Thursday, August 30, 2007

Produce Extravaganza

Kath came over tonight to exchange a giant bag of apples - compliments of her neighbor - with a giant bag of tomatoes (and one pepper) from the ClizBiz Garden of Miracles. I tried to pawn off this giant freakish tomato but she was too scared.

So am I, quite frankly. Reminds of the first time I saw a ridiculously oversized man-rod:

"Uh, wow, that's great. Congratulations, seriously, but what exactly am I supposed to do with that? I mean, I'm happy to sit here and worship it, no problem. As far as it actually going into my mouth, I just don't see it happening."

I feel a tad like Dr. Frankenstein here. Perhaps my mulch doesn't know its own strength. Was it the hovering? The swearing? Perhaps my grunting, "Fuckers!" at the weeds accidentally transferred some powers into the the dirt, the worms and the roots. Oops. Just more evidence that I need to clean up my act.

This is one Tomato. ONE. There are about 10 coming right along behind, except they are BIGGER. Oh, Lord, help me! What have I done?!? Why was I so power hungry? They must be stopped! Why-o-why did I not have seven children so they could help me eat it?!? I'm always skipping the useful stuff in life.

Ah, geez. Might as well give it a shot ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beauty in Filth and Other Observations

Who knew that cleaning the bathroom sink could produce such a lovely study in water design?

Please no cracks about my personal hygiene. I'm a modern miracle of a woman - I work hard and play hard. Sometimes things happen but I eventually clean them up. Blogging one minute, Netflixing the next - I'm telling you, I might as well be making my own lard-based soap and churning butter. My filth is hard-earned and I'll not have it mocked.

See here, I'm practically a housedress-with-apron-wearing farmer's wife with the produce I've been harvesting lately:

And no, the 'My garden!' photos will not end until a certain Mr. Jack Frost shows up mid-October and kills everything.

Now then, if you've read this far, you deserve a treat. My pals, Jen and Maria, visited this past weekend from San Francisco. As usual, a good time was had by all.

Jen is a woman made entirely of muscle who eats five desserts per sitting and is an avid student of contortionism. She'll say things like, "My Mongolian says that I should ... " I mean, really, shouldn't everyone have a Mongolian? Jen is pictured at left, sniffing the hell out of a pine tree branch while picking out my Xmas tree last December. I can assure you, her joy is intense and her cackle, quite real.

So, when she began to pack for the trip home Sunday evening, I couldn't help but notice her adorable tiny bra. Just for shits and giggles, I put my Gigantor Tit Sling above it and called it high entertainment. We shat, we giggled, we marveled at our physical differences.

And really, isn't that what friendship is all about?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Me and EE, We're Tight

So, there I was, at a swinging party at the Children's Museum on Chicago's Navy Pier when, lo, there was Elizabeth Edwards, fresh from her onstage interview with my BlogHer bosslady, Lisa Stone. Whatever your politics, there was really no way not to be impressed with the wife of presidential candidate, John Edwards. Mind you, this was a tough crowd, cyber-snobs, every single last one of us.

I loved Lisa's first question after all the greetings, pleasantries and thanks-for-comings: "So, um, why are you here?" EE was taken aback and when she began to speak, it quickly became clear that - GASP! - she was one of us.

Evidently, EE knew her tech stuff and had been an early adapter in the mid-90s. She discussed how the online community helped her deal with her grief after the sudden death of her son, Wade. She developed online relationships that continue to this day, most with people she has never met. She blogs, when time permits, on her husband's campaign site and keeps her RSS feeds fully stocked. Oh yeah, then there's the whole raising-three-children-while-fighting-cancer thing.

During the Q&A, one woman got up and announced that she did not like EE's husband, would never vote for him and was a staunch Republican, however, she did have a question: "Are your blog posts reviewed by the campaign staff before they are posted?"

"No, not at all," said EE. "My assistant, Tracey, looks it over to fix any misspellings but changes not one word of content. That's it."

"Wow, that's great," said Conservative Girl and quickly sat down.

So, when I spotted the wee-but-mighty EE at the party, I spent quite some time angling for position, jockeying with her many admirers. Me, being the Photography CE of BlogHer, I was naturally prepared for a photo opp.

Except that I wasn't. Not at all. My battery was dead and my card was full. I whined about it aloud and a sweet angel named Melissa Masello heard my plea. "I can take a picture for you, if you want," she offered. She sent it today, full of apologies for the blurriness but I dig how it reflects the madness of the hour. I also especially like how it is better than no photo at all.

My first impression upon meeting EE was how 'open' her face is. She very much gives off a strong whiff of "Yup. This is me. I'm short, I could lose a few and I've got wrinkles so there ya go." In a word, she's BEAUTIFUL.

Because of this, I'm almost fine with how I appear in this photo. But Jeezus, could my tits be any bigger? Seriously, those moneymakers could feed the world. Oh, and I love the belly hanging out. That's in-your-face sexy, that's what that is. I'm not kidding. Look it up.

Post-photo, we talked briefly and I thanked her for coming to the BlogHer Conference, "Thanks for stopping in to our little world."

"Hey!" she said, defiantly. "It's my world too!" I stood corrected.

Then, an elbow shoved me aside. 'Undoubtedly the Next Admirer demanding her EE time,' I thought, then turned and caught the profile of Conservative Girl.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

'D' for Done

I've had it. No more. That's it.

I'm a pretty mellow chick these days but I am FUCKING DONE with ill-informed nitwits sending me their jingoistic flag-waving bullshit make-yourself-feel-better "Support Our Troops" emails!

Seriously. I can no longer sit back and just roll my eyes and delete them. This country keeps lying to itself about a war based on lies and I simply can't stand it. As disturbing as it is to hear delusion from political mouths or read about it in opinion polls, some line gets crossed when it comes into my personal inbox - it's like shitting on my porch.

Most of these doozies come from people much older than me and I have not expressed my true rage out of respect for my elders. However, about 10 minutes ago, we reached a tipping point.

Nevermore will I sit by quietly and read these exaggerated iconic bedtime stories that still cling to a WWII-era idea of war. DONE. Every single one is now going to get a personally written response and it certainly won't take long for my address to be removed from certain lists. Who knows? It might even get me on some lists. It might even spark a debate, which would be dandy.

What burns my guts about this isn't the idea that myself and the senders disagree so completely, that is to be expected. Its that assumption that I would receive these with a smile that pisses me off. Um, hi? Have we even met? Holy crap.

So, here's the email that just lit the wick of this flaming rocket rant. It alludes to the photo above (cue sweeping Americana music here):

This statue currently stands outside the Iraqi palace,now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will eventually be shipped home and put in the memorial museum in Fort Hood , TX

"The statue was created by an Iraqi artist named Kalat, who for years was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad. Kalat was so grateful for the Americans liberation of his country;he melted 3 of the heads of the fallen Saddam and made the statue as a memorial to the American soldiers and their fallen warriors.

Kalat worked on this memorial night and day for several months. To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms. Do you know why we don't hear about this in the news? Because it is heart warming and praise worthy.The media avoids it because it does not have the shock effect. But we can do something about it. We can pass this along to as many people as we can in honor of all our brave military who are making a difference. And please pass this on!"

Oh, I'll pass it on alright.

So, I then did some digging and ended up sending this response:

"I did actually see this story, in the Dallas Morning News. The statue was not the artist's idea - Kalat was commissioned by the U.S. Army, specifically Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Fuss who came up the idea to melt down the Saddam heads for materials. As for being "grateful", Kalat's uncle was killed by an American rocket attack and he believes the war is about oil. He definitely is not a fan of the U.S.

Kalat did this for money, as he did willingly for Hussein, because he needs to take care of his family. Period.

I mean it. I've had it. Knock it off.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Best Compliment Ever

It's as if my vegetable plants once wore bikini tops, it's "Garden Gone Wild."

The neighbors and building workmen all 'ooh' and 'aaah', knowing how I've hovered over it and pounced on every weed's first evil green breath. Today, my landlord, Amy, relayed a conversation that made my day.

She hired a Mexican dude to help with landscaping project and he brought along his two sons, aged around 7-10, who pitched in to help. To my delight, they were greatly impressed with the ClizBiz Produce Project.

"Wow! Whose garden is that?"
they asked.
"That belongs to the lady upstairs," said Amy.
"Really? Is she a Mexican?"

I'd seen the boys later, hovering around the Plot, discussing. I went down and gave them some bounty - a big ass zuke and a yellow-necked squash. They were totally adorable and gracious beyond their years. I'm completely digging this Summer Santa thing.

Let's review:

Garden: Day One - Planted June 2-3, this summer.

Week Ten - August 12

What I imagined as a peaceful produce plot has become an unruly playground of botanical politics. The zucchini, as previously mentioned, are hyper productive but not terribly accurate. They're like the kid who turns in extra credit but still gets it all wrong. These things are as big as my arm and a ridiculously bright yellow. Still, they taste dee-lish and the intent is there so that's all that matters. Beauty is on the inside and all that.

Then there are the two tomato plants that have 'issues.' The Brandywine is the bully of the plot - knocking down other plants, snatching their water and sun rays like nerd lunch money. I cut his ass back on Sunday, BIG TIME.

Then there is his brother, Best Boy, who is equally stocky but favors the dramatic arts - feigning weakness is his specialty. He is always 'fainting' on other plants, trying to get attention, accidentally 'leaning' on the zukes for emotional support. 'Oooooh, it's just soooo hooooootttt,' and he collapses, pulling on the errant stoic roots of the chocolate mint. The other plants just roll their eyes and try to lean away from the day's faint path. I tied his whiny ass to the fence tonight, otherwise, it's off to military school.

The third tomato plant,Bush Early Girl, doesn't bother anyone; it just sits in the corner, coloring in the lines and eating everything on its plate, no more and no less.

The orange and yellow peppers are Twin Snobs. They are openly revolted by their unfortunate proximity to all the 'common' plants and would prefer having their own space. Perhaps a rooftop garden in Manhattan, dahling? A yacht on the French Riveria? Sweetie, even the changing room at Prada would suffice.

Eggplant is all-too-aware of the antics and silly plot pressures and tries desperately to escape. Eggplant longs for a quieter and funkier habitat, like maybe a monastery in Harlem or a library in Peru. Eggplant is Deep Purple, baby.

The yellow-necked squash suffers from an identity crisis ever since the zukes took on their signature color. The neckers are confused, slow to ripen and terribly insecure - even their crook curve looks half-assed. Neckers need a new stylist/therapist/publicist, just for starters.

The Basil Bush is the most popular girl in the square. She's lush green, with delicate flower buds and a sweet smell. She plays well with others and does not mingle with unseemly types who smell of weed. BB is well-groomed, loved and adored - the Disney-heroine of the Plot.

The two mint plants, chocolate and grocery-store mint, are so stealthy and well-behaved it makes me nervous, like they are plotting something. They smile real nice and everything seems in order but I don't quite trust them. I smell mutiny.

Oh! I always forget about poor lil' Rosemary. She's completely shaded by Brandywine but she charges on ahead, doing her thing, albeit sidewise. Gotta love Rosemary, she's a survivor with no complaints.

And yes, I do need to get out more. Why do you ask? Then again, as hobbies go, I suppose it could be worse.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Just Breathing


After years of fantasizing, I finally experienced a yoga retreat this weekend. My visit to Shoshoni was way overdue. Me needed some serious bendy time.

I hadn't realize that Shoshoni is a working ashram, a Hindu hangout where "sages live in peace and tranquility amidst nature." Basically, ancient wisdoms, buncha trees and a whole lotta incense.

I checked in with a young man named Oliver and informed him that my garden had produced frightfully large vegetables - could I donate to the kitchen? He recommended I give it to one of the deities first and then they'd take it; I was suspicious. I'd have to get to know them first, I said, I don't give my prize veggies to just any old deity that comes along. Oliver seemed perplexed as I clung protectively to my monster zuke. A girl's got to have standards when it comes to her soul and her garden - seems everyone wants a piece these days.

I picked out a soft camping spot on the edge of the property and settled in. I always feel so damn autonomous when I get my little blue tent popped up and dump out all the dead bugs from the last excursion. I'd arrived just in time for the 7 p.m. dinner (all meals vegetarian, natch), followed by a session on aromatherapy. Stuffed with tofu, we sat around in a circle, passing tiny bottles filled with magical scents.

With the smell of peppermint clinging to one nostril and cedar essence to the other, I headed to my tent in total darkness - I stupidly left my headlamp in the gol'dern truck. And then, very helpful and completely deadly flashes with lightening showed me the way. Headlamp? We don't need no stinkin' headlamps! (I do have a real fear I'm going to be struck and the last thing I'll hear will be "ZOT!" Could be a pretty cool death, as deaths go.)

It rained all night - I just love that sound. I couldn't help but think about the women I'd met at dinner who brought along her rain-sound machine that she needed for slumber. Did she still use it if it was actually raining? (She told me later that the machine and the real rain on the tin roof were competing all night long. FREAK.)

At some point, I realized that there would be chanting, lots of it, starting early at Dawn's butt crack, 5:30 a.m. Amazingly, I managed to become conscious enough to don a skirt (required for temple) and experience the Guru Gita chanting. It went on and on and on and on. I listened, I dozed, I may have even cried. It's exhausting but the vibration of it kinda grew on me.

Swamis were everywhere. They are easily spotted because they dress entirely in orange - the international Swami color, evidently. When one Swami led a yoga class, he wore shiny orange shorts. Yo, Swami gangsta!

This much I've learned: I suck at meditation. My brain is too full of trivia, too concerned with meaningless minutiae and concerns/regrets about the future/past. When I was supposed to be empty-brained, instead I wondered, "Has William Shatner seen 'Galaxy Quest?' If so, does he find it particularly hilarious? I'd love to watch it with him ... "

And when I was supposed to be focusing on my existence in the world, my role as a giver of love and instigator of peace, I may have been contemplating the state of Michael Richards career: Does he sit home watching old 'Seinfeld' episodes, munching on medication, waiting for the public to forget? Or maybe, "Can we create a national campaign to have Brittany neutered? Would that be too weird? I mean, they're always saying, 'Think of the children' so ... "

Such are the weighty thoughts that occupy my mind.

As always, I met a ton of fabulous, funny, strong women and have to come to grips to the fact that I am a magnet for them but not so much for the men-folk. (Although I did receive a mysterious phone call on the way up the mountain. Some fellow I had given my number to ... NINE MONTHS AGO. Says he'd lost the card and then just found it when his suit came back from the cleaners. "When can I see you?" he said with some urgency, "When is the soonest we can get together?" I felt compelled to point out that since there was a nine-month lapse in our communication that he had no right to be impatient and to just settle down. Humph. We shall see.)

In addition to sneaking in some very freeing guitar picking, I went on some gorgeous hikes, my favorite being the brief but intense 'Meditation Path.' Call me crazy, but I felt something there. It could have been an ant on my ankle but it felt bigger. I sat on a rock overlooking the pine-covered valley and wrote for hours. The gist of my scribblings have something to do with focusing the second half of my life (assuming I live to 82) to helping others who have not been as lucky as I. Then again, I'm pretty self-centered so we'll see how that goes.

But if there is one thing I learned overall, the most in-depth truth uncovered by the magical place called Shoshoni, it is this: Tofu makes me fart.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Early Stages of Convention Fever

Okay, so it's a year away but I'm not the only one who has the symptoms of early onset political convention fever. As I tell everyone who will listen - and some who don't want to - "Next summer, the Democratic Convention is going to be in Denver and HEAR THIS: Somebody with boobs, somebody black, SOMEBODY is getting something they never got before and and History is going to be made ... right ... here."

I've got some evil plans to score a press pass and nose my way into some bizarre situations ...