Tuesday, July 31, 2007



I am, by all accounts, not a risk taker. I like my routines, but sometimes things can feel a little, well,...stale. So to break out of my rut I do something crazy like order something different off a menu or buy a different brand of fabric softener. I usually feel better but this week I am still feeling stuck.

SOOOO, last night I realized that although I love visiting the same old blogs day after day, that I would venture out and see what else was out there in this big old blog universe. After all, 7 regular blogs does not a solar system make, right?

To make it interesting I found the "next blog" tab at the top of the screen. Do you see it? Not knowing where it would take me I courageously pressed it and set off on my adventure.

Here is an account of my travels.....

#1 http://chr100.blogspot.com/Det er ganske lett å finne ut hvem snømannen er, selv brukte jeg 120 sider. Jeg får håpe Nesbø har gjort det så enkelt med vilje, for å fokusere på spenningen. Romanen er mer en spenningsroman enn en kriminalgåteroman.

Some sort of language that only the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show could understand.

#2 Some blog from Brazil that was again, in another language. So far I was traveling around the world but couldn't speak to the natives.

#3 A blog called "Welcome to my life... my last summer of freedom before starting med school. Hmmm, I thought. This could have potential. So Scott is going to med school in Maryland starting this fall, has a girlfriend named Heather and a dog named Taco and likes to take pictures at the zoo. Not bad but not as exciting as I had hoped.

#4 Biz opportunity exchange. How to make money from ads on your blogs, real estate and "The money that never quits". $14,800 in 14 days sounded pretty good but highly unlikely. So, I pressed onward.

#5 A gamer blog in Spanish. I'm assuming technical moves in some weird fairytale existence with dragons and elves. What the HELL? These people are wacko.

Just as I was getting disgusted with my lack of entertainment I hit the jackpot.

#6 http://4thavenueblues.blogspot.com/ A recovering alcoholic, schizophrenic writer who is in love with his best friend Rosa. Ahhhh, now this is what I'm talkin' about!

So if your feeling like your world could use a little expanding, go ahead and press the button. I promise it won't hurt. Go on, I dare you. Let me know how your trip was.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Did You Hear That?

If there's one thing that Keri and I like to do when we're out in public, it's eavesdrop on other people's conversations. Every so often we'll post one of these gems that we've been fortunate enough to overhear. Hey, if they're going to talk that loud....

DATE: Sunday, July 29, 2007

TIME: 12 p.m.

PLACE: The Chief Drive-In, Laytonville, CA

MISCELLANEOUS INFO: Damn good big fat onion rings, but according to Squirrel, The Chief's condiment selection is not what it used to be.

A woman is sitting at a table with three men.

Woman: You know what next weekend is, don't you?

Man #2: What?

Woman: That reggae thing. You know, when all those smelly people come into town.

Man #1, 2 and 3: collective groan

Woman: I don't have a problem telling 'em they stink. This year, I think maybe I'll take a garden hose to 'em.

Man #1: You could take a G.I. brush and a bar of soap to 'em, but you'd probably get arrested.

Woman: Last year I told some guy that he needed to take a bath. He said he already had. Can you believe that? It's all that funny-smelling cologne they wear.

All four: Silence, looking down and shaking their heads in dismay.

1 or 2?....3 or 4?

Being a Generation X'er I have always known the comfort of modern technology. Granted, computers didn't come along until I was in college but we always had color TV, planes and in the 5th grade we got our first microwave. It was as big as our washing machine.

Our Grandpa P. is a stubborn 84 years of life and has known only hard work with a penchant for a good scotch and water at 4:00 each day. He scoffs at computers and swears they will be the end of civilization. He refuses to even look at one. He will however, have laser eye surgery. So, in the wake of said surgery I took him for follow up the other day.

Every time we go it seems to be the same story. The doctor is running behind by about 45 min because of a surgery. Grandpa is irritated but kept amused by the various staff. First, there is an assistant who wears the elastic waist band of her pants just below her breasts. Grandpa's comment is always "There's a tall drink of water."

Then there is the short tech who is always running from one room to the next. She has the bad bleach job, curly, 80's style hair and looks much older than her 40 years. She is frequently in hot pink scrubs but Grandpa adores her because she gives him hugs and says that he is her favorite. I hope the doctor has a money back guarantee because grandpa comments on how cute she is. The surgery has obviously made him blind.

This goes on until we actually get into an exam room. Now, I thought there was nothing more dull and annoying than having your eyes examined, but I learned that in fact watching it done to someone else is even worse! By the end of the 30 minutes I wanted to tear my own eyes out and give them to Grandpa so he could just make the damn decision between 1 or 2...3 or 4!!!!

The good news is that I helped him pick out new glasses. Out go the old 80's mob fashion and in comes the 21st century.

I think he is going to like this new collection so I got him some readers too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Heart Statcounter

Thanks to a handy tip from one of my favorite hot and opinionated bloggers, Keri and I are now able to see how many people read this thing, what pages are the most popular, what link they followed and other barely interesting statistics like that.

The best part about it, though, is that we're also able to see what keywords people have typed into search engines that landed them at this blog. For instance, last week someone ended up here by searching for "marsha greg jan brady," and someone else searched for "heated tub jets don't work."

Thanks to Ekovox, someone arrived after searching for "hillbilly wedding food," and there's really no explanation I can think of for this, but someone found us with "messy chocolate covered girls."

But one entry in today's keyword analysis outshone all the others. I could barely contain my excitement when I read it in the middle of today's mostly-boring list.

"getting married in chocolate assless chaps"

Now if only statcounter could actually hook me up with the freak that searched for that, I'd probably have a new best friend.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Kitchen Minion's Got a Blog.

And he needs a serious attitude adjustment when it comes to love. He's a southern California transplant now living in Humboldt and is smart, funny, adorable and makes one hell of a chocolate chip cookie, which he delivers to your doorstep in the middle of the night if you're one of the chosen few. Please be nice to him. Welcome to the blogosphere, my sweet.

Art...It's A Family Thing

And now, a little class, a little culture .....

Feeling somewhat starved for art this week I indulged in 2 events that soothed my creative nerve endings. Sunday, I dragged the whole famn damily to the opening of the new Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland. There was an amazing array of paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry and my personal fav, a sock monkey quilt. Had the price been on it I might have splurged much to the chagrin of Burt. Either that or the Picasso for $15,000. It would have been a tough call. The grand opening had lots of booths to watch artisans create and some where you could participate as well. Lots of people, food and amazing art. If you get up this way be sure to stop by and tell them Keri sent you. Maybe I could get a discount on that quilt.

Yesterday I wrangled the kids to Crackedpots at McMenamen's Edgefield. It's an annual event that has artisans making garden art from recycled, reclaimed materials. It is too fabulous for words, so I will leave you with some pictures.

Made from rusted barbed wire.

Flowers made from lids of jars.

A fork made of forks!

Glass things on pipes.

Now get out there, get your art on and leave this planet a little better off than you found her!

We Interrupt This Blogcast

from its usual silly stories of food and sex to bring you a tiny little rant. (Apologies to Keri right now for the nasty comments that will ensue.)

Why is this news?

Does the Eureka Reporter often feature articles about people who are drunk in public? Is there anyone who doesn't realize that for whatever reason Margorie Burgess has some major problems?

Or are people still trying to vilify her...trying to prove that if she's a "bad" enough person then she deserved to have her son killed?

That's all I have to say. Don't worry..further postings today from me will only involve Saturday night, chocolate and stupid girl tricks.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The absolute best time to get your Saturday Night....

is Monday morning.

Bow...bow...chicka wacka chicka wacka....bow wow...chicka wacka chicka wacka.

Mmmm hmmmmm.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Eat Your View

I stopped at the Farmer's Market in Ferndale for the first time Saturday afternoon. I've wanted to for a long time but don't usually make it back out of the wilderness once I'm settled in on Friday night.

There were only a few booths and since it was near the end of day, even fewer shoppers. One man in a bright yellow shirt had some gorgeous tomatoes on display. As I approached, he grabbed one of them and stuck it in my face. "You've gotta try this Early Girl. Here, take the whole thing." He had me with one bite. I bought six of them to make one of my favorite salads - tomatoes, red onions, basil, a red wine vinaigrette and a bit of chevre.

At the next booth a woman was selling baked goods - delicious looking mini pies and muffins filled with all kinds of berries. The next booth had piles of squash, cucumbers and green beans. There were also lettuces, herbs and picked-that-day marionberries.

We are really fortunate that in Humboldt we have access to such great local foods. Fondling the fresh ripe produce always takes me back to a time when my mom and grandma used to grow all of their own fruits and vegetables. We ate them fresh throughout the summer and canned, frozen and dried year round as both were skilled at "puttin' by." My grandma also raised chickens and cows, and my dad hunted and fished. My mouth still waters at the thought of berry jam, home-smoked salmon, sweet corn eaten raw right off the cob, venison jerky, rhubarb sauce, lemon cucumbers, canned peaches and poppy seed kolaches.

Shopping at the farmer's market makes a person feel good. You get to talk to the growers and they tell you about their farms and give you ideas about new ways to prepare the food you're buying. You hand them your money, and you know that it's going directly back to them so that they can live the life they so obviously love.

This is all wonderful, but for me there's something deeper. For me, shopping for food has become my own little political act. I'm not alone in this. Check out Slow Food, the Farmer's Diner, the 100 mile diet, books byMichael Pollan and Jane Goodall. Eating locally is a movement that's becoming more of a revolution every day.

There are so many terrible things happening in the world today that I have no control over and virtually no say in. I write letters to my legislators and protest in the streets, but the majority of the time I'm left with a sense that my voice doesn't really ever get heard.

Choosing what I put in my body, though, is different. By shopping at farmer's markets, choosing local foods in stores or joining a CSA, I am not just nourishing myself, my family and my community. The best part is that it's a direct way to say, "Screw you" to globalized corporate agriculture.

"Hey, find someone else to eat your nasty, mushy, dye-injected, pesticide-sprayed,trucked-1500-miles-over-a-week-ago-while-
being-artificially-ripened-on-the-way tomatoes, because it ain't gonna be me."

And that makes me feel just a tiny bit powerful.

This is an immense subject, and one that's close to my heart. I could go on for days about genetically modified frankenfood and how organic foods have been taken over by corporations and how the U.S. exports $20 million worth of lettuce TO Mexico and then imports $20 million worth of lettuce FROM Mexico and the complete insanity of this, not to mention antibiotics and growth hormones and chickens in cages who cannot even stand up, but I simply can't right now.

I've got a salad to make. Viva la revolucion!

P.S. Carol and Greg have some nice pictures of the Arcata Farmers Market at their place right now.

Black Sunday

Our country has lost two great women in the last few weeks who have, in their own ways, helped to push forward the idea of beautification. Which one was better known, it's hard to say. I certainly learned more and more in the endless TV coverage, breaking news and newspaper articles about their lives.

The first one to pass on was former First Lady- Lady Bird Johnson. I still don't know if either of those were her real names. I couldn't ascertain that fact out of the millions of tidbits of information. What I do know is that she was a gracious lady who helped to get native wildflowers planted along our boring, black tar endless highway system. Now when I'm stuck in traffic I can look out the window and smile warmly as I think of a happy place full of native poppies.

The second striking blow for us happened Friday. Tammy Faye Baker went on to that big PTL in the sky. Now you may be thinking, "Beautification? What the hell?" But let me tell you when Tammy Faye hit the scene in the 80's, none of us wanted to look like that! All us girls cleaned out our old clumpy mascara that we had used for the last 3 years and started over. We learned the power of waterproof mascara. No black trails of Alice Cooper tears for us! Suddenly, make-up and their users were transformed. The natural look appeared in teen 'zines and even in Vogue. It was if the hand of God broke through the heavens above and Bitch slapped us into a cosmetic reality. And in true Joan Crawford fashion we all screamed in unison " NO CLUMPY MASCARA, EEEVVVEEEERRRRRR!

So girls, let's all take a few seconds out of our make-up routines today, raise up those mascara wands, wave them back and forth and give a little shout out to 2 of this country's jewels.
To Lady Bird and Tammy. May Heaven be full of flowers and Wal-Mart's that are running an ad for 2 for 1 Cover Girl Waterproof Clump Free Mascara.

Friday, July 20, 2007


This week we had the pleasure of following through on a court ordered mediation session.
Not the stuff that the Brady's would have had to deal with but our story just the same.

It seems to me now that during those great old episodes of The Brady Bunch, their blended family always worked out perfectly by the end of 30 minutes. Mr. and Mrs. Brady, always in the height of fashion, calmly and reasonably dealt out morsels of parental brilliance in a loving and thoughtful manner.

Of course, as a kid I thought, "How cool, I want more brothers and sisters." My normal, vanilla bland parents who were still married were definitely crimping my new found appreciation for the expanded version of family.

So this week, as I drove my 15 year old step daughter to the counselor, I hearkened back to what Mr. Brady might have said. "You know honey," I started, feeling pretty good about the term of endearment. "Your dad and I really want you to be able to talk to us about things that are bothering you." ..................Dead silence...................................Uh huh..........................................

OK, score one for the kid.

"Well, we just think that maybe you need someone to help you express yourself and figure out why you aren't turning in your homework and getting F's in school."...................Dead silence.................K.....................................................................................................................

At this point, as I try to now channel Mrs. Brady I can feel the irritation and frustration that my father (a Marine Corps Sgt.) must have felt when dealing with my brother and I.

This wasn't working out the way I had planned! Didn't these people know that we all come to realize that we love each other and that grades instantly turned to A's, children speak more than 1 syllable when spoken to, and that although Greg scratched the car or Tiger gets lost that we all laugh about it in the end when things go back to normal?

Even though I think I handled this situation with as much love and support as I could muster, I realized that Mr. Brady didn't have: a Bitch for an ex-wife, $650.00 garnished from his wages each month for child support and a $3500.00 attorney bill. I think the whole Brady clan would have been in counseling had they have to live through what we all have.

I have now changed my parenting style. My parents were right after all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Food...I Think I Love You!

Food and I have a tumultuous relationship. When I was younger and in my prime, I admit, I used him. I used him for one purpose and one purpose only, to provide me energy to keep up with my friends. I was thin and beautiful and didn't give him a second thought or a sideways glance.

Now that I am older with uh,...curves and emotional baggage he and I dance a strange Tango type dance that leaves my head spinning and my insides full and warm. I pursue him as I scour cookbooks and recipe websites devoted to him. I read blogs (like 299 Opine) and become giddy with excitement as he describes best places to eat and bread in a can. I touch my...tongue as I imagine the flavors that will eventually linger and come to rest there. I stock him with every fiber of my being knowing that a restraining order would be warranted.

I know that he is always there if I need him but he always leaves me with a little something extra when he goes. A cruel punishment of our tangled love affair. A byproduct of our love.

And so, I leave you with my latest crisis in picture story form. Enjoy...

Food, a Cautionary Tale
by Keri Gastro-Cuisine

This is the invitation to the wedding that started it all. (I am to be Matron of Honor at Kristabel's wedding.)

This is the dress (2 sizes too small) that I bought for the wedding because of the invitation that started it all.

This is pantry, that feeds my nervousness, at fitting into the dress (2 sizes too small), to be in the wedding that started it all.

This is the scale that screams at me for being in the pantry, feeding my nervousness at the thought of fitting in the dress 2 sizes too small for the wedding that started it all.

This is the ummm...curves, that makes the scale scream from being in the pantry, feeding the nervousness at the thought of fitting into the dress 2 sizes too small for the wedding that started it all.

This is the blog post that will always remind me that no matter how much I love food, I will NEVER again buy a dress 2 sizes too small.

The End... Again

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mishaps in the Kitchen and those Damned Canucks

On Friday night I helped to put on a fabulous themed event. I was, of course, put in charge of dessert, and I figured that nothing would be more appropriate for a party called "Campout Craziness" than a dessert of those messy, sticky, fun-filled campfire favorites: s'mores. My challenge was to figure out a way to serve 150 people s'mores -all at the same time - otherwise, with the crowd I'd be serving...someone would surely lose a body part in the rush.

I found a recipe for baked s'mores on the Canadian food network website, and it sounded perfect. Canadians. They're sturdy, outdoorsy, moose-hunting people. If anyone should be able to make a good s'more, the Canadians should. I wondered if I should try it first just to make sure. Nah. I used to make wedding cakes, for god's sake. I'm a professional. Plus, I had the help of my baking minions: Michael - a former music teacher who is highly skilled at telling really bad jokes, and Sal - the only straight man I know who suddenly bursts into the chorus of "Dancing Queen" for no apparent reason.

The recipe consisted of making a thick sauce of butter, sugar, vanilla and graham cracker crumbs, pouring it over graham crackers, and layering with chocolate and marshmallows. Then you bake this delicious concoction until the marshmallows on top are toasted, and after cooling, cut them into bars. It looked simple enough, and actually it was. At first.

Here's the first layer:

Adding the chocolate:

Shmallows...the best part:

A second layer on top:

The first pan out of the oven, cooled and cut into bars:

I cut the first batch from an 8" x 8" pan, which is what the recipe said to use. They cut easily into decadent little squares.

These things were absolute heaven. Warm, sweet and gooey, they tasted like a combination between a s'more, a blondie and a thirty-minute orgasm.

Here's Melissa (lead singer of The Ravens - this girl rocks!) in a s'more stupor.

I then grabbed the next batch which was in a pan approximately 9" x 15", flipped it over and began peeling off the parchment paper on the bottom. Uh oh. Small strands of paper covered in graham cracker goop started ripping off in strings. I tried to release the marshmallows stuck to the sides to get a better grip. No luck. I then grabbed a knife and tried to slice off the bottom layer of parchment paper. Graham cracker flew everywhere; a chunk of chocolate hit me square in the eye. My kitchen minions stood with their mouths hanging open at the horror unfolding before them. With cool serene confidence I looked up at them and smiled, "This one must've gotten overcooked. I'm sure the rest will be fine. Let's move on to the next."

A half-hour later I was covered in chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and humiliation. Every single other batch - eight in all - had completely stuck to the bottom. What were we going to do? We've been talking about this party for months. The people want s'mores! I started imagining the torture I would endure if I showed up empty-handed, or maybe even worse yet, with cookies out of a box. Beginning to panic, I whirled around to plead with the minions to think of something, but they were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, my curmudgeonly taste-tester was right around the corner. Taste-testing is but one of his many skills, and he also possesses nerves of steel. Walking into a kitchen with a wild-eyed woman holding a knife might thoroughly frighten a lesser man, but not John. He quickly summed up the situation and reached into his pocket. With a calm, soothing voice he pressed $5.00 into my palm. "Take this, go to Cash and Carry and buy a huge box of ice cream cones. Scoop out the s'mores and put them in those. They'll LOVE them." Having no other option, I obeyed, and later that evening.....

The S'morecone was born.

There were only a few odd looks and raised eyebrows. I guess when you give people a dose of that much sugar, they're too busy jumping around like maniacs to ask too many questions. One man, after downing his second cone, even started spinning on the dance floor while giving me a thumbs-up. "These are the bomb!!!" he shouted before falling to the ground laughing hysterically.

So in the end, the s'morecones were the hit of the night. As for why the recipe didn't work....I'm still not sure. Squirrel says that because s'mores are stoner food, we should have taken a few bong hits before baking, and they would've come out just fine. That's an interesting theory, but I'm still going to blame Canada.

Here's the recipe.

If you'd like to make them for 150 people, send me an email, and I'll give you the extended version, although because of the above experience, I recommend that instead of baking this, you just throw it on a tarp and wrestle in it.

Friday, July 13, 2007


The really smart, really witty ones with impeccable hygiene? They're always gay. This video is dedicated to someone special. He knows who he is.

The Hazzards

Ahhh....Small Town Life

We live in a town with a population of about 10,000. During one particular week in the month of July we swell to around 20,000. Our Mt. Festival Days are a culmination of food, music and handmade crafts. The highlights are the parade and beer garden, and if you can combine the two then you have just found a little slice of paradise.

Of course there is a small carnival set up in the shared parking lot of the vegetable stand and the local Mexican restaurant. It smells of hot burnt grease, carnie sweat, and pheromones. Teenagers are as abundant as a swarm of gnats. This year we narrowly escaped it by pleading a lack of cash for the $6 per ride cost.

We were, however, lucky enough to catch the parade. Thinking swiftly, we had set our chairs and blankets out the night before. This ensured us some prime parade watching real estate. We felt pretty smug as others had to sit behind us, or worse yet, STAND!

Now don't think that because we are small town hickville that we don't have the staples that folks come to expect from a proper parade. Of course we have the Shriners on ATVs, floats made on hay trailers, boy and girl scouts, the local kids sports teams and the fire department with full sirens blaring.
So please don't be jealous when I tell you that we have a little extra goodness. I wasn't even going to mention it for fear that we will be over run with out of towners, but I think you should know.

We also have the kazoo marching band, fleet of John Deere tractors and the piece de resistance, the sewer/septic tanker truck in all it's glory! GOD BLESS AMERICA and the small town citizens that make her up! Keep on truckin' good buddy!

***Editors note*** I tried to get a picture of the septic tanker but was laughing so hard that I missed it as it drove by. You'll have to trust me on this one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Xanadu and Other Musings

I am stuck. Befuddled. Blocked and constipated. I have (dun, dun, duh).....WRITER'S BLOCK!

I can hear you all now... NO GOD, why her, whyyyy now???. She was too young in her career to be struck down! I have been having this private battle for the last few weeks. Nothing will come to me. I stare blankly at the "create posting" button as it taunts me with it's virgin white text box. Surely I can't be the only one? What do other bloggers do when the pressure becomes too great?

OK Keri, I tell myself...now don't panic! Deep breaths and count backwards from 10. Should I use a color? A new font perhaps? OH SWEET BABY JESUS what will break this terrible curse you have placed upon me? Should I burn some sage or hire a priest for a cleansing?

But wait....what's this on TV? Entertainment Tonight? A new musical opening based on the 1980 movie Xanadu? Weren't there muses sent down from Olympus to help the struggling disco DJ overcome his creative block? Sister's (I recall) that sang and roller skated and wore incredibly fabulous outfits with leg warmers.

Move over Olivia, I'm pullin' out the leg warmers and makin' you my bitch!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Top Ten Irritations of Today

10) The phrase "my bad."

9) Summer people and their god damned ATVs and motor bikes.

8) People that leave long, rambling messages on my answering machine and use up almost the whole memory. That's what email's for.

7) The guy in line behind me who visibly sighed and rolled his eyes because my friend needed help putting cream in her coffee. She has a disability and is learning to do things for herself. He is an asshole and needs to learn a lot more than she does.

6) Gas prices

5) Poison oak

4) Drug Addicts in Old Town. I realize that there are no simple answers for the drug problems in Humboldt. I wish we had better programs, safe injection sites, etc., but sometimes......when they wander into my workplace all day long asking for money....well.....they drive me fucking crazy and I wish they'd just go away.

3) When Squirrel tracks dirt through the house, doesn't sweep it up, and I step on it with bare feet.

2) People that tell their dogs to "lay down" instead of "lie down."

1) Due to circumstances beyond my control, weeks have gone by without any Saturday night in them.

That last one's not obvious or anything, is it?

Monday, July 9, 2007

It's All Fun and Games Until...

someone has to collect a stool sample.

My cousin has an intimate relationship with the English language. Words roll off of her tongue the way that autumnal trees shed their leaves. They gracefully float in the air until they come to rest in a yard of soft grass or pool of water or a listener's ear. The mastery of which she spins these words from thin air is akin to the making of the cobwebby magnificence of cotton candy.

I have always been envious of the way her artistry in words and in various mediums tend to come so easily. No struggling, just a cool, serene confidence and VOILA! a masterpiece!!

That is why it made me laugh when I read the Giardia story. Who else, other than Kris, could turn a gross parasite into an entertaining story. I lightheartedly read, and reread it to my husband as we mused about country living.

Then the phone rang....What? The Health Department wants me to go and get checked since I had stayed with them about the same time as the water problems? Well, I guess I feel ok. Yah, some stomach issues but nothing major. Ok I'll call the doc Monday.

Now, I admit, we have mental health issues, anxiety disorders and the distinction of having some of the first relatives to try electro shock therapy. So I can't be totally sure that the prospect of having parasites doing a conga line in my intestines didn't trigger a little hypochondria. Suddenly I felt weak, clammy and crampy. Sunday night it continued and appeared to have spread to Burt. He too, felt abdominal pain and gas. What about the kids? the dog? Oh my GOD, it's a pandemic. Should we notify our Health Department? The CDC in Atlanta?

I began to chastise myself. Why, oh why, did I have to brush my teeth so much at her house? Couldn't I have had the drink warm, without the ice cubes?

After a quick dose of Xanax and a Tums, I felt back to normal. Monday morning arrived and after a brief phone call to the doc, it was decided that a stool sample was necessary. "We have to know what we are working with here." Doctorese for "I won't make any money unless we run tests and I can claim an office visit."

With sunglasses and a baseball cap on I went to pick up "the kit". I prayed for an expedited exit but of course, as the cousin with bad luck, it was not in the cards. The kit was not ready and waiting at the front desk as promised. The receptionist promptly yelled to the back that I was present and needed "THE STOOL TEST FOR PARASITES." Thanks...thanks a lot. I quickly grabbed the HIPPA Confidentiality brochure that they force you to sign, and tried to look up whether an idiotic receptionist was covered. As I suspected, it wasn't addressed.

As I lay it back down, I caught the eye of an 89 year old women (I know this because the receptionist had yelled out her address and birthday for confirmation only seconds earlier.) She gave me a look of sympathy and mouthed the words "Don't worry, it's ok."

Now I sit here at home, looking at the kit. It looks more like the chem lab from college than the simple test they explained over the phone. Four bottles with various colored fluids and lines of measurement. Now comes the technical questions. What the hell am I supposed to collect and spoon it with? Seriously, I can't store this in my refrigerator.

Burt keeps asking me if I have finished it yet. No, I reply. I never was good at doing things on command.
Like a spoiled child whining in lament I cry out, "How come Kris didn't have to do this? She just had to sit by a chick flossing her teeth! SSHHHHEEEEE got the medicine without the kit!" It's not FAAAAIIIIRRRR!"
As an overachiever my only solace is that maybe I can have even more parasites in my stool than her.
Hey, it's something.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

There's something in the water....

and apparently, it's giardia.

There were problems with our spring a month or so ago, and I guess the repair came coupled with contamination. Poor Squirrel has been sick for weeks and finally got the diagnosis a few days ago. I fed him yogurt and sympathy while gloating about the fact that spending my formative years swallowing the Eel and Van Duzen rivers had made me immune to the bugs. Yesterday, as I sat holding my stomach in the waiting room at Urgent Care next to a woman who thought it was completely appropriate to thoroughly floss her teeth in public, I realized that my hypothesis was about to be proven false.

Last week I took a whirlwind day trip to San Francisco to do some necessary wedding shopping. I lived in the city in the early nineties and felt a familiar catch in my throat as the Golden Gate Bridge first appeared around a curve in the road. I turned on my favorite drag queen album, The Scissor Sisters, paid the $5 toll and entered the city.

I drove down Van Ness Avenue and turned left to head through the Tenderloin on my way to Union Square. I used to work at a residential hotel in the heart of this neighborhood. It was quite an education for a girl who had lived her entire life in Humboldt County, and I loved it. The first time I looked out the kitchen window from the fourth floor, I saw a prostitute bent over having sex with a man behind a dumpster. Dually fascinated and horrified, I found that I couldn't look away until at one point the woman glanced up at the window and saw me watching. She gazed directly into my eyes, and with a touch of a smile on her lips waggled her red-tipped fingers at me. I felt my face turn the color of her fingernails as I jumped back from the window in embarrassment.

Amazingly, there was a parking spot on the street just a couple of blocks up from where I needed to go. As I opened the car door I was immediately hit with that smell that always lets me know I'm in the city: urine-soaked concrete. And on this sunny day, the heat had made it even more aromatic than usual.

Walking down to Britex fabrics, I reveled in everything I love about visiting San Francisco - the snippets of different languages, the smells wafting from ethnic restaurants, the people walking like they actually need to get somewhere, the street vendors, the varied colors of skin. I did my shopping as quickly as possible in the hope that I would have time to hit Tu Lan for lunch, but it was too late. I didn't want to get stuck in rush-hour traffic, so I grabbed a salad and a small lox pizza at Wolfgang Puck's and did some more people-watching before starting my journey back home.

I felt a little wave of sadness as I drove back through the Tenderloin, wishing that it could've been a longer visit. As the light turned green at Van Ness, and I waited to turn right while a crowd of people crossed the street, the car behind me started honking. I could see the driver waving his arms at me. Did he want me to plow through the pedestrians, or was he merely just expressing his outrage at the fact that I had to make an inconvenient turn instead of going straight? As I made my way toward the bridge, a huge Muni bus pulled out of its stop, cutting me off and forcing me to slam on the brakes. I felt the hot coffee I had in my hand splatter across my lap and said to myself, "Oh, yeah...I remember this."

My plan to miss the afternoon commute was a complete failure. After an hour of very heavy and slow traffic, I was high from the diesel fumes, and my ears were buzzing from all of the honking. I could feel my heart pounding from the caffeine coupled with the road rage around me, and I really needed to use the bathroom. After two-and-a-half hours from the time I left San Francisco, I reached Santa Rosa.

Stafford is usually about the place where I start to feel like I'm in the home stretch. This trip in particular, it was a very welcome sight. The rest of the drive home brought back memories of all the reasons I had left the city after several years and moved back to Humboldt. Escaping a man I didn't love was only one of those. As much as I adore the energy and excitement, I am a country girl at heart.

Exhausted and shaky from too much caffeine and sugar, I arrived home to Bear River Valley about midnight. Squirrel was waiting up for me, so we sat for awhile and I told him all about my adventures - probably in much greater detail than he really wanted to hear.

Later while lying in bed, still a little too wound-up to fall asleep, I listened to the sounds of the night around me - the baby birds on the back porch crying for food, a howling coyote in the distance, the gentle "whooooo" of a lone owl, and the harmonious cacophony of river frogs that has become the continuous soundtrack to our lives out here.

The honks and the yells and the fumes and the irrational rage from earlier drifted away as I fell into a dreamless sleep.

I'll take the giardia.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Old Town Observation

Funniest conversation overheard this morning at Has Beans Coffee Shop:

Guy with hat puts down his Times-Standard in disgust: "Man, why do poor people like fireworks so much?"

Guy with beard: "It's all about power, man."

Guy with hat: "Huh?"

Guy with beard: "Power. They don't have any. They want some. So they light stuff on fire and blow it up and watch the sparks fly. It makes them feel powerful."

Guy with hat: "I see what you're saying."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

Happy 4th everybody!!! I love this time of year. The weather is warm and usually sunny. My pale ghost skin gets a good healthy dose of UV rays and my spirit gets a reprieve from the hectic days at work. I hope you get to relax on your day off and spend some time doing exactly what you want. No honey-do lists, no kids pulling at your leg telling you they are bored, and NO WORK!

I spent some time thinking today about the 4th's that we had as kids. Of course staying up late and getting to play with matches were the highlights, but there was so much more. What do you remember?

Here's my list and the things I hope to share with my own little pyromaniacs:

  • Homemade ice cream (yes, you had to use ice and rock salt AND turn the crank). We all took turns but I always wanted to lift the lid as I was sure it was ready. Then we got the fancy electric kind. I still make Great Grandma Doty's recipe. It's the best I have found!
  • Writing your name with the sparklers.
  • Decorating your bike for the parade with red, white and blue streamers.
  • Watermelon seed spitting contests.
  • Homemade berry pies.
  • BBQ everything.
  • Running through the sprinklers.
  • Making juice popsicles.
  • Watching your dad almost trip and fall as he runs away from the newly lit firework.
  • Throwing those snap crack fireworks at each other's feet and then playing in the sawdust they came in.
  • The smell of burned out fireworks in a pale of water.
  • And of course family and friends.

Let's all be thankful for our independence today. Put out your flag, turn on your sprinkler and be a kid again.

Great Grandma Doty's Ice Cream

12 eggs

2 quarts half and half

1 1/2 C sugar

2Tbls vanilla

**Beat eggs until foamy and add other ingredients. Place in ice cream maker until thick and ready.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Aging at Costco

After shopping at Costco, I often feel like I've lost precious moments from my life that I'll never get back, but sometimes it has to be done. This weekend, for instance, I was being visited by four cousins from the south, two of whom are teenage boys. Since they never stop eating, I realized that Costco was probably the only place I could afford to get them enough food to last them through two days in the country.

I was excited that the place wasn't very crowded, made my purchases quickly and headed to the border crossing to have my papers checked. The eighteen-year-old girl at the door looked at my receipt, and then looked up noticing the necklace I was wearing. It was a black-and-white vintage photo of a woman from the 1940's sitting in a grassy field kicking up one of her stockinged legs.

"Oh, that's so cute!" she squealed. "Is it someone you know?"

I smiled at her. "No, it's just a vintage photo I really like," I answered.

"Well, then, you should just tell people it's a picture of you when you were much younger."

I would've taken that little bitch down right then, but the floor in there's made of concrete. I didn't want to break a hip.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

When Family Visits, Get Out of Dodge

After a brief reprieve from the duties of life, I have again joined reality. It was a difficult decision to make. You see, I'm a Sagittarius and have a NEED to roam. I would have loved staying GONE but eventually the bills stacked up, phone messages accumulated and the ex-hubbie and "the man's" ex-wife started acting up. (I swear they do this in tandem to double the pleasure of it all.)

One of "the man's" brothers and his wife came to visit from Minnesota on Thursday night. This is what precipitated my reality vacation. They are nice and friendly "don't cha know", "yah, you betcha".
After a whole day of cleaning the house "Cinderella" style before they arrived, we decided to take many*rooood (*Minn. accent) trips. This, in fact, serves two purposes. It maintains the pristine new cleanliness that your house has, and secondly, it distracts them from getting too relaxed and wanting to stay longer.
We literally went from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to Cannon Beach in *twoooo days. After staying up late, drinking LOTS (including *Limoncelloooo) and putting about 800 miles on the car we safely delivered them back to the airport from which they came, breathed a sigh of relief, got a little "Saturday night" and took a well deserved nap.

Now I'm forced to ask: "Who's making dinner?" "What do you mean we have no groceries?"

Ok...I promise I'll come back to reality when we have some *foooood.