Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vegan Dreamsicle Shake
A frozen banana
A few frozen peach slices
A cup of unsweetened soymilk
A half cup of OJ
A quarter cup of silken tofu, if you have it
A mighty blender

Whirl it all up, adding extra OJ if the mixture is too thick. Deeelicious!

I'm watching an old ep of MI-5 right now and it does give me a thrill every time Anthony Head shows up on a show. I do realize he's done many, many, many things besides Buffy, but he will always be Giles to me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Report from the interior.

Does anyone else still watch Bones? The last three episodes have been super-shitty, like they farmed the show out to an entirely new writing staff and dumbed it down (even more). The ep I just watched basically looked like setup for a really annoying spinoff. The question is, how many more shitty eps do I watch before I give up?

I feel like I need to report on the status of my 30 day vegan project, but in truth there's not much to report. It's been almost a sideways move for me since I was mostly eating vegan anyway. Where I notice it most is when I am trying to dine out, obviously. I've actually been appalled that in a city this size, most nicer restaurants (entrees in the $15 range) don't have a single vegan item on the menu, and many, many do not have anything vegetarian. It's bonkerzzzz and someday if I want to extend my activism (or reputation as a crank), I'll start agitating for vegan menu items when I go out.

So yeah, there's been some menu marginalization. Also, I cheated once when our awesome student worker got an award for being awesome, and we got her an ice cream cake from a shop that makes all their own ice cream. I had a sliver, and it was delicious, but then I had to holler at the toilet like immediately. Also, the cake left a bad taste in my mouth. Overall, it was a miscalculation.

For the Easter family festivities, I made two Veganomicon recipes I hadn't made before, both delicious salads. (If you make the bulgur/bean/mushroom/arugula salad, I suggest adding walnuts and chilling out on the dressing a little bit. The jicama/avocado/cress salad with spicy citrus vinaigrette was rad though.) I also sort of invented a dessert, a mango-coconut kanten pudding in a raw almond-coconut crust. I don't know how other people manage to make raw crust without just scarfing it down like a big freak before the rest of the dessert is made. It's like the best granola bar you ever ate.

I adapted the crust from a bunch of recipes:

2 c ground almonds
3/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut
2 T coconut oil
4 Medjool dates
1 t vanilla
1/2 t sea salt
a little cinnamon, a little ginger

Mush it up in a blender, then press into a pie/tart pan and freeze until ready to use.

Unsought bonus of this dessert: gluten-free, for my poor bro who is attempting to control eczema with a gluten-free diet.

Anyway, the diet hasn't really provoked any revelations or changed the way I feel overall. When this month is over I think I am basically just going to be a cheatin' vegan: pretty much vegan at home, with restaurant flexibility when necessary. It's been a good project and whaddaya know, it was an item on my ULTIMATE TO DO LIST that I can now cross off. It also has me thinking that 30 day projects are fun, and I should do another one starting May 1, and it's probably going to be some kind of move-yer-ass challenge. Sadly, I don't think it can be 30 days of biking, because today was going to be a bike shopping day and the weather was miserable, precluding test rides or even really putting on proper clothing and leaving the house. Instead, I used a borrowed sewing machine (my sister's) to do some alterations that had been piling up, and I gave the cats a lot of love.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday night fever.

I went down to the basement yesterday to re-measure my home office for tax purposes, and discovered that the utility room was full of water. The pipes were covered in condensation and the hot water heater was leaking all over the place. Which just figures because our "service plus" dude was just here on Friday to give the furnace its yearly once-over. What in the hell did he do to the water heater? I spent like 1.5 hours not getting electrocuted while I shop-vac-ed the water and detritus and then I flushed the hot water heater. At least I know how to do that now. I asked the internet how, obviously.

Then like a moron I turned everything back on in hopes that I had fixed the problem, and an hour later I was mopping the floor again. Instead of sucking up the water (emptying the shop vac every 5 minutes is a pain in the ass), I engineered a very low-tech solution that involved using a scrap of vinyl baseboard to guide the water alongside a hose down to the drain. Then I drained the stupid heater again. We're using cold water until tomorrow.

So that was an exciting break from doing my taxes.

***

I started off the day right, serving as a clinic escort downtown for the first time. There were three others on duty, two men and another woman that I trained with. I think I mentioned this before, but this particular clinic isn't targeted for quite the same level of harassment as some of the others in town because it's not in a freestanding building and it's right on the light rail line, like, the tracks are just one lane away from the entrance. So I think it's hard for anti-choicers to coordinate large-scale protests there: they can't surround the building, and there's no parking lot for them to fill up.

Still, there's always one guy there handing out literature and yelling at women as they walk into the clinic. He seems like a decent enough person--his yelling doesn't involve any invective, though it's obviously invasive and obnoxious, and he actually seems like he just wants to connect with people. Also, he dresses like Kenny from South Park. The other anti who shows up regularly is more of the type to call you a baby killer, and she totes a big sandwich board in addition to a bag o pamphlets. She stations herself right by the entrance to the nearest parking lot, so that she can attack people who walk from the lot to the clinic. Two of our escorts stayed close to the lot and walked patients and their friends/partners to the clinic. The anti followed them right up to the entrance every time.

So I think that's how it goes most Saturdays, but there was a little bit of drama yesterday. A youngish guy walking down the opposite side of the street saw our blazing yellow "Clinic Escort" vests and called over "hey, is that like a Planned Parenthood type thing?" and we told him yes, something like that. Then the South Park guy, Charlie, told him that there's a vigil at Planned Parenthood in Highland Park on Good Friday and the young dude asked for clarification. "You mean in support of the women?" and Charlie said "supporting the women by telling them they don't need to make this choice," and the dude was like, seeya. Shortly after that, a patient came up to the entrance and Charlie started in on her, "look at your ultrasound, you don't need to do this, if you say no it can't happen" and the other dude turned around from way up the block and yelled "DON'T TALK TO HER LIKE THAT." They got into it. But it was over quickly, and a few minutes later Charlie said to us, "I suppose I should have told him that there's also a group for the other side at Planned Parenthood. But if he's meant to be there, he'll find out." Poor old Charlie also had a cigarette flicked at him by a patient's partner later that morning. Normally he'd call the cops for something like that, but didn't have his cell phone.

Most of the patients ignore the antis pretty successfully. Or they take the proffered "literature" and say "thanks" vaguely, then chuck it as soon as they get inside. You see anti-choice pamphlets blowing across the empty light rail tracks. One woman being followed by an anti bawled all the way up the sidewalk, saying "you're making it worse." Another woman told the antis "I already have kids" and upon being told "you'll think of your baby every Easter," snorted "no I won't" as she went in the door.

I was glad to be there. I wasn't sure I'd be good at this because idiots piss me off so much, but you focus on the patients, and you brush off the rest.

Then I went to Neimann Marcus and bought two pairs of pants in the outlet.

***

More karaoke last night. I checked three more things off my list: "You Know I'm No Good," "Me and Bobby McGee" (one of my sister Molly's standards), and "Alone." I did "Another One Bites the Dust" first, but the track was a terrible version, one that didn't even include the second half of the song. A bummer. But the Amy Winehouse is totally going to be my new karaoke warmup. "Alone" was one of those songs I wasn't completely convinced I could sing without going all operatic, but my friend Leah and I ended up closing the place with it. We met in choir in high school, so we are quite used to singing in harmony together. I was Ann and she was Nancy, and there were high fives all around. Also some drunk older guy who is opening a new tattoo shop gave us his card and showed us all of the tattoos on his arms that had been inked by legendary artists, and I persuaded him to go sing so that he would maybe drape himself across someone else's table afterward. Still, it's always nice to hear "you rocked that shit" from pretty much anyone.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wrap-up.

I ate a whole gang of rice noodles for lunch (with mock duck, bean sprouts, lime, thai basil, peanuts, and sri racha) and then some dark chocolate almonds with sea salt from Trader Joe's and now I need a serious nap. The noodle crash is one of my most noticeable food reactions; if I have pasta I basically have to go directly to the couch afterward. It's better now that I'm buying whole wheat pasta, but I've been so stinkin' tired this week that I would probably crash after a pasta dinner in any case. And fer sure crash after a rice noodle lunch.

This week has been bonkers at work; I am swamped with tasks and paralyzed with lists. The BFS starts working here on Monday and I can't wait--not just because I want more awesome critters in my cube farm but because we need someone else doing this work. I don't think I've been losing any sleep over work--that's one thing I'm good about--but I am not getting enough hours of sleep. I nap when I get home, and tonight is going to be no different. I was hoping to catch up tonight, but that'll mean going to bed at like 9:30 because I have another early morning tomorrow. Gotta be downtown at 8:15 for my first actual shift as a clinic escort. Also, we're possibly going to get snow overnight, blehhhhhh. I am looking forward to standing in bitter April cold (and possible snow) assisting patients and serenely facing down the lone dork who is guaranteed to be protesting.

Aside from the bonkers and the tired, though, it's been a decent week. I had a concert yesterday that both went well and revealed to me that I am out of shape. Also that I need interesting and fancy black flats/low heeled shoes for those (increasingly frequent) singing occasions that I am not in full-on formalwear. It's not surprising that I'm out of shape, because I basically don't practice regularly unless I have a specific event coming up. I should change that.

Also, I started teaching lessons to my friend LA this week, which was fun and hilarious (hilarious because we've not been in student/teacher mode together before, not because her singing was hilarious, though maybe singing super high notes was hilarious to her). Prior to her lesson I was working with my 12 year old who brings in pop songbooks and we finished up the half hour with Don't Stop Believin', which was a first for me on the piano. Earlier in the week I found this website, a source for Queen piano music, so I am truly branching out.

Saw "Hanna" too, the first movie I've seen in a theater in ages, and I really liked the techno-fairytale vibe and, of course, the lead, Saoirse Ronan, who is a compelling actress. But I tell you what, whenever Ladies of Action have long, loose hair in movies, I'm like, you have got to be kidding me. Is hair not a huge liability in hand-to-hand combat? Even if, like Hanna, you were raised in the forest, you'd most likely get that shit out of your face when it comes time to take down your enemies.

I'm looking forward to quietude this weekend, and naps, and taxes. Well, not that last part but I'm going to have to do them anyway.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bowl-a-thon!!

I can't believe I didn't immediately report on the Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-a-thon I've been shilling for here. First, the money: y'all helped me raise $1350 for PCR's programs, which kicks ass. Thank you. My team, Spare Us From the MCCL (MN Citizens Concerned for Life), was first overall in fundraising, hauling in $4499. And the event itself raised $63,110, well over the goal of $60K. So the fundraiser was a rip-roaring success.

As for the bowling, I profoundly sucked. The event is held at a charmingly ramshackle bowling alley/restaurant/bar/theater, and good luck finding a ball that both fits your hand and is not 1000 pounds. I had no such luck and flailed all over the lane, coming in at a personal low of 63. But it was super-fun and just brimming with good vibes, and it was great to hang out with my friends and meet some new people. Also, since my team got first place for fundraising, we won a bowling party for 40--which means I can try to redeem myself, bowling-wise, in the near future.

Until next year, I salute you, donors.

***

Last night, which incidentally was the first mild, lovely night of the spring, my sisters and I went to the final MN Rollergirls bout of the season. They roll in downtown St. Paul at a venue that is shitty for concerts but awesome for flat-track roller derby, at least from a spectator's perspective. There's so much general balcony seating that there's hardly a bad seat in the house. We took our sweet time getting there from our pre-bout dinner at Tanpopo (oh deeelicious kitsune soba noodles, slurp slurp), so ended up way in the nosebleed section. Even so, it felt like we were pretty close, and I reminisced that I had seen Cyndi Lauper in 1985 from roughly the same vantage and remembered her being far, far away.

I highly recommend viewing some roller derby if you have it in your area. I am easily moved, it's true, but I find it totally exhilarating to watch a sport in which the players are women with bodies that look like mine, and like yours, and hers. It makes me want to put on striped tights and booty shorts and hipcheck the shit out of someone. However, I personally know someone who broke her leg doing roller derby, so I'd say the likelihood of me pursuing it is slim. But I could still wear the outfit and go rollerskating.

Anyway, so we were having a grand time up in the balcony when a dude in staff shirt tagged us and asked if we'd be interested in sitting trackside. Hell yes! I said. So we followed him downstairs and he installed us on the floor--literally asses on the floor--like 10 feet away from the track, and 0 feet away from where the skaters come careening into you when things go awry during the jam (which is what each round is called, which is awesome). It was exciting and a little nerve-wracking, but we never got jacked. However, it was obvious at such close range how flippin' fast they were actually going, and how I probably REALLY don't want to break my leg in pursuit of the sport of roller derby.

We had an important karaoke appointment planned after the bout, so we dipped out early and Molly immediately started mock-whining about how far away I'd parked the car. So you can imagine how righteous it was that there was a dude with a bike rickshaw directly outside the door, waiting for his next fare. I'm sure he didn't think it would be like 500+ pounds of ladies but he was game and it was definitely the most fun thing ever. Downtown St. Paul is utterly desolate at night unless there is a big event, so we sailed down the middle of the street and waved at all the cross traffic. Completely delightful.

We capped off the night with karaoke foolishness at a bar very appreciative of our contributions. I didn't do anything new (Give It Up Or Let Me Go, Son of a Preacher Man), though the Dusty Springfield was way better than the last time I did it. But I wrote down lots of ideas for next time in my little notebook. I have to figure out if Tell Me Something Good works for me. Emily completely rocked Bathwater by No Doubt, and Molly sang 9 to 5, and I can't remember what else they sang because beer (not really). My friend Leah kicked out some Go-Gos, and I joined her for Pour Some Sugar on Me, which was the last song of the entire night. Then I hugged some wannabe Guidos (for real) and retired. Of course today my voice is absolutely thrashed, but it's worth it once in awhile.

Here's to more springtime jams.

Friday, April 01, 2011

No foolin'.

Prompted by this post, yesterday I decided to go vegan for 30 days and see what happens. This is day one, since April conveniently has 30 days. It shouldn't be too difficult; I'd say my diet is already vegan about 80% of the time, and all the staples that first-timers have to buy are pretty much already up in my pantry and I know a killer recipe for vegan nacho cheese dip. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I'm also considering new karaoke repertoire, so I watched this video:



I missed most videos--including the above--when they came out because we didn't have MTV and I didn't always stay up for Friday Night Videos. This means that youtube is full of hilarious surprises to me (but not to anyone who had MTV in the 80s and 90s). Like this one, which I'm sure I have posted before:



It bears repeating, right?

If you have karaoke ideas, let me know.