i might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for twenty years


Spencer's Truck

We’ve had wonderful friends helping us move. With only one more truck-load tomorrow we are officially out of the previous house. Today Ralph worked his ass off tidying everything up and I said goodbye to a little over two years living there.

I’m feeling melancholy today. Every now and then my volunteer work gets to me. Ralph asks me for details over lunch, and (without naming names of course) I tell him some of what I’ve seen.

Enough said. It’s OK to feel sad for half a minute.


new digs, day one


Yesterday was our first day in the house, and also the worst day moving so far. Just that soul-sucking bit as your life is torn apart and you’re packing shit into boxes and it’s all grimy and you have to face your own depraved piles of disorganized junk. My mom has been very sanguine about the prospect of our move but, she’s not really done it in almost forty years. In fact her house is this big-ass clutterfest that will likely be mine (and maybe my siblings’) to deal with, when she dies. Which I hope isn’t soon. By the way, her house? I’m thinking MATCH AND KEROSENE, but perhaps that’s just because I had to deal with the entirety of my kitchen scene yesterday and memories are still fresh.


As in all Hogaboom domiciles (six now since the kids were born, if you count our camp-out with my mom for four and a half months), snuggling is first on the agenda. P.S. this is a picture of Ralph before he RUINED HIS BODY moving every single thing we own. Yeah you might think you see some of the things we own in this picture, but I assure you there was/is a lot more.

"Giant Clam" by Nels Hogaboom

After a coat of primer and five coats of TANGERINE DICK, the dining area is done! I’m a fan. And Nels’ work, “Giant Clam”, looks lovely I think. Yes, we still need to remove painting tape.


I found only a few items from previous tenants, and these were a few of them. I guess I’m superstitious as I tend to keep things like this. Shit, that reminds me, Ralph is cleaning at the old house and I hope he’s leaving the broom.

Nels Enjoyed The U-Haul

Nels loved, LOVED, reading the disaster policy in the U-Haul insurance. Lightening storms, electrocution, and a scary “burgler” icon. I liked riding in the U-Haul too. It kinda lulled me into naptime.

Peacock Blue

“Peacock blue”, my living room. Chosen for Phoenix. BY THE WAY I really really want my lemon tree rehabilitated and I don’t know how. It flowered a lot then suddenly lost lots of its leaves and when I pour water or give it a shower, it just sieves through. I think it needs a larger pot and a lot more soil. I dunno. I would like to see it return to its former glory!

I’m running terrifically late, and there is still a lot to do. More pictures and silly anecdotes of falling down stairs whilst carrying rolled-up carpets, soon. Ciao!

little by little

Burger ATTACK!

I’m calling the color in our dining area, a lovely Marigold-something, TANGERINE DICK, because it is taking not two, not four, but (at least, as of this writing) five coats to cover the expansive walls. Reflecting on it now, I believe we were given bad advice by the paint specialists and while they’ve discounted and/or given us lots of extra paint for our problems, the amount of extra time this error has caused is a bit irksome. Today I don’t get too frustrated over things and so far the move is going really well. Every day I suit up and show up, good habits I’ve learned over the last little while.

We’ ve had a little bit of help each day for the last four days, from friends. The help has been wonderful for practical reasons, but it also feels lovely to spend some one-on-one time and allow them to help us. I’m not feeling bad about accepting help at all. It’s pretty good stuff.

In a few hours Ralph will be up and grabbing a truck to move most the rest of our belongings. It’s a tremendous amount of work and because of painting setbacks I’ll likely be painting more than moving. I’m also hoping to cook and sleep in our new place tomorrow. Heck, we’re pretty excited.

Today we took the kids and my girl Heather, our painting-helpmate, out to the Blue Beacon in Aberdeen (pictured). I was pretty amused as the last time I was there it was with Ralph, and we were seventeen. Today Nels ordered both a hot dog and some bacon. For some reason I find that very funny.


In other news, Friday the second we’re having both a housewarming get together and a birthday party for Phoenix (MY DAUGHTER IS TURNING TEN YEARS OLD PLEASE SEE BELOW PICTURE TO SEE HOW OLD SHE IS, IN MY MIND).

I made a very understated little invitation to this event. I am emailing it to friends tomorrow but – if you’re seeing it now, you are invited! Don’t make me Miss Manners the whole business because really, we want everyone to join us. It’s going to be a fun time. Promise.

Housewarming / Phee's 10th



The day was at least half-over by most people’s standards when Ralph and I agreed to get up to painting at the new house. Yeah, that’s just how we Hogabooms roll. While doing our typical thing – caring for kiddos, ours and other people’s, and cooking, and doing housework, and dealing with cats, and a meeting I get to chair at the Treatment Center on Sunday nights – we also shopped for supplies and got our gear to the house. Ralph and I cleaned and taped three large rooms and primer-painted two of them, getting home a little before midnight. Yeah, even though the house had white walls we had to primer, and grey primer, because like a total pain I opted for deep, vibrant, lovely colors, none of this taupe or melon or whatever. So that’s like, a thousand gallons and many many coats of paint. But I think it’s going to look lovely. I just need to do that trick where I am patient, mindful, and apply myself to the task at hand without letting my mind race on to the many things that will need to be done, to be settled in. GUESS WHAT, being sober helps with this A LOT.

The cleaning was big-time, at least in the kitchen, which is my opinion the (potentially) dirtiest room in a house. It was cheering though to scrub on a new domicile we’ll soon be occupying. We had music, and coffee, and hot water and lots of rags. We listened to Lady Gaga and Pink (while Phoenix was there; she quite helpfully unscrewed all the light-switch plates), and then Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, then some Springsteen, and then when it got to the late-night painting with Ralph he suggested one of my favorites, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, which I love Times One Million. And I told Ralph, “If you don’t sing along to JCS you’re fired,” and he said in a hurt tone of voice, “I don’t know all the words!” and I said, “Get. Out.” But actually I needed him because he did all the painting up high where my tiny forearms can’t reach.

But yeah, it was an honest day’s work, and of course there was some excellent, and shrill, rock opera emanating from my golden pipes. You shoulda been there. No I mean I really could’ve used the help.

Now I’m going to soak my feet in a hot bath and get my ass to bed.


We’re moving! Here’s a preview of a corner of the house, the first item we brought into it (purchased today at a STEAL of a price), and – hopefully – the awesomeness of things to come.

The new (to us) rental is owned by my aunt, and sits directly next door to my mother’s (the house I grew up in).

Moving is expensive and a bit disruptive. I’m trying not to stress about it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Word.

my advice: do it on a sunny day

I started Moving Day by getting up at 9 AM groggy and sitting on the couch and thanking Ralph after he brought a cup of coffee and thinking I was not in good shape to uproot and migrate.  At 9:05 my husband leaned back in the chair next to mine and lovingly reminded me:  “Nels has a doctor’s appointment at nine thirty.”  Here’s a man who’s about to single-handedly – well, nearly so, we only “hired on” one friend to move today – pick up every single material possession we own and transport it to our new domain and have a life in boxes for a few days.  And he, my husband, is smiling and looking forward to all this.

So my son – who sleeps in until 11 AM some days – had to be dragged out of bed and dressed and taken out in the Icy. Freaking. Cold to the Mercedes (Ralph not only warmed up the car but made a bowl of polenta for The Boy) and driven to the doctor where we’re behind on six shots and Nels elected to have four of them and chose to have them in his legs (which is fortunate, because I think that’s where the nurse insists on doing them). And Nels was so brave and awesome and as I cuddled him just before he was repeatedly stabbed he said, “I’m not going to wiggle or kick, but I’m going to yell.” *  And he did.  And then we were done, and we got lunch together.

Moving went well; Ralph, Sophie, and our friend Michael had everything moved by about 5 PM, which I think is pretty incredible considering you know, we’re an American family of four. In this, our fourth move since having the kids, we have been shrinking in our possessions rather than growing them.  I’m proud of this fact but also puzzled by and a little anxious with each bit of this or that we decide to do without: because what are we, if not our stuff?  Now, dear reader, don’t get the wrong idea: know that we have plenty – plenty – of “stuff” and won’t be able to claim the ascetic satisfaction of knapsack living any time soon.

The cats were the last acquisition tonight (the chickens come tomorrow); the three of them crammed into two carriers – old, skinny and submissively-aggressive Blackstone in her own carrier, and fat, torpid bosom-buddies Harris and Mable crammed humorously in the other.  The cats were very, very alarmed at first upon being delivered to the new home but after a bit of sniffing around and exploring and smelling our Stuff in the house seemed to settle just fine. Mabel now sits at my shoulder as I lean against our bed (our bed!  our bed!  King-sized!  Down comforter!  Smelling of our homemade Fels Naptha laundry soap!  Heaven!) and steal a few minutes on stolen Wi-Fi from the neighborhood.

* He was determined not to jerk or writhe during his shots as he remembered, with a self-inflicted sense of responsibility, that fourteen months ago for his last shots he knocked a nurse across the room when he physically reacted to the needle stabs.

the ghost of moving yet to come

Today I’m twisting my hair up on top of my head in the bathroom mirror and my mom walks in to talk to me and I’m thinking, this is pretty much the last day in the house, the last time I’m going to have someone just walk in on me or stick their head in to talk to me when I don’t want to be talked to or infringed on in ways I don’t like. Housemates have not been jerks or rude in any way, but it turns out I like my privacyon my own terms and that didn’t change these last few weeks (in this case my mom immediately blurted out what she bought for Ralph for Christmas – she likes to tell me presents she’s bought people, even though I’ve told her don’t want to know ahead of time – she also likes to reveal plot points in movies I haven’t seen even though she knows I don’t like that either).  The thing is, sadly, sharing a house is hard for many of “us” (I mean, almost everyone I know), perhaps because most of the people I know aren’t raised to do it well.

At any rate, there are people we love sharing with and people we can’t bear to and somewhere in between are most of the roommates we have in our lifetime.  And I love sharing the house with Ralph, the kids, the cats, the chickens (even though they’re molting and not laying, the lazy sods!) and in just a handful of hours I’ll get my own space again and do what I do: answer the phone when I want to talk, have a door to child-rear and sew and cook and live behind.

We have the chore of moving tomorrow; then we’ll have the work of setting up the house and then coming back here and tidying it all up and then getting my mom some kind of Thank You present for letting us stay here for four months and change.  I’ve been in a rather not-very-productive space for the last week – since we secured the house via verbal contract.  I tell myself not to put too much pressure to have a “good” or productive week once the move is established because that’s just a set-up to be dissatisfied with myself and I’m struggling not to succumb to that.

Oh, and it’s cold here.  While out and about today riding a total of four buses and walking through our fair city Aberdeen I was kind of amazed at the coldness, just looking around at those who were also walking and thinking, what the heck? The kids weren’t dressed warmer than I, but they seem to fare better in the freezing temperatures.  Nels “ice-skated” on a pool of water at the Aberdeen transit station construction site and I held onto a delicious, hot americano from My Sisters Bakery and we just killed time together because home is a bit odd and doesn’t feel fun to be cooped-up in.

On our way home Sophie got off the bus in East HQX and visited first the pet shop, then rode Route 20 to her play practice at the Library; she came home with her parts delineated in the scripts of both “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol” – the part of several Whos in the former, and The Ghost of Christmas Present, Mrs. Cratchit, and a Passer-by in the latter.  She was a cold nose and bright eyes and a happy, independent little girl when she got home and I scooped her into my arms and held her close.  My kids and husband have been my anchor at the time of transition, a difficult one for me.

moving on up with our cluckers in tow

We’re moving again. We made a deal verbally yesterday afternoon and get our keys in a week.

This makes twice in a year.  I don’t know why it bothers me at all.  I mean, besides the expense and the soul-sucking terribleness of being uprooted (seriously; not having a kitchen of my own and a sewing space gets old for me – quick) I suppose in the deep recesses of my mind I worry the Hogaclan will end up that family that “moves all the time”.  Which, according to people I’ve known who grew up that way, seems to be sometimes a happily-lived and sometimes a hated experience.  Gee, like just about every other lifestyle people cite from their upbringing.

Our kids helped select our new home; they voiced opinions on everything I drove by and walked through everything we walked through and peeked through windows of some laughably slum-tastic dwellings (actually, it’s not really that funny).  The house-owner S. seems like he knows what he’s doing but our lifestyles are near unrelateable to one another; he owns many properties, runs a construction business, self-described himself as “top-ten wealth of Grays Harbor”, and when I told him about our laying hens he was shocked into an uncharacteristic silence with a dear-in-headlights slow blink (why would you have chickens? “For eggs,” my husband speaks up helpfully).  S. approved us on the spot in part because he could tell we weren’t strung out on crack or anything (it’s true!  We’re not!  P.S. for poor-whites in Grays Harbor the drug of choice is meth, just FYI) – forgoing, I shite thee not, the $80 credit check and reference checks and $200 non-refundable deposit per animal (yes, these are all real expenses of the property management groups who aren’t slum-lords – and I’m not even getting into the expenses of utility set-up and moving trucks should you elect to use one).*  As long as nothing goes wrong (insert drum-roll or sound of shattering glass) we’ll be moving our asses to 1st street shortly.

Probably the only thing that really has me temporarily unsorted is that with moving again our Christmas gift scene is derailed.  It’s hard enough for me to get organized enough to buy or make gifts for all my loved ones.  Every year I leave a person or two out and I feel like an ass.  Looks like that’ll be a new Christmas tradition.

* And by the way; one thing I discovered this time around is how very many, many slumlords we have in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.  It seems like a lucrative business – maybe we should go into it eventually.  If, you know, I can get around the whole morally bankrupt and depressing aspects of it.


preparing to crawl back in the womb

There we go! Were moving! Isn't this fun. No. No. No.
"There we go! We're moving! Isn't this fun." "No." "No." "No."

Tomorrow night is the first night in our new digs – my childhood home. Yes, we’re moving in with Mom. The rental truck is reserved, the storage lock-up paid for, my husband is busy packing, and:

I’m nailed to the couch with some sort of horrid further development of tonsil flesh-eating virus.

I will spare you the details of what’s happening physically but let’s just say, it’s not good. Now and then I get up and do a bit of work – making a vegetarian lasagna for Ralph, the family, and my mother; or washing, drying, and folding laundry (I would have to be so incredibly ill not to do laundry; I’m addicted to laundering, which is I suppose an illness of itself). After working a bit and making pathetic self-pitying noises I start to feel rather bad.  At this point I pour out hot honey and lemon, or coffee (again, with honey – thought to have medicinal properties, especially thought to have medicinal purposes by my husband –  it’s his new “thing”), or a popsicle, and sit back down to the film I’m watching.  It turns out being sick is when I catch up on decent cinema, instead of our family repetoire of bad B-movies.

This time tomorrow the house will be empty (but not at all clean – thinking of that work, ugh), and that will feel a little strange, and a little sad.  I’ve loved the house – especially the kitchen, the oven which smells better upon baking bread than any oven I’ve known (or perhaps this is the house in which my bread skills have improved).  I’ll miss living along a main thoroughfare and the many walks of life I see right outside my window.  I’ll miss the greenhouse which is still working on monstrous (about ten feet tall, no joke) tomato plants, I’ll miss my clawfoot tub, and I’ll miss all the food we’ve been finding right in our yard.

I’m ready, though, for the next leg of our journey – shopping for a home, and living off my mother’s charity!