a how-to book that reads like a thriller

Our dryer broke today but only after I had about eight loads of wet laundry waiting. I search online and find a heating element but in the meantime, we need towels and clean sheets. So at 10 PM I’m sitting on my mother’s couch waiting for a single load to finish; the rest of our wet clothing and linens are bundled into large black garbage bags and rest on her tidy laundry room floor. We always talk about world events and cultural phenomena when I visit with my mother. Tonight I mention the disturbing, disgusting tax breaks our country’s mega-rich receive and my mom interrupts me to angrily hold aloft her popsicle, “Like these! These are half as big as they used to be, and they cost twice as much! It makes me so angry!” I look down at my popsicle – lime flavor, duh! – and I realize, Sonofabitch, this damn thing is smaller. Life’s a bitch.

Treasure Island T-Shirt Redesign

What did the seafaring octogenarian say on his birthday?

Aye, matey!*

Treasure Island T-Shirt Redesign

So it is total bullshite that if you are a lady larger than a US size 12, it becomes nearly impossible to find trendy t-shirts that fit – let alone t-shirts that are well-made, ethically-made, and/or affordable. Men’s trendy tees typically go up to a 3X and that 3X corresponds to a man who is genuinely a fair bit larger than the average dude. My husband and I are both the same degree “overweight” and he easily can wear – and therefore find – a medium or a large.

Women’s clothing is different. I’m a US size 16 – one size larger than the average US lady – and I am almost always too big for the 2X sizes at these shops. And that’s if 2X is even an option – it usually isn’t. 

“Just buy a men’s shirt and wear it!” inevitably says some ignoramus who assumes I can’t do Life right? Sheesh. Wearing a men’s/”unisex” (unisex meaning: men’s) garment, with my build? RIDICULOUS LOOKING AND HORRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE

It’s a bummer, and I’m fed up.

So anyway.

I do like this recent crop of trendy literary tees. Unlike my many band shirts, I have actually read – and I love – the books depicted on the t-shirts I wear. Last night I took this men’s 2X and made myself a two-layer skater-style LS tee. It took me about an hour and it is super boss.

Treasure Island T-Shirt Redesign

I am sitting here thinking how awesome I am. Actually I am thinking how goddamned cold it is. Photo credit: Nels Hogaboom, the sweetest 10 year old child EVAR!

Some tips for those who want to redesign t-shirts:

1. Learn how to sew with knits. There are all sorts of great resources for this – including some of mine – but mostly, it takes time, patience, and persistence.

2. Find a handful of perfect patterns for you. May I suggest Jalie – their t-shirts are perfectly drafted and most patterns come in a huge size range so you can make tees for your friends.

2. Buy a men’s size shirt in your corresponding ladies’ size – or one size larger (so for me, a 2X, the men’s 3X is ideal). A shirt with side seams often has better grain to work with.

3. Expect surprises. As a woman favoring a slim-cut pattern, my shirt shape is quite different from the men’s crewneck shirt: I have narrower shoulders with more of a slope, a deeper neckline, a smaller waist, a smaller sleeve, and larger hips. Usually these changes mean the motif on the resultant shirt will not line up like the first shirt. You can colorblock the new shirt using another shirt or fabrics if you want the motif in a particular place. Sometimes creativity is needed – for instance I got the neckband of this tee shirt, from the hem of the original.

4. One nice thing about t-shirt surgery is my final shirt is not only better-fitting, but far better made than the original. That feels pretty good – not going to lie! And of course: it’s the only t-shirt out there like it. #bombtastic

*(I’m 80).

Friday Tequila

friday’s child, born a little ugly

Friday Tequila

WTF. That’s what I want to know. I call this sort of ad, at very least, racially insensitive. But, I was looking for a Friday graphic. I also am unsure what’s happening here. Why is there baby tequila in a cage? You should tell me. I haven’t figured it out.

Short and sweet, link-wise.

First: my second zine installment is two days from shipping. Yay! Only two more days to get free goodies. Thanks to two generous donors, I have enough to print this month. Yeah, it’s been tight.

In the realm of crafty: I WANT FAKE FUR. About two yards apiece, in three specific colors. There’s a sale & everything. But I’m broke as fuck. Waaaah!

Olympic Weightlifter Responds To Sexist Tweets: ‘We Don’t Lift Weights…For The Likes Of Men Like That’ – good job, Zoe Smith! P.S. The picture of her lifting a billion pounds, she looks like she’s just standing there calm as hell.

Is Unschooling a Cult? This doesn’t even make sense. I’m posting it anyway. I find the topic of cults fascinating!

Gore Vidal passed. An intelligent and funny soul. Too much of a misogynist for me to fully endorse. Still, I really enjoyed him – and everyone else – in The Celluloid Closet, a film that still holds up many years later. Give it a watch!

Will wonders never cease: I literally never knew this.

Try not to have nightmares. The Gary Busey Monster.
Gary Busey Monster

make sure it’s worth watching

My son just about stifles my heart. He’s tall, just like his sister, and extraordinarily competent in anything he sets his mind to. It doesn’t help last night I got to meet and hold a brand-new baby, a hungry baby whose mom wasn’t ready to nurse, and the baby kept spitting out her soother and rooting up against my breast in my fancy coat after an evening soirée. I placated the baby with a pinkie (old trick I’d forgotten about for years) and she fell asleep again for a while. And the nurse came in and we got that baby on the tit. And I hope it works out.

So my son, yeah this morning I sliced the kids apples and made them pancakes with warm syrup then after the kids cleaned up breakfast Nels get got dressed to the nines (“Where’s my tuxedo?” he asks about his favorite coat I made him) and after we went through and thoroughly cleaned the kiddo’s room and separated those things we wanted to donate, Nels packed a satchel with two books and a cell phone and arranged a date with the bookstore and his grandmother. When he returned he’d used the books for store credit to get his sister a book on leopards. He is a wonderful, wonderful citizen, son, and brother.

Today was suppressed and sad for me, at times. I was at home for medical reasons (I snuck out once with Phoenix, for tacos and coffee) but it wasn’t just that. Last night my husband and I had an unfun argument, starting with me bringing up my desire to raise another child, but sadly the bitter words did not confine themselves to that subject. A nasty argument, something that doesn’t happen too often these days but always takes the mickey out of me and him too.

This child thing. I really really can accept I might not get my way, or get what (I think I) want. I probably couldn’t handle it anyway. I’m probably being an asshole. Impulsive and stupid. What tortures me is the question, is this something I want SO MUCH that I need to take some kind of new action, or is this something that will in time fade and I will accept I won’t have it?  For years now I’ve done what seems like the right thing, defer to my husband’s strong preference that we not take on or support another child. I am as lost as anything on this though and I don’t know right from wrong or down from up. If I’m not to have what I want I wish I could accept this or that the desire would disappear.

I’ve gotta admit this is a painful entry to pen, but I’m committed to being honest and I don’t think I’ve brought this up directly in this space, even though it’s been in my heart and on my mind for a few years. Today I decided to change that. I guess that’s why I’m writing about it, because Secrets don’t work for me.

Sometimes I’ve resented how honest and how much I’ve written about myself and my life here. I have of course tried to maintain scrupulous considerations for other individuals on many subjects, and I have not shared my Every Thought or emotion by any means. Sometimes I worry that when I write that other people will use this information against me, or use it carelessly. This is certainly a reality and I have experienced betrayal before,

but the cost of not sharing what troubles me isn’t one I want to continue to pay.


Friday links! You thought I’d forgotten? No way.

Patterns By Figgys, Sewing For Boys

From my little world: the book by Figgy’s is out, and I am so pleased! I spent a lot of time pattern-testing, giving feedback, searching for typos, and of course my little kiddos and husband were involved as well (Nels is featured in the pages of this lovely book and he is SO CUTE)! But my family’s involvement and efforts as compared to that of the authors is nothing. Karen and Shelly worked their asses off on this project. I can honestly say if you or someone you know wants some great patterns for kiddos infant to size 6/7, this book (which includes all patterns) is a wonderful investment.

First and best thing coming to mind this week: creative refutions of gay marriage protest signs. SO GOOD!

The Gay Agenda

Next: David Walliams swims the Thames. One more reason to be so in love with him.

I want to own a dress. OK, I own one dress (a light black cotton affair wonderful for the summer, and gifted me by the lovely Karen). This is the second dress I want to own. I recognized the dress and the movie right away – from a viewing many, many years ago. I have almost half the price tag saved up! We’ll see if that doesn’t get derailed by stuff like groceries or tacos.

Art: The Moody Nest. I like it.

Make: a digital camera more rugged. Very cool!

Birth Matters – And So Do Mothers and Kids by Wendy Priesnitz. Both mainstream culture and mainstream feminism exclude many groups – Ms. Priesnitz speaks eloquently to a more mature feminism. I’m ready for it, just wish more feminists were too!

To Those Who Call Me An Unparent at Demand Euphoria. This was cathartic to read! I have no idea if I parent like Vickie or not, as I’ve not read more than three posts on her blog – although you could certainly label us “radical unschoolers”. I do hear, from the rest of the world, ALL SORTS OF PREDICTIONS at how awful kids will be if they’re raised with X, Y, or Z (or without A, B, and C) – and I raise my kids these supposedly-terrible ways, and my kids are turning out awesome. I think what’s most important is people are prepared to engage their minds and hearts and listen long enough to understand where the other party is coming from. This includes parenting “debates”.

So, most y’all know I’m bisexual but I tend to be kinda closet-y about it in the real world. This article speaks to many reasons why (although, unlike the author, I would claim I have a lot of straight privilege even though I’m not straight).

Via Zoie on Twitter, and posted at Dandelion Roars: Permission Granted.

Two good films I recently watched:

Fish Tank (2009). Whaddya know, a film with a 15 year old female protagonist that does it soooooo right. Jarvis & Fassbender were incredible. Some truly harrowing moments but stick with it regardless (available on Netflix Instant).

Handsome Harry (2009). I liked this less than other films exploring similar themes, but Jamey Sheridan was fantastic and so were many moments in the film (also on Netflix Instant, if you haven’t figured out this is our only “television”).

Speaking of movies. Here is a film that is likely going to be a TURDÉ of high order. & yet I know I will still see it anyway. (shameface).

Finally, enjoy the sexy-mc-sexiness mashup, which kind of also makes me feel a little sick.

i am totally advocating for Ralph to name his band “The Jelly Tugs” but I don’t think he’s going to

Friday links – short and sweet this week.

A wonderful article: The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances from 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help by Roxane Gay

Another heady piece – hey, if you’ve ever thought criticizing a piece of work (as racist, misogynistic, disablist, etc etc) as “censorship”, perhaps you should read “Spinster aunt can’t shut the fuck up all of a sudden” at IBTP, where Twisty breaks it down for ye.

An article on gliding dragons in Malaysia; OK, I have to admit, shit like this almost makes me not deeply fearful of Nature.

OK, there’s a certain trend that’s getting a little tiresome (for me), but still, these are some awesome awesome wedding photos!

Make: a cardboard cat rocket. Seriously this would go over so big at our house. Not just with the cats, but with Ralph, Phoenix and Nels constructing it.

Washington tree-ripened peaches are here! And here’s how to make pies from them. P.S. I also have the ear of a state-winning pie champion when I have pie questions. Pretty cool stuff.

Free swatch day at Spoonflower! Did I design & submit a swatch? WHY YES I DID!

Fun! A cross stitch manicure from The Daily Nail – a really cool blog project, too.

Homemade NKOTB sweaters from the 90s (and a little V. Ice), as compiled at Craft, and knit & blogged by Joanne Conklin. So much fun!

Someone should tell Buster Crabbe to pull his shorts up a little higher. Who’s with me?

I sent this to my brother and he said it wasn’t funny. But I think just about EVERY SECOND OF IT REALLY, REALLY IS.

& finally: So. Adorable. & sweet.

Babies thrive on real meat!

“why is partying and having a good time bad?”

Friday links! Short and sweet.

I set up my next blood donation appointment online (here in Hoquiam/Aberdeen there’s one at Walmart on August 11th). All types are needed. Red Cross has been assclowny in a few ways in the past, but their online setup is pretty good.

“Amy Winehouse: Death and Addiction” by Kendra Sebelius (who is also @VoiceinRecovery on Twitter and writes on eating disorders; she does great work).

“Addiction is a serious issue, one that requires serious discussions. I feel people still have the tone of “well, she had a choice to stop.” Choice is such a hard word to even address in this whole thing. […] Rehab didn’t keep me sober, any more than it does for many people. […] This doesn’t mean a person is bad or a failure or unwilling to get better. It means it is hard to not only get sober, but to stay sober. I had to change my environment, ask for help, and find a new way of doing things. Rehab is just a starting point. You don’t go to rehab and automatically get better.”

Further on Winehouse: apparently a HuffPo article was needed because so many don’t understand alcohol withdrawal. This is kind of rattling to me.

OK, onto lighter matters: Special Report: Star Trek The Next Generation: A XXX Parody; even from giggly curiosity I can’t bring myself to watch something like this. But the review? GOLDEN.

Common rumors about lesbians I would like to dispel

The Just-So Stories complete text poster. Pretty fabulous. I’ve acquired this book and a few other Kipling tomes for my kids; they love them.

From M’s blog: “Mistakes”; a wonderful post about a child’s ever-broadening assessment of the world around him.

Make: Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca at Simply Recipes

And – guess what? Babies thrive on real meat! From vintage-ads on Livejournal:

Babies thrive on real meat!

Babies, on behalf of parents everywhere, I’m really sorry if anyone offered this to you.


serendipitous events

Today I had the privilege and pleasure of driving to Olympia for some shopping and errands; in my case, a few books and some fabric for my next project. Rather, I should say I was driven to Olympia by a dear friend, and we had a wonderful Thai lunch, some great conversation, coffee at the Blue Heron, and – shit, things were just awesome. Even nursing the remainder of a headcold during such a big day I think – I think – I didn’t wear myself out.

In the bookstore I picked up two books I needed for an art project – and then came across this (gently) used hardback that I instantly knew Phoenix would love – The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson. I mean first off – I wish you could see the cover in real life, it was so Phoenix. Then I checked out the story – and the illustrations, including a wonderful Bestiary. It was just a perfect fucking book for my oldest, and I had it in hand within two minutes of walking in the store.

I brought it home and Phoenix so, so happily read it all the way through. Straight through.

I really, really love how well I know my kids – and know what they like.

I didn’t do as well for Nels. He wants candle-making supplies and the employee at the craft store was entirely unhelpful (“We don’t have that stuff.” “Do you know where I might find it?” “No.” Yeah. Thanks.) and I felt terrible to come home empty-handed, but I was out of funds (having spent my grocery money) and out of steam to drive to Michael’s. Hey, if anyone here knows of a good simple candle-making kit I can grab up, please let me know. Looking online got overwhelming fast.

But yeah, today? It was a good day.


Coffee. I love you love you love you.

Take me out, baby / I want to go sail tonight :: Friday links!

Thursday I had one of the most energetic and lovely days, but now it’s 2 AM on Friday morning and I’d better get my links up!

1. Spousal unit Ralph updated his design website, favoring pink. I think it looks great!

2. From ricedaddies: “Who Loves More: Parents or Children?” This piece includes an analysis of a childhood book – a pretty funny analysis I think- and then delves into even more thoughtful territory.

3. Mexican Pointy Boots. This was seriously nine minutes of my life well-spent:


4. Katie Makkai – “Pretty”:

(Also, do read Tami Harris’ thoughts and the comments, at “Not a pretty girl.”)

5. From friend and reader Kat: “What Happened When I Chased Down the A**hole Who Slapped My Butt on the Street” at alternet. Good for her.

6. “A Black Woman’s Plea for ‘Justified’ – The Red State Western You Should be Watching” at Racialicious. This is super-smart commentary on American television and the typical (and atypical) treatment of race relations (specifically black/white race relations).

7. “AED Guidelines for Childhood Obestity Prevention Programs” from the Academy of Eating Disorders. This? is stunning. D’you think our First Lady will take note? I sure hope parents, teachers, and other adults do.

8. So, I’m not going to link to the deplorable article by LZ Granderson entitled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”. I don’t want to contribute to even one blog hit, although by all means go read if you can stomach it. Ostensibly about the sexual exploitation and objectification of young girls and young women, it was also a hot mess of oppositional sexism, patriarchal attitudes, adultism, slut-shaming, sexism, victim-blaming, and misogyny (so: nothing we haven’t heard before). Yes, this was aired on CNN. A few good things came out of the piece: namely, on-point rebuttals. Here are four:

From PostBourgie: “Sexism, What About the Children?! Edition”. At Shakesville: “This is so the worst thing you’re going to read all day.” From Pigtail Pals: “Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?” And from Amy Bradstreet, a friend and reader and supporter and awesome-lady: “Shame And Blame Where It Belongs Regarding The Objectification Of Children”.

As always for complex or socially-heated subjects showcased by rather long pieces, feel free to add your comments to source articles and let me know – I will happily link back through here.

9. A Derrick Jensen quote, which I take as a refutation of “well, that’s human nature” / “it’s natural for people to act that way” of those I consider pro-status quo apologists, as posted by Idzie.

10. “Being acceptable in the eyes of society”: people would do well to read what it’s like to be a mother and/or mother-identified.

11. Make: sent to me by my brother’s lady J.: Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs. Beautiful!

11. “green snake”, a photo anthology (a tiny bit NSFW). I keep wanting to try absinthe, but I’ve thus far been too lazy to try to get ahold of some.

12. And finally: the best ballon dance I’ve seen, and that’s saying something:

It’s not hard, not far to reach / We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach

Natural Beauty

This weekend included a cross-country interview (will post soon) as well as the composition of two articles I was rather satisfied with. Also, and more on my mind for healing properties: many sunny walks (one of them rather long, and involving salamander-catching along a slough), a bike ride, a trip out to the bay, and the meeting of, right-proper, new neighbors across the street. The seven, nine, and eleven year old children new to the neighborhood are already adhering quite quickly to my own kids. Today when Ralph and Nels and I came back from our grocery run we found Phoenix with one of our quilts, lying in the neighbor’s yard alongside her new friend L. In the sunshine, my daughter’s strawberry blonde hair shimmered like golden floss and it felt pretty damn good to think when she was ready she’d run in and grab lunch real-quick (chicken noodle soup, milk, and a banana) before running back out again, grass stains on her corduroys.

More touching than just about anything I’ve experienced in a while, my friend Dawn hosted us for lunch on Saturday and cooked for me – fried chicken (and chard, and potatoes). The kids and I brought homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream (practice for Wednesday). All of it the food was delicious – I maintain there is no fried chicken to be found better than someone doing it out of their home, and Dawn did a great job. Besides my mother, I rarely get anyone homecooking for me, and it’s a wonderful treat.

Speaking of the kitchen, I’ve been baking a lot of chocolate cakes – and, just to be clear, I have more than one chocolate cake in my repetoire.Two sour cream Guinness stout cakes are currently cooling in my kitchen; these involved two cups of the beer and lots of good chocolate melted carefully and a cup and a half of sour cream and very very fresh eggs. One cake is for a friend; I borrowed her bundt pan to bake it right in there for her (I shall, of course, remove the cake and apply the chocolate ganache, and clean the pan before returning). Much like I’m so very into making baby buntings as of late, I would pretty much like to make chocolate cakes many times a week for people – and I do think mine are better than what you can get in any restaurant, coffee shop, or bakery ’round here. The price of dairy and chocolate being what it is, I can’t do so nearly as much as I’d like. Funny thing about baking is, I love to bake for other people but I hardly ever eat anything I bake. And another thing, I think the smells that fill my house are almost enjoyable for my family and guests as the food itself.

We are back down to not having a running car, and in fact will need to acquire a tow as Ralph miscalculated and believed he could have a few days’ more starting power in order to deliver it to the garage. Fingers crossed we can convince the garage to allow us to finance the repairs (tires and brakes plus, I suspect, betcha anything, glow plugs), because it’s pretty depressing to have two rotting cars laying fallow in the driveway.

But. I can’t do anything about any of that, really. So why worry?




As I type, Nels runs out from the bath with a towel wrapped haphazardly around his wiggling, clean little body. “Freshly-baked buns, just for you,” he tells me, a joke he made up himself and repeats now and then because he knows how much I like it. I’m going to read to the children again tonight, the mines of Moria from The Fellowship of the Ring. Last time I read to Nels I was on the kidnapping of Frodo by a barrow-wight; my son’s eyes held huge and his mien quite serious as he listened to the resolution of that spooky chapter.

There are some things money can’t buy, and those are some of the best things. Good health, sunshine, an appreciation for the natural world. The love of other human beings and the love for them as well.