Monday, October 22, 2012

Hysterectomy: Ode to My Uterus

Yes, this is a uterus cake. No, I didn't make it.
But, I have a great idea for a vasectomy
cake if I ever have the balls to bake it.
Sometimes, in order to have it all you cannot, in fact, have it all. In other words, the very nature of your "all-ness" prevents your having it. Or in other, other words, to truly have it all, you can't truly have all of it...or, more simply, you really can't always have your cake and eat it, too. 

Take, for example, my uterus, that small heart-shaped organ located somewhere amongst and between the internal forest of my girly-bits, who, at its tender age of 41, has made the independent decision to become un-useful. Well, the decision really wasn't an independent one. She and I have had long discussions about her behavior over the years. She has become increasingly unreliable, hostile even, and is frequently a down right pain in my ass...or wherever. Accordingly, I decided it was time to sever our relationship. Permanently. Tomorrow.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge what she has meant to me over the years. And for this reason, I will present a dramatic reading of my poetical debut: "Hysterectomy: Ode to My Uterus."

"Hysterectomy: Ode to My Uterus"
In the style of John Keats' "Ode to a nightingale."
And by "style" I mean heavily relied upon, or,
for you sticklers, plagiarized. 

My stomach aches, and no drowsy numbness
Numbs my pain, wishing I had hemlock drunk,
Or sucked down some sweet opiate-ness,
Before onto the couch I’d sunk:

No man envies our unhappy lot,
Being too happy, womb-free,
As we, the womb-ed ones, plot
At how to tie a hangman’s knot and
Swing them from the trees.

O, for a chocolate bar! even
dredged in lint and Purell,
dug from some foul car seat hell,
and a dusting of cheerios still tastes like heaven!
Oh! To calm the fullness in my tired womb,
with stretch marks folded deeply in,
and an Oreo stained mouth;
That I may eat, and leave my deed unseen,
and nevermore to see my shirt tucked in!

Faded now, at forty, my womb cannot
forget what once it knew,
that I had wanted it until the babies grew;
And now, we women sit and hear each other groan,
With useless cramps and all their seeds long sown,
For you, my uterus, I care not.

Away! away! for the doctor shall remove thee!
No longer shall I fear that Bacchus and his hacks
Will land their unexpected seeds in me!
Already with thee! No longer tender are my belly and my back!
Haply, the Moon-time is nigh and calls for what I lack!
But there is no pain,
Save what a Mojito or chardonnay might tame.

I cannot see where she once held her throne,
Nor what now fills that place
where, for a pace,
my nestling children grown.
Quietly I listen; and for many a time
Have I been half in love with thee, even, life giver,
when your once ruby river,
was, finally and forever, dammed!

But thou was not born for death, immortal womb!
The budding generations for whom
you were a home, live on!
And for whom, with XX chromosome,
for some pre-allotted time you will bless and curse,
I thank you, my dear uterus!

"Hey! She's hot!" 
"Yeah, and she let me take out her uterus..."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some like it hot...

There is also an old adage that was an integral part of my growing up years that many of us, no doubt, are familiar with: "Everything is for fun or learning." Needless to say, my share of learning has occasionally largely outweighed my share of fun.

To wit:
These are the 
Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Note: they appear neither
red, nor hot. What gives?

Yesterday I was working on a large batch of salsas and spaghetti sauces, hoping it was the last of the season. I was canning. Hard. Sometimes when a task is tiresome, humans have a tendency to rush a process hoping to end it more quickly. As a woman who has it all, I am not excepted from this propensity.

I had been wisely wearing gloves whilst de-seeding and mincing jalapenos, bird's eyes, fish, and Hungarian peppers for the salsa. I was beginning my final batch when I realized I was out of gloves. (I kept having to take them off and toss them to help the kids.)

Anyway, I was handling a less spicy pepper and so wasn't concerned about the glove issue. However, in making this choice I failed to consider the following facts:
  • I was using the same cutting board and didn't wash it down before preparing the final batch of peppers ungloved.
  • I didn't wash my knife before preparing the final batch of peppers ungloved.
  • I didn't consider the delayed affect of capsaicin on the skin.
  • Less spicy still means spicy.

First, a science lesson...

If I have to explain who these 
characters are then shame on you.
Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers that is known as an irritant to both humans and animals. It can enter the body through the air or when it contacts the skin. It can be lethal in large doses. 

Capsaicin also has useful properties that include:
  • prevention of weight regain after weight-loss
  • deterrent for mammalian pests, and
  • generalized pain relief including pain related to arthritis, neuralgia, and muscle strains and sprains.
However, as discussed briefly above, if capsaicin is handle improperly the results can be painful, hence:

Please pardon the quality of the photograph. I am sure you understand.

Milk products, including yogurt and sour cream, are effective in treating the intense discomfort associated with capsaicin exposure. You must, however, hold the milk product in your mouth as long as possible. Apply it to your lips as well. It took almost an hour of this treatment to get acceptable relief. This works because the casein in milk works to draw the capsaicin away from the abused receptor binding sites in your mouth.

A little research also revealed that capsaicin is being researched for use as an anti-wrinkle cream. In fact, professional hot sauce maker, Blair Lazar, discovered its miraculous youth-regerating properties while preparing a new sauce to enter into the World Guiness Book of Records when he accidentally splashed his product on his face. In his words:

"A few days later, I noticed that the skin around my face and eyes appeared brighter and firmer."

This is one of Mr. Lazar's satisfied customers.

Do I plan on trying his product? Hell to the no...ok, maybe.


On the bright side...


Ready for some hot love baby, tonight.

This photo is completely untouched. Although I will admit to having been blessed with a plump mouth, it ain't this plump. Nor this cherry red. But I decided to make the best of it and add a little sheer gloss to magnify the affect.

I found these gloves a little too late.
The pain in my hands was nearly unbearable. Cleverly, however, I filled my previously undiscovered gloves with incredibly expensive organic Greek yogurt I slipped my hands in. The effect was instant but as soon as I needed to inhale after my long exhale of relief induced ecstasy the pain returned.

When I ran out of yogurt I used cottage cheese. This was both disgusting and unhelpful...finally, at about 3:00 a.m., unable to sleep because of the pain, I pecked desperately at my keyboard and attempted to Google another remedy. I ran across the idea of using lime to break down the capsaicin oil, proffered by a Mexican chef so I figured it had immediate merit. Sure enough, it was magic and in about ten minutes the pain had subsided enough for me to pass out, battle weary, from my day of canning.
Gracias a Dios!  

 Please don't read for typos and grammatical errors today. My hands hurt and I was in a hurry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boy Wonder

Having it all means necessarily having children that are bright, kind, well-groomed, and resourceful. I love to regale friends and families of their little escapades (and they love to be regaled!), and so was delighted this morning when my son provided me with another charming anecdote to share.

This morning while we were getting ready for the day, my 3 1/2 year old son walked out of his bedroom holding a plastic grocery bag with a large, self satisfied grin on his face. "What is it, baby?," I asked stupidly, to which he replied, "I couldn't find my little potty so I peed in this bag!"

Little boys are so cute peeing
the Belgians turned one into stone.

I was instantly filled with pride, and as his father came into the hall I announced, "Our son is a genius! Tell daddy what you did, baby! Go on!" Boy child beamed up at his daddy and said, "I couldn't find my little potty so I peed in this bag!" His understandably proud father held the bag aloft to admire the specimen, then high-fived our son and said, "That's awesome! Great problem solving!"

However, as I watched the *myriads of faces of my audience, I began to wonder how each was internally responding to my tale...

The Childless Audience

External dialogue: "Oh. Wow. Um, that's funny!?"
Internal monologue: "Please don't show me your kid's picture. Please don't show me your kid's picture. Please don't show me your kid's picture."

**The Doting Grandparent Audience

External dialogue: "He is soooo smart! You know, you did the exact same thing when you were his age!"
Internal monologue: "He is soooo smart! Seriously, Mildred's grandson would never in a million years have been able to figure out how to piss in a plastic bag! I hope they got a picture of the bag!"

***The Concerned Grandparent Audience

External dialogue: "I thought he was potty-trained?"
Internal monologue: "I don't think this is funny. My children were all potty trained by two. But whatever, its their life, and their kids so I CERTAINLY don't want to step in where I am not wanted. Unless they asked, of course. But they never ask. They don't even call."

The One-Up Parent Audience

External dialogue: "I thought he was potty trained? Celia has been potty trained since birth. We did the whole "elimination communication" thing so we never even used a diaper. We just knew her so well we understood from the beginning when she had to eliminate."
Internal monologue: "I always thought there was something a little strange about him. They just aren't strict enough with him, that's his problem. If he was with us for a week he wouldn't pee in a plastic bag. That reminds me, I need to call Celia's therapist this morning...".

The Hippie Parent Audience

External dialogue: "That is so great that you let him be himself and express himself like that! Wow! What an imagination!"
Internal monologue: "Why did she have a plastic grocery bag in the house? That is so environmentally irresponsible. I mean, she cans, for god's sake!" 

The Jealous Parent Audience

External dialogue: "That is so funny! He is such a cute and smart little guy! I just love him!"
Internal monologue: "That is so funny. He is such a cute and smart little guy.  I just love him. I wish Junior would piss in a plastic bag instead of my new Jimmy Choo's."

I have never seen a Jimmy Choo in real life. Is this my only option? Or can I get them in waterproof?

  My Own Evolution

As the day progressed and I had time to reflect, I had a few more reactions to the incident:
  1. "The regular potty was four feet away. Why didn't he just use that one?"
  2. "Why was there a plastic grocery bag in his bedroom? Was he playing with it? Who left it in there? Probably his father! He could have put it on his head!! Ohmygod he almost died."
  3. "Is there something wrong with him?! Ohmygod I have to Google "toddler son pees in plastic bag!"
  4. "Where's my mojito!?"
Please feel free to share the wonderful crazy things your kids have done in the comments below.

I felt this photograph provided an interesting juxtaposition to Belgium's Mannekin Pis above. I am introspective like that.


* This blatant misuse of "myriad" is for my mother.
** And *** These are generalized characterizations of grandparents and are in no way intended to reflect any actual grandparents. Except maybe the first one. You know who you are.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview With a Manpire

Before I begin this post, I want to state that I am married to a near-perfect man. I also think bad-mouthing one's husband is counter to having it all (unless he really deserves it.) However, my husband and I do on occasion have a difference of opinion.  Last Thursday morning we had two incidents that led me to men want, need, or even think about having it all? This led me to invite my husband to sit with me to answer a few questions I am sure burn deep in the bosom of all women who have it all (and even those that don't.)

I selected today's title because
it sucks that having it all is so easy (an unnecessary) for a man.
Also, this is the last time I officially ever
found Tom Cruise sexy.

 Following is the exact transcript of the interview:

Me: "So, what does it mean to you to "have it all."

Him: "I never thought about it."

Me: "So you've never stopped and looked at your job, your family, and your home, felt as though something was out of balance, and wondered how on earth you would ever manage to have it all?

Him: "Nope."

Me: "Do you think you have it all?"

Him: "I just told you I never thought about it."

Me: "Well, think about it."

Him: "O.k."

Long pause.

Me: "So...?"

Him: "So, what?"

Me: "So do you think you have it all???"

Him: "Oh you meant to think about it now."

Longer pause while I get a mojito.

Me: "Next question. Do you think you work too much?"

Him: "Sure."

Me: "So do you think it takes time away from being with your family?"

Him: "Uh-huh."

Me: "So how does that make you feel."

Him: "It's fine. Its my job. I do it."

Me: "Well, what about 'me' time?"

Him: "I see you plenty."

Me: "No I mean 'meeee' time (using air quotes.)"

Him: "Oh. Um, I read the paper and drink coffee. I drink beer. I go to the bathroom--not all at the same time."

Me: "The clarification wasn't really necessary, dear."

Him: "Just being helpful."

Me: "Well, do you ever feel like you aren't doing enough?"

Him: "No. I'm always doing something."

Me: "But what if you could do more?"

Him: "Why would I want to?"
No, this is not a reference to myself. Keep reading
to understand the relevance.

Me: "Fair enough."

Crying child enters. Interview is suspended.

Me: "[deep, irritated sigh] Fine, lets move on. To me, having it all means keeping a nice house."

Him: "And I thank you for that."

Me: "Your welcome. But look around this room. I see five things that are disturbingly wrong here and that signal to me a failure in my efforts to have it all. Can you name those five things?"

Him: "Um."


Me: [A silent pointed look at offense number one.]

Him: "Um?"

Me: "Oh for crap's sake! There is a large dead spider 6 inches from your right foot, there are two piles of dirty laundry on the sofa, your daughter has written her name in the dust on the t.v. screen, and the damned cat is chewing on a shrew!!!"

Him: "Apparently we see things differently."


Gratuitous Tom. Happy Monday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Accident

Dear Fauxllowers:

Today's post is going to be brief. I am in Lancaster, the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. I am here with my father and step-mother and the children. We are headed for Dutch Wonderland in the morning. Given the area's deep German roots, I was shocked and dismayed to learn that beer is not part of the Dutch Wonderland experience. Personally, I don't know a single German who would describe any such place as a "wonderland." post today is about a happy accident I experienced last night. It was a small discovery, but "having it all" means finding happiness in the nooks and crannies of life.

Some are happy. Some aren't.

Everyone has accidents. Some are happy. Some are unhappy. Part of having it all means accepting both happy, and unhappy, accidents.

Here are some examples of happy accidents:
"Most of us believe in trying to make other 
people happy only if they can be happy 
in ways which we approve."  ~Robert S. Lynd

  • An unexpected pregnancy.
  • The discovery of antibiotics.
  • Running into a long-lost friend in line at the DMV.
  • Having your flight grounded due to weather but being bumped to first class on the next flight.
  •  Losing 10 pounds from the stomach flu right before your 20-year reunion.

Here are some examples of unhappy accidents:

 "Misery is almost always 
the result of thinking."  ~Joseph Joubert
  • An unexpected pregnancy.
  • The discovery that even though you didn't get pregnant you need an antibiotic.
  • Rear-ending a cop on the way to the DMV.
  • Being in first class stuck next to some yahoo who had only ever traveled coach.
  • Losing 10 pounds from the Irish flu the day after your 20-year reunion because you were unaware you had since developed a severe allergy to clove cigarettes and Boon's Farm.

 My Happy Accident

I have mentioned my affection for mojitos in a couple of my previous posts. Last night, as I was finishing canning my homemade sweet pepper and sundried tomato sauce (recipe below), I realized I had forgotten to prepare some of my equipment--namely, my mojito. It was dark outside and so I went to my mint patch and blindly grabbed at the plant, hoping I avoided the poison ivy growing alongside it. (All the weeds in my garden are there because I believe strongly in allowing nature to thrive and to encourage visits from honey bees and yellow jackets.)

When I got inside I tossed the leaves in the mortar bowl, carefully measured and poured my 4 ounces of white rum, and added a splash of simple sugar. As I began to muddle, a different aroma wafted from the bowl. It smelled faintly of Pledge. Alas, I had picked lemon balm. Well, we all know the old saying, "When life gives you lemon balm, make a lemon balm pineapple mojito!" Never one to shun ancient wisdom, I did exactly that.

Melissa's Lemon Balm Pineapple Mojito


Hand full of lemon balm (from your own garden)
Crushed pineapple (depending on your geography, you will likely need to purchase this)
White rum
Simple syrup
Seltzer water

Make this the same way you make a regular mojto. See my previous post for directions. Note: you likely won't need as much simple sugar as this because of the sweetness of the pineapple. Enjoy!

Bonus Recipe

I will discuss the multiple uses of olive oil in a later post. Also, remember to employ common sense hygiene and safety practices while in the kitchen.Happy Friday!


Sweet Pepper and Sundried Tomato Pasta Sauce


  • Equal parts: Chopped sweet red or green peppers (de-seeded) and onions (I used about 4 cups each but it depends on the size of your batch)
  •  Fresh garlic to taste (I used at least 4 cloves of my own, home-grown organic garlic to avoid the Chinese stuff.)
  • 4 quarts strained tomatoes
  • 3 small cans of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of soaked and drained sundried tomatoes (I made mine from our garden tomatoes and stored them in the fridge in a jar with olive oil and salt--I used the leftover oil and salt in this recipe.)
  • olive oil
  • salt 
  • sugar
  • oregano and basil to taste
  • I don't do measurements unless necessary

Sautee the onions, garlic, and peppers on low heat (olive oil has a low smoking point) until the vegetables are slightly soft. Add strained tomatoes, tomato paste, and generous amount of fresh oregano and basil (less if dried). Let simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour. Turn the heat off and let the sauce cool slightly. Blend using a submersion blender until smooth (you can use a regular blender but you would have to wait until it is cool.) Add sugar (at least 1/3 cup) and salt (you may need up to 1/4 cup) to taste. Simmer until slighly thicker and follow canning directions when ready.


And remember...

"If you don't have it all, you just aren't trying hard enough!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Down·time, [doun-tahym](noun)

Down·time, [doun-tahym](noun): a time during a regular working period when an employee is not actively productive.

Dear Fauxllowers:

Before having it all I had the bad habit of penciling in "down-time." Although "down-time" is touted by psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, pediatricians, professional coaches, podiatrists, dermatologists, and marriage counselors as vital to a healthy and balanced family life, I have found that "down-time" is an anathema to women who have it all. Accordingly, I have dispensed with it altogether because, unlike this quaint little photo erroneously tates, laziness is a bad thing.

My family objects to my decision to ban personal "down-time." My husband, who never worried about whether he has it all, frequently admonishes me to take a break, read a book, or go get a latte and drive through the countryside. However hard your family pushes you to slowdown, you must not give in. I have created some "techniques" that will give  the appearance that you are having "down-time" and hopefully quiet the discouraging voices of your family:

*Use caution with this time saving method.
  • Take a "bubble" bath. Use Mr. Clean* to create sudsy bubbles in the bathtub. Use the bubbles to to scrub the tub and tiled walls while briefly washing yourself as well. When you step out of the bath DO NOT use a bathmat, instead shake any clinging bubbles onto the floor and then swipe the floor clean with a towel. *Ring your hair into the towel bowl, swish with the toilet brush, and flush. (They now have scents like Hawaiian Aloha and New Zealand Spring which your family will mistake for the the Bath and Body Works stuff they got you for Mother's Day.)
  • Read a book.   Not really. Don't do it. Not even Shades of Grey. However, if your family is really on your case for you to take a break, slip a to-do list in between of the pages of your book, or use the edges of the book pages to sketch flower arrangements, or to perfect the closing argument for that jury trial you have in the morning. Just. Don't. Waste. Time. With. A. Damned. Book.
  • Go for a walk. Nobody can see you on your iPhone checking emails, tracking your family finances, or researching new family recipes to keep your menu exciting, nutritious, and diverse.
  • Lie. I have convinced my husband that cleaning the house is my form of relaxation. So much so that he recently suggested to me (after a brief and terrifying backslide into not wanting to have it all) that I spend the weekend with a single girlfriend of mine and clean her much neglected house. (My girlfriend doesn't have a husband or kids so clearly she doesn't have it all--unless you consider hot yoga retreats, happy hours, and book clubs as "having it all.")
  • Enjoy a cocktail.

*Mr. Clean contains ingredients that irritate the nervous system, eyes, and skin. The government has established that its use poses a "slight" health risk. Make informed decisions before bathing in chemicals not intended to come into contact with human skin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"I say tomato..."

Dear Fauxllowers:

I am sorry it has been so long since my last post. And because honesty and self-flagellation are part of having it all, I admit I simply haven't been trying hard enough. 

Apologies aside, I took my two little ones to farm-sit for my brother and sister-in-law while they were away for my nephew's wedding. One thing to remember, ladies, is this: "Having it all means giving it all." That is why I packed up the kids and headed four hours north for a week-long stay in my brother's lovely home...with three dogs, four or five cats (I was never quite sure how many there actually were), 20 plus chickens, and some shaggy horned things they called cows but that looked more like yaks. While I was there I also made some necessary changes to their household, in particular to their chicken coop...but proper poultry husbandry is better left to another post.

So, because I was busy "giving it all" on behalf of my brother's animal kingdom, I was left with little time to write...this put me, a woman who has it all, in quite a conundrum because since I have it all, I must also give it all, which means there is nothing left over once I am done giving, and I have to start all over again trying to have it all. Ever heard of Sisyphus?

(This isn't Sisyphus but I think this is probably what he looked like after having to roll that damned rock up the mountain for eternity. Happy Wednesday.)

"You say tomato, I say tomato, let's call the whole thing sauce!"
Our local CSA, Flying Plow Farm, generously donated 3 bushels of tomatoes to me in exchange for my providing the farmers, Sarah and Tom, with salsas and sauces. Being able to can is an integral part to having it all. And though it is hot, steamy work, the rewards are myriad:
  • you provide your family with food that is free of preservatives and additives
  • you support local agriculture
  • you sweat so profusely that you can skip the gym, and
  • you encourage (shame) others into following your example.
Canning tomatoes is easy but unpleasant. Still, the reward of knowing your family is eating homemade food, plus the "encouragement" you give other women to try and have it all, too, makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

 To ensure that your canning experience goes smoothly, or at least pleasantly, make sure you start with the proper equipment:

Melissa's Watermelon Mojito

rum (white, any type)
watermelon (preferably from your own garden)
fresh mint (again, from your own garden--any type)
soda water
simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)
crushed ice
more rum

Muddle lime, rum, mint, and simple syrup (to your taste) with a mortar and pestle. Muddle this until your hand hurts. Make sure the mint liquid has turned pale green so the mint flavor is well established. Add a small amount of watermelon and muddle. Fill a large glass with crushed ice, pour the mixture over the ice, fill with soda water, and shake gently. Add more rum and simple syrup as needed. I also add a little more lime to tamp the smell of alcohol on my breath.