuts. (Read my post about pigs a few days ago and you won't be surprised I'd eat pig nuts.) And whole snails, eyeballs and all. And squid, which are not really that tasty looking until they're dipped in batter and fried. It's not the animal part that grosses me out.

I just don't want to eat the musk that comes from a beaver's ass, no matter how cute he is. One more reason to eat fresh, whole, and clean foods. Like maybe beaver meat. I hear the grilled tail makes a delicious sandwich.


You want to borrow my what?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday night sermon-writing

Tonight I gave birth to a sermon about trust. Or at least that's how it feels. The only thing missing are the stitches in my vagina. Trust me when I say I've got nothing left for a blog post tonight, but I still love you all.

And if you love me, cross your fingers that I don't totally suck a great big green donkey dick tomorrow at church. The sermon I mean. Not literally. A Man Called Horse read it and gave it a thumbs up, so I don't feel as shitty about it as I did half an hour ago. Writing sermons is harder than writing blog posts about vaginas. And not as much fun.

Thanks for stopping by. Good night.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Solstice Blues

Summer solstice. My favorite day of the year -- after Thanksgiving. My favorite Sabbat. Most years it's a day to celebrate the hot, sexy summer weather, but this year ... not so much. I had a shitty week. And the shit that came down will require some big changes.

In addition, I'm still working on my trust sermon for Sunday. Turns out I had to do some research, because while I know how to be trustworthy, I didn't have much to say about trust that would uplift a congregation. I'm still studying. Tomorrow I write. No choice.

In spite of the shitty week though, and the sermon hanging over my head like a piano on a two-story rope in a silent movie, I can't avoid that it's summer and I have always loved summer.

The first reason is, of course, because there was no school in summer. Just remembering summers when I was a kid growing up in a little town in Iowa creates an explosion of sensory delights. Reading Nancy Drew in front of a fan (no AC) with an endless glass of sugary iced tea; swimming at the pool all afternoon until our eyeballs looked like they were bleeding and then going back in the evening for more; Laughy Taffy and Chic-O-Sticks; popping tar bubbles with our bare toes in the hot streets; catching fireflies and trying to keep them in jars; writing our names in the air with sparklers; Dad churning homemade ice cream with a hand crank; playing under the street lights until late at night while the grownups played cards and drank Schlitz beer in a haze of cigarette smoke in the kitchen; trying to sleep in while the marching band practiced marching for fall football games up and down the street; the 4th of July parade with horses and tractors and the latest models of Chevys and Fords; eating black raspberries off the canes and stealing little new potatoes from under the soil in the garden; racing our bikes all over town; Grandma's angel food cake and spaghetti on my birthday; helping snap string beans and shell new peas while Mom and Grandma gossiped about people I didn't know; eating creamed new peas and tiny potatoes, and later juicy tomatoes sprinkled with sugar and cucumbers soaked in vinegar; camping in Dad's old green army tent and never realizing how much poorer we were than the people with campers and boats; getting drunk for the first time on Grape Crush and brandy with my first real boyfriend; spending all day at the county fair eating cotton candy, throwing dimes at goldfish bowls, and wandering through the barns and exhibits; winning ribbons at the fair with my 4-H projects; riding on the backs of boys' motor cycles; walking beans; swimming in lakes and ponds; fishing and roasting the fish on sticks over a fire at the lake; falling in love -- I think I fell in love every summer. I fell in love with every summer. A small town in Iowa is a good place to spend summers when you're a kid.

I have to admit I'm not feeling it this summer. Not yet. I've been too busy to get out on my bike as often as usual. I guess I also haven't felt that sense of summer freedom. Maybe it's because this is the first summer in a long time I'm not taking a much-needed break from teaching or school.

So this evening I decided to take a break from procrastinating and go for a ride -- a short one because I didn't leave until almost 8:30. I rode down to the riverside park where I have to get on the bike trail now. The ramp nearest my house has been torn out because of road construction on the interstate above.




After stopping to talk with a couple of friends I ran into there, I headed east on the bike path. It was strangely quiet for a warm summer evening. Usually there are lots of people walking and biking as long as it's light, but not tonight. I only passed 4 girls on little bikes and a shirtless sunburned man with a Santa Claus bag on his back who had stopped to smoke.

A few miles further I rounded a corner onto a relatively flat, straight stretch bordered by overgrown honeysuckle, weeds and a tall chain-link fence. About a half mile ahead a man was walking toward me on my side of the path .... and then suddenly he wasn't. Hmmm. That seemed strange. He must have gone into the bushes, and he must have run the 15 feet or so across the grass between the path and the fence.

In a movie, this would not be a good thing. Woman out riding on a lonely bike path. A man runs and hides in the bushes when he sees her coming .... We know where this shit is going, don't we? I imagined him jumping out and kicking my bike over and ... well, that would be bad enough because I would skid along the ground and hit my head. And then he would steal my bike .... or worse! Shit. Where was that guy? Probably just in the bushes taking a leak, right?

I moved over to the left of the path, glad I could see far enough ahead even as dusk was threatening. And then I kicked into high gear and pedaled faster, up to about 18 mph. As I passed by where I thought he must have been, I scanned the bushes, but I didn't see him. Strange. The fence is about 9 feet high, but some parts are pulled down a little bit. Still ....

Whatever. I didn't see him. I rode on a few miles before I had to turn around or risk being caught out after dark on the unlighted path. When I got back to that stretch, I rode fast again and watched for the guy ... and there he was, walking up ahead. He'd cleared the area with the high bushes so this time he couldn't hide .... if he meant to hide.

Do you think I've read too many Stephen King novels?

As I rode closer I could see two more cyclists -- a dad and a little girl -- coming from the opposite direction. The guy held his hand up and waved at the dad. In his other hand he was swinging something. As I got closer I could see it was a cord of some kind and he was twirling it as he walked. He glanced back and saw me behind him. As I was almost up to him, he caught the cord, which had some kind of bright yellow weight on one end, in his right hand. And I thought how fast a cord like that could stop a bike going 18 mph if it were thrown just right into the spokes. I zipped past him, cringing just a little at my own silliness.

Definitely I've read too much Stephen King. Of course my wheels kept turning and I kept pedaling and within seconds I was out of his sight.

Tell me I'm not the only one who has adventures in my own mind.

As I got closer to the heart of the city, I saw I was going to pass under a train trestle while the train was passing over. That's another kind of thrill, to ride under tons and tons of steel racing down the tracks.



Dusk was starting to fall, but I knew I was fine. I passed a park ranger cruising slowly down the path in his car, and hissed my way through a gaggle of Canada geese. They lower their necks and move away if you hiss as you slowly pass through.



Soon I was back on city streets and then safely home. As I rolled down the sidewalk past the gates at the end of the street (to prevent drive-by shootings and high-speed chases), I felt a wave of sadness. Melvin wasn't sitting on his porch drinking gin and juice hollering, "Baby, when you gonna let me go on a bike ride with you. You know I'll smoke you!"

And I didn't say, "Old man, you can't keep up with me as far as the stop light.  You'll die right there on the sidewalk before you ever even get to the road."

And he didn't say, "Oh, I can more than keep up with you. I ride so fast you'll never catch me. How fast you go, baby?"

And I didn't say, "I go as fast as I want to, and that's too fast for you to keep up. You can try if you want to, but I'm not stopping when you fall over with a heart attack."

And he didn't laugh and say, "Come over here and have some gin and juice, baby. You know I love you ............. "

Every summer is different, isn't it? Now it's late -- after 3:00 am -- and I've got all the windows open to catch the sweet night air. My ceiling fan is paddling away up there. The crickets are chirping under the window, and other than a car alarm that went off about 10 minutes ago, it's quiet. Every once in a while I'll catch a glimpse of a firefly winking in the dark, trying to attract his lady love. The almost full moon is peeking in my window from high up in the sky, preparing to be magnificent this weekend, and wondering why I'm sitting here tapping away on this laptop. I'm probably the only one still up on my street.

Summer solstice. One of my favorite days of the year no matter how shitty the week has been. How did you spend your first day of summer?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is this neighborhood coming to?

I've written often about my street and some of the people on it. When I first moved in, I noticed the guy in the third house to the north, the one I called Snoop Dog, was dealing drugs. He would throw a ball across the street for his pitbull, Grandma, to fetch, and wait for people in cars to pull up and chat with him. I wrote about how he used to block the street so I couldn't get home, and how we resolved that situation. And later I wrote about the day the SWAT team visited him while I was getting groceries out of my van. Various times I whined
about the noise down there -- how his girlfriend screamed at him out in the street for hours and the irritating back-up beepers on his truck.

About 8 months ago, somebody bought Snoops Dog's big 4-bedroom house for $3000. A few days after Snoop was arrested, somebody came and cleared out all his stuff -- red leather couches, plastic shelves, a cheap entertainment center. Melvin said the owner did a bunch of rehab on it last winter, but it couldn't have been much because I didn't see any of that. It just sits there empty, although somebody mows the grass sometimes.

Art used to live in the second house to the north. Until he got divorced, he and his wife would have huge fights out in the backyard that consisted of him yelling the same thing over and over (I've found it's a cultural thing, the yelling or saying the same thing over and over). "Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me .... " In between I'd hear her softly trying to defend herself and probably trying to keep the kids from hearing.

No surprise --they got divorced. But Art's problems didn't end there. He dated a series of young women who turned his life into hell. Instead of Art standing outside yelling at his wife, now these women would stand on his porch and yell at him and pound on his door. At least we think there were several of them. As Melvin said they all looked alike, so it was hard to tell. They would yell the same thing over and over too. Things like, "Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. I'm not going to stop pounding on this door until you give me my son's TV. I know you're in there. Give me my son's TV." Bitches were persistent.

Art finally moved out because of all the women he'd pissed off. Even though it's his own fault for dating women he picked up in an asylum, it's too bad. He'd rehabbed the house, which is reported to have been an overflow whore house at one time, himself, and it's nice inside. But now he can't live in it.

And there were the neighbors on the other side. Loretta, the matriarch with the strong Kentucky accent who always wore a faded, colorless house dress with worn gray slippers, even when she went out to get McDonald's; her husband Lou, who had had a stroke and took short walks with his walker and then his cane; their mini wiener dogs, Mona and Sugar Shack; their daughter Linda; and Linda's son Kevin, who was 30 and used a red grocery cart to haul 5-gallon buckets into the garage where he worked at something all through the night, night after night. Your guess is as good as mine. cough meth cough Teenage boys also stopped by for short visits on the porch with Kevin. And one time I suspect Linda wrote "bitch" on my windshield because she didn't like the way I parked my van in front of my house.


Of course Melvin is gone now. As I was mowing the yard today I felt a stab of grief that he would never again holler over from his porch where he'd been watching me the whole time, "Baby, you shouldn't be mowing that grass. You should have let me mow that grass. You should never have to mow grass ...." It's too damn quiet over there. The gossip died with him, and nobody offers me gin and juice any more. I miss him terribly.

I also haven't heard any random arrests take place out there on the street, like the night some kid on a bike pulled a gun on one of the bike cops. Oh, I am sometimes awakened by a transient couple walking down the street fighting. A few weeks ago a guy was threatening to bash a woman's head in. He thought she was fucking around on him. And then there was the time .... umm .... yeah, I got nothing else.

Oh, I do hear gunshots with some regularity, and sometimes they sound pretty close. But they aren't on my street.

I don't know where they come from, but this summer I've watched a parade of men in wheelchairs go by on the other side of the street. They walk the wheelchairs with their feet. One guy pushes his wheelchair from behind, and then gets in it and walks it other times. They don't seem to live at the halfway house on the corner. Or either of the other halfway houses within a couple of blocks. I dunno. They aren't very exciting anyway, the old men in wheelchairs.

In fact, nothing is exciting on my street any more, because my street has become populated with .... wait for it ..... families with kids. Yep, families with kids outnumber all the rest of us on this street now.

As I said, Snoop Dog's house is empty. Art rented his to a young single mom with two little boys. There was some excitement when she first moved him. Somebody backed into her truck over and over while honking the horn the first night, but not much since then. She's friendly and her boys are adorable.

Across the street from them are 3 houses in a row with kids -- 9 all together. A pair of little girls who just turned 5 came over from a couple of those houses to play with Coraline. I blew bubbles for them and they swung on my porch swing. No guns were involved.

Melvin told me Loretta and Lou moved to Florida, and Linda and her son Kevin moved to a nearby suburb. They visit sometimes, but now Lou and Loretta's granddaughter lives there with her 6-year-old son and a pretty little baby girl. I didn't realize she was pregnant until the baby showed up. But she seems nice, and we say hi when we're both out. I don't like that she lets the baby cry and I can hear it, but I don't suppose that's something I can do anything about. At least she doesn't seem to be cooking up anything in the garage.

The only excitement was the day the little boy and his friend climbed out the window onto their very steep second-story roof and were playing there. They wouldn't get down when Melvin told them, but they did when I yelled at them and said I was going to go get the kid's mom. No police were involved because I haven't seen them up there again.

Now, instead of listening to Snoop Dog's parties or Art's girlfriends yelling at him or police shouting at gun-toting cyclists, I listen to the sounds of children playing outside in the warm summer evenings and the fucking ice cream truck that plays Music Box Dancer over and over and over and over. I hate that fucking ice cream truck.

The family at the end of the street planted a garden in the vacant lot next to them. And the boy next door colors on my sidewalk with pastel chalk.

Everybody is just too damn normal now. I hate to complain, but my stories about this street have dried up. I don't mean to wish trouble on anybody else, but we need some excitement around here -- just as long as it doesn't happen at my house.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why don't you lick that yourself?

My baby sister posted the photo below on my Facebook wall today. Anybody who knows me well or has bought me several drinks knows I'm from Iowa, which is full of foul, disgusting pigs, and that I hate pigs.

Not bacon. I ate bacon today. I love bacon. Not pork roast or pork chops or ham. I love the cured and cooked carcass of pigs. It's the living, breathing pigs I hate.

And this photo? I hate this photo too -- which, of course, is why my baby sister posted it on my Facebook wall.

(If I knew who took this photo, I would slap the shit out of him. Or her.)

I want to make sure this doesn't happen to any other unsuspecting toddlers out there, so I have several points to make about this photo.

1. It's important to establish early in a child's life that we only eat animals after they've been killed and then butchered. Also that some parts of the animal aren't food. Like the snot.

Bad parent!

2. Pigs are vicious. They are not the intelligent, cuddly, pink sweeties you see in cartoons and movies. Wilbur was fictional. Pigs are mean and they are deadly. They're not just fat, dirty, smarter dogs. They will kill people or even eat them alive if given a chance. Much like we do them, only they don't bother to cure our meat to make it more tasty. They are beneath us on the food chain for a reason.

I know many of you will find this historical information disturbing but I think you should be warned that .... No. I can't tell that.

You should not let a child get close to a pig's giant teeth. Children are food to pigs. Pigs are one of the few reciprocal meat eaters in the western diet.

Check out the pig in the background. He's telling the other pig telepathically (because pigs are so fucking smart), "You eat the face, dude, and I'll take the legs." Whoever took this photo is lucky he didn't get one just as the child's face was being chewed off.

Pigs will eat their own babies. Ours are a delicacy to them.


Bad parent!

3. Pigs push their noses around in their own shit all day long looking for corn they didn't digest the first time around so they can eat it again. Or maybe they just like putting their noses in their own shit. I don't know. They're pigs, and this is proof they aren't really that smart.

That baby is licking pig feces right off that pig's snout. Feces is poop.

Bad parent!

4. Will that child kiss his mother with that mouth? I certainly hope so.

Bad parent!

5. Can you imagine what this kid will say when he sees this photo several years from now? He will be furious. "You mean you stood back and took a photo while I licked snot and feces off a hog's snout? What the fuck were you thinking? Wait .... What? You told me to lick the piggy's nose? Were you fucking high? You were high, weren't you? Or drunk? I HATE YOU!"

Bad parent!

6. Finally, there should be a comma after "you." Also "future" and "bacon" should not be capitalized, and a period would be nice at the end.

Bad punctuation!

See, I don't only write about vaginas here. Sometimes I feel I must post something informative ... educational. A warning.

So if you're a parent who lets, or even encourages, your toddler to lick feces-covered hog snouts so you can get a funny photo, knock it the fuck off! Better yet, next time why don't you lick the hog's snout yourself if you think it's so funny.

Also, not judging, but you are a bad parent.


Monday, June 17, 2013

You want to catch fish with your what?

Remember back around the first of the month when I was writing about poisonous vaginas? If I may quote myself: "It's not that vaginas aren't sometimes used for purposes other than a baby exit or a tampon port or a wiener hugger. Vaginas have been used for smuggling drugs, spices, or small animals into the country for centuries. One woman who was recently in the news was carrying a small handgun in her vagina.

Women have soaked tampons in vodka and gotten drunk. They've .... I don't know. I'm not very creative when it comes to alt uses for the vagina; I'm sure there are more if I wanted to think that hard about it."

Apparently I should have thought harder.

Shortly after I wrote about the poison vagina, I walked into karaoke on a typical Wednesday night. The Professor (minus Mary Ann) was waiting for me with a newspaper. In the newspaper was this blurb about an upcoming new Discovery Channel series titled "Naked and Afraid."

(Dayton City Paper: May 21-27, 2013)

Silly me! I wouldn't even consider using my lady bits -- the outer labia of my lady bits to be precise -- as fish bait. I thought skinny dipping was just skinny dipping, but evidently a woman can enjoy a sexy swim and catch dinner at the same time.

You'd think since a man was also available for dangling, he'd use his worm to catch the fish, wouldn't you? I mean, what gentleman wouldn't offer up his pole for fishing? Size alone would seem to dictate that he would be the more successful dangler of the genital fish bait. Then again, I haven't seen either of their dangly bits, so I can't properly judge who has the longer and tastier aquatic attraction. It's possible they both slapped them on the table and she ..... won?

I can imagine this conversation:

Him: "It's your turn to fix dinner tonight, honey. What are we having?"
Her: "Oh, I don't know. How about some nice fresh trout?"
Him: (hopeful) "Are you  feeling frisky or are you going fishing?"

It pains me, but I suppose now I must concede the point about the smell of various vaginas, and admit that at least one woman's vagina probably does smell very much like nice fresh trout.

Well played, Professor. Well played.

The show premiers this Sunday, June 23. I will definitely have to watch this one. Maybe I'll ask The Professor to join me.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just another Father's Day

Father's Day. Eh. Just another day. Mostly I ignore it, although I did send a text to my granddaughter Coraline's daddy to tell him happy day and that I love him. He's the closest thing to a father in my life right now.

I've been ignoring Father's Day for many years now, even though I had 2 fathers. One was my dad, whom my mom married when I was 2. The other is my biological father, my sperm donor, the one who didn't show up for their wedding 2 1/2 years earlier. My maternal grandparents -- my grandfather was a doctor -- offered her as a consolation prize an abortion. My mom didn't accept the gift.

The man who showed up for the wedding is the man I called Dad. He died suddenly when I was 24 and he was 46. We had a difficult relationship, although I believe he loved me and I know I loved him. But let's just say I was never his favorite. Red-headed bastard stepchildren rarely are.

It's been hard to ignore Father's Day this year though because of my Facebook addiction. My newsfeed has been filled with people posting photos of their dads. And with dads posting how much they love their kids, how precious they are. Hard to ignore.

(sarasotamagazine.com)

I admit it: I'm jealous. I can almost imagine what it might feel like to be cherished by a father. I can't know for sure, but I think it would be pretty great. It's something I'll never really feel though. Not ever.

So, since I can't seem to ignore Father's Day this year, I have a few things to say to you dads with daughters.

If you're a dad who tells your daughter you're proud of her, good on ya. Don't do it so often it loses its meaning, but never stop. I would have given up all the Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill I drank during my high school years if I could have heard those words come out of my dad's mouth. Yes, he came to as many of my basketball games as he could, and he never yelled at me about the mistakes I made on the court. But I never heard those words: "I'm proud of you" .... and I never will. Please keep saying it.

And if you're a dad whose daughter knows you would fight a bear for her, keep it up. You don't weaken your daughter by sharing your strength with her. She may not ever need you to fight a bear, but knowing you will be there to protect her if someone hurts her will give her courage too.

If you're a dad whose daughter knows she can hate you and you will still love her .... just keep loving her. She needs to know she can get angry and you'll still be there. She needs to know she can get angry and you won't knock her down by getting angrier and squashing her too.

If you're a dad who tells your daughter she's beautiful and smart and strong and precious, please keep telling her. Even if she rolls her eyes and says, "Oh, Daaadddd." If the first man in her life adores her, then maybe that's the least she will expect from those who come after. And every little girl deserves to feel utterly precious and adored .... even though some of us never do.

Finally, here's an idea. Make sure you take at least one photo of yourself with your daughter that shows how much you love her so she has something to post on her Facebook wall on Father's Day. And so she has a reminder of how much you valued her. I don't have a single photo of myself with my dad, other than a couple of all-the-family snapshots in front of the Christmas tree. None of just him and me. I wish I did.


(Shutterstock © Dubova)

I don't mean to sound whiny. I put all that daddy stuff behind me years ago. But I see dads who do those things and daughters who remember their dads doing those things, and I think -- just for tonight -- I think how different my life might have been. How different my relationships with men might have been. So I just want to remind you dads out there how terribly important you are to your daughters (and your sons too, of course). You matter. And it doesn't really take much to leave a legacy that you'd be proud to see posted on Facebook in 30 years.

Father's Day. Eh. I'll go back to ignoring it next year.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Would you trust this junkie?


Tonight's post will be short, because I'm working on something else. I'm in charge of the service next Sunday at church. I could have chosen to do anything -- any topic, presented in any way -- poetry, a play, music .... anything. Yet I decided to give a sermon. And what topic did I choose? Trust.

Why the fuck did I think I knew anything about trust? It's one of the slipperiest, vaguest words in the English language. Go ahead. Try to say something about trust and see what happens.

So I'm doing battle with trust this weekend -- even knowing I have very little of it left to examine in my own life. A better topic might have been regret.

So if you have any thoughts on trust -- how to get it; how to keep it; how to lose it; how to repair it -- please send them my way.

****

I'm not going to cop out tonight though, because I ran across this small TV station article titled "Wife: Husband's heroin addiction costs $300 a day."

And I thought, $300 a day! What the fuck? These people are in their late 20's. They were busted for drug possession in a hotel, but the place isn't a Hilton. It's not in a town that has a Hilton. And c'mon. These people are heroin junkies.

So again I say: $300 a day! And that's just what he spends? How the hell do they come up with $300 a day just for heroin? I did the math and it's mind-boggling.

$300/day = $2100/week = $9000/month = $108,000/year = more than a million dollars in less than 10 years!

Where the hell do a couple of heroin junkies get almost $110,000 a year just for heroin? You'd think they'd be too fucked up to earn a decent income, but apparently they can come up with serious cash when they need to. And that doesn't even count rent, food, utilities, vehicles, straws, scales, needles, bail .... I really want to know how they do it.

I'm going to apply logic to this problem: I do not make $110,000 per year. I want to make $110,000 per year. Heroin addicts make more than $110,000 per year; therefore I should become a heroin addict. I see no reason why the money couldn't keep coming in even after it pays for a fancy treatment program in Arizona. Those heroin addicts must know something I don't.

So I'm back to trust. Can the wife be trusted to tell the truth about her husband's heroin addiction? She's definitely an unreliable witness. The only thing trustworthy about addicts is that they will always lie. But even if his heroin addiction costs half what she claims, that's still $50,000 a year. On recreation.

I don't trust everything I read, but somewhere in there lies the truth. The guy spends a lot of money shooting poppies in his veins.

What a strange world.

Friday, June 14, 2013

If you think I'm sexy ....

I'm sitting here on my couch at almost 2:00 am wondering what the hell I should write about tonight. There's always my old standby, vaginas, but believe it or not, some people think I write about vaginas too much, and they'd like me to write about something else.

So I've been thinking what topic has bumped into me most often in the past few days. You'll be surprised to learn it wasn't vaginas, but feminism. And in particular, the part men play in those issues that concern feminists. And in particular, what men can do about it.

The first incident that stands out is one that happened on Facebook. A friend, fellow writer, and former colleague at the university where I used to teach posted something about a female writer he admires. He said she's a great writer and that she's sexy as hell ... and then he wrote a parenthetical disclaimer for his feminist friends to indicate he wasn't trying to offend.

Offend? Listen, if a guy -- or a woman, for that matter -- wants to tell me I'm a great writer and then follows that with I'm sexy as hell, I'm going to be anything but offended. And I am a feminist, but there's nothing wrong with thinking and saying somebody is sexy. Not one damn thing. My friend obviously admired several of the writer's qualities, and her sexiness was only one of them.

Who wouldn't appreciate that? I would. In fact, I'd say "great writer" and "sexy" are on my top 10 compliments a man can give me. Or a woman. Yes, it would make me blush, but in a good way.

I can see why men get confused though. Because some people -- feminists included -- have been known to confuse a genuine compliment with sexual objectification or harassment. Although I can't speak for all feminists (and certainly many feminists would argue that my status as a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler of many years would deny me the privilege of speaking for any feminists), I offer these examples to distinguish the difference.

Imagine man #1 posted something about me on Facebook: "Reticula's a great writer. I read every one of her blog posts at least 5 times. And she's sexy as hell too. She kicks my ass on the bike trail though."

Assuming he hasn't just walked right through a restraining order, this man gets a 

(screencrush.com)

As far as I'm concerned, man #1 can continue on in that vein indefinitely. Hell, take out a fucking billboard. Too bad he's probably married.

Now imagine man #2 posted about me on Facebook: "Reticula writes a lot about vaginas on her blog. Hee. Hee. Now that's one vagina I'd like to ...."

Doesn't matter what the rest of the sentence is. Much as I love vaginas, this dickhead gets a 

(sodahead.com)

One more example.

Man #1 says: "I love boobs."

Batman loves boobs too.

Man #2 says: "Did you see that pair of tits that just walked by. Man, I wish she'd come closer so I could make like a motorboat and ...."

Simon loves boobs. He hates man #2.

I'm going to write more about objectifying women as body parts in a couple of days. These are actually mild examples, but man #2 is still going to make the average feminist's head spin and spew pea soup. He needs to pipe the fuck down.

If anybody doesn't get my point with these 2 examples, just ask. I can come up with dozens.

Like I said, this issue bumped into me several times this week. And the prevailing idea is that it's time for men to stop making this a women's problem and start kicking some ass from within their own tribe. Or army.

For example, watch Lieutenant General David Morrison,  Chief of (the  Australian) Army, dress down his own troops. It takes him 3 minutes to kick the bar back up where it belongs.


Salute! This speech will make a difference, because General Morrison means it, soldier. I believe he will follow through. I haven't seen a high-ranking US military officer make a similar statement though, despite an epidemic of rape among our troops. Too bad it had to be an  Aussie who kicked some soldier ass.

And he's sexy. Mmm. Love a man in uniform.

This next video is longer, but it won't seem long when you watch it. If you're a man, please watch it. Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your stories.

If you're a woman, watch it because it's time we taught this to our sons and held them to a higher standard, damn it. They need to battle something besides video game zombies if they're going to change the world. And, yes, I already taught my son this stuff.


Only a man could give this message: Men's violence against women is not a women's issue. It's a men's issue that cruelly affects women and other men. Men are the ones who can stop it. Women have had to call it out, and take the heat for doing so, but men have to stop it.

Thank you, Dr. Jackson Katz, for a lesson in gender-relations common sense. You are my hero. And OMG, you are so sexy. If you ever lose that gold band on your left hand, you know where to find me.

Seriously though, neither General Morrison's nor Dr. Katz's videos would have gone viral this week if more men stood up to other men when they're verbally or physically abusing a woman. Or when they're talking about women in a way that is verbally abusive. Women can't fix that shit alone. It's too easy to make us either the victims or the ball-busting bullies, and then say we're PMSing bitches or man-haters.

I will attest that a lot of men stand by and watch other men behave terribly for reasons I don't understand. If I had to guess, maybe it's that they don't want to rock the boat or they don't want to seem like pussies or they don't want to lose a friend. Or maybe they just aren't the white knights a lot of them think they are. Yeah, that's a challenge, boys.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Any experiences you'd like to share?