Sunday, August 25, 2013

About that chard

I haven't posted a recipe in a while, so I thought I'd share a couple of recipes for summer bounty.

Friday I bought a big bag of vegetables at a little farm stand run by young adults from a religious commune. They tend 3 big, beautiful community gardens in one of the older neighborhoods in the city. For $5, I got this many vegetables, picked earlier that day in their gardens.

Chard, beets, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes

Don't you get a hard-on just looking at all that yumminess? I couldn't wait to get cooking .... but then I went out to eat with a friend instead so I stuck them in the fridge....

But today I was ready to do something fun with my veggies. (Not that!)

The beets will keep, so I'll probably just steam them within the next week and eat them with lots of butter. Coraline likes beets too. I should remember to warn Elvira so she can tell Rock Dad. Last time he kind of freaked out about the bright red pigment in her diaper. When it comes to unusual colors of pee, red is probably most people's least favorite.

The eggplant I roasted and used to make baby poop roasted eggplant dip for a party. The recipe is kind of like baba ghanoush. OK, it's exactly like baba ghanoush only in English. I chose this super easy Smokey Eggplant Dip recipe from Thug Kitchen, only I used smoked paprika and added toasted walnuts on top.

I would have taken a photo, but you know what baby poop looks like.

The chard was starting to wilt, so I wanted to do something with it before I disrespected the sacrifice it made to sustain me.

I'd never eaten chard in my life, but I thought I could come up with something. I've become kind of a Food Network competition junkie this summer, so I wanted to test my ability to create a recipe using something I've never eaten. I could just see Alton Brown standing beside the sink, arms crossed, prissy look on his face, timer in his hand ..... No worries. I had this one.

Here's what I came up with. It's fucking amazing. Alton would tell you, but his mouth is stuffed.

Reticula's Chard (with notes)

1 bunch of chard (It doesn't matter how much as long as it fits into your skillet or dutch oven.)
olive oil (I used a garlic/sun-dried tomato/Parmesan blend I bought at a farmer's market, but you can use plain)
garlic (Use as much as you like. Garlic is relative, but I would suggest 1-3 cloves or the equivalent.)
butter (A couple of tablespoons. You don't have to use butter, but why not?)
tomato, diced (I used one, but two or three would have been good too. Sundried tomatoes would be awesome too.)
salt and pepper
grated hard cheese (I used a 3-cheese Kroger blend. Freshly grated would be better.)
toasted walnuts (If you think ahead, you can toast the walnuts in the skillet before you pour in the olive oil.)

Heat some olive oil in a skillet or, if you've got a shit ton of chard, a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter if you're using it. When it's hot, start sauteing the garlic. Don't let it get really brown.

The chard has a hard stem running through the leaf, so that has to be cut out and cooked for a while before the leaves. Just fold each leaf over and cut most of the stem away. Then cut the stems into about 2-inch pieces. Throw those into the hot skillet and stir them around frequently for about 5 minutes.

Cut the leaves into strips however you want to. Not too small though. Throw those into the skillet with the tomato and the salt and pepper. It looks like this.

Stir it around and cook it for another 5 minutes or so. Or until it looks wilted and done and hot all the way through. Like this.

Yes, my cast iron skillet wears a wool condom.

Hit it with a big handful of cheese and then the toasted walnuts. That's it. Eat your veggies all up.

Variations: If you're a pasta-eater, you could put this on pasta and get a lot more mileage out of it. I rarely eat pasta, but I'm sure it would be good.

You could throw some chopped bacon in there too. In that case, fry the bacon in the pan and then use the bacon fat instead of the butter. I plan to try that next time I make this. Grilled chicken would be good with it too.

If you decide to pick up some chard and try this recipe, let me know how it turns out. Unless you hate it. If you hate it, just don't say anything.

Disclaimer: I'm not a food blogger. Judge my recipes all you want, but don't judge my photos. It's not worth your time or mine.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A story of one-legged men in wheelchairs

Tonight I sat out on my porch swing with my guitar working on a new song the band is learning. I spent almost 3 hours scrubbing the whole porch down -- columns and railings and floor -- last night. I wanted to enjoy it before the city air made it grungy again.

Dusk fell, and I could barely see my lead sheet. As I strummed, I looked up and saw 3 one-legged men in wheelchairs rolling down the sidewalk single file on the other side of the street.

I've been seeing these chair-wheeling men a lot this summer -- some with one leg (each) and some with more. They're usually alone, or sometimes with a non-wheeling male companion. None of them seem to use their hands to move their chairs. They all either walk in their chairs or walk behind them and push.

I don't know where they come from. Maybe the nursing home around the corner? One of the halfway houses? I didn't see them until this summer though. If Melvin were still alive, he would know. He would have somehow talked them into coming up on his porch or mine to share a nip of gut-burning gin and juice.

One evening a few weeks ago my granddaughter Coraline and I were swinging on the porch, and one of the wheelchair men came walking his wheelchair down the sidewalk. He stopped in front of one of the houses across the street -- one that's been empty for several years -- turned to face the house, unzipped his pants and peed on the stairs. Then he pushed his wheelchair on down the street. I considered yelling at him, but it didn't seem like something a toddler should witness -- her grandma yelling at a man in a wheelchair for peeing on the sidewalk. That shit can escalate if you don't know your opponent's level of crazy.

Did I digress? I do that ....

Tonight as I strummed my guitar I watched the 3 one-legged men sit-walk their wheelchairs down the street and stop in front of the very house the other man had peed in front of (obviously he had 2 legs). They rolled to a stop and turned their chairs to face the street, side by side like they were waiting for fireworks.

It was almost dark, so I suspected they couldn't see me across the street on my porch. One of them took a bag off his wheelchair handle and started digging around in it. After a while he lit something with a lighter -- several times. Then he passed it to the guy in the middle, who also lit it a couple of times and then passed it to the third guy. Obviously they were passing a pipe.

They don't let you smoke weed in a nursing home, I would imagine. Even if you are down to only one leg. I wonder how people in nursing homes even get weed.

As they smoked and murmured over there, I started playing "Me and Bobby McGee," very quietly. I didn't think they could hear me, but you can't tell how sound will travel at night. I just like to sit out in the summer night with my guitar, watch the bats dive for mosquitoes, listen to the trains in the distance and the neighbors fighting ... kids playing in the streets.

I played a couple more slow quiet songs -- "Creep" and "Free Fallin'" -- and it seemed they probably were listening as they passed their pipe in silence. One of them had lit a cigarette and was smoking it; I could see the tip flare every so often. I noticed one of the neighborhood cats had stopped to sit for a while and listen.

Sometimes people walked past in twos or threes. The wheelchair men didn't move, nor did they stop smoking their pipe. I stopped playing when the walkers were right in front of me because I wasn't really out there to put on a show, but then as they faded down the street, I took up where I'd left off, playing in the darkness of my porch. Brandi Carlile's "Turpentine," one of my all-time favorite songs ... "Angel from Montgomery" ... "The Book of Love" .... a few more.

Finally, I ran out of songs I wanted to play so I just rocked in the swing and let the crickets take the stage. The cat slipped on down the street. Eventually I came inside, but the wheelchair men were still out there, sitting across the street and probably very stoned given how many times that pipe went around.

A few minutes after I came in, I passed the front door and glanced out. They were gone, back to where they'd come from.

Today after a committee meeting for a big production I'm involved with (more on that later) a few of us stayed behind sipping coffee or beer and talking about old white men, one member's new client, good places to live in the area. I'm going to reveal that I was the oldest person at the table; that information is rarely relevant, yet sometimes is. I'm not sure if it is now, but maybe. It certainly will be in the near future when I write about old white men.

We were down to 4 of us, and none of the other 3 thought my neighborhood sounded like a place they'd like to live. Mo said she gets scared staying in a house by herself. She said she lived in a rough neighborhood in Chicago before, and she ended up almost housebound. The other two agreed they prefer safer, quieter quarters.

I told them almost everything I see and write about in my neighborhood is shit that's happening to other people, not to me, and that I'm rarely scared. I told a couple of Snoop Dog stories, like how he used to stand in the street and not let me pass and the time the SWAT team busted down his door. I realized these stories weren't really making my point that my neighborhood isn't unsafe .... it's just interesting. I said I ride my bike home at 2:00 am and I've always been fine. Their expressions suggested I could expect to be taken away in a straight jacket if I kept it up, so I stopped trying. I didn't even mention Melvin.

After a few seconds of silence, J, who lives in the nice, quiet suburb where I lived for 20 years before I moved into the city, said, "The old lady who lives next door to me sometimes puts a note on my garbage can if I leave it in the driveway an extra day."

We all laughed.

I remembered how bored I was in that nice, quiet suburb. Oh, there were stories there too, but they took place behind closed doors in houses separated by half an acre of putting-green lawn.

Maybe I'm not afraid here because I've  learned I'm far less likely to be hurt by strangers in my environment -- no matter how expensive it is -- than I am by people who claim they love me. It took me a lot of years to accept that, but it's true.

So, I'd rather be here where there are one-legged men in wheelchairs passing a bowl in front of an abandoned house where a woman named Stella used to run an illegal soul-food restaurant. I hear her fried chicken was the best chicken in the city back in the day. Oh, the stories this street could tell.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Snippet from the junior high lunch room

(Photo credit:

As if my life didn't resemble a junior high lunch room enough already .....

The other day Elvira, Coraline and I went to Kroger. Coraline fell asleep in the van, so when we got here to my house, Elvira and I unloaded the groceries, and then Elvira sat outside on the porch with the van slider open so Coraline could finish her nap.

In the meantime, my neighbor's mid-20's brother, who lives with her off and on, was chasing her 7-year-old son Nathan down the street and terrorizing him, much to his delight. The uncle is a friendly guy, always says hi, but he's been in some trouble recently according to his sister. Got involved with a bad woman ... trouble with the police .... I'm not sure what his story is. But he's always friendly with me, so I don't care.

Sometime later Coraline had awakened from her nap, and we were all in the kitchen eating baba ganoush on Nut Thins and caramel-filled dark Bliss chocolates when the doorbell rang. Elvira was closest so she answered it.

It was Nathan. He hadn't expected Elvira to answer the door. He stammered mightily, "Hey .... um .... um .... would you tell .... ummm .... umm ...." He peeked his head in the door looking for me.

"My mom?" Elvira said helpfully, hoping to move the conversation along. She didn't trust me with the chocolate.

"Ummm .... yeah .... her .... Would you .... ummm .... tell her my uncle has a big crush on her daughter?" And then he ran off the porch and back to his own house.

Elvira and I shared a good laugh over that one. Mostly about how cute Nathan was in the pajama pants he always wears and how flustered he was to come face to face with his uncle's crush. We decided Rock Dad didn't need to feel threatened.

Ten minutes later the doorbell rang again. Elvira shrugged and motioned that it was my turn. Her mouth was too full of chocolate to talk.

I walked to the door and sure enough, there was Nathan on the porch in his pajama pants. I opened the door and smiled at him.

"Do you know my uncle has a big crush on your daughter?" he said.

"Yes, that's what I heard," I said. He took off running. "Nathan," I called after him, "she has a boyfriend." He nodded, but didn't look at me. "And a baby." He nodded again and ran on home.

I went back to the kitchen and told Elvira I hoped that situation didn't get more awkward than it already was. I said, "This feels like junior high. And really! Can Nathan's uncle spell 'out of his league'?"

"It's spelled E-l-v-i-r-a," she said. And we both laughed and reached for more chocolate.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I didn't know you could have an orgasm there

So, quick question: Where do you have orgasms?

Stop it. I don't mean like in the shower or under a bridge or in the women's dressing room at JC Penney. I mean what part of your body?

The answer is between your legs, right? Right.

Except if you're this woman in the Netherlands who started having spontaneous orgasms in her left foot that would eventually travel up her leg to her vagina. No, I am not fucking kidding you! Her doctors hypothesized that a coma and other complications she suffered a year and a half earlier had confused her spinal cord in the spot where her left foot nerves and vaginal nerves lay close together. Like her spine couldn't tell what was foot and what was vagina. (Sounds like the kind of shit you make up when you've got nothing.) They cleverly called it "foot orgasm syndrome."

Her doctors couldn't find any precedent for pedigasms in anyone else, but they had to do something. The woman, known only as Mrs. A, didn't like having foot orgasms, even when they were followed by vaginal orgasms, which we all know are about as rare as testicular orgasms. Apparently Mrs. A didn't welcome the orgasms; they had to cum no more go.

I can't blame her one bit. I can't stand for anybody to touch my feet. Not for any reason. I twitch at the thought of it. Each of my kids suffered several concussions soft kicks to the head when they were toddlers and couldn't seem to learn that Mommy's feet were not toys. The idea of an orgasm in my foot makes my feet clench.

On the other hand, if it didn't stay there long and moved on up my leg within a few seconds, I think I could learn to live with it!

I'm cummin'. They hatin'.*

I think I could, that is .... only .... I can't really imagine a foot orgasm. Can you?

OK, try this. Have an orgasm don't need anybody else for this .... go ahead ... get started now while you're still reading .... it doesn't have to be a big one, just pop one off ..... still working on it? ......close your eyes ..... OK, once you get there, try to imagine it's happening in your foot. Your left foot if you want to be like Mrs. A.

How did that work? Could you imagine it? Or did it just feel like a cramp in your foot?

Because that's kind of what I get when I try to pop off a foot orgasm. Not that I just sat here and wanked while I waited for you. I didn't. No, really. Shut up.

Anyway, turns out those orgasms were on a two-way street. As you would expect, when doctors used a TENs stimulator on her left foot, she ah ... ah .... ah .... enjoyed suffered a foot orgasm that traveled up to her vagina. Conversely, when they stimulated her vagina on the left side, a miracle happened she had an orgasm that traveled back to her foot.

Amazeballs, right? I could apply a vibrator to the left side of my vagina until Friday and nothing like that would happen. Either there or in my foot.

The sad end to the story is that the doctors blocked the nerves in her spine and the orgasms went bye bye.

What I really want to know now is if she can orgasm at all, but the abstract for the Journal of Sexual Medicine article didn't say. I think even I would rather have random foot-to-vagina orgasms than none at all, and the whole foot thing has made me squeamish the entire time it took me to write this.

Also, just think how much easier it is to find a woman's left foot than it is her clitoris. Can you imagine those times when he just can't or won't focus on the spot?

"There .... no, there. Not there .... there ..... to the left .... not that far .... lower .... Oh, for the love of god, just rub my left foot!

I think there might be a market.

*Photo credit: I can't make this shit up.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The third eye on my thigh

I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. 
~~ Edgar Allen Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

I have a third eye. It lives on my thigh, and it has nothing to do with my chakras -- unless maybe I bruised one.  It's been there for 12 days now -- unblinking, keeping its secrets. Like the Mona Lisa of bruises, this eye.

At first I thought the eye was a little creepy. I didn't want to linger in the bathroom reading magazines, listening to the neighbors fight, or waiting out Coraline, who sometimes uses the potty as an excuse to get out of other things, like taking a nap, and who likes company as she tinkles.

It just seemed weird having an eye staring up at me while I was performing very private acts. I guess it's better than having a nose on my thigh, but it took some getting used to.

Also it made me shudder to shave it .... If only it would blink.

I certainly didn't want to get soap in on it.

It had only been there a couple of days when it started attracting attention. I was riding my bike downtown to a festival on a Friday. I had on a skort, which must be the stupidest word ever except for maybe spork.

Anyway, a skort is a pair of shorts with a built-in skirt over them. So it looks like a skirt, but has more coverage than a skirt in the places that count. If I just wear a skirt, I have to layer shorts underneath while I ride and then take them off when I get to where I'm going. It's just easier to wear the skort in spite of the stupid name.

I'm pretty sure I've digressed because my third eye has finally closed and appears to be asleep.

The skort is not the perfect cycling wear. It rides up on my legs rather higher than I'd prefer, but not so far that it's obscene. I'm just used to my tight spandex bike shorts that end somewhere just above or below my knees. But it's a mile and a half, and I don't expect anybody is going to be staring at my legs as I ride along the city streets and sidewalks.

Except this middle-aged guy driving an orange PT Cruiser with his window down who slowed to almost a crawl, his head hanging out of the window as he stared at my lower half. And it was just as I had slowed too, going up a steep turn onto a bridge.

Having forgotten about the eye, I immediately felt flattered and a little turned on defensive. What the fuck, guy in an orange PT Cruiser? I thought. Are you trying to see my vagina or what?

Of course my vagina was covered by a skirt sewn to shorts as well as panties. It wasn't peeking out no matter how hard he looked, but I still had to glance down and check to see what had caused him to forget his manners.

When I looked down I saw the eye looking back up at me with its enigmatic expression. No wonder he was staring! He'd probably never seen anybody with a thigh eye before. 

"Did you see that?" I said to the eye. "That guy was staring at you." Its expression didn't change.

(The thought doesn't escape me that the eye is also embedded in a dark bruise the size of my palm, which might also have caught the man's attention, but who gives a shit if a stranger on a bicycle has a bruise? People don't slow down and stare at that, do they? I live in a neighborhood where men's pants are always in danger of falling down. Now that's something to stare at.)

I rode on and was glad to arrive at the festival where I could pull my skort down into place and cover the eye. My thighs don't need that kind of attention.

Sometime shortly after that though, I had to admit to myself I kind of liked the eye -- the mysterious expression, the rich colors, the unexpectedness. How it looks just off to the side, as if it's conjuring or dreaming. It's an eye Rembrandt might have painted .... although he probably wouldn't have embedded it in a painful thigh-bruise.

I started to wonder what the rest of her face would look like. I see it as a woman's eye, but how can an eye show gender? It could be a man's eye just as easily. (Although that makes it creepy again. I can't get used to peeing with a man's eye looking up at me.)

I wondered what her story would be, the owner of this eye that looks sad sometimes, disdainful other times, or simply bored if I've worn long pants all day. What stories would this eye tell if it were joined to the rest of its body? What has it seen -- besides a guy in an orange PT Cruiser who might have been trying to look up my skort at my vagina? It looks like an eye that has seen a lot and remembers everything.

So I've come to appreciate my third eye, especially now that the deeper muscle bruise has healed and it doesn't hurt to walk. It's kind of like those people who get Jesus on their piece of toast.

Only my third eye isn't going to make me a saint. It's not a miracle. It's already fading with the bruise it rode in on. And when it's gone, well I'm back to two blue eyes and a photo of the time I spend with the third eye on my thigh. The one that isn't a chakra.