sweet Baby Jeebus.

Five pets. Three vet-office visits split between two vet clinics. Medications. A surgical procedure (Bun-Bun’s neutering)! A cone of shame for Hutch. A financial commitment (to us, by another) dropped, quite suddenly. So: bank errands. Hustle.


I’m out of gas, so I use my mom’s truck. I take a break and call a mentor; I get a few moments’ relief. Then, right before I’m off to collect the rabbit post-surgery, the front driver’s side tire shreds. I mean just completely flies apart. I got a bunny to pick up, and a little girl to get at a rural bus stop.

I don’t panic. I make some calls. My son is trying to talk to me. I’m so tired. I lean back.

The day got wetter, and colder, and more scowly, and weirder from there.

I’m tired and tonight I feel a little low. It’s easy to beat myself up when things don’t go according to plan. Gotta practice a little of that self-kindness, that love and compassion, so profound a lot of people never get to it for more than a brief moment at a time. Gotta practice it because I need it and because I want it for when times are shite.

All animals medicated, fed, warm, safe, & love. THREE of them on my bed right now, with a little son about to join to boot.

Goodnight, lovelies.

a bit of sick / a bit of health

Yesterday one of my children – who asked they remain anonymous – had a sudden bout of vomiting, and several hours of low-level misery. This child has since been bathed, snuggled, temperature taken (a low fever of 100ยบ), swaddled – and has been sleeping well over twelve hours at this point. When I checked on the child they were sleepy but said they felt better – then fell back into a much-needed slumber.

I am so thankful for my health, because there is much to do.

Our washer died and we’ve no grocery money so I gotta be a canny lass.

So today – I’m up: put the coffee on. Yoga. Dishes. Shower. Meditation. Now: paying bills. We are short, and we are paid on Friday. I’ve a pot of spaghetti in the fridge for tonight. Still, by “short” I mean: I have to find a way to put money into an account today. I can do it. Right? Or maybe I can’t. Well if I can’t do it, I can at least laugh about it!

I’ve said it before; it is difficult, when things are financially strained, not to let too much of my existence become about The Hustle (the legit Hustle, nothing shady!). In my past, when times were tight there was an attendant sense of Shame or even like… Anger. It’s hard enough supporting the nine mammals in this house, without the Shame and Anger, so I don’t want to live that way. Most days I’m pretty good at walking the path.

I wish I’d have known this back in the day. Two nights ago while shopping for groceries I realized: my family and I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs (at all), we don’t gamble. We care for our health as best we can (including our spiritual and physical health). We don’t buy expensive clothes or cars or iPhones or have any pricey habits – just those pesky “habits” of needing food, heat, clothing, et cetera!

How is this relevant? Well, I remember when we had more trouble – debt in collections, primarily, and that was no joke – and when we had a few of those smoking and drinking habits… (okay, that was pretty much just Me). I remember feeling a sense of Shame about our circumstances, and way way way in the back of my mind I think I thought it was My Fault our lives were this way. At the same time my mind was often in a furious state of Denial: I blamed others, that constant chatter, it was THEIR fault; or maybe, THEY didn’t understand. The bitterness, the envy, the anger. It’s an ugly way to live. Most people living this way can’t stand to admit it – and mostly I couldn’t either. It just hurts a lot to live this way and we think if we are honest about it, there’s going to be a hell of a reprisal.

I’m glad I got honest.

Today we live a better lifestyle and hell, it is still difficult to make it paycheck to paycheck. And I don’t know if this makes sense, but now that we are living in a better way I see the Shame and Blame are unnecessary today, and they were unnecessary when things were worse. There is this odd way Shame and Blame become an entire trap; keeping me from taking responsibility, keeping me in the same problems. It actually doesn’t matter if I blame You or blame Me. If I’m caught up in blame it is entirely illusion (or as I like to put it delicately, Bullshyte), and it saps my strength, robs me of my humor, and stunts my empathy.

So today. I got a few problems, but Anger, Shame, Blame, Guilt, & Remorse aren’t on the list. I can deal with scrumping groceries. I just have to keep laughing about it, because I really am grateful for all I have.

Meanwhile I put my hair up and put on some Josephine Baker while I do the housework. It makes me feel kind of wretchedly glamorous and joyful!

the security of being a permanent employee

“Your tears are black,” my son says in surprise, pulling away from my hug.

I get to tell him how mascara works.

I don’t mind my son seeing me cry, although I don’t cry often which is probably why he’s shocked. I’m less okay that he’s just overheard a heated – and let’s face it, at moments ugly – conversation between his father and I. About money. Which is really about stress, and security. Which is about Trust, which is about Faith, which is about seeing the world as it is. And now my boy, my nine-year old, he runs through the house ridding his wallet of change, and “bottling” up some maple syrup to sell. “I want to help you find money,” he tells me now. “I can shoeshine,” he tells me.

I’m still crying but at least I have the sense not to cry over this too, not to be maudlin my kid gets to go through this. I sit down on the little speaker-amp in our warm kitchen and I put my arms around him. “Little dude,” I tell him, taking a deep breath. “You have one job, and it’s to be a Little Guy. That’s your job. It isn’t your job to give us money or to try to find it. Your parents are grownups and they can handle the money stuff.” I tell him. I can feel him relax a little – thinking about the job of being a Little Guy, probably. He puffs up a bit. He can be a Little Guy.

Money trouble means you can’t keep shit all tidy. As much as you might try. I’ve got a sense of purpose and dignity though. I don’t apologize when paying for gas with change and I don’t apologize when we find ourselves in some ridiculous scenario (I could name five this last week!) – as long as I haven’t wronged someone by being there. Not-apologizing and not-blaming are the practices that keep me grateful, keep me grounded. Helping others – it keeps me grounded. Taking help when it’s offered (I could name five times this last week!) – keeps me grounded.

There is so much letting-go involved in financial and food insecurity. Faith and letting-go are part of the process, like a dance, and sometimes you get that wobble. Now I warm up the car and I take a deep breath. I gotta be careful not to get addicted to the hustle; to live my life such that if one day I don’t have to hustle, I can step gracefully into that new life. I hear people say you can get addicted to Drama and I get it. Drama keeps us distracted, tells us our Plan is a good one, or a necessary one, or that we can let ourselves go because Suffering, or all the above.

Driving off my little guy is speaking to me and I can hear him, because I can take those deep breaths. I tell him It’s okay Nels. We won’t let you down. We never have. Promise. We turn up the street and he’s relaxed fully; into a local shop selling computer scrap. Nels takes some candies from the jar and I run up, then down the stairs, leaving the box behind. I get down to my son in his little knit cap and I’m the Luckiest Woman on earth.

meagerness / abundance

I have four singles in my purse, and one week until payday. Oddly though, I am not panicking. I have paid almost every bill we owe – well anyway, I have paid all I could. If we can keep gas in the car and food in the fridge we’ll make it to another check.

Another check. Yes sometimes the whole thing seems pointless. I hear you. I hear you.

So of course a feast is in order, a feast with friends – tomorrow. I juggle three separate cards with meager balances and buy: flour, dried beans, oranges, two kinds of pepper, zucchini, milk, eggs. Home and I bring out the elk burger T. brought me; thawing for tomorrow’s tacos. I knead up a double-batch of pan de los muertos. Making bread for my friends, for my children. My son zests and juices oranges, then eats the messy remains, sighing with pleasure. Baking feels very good. I cannot do all things but I can soak yeast in sugar and milk and need in anise and make an orange glaze and little tiny bone-shapes on top of delicious round loaves.

Small blessings, luxuries more meaningful than the ones people chase. The glittering sun outside and our pristine fall weather. A box of fabrics for clients’ projects; delicious yardages I now pretreat and hang, ready for sewing. My children remove the dog to the bedroom so we can give our little bunny a run in the living room. He is oddly handsome and I wonder, Is Bun Bun especially cute or are all rabbits beautiful? This little rabbit, five months old and the prettiest snowiest white and dusted grey, he has a new home now and is warmer and fed fresh things – broccoli, today, and carrots. He chomps down his fresh vegetables with a gusto you wouldn’t think a rabbit would have. He saucily lopes through my living room like a BOSS.

The kids bash the porch’s pumpkin to bits; home from a walk and the dog steals a bite, quickly. Nels makes himself a salad with romaine leaves and roasted pumpkin seeds (a simple recipe and the best I’ve had – butter and salt only). Going through the kids’ clothes and sorting, the children growing so fast: homesewn hand-me-downs off to friends, less well-made clothes off to the Salvation Army, a few things tattered enough to be thrown out. My daughter reads through her book again lazing on the couch, long legs in jeans and tennis shoes up on the coffee table, frank brown eyes following along in her quietude. I read a lot as a child but now it is my turn to wash the dishes, fold the towels, rinse the tub.

Practice, practice, practice.

Small Stone #1
White rag polishes the soft wood
Scent of fir
All these years later

“Because I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”

Today we got up early, loaded a basket of food into my trunk, put a carafe of coffee up front, trundled two sleeping kids (one in underwear-only) into the almost-warmed-up car, and headed to Seattle.

I had a volunteer commitment for the day and I’m only just now getting home.

And just in the moment – I’m tired, overworked, overthinking, and irritable.

I was touched my family joined me, in an expression of support. I found it especially sweet they came along since none of them are super-keen on getting up and driving instead of sleeping in and screwing off at home.

There were compensations. Ralph took the kids to the aquarium while I was occupied. They got to see dwarf cuttlefish getting fed (unfair!).

Nels + Phee Ride Orcas

And apparently they found an extra child, but they didn’t bring him/her home or anything.

In other news, Ralph and I have made rather large change in our lives. I will now be the primary manager of our family’s financial woes operations. He’s been doing this job for about eight years. I’m sitting here with a stack of plastic next to my computer, and I’ll be making room for a stack of paper soon. I’m feeling pretty daunted. Not because of any other thing in that, I’ve not done this for a very long time, and back when I did it I was drinking, so that helped.

I’m also breathing deep because seriously it feels like a huge responsibility. What’s the worst that could happen? I could fuck it up ENTIRELY. So.

* breathes into a paper bag *

OK, then.


there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow

It’s 11 PM and it’s not a good neighborhood in Aberdeen but we’re pulled over anyway for a while. Ralph is checking a few bank balances on the phone, and his phone is slooooow. Eventually he figures out that between two accounts, we have $50 – enough to get supplies for Phoenix’s first day of school, and to pick up a few special items for her lunch. While he’s figuring this, though, we’re sitting along a nasty part of town – as in No, Nels, You Can’t Go Outside And Play and while I wait patiently, a raccoon runs in front of our car and into the lights of the convenience store’s frontage. “Heading to Smoke Town,” I say in my raspiest, very-sketchy-raccoon type of voice.

Ralph still has traces of his Rocky Horror makeup on. He’s tired and his hair is spikey and between that and the eyeliner, he looks like a 90’s made-for-TV-movie version of a drug dealer. He’s tired and his temper is short. I guess I’m kind of the same. But I’m not irritated with my husband, or with checking our balance, or with being up late and tired with a sore throat coming on, or with my car at home on “R” and not sure how I’ll get to school to get my daughter tomorrow heck only a little over twelve hours from now.

In fact I’d been thinking of the low gas tank precisely when we set out from our darkened driveway for these late night errands. And I’d felt this total peace come over me and I’d thought of the book of Matthew, Chapter 6: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day’s evil is enough for the day.” I’d thought of this today while talking to a friend and I’d taken the time to look it up in a book and everything (The Unvarnished Gospels). Yeah, I’ve lived long enough and suffered long enough I know the wisdom in setting worry aside. Or like I told my friend today, who wanted advice on a few matters: “If I thought it was a good idea for you to worry, I’d tell you to worry.” Today yeah, I know this practice is a form of self-absorption, and like all self-absorption, it steals my life. I experience that sublime peace when I know I can just Be Here Now. And I’m feeling that serenity now, in the car, tired, cranky husband and all.

After groceries, apples and olives and juice and a special orange candy treat for our daughter’s lunchpail, we hit Walmart for the school supplies. It is surreal and not in a good way. There is a man arguing loudly with his own appearance on a security camera screen. There are two young men about as high as I’ve ever seen anybody, in the video game section. A family loudly argues at the checkout, seemingly oblivious to their own amped-up energies. The school supply section has been so vigorously raided there is no longer any college-ruled paper sheaves (come to think of it, they were even out of wide-ruled – now that is dire!). But – Ralph and I take care to pick the items we think our daughter – home now asleep – will appreciate. I feel at peace and grateful for my husband, for our little family.

Nels trails along with us – the child, tonight, a bit neglected as Ralph and I are focused on the task at hand. And he’s very patient but he’s still a bit that Lost Child and I have that pang when I feel I’m not being Enough. But then I turn away from that pang, I smile at it a bit because I know I still have time with my son, I’m still here.

I’d promised this child a pizza date with just he and I, on Phoenix’s first day of school. Another to-do item for tomorrow like the gas tank – something I know I can figure out when the time comes because I know I’m supported by the Universe.

It’s a good life, Times One Million.

& NOW – impressively large quantities of hominy. Nels asks me what it is. “It’s like corn. But gross.”


in other news

I’m torn, as I almost make enough side money with my stitchery and graphic design to NOT go to work, for pay, outside the home. While I patiently wait to see if and when I am going to take (other kinds of) work, necessitating less time sewing, I’ve decided to vote my hopes, not my fears, starting with re-opening my Etsy shop. I am currently giving some thought to my stitchery over the next few months. More than anything I enjoy making custom pieces, one at a time, for creative customers. What I am finding is that creative customers are kind of rare!

But in the meantime – BMO! Who I love and who is adorable and tender and sweet and irreverant and reminds me of my Little Guy so much.

BMO (Beemo)

BMO (Beemo)

BMO (Beemo)

Speaking of the LG, this morning when Nels awoke, Phoenix and I treated him to a “spa date” – a many-fluffy-towel’d experience including a hot oil hair treatment, a pedicure, and a nail clipping. All while eating homemade strawberry shortcake, naturally.

Spa Date!#tender


big sacks of flour

Dinner Awaits

As some of you may or may not know, our primary source of income has not been receiving pay raises as per “normal” for a couple years; & in fact has been receiving cuts, as the result of state-wide budget changes.

As of this morning I have a debit card hooked up to my Paypal. Any donations sent here – and I do appreciate them – are used for groceries, pretty much immediately. Sorry I’m not too glamorous about blog donations, but, there it is. Probably pinto beans, coffee, flour, milk, bananas, peanut butter, &/or Nutella will be involved. Unless you want to specify I use the funds for something specific. By all means.

I appreciate all forms of support. Thank you, my lovely readers.


inch by inch

I currently have received about a third the budget for my first zine printing. I’m trucking along, keeping records and updating my addresses. I hope to not spam the zine here (or on Twitter) too much, but I also want to give people an opportunity to know the whole thing is live and can use support of any kind.

In other news. Kinda big news. For me. Kind of a big deal. I think I am actually going to put in an application for a paying job. This is… kind of huge. I haven’t worked for pay, at all, in any consistent way, since 2003. I won’t be taking anything more than part-time hours at this point, but I’m ready to apply, selectively. I’m also ready to abandon the pursuit if it doesn’t work for my family.

Anyway, this is kind of a major thing, which is why I’m outing myself here. And of course, as competitive as all jobs are at this point, I have no idea what the future holds. Probably no job. This is what happens when I make plans.

So anyway. When I have to go out. I leave notes:

Note Before I Leave, Checkmarks

Phoenix makes sure to check off her housework. LIKE A BOSS. She is awesome at it. I think she enjoys having time in the house, to herself. Scratch the word “think”. I know it.

Happy Friday, m’lovelies.

a funeral, sketchy tire shops

Tire Store Boy

I lie. The tire shop wasn’t sketchy. It was just a used tire shop, we’re bumped down from the days of Les Schwab and young handsome men running in slow motion out to the car.

I should say, our finances are, though. Sketchy. We’re scraping by to afford our little conference trip. And in the last couple days we’ve had to “emergency” surgery a cat, then “emergency” replace tires that were sprouting a crop of wire. I use the air dick quotes because, I guess it was all emergency stuff. If we didn’t surgery the cat she could have fallen gravely ill (and she was in pain), and if we didn’t fix the tires, we could have crashed on the road. So, damn, kind of non-negotiable expenses.

The kitty is fine. She’s all stitched up and hopped up on kitty drugs. I’m very grateful for her recovery. She is very dear to us.

Nels, a funeral for a bird. He voiced a lovely and earnest and powerful prayer before we buried her.

Bird, Elegy

In other news: cute husband, who has helped create cute daughter. They are dressed as nerds today, for some theme. It works.

Sexy Nerd-Spouse

Beauty/Hipster Glasses

I also gave blood (of course) and my daughter held my hand through it all. Later, Nels rode on the back of the bike and held the basket with my embroidery supplies, for the class I taught. It was fun stitching, and showing people how to do some simple things. One student was an eight year old girl and that was about a thousand percent awesome.

It was good stuff.