Monday, May 21, 2012

A Girlfriend's Guide to Urban Farming

Step #1: Decide on a whim that you have GOT to plant some veggies in your backyard.  Because life will be incomplete if you don't.  Because all of your friends are reading "Farm City" and planting gardens and getting chickens and beehives these days.  Because you live near Berkeley, CA and as such, if you don't have a garden, you are obviously giving in to The Man and God forbid you pay even a penny more to Big Ag until those assholes stop getting subsidized for feeding us rubbish. 

In my little happy home, we've decided to plant some corn (oh, the irony), zucchini, cilantro, eggplant, basil, onion, and artichoke.  And after we planted the artichoke, we realized that those suckers grow to be about 6 feet tall, so we anticipate having to kill this thing sooner rather than later before it overpowers everything else.  I've also been informed that my zucchini will take over what little space I've already given it and screw the rest of my veggies.  Let this be a lesson to you all: do your research before hitting the store, because the excitement and shoppers high will have you thinking you can fit acres of crops into your one tiny garden plot.  Sadly, that is not the case. 

Step #2: Insult your boyfriends manhood (a delicate euphemism) to such an extreme that he finally decides he's Bob Vila and builds you "that damn garden box" just to shut you up.  This is best done when you're already in Home Depot, and can subtly rag on him for looking so completely out of place in the Maniverse that is the lumber aisle.

To my credit, I started doing this unintentionally.  I grew up with a dad and uncles who could do or fix or build anything.  A porch, a house, a car, dog kennels, and yes, even a garden box.  There were always tools, oil rags, paint cans, shovels, you name it, we had it on hand.  This is what I know.  I'm comfortable in that world -- so much more comfortable there than I am around guys in three piece suits.

But Nate generally doesn't fit this profile, at least not to the eye.  He doesn't have tools, I've never seen him build something (other than a computer), and he's more academic than he is construction worker.  I love that about him, obviously, but it gave me some doubts when it came to this project.

Well, he showed me and now I doubt no more.  See?  I'm growing.  Our relationship is evolving.  We're mature adults now.

A tip from your friendly neighborhood garden box builder: Use redwood.  It is apparently the only wood in the known universe that will never, ever, ever decay. 

Step #3: Build the box, dig the earth, get the compost, and plant the food.  Fence those suckers in so your dog doesn't poop on them or dig them up, too.  Give your boyfriend a thank-you kiss, then tell him you were wrong about his carpentry skillz and that you're now thinking of hiring his manliness out for a little extra cash.  Give him another kiss when he tells you you're crazy and threatens to leave you.

Then take pictures of all your hard work so that you can brag to your friends and anyone else who will listen.

Step #4: Begin calling yourself an Urban Farmer.  Because calling yourself a gardener reminds you too much of that elderly woman from your childhood who killed your rabbit when she fed him more of her fresh cabbage than his little body could stand.  (Whyyyyy, Mrs. Kawasaki?)

Oh, was that just me?

Twiddle your thumbs for weeks while you wait to harvest.  Then invite all your friends over for a garden farm party and eat the fruits of your labor.

Bon appetit!

Friday, May 18, 2012

'Fifty Shades' of Holy $#!& (Not a Book for Prudes)

I'm trying to think of something intelligent to say about E.L. James' "Fifty Shades" trilogy.

But the simple truth is that it really just makes you think of sex ALL THE TIME.  Like, seriously.  All the time.  I think my IQ dropped for the 2 days I spent reading these books.

Some people are calling these books "mommy porn," (which is a dumb name in and of itself because, I mean, are mommies not allowed to watch regular porn?) and I get that -- it's pretty graphic stuff wrapped up in romance and dominance and submission and a hot male lead character and unconditional love and all the other stuff women generally crave in romance novels.  But there are also some funny moments in the books (I smile whenever the heroine's subconscious or inner goddess pops up, and the emails exchanged between our lovebirds kind of make your toes curl), some heartbreaking moments, and yes, some moments where I'm hiding the pages I'm reading from everyone around me because God I'd die if they knew what it said.

There are things in these books that just make you blush.  You won't be able to help it.

They're saying these books are akin to Twilight and I agree and disagree.  I agree because Fifty Shades started out as an alternate universe Twilight fanfic -- and those of us who grew up writing fanfic realize that this is the dream: to get published.  There are similarities, of course: both series are PNW-based, with a rich as sin, troubled guy and young, innocent girl.  Both are written in the first person (and the writing will not score either of these series a place in the halls of great, classic literature).  Both actually feature classic literature as a theme -- though this dies off in Fifty Shades.  And both are pretty addicting.  Like crack, according to a friend of mine who, incidentally, is a mommy.  But these books are also so much more adult than Twilight (mainly because I would seriously question anyone who let someone under 18 read them -- they are definitely rated NC-17).

I also don't want to smack our Fifty Shades heroine (ha.  hahahaha.) the way I wanted to smack Bella half the time.  So that's an improvement.

But with that all said, will I recommend these books to my mother or sisters? No.  Emphatically, no.  I'd rather poke my eyeballs out or have the ground swallow me up in embarrassment.

Would I recommend these books to someone who's looking for something deep, something well-written, something...well, quality?  Probably not. The first 20 pages or so are pretty challenging to get through, even for someone like me, who could care less about writing quality so long as I'm highly entertained.

I will, however, recommend this to my lady friends who are just looking for a lip-biting good time.

Read at your own risk.  Not for the faint of heart of prudes.

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