This journal is not really suited for newsbites (besides my Friday links), but I felt pretty dang happy about the conversation Tami Harris and I had last week, which she posted to her site this morning:

“Talking with…Kelly Hogaboom: Why are online conversations among women about mothering and children so contentious?”

One reason I’m feeling great about this is Tami Harris is a writer and blogger I have the utmost esteem for (based on many things but, if I had to pick a stand-out, she has an incredible ability to create and facilitate productive discussion on intensely polarizing social topics). I really appreciated getting the invite to speak with her on this subject. From other conversations I’ve had with her (usually via DM or @ on Twitter) and reading her writings, I can predict this new “Talking with…” series she’s brewing up is going to be worth reading. Tami is not a “single-issues blogger” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), which means I never know what to expect and what direction her work will take me. For example: not a handful of hours after Ralph and I posted my first broadcast, I’d decided the next installment would feature the issue of food (the production of, topical news regarding, and the cultural experiences of what we eat – and, of course, some recipes) and clicking through on her site a few minutes later I found a relevant work she’d linked to that I’m definitely going to be discussing.

Anyone moved to comment extensively on the conversation between Tami and I, as per usual I recommend doing it at the source article. If you like I am happy to link to you here!

In other news, Nels was up off and on last night crying with a fever (one very responsive to acetaminophen, which he eventually requested for his discomfort) which meant I as up off and on last night as well. Frankly, today I’m a bit wrecked. As soon as I’m offline I’m going to bundle us up for a bike ride and spend the day caring for the two of us as best I can.

From the archives: here’s a picture of Nels from early last summer, carrying a foxglove he selected for me.

they’re only little tears, darling, let them spill

When I was about my daughter’s age I remember my father burnt himself rather badly while cooking dinner: a horribly large scalding of hot grease to the belly area. I can’t remember if he was cooking shirtless, but it seems like he was. At any rate he was shirtless and cooking soon afterward, because I remember staring in waist-high trepedation at the telltale ugly red weals on his hard belly, flat and muscled like a pubescent boy. My father was tall and slim and had about eight body hairs on his torso so the whole cooking-thing isn’t as Homer Simpson as maybe some people are picturing. Or I dunno, maybe that’s my deep love of the fellow talking.

I guess I think it’s pretty cool I grew up in a house with a shirtless-dad family cook. Peasants. Proles. I’ll never outgrow my heritage and why should I feel embarrassed anyway? Tonight I’m thinking of my father while I’m standing in the kitchen assembling dinner; the kids tumble about and I’m thinking maybe I’ll live in a rental my whole life, maybe I’ll never travel much, maybe I’ll die in the town I (mostly) grew up in.

I’m my own person. Unlike my parents’ preferences, tonight’s spaghetti is prepared with sauteed meatballs in a wine-butter sauce that simmers half the day. I’m remembering my dad’s spaghetti and sauce because it was the same and it was cooked relatively often and it was so unvarying I thought that just “was” the way Everyone Did It: crumbled junky hamburger sauteed in the cast iron pan, then add one six ounce can of tomato paste, one fourteen ounce can of tomato sauce, and one twenty-eight ounce can of whole tomatoes, some salt – that’s it. My dad only cooked it down about forty five minutes I believe but my memory has it simmering all day, softly popping now and then so the vintage stove would accumulate little battle-scar specks of orangey-red, my dad never cleaned the range but my mom did rigorously, the most delicious smell, the sauce, a simple anticipation, the family sit-down, delicious. Usually one of my parents would over-cook broccoli to a sickly yellow-green and my dad would swipe each wilted floret in a dollup of mayonnaise in his rather finicky left-handed dining style.

I’m having a wonderful holiday season so far full of restorative and generous acts of reflection and gifting (I do love giving more than receiving). But if I’m honest I can say the cold and the wet is fighting me every step of the way. I’ve never had a case of winter small-d-depression so intensely. It’s to the point where Any Little Thing going wrong can knock me off-kilter and I feel the danger of spiraling further into a Darkness. I know more than one reader can relate.

It’s harder for me lately to write about the Bad Times, because since I opened comments whenever-ago it is agonizing to me someone might feel compelled to offer a rescue or to believe I’m crying out for a specific sort of help or need comments to feel validated. I love comments, my incredible readers have talked me down from closing them a handful of times and continue to offer up The Awesome with regularity and a consistency I look forward to. But I’ve always wanted to communicate my thoughts and feelings and experiences precisely and whatever happened next was of less concern because I have a fault, in that the pure pleasure of expression is one addiction I may never get over. If my blog had a Patronus it would probably be Magda from There’s Something About Mary – you know, a bit glamorous, a bit foxy, yes a bit wizened, occasionally showing more of my goodies than I mean to (I know I shouldn’t stretch the metaphor to unintelligible absurdities), but cheerfully-enough, here for the long haul whatever way I’m experienced by observers.

Today I finished up a homesewn gift for my son (wonderfully soft and luxurious and simple and perfect) and contemplated another homemade gift for someone else (who may or may not read here so I cannot say more); I wiped down the kitchen counter and made up Nels’ requested dinner and folded clothes and made the bed and went out with my mother and daughter for coffee. All this is wonderful but it doesn’t quite keep the darkness (literal darkness) from trying to creep into my heart.

Another night, another shut-in against the Monster, another precious gift of my loved ones’ presence, another sleep marking time.

correspondance, commerce, & creeps

This morning after meeting a friend at Pure Clothing here in HQX (I love the owner J. and think we are so lucky to have such a great shop; today I found a pair of hot-ass Silver jeans in my size as well as a pair of my tried-and-true Levi 501s – have I mentioned how much I love jeans yet hate stretch jeans, which are almost all you find if you’re over about a US size 10, and remind me sometime to tell you my friend Jasmine’s dire and graphic warnings on such stretchy-fare) I stopped at Jackson Street Books and chatted with the owner Tammy (who really. REALLY. knows her books). While talking my eye fell on about ten books I wanted for myself or as gifts. I finally settled on two for Phoenix: Bunnicula by James Howe and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (the second book in the very popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; she simply devoured the first one about half a year ago). I thought both were excellent Halloween choices. When I got home I surprised Phoenix with the books and she smiled bigger than you can imagine and put aside the “younger” (and shorter) Bunnicula to dive into the YA/General fare of Percy. I felt a bit sad as it seems her babyhood vanished far before I could treasure it; however I know she will pick up the story of the vampiric lupine (a favorite of mine as a kid) – at some point.

So I spent my grocery money on jeans and books but we made due with pantry provisions for dinner and I really think the purchases, especially the books for my girl, entirely worth it.

Today a friend asked me if I’d sew her up a dress (based on the striped hooded version recently modeled by Phoenix) to which I said Yes. I am ready and willing to take on full-grown ladies (and gentlemen), especially plus-size women as they are so underserved in the fashion industry. All of this has to be done within my own work schedule of course (I am currently two pair of monster booties behind) – which I’m trying desperately not to get backed up on as:

the gag order has been lifted and I am now able to publicly blog I am testing for an upcoming book project of Karen and Shelly’s (of Patterns by Figgys) as published by Wiley. While I’m not able to post pictures of the garments I’m testing (yet), I can say they are all fabulous and fun to sew and scratch my technical-writing nrrd-skills.  I’m saving up pictures in Flickr (as private) and hoping to make them public some day. There are a lot of things I really love about these two ladies, their designs, and their ethos (including generous voluntary copyright clauses for cottage-industry or home sewists). It is pure joy to be able to help such an enterprise.


I recently received a Thank You email (very specific and edifying and including details of my reader’s life – which I love!) and a Paypal donation by reader E.; the day after a handwritten letter arrived, penned from New Zealand blogger Elly – and full of NZ and AU currency and some history/geography to boot! As far as feedback and commentary from readers it’s been a great week. Well actually it seems to get better all the time, although to be clear IMs and DMs and tweets and email and snailmail has never been much more than a steady trickle (I am no Celebrity). For this I am grateful as I sometimes fear I let correspondance slip through the cracks. Frowny-face.

In other news, sketchy Flickrite Alejandro seems to like the ladies. And the little girls. Like my 8 year old daughter. (Just not anyone over 22 or so, or fat or “ugly” – ew!) But don’t worry, I’m sure the fellow’s legit. See how he has no profile information and has posted no photo except one of a Siamese cat.

Cute cat.

linky mcfuskerson

In a few hours I’m off to the City (not really: Olympia) to watch Ralph and Liights play sweet, sweet music (I will also be giving Flo a squeeze as I haven’t seen her in a while!). I’m also hoping to eat some spicy Thai or Vietnamese cuisine until my mouth explodes in a hedonistic flavor party. While I’m rocking I’ve got some links for you all to bask in the radness therein:

Mamma Mia! is playing at the 7th Street Theatre tonight and tomorrow. I might go tomorrow. Anyone want to come with me?

Tami Harris hits it out of the park at psychologytoday: “What’s so wrong with ‘sounding black?'”

Proof that a man can do Feminism right: “Silence, Ines Sainz and Offensive Lines” at postbourgie

Idzie published “Misconceptions About Unschooling” at her blog I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. It’s a great piece (of course). I get a huge, huge laugh of the people who occasionally come to this 19 year old’s (incredibly well-written) blog and tell her how if you unschool your child he/she won’t learn how to write! NO SERIOUSLY! This happens!

“On Birth Rape, Definitions, and Language Policing” by Cara at thecurvature; some day, I truly hope, we can begin supporting victims instead of re-victimizing them by denying them their lived experience.

“Cloth diapers for apartment dwellers” at hobomama. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You know, I no longer use diapers but I seriously, seriously love how supportive, helpful, and awesome the parents/carers are who write these types of DIY primers!

“Kids Clothes Week Challenge (Fall 2010)” at elsiemarley. What do you think? Should I do it? What should I make?

This made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes: “The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman” at citizenofthemonth.

I’m not exactly sure what category this post is in, because it’s funny but apt and brilliant and my favorite of all posted here today: “Kids and wheelchair manners” at badgermama.


In other news, last night I received an email that included this passage:

Some days I feel as if I am standing inside a thick, heavy, almost greasy-feeling cloud of frustration, guilt, hopelessness and torment. It actually presses down on my shoulders physically (at least it feels like it). The moments that you share are like one of those industrial strength hurricane fans that they use in the movies. Once I begin reading, the fan begins to blow that cloud away. I can breathe again. I can be happy about something again. By the time I’m finished reading, I’m ready to take on the next challenge.

So… that was pretty wonderful to hear.


Guess what I didn’t do today, or yesterday, or (arguably) Saturday? Take care of myself properly. My body, my mind, my spirit. Ralph and I worked hard all weekend and I didn’t rest like I promised myself I would; I didn’t feed myself the foods that help me feel better. Today I woke severely hungover (rare for me) – we’re talking dizzy and almost nauseated. It was bad enough I elected not to go for a run (although a run sounded fabulous and sweaty and detoxing; I took the Internetz’ advice I was dehydrated and shouldn’t do it): tomorrow, then. I also did not eat food until 4 PM. I was just doing so much other awesome stuff.

The weekend was unrestful because I was working my wide, flat ass off in making something happen for my kiddos, and that is: an organized space with proper lighting and some chairs (I’ve mentioned previously they had one wee kiddie desk and chair I got for $10 at a garage sale; their books were stacked on the floor). I’ve been meaning to do this for some time but something special happened (more in a minute) so I scrumped and worked to make it a reality:

IKEA something-or-other

Art / Light

Large Table

In that bottom photo, see that on the desk? It’s a microcsope; a lovely one sent to me by reader T. and completely, thoroughly awesome. I had one as a child and I loved it so much. My brother still has its metal skeleton and says he’s going to have it fixed! This one is nicer than our beloved ‘scope of yesteryear, but very similar. Both kids have been enjoying it and Phoenix instinctively knew how to use it (or she’d read about it); I’m pretty sure she hadn’t used one before. I’m going to NERDILY be all over the internet looking for additional slide kits.

Such a lovely, lovely gift.

Oh and I love Nels’ acrylic painting on the right: “Clam”. No one bought it in our recent art showing. Their loss, my gain.

Oatcakes & roll-ups & roasted garbanzo beans (P.S. my friend J. and I are looking for more appetizing name than “chard roll-up” if you have one; click the picture for the ingredient list):

Oatcakes Of Goodness

Do you feel like reading somethings thinky and internetty? Two articles from today; one I wrote for Underbellie (many links and I’d love it if you followed at least those in the body of the article); also an anecdotal and very sweet piece on advice to NOT give homeschoolers. Or schooling families. Marianne Kirby hit it out of the park with two posts on her blog; a brief and relevant foray into “manliness”, and a longer entreaty on the necessary and hard work of deconstructing body self-loathing.

What’s a girl gotta do to get a rest around these parts? Prolly stop behaving as if she never needs one.

writings (rantings?)

I recently read another whimsical account of the (theoretical) housewife who has no life of her own and who’s all sad and despondent and a hollow shell of a person once her kids move out. Today a Yahoo group conversation touches on the same topic. Have I mentioned how much I am sooooooo sick of hearing this trotted out over and over?

Would you like to read about four-hundred-thousand words of mine on the subject?

h/t to Arwyn for assistance. It’s not easy to write an “in defense of anything I’m doing while a laydee and parent” post these days when so very, very many women are still being constantly pressured to A. breed, and B. do everything right with said breedlets no matter what! and C. there’s actually a guaranteed mathmatical formula where you CAN’T do everything right!

from NZ

Enc: handwritten letter with currency:

Hey Kelly,

I feel a bit weird writing this, I am after all, a stranger from the internet. I read your blog occasionally, and a while ago you asked for donations for your kids, so you could get them laptops. And oh! I wanted to help, so I wrote down your address with the intention of sending a small something, anything, that might help.

Well, hearts with better resources than I beat me to it, and I see your gorgeous kids have laptops now. 🙂

But I thought I’d write anyway, and include some interesting (I hope!) coinage from New Zealand and Australia. It wouldn’t be helpful in any monetary sense, but it might amuse your children, and spark an interest in said countries out here in the South Pacific. 🙂

[The following coins described were drawn, then taped, to the letter.]

Okay, so I’m not an artist, but these three are from NZ, and are in use. They changed up our currency, and made all the coins smaller, which was good to fit more in your purse, but bad for losing down the back of the couch.

The boat on the 50 cent piece is called the Bark “Endeavor”, which was commanded by Captain Cook, who is the person who “discovered” New Zealand. He’s the first recorded person to circumnavigate NZ’s coast, and to make contact with the Maori people.

The Maori figure on the 10 cent coin is called a Koruru, which generally is a carved wooded head put at the top of a wharenui, which is a Maori meeting house.

The 20 cent coin has a picture of a warrior leader called Pukaki, who was a Maori chief from a place called Rotorua. It’s quite a tourist town now, because it has a lot of geothermal activity. Mostly it smells like bad eggs.

These two coins are old coins, they aren’t in circulation anymore, which is a shame because I have so many 5 cent coins. I quite like the 5 cent coin too, that’s a tuatara, which is only found in New Zealand*. Tuataras are nocturnal, and like to bask in the sun when they sleep. I don’t think they have many natural predators (they have quite sharp spices on their back, & a really viscious bite, I hear). Their main problem is breeding, it takes ages for tuataras to have little tuataras (one litter every 2 to 5 years!), and what’s more, if rats are around, the babies are less likely to hatch! Mostly now-days tuataras are found on rat-free islands that double as animal reserves for other NZ wildlife too.

The other c oins are from Australia. I can’t tell you much, other than those are kangaroos on the $1 coin, and a platypus on the 20 cent coin. [The third coin, a 10 cent coin, shows the image of a Lyrebird.]
Australia’s not far from NZ, about a 3 hour plane ride. I’ve been there a few times, mostly to Melbourne, where my best friend lived for a while, and the Gold Coast, which is a tourist destination with theme parks and nice beaches with white sand. It’s quite a fun place, actually.

Anyway, I hope this was somewhat interesting for you guys. If not, at least the coins are pretty. 🙂

Hope you are all well!



P.S. I should say that iblog too. You can find me at I’m also in the midst of a project to write 100 handwritten letters. This is number four! 🙂

* Upon this reading my daughter became VERY excited, as she new lots of facts about tuataras.

there are no apt words. yet i must write some. so:

My niggling Achilles heel in our whole lifestyle, this stay-at-home-bit that turned into homeschooling and life with kids – for years now, has been comparing our life to other people’s lives. Specifically, the two-income earning nuclear families, surrounding us (literally) on all sides – when children get school-age, most everyone in my peer group follows this path. Non-junker cars and home ownership and shoes bought new (not from Thrift City and sorry about the athletes’ foot Ralph – that is not a joke by the way) and sometimes big screen televisions and smart phones and camp and karate lessons and soccer camps and vacations.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids are incredibly fortunate and my family operates from a privileged place in many ways. My children have the things they need: love, shelter, clothes, food, companionship, support, friends, family, and medical care. Our decision to prioritize time with them over additional work-for-pay has been, although against the herd and therefore occasionally very difficult for me, reified with clarity and a lot of unity between Ralph and I (this is a wonderful thing about our partnership).  We struggle like most people do, sometimes questioning ourselves or second-guessing our strategies, often laughing at the ridiculousness of our self-imposed scenarios and taking much joy in the sublime things that have come our way whether we tried to plan for them or not. Our choices have been made with our heart, mind, gut – all of our integrity, as best we can.

It still stings though, just the idea of school supplies, and please hear me out before you roll your eyes. I know having the kids out of school is the right thing for us. I still feel that twinge though, the smell of erasers and notebooks and stacks of construction paper and the field trips and – basically – the state subsidization of kid-care when I often, like most parents, worry I’m not supporting my kids enough. Yes, my children have access to books and art supplies (library and grift, resp.) and they have the ultimate freedom and I am always ready to pick up and take them where they need to go to do what they want to do within my abilities (today, a bike ride to the pet store with $20 in our pocket; we did not come home with a pet but my daughter got to do some math on the subject and I’m sure she’ll get back to me with a Plan).  They have things very good but I have, when glancing about at others’ seemingly more vast opportunities (one shouldn’t do this, by the way), felt a sting that I am not a Provider (like I felt back when I had my Big Important Engineering Job) – merely and primarily a Nurturer. It hasn’t always felt like enough – even when I’m assured and reassured it is (or should be).

So in our time together as a family I’ve accepted our choices and focused on the good things in life and it’s gone pretty well – and if you’ve read here long you know I can laugh through the drama, too. I’ve tried to scale my ideas of our “wants” and “needs” according to what is reasonable for our family – the latter often being primarily a question of fiscal concerns (like in many, many families).

So, in that vein:

Three days ago the idea of getting my kids their own laptops was a far-off thing, something that might happen some day. But the exact thing I’d do next for them if I could find a way.

Two days ago I realized I could do this myself. I didn’t know how exactly, and I knew it would take a while, but I knew it would happen. I was quite motivated because I could envision just what I wanted.

When I decided to share this goal I knew some wonderful people would step in and assist me. I expected and felt comfortable with the prospect of a little support-stream; I began to hope for a sewing gig or two so I could “earn” my goal. I knew given time I could make this happen.

Still, there are many things I’ve discovered I did not know.

I did not realize how quickly things would come to frution. I did not realize how much it would agitate and overwhelm me to have assistance above and beyond what I could have Wildest-Dreams guessed.

I was unprepared for the stunning display of generosity and how quickly the “goal”, which I thought I would have to work and scrape for a bit, was met. Totally, completely, with one fell brush-stroke by a reader named T. who not only air mailed the Netbooks and accoutrement but donated to Paypal as well – after five other readers had contributed monies and three more winged supportive, lovely emails / comments my way.

I am right now overwhelmed, grateful, and extremely – have I mentioned overwhelmed?

I am closing my “pledge drive” tout de suite and I’ve removed my Paypal donation button. Thanks to T. and the other very generous gifts from readers my children not only have their computers as I type this, but I have a tidy sum sitting in my Paypal account. I’m not sure yet what I will be doing with it (because I didn’t anticipate these events) but I’m sure to write about it here when I figure it out.

I have thanked individuals who’ve supported in a variety of ways the last few days and I thank my readers now again – obviously. I knew I wanted this thing but I didn’t realize what it would mean to me. The range of emotions I’ve gone through in the past 48 hours informs me I have to think more on my apparently deeply-held beliefs on supposed scarcity, my personal fear of retribution if I ask for too much. I did not know how deeply these fears and anxieties twisted me up inside until I took a chance to make myself vulnerable to them. Besides blinding, stunned gratitude – these feelings are ones I grapple with now.

And the gratitude. There really are no words large enough, words that express my awe in other human beings’ kindnesses. The provision of these computers for my kiddos means more to me than I can convey accurately. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who has an opinion. I’ve talked too long; I’ll let other family members speak for themselves.

P.S. When you see Phoenix smile at 4:07? She’s reading an email I sent her that says:
Jamie from “Mythbusters”:        /:€

Incidentally that emoticon vies to replace my years-held favorite: “Beaver wearing a hardhat and sunglasses”:         dB=

P.P.S. Is that piano music Ralph selected over the top and cornball-inspirational? Well FARK YOU. I am seriously not going to try to hide the fact I’ve been crying off and on today. Thought I was tough? Guess you were WRONG.


Apologies, dear reader: I am still figuring things out here. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking in my claptrap way about this whole, “Should I let people support me?” bit (despite what some people believe, my brain is actually only fair-to-middling and rattles around but doesn’t get a lot done). We’ve had a few changes in our household I haven’t talked about (not financial ones, but child-related); the results of these factors so far is I’ve offered up a few items for custom craftsmanship and enabled a donation button.

I thought about writing out all these thoughts and Hoga-events and maybe I will, In fact I know I will –

But not now.

One thing that occurred to me – a half-day after I made these changes – and caused me some degree of anguish is the possibility some readers might feel any pressure to donate, whatsoever. Now that pressure isn’t a bad thing necessarily and I leave it for people to stew in their own business there. I’m certainly not going to hijack content or even change much, at all, so it’s really up to them entirely.

But I wanted to talk a bit about support and what it means to me so you know where I’m coming from.

Over the years I have had cards, letters, and packages mailed to me. Several of these kindnesses, stunning and called back to memory most vividly, after I lost my father: bright fierce days of brilliance and pain and I’d hold letters in my hands and marvel, absolutely marvel at the kindness in the world.

In a relatively constant trickle over the years I’ve received phone calls, IMs, tweets, DMs, emails, comments, and formspring communique. People off the street talk to me about my writing.  Yes, some people ask for help or advice – in fact many do. And some people criticize, and this is occasionally helpful to me (though usually not).

But the vast majority of feedback I receive would be what I’d call Supportive. The letters and cards and emails et al make it very real to me that sharing here is not just a journal, just a diary I’d keep anyway, it’s a living, breathing thing for myself and many of my readers.

I do not need any particular consumer to “prove” themselves nor engage in any particular way. Full stop.

The kind words are Supportive. The emails are Supportive. The donations are Supportive. The Page Views and the “Avg. Time Spent On Site” statistics from Google Analytics are Supportive. Knowing I’m being read is Supportive. Comments are Supportive (in fact, I am impressed with those who leave comments and the caliber of discussion that often occurs… adding comments was quite a change for me).

I am being supported by so many in different ways. I feel very grateful for this. The idea that this space changed in some drastic way 36 hours ago is hardly accurate, even if, 36 hours ago, it felt that way to me at first.

My “support” banner up top will be changing soon just like lots of little design features on the blog come and go. In the meantime you can read my Support policy if you like. Otherwise let’s continue on our way.