of flannel and warm fuzzies

August 4th, 2010
(I have three whole followers on my little food-update Twitterstream – and one of them is my own husband! Make no mistake at just how much of a nerd I am who does a bunch of stuff hardly anyone else cares about!)

Today one of my ladyfriends L. came to visit. She’d been a student of mine at GHC winter before last. I really like her. She’s sweet and funny and since she likes sewing and fabric well, we have plenty to talk about. I was a scattered hostess, trying to cook up the daily fare and talk sewing and try to keep my wits about me under duress because the neighbor kids were in and out and they were a little rambunctious. Within their first five minutes in my home they’d broken my back screendoor and put their hands in the goldfish bowl and smeared the results (combined with the extra stuff on their hands, a few of them are routinely very dirty) on my front door. While L. was here I made a chicken pot pie for the kids tomorrow and a devil’s food cake with fresh strawberries and cream for the lot today, which incidentally when I served the kiddos I only got back three out of seven forks; the rest are outside God-knows-where.

I enjoyed L.’s visit very much as she’s a person I genuinely enjoy. She brought me fabric gifts and I cut off a length of a lovely deep-purple satin for a project for my daughter.  Before she left I asked her what she might need. Her eye fell on three yards of a lovely Alexander Henry flannel I had on my shelf (dear reader, I image-searched to find you the pattern and now I am weeping and gnashing my teeth with fabric-lust! And I didn’t find the fabric anyway). It was a wonderful bit of yardage and perfect for the pajamas project she was contemplating. I rarely have more than a yard of any particular fabric anyway, as I am rather quick to sew up what I buy. Seeing this L. asked if I was sure I wanted to gift it. But I felt like absolutely; I’d had the yardage for about four years now and had stashed it away as one of those “precious” items but had not cut into it. It felt wonderfully freeing to gift it, part of this was happiness at giving a present that was well-received and part was happiness at letting go of my hoarding impulse.

In other news I am buried under email despite my best efforts. Some email provides a respite, something lovely to read. Some is designed specifically to get my goat. For instance, my husband and my brother Billy like to call me Bird and make fun of my beak and dirty feathers, delivering various pathetic attempts at wit and commentary now and then or emailing me pictures of fat and/or clumsy birds. They especially like to tease me if I’m sleepy or have had something alcoholic to drink.

So Billy writes, “Hey, I found a clip of you online.” and sends me this:

And finally. There’s something insulting about how much I run around trying to get shit done with THIS under my nose at every turn:

You probably aren’t even noticing Laurence’s back leg extended at maximum pleasure-stretch while he sleeps!! WHO LIVES LIKE THIS?! The only thing they like more than sleeping on my down comforter is sleeping on a pile of warm laundry on the down comforter. They get up to this about twenty hours a day. The rest of their time is spent eating food and liberally pooping in the litter box. Then once we’re in bed they form a rift in the Space-Time Continuum to make MORE time to fight viciously, usually in my hair, until my just-fallen-asleep ass has to re-stumble out of bed and throw them in the bathroom to sleep. And I am not even joking, they immediately stop horsing around and sleep. All night.

It’s a good life. (For them.)

best to give praise where praise is due

Me Without You – “The Fox, The Crow, and The Cookie”

This video is full of about 8 levels of Win, and like most things that nuanced and wonderful, my kids instantly loved it.

Also, my husband and brother call me Bird and have for about a dozen years. Did I ever tell you all why? Well it’s kind of a funny story, one best told in person. So these two men, my husband and brother, are always sending me little jokes and pictures of birds either being very fat or being taken advantage of or squawking or losing out, which is one of the reasons I think Ralph forwarded me this today.

Despite the familial teasing, though, I do love this video times One Million.

By the way, today my brother’s girlfriend met the Old Spice Man and even got to – well, just look at the pictures (FB account needed) – and I’m kind of dying from jealousy. (Life is sometimes unfair!)

spaceship earth, circa 1983

In part in response to my previous post, a friend sent me “The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wishlist” from secular-homeschooling.com.  I must admit I laughed a bit (although in general I do not consider it a part of my mission to spread snark) which was then replaced by fervent noddings at numbers 21, 22, and 23. In reading this I also felt quite grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who are generally supportive and don’t say too many silly things regarding my kids’ exemption from school.

Oh and:

From the archives: I grew up in a bus.  I used to call myself “So Cal hippie trash” before I decided I should not use the word “trash” to refer to anyone, my own roots notwithstanding.  My parents smoked pot and sort of parented all groovy (which means: assily), but they fed us and loved us pretty good.  So here I am, rockin’ the raspberry beret and breaking the hearts of my brother and some other boy we met at Yosemite Park.

El Autobús Mágico

It’s hard to see, but beneath the white wave-like motif on this bewheemoth drift the words “Inner Space”; this must be before my mom added planets as well.  Yes, that is a real wooden door with stained glass (my mom handcrafted that too).  Click on the photo if you’d like to read a bit more about our exodus from sunny CA to rainy WA.

ETA: Ralph told me this post made me sound like a hippie who was kind of proud of being a hippie.  I pulled out my cloth menstrual pad and slapped him across the face. And then I went and ate some bark, or something.

a first purchase of its kind

I mentioned Friday we had our last dryer-free day (Oh my gosh! You are so excited to hear more about the Hogaboom’s laundry machinations!  You know you are!) and this is because:

My brother heard our dryer died a week ago and sent us funds to purchase one.   This was included in a package that also contained two different yardages of fabric (seriously! One my favorite things ever to be gifted me! Yes I am using lots of exclamation marks!!) which I immediately serged, washed, dried, and folded.  It was an amazingly sweet gift on his part and deeply appreciated. I forgive him for making out with almost all my girlfriends while we were growing up (actually, I never really held that against him, the sneaky lothario).

Friday, the crisp check snapping in my hands, I take the kids out on our errand: finding the dryer.  This feels like the type of mission that will either be a resounding success or sap my lifeforce.  I think of Sears and their department of sharky-looking guys in dress shirts and ties trying to get me to sign up for a Sears account and how much I hate that sort of thing.  Shuddering, I decide first to stop at the used appliance store. I like buying things used, so very much, mostly because for various reasons I cringe at the short lifecycle so many Americans make of the things they buy.  So when I see the old-school Maytag (in a sea of Whirlpools and Kenmores) I’m in love instantly.  It doesn’t have fancy settings or anything.  I think there’s one button that says, “You want this shit dry or not?”  Probably an early 80s model, but looks brand-new.  As my kids methodically remove and replace the magnetic price tags on the tidily lined-up appliances the owner lets me use the phone so I can talk to my husband about the purchase.  It turns out the place delivers the “new” dryer to your house and takes the old one in to refurbish (good luck with our well-worn appliance, which came to us very used and very free and died a prolonged death of unimaginable noise and movement!).  I leave the shop just fifteen minutes later with an appointment to be at my house at 3 PM for the switch-out; our laundry routine will resume to a less bothersome one.  (Thank you, Billy.)

We get back in the car; even the pissing rain can’t diminish my spirit. Starting the engine the kids clamor, “Let’s go buy Legos!” (P.S. as long as you keep them fed they can play Legos for hours and hours and hours and won’t want to do anything else).  “What?” I’m trying to squint past the condensation in the car’s back window to pull out – have I mentioned our vehicles are semi-aquatic?  “I don’t have money for Legos.  I only have grocery money today.”  The kids immediately point out the dryer cost less than the check my brother sent: Nels puts up his hands and counts by tens; figures out the difference.  So, my son is five.  And he’s sorted this out.  I’m laughing because it’s awesome my kids are learning money and currency without drills at school; but it’s funny because they already know a financial windfall when they see one and they have my instinct to descend on it like ravenous jackels.  I talk to the kids about the money being a gift intended for household maintenance and in the spirit of the gift we should consider the balance thusly.  And they basically explain to me that it’s a gift, its ours.  To spend on Legos.  The thing is, I will never be a good planner when it comes to this stuff; my heart leapt at the thought of buying my kids a ton of their favorite toys and I swear I would have had this thought had our water bill been late and I owned no working underwear (BTDT).  I am just way too soft on them in some ways and I would buy or make them anything they want within my power , because I love them times one million.  (Boring coda: Ralph and I decide, ultimately, to put the money in a fund for our next home project: we have neither a dining room table, a waterproof car, and only one saucepan when we could use two).

The Hogabooms are moving up in the world: the first-ever dryer we bought with money (instead of bartering with a man in a Trans Am).  Nevermind it came from a charity source.  I’m feeling rather fancy.

portland / pasta / perfect

Today at 7:30 AM Ralph has the van gassed up and loaded with bowls of breakfast (homemade apple pie and slices of sharp cheddar cheese), a fresh thermos of coffee, and the kids’ clothes in the home-sewn backpack; as I’m staggering out of the shower finger-combing my wet hair he tucks the sleepy children into their booster seats – swaddled in blankets freshly warmed in the dryer, I shit thee not. (The kids’ normal wake-up time is something around 10:30 AM – on the rare occasions we wake them early they love this breakfast-on-the-road procedure).

Ralph is our hero.

My foursome and my mother load into the van and we’re off on the road to Lacey where we catch the train. Our mission: to pick up my mom’s van in Portland and meet up for lunch with my brother and sister before returning home.

Nels was up a couple times last night vomiting. At midnight he is crying as I soap him off in the tub: “I don’t get to go on the traiiiiin…!” I tell him well, maybe, we’ll see how you’re doing tomorrow. Yeah, we’ve paid his fare and all but it’s more than that: he’s never been on the train before. I know he’ll love it.

Nels makes it up to Lacey with only a dry heave or two and we catch the train with about ten minutes to spare. The trip to Portland is sunny and beautiful, the view out the windows serene and fascinating. The kids are less interested in sightseeing: they clamber around the train, help themselves to the dining cart, and are completely at ease including scoping the efficient little bathrooms with their carefully stocked soap, paper towels, and warm water. As I was on vomit-duty the night before I am feeling a bit punchy, as well as edgy that it is possible my son may vomit again. Sure enough, about thirty minutes before our arrival and Nels darts up and runs to the bathroom, to make it perfectly in time to vomit without a speck of mess anywhere. A pro. Thus concludes any sign of an illness of any sort.

We catch a cab through Portland to meet my brother and sister at his place where my mom’s car is stashed. From there to an Italian restaurant where I enjoy butter and sage roasted squash, broccolini, a very dry martini (I cannot remember the last time I had one), and caprese salad. There are more pleasant things in life than good food – but the combination of wonderful fare and family is rather irresistible and it must be admitted, a favorite past time of mine.

We end our Portland excursion with a trip up to Sophie’s possibly favorite park of all time: Mt. Tabor. The kids are rather docile and sweet except for Nels’ choice to pull down pants, pull up shirt, and pee. On the top of a volcano. In a public park. Miraculously – due to his speed and a serendipitous and marginally talented “drum circle” that is keeping many park goers occupied in that general direction – no one seems to see him. Except my sister who always seems quick to point out the ways kids do socially unacceptable things. Since my kids in turn are quick to comply with craziness, this works itself out well.

We say our goodbyes to my siblings and load up in the hot car. The trip back up the highway the kids both fall asleep; having shed there summer clothes, sweaty, their cheeks flushed. The conversations with my mother are wonderful. We talk about my dad; there is never a lack of discussion material, there. We stop at Burgerville in Chehalis and the children revivte to devour large portions of cheeseburger, milk, apple slices, and strawberry shortcake. We are back on the road and the kids are fully restored.

At home and Ralph had performed the yard and garden work (and watered our tomatoes, the first of which will be ripening soon), and cleaned the house. Fleet Foxes playing and I run a hot bath to soak my bones for a bit.

It might sound a bit busy, but for me it was a really. good. day.

i learned it from watching YOU!

IMing with my brother last night:

Kelly: I saw a kid today at the Y, a little boy who was naked.

Kelly: I went up to his mom later and said, “It’s none of my business. But I think it’s awesome that you didn’t circumcise your son.”

Kelly: We talked for just a minute about it

Kelly: Here it seems more boys are cut than intact

Kelly: However when I asked the high school boys to let me check they seemed reluctant and offended.

Kelly: I had to drive off in my van, really fast.

Dr. Science: with your sunglasses on

Dr. Science: and a fake beard

Kelly: hahaha

Kelly: My arm in a sling

Kelly: mud carefully splattered on my license plate number to obscure it

Dr. Science: mhm

Dr. Science: you’ve really thought it out.

I like how he goes with the joke, and then when I take it to the next logical level, he calls me out on it. CLASSIC BILLY.

and upon returning i find the cats are truly disrespecting us, still

Our trip to Portland this last weekend proved a nice episode. I took my daughter, my car, and my bike. The idyllic roadtrip feeling did not last because my bike was a bit wobbly on the car and I ditched it at our favorite li’l hippie bakery for Ralph to pick up. Despite this sense of fail the rest of the trip went well. We arrived at perfect weather, I didn’t overdo it on the activities list, I made it to a dear friend’s bachelor party (or actually, I made it to one part of three of said celebrations), and most fun, I saw loads of my brother and sister and we walked most everywhere.

I felt oddly disconnected from my daughter most of the weekend. This was because I spent a lot of time with my siblings who are grownups, and I tend to wish to relate to them in grownup fashion. In fact when I’m around grownups I’m sometimes not “present” for my children which means I start to miss them. Many other adults are amazing with my kids and very sweet, but the only real grownups who don’t pull me off my kid-compass are Ralph and, to a slightly lesser extent, my mother, both of whom somehow integrate with me and the kids, and that’s a good thing, and I appreciate it (best sentence ever for far too many commas).

I missed Nels and Ralph so much. Coming home to them was the most calming feeling.

it just sort of happened that way

Last night my children and I were lying on the full size bed in their room and they begged me to tell them a story – something that really happened to me. I was lying looking up at Sophie’s bunk bed so I remembered one: “One time in the bus, we were driving somewhere. Billy and I were on the top bunk bed. There were three bunk beds: Grandma and Grandpa’s, mine, then Billy’s. We were in the top one. Billy fell off and hit his head. He split the skin of his head open and we had to drive to a hospital and get him stitches.”

They liked that story and talked about it a bit (Nels has had stitches, too). They asked for another story. I was still thinking about my brother so I told them: “One time when we were pretty young we were up at the Mason Lake cabin. Billy and I were in the water. I caught a snake that was swimming, and I gave it to him, and it bit him.”

Sophie said, “Why does all the bad luck happen to Uncle Billy?”

Nels said, “Tell us another story.”

Now I was on a roll. “One time when we lived in California we were having a picnic with family,”* I told them, “and Billy was about to take a bite of a chip. And just as he put it to his mouth a grasshopper jumped on the chip and Billy bit the bug in half.”

Nels asks solemnly, “Was the grasshopper white, or green, or pink?”

Sophie says, with authority, “It was green.” And I think she was right.

* I neglected to mention to my children that all the grownups were stoned or sloppy or both.

crusty old reminiscing about toys

A couple months ago a family friend gave my kids a tupperware container of Legos which quickly became my children’s favorite toy (especially Nels). Last night we bought our first new set and, late as it was by the time we got home, my children and I put it together (culminating in a very fetching garbage / recycle truck).

Most Legos these days seem to be cross-branded. – a shame, if you ask me. Not only because I dislike branding in general (it encourages children to drop imagination in their pursuit of toys or clothes they might want and instead simply thirst for anything with Hannah Montana on it, etc) but because these newer Lego kits have many over-specialized parts. The fun in Legos is putting together the specified model once – then you get to take it apart and build your own creations with the blocks. What other use does a Wiggles Aussie Safari Buddy Koala – fully molded with two parts snapping together – have, anyway? Old school Legos were blocks in al colors and sizes, plain and simple.

And let me tell you, they weren’t boring. I swear as a child my brother and I played mostly with dirt and rocks – and Legos, which seemed like the one toy my parents would cheerfully invest in for birthdays. In the Fisher clan we joke about my brother lying on his side (in week-old socks usually) raking through his red plastic box (I can see it in my mind – I wonder where that treasure trove of old got to?) for seemingly hours on end. The avidity with which he and I enjoyed these toys was relived in my children last night as they fully participated in every aspect of construction, eyes wide and hands darting for the tiny, specific pieces for headlights or hydraulic lifts.

Oh – and Nels slept with the Lego kit manual last night; even bringing it from his bed to ours in the middle of the night.

i like the first wiseman’s moves the most

(Apologies that this is, in fact, a commercial. Thanks MF!)

Christmas was good this year. I even had a cat-nap – can’t remember the last time I did that. Great food, good company, and nice, thoughtful presents. In fact, there are only – out of all the gifts that came across my stoop this year – two teeny tiny items that will be moving on from my house. It’s not what my brother gave my family if you were wondering, because, you know, he didn’t. Get us anything. It’s the fact I’m so goddamned controlling no one buys my kids Barbie or plastic hoo-ha or anything they aren’t sure I’m OK with. On one level I feel like some kind of present-Nazi about this but, yet, light as a feather and guilt free when looking at the high quality comic books, handmade clothes, coloring pencils, free-trade dry goods, cotton kitchen towels, dye-cast cars from antique stores, and locally-bought t-shirts that now grace our home. Also, more Strangers with Candy. Yesss!

I want to stress that I really am grateful for the loving friends and family but of course I play favofites: I’ve got a soft spot for the a homemade “Double Deuce” shirt from my husband. It truly was the craziest – the Swayziest – Christmas I’ve had so far!