Friday, December 26, 2008

Though I'm not the one keeping vermin as pets.

One of my coworkers scavenges bits of apple core and banana for her Hissing Cockroaches. The other day, I was eating a satsuma mandarin. She said
"Oh, hey Jane, can I give some of the peel to the roaches?"
"Um... I... ate it."
"No, no, the peel."
"Yeah, I ate that."
"The peel?"

Thus go my efforts to not seem unduly strange: undermined. By me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Clearly, I need to reconfigure my wishbone soothsaying

So, that went well. Really well.

Crap, we should have mentioned we planned on getting married. Maybe Christmas.

We were so nice to the waitress that she started warbling near the end with pleasant tip expectations, there were no fights, and it turned out to be a surprise birthday celebration for ME! ME!

Also the waitress totally didn't think we were 21, that was nice.

They brought a cake, with chocolate and chestnuts. I had two small pieces to hide the fact that I plan on having cake three meals a day until it is gone. It's very good cake. I also got one of the sweet sweaters that Jorge always gets- I've been angling for one for years- and Jorge got one too, which I choose to believe is me getting two sweaters.

Also, they liked our apartment. The CLOTU gave me some housekeeping tips- I deflected them to Señor C's jobless state, but we all agreed that expecting him to clean was a funny joke and moved on. They also think we have lots of plants.

So my outlaws: probably not zombies bent on destruction. At least not all the time.

And the reference to my birthday is totally a subtle tip for y'all to send me birthday wishes. And cake.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Maybe we should just go to bed.

The Lords of the Undead are coming over tomorrow, so we're doing round seventy billion of unpacking.

I made my third turkey earlier- hacking it up into bits pre selected for their leftover awesomeness. The raw carcass and assorted aged vegetables became broth immediately, the breasts were lightly roasted for sandwiches, the thighs were made into pot pies, and everything else went towards turkey tacos. We're a little sick of the bird.

I picked through the carcass the other day, pulling out bits of meat for enchiladas or soup, and carefully cleaned the wishbone. Today, I held the dry wishbone out to C. We both silently wished tomorrow would go well, and pulled on the wishbone.

The top popped off and fell into the garbage disposal. It's going to be a fantastic visit!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Candy Canes!

I bought 12 candy canes for 50¢ in January. I now find that I have four left. They'll be an excellent (and economical) addition to the Philodendron with Christmas tree lights. Of course, I've managed to eat one while typing this- they are not at all diminished by the eleven month aging process.

A couple of our neighbors have gone all out with the decorations- I feel like we should do something in the spirit of things.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They eat each other when there's not enough food.

For exactly six ounces of food, pot pies are surprisingly filling.

We had a lab meeting today, at a bar. Everyone got three beers in and started ragging on grad students in other labs. In particular, they were complaining about one dude, who acts like he knows it all, asks irritating questions, and has alienated everyone. They were trying to remember what lab he was in.

Now, I know this dude. He's engaged to an acquaintance of mine. I was sorely tempted to pull out my cell, call her up, and ask her. That would be more alienating though, and my social skills are not at an advantage in their current setting.

They aren't really at advantage after 18 ounces of beer, either. That might explain the full sensation better than the pies.

What else what else. The hissing cockroaches had babies! We found out in the most awesome way possible! Scuttling tiny cockroaches loose on the cockroach table!

The professor came in in the midst of jury rigging the cockroach enclosure to be infant safe. She... doesn't like large insects. She mentioned that she was very glad that the vermin were confined to a cage. My second smart social move of the day was not mentioning the possible escapees. Jane rolls 10s on charisma all day long.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I have no words.

It seems I have blessed a good portion of this meal before.

Turkey leftovers have been whittled down via sandwiches and tacos to just enough for a single meal- so I made mini turkey pot pies. They seems tasty enough that I'm going to turn part of the future turkey- the one in the freezer- into pot pies as well.

I work in the Pomology building- a small but significant job perk is the free fruit boxes every week. This week: flame grapes. I'm holding back from grape-turkey mole pot pies. I think the successful pumpkin pie incident went to my head.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's a very impressive noise.

All right, it's the last day of NaBloPoMo. I seem to have one post for every day- in fact, I seem to have an extra post for some reason.

It's a good thing it's over, because my supply of clever things was wearing thin. Thinner, says the part of me that spent the weekend with my brother. I'm going to celebrate my success by taking a hot shower and going to bed early.

The cat's asleep in in bedroom, snoring. I was taking a micronap earlier, and dreamed that a flock of miniature Canadian geese was living under our bed.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sloop John B

I got to post a precise nail gun ad for my dad on Craigslist, and help my mother gather pine cones for Christmas gifts, and be a practice dummy for my brother's judo throws! It's pretty awesome here, let me tell you.

I also read a lot and snapped at people.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dinner and Shopping

I'm back in my hometown. I don't have much to write, except that the pie went over very well; I guess I envisioned people refusing to eat it, or asking if they detected cumin- but after a thousand calories of turkey and stuffing, people will eat anything if it's covered by enough whipped cream. In fact, there was a young lady who does not like pie, so we gave her whipped cream on a plate. I'm pretty sure she managed to scrape off a thin layer of ceramics getting the last molecules of whipped cream.

I had the annual conversation about dishware with recluse uncle Steve- the dishes are the Stanford colors red and white, but they depict scenes on the Berkeley campus. Once again, I got minor points for suggesting that Berkeley took pity on a person who had graduated from Stanford and could find no job but painting plates. Steve, my brother and I were relegated to the not real adults card table, and that was my only real contribution to the conversation. I guess I also said I wasn't married yet. And then for some reason I got all awkward and defensive. I love Thanksgiving.

I also had the worst gravy I have ever eaten in my life. This includes the time BJ and I accidentally made three cups of bacon gravy, and I ate some after it had been in the fridge for a mite too long.

The deviled eggs were pretty bad too, but the pie hater made those, and I ate three in learning to cook solidarity. They weren't disgusting, just salty.

Today I started making apple butter and went clothes shopping with my mom. It was a new store full of things I did not want, the storekeeper was very attentive, and no one else was there. While I was calculating the minimum number of things we could purchase before we escaped, my mother was chatting cheerily about formal shorts and gusseted women's pants. Fortunately for my wardrobe, the women's clothes were for skinny little snowboarding ladies. The store does have really nice potted plants- some Sarricinia, a huge Ficus, and some geraniums edged with Irish moss.

Apparently, I need to go collect pine cones. I hope you are all having a happy post Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fail: Eating sustainably in a strange land.

My family is not one for international travel. My father is a soil scientist, so while I was growing up, non-family related excursions tended to be to sites of geological interest. My father would stand, proud and pleased, and gesture out at the gently rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine: evidence of a mile thick sheet of ice that ground parts of the Midwest into the least imposing countryside in the world. Or at least that small part of the world that I've seen.

In college, I didn't expand my horizons much. This was partly because I was shy, poor, and terrified of debt, and partly because I started dating a man who viewed international travel as a punishment for poor grades. As a newly minted botanist, I did follow the family tradition of travel: I went to Mexico and looked at plants there. I think flowering mistletoe is much more impressive than glacial deposits, but who am I to judge? Instead of rounding out my resume with a handful of semesters abroad and international internships, I stayed home and played house. My roommate and I cooked our way through the very 60s Laurel's Kitchen our sophomore year and never really recovered. We ate peas and kale in the winter, and beans and tomatoes in the summer. We stole fruit from the USDA fields and bought cheap eggs from the egg lab. I also cooked whole wheat bread so dense it sank when fed to ducks. The only person who'd tackle an exceptionally bad loaf was my boyfriend- he'd descend on it muttering misguided compliments; "Each slice is a meal! After eating some of this bread, I don't want anything else! I love how you really have to chew it." How could I keep myself from falling in love?

That's how I found myself traveling off continent for the first time to meet the family of my putative fiance, who still hates leaving home. We went to Chile, or as I dubbed it, Bizarro California. I expected it would be like visiting his mother here (tiny portions of very good food) so I had a dozen Luna Bars hidden in my luggage for sudden drops in blood sugar. I practiced my winning smile and kicked myself for not practicing Spanish.

I spent the next two weeks eating. Breakfast was bread, jam, cheese, turkey, milk, coffee, orange juice, and bread. Lunch was some large piece of meat and bread. Dinner was wine, bread, seafood, bread, meat, bread, and meringue. The bread was fresh and dense- another mystery solved. I also swiftly burned through any sustainable food karma from the last five years. I ate tuna- the waiters demonstrated the impressive size of the fish for our edification, it had been caught off Easter Island, 2000 miles away. I ate the salmon- from the criminally mismanaged farms in the formerly crystal clear lakes of Chile. I ate the anguilitas- though I really wish I hadn't. The next time I want something that unpleasant, I'll order natto and not further diminish the stressed eel fishery. When I was offered abalone, I cheerfully ate that, and then mentioned that I'd never had it before because it was threatened in California. "Oh yes" they said "This one is more endangered! You can farm it, but you'll agree it tastes better when grown wild." I smiled.

After a couple of weeks, his cousin asked if she could make anything I missed from home. "Beans," I said. Beans are for poor people, apparently. "Salad", I said. Apparently it was too dangerous for my digestive system to gamble with raw vegetables. "Whole wheat bread", I pleaded. Whole wheat bread is disgusting and it's impossible that I like it. I thought for a bit. There were feral artichokes growing on roadsides, and I had glimpsed them on the menu before being fed another delicious endangered species. "Artichokes?" She smiled, took six artichokes, cooked them, and ground them into a paste.

Two days before we went home, we visited my fiance's aunt- the only member of the family to still live in the countryside. My future mother in law almost leaped out of the car to see her favorite sister, who offered us a small plate of homemade mayonnaise and artichoke hearts while they caught up. Five minutes later, they were gone. They explained that we wouldn't eat the excellent food of the city- only plain Chilean food. They fed us a meal I still dream about- wild mushrooms with garlic, garden peas with bacon, a beautiful steak, and bread. Everyone drank red wine- (It's not from our vineyard, that's for every day, this is from the neighbors)- and watched me eat. And eat. They offered me more steak, and I demanded more peas. Desert was a cold fruit soup, made from last autumn's preserves.

And there. That's a meal I was thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baking pert seven million

The year I turned thirteen, my mother let me cook a dish for Thanksgiving. I guess she figured that pumpkin pie was kinda irritating to make but absolutely essential. I was thrilled. You might say I got a little bit obsessive about it.

I bought pumpkins, roasted them, peeled off the fragile sticky skin, and mashed them. (I always ended up with either 1.75 cups, or 6.33. The recipes call for 2) I made the crusts with the ice water theory. I grated the spices myself. I did this every Thanksgiving for... Jesus... ten years. The pie was not very good.

Then a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I got home late. There was no innocent pumpkin waiting to be slaughtered. There was no heavy whipping cream. There were no whole spices. There was a can of pureed pumpkin, a can of condensed milk, a frozen crust, and a jar of pumpkin pie spice. The pie was fantastic.

So now I use canned pumpkin. It contains one ingredient: pumpkin. It's always just enough for the recipe. I make my own crust, but I use the play-doh theory. I use ground spices- I know they lose flavor, but an unexpected fragment of nutmeg can be a landmine. The pies are pretty good.

(Of course, when I started making pumpkin pasta I learned that roasting squash is the worst way to prepare it for pie. I have a tip for whole squash idealists: peel the pumpkin while raw. Cut it up, boil it, and mash it. Easy.)

However, the "the hell with it" theory of pie making is taking its toll. The recipe calls for five brownish spices- and while I'm trying to find the damn cloves, pretty much anything looks plausible. A spoonfull of hot chocolate mix might not sink a pie, but I'm not so sure about my roasted ancho chile powder. And I have so many spices! Also, for some reason the cinnamon is empty. (Oh yeah, Turkish lentil soup) I'd just depend on the other things, but when I rely on nutmeg everything tastes like I threw in a half bottle of Coke.

So I added a couple of good shakes of Garam Masala. It has four of the five, as well as a bit of cumin, black pepper and coriander. It can't be any worse than the other pies my family's choked down over the years.

Lame Downer Post

I still have the patriotic fervor carefully instilled by the American educational system. I'm quite happy Obama's our future president. However, people are saying that his election eliminates our history of slavery and segregation. (or maybe I should stop reading Time) Regardless, voting for the best candidate at the right time does not make everything better. We made the best economic decison and we expect to get patted on the head.

I can't think of anything that the United States has done that comes close to the awesomeness of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Britain decided that the slave trade was morally unconscionable, blockaded the Coast of West Africa, and declared any ship carrying slaves a pirate ship. That's a financial catastrophe! (Except for the cash from ships siezed)

I guess that still doesn't make up for 150 years of the slave trade, but it's a good start.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mike's Bread Recipe!

I made Mike's bread recipe for the third time tonight, and it remains pretty damn good. It has 3 ounces of cheap beer for the fermenty malty flavor, and a tablespoon of vinegar for the sourness. It uses a tiny tiny amount of yeast and an insanely hot oven, and sits bubbling dangerously on the counter for 18+ hours for those of us who like to feel like Laurel. It's awesome. The link is somewhere in the comments- although I've committed it to memory because the Cook's Illustrated website has locked me out.

An old coworker and I were talking about foods you learned to love in college- (Shout out to Amy and the tomato sammich) She told me about a snack she loved when she studied in Germany- the chocolate sandwich.

All it requires is good dark chocolate bars, good warm sourdough bread, and good butter. By some amazing coincidence, we had all three in the house last night. I encourage people to make their own chocolate sandwich, even if you have to heat the bread in a toaster oven first. Chill the chocolate too. It's an excellent breakfast if you want to have a sugar crash at around 10:30. This is a great plan- when everyone else gets to work, you're reading garish comics about D&D.


I hadn't really thought about the dude who managed to avoid most of the vegetable kingdom for a while. I worked with him for a summer before he went to grad school. He's an excellent botanist, very self critical, and given to... well...

Temper tantrums. Yelling at people for putting noodles on top of rice and then never letting them eat rice in front of him again. Throwing cow pies at coworkers. Driving away laughing while the gate opener runs gasping and sockfooted behind the crummy. Hiding in his room after work, crouched behind the bed when people knocked on the door. I'm all for whimsical behavior, but there's a limit in a workplace setting.

So yesterday I saw one of his friends- Sarah 6, as she was known in college. We were chatting, and she mentioned that she'd just visited the greatest botanist I've ever met under the age of forty. I asked after him.

"He's great!" she said "I think the stress of grad school has really made him open up, recognize that the inner child needs to be expressed now and again. He's not so worried about being proper and appropriate."

So that's a relief, right?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I know in general that it's bad to open e-mail from John Holmes.

Señor C and I have inherited each other's friends, which is pleasant because we both have to social skills of carp. Usually my technique for friend making is poaching the aquaintances of my current friends. Either that or impertinant personal questions.

But there's a downside. The friends are all lovely, but they have family. And then the family gets ahold of your work e-mail.

I guess my point is, if someone's e-mail handle is the name of a porn star, maybe you shouldn't open it at work. If one does, one should pray that the computer is muted.

One of the best parts of this weekend was discovering that Mr. Holmes sends most of these e-mails from his phone. He's not rude enough to interrupt conversation to check his RSS feeds, he waits until he's in the bathroom.

Have I ever mentioned what elegant and charming people my readers are?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Also the Chenopodiaceae. I don't know why.

I do not like that man. He's quite disagreeable. And then there's the obligatory post visit fight betwixt Señor C and myself. I demand that he not inherit 50% of his DNA from such a man, and he points out that if I didn't insist on love and respect for the people who raised us, we could spend the weekend watching Avatar.

So some of you called me these last few days. My phone was sitting safely in my old pants. Call me back.

Gyozilla and I were cooking, and he mentioned that he didn't like parsley. I asked if there was anything else he didn't care for, and he mentioned fennel. Interest piqued, I asked about brussels sprouts, liver, lima beans, and natto. He said they were all fine. Then, being a good botanist, I asked about celery, carrots, parsnips, dill, and cilantro. Score one for pattern matching skills: I've found someone who hates the entire Apiaceae, without prejudice.

I had a coworker would wouldn't eat the Apiaceae because the alkaloids found in Conium might be hiding in relatives. He also avoided the Fabaceae (compounds in Astragalus), the Solanaceae (Solanum), Brassicaceae (glucosinolates in general- the burning taste in mustard and wasabi), and the Anicardiaceae (Poison oak family- no mangos or cashews) Since he made a diet that excluded carrots, celery, parsnips, beans, peas, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, I suspect he actually secretly hated vegetables. What did he eat? Mostly rice.

After a little research, I'm pretty sure that Gyozilla doesn't like the compound anethole- the fennel flavor. I know the aroma because I depend on that same compound in my scent based keying technique. All the things he hates smell the same!

Well, okay, he also hates chopped herbs in his food. And he doesn't like cheese very much. Still, I got to do the creepy psychic thing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Must make post to keep up schedule!

But I'm at my outlaws, hanging out. It's pretty exciting. Funny things might be happening, but imagine a screed against the undead being discovered. There's already enough freeform paranoia floating around here. It would be taken as proof positive that we're all plotting against him.

C and I are hanging out with Gyozilla. We went to the comics shop and had the best ice cream in the entire world (honey lavender).

Also, aside from girls with Germanic ancestors, it seems C has a type. (I can't make the tilde work on this computer) The type is children of alcoholics! Lucky him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Overheard at Work

"I'm so lucky! And the best part is, I get to keep the cockroaches too!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Raised by the hardcore left.

There's an xkcd where two characters are humming the same tune- then they burst into song for the chorus, and find that they are singing songs from vastly different subcultures. (I can't find the cartoon!)

Same thing happened to me in a car at work. Except he broke out with "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah" and I warbled "The union makes us strong!" That's really all you need to know about my upbringing.

So there's a great song called "Guantanamera"- it's about a girl from Guantanamo. There has to be a joke in there, right? A humorous retranslation that will make me seem clever in two languages. I looked up the lyrics for ideas.

I am an honest man
from the land of the palms
and before dying, I want to share the music of my lost home.

I pray the poor people of the earth
will be spared my fate
the song of the mountain brook
pleases me more than the sea.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa blanca

So now I feel petty. There isn't really anything you can add to a sweet song from man exiled and imprisoned because he was fighting for his countries Independence from the USA. It doesn't really lend itself to sarcasm Hey, George Bush! You made José Martín ironic and sad!

Mostly I remembered the "My poems are hellof colors and also vivid wildlands imagery" part of the song.

If I were in love with someone of a similar cultural background, Arroyo de las Sierras would totally be on the short list for baby names. Señor C vetos everything fun as an "affront to his culture".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


One of my coworkers is doing a pre-experiment with oak moths. She wanted to know if they weighed less, took longer to pupate, ate less or more, and died at a higher rate when eating oak leaves that grew on toxic serpentine soil versus normal soil. Short answer? Nope. They are exactly the same.

Might not make Science or Ecology, but it'll take up thirty minutes in a lab meeting.

So now we have 200 caterpillars, cocoons, and moths that are pretty much worthless. However, it's the most exciting thing in the lab right now. We pick them new leaves, watch the moths mate, and rescue caterpillars that have fallen off of their leaves. It's a communal bonding experience, much like apes grooming.

Also, for some reason there are Madagascar Hissing Cockaroaches.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More misguided software proposals!

Microsoft should add a new program to its Office Suite: Microsoft Time Traveler. To prevent errors in causality, the only thing it will let you do is deliver a swift smack upside the head to previous users of whatever Microsoft Program you're working with. Someone managed to enter 1500 records without noticing that the units of measurement varied between entries? Someone included 200 superfluous columns from Excel in your database? Someone (usually you) deleted a table when it was the only soft copy of the data you needed? Use Microsoft TT to punch your past self in the ear. Bastard.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Plants that lift your heart

Every botanist has a few plants that make them happy in their soul. Mayhap non botanists have them too, I don't know. But this is an excellent place to share yours.

Señor C says I can name a baby after a genus, but has vetoed Erythronium, Hypericum, Parnassia, and Fritillaria. (I took this photo!)

He'd rather call it Conquistador Lord of the Undead the 27th, I suppose.

Crazy Suicide Trees Part II

Señor C refers to lodgepole pines as "Crazy Suicide Trees" because of their serotinous cones. The tree grows best on bare mineral soil with lots of sunlight and water, so the cones stay on the tree with the seeds shut tightly inside until they are exposed to heat- from forest fires. The trees also take any chance to turn a ground fire into a crown fire, because taking out every other tree in the forest is a great leap forward for the lodgepole population in general if not that tree in particular. The trees are basically made of oily rags and match heads. It's really awesome firewood.

Meadows in California are having a rough hundred years. First, the lovely people who burned them every couple of years were quietly encouraged not to do that. Also, they should start wearing shoes, goddammit. Then the grazing of federal lands became commonplace- and since forest floors covered with duff are not so tasty, herds congregate in grassy moist meadows and tear the shit out of them. Sometimes shepherds dug troughs so that cattle and sheep could drink. These troughs, cow paths, and ATV/truck ruts form ditches, the ditches cut deeper into the precious organic soil, the water level dropped, and bad things started to happen.

Areas with water tables very near the surface have very nice plants. (Scientific surface water table test. Stick your finger into the soil. Is it wet? Then it's a surface water table.) First, the soil is basically super rich compost, formed by four thousand years of grass quietly lying down and dying in water. In this situation, most plants would drown- the roots have to respire as well as the leaves. Adapted plants have spongey cells that funnel air down to the roots, or tiny rootlets that stick above the surface to gasp for air. It tends to be an area without a lot of invading plants. (Also, it's the home of three of the five plants that always lift my heart when I see them. Hypericum anagaliodes, I'm looking at you. )

Since the water levels on many of the meadows are lower, Lodgepole pine seeds in the soil are geminating, and lots of little pines are taking over the meadows. The instinct of Land Management Professionals is to set the meadows on fire. This is a fantastic idea.

Well, it is an okay idea, actually. Burning meadows is always good. But setting things on fire to prevent the spread of things that spread when there is fire? That's awesome logic there.

Man in my lab has a project that seeks to prove this with science. Since he couldn't get a federal grant to prove setting things on fire was a bad idea, he got one to prove setting things on fire is a good idea. (Yay USFS, encouraging latent pyromania.) He was all set to burn these meadows and prove that it wouldn't knock back the crazy suicide trees, but then it rained four inches. That's OK! He can totally afford an extra year of graduate school!

So, takehome lessons.
1.) You can help! If you are hanging out in a meadow and see a ditch forming on a cowpath or whatever, build a little dam. The water that backs up behind it will help the plants we all love. Sure, my mother (looking at you B) told you that you shouldn't dam creeks, that the natural environment was precious and delicate, but she didn't know that we'd already screwed things up.
2.) Wow, if only the FS would move away from logging and burning to restore meadows! If only someone would look at manually reconstructing the creek bed and excluding cows! If only someone had the spare time to measure vegetative bounceback over several years!
Excellent. (I has a secret project doing this. Mwahaha)
3.) Time, tide, winter rain wait for no man.

Crazy Suicide Trees

Thursday is current research day at the lab. It's also baked goods day. Guess which area I am plotting to excel in. (Hint: see last post.)

Anyways, there are eight people in the lab who are not me. There's also the dude who has the exact same name as my uncle, whose official job title is "GIS monkey to the greatest ecological mind of our era and bioregion". (I may have referred to said genius as stupid talky man) Regardless, that's a presentation schedule of about one new project or paper every two months. I'm a bit intimidated.

That's OK, I'm just a tech! I don't understand complex statistical processes or advanced ecological concepts, but I make great cupcakes!

But lets talk about some of the research.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I don't really know what to post about. I guess my choices are workplace alienation, incredibly basic database theory, and toasted butter.

Toasted butter is pretty awesome, actually. I often talk it up, and everyone nods politely. It's hard to convert people to a baked goods theory without the baked good right there, right then. Unfortunately, toasted butter is so awesome that I eat a lot of the cookie dough I put it in. It's so awesome that Señor C's normal avid consumption of cookies ramps up to frightening levels. Usually he can be distracted with tartlets or jam cake, but there is no dissuading him from toasted butter cookies. If I made extra for him, he'd eat them all, and then be sick.

So you will have to make things with toasted butter on your own, dear readers. Take some butter, melt it in a large, light colored pan (you need to see it change color), and put it on medium heat. Stir it occasionally, and let it form foam twice. Eventually it will smell like melted baby angels and have toasted carmel colored bits at the bottom. Use where ever you'd use melted butter in baked goods.

Or I could share a recipe: Burned Butter Brown Sugar Cookies (makes 2 dozen in a world where no one eats the dough)
Preheat oven to 350°
10 tbs burned butter
Stir in
4 tbs unburned butter
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla (It's a lot, but the flavors are friends)
and then
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups and 2 tbs white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Mix together wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Form 1 1/2 inch balls (You may want to roll them in a little white sugar) and squash them with either a fork or the palm of your hand. Bake for twelve minutes, or until you're convinced that they're still too raw and squooshy to be considered done. Let cool, and then hide a dozen before you taste one.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Señor C is cooking dinner!

He's making cilantro pesto pasta with kale, bacon, and peas. That's like seven of my top ten favorite foods all together!

He's pretty cool.

(There is olive oil and pine nuts, bringing total to seven)


I made bread today. It was the rapid rise no knead whole wheat loaf that Mike suggested. (Thanks Mike!) I suspect it would be far better if I had not left the dough in the fridge for twenty-four hours, but hey, it's nowhere near the worst loaf of bread I've made. (That would be the no knead bread where I replaced instant yeast with... not instant yeast. It was yeasty. And brick hard.) I mean, this stuff would float. And the residual mess is quite small. In fact, it's quite tasty. I think I'll make it again, but follow the recipe. And find a timer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Señor C is playing QWOP, a running is really hard flash game. It can be played here:

It seems to mostly consist of kicking yourself in the back of the head while wiping out in a spectacular manner.

He also put together an impressive video game system, currently used to alienate our neighbors further. (After the Evolution related yelling) The cool part is the projector and the blank wall. I'm told that the six speakers and the subwoofer are not the cool part. They are the loud and neighbor alienating part though.

I had all sorts of adult things I was going to do today- return my non-fitting dress, figure out why the mapping software doesn't work, fixing the car, complaining about the lack of heat in our house, and unpacking. The eternal unpacking. I guess I baked bread, unpacked three boxes of books, and had Señor C untangle my unholy Access database. Given the problems I have unpacking books, I'd like to give mad props to Cuervito for unpacking them last time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


My office is a desk in a lab. It's fenced in on three sides by filing cabinets, so my spot for idle gazing is a blank metal wall. My back is to a door and walkway, and I am convinced that every set of footsteps is for me. One of my officemates talks. And talks. My Lord, he has his own office in another building, why is he here, sorting out errors in his travel itinerary in a loud voice over the phone?

Everyone else is on a 9-5 schedule, which gives me a precious half hour at either end of the day to get 80% of my work done.

Every day I think: I need to go home and work so I can think.

Then I go home and think differently.

Novels of Evolution, addendum

Actually, if it were a novelized version of single celled organism evolution, covering endosymbiotic events and formation of aggregate cells, I would snap that shit up! The tertiary endosymbiotic event would be awesome fiction fodder, FYI. Otherwise, I will be reading my Regency romances over here, thank you.
This is a graph for you. You can see that African populations have nearly 100% of the genetic diversity present in humanity. This is pretty solid evidence that humanity radiated from Africa. Thus, things that aren't present in African populations are thought to be recent adaptations.

Like lactase.
And excessive norepinephrine production- (This one is really cool. Mitochondria are ordered to cylce through stored energy, producing waste heat. This is why people can live at latitudes greater than 35°. This is also why Norwegians are insane.)

Worst book of 2008: Evolution (Baxter)

This is probably the worst book I'll read this year. Just in case, I've put off the Eragon series until '09, because if I read another book this bad in the near future, I will stab out my eyes.

That would be bad.

Ken and Ingrid passed this book along to me, because I "like evolution". I hadn't really examined my feelings towards evolution- upon reflection I think it's messy, brutal, and pretty cool. (also depressing when applied to me) My emotional investment with Darwin's four laws is apparently exactly the wrong one for reading a novel- really a collection of short stories- about significant evolutionary events in mankind's past and future.

So, the science is not bad. I found a couple of solid points I disagree on, but that's probably because we're in different fields. He's still clinging to the type-specimen paleontology crap, and several of my teachers were kind enough to beat that out of me, and then I read Wallace. And he had an animal that violated the r r^2 r^3 principle to make a point. (Most of the fossils we see are from low moist areas, not the fossils of mountain species.)

Actually, that one bugged me. It was a giant pteradon- 100 m wingspan!- that lived in the stratosphere, eating stuff that had blown up there. It made me want to yell: That is REALLY BIG! There is NOT ENOUGH AIR in the stratosphere! Something that big cannot live on WAYWARD MIDGE SWARMS! Having them mate and nest on mountaintops doesn't work: the tallest mountains in the world now barely scrape the BOTTOM of the stratosphere, and the Indian subcontinent HAD NO HIMALAYAS when this was going down. I did yell, actually. Quite a lot. That's how we met the neighbors. They agreed it was a very bad book.

The sex bugged me. It's a book about evolution, so sex is important. But there was a disturbing subtheme of more human males and their attraction to less intelligent, helpless, much younger females. It was uncomfortable hearing about arousal while freeing a monkey-girl from a snare, or offering tools to a poor lonely Homo erectus or watching your orphaned sister mature. Ew, Mr. Baxter. Those are things I didn't want to know about you.

There were the toolmaking language using raptors. I aknowledge that there might have been sentient animals before humans- I'd like to hope that there are some now. The feud between the raptors and the sentient brachiosaurs was a little bit Land Before Time.

Then there was the "missing link" story. It's about a tribe of functionally modern homonids- they have fire and trade, but lack a real language. It's the end of the era of ten thousand homonid subspecies- these happy few are the ten or so people we are all descended from. They're in the Rift Valley. They are the source of all of human diversity. One of them is called Sunset because he's a redhead.

I bet you could shove a shitload of dried peas into his skull.

Yes, ducklings, the forebearers of humanity already had a gene that today is found only in the descendants of the Celts. That extra special pigment that we see only in descendants of Northern Europeans and Spaniards. However, the effects of said gene are only visible if you also have very little melanin. (Otherwise, you look like Señor C.) Which means that according to Mr. Baxter, the ancestors of all humanity were white. Props on the hardcore racism, dude. Too bad it's wrong. I had three paragraphs on how it was wrong, but I started to rant. I'm going to go eat, rather than edit it. Don't read this book.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Part of the reason I'll be working this weekend is because I got Hughed. Hugh sat me down to talk about the project I inherited from him, and my workload quadrupled. And the first item on every single list reads "Learn to use appropriate program"

So I made three kinds of fozen confection and watched Avatar, the Last Airbender. It's pretty good. And mad props to Señor C and the person who doesn't yet have a pseudonym for indulging my sour cream ice cream craziness
Apparently I need to make three updates to get back on track. Unfortunately, I also have a hangover. And a dirty house that is only partly unpacked. And lots of work. And a car with a weird battery problem (man, someone should look at the brakes too) And a hangover.

Adulthood sucks

Wednesday, November 5, 2008




I spent today taking an eight hour course on my retirement and health care options as a university employee. Wooo. Also, we learned not to accept gifts from vendors.

There was free food- TANSTAAFL, but it was free for me.

And everyone seemed to think that because they were learning about really boring adult stuff, they should act like really boring adults. You might posit that they actually were boring adults, but you didn't see how they were dressed. If I were their supervisors, there would be a talk about appropriate workplace attire, believe you me.

I should talk- I've worn the only nice pair of jeans I can find every day this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rule 0, people

I'm gonna be a DM. I'm so excited!

But seriously. I thought role playing was to teach us social skills in our teen years- but apparentlys, is for grownups too. First skill is that the Dungeon Master gets testy when people plan bits of her campaign behind her back. I'm seriously considering doing the "steal their shit and dump them in a prison cell" schtick if they keep it up.

Otherwise, things are going well. I've decided to do as little work as possible in designing the world- you might think I'd just steal someone else's world, but then I'd have to read about it. Also, the last thing I want is someone pointing out that there are two moons when I really need it to be dark at night. Instead, it's the most thinly veiled reference to California ever. Don't tell. Each ecological subregion is a kingdom, see? All the cities are translated into Spanish, and then Babelfish German. It'll be great.

New computer

I got the 'field laptop' at my new job. Senor C says he has an extra keyboard and mouse- I think I will be needing them. The laptop has a sticky "n" key, and a lot of other keys I think I'd call sticky if the n key were't so stubbor. I have a bad case of palm scroll, and I keep reaching for the invisible mouse. I think that I'll find a way around that though. My goal is to be so awesome at left handed trackmousing that I never notice there is no invisible mouse. (Jim at least is interested in this post. Finding invisible mice is a big part of his day)

Six kinds of bacon

I bumped into another former professor today- she remembered me, more's the pity. (That's not fair.) She has ideas about what young people today should be doing. They should be in grad school, for one thing. They should go to botany club meetings, for another. They should not swank about new jobs. They should think botany is awesome. And they should vote. She did a quick check to see how Señor C and I measured up. (I scored much higher than he did, btw. Except on the bragging)

Damn, I should have thrown Cuervito and his impending nuptials under her wheels. That'd derail the fair judgement of my abilities.

Hey, dude, have you told the doctor of Chlorogalum you're engaged yet?

On a side note, the newly revamped Co-op has at least six kinds of bacon. We will try all of it as soon as possible.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

First day at work

It was pretty uneventful, actually. I've been impossible to live with, throwing out hypothetical situations where everyone spits on me because I wore the wrong color, but everyone was very nice. There were two bad things, and one amusing thing:

One of the grad students brought lemon bars. They were terrible.

During my interview, they said
"You'll basically be replacing incredibly intelligent and energetic dude that everyone knows" and I turned pale and said
"I'm not at all qualified to do his job." So they hired me. When I met this man today for the second time, I really wish I'd recognized him. He remembered me, the bastard. It was a little uncomfortable.

And the amusing thing- I worked for one professor for two summers. (Castle Lake) I took two of his classes, went to lots of office hours, proctored a lab for him, went to a couple of parties at his house, and got drunk with him twice. (Okay, he got drunk, other people got drunk, I had a drink. I am lame.) I bumped into him in the hall, and my new professor pointed me out. He shook my hand and said,
"Welcome aboard, Jane. It's nice to meet you."
So, um, that's one of my possible letters for grad school down the tubes. Damn. I would have tried to jog his memory, but I'd been recently reminded that it's an embarrassing experience.
"A pleasure, Doctor." worked just fine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What we need: uninformed website design tips

All these websites now require me to sign in before I view their content/post a comment. Señor C has an e-mail for collecting the spam that this generates, which I love him for. I have my username, I have my three passwords- don't care, care a little, and has my credit card. But these people assume too much. They assume that I'll remember that I created an account for the site I read once a month, or comment on once every two months. When I try to sign in, they tell me the password's wrong and boot me to the registration page. When I try to create a new account with my usename, they tell me it's already in use and boot me back. There is no discrete "Aha, it's been a while since I signed in" button for me to click and try again. I have to crawl back to the main page and muck around. After three times, it gets really old.

Wait, did I use Señor C's login for this page? Which password did he use?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

$5 15 min Soup of Doom/Thursdays

1 tsp oil

1 onion, diced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 can white beans/garbanzo beans/red beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 package frozen spinach / 1/3 bunch fresh spinach/rest of the parsley hanging around bottom of fridge

2 cups broth/ white wine/ beer/ water

Saute onion and cumin in oil. Add broth and contents of cans. Bring to a boil, add spinach. Simmer for five minutes. Eat.

Serves 3 as main dish.

Food is magic

The father figure is reading a book called Deep Survival. It's about epic saves and how brain chemistry makes you dumb. I like the parts about internal maps and remembering the future- how you try to convince yourself that what you observe is wrong, and what you believe is right. I've spent the last few years making a list of thoughts that serve as warning flags. (I've believed all of them at some point in time.)

The creek is dry right now.
This road was put in after the map was made.
The river bed changed shape.
My compass delineation is off.
The hill eroded.
I am on an entirely different road system, five miles away.
I have managed to walk seven miles without noticing.
The crummy (vehicle) has been stolen.
The poles have switched alignment- magnetic north is now south.
The GPS is wrong.
I've been transported to fairyland by malicious sprites.

I got lost at work a couple weeks ago. You know how it is. You know where you were, you know you haven't walked over that river to the south, but there's about four miles where you could be, you're tired, and everything you've seen in the last fifteen minutes does not match where you want the map to say you are. I stared at the map for a while, folded it up, and continued to walk in the wrong direction. Then a switch flipped deep in my brain. I dug out some vest snacks (pocket jerky! smashed crackers!) and stuffed them into my mouth. They revealed to me that I was not transported. I turned around and walked the other way. Let me re-emphasize that: after walking two miles out of my way at the end of a very long day, I turned around without a landmark offering proof positive that I was lost and backtracked. Food is magic.

Psssht, you non-outdoors people are thinking. That's not hard. But it is terribly difficult- having your rational brain clamp down on your screaming instincts and native desire to be lazy. "No no" whisper your legs, "The crummy's just around the bend." It isn't. You're lost. This is the hardest thing to communicate when training new field people. The road did not change shape. The compass is right. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T DOUBT THE GPS. Doubting the GPS is doubting the theory of relativity. Doubting the GPS is doubting geometry. I may not be certain of many things in life, but I know my location relative to four satilites.

If only I could teach them to skip right to faerie. That one's actually pretty useful as a transient meme.

Apologies to Brenny, who was dozing in the backseat of the third car in a caravan, and still managed to guide us out of the slums of Ensenada without a false step.

Back at the Alma Mater

You know how when you visit your parents, you're automatically 12 again? That's a best case scenario, by the by. Worst case, you have to be 15 again, trying to convince them that you're not really 12 anymore. Moving back to your college town is like being 22 again. Only you have only two friends still living there, you're not prepared for your classes, and you gained twenty pounds being not broke and not 22.

My boots weigh two pounds each, by the by. Not five.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

En español...

If a child is grinning and gnawing her own foot, the approved notation for the photo is "ñom ñom". Just in case you wanted to do cross cultural lolcats.

Dispatches from the moving front pt. 2

Where did you hide my razor vs. Don't take that tone with me. Unpleasant all around.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ha ha!

All right, three days of concentrated cleaning are over, and the pre-inspection of damages has occurred. I managed to make it look like we were lovely clean people who hadn't gotten around to tidying up in a couple of weeks. That's not so bad, right? Now we have to do heavy cleaning on the surfaces painstakingly exposed by light cleaning. And preform slash and burn on the jungle in the back yard.

Of course, I've been impossible to live with during the time of cleaning, but now the fights will boil down to two crabby people who hate to clean finding the each other not cleaning at inopportune moments. It should be great.

Also, when someone comes to inspect your house, it's not necessary to give them a detailed description of your new job. One can also avoid telling them to send their child to your alma mater.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dispatches from the moving front, pt. 1

Tempers are high, and the moving fight is beginning to coalesce. (I predict it will involve sweeping the contents of Señor C's bedside stand into a large tupperware or feminism.)

I've been cleaning bathroom one, and there is a surprising amount of hair. Of course, we have a combined hair length near 1.5 meters, and we do most of our shedding and grooming in this place. It's not so odd to find lots of hairs there.

What's odd is that there's a scum of cat hair throughout the bathroom. You know the place with the swishy noises, linoleum and the water in unexpected places? Yeah. That is the best place to hang out, drink out of the toilet, shed seven thousand hairs, and then leave. Why would you shed somewhere a vacuum could reach?

A sample of our conversation :
C, "I'm not a serial murderer, I'm just a serial negligent. That's not so bad"
J, "I plan on having children with you. I'd rather you bury people in the basement than forget..."
C, "I don't forget, I'm just too lazy to... not helping, huh?"

Friday, October 10, 2008

So, um, check my math.

I spent the last few weeks of my job working inside like a normal person. In an office, with people, no constant drone of NPR, no cause for movement... Usually by the end of the day Tiny Alligator's been on three-four adventures, the paperweights have "Pie!" scrawled all over them, and I'm pretending to be a dinosaur.

Anyways. Besides revealing that my social skills have actually regressed since high school, these afternoons give me ample time to contemplate lots of small puzzles. Like really fast Alt-tabbing techniques. Theories on the home lives of my coworkers. Plots for RPGs. Ideas for blog posts. And then it's 1730, and the last place on Earth I wanted to be was looking at a computer screen.

I went to the barracks and watched 3 hours of NCIS instead.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Since being photographed and alumni donation drives are two of my favorite things...

Photo albums from my childhood portray a sullen girl, daring her father to continue urging her to smile and take more precious time from sitting in the sun reading, sitting in the shade reading, and making hunter-gatherer civilizations out of tribes of acorn cups.

Each year, the yearbook teacher would manhandle me out of my fifth period class and stand me against a convenient wall. Then she'd yank the sweater off of my head, tilt my chin so I was facing her, and flick the hair I'd managed to shake over my face away. I believe I kicked some of my dear readers quite hard in an attempt to avoid being in the Junior Statesmen photo. Sorry-

By the time I was in college, I'd grown a little bit more polite. I was in the new lab building, tearing apart flowers in my beloved Floristics class. (I like to call it the "After four years of university, Jane became employable" class) People came in with cameras and started to snap away. Other students started to mug with good humor. I looked down at my plant bits and did not make eye contact or smile. On the other hand, I didn't throw anything over my head, so I guess that's as good as leaping in front of a camera.

Anyways. Now my school uses the picture of a dilligent and modestly dressed girl to suck donations from its allumni. If you look closely, you'll see that my fingers are scrunched with the effort to avoid crawling under the table.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's hot and dry outside, I have seven pounds of tomatoes and three pounds of eggplant in the fridge, and all I can think to make are stick-to-your ribs dishes. Spaghetti. Chicken marengo. Chili. Porotos granados. Plum tart. Pizza. This is why my boots are so heavy. I cannot cook simple and delightful if I try.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today I was talking to the barracks manager about my total lack of cooking implements. He suggested I talk to the lovely gentlemen in barracks one about getting some pots. I told him I'd have to be careful about phrasing that so they wouldn't misunderstand, and he made the noise people make when they shoot milk out their noses.

I also went to the Emergency Room for my knuckle injury- I got a splinter in my finger a couple of weeks ago, and it never got better. Finally, Big Boss got it together to fill out the paperwork, but the only place in Trinity County that accepts workman's compensation is the ER. I am the problem with the nation's overcrowded Emergency Rooms, except there were three patients there. I have the most minor injury ever, and they kept bouncing me to new specialists. Eventually, they told me that I probably had a bit of thorn still in my finger. The kindly doctor peered at me over his glasses and said "You'll just have to let it fester out."

(I have excellent blood pressure and heart rate. I am 5'9" in workboot heels. I'm trying to convince myself that same beloved logger boots are the reason I weigh 25 pounds more than I think I should. It does not seem likely.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

I like my women like I like my coffee...


Today I was stung by yellowjackets. It was very entertaining. I now am the proud owner of 5-8 stings and bites from my calf to the nape of my neck. I don't know if it's my shortage of sleep, or the massive amounts of venom coursing through my system, but I tire very easily and feel like crap.

Please note: I'm pretty sure I have seven stings, it's just that they take turns hurting because they all need time in the sun. I did find two yellowjackets stuck in my hair, and the sting on my neck hurts more than most of the others, so that might be two. I didn't believe I had so many stings until I circled them all with pen.

Also note: if a stinging insect has taken up residence in your pants, you cannot outrun it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Well, it's creepy NOW...

My mother passed along a anecdote indicating that the firefighters at Mocha Creek think that I am very pretty, likely to bear children easily, charming, and obedient. Somewhat unfortunately, I was also found to be wicked smart. I took this with an equitable roll of my shoulders, and then followed Señor C around for the next couple of days prattling "Mocha Creek thinks I'm pretty."

But really, I know not to take workplace evaluations of my personality too seriously. When I work fire, I'm pleasant and present, I smile at people when they talk to me (even over the phone and the radio), and generally put the skills picked up from a summer as a receptionist to good use. The above rundown of my persona is mere confirmation that my trickery is effective.

This is in sharp contrast to my little boss. She has the emotional intelligence of a goldfish with Asperger's, is feminist like a hard glittery thing, and hates babies. I have three little anecdotes for you.

We were learning radio check-in. The man training us stayed a bit after, and began to talk about his toddler and how he'd be missing the boy's third birthday. (Fire eats lives) I felt a bit stiff when I asked more questions about the kid, but when he pulled out his cell I oooed and awwed appropriately. Thanks for the training, Mom! Then little boss pulled out her cell, and asked if we wanted to see pictures of her baby. She proceeded to scroll through fifteen plus pictures of her dog.

One of the Fish dudes mentioned that he was hoping to get laid off early this year so that he could spend the first few weeks of his new child's life at home, being sleep deprived. Little boss blurted out:
"Is your wife pregnant AGAIN?" He recovered nicely- (He may just know her better than I do.)
"Yes, haven't you seen her? She's HUGE!." He grimaced in fear. "Radiant though. Radiant."
"GOD. Is this THREE?"
"Um, two?"
"Oh, I guess two's acceptable."

It was late one night, working radio, and we were with our Fire Patron. He's a sweet, gruff man, very like a partially shaved bear in appearance and temperament. He's also quite conservative, and has some number of sons that is greater than two. He dotes on us, solves our perpetual fuck-ups, and calls us his daughters.

I don't think this is the kind of man you should go on an anti-breeder rant around.

My quasi minion and my little boss affirmed that they had no desire to reproduce. Little boss elaborated, throwing about a few pejorative terms about the reproductively blessed, the chronologically impaired, and people who ignored the replacement rate for humanity. Wishing to defuse the work-inappropriate levels of uncomfortable, I blurted;
"Well, if y'all aren't gonna use your replacement rate child credits, I'll take them." Oh yeah, I'm smooth. I'm really used to being the soothing influence, you can tell.

Follow up: Last week I found that Other Creek Fire was discussing my offer to bear the children my coworkers would not. Someone turned to little boss's consort and asked him just how that would go down. Bastard blushed, then told his girlfriend.

God, I love small towns.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I can not keep a secret

The new ranger was moving into my old barracks, and the trails people were moving out of my new barracks, so my stuff needed a place to rest for one weekend while cleaning services scooped up the detritus of people who work outside for long hours: muddy boots, random woodland debris, things that fall on the floor, and the floor is too far away to toss the offending item. Filthy filthy pigs, myself included.

No problem, there's a fisheries garage right next to both barracks- easy enough to ditch things there for a few days. I considered this my plan for a couple of weeks.

Two days before I have to move, Big Boss asked me where my stuff was going to rest.
"The fisheries garage" I said blithely.
"Ooooo." Said Big Boss "Mr. Fish will not let you do that. He's really fussy about stuff going in there." I nodded sympathetically. Crazy Mr. Fish, not letting people store seven hundred pounds of grass seed or a small seed starting greenhouse with a mere 10,000 forb seedlings. But where will I put my things? "You can leave them in this office, as long as they aren't on the floor or the desks." Great...

So I have a chat with Mr. Fish. I say that the things are small, and will be there for a mere three days. I say that I have nowhere else to go. I point out that things in the office will be unpleasant for all. I imply that our families have long been friends. (This could be true) My arguments are unneeded. I can put things in the garage, he says, as long as I don't spread the fact around. Hurrah, Mr. Fish. Hurrah. I will not tell the wrong sort about this.

One Hour Later: I have realized that the wrong sort is probably both Big Boss (Who knew she would blow this out of proportion? Who learns from experience?) and the barracks manager. Who I told. Immediately. Excellent. I tell the adjoining barracks that my stuff is in the garage illegally, and that I will return for it in the dead of night.

Four Days Later: Ah, good. The story is everywhere. Big Boss is upset that I get special privileges. Mr. Fish is blissfully unaware of my betrayal. There are large dogs between me and my stuff. Big Boss cleaned my new barracks, but not the old ones. Maybe this will remain underground until I escape?

Big Boss smiles. She and the rest of the crew will move my stuff to the new barracks. I nod, go to the adjoining barracks, and obtain permission to walk through with things. Big Boss points that we should get Mr. Fish to open the door to the garage. Easy. No, no, I insist, we can just walk through the lovely men's barracks, with the people drinking... soda! soda that does not break the barracks code! We can walk right through the dense clouds of... dank... smoke...

C'etat fucke`

So. My desire to keep a promise to a blameless man is less than my deeply ingrained "don't rat dudesout to authority" training. Screw you, Killingsworth. OH YES IT WILL BE EASIER THROUGH THIS DOOR IF YOU JUST STAY OUT HERE LOOKING IN YES! Little boss digs through Mr. Fish's desk and comes back with a handful of keys. Big Boss moves some coolers to new locations and mismatches all the river shoes for spite. We move my stuff. Big Boss goes to give Mr. Fish a lecture on sharing while he mournfully rearranges his keys.

I suck.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Addendum to last:

Just because you've been fatally shot doesn't mean you can eat half a pound of butter and knock up a teenager.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Everything I needed to know I learned from my cat.

All change, even change for the better, is bad.

The best way to bond with people is to hunt vermin together. Sometimes, the vermin must be clandestinely introduced. They will never notice that you are hunting for the same lizard a third time.

Yelling in an irritated fashion is the best way to get people to help you.

Food tastes better when you drag in into a shadowy crevice and pretend you killed it.

Nothing other people are doing is more important than helping you groom.

The stuff lodged between your toes? Delicious!

Tasty things are definitely worth digging through the trash.

Sometimes parts of your body plot against you. Bite them for their impudence.

Gaslighting isn't a sport, it's a way of life.

Friends exist so that there's someone you can leave stuck on the roof more than once.

Siblings make excellent bait.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm a grown-up

When we house hunted in Redding, it was a bit hellish. I didn't know what the neighborhoods were like, so I'd pursue a cheap house out into the middle of county services territory. (I recall a vivid trip to a dumpy house next to the veterinary quarantine, juvenile detention center, and rock crushing plant {6-2:30, M-S}) We had no local references and the shady credit reports of recent graduates. I had a job, but Señor C did not, and that was not viewed with equanimity by potential landlords. Eventually, I stopped bringing him house hunting, and instead towed along a chipper coworker/roommate who is still on our lease, though she only stops here to leave lemon tarts and smooch her boy.

Now we're looking for a place to live in Davis, and it's easier. I know where everything is, and have a very strict idea of where I want to live. (Downtown) Also, now I know the magic words: "job", "deposit", "fiancee", "references". You would not believe how nice people to young professionals house hunting in a college town. It's pretty cool.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm actually pleased about this. Strange

Apparently, a $250 electricity bill will do what the slow destruction of the biosphere and gentle repeated reminders from your sweet love will not. Señor C has shown himself open to all sorts of energy saving ideas- like turning up the thermostat when he leaves the house and not having a window open and the air conditioner on at the same time. Baby step, people, baby steps.

Please note: I was in the car with all four of my co-workers today, and for some reason we compared electricity bills. They all had bills under $40, and mine was obscene. It's like they live twelve years ago or something.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This weekend we have the ideal houseguests. We've been able to decline three distinct invitations with the excuse "Oh, we'd love to, but we have people visiting." and they've spent the entire time having sex in the spare room. We don't even have to feed them! I knew there was a good reason to live halfway between Arcata and Sacramento.

Also, they brought lemon tarts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

When I came home I found a stack of dishes in the computer room. There's a brownie pan, a pasta bowl, a bowl that once held Chilean coleslaw, two plates that held what appears to be tomato sandwiches, and three peach pits. I'm irritated that they didn't make it to the dishwasher, but I'm bizarrely comforted that my latest nutureing attempt went so well.

If the botany thing falls through, I could be a good long distance mommy! Right? Right?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Save the date.

I am accepting entries for botanically themed poems- whenever I try to write one, it comes out as a limerick.

I gots me a new job, working for the mothership from whence my botany concepts sprang. I've been polishing bits of the job description for cocktail parties instead of filling out required paperwork. I give you the top three explanations:
1.) Oh, just a little botany work- filling out comparison data for a much larger survey. The pay could be better but it should give me some good keying experience, and Señor C will be able to get a real job. (Friends, people who I want to think that I am modest, considerate, and kind)
2.) 401K, bitches! Full medical and dental! Vision! Overtime! Sick leave, paid vacation, and unemployment! Who's getting her teeth cleaned? Who's getting a physical? Oh yeah. (Coworkers, shambling along in their fifth or sixth or thirteenth season as temps in W-town, people who abandoned botany for real jobs.)
3.) Cough. Well, it's basically co-ordinating a statewide survey with multiple agencies, then hiring and leading a small crew in those surveys, then the associated data processing. I wouldn't worry about those state budget cuts though, it's financed through the NSF. (Inlaws. Outlaws. INLAWS.)

I'm real mature.

So apparently my sense of humor is dry. I never realized that some people weren't getting my jokes until some of those shambling co-workers started treating me like a prima donna. I AM a princess, of course, but I try very hard to hide that at work. I cornered the timber beast in the next office and blackmailed him into telling me what was up.*

So, a few weeks ago, I was talking to Tim in Timber (year 13 shambler, not timber beast). After the initial "Where are good places to eat in Weaverville, I heard you found a giant fucking tree" chit chat, he asked me about my upcoming wedding. I'm tired of assumptions that I will share details of far distant party planning at the drop of a hat, so I've been trying to see how over the top I can go. My wit ran long this time- and he believed me, the sap. He told everyone else, and now I'm a running joke on the compound. The only thing I can do is add the the legend, so if you are asked about it, complain about the cost or something. As a favor. Highlights follow.

-I'm totally into cruelty free products, and they usually boil those poor silkworms to make silk. I'm getting a dress made out of shed cocoons, but they chew their way out, chopping up the fibres, and so it's real delicate and must be hand spun. It's costing a fortune- all my fire money went to a down payment.

-Everything on our registry is solid silver, because it's all about commodities. I know they're expensive now, but think how expensive they'll be in a couple of years! People should be glad we opened it early....

-It's really important to us to get married on a date that can be represented in binary, so it's either 01-01-10, 01-10-10, etc... We're shooting for 10-01-10 because 38 is the sum of my lucky number (17) and his (21).

-Of course, I must have a spring wedding, so we're moving everyone to the southern hemisphere. But there's a flower I want in my bouquet, and it blooms only in the spring up here. Señor C has a third cousin with a couple of greenhouses down in Chile, but she's really being unreasonable about turning one of them over to growing fawn lilies.

-Do you know how hard it is to find a South American priest willing to co preform a ceremony with a Wiccan priestess? They just start rambling on about the one true God when you ask them. Jesus, can't they be just a little bit considerate of other peoples' cultures?

*My... high strung... work leader recently contributed five pounds of gourmet fresh roasted coffee to the local coffee fund. This resolved spiraling coffee debts she had accumulated. It is fragrant, sustainably grown, fair trade, and a dollar of each purchase price goes to help gorillas. The whole office claims it is the best coffee they have ever tasted, and that the ground gorilla really adds flavor. She looks at them darkly. Yesterday I caught our genial timber beast filling the coffee machine from a bag (Hidden, I shit you not, behind a wall panel in his office) of coffee so cheap that the manufacturers didn't spring for a scripted font. He swore me to secrecy, and I used this against him. Obviously.
The debt collection agencies that haunt the former inhabitants of our house have started to hire genial old men. Either that or Ms. Duchose moved and didn't tell her grandpa.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fuck Al Gore

Y'all might remember my pretensions to being earth friendly. I think a few of you were around for the hemp wearing phase, and might remember my endless lentil salads as I tried to eat for a small planet. Or you were around for the Laurel's Kitchen era, the no car period, and the reclaimed and scavenged food periods. I'm very sorry if you were. That's more than any friend should have to stand.

It was harder to keep up my actions in Redding. There's no damn Co-op here, and everywhere requires ten minutes in the car. Still, I kept the faith- starting a little garden out back, supporting the farmer's market. car pooling to work (We lived with a young woman for whom I had very limited tolerance just because I was always assured a ride to work.) Sure Señor C kept secretly throwing my compost scraps into the garbage when he thought I wasn't looking. Sure, I had to buy a second car when our last roommate moved away. What matters is that I was trying.

During the weeks of fire, I was working sixteen hours on, eight hours off. It was sweltering, and I laid panting and trying to sleep in the tiny barracks, thermostat at the approved 84°. I drove endless loads of cargo along tiny mountain roads with the windows down, breathing in the sweet carcinogens. After I got off work, I wandered through the office, turning off lights in unoccupied rooms. Greener than thou? Certainly.

I drove a huge truck from Coffee Creek to Redding on Jorge's birthday. We met for a quick lunch- the first time we'd seen each other in days- and then I drove down to the Anderson helibase. I arrived and found that the order for the next three days of MREs had not been filled, and drove to our house to wait for a couple of hours.

After my 2.5 hours of sweltering car, imagine how pleased I was to find the house a clement 72°, completely empty, every light on, and two windows open.

So as long as I live with Señor C, (forever!) fuck being green. I have no hope of changing his essential nature.

I secretly put the carefully separated recyclables into the ordinary garbage today. That's what brought this little rant on. I AM THE PROBLEM NOW, CONQUISTADOR! MWAHAHAHA!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ah, Anicardiaceae

When the various bigwigs came to Redding to look concerned and promise money, they all wanted photo ops with firefighters. One of the engines from Weaverville was dispatched to stand behind everyone and look patriotic. (It's not like they had anything better to do, what with all of the fires.) Rumor has it that a couple of the high spirited lads doctored their hands with Toxicodendron before their handshakes with the great leaders. Watch the politicos carefully, next time they are on TV. Is there a rash? A certain itchy stance? One can dream.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

And yes, I did bet a CCC trail worker he couldn't drink a quart of polenta after dinner. I lost $20.

Apparently, when you work the trails crew, competitive eating is what you do in the evenings. Because there is nothing else.

Twitchy eye movements

I mentioned the Buck Rut Tree just a little further down the page- the world's biggest Ponderosa! Three hundred years old! Fire scars eighty years down, and then again fifty years further! Eight feet in diameter! No branches for the first thirty feet! Growing on a tiny hill in the center of a meadow! (Thus getting the waters needed to grow seven thousand feet tall)

Yeah, the National Guard protected that tree from the ravages of fire.

The effort must have been great, we know, but they managed to overcome the obstacles required to save this tree. They cut off all branches on the first 70 feet, and put dozer lines through the meadow to protect this valuable resource from FIRE! THEY PUT DOZER LINES THROUGH A GODDAMN MEADOW! Do you have any idea how hard that is to fix?

Day two of fire school, the teacher described a perfect safety zone.
"One hour fuels or no fuels. A border of three times the height of the fire. Ideally, a damp spot." His eyes glazed over, "If you're doing things right, you would be comfortable in flip flops, a lawn chair, and a glass of ice cold be-lemonade, watching that fire burn the forest around you to ash." Then he showed pictures of, I kid you not, this very meadow. I'm really glad our governor sent the fine men and women of the National Guard up here to protect us. I weep for Iraq.

I tried to find a link to the article so that I could be incredibly sarcastic about it, but apparently someone in the chain of command had the sense to kill that press release.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I joined Facebook. Friend me already

You know it's Wisconsin when someone has four pages of friends, and all of the third page is last names with Van.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buck rut tree

We stopped and saw the newly crowned officially biggest Pinus ponderosa today. We ate lunch nearby, and tried to locate our boos to tell her that her survey area was a fire danger area, with no one allowed in. We didn't find her- I was supposed to make sure she got back safe because I live on the compound, and I forgot until this very minute. Vehicle presence check-

Oh good, she's not trapped in a fire. Woman should listen to the radio, dammit.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Great moments in doubletalk

We'll call you back tomorrow morning at 0800 am.

I worked 175.5 hours in the last 11 days!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

And I thought I explained the ducklings.

I got asked to use simpler words today. My offending words? Pernicious and obiquious. Excellent. And I hate botany rules for data formatting. If you're going to be that picky, you should put togather a database that edits information for you. INFP means "I construct logical frameworks to compensate for my flakiness and disorganization". It means "I can't remember things that are a certain way just because".

We in the RAD BOTS have a term for following the Logistics Chief or Incident Commander and writing down everything they say while firing off all the questions generated since the last time they came through: being a duckling. Two or three people will trail behind an important and informed person and quack repeatedly. I guess on day eight or so, we were sort of zombie ducklings...

But I get a day off, two days before my 14th day, so yay. And I don't know whether I'm going back to fire. Lord knows I'm not good at it, and it's not what I want to do, but the people are a lot nicer- Imagine, I actually like my boss- and the money is good... It all depends on the weather and fate. And which task books I'm allowed to complete. Between you and me, the real number should be 0, but I might get as many as 2. The advantages of sounding like my mother and causing no trouble.

We had to throw together a series of rides for 20 odd people going to three different places on our own tonight, and did pretty well. We asked the trails person to drive one bunch- she dresses and acts like she's pretty enough to get away with anything, but I'm not seeing it. It may be that her whole faces is botchy and her eyes are swollen shut because of the smoke- although she still uses lots of pink in her makeup. I thought she just lacked an understanding of appropriate color usage, but having sat in for her thrice while she goes and harangues her doctor for steriods, I now know- allergies. She's thirty five, she should really have an actual personality by now.

Anyways, she said she'd love to drive, so we called her seven times when she was on call. No answer. She waltzed in an hour later, and asked where we wanted her to go. I said,
"Well, everyone already left because we couldn't reach you." She pouted. (Actual, literal pout.)
"I really wanted that overtime! I was right next to my phone, I would have heard it ring!" A sigh, a hairflip "Oh well, it would have interferred with my plans for this evening."

And that is why I am still in W town, staffing the Communications center whilst other people who volunteered to do this as a favor went to deliver crews. I haven't seen C since Friday- his birthday- for an hour- and haven't been home since the Sunday before. I hope her evening plans go swimmingly.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Fire is a lot less dull once you start learning how to do things, and people trust that you are competent.

Then every spare moment is spent covering up and correcting your mistakes.

Then people assume you can fix their mistakes.

Then you turn off your alarm in your sleep, wake up four minutes before you're supposed to have a radio conference, and end up taking resource orders from a man way out in the wilderness while still in pyjamas and bare feet.

Then you stare at the toaster for seven minutes waiting for your toast to be done, before thinking to turn it on.

Fuck it all, I'm going to start drinking coffee.

And maybe kill my stay up late listening to loud music roommate.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Well, that's some comfort

Another Trinity County Moment: I'd just gotten a ceanothus thorn deep in my leg, and was having some trouble removing it.  The crew leader said "Don't worry, it'll fester its way out real quick."

All sorts of fires over the Trinity- I'm excited because hey, fire and money, but worried because Señor C's birthday is next Friday and I might have to work, like a loser.  I promised him my overtime in gift form.  Also, I have a job interview, but if I am on a fire, going to a job interview could result in my being AWOL.  Literally.  Like, the military term.  

Shauna has mistaken my iPod for a radio station three times now.  I think it's a compliment.  Or maybe her digs are too subtle for me.  Eh.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Trinity County Moments

"No, they ain't the Dyer's woad, them's the bitter lettuce things Sonia puts in her salads."
-Hayfork youth crew member, showing impressive botanical talent at identifying to family with no experience. Entirely wrong about genus though. It was Agoseris.

Also, someone from the trail crew showed up for a ten hour day of standing in the sun, pulling weeds. He brought a pack of cigarettes and an inhaler. And a Rock Star. That was his lunch.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Doddering Fools!

Cuervito sent me this video- he called it a botanical horror movie- I see it as defense against the tyranny of tomatoes.

If you wanted to watch a botanical horror movie, you could do something about the spread of Bromus tectorum into California in the 30s. Or Hypericum preforatum, if you want something with a relatively happy ending. The link is dead, long live the link.


I was power leveling my Odin Sphere characters, stuffing their faces with pear confit and crouque monsieur, when I noticed I was idly scratching my middle toes against the heel of my other foot. "Huh" I thought "That's how I scratch my toes when they have poison oak. Odd." I grew some more raspberries and shoved them down Gwendolyn's throat, musing on her trim figure and probable hollow leg. "It's not like I've been in poison oak..." I killed some demons from the underworld and used their souls to grow apples. "There was that little patch, but I was really careful to avoid stepping in it, and then I washed my feet later..." I told my father that he could have my engagement ring over my cold dead body, yet again. "Well, not so much washed as stood in a freezing creek several times, cursing fate. Still, I should be fine."

Three minutes later, Señor C found me standing in a icy shower, scrubbing my entire body with laundry soap. I was hissing "Unclean, unclean, all my toes have touched is unclean." He's not acting too startled- I think my pattern of erratic behavior has innured him a bit. Soon, my irrational freakouts will be notable to no one but me. Off to wash the sheets in Technu and revenge myself upon my future brother in law for turning me into a giant rabbit. (Not Conquistador Lord of the Undead Jr. y las tres princesas, in the video game.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wildlife count for week of 6/9

Monday: three deer, two separate bears sprinting out of the road.

Tuesday: five turtles! six deer, one snake

Wednesday: I stopped counting deer after seven. five turtles- three tiny ones! Swarming honeybees almost flew through our crummy. A mother bear and a nugget of a baby bear fled our approach. Coyoté off the side of the road. I accidentally cornered a mother quail, a father quail, and about half a dozen popcorn quail going back into the office. Mama booked it on foot, leaving her offspring to their fates. Babies hid so well that I thought they'd gotten into the office. Daddy hunched down, puffed himself up, and started advancing on me. I went around another door and started looking under desks for popcorns, and worked my way back to the door where they were encamped. There I beheld a bold rescue mission- Papa peeped encouragingly until a baby would emerge, and then escorted him past the door itself. Baby would then sprint to Mama, who would store him in the shrubbery. I startled them again- and Daddy decided that since I fled the first time he threatened me, he could try again. That is one awesome bird.

Thursday: We were in snake central, and actually had a bet going about how many confirmed snake sightings there would be. However, our most impressive wildlife was a multitude of caddis fly larvae. That means the low bidder wins, yay me.

Oh, and to dismiss the charges of animism, I saw Phacelia corymbosa, Senicio greenii, Minutaria rosei, Ericameria ophiditus, Cypripedium montanum (new site) Eriogonum libetini, three possible extensions of Erythronium citrinum var. roderickii, Lewisia cantelovii, and Sedum paridesium. Let me include a link:

Maybe I should put out some seeds for the quail.

The Golden Ratio

Some people will tell you that the golden ration is a/b=1+b/a. This is lies. The golder ratio is Q=C/B
Where Q is quality of Jane's week, C is time spent with Señor C and B is time spent with my boss. Ah, those halcyon days where the ratio was close to infinity. When will we see them again?

Well, since she's off fighting the ecological ramifications of improper fire extinguising for two weeks, soon enough. Soon enough.

I've just spent fifteen minutes trying to spell halcyon correctly. Eventually, I asked Señor C, who got it right off the bat. And I had a dream where there was a shark in our living room, and he punched it out. He's pretty awesome.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Apologies to Dr. C (no relation to Sr. C)

I had a very talented professor who I consistently disapointed for my entire stay in college. One of the many excellent bits of advice she passed on was "Keep your textbooks. Keep your notebooks. You never know." Well. She was right, as always.

I was trying to figure out the mathematics of the weeds we're pulling- factoring in the whole basal rosette stage, and the number of seeds, and the germination rate to find the expected time to population reduction- and luckily I had another talented professor (in plant ecology) who was obsessed with this stuff. I pulled out my books and notes this weekend and found that we would have to kill something like 99.95% of the weeds every year for twelve years to stop the spread. Then, with the seed bank depleted, we could relax our vigilence slightly, if more seeds were not constantly coming in on hay trucks. That's only another 500 acres to go over with a fine-toothed comb.

My poor quasi-supervisor thinks that killing 75-90% will make progress against the invasion- I thought she was just better informed that I was, but in fact she is just wrong, wrong wrong. What I am doing is pointless to the extreme, which is unfortunate, but I feel somewhat mollified for four reasons.
1.) When I thought "some weed work" would be chopping down sattelite populations when we ran accross them and eradicating tiny pockets of the hot new invasives, science was on my side. I just assumed that the planning and research was better than it was. Ho, ho, easy mistake to make!
2.) My desire to use herbicide does not mean I'm lazy. It means I want to be effective.
3.) I know I'm a better botanist than my minion. I know my training in plant taxonomy is better than the rigid understanding of my actual supervisor. But I thought my quasi-supervisor was a better botanist than me in every respect. Now that I know this is not true, I like her a lot better. I have ego issues.
4.) Damn, I was smart to not take Plant Ecology from the usual professor. Thanks, Dr. C! Thanks, empathetic affirmation of my choice from Cuervito! Also, nyah nyah nyah nyah.

Okay, off to find eggs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We had our family meeting today at work- we're all one big happy family, with members who don't bother to show up and most younger people sulking in corners, waiting to escape. It was like Thanksgiving, but with more talk of noxious weeds.

Anyways, there was a video from the Washington office head honcho, Gail Santiago. It discussed climate change. We in the forest service have a three pronged approach to fighting climate change: Manage (or spend more money on fire), reduce consumption (use florescent bulbs), and research. I was pleased to recognise a photo of the Bishops and their mountaintop research about five slides into the research montage. Their work is consistently awesome. However, the next photo was of their plot system, and then their minion, and then all of them, from a distance, squinting at a plant. Then there were four photos of birds, and the montage was over. I can only conclude that the Forest Service has only three global warming projects. Awesome.

I thought it would be constructive to make a list of all the things that my boss has mentioned I should stop doing in the last couple of days:
1.) Don't always sit in the front seat of the car.
2.) Don't sleep in the car.
3.) Don't sit upright with eyes tightly closed participating in the conversation in the car.
I assume I'm also not supposed to puke, but I'm not sure, since after the last one I went back to sleep as violently as I know how.
4.) Don't ask the driving instructor all those questions about driving law.
Boy, we're going to have fun working together.
5.) Don't leave the barracks such a mess.
6.) Hey, remember when I heard from someone that the barracks were a mess? Yeah, they shouldn't be a mess.
7.) Did I mention that you should never leave a mess in the barracks?
I'd think she was making a point, but I check every damn time to see if a new complaint has been made, and it's the same one. Every time. I know I live in filth, but in the barracks I'm in permanent guest mode. I had six magazines on the table, dishes in the sink, and a swamp of dirty clothes on the floor of my room.
8.) You forgot to chock the truck
9.) Don't chock the truck like that.
10.) Don't get out of the car, we need to go. What do you mean, don't forget the chock?
11.) Don't leave the plants there, put them where I told you to put them.
12.) Where are those plants you misplaced?

Between that and the twice daily squeals of "Omygod, you used to be only this tall! I'm so oooollld, now that you're an adult. Jesus, you used to be a baby!*" I"m really enjoying working here.

*Innappropriate response: "As did you"

Monday, May 26, 2008


Who would think that someone such as myself, who closes every conversation with a reference to fire, would not be awesome at fire studies? Who indeed.

On the other hand, I confused an owl by trying to hoot like it, and it tracked me for two trees before deciding I was not interesting. As it was drawing dusk, a couple of jays gave me stern looks before winging home for the night. Your ilk is not very accepting of change, Cuervito. PS. does that have something to do with the tequila?

And someone planted the western azalea outside our office, so I keep sneaking out to sniff at it. If I said it smelled like honey and water and skunk, you wouldn't be inclined to seek it out, but it is a glory of scent. Also it is pretty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I have just realized my dream job doesn't exist, and have not yet managed to rationalize it away

This damn screen has been up all weekend, waiting for me to post something. Here's what I got- things I am cooking or planning to cook before 6 pm
white bread, 3 loaves
burned butter cookies
rhubarb cookies
pickled beets
chicken salad
chicken catchitori

I'm going to firefighter school instead of having a holiday or spending time with Señor C, whoo hoo.