Saturday, August 03, 2013

FirstNations lays it all out in an easily understood format

Because I have been given a budget, I have been reduced to lurking around grocery and big box stores waiting for plants to go on clearance, and having made myself familiar with their items in stock I have to say that Lowes has the best quality for the best price.  In fact I am super duper damn impressed with their stock...I have yet to get a plugbound, rootbound or hacked-at plant, and so far never even a hint of fungus gnats, which is almost unheard-of when dealing with wholesale nursery stock.  The only thing they could improve, in fact, is to change suppliers when it comes to clematis...the poor things have been fed so much growth limiter they look like toy-breed vines.  Perfectly formed, just hit with the shrink ray.  It takes a lot of watering and plant food to wash that shit out of their systems.  So buy  your clematis at a regular nursery, but load up the car at Lowes.

The worst plants, of course, are at K-Mart.  If you know what you're doing you can pick up stuff and try to bring it back, but on the main give K-Mart a skip.  Sure, they carry some major name stock, but everything is tended by your typical K-Mart employee, with the inevitable result.

Around here the supermarkets are supplied in large part by Joes' Garden (go Joe!).  What starts out as premium locally grown material half the time falls victim to employee cluelessness, but since they started out healthy you can bring them back pretty successfully.  You will get potbound items since Joe's is chronically understaffed by college vegetarians with white people dreds working their first retail gig and not quite getting the concept of 'volume means speed'.  But I've already given you the instructions to deal with plug and potbound plants, so no worries.  Oh look it up.

Home Depot is fungus gnat central - -plus, they're out to scam you.  They always seem to accidentally on purpose choose plants suited for a USDA zone warmer than where the store's located.  The one here carries things like Confederate Jasmine, Mandevilla and Oleander for heaven's sake (we're USDA 7a.  Seriously, Lowes?  Total dick move.)  I guess they figure there's one born every minute or something and they'll get return customers wanting to replace the stuff that died.  Know your USDA zone before you shop there, and expect to do a little root salad surgery too.  Still, they do clearance things at the drop of a hat, and at an outrageous markdown simply for being past blossom time, which is all good.

Wal-Mart has a seasonal garden section, and if you don't mind feeling dirty and cheap afterward you could do worse than shop it.  They have shit for selection on ornamentals but their vegetable selection is pretty impressive.  Wal-Mart is usually where you'll find plugbound plants, unfortunately, so wait till they're clearanced and then go to town.  No sense in paying retail for something that isn't worth it from the getgo.

I've had good luck with the Proven Winners line.  Now you can get all peevish and say things about GMO and chemical fertilizers but when you've got a serious Jones like I do all that matters is putting that needle in your arm and Proven Winners tend to be damn good plants.

Monrovia is hit or miss - it isn't premium, that's for sure.  Their stock is held until the last damn dog is hung, the plants are hacked at and the roots are usually crawling out the bottom of the pots.  Time of the season doesn't seem to matter either.  The best thing to do is to go visit Oregon, which seems to be owned largely by the Japanese and Monrovia, and visit the Monrovia offices and talk to the staff and poke around in Monrovias' commercial fields and get run off and have trespassing charges pressed and possibly get eaten by Dobermans because they take their security SERIOUSLY.  Their holding yard outside of Mt. Angel looks like Stalag 13 for cripes sakes, and I mean chain link fences with fucking coils of razor wire on top.

Novalis is pretty meh.  Their stuff arrives unnaturally large and green and drug addicted and then languishes slowly for lack of the hypernutrients they're accustomed to.  Get them early in the year and then hold them for awhile, and plant in the evening because these plants shock out pretty dramatically.

Terra Novas seem pretty premium.  Never had a problem.  The plants aren't too drug addicted, although they've been fed MarketReady for sure, which is standard practice.

Bonnie, pretty average.  Nothing special but not substandard either.

Those are all the national brands I can think of. Now you know what I know.  The main thing to remember here is DON'T BELIEVE THE PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS.  When you buy a perennial nowadays, take it for granted that you will have to:

1. INSPECT THE ROOTBALL, which means tearing into it a little.  This does not kill the plant as long as you're careful.  If you trim away a certain amount on the rootball, take off an equal amount of the top growth to avoid serious plant shock.
2. Remove the flowers before planting, and plant in the evening, both of which also serve to keep the plant from shocking too badly.
3. Know your USDA zone and soil type.  Yes, you HAVE TO.
4. Have an idea beforehand about your property's sun exposure and the water needs of the soil so you don't do stupid shit like plant an echinacea in deep shade under an evergreen tree, which I have done.
5. Buy some neem oil based fungicide/insecticide soap and have it ready.  The stuff works pretty slick for an environmentally sound alternative, which is more than can be said for home remedies like olive oil, garlic and hot pepper, which bugs in general laugh at and fungus regards as delicious Italian food.

6. Call the county Extension if  you need answers. IT IS FREE. The Extension is a really under-utilized resource out there that you've been paying the government for; use the thing!  They have seriously nerdy nerds waiting for you to give them something to do besides look for interesting dead bugs in the window tracks and find flaws in the Linnaean system. 

You've sat in front of the computer long enough.  Now go forth and plant!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quaint vignettes from my charming rural idyll

For the last two days I have been hearing a strange sound in my right ear; as though I could hear my heartbeat going really fast.  Except it isn't my heart beat.  I took my pulse a few times to make sure and it isn't.  This is kind of like muffled ticking.  If I stick my pinkie finger in my ear the sound goes away.  As soon as I take my finger out of my ear it starts up again. I tried to hold my nose and pop my ear, like how you do if you get water in there?  But that didn't help.  Neither did a Q-Tip.  Yes, here I am, smack in the middle of my fast paced, jet setting lifestyle, hearing sounds nobody else can hear and poking around in my ear with random objects.  I want you to think of me like this always.

Because I am still losing weight, I can now wear those jeans that, when you bend over, your entire ass hangs out.  I have a pair.  I wore them.  I bent over and my entire ass hung out.  I didn't care for it.  It was breezy.

That's pretty much it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Red Mink Delivers A Final Nom De Plume!

I posted this elsewhere, and I figured the time was right to post it here.  So....there ya go.

...said much better than I could. Which isn't going to stop me from adding my own two bits of course.

I went through the 70's in a town that was pretty gay friendly. Portland was referred to as San Francisco North back then, in fact. It was a great place to be young and gay, or at least it must have beat the living crap out of being young and gay in a place like Vernonia. The thing was-hell, the story of my fucking life was- I didn't quite fit in. I'm only kinda gay. I'm bi.

Back then, there were only three sexual orientations:


It simply isn't that way. I've had girl crushes and guy crushes equally ever since I was a little kid. It wasn't friendship with bad boundaries. It wasn't youthful experimentation. It was romantic. I'm stone Bi, the point where I had a real difficult time coming to grips with the fact that there even was such a thing as 'only' straight or gay; which means that while everyone ELSE thought I was lying, I 'knew' everyone else was lying! It was a therapy issue! I've had huge problems with other things in my life, but this was something that simply was, and I never gave it another thought.

Now lest I make myself out to be some kind of strong, intrepid individual, know that all the 'girl stuff' was repressed hard (to my way of thinking back then, I figured being gay or straight meant that someone had just made the wrong choice; the correct answer was 'both'.) Anyway, I was ashamed of it and embarrassed by it. I agonized over it. I thought that if I let it out to play full time I'd end up driving a road grader and I did not want to be a lesbian because of the social stigma. That, as you can tell by my use of terms like 'driving a road grader' I totally bought into because I was young and a dumbshit.

What happened was I got to a point where I figured 'Fine. If I am a lesbian, then that's what I am so I better get started while I'm still young and I have a chance of qualifying for my equipment operators license.' Jumped right in feet first. Hit the dyke bars on Foster St. Hung around in the Aradia Bookstore and flirted. Joined the Co-Op. Read Ms. and Utne Reader. Checked out all the books about lesbianism I could from the library. Went to dyke bars. Crossed in public. (Back then I was uniquely ill-equipped for crossing. I made Bernadette Peters look like Charles Bronson; still, the Annie Hall look was in vogue and people thought I was cute in my slouch hat and tie.  And Arrow shirt, wingtips, grey pinstripe vest, and creased trousers.  Yeah, shit. ) Met a wonderful woman and moved in with her. Patronized all the women's businesses, looked into Dianic religion and Wicca -did the whole thing.

And I'll be goddamned if I wasn't still checking out mens' butts.

The great thing about the woman I moved in with-besides the fact that she was wonderful- was we both happened to be at the same exact place in our lives. We set up house and fell into whatever couple-role we fit (guess which one I was.) That worked. It lasted for a few months and then it just sort of....faded out for both of us. No problems. Totally clean. It was the sanest relationship I've ever had outside of my present marriage.

People think that when you're bi you get a choice, or that the whole world is filled with potential sexual partners. When you're young you think it is; of course, you're young. But after awhile you learn to follow your instincts, just like everyone else does, and the field narrows waaaaay down. In a mixed crowd I might be lucky to spot one person I'd even consider.  Me, when I learned how to respect myself and be picky I WAS picky. Gladly picky. Gratefully picky. Voluntarily picky.

Another assumption is that bisexuals are bi because their drive is so overwhelming that they'll just turn to any port in a storm. Man, that doesn't describe me AT ALL. Still, it does describe how a lot of people who were sexually abused as children look when they act out, and lord knows I fall into that category. Once I got all that shit untangled in therapy though I came out the other side still liking the boobs. I was like 'Yay! Boobs! ' A sentiment many of you can appreciate, I'm sure.

Ladyboys and post-op kings do nothing for me. Yeah, seems like it would make sense, right?  But nope.  Am I attracted to people who are only bi?  No.  I am attracted to people.  Not all of them, though.  Just the hot ones with nice asses.

There's a lot of overlap and confusion between swingers, hypersexual, roleplaying-s/m, and bi. I don't know about any of that stuff, but I'm willing to bet that any given person falls in to more than one sexual category anyway. I don't worry about it, but I want to be known as precisely what I am, too. As it stands I'm usually relegated to the subcategories on someone elses' site. I am not a subcategory.  I am not your potential 'third'.  I am not undecided.

The only thing that really bothers me about the whole bisexual thing is that people keep trying to dick around with the nomenclature. Do NOT call me a chimera ohgodohgod gaaaaaaah that's so gimpy. Bleaaaaagh, that's so gimpy ew ew ew ew. Really.  What I am is BI. Really. It's OK.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

WHY I LIVE HERE: PART OCHO...Super-Duper Mart!

This is the sign in front of our local quick-stop/beer cave/truck park, the Super-Duper Mart.  It made me feel loved the first time I saw it, lack of dangly bits notwithstanding.  Now it just makes me feel worried for some reason.  Although the part about the clean restrooms is reassuring; back when we first moved here  the Super Duper had a giant rat trap in the corner behind the ladies' john.  It did keep you mindful, come to that.

 Now I will be the first to admit I have no idea what this means.  Ever since this appeared in front of the Super-Duper Mart I look up in bemusement from time to time and wonder if I am currently experiencing a state of 'moooo'. I could be right now.  I have no idea.  For all I know "Have a 'moooo' of a time"  could be a zen koan. It could be a lot of things, in fact.

One thing is certain:  what it should be, by rights, is facing north, toward the border crossing.  

It is  not.

Still, can your town boast a gigantic inflatable blind cow?  No, it can't.

Once inside the mighty Super Duper Mart you have a variety of  options.  You can choose to be startled and yell 'GAAH!', just as I have on a number of occasions upon seeing this goddamn thing...

Or you can buy stuff

Or you can play this:

which, despite the promise of cheese, contains:

If gambling for butter doesn't make your heart race then I just give up, people.   It used to have cheese and various sausages inside as well but I think it started attracting mafioso-types so they cut back the high-stakes factor.
I keep trying to tell you this is an awesome little town.  If you still refuse to believe me, then maybe you'll believe this, bunkie:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I have decided to return.  I might as well.  I have things I want to write about.  At the moment the chief topic of keen interest has been what a total mindfuck losing a lot of weight is.

BTW, low carb, small portions.  That's all I did.


I had to learn a whole new bodyspace.  Never Nijinsky, for awhile there I was a real hazard to navigation.  Went through an entire set of glasses and coffee cups, several large glass jars with and without contents,  inadvertantly cracked off pieces of the interior trim of my car, tripped going up stairs because I was able to actually, you know, go up stairs again; it was JOLLY.

 I trip over my own feet still, because my feet are a. no longer held so far apart by my chub rub, b. smaller by half a size, and c. now able to face straight ahead instead of out to the side like a duck so I could sling the heft with each step. The Kremlin has receded and I no longer have to look waaaay over to see things down in Volgograd which threw my neck totally out of whack...that, and the fact that I lost the turtleneck sweater of flub around my upper chest, face and neck that was helping prop everything up.  I jiggle a lot more, just in general.  It is not a good jiggle either. It is a 'crap I hope my skin stretches back into shape eventually' jiggle.  

Yes, I know I'm making myself sound like one of those Dorito-breath Jabba the Hut hoarder broads.  It's not that I was horrendously obese, it's that it all dropped off so fast that when I remember how it felt to be me a year ago I remember MASS.  And then there I am in that last paragraph making myself sound like a dead cat melting off a hot engine block.  I am neither.  I am a pretty normal looking woman for my age, in fact, aside from the ear plugs, tattoos and dark purple Ellen DeGeneris hair. 

The other half of the total mindfuck part of it is that I genuinely did absolutely nothing to lose all this weight.  It really didn't take any effort on my part, and people really want to hear that you were brave and went to meetings and cried and ate grapefruit and shit like that, and everything else sounds like bragging.  Particularly 'nothing'.  People really want to talk about it, too. I can't get by with a smile and a 'Thank you'.  People want to hear a secret tip or a horror story. Something.  This shit is supposed to be hard.  But it wasn't.

Now did you ever wonder if all that hype about how hard it is to lose weight might be more hype than you've been lead to believe?  That it just might not be quite such an ordeal for normal average everyday people? That maybe it's hard because you've been conditioned to believe so by a constant line of paid-for bullshit designed to sell diet products over the years?  Because this simply was not hard.  Annoying, yes. Sometimes.  Not hard.  And we all know that I'm not Ubermensch-ette (like Smurfette only with butt hair) particularly when regarded by my relative mental health.  I just....sort of...did this thing and now here I am in a 36c wearing skinny jeans that I have to cinch up like a noose so my shortcomings don't hang out.  It's not convenient.  It's been expensive.  I had to go to physical therapy to learn how to move all over again. I don't look 18 either, I look what I am, which is 53 - and showing the miles.  But there ya go.

Now I know that it's occurred to anyone reading this to think 'Oh cry me a river, skinny bitch' and so forth.  Now, isn't that strange?  I don't look any better, just different. I'm only slightly healthier than I was a number of pounds ago, but what people are going to focus on is 'well, you're just using this as an excuse to brag'. And seriously, I'm not bragging. I'm just saying this is not what you OR I expected things to be like, kids.  I never realized there were going to be problems.  I was in serious pain, pinched nerves, you name it, and it put me in 10 months of physical therapy to re-learn how to do what most 2-year-old kids know how to do.  I lost the sense of my own mass in space and I have the bruises to prove it.  My goddamn FEET lost weight and now none of my shoes fits correctly and the ones I have are all worn weird because I walk differently now.  This is just a view from the other side of  the weight-loss subject that you never hear told about.  And it isn't all peaches and cream either.

But will I go back to being 235 lbs.?   Oh FUCK no Paco!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

LEGALIZED IT!!! almost

In honor of Washington State's legalization of recreational marijuana use,  I thought I'd re-run this post.

Here, for your edification, is the TRUE and ACCURATE story behind the 'Pot Brownies' myth!  

Alice B. Toklas was a woman who enjoyed a good meal and loved her saturated fats. So legendary became her table that Ms. Toklas was prevailed upon to write up a collection of recipes: The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book.

In this collection are many delicious things. One of the delicious things is a mildly narcotic party nibble she presents to us with the title
'HASCHICH FUDGE (which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)'


And in fact her 'haschich' fudge is not chocolate and has no hash in it, but instead dried fruit and crumbled cannibis sativa (she also suggests indica in areas where obtaining sativa 'may present certain difficulties'.)

Her introduction to the method is priceless:

This is the food of Paradise- of Baudelaire's Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies' Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morrocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by 'un evanouissement reveille'.

By fudge she means 'a gooey sweet thing'. I have no doubt that grated chocolate could be added to wonderful effect, particularly if the chocolate were one of the new high-percentage, low-sugar darks. Nevertheless, I present to you the recipe as she puts it down, with my paraphrase.

1 teaspoon black peppercorns,
1 whole nutmeg,
4 cinnamon sticks,
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 oz good bud, well cleaned and very dry
Pulverize all to a fine powder (a coffee grinder would work excellently here.)

One handful each, chopped fine:
stoned dates
dried figs,
shelled almonds,
shelled peanuts

Add all the above together and toss to combine.

Melt 1/3 c butter, and dissolve into this
1 cup sugar
NOTE: do not cook this mixture...simply stir the sugar into the just-melted butter and take off the fire.

Remove from heat. Cool until mixture can be handled, empty into bowl with other ingredients and stir together.
Turn out onto a cool smooth surface and knead to combine thoroughly.
Roll into a log, from which lumps may be cut and rolled into balls about the size of a walnut and dusted with powdered sugar. Try and do your best to let these sit at least overnight so that the flavors blossom.  They will firm up but never quite solidify.

Ms. Toklas advises us that two of these are more than sufficient. Those of more robust or practiced liver may find that the suggested serving size must be adjusted upwards.

Hey, you know. I'm just sayin'. It's certainly not like I'd be making anything like this for Christmas eve or anything.
That would be wrong.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I am interested in psychoactive substances.  I grew up in Oregon during the '70s, after all. Plus I have some excellent fun awesome brain abnormalities, come to find out,  that left me recently looking for safe ways to cope in the interval between when one SSRI failed and the next one took effect*.  That's why I go visit frequently.  They have the scoop on that stuff.   You should go there too.  They're doing important work there and they deserve every thoughtful persons' support and encouragement.  Now, do I contribute?  HELL NO, I LIVE ON AN INTERNATIONAL BORDER FOR CRAPSAKES.  Kind of nuts: yes. Stupid: no. Black helicopters: bad.

Part of what happens on is the collection of anecdotes relating to recreational psychoactive use. This is important information, and makes for entertaining reading too.  I think it's nothing less than a new folklore genre:  the folklore of trippin' balls.

A lot of the folks on Erowid style themselves 'psychonauts'...By which most of them mean they are not to be mistaken for simple forest turds getting wasted for fun, but something far nobler: intrepid travellers though innerspace exploring different levels of consciousness for the good of all mankind. Which is charming in a 'lets go to Burning Man and get sand in our asscracks' kind of way.  You want to say 'Get over yourself, kid.  We all do drugs for fun and that's perfectly ok.' That leaves a small but significant percentage that really do believe that 'venture inward and learn cosmic truths' psychonaut stuff. 

The ability to perceive consciousness is chemical. You screw around with those chemicals, you'll experience a lot of shit that has nothing whatsoever to do with places in the conscious mind and everything to do with clogging the pool filter of your brain with used condoms. What you tend to experience using psychoactive substances, particularly in massive dosage, is 'malfunction'. Malfunction has nothing to teach you, even if you experience things during that interval as profound truths. They aren't. They're artifacts of temporary (you hope) brain damage.  And then there's this: just because you've had what you perceive as an extranormal revelatory experience doesn't mean that what was 'revealed' wasn't bullshit.

I saw a lot of people from the generation right before mine get lost on the way to enlightenment in the exact same way. All those 'LSD ascended masters' are still out there; cleverly disguised as unwashed vegetarians living in Volvos out in the parking lot behind the Food Bank.  Truth doesn't come solely from WITHIN.  It comes from the correctly perceived experience of efficient interaction with the world outside yourself. 

I'll let you in on the one true and useful thing I've learned from having this past year cave in on my like a fucking mining disaster: The chief difference between what you experience as meaning or nothingness is only a matter of the kind of chemicals that happen to be sloshing around in your head at any given moment.

There ya go.  You see what you can learn here at Paul?

I wish like hell I'd realized this years ago.  Of course nobody was talking about this stuff years ago and certainly not in mainstream America, where Jesus is in charge of that shit and your relative sanity is a moral issue, determined by the quality of  your relationship with the Lord.  Sanity, as it turns out,  doesn't spring from faith in God, it cannot be obtained by force of will or right thinking or good health or even happiness.

 I've just been on a grand tour of the malfunctioning human mind, and lemme tell you,  I have a whole new perspective on what it means to be temporarily somewhat almost insane, and judged for it.  I also got several bold lessons on how little chemical imbalance it takes to turn normal into a nightmare, and vice-versa.  The merest hint of a biochemical alteration...just .05mg of medication, made the difference between five nightmare months filled with obsessive thoughts and suicidal depression, and normal function. 

As far as exploring consciousness goes, I've come away from all this with some some terrible, amazing insights as a matter of fact.  Not because I paid 2000.00 to spend two days in a self-imposed state of schizophrenia barfing my guts out in some Vancouver loft so I could tell everyone back at the frat house that I communed with the Ayahuasca Mother, but because I was drug through hell by my eyeballs, and realizing those things came as a result of having had to claw my way toward some kind of sanity. It sucked, too. 

Each time I've gone though this it's been a result of overwhelming stress and a subsequent failure of my SSRI medication. Every time, I've come out of it with everything that was stressing me mysteriously dealt with, which means that on some level I kept on dealing despite the crawling horror ooging around in my head. 
Now here's what I wonder: what's at work there?  What keeps the story going?


*Not to mention those spaces in between insurance deductible periods.  Those are a laugh riot.

**A good part of what's happened this year came as a result of having been overdosed on ADHD drugs.  I've got to say, if you have to overdose (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate), it's best to be overdosed by the medical community. You just cannot beat the quality.