Saturday, January 03, 2009


I was adopted back in 1960. The polite term for what happened was 'privately arranged.'
The real story goes like this: the poor girl, my mother, was red, about 15 years old and unmarried. The father was a white boy off the nearby Army base. She had the baby in a charity hospital. With the 'help' of the attending doctor and the collusion of the staff of the maternity ward I was basically stolen from her and then sold to whoever. If you hit my archives you'll find out what exactly I mean by 'whoever'.

Now, over the years I've gotten a few arched eyebrows and long-suffering sighs when I've recounted this, as though I were making it up, right? Trying to inflate the drama factor, the romance, make the story more tragic?

You would be SHOCKED how common that shit was.
You would be shocked at how common it was right up until about the mid '70's, in fact.
In America.
If you were white.

Oh yes.

Recently I joined an online group for birth-moms who have been reunited with the children they gave up for adoption. Meet the Arborist:

(I was reunited with my son last January, and it's been fucking AWESOME, mainly because he is fucking awesome, and he gardens, and cows fear him. And the suspenders.) It's been really cool to know that I'm not the only person out there with a happy ending!

The group is great. The chance to share this unusual, overwhelming, emotional rollercoast of an experience is great. But the thing that is just blowing my shit away is not that other people have been reunited with their children, but HOW INCREDIBLY COMMON MY ADOPTION STORY WAS!

So many of these women went through the exact same thing that my birth mother did! And these are not old ladies either, folks...this shit went on right up until the mid-Seventies! They STOLE your baby! And the racism behind it! If you were white (looking,) unwed and indigent, you stood a really good chance of having your kid taken-just flat fucking taken- right out of the nursery by any one of a number of 'social service' organizations, (or in my case a crooked G.P.) and SOLD. They didn't screen prospective parents, either! Hell no they didn't do any screening! Sure, if it was a rich family going though a legitimate agency, sure, then there might have been some kind of a cursory background investigation, but in the majority of cases? If the check cleared, congratulations. Have an infant. And it's horrifying how many of those infants went to people just as evil and fucked up as my parents were. The fucking Humane Society spends more time and effort clearing people to adopt stray dogs.

I cannot tell you how shocked I am. I associate this kind of thing with, like, Victorian-era New York or something. I mean come on. But it's true!

Before anyone asks, no. No, I'm not going to resume the search for my birth mom. I'm not going to drop that bombshell into the lap of some elderly stranger. I've already tried once and got stonewalled, and that was years ago. I've had enough drama in my life and I sure in the fuck don't want to go around mongering more drama for complete strangers. That episode is done. But can you imagine?

I just cannot get over this. And here's the kicker...had I taken after momma instead of daddy? I'd have grown up in Eastern Oregon in a hogan. No fucking lie.

Life is a fucking trip, I tell you what.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Chicken Stock for Danger Panda! (and the benefit of all mankind) now with handy conversion chart so british people can make it too

NOTE: Remember how in the last post I said that its difficult to write a recipe? Well, it is. I transposed the last two steps in this recipe, but I just fixed it. PUT THE CHICKEN DOWN. STEP AWAY FROM THE CHICKEN SLOOOOOOOOOWLY. Now go back and read it so you can do it the right way. Yikes! Sorry.

I am a stock Nazi. I don't care. I cannot go by a can (or worse yet, a BOX) of stock in the supermarket or see it advertised on television without making this noise: ffff. Please. Really? Canned stock? Really? Stock in a BOX? No. Begone. Please.

Making stock is effortless. In fact it's almost like doing nothing, only it smells better...the most return for the least effort of just about any activity I can think of.

Want to cook from scratch? You absolutely must have stock. You want high nutrition, amazing depth and complexity of flavor that you simply cannot get otherwise? Stock, baby. It is a necessity. It keeps for months in the freezer, it's highly nutritious, it tastes good, it's the starting place for so many different things....really folks. Please. Make stock. Your life will be so much better.**

Stock is a natural companion to thrift. I buy full body fryers and fish, and primal cuts of red meat when it's at all possible to do so. It's cheaper to buy meat this way ultimately, and it only takes a few moments to whack into cuts and pitch into the freezer, thus ensuring that the meat is cut to your liking along the way. Plus, you end up with a lot of trims...bone, scraps of meat and fat, skin and cartilage. All this is valuable stuff. None of it goes to waste. Frozen and labeled, and then thawed overnight in a pot of cold water; that's the beginning of stock.

The most useful, versatile stock of all in home cooking is chicken stock. I've been stocking off once every couple of months ever since 1979 using the recipe that follows, a recipe I got from people who know what the hell stock is all about. It straight up kicks ass.

This recipe will yield not only 1 and 3/4 gallons of nutritious, useful stock, but an entire chickens' worth of cooked meat, which you can use for any number of lovely things. If you can keep your finger out of your nose I will include a nice recipe for chicken salad at the end here.

Truthfully? You really ought to be paying me for this. You really should. Seriously.

Dave's Delicatessen CHICKEN STOCK


You will need:
One whole body chicken, minus the liver but plus the giblets and heart. ( Fry the liver up for a treat. It's good for you.) For me its easier to work with a whole body chicken than one that's already cut up, but it really doesn't matter as long as all the parts are present.

carrots, 1 cup chopped
celery, 1 cup chopped

white onion, 1 cup chopped
(it MUST be a white onion. no substitutions here)
1 large bay leaf
vegetable oil

plain tap water
salt, to taste
fresh garlic, or shallot

also: One 2-gallon size pot with a lid that fits tightly, big enough to put the whole chicken into and cover with water.

-Place the chicken into the pot and fill it up with cold water. Cover it to keep the farm animals out of it and put it aside for a few hours where it will stay cool. This will draw the juices from the chicken and open up the fibers in the meat.

-Now put the chicken-pot onto the stove top and turn the heat on beneath it to it's lowest setting.

-Over the course of a half an hour, slowly bring the heat up on the water until the surface of the water just begins to break a hard, rolling boil. (Depending on the heat of the day this can take more or less time..the important thing is that you slowly bring the heat up. Slosh the chicken around gently every now and then so the water washes all around it and everything comes up to the same temperature at the same time. This is called mechanical convection!! It's science!) What this highly complicated process amounts to is wandering around doing whatever chores and taking an occasional peek at the chicken, giving it a nudge, and giving the heat control another tweak upward.

-The moment the top begins to roll, turn the heat completely OFF, wait for the bubbles to subside, then cover the pot tightly.

-Slide the pot off the hot burner and onto a cold one. Let it sit, covered tightly, for ONE HOUR.

-At the end of the hour, take the chicken out of the pot. It should be just cool enough to handle. Drain, returning the drippings to the pot, and then strip the chicken, reserving the meat to one side. Retain all the skin, the fat, the cartilage, and the bones. Pretty does not count; nor does perfectly stripping the carcass.

-Crack any large leg bones. Return the stripped carcass to the pot of water (bones and cartilage) as well as the giblets and heart, and turn the heat onto its LOWEST setting. AND LEAVE IT THERE.

-Top up the pot with more cold water to bring the level up to the 2 gallon mark.

-Add the bay leaf.

-If you are using garlic or shallot, add these now, raw. Scored or chopped, it doesn't make any difference. It's up to you how much.

-Chop coarsely: 1 cup carrots, 1 cup celery, 1 cup white onion. The object here is to create more cut area than skin area but don't worry about pretty, or size.

-In a large frying pan (not nonstick) saute' these vegetable ingredients in batches in a little plain vegetable oil. You want them soft, not browned, and not swimming in juices, so keep the batches on the small side so the pan doesn't crowd. As each batch finishes, dump it into the soup pot with the chicken carcass. What this does is burst the cell walls in the vegetables so that the flavor, nutrients and juices can be readily released into solution.

-If you build up a little fond by the end of this process, deglaze the frypan with a little of the warm stock and add this back into the pot.

-Now take the chicken skin and fat and put it into the frying pan. Turn the heat on to medium. Let it fry in its own oils until it is a beautiful golden color, turning it until its all browned. It might stick together in a big clump; that's fine.

-Lift the browned skin out of the pan, let it drip for a few moments, and then lower it gently into the warm stock. It might sizzle a bit. This browned skin adds rich, delicious layers of chicken flavor and gives the stock a pretty yellow color.

- Dump out the fat, then deglaze the bottom of the frying pan with some of the warm stock, and return that to the pot. Additionally, you can strain the fat for any leftover crumbs and add those to the stock as well. Now you can discard the fat, or render it to make schmaltz. You get to look up how to do that, though.

-Let's say its about 3pm by now. Leave the stock pot go OVERNIGHT. On the lowest heat setting, remember, uncovered, stirring occasionally. I mean, don't bother waking up at night to stir it, although you could if you were up already, but yeah.

-Seriously. All night. No kidding.

-No, it won't all cook away. You'll only lose 1/4 to 1/3 of the liquid to evaporation, depending on the ambient humidity.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: You will be tempted, but NEVER NEVER NEVER LET THE STOCK RETURN TO A BOIL, OR EVEN SO MUCH AS A RIPPLY SIMMER. Some faint steam will rise from the surface. Thats IT. Keep it stirred. This is the 'secret' of good stock.

Heres why: What happens if it boils is that the dissolved juices, sugars and proteins you've been working so hard to extract from all your ingredients will combine and bond to the dissolved haemo-proteins from the chicken (this turns grey and is called floc when it congeals) and when you strain that out, you'll strain out everything else along with it and lose the entire reason why you made this in the first place. Don't worry; your stock will be perfectly clean and germ-free despite never having boiled because it will have spent so much time at a scalding temperature. Remember too: when you go on to use your finished stock it in other things, you'll be cooking it again at a higher temperature anyway.

-In the morning, pour through a colander to strain out the bones and the vegetables. Pitch these. There's nothing left of them to speak of, although chickens and other birds love it because there's easily assimilated, dissolved calcium in it.

- Now strain it through something fine, like a clean cotton sacking towel, a cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer, to get the greyish, cardboardy looking fragments (the congealed haemo, or 'floc', remember?) out of it. Don't bother trying to get it perfectly clear, but DO strain as much out as you can. If you leave the floc in, it will give the stock a rankish, livery taste. It's gotta go.

-Cool the stock, and then put it in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and can be lifted off in pieces, which can take a day. (Are you making schmaltz? Add this fat to it!) When the stock chills it will turn into jelly. It's supposed to!

You are done! You now have a simple chicken stock.

You'll taste this, and it will taste kind of weak, like chicken tea. It's supposed to. This is not broth, bouillon, or soup. It's a separate thing entirely. Stock is the starting place for all those things, and many others besides, but it is not an end in and of itself. If you reduce it down and add salt, you can get a very 'souplike' flavor from it, and that's what you would do if you were to make a soup with it anyway, so there you go. But stock is meant to be just an ingredient. I know. It took me years to get this; I thought I was doing it wrong. It's not supposed to be terribly salty or chickeny, like the canned or boxed stuff. That is WRONG. That's why when you make things with canned stock it ends up tasting bitter and gasoline-ish, because canned stock has been boiled to death, using substandard ingredients, and then over salted and over-seasoned and finally steam canned in fucking plastic-lined steel. It's CRAP. It's inferior. And its expensive!!

By making your own, you have just saved yourself about 25 dollars and a whole lot of space in your recycle bin. Freeze it in 16 oz containers. To use it at canned strength, use 32 oz (two containers) and reduce to roughly 1 cup (more or less, to taste.) And salt it up, of course.

Bonus recipe for non-nosepickers:

Chicken salad!!
This is a really informal recipe here. You can swap around the ingredients or omit whatever you don't like. Get all crazy with it. Simply chopped chicken and mayo is good, for you minimalists out there, but this is how I like it:

cooked chicken meat, chopped into small dice
onion, coarse mince
celery, coarse mince
sour cream, for binding, to taste, and/or mayonnaise
cashew nuts, 1 cup broken pieces
dried dill, 1/8 tsp
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
garlic, to taste

Mix and chill. Spread it on sandwiches or fill up a hollowed out tomato with it and serve cold. Is so yummish!
why do i keep insisting 'do not cover'? because when you cover liquids that you're going to be keeping on the fire for awhile, it keeps certain compounds from volatilizing out of the mix. These things will then just lay in there and lend it a distinctive 'stew' or 'crockpot' flavor. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but its simply not what you're looking for here. when you do finally cover the chicken, you're doing it to retain heat. The 'active' cooking has been completed.

** This is not to say that I don't use mix. In the absence of base (a super reduced version of highly seasoned stock, like a syrup, that requires huge amounts of materials and time and energy to make) I make do and call it well fought. I'll use powdered mix before I'll use a commercial liquid base, though, since you KNOW everything's dead in the powder...God only knows what was swimming around in the base pot. I don't trust the shit. I've worked in factory food before. Since I don't make a lot of complex sauces, though, base rarely becomes an issue.

Black Dog Been A Long Time: Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely TIME

I've noticed that people who think that cooking is difficult make the same three mistakes:

1. If low heat is good, then high heat is better and faster, so turn everything up on high.
Nope. You're working with sugars and proteins. They all react differently to different temperatures. If the recipe says 'low heat' then it MEANS low heat. If you don't know why it should make a difference, then look that question up on the Internet or ask someone. Then do it.

2. Get bored and then walk away from things while they are on the stove top.
DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM A HOT STOVE TOP. NEVER. An oven is a different matter; still, for safety's sake, always, always use a timer.

3. Address their lack of skills as though it were a charming foible. 'Gosh, I am just such a ditz! And it's cute!"
It's not. It's annoying and lame. Anyone who can read can cook. Stick to the easy stuff at first; master a few tasty things with only a few ingredients and instructions. Once you get comfortable with that, move up.

The best advice I can give to a beginning cook is, that when you first start out cooking, your only objective is to produce EDIBLE FOOD THAT YOU LIKE. Ugly doesn't count. All food needs to do is taste good and be nourishing. Period. All those gorgeous pictures in the magazines are staged, folks. Presentation only counts in a commercial establishment.

A good way to learn is to work out of a cookbook like this one, even if you're an adult:

You can buy it here:

Do it now. It really is that good.

This is the best kids' cook book out there. The format is light but not dorky, the steps are easy, the tools are laid out, safety and preparation are explained and most of all, the recipes are easy and TASTE REALLY GOOD. We still use a lot of the recipes, in fact.

If working out of a childrens' cookbook doesn't appeal, I would work out of a reliable standard like The Joy of Cooking. This book is like my family bible. Buy it in hardcover. It's worth whatever you have to pay for it. If you don't have it, you should. I am dead serious.

Joy's recipes are tested and reliable and presume no skill on your part. Joy not only gives you recipes but also explains why things happen in cooking and how to do them.

Don't-as a beginner, anyway- go try and cook things using the recipe sites out there on the Internet. Here's why...

Most of the recipe sites out there are built using recipes that random people submit. They aren't tested, they take skill for granted, and they just plain suck sometimes. Or rather, if I'm going to be generous, its that lots of those folks who contribute are probably better cooks than they are writers. Writing a recipe is difficult! Ask's a lot harder than it looks.

That having been said, the best reference resource out there for a beginning cook is online:, a site I highly recommend as a learning tool. They have technique demonstration videos that you can play as many times as you like, and people on staff that can help you out. It's a recipe collection, a forum, a reference and a cooking school. All skill levels are represented, and the instructors and moderators are really patient and helpful.

Here's my rundown of the common sites:

EGULLET.COM -Great everything-recipes, resources, information, links, recommendations and tutorials Online Culinary Institute-EXCELLENT EXCELLENT EXCELLENT very iffy but excellent if you're researching variations of a particular dish, since they'll present you with, say, five different versions of a given dish submitted by five different people.

Recipezaar-average to iffy, and also excellent if you're researching variations of a particular dish for the reasons given above there. of the white trash recipe...if you're looking for that weird pretzel and jello dip (this exists) they served at uncle Billy-Bobs' funeral, look no further. Recipes range from very good to very, very bad indeed. And I mean 'whoa Nellie' bad. They link to Sunset Magazine recipes, which I like.

Gourmet Magazine online-Average, good recommendations and links

Epicurious-Not the most user friendly site, but good - The moderators can be assholes, but their archives are SOLID GOLD. Absolutely invaluable information and resources particularly for obscure or very new things. Hash slingers, Cordon Bleu grads and everyone in between all gather here to worship. Aimed at the professional (or the highly skilled amateur), assumes a high level of skill.

Martha the most user friendly site out there. The recipes tend to be hit or miss, but the few good ones are very, very good. Excellent resources, reliably high quality.

Joy of Cooking online-Good, but not as good or as comprehensive as the book.

Americas' Test Kitchen- Meh. The show and the magazine are much, much better (I subscribe, in fact. You should too. Its like an advanced degree in cooking. The magazine is called Cooks Illustrated.) The site is very aggressive in its marketing tactics and the recipes are only up for a limited time.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Zombie Dog!

Lets start the new year out right, shall we? Lets start the new year out with a story.

A story about the Meadows family.

Why is this the right way to start the New Year, you ask?

Because if you swallow a live toad first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you all day.


I'm sure that at some point in the past Brendel the dog had been readily identifiable as a specific breed, and I'm guessing that it was some kind of a terrier situation. When I met him, though, Brendel was in such an advanced state of deterioration that he was only vaguely canine, and that only when stood next to a cat or a possum or a raccoon.

Brendel belonged to the Meadows family. Specifically, Sunshine Meadows.

Now, Sunshine Meadows was a person that I would have hesitated to trust with a toaster oven. That much was stark raving obvious before you'd even spent one full minute in her presence; she was like a fat, loud, functionally retarded Sue Ann Nivens, if Sue Ann Nivens had dribbled a constant stream of rat scabies and mushroom soup and evil. Nevertheless, someone actually took at look at this complete waste of skin and sold it a puppy. The only thing that can possibly explain this is that reincarnation exists and Brendel was Hitler before he was Brendel.

Brendel was about the size of a large housecat. I think he was originally a brindle dog, which the Meadows steadfastly insisted was spelled and pronounced 'Brendel'*; although by the time I made his acquaintance he was almost entirely white.

I have never seen a dog this old. Nobody knew how old he was exactly. In fact one of the common Meadows evening conversations centered around trying to figure out how old Brendel was by attempting to date him to different events.** If aroma was anything to go by Brendel was 800 years old. You KNEW when this dog was in the vicinity. He didn't smell like a dog, though; he smelled like burnt tunafish casserole. I honestly do not think this dog had been bathed ever. I mean clear geologic levels of filth on this dog that would fly off in discernable chunks when he got kicking. He'd always stop when he was done and sniff his toes. 'Hmmmm. 1954...a very good year.' And then he'd go around and vacuum up all the frag.

Oh yes.

He was drawn up into a perfect knobby half-moon shape, and tiptoed around on the ends of his claws instead of moving his legs. This made him look eerily as though he were a childs' evil decomposed pull toy rolling around. He always carried his head held low to the ground, glaring at you through eyes milk white with cataract tissue. His teeth met in a jagged cross stitch of fishbones and fangs on the outside of his lips and saliva drooled out of his flews in a perpetual stream.

He did not breathe. Not visibly. Not audibly. You could hold your hand in front of his nose and not feel a single thing, even when he was asleep.

The shape of every single bone in this animals body was clearly visible, and I mean right down to the separate bones in his tail. When he ate something you could literally watch as it lumped and bulged its way through his entire intestinal tract. Now this was not a symptom of starvation by any means...this dog ate like a machine. Anything. At all. Constantly. Dog food, dead robins, hamburger wrappers, tinfoil, old gum, sheetrock...

One time I watched this animal go down the side of the road vacuuming up smashed, blackened cherries out of the gravel. And he ate every single one, pits, skin, gravel and all, his head scanning back and forth like a zombie flamingo in the brine shrimp. He was completely blind, this dog, and yet down the block he went, looking like something that fell off Stephen Kings ass, with his muzzle just dusting the ground, darting and swallowing, trailing drool, and all the while this little dog is making this horrible burbling wet noise:

UHAGARK fffart WHIFFLEharf EEEEblargkaffkaff GORPslurp eeeeewaaaAK AK growfBURPooappsnorf snorf FFFfrapSNORKLEakbarfHATCHOOfrap

There was nothing natural or cleanly about this whatsoever.

Now despite being blind as a stone this animal would track your movements. As soon as you came into the room his little bald head would slowly rise and his muzzle would come around and point directly at you while you walked by. His eyes were like perfect moonstone opals, completely opaque, dry and hard. Obviously there was nothing wrong with his hearing or his sense of smell. You could call him from anyplace and he would come gliding up on his tippitoes and stop with his dry, dry nose touching your leg, and just stand there. "OK, boy", you'd say, and he'd come back online and glide off.

Nobody mistreated Brendel. Brendel was a vicious as a pirrahna. He did not want pets or love or to be a lap dog. He would come up and present a body part to be scratched; you scratched it, and then he rolled off, perfectly content. Any attempt to pick him up would result in Brendel going from completely stock still to SCREAMING RAVENING MAELSTROM OF CANINE DEATH and back to complete immobility once you decided not to follow through, or were in another state.

Screaming is no exaggeration either. The very worst, most unnatural, horrible thing about Brendel was his voice.

I was seated over at Sonnyboys house next door one evening right after I'd arrived back in town. It was about 2 in the morning and we were just smoking and talking and having some beers when suddenly I heard a....noise. I am not ashamed to admit that I gave a yelp and jumped for Sonnyboy.

"Isn't it horrible? We decided it sounds like a bum being tortured to death," Sonnyboy explained.

"Well is someone torturing a bum to death?" I asked, completely appalled. I'd never heard anything like this. It really did sound like a human in pain, or several humans in pain, and by pain I mean horrific agony, and by several humans I mean like the emergency waiting room at Harborview Medical Center late on a Saturday night. Horrible loud screaming and groaning and banshee wailing, with a distinct vocal quality to it:

Aoo wawawawa waaaaaa, BUFFA. Boov. VoooOOOO. Wuhwoo. UUOOWAAA aaa aaaaaaaaaaoooooo...oooooOOOOO

"Oh my God Sonnyboy we have to go see whats wrong, Jesus Christ now come on," I said. I was really panicked. I thought someone was in real trouble or something.

We both snuck out the back door and over the fence.

There in the moonlight, sitting on the back step of the Meadows shed, still as a statue, was Brendel. Brendel, with this NOISE coming out of him. His mouth never came wide open and he never hopped up off his front feet like some dogs will when they're all excited and giving voice just to hear themselves be goofy; no, Brendel was just sitting there still as a statue, moving his lips as though he was chewing.

Wumgum. Hmrmwmwmwmwaaaaaaaaaaa. WMWMaaaa. OOOO oo oo, RAIGH! AWRAIGH! AIAIAIauauaooooo. WHY! WAWHY! marowauOOOOOOOOOOOOOWAGGAWAGAAAAAA!

I backed into the fence and got tangled up in it. Sonnyboy nearly pissed himself laughing at me. I ran back indoors and stayed up for the rest of the night. Every time I'd try and sleep this fucking dog would start up again and I'd come up off the couch about a foot.

"Oh my God, if he'd just bark like a normal dog it would be one thing," I kept saying. "You could throw something at it. You wouldn't be afraid if it were just a normal dog noise. This is like...oh my God.
Somebody ought to do something. I mean, this is from hell," I exclaimed.

"Nobody in the whole neighborhood will say a word anymore,"explained Sonnyboy, "because then Sunshine shows up at your door. And NOBODY wants that. Brendel is bad, but Sunshine might play the accordion or something. And the thing is, I don't think you can actually kill Brendel anymore. He'd just return and put a curse on you."

Sad to say, though, it was possible to kill Brendel. It took a dump truck.

By this point I had resumed my campaign of evil and I was busily emptying the bank account of a useless cheating wad of fuck named Brae. Brae, although engaged to another girl, just knew he was Gods gift to women in general and me specifically. I knew that if I kept treating him like crap and holding out on him he'd get so broke trying to buy his way into my drawers that he'd have to re-enlist in the Navy. Which is exactly what happened but is another story. Ahem.

One evening he had picked me up at the Meadows house and we had just driven down to the end of the block when we saw a creature coming down the center line toward us in the headlights, eyes glowing, staggering along on three legs.

Apparently Brendel had wandered down the block to where a housing development was being built and one of the dumptrucks had gone over him; we found the dual wheel tracks full of dirt going right over the bloodstain on the pavement.

And the goddamned dog was still walking.

Brae stopped the car and we both got out and stood over the dog. "I can't touch it," he said. "I couldn't even look at the thing when it was OK, now its a mess. Jesus."
And Brendel was.
Brendel had a rib sticking out of his side, and that side was flat. One hind leg was completely dislocated at the hip socket and was broken in several places besides, bent at several strange angles like a paperclip, the foot hanging like a rag.
One ear was almost completely smeared off the side of its head and hung down on its neck attached to a strap of skin.
Part of this animals skull on that side was caved in.
And missing.
You could see this dogs BRAIN.
As we stood and looked down at it in horror, pieces of gravel fell out.
And yet this dog was still walking.

Brae wrapped it up in his coat and we put it in the trunk with the lid open; I sat back there with it while we rolled back up the street slowly. Brendel growled when I tried to pet him. I stopped.

Sunshine reacted like Sunshine did, which meant she giggled and dithered and laughed and looked around and blinked and flapped her hands and dithered some more and screeched "Oh my God! I can't decide! I just can't decide! What do I do! What do I do! I just don't know, I've never been good at deciding! Oh no!"

"We should take the dog to the emergency vets in Portland," I said. "It's down in Northwest."

Sunshine paused a half-beat and frowned down at me. Then she resumed her fluttering and dithering.
"Oh my God! I can't decide! I just can't decide! What do I do! Someone make this decision for me! Oh please! I just don't know!"
-And remember, all this time she's giggling, kids.

"We should drive down there and you can follow in your car," I said. "Just get in your car and we'll go. Go get your keys, here, here's your keys on the wall here, let's take them off the hook and put them in your hand, here, OK, and now let's go out into the driveway, here let me open the door for you, get in your car, OK, good, and now you start the car and you FOLLOW us into Portland, OK? You have to start the car-OK. Good. Now FOLLOW US IN TO PORTLAND."

Once at the vets she continued to be useless, and the doctor looked at us and we looked back and shrugged and rolled our eyes.

Brendel jumped down off the examination table and headed for the door.

The doctor tried to catch him. When his hands closed on him, Brendel came around like a wolverine and buried his teeth in the mans' hand.

We had to threw the coat back over Brendel in order to lift him back onto the table, and all the while this animal is fighting like a hooked marlin and SNARLING in hatred at the top of its lungs.

We all backed away and left Sunshine there. She just stood there looking down at Brendel, watching his brain oog around, giggling. "You're the owner so you have to make a decision," the vet said.

"Well I can't, I just can't, Oh I don't know what to do I just can't," she simpered.

"We're going to leave now," I told the vet quietly. "We got her here. I'm done with the bitch."

"Wait! Does she have transportation?" The vet looked a little panicked.

"Oh you bet she does," Brae laughed. "She drove herself here. The dog was bad enough. There's no way in hell I'd let that in my car."

We stopped at a gas station on the corner of Burnside. Brae cleaned out the trunk of his car and gave his jacket to a bum. Then we went to a bar and got shitfaced stinking, rompin' stompin', ratshit, motherbuttfucking, blind-ass drunk til that bitch closed doors down.

Brendel came back in the form of a handful of ash in a little box. Sunshine kept it on the mantle. When people would come over she'd lead them over and say "thats my poor little doggie Brendel Wendel," and then glare at me.

Apparently Brendels' death was my fault. I never was able to pin her down as to how exactly it was my fault that her blind senile dog that ran around the neighborhood at large had been run over by a goddamn dump just was. So whenever she pulled this I'd just grin real big like Alfred E. Neuman and nod enthusiastically.

This apparently was not the reaction she was looking for from me. She also seemed less than amused when the person she was attempting to zoom cracked up laughing.

The great thing about Sunshine was she had no clue that everyone had her number. None whatsoever.

*When I first heard this dogs name I thought they'd said 'Grendel' and I started laughing. "At least they have a sense of humor about it," I said.

Blank stares.

"You know, Grendel? Like Grendel the monster?" I said.

Blank stares. Some drool.

"....Oh. From Beowulf," said Eldest Brother.

Which was what finally made me decide to do him.

scene: dinner conversation, around the table. all family members and our narrator are present.

Dad-Brendel has to be about 22 now. Sure. We got him wasn't it right around the time when Eldest Brother had to get circumcized? Remember? Back when Kelvin spilled a pot of hot tea on his crotch and he got 2nd degree burns and all the skin sloughed off and it got infected and then he got pimosis and it closed off the end of his dick and he had to get an emergency circumcision?

Mom-No, I think it was back when Mysterion got her period. Wasn't it? Right around then? I remember finding a lot of bloody underwear in the laundry right around then...

Eldest Brother-No no no it was back right after we made Kelvin go live in the garage because he kept going in to Mysterions room at night. I remember we were putting up the wallboard when you brought Brendel home.

Kelvin-I never went into Mysterions room at night. That was a lie. She was lying.

Mom-She was not lying; we found your underpants right next to her bed, Kelvin.

Kelvin-Well, we didn't have Brendel then because I remember I had just started working nights and I'd come home and wake up in Mysterions bedroom and not remember how I got there.

Dad-I thought you said she was lying.

Kelvin-Well...well, she
was lying; I was never in there. Not really. And we didn't have Brendel then anyway.

-cue happy family laughter all round


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reddish Obesity Man Owning a Trim Pale or Colorless: Have Slayer Go!

...ASL for 'merry christmas'. really. it is.

Well, it was my very first Christmas with my WHOLE family this year.

In stark contrast to Christmases in previous years.....
...those occurring from 1960-78, to be specific

...this Christmas was entirely free of seething resentment, vomit and emotional dramatics. I was so disoriented.

What we did have was snow.
This is the road on the way to the Stainless Steel Amazon's house. Somewhere. She lives up in the foothills of the Cascades, which are mountains, which were also covered with snow. We saw a possum.

The possum is in the middle of this picture here. He is waving. Hello! Now right at the very end of this long valley here is where the SSA and the Lucky Bastard live. Can you see them? They are waving. Hi!!

The little town they live in was a railroad and logging outpost, pretty much unchanged since the territorial days except for shit like electricity and whatnot. Then the hippies all moved in back in the 1960's and half of them disconnected the electricity, so it's actually retrogressed. This is a shot of the side veranda of the old bachelor boarding house in the town, with a snowman. He is waving. Hi!!

Check out the icicles! These are hanging all off my daughters house, on the original old part of the structure. Same deal as my house here; the original house was a small cabin-type place and then other people came along in later years and added a bunch of rooms and indoor plumbing and whatnot. Hers has a lot more whatnot than mine, though, and these huge fucking icebergs hanging off it here.

The backyard, about 3 feet deep in snow in some places. There is no possum in this picture.

I wish I were a better photographer, because this was actually a very pretty tree that my daughter did. Mere photography could not contain it, apparently.

....for the sake of my readers i have chosen an image which reveals only a side profile of the Arborist, in order to protect you from the almost intolerable levels of kickass smokin' rockatude going on there. you are welcome.

Every single one of my descendants is in this picture here. Yes, even the little black one. These things happen. Don't hate.

Official spokesdog of Extreme Christmas 08!!!!

I cannot resist a pretty tree. I have more pictures of pretty trees and plants and shrubs and shit than I do of my family. But I figure, hey; I already know what they look like, right? This tree could explode at any moment.

You know how there's always one in ever family? Yeah. This is what I found lurking in my camera waiting to spring like a jungle puma. It seems to be a map of the Bonneville Salt flats. There's even a burning race car there off to one side. See? It's just to the right of the San Andreas fault line there.
... Your tax dollars at work. Oh yes. You all paid for this ones' college degree. Yes you did. Doesn't it make you just swell with pride? Or something?

In closing, let me leave you with an image I believe depicts the true spirit of a warm family Christmas here at Rancho FirstNations. This was what my husband found in his Christmas stocking.
Someone gave this to my husband.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's all give a warm welcome to Jello Pig.