Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's in *your* closet?

It's that time of year again, Minions. Those of you in Tornado Alley know what I'm talking about firsthand. Those of you not in the Alley know what I'm talking about thanks to the coverage of what happened in Granbury and Moore.

The Disaster Closet at Chez Jo is up and running once again. Hooray.

What, you might ask, is a Disaster Closet? Is it a closet where you keep your Bai Ling costumes? Your emerald-green eyeshadow? The mutant cakes that failed to rise?

Nope. It's where the cats and I go (and eventually The Boyfiend and The Dog, if ever the latter shows up) when the sky turns the same color as that eyeshadow and the sirens blow.

It's not common around here to have tornadoes, but tornadoes are not the problem ninety percent of the time. I once heard a storm-spotter describe a tornado as a sneeze in the middle of a really bad thunderstorm, and that's true. The majority of the time, damage in storm-hit areas comes from straight-line winds, hail, and--the big danger--flying debris.

That's why they say to get into an interior closet or bathroom with no windows. Trees falling, debris flying around--those are much more likely to injure or kill you than a direct hit from one of Mother Nature's sneezes.

Besides, if you take a direct hit from a twister, even a small one, there's not a lot your house will do to protect you.

(A quick aside, as people are surely thinking this: "Why a closet? Why not a basement or storm cellar?" In this part of the country, Austin north to OKC, it's difficult if not impossible to dig basements. We have three types of impediment: heavy clay soil, a layer of quartz or limestone between two and ten feet thick, and high water tables. Safe rooms are common in larger buildings, but it's damned near impossible to excavate deep enough even for a small storm shelter, let alone a basement. It's perverse to think that we settled the most dangerous part of Tornado Alley without figuring that out, but there you are.)

Anyway, and this is not bad advice for anybody anywhere anytime, it's a good idea to have a central location for Stuff You Might Need Later. Here's what I put in mine (all of this fits on a shelf above my head):

1. Weather radio with flashlight and cellphone charger. It's solar- or crank-powered and gets good reception even in the D.C.

2. A couple of big bottles of water. If the forecast looks particularly bad, I might stick a six-pack in there, too. (Only sort of kidding.)

3. First aid kit with pressure dressings and so on.

4. Insurance paperwork for me, the house, and the car.

5. Extra medications, extra contact lenses, extra pair of glasses.

6. A prybar. No, really. It's great to have a shelter from bad weather, but on the offchance that my roof caves in or blows away, I want to be able to get *out* as well.

7. The cats' carrier. They both go into one.

Everything except the carrier can either go on the shelf or, more likely, be slung in a cross-body bag and put on my person. So far, I haven't had to use the Disaster Closet in its fullest capability, but there's little sense in being unprepared.

Which reminds me of a funny story: a couple of years ago, we were having some pretty intense weather. Hail was hitting the sides of the house rather than the roof, the winds were so strong. Max and the boys and I were riding it out in the living room, waiting to see if the weather guys blew the sirens. When the sirens went off, Max fixed me with the stinkeye, then went to the closet, pried open the door with his claws, and went in. I followed him.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

So, this whole Angelina Jolie thing. . .

Y'all have heard she had her boobs removed because she carries a mutant BRCA gene, right? And that she's gonna have her ovaries taken out pretty soon, too, right?

I cannot *believe* what folk been sayin' about that. First of all, it's nobody's place to have an opinion on what she does with her own body, even if she puts it out there in an op-ed in the New York Times. Second of all, if you have the kind of opinion that says, "She should've considered what that would do to her fans" or "She should've tried yoga and broccoli first," I will take you down.

Or, I would've, but then I read this:

Oh Fuck You.

Don't want your real name bruited about on Teh Interwebs? Don't sign it to a jackassed comment on those Interwebs.

Thanks for your input, Jackasses. No, really. Now I know who not to slow down for when I see a group of people crossing the street.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Saturday Night Sing-Along:

"It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw" is the most gorgeous line in this song.

Or maybe "I said, 'Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera.'"

Still a favorite.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I had a post all worked out about how I'd lost all joy in my job. . .

And then it got cold.

Let's review the bidding: Yesterday, the high was 85*F. That's somewhere north of 29 degrees for you guys who are using a sane and sensible temperature scale.

Last night, the low was 50*F. Today, the *high* was 47*F.

Tonight, it's supposed to get down close to freezing. I hope the tomato plants and basil live.

In short, go home, Texas weather. You're drunk.

I refuse to talk about nursing right now, because Manglement has indeed sucked all the joy out of my job recently. Instead of being sad that a friend of mine is leaving for a new job, I'm burning with envy.

So instead, let's talk about food. I have a craving right now for, not necessarily in order, osso buco, marrow on toast with capers and parsley, home-made donuts, and eggplant parmesan. All of those are wonderful, fun things to cook, and all of them will be totally untenable by Monday, my next day off, when the high is supposed to be in the 80's.

As much as people bitch about the foreignization of 'Murka, there is one benefit (well, more than one, but I'm concentrating on food right now): the amazing selection of offal available at my schwanky-danky, formerly snow-white grocery store.

I can get marrow bones so cheap it'd make you cry. Neck bones are even cheaper--hell, sometimes they *give them away*, which is just what you want for a lovely stew. The veal shanks that go into osso buco are not eighteen dollars a pound; they're practically free--if I ask for them at the butcher counter, I can get lovely meaty shanks for the price of ground beef.

And weird fish? We got weird fish, for pennies the pound. We haven't got that one with the human-looking teeth, at least not whole, but you want a monkfish tail? Eighty-nine fucking cents a pound, my friend. Yeah, you have to take that bad boy home and skin it yourself, but honestly? Not That Hard.

Also nopales, or cactus paddles: de-thorned and fresh, or pickled, or whatever. Dried squid in the bulk bins (particularly good deep-fried and served with scrambled eggs and sauteed eggplant OMG). Weird greens that I *think* might be amaranth, or some version of kale I haven't yet tried. Fruit that resembles pinecones. Fruit that looks like stars. DURIAN, FROZEN IN SLICES OR WHOLE IN A MESH BAG. And jackfruit.

If you haven't yet tried jackfruit, make friends with somebody from a culture that eats it regularly. The damn things get up to forty pounds, so it's not like there won't be enough to go around. Try it. Learn to tell a ripe one from one that's just soft.

And no, I haven't tried the durian yet. I can say that yes, it is the worst-smelling thing I've ever laid nostrils to, aside from a corpse plant in full bloom, and I totally understand why it's illegal in some places to take one on the bus or keep one in your hotel room. The smell is penetrating. You're afraid you'll never get it out of your nostrils. The inside, though, is supposed to be heaven.

Maybe I'll try a bit of frozen durian. A whole durian is large and intimidating, in addition to being smelly--I'm not sure I could get one home and cut it up without ruining it. You know those little spiny balls that sweetgum trees drop? Make that about eight pounds and you're looking at a durian fruit.

Anyway, food: Lots of it, most of it I've never tasted before, some of it (like fresh peas and beans and okra) is growing in the back yard as we speak. Most of it that I'm craving is winter food. It'll be warm again before I get a chance to eat anything more than cafeteria catfish (which, strangely, Sunnydale does beautifully and only on Fridays). I'll have to make do with fresh artichokes and asparagus and strawberries with almonds on a bed of butter lettuce.