Oh my god, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak on the feeder. That’s one for the lifelist! I tried to get a photo, but he spooked when I swung the camera into position (and it’s dark as hell anyway, so I doubt it’d come out.) Beautiful, beautiful bird. Bigger than I expected–the finchy beak on the grosbeak photos made me expect the same scale as, well, a finch! but this guy was easily the size of a bluebird or bigger.

I put out an oriole feeder and a hummingbird feeder yesterady, we’ll see if they bear fruit.

The wonderful Ellen Million just sent me a coprolith necklace. It’s 15 million year old turtle poop. I will wear it with great pride. Ancient poo on a string! God, life is good.

The Thing With The Ninjas

Among my husband’s more persistant delusions–and god love ‘im, he has a few, such as that “Buckaroo Banzai” was the greatest movie ever made*–is The Thing With The Ninjas.

Long ago and far away, when he grew up in Ashland, Oregon, arguably one of the more bizarre places on the West Coast to grow up. I asked James to provide a pithy synopsis of the town for the uninitated reader, and he said “Ashland is the midway point between San Fransisco and Eugene.”

“That’s not real helpful,” I said.

“It’s very helpful,” he insisted. “‘Cos if you’re a pot-smoking hippy driving from Frisco to Eugene, and you’ve dropped a few tabs, by the time you get to Ashland you’ll be too high to drive any farther.”**

I am unable to fault his logic. Certainly, in addition to one of the biggest Shakespeare-fests around, Ashland has far more than its share of deranged hippies, tourists, lunatics and crystal thumpers. Also white trash. Also weird ass people living up in the hills on BLM land who would trade deerskins in town, before getting busted by the man and being forced to live in town. I am not making this up, although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of James’s childhood memories, as he did enough recreational pharmaceuticals in his youth to drop a charging rhino. On the other hand, James is today pragmatic, responsible, good-natured, kind, works like a team of sled-dogs, and is very very good at what he does, and takes approximately one sick-day a decade, so I really can’t knock the process.

It is because James is, in general, intensely honest, and has been high so often that he’s fairly good at it, that I cannot dismiss The Thing With The Ninjas out of hand. For one thing, he’s stuck to his guns for a decade. For another, he doesn’t particularly expect anyone to believe him, because the story is so very ridiculous.
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Finally rented “House of Flying Daggers.”

After it was over, I turned to James and said “My god. That was a wushu chick flick.”

Pretty movie, some lovely costuming, and in another life, I sure wouldn’t kick the hero out of bed*, but… man, with all those slow-mo scenes and long shots of tiny figures walking slowly through epic scenery, they could have put in another battle.

For example, the one that the WHOLE MOVIE WAS LEADING UP TO, say.

Not bad, that complaint aside, but slow. Lovely, lovely to look at, though. Not as visually impressive–or as unstintingly paced!–as “Hero,” didn’t have the sheer epic tear-jerking scale of “Crouching Tiger,” or the good-natured silliness of “Iron Monkey.”

And of course, it ain’t wushu unless everybody dies.

*On of the great signs that you’ve slowed down is when you reach a point in your existence where finding a handsome young Chinese hero in your bed would be a bad thing.

Today was staggeringly unproductive.

I spent hours trying to come up with a painting layout, going through my archive of bird photos and scenery, waiting for lightning to strike…nothin’. Finally bit the bullet, told myself sternly to quit dithering, and started a painting, flung myself at it with teeth and toenails and…swing and a miss. I shouldn’t have added a background, the figure was a good little study, but the background ate it for lunch.

On the bright side, the grackles discovered the feeder today. For most people, that’s probably NOT a bright side, but I got some good grackle photos, and I have always had a soft spot for that generally unappreciated bird–unlike, say, starlings, which should be exterminated ruthlessly and with extreme prejudice.

Tomorrow will be better. Homily, homily, etc. If I could paint effortlessly every day, I’d…um…well, shit, I’d paint effortlessly every day is what. Not sure where I was going with that one.

Eh, some days you get the bear…

Wow! Against all odds and all the myriad forces of heredity–my cholesterol is DROPPING. It’s down to 208, 11 points down from last year, and my bad cholesterol has dropped 25 points, and is closing in on normal.

I was all resigned to go on Zocor–with my family history, I just assumed there was no hope at all–but evidentally I’m not all that many points from normal, so the doctor recommended a few pills and to keep doing whatever I’m doing.

…which would be great, if I had any idea what I’m doing. I’m still eating bacon and eggs every morning. I’m still subsisting on fast food and James’s rib-sticking put-hair-on-your-chest why-not-add-a-little-more-cream cuisine. The only things that have changed in my diet is the addition of toast (and not wheat toast, either) and the subtraction of my 5-coke-a-day habit down to 2-or-3-cokes-a-week. I am willing to believe that the loss of Coke made a radical difference, mind you. And about once a week I manage to walk a mile. Sometimes.

Against all odds, for a generally sedentary woman, who can see middle age looming on the horizon like a distant mountain range, who couldn’t diet if a gun was held to her head, I am pretty healthy. I need to lose ten or fifteen pounds, and I could desperately use some actual muscle tone, but…dude, my cholesterol’s going down. Nobody in my family EVER has their cholesterol go down.

Wild.

Oh…wow…

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4622633

That’s pretty cool.

Edit: And see! SEE!? This is why there aren’t teratorns out there! The birders would have found ’em!

I just watched two male cardinals…um….

One flew at the other in an apparent territorial rage. I watched with interest as there was a swirl of red wings, the two danced around briefly on the forest floor, and then…wait…one was on top of the other one, doing the little wing beaty thing, and…err…

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Okay, I could handle the defective squirrels, in all their disturbing variation. I could handle the bald titmouse and the stump-tailed wren, I could handle squirrel sex on the ground feeder and finch sex on the thistle seed feeder and sparrow sex on the ground. I can handle gay cardinals. I know all ’bout them gay animals, and am delighted to know it, being generally one in the eye of all those “It’s UNNATURAL!” morons. I’m enlightened. If those cardinals wanna be gay, it’s okay by me.

But jeez, I’m starting to feel like I’m in some kind of bizarre urban wildlife version of the Truman Show. I mean, where are all these animals COMING FROM!?

Okay, boys and girls, it’s time to play “My God, People Eat That?”

Having recieved lovely feedback about the deep-fried cheese curd, apotheosis of midwestern cuisine, and being in constant awe of the breadth of experience ‘mongst my readers, I figured I’d see if anybody ELSE ever had these two dishes that my grandmother swore by. Or hell, even knew where they were from.

Green beans in buttermilk. Grandma loved green beans in buttermilk. Frozen green beans, in instant buttermilk in a pouch, mind you, hardly a masterpiece of the chef’s art, but since nobody else I’ve known eats this in any variation, I’m wondering if anybody does, or knows of any region where my grandmother might have picked it up.

Hot lemonade. Now, this I drink all the time. Cure for what ails you! James, originally horrified by the notion, grudgingly admits that it isn’t all that bad, but has not gone so far as to seek it out himself. Does anybody else do this?

Those are the only two WEIRD dishes I can remember Grandma eating…things like fudge with three cans of sweetened condensed milk were not weird so much as a cruel assault upon the willpower, capable of bringing strong men to their knees, and might have provided a clue to my grandmother’s supernatural charisma and powers of persuasion.

I’d ask if anybody else eats sour cream raisin pie, but I suppose that’s a long shot…

Some of you have probably tripped over this already, but if you’re looking for something to be outraged about, pull up a chair!

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005 (Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 356) has been referred to committee in both the House and the Senate. It contains this definition:

WOMAN- The term `woman’ means a female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant, whether or not she has reached the age of majority.

Hmm. I’m…not a woman. And neither is my mother. (Neat trick, huh? Pr’aps it’s hereditary…) If you’re menopausal, sterile, or on birth control, you’re not a woman under this definition. A twelve year old with early menarche is twice the woman you’ll ever be, honey.

Possibly we’re men, in which case I’m in a gay marriage, and James is in for a real shock. Or I could go off the pill, thereby making me a woman again, but then we couldn’t have sex, so the poor man may have to choose between upholding traditional family values and gettin’ laid.*

Really, I try not to be a deranged feminist. I’d like to think I’m pretty good about it. I go along believing I’m equal, and assuming pretty much everybody else who isn’t some kind of freakish religious dinosaur does too, and gritting my teeth at tampon commercials, and it generally works out. I can’t think of the last time I flew at someone, harpy claws extended, screaming “DIE YOU TOOL OF PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION!” I go through whole weeks without dwelling on the fact that someone, somewhere, in power, probably believes that I’m basically a glorified uterus capable of simple housekeeping chores and the occasional blow job.

And in the grand run of things, since this is just a legal definition for the terms of one bill so that they can try to guilt-trip women getting abortions even further, it’s a minor point in a generally obnoxious piece of “Shame on you for having an abortion, you bad, bad woman!” legislation.

But come ON. At least a teeny bit of token effort on the part of people drafting this stuff. A shred. At least try to pretend that you’re not defining women’s importance by their possession of a uterus. I know you are, you know you are, but maintaining the polite fiction is the only thing that keeps me from thinking I’ve woken up in a Margaret Atwood novel.

*I suspect this will not be a difficult choice.