So, I know what you’re going to think: our new enterprise is fabulous. No, but seriously. Check out that menu. For realz. All that home-cooked fare? I am telling you it’s going to be good.
So yes, Nels and I are going to run a restaurant for a while. Well, it’s a “restaurant” anyway. Nels named it (I made the logo) and designed the scheme (when Ralph and I finished the website he was very impressed) and was quite opinionated about the selected dishes as well. Every Wednesday we’re making food (a fully-rendered dinner, paired dessert, and drink of choice), and packing it in reusable takeout for friends and family to opt-in. Yes, we came up with a market-value donation equivalent to, you know, if this were an actual business. Yes, we have one “customer” confirmed (my mom), and color all three of us food-geeks excited!
And while I’m at it, if it isn’t clear already, let me tell you something: EVERY aspect of this venture has my son in the driver’s seat. He’s emphatic we get paid (more in a bit). He’s also emphatic we freely share, too, though:
Nels’ second part of our business plan: he wants our food to be free for those who can’t afford it – the “homeless” and “poor” (his words). And don’t think I’m not totally impressed he put forth this construct. He’s awesome.
So today we did just that with the above-shown cake – after errands Nels hopped out at the bus station with a colander full of wrapped sour cream banana cake parcels and handed them out; the kiddos walked the remainder through the front door of the Mission. Both Nels and Phoenix were very interested in all this and Nels talked, all the way home, about being happy he helped, and how he wanted to help more.
So I’m sure you’re thinking Wow that’s really cool, Kelly’s such a good / supportive / creative / talented mom, and That Nels is so sweet and bright etc. etc. But you don’t know the whole story.
I mean I’m not sure if I’ve rendered, fully, how fucking tenacious this child is. I mean I’ve talked about it here and there. Until recently he had the video game Minecraft occupying his body, mind, and soul. Now that he’s off the video games (for now) he has his 110% energy up to cooking, making menus, and heckling. Dear god the heckling. Let’s make this, let’s make that, put spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, also that Vietnamese dish, with the noonles (not a typo), and let’s test out dough for bread.
And the questions. I mean even as we’re making the goddamned bread at 1 AM. The questions, Great Balls. Why can’t we have an actual business and make money? Why would we have to pay to do that? Why do we have to have licensure, insurance, and cook in a different kitchen? I like cooking in our kitchen. Why can’t we just tell people about it, make ads and flyers? Can we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner? Can we share just dessert? Should dessert be ten dollars?
Who is homeless? How can you tell? Is a homeless person dirty with a cardboard sign? Why can’t I ask someone if they’re poor? Why does ______ keep saying they’re poor when they have a bigger house than us and two nice cars? Why did the city of Aberdeen post signs that tell people they shouldn’t help people? Is what we made healthy enough? Could we make something different tomorrow?
Can I give homeless people clothes?* Can I give them a computer? Would they like this palm pilot? Can I give them my money? I’m going to invite a homeless person to sleep at my house. I’m going to grow up and build a house with four extra bedrooms for people to sleep in. I’m going to have a hostel. People care too much about money. People should help.
It’s not just that eventually I’m at the point of “Mama why is the sky blue?” “Just shut up and eat your french fries”, it’s that rather early on I realize Nels is just right about everything, and I get tired thinking of how the world kinda sucks a lot of the time, and I’m pissed and tired I have to defend or explain. Any of it. Oh and I don’t want him to change, to lose this compassion and this intelligence and this love, and I’m scared one day he will, but I feel powerless to do anything. Except stay up all night baking bread while he pours in every cup (of eleven) of flour and says, “I love you, Mama.”
They’re exhausting. The kids. But it’s the right kind of exhaustion, I guess. Truthfully, I have no idea how long my six-year old will remain interested in this project, but I can say I’ve been enjoying the last few days immensely. Besides the menu and web design we’ve been testing recipes: three-bean chili with shredded pork, honey white bread, bÃºn thá»‹t bÃ² xÃ o, jalapeÃ±o jack cornbread, and sour cream banana cake. Tomorrow: yeasted Tabasco-cheddar biscuits, sesame slaw, and coconut muffins.
Yeah, it feels right.
Oh, and this Wednesday evening? Palak Panner, Vegetarian Korma with Carrots, Potatoes, and Cauliflower; Basmati Rice in Ghee with Cardmom and Cinnamon, Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade with Mint, and Coconut Cupcakes for dessert.
(The Mission, & a Grays Harbor Black Dog:)
* Yes, I’ve explained how my extremely careful tending of clothing, including last week at the Aberdeen Clothing Bank, is in fact donating clothes, although Nels has a point about just going up to someone and offering them something.
you said about the money?
How big is Hoquiam? Maybe y’all could get a local food ordinance passed, a la Sedgwick, ME.
Nels is just right about everything, and I get tired thinking of how the world kinda sucks a lot of the time, and Iâ€™m pissed and tired I have to defend or explain. Any of it. Oh and I donâ€™t want him to change, to lose this compassion and this intelligence and this love, and Iâ€™m scared one day he will, but I feel powerless to do anything.
SO MUCH THIS. Parenting has made me reexamine my own deep-seated feelings of resignation and complacency as a citizen of the world. I don’t want to teach my stepdaughter that when you grow up, you get so bogged down in your own thing that you no longer have the time, energy or resources to be an idealist.
This sounds like a good start to something very interesting! Also, I don’t think you need to worry about Nels losing his passion and compassion. A lot of people think it is impossible to remain an idealist as an adult but that’s not true at all. it seems to be an integral part of who he is and, even if it goes to sleep for a while at some point, i don’t think it will ever go away.
Whoa… this is amazing. I suspect that you’ll downplay this like it’s not world-changing, like it’s just another thing that you guys do, but… this adds up to being fucking world changing, in my opinion. I’m so tired of complaining about the lack of village and complaining and about the things I think I should be seeing in my community that aren’t there. I’m ready for some hardcore doing and you’re writing the book on DOING, whether that’s your intention or not. I’m seriously inspired.
i am in love with your kid.
and wow. your project is awesome. go, you guys!
Awesome possum, Kelly. Really. Aside from all the wonderfulness of you and Nels being such a power couple, I really do think it’s a great business idea. I would order it every week if I were nearby.
The food sounds SO GOOD! I wish I could order something… delivery to Australia by any chance?
Oh! Oh! I love this new venture! I LOVE IT! Cooking and happy food! And happy people! And interested children! And a new project for you.
See? This is how Peter used to be. I bring this up ONLY because I’m questioning my schooling choices for him. I wonder, if/how I could bring this compassion and drive back in him?
Perhaps when you’re at the thrift store you can grab up some items to include with each free meal to the homeless. A scarf, pair of gloves, a hat, etc. Knowing you, it would be more fun to make them. For lack of a better term, it would be like a homeless happy meal. I know that sounds bad, but I’m not trying to poke fun. I’m being serious. Added warmth instead of a toy.
p.s. Michigan just passed a cottage food industry measure that makes it possible for me to buy my favorite locally made (and Upper Peninsula made) foods at my local grocer and farmer’s market!
I am overwhelmed and pleased that Kelly and
Ralph have such wonderful children. (remember I did your wedding) It takes really good parents to raise children with these kind of hearts and compassion.
We do have a food and clothing bank in Hoquiam and the community supports it totally. Anything we can do to help you helping the less fortunate?
typical amazing qualities coming from the Hogaboom clan
RE the heckling 🙂 We call it peppering over here and can report that the days and nights are full of pepper steak, and pepper jack, and pepper corns. Both of us parents do occasionally request true moments of silence as we try to refuel for calm and loving engagements during the next rapid-fire round of pepper. E occasionally requests true moments of silence too- such as when we are not pretending to be Tevye and Golda and Tzeitel from the Fiddler on the Roof but are instead having a discussion about whether or not “trailer house” is an unnecessary and derogatory classist/oppressive distinction.
Totally awesome! You make me feel inadequate… 😉
Thank you for raising two inquisitive and intelligent human beings who add so much to others’ lives and will continue to do so in the future. It takes a lot of work, but you’re doing an excellent job as their mother and teacher. Ralph also dazzles me with his patient parenting. 🙂
This is great, at such a young age he feels compassion for his fellow man. I have just spent an entire quarter at GHC listening to different agencies in Grays Harbor, and (creating my own agency to help people for my final). There is funding and resources out there for you guys, I believe this could be one of the many places that our people can turn to for help. I say good job Nels:)! And as I read this post, I can’t help but feel warm inside:) <3
Oh goodness I got behind on my comments! Thanks everyone who wrote.
Nels is the price negotiator; he can be reached by phone (3605003287) or by emailing. For best results put “conch” in the subject line.
“A lot of people think it is impossible to remain an idealist as an adult but thatâ€™s not true at all.” You know, you are right. After all I know many idealists – effective, loving, amazing people – who are also grownups. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
@Maria & @Karen
Oh my goodness. Those local food ordinances are just. amazing. It is pretty daunting, the regulations & requirements ANYone would have to jump through to get going. Especially when I live in an area full of natural resources and really struggling to support itself. It makes me sad. But those links made me happy! Thank you.
Thank you, and yes, I have something to drop off to you and Roger, and I would love to talk to you about this!
@Billy @Betsy @Heather @Jasie
Thank you! And thank you for your support.
There is a lot of wonderful stuff here in the Harbor; it’s hard sometimes to get connected. What I wish for times ONE MILLION (but no, before you ask, I am not interested in being the leader on this one) would be a teen center / community kitchen. Comfortable living-room like place, books, movie nights, a kitchen that puts out simple homemade fare (OK, I *would* be willing to cook once a week) offered to kids/teens/grownups alike. I know there are tons of donations that could make it get going, but the multiple factors that have kept it thus-far happening, continue to be there. Sad, but, a girl can dream!