Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Spot.

For those of you who I know are going to go right there with that title, just stoppit. This is about tomatoes.


See, the other day (which was honestly probably, like, a month ago), something started to become clear to the people who see my garden the most (Bubba and me and our neighbors) - there's a magic spot in our yard.

A spot where, no matter what you put there, magical BIG things will happen.

Put a puny abandoned I Don't Know What Variety This Is tomato plant there - it will become enormous and try to swallow your arms when you go in for a tomato.


Let those same tomato plants run rampant at the tail end of the season (so that you can have more enormous tomatoes, obviously) and big huge What Cho Lookin' At wolf spiders will appear there and stake a claim to the backyard.

Seriously. What ARE you looking at? You've never seen a giant spider weave a web? You need to get out more.

Plant melons - get huge melons.

Plant chard - the world comes to an end.

You see what I'm saying here - there's something about *that* spot.

Not that the rest of the yard is totally falling apart, but *that spot* - there's something to it.

Take this year's garden, for instance:

This is actually funny because this photo's 2 weeks old and all those plants are at least a foot taller now. Me? I'm the same height. Frustrating.

See, these are the tomato plants. They were planted at the same time, in the same mix of soil and amendments. Same everything. Even the two plants in the one bed there that are the same variety - something's going on.

And that something is because of The Spot.

We've determined, from lots of scientific research called Staring At And Judging Our Plants and Our Neighbors' Plants and Our Neighbors Doing The Same Thing, that this spot - the front spot on the third bed - is magical.

Don't believe me? Look at the same spot from four different gardening seasons:

I wish I could tell you which years these were from, but I'm not that good. I do know the last one is from two weeks ago, beyond that, it's anyone's guess.

See what I mean? What IS it about that crazy spot? My theory is that it gets the most sun, the least wind and feels the most love because the dog likes to shit right in front of it so every time I go out to the garden I first shovel the dumps so that I don't step in them as I intrude upon the plants to look for ripening tomatoes or whatever.

But I don't know for sure. Maybe the dog's dumps are magical? I mean, she certainly thinks they are, given the victory lap she takes after dropping one off on a walk.

It's an interesting life I lead, I know.

But, like last year for instance, The Spot grew the hugest tomato I've ever grown from a plant whose variety was completely unknown at planting time.


And then it made all of these, too.
And this perfect one that I thought you should see again. Because it's so pretty and perfect. Did I mention that it's perfect? It is. PERFECT I SAY.

So, we've decided it's definitely a magic spot. I'm thinking of planting my wallet in there to see if I can't squeeze a hundo out of the yard. Or maybe my empty bottle of Hendrick's - see if I can't GROW myself a bar, since the one I'm trying to remodel in my house is apparently never going to be completely done.

Who knows! The fact is that we've established that there is a magic spot in my yard and I may use it for evil.

Or just giant tomatoes. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Running update: 22s. Yep. 22s.

In case you're not following me on Twitter (Dude, what the fuck? Sometimes I post things that aren't Foursquare check ins.) and therefore managed to miss the biggest Finny news since I Have The Rapture In My Backyard, I wanted to tell you that I ran my oft traveled interval route yesterday morning...IN THE 22s.

Lemons are unrelated. Though they do provide an excellent prop for the Garmin which falls over and resets itself otherwise. Handy.
That's right. Because I know you're not all on Twitter and I need a lot of validation in my life, so I dragged you all over here to show you evidence that sometimes stars align and I am able to run the same old interval route faster than ever before.

Even though, according to every running magazine and blog, I'm scheduled to hit my plateau any day now. Apparently the 30s are prime territory for this event.

But no! I'm fighting the plateau, people. I will not bow down and accept interval runs with ever decreasing speed into my life.

Granted, I'm still not fast and never really have been, but this is marked improvement from Supah Slow to Less Slow and I will take it thankyouverymuch.

And because I believe these things have helped me in my quest for the 22s, I will continue doing them:
  • Fartleks: They sound stupid and they feel even stupider but I'm pretty sure they work. Which sucks because I was banking on them NOT working so I could stop running and crying.
  • Honey Stinger Waffles: I thought they'd be another flash in the pan Oh This Looks Not Disgusting option from a race goodie bag, but they actually ARE not disgusting and a good way to get a little food in before sprinting out the door in the early morning hours. I just have to ignore the douche on the wrapper.
  • HoneyMilk: Now, before you get all Oh, so I see you're really embracing this whole beekeeper thing to an annoying extreme LOSER, let me tell you that I've tried a lot of  gels, chews, drinks, bars and other Don't Die running and recovery fuels and this is the only one that actually keeps me from feeling all barfy afterward. Plus - no dying. Bonus!
So yeah, of course I ran this magical interval event right after being all OH LOOK I RAN IT IN 23:05 MY FASTEST TIME EVER. And because I'm sure that tomorrow's interval run will be slower, because that's how my life goes, I had to tell you today while the news didn't have to be prefaced by me going, "OK, so today sucked but on TUESDAY...well, let me tell you..." because that would make for a lame post.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bee update: They're fine.

A week or so ago, I went out to the hive to see if the beetles had taken over, been locked up in jail by the hundreds, if there were still babies, how the queen was doing, whether we had any honey stores and just generally if there was any evidence of progress.

Given these ladies had a...uh...rough start, I've accepted the fact that this first season - which is usually a building year anyway - is going to be exceptionally slow, even as beginning years go.

Though let's hope they're not like our local pro football team who has been having building season after rebuilding season after What Sport Are We Playing Again? season since the turn of the century here.

Lord it makes me ill to think about. This is one time I really miss the 80s.

Anyway, the bees, well, they're fine.

I ripped on the veil and jacket during a nice hot day and, other than the sweat running into my eyeballs, encountered zero drama, as you can plainly see in this ultra boring video I took during the hive check.

I'm sure that some day a video like this will get immediately trashed because HELLO nothing fun happens. However, given the chaos that has been this first season with my own hive, I still want to sit here and bask in the glory of Nothing Scary Happens, so you still get boring videos until such time as my resting heart rate drops to normal levels.

While I love the bees and checking the hive and none of it bothers me now, the sounds and smells (I didn't realize the veil had a smell until after The Rapture that had me putting on the veil 4 times in a day) of the Day One Shall Not Soon Forget are forever emblazoned on my soul.

Like, zipping on that veil gives me flashbacks of my personal Nam.

And if you didn't like the zero-drama way this post began, you're welcome for this new manufactured drama courtesy of moi.

So - in sum - the bees are fine as far as I can tell, but I'm thinking I may add the feeder back on if they don't start to accumulate some capped honey stores soon since I'm afraid they're starving out the queen and babies.

But that decision will wait for the next hive check. Meanwhile, they're fabulously busy bossing around the now-blooming lavender.

I AM THE BOSS OF YOU, LAVENDER. Now sit there and take it.

Set-up: 2 deep 10 frame brood boxes 
Bees: Calm. Out and about on a sunny day, so very few in the actual hive.
Boss Lady: Present and accounted for on an outer frame - good news! That means maybe we'll have more action in that bottom box and get to the upper box some time this century. Sheesh. Patience...
Comb: Built out on 5-6 of 10 frames. Uncapped brood. Stored nectar and pollen. Not a lot of capped honey though.

Pests and Scourges: 0 hive beetles in the hive or the jail. Maybe the jail scared them off? I hear they are like gypsies that way. Don't want to be tied down and also like caravans. What?
Feeder: I ditched the feeder and now I'm worried they're not eating enough. They don't have a lot of capped honey, so I'm wondering what they're feeding to the babies and the queen. I may put the feeder on if the next check shows no honey stores.

Stings: 0. Even in flip-flops, bare hands and shorts. Perhaps soon I try this in a bikini.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Running update: I hate the road. QUICKLY.

I have a list of things to post about, but all of them require photos, so instead of those you get this: I'm still running.

HOORAY, I know.

But it is actually not the most useless topic for me to post about since some of you might still care about running even though I haven't talked about it in ages. And I've talked about training even less, so there you go. Be happy that I'm coming back around to this topic at all because if I weren't I'd be veering off in a new disgusting direction called, "I'm a fat ass and can't fit into my jeans. Send gin."

Yes, people, despite what some other running blogs may claim (because they are written by liars. Fit, fast ab-having liars), I run because it keeps the fatness at bay. It doesn't necessarily usher in the era of visible abs or toned ass cheeks, but it at least keeps me in my jeans and lets me wear shorts during the months of the year which Bubba has deemed acceptable for me to be in them.

He gives me mean looks when I trot them out in December with my flip-flops because he obviously wants to crush my soul.

Whatever. I love my shorts. And flip-flops. And tank tops. And I also love bikinis, but we haven't quite found the right combination of running, strength training, not drinking a dozen cocktails a week and race fries to solve for that equation, so I'm sticking really close to my shorts and tank tops in the hopes that one day the stars will align and I'll be able to put on one of my many bikinis (not looking like Jennifer Aniston has not deterred me from buying 100 bikinis) and not shriek in horror.

And so I run.

Except when I do a trail race and roll the ever loving fuck out of my ankle to the point of an audible meaty crunch. Then I sit the sidelines for a few weeks until the persistent gnawing pain subsides enough for a quiet run sans-Garmin/speed goals. Then I run all quiet and gentle like for another week to make sure that the painlessness has settled in enough to go back out with the Garmin and dreams of 23 minute interval runs and sub-60 6 mile runs on the weekend.

BUT ONLY THEN. Not sooner. And it's a bit of sweet annoying torture to sit the bench when you know all the while that the longer you wait before going back out the more painful it's going to be and the more likely it is that your shorts will stop fitting right because your Ab Hider 5000 (AKA belly) will re-emerge right when you were getting ready for Shorts Acceptable weather.

So, as you can see, training while recovering from an injury is a tedious process.

And that's where I'm at right now. Front and center in Tedious Race Training for the upcoming Wharf to Wharf in July.

A 10K race held on a road even though I said to you guys and, more importantly, TO ME, that I would stop racing on roads because I hate it and even more than I hate racing on the road, I hate training on the road because people always try to hit you with their cars because they're way too interested in drinking their Starbucks, beating their backseated children or checking the game on their iPhone to watch out for reflectively dressed runners just trying to get in a quick 6 miles before it becomes monstrously hot in San Jose, CA.

My hatred is very specific.

Also, training on my city's roads is suffocatingly boring. OH MY GOD is it boring. I can change up my route all I want, wear a costume, sing out loud in the faces of babies, give everyone the finger, pull candy from my pants, do intervals of skipping and hula hooping and STILL it would crush my soul with its boringness.

I've become very attached to my trail runs, folks, and man does it show when I have to go out and run the roads.

Based on the looks I get from oncoming runners, I don't seem happy or approachable. That whole, "We're all in this together" vibe that I used to occasionally experience has gone out the window. I'm definitely projecting a, "What the fuck am I doing here?" vibe and it doesn't sit well with all these fast and apparently content runners who are out trotting our city's streets with a pleasant look on their sweaty faces.

Perhaps they haven't been nearly creamed by a minivan yet. Or perhaps they've never experienced the sheer joy of sprinting down a mossy shaded trail protected overhead by a thick canopy of trees.

Either way - we're not the same anymore. I don't understand you people and I barely understand me.

The only reason I can come up with - as to why we're all out running the streets instead of some lovely trail through the woods or along the coast - is that we're all trying to defend some road-based PR for some road-based race that we signed up for without flipping on that important Brain switch before hitting "Register".

I mean, I have my sub-60 10K PR. I got it a year ago and I thought I was going to hang that up forever.

10K - 58:15. Done. Forever.

But, no. I signed up for another 10K and I just can't go out there and fail my PR because then I'd start thinking bad things about myself and then I'd have a lot of cocktails and then HOLY SHIT what are my jeans doing with that giant blob obscuring the belt loops ohmygoditsmybelly.

You see the vicious circle I've created for myself then, yes?

So, I'm training for this 10K. On the road. And I'm not running in the hills because I don't have time from all this running on the road business. And it's yucky. And I'm mad at myself for signing up for a road race even though it's supposed to be one of those races that *everyone who's ever called themselves a runner* does. And even though last weekend I went out to do my first training run in preparation for this race after meatily crunching my ankle running in the blessed hills and BAM...

Killed it in 56:15.


Then, just before that, I did my 2.5M interval training run in 23:05, which is 2 seconds faster than my fastest interval training run ever.


It's funny how I'm suddenly sorta almost maybe looking forward to next Saturday's long run because this week's didn't suck as mightily bad in the time department as I thought it would.

Yeah, funny that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Summer Menu (AKA What happens to the fennel every week)

Every week in early summer we get fennel in the farmshare.


When we first started getting the farmshare, I would take one look at the fennel and be like, "Oh fennel. You've come to the wrong place." And then I would bury it under something else I wasn't likely to deal with (beets come to mind) in the crisper and forget about it until it was too bouncy to contemplate any longer as food and then I'd throw it in the composter.

Bye-bye bouncy fennel.

Then I got tired of throwing away the fuzzy bouncy fennel bulb and decided to crack open a cookbook. Which is a totally original idea, I know.

And that's pretty much the start of the Summer Menu and how things like the Fall, Winter and Spring Menus came about.

I learned how to make Fennel Orange Olive Salad, which we loved a lot and was super easy, and we've been eating Fennel Orange Olive Salad every week during early summer for the past few years and not bouncing any fennel into the composter. HOO-ray.

So The Summer Menu, as we call it, is just a fancy ass way of saying that we have a bunch of recipes for the one good way I've learned to dispatch all of one vegetable in a single meal without either of us vomiting.

This system is pretty good, too.  So good, in fact, that Bubba commented the other night on how good we were getting at working through the garden and farmshare and chicken share and egg share and meat share and it's probably because of these menus that I've cobbled together over the years out of desperation for not wanting food going bouncy in my fridge.

That's a nice thing for him to say, I think, that I'm a good and resourceful cook (I hear what I want to hear) even though it sort of hearkens back to the 50s and and makes me wonder if I should take up snorting coke off my stovetop, but whatever. I'm just thinking it's nice.

So nice that I thought I'd share this with you - The Summer Menu - and the concept of Summer Menu making. Just in case you have similar vegetables piling up and want to rotate them out each week into someone's belly instead of the composter or trash.

The handy part is that all these things are pretty quick to make, don't require much beyond that which lives in your fridge or pantry and do well as leftovers even if they're smushed into a Tupperware and biked 15 miles to work.

Plus! They don't taste like ass. At least we don't think they do.

Extra fun bonus - there are 6 things on this menu so one for each night of the week that isn't Pizza Night. Because you know that Friday night is Pizza Night at our house and thou shalt not fuck with Pizza Night.

The Summer Menu
White Bean Kale and Pasta & Roasted Green Beans
Mexican Grilled Whole Chicken, Pinto Beans & Green Salad
Meatballs with The Best Sauce Ever. Yep. & Fennel Orange Olive Salad
Chicken Salad with Arugula & Garlic Naan (na-na-na-na-nanana-na)
Broccoli Walnut Pasta with Bacon or Prosciutto
Big Ass Cobb Salad & Garlic Toasts (no egg for Bubba)

Some explanation...
White Bean Kale and Pasta & Roasted Green Beans 
This requires no explanation because I've covered it in great detail around here. However, I will say that the new french style green beans I'm growing this year are THE MOST and will be enhancing this menu item all summer because they are long and skinny even when they're old so won't require extra stomachs to manage the harvest. Last summer there were a lot of beans is what I'm saying. I could have used extra stomachs. Like a cow has. But I didn't want to equate myself to a cow. Obviously.

Mexican Grilled Whole Chicken, Pinto Beans & Green Salad
This is new this year and requires some awesome brutality to accomplish. I, for one, love to lay a good beat down on my meal before eating it, which I assume is the same for everyone.

If you're a wuss with raw chicken, handling raw chicken, hacking bones and the like - stop being a fucking puss and make this. It will be worth all your girlish squealing. Promise.

One whole chicken (our pastured local organic chickens are so fucking delicious, but I won't judge anyone for their Foster Farms. I'm very accepting.)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce (Tapatio, Cholula, Frank's Hot Wing sauce - you do what you need to do)
Corn or flour tortillas
Green salad makings
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed

To make:
Rinse and pat your chicken dry. Which is not as sexy as it sounds. Feel free to give your chicken one last dance before you beat its ass. I always do.

Then, using kitchen shears or a kick ass sturdy knife, cut the breastbone of the chicken from the bottom up. Yeah, that's right - you're cutting through bone. It's extreme.

Now that your chicken's split, grab the breasts and pull them apart until they crack. That'd be the back bones breaking. WEE! You're brutal.

Flip that bird over, spread the breasts apart (Not Sexy ALERT) and break the spine until the chicken lays flat and accommodating on your cutting board. Snip the skin around the thighs away so that the breasts will spread out nicely and not tuck underneath the thighs. (I doubt that sounds sexy.)

Rub the whole thing down with olive oil and a healthy coating of salt and pepper. You could probably do a lime tequila thing here with the marinade, like all those fruity ridiculous TGIWhatever places do when trying to Mexican-ize chicken, but I find that all to be too much. Salt, pepper, olive oil, grill. That's plenty.

So, now you grill. Lay that beautiful flat bird meat side down (bones up) on a hot grill and cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Flip it over and cover for another 15 minutes. Flip it over again and cook covered until juices run clear. And, since you're going to chop it all up anyway, feel free to slice into that thigh to see if it's cooked through like I know you want to.

Look, I know professional chefs frown upon this from up on their super high horses, but I'm just a chicken scarfing psychopath playing cook in my backyard, so I can just slice into whatever the hell I want as long as it's not a guest, the dog or Bubba. Hell yeah! I'm a chicken ninja! Zing zing zing!

Where the hell did that come from?

When the chicken's done, throw a bunch of tortillas on the grill and then cut up the chicken into legs, breasts, wings and so on and set it out with a big pile of warm tortillas that you just tore off the grill. And hot sauce. And cilantro fresh from the garden if you happen to be sitting right by the garden. And limes.

And the pinto beans that I mentioned earlier that you just heat up in a pot on the grill or stovetop while the chicken's cooking. And that green salad I mentioned earlier, made however a normal person might make green salad.

I can't help you with everything.

Meatballs with The Best Sauce Ever. Yep. & Fennel Orange Olive Salad
I know everyone's got their own way of making meatballs, so I'm not going to pass my simple and probably wrong recipe for meatballs off as the best or anything, but they're good and Bubba loves them a lot and you can find those details in this post where I made him a white trash dinner that will further illustrate how I'm not a professional chef.

You don't need me recounting The Best Sauce Ever. Yep. because I've told that story. And you can read it here. Along with a variety of conflicting comments.

The salad has been documented before, too, but I called it something else and used kumquats instead of oranges, but you'll get the gist. And hey, really, the thing should be called "Fennel Orange Onion Olive Salad" anyway, so that all the ingredients are actually just in the damn name, but someone probably told the author of this cookbook that the name was too long and to cut out her least favorite vegetable and so she decided she liked the onion least of all. Which is a crime because onions are THE BEST. 

Chicken Salad with Arugula & Garlic Naan (na-na-na-na-nanana-na)
The chicken salad recipe is around here, too, and I usually just get some naan from a nearby Indian restaurant or GASP from Trader Joe's, give it a brush of olive oil and then throw on some sea salt and chopped herbs and garlic to be fancy.

Because obviously I'm very fancy with my Trader Joe's naan to begin with.

Broccoli Walnut Pasta with Bacon or Prosciutto
I can't believe I've never talked about this dish, which is a total mainstay in our kitchen because I get to blow out a lot of broccoli before it turns repulsive in my fridge, but that's probably because it's about as photogenic as horse poo.

Meanwhile, it is delicious and improved dramatically with the addition of prosciutto (if you're fancy) or bacon (if you're us).

As many cups of broccoli florets as you have on hand (I usually have about 6)
1 cup of walnut pieces
1/4 lb chopped bacon
1 cup whole wheat pasta
1/2 shredded Parmesan
2 cloves chopped garlic
Olive oil

To make:
Preheat the oven to 400.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (or, if you're not a big fat waster like me, just throw it on the pan and then spend the rest of your natural life scraping broccoli off that pan), add some olive oil to the pan and throw on the broccoli, bacon and walnuts and toss them in the oil. Add some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, take it out to toss and then finish in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the walnuts begin to darken.

Just don't burn the god damned walnuts because it ruins the whole thing and makes it all bitter and sad. And you won't have enough of everything to remake it anew and will end up eating popcorn that you managed NOT to burn and Bubba will eat chips and look sad all night.

Make the pasta and toss in the roasted broccoli mix and then the Parmesan. Add more salt if you like. Hell, add Velveeta if you like, it's already been bastardized with beautiful bacon, why not go for the friggen gold, here? (Warning: I've never tried this and I'm not even sure Velveeta qualifies as a food. Take your own chances.)

Big Ass Cobb Salad & Garlic Toasts (no egg for Bubba)

Yeah, I doubt I really need to tell you how to make a cobb salad. Though, if you're not familiar with cobb salad let me tell you how I see it: A cobb salad is all the food you'd want to have on a sandwich, except you put it on greens, call it salad and then don't feel like a fat ass.

It's great.

Just don't skimp on the blue cheese (and, no, I will not be spelling it as "Bleu cheese" because I'm not a complete douche) or bacon. And since tomatoes are out of season right now, I like to sub in sundried tomatoes packed in oil because they're delicious, but you could sub in some sliced peaches, apricots or plums and I promise it won't be grotesque. Try marinated olives instead of those sad grey rounds from the red can and see how happy you get.

To make the garlic toasts, just slice a small baguette in half, rub the cut sides with the cut side of a fresh clove of garlic, brush on a bit of olive oil and some sea salt and toast until nice and golden.

It's pretty awesome for dinner, particularly if you're having a beer or some Chardonnay from your recent trip to Paso Robles.

Alright - so that's all the Summer Menu knowledge I have right now. In the event that I'm able to document the grilled chicken scenario without losing my camera in the Frank's sauce or happen to catch the Broccoli Walnut Pasta in a flattering light (darkness), I'll come back and post those photos. Or maybe I'll write up new posts because in the event those things happen, they're going to represent small miracles in my world and will have to be documented appropriately.

Geez - the things that count as miracles these days.I've really lowered the bar.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home for the Hendrick's

It's about time we talked about the bar.

Even though it's not done yet.

Because the contractor, I fear, has gone missing - as is the way with all our construction projects.

Hooray! Bubba and I will be hanging lights, wiring outlets and installing baseboards this weekend! Why, that's exactly what I wanted to do on the first hot weekend of summer!

Wait, no.

Anyway - The (unfinished) Bar:

I'll have a Hendrick's and tonic, STAT.

You'll notice it doesn't have any baseboard trim, two of the cabinets don't have knobs, the window is missing the top of the frame, wires are exposed and we don't have overhead light fixtures. It's sort of like the Where's Waldo of unfinished construction projects. Or like those US Weekly sections that have you find what's different between the two photos of Britney flashing her crotch on a limo exit. (Hint: She's not wearing underwear in either one.)

But we do have booze and cheese.

Because, obviously.
Yeah, despite the lack of all those annoying things that we *should* have by now, we decided that it was more important that we get the booze used to its new home because you know the transition period between cocktail staging areas can be particularly traumatic for gin and bourbon.

Gin to bourbon: We need a drink!
Plus, the trauma of having to look at unfinished cabinets and exposed wires is enough to make me run screaming into traffic most of the time, so the availability of our bar essentials is critical to our survival.


I'm not really sure when this will all be finished to my satisfaction, but if history is any indicator, most of it will be done after this weekend because HELLO I'm not looking at bare cabinet asses for the rest of my days and I really want to flip on the overhead lighting and admire its super cuteness.

If ever there was a light fixture you could hug, right?

And, really, the bar stools look a bit strange hanging out there in front of the the unfinished cabinets. And, plus, I'm a psycho and I like things to be *justannoyinglyso* and right now they are so not justso. ANNOYING. Right?

Not that this is stopping us from using the bar. Because it's not. In addition to this debut you see before you, we've used the bar every night since we accepted delivery of these bar stools, even when we didn't have a countertop and were just resting our drinks and elbows (hey, there aren't any grown ups in this house - elbows can be on countertops and dining room tables and whatever else because whatever) on the plywood underneath.

And as you know, we're very classy, so the plywood gave us zero pause.

So - yeah - the bar. It's almost done and I'm already contemplating its next phase which may or may not include one of these that ascends to the top shelf bar. Where the gin and bourbon and other highly regarded boozes will live on high.

It's starting to occur to me that our priorities may be dangerously skewed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden or cocktails? It's the eternal question.

Do we get into the garden or the new bar?

Lord knows I'm always ready for cocktail time, but when I first get up in the morning I head straight out to the garden to see what the hell is up out there. Plus, cocktails at 6am? I'm thinking that, no.

This morning I thought I spotted a very pale set of new watermelon leaves breaking the soil's surface and I was all YAY! They're not failures! and then just now I went out there to cuddle the new small leaves (what?) and found that, no, they're just more nasturtiums.

They're pretty and they make good cut flowers. Which is good because they're FUCKING EVERYWHERE.
Enough with the nasturtiums out there! They're already eating my fence. That's plenty, thank you. I can only make so many Hey How Fancy salads with these things.

My neighbor's side looks even more green. They've commandeered his yard.
Thankfully, the bees like them and I like the bees, so we're even.

And the bees like the lavender that's up, so I get to keep my bees in my yard for a while. YAY! I've very possessive that way.
 But you probably don't give a rat's behind about nasturtium and lavender and, frankly, I don't blame you - when there are tomatoes to gawk at.

This is from the monster Better Boy plant that scares my neighbors. It's very HI, I'M HUGE.

I'm pretty sure these Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes will be ripe in a week. Which - YAY FOR THAT.
 I have a lot of YAY going on right now, I just noticed. Must be a tomato thing.

OR a bean, cilantro, apple, potato, lettuce or pepper thing.

I'll be harvesting these babies small, per the fancy ass French instructions.

I swear that the beans did this in one day. Psychos.

All that "Slo-Bolt" nonsense was, well, nonsense.

I'm very gentle.

Hey! Did you know I'm growing tire potatoes again? I am. Consider yourself informed.

Our salads are all of the bathtub sized variety these days. Because, obviously.
OK, so it's hard to tell here, but there's a blossom on these Golden Greek peppers. They're the ones that I'll make into pepperoncini so get excited, damn you.

Wait! Nope - it's a cherry thing.

Told you I'd put that old bowl to use. I'm sure I really needed a bowl this big for 7 cherries, too, so shut it.

The rest of our harvest waits on the tree. My neighbor's tree.

Meanwhile, remember that I was growing grapes? Yeah, I just did, too.

The bees hang out with the grapes, but only because they want the lavender. They're users like that.

This grape is wishing it had two more inches of height just like me when I need to get the olive oil down from the shelf over the stove.

Sitting with the grapes and lavender is a buzzy adventure right now. Bubba doesn't sit here for a while.
Now, if only the watermelon seeds would germinate, I could have a Watermelon Thing which either sounds sexy or terribly unsexy. Either way - I WANT IT.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The last you'll hear of AIDS LifeCycle...for now.

Oh sweet mother, we are home.

Well, we've been home since Sunday afternoon after a very efficient race back to NorCal from LA (we are NOT SoCal people, this is ever the more obvious after last week), but when I found our bar remodel only partially finished despite the woefully overachieving predictions from the contractor, I didn't have the spirit to blog about our return.

Look - I get really bummed out about shit that I convince myself will happen even though I KNOW it will not. Like, say, deluding myself into believing that remodeling projects will be done when the contractor says so.

Because they never are.

No matter how many times I'm disappointed in this way.

And no matter how many times Bubba gives me the whale eye when I'm, like, "Bubb - it's totally going to be all finished when we get home and then YAY I can put my kitchen away HOORAY!" on a drive home from LA.

You know - that shit happens all the time.

Anyway - the bar is nearly finished. And I will NOT fall for any more of this "It will be all done by the end of the week" crap because clearly, the end of the week will never come when predicted so I'm just going to let the end of this project be a fun surprise and meanwhile try not to choke the shit out of the contractor (who I love dearly and who does incredible work - I'm just very crabby about home remodeling). Fun!

Also, meanwhile I will share a few final details about the AIDS LifeCycle so that we can move on to HOLY SHIT THE GARDEN AND BEES WHOA.

There's a lot to be told there, to be sure.

Firstly though - did you know that I had a Blogger Blind Date during AIDS LifeCycle? I did. It was magnificent even though we didn't get to battle it out over heated games of air hockey.

Did you know I'm a brute at air hockey? I am. And now you know two things you didn't know before reading this post. Look at you - all big in the brains.

So - my Blogger Blind Date was with Wendy of Wisdom of the Moon (check out her new header - she took that photo all by her fancy self with her fancy camera. FANCY.) who I knew was going to be a slam dunk of Blogger Blind Dates. Much like I felt when I was meeting up with dig this chick - I wasn't worried. I knew we'd hit it off.

And not to go too far down the cliche road with this, but you just *know* when it's right.

Well, Wendy and I traded texts and phone calls and Trying Not To Be A Blogger Stalker Psychoness for a few days at the start of the ride before she finally found me taking pictures of many hot dudes (including Bubba!) at the start of Day 3 in Paso Robles.

We stood there, at the first turn of the ride that day, chatting and saying swears and meeting her daughter (she let me near her children - she may be wild in the brains) and cheering on our friends and the other riders FOR TWO HOURS.

Awfully cheerful for a chilly early morning.

Seriously. I'm not even exaggerating. I know it was at least two hours because Bubba took off in the first wave of riders at 6:30am, she found me around 7am and I didn't get in the car until about 9am.

I guess we hit it off. OR she was too afraid of me to run off screaming and begging for people to delete her personal email address from the internet universe so I'd leave her alone forever.

Whatever. It was great. And then we hung out at the start of Red Dress Day, where I got to meet her son (these kids are impressively well adjusted) and then at closing ceremonies where we chatted, blocked out the good viewing spots for incoming riders and photographed her kiddos.

Too bad this kid's not photogenic at all. HA! Cute man.

It was fab. I felt like we could probably go on chatting forever. I'll be in CO in July, Wends - maybe we get together then without the distraction of this silly 545 mile bike ride clogging up our chat time. AND - we get down on some air hockey.

Unless you're scared...

On to other final details though.

Firstly - if you looked through any of the photos, you may have noticed that I appear in precious few. That is because I'm taking them because, well, what the hell else am I doing all week? I mean, besides wine tasting, olive oil tasting, getting spa treatments and drinking in the middle of the day, of course.

Well, aside from my naughtiness, this is what I could be found doing most of the week.

I live to chaperone wheels from one city to the next.
It was a pretty sweet gig. Mostly because of the other activities I got to partake in meanwhile shuttling around a bunch of wheels that didn't get used because SOMEONE rode 545 miles on ONE set of tubes and ONE set of tires.

I'm smiling because I haven't had to change a flat in a week. Suck on that!

In case you didn't catch that - it's another final detail of great importance. Particularly given our recent shitshow with tires and tubes. Like, we went on a 40 mile ride a few weeks ago, during which time I got THREE flats. So, you can imagine that we packed a lot of tubes and wheels and tires for this ride 13x longer than the Ride That Requires No Pedaling.

As for other details...Bubba finished in record time without injuries, bike trouble or other predicted tales of woe and then we spent a day fucking around in Santa Monica where people have NO sense of humor.

LA people, are you out there? Can you speak for your brethren and explain why everyone's so fucking humorless? I mean, I'm no chucklehead and I certainly don't engage people more than I absolutely must for survival, but even my trivial attempts to connect with wait staff, folks on the street or anyone other than Bubba once we left the race was met with blank stares.

Do I look like a scary loser monster with whom you refuse to make acquaintance?


No. I'm a nice enough person without any weeping wounds or facial deformities (shut up). I have decent behavior in public. I rarely punch people in the face.

What's the deal?

Anyway - in case you can't tell - we encountered some strange SoCal behaviors. Aside from most of the folks doing the ride. They were all amazingly fucking nice and chatty. Everyone else in SoCal - what the hells?

Though, to end this post without my bitching, let me say that when we started out to do this ride, I thought of it as just another event and by the end of it, my life was changed.

Really. And not even in a cheesy I-don't-really-mean-it kind of way.

We met some incredible people, experienced a week of positivity, supportiveness, friendliness and joy that I just did NOT expect. Bubba's already re-upped for next year and, oh, he may have a tentmate, too.

If we get REAL crazy, there may be a tandem involved.

Talk about your wild shit.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red, white and buttered all over.

OK. Let's do this.
 I have no idea what day it is, but we're still managing to make it through the ride every day without too much catastrophe.

Though the wardrobe changes are getting a bit strange.
The other good thing about not knowing what day it is, is that when someone tells you that it's Friday, you're legitimately surprised/happy/relieved because it means that there's only one more day to go until DONE.

I'll wear a tutu if it means I can be done soon.
This is particularly exciting for Bubba's ass and man bits given he's had that bike wedged in uncomfortable places for the last week and OH tomorrow will be the last day of the Rider's Trinitarian Formula: Butt Butter, Sunscreen, Chapstick.

There's a lot of lubrication that goes into a 545 mile bike ride. Though - and let's be honest here - with this many fabulous men about, what else could you expect.

People, the fabulousness is off the charts. And I want to hug them all and have them over for drinks and get some wardrobe advice and also watch them walk around in Speedos because, come on.

I've never seen so many beautiful and fit men in all my life. 

Just in case you thought that last one was an anomaly, I'm here to tell you that - No.
Of course, yesterday was an anomaly in and of itself since it was Red Dress Day - the day when everyone wears red (mostly dresses, costume and drag, although these Speedos were a nice choice, I thought.) - so that when they ascend the winding hill above Pismo Beach, it looks like a cascading red ribbon on the hillside.

Look, I was driving, it's the best I could do. Just take my word for it.
But really, it wasn't the ribbon everyone wanted to see, it was all the bonkers crazy costumes these folks put together, because when you get a couple thousand gay men and a thousand or so good sports together, you really get a good show.

Sure - you THINK he's a roadie who's going to go change and start handing out granola bars...

But no. He's going to get on his bike and ride 40 miles up a huge hill with 6 inch platform heels balanced on his clipless pedals.
I could go on and on about yesterday's awesome outfits and impressively consistent fantastic attitudes, but you can see all that in the photo album.

Right now I have to pack up a fifth hotel room (thankfully not one that involves lighting myself on fire and throwing away anything that has touched the floor) and move down the coast a bit to set up shop in Ventura before Bubba pedals in for the end of Day 6.

Not that it's a rough life - I'm actually loving this pretty well what with the wine tasting, spa trips, farm visits, roadside pie stand tastings and beautiful scenery - but I do take my Personal Bubba Roadie responsibilities seriously.

Plus, I know you all want more pictures of hot men.

OH! Are you a dude reading this blog? Sorry! Here are some hot chicks:

If you're into the school girl thing...

the super hero thing...

or the S&M thing.