a greater compliment than being loved


My daughter has decided she’d like to go to school this year. I am totally cool with this, although several home educators and home/unschoolers I know have expressed their worry, and/or their thoughts I might be worried.

I ain’t worried, because I trust my daughter. Trust meaning two things; A. We literally allow her make her own choices (this is known as the action of trust, not the mere lip-service to it), and B. we have the lived experience of knowing she makes choices that really work for her. In fact her choices are often braver, or smarter, or more interesting than the ones I think up for her. She and I have had several talks about the whole business and I am impressed with her acumen and her matter-of-fact courage. Another thing I know: any school, or classroom, is lucky to have her!

My kids are what I’ve heard referred to as “spiritually fit”. By the time I was their age, I wasn’t. They are humbling and beautiful influences in my life.

So yeah, I’ve often wondered what my kids would think of school, should they choose to enroll. I am looking forward to her thoughts. This is an adventure for me as I find myself wondering if she’ll stick to it or think of it as a huge time-suck drag and quit within a few days or weeks. I don’t have to worry about any of it, though (see: preceding paragraph). My job is not to mold her opinions or live her life, but to support her in what she chooses to do.

We are short on finances and I am considering a little fund-drive on this blog so Phoenix can have school clothes. She tells me she’s ready to have more storebought clothes (as opposed to homemade), because, and I quote: “I’m getting that age, mom.” She kills me! I love her. But, we’ll see. I am still navigating under what circumstances I should make an “official” call-out on this blog for funds… So many readers have helped us in the past. Yet, I do not want to strain what is often called “social capital”, either.

Because Yes, I have a strong desire for my daughter to have a start on the wardrobe she’d like to explore (not to mention the backpack and lunch box she wants, et cetera) and her pencils and notebooks and such – to have this lovely little experience going to school. But my mind often falls upon a fair number of things that cost money and could benefit our family, such as not eating squash three times a week, and getting my car out of the shop, stuff like that. Prioritizing these desires isn’t an exact science – I need prayer and meditation, and to take what comes on a daily basis (the good and the bad), and to give things a little thought, and see what the Universe opens up.

It is truly a blessing to minister to and care for children who are so open, loving, and grateful for their lives and for the conditions in their lives. Their graciousness about their requests makes it easier for Ralph and I to make good choices. It’s a good life and the investments we’ve put into our family have paid off.

Still. School! Who would have thought?

the sun, the moon, & the truth

Phoenix and I cut eyes at one another as Nels heads back into the kitchen – he’s happily chirping something-or-other, picking up a glass of milk to accompany his lunch of homemade matzoh ball soup. While we wait for him to return she and I turn back to the newest member of the family, “Jumpkin”. Jumpkin is a cheap plastic Halloween jack-o-lantern candy bucket, inexplicably “dressed” in a pair of Nels’ underwear and old flip flops and sitting at the table in mute (to us) reproach. An hour before, as I sat stitching away in my sewing room, Nels had emerged from a morning bath talking tenderly to this creature while briskly brushing her plastic smile with his toothbrush (he brings this up later: “My, how clean your teeth are, Jumpkin!”). And now I’ve got an extra place to set at the table.

The afternoon develops. After I clean up lunch and while I sew, Jumpkin is ministered to alternatively with tender loving care – Nels asks Jumpkin her preferences about afternoon activities and pauses while listening to her responses – and then sly pranks (“Such filthy language, Jumpkin!” Pheonix retorts in a shocked tone, after a bit of silence at the table). I arrive home later in the evening and Jumpkin is stacked with party accoutrement for tonight’s meteor shower party: pretzels, honey sticks, a flashlight.

Today was beautiful. The sun breaks out and the children are delighted – and I mean like, four-star delighted – when I unpack their warm weather sandals. They walk the dog down to the grocery store to buy their choice of breakfast cereal, a baffling product named SMORZ that is even more sugary and shabby and ridiculous than I could have guessed (later, Nels refers to the day’s repasts as “a sugar montage”).

Tonight: a fire burns in my mother’s backyard pit but it can’t keep the chill quite out of my coat. I huddle and watch the flames, content but not sleepily so for the cold. My daughter says to us, serenely: “Everything is for sale – but you can’t buy happiness”. My mother fetches coats and blankets and offers to cut up apples and cheese for the kids. They are the centerpiece of our gathering, happily picking through yard waste and bits of scrap lumber and raffia ties and feeding these into the flames. Two of our cats duck past on fences and through the greenhouse, watching with night-bright eyes. Nels beams from his grandmother’s old corduroy coat and talks near non-stop and hauls Jumpkin from chair to chair; he finds a rock in the shape of a heart and triumphantly plunks it in Jumpkin’s recesses. Hutch, excited, pants and drinks from ceramic plant holders and trots here and there and ducks and smiles and finally settles on an old afghan. Ralph fiddles with the telescope and shows me the moon’s craters; later, like a ghost he spirits across the wet grass of the dark yard and sets up the telescope first here then there, and now to see Jupiter. I look in the eyepiece and my own breath causes the watery vision to tremble: Jupiter, faint atmospheric stripes the colors of creamsicle ice cream; and distant moons at precise orientation to the planet.

Nels cradles Jumpkin, safe from the fire, offering aloud her opinions on a variety of subjects and her thoughts on the various members of the family. He holds her in his arms and turns to her and says, “Jumpkin? Don’t get mad. Can I tell you something?” then he brings her close to his bright cheek and whispers, “You’re really just a soulless husk of plastic.”

painting [him] to the senses

I’ve been sober almost two years and I’ve probably had a drinking dream a half dozen times. These episodes have a similar pattern; gradually I realize I’ve been drinking, having no idea how I started. I discover a glass in my hand and realize I’ve only had a little. I know I must stop, but I feel I’ve made a grave mistake. The sudden onset of hopelessness and shame is profound.

In last night’s dream, I was drinking some form of moonshine – undoubtably this was influenced by the episode of “Archer” we were watching last night. But in the dream this moonshine tasted far better than any liquor really tastes – it tasted of what we imagine these libations to taste like. Something out of this world, intoxicating yet poison, delicious poison. It’s the mouth-feel of that first drink, the one we chase. That first hit at the end of the day, before that moment when the futility strikes like a tuning fork in our heart. That sense, however slight, however we try to push our knowledge away: the sameness, the chase, the craving and the revulsion, that sense of drowning. The cycle of grasping and flight and gasping for air and succumbing.

Just because I don’t have to live that way doesn’t mean I don’t remember how it works.

But: it is, in this case, after all, just a dream. An illusion. I wake up and know I’m still clean and sober and I feel such a calm gratitude. I make an offering at my little shrine and get on my knees and thank the Universe and submit myself to its care, once again.


My son is getting fitted for braces on the 10th of next month. I have feels about this. I like his messed-up teeth and I think he looks wonderful with them. As a young person I didn’t receive orthodontia, nor my husband, so braces are a new territory for us. The bill, well all I can say is this first round of treatment will be paid off before he needs more. What else can I do? It is satisfying to have priorities. I simply care for the children as best I can, no matter what.

But: my son isn’t worried. While we wait for the technician to prepare the equipment to take a tooth mold, Nels looks at me. “So I need braces?” he asks in surprise. I nod and his eyes darken and his brows knit, and he says, “Bring it on.”

Nels, Initial Consultation For Orthodontia

Nels, Initial Consultation For Orthodontia

Nels, Initial Consultation For Orthodontia

a stitch in time

Double Houndstooth Shirt

Shirt, on my “new” (early-80s model) Pfaff. I used two yardages of very soft cotton houndstooth, both scrap pieces gifted me a little while back. The buttons were scavenged off a thrifted wool coat I used to make an upcycled newsboy cap, which was sent across the states to a client a while back.

Double Houndstooth Shirt

Below: the backside of the front placket, revealing my wee little button knots:

Double Houndstooth Shirt

The shirt’s cuffs, collar, and front plackets are interfaced using a firmly-woven cotton. I don’t know why more people do not interface using fabric, instead of commercial interfacings. There is a distinctly appealing drape to this method.

My “new” machine!

My New Baby

I know, it doesn’t look all that exciting, being two colors of 80s-Ass-Brown. However I have been enjoying getting to know it, and its little conveniences. The “Needle Down”, “Buttonhole / Tie-Off”, and the wind-from-needle function charmed me right away.


Double Houndstooth Shirt

Yesterday in the car Phoenix was complaining about how the shape of her eyebrows, because she says she always looks “pissed”. I think her eyebrows are awesome. & yeah, they give her a semi-feral countenance, for sure. She’s just beautiful, always has been.

See what I mean?

little monster

my mouse hand hurts

Hutch & Phee, Wet Dog Smell

NEWS! My zine is ready! Yay!

The pdf version is $2 and the limited edition, hand-assembled print version is $6. I think the print versions are going to sell out super-duper fast. I only hope I have enough to sell on First Thursday at my kids’ lemonade stand.

Lots of hard work. I hope readers here consider submitting their own works, especially writings or photography of their living area. C’mon I may be cool but it doesn’t need to be The Kelly Hogaboom Show all the time.

Thanks, darlings!


Easter at Wolf Palace

Today was tough. I moved about in a half-daze, getting a variety of things done. I made up most of a coat (melton wool, pictures soon) as well as housework and Easter dinner. I was tired from things yesterday, but I didn’t rest. It’s a little after nine PM now, and I’m going to make up a plate and watch a movie with a friend – as soon as I’m done here.

I took some time to enjoy the kids. They pretty much make my day, every day. Eventually we had to shoo a few other children off so we could have family time. We had to shoo them rather aggressively and more than once. They either preferred our home, or didn’t feel welcome at their own.

We released our butterflies today.

Daughter, Butterfly

Miracle + Miracle


& Nels ran in shortly afterwards, telling us he saw this season’s first bee. [ smile ]

Easter dinner – kids waiting.

Awaiting Easter Dinner

Awaiting Easter Dinner

Challah with red goose eggs, pea salad, fruit salad, honey-orange glazed ham. My mother joined us for dinner. I took two Tylenol (lower-left) and had some chai and felt better after a while.

Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner

Challah With Red Goose Eggs

Something special for birthday weekend:

N E L S Sugar Cookies


Easter at Wolf Palace - Kids Dividing & Sharing


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.

Nels, PBF Photoshoot

Random goodness:

From Australia, a tweep, reader and friend sends a couple bralets for my daughter – as well as a fabric I’d lusted over almost a year ago. I am now carefully picking apart this latter piece (in the form of an old pillowcase) and hoping it will be the back to a very special baby blanket. It’ll be a little tricky to save the flannel but – I think I can do it. Wonderful!

Karen and Shelly’s book has been printed and is available for order. Reminder: I pattern-tested for these wonderful ladies (the book and a few other line pieces) and once I get the go-ahead I’ll post pictures of the lovely, and I do mean lovely, garments that resulted. In the meantime I suppose I can show you a sneak-peak few pictures of my boy from within the book’s pages!

Nels, PBF Photoshoot

Nels, PBF Photoshoot

& hey – by the time you read this it will be Justin Barlow’s birthday. If you have a few moments for random acts of kindness, tweet or email him (justin AT justin-barlow DOT com) a happy birthday! He is a sweet man.



Jasmine, Peroxide Queen, assists Phoenix

like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies

Tonight: Listening to

So It’s 11 PM and I start up some sticky rice (a family favorite), taken from one of two large crocks on my kitchen counter (the other contains flour, ZOMG “empty” carbophobes, the HOrRoR!!1!). I dice up grilled chicken, partially cooked carrots, zucchini, and grilled garlic cloves – all donated by friends last night, sent home with us after they’d hosted us for a backyard barbecue. I stir fry the dice variously using a wok (J… I need to get that back to you, but I also want one just like it) and my one skillet, a cast iron beauty I put on layaway years before that I tenderly caress daily. I whisk up a sweet-sour-salty dipping sauce and Ralph puts out bowls and cloth napkins and we have a late, late dinner at the coffee table, the four of us.

It’s hot in the house. But it was nice running around today – especially minus many inches of hair. In fact today held a surprising amount of detail-work concerning hair: since Nels got his cut the other day via he and his father’s barber, I had Ralph cut mine off in what was the most pleasant locale I’ve yet experienced una corta de pelo – our own sunlit deck. Watching the chickens and cats get up to their fuckery. Later in the day Jasmine and I did a lot of work on Phoenix’s new hair (pictures tomorrow!) while Ralph made music up in Olympia. When Phoenix and I got home I ran laundry and worked a little on my latest sewing project (a SEKRIT!) and tidied up the many books the kids strew about the house.

I’ve spent time in my life having to do shit I didn’t want to do. A lot of time. Increasingly I find my day filled with things I’m engaged in and enjoying, so many I don’t always get to them all but most nights I fall into bed satisfied. And hell, the things I don’t want to do, or haven’t in the past been able to deal with without dread, are a lot easier. Truth be told I have a whole new support network in my life, I’m sober, and the sun is out – the darkness has passed – and those things make a big difference. Day after day – lately – I experience gratitude. I’m grateful for my kids, our animals, my spouse, and the health and love of all. I’m still grateful to now, after over half a year, have two running cars (seriously! Although the brakes are spongey on the Mercedes and I’m fearing the worst). I’m grateful I’m parenting more gently and helping my children in more constructive ways. I’m grateful for friends; those who support me and those I in turn support.

Life, in short, is pretty good. L-O-V-E

Jasmine, Peroxide Queen, assists Phoenix