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Apr. 23rd, 2005 @ 05:44 pm Remains of the Day
Bob and I went today to see Body Worlds 2 at the Great Lakes
Science Center. http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/pages/home.asp
It's an exhibit of human bodies and tissues (and a horse and
a couple of camels) whose tissues have been preserved
through a process called plastination. The bodies are posed
'artistically' in that one of them is posed with a fencing
sword, one on point as a ballerina, one balancing in a
one-handed hand stand with a skate board. Some of the
figures are 'exploded', that is, their muscles are flayed
out to show underlying muscle or their skulls are sectioned.

It is incredibly cool. (Geoff and Mary saw the exhibit in
Los Angeles.)

There is something incredibly Victorian and earnest and
grotesque about the whole exhibit. There were a lot of
people there with children. I don't think I'd take an
impressionable child. Not to mention, great care has been
taken to preserve penis and testicles in most, if not all of
the male exhibits, and the female exhibits often have intact
labia and fatty tissue of breasts and nipples. But mostly
because while the exhibit is ostensibly about how our bodies
work, it's also very much a weird meditation on mortality.
And I found myself noticing the specimens that still had
remains of their own hair. Or studying the features to see
if I could identify race. And thinking about them very much
as dead bodies.

Bob took a pamphlet about dedicating his body to be
plastinated when he dies. He is very pleased with the whole
idea. I have faithfully promised that if he predeceases me,
I will carry out his wishes. (I really don't care what
happens to me when I'm dead. I'll be dead.)
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Smith!
Apr. 22nd, 2005 @ 12:35 pm (no subject)
Last night, Smith, the dog in my picture on LJ, found a dead raccoon in the culvert behind our house. Being a dog, she rolled in it. I was already in bed. Bob had let her out. She came in covered in the scent of rotting raccoon, thrilling Shelly the miniature dachshund and appalling Bob. He couldn't be around her without gagging.

This morning I got out of bed, filled the tub with cold water (she's always too hot) and conned her into it. I bathed her in baby shampoo as she patiently waited for opportunities to leap out of the bathtub. Finally, as I was filling the pitcher I was using to rinser her off--how can a dog that loves water so much, hate bathing so much--she leaped out and shook. I was wet, she was wet, the dachshund was wet, and suddenly both dogs were furiously happy. She's still a little soapy, but at least she doesn't smell like dead raccoon.

Of course, the raccoon was still out there. Bob asked if there was someone in the city we could call, but wonderful as it would be to have a dead animal removal service, I don't think they make housecalls. I know they pick them up off the streets, but they don't come to take them out of culverts. We have a dairy farm behind us and the culvert takes the runoff from 70 acres and channels it to a pond in the middle of our development. When it rains hard, the culvert, which is about five feet deep and quite wide, can fill and flood but normally there's just a narrow stream running to the drain.

The farmer has had an Amish crew selectively cutting trees from the area of woods behind us. They chainsaw the big trees down, cut them up, and use a pair of draft horse--big, patient brown horses with pale manes who snort condensation like smoke in the rain--to pull the logs to a truck. I don't know what the arrangement is, if the Amish were hired and they hired the truck or if someone contracted with the Amish crew to do the cutting. The Amish, of course, don't drive. What they can and cannot do is determined by the elders of their particular church. The decision is based on whether it will reduce their reliance on the community. So cars and trucks aren't allowed, but for example, the kids can use rollerblades.

There isn't enough land around here for the Amish. they have large families, as a rule, and although traditionally they've farmed, now they're turning to other trades. Furniture making. Construction. Factory work. Some of the girls clean houses. They can't own power tools, but they can work for someone who owns the tools and use them on a construction site. The can't drive, so they hire someone to drive them to the worksite and pick them up. Someone drops them off at the farm in the morning, and then picks them up in the evening, I'm sure.

Although there are a lot of trees still standing, cutting the biggest trees has meant more erosion. It's displaced a pair of turkey vultures who were probably nesting in one of the big trees. I wonder if it has done the same to our pair of redtailed hawks. We've had a pair here for years. I suspect that the raccoon may have been a casualty of the logging, although I don't know. It was full grown but not big. Or maybe it just died. With fewer trees there is some more erosion. I was going to pick it up with a shovel and dump it in a garbage bag, but Bob recommended just burying it in situ. So that's what I did this afternoon. I took a spade out to the culvert to where it was lying, the dull yellow-white of it's skull showing through it's wet pelt, and shoveled dirt on it. When I had a nice mound, I piled some big rocks on top of the mound, or Smith will probably just dig it up again.

I was really winded by hauling the rocks. I'm out of shape and chemo has reduced my lung capacity. But I don't think Smith can get to the raccoon body anymore. It's a little cairn out there now. It won't hold for more than a season or two, but by the time the water has washed it away, the bugs will have taken care of the carcass.

Wednesday I'll take Smith to Pet's Mart where she'll be bathed and groomed and the last lingering traces of dead raccoon will be rinsed away.
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Smith!
Apr. 17th, 2005 @ 04:23 pm Future History
Bob and I were talking about Johnny Appleseed for some reason, and this just struck me as a possible future restaurant fad. So for anyone writing near future fiction, I offer this glimpse of one restaurant fad in the year 2018. (All characters are fictional. And you can buy hard cider in gorceries, but I don't think anyone has gone the vintage route yet.)

American Wine

“Johnny Appleseed wasn’t spreading apples for eating,” Josh Steingarten explains earnestly. “In the early days of the United States, hard cider was a staple. More than beer or wine.” Not that he knew that when he started Steingarten Cidery. Steingarten, a tall, lanky guy with a high forehead who looks a little like the Disney version of Johnny Appleseed. He’s a third generation Illinois farmer with a degree in agriculture from Ohio State. He was experimenting with organics as a way not to go bankrupt. But the apple orchard was just because he liked apples. “We sold them at farmer’s markets,” he explained. “And then we started making cider. I’d always been interested in viniculture but this isn’t really an area for fine wine.”

Steingarten had no idea that he was part of a tiny but growing movement just after the turn of the millennium. At that time, high end restaurants didn’t feature vintages of hard cider on their wine lists. Today, of course, vintage hard cider is the fastest growing segment of the alcoholic beverage trade. Names like Steingarten and Fox Creek Orchards are just the most well known of the labels. Fox Creek sells its hard cider or applejack by subscription, and when they open a vintage, they often sell out in less than an hour.

Hard cider differs from regular cider in more ways than just punch. As Steingarten explains, good hard cider is made from sour apples. Sweet apples are an aberration in nature. Grow an apple tree from seed and most of the time the apples will be sour, which is why apple trees are graphs. All of the red delicious apples in supermarkets come originally from just one tree. Slips, or branches of that tree were grafted onto saplings to propagate it. But hard cider, although made from trees of the same type of apple, are propagated from seed. The apples are sour, and all slightly different. According to hard cider lovers, that’s what gives hard cider it’s depth and nuance.
A good hard cider is dry and complex.

“In a hundred years,” Steingarten says, “we’ll have ciders that match the complexity of a good cabernet. Although it will be a completely different experience.”

Lori Keller remembers when they had to warn parents that the cider wasn’t apple juice. The wife of Topher Keller (who with Steingarten is often called the grandfather of the hard cider revival) laughs. “We used to have it for tastings, although we couldn’t actually sell it. We used Dixie cups at the vegetable stand. People would come up and grab it for their kids. You know, apple juice, right?”

Not apple juice. American wine.
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Smith!
Apr. 5th, 2005 @ 10:34 pm Shopping
There was a certain kind of English woman who, having married and produced an appropriate amount of children, would then retreat to a world of horses and dogs. She would be relatively unconcerned with fashion and truth be known, probably relatively unconcerned with her husband. It's a stereotype, but tromping around in my favorite ragged barn coat with my big dog, I recognized in myself a sympathy with that windblown, doghair covered, unattractive soul.

Luckily, I am still besotted with my husband. And today I conned a friend of mine into taking me shopping and bought several items in colors that had names like 'melon'. Things that were neither black nor olive drab, my usual color preferences. I came home and modeled them for Bob who approved of my boldness. So next time I go slogging about with the dogs it might very well be in a raspberry jacket.

once in awhile I think it's important to fight my own fashion entropy. Not often, and I could not quite be convinced to commit to capri pants. But I tend to think of life as a kind of method acting and sometimes it helps to mess around with costumes and props.
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Smith!
Apr. 2nd, 2005 @ 09:52 am Travel Plans
Bob has a cousin who lives in Germany (outside Mannheim) who he talks to almost every day by internet but who he hasn't seen in something like twenty years. So I thought we should go to Germany next year and so, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we will.

Dresden is celebrating it's 800th anniversary and we know we want to see Berlin, but we haven't a clue what else to do. I found a site for river tours in Europe and we thought about that, but we will only be able to spend two weeks there. Since we want to spend some reasonable portion of it with Chris (Bob's cousin) a week is a big chunk of a trip.

I know Savageseraph knows quite a bit about Germany. Anybody else got any suggestions about things I could look into?
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Smith!
Mar. 31st, 2005 @ 08:42 pm Feeling a Bit...Vanilla
I know someone who recently got an Ipod and has been having me listen to podcasts. Podcasts are fun because they're like radio programs done by your neighbor. Amateur productions spread upon the web. There are some very professional ones out there (particularly Morning Stories from NPR). Then there's the next tier down which is interesting, a little ragged around the edges maybe. And since they are unregulated, they can be about anything. Which brings us to SexGeeks. Lots of frank discussion about sex in the direct, wholesome mode. They talk about a range of topics, from scientific studies on pheremone response in humans to sex toys to that venerable San Francisco emporium, Good Vibrations. And they often include links from their page.

Which leads us to anal jewelry.

Attactive Butt Plug Jewelery

If you pucker up, then pucker up with some of the most unique anal jewelry available. These all stainless steel plugs are designed for a nice comfortable fit for long term wear. They weigh more than other plugs reminding the wearer of what is inside. The glass cut gemstones finish off the plug and attracts lots of attention to the wearing party. These are true work of art collector pieces.

If you had asked me if there was anal jewelry, and I had thought about it, I'd have probably come to the conclusion that it existed. But I have to admit, it's one of those items I just never thought about. If you want to see the above item, do a google search on 'anal jewelry' and select the first link. It's fairly tasteful.

Just out of my range of things that I think about.

Like I said, I feel so...vanilla.
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Smith!
Mar. 29th, 2005 @ 10:53 am Remission
I'm running around everywhere talking about being in remission, even though I will be bald until probably September or so and I have three more chemos.

And it feels like spring here in Ohio. I may have to take the dogs for a walk. Not a long one--chemo has scarred my lungs and I have to work back up to some endurance. But what a good way to start, with a sunny day and happy dogs.

Oh, and yesterday at chemo, they found a vein on the second try.
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Smith!
Mar. 17th, 2005 @ 02:56 pm Veins
(This post is not for the faint of heart--it's about veins.)

Veins. Who knows much about their veins? I knew I had
decent veins. When I went to give blood, they never had any
trouble getting one, and when I started chemo, same thing.

But now, alas, my veins are letting me down. The bigones in
the crooks of my arms are getting scarred. The little ones
in my wrist are collapsing, the the lower arm is full of
elastic wrigglers. Today I went for a CAT Scan which
involves putting iodine contrast in a vein.

Three technicians and seven sticks later, we had a vein that
wouldn't collapse. The techs kept apologizing (as if they
were somehow responsible for my poor scoured veins sounding
a retreat.) They kept saying, 'If you want to stop...' but
since this is the CAT Scan that I expect to verify my
remission, I was damned if I was going to stop. So I kept
saying, 'Go ahead,' and they kept getting a vein and then
having it blow.

'I've got it...oh, no, it's blown. Sorry. We can stop.'

I thanked them and thanked them for their persistence. They
were funny, thoughtful and wise.

Damn these veins.
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Smith!
Mar. 15th, 2005 @ 02:42 pm Blurbs
My collection of short stories, Mothers & Other Monsters, is coming out from Small Beer Press in June.

Gavin Grant sent me a very positive blurb from Ursula LeGuin which I would happily repeat in it's entirety right here but I was so excited and flustered I accidentally deleted it.

Anyway, she seemed to like the book and think I was a good writer.
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Smith!
Mar. 6th, 2005 @ 12:35 pm From side of pizza box
Refrigerate any leftover pizza.

If reheating... please RESPECT THE PIZZA

Do not microwave. Instead:

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2 Remove pizza from box and place on middle rack in oven

3 Bake pizza for 8 to 9 minutes


Makes me wonder if I've been dissing the chicken wings, too.
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Smith!