Thursday, August 26, 2010

NY Times fail again.

Following last week's article about some guy losing his pants, here's an article in the New York Times about people who have dogs and gardens, featuring photographs of a morbidly obese Elkhound. Seriously. And they wonder why there is a decline in newspaper sales.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mortages and White Nightgowns.

I wrote this entry in 2008, with the following passage:

Last night, Ryan and I came to the conclusion that we could possibly afford to own a home in Ithaca. The median house price there is $255,000 as opposed to where we live now, where the median house price is $1.5 million.

This was an amazing excitement and I went to sleep thinking about what color I would paint the walls and what sorts of bulbs I would plant in the garden and how much money could go towards horse shows if we were spending less on a mortgage than we would on rent.

This has become a looming possibility. We have an actual meeting with loan officer today. The house is pretty much what I was picturing, in a scary sort of way.

I'm really anxious, though, because I am worried about the commitment and the expense and whether or not Ryan thinks this is a good idea - or even whether or not I think this is a good idea. It's a difficult situation because no one can tell me whether or not it is a good idea. Everyone has their own ideals.

I don't buy into this idea that owning a house is always better. Take for example property taxes in our area. Some houses have taxes that are the same as our rent. Would it make any sense at all to buy a house when we'd be "losing" the same amount of money per year with nothing to show for it and our savings severely depleted? This house we're looking at has property taxes of quite a bit less than that but still possibly more per month leaving our bank account than if we just rented. On top of a mortgage payment, it seems potentially not worth it. So how to get around this? Do we buy out of town? We're less likely to be able to rent it out after we leave and might have a harder time selling it. Ryan is perfectly happy living in a "suburb of Ithaca" but I would rather live in town, in very specific areas (I'm such a snob) or completely out of town.

I just think it's really weird that people can be so sure about buying being the right answer - this is one of those things that goes on that long list of things that I think I didn't get a memo about. A few other selections

-Women being obsessed with babies that happen to be in the same room as them regardless of relatedness said woman has to either the baby or the parent of said baby.

-Women going to the bathroom together, among many other social behaviours that I find baffling.

-Okay, I've reviewed the list and most of it is female behaviour in general (wedding fever comes to mind, rather strongly).

But the house thing isn't female behaviour, it's just current culture: It comes down to status/conspicuous consumption. You are considered a success if you can afford a house. You are considered weird if you can't afford a house/haven't bought one by a certain age. This is not to say that purchasing a house is not the right thing for certain people at certain times in their life. I liken it to my feelings about marriage or may be more specifically weddings: there is too much pressure to do it and not enough thought about it. Similarly, before I got married, I never assumed I would get married. I just thought I would continue as I had, (because there was very little chance I'd like anyone enough to want to stay with them forever) one long term relationship after the next with a few dalliances in between, until I was a crazy lady in a long white nightgown.* I never assumed I would be a homeowner, maybe because I'm just not really all that mature enough to do adult things like "plan for the future".

Obviously there are some pluses to owning a house, but I'm pretty sure everyone is quite familiar with those. Now, off to Apartment Therapy and think about paint colours along with sofa cushions that might match them.

*From an old blog:

James told me my future today. I was telling him about a guy I went on a few dates with that I just couldn't get interested in, despite his many good qualities. He was older and I don't think he'd spent much time with a girl like me.

I was explaining to James what I meant about "like me".

"You know...different. My friends are like know..."

"Yeah Alice, you're fucking weird."

I didn't know how to take that, however he then told me that he'd seen my future.

"You'll have you're own house and a white nightgown. You won't get married, but you'll have friends. Everyone will think you're crazy except you. You'll be one of those ladies that goes to the same restaurants all the time but always orders something not on the menu."

Patent medicine at its finest

"Step right up, folks, and witness the magnificent medicinal miracle of Simpson & Son's patented revitalizing toniiic.

Put some ardor in your larder with our energizing, moisturizing, tantalizing, romanticizing, surprising, her-prizing, revitalizing tonic."

-Abe Simpson, closet huckster.

The latest in medical quackery? Drink bleach to cure your HIV, cancer or whatever else ails you. Probably more damaging than homeopathy in the short run. At least homeopathy won't kill you outright.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roller Coasters and Preserves

An 78 year old man, a member of American Coaster Enthusiasts rode a Pennsylvania rollercoaster 90 times in one day. I can only think how totally boring that must have gotten, even for an enthusiast.

In other, more personal and more-interesting-to-me (maybe not to you) news, we spent the day preserving things yesterday. I woke up at 7:30 and then went back to sleep at around 9:00. During my "morning nap" Ryan made 2 peach not-quite-pie things. The peaches were marinating in sugar and seasonings all night. He split them between 2 baking dishes and covered them with a sweet biscuit dough and crumple topping.

Then I woke up pickled some turnips with beets, garlic and parsley, cleaned out the fridge and made plans for the vegetables and fruit we didn't get to this time. Then Ryan made Mexican escabeche.

We still have 2 lemon pies to make, piccalilli and tomatillo sauce. For dinner, I steamed some courgette ribbons and tossed them with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and had that along side spaghetti with olive oil and nutritional yeast and a lettuce salad in a miso-sesame dressing. Which sounds a lot more planned out than it was. Truthfully, it was 9:00 and I had a courgette and a head of lettuce that were both at a now-or-never stage and Ryan wanted spaghetti (he had his with pesto). The ribboning of the courgettes was because if I never have to eat another soggy, pan fried summer squash again it will be too soon.
I just love this time of year because of the amazing varieties of food that is in season. Most of our bounty has come from our CSA or Indian Creek Farm, the exception being the lemons - lemons are just one of those ingredients that I cannot do without, despite the fact that they have to come from far, far away. Maybe when we buy a house, I'll try and grow a lemon tree indoors.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fall Creek Lunatic Loses Phone Outside My House.

This morning I was woken up at an even earlier hour than I normally wake up these days. Having gone to bed far too late for my regular wake up time, let alone this particular wake up time, I was unhappy about this. The only silver lining I could glean was that perhaps I should wake up fully and go outside to watch the meteor shower. I didn't do this, because I was concerned that I would run into what had woken me up in the first place, namely, a man wailing at the top of his lungs.

It started with a bit of a scuffle and then some loud moaning that at first, I mistook for cheering. It soon became apparent though, that it was not cheering, it was someone who was very very unhappy that someone else had removed his phone from his person.

At some point, after wailing and slurring, "I can't believe he took my pho-one!" repeatedly, he changed his refrain to be a combination of "I can't even call the police! He took my fucking phone!" and "Somebody help me PLEEEEEEASE!" There were also quite a few angry screams in the mix as well.

Ryan got up and phoned the police.

There were more angry words that I couldn't hear because he had moved further away from our house. The angry words were presumably with the police as it sounded like there was a second and possibly third party involved.

I still haven't caught up in sleep from my red eye flight back from Vegas last weekend, which involved spending 7 hours in the Las Vegas airport and another 4 in the Detroit airport. Needless to say, I am tired and I'd like to have my own set of angry words with that man.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Elvis Wedding in Vegas

I'm going to start by saying that I love Karen dearly and she is one of my closest and oldest friends, but she summed the trip up perfectly, on the night of the bachelorette, while some guy in a bad shirt gave her a fake lap dance at the first club we went to. She leaned over his gyrating posterior, peering out from under her devil horns and veil, clutching a penis shaped straw in one hand and said,

"I know you must really love me. You came to Vegas for me."

She's right and I knew it was true when the stripper grabbed my wrists and tried to run my hand down his baby's bum-smooth, waxed, nauseating chest. 

The wedding itself, however, was lots of fun. Easily the best ceremony to which I have ever been. Elvis was very sincere and had a decent voice. He sang us all down the aisle and then punctuated the vows with appropriate songs. It managed to be meaningful and lighthearted at the same time. They left the chapel each wearing a (plastic) ball and chain that was painted in baby blue and had "Just Married" stenciled on.

To celebrate our getting home last night after 17 hours spent getting home (most of which was spent in various airports), I made our version of comfort food: lentil curry. Puy & green lentils in coconut milk with asofoetida, home made curry powder turmeric, tomato, hot peppers, 2 kinds of basil, onions and bok choi (basically as many of our CSA vegetables tossed in as I could manage). 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Larval Humans

My father sent me a picture of a friend of his' new grandson. He sent it because in our family, our bonding is mostly done by being snarky (it was an ugly baby).

Remembering an email Ryan once sent me: 

Alice!  I don't know what to do.  I've been invited to the first
birthday of that pair of larval humans we met in the Baylands
yesterday.  It's in Sunnyvale.

I feel like I have to go because Jeff is just beyond the cubicle wall.
 But a baby birthday party?  In Sunnyvale?  Thrown by the guy who
accused me of being a food snob for not wanting to eat at some fresh
Mex trash chain?  Sounds questionable to me.


I responded by saying I thought it looked like an old man, but then again, I don't really think babies are cute. Once they leave their "larval stage" and hit about two or three, they become much more interesting to me. Five and six are my favourite ages and then it's all down hill.

I laughed for hours at the term "larval humans" in Ryan's email and still giggle about it. The larval humans in question were drooling red headed twins that seemed half asleep and one had a cheerio stuck to its cheek (also: what is it with little kids and Cheerios in this country? Why do they seem to always be covered in them?)

I am not one of those women that coos or gurgles or squeals or spontaneously combusts when they see tiny babies. I have no interest in holding them and often find it seems disingenuous when other women perform that silly baby dance because I just cannot fathom how anyone can be interested in a baby that isn't a direct relation. They aren't cute or soft. They don't enjoy particularly enjoy being held anymore than they enjoy existing - at least when the are really young, being held is the only non-bodily function related of which they are capable and it doesn't really count as "action" now does it?

I'm not saying that women are actually being disingenuous, it just seems that way because I am completely unable to sympathise/understand the emotion. I'm sure it's me projecting my own feelings on the situation.