Friday, August 31, 2007

Horray for Iowa!

So there was bad news from one of my home states last week – but good news from my other home state today.

A Polk County judge on Thursday struck down Iowa's law banning gay marriage.

The ruling by Judge Robert Hanson concluded that the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and he ordered Polk County Recorder Julie Haggerty to issue marriage licenses to several gay couples.

I’m sure that this won’t be the end – there will be challenges, there will be debates and it may get reversed again before it’s all over. But every time something like this happens we get closer and closer to extending this wonderful thing called marriage to ANYONE who wants it.

Go Iowa!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

21 Days and Cooking

My mom was not a big cook. I think she probably could cook ok, but it was never anything she really seemed to enjoy doing and she worked a lot – so a home cooked meal in our house most often consisted of things like:
• Macaroni & Cheese (Kraft from a box of course) with hotdogs
• Tacos – I actually remember that she usually only used a half packet of seasoning mix because otherwise it was too spicy – and the toppings consisted of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes – no salsa or hot sauce or sour cream or guacamole
• Basic meat and potatoes: pan fried pork chops and boiled potatoes, pot roast and potatoes, etc.
• Hot dish – tuna and noodles and a can of creamed soup, ground beef and noodles and a can of tomato sauce (we actually called that spaghetti)

They were all fine meals – and I do actually like most of them – but there was little variety, very few spices, nothing remotely ethnic and nothing very unique.
• I honestly didn’t know until I was about 17 that you could make a piecrust.
• My dad doesn’t like many vegetables so my mom never made them – so we never had them – so I just decided without ever trying most of them that they were gross. I was in my 20s and had a roommate that cooked before I started to eat them and decided that most were pretty good.
• My dad also doesn’t like Chinese food, so maybe we got it from him – but my brothers and I used to refer to any dish we didn’t thin looked good as ‘Chinese food’ it was synonymous for ‘bad.’ When I was a senior in high school my friend made me go to a Chinese restaurant…..OMG it was so good!

So because of this upbringing – I never really learned how to cook. When I went to college – I fended for myself. I could do the very basics – mac & cheese, sandwiches, frozen dinners, but I even remember calling my mom once asking how to bake a potato, because I’d had it in the oven for almost an hour and it wasn’t done and I thought maybe I was doing it wrong. I lived by myself or with a roommate often on opposing schedules – so it was almost always cooking for one – not worth learning to cook. I joked about it and I didn’t care. If I wanted something more exotic – that’s what restaurants are for!

Well that was 10-15 years ago. I have since learned to cook – and I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m always nervous it’s going to be rotten, but most of the time my stuff turns out pretty good. Usually because Noland is there and he is an awesome cook! One of my former co-workers (who is a fabulous cook) and I used to sit in our cubes and share recipes and discuss ‘foodie’ things through our shared window all day long. She would tell me things like she loved getting my recipes because they are always so good. And when we throw a party or bring something to a friend’s party – we usually cook up something pretty fantastic. The last 4 or 5 years I’ve even been reading cooking magazines and having all kinds of fun learning how to do some cool stuff.

So this brings me all to the current thought that keeps running through my brain. It seems that every time I’ve talked to my mother on the phone recently it’s been near dinnertime and I’ve mentioned something about that. This past week we’d been out all weekend, didn’t have much to work with at home, so Sunday evening I was making some basic mac and cheese. Some rotelli, 2 kinds of cheese, milk, a dab of sour cream, and some red pepper flakes for kick – toss it all in a dish and bake. Simple – but nice. My mother’s comment “ew – the icky kind – Kraft is the only good kind you know.” Her other comment “aren’t you done yet, aren’t you cooking it on high, aren’t you the girl who says that everything should be cooked on high?”

Sure – when I was 18 and you yelled at me for boiling noodles on too high a temp.

Nearly every time I’ve told her about a dinner we’ve made, or a party we’ve had or gone to – she tells me that what I’ve just described sounds “icky” or asks me who made it for me. They are coming to visit in a few weeks and I said that I was going to cook for them every meal and they’d see that I am a good cook…and she told me that she’d bring a bag of her own food and hide it in the closet.

So thanks mom. Way to make me feel like I’m 16 again. Way to make me excited about the visit.

So I’m warning the rest of you now.
I may be a bitch for the next 3 weeks.
And then I may need a lot of drinks.

Either that or I’m going to get my parents to eat Thai food.

Friday, August 24, 2007

If they weren't so powerful I'd have to laugh

The things that I hear coming from my home state often mortify me. While I haven’t lived there in nearly 2 decades – it is where I grew up and it is where my family all still lives. So in a small way it is still home.

My friends here often joke about the fact that we don’t believe in gravity – referring to the anti-evolution stand the Kansas education department keeps pulling out of their butts. But now I learn that Brownback – one of the worst senators to come from Kansas in decades – and a Republican Presidential hopeful – has co-sponsored a bill that will help remove the free or extremely discounted contraceptives from the hands of the women who need it the most. Because of Planned Parenthood’s stand on abortion they are the targets of these morons who don’t understand that all they’re doing is increasing the number of women who will need abortions.

First Missouri passes a bill that makes it so that Planned Parenthood can’t provide sex education information to schools – even though they are undeniably the most qualified to do so – and now Brownback is trying to take away their funding to provide condoms and birth control pills to women who can’t afford them. Sure – some of these contraceptives are going to teenagers – and that is offensive to these people – but hey – at least the teenagers are smart enough to try and not get pregnant! But a good percentage of them are going to married women, to adults, to people who may have a couple kids already and know they shouldn’t have any more.

I know there are some wonky old-school Catholics and Mormons out there who still believe that “every sperm is sacred’ but for the most part even the Pope realizes that is a fight that is not going to be won in US. But since all these puritanical nut jobs can afford to buy their own pills – they don’t understand why telling these adult, maybe even married women “if you don’t want a baby – don’t have sex” isn’t really kosher. And I’m sure that as crazy as Brownback, McCain, Tancredo and Romney (all who support the bill,) are – that none of them believe that too – but they’re willing to sacrifice that right for others – for the poor, the minorities, the teenagers… to slowly and surely knock out agencies like Planned Parenthood in a subtle and sneaky way of ultimately trying to end the right to choose.

And they're the ones upholding the morals of America.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Warning - Sappy Post

Friendships are a strange thing. I have always considered my close friends to be family. I love my family but I love my friends just as much. Some of my friends and some of my family have had a hard time understanding that. Some understand completely.

There are those friends that you knew the day you met you'd be friends for life. And I love that there are some of you out there reading from places across the country that fall into that category! Even though we don't talk as much we did when we lived in the same place when we are together we can instantly fall back into that same comfortable place. And the fact that you read- I really appreciate. Even when I'm bad at writing or calling - I love the comments I get from Iowa, Baltimore, Kansas or other places.

Then there are those people you think fall into that category - but as time goes by you realize that there's just nothing in common any more except the past. And the people that fall into that category - I know don't read this. And this can apply to people who live both near and far.

But then there are also just the opposite - the great people that you may never have figured to be a good friend - just a casual acquaintance - but then over time you realize how important and special they are to you.

I've been thinking of all this lately because of two incidents:

Last week my best friend from high school came out for a family visit and we got to spend a couple of hours together one night. This was only the second time we'd seen each other or spoken in more than 4 years. When Noland and I were getting married she was going through some personal stuff and didn't come out for the wedding. I was hurt more than words could ever say. We've never talked about it - but we did have a nice little cry before she left this time and while it may take some time to get back to the comfort level we had before - for the first time since then I feel like we're going to make it back.

Then there's my friend here in town - the first friend I had in Portland actually (not counting the one I brought with me :) I invite her to do things, she either can't come out or if she does it's for a very short time or she just sits silently being cranky. Then she stops responding to invitations at all. Eventually I give up because it can't be a one sided effort. Then I hear from another friend that she thinks I'm mad at her and not talking to her. It's hard to not talk to someone who doesn't return calls or initiate them. She was a good friend for that period of my life - but I'm done. It's just not worth the effort.

So I guess this is my sappy message to those of you out there reading - that you are so important to me - friends are family.

And Amy - we talked when we were kids about our plans as adults. We never thought even then that we'd live in the same city. You were going to have a house in a small town on a lake where I'd come and spend 4th of July... and I was going to live downtown in a big city where you would come and spend New Years Eve. So we're not exactly in those situations - but you are still close to home and I am far away - and maybe one day we'll spend one of those holidays together. As family.