stuff that happened

Opening Night!

Tonight is opening night for RHPS by the Driftwood Players, and I am so excited to go to the first official performance. I can tell you, if you are a local, you should check it out! (Or even if you’re not that local!) As for the bouquet, I am faithful to a local florist and I adore her. She continues to impress me both in quality of work, and in generosity. This little bouquet is fitted with lots of glitter, fishnet, exotic purples and reds, and shiny black boa-feathers. I love it!

Dinner Date

Last night, out late, very tired – but cheered immensely by the company of my family.

Meemerd

An inside joke between my Friday-date children and I. Little E. drew a “Meemerd”, and I adore it.

***

Last night we had a total of six “extra” kids in and out our home. I made a slow-cooked chili, honey cornbread, a fudge-frosted zebra-stripe cake, and served iced wild cherry Pepsi. At the end of a long night five of the six did not want to leave, and a few of them outright begged to stay.

Ralph and I are doing something right.

say how you feel

Kids are in and out, here and there, eating the pancakes I cook on the stove and then later out in my yard digging a “mine” (in other words, a giant muddy hole). From the latter they extract old rusted hooks and fittings and large nails, glass, “obsidian” (according to Nels), and “rocks that we THOUGHT were ore” (Nels, again). Nels is trying to find treasure so he can afford a video game system, the Wii U, which he’s wanted for many many months if not longer.

At the table having lunch and the kids are talking about a local boy they all know; they’re telling me this boy is a bully. I’m trying to figure out who they’re talking about so I ask for a physical description. They begin to describe him hesitantly (but tactfully) and I realize he’s the boy I’m thinking of. Then one of the girls at the table says, “He looks… kind of like… a mean elf.”

At this I shut my mouth, swiftly drift into the kitchen, and near-double over in silent laughter. Because that. Is. Exactly. What he looks like. I couldn’t have said it better.

“Oh, it was a banner f*cking year at the old Hogaboom family!”

This morning my children, husband, mother and I, as well as my kids’ friend A., hit the road and headed to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as day ONE of our daughter’s BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZAAAAAAAAAaaA

Tiger Cub, Snack

Tiger cub does BLUE STEEL —

***

OK then. I took a billion pictures of the red wolves – because I love wolves so much. They are spookily beautiful. Pictures can’t capture it. But maybe this stretch will translate pretty well:

Wolves

Wolves

The wolves really do move around in an eerily-coordinated pack; they grapple but silently.

Wolves

Feeding stinky waterfowl; many were shy about getting a tasty fish:

Dinner For Waterfowl

Dancing Shrimp! You are looking at their tails, here. They were shy and would not turn around, but they did have a coordinated dance going on. They were less than an inch long. Beautiful.

Dancing Shrimp!

A spooky octopus. No way to get a good photo; I just enjoyed her as she moved about.

Spooky Octopus

A handsome goat that kind of reminds me of Jasmine’s dubstep boyfriend. I refused to take a photo of the even-greedier goat to the left.

Handsome Goat

The arctic fox. Ralph and I have a great little story about this fella but it’s probably only funny to us. Anyway, my mom was so excited by his cuteness. She laughed and clapped and turned around to smile at Ralph and I as we walked toward her on the trail and I said to him, “the littlest grandma.”

The Arctic Fox

“‘Sup, we’re gibbons. DEAL WITH IT.”

Sup, Bitches

Children in the bamboo, being lovely. Nels:

Nels In The Bamboo

A.:

A.

Phoenix:

Phee In The Bamboo

Peacocking! These peacocks were shady as fuck. Like one creeped a single mama out to her car and stood there watching her and I think she felt a bit weird about it.

Peacocking!

Nels took many photos and texted them to his friend D.’s mama. So, there’s that.

Nels Sent Many Photos To His Friend D. Today

Tiger cub, playing! This was rather touching. You could see this fellow really loved the little feline. “Little”, a six month tiger cub about sixty-five pounds of muscle and hungry potentiality. Very powerful to watch, even as a baby.

"Play", Or, Practice

The two of them kept playing (the guy was like, “I’ve got a tiger, you don’t, so I’m awesome”) but I noticed the tiger would crawl up on the stump behind his human playmate, then jump on his neck and gnaw on it. This is how most tiger attacks go down – from behind, at the neck. And the VAST majority of tiger attacks are successful – for the tiger. (Here are some tiger attack tips! Also, LOLOLO). So anyway it was cute this guy thought the tiger was “playing” but it was actually, “practicing how to kill and eat him.”

***

This is E.T. the walrus. He is 3300 pounds of sass, and he likes to play with his massive walrus-dick (oosik represent!). While we were watching him he did this magnificent half-somersault, except instead of completing it it grappled his own business and whiskerly-chewed on it.

E.T. The Walrus

A photo on the steps; the kids talk about E.T.’s “trick” somersault, because my mom kept calling it a “trick” delightedly as she hadn’t caught the naughty bit of it until the kids finally detailed her a bit.

Friends @ The Zoo

Two siamangs cuddle after eating bananas. I gotta admit, it is satisfying to watch monkeys eat bananas. And it’s sweet to watch monkeys cuddle. And it’s sad to see monkeys in enclosures.

Siamangs

The touch tanks. Today was kind of special. I got to see the very moment a docent talked my son into touching an anenome; and he did. I got to watch him go from fear, to wonder. It was pretty cool.

Kids At The Touch Tank

Nels, staring down a nurse shark.

Nels + Nurse Shark

After our lengthy stay at the zoo, we traveled to pho, had coffee and doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme (the kids enjoyed watching them make the doughnuts and spent several minutes enthralled), and then I shambled my various coupons into Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Craft for some sewing supplies (I am not much of a coupon-er but FABRIC COUPONS are an organizing principle of my life).

Today was a good day: day one of three of Phee’s birthday. Tomorrow we have some more awesomesauce. We Hogabooms go hard, it must be admitted.

my heart beats like a drum

One hour at the roller skating rink for the kids; I help them lace their footwear and gather them into my arms again before I go. Their hair falls across my cheek and smells sweet, dusty and dry and delicious. As they get older these embraces mean more and more to me. My children, in skates, are nearly as tall as I. They thankful for the two extra dollars I give them for candy or pop and do not complain about the small sum. They have spirits of gladness and gratitude; by the time I was there age these things dwelt within yes, but they were eroded and corrupt.

A few minutes later, at home, my phone rings and it’s Nels. He excitedly informs me his sister is dominating in the rink’s game of tag. “She is doing so good, I wish I could take a picture,” he chirps. I hand the phone to the other ear and take out the rising yeasted bread, flip the oven on. I thank him for calling and put the phone down. My children are half a world away, competent and enjoying themselves, all at once vibrant and alive yet strangely vulnerable and precious to me. This cold weather even with the sun, I have a sense of wherever they are and I hold them close and I want them provided for at all times. Ralph comes home to a house full of fresh bread and new lightbulbs, then he’s back on the road to pick the children up along with a u-bake pizza for later tonight.

Later tonight,

dark now and at the side of the road, the car idles as my friend in the passenger seat applies her baby to her breast. I no longer even feel the ache, the letdown an infant’s cries, and the huffing-little suction sighs the child makes are familiar but they are from a past that sometimes feels another era. The mama’s breast glows milk-white in the dashboard lights and she is unselfconscious and I think good for her, I’m a bit tired but a respect and a gladness throbs within me, all the more so as she’s close to a year off meth and she’s doing her thing pretty good. I fiddle with my scarf and we talk a bit and I wonder if these memories of early sobriety will be fond ones or if she’s one of the many, the most, who will go back into the night and get lost for a little while

I’m contemplative, this evening.

Home and finishing up a soft shirt for my daughter. Ralph and the kids play Dungeons and Dragons at the dining room table

– hot water and lemon and honey –

 

today I felt a bit of warmth & heard birds; Spring may indeed come again

A little after one o’clock I run out of gas, while trying to give someone a ride. We end up sitting in the cold bright sunshine talking; he finishes a cigarette while sitting cross-legged in some really sweet Italian leather shoes. I am disconcerted. There is something about having certain kinds of problems, I start to feel less like an adult, more inadequate, Shame. But I still my tongue and don’t overapologize or try to explain the whole business. Shit happens. There’s a reason I’m in the sunlight, having a delay in my day, which is so often go-go-go with my little plans and everything.

A bit later the two of us walk a few blocks and meet my husband, coming to my rescue with five gallons. My dog patiently waits through all this and, when we finally get home, obligingly butt-waggles his way back inside. A few hours later and he wants to ride with me in the car again. He never doubts me even if I sometimes doubt myself. Loyal.

Home, and Nels is with his friends, Phoenix is off to the beach with her grandmother.

Last night one child stayed the night; tonight we have another young guest. It’s pretty nice to have a safe, nurturing home for not just our kids, but others.  Home again and while the kids play I trace a sewing pattern; Ralph sets the table and sets out bowls of noodles, lettuce, mint, carrot, and cucumber; a fish vinaigrette sauce and sliced tri tip steak. A Vietnamese dish that is one of my favorite homecooked meals. The kids laugh while they eat and I snuggle my son’s long blonde tangles. Ralph runs a bath

and

it’s time to go to bed!

UNSCHOOLING PRODUCES UNNATURAL CHILDREN

one plus one. really?

Thanksgiving, we had our four family members and one lovely dinner guest. Ralph and I made – all from scratch:

A Michigander-style 16 pound turkey
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Sauteed green beans
Roasted lemon asparagus
Crescent rolls
Celery & butter stuffing
Fresh cranberry-orange sauce
Waldorf salad (with pears, apples, sour cherries and spiced pecans)
A pumpkin pie (from fresh-roasted pumpkin)
A dark chocolate / coconut custard cream pie w/organic whipped cream

The grocery bill for all of this, including the dinner and foodstuffs from the day before, came to a little over ninety bucks. That is PRETTY GOOD shopping considering I am not much of a Financial Panther. I was pretty relaxed and had a great time doing the shopping – and yes, it was during one of those intense shopping-mart rushes, and I had both kids, and had to park a full block away. And I was just, enjoying myself. In fact it was one of those wonderful, so-glad-to-be-alive and in-the-moment experiences. And I was also thinking of all the women I saw in their hustling-ass for their families. We need to give women more credit.

(I wrote it in the comments for a previous post, but I gotta write more about it here):

Yesterday, after swim team practice, my daughter is approached by a girl about thirteen. The girl asks,

“Do you go to school?”

“No,” Phoenix answers.

“What is one plus one?” the kid challenges.

“Stop bothering me with silly questions,” Phoenix retorts.*

I DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS AT HOW AWESOME MY DAUGHTER IS. I just… I can’t tell you. When I was my daughter’s age I was guarded about everything. I vacillated between being authentic and badass and brash – then shrinking up out of fear. I had no method of coping for condescension – let alone something as elegant as Phoenix’s straight-forward call-out. I wanted to be good at everything and I wanted to be liked, and I was easily shamed, especially by someone bigger than me or with more authority. If it were me I would have probably answered, “Two,” and felt humiliated, and that humiliation would have turned to anger, and I wouldn’t have known what to do different next time. Phoenix is the calmest and most centered girl. I take virtually no credit except I continue to learn to get out of the way, and listen deeply and give her the nurture she needs.

What is it with unschooling coming up more lately? I trust it will die down again. It goes in spurts. You know, spurts where we get to live our life without being commented upon or outright harassed. I am not complaining. No really! It is just odd it’s been coming up. Like while this thing was happening to my daughter, someone was telling her father how good it is Phee is on the swim team: “Oh that’s good, get her out of the house. Get her some socialization!”

No, really.

UNSCHOOLING PRODUCES UNNATURAL CHILDREN

 

Anyway so last night my daughter and I watch one of our favorite shows, “River Monsters” from Animal Planet (we are both HUGE Jeremy Wade fans). My kids are expert movie riffers.

“In order to catch this monster sting ray, I was going to have to do something I’d never done before -”

” – dress as a Sexy Lady Ray!”

then

“The residents were finding enormous bullsharks in the place they least expected -”

“a HOT DOG CART!”

… and so on. Many giggles into the night until we got too sleepy to watch and fell asleep all cuddled-up like.

***

* my daughter tells me she and this girl are now friends.

Nels' meme, tonight

a niche in the eaves

[ my son makes memes. like no one’s business. ]

Nels' meme, tonight

 

Fall seems to be an incredibly creative time of year for me, and others in my life notice. I get a lot of compliments on my purple hair. In fact in Grays Harbor I’ve heard nothing but compliments. Children are the most openly admiring.  But not a day goes by grownups don’t say a few nice things as well. Women tend to compliment; men say something flirty and sometimes even touch me without permission (boo).

But in the car on our way to deliver a pie, my daughter tells me I look gorgeous. It’s pretty wonderful to be loved the way they love me. I know I’m one of my children’s heroes. I know they think I am beautiful and amazing. It’s quite humbling. It makes me feel less self-conscious and it sets a place for me in the world.

Just before I leave for my volunteer concierge shift at the Gallery I hear the stomping of feet and sense that kind of bundled-up energy children bring in the new rains. Wrapping myself in my scarf I step into the kitchen and I shit thee not, seven “extra” kids in my house, all boys. All rowdy, but completely obliging to my eldest child’s commands (wash hands, set the table, et cetera). All of them there for a fête Nels has planned: the celebration of Harris’ birthday. My son has made tea and set out cups and made cards. The children all sing the cat “Happy Birthday”. Phoenix kicks them out after I leave; we have a whitelist of children allowed inside while Ralph and I are gone.

Today in the kitchen: steakhouse bread (sort of like pumpernickel but without caraway, and made up WITH eggs and coffee), two layered chocolate and roasted coconut cream pies with Mexican vanilla. Then a soup the kids cook up while Ralph’s in Olympia: ham, chickpeas, spinach noodles, and fresh peas. Cherry tomatoes on the side and a big glass of milk for each kiddo. They eat sitting with me in my sewing room while I hum through one hundred and sixty-five half-square triangles on my old Singer.

Quilting and gallery sitting, and a few minutes talking with friends. It rained today but I thought ahead and I have proper raingear for the season – boots and coat anyway – and I’ve got proper raingear for the kids too. Food security, and clothing security, and shelter. A fortunate family.

Home now and it’s late; four cats slumber in four chairs. The house is full of the smell of baked bread and the flickering of candles.

 

 

 

goodship dress / mason county treasures

Goodship Dress

These last couple days I’ve had the pleasure of pattern-testing the Goodship Dress, by my friend Karen of Circus. The dress is a simple middy-style including a box pleat, in-seam pockets, and large bow-tie closure.

Goodship Dress

Phoenix loves the dress. She says it is very “cool and breezy”, and calls it a “Pilgrim dress”.

Goodship Dress

The armscye and collar bindings were simple but appealing. Nothing in particular was tricky about construction, although if I made the dress in linen again I’d likely cut everything on the bias. Better yet, I’d make it with a blend that had more drape.

Goodship Dress

A coda: I had despaired of finishing this dress on vacation, since my 1967 New Home sewing machine started snapping its upper thread and Ralph and I could not figure out how to fix it. In Shelton today I stopped into the Sew Now Studio in dowtown Shelton. What a wonderful shop – it had actual supplies one needs to make garments – tons of wonderful zippers, sturdy ribbing, bottomweights, lining, knits, woolens, all purpose threads in every color, buttons. Wonderful stuff. Imagine that! Yes, I am envious of the Shelton locals. Anyway, I picked up wool, lining, interfacing and buttons for a coat for Nels – and even more fabulously, rented a Kenmore sewing machine so I could finish my work here at the cabin!

Lovely stuff.

Phee Feeds Ducks

 

in this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it

Yesterday a man shows up at my door and tells me he’d seen my babies walking, and he wanted me to know there was a registered sex offender in our neighborhood. A new one. He showed me a picture. I told him Yeah, you could look that stuff up online and all the local crime too, which I had done. He was surprised (OUT-SAFETY’D, SUCKA!!!) but then returned to talking about this guy. He kept reiterating he saw my babies walking and he thought he’d talk to me. My babies. I wonder how he knows where we live. Then he says he was trying to get the sex offender OUT of our neighborhood. He says, “Why don’t they knock on doors and ask around, ‘Do you have kids?’, and ask if it’s okay if a sex offender moves in?” I have no words. Just, no words.

I thanked the man for his concern. I closed the door. I feel oddly depressed. Later the kids and I had a little talk about strangers and walking about.

Life goes on.

Now this evening it’s dark out and I know where my kids are, but I’m a wee bit uneasy. It’s not related to the guy who showed up yesterday but he didn’t help or anything. It’s as if, at a certain point I have this tingling sixth sense. I walk outside with the dog and see my kids across the street, returning home in the company of an extra kid (who is now here and staying the night). It’s like I don’t rest easy until once again I see my children safe. The kids, all three, run up and inside and make up bowls of dinner (pork fried rice and green beans) and get to some cleaning up: vacuuming and doing the dishes. Phee is soon on her laptop and giggling, playing online with friends.

I wonder when I’ll get used to how sufficient, how competent, my children are. Today they packed up their swimsuits and towels and went out with my mother to the lake. Before they left I asked them to do some housework, and they cheerfully obliged and got the kitchen cleaner than Ralph or I generally do it, talking the whole while to one another in meme-speak, almost unintelligible. At a certain point I just kept adding on suggestions, feeding the cats and sweeping, and can you put this away, and that, and they did these cheerfully enough, since they knew they were off to the lake as soon as I was off to my volunteer shift at the gallery. It’s like I worried all these years about teaching my kids life skills and I have some kind of anxiety hangover.

Sometimes besides feeding and snuggling and taking the kids where they want to go, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to be doing for them. They are exceedingly happy and well-balanced and perfectly okay asking me for whatever they want, which means each day is an opportunity in trusting in something greater than myself. My ability to plan, manipulate, execute.

Family life is a lot easier than I used to make it.

#goodnight