at least cabin fever has not struck

My daughter’s croupy cough continues. The Hogabooms eat three healthy meals daily and get very good sleep at night; during this week as we wait for Ralph’s job duties to resume we take walks in the chill and administer meals to those without power (two other families, last night). Meanwhile our local paper makes sure to report the various dramas (we did have three examples of smash and grab / looting – in a county of 36,000) while neglecting to cover in any detail the tireless work of emergency personnel and the PUD / Bonneville workers to which we owe our relative comfort.

Otherwise, P.S., a storm is just boring. I have discovered I only like sitting around doing nothing when there is the option to do other things. Our blackout provided for a lot of reading, a lot of snuggling, a lot of cooking and cleaning, and a lot of singing and playing guitar. On the second day I finally picked up a book many friends have recommended to me and in the last day and a half have thrown myself into cooking dishes therein – the basic beans, banana bread, chicken coconut soup, caesar dressing, 24-hour chicken stock (which had the benefit of feeding my cats and the 93-year-old neighbor’s kitties with tender chicken goodness scraps), homemade cream cheese and whey, and sprouted almonds (for apricot bars). This morning I even started the day with a whey tonic (surprisingly refreshing), feeling silly and hippie-ish.

Tonight: sci-fi family movie night and yes, I’m looking forward to it.

mama’s happy when mama’s busy

I wish I’d had a camera this morning. It was pretty blissful to hang out with two four year olds to do all our Thanksgiving shopping. Well, technically Nels and my friend’s child E. are 3 1/2 and 4 1/2, resp. but you get the idea. While Sophie was in school the two younguns and I avoided Wednesday crowds and got our action on.

So my Thanksgiving menu is as follows:

Turkey
Dressing
Carrots w/butter
Green beans
Mashed potatoes
Gravy?? If I can figure out how to make it!
Candied yams w/homemade marshmallows
Waldorf salad
Cranberry sauce (I made last night)
2 dozen yeast rolls (awesome recipe featured in November’s zine)
Deviled eggs w/pretzels, pickles and olives (half-assed appetizer I suppose)
Pumpkin pie (made up and froze the other day)
Bread pudding
Apple pie

Today this involved the following groceries:
Bread for stuffing
1 gallon organic milk
Canola oil
2 dozen brown organic eggs
One huge-ass free-range turkey
2 lbs. butter
Chicken bullion (sp?)
Karo corn syrup (OMG… this list is looking so evil!)
Can pumpkin
Can black olives
Whipping cream
2 quarts organic chicken broth
Total = $73

Then we hit Jay’s where I bought the produce:
5 lbs. apples (macintosh for the waldorf salad, granny for the apple pie)
4 lbs. carrots
10 lbs. potatoes
3 lemons
1 head celery
1 large bunch seedless grapes
1 lb. tofu
Total = $17

And finally, a few bakery items from The Marketplace:
3 lbs. light rye flour
1 lb. semisweet miniature chocolate chips
25 lbs. bread flour
Total = $18

So – $108 for the whole shebang (9 people to be fed). This doesn’t include the ingredients I asked my guests to bring: 1 cup dried cherries, 2 cups whole pecans, 1 lb. coffee, 2 lbs. butter (yes – two more pounds than what I bought), 1/2 and 1/2, 3 lbs. yams, pretzel sticks, 5 bottles sparkling cider, and beer (volunteered by a guest). My sister donated $50 to the effort which I took out in Portland Aveda trade (um, I think I’m as excited to see Aveda as I am to have company over!). So – it’s a feast, and thanks to help from the guests, it’s easier on my budget.

Also on my list:
Shampoo the carpet (Ralph)
Clean the bathroom even though it’s always clean
Wash bedding at two houses
Steal from mom’s house: roasting pan and rack (make sure turkey fits), muffin tins, stoneware baking pan
Finish holiday mix tapes

And that’s about it, really! Plus I’m making T-day lunch for Sophie’s kindergarten class tomorrow. And stapling and distributing the zine. And working out at the Y daily.

Today at 11 AM while I waited outside for the library to open – Nels in a monkey hoodie and E. borrowing the pink kitty hat – the kids climbed all over the railing in front of the entrance doors. Those two absolutely love one another, being kindred spirits of mischievousness. As I watched them a man next to me, scruffy and anonymous (there were three such men waiting with me) said, “I don’t know if I should feel bad.” I asked what he meant and he told me he’d been feeling the dogs at the pound (a kennel outdoors by the police station and next to the local grocery store) and a rott puppy had squeezed out of his slot and was running “free” in with the other dogs. I told him not to feel bad. I asked him what he’d been feeding them. “Cookies,” he replied. (!)

The things I like about holidays: the food, the people.

"that’s quite pungent…. it *stings* the nostrils"

My latest foodie obsession – a subset of my quest to to become a competent bread-baker – is mastering sourdough. Talk about weird. Yesterday on target I had a rye starter mix is bubbling and frothing away. I’d moved it kind of everywhere in the house to find a good spot (who has a 80 degree place in their house 24 hours a day?). Problem is, the starter was giving off quite an odor right away, one curiously reminiscent of some of the more filthy underbelly aspects of a wood pulping operation (memories of 2 AM shift walks… [ shudder! ]). Had my starter gone bad? How could I tell if it did? What next? Why am I trusting the internet for all this information?

So very early on in my sourdough-making experiment the process turned from exact recipe following (my preferred method) to a half-assed scientist’s experiment. Using a combination of this know-it-all’s elaborate recipe, the sourdough starter available to me at the local health food store, salt, yeast, and flours (three in total) I made a loaf. The whole family kept tabs on it all day – the kids checking each rise and the baking thereof – and we waited until Ralph got home to try it.

Success! It was a tasty bread. The loaf, once cooled (it was quite pretty) was promptly divided and ravaged in a total of four different households (a tiny heel remains in my breadbox). As for me, although I had a piece, the smell of the starter lingered in my olfactory memory and it was basically a mental taint.

Also baked: chocolate rye coffee cake, pumpernickel rolls. Today: homemade marshmallows.

so where are you going to i don’t mind / if i live too long i’m afraid i’ll die

Insomnia. Again. No external culprits: no late-night caffeine, no alcohol. Exercise earlier in the day. No illness. Just nerves. Alone, abandoned, sad. Listening to my family sleeping. At least the cats are outside cold (yes, I’m about to let them in). At night I tell myself that in the morning I’ll feel better. It doesn’t help much but, of course, eventually I do sleep. If I was prone to ulcers I’d have developed one.

My days are good. I have been so busy lately – in a good way. I’ve been working really hard at helping my daughter’s class in their learning and enjoyment of school. Her teacher is awesome in that she will help me integrate a food or food activity into the lessons they do during the week. Ever since we started dong this stuff my little bird-brain gears spin away, bordering on the way-too-involved. Today was pumpkin pie day, pumpkin pie being the food the kids voted on earlier in the week (I’m sad they didn’t vote for the soup, which would have been more fun to make!). Two-dozen individual pies and one large one for the teachers. The kids sat and unfolded a napkin and we listened to a song about manners while they all ate. It was a nice scene.

Next week I’m even worse. I am currently cooking recipes and planning a little school unit on bread-baking which includes book holds at the library, a Sesame Street video podcast, and a book the kids and I worked on today.

I have been putting together my zine (website pending) which I must finish before I allow myself to sew again (post-Halloween resolution). I am on the preschool board and run little errands for that which aren’t rocket science but nevertheless take up a bit of time. Ralph and I have had two meetings each this week (I missed one), being more active in the film / theatre community here. And just trying to keep on top of housework and stay happy with the children and take Sophie to her swim lessons and enjoy peaceful evenings at home. We’re hitting it dead-on this week, for a change. No strain, just fun.

Here’s the thing: anytime someone tells you they’re busy it’s easy to not care, to tune out what they’re doing. But the point is I decided these things were important. I decided I cared about them, I committed to doing them. It’s different than a paid job where someone gives you a formal accolade or a formal paycheck and says, “Yes, that’s what you should be doing.” It’s a good groove though; I’ll admit. Today after baking pumpernickel bread my children opted out of playing together to come back in the kitchen and help me make two-dozen rolls (homemade burgers tonight for my dad’s dinner). One nice thing about having an at-home parent is your children learn so very much from you. It is truly an honor and inspiration to have them as pupils, too.

The hour grows only later and my body does not feel ready for sleep. Nevertheless I shall try.

divide by the cosine of grape jelly

This year for my eldest’s kindergarten I started work (unpaid) as an assistant to my daughter’s classroom every Monday morning while Nels is in school. Let me tell you, getting to know one’s child and other children within the school system is a great opportunity and I’ve been delighted to discover how much I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I like my friends’ children but it has to be admitted these children (and my own) could often be viewed as obstacles to my socializing time with their mommies and daddies (anyone who’s been an at-home mommy or daddy of young children knows how much “quality time” with your children is instantly available or forced upon you; hanging out during the day with other parents of young children affords at least some adult-level interaction and pasttimes). At school however there are goals for everyone, there are rules in place and a neutral set of enforcers and pace-setters rather than the children’s parents. I find myself really enjoying being an educator rather than a parent or babysitter.

This week the children are “studying” a story about peanut butter sandwiches. I think the exercise focuses on reading comprehension (I have noted that classroom reading exercises are well below what my guess is Sophie’s second grade reading level – AR test pending; however, for the median classmate the academic exercises feel spot-on and all the children are attentive and seem to love them). While helping yesterday Mrs. P. asked me if I could come the next day and bring bread, so we could make peanut butter sandwiches (part two of the scientific experiment?).

So this morning with Nels in bike I brought homemade bread, Mrs. P bought the PB and J and we made sandwiches. I took a picture of the little kids freaking out joyously when Mrs. P. announced our project. During sandwich-making time (which coincided with other “stations” of art project and academic work on the letter “P”) Nels participated at a very good kgarten level, working so hard on a drawing / sticker exercise we were forced to take the sandwich with us on the bike trip to the bus station. Next week Mrs. P. tells me they are doing pizza and if she’s into it I will likely bring the dough and sauce, she can do toppings, and we can cook them in the kitchen. As you can imagine I am well-loved in that class. And I like each and every kid, and really feel like I’m getting to know them. Even The Little Sweet Psychotic (a beautiful, precious girl who scares me with her non-confrontational yet extremely confrontational behaviors) gave me two hugs before I left.

After class time Nels and I biked to the bus station to take the bus to Aberdeen’s LYS. After a very nauseating trip (I am very prone to carsick on our busses, sadly) I had Ralph meet me at the downtown shop and take Nels on a photo walk while I learned how to pick up the heel flap and inset to make the sock gusset. I was really irritated to discover the lack of “exact science” in picking up the stitches. However from here on out it looks like super easy sailing and then being walked through kitchener stitch by my fabulous local mentors. Yay socks!

Tonight: library date with kids, board meeting for the preschool, dinner at my ‘rent’s while watching 300 with the associated rifftrax. A little slice of heaven for me, well except for that Board meeting.

browser history shows: werewolf stilts, recipes for eyeball cupcakes, geeky homemade tombstones

I’m back at the library, hiding from the rain. There’s a woman next to me with a passel of kids – one of them in a carseat caddy. Her kids are whining and fighting in the kid section as she types oblivious and in a few minutes when I leave I’m going to use this opportunity to NOT clean the child area to the standards I normally do.

I had a significant parcel of time to myself this last weekend; first, a visit to the Olympus Spa – truly one of the more nurturing places I’ve ever been – to meet Abbi and Becca (naked, all of us). Then up to Seattle to be shown the sites (including a new dot com startup office, fun for me) by a friend. Being with myself, being away from family, I caught myself really thinking and saying a lot of things that dismayed me. Inner darkness, hello! Hadn’t seen you in a while. I was also surprised how much I enjoyed the bits of alone-ness. The absolutely crawling traffic north of Tacoma – fine. I was by myself, well-fed and nourished, with coffee and the iPod. Deep-breaths. It felt great and I think I need to do it again, and soon.

The holidays are officially commencing for our household with the Hogaboom Halloween preparations (it’s been cute to find on the computer Ralph’s plans for a Destro or Cobra Commandor ensemble). I don’t find holidays at all exhausting because I don’t feel pressure to spend a lot or go visit any particular people. I just plan things I enjoy (having said that, this season will probably kick my ass in some so-you-think-you’re-gonna-be-smug karmic way). Sophie reviewed the fabrics I bought for her elaborate choice of costume (thank Sweet Baby Jesus she eschewed any frilly princessy garbage, at least for this year); my mother, away now for a month and missing my children, has been more than eager to agree to Nels’ even more technically-challenging plan.

Tonight in honor of a recent amazing lunch date at Vic’s with Amy I am making a double-crusted pizza pie; tomorrow, black bean soft tacos and slaw. My kids have been choosing our dinner plans (last week’s highlights included homemade hamburger buns for burgers, homemade fries and Haagen Daaz milkshake).

The mom I spoke of is abusively railing at her kids to clean up while not helping them in any particular way (browsing at books ten feet away and barking out random commands). It’s tempting to judge but I’ve been that woman myself.

And so goes the domestic beat on our Monday morning.

pix and quotex

Morning Luv
My kids cuddle each other and the rest of us more than you would believe possible. Yes, it’s awesome.

"Cookie Monster"
A rather blurry photo but does anyone have any questions as to why I am incessantly pinching her bum? Nels is trying to read.

Picking Billy Up
The Princess looks alert, but he’s actually quite Pink-Eyed and lacking in coffee! This was a capital “E” Emergency and we rectified it at once.

Ralph, Family Driver
Like an elderly couple, we rely on Ralph for most of the driving.

Grazdma / Kids / "Melting Chocolate Cake"
Speaking of elderly, my mom turned 58 and we took her out to lunch (my treat and it broke our budget). This dessert was called a “melting chocolate cake” and it was divine.

Romaine, Oly Farmers' Market
I picked up some yummy and tender romaine. I love garden-fresh lettuce – drenched in dressing, yes.

Bringing Harris Home (Wed 8/22)
We got a new kitty. “As you know.” Sophie held him on the drive home and he was quite calm.

Sleepover!
Sleepover with Billy! Can you feel the love? The kitty felt it too.

O Ye Wise Kitten
Harris, newly named (Billy helped) and looking – dare I say it? – wise.

Bagel (Helper)!
That morning Nels helped me make…

Bagels!
Bagels! Recipe and methods coming soon in the zine.

Bagel (Bandit)!
Sophie attempts to swipe one, early, like the Bagel Weasel she is.

Glisten
This photo disguises the very, very threadbare nature of her suit. She continues to love and thrive at swimming.

I enjoyed this quote I read on Molly’s MySpace today:

The fact is, what I hated in the Church was that I hated in society. Namely, authoritarians. Power freaks. Rigid dogmatists. Those greedy, underloved, undersexed twits who want to run everything. While the rest of us are busy living–busy tasting and testing and hugging and kissing and goofing and growing–they are busy taking over. Soon their sour tentacles are around everything: our governments, our economies, our schools, our publications, our arts and our religious institutions. Men who lust for power, who are addicted to laws and other unhealthy abstractions, who long to govern and lead and censor and order and reward and punish; those men are the turds of Moloch, men who don’t know how to love, men who are sickly afraid of death and therefore are afraid of life: they fear all that is chaotic and unruly and free-moving and changing– they fear nature and fear life itself, they deny life and in so deny God. They are presidents and governors and mayors and generals and police officers and chairmen-of-the-boards. They are crafty cardinals and fat bishops and mean old monsignor masturbators. They are the most frightened and most frightening mammals who prowl the planet; loveless, anal-compulsive control-freak authoritarians, and they are destroying everything that is wise and beautiful and free. And the most enormous ironic perversion is how they destroy in the name of Christ who is peace and God who is love.

– Tom Robbins – Another Roadside Attraction

the circus has not left town

Today I was trying to think of a way to do a weighted list for the front page of my zine (I am biting my tongue to keep from further discussing this publication right now). And I had another in a string of sad, disappointing realizations about my current reality. See when I used to work outside the home I could actually decide to figure some technical project like this out and have the time to do it in a linear troubleshooting fashion. Sure, maybe I didn’t get the whole 30 minutes straight to mess about formatting something on the computer (although that was usually easy enough to arrange) but at least if I started it and was called away no one got on my workstation and messed with it or opened an IM client or shoved a CD in the drive or dragged the kitten’s ass across my desk. I can’t count on any of these things not happening – or even something worse (Nels darted across the street today before Ralph could stop him; later exploits in the day included handling the dirty kitty litter box into the cat’s water dish; there’s more, I’ll stop now). I have a lot of control over my schedule (as the House Boss) but very, very little over how much peace, decency vs. chaos or drama ensues from my two semi-retarded simian coworkers.

Yesterday a friend told me that “if someone didn’t know [me] better, they’d think they needed to call CPS on [me]!” alluding to, I think, the darkness of my writings and my unedited Mama sentiments. I just want to point out I’m perfectly capable of warm and fuzzy feelings and I post those often. I’m actually slightly too bummed out and overwhelmed to list a few other things that suck that are going on. For now it’s getting by day to day, enjoying the little things (Sophie found a snake on the trail today and dedicated it to me; I visited my mom who’s sick and made her tea), and trying to ask Ralph for what I need (and hoping he can help provide it).

Today I am planning on making bagels for dinner and cleaning the kitchen whilst listening to my first-ever audiobook (Rex Pickett’s Sideways). If I can’t get a full day off I can at least get an hour or so plugged into an iPod while I do chores.

a new kind of love

If today my day had been designed by tiny angels in heaven it would have included the dinner I had:

Click for larger image
(photo by kahuku)

The coolest part of the story is how I found this restaurant. Randomly this morning I noted a photo from fellow HQX blogger kahuku in the Hoquiam, WA pool. Picture me seeing this and a big screeching tire sound in my head. What? Salvadorian cuisine? Somewhere close by? Not one or two but three featured vegetarian pupusas?

So, basically, after my morning chores were done I was scheming to get to this restaurant. All day. I went to my mom’s and hinted; she was busy painting signs. Ralph had not only my cash but the only car with gas. Here was my carefully formulated plan: I just milled around until I could convince him to come pick us up. We got there around 4:30 or so to order and the food did not disappoint – my favorite so far is the pupusa calabaza (y el curtido es muy bien tambien) although the frijole version was not available and will be tried soon.

Sophie ate two pupusas all by herself; exclaiming over and over again how much she liked them. Nels, sleeping on Ralph’s chest for most of the meal, finally came to and tucked in immediately. It was so divine. We headed to my mom’s again to pick up a few items and Sophie said, “Grandma, you were a fool not to come get that food.”

Delicioso!

counting them before they hatch

From where our bed is we can look into our daughter’s room and see her sleeping. At dawn I see she is in the same position she was when we settled her to bed the night before. Her hair spills out silky on the pillow in every shade of honey blonde. A couple hours later while at the computer I hear my son cry out in his sleep; when I pop into the hallway I see Sophie has slithered into my bed and is curled under the comforter.

Today is Wednesday which means – no, not that – it means I get to pick up eggs from the Market. These days I buy two or three dozen for the week (last week my husband erred and we had to make due with one dozen; I gave myself permission to use the last three for this morning’s breakfast). Since I’ve moved here I’ve gradually shifted to a mindset where I won’t buy other eggs. Now if my friend Abbi is reading this she has a little smirk on her ass right now because I used to give her a hard time for being an egg snob. I didn’t and still don’t notice a taste difference in farm eggs vs. storebought; however, I have begun to notice a color difference which I have now associated with a potential difference in freshness. As well, I’d rather support these eggs because I have a feeling these chickens live better lives than the egg layers whose products end in the store. And, they’re as cheap as the store-bought variety I was buying anyway.

I know all of you were bored with my egg story except Abbi who’s still feeling smug even as she reads this sentence.

Other to-do items today: finish Sophie’s summer dress re-fashion. Fold and put away the huge pile of laundry. First order of business? Curtail Nels’ morning nude romp.