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goodbye dumpster fire, hello dumpster fire

The ADA director at KU hit it out of the park. I'm a grant writer, these days. I've also created test questions for an online learning module, researched state agencies, and used my Outlook calendar more in the last three weeks than in the previous five years. People are so cool here, it's triggering my cult-wary PTSD.

In other news, Lemonade. In other, other news, Prince. And according to The Oracle Onion, Trump.

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was Jordan really that stupid??

I woke up at 3:39am. Watched the Perseids until I couldn't see them, then made tea and started working my way through My So-Called Life.

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It's been a hot, rainy summer, so far. Some good things, some bad things.

I cut a ton of branches from my shrubs and trees, mulched them, and made a mulch path from the front of the house to link up with the side path, which is now completely overrun with strawberry plants. I need to weed and maintain the landscape borders, but the weather is not cooperating. I either have to wear clothes that completely cover me so I can spray myself down with Deep Woods OFF, or I have to wear clothes that won't get too stifling in the heat and slather on the sunblock. They have yet to make a good hybrid, and Skin So Soft doesn't work for me. I have Wednesday off, so I might go out early and hose myself down with mosquito and chigger spray and just knock it out.

Things are going better at work. There were some ups and downs. I was acting supervisor last week and managed to weather several administrative emergencies and a few facility issues. I'd rather learn how to get through that stuff sooner rather than later.

What really has been weighing on my mind, and what finally forced me to open up LiveJournal and write, is the massacre of nine people in a church in Charleston. It happened mid-last week, and I have never felt so ready to grab a weapon and join an army to knock this racist system to the ground. It took until today before I could cry about it, up until now I've been just angry and full of restless energy. Today, I feel hollow and just sad. I can be a thorn in the side of anyone who exhibits racist behavior around me, I can boost messages on social media, I can say I stand with my Black brothers and sisters. If enough of us did this, could we make a change? I'm really at the point now where I feel like silence in the face of this is assent, I don't want to hear the excuse that my white friends give of being overwhelmed by the bad news. These racists aren't dying out. That murderer was 21 years old. I could have given birth to him.

Truth is, sometimes Thing 2 says things that fly in the face of what we've taught him, and I get a flash of fear that he could do something similar. If anyone ever wonders why I will not allow my children to have computers in their room or use a computer anywhere but at the library, it's because in our progressive, pro-equality house, my youngest son will insist that there are such things as reverse racism and reverse sexism. We have fed this next generation the lie that we are post-racial. I dig deep to draw my son out and ask why he comes to these conclusions and he either has put it together from his limited experience or replies that he hears things from kids at school or online. I can usually walk him through critical thinking exercises and help him understand the topics better, but I'm not around him all the time and right now he accepts what he hears from his peers over what I say. Thing 2 is a withdrawn, skinny, loner white kid who's obsessed with weapons and has all kinds of ideas in his head about how the world works. He walks cloaked in privilege, while similar kids his age have had to learn early how to navigate a world that doesn't want them there. And of course, it's the white kid that complains the loudest about feeling put-upon.

I don't like to refer to myself as White. I have always been embarrassed by the way Whites acted, and my upbringing made me feel more a part of Mexican and Black culture. I have portioned out my White heritage by specific country and clung to the "descendant of Native Americans" part of myself, all <10% of it, for way too long in an effort to not lump myself in with problematic White people, but I walk through my life with nobody knowing. I am at least 90% White, my Ojibwe grandma is dead, and it's time to own the fact that some White guys see in me a valid and compelling reason to murder Black men and women. It sickens me.

I'm checking out local coalitions and would appreciate a heads-up about any I may not be aware of. I am currently terrified that people I love will die because some fucking bigot wants to kickstart a race war with their blood and does not see their humanity, only so much kindling. Any more, I feel like I already have blood on my hands. I don't want or need to be told that this isn't so. This is the mindset I must carry to push myself into uncomfortable spaces and do the work.

I'm getting ready to listen to the Marc Maron interview with President Obama. I'm glad that on a day like today, I don't have to work around people.

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from www.futilitycloset.com

“A Rough Justice”


British inventor Sir Robert Watson-Watt pioneered the development of radar, a contribution that helped the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain. Ironically, after the war he was pulled over for speeding by a Canadian policeman wielding a radar gun. His wife tried to point out the absurdity of the situation, but the officer wasn’t interested, and the couple drove away with a $12.50 fine. Watson-Watt wrote this poem:

Pity Sir Robert Watson-Watt,
strange target of this radar plot

And thus, with others I can mention,
the victim of his own invention.

His magical all-seeing eye
enabled cloud-bound planes to fly

but now by some ironic twist
it spots the speeding motorist

and bites, no doubt with legal wit,
the hand that once created it.

Oh Frankenstein who lost control
of monsters man created whole,

with fondest sympathy regard
one more hoist with his petard.

As for you courageous boffins
who may be nailing up your coffins,

particularly those whose mission
deals in the realm of nuclear fission,

pause and contemplate fate’s counter plot
and learn with us what’s Watson-Watt.

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Kitchen Miracle #493

I turned leftover fried catfish into Thai green curry. Around my house, fried fish needs to be completely transformed in order to be used up--reheated fish fillets are the worst. I had two largish pieces of flour/egg/cornmeal-breaded catfish "nuggets" that were a Dillons Manager's Special (quick, eat it before it becomes a new life form!) leftover from the previous night's dinner. I generally don't like repeating entrees, for the sake of variety, but I didn't feel comfortable saving the fish for another few days, so I hopped on my spacephone and looked through Thai fish recipes to find something spicy (to me, catfish tastes strongly of a riverbank, no matter how fresh).

I found a recipe for Thai catfish curry. It called for keffir lime, carrot, and Thai basil. I had regular basil in the yard, some carrot sticks from earlier in the week, but we had no limes or lime juice. Then I remembered some Indian Hot Lime relish slowly dying in the condiment section of the fridge; due to its overwhelming flavor, it's best diluted in stews. I got the rice cooker going and went outside to pick some basil. I sauteed the basil leaves, a crushed clove of garlic, and a julienned carrot stick in enough oil to cover the bottom of a saucepan. Then I cut the leftover catfish into tiny bite-size pieces, breading and all, and added them to the oil and veggies. The original recipe called for Thai red curry sauce, and I thought we had some, but NOPE. So I looked through the fridge for any kind of sauce, and saw some leftover Pad Thai sauce. I didn't want that, but this got me thinking, and I grabbed the jar of Salsa Verde. We'd make Thai Green Curry! Once the catfish and veggies were sufficiently crispy, I poured a dollop of salsa verde into the pan and kept stirring.

The original recipe called for fish sauce and cilantro. We always have fish sauce in the fridge, so I gave it a few squirts in the pan and I broke off some of my cilantro oil (chop a cilantro bunch, put in a baggie with just enough oil to saturate, roll all the air out into a tube shape and freeze) I keep in the freezer and added that. Kept stirring, and added a 1/2 cup of water to the mixture. I added a small dollop of Hot Lime relish for lime flavor, and after about five minutes I tasted the results. Just about perfect. I added another small dollop of salsa verde and another 1/2 cup of water to make it go around for four people, and let it simmer on the stove. Nick got home, tried it, and gave me a thumbs-up. I served it over brown rice (with sriracha for extra sinus-clearing flavor) and it fed Nick, myself, Thing 2, and a single serving was leftover for someone's lunch, which either Nick or myself will eat tonight. Nick pointed out that I could have also made a chowder, but the catfish taste was a little too riverbanky for that. I think ocean fish are better for chowders. River fish need spice or beer.

So, anyway, thought I'd put this up for anyone who hates or can't afford to throw food away, but hates leftover fish even more.

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lesson learned about window-box herbs:
conceal them from the afternoon sun
or the tinder-straw skeletons
will guilt your every homecoming
for the rest of the season

draining tumescent rain-barrels by feel
spigots choked with algae
a nightly rescue of porch-pot flowers
summertime vampire living
gardening at night

a photo-album memory of a man
thinning hair wild, grinning in the Polaroid flash
planting marigolds by feel and amphetamines
swing-shift auto-builder by day
manic landscaper by streetlight

deep blue verbena
blood-red elephant ears
riot in the shade
arcing towards the burning beam
that fried the cilantro

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Your brother's blood cries out to me
from the ground
Clotted rubies in the asphalt
What have you done?

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oh mah gahd

This weekend, I installed window troughs on the front room sills and planted them with several kinds of herbs: lemon and cinnamon basil, oregano, rosemary, fennel, and cilantro. Then I tackled the rest of the yard: weeding, mulching, and pruning. By Saturday evening the front yard looked like a goddamn BH&G spread, though I left things a little unkempt. I don't like spaces to look overmanicured; a little wildness boosts the nature dose, in my opinion.

Sunday morning, I got back to weeding. I pick one weed species at a time, as they appear in waves and so all I have to do is scan for a particular leaf shape. Right now, it's the henbit, mock strawberry, and a horrible exotic runner that produces sticky tiny burrs if it's left to mature. The ground is just wet enough to allow me to pull weeds out by the roots, but dry enough that I'm not compacting soil or creating a mud wallow. This weather is best spent with a book on the porch, but I've learned from past years that some hard work in April and May prevents misery in July and August. The weed situation's not bad, considering I stopped caring for the yard regularly after I started back at school in 2010. I've accepted that I'll pay for that neglect with two spring/summers of intensive weeding and mulching, then all will be back to normal. In the meantime, weeding is wonderful for the hamstrings, glutes, arms, and hardcore mind-zenning.

While weeding on Sunday, I discovered the footpath addition had kicked out a few flags, so I re-set them. Later this summer, I'll need to pull up that last five feet of path and reposition it further east and away from the house.The shrubs and perennials have rendered it a border at this point, almost hidden as it snakes around the bend. I plan to re-route the path so it divides the front yard evenly, all the easier to extend the beds and make that portion of the yard completely no-mow.

Tonight, I checked the flowering cherry, mainly from idle curiosity, and it had fruit! I got curious and checked the three sandcherries: also fruiting!! I thought these were all ornamental plants and was hoping against the odds, but after a little research it turns out I may have helped things along by planting chokecherries a few years back. Chokecherries cross-pollinate with all types of cherry cousins. With cross-pollination, there's no telling how the cherries will taste once they ripen, but even if everything's a little tart--that's fixable. In other edibles news, the strawberries have taken over the south side of the yard and threaten to actually bear this year. Finally, the milkweed and butterfly bush are pushing up through the ground and clamoring for space in the front, crowding out the weeds and already knee-high. I know from experience, they'll be hip-high by next month.

I really want that lady to come by again, the one who actually knocked on my door the first week of March in order to express her doubt that I deserved the Monarch Waystation sign in my yard.


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white girl problems

For my graduation, I will be wearing a cap, gown, honor cords, tshirt, jeans, and moosehide/beaver fur moccasins with Ojibwe beadwork. And when/if I am questioned about my footwear, I will respond that I am a rather pale, mostly white descendent of Ojibwe people, and that by graduating I am fulfilling the dreams of four generations of my family, including my beloved grandmother who loved her tribes' beadwork, and to not bring some reminder of my loved ones to such an important day would simply be disrespectful. What I will not say is that I would give both my pale little legs to have my grandmother and aunties there in person.

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tamales for good fox

Okay. Last night when we were tweeting back and forth, I was like, "Oh yeah, I'll send you my tia's recipe, nbd." Then I woke up this morning and realized that recipe is not written down anywhere. That recipe exists in my arms. So I'll do the best I can to translate what my hands know into words.

So, I don't know what the baking powder is about, but I've never used it in masa. You only need masa flour (I use Maseca), liquid, lard, and salt. You can play with proportions as you need to, whether you live in a dry climate or at high elevation, but roughly: equal amounts of masa flour and liquid to about a 1/3 amount of lard to a pinch or two of salt. You can use regular lard, but if you have access to a Mexican butcher shop (look for 'carniceria' in the name of the store) ask for their lard, it'll taste better.

Soak the corn husks overnight in the (well-scrubbed) sink. Use plates to weigh them down.

First, the chile water. You can use this to flavor the masa harina. Chile water, any kind of broth, and a little salt is what you add, and then you mix the hell out of it until a tiny piece will float in a bowl of water.

Chile water: You can find dried red chiles in any Mexican grocery store, even Checkers has them. Soak and then boil two handfuls of these bad boys in a stockpot half full of water. For roughly twenty minutes or so, and not like a crazy rollicking boil, more like boiling pasta noodles. You will learn by the way they feel and smell when they're done. Set the chiles aside for scraping and adding to the filling. The water should be red. Use this water and beef, pork, or chicken (or even veggie) stock to add to the masa flour. If you plan it right, you can use the stock from whatever meat you're cooking for the filling. If by some stroke of luck you have access to fresh masa, you won't need this much liquid, do a 2:1 ratio or less.

Next, you can mix by hand or with a stand-up mixer. using a mixer will take less time. Throw the salt in and add masa flour, liquid, and room temp lard a little at a time until you have a huge ball of dough that doesn't stick to your hands and passes the float test. Let it rest for a little bit, roughly twenty minutes. The consistency should be thin, not pasty. Spread on the inside of the corn husk, add filling, and fold over on both sides and top to bottom. Take a thin strip of corn husk and tie to hold it together.

Put a quarter on the bottom of the pot, so you can hear when you need to add more water. I let each batch go about 30-45 minutes. At 30 minutes, take out a test tamale and see what it looks like. Once you've made them enough, you start to just know.

I'll think of more things to add when I get back. Any questions, comment and I'll answer them.

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