mealtime manners

Late evenings we’ve been watching Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe on Netflix Instant. I’m probably the last person, ever, to discover this show but if you don’t know it, I can vouch that it’s fabulous. It’s a simple enough premise: a television personality going around the country (and occasionally abroad) performing one day of the kind of work most people don’t know about and won’t be clamoring to try after they see it. The show is interesting, it’s funny, and I love that it shows the underpinnings of our society (another great reason to watch with kids) – and okay okay, my husband is right, I have a teensy crush on the host, probably mostly because I like to watch guys work and get all messed up (and yeah, Ralph… network server stuff isn’t quite dirty enough).

So last night we were watching the episode Alligator Egg Collector – rather self-explanatory, really. As we watched Rowe push apart a nest to retrieve the leathery treasure therein my daughter commented, “That nest is farther from the water – those are probably mostly male eggs.” I sat there in stunned silence with my second glass of wine in hand. My kids are always telling me things I didn’t know previous and I can tell exactly by their tone of voice when they’re telling me a fact. I usually kind of shrink a bit and feel my Limitations and timidly ask them in what way now they’ve now advanced beyond me (I don’t use those exact words of course).  So I ask my daughter now, “What? What do you mean?” Patiently, she explains that the temperature of alligator nests determine the sex of the babies – if the nest temperature is under 85 F the clutch will be all-female and if over 93 F the eggs will be male. “Nests farther away from the water are warmer, so all the babies are male.” she says calmly. I ask her to get me the book where she learned this and she obliges, sliding out of bed and padding into the living room to retrieve it, flipping the encyclopedia open and pointing. Her eyes are predator-stripes, her body sleek and alive and All Is Right in the world.

Today the kids slept until almost 1 PM at which point they called me in the bedroom to play a trivia game; answers I got right required a kiss to Nels, answers I got wrong I was forced to kiss my daughter. We all liked this game Times One Hundred.

The children’s sleeping-in gave me plenty of time to cook, clean, and sew a bit before they rose and we went on our bike errands.  I’m on Day 3 of arranging a large tray of comestibles for the kids. They love this and so do I. They are flush with compliments for my food and my general personhood; they sample nearly everything that’s put out, lazily thumbing through a book and cracking open edamame shells, stacking fruit on small plates, pouring tea.  Between the four of us the tray’s fare is devoured with maybe one slice of peach going out to the chickens by day’s end. We are definitely eating more of a variety of foods, especially simple fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tonight dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, the sauce of which was started yesterday and simmered down to the Most Delicious Thing Ever. Ralph made the meatballs, a bit larger than usual, dropping them in the simmering sauce while I stitched away in the sewing room.  We sat down at 7:30, a kale and carrot salad from our local CSA rounded out the meal along with the few snap peas (also from the CSA) from today’s tray. Dining as a foursome, I’m eating and I can’t believe how good the food is. I ask my husband, “Is this what my spaghetti always tastes like?” He says Yes. I say, “This is the best spaghetti & meatballs I’ve had in my life.” (I seriously invite any of you all to come weigh in on this). Phoenix immediately pipes up: “I agree!” Nels takes a bite of the salad and says it’s “delicious and sour.” Phoenix kindly tells us lettuce makes her barf. Ralph explains it’s not lettuce it’s kale, and I mention it’s high in calcium (she’s been interested in what foods are good for dental health). Phoenix says, “That’s great, but it still makes me want to barf,” and goes on in an avid description of exactly the kind of gagging that results from trying to eat such a thing. Ralph gently asks her if she wouldn’t mind not talking about puke at the table. I’m trying not to laugh.  I hated lettuce and greens at her age too; I’m still rather picky about them.

My mother comes over after dinner to pick Nels up; she and the kids have been working on putting together pieces for this year’s Young Artist Showcase at the Harbor Art Guild gallery. While they’re gone Phoenix plays games on the computer and I sew on my current Fabulousness for Nels.

As soon as I’m settled in the sewing room, every time without fail, ALL FOUR CATS dart in. Mable lays at my feet, pornographically delighted to have me touching her; Harris lays on his side for a few minutes before rising and sitting up at the door silently, his handsome nose a dignified arrow, “Let me out, please.” And the two kittens.  They climb my fabric and try to tear things up to shit. Today I chucked a book at Hamilton (not hitting her, just trying to startle) to get her off a noisy activity and she lightning-fast spun towards me, her “arms” up in an alarmed ‘Y” and her mouth popped open with a fishy smack – a comical expression of dismay and surprise. I laughed loudly and she scrambled away, her body – only miliseconds before engaged in aggresive horseplay – crumpled up like a concertina of Shame.

summer McStitchery whiz-bang

Nels & I & My Mom's Minivan
Last week before a beach date – and as the kids slept – I frenetically sewed up a pair of linen shorts for each kid using Burda 9641. Nels loves his Times One Hundred and calls them his “Fancy Pants”, after the video game character he so loves (and resembles). By the way on hot summer days I let my kids eat ice cream about five times a day, or as much as they want it. Here we’re just about to hit Scoops while waiting for my mom who’s around the corner getting a picture framed.

We bought one of those cheap kid pools from (the dreaded) Walmart. My daughter is lovely to me. I love most that she has a brand new swimsuit on and that in order to find one long enough for her it’s all baggy. I love grabbing her up and getting a handful of that suit.
Walmart/Summer Part 1

Walmart/Summer Part 2

Walmart/Summer Part 3

Walmart/Summer Part 4
Doing laundry with a “washboard”. Nels is often out in our front yard in his underwear; in this case he has the boxers, not the tighty-whities, so I’m less likely to get the tsk-tsk from neighbors.

High Noon (Bluster)
This is Bluster, our alpha-hen (except one brief afternoon where a toe injury toppled her off the high-horse; she recovered quickly).

Lemon Bloom
“Our lemon tree is doing well” (Holy shit, those pictures I just linked to were taken only a handful of weeks ago and LOOK how much my son has grown since then! I’m scared. I really am.), in fact there are between one to two hundred blooms on the plant (it had four last year when we got it). Lemon blooms look lovely but they smell amazing, sublime.

Last night I finished a dress for Phoenix made from an out-of-print (or OOP, in sewing-parlance) Vogue pattern from the 50s. I have much to write regarding sewing with my first very, very vintage pattern. Here I am doing a curved hem from the topside, no pins nor gathering stitches (that’s right monkey-flippers!):

Skillz

This was also my first time working with a sheer overlay. It went very well as I just applied the principles of underlining (darts separately, then hand-basting all layers).  Since I so often sew for my children, my knowledge of couture techniques is often tempered with practicalities of homesewing equipment and the fact my “clients” will probably, say, immediately take the new frock down a ramp on a skateboard and tear the shit out of their hem). Hopefully I can get one good picture of my daughter in this dress before Whatever Befalls It.

Bound Buttonholes
Above: four bound buttonholes, not at all the menace I thought they’d be. Practice makes perfect as they say. These, at a scant 1/2″, made Ralph flip his shit when he saw them because they were so tiny and perfect. The dress itself taught me quite a bit: besides the overlay business and the bound buttonholes I also bias-bound the armscyes, made shoulder pads from scratch and tacked by french knots, stitched up (a simplified version of) lantern sleeves, and employed to good effect pseudo-tucks via lapped seams. Using vintage patterns to sew for my children is winning my heart over.

Today the family has asked for Shepherd’s pie for dinner, which should be lovely fare to cook, and I’m going to get started on Nels’ companion piece to this dress.  Good times.

(I wonder if my readers enjoy or loathe my picture-heavy posts. Yet they are a record as much as any Wordy McWordiness I whack away on.)

“It’s hard to concentrate on the work at hand when a kitten is playing at your feet.”

The neighborhoods we walk in and bike in often contain derelict houses, overgrown lawns/lots, jagged unfriendly pathways (seriously I could keep up an entire blog mocking the HQX sidewalks). One time last summer as we made our way across Hoquiam and Aberdeen to get our groceries my daughter, irritated at the broken bottles, garbage, and variety of obstacles she was having to steer past on her new, almost-too-big-for-her bike, querulously asked, “What is this, a Glass Parade?”

This morning at 5 AM when I finally surfaced out of a lovely sleep as I realized I’d been hearing a crystalline “tink”, “tink”, “tink” for some time. I came to and discovered Hamilton the kitten was on the windowsill, six inches from my head, repeatedly and rhythmically tapping the window-blind cord stop against an empty glass. I removed the cat from the sill and disentangled my feet from her slumbering brother and got up for a glass of water and heard the sound of one of my adult cats outside, fighting/arguing with another feline from the neighborhood (you know that low, threatening cat-growl that sounds so alarming).

So that’s when the phrase, “Cat Parade” enters my mind, i.e. a world with Let’s Face It, too many tuna-breath little scurriers who, somewhat humiliatingly, follow me through the house and much like my children enjoy nothing more than being with me as I A. sew or B. cook. In fact as far as sewing goes at this point when I’m in the back room contentedly stitching the floor is so littered with cats in such extremely excessive states of repose I often feel embarrassed for them and myself because of how much pleasure we take in our company.

As I type this I feel one of the kittens begin climbing my back (fortunately I’m swaddled in a blanket so I don’t scream in pain and anger). I reach back and gently grasp the animal; you can tell it’s Hamilton because she has a very fat, round tummy (her brother is quite skinny). A few minutes later and she’s up watching me, cuddled up near my computer monitor. A couple minutes after that and she’s become singularly obsessed with attacking the mouse (computer-mouse that is) on the desk.

This is Hamilton:
Natural Defenses Hamilton is blurry in this picture. Now we own an incredibly cheap camera, I admit it, but nevertheless I rarely end up with an unfocussed picture like this. So I’m pretty sure she looks blurry because she is starting to feel sleepy.

Don’t tell anyone I was online reading “kitten quotes”, but I totally was, and I liked this one:

“A kitten is so flexible that she is almost double; the hind parts are equivalent to another kitten with which the forepart plays. She does not discover that her tail belongs to her until you tread on it.”

I know my kittens are just sort of Nothing to anyone else, just a blip, another mouth to feed or a series of rather uninteresting anecdotes. For me the little ones remind me how fleeting life can be; how special is our Now and our time of self-discovery. My kittens remind me of the incredible good fortune I have, how I find I am able to give a little more to care for one more person or one more body and how I can always find more love. My kittens (are far, far, FAR easier than caring for a child but) remind me of babies and newborns and that when one chooses to care for others there is a lot of feeding and cleaning and loving-up and chores and just plain stewardship and often the acts themselves are the “rewards” and not all see how this is so. Some of the people I like best in the world are those who care for others – deliberately and with great joy – because people/pets/the world all need care.

But I’ll tell you one thing. If I’m going to own four cats I’m a little resentful that there have been moments when I totally want to sit down and have a cat on my lap and none of the little creatures are willing to provide.

I have the feeling I could own twice as many cats and never get that lap-love guarantee.

r.i.p. & pbbbth

We had a milestone today – a really crappy one. Early, early this AM one of our pullets was killed by an opossum. This was Felix Jr. – or “Rattlesnake” as the neighborhood kids called her for her speed. She wasn’t fast enough apparently. The other birds were shaken up but today with a few strawberry tops and sunshine they seem to be back to normal.

Ralph buried the bird last night and trapped the possum, bent on murdering it. I tried to talk him down. He is not a vicious man but he was heartbroken and angry. I told him What about the possibility of baby possums? etc. I went to sleep hoping I’d convinced him.

This morning while he was at work we IM’d:

me: Did you kill that opossum?

Ralph: No.
I won’t, either.
I read about them a lot this AM, and had a change of heart.

me: Good

Ralph: They’re not very intelligent, they’re migrant, and they eat whatever they can find. They’re opportunists, and generally beneficial to various areas by cleaning up organic matter – carcasses, often – when available.

They’re kind of like zen animals, doing largely good things.

Besides, that piece of shit dug out from where I’d trapped it.

Ha! But: yeah.

We’ve kept our hens pretty damn safe considering we’ve been in four different homes with them in neighborhoods with people who let their dogs loose. This is a good track record considering we’ve owned chickens for a couple years now (at least I think it’s about that long, and I canna be fucked to look it up on this blog) and besides loose canines the raccoons and possums can be quite determined (they have all night to get to it as hens at night won’t raise an alarm nor defend themselves). Our good track record and our loving TLC is comfort right now when, like any pet owner, he and I both feel guilty, sad, and suppressed that something went wrong.

We are sad at Felix, Jr.’s passing.

In other awesome pet news we’re dogsitting my mom’s poodle/terrier mix Tuck, who loves me very much, likely because I treat him very well and take him everywhere I go. Today he’s had a stomachache from eating something wrong and he’s alternated between keeping his tail clamped over his ass and his back humped up in pan, vs. shitting into the clamped tail, the latter of which led to the most vile shit-cleaning experience I’ve ever had (reader, please ponder on my breadth of experience). While I was at it I gave him a Dr. Bronner’s bath. Ralph dried him off and put him out on the deck to dry in the warm sunshine, where he currently sits and I where I decidedly hope he is not brewing another Fecalstorm.

Ralph and I just made the below video while cooking lunch for ourselves and an extra kiddo (lunch concluded with strawberry shortcake made from home-baked poundcake and lovely local berries, ripe and red all the way through). It cheered us up. (Soundtrack by my husband):

EPIC NAP:

The Sad Life of Kittens from ralph hogaboom on Vimeo.

(Let me tell you a little secret, it was LOUD and ACTIVE in the kitchen while this was made, also, the kittens followed up filming by a huge, huge long nap on my bed).

not to be

Well shite. I had to decline a beach trip with friends today because this week I’ve had twenty bucks each day for food etc. (the drought ends tomorrow, on payday/grocery money day). But seriously? I could have used the time out of the house. Especially after this morning when my husband inadvertently (but sort of passive aggressively) woke me early this AM and I couldn’t return to Slumbertown (Population: 4 with the two kids and the two kittens all piled up in bed next to me!). Oh AND of course I’m not drinking coffee which is like the world’s most accessible and quick-acting happy-drug so I kind of slumped around for a while.

But upon reflection I will stop complaining. Wonderful small things were afoot today. The weather was lovely, warm and a little sun peeping out here and there. In the morning while the kids slept I walked down to my mom’s and got that coffee after all. She served me a caffeinated version so soon I was talking even faster than normal – whee! I came home and the kids were still asleep. So I did the dishes and prepared a little breakfast and made some sewing headway (more in a bit) then finished the laundry (which I compulsively have near-done at any given moment). After they woke up the children were lovely, eating breakfast and feeding chickens and brushing hair and teeth running about here and there and outside in their underwear and drawing and reading and hauling our kittens about.  At 2 PM Nels went off to my mother’s to plant corn:

Corn-Planter

OK, so?  Sometimes in my young son I can see the man he’s going to be. And it makes me cry.

Sewing?  Well, good news and bad news. I completed a linen dress with near-perfection in finishing technique:

Lining to Zipper

& yet sadly, in altering the pattern to fit my daughter the thing ended up with a horrid shape. I refuse to even post pictures of the finished garment. Sadly, my daughter grabbed it up and slipped it on and insisted she liked it. I begged her to at least wear her sweater over the dress if she had to wear it. I do not want this weak sauce garment representing my canon of (usual) awesomeness.

She refused.

On the positive side of all things krafty, cutting and marking and interfacing proceeds promisingly for my vintage Vogue pattern, a little tiered dress I ordered from Etsy. This dress was chosen because it was the smallest size in our recently-ordered batch of four (it seems vintage children’s patterns have larger sizes than today’s) and, more importantly, a garment that can be made from fabrics in my meager stash:
Vogue Tiered Dress, Fabrics

I have more things to say about this pattern soon; it is almost sixty years old and pretty fabulous and different!

Now seriously? I have to get in a hot bath with my daughter, then into my PJs and an ice cold beer – and then I have to hold kittens. All night. They really and truly need so much holding. So, <deep sigh!>, someone’s gotta do it.
Kitten Contemplation

the worst kind of benefactor of them all

Oh god, it’s past 10:30 PM so I’m kind of too tired out to go through the whole cycle of blame.

I mean it would seem at first like the fault lies squarely with my mother, but actually the catastrophic snowball shame effect began days ago, when Karen and Shelly posted a Thank You to their pattern testers on the blog… and naturally I wanted to glance through the websites and photos of those I keep company with, as a pattern tester… and maybe to Ralph and the kids and my mother I talked a little about this or that, and maybe at lunch the other day on a totally separate topic I encouraged my mom to go visit her ex-boyfriend, because she’d been so into him and exclusive and they had a torrid affair then she dropped him like yesterday’s moldy potatoes… Well…

Long story short:
OH NOES

My MOTHER – who heard me wistful about the two kittens I’d seen on the abovementioned blog (and maybe I said I’d like to ADOPT two kitties but in the future when we can afford them! I was sure to add) – went out to her ex-boyfriend’s place (on my advice being a friendly daughter!) and he coincidentally produced two kittens out of the tandem strains of awkwardness and his (now-unrequited) love for her, and she came directly from the little commune out there and SHOWED UP ON MY DOORSTEP and when I opened the door she blurted out, “I have kittens” and proceeded to get them out for me, and just as my stomach sank and the kids swarmed over them and made every promise under the sun to care for them, and I said, “Mom… I can’t afford ‘free kittens’ right now, I mean we had to borrow grocery money from you this week, and they need de-flea’ing and food and shots and…” she then promised to pay for these various and sundry, thereby rendering herself a Kitten Benefactor if you will, and this news was so surprising and allowed the crack of hope to form in my stone heart such that I shared with my husband and upon hearing the financial bounty he took back his threat about bringing home a Drownin’ Sack, and my mom went out and got their little litterbox and litter and food and enough flea medicine for the next eight months for all my kitties ($60 just for this medicine!), and we cuddled and loved up the little Fish Mongers and the kids were so happy and I felt all tickled and then she said,

“Well, I gotta get back to work,”

And left us with these Ridiculous! Little! Bundles! of Doom! It was like this huge TRICK!

So the kids and I whipped the house into shape and made the beds up and put out fresh water and food (some fancy-ass shit!) then piled warm laundry in a makeshift bed for them.  While I finished chores and packed our bikes for a trip out the children instinctively began ascertaining litterbox training (the cats were indeed tidy in this respect) and by the time we biked by my mom’s she was out in the yard so we all went to eat lunch at an outdoor ale house and hey, while we’re celebrating let’s each have a spicy Bloody Mary. And my mom paid for most of lunch and the kids and I picked up groceries for homemade pizza and we headed home and had a summer afternoon and evening with our new babies and the neighbor kids and my mom later came over for the pizza too.

I seriously do not know how today became a ridiculous party. But it did.

Welcome to the household, Hamilton (female):
Tiger-Like Markings

and Laurence (male):
Laurence, The One With

Who can count and tell me how many mouths Ralph’s income has to feed?
This Is Bullsh*t

oliver twisted (version two)

This morning I was emailed by a friend to tell me I totes got mentioned on Craftzine’s blog today.* So that gave me a smile.

And on the sewing front I’ve got another coat finished for The Boy. Let me tell you, over and over again I sew the thing up and the kid grabs it and runs outside! I have to chase them to get a picture, and sometimes I don’t even get that far.  But in this case:

Modeling

(He’s holding Felix Jr.)

This is a new version of his Oliver Twisted coat (thanks for the name inspiration Robin!) made from a wool/nylon, underlined in natural bull denim, and lined with a 100% silk twill.

Finis!

This is the fourth time I’ve made this coat. Nels wore last year’s version to death. He wore it in the blistering hot, in the snow, on cool wet days and warm dry ones. He wore it so much that as his arms lengthened over the year (he grew five inches in one annum – save me!); the lining and sleeve hems merely pulled apart and the sleeve ran ragged. He wore it any time I said “get a coat” and any time he felt he needed one. The only coat he liked close to as much was a green twill version I made from the same pattern.

I think I currently enjoy making structured jackets more than just about any other sewn thing. I am always surprised by what I learn.  In this case, although I did a better job constructing this year’s version, (holy damn that collar application! Are you kidding me?) the truth is, I rather favor last year’s version of the coat. This is mostly due to the fact the fabric used last time – a 100% poly suiting from JoAnn’s on sale – had an amazing texture. Still, this version’s wool/nylon is very suitable, the slippery nature of this lining is superior to quilting cotton from last year, and I did do a better job with technique. So there’s that.

I am also a little bemused I made a nearly identical colorway to the previous coat. What can I say, I am  an Unoriginal Ass. I am in a difficult position as the vast majority of my fabric is either gifted to me or purchased online. Things I order aren’t always what I originally expected.

This morning Nels and Phoenix, after breakfast, ran outside to do some kind of garden work/spontaneous house construction. I looked outside and there was Nels hoeing away – in the coat.

Whip-Stitch

You can read a million nauseating details of the garment’s construction at my Flickr tagset.

In other news, the playfully cool-then-warm weather and gentle sunshine has been perfect walking weather.  Walking with the children is amazing and humbling because they are more present, genuinely joyful, and charming conversationalists over anyone I’ve met. And in the view of Ralph and my all-time favorite tweet, every time I take the kids on our walks I have to laugh at how, well, sketch it can be around these parts.

Snakes In The Grass(Not shown in this photo: heaving piles of concrete, “glass parade” – Phoenix’s term – and used condoms.)

* yes I say “totes”, and arse off directly if you have a problem with this.

“Is this supposed to be sexy or am I broken?”

Last night after dropping our kids off at my mom’s Ralph and I took our sunny drive and met with Seattleite and awesome mama K. to share Vietnamese food in the International District (okay srsly: living in the city? A plethora of delicious and affordable cuisine from all corners of the world? Almost makes me want to live there. & yet an evening of traffic-ass and parking issues cured me of that wistful premise tout de suite). After hugs we headed down the sunshiney sidewalk to the Market Showbox for our show.

The live showing of Cinematic Titanic (a white nerd-fest if I ever saw one) was long-anticipated, long-saved up for (Ralph bought me tickets and set aside fundage over two pay periods as a Mother’s Day gift), and delivered the goods: supremely. I’ve been an avid MST3K squee-fan since the mid nineties and here were several beloved individuals right in the room with me (celebrityhood is a weird thing because love isn’t reciprocally personalized).  The show delivered laughs like crazy and Ralph delivered me gin and tonics which were delicious and soothing. Dave Allen’s warm-up bit was extremely fun and included a beatniky haiku – with snaps and walking bass – dedicated to Jason Voorhees;  he finalized with a rap over Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat”, clever and delightful.  The riffed film itself was a sword-and-sandals “epic” (but not really) set in Mongol China and complete with greased-beefcake “hero” in a tiny red skort. The jokes were so good I was doubled over a good portion of the time (careful not to spill the beverage). Ralph and I spent our evening next to a sweet-seeming Redmond IT drone named Matt (Matt is working on a master plan to quit the tech sector and live in Japan for a while) who laughed hysterically and incessantly on my left.

We almost didn’t make it home: our parking garage had shut down with no warning about a half hour before we got to it. A local resident saw our buzzing-about-in-distress bit and came over to direct us on a super-secret way to sneak in and activate the door out (Seriously: thank you so much Seattle resident!) and we drove right home.

In my husband I can’t ask for a better date. I feel fortunate he is someone I truly look forward to spending time with (although of course I did choo-choo-chooose him), and someone who knows how to treat me to a good time.

Meanwhile my mother with our kids had suffered a small series of minor catastrophes.  After taking the children out to Ocean Shores to see a film they went to restaurant after restaurant because no one would  serve children after 9 PM (they eventually ended up driving the half-hour back to Aberdeen for Denny’s to grandma’s gastronomical sadness). In putting our chickens away my mom lost the key to the car and had to leave the vehicle at our house and walk home with the children; part way home she realized our kitty Harris was following them and she worried and fretted and then escorted him home (not necessary; he can follow a long way and still find his way back, but she worries so). On this same walk her dog, necessarily off-leash as she’d not planned on having to walk with him, wandered into the road and had to be swerved from – by an ambulance!

I’m pretty sure she had a few stiff drinks and collapsed by the end of the evening (the kids fell asleep on a made-up bed in the living room watching their favorite dinosaur film). Hearing about her night earlier today served as a reminder of how many daily challenges I handle in, it must be said, relatively competent and good-humored fashion.

Our children were happy to see us. Nels had something on his face and I asked; my mom said, “He likes to go in the lilies and paint his cheeks with pollen.” Nels looked at me out the side of his eyes and from under his fall of blonde hair and nodded, sage and pleased.

ask me your questions, and i will ignore your ass

Computer stuff is always ebbing and flowing at Casa del Hogaboom; as a result of being busy writing and sewing and cooking and pissing and moaning about this and that, I missed out on a handful of excellent formspring queries. Today I took a few minutes to catch up and post. I want to say I truly do love formspring questions, and I don’t want to deter the occasional fellow who comes along and asks, turning my formspring page from a desert with tumbleweeds and buzzards to a brief, lush and verdant oasis where I get to write and talk and act like I know stuff.

Here’s what I got today:

How does it work if/when homeschooled/un-schooled kids want to go to college, an exchange year, or something that typically requires transcripts?
There are a handful of typical concerns many home/un-schooling “outsiders” or those new to the concepts ask – “But what about socialization?” is one, handily followed by the college question … (read the rest of my response here)

How is Anna del Geckaboom? Is her tail growing back?
Anna’s tail is growing back nicely. She has been molting regularly and seems quite healthy. But I have terrible news … (read the rest of my response here)

How’s the “class 5 vegan diet” going?
Two words: BORRR-RRING! I have four more days of total deprivation before … (read the rest of my response here)

Thank you for your questions, readers!

recipe for better: cooking with beef, garlic, and wine

Today started out ass, I’ll just say it.  My head cold kept me up until very late and nearly debilitated come morning, at which point I was roused by the knock of a government official at my door.  Later my husband and I had a very tense and wasteful argument revolving around a bag of potato chips (yes, really).  Outside the wind kicked up to buffet us between bouts of sour, pissing rain.

The upswing was a while coming but once it did it kept improving.  The sun came out.  I rested, began to feel better, and went to bellydancing class.  Ralph and the kids took a long swimming date.  While out I grabbed groceries for Julia Child’s recipe for boeuf bourgingnon (the laborious, steady, soothing preparations would cheer any cook up).  In making the dish my prized stoneware roaster finally succumbed to the hairline crack it had threatened, so Sophie and I went out and bought a new enameled cast iron pot for the kitchen (this cheered me up immensely) and a Space Police Lego set and strawberry bubble tea for Sophie (this cheered her up immensely). I love my one-on-one time with the kids.  They are seriously fucking awesome.  This is when I find how much they have learned and discovered, their hopes and plans and passions and dreams.  Sophie sat next to me on the bench seat and leaned her head on my shoulder and we were fine, fine, fine.

Upon our return we invited my mother over for dinner (which included the beouf along with butter noodles and cucumber salad – delicious!) after which Ralph let our chicks out for a run in the living room.  They have gained immense stature and are lovely from the neck down with their beautiful, proud new feathers (and yet their heads are unappealing, vulture-y, and scrappy-yet-fluffy). In their aimless and semi-alarmed bobbing about they terrified my mom’s terrier so much he moved behind my legs.  He is a dear old pup.  He’s going blind and becoming fearful.  My mom is considering either springing the hefty expense of having one of his eyes operated on (to restore sight, if not depth perception) OR having him put down.  I find it hilarious she hasn’t decided which.  Of course I’m going to pressure her to do the former.

Because my children had spent much of the day playing with their father they seemed almost wild to me by days’ end, small unknown forces who kept their own counsel.  Only a few hours away from my care and my son looked taller, older, absorbed in his play.  His plans and schemes all his own.  It’s funny because in only the space of half a day I can miss them, not at all a pining feeling, more like an awareness of their absence.