Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Green Fairy

Have you ever been invited to a goat’s birthday party? Seriously. Our invitation came engraved on linen paper, egg shell 28 bond with pageant rose ink instead of a multi-purpose desktop version. The words were flourished with Declaration of Independence fancy font, announcing the date, time and location with a request to RSVP.

Baby Goat was turning 365 days old, twelve months or one year, take your pleasure. As I’m not raising kids myself, I tend to get confused when I hear how children’s clothing is sized. Twenty-eight months, thirty-two, forty-seven, I lose track. When do months finally morph into years?

Math quiz: If I’m 543 months old, what size shoe do I wear?

Back to the invitation. I’m kidding. It was a Blue Mountain greeting card, delivered via an electronic mailman named Yahoo!

At the party, Baby and Honey Bunches of Goat were presented with a shredded carrot and almond butter birthday cake to share with a carrot candle planted in the middle. Most attendees behaved well, although there was lots of spontaneous pooping going on.

Have you ever seen a goat make deposits? Their tail-flaps lift up and out pop little pellets just like a Pez dispenser. MamaFriend thinks the pellets are the cutest things in the world. I’m surprised she hasn’t had them bronzed for coffee table art or shellacked, drilled and beaded into a necklace. When Grandma pooped spontaneously, it wasn’t as cute.

I haven’t completely made up my mind on the dog issue yet. Keep up, it’ll make sense in a moment. I know a woman who is really, really into her dogs. So much so in fact, when she grooms them, she extracts their fur from the brush, pays someone to spin it and then knit sweaters out of the doggie yarn.

I don’t know if that’s weird or not, where do you weigh in? On the one hand, people wear wool, angora, mohair – a posh word for goat fibers, and polyester. I know, those poor little darlings, does it help ease the guilt to know that polyesters are farm bred for just this purpose??

On the other hand, is there a term upscale enough to make dog hair more palatable? Not that I’d want to eat it, even though I’ve recently nibbled on goat flesh, I mean is there a phrase that inspires wearability? A “lab coat,” perhaps, suggests Groom? He’s a sick puppy too, and that’s one more reason I adore him.

So what happens when Acquaintance wears her dog fur sweater when it’s raining, won’t she smell like wet dog?

As an adopted “Auntie,” I was in the booth with my 15-year old niece when Acquaintance stopped by wearing one of her “lab coats.” When I asked Niece’s opinion, she just stared at me in the way only disapproving teenagers can do and summed it up, “That’s just wrong.”

Which reminds me, Groom woke himself up laughing the other morning. Apparently he was dreaming of Playmate Brandi Roderick’s lapse in language skills and her use of the word “forgooed” to replace “foregone,” and his psyche came up with a joke.

In his dream, Vinnie the Mobster said that a particular situation needed a “four goon conclusion.” Okay, that’s hilarious.

Wait a sec…Groom is dreaming about a Playboy bunny? Why am I laughing?

Oh, that’s because we’re in the car driving up the Columbia River Gorge. We stopped in Hood River, a town very happily hovering in it’s own economic bubble, supported by tourism. Kiteboarding and windsurfing in the summer and snowboarding and skiing in the winter. Their downtown received a large sum of money to improve its looks, and boy does it show!

We pulled over, lulled by the view of the water, the piercing blue sky and lazy breeze. How could we not stop at a place called Passport Café with a French bistro in the front and a British pub in the back?

That still does not answer why I’m laughing. That’s because their specialty is Absinthe, or what is better known as “releasing the green fairy.” I’m told it tastes like black licorice, which in translation probably means cough syrup. Since I’m such a history romantic, if I’d lived in the olden days, I’d be one of those gals sipping laudanaum out of a spiffy flask hidden in my bustier.

If it weren’t for morals and calories, there are many things I’d like to try, but I’m too chicken. The most giddyup I got is playing a rousing version of chopsticks on the piano. So right now, as I’m floating, the fact that Groom dreamed of a Playboy bunny and a “four goon conclusion” strikes me as funny.

As we continue up the Gorge, there’s the Columbia River on one side and a bouquet of rocks on the other. There are many signs to catch our eye, not the least of which is the lottery jackpot coming in at $222 million.

We’ve already done the math.

In order to receive the cash in one lump sum, the winner is presented with half, which whittles the total down to $111 mil. Then Uncle Sam will be the first in line to get his share, so that further reduces the amount by another 40%, so a cool $222 with lots of zeros is magically transformed into a paltry $60.

We could live with that.

The only problem we predict is nobody else will do the subtraction. If the world thinks we have a couple hundred million bucks at our disposal, well, Uncle Sam won’t be the only ones a knocking…

Other signs that tell us we’re heading in the right direction are the ones announcing “Highway to Happiness” and “Vacationville,” which sound good to us.

With six times ten million in our pocket, we’d want to spend a little on shoes, frippery and geegaws, but then we’d do some serious good with the windfall like set up foundations to save the polyesters, provide “lab coats” for equality, or support groups such as “Adult Children of Parents.”

We’d also shower our loved ones with a little of the loot. So if you ever receive an engraved invitation from us on linen paper, eggshell 28 bond with pageant rose ink and curly cue letters and a request to RSVP…

What would you do with $60 million?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tastes Like Chicken

Last week, after a friend’s goat stepped on my head (I have video proof!), I wasn’t too sure about goats…but after this week’s adventure, I can honestly say I like goat. Especially with curry!

We discovered this by traveling to Bill Gatesland, home of the Sea Hawks, the Huskies, Seattle Grace and Dr. Frasier Crane.

Spontaneously boarding an articulated bus (note, if you want some extra fun, try sitting in the bellow seats, they’re super bouncy), Groom and I rode the public transport to the Fremont neighborhood where we sauntered past an Indian Restaurant. Our stomachs growled us into submission (was that yours or mine?), so we stopped to read the large menu board posted near the sidewalk. We both saw it at once.

We looked at each other. “Dare we?”

We dared and it was delicious! Goat meat is not gamey like I’d feared. It’s less fatty than lamb, so it was a perfect combination of texture and flavor. Lip smackety good.

Groom and I are such nerds. Our definition of fun is going to the Planetarium at OMSI in Portland on the way up, having sushi lunch with Bee Bugg, almost getting kicked out of Whole Foods in the Pearl District (they thought Frida was a food spy! Hee-larious), and viewing a Coffee Exhibition at the Burke Museum.

We attended John Fluevog’s birthday celebration on Friday the 15th and each got a pair of shoes. Whoo hoo, mine are bright orange. On Saturday, we hung out with the highest-ranking non-fiction writer on (you can look that up if you want to see who it is) and together were shanghaied into a conversation by complete strangers about the Northwest disappearing into the sea within the next 18 months. Yeah, that was fun.

The other fun thing was the U-District Street fair. The weather in Seattle was positively gorgeous, a miracle in and of itself, but sales were down from last year. Sigh, I know. Want to know by how much? One dollar. I’m not kidding, so I’m doing a little jig.

You’ve heard the phrase, “April showers bring May flowers,” well, here’s another springtime observation. When the sun finally comes out after a long spate of rain, so do the people and who doesn’t love the first of the summer B.O.?

Parades of humanity flowed past our booth, the unwashed masses in their blinding white skin suits, several of them offering their bodies for cash. One guy held a hand written sign advertising you could punch him in the stomach for five bucks while other bright individuals were letting folks staple crisp green Lincolns to their foreheads with a staple gun. Ka thunk, ka ching!

Which might explain why I had a dream that Jane Seymour (the actress, not one of King Henry’s the VIII’s harem) was Miley Cyrus’ mother. I do not know what a Hannah Montana is, but I’m pretty sure Jane S. and Billy Ray did not make it.

But I did catch that episode of My Name is Earl, where Joy, who is White-Trash American, falls in love with Ms. Seymour’s open heart necklace sold by Kay Jewelers and just had to have one.

Every day is a learning opportunity and I learned something new just today. People skills.

Or the opposite of people skills. A woman came into the booth wearing a Jane Seymour open heart necklace sold by Kay Jewelers and recognizing the design, I asked her, “Is that a Jane Seymour open heart necklace sold by Kay Jewelers?

The woman smiled and nodded, her hand instinctively touching the pendant hanging around her neck suspended from a chain, pleased that I had noticed. People skills.
Hey, I saw that episode of Earl,” I told the customer. “Joy sure wanted that necklace bad.”

Oopsey, she was not flattered.

But I was when a very handsome man in a sharp suit gave Groom the full body sweep with his eyes. “Oh my goodness, did you see that?” I squealed, “He was soooo checking you out!”

“He was not,” Groom deferred. (Pause...)“But if he was, did he like what he saw?”

“Ho baby, you got the Dude glance.”

There’s no phobia taking place here, just a milestone. Over the last ten months, Groom has lost 60 pounds and can fit into something other than Diego Rivera’s overalls. With his designer zapatos and form-fitting togs, he finally got the urban seal of approval from a well-dressed fancy man in downtown Seattle. I think my husband is becoming a Metro-sexual.

It’s been fun to watch people’s reactions to him, especially those who haven’t seen him in a while. As the Art Fair season has just begun, we’re at the starting point of visiting our annual destinations and the difference is quite evident.

A woman gasped when she saw him and boldly ordered him to lift up his coat (to his T-shirt) so she could “see his belly.” She gave it a love smack with her hand and after making certain the weight loss was intentional, congratulated him.

We ran into an artist who had also lost a significant amount of weight and while oohing and aahing over her, she confessed Groom had inspired her into it. You go girl!

At the Burke Exhibition, we learned that goats discovered coffee. Shepherds, while watching their flocks by night, noticed how the herd caught a buzz after eating the red berries from a flowering plant that smelled like gardenias.

I’m a little sleepy, so I think I’ll grab a freshly brewed cup of that red berry juice.

“Tossed salad and scrambled eggs, they’re calling again, good night Seattle…”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Getting Your Goat

At this moment I have no idea what to write about. In the last installment, I simply wanted to eat chocolate, watch mindless television, have a full body massage with benefits and take a break from personal growth lessons, but instead Companion and I went to Southern Oregon over the weekend to spend Mother’s Day with my folks and do an art show.

There’s no room at the Inn, so to speak, at the family hut, so we stay with friends whenever we make the trek to the Rogue Valley. This sounds like a normal arrangement, except, well, they’ve recently adopted a couple of kids and we’re adjusting.

And when I say “kids,” the common image of human children might sproing to mind, perhaps a couple of diapered brats running wild, spoiled kidlings with bottles and toys and general mayhem in their wake.

And yes, this is the case, only the kids are not human, they are goats. Yes, that’s right, I said “goats,” as in barnyard critters with cloven hooves, curved horns and voices that can wake the dead. Only these particular beasts wear diapers, sit on the couch or curl up comfortably next to the fireplace.

We were awakened each morning at 7am by a baby goat bleating and then bottle fed in our sleeping quarters.

In addition to the heavily aromatic goat’s milk, the “kids” are hand fed rose petals, plums (which give them the appearance of wearing lipstick), pears, bananas, organic corn chips, carrots, apples, uncooked oatmeal and the occasional Wheat thin.

The kids are named Baby and Honey Bunches of Goats. When they aren’t climbing the recliner, watching television or having their diapers changed, they have a large back yard to frolic in and specially built structures to mount.

For their outside meals, they scarf creep (starter pellets), inhale grass hay, and forage for bamboo and lilacs, but their very favorite snack involves stripping the butterfly bush.

Keeping an eye on these two is a full time job. To protect them from eating things lethal, Friends have constructed fencing around their rhododendrons and azaleas and learned via an upset stomachs (they each have two) that wilted leaves from stone fruit is a bad idea.

Goats are obsessed with their mouths and are constantly on the hunt for things to put in them. MamaFriend must pay attention at all times and whenever I’m in proximity, any string, button or loop from my clothing instantly becomes a teething ring. Can you say goat slobber?

To ruminate means to mull something over. Goats are ruminators, as in they eat and chew, eat and chew and finally swallow only to have the food land in one stomach and then come up again a bit later like a mini-vomit for them to chew some more and redirect to their spare stomach.

And here’s a little hard-earned advice: Never fart in a goat’s face.

Rooting around for food, Baby shoved her face in my bikini area. I certainly was not pleased by this turn of events, but became even more embarrassed when the male of the household announced in his baritone voice, “Oh, someone must be near their moon.” Okay, he didn’t say it quite that gracefully, but I’m already turning six shades of red.

Immediately repositioning my body to avoid further truffling, she took offense and began posturing for dominance. Disinterested in fighting with a goat, I assumed the more mature position and started to walk away. Holding a wee grudge for the Aunt Flo shoutout, I gifted her with a SBD (silent, but deadly) as payback. This gave her room for pause.

She stopped in her tracks and I swaggered down the hall, victorious in my own small way.

I didn’t see it coming.

Leaving something to sniff was my first mistake, turning my back on her was the second. Lowering her head and pawing at the white plush carpet like a bull in the ring, she snortled a puff of smoke and charged, ramming me in the tush with her horns.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Guest abuse, guest abuse.

Here comes a segue. Yep, that was it. Making a slight right turn in conversation, on Sunday, while at the show, an old high school crush and his wife came by to see us. It’s no secret to all parties involved that I used to scribble his name with hearts all around it on my Pee Chee, and still, we have an annual tradition of saying hello. I won’t tell you who he is, but I will let slip that he is related to a famous country singer and a serial killer.

He was a bit surprised to learn I don’t cook and I reminded him that I did not exactly pop out of the Traditional Box. Which is why, after the show, we went to my mom’s house so that Companion could cook her a lovely Mother’s Day meal (we had pasta carbonara, in case you are curious).

We brought our own pots and pans along with some spices and the ingredients, but forgooed any utensils. “Mother-in-Law,” Companion called, “where might I find a spatula?”

“A what?” she said entering the kitchen, a puzzled expression on her face.

“You know, a plastic scrapey thing or maybe a wooden spoon?”

“Hmmmm,” she ruminated and began looking in the oven and under the sink. After searching through this cupboard and that, she finally pulled open a drawer that contained an ice pick, a fondue fork and an old timey cheese grater. “Oh there’s my utensil drawer,” she said relieved to have found it.

“That’s it?” we said, peering inside the lonely drawer, as if we stared hard enough the tools required might materialize.

“Would this help?” Mom said, holding up a partially melted plastic ladle she pulled from somewhere mysterious.

Companion blew dust off it and shrugged. He proceeded to fry bacon with the whitley ladle and in fact, made the entire dinner with it (the fondue fork would have scratched our non-stick cookware). I was proud to watch him improvise in my mother’s “Kitchen,” and pleased that he was my Groom instead of the country singer slash serial killer’s cousin.

I smiled, knowing that even though I did not grow up with Betty Crocker (my mom’s favorite culinary text is Phyllis Diller’s I Hate to Cook cookbook), she taught me enough life skills to marry a domestic god. Thanks mom!

Setting the card table, I asked where the placemats were hiding. She handed me a roll of paper towels and said, “Here are the placemats and the napkins.”

Over dinner, she asked, “What does your Friend’s mother think of the goats?”

“Oh, she loooooves them. She bought a Grandma’s Brag Book, loaded it with photos and takes it down to the Senior Center to show them off.”

After dinner and dishes (I had to wash them with the placemats, i.e. the paper towels, as she doesn’t believe in sponges), we sat around and watched a video of Barbershop Quartets.

I considered the weekend full of masticating goats, unstocked kitchens and musical preferences and realized I didn’t have a criticizing word to say, after all, I carry around a doll and use her “voice” and point of view to write.

Question: What’s the classic definition of humor? Answer: Someone falling down. What’s the definition of tragedy? Me falling down.

Therefore, what’s the definition of weird? Pretty much anything anyone else does.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monkey Mom

This week’s activities included a pre-Mother’s Day tea at a 105 year-old chapel. This historic Cloverdale Meeting House is currently available as a beautiful site for weddings and other social gatherings. In our event, friends congregated to sell wares, sip exotic rose milk, nosh on handmade chocolate and exchange bits of old fashioned gossip. Wanna hear some?

Let’s see…God’s Minion just became a grandmother for the second time (Congratulations!), Kimmmm’s husband is being presented with the Ashden Award for Sustainability (Way to go!), Bo Peep was commissioned by said husband to create a top hat to be worn for his audience with Prince Charles (Yeah, Baby!), Sister was bit bad by a dog (Ouch! Sorry, honey), Chakra Girl is learning to Salsa (move those hips, darlin’), cousin Mary designed us kimono’s from material brought back from Japan (Thank you!) and I overheard a musical friend talk about her “glory hole.”

Conversation was brought to a halt with that one. Huh? Upon further explanation, we learned that a glory hole is a warm place where something hard is put to melt. Yeah, that didn’t really clear things up too much. There might have been something about glass blowing in there as well.

Which brings me to this week’s spelling mishap. I’ve already mentioned Brande Roderick’s flexible use of the American language (remember “forgooed?”), but I think she may have been eliminated from the competition by pulling a Dan Quayle. While expressing frustration, Brande tried to spell crap and came out with “s-r-a-p.”

To rap, er, wrap this up, I’m pretty tired and don’t have the energy to share my windy lesson on intention and resistance. I’d rather snuggle up with Companion and watch “Project Runway,” dish on girls behaving badly (Ms. Joan and Melissa “Oh grow up” Rivers), contemplate who’d make the better, ahem, “coffee” date, the character Patrick Jane on The Mentalist or Detective Sam Tyler from Life on Mars.

I want a full body massage, to be fed chocolate, to sleep for awhile, to have toe-curling “coffee,” and not have to be anywhere or do anything or process information or learn any lessons or be challenged for a little while. Yes, I want to indulge in mindless television without losing brain cells and eat junk food without gaining weight.

On that indulgent note, I’d like to wish all the women out there a Happy Mother’s Day! Whether you diaper a goat (you know who you are), nurse a cat, pamper a dog, or have a human animal, it all counts. We nurture the earth, each other, our men, our creativity, our bodies, our businesses, our minds, our pocket books, our homes, our parents and hopefully, ourselves.

Speaking of moms, I was on the phone last night with Sister, checking on her wounded finger, when she told me this story about our mother that she’d just heard. After the telling, we argued as sisters are wont to do. “No way, that’s not true.”

“Oh, yes it is, go call and ask her yourself.”

“Fine, I will,” etc. etc.

I hung up with Sister and dialed Mother. Okay, more accurately, there was no dialing involved using a cell phone, but it doesn’t sound right to say “I hung up with Sister and punched Mother.”

“Mom, is it true?”

She verified that it was indeed.

“How come I’ve never heard this story before?”

Mom’s reply is so casual, “I don’t know, it didn’t last very long.”

“Tell me what happened!”

“I took Eldest child to the doctor and was holding her in my arms at the check in counter when I felt something tug at my leg. Naturally, I thought it was one of the other kids in the waiting room, but then the sensations dramatically changed and I turned my head just in time to see a monkey climb up my body.”

“A monkey? A real monkey? Are you sure it just wasn’t Sister as a toddler, she was so hairy and cute, you know, or another kid?”

“Oh no, this was way before you or Sister was born. It was a real monkey and all I could think was that it was going for my child.”

“What did you do?

“Oh, I don’t know, I think the woman it belonged to came and got it or something.”

“A monkey is climbing you and you don’t remember what happened?”

“It was a long time ago.”

Yep, that’s my mom, cool under pressure, doesn’t fuss much. If only I could get her to say in an Australian accent, “The monkey took my bay-bay.” Oh never mind. Love you mom.

As Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I’d like to leave you with a quote from the estimable Dan Quayle. “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”

Oh, glory hole!