mommy drinks because you LARP

MMORPing? I think.

I come home and my living room is full of a huge table, five laptops, a projection screen, and five HUGE GALLOPING NERDLETS all playing a game where they’re pretending to be in charge of a spaceship. Ralph said a few words and now they’re really loudly pretending they are actual like, space soldiers. I am sad I am not sitting on the couch with my beady-eyed dad, making snarky comments. I’m hiding here on my computer, away from those other computers.

Off now to buy some ultra-slutty red hairdye.

friday links: the garden of your imagination

Today: Hutch was invited to be the official newshound of Grays Harbor Down. Pretty cool stuff!

Someone’s cutting onions up in here.

“Letter to a Teacher from an Aboriginal Parent (1977)” – if you’re a human being, you should read this.

The trouble with kids today. OK, there’s so much to love about this post. I cringe-laugh at the Connery interview. I know I shouldn’t feel bad for him, publicly airing his ignorance and fear, but I kind of do. And it’s ironic our macho, best Bond (well, I like all the Bonds, but got a soft spot for Mr. Connery) is in reality a frightened person, who hits and then justifies hitting as making sense. But I really liked all the quotes at the bottom. “Get off my lawn”, the world is going to the dogs, “kids today”, et cetera. Good stuff.

Some comments on the MSM’s depiction of Mr. Holmes, who last week murdered people in a theater in Colorado.

A piece on Spiritual Bypass; a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately. Good stuff.

Who Gets To Be A Geek? Anyone Who Wants To Be by John Scalzi – a great piece (except for the obligatory hipster-diss – what is UP with that?). ANYhoo, a wonderful takedown of Peacock’s crap.

& finally: NEVER FORGET

a far green country

I’m going to pretend my self-diagnosis isn’t entirely half-assed or unqualified and mention I’d put my seasonal depressive disorder business just a tick up from “moderate” and toward the “nearly debilitating” category. I continue to find evidence of this, such as: today was warm, spring-like, crystal clear, there was even a fellow across the street mowing his lawn. My response was visceral and immediate and profoundly joyous: “the grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then I see it”: fuckin’ SUNSHINE.

I opened the blinds and scrubbed the bathroom clean and washed the laundry room shelves and started a tub of bleach water for my bar cloths and wiped down counters and blinds and motherfuckin’ vacuumed (I never, ever do this) and shook out blankets and laundered throws and washed the dishes and sorted and rinsed and soaked beans and did some lovely and exhilarating yoga and knew I’d even finish my dress (and I did, and: Yay!). All fantastic and all before my daughter woke and her friend came over and I sent them out for the remainder of dinner groceries with a pocketful of cash.

While Phoenix was out, and after my victorious morning, Nels became quite sad. I asked him how I could help, and he requested breakfast cereal. He asked me to give him more milk in the bowl, and happily drank it up, and lo and behold, this was what he needed. After his cereal he washed his hands and face and I picked him up, and I don’t know how I did this but I held him and danced with him for several songs, and I’m not sure if I can convey how much he loved this. He buried his face in my neck and then he’d pull his head back and smile deeply into my eyes. He kissed me dozens of times. He said, “you’re making me sleepy!”, but I don’t think he felt exactly sleepy, more protected and nurtured and loved. And so did I. And for some reason my body and arms felt strong and I could hold him and hold him and we sang and held one another until our (second set of) guests arrived.

The light faded all-too-soon and our dinner and dinner guest visit was broken up by an odd phone call BUT! even after all that Ralph and I got so much work done at home. It’s like the sunshine gave me everything I’ve been missing. It’s dark now, and it’s late, so late in fact it’s early; and I’ll have a hot bath and a cold beer and snuggle between the kiddos and laugh and tickle and kiss and hug.

Today you can’t take away the things we had.


I put a lot of effort into my relationships… consciously, sure – but often not even so. I’d like to let you know what I mean. The way my mind works, my friends and loved ones are always with me, waking and sleeping (I’ve been known to dream of someone I haven’t spoken to in months, then track them down to see how they are). When I see a news article or a blog post or hear a song or see a video I think of these people and am likely as not to bake them some bread or send them an email, even a brief one, or make them a mix tape, or send them a homemade Valentine. I send these blog posts or articles or emails not just because I know they will resonate (I rarely miss my mark), but as a symptom that my friends and loved ones are with me, all the time; I gift food not because I have some extra on hand but because I cooked something (hopefully) delicious, often planned for that exact person, but in any case I know homemade fare crafted with panache and willing love is a very wonderful gift indeed.

Sometimes these many presences are draining, actually. Maybe this is part and parcel with how I often feel so tired. I’ve long said I have an active mind – not a particularly intelligent one or productive one.

Someday I’m going to have to figure out if holding someone in my heart is good enough; if I can let them slip my mind.

But in the meantime, I want to take a moment here and thank a few people who I’ve experienced as restorative. This list will not take the place of personal communication. It will also not be exhaustive. I’m tired, and my mind is often more dull than people credit, and I will surely forget someone who’s given me something amazing lately.

But I’ll do my best.

I’d like to thank my readers for their presence. I’d like to thank those who write and comment because it touches me they take the time to read, and to communicate, and to offer themselves. I make my best effort to respond and to thank them, and I mean every word when I do so.

I’d like to thank this random Facebooker for a very nice comment on a recent article I wrote, a comment praising my writing but also one sharing news of a lovely and joyous birth. I’m grateful she took the time to speak her piece.

I’d like to thank Cynthia, Abi, Jasie, and Jodi, for taking time to see me last weekend, and for letting me eavesdrop on their lives and enjoy their smiles and laughter and uncommon beauty.

I’d like to thank Shannon for mentioning (long ago) the particular yoga host I put on for this morning’s practice. I’d also like to thank her that while I was trying to relax and concentrate on my breath I could remember all the sexual comments she’d made about him in his tiny little briefs with his amazing body etc., because I kept huffing little bits of laughter while doing sun salutations, etc.

I’d like to thank Christina for remembering my birthday (which is coming up on the 11th of this month), as well as her chats and emails which are always deeply thoughtful and interesting. I also will never forget when she called me in 2007 after I’d had a horrific personal blow.

I’d like to thank Kate for taking time to write back and forth with me about alcoholism, recovery, addiction, anxiety, and family. This conversation is the beginnings of one I needed deeply – I thank her for her expertise and her enormous depths of compassion and intelligence.

I want to thank Amore for her part in a more or less constant friendship I have treasured deeply since we were young girls, and for a new chapter in this friendship. I think anyone she is intimate with is a deeply fortunate person. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way or anything. This time.

I’d like to thank Ryan (in AZ) for being one of my faithful and vocal male readers and someone I can talk to who really puts his all into his consideration and response to me. His is a deeply compelling friendship. I wish there were a lot more men like him who would make themselves known.

I want to thank Tamara for writing me recently for advice on something very close to her heart and on her mind. I hope in any way I can help her. I appreciate hearing from her.

I’d like to thank Wendy for being a real, true-life, living and breathing mentor I can correspond with. This is an incredibly fortunate thing to have. One day I hope to meet her in person.

I’d like to thank Jeanne for friendship, for fellowship – spending time together, one of the most uncommon gifts – and having the kind of mind and spirit I find entirely edifying. If the world had more citizens like her it would be a much better place. Think all the awesomeness of Sesame Street with no downside.

I’d like to thank Jasmine and Amber, because when we’re together talking I truly feel an electric exchange of ideas and they give me hope, since they are leaders today and will be leaders tomorrow. They also make me laugh that way where my eyes fill with tears and my face gets red and also we’re usually smoking which is to their credit, even though I’m told this filthy habit is on the way out, and aren’t we gauche.

I’d like to thank Mickey for being one of those people who brightens this little sleepy town and provides Ralph and I opportunities to volunteer for a wonderful and worthy cause. I’d like to thank her too for talking recipes and for giving us with fresh bay leaves when we need them.

I’d like to thank JJ for writing bravely and often about her life.

I’d like to thank anyone who likes hearing about or talking about or watching my cats or who loves cats. I self-identify as Crazy on the subject.

I want to thank Sarah who sent my son a sticker swap letter a while back; I immediately lost her envelope and don’t know which Sarah she is – her last name or address. I’d like to thank her properly – if she’s still reading.

I’d like to thank Elizabeth, Samantha, & Michelle for being these incredibly whip-smart lovelies on Twitter at all hours of the day and night. They lift me up and are forces for the Good.

I’d like to thank Paige that I can send her a handful of words through DM and she totally knows what the hell I’m talking about, every time.

I want to thank Kat because she’s one of a small number of people in my life who sends me the emails, articles, and blog posts – all of which evidences that I am in her mind and her heart. This means a great deal to me. I am looking forward to seeing her this next weekend.

I’d like to thank Karen for daily being someone to share a bone-deep love of sewing and creativity that is difficult to explain to anyone is not swimming right with us. Karen is an incredibly talented person, and the fact she is following her dreams and desires even despite opposition – when so few do or can – gives me a thrilling sense of hope. She is an inspiration and her friendship is a rock.

I’d like to thank my mother for beginning to hear me talk about my damaging experiences in childhood and really listen – instead of being defensive. Oddly, I think she is beginning to trust me more where she didn’t before. I’d also like to thank her for making time daily to tell me what’s going on in her life and what’s important to her. I realize now if she didn’t volunteer this information regularly I would be left wondering, and I would seek it out earnestly.

I’d like to thank my husband and partner Ralph. I’m trying to narrow down what to thank him for, today, so I’ll just say the first thing that comes to awareness for me. His continued praises for the food I cook and the house I keep fill give me a calm joy, because I too care about these things and not everyone would appreciate me as much as he does. I also appreciate his friendship which is the deepest and most constant of any I have known.

I’d like to thank my children for filling up my days and nights with not only physical love and incredible tenderness, but their unique brands of humor that make me laugh in delight more than anyone else. I’d like to thank Nels today for sitting at the computer and beginning to hum one of our songs from earlier and then thinking of how much he loved me, because he then said, “Mama, can I get you something? Tea, perhaps?” then went in the kitchen and made me a plate of food quite studiously. As for my daughter, I’d like to thank Phoenix for acquiescing to get groceries for me today, and for finding everything I wrote down, exactly, and for her role in inspiring new dishes as we continue to cook vegetarian. It is my earnest desire to accommodate her wishes.

And finally: it should be rather obvious that by reflecting on ones gratitude list, or the ones that come to mind anyway, life seems a lot lovelier than it did before. I hope others reading here consider doing the same.

Logical Awesome

wishin’ for a Friday night with the ragtop down

Friday links, better late than never!

Furor over the supposed superiority of Chinese mothers! This little WSJ article got people rather fired up. And it should. I first heard mention by Jim Lin on Twitter – entirely pissed at anyone claiming they can “speak for the entire Chinese Am[erican] population”.

Other criticisms and responses followed; here are two I enjoyed:

“Tales of a Chinese daughter: On the superiority or not of Amy Chua’s Chinese mothers” by Elaine Chow. Some sobering realities of pushed-to-perform Chinese adult children.

“I’m Not a Chinese Mother (Obviously!)” at Rational Jenn’s blog. Are “Western” and “Chinese” methods really so different at heart?

Human Rights & Heartbreak
Hm, is this Lego depiction of Stephen Hawkings “wrong”? Or is it a very-well executed likeness (like so many others) of someone who should be not pitied or laughed at for his physicality and existence? TABs, check your shit!

“The Agonizing Last Words of Bill Zeller”. A rape victim speaks out and speaks his last. Deeply devastating to read; trigger-warning, obviously.

“Women Laughing Alone With Salad”
Not since YOGURT has there been something so fucking fan-lady-tastic as virtuous salad-eating!!!!

Informative (Sorta)
“Mass dying of animals plotted on Google map”

The Great Gatsby in 3D. For real? Perhaps. Ta-Nehesi Coates’ take.

“I miss Patrick Swayze”. Me too.

Felt Hot Pads at The Purl Bee

Men’s shirt sewalong at Male Pattern Boldness, starting February 1st. I have this pattern. Any readers want to join?

Super-Special Adultist Roundup Bonus Edition!
“The Unspeakable, in Its Jammies” by Michael Chabon
A father edits Huck Finn whilst reading aloud to his children and writes about it (in what appears to be a self-congratulatory and patriarchal way but – perhaps I am reading into it) and people puke in their mouths about how awesome a dad he is. Yes, predictably the commentstream is full of glowing praise that may be at least partially (or like, lots) inspired by a darling-status afforded the author by the neo-progressive literati blah-blah.

Make no mistake, and I do realize the previous paragraph represents a slight binge of as-disavowed-during-2011 snark, sharing one’s love (of literature, of the arts, of sport, of fishing, of political history, of engine rebuilds on giant Ford trucks) is an awesome prerogative for parents/carers; we grownups also have the responsibility to protect our children when needed and to share our values with them (although they are not always learning the values we think we’re teaching). I pass no particular referendum on Chabon’s parenting choices as expressed but rather I am disturbed by the response and the template this response furthers. Namely, that of a “progressive” and adultist parent’s agenda: good literature (if it’s so good why do so many think they need to force it on children and tell them what to think? Our efforts are needed in nurturing children so they can choose and ingest from an authentic and whole place), “teaching”, and values lectured into your kids’ faces – because kids aren’t smart or complex enough to form their own opinions AND (this part bugs me most) kids don’t need to be asked for their thoughts, and listened to – before a discussion commences. Notice the rather lengthy lecture directed to a seven and nine year old who apparently sit rapt on daddy’s knee, or if they don’t, at least not one person in the commentstream besides myself suggest value in asking what the children’s perspectives were on race, social order, and class at conversation outset (make no mistake, children have perspectives) because these things are formed top-down (one comment: “Seven year old recognizes “Injun” as offensive but needs an explanation of “nigger”?” Yeah, I wondered about that too.).

Believe it or not, when you ask kids and really listen, and ask a bit more? You can learn a lot. Up to and including some humility and a little less developed role of self-importance.

“Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” – Alfie Kohn

Random Awesomeness

I’ve been watching more “Reno 911!” (very sad the newer season I’m watching changed actors; now women are significantly less represented on the cast). It’s pretty impossible to pick from all the excellence but I did find a Terry clip I thought I’d share.

Logical Awesome

ironically, we came home to a looted house (j/k!)

Hoquiam Skies

Tonight’s chosen destination for National Night Out was the potluck at our Community Garden. I cooked up a panful of cornbread and large batch of vegetarian chili (made quite flavorful by the addition of my homemade berbere sauce) and carted this bounty down the path to join friends and acquaintances. People came, stayed, ate. The Crime Watch floated by. I talked with friends and my children laughed at river’s edge blowing large bubbles with a couple policemen – adorable! Robin took photos. I hope she posts them. I like it when policemen do stuff.

I fell in love, absolutely in love, with Hoquiam’s K-9 dog, a German Shepherd by the name of Enno. Of course, if I tried to abscond with that dog (and I briefly considered it) I would get bit badly by both dog and partner; it was clear this officer loved his canine companion very, very much. And my husband would probably demand I choose between himself and the dog. Honestly, though, it might be a hard choice. That dog was amazing.

My parents were there. My mother brought a beautiful batch of fresh-squeezed lemonade. We all watered our plots. My mom and I talked food and joked about flashing the Coast Guard boat that motored by. She is great company. My dad coughed and coughed and coughed. While my mom flitted about and tried to fetch things my father would eat I sat with him on a bench overlooking our muddy, lush riverfront. We talked for a while, then we didn’t talk that much. I try to live in the moment. When I do, I feel the most acute sadness that our ways will be parted. This sadness is always fresh, always deeply felt. I don’t want him to go. But I also feel so deeply satisfied he’s here now. Even if we’re not saying anything.

We left just before nine o’clock. My kids had spent a good solid half hour playing in a dirt pile so they were filthy. Horribly, horribly dirty. The bathroom, bathtub was muddy, I mean even the walls.

It was actually quite impressive.

what happens when the free time trickles in

Nels slept in today and woke up under a blanket in between my parents on the living room couch while we enjoyed a morning coffee date. My son’s temperament was sweet made all the more hapless since he has his last day of preschool today and was sporting a black eye, cutting a rather pathetic figure.

Chores today: cleaning rat cage, dishes, making beds, cleaning bathroom, starting two loaves of sourdough for tomorrow’s Stone Soup cooking at Suse’s kindergarten. At lunchtime on a whim I felt hungry for sushi. Easily accomplished: I made up the rice and while it was cooling blanched carrot matchsticks, cut cucumber, battered and lightly fried tofu, and toasted and crushed macadamian nuts. Of course this all makes several rolls so I assembled a bento each for my friend Shannon and my mother.

At 3 PM while Nels was at school I picked Sophie up early so we could go to a Smithsonian traveling exhibit hosted at our own Polson Museum. The volunteer was thrilled to see museum attendance double – well, more than double as when we entered the museum went from 0 visitors to 2. It was a great exhibit and a lot of fun to attend with my daughter. She listened politely to the volunteer, asked questions, read the exhibits, and seemed to enjoy most of all racing around the model train set.

how i roll

It wasn’t for eco-smugness or personal virtue that I biked to Aberdeen and back today; it was simply because my mind has been over-active and I thought some intense physical exercise might help alleviate that (it did). Only a small part of the reason I was keyed up was an invitation to the Hoquiam Business Association meeting to speak on the zine; it was a short and pleasant meeting as well as extremely informative. Everyone was dressed nice (suits and pumps); my “nice” was a flannel shirt covering the skull t-shirt underneath. Whoops!

8.7 miles and counting; the distance I biked today. I had Nels in the trailer about half that time. On the highway I got a wave from M. and J. (I later found out they’d gone around the block to re-wave so’s I’d see them) and was treated nicely by not one but two log trucks; it kind of made my day. Getting off the bike at Swansons for groceries (tofu, carrots, broccoli with my dwindling week’s cash allowance) the post-physical afterglow made me feel like smiling and making conversations at everyone; many shuffled out of their cars in sweats and did not make eye contact going into the store.

From there I hit our idiosyncratic bike shop to negotiate the ordering and installation of my longtail bike mod and to get Nels’ helmet refitted. The rain finally started coming down and the last leg of the trip was a little damp. Home to cats waiting for the fire to be turned up.

i’m kind of sick but also excited

I’m working up a new recipe.* Listening to Dean Martin’s “Forever Cool”. You know, he has me at Track 01 (“Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”). Damn, that man packed some sex appeal in his crooning.

Tonight Cyn sends me a link. I kind of laughed, then I started looking around. And it turns out this is the loneliest, and I mean the loneliest thing I have ever seen. More lonely than the geekiest D&D nerds with their 12-sided die, drinking Mountain Dew all night. More lonely than that dog turd half-squished on the lawn. More lonely than the stale half-donut in the bottom of the box after the Insurance Benefit Primer Workshop at a Community College.

* ETA: we had it for dinner; ’twas amazing!

"It’s Franken-STEEN!"

Last night our foursome worked at the 7th Street Theatre for the movie (Young Frankenstein). Sophie and I handed out programs (which I design for the films) and Ralph and Skels – I mean Nels – worked concessions.

Halloween (Costumes pt. 1)
Let me out my family as huge dorks. Because these aren’t the “real” Halloween costumes, these are the ones for the movie nights. I pondered and pondered a way to frizz out Suse’s hair. It would have taken lots of product and forever; plus we have two nights of working and I didn’t want to go through whatever horrific process that would be twice. So I settled for a haircolor and white spray-in streaks. The dress is sewn from two tablecloths and the ribbon is sewn on to her neck (the ribbon sewn to itself, not my girl). I also tore more of the tablecloth into bandage handwraps and painted her nails a lovely blackish green. She was so into it. P.S. more than one boy / guy checked her out. It’s kind of weird.

Nels liked his costume too. Um. A lot. He and I shopped for the costume earlier in the day – black LS shirt, sweats (I cut and hemmed the bottom of them b/c I hate the gathered sweatpant look), furnished with medical tape “bones” – plus a skull mask (not shown) he found all by himself for $1. He was extremely invested in the process. As we travelled to checkout he howled, “Where are the bones!?” having no understanding Ralph was going to fashion them from tape. That night he made a big fuss until we allowed him to sleep in the costume and he clutched his skele-mask in his sleep – all night.

Our friend S. took quite a few of these screenshots; they look great.

"It’s not that simple, Orco."

We’re watching a lot of “He-Man” on YouTube around these parts. Guess what? It’s really shitty. Ralph and I were appalled because as children TV viewers* He-Man was heavy, dramatic grist for our idealogical mill.

If He-Man can’t entertain Ralph and I with compelling storyline and rich explorations of the dichotomy of good and evil, he sure can deliver an excellent PSA:

Do you think anyone ever had the gall to touch He-Man on his bathing suit area? Perhaps when he was merely a shy, awkward Boy Adam. And I can’t help but think the last qualifier is made all the more awkward when it’s your rabbi or minister who’s doing the inappropriate touching.

* I grew up without a TV; I can only imagine my He-Man viewing was either at the grandparents’ or with friends – but I do remember my brother and I watched some. Billy? Do you remember? Was it in the back of that van where that man touched us in the way He-Man is talking about?