Brazen Hussies

Woo-hoo!  Who does not love the Carnival of Feminists?  I’ve stumbled across these two posts, which could not be more different, but both have set me to thinking.  The first contains Fergie’s “Fergilicious” video, which, as you might guess, is her doing her best impersonation of a bad Gwen Stefani video, flouncing around in children’s clothing while assuring us that she’s not promiscuous.

And yet, one wonders, if she’s not promiscuous, what could possibly be the point of or the fun in dressing that way?

The second post contains a video of three women dancing as well but in a way I find entirely more captivating.  There’s something about seeing a woman taking off her shoes to dance or coming out barefoot that just says, “I’m getting down to business.”

Fergie seems to be on display.  These women seem, in contrast, vibrantly alive.

I wonder what that means.  I mean, I wonder about that difference, between moving around in a way designed to make other people feel good, which might, tangentially, make you feel good, and moving around in a way designed to make you feel good.

Have you ever seen a music video of a woman dancing around in which your first thought was “Damn, she’s having fun?”

I can’t think of any off of the top of my head.

Oh, wait, Cyndi Lauper–“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Since then?


Remember how I’m single-handedly responsible for sowing racial discord?

It was this divide I was attempting to expose and I would say I was successful. If your goal is racial harmony and you have a group of whites who are, give or take, fundamentally unracist yet refuse to accept collective responsibility for their forefathers transgressions and are disgusted by the overlooked hatred expressed by those of color, what do you propose to do with them?

These are not stupid people. These are not ignorant people. These are people who are no more racist than you, Aunt B. But because they do not accept the concept of collective guilt, you feed them nothing but bile and ridicule.

Good show. You are bringing "us" closer and closer to racial discord every time you strike your keyboard.

I think we all knew I wasn’t just going to let that go. 

After all, it’s Christmas and, if I’m going to be sneaking into folks’ homes, sowing racial discord, I don’t want to get mistaken for Santa Claus (thus disappointing and confusing the children) or for a burglar (and thus shot).

Plus, I already pissed off all the menfolk yesterday, so what better moment to revisit everyone’s favorite topic?

I just have two points to make.

1.  It doesn’t matter what is in your heart.  It really doesn’t.  It matters what you do and say. 

Your actions are what counts.  In a best case scenario, your actions and words would line up with what’s in your heart, thus making what’s in your heart apparent to everyone else.  But in most cases, all we have to go on is what you say and do.

Racism is not solely found in malicious intent.  You can be racist because you hate non-white people and set out every day to make their lives miserable, a definition I’m sure most of us accept as racist and most of us are sure doesn’t fit us.  And you can be racist, even without feeling any hatred in your heart towards non-white folks, by virtue of how your words and actions are perceived by others.

Yes, that sucks because you can be trying to be a good person and failing, but I don’t know what to tell you, that’s just how it is.

If you do something that a lot of folks perceive as racist, it’s racist.  Same with sexism, or classism, or homophobia or whatever -ism.  You don’t get to decide how your actions have to be perceived.

2.  You are not the default.

This is such an enormously important point that I’m pretty sure I’m going to fuck it up.  And yet, if you were going to throw up your hands in the air, decide I was an insane bitch with serious problems, and that you were never going to read me again, I’d hope that this at least sticks in your head.

You are not the default.

When you, or I, or anyone, assumes that he or she is the default of human experience, that’s a problem.

And this is what I mean when I talk about racism or sexism, most of the time.  I’m not talking about malicious actions against an oppressed group, because, by and large, I think most of us think that’s wrong.

I’m talking about the assumption that we are the default, that the things we want are what "everybody" wants, that the things we do are what "everyone" does, that the opportunities we have are just the opportunities available to "everybody."  And, on the other side of the coin, that if some people don’t do things the way we’d do them, that those ways must be wrong.

I am as guilty of this as anyone.  Look, I wrote a nice post on the spiritual implications of mythological and fairy-talish women who come in sets of three.  I even used the term "we" without bothering to say, "We folks of European descent from a Christian/European pagan background."  Three’s an important number for us.  It doesn’t have the same importance to other cultures or, if it is important, not in the same ways.  But I threw "we" out there like my audience all shares my same traditions, even if they don’t practice them in the same way.

Is that racist?  Yes.  Is it the end of the world?  No.  Am I wrecked with guilt, as so many assume all good liberals are?  No.  But it is what it is, me forgetting that my experiences aren’t standard.

It might not seem like the most insidious form of racism, but it is–because it’s so easy to slip into, it’s such a difficult habit to break, and it’s hard to fight against.

Let’s look at another point Kleinheider makes:

If you constantly assert that we live in a institutionally racist society while many of the cases of overt racial dislike are engaged in by people of color, you cannot expect non-racist whites to simply nod and say okay.

Kleinheider’s complaint is thus: I, Aunt B., am asserting that we live in an institutionally racist society, and yet, in Kleinheider’s experience, he perceives that people of color are more overt in their dislike of white people than white people are of people of color.  Since he perceives this overt dislike, he thinks it’s ridiculous for me to expect that non-racist white people such as himself will take my word that there’s this other, institutional, racism.

Do you see what’s going on?  Look at the assumptions that Kleinheider just gets to make without having to prove them:

1.  That he’s non-racist.

2.  That his perception of people of color being more overt in their dislike of white people is valid.

3.  That racism is just overt dislike.

4.  That people of color overtly disliking white people undermines my claim of institutional racism.

5.  That non-racist whites, of course, think like he does.

Let’s distill them down to their essence.

1.  That he has a right to define himself, to say, "this is who I am" and have it accepted by others.

2.  That his perceptions of the world are valid, and don’t need to be questioned.

3.  That his understandings of issues are the right ones.

4.  That any proof he offers to further his points must be accepted as valid.

5.  That most people think like he does.

In other words, he is the standard, the default for human that all others deviate from, for better or for worse.

Do you see why this is so hard to argue against?  So hard to fight?

Because everyone does have the right to say, "This is who I am" and have it accepted by others, but only as long as it matches that person’s words or actions.  His perceptions are valid; they just aren’t the only valid perceptions out there.  His understandings of the issues may not be the right ones and no one has to accept any proof he offers to further his points just because he’s offering it.  And he can’t just assume that most people think like he does.

We’re not just having a fight about racism or sexism or whatever.  At heart, we’re having a fight because he takes things for granted that only a certain segment of our society has the privilege of taking for granted and I want him to acknowledge that–that he sees himself as the default.  After that, I’d hope he’d come to see that seeing yourself as the default is inherently harmful to everyone who is not like you.

But maybe that’s hoping too much.


Stimulating the Mind

Important Things I’ve Learned by Looking at Centuries Old Porn

Silent reading can lead to sinful things like women masturbating or nuns looking at their genitals in the mirror.

The proper technique for masturbating while reading silently is to read until you are overcome with desire for yourself, swoon onto a big chair, with one hand, reach under your dress, with the other, casually drop your book on the ground, shut your eyes and lay back with a small, but cute smile on your face.  Ignore any distraught men standing nearby.

You, modern viewer, may not be able to tell if something naughty is happening in any given picture.  Check for a small dog.  For some reason, a small dog is an indication things of a sexual nature are happening in the picture.  Of course, if the small dog is licking the genitals of the woman swooning in her big chair with her book dropped casually to the ground, you’ll probably pick up on the sexual nature of the art without needing my help.

People in early porn seem much happier than people in contemporary porn.  “Shall I stick this bottle in your vagina, Sylvia?”  “What a delightful idea, Emma!”  “I could tell by your smile you might think so.”  Sometimes the person in the picture who is the stand-in for the viewer looks salacious or creepy, but the people on display look really happy.

A recurrent theme in antique porn seems to be drawings of men doing amazing feats of strength with their penises.  One man was carrying groceries.  Another was balancing an elaborate tea set.

Anyway, I’m just tickled by this idea that women reading silently to themselves cannot help but be so stimulated by the mental exertion that they must find physical relief.  That delights me. 

Was Terry Frank Secretly Moved by Coble’s Wisdom?

You all may recall how Terry Frank tried to argue that gay people should not be allowed to get married because they cannot have children together and how the ability to have children is at the center of every real marriage (or some such jazz) and how Coble had to point out that making the ability to have children central to the definition of what a real marriage is leaves a lot of childless folks with marriage licences out of marriage.

There was some back and forth.  Frank pretended not to get Coble’s point.  Coble got angry.  Frank pretended like she didn’t understand why Coble was so angry and so on. 

The Lesson: Judge Frank by the content of her heart, not by the implications of her words.  Or something.

I remind you of all of this only to point you to Frank’s latest tempest in a teapot.  She’s determined that there’s something, anything, she’s not sure what but she will find it, disingenuous about the Governor’s Christmas card.

Today, she says:

In the interview over at WKRN, Bredesen says that Christmas is “about children and protecting children.” That’s what Christmas is all about, he says.

Well, I didn’t know that. What if you don’t have children? What if you aren’t around children? What if you happen to be the rare individual who doesn’t like children? I guess it’s "NO CHRISTMAS FOR YOU!"

Or perhaps I should offer a more optimistic perspective: "Children, the reason for the season."

But I ask you, just to consider, if we substituted Frank for Bredesen and Christmas for marriage, how is that any different than what Coble accused Frank of?

Doesn’t the "fixed" excerpt below sound very similar to what Coble said?

In the interview over at WKRN, Frank says that marriage is “about children and protecting children." That’s what marriage is all about, she says.

Well, I didn’t know that. What if you don’t have children? What if you aren’t around children? What if you happen to be the rare individual who doesn’t like children? I guess it’s "NO MARRIAGE FOR YOU!"

Or perhaps I should offer a more optimistic perspective: "Children, the reason for the wedding."

Is it just me or does that seem weird, that Frank would call Bredesen on the very thing she does?

Would You Rather Have Wings or a Tail?

I think I’d rather have wings, if they worked.  I don’t know, though, seeing as how I’m deathly terrified of heights.  Would having wings make the fear less, because I’d feel more in control of the situation, or would it make it worse because, by virtue of flying, I’d be up high?

Hard to say.

I bet Coble would like a tail, if it were prehensile, just because of her love of monkeys.  I wonder if I’m right…

A Nice Benefit to Living with The Butcher

We had steak for dinner tonight, that he made, that was waiting for me when I got home.

It had a nice, light secret sauce, which remains a secret, as he wouldn’t tell me what it is.

I like that guy.  Plus, he can turn any piece of crap cut of meat into something tasty.


Feminism is Such a Joke. Only Losers Still Need Feminism.

I’ve got to be honest with you.  When I see Katherine Lopez and Elizabeth Kantor sitting around bitching about feminism and how political correctness has ruined the study of literature, I do kind of want to flip them off.

First because it irritates me to no end that these women, who can read and write and vote and hold jobs, think feminism is a joke.  If you want to be anti-feminist or non-feminist, fine, but then why are you using the good stuff we brought you? “Oh, feminism is so terrible.  But I will take this job, which I could have never had, if not for feminist gains, and I will take the paycheck, which I could have never had, if not for feminist gains, and I will put it in my own checking account, which I can have, because of feminist gains.”

You’re welcome, you ungrateful lice. 

Second because my professors were all a bunch of Leftists and hippies and weirdoes of all sorts and they still taught me how to read and how to love reading and I learned to read Shakespeare and Maso and Beowulf and Invisible Cities and I benefited from reading it all.

There are plenty of reasons to mock English departments, but mocking them for wanting you to read deeply and widely?  To bring critical skills to all kinds of texts?  Well, that’s crazy. 


Last night I learned that a Nashville blogger’s daughter, who is in first grade, was sexually assaulted last week by another first grader.

Not only that, but the school wasn’t going to do anything about it when the blogger first brought it to their attention; folks, they weren’t even going to move the kid out of the girl’s classroom.  And why?  “I was told the child would not be taken out of the classroom, even for that day, because it was one child’s word against the other.”

God, it must be so nice to be beyond feminism.  I wish the rest of us had the luxury of living in a world where feminism’s work is done.

I guess we’ve been left behind, though, as usual, us ordinary folks, who don’t have the privilege of seeing our daughters treated like human beings, let alone seeing our daughters being above all that petty feminist crap.

I am so angry.

I am so tired of this “Well, men are just monsters and it’s women’s job to learn to live with it” bullshit.  When a parent comes to you and says that a boy in your school has done something horrible to her daughter, shrugging your shoulders and throwing up your hands, like, “What can you do?  That’s just how boys are.” is unacceptable.

Y’all, can you not see how insane this is?

In middle Tennessee, your daughters cannot take for granted, not even the ones who are only six years old, that they can go to school and not be sexually assaulted. 

They cannot take for granted that, if they are sexually assaulted, they will then be protected from the perpetrator.

No, unless those girls have parents brave enough to take on the school, all they can expect is to have to continue to sit in class with the boy who attacked them.

Well, there you go.  In Middle Tennessee, if you don’t have the right parents, if a boy hauls you into a bathroom and assaults you, no one’s going to do a god damn thing.

Clearly, feminism’s work is done.  Look how far we’ve come.

God damn!  And that’s really why I want to just punch Kantor and Lopez.  How dare they, just how dare they mock feminism and feminist goals, as if they’re trivial, when some of us live places where sexual assaults on six year old girls are treated as trivial?

A girl has a right to her own body, to decide for herself when, where, and how it will be touched and to what uses it will be put.

When someone else decides to put her body to use for himself, there should be no question that something terrible has happened, and something worth being concerned about.

That’s a feminist goal–to have the bodily autonomy of women recognized as a basic right.

That’s what feminists fight for–a world in which little girls aren’t as a matter of course assaulted at school and, if they are, the administration, upon learning of it, takes proactive steps to keep it from happening again.

If you think that’s worthy of derision, you have serious problems.


And men, god damn, doesn’t this make you angry?  Do you know what kind of six year old goes around sexually assaulting other six year olds?  A six year old who’s being molested.  Almost always when kids that young are acting out sexually it’s because they’re being assaulted themselves.

But that school system is so hung up on the anti-feminist “truth” that men are monsters who just can’t help but rape whenever they feel the slightest provocation that their solution for this kid, who is obviously deeply disturbed, is not to get him the help he needs, but to just sit around and hope that no more little girls “provoke” him.

Why you aren’t more pissed off about having that view of yourselves, as monsters who cannot help but hurt, constantly reflected back at you and reaffirmed through the treatment of the few bad apples among you, I will never, ever understand.

This kid needs help.  At the least he needs help because he’s not behaving like a six year old should behave.  At the most, this is an indication of something terrible happening to him.  But because the school can’t see past our fucked up ideas about proper gender roles, they’re just going to let him go on without any intervention.  How can that not make you angry?

Being a monster isn’t the default state of men; it’s a warning sign that something very wrong is going on.

Maybe Amy Lowell Didn’t Give a Shit About Ezra Pound’s Chair

When I first moved to Tennessee, Plimco and Dr. J and I would make it a habit to go skinny dipping out in the country at one of their friend’s house. 

We would be drunk and stoned and floating happily under the black night sky.

It can be intimidating to get naked in front of the the Plimco sisters, each of them soft and slim and beautiful like mermaids or Sirens, and me like the B. of Willendorf, standing at the edge of the pool wishing I’d had another beer before dropping my pants in public, okay, honestly, in front of the beautiful girls.

And Dr. J. says, with delight, "You’re so round and womanly!"

Okay, I’ll take delight.  Delight gets a not-drunk-enough girl in the pool.

I’m still in love with the idea of talking you all into my bed, where I will recite poetry or ask you to stare at the ceiling long enough to tell me what weird things you see in the plaster or to read me a story, and then posting it here.  I think it’d be funny and charming, at least to me.

So, I’ve told Plimco that she must skip church to come read poetry in bed to all y’all and I’ve been looking for a good poem to read her in return.  And even though it was my grand idea, I’m nervous and having a hard time deciding what poem to read to her.

I love "Song of Myself" but I can read other poems.  I’m not beholden to Whitman, just because I love him.

All this is just the long way of explaining why I spent my afternoon taking breaks from looking at 100 year old pornography by reading Amy Lowell’s poetry.  I’m tempted to read "Lilacs," but if you look at the ending–

Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,
Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,
Lilacs in me because I am New England,
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are of it,
Because my flowers are for it,
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice
Since certainly it is mine.

–You’ll know it’s because there’s a hint of Whitman there.  Which I find funny.  "Oh, no, Plimco, I won’t read Whitman to you; I’ll just read Lowell doing Whitman."  If that’s the case, why not just stick with Uncle Walt?

But I like Lowell.  I’d forgotten that. And so I stumbled upon this article, "Reading Amy Lowell’s Body(s)" by Melissa Bradshaw.  I read it, and then set out across the internet in search of a photo of Bradshaw.  I didn’t find one, but I’m still curious about whether she’s fat.

On the one hand, I think she must not be, because there’s no rage.  On the other hand, I wonder if maybe, since she waits so long to make her point, as if she’s not sure she has a right to make it.  But that could just be the nonsense we women do, pretend like our point is some afterthought.

Maybe it’s not a fair question to ask.  Is Bradshaw fat?

But apparently, many of Lowell’s contemporaries were concerned with how she looked–how fat she was and how she dressed that fat.  And so Bradshaw thinks that Lowell’s body, or at least the public perception of that body, is fair game for analysis.

And I think that’s true.

I just don’t think that Bradshaw is fat.  What fat woman would ever say, "In referencing the American poet [Lowell] these writers inevitably invoke and mock her body, which at five feet, two hundred and fifty pounds, was rather extraordinary."?  No, this is the scholarly equivalent of Paltrow in a fat suit, marvelling over how different life is when you don’t have the benefit of being Gwyneth Paltrow.

Because for a woman who is five feet tall and weighs two hundred and fifty pounds, there’s nothing extraordinary about that.  It is what it is.

And then Bradshaw seems shocked and disappointed to learn that many of her contemporaries talked more about her weight than her poetry–"When I first began studying Lowell I was disappointed to find that memoirs of her contemporaries, as well as biographies and critical evaluations, spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing the size of her body, more time, often, than they spend discussing her work as a poet and critic."–but she’s loathe to call that preoccupation what it is–hateful.

She then spends much of the rest of the article trying to figure out what other people’s depictions of how Lowell dresses might tell us about Lowell.  But she never acknowledges plainly that she’s using depictions given by people who hate how Lowell looks.  If they say that she’s wearing clothes that are unbecoming to her, why are they treated as an objective authority?

Do you see what I’m saying?  I think Bradshaw’s assuming that Lowell would know what the other poets thought of her and that she gave a shit about it and, thus, is reacting to it with her dress choices.

But what if Lowell doesn’t care?

After all, she’s already got someone at home who’s delighted with her.

Nashville, You Tickle Me

1.  Pagan means not Christian.  That’s pretty much the textbook definition of it.  A pagan temple filled with a statue of a giant pagan god, therefore, looks hilarious when lit for Christmas.  Just saying.  (By the way, beautiful picture, Chris.)

2.  Speaking of Chris, I was tickled the evening I was driving home from East Nashville and he pulled up next to me at a stoplight.  Granted, he was also coming home from East Nashville, but it just made me feel all of a sudden like the whole town had been left to us–no other cars on the road except ones filled with people I know.

3.  Due to an enormously generous gift, Nashville now has 65 acres of open battlefield.  God, I hope we don’t fuck this up. 

Help is on the Way! So is Penis Talk!

The Recovering Baptist is going to come over and help me clean.  Y’all this makes me so happy I can’t even tell you.  I feel kind of relieved, like I can start to get some stuff done before she comes, because she’s coming to help, so no matter what I don’t get done, it’s not the end of the world.

But let’s talk frankly.  Not having a clean house makes me feel like a failure as a woman.  I’m embarrassed to admit that, because if anyone should be over the whole “A woman’s got to keep her nest in order” crap, it should be me.  And, you’d think, if it really makes me so unhappy, I would just clean.

But there is little I hate worse.  Seriously, if milking your dog’s anal glands would get me out of cleaning the house for the month, I’ve got some rubber gloves right here.

And the Butcher lives here, too.  It’s not like he looks at the now easily three foot stack of crap sitting on the coffee table and says, “I am a failure as a man.  I have no worth.”  He certainly doesn’t think that when he throws his trash in the sink and leaves it for me to fish out.

I used to tutor this kid and sometimes I’d spend the night at his house while his parents were in Florida.  In their bedroom, there were only two things–a bed and a wardrobe.  That’s it.

It felt so decadent, that they could have this whole room that contained nothing but a bed and a wardrobe.  I could not keep my whole house that sparse, but I long for a bedroom that is pared down to just a bed and a dresser.

Anyway, when it was my turn to sleep on the couch last night, I was dozing through a conversation about how unpleasant to look at naked men’s bodies are.


Really.  What the fuck?

I can understand that you don’t want to run around all the time thinking, “Oh, god damn, am I H-O-T hot!”  “Look at my dick.  Good lord almighty!”  “Woo-hoo, I have a back a person would love to run his or her hands all over.”

But let me fill you in on a little secret.  When you denigrate the things people love, people get insulted.  When you talk about how unpleasant to look at naked you are, it makes me feel like you must think that people who do like to look at you naked are fucked up.

Or when you are all like, “I could never give a guy a blow job, how gross!”  Well, great.  I’ll keep that in mind, that you think blow jobs are gross.

Seriously, how can you walk around feeling so shitty about yourselves and thus, by extension, us?

Today, for me, at least take your penis in hand and smile at it.  Maybe wave at it a little, just acknowledge that it’s there and charming in its own way.  And, if you’re feeling particularly ballsy, just whisper, “Look at my dick.  Good lord almighty.”

Or, shoot, come clean my house naked and I’ll yell it from the couch every time you come by with the vacuum cleaner.

A List of Things That Are Pissing Me Off

1.  My arms and hands itch.  It’s the peppers, I just know it.  God damn it. 

2.  I finished Fallen by David Maine, today, which is a retelling of Adam, Even, Cain, and Abel.  It’s really good, but it put me in a funk.

3.  Did I mention my arms and hands itch?

4.  I didn’t get to the park all weekend.  Which is stupid.  I know it puts me in a foul mood, and yet I still didn’t go.

Fight for the Couch

There comes a point on a Sunday afternoon when three mammals will want to sleep on the couch, but only two will fit.

The Butcher is trying to argue that he deserves to sleep on the couch because football is on.

Mrs. Wigglebottom could be making some kind of amazing, articulate argument, but since none of us read minds, I’m going to assume that her claim is that she is just too cute to stay off the couch.

I wanted to sleep longer on the couch because I was feeling like my life was going no place, which is clearly a more important reason to sleep on the couch than football.

However, you’ll notice, I lost.


“I Suppose They’ll Stay With Us”

Dear friends, and loved ones who may have found your way here after my parents’ Christmas letter, when someone says “Where will Mom and Dad stay the second half of the week?” and you say, “I don’t know.  I suppose they’ll stay with us.” do you not see how, to a girl who hasn’t done so much as sweep the floor this weekend, you’ve left a sliver of possibility open?

Maybe they won’t stay with us.  Maybe the state of the shower doesn’t matter.  Maybe the fact that we have a trash stalagmite in the bathroom will just magically resolve itself.  La, la, la.  Suppose our parents stayed with us next week.  Suppose money grew on trees.  Suppose seven strong naked men all vaguely resembling Edgar Ramirez were waiting for me in my bed right now, biding their time while I’m blogging reading erotic Spanish poetry, tending my houseplants, and wishing the actual Edgar Ramirez had more screen time in Domino.

Suppose is nothing.  An intellectual exercise for the very drunk or very stoned.

No, if our parents really are going to stay with us for any part of the Christmas holiday, I cannot “suppose” that.  I must know that.

Which, admittedly, I do now, because Dad told me.

I hope we can find towels for them to use.  Also, if any of you need to burn off nervous holiday energy by cleaning and your homes are already spotless, I know of a place in need of a good cleaning where one of the inhabitants is blissfully unconcerned and the other is probably curled up on the couch in terror.

Aunt B.’s Three Bell Pepper Chili

All right, you guys, that chili was so amazing that I think it must move from hilarious, but happy accident into official recipe.  So, for those of you who want to make it at home, here’s what you need.


1 lb (or so) of ground beef

1 large onion

1 green bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno

3 small cloves of garlic (or 2 large)

a small can of tomato paste

a can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos

a can of chili beans (with spicy sauce)

2 cans of red beans

1 can of black beans

salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder

1 bag Fritos

1 bag of taco cheese


Get your big stew pot out and put it on the stove top on medium.  Throw your ground beef in there and season with some salt and pepper.  Keep in mind when salting that the chili goes over the Fritos which are very salty, so you don’t want to overdo it on the salt in the chili.  You want it to cook, but slowly, while you’re chopping your vegetables.  Keep an ear on it and if it starts to sizzle too much, you can give it a chop and a flip with your spoon or spatula.

Chop your onion into dime-sized chunks (or smaller).  I guess you’d call it a large dice.  Dump into a large mixing bowl.  Go give your meat some attention.

Chop your bell peppers into dime-sized chunks.  Dump into large mixing bowl.

By now, your meat should be pretty well browned and in smallish chunks.  If not, bring the heat up a little and finish it off.  Then, put your heat back down to medium, and throw your peppers and onions in.  You’ll want to stir these guys pretty regularly, too.

Mince your garlic and your jalapeno.  Throw those in the pot.  Stir every few minutes and cook until the onions seem to be almost clear and the peppers start to get translucent. 

Now, add the can of diced tomatoes.  Give that a stir and let it cook for a few minutes.

Once all that seems hot and happy and smells awesome, add all your beans including the bean juice.  Stir and admire how fucking beautiful this chili is with all the different colors.  Can you believe it?

Last, add your tomato paste.  Stir until that’s well incorporated into the chili.

Now you need to season.  Your temptation is going to be to test the meat.  This is a mistake as the meat will taste like meat.  It hasn’t had nearly enough time to incorporate the flavors in the pot.  Taste a fork full of everything.  Too sweet?  Too bland?  Not enough kick?

Now, taste just the liquid in the pot.  Here’s the true test.  You’ll probably need to add some salt and pepper, just to bring out the flavors in the pot. 

But what’s good about this chili is that the first thing you taste is the sweet of the bell pepper and then it moves into a good warm spicy kick at the end.  I think cumin is a good flavor for carrying you from the sweet to the hot and to me, cumin is what makes chili taste like chili, so dump you in a bunch of that… maybe a couple of teaspoons?  And then add your chili powder.

Add, stir, taste until you get just the right mixture of sweet and cumin and chili powder.

Once that’s all right, turn off the stove, put your lid on the pot, and stick the whole thing in the fridge.

Tomorrow, take it out of the fridge about an hour before dinner and slowly heat it up.  With the lid on, I’d put it on medium low and, stirring occasionally, heat it for about a half an hour.  Then, once we got closer to dinner, I’d take the lid off, turn the heat up higher and stir constantly until it’s heated all the way through.

Then get you a bowl, throw some Fritos in the bottom, scoop your chili over top, put some cheese on top of that and enjoy.

I Want to Be Heard

Anne, I don’t know who you are, but I’m digging your blog.  In fact, I wish I could see Exador and Sarcastro’s faces when they read this entry.  I predict Exador will let out a howl of anger and that Sarcastro will find it bitterly funny.

Lee, sadly, I think this means my dream of trying to discover if there’s a Falls of the Ohio Park have been dashed, for I don’t go to the park without my dog and I won’t take her to a town that hates her.  Louisville’s loss.

Although, I must say, Democrats, that I have a working theory that anti-pitbull legislation is a backhanded way of keeping those dangerous 16-25 year old boys/men in line.  You know, don’t let them get a little too full of themselves with their big tough dogs.  Give the cops one more excuse to hassle them.

–Sarcastro was right twice this week.  I just thought I’d go ahead and acknowledge it.  Let’s count them in order from “most annoying for me to admit” to “oh, yeah, that’s a good insight on what’s going on.”

—-Most annoying for me to admit: Yes, progressives can be racist and yes, when they are racist, it’s usually with that annoying clueless sanctimony and such patronization you’d think they’d be embarrassed to say such things out loud.  Although, you have to admit that it’s a little funny that they thought they could just hire a man who hijacked a plane to Cuba and that he’d just settle in to the office as a good little complacent worker bee.

—-Oh, yeah.  That’s right.:  I do think people feel a kind of despair for which Katrina was the catalyst.  Or the second trigger, I guess.  The first, is clearly 9/11.  But I think that everyone thought, “What if something like that happened here?” and then they thought, “Well, if we survived, we’d be rescued.”  And the something wasn’t as specific as a terrorist attack; I think it was more loosely “What if where I am is destroyed by something beyond my control?”

That’s where I think Sarcastro is exactly right.  The result of the aftermath to Katrina is, I think, that ordinary Americans not only feel like we’re on our own if something bad were to happen, but that we can expect to be actively thwarted by our own government.

Sadly, while quite capable of growing our own vegetables, I imagine someone will waste all our good soil on some specific non-nutritious plant.  I can only hope that we live long enough for our first batch to flower, at which point, I’m sure we’ll be able to trade the libertarians for food.

–I was just thinking about “Pump Up the Volume” which I saw my junior year of high school and immediately became enthralled with this idea of setting up a pirate radio station and being some kind of great truth teller, even if only to the five people I could reach.

I think it was that movie that was the inspiration for us starting up our underground newspaper and distributing it at school.

And now I blog.

It’s funny.  I don’t think that’s the best movie ever and I haven’t seen it in years.  But wow, it had a big impact on my life–right time, right place, I guess.

Weird Dream

I had this dream last night that I was in a video game set in a futuristic old West and I was surrounded by robots who looked like cowboys.  At first, I didn’t realize I was in a game, but once I did, my whole goal was to get the two tough but unworld-wise “brother” robots to come and get in the bathtub with me.

This was made more difficult because the set of the game was also college (it looked like the old west, but everyone was returning to college, including me) and I had to get all my stuff unpacked.  I was rooming with my old room mate, who had decided to take Thursdays off so that she could tend to her family.

Weirdly, Kate O. was there and she was sitting on the top bunk wrapped in a fake fur blanket (pink with black animal stripes). 

This is all of the dream that I can remember, but every once in a while I’ll just be sitting here and the image of her in than pink fur blanket comes to mind and I’m filled with fear.

I wonder what that means. 

The Tribal Soul Mothers

I think there are ways we remember in our bones the wisdom we’ve deliberately chosen to turn our backs on.

Every year, we’re told, “This is the most wonderful time of the year,” even as we’re surrounded by people who are struggling and depressed and lonely.

We didn’t used to think that this was an easy time.  The light, when it comes, is shallow and passes quickly.  The dark is long and lingers too far into the day.  Shadows are thick.  The dead haunt us, those we’ve loved and lost seem almost within reach, if only we could turn at just the right moment, reach out at the right time, there would be the familiar face, that warm smell, those comforting arms.  Set the table just the way he used to like it.  Make the roast just the way she did.  Call them to mind in hopes of calling them forth.

Here is the empty seat for the child who never came.  Set a plate for heartache and fill a glass of despair.  Listen in vain for the whispered promise that will not come. 

Pay no attention to the angry wind rushing around your house.  The knock when no one is there.  The three ghosts who will visit you before this night is over.  The sound of every hurt and disappointment echoing in your heart.

When you were young, before you even had words, when you were afraid in the dark, you called out for your mother.

The solstice night, we told the Venerable Bede, was “modraniht, id est matrum noctem.”  Mothers’ night.  It is the night of the mothers.

Not just a night for honoring the woman who gave birth to us, because how many of us are painfully aware that that woman didn’t always have our best interests at heart, or even know what our best interests were?

But a night for honoring the most ancient mothers of our souls…  It’s easy to believe in our tribal soul mothers.  What more do you need to tell you that you had ancestors than that you exist?  You are the proof.

Scattered throughout Europe are shrines to the matrons, usually depicted in groups of three.  This idea of three women who are intimately interested in your fate must be an old one; we see it so wide-spread, from the Furies (Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone) to the Fates (Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos) to the Norns (Urd, Verdandi, Skuld) and one we cannot quite let go of, as we’ve grouped the Biblical Marys into a trinity, and don’t we adore our fairy god mothers in Sleeping Beauty (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather)?

There are monsters in the gloom, best driven away by warm candle light and being together with our families.  We know that.  In our bones we know that.  Why else do we stick so many holidays centered around lights and food and family right here?

Because we know that this is when we need them.

The Chili and the Seven Layer Bars

Okay, so I threw all three bell peppers into the chili, because, as you know, I love bell peppers.  I’m still planning on feeding it to the Professor, so maybe I shouldn’t spoil it, but what the hell?

This is the most hilarious chili ever.  You put a bite in your mouth and your first thought is, “Hmm, tasty, but is that sweet I taste?  Ummm, I can’t quite tell… Hey, that’s hot!”  It’s really good.  I bet it’ll be even better tomorrow after it’s had a chance to spend 24 hours in the fridge.

And I’m making seven layer bars for dessert, though I’m convinced there’s not actually seven layers.  There are seven ingredients… Hey, W., that’s what you should learn to make–seven layer bars.  What girl can resist them?

Seven Layer Bars

1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup melted butter

1 bag of coconut

1 bag of semi-sweet chips

1 bag of butterscotch chips

A bag of walnuts

14 oz can of condensed milk

Put your melted butter and your graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Mix the crumbs and the melted butter together and press them into the bottom of the pan.  Then layer all the rest of the stuff into the pan and cook it for 25 minutes.

Let it cool.  Cut it into little squares.  Feed to someone you want to smooch.


Let the smooching commence.

The Penelopiad

I just finished The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.  I liked it, but it’s troubling.  It’s a book you want to turn to someone else and say, “What did you make of this part?  Or of this?  Why do you think Atwood suggested such-and-such?”

And yet, there’s no one to turn to.

We’re having chili for dinner tomorrow and the Butcher insists that I make it tonight so that it can have a full day in the fridge for the flavors to mingle.  We do love mingling flavors.

I bought three bell peppers–one green, one orange, and one red.  I forget how much I love them when I’m not the one grocery shopping, but when I am, and I see them, it’s all I can do to not buy them all, all the peppers, in all their colors, and bring them home and sit them on the couch next to me.

A girl could live a long time with someone who grew peppers.  That crunch as you bite into a fresh one, the sizzle as it hits hot metal, the way that, even in the sweet ones, there’s something that makes your mouth draw back, just slightly, into a smile.

I think what I wanted out of The Penelopiad was more grief.  Through the whole short book, I felt like there was something or some things being skirted around, things that beg to be connected and I just don’t know how.

An Afternoon of Getting Stuff Done

I went down to the Hall of Fame and did some Christmas shopping this afternoon.  Many folks on my list are getting t-shirts.

Then I came home and took a nap.

A glorious nap on my big green couch with a heavy warm afghan over me and a toasty warm dog keeping my feet warm.

I wonder if it would be bad form to go to bed early too…

An Open Letter to Our Nation’s Capital

Dear Washington, DC,

I seem to have inadvertently hurt your feelings by suggesting that it’s wrong of you to use the Courts to change the Constitution.  You, you argue, have no other choice but to circumvent the Constitution because you cannot influence the federal government any other way because you have no representation in Congress.

I am sympathetic to your lack of representation.  It seems to me clear that, if you don’t have representation, you should not be forced to pay federal income tax.  I’m fine with any fix to this: y’all get you some congress folks or you stop paying taxes.   Whichever you guys feel would work best for you, I support you in it.

However, it seems to me just a tad… just a tad… hypocritical that you both want to say “Oh, Constitution, smonstitution–if we can’t amend it, we won’t live under it” and “We want Judges to declare that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply any more.”  Either you don’t live under the Constitution, in which case, pass some local legislation saying so, and outlaw all guns, vote me Queen of DC, and do whatever unconstitutional stuff you want to do or find some other way to deal with gun violence other than stripping people of their constitutionally protected rights.


Aunt B.