Thursday, April 30, 2009

Traumatic Situations

I was just taking a peek at the news and came across this:

An News Host talking about "The Morning After Pill" - you know, the one that is equivalent to taking something like 8 birth control pills. The one that puts a hiccup in a girls ovulation cycle - changing the mucus on the cervix to not allow sperm to pass, delaying ovulation and/or making the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg. The pill that doesn't make a girl feel very good (I know, I've taken it), but neither does the stress of knowing that the fun sex last night might last in an 18 year hang-over and OMG, I really would rather not deal with pregnancy right now.

His words, "Think of a 17-year-old girl. Most of the time she's a high school senior, still living at home with Mom and Dad. She still needs her parents in the tough times. But they will be cut out of a traumatic situation."

She's 17 - do you think she asked Mom & Dad if it was OK to have sex in the first place? Why penalize the girls who are responsible enough to try to prevent pregnancy the next day by preventing them from getting the meds, or having them have to ask an adult.

I just laugh at the idea that "traumatic situation". She's not pregnant, just trying to prevent it becoming pregnant.

Here's another whopper, "Does it really take that long to get a prescription?" Yeah... getting a prescription at 8 AM on a Sunday - no problem!

I don't know what magical medical system he belongs to. As for me and my nearly all inclusive, upper-middle-class PPO option, I still can't get a prescription on a weekday except during a 7 hour window that usefully corresponds to the hours I work and I have to leave work to get a doctor's visit in before they hand me that little piece of paper. I don't even want to imagine trying to get anything on a weekend - it would involve hours of waiting at the ER or an urgent care clinic. And this 17 year old girl is supposed to know and navigate this system on a Sunday morning - is he going to sell us a bridge?!?

But wait, there's more, "The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the "morning after pill" the next day."
Since teenage girls have NO sex drive of their own. They must be talked into sex. They are the responsible ones. BULL-HOOEY! Maybe he's trying to raise his girls to think sex is bad, shameful and should only be done for procreation. Poor things.

I'm getting angry... must go buy milk to make yogurt.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Going Nomad

In the same week, in two vastly different books, the topic of human tribes arose. Aside from some shows on the Travel Channel or National Geographic, I had believed that tribal consciousness didn't come into play in my life. Hubris, I realized after some reflection. And the question started:
  • What tribes did I identify with?
  • Where do my values come from?
  • What have I done to signify my belonging
I think back to high school or college; didn't we all just play those roles daily? Then the family - from my divorced & divided family - what the entire clan valued and then the differences in each family unit. While living in Los Angeles, I lived near the Hasidic Jews. Their clan was clearly marked through the curls the men wore, the covered hair and long sleeves on the women. I didn't know what their values were, aside from strong external signs that delineated their belonging.

The questions kept coming.
  • Why do we stay?
  • Why do we leave?
  • What happens when we leave our tribe.
  • What happens when we stop believing in the magic of our tribe.
Initially I thought that due to my expose to a wide variety of cultures, I found tribal bonds restrictive and ultimately meaningless to me. What one tribe says is good could be taboo in another - so much fuss over something basically meaningless.

But then after I took out my bellybutton ring, I realized those ties run much deeper than I had realized. I've had that hunk of metal in my navel for 16 years. I didn't realize how tied to it I had become. Something clicked today - I didn't feel like I needed it any longer. It was a marking that I was alternative. I looked at it and felt the ties to my raving day, to burningman, to all the odd things I've done. But I'm not doing those things now; I don't see a space for them in my future so I felt it was not my marking any longer. I didn't think it was a big deal. Yet ever since I took it out, I've been in a bit of a daze.

Hilary and I got our navels pierced in a bonding endeavor just before going home on break during our first year of college. I recall my mother's horror and dismay when I showed her my stomach. I had left my family tribe and declared my allegiance to the young, alternative and wild. I still recall when Hilary told me she had taken hers out years ago. I felt sad and a bit violated. She had walked away from our ties. Our doing it together in the basement of some lesbian in Northampton had meant a lot to me, was It no longer meaningful for her?

I thought all that had faded. I didn't think I needed that badge any longer. I'm not part of the uber-hip tribe any longer. I don't go to raves, push fashion boundaries or live on the edge in any way. I grow veggies, compost with worms and culture my own yogurt. It seemed right that I leave behind that symbol. My life orbits different values now. I have no interest in raves and can barely tolerate bars now a days.

Taking it out and looking at my stomach, I felt as if I was looking at my body for the first time in years. I could see the contours of my abdomen in a different way; the sparkle of the metal didn't distract from my flesh. I was unadorned, truly naked. Washing in the shower, my hand didn't knock against anything, instead it slide on past my bellybutton without a notice.

The connection to the tribe goes deeper than I believed. I spent the afternoon reflecting on what I had done. I realized I was taking off the symbols of my former tribe. I had been leaving slowly for the last few years. Yet I didn't join a new tribe. I have no strong identification with any group or demographic. I'm an occasional social element in a dozen different groups. I don't identify with mothers or young professionals. I'm not tied into a sports activity or team. I try to connect with my family, yet with my cousins grown and brothers married, family feels more like a diasporia than a clan. I'm barely more than an acquaintance with anyone at work. I come and go. Partly I realized my wounds from breaking tribal taboos still smart and I avoid initiating myself into any tribe as a preventative measure. Partly, I don't see any tribe that encompasses me entirely - I distrust all group think.

I once believed that we had evolved with our Science. That we were beyond the ancient, as we now toy with space travel, nanotechnologies and the sublime Martini. Yet today I deeply realized how tied we are to our culture. My inner-self craves a marking of this passage. I don't know how to acknowledgment that I've moved on.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Farmer Jen is Looking for Adventure

Thanks to Mom for posting a note! I never knew why we stopped growing tomatoes. I thought it was due to my eating them all, but no, she grew her best crop ever and was done.

I'm not there yet. I have my little plants all tucked into their bed. We've been careful to make sure they don't fry in this week's heat wave. I hear it is supposed to be back to down to 75 today. 95 or 100 was a bit much! But all the little guys look fine. So, I keep going out side and thinking, "Now What?". There's no weeding to do. It is too early to start the seedlings for the mid-summer crop - I think there will be onions, beets, more tomatoes and beans in that round. I will have to check my gardening book to see what I might be doing now. Last night I dreamt of beans, polls and wire. I think deep down I want to grow beans.

On the yogurt front, this last batch I made wasn't right. But I was pressed for time, so didn't try to re-culture it. The taste had a strong tangy, and it did not firm up at all. I put it all into containers and just decided to deal with it later. 3 days later and the containers haven't solidified. I've been feeding it to myself & the hounds - with Austin, aka Mr. Picky, eating the stuff up happily. This morning I realized that accidentally made buttermilk! From yogurt to buttermilk, a new adventure!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Veggies Go In

After work today Tsui and I went to Flowercraft and invested another $100 in the vegetable plot. Tsui was no more amused at being carried through the plant store than the helper folk who were clearly giving me the, "Does she really think she's Paris Hilton?" looks. But I didn't care... tittering around in 3" heels, dress pants, blouse, Tsui in my right arm, the list of plants to get in the other.

They were low on veggies. There weren't any of the onion family represented - so I don't have the garlic, onion, leek & shallot section. Instead I over bought - getting yellow & white corn, 5 types of tomatoes, 4 bell peppers, 2 zucchini, 2 types of cucumber, lettuce, collard greens, 1 watermelon, the last strawberry plant, broccoli & cauliflower. Some might say I over-planted my little 4 x 8 foot plot. I say I'm optimistic.

I enjoyed taking each plant out of its little container, breaking up the roots so they'd quickly & easily take over the garden, placing it in its little hole and then tapping the dirt all around it. I didn't enjoy that the last bit of soil I added was laden with wood remains, so I'm getting splinters in my hands and know that I'm going to have to move to gloved gardening. However that will help my nails, as they are not enjoying all the dirt contact.

Marc did the honors of watering the little plantlings. He got home as I was planting the last few green babies. I am dreading the day when I have to rip out the remains of the plants to make space for new ones. But they all got tucked in and I'm hoping they'll all be there when I check on them tomorrow morning.

More updates to come... that is if you tune back in. Was my life more interesting when my favorite band was My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult? Hope my blog doesn't replace Ambien in your life. Is reading about corn growing as exciting as watching paint dry? You'll have to come back to find out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jenny, Jenny Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

When I first came over to Marc's house, I admired the backyard. I asked that we enjoy drinks on the patio while the lamb roast he was making cooked. He obliged.

Then, when we started talking about moving in, I asked if I could have a vegetable garden. He said yes. I didn't want to push the issue, it would mean that I would tear out a section of the lawn for my pet project of growing veggies. So I just let it sit for a bit.

Then I moved in and we started talking serious. I asked again about the garden and he said yes again. Then I took a Sunday afternoon to dig up the grass and flip it, just like the book on growing a garden suggested. While I was digging, he brought me a glass of water. Then I realized he was very serious about me and totally indulgent.

Two weeks ago we went out and got the lumber and supplies. it then rained for most of the week. The next weekend Marc & I built the frame for the raised bed. I still need to paint it and then put in the outside brackets. On Easter I got 6 cubic feet of organic soil. I went back later that week - after swapping out Oola for Tilly, who can carry more. Friday I started to mix the soil with the soil booster. I filled up the box and on Saturday realized I needed more soil. Today we got another 9 cubic feet - in all, we have nearly 30 cubic ft of soil in my little plot.

Never did I think I would want to grow veggies. This all came about a year ago when I had that odd anxiety about the environment. When I got the composter and decided I needed to do more. As a girl, my mom had a veggie plot. The tomatoes never made it to the table, as I would harvest them straight into my mouth on summer afternoons. She stopped towards the end of my time in elementary school, I should ask why.

And now, suddenly, I have the urge to grow veggies myself. I get a box of organic fruit & veg every week and yet, I want more. I keep thinking about it and can't find a reason. I've spent $300 on wood and dirt and I haven't even purchased the seeds or plantlings I need to make the garden more than dirt. So, we'll estimate I've got another $100 to spend. $400 in all - this is not a plan to save me any money.

Friday, as I mixed the soil, I just felt content. I'd pour 1/2 a bag of organic booster #1, 1/2 a bag of organic booster #2 and 1 bag of top soil. Down and around I'd plunge my hands, ruining last week's manicure, catching splinters and doing my best to mix the dirts together, then dumping them into the raised bed. Over & over, I sweat and stank and needed a good scrubbing when I was done.

In all, I felt connected. I felt productive. Putting in the garden might be expensive and I'm not sure if I'll save any money in the long run, yet I'll be tied to my plants and the earth. Each day I can see what I've helped created. I can eat my efforts and then I can cut up the left-overs and feed them to my worms who will help me nourish my garden in the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Am I not the only one who found this:
US Discovers Violations in Surveillance Program
Really - did any of us expect that the NSA would follow guidelines? I'm sure they were doing a range of things - from listening to their former girlfriends/wives conversations to, the well documented, spying on a Congressman making a trip to the Middle East.
Didn't they just hook up their hose to AT&T and try to trap a copy. The sheer volume of data makes the computing power they'd need to sort/pull/find specific bits of data mind-boggling - and yet them seem to have managed to do it. Impressive & terrible all at once. Can't we put this nonsense to a stop?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pirates - not the Johnny Depp type

I just read the following:
In all, Somali pirates are holding over 280 sailors on 15 ships — at least 76 of those sailors captured in the last few days. Pirates have attacked 79 ships this year and hijacked 19 of them, according to the International Maritime Bureau, a piracy watchdog.

How shocking is that? The Pirates are extra pissed about some of them getting killed in that last rescue/raid. But really, if one is a pirate and hijacking vessels, why would one expect to NOT be killed in the line of duty?

They seem to be targeting the aid ships going to feed the poor & suffering in Somalia. They are trying to steal from their brothers. The can get $1 Million in extortion for the ship.

I thought we were beyond this - fascinating to find we are not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


How much meaning does one's car have?
When I was 16 my mother totally indulged me and let me have a Jeep Wrangler. The car rode rough, inhibited nearly all conversation when going above 45 mph and I loved it to death. I enjoyed it for the toy it was. It didn't have air-conditioning, the windows zipped open and I could pull the key out of the ingnition while the car was running. I felt young, energetic and fun when I drove it.
Then I got the Jetta, as I wanted to have a more sophisticated car. And it did serve me well - 4 doors, pretty good gas mileage. I switched out the cassette player for a CD player. I had 2 break-ins in the 8 years I had the car. We enjoyed some great road trips togehter - SF/LA, Texas, Oregon, Nevada and many trips to the Eastern Sierras as well as Tahoe. It was still going strong at 250k miles. How I felt driving my car changed. When I first got it, I felt sharp and zippy. As we aged, I felt like it was a little lack-luster and I still loved her - I had named her Pris.
All at once, the jetta got broken into, needed her 3rd clutch and broke the 250k mark. I knew I needed a new car. So, Greg helped me search & search and we found something special - a 2 seater Mercedes SLK32. It was suped-up with the AMG construction. It was fast and so impressive. Driving up in that, especially with the top down, turned heads. It screamed, "I have money!" or "I'm HOT!" With the top down, I got to enjoy the sun on my face - sun roofs just don't cut it. I named her Oola, after the character in The Producers, as she was fun & pretty and otherwise useless.
Do I drive the car or does the car dive me?
There was such a great feeling of driving up to my high school boyfriend's house in Oola, he and his dad were impressed - my car outclassed both of theirs. I enjoyed that - but really, that is so shallow! And how sad that the car impressed them - shouldn't I be the one impressing them?
Didn't Socrates struggle with this - is it the Man or is it the Toga? Anyway, I don't want to be in my car's shadow.
Marc & I traded in Oola yesterday. We got a cute little JCW Mini Clubman. It is Pepper White with the Silver roof and has all the bells & whistles. He loves how it drives. I love that I can plug in my iPod, navigate with traffic information (but I haven't figure out how to turn this off yet, making it super annoying), make/answer calls on the car speaker phone via bluetooth, enjoy satellite radio (did you know there is a Playboy Radio Station? I nearly crashed while listening to instructions on how to masturbate!). And then the best part - I can fit the entire dog pack in the car! We can take trips together - Oola would only transport one dog at a time.
So, is the mini upstaging me? Is it undermining me? My car should be a manifestation of my values and match my goals. I value fuel economy, my dogs and fun. The new car, I think I'll call her Tilly (short for Matilda and said with a hint of British accent), gets me closer to living my values. On it's third outing, it transported the worms for my new worm farm composter.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Yogurt Divine

I'm sure you've been on the edge of your aereon chair waiting to hear how yogurt attempt #3 went. And I am very happy to report that it was off the charts. I used fancy-pants, pasteurized, but not homogenized milk that came from local cows, fed organically and given weekly massages and baths. Maybe not the 2nd part, but happy cows who roam about merrily chewing grass and watching the world go by.

I did more checking on temperature this time - adding fresh yorgormet starter when the milk was between 108 & 112 degrees. I let it sit, then tossed it in a strainer that I had lined with a clean thin dish towel. The yogurt was a little lumpy, however it was rich & tangy and thick. I regret making it with 2%, as that it too much fat for my weight-watchers self... so I'm off to trade in the glass bottle the 2% came in for a full bottle of fat-free milk with which to make another batch tonight.

As for the worm farm, I have yet to get the worms. More on that later.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Composting Revised

I had an exciting Birthday filled with fun.
Marc got me motorcycling lessons and then let me ride his Harley. Which was fun, until I got to the end of the block and dropped it. This must be love - he was actually more worried about me than the bike! Not only that, but he sent me out on it again the next day. I did better then. It is MUCH heavier than the scooter I had and, likewise, much harder to handle when going slow or stopped.

Then Marc & I enjoyed dinner at Jardinere on Monday night. Which was good, but Marc didn't much care for the flight of Grappa I insisted on enjoyed after dinner. He let me enjoy it all... I guess that is a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday - the actual birthday - I had lunch with my mom & brother. Warren discussed how much of a disaster the current state of real estate is and how close he is to the poor house while heckling me for considering myself environmentally friendly just because I compost & make my own yogurt. My mother and I recollected about a lovely trip we had to Louisiana 21 years ago for my 13th birthday. Much fun.

On the other hand, Marc did encourage my environmental ambitions - he got me a worm composter! After you, kind readers, have endured my trials with the NatureMill, we're starting in on a worm farm. Should be fun! I have assembled the housing and am amassing the scraps needed. Last night's dinner helped a lot in that regard - I had Dad, Cathy, little brother and sister-in-law over.

The highlight, aside from the company of course, was the fantastic black bottom cupcakes. So good! We had the a la mode, in honor of late Grandfather Jim. And I had a card addressed to, "Jennifer Mercy DeLano, Jr" Not sure about that last bit... need to ask Dad about it.

But BCD was super generous with a gift of a circular saw - this is to assist my vegetable garden ambitions. He also promised 1 day of home improvement labor.... should be fun. I'd love to have him & Kate out again. Earlier yesterday, Marc & I got the lumbar and hardware needed to make a veggie plot. On Saturday I dug up the sod and flipped it over, per the instructions in my garden book. This weekend we'll build the frame and then I hope start to fill in the bit with top soil. Then I'll need to pick the beggies - I also need to get the worms for my worm compost house. Should be fun. I never thought I'd enjoy such mundane & wholesome activities!

In all, quite a happy way to start the next trip around the sun.

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Today Marc let me ride his Harley. I went around the block, around the other block. Up one street and down the other. In all, I did about 7 miles and got up to 45 miles per hour. I was able to avoid dropping the bike and didn't terrorize the local skater punks too much.

The oddest thing happened. I felt some odd itchy down-under. When I later checked, I realized that I was starting to grow a set of balls. I'm not sure if all Harleys do that or just the Road King.

I'm not sure if I want to keep riding or not now.

That's all for today.