Herpetology

It’s finally Friday, I’m free again

The More You Know
Homographs, homophones, heteronyms, polysemes, and capitonyms – do you know the difference?

Debbie Drake’s Easy Way to a Perfect Figure and Glowing Health (Drake, 1961). You know. Before I do my scissor kicks, I fix the hell out of my hair and makeup, then put on my perkiest bullet bra.

“OTL: Dark History” at ESPN.go. A very brief glimpse into the Santa Anita racetrack and our human capacity for cruelty.

A Clinical, Searing Memoir Of Abuse in Tiger, Tiger at NPR. Library hold, placed.

“Male-Centric Plots and the Oscars” at SocImages (and then, “There Are More Sites Of Oppression Than Gender”, Womanist Musing’s response)

Amelia Earhart’s plane found? (Answer: no)

I got into Noisettes this week. It’s only a matter of time before Ralph does. Oh, and I totally know which album he’ll like.

“Talking to Your Daughter About Beauty” at The Good Men Project. Not so much a fathering article as one anyone identifying as male should consider. This is a good 101 article; sadly, there is a dearth of them, and more in-depth stuff is nary to be found. I’d love to hear a male author weigh in on this topic; men are usually so silent at speaking out against beauty performance, instead of being powerful allies.

At NPN, photos of natural birth. How fucking awesome is this? Including the following sentence: “Acknowledging that many parents cannot or choose not to have this kind of birth, next week’s photos will show other birthing experiences.”. NPN, that is rock-tastic.

Society
“Dear Brian McFadden: I was damaged after being taken advantage of”. Brian McFadden’s song “Just as you are (Drunk at the Bar”) – and every pro-date rape song out there – suuuucks. This piece illustrates why, rather well. Particularly good is Nina Funnell’s answer to “Anonymous”. Kind of stunningly good.

“Ensuring the Male Gaze” at PostBourgie. Someone wrote something pretty damn smart on the potrayal of “reverse sexism”.

“Suicide” by Jeff Sabo. This piece and the commentariat is so far an incredibly illustrative discussion of youth depression and suicide (given it is written by a non-youth). The “It Gets Better” campaign irritates me for a few reasons, one of which the tone often seems to be: don’t kill yourself, your life hasn’t even started, just wait to grow up, we won’t help you NOW.

Parenting
“Taming the Tiger Mother” by Naomi Aldort at Life Learning Magazine. Nuanced article about the balance of control vs. neglect.

“So You Want to Unschool Your Child or Teen? Yes, you CAN do it!” by Laurie Couture. What can I say, today’s all about some 101!

Make/Craft
Salted Caramels & Homemade Cadbury Eggs, both from Instructables. My friend Sophiea and I made these caramels Monday and they were delicious!

“Building Cookies is Not SEW Easy!” at Sweet Sugar Belle

“Celebrate Women’s History Month by Picking Up a Needle and Thread” at CRAFT

The Incredible Edible Abacus at The Hokey Pokey Kitchen

“Home”, a French knot masterpiece.

Hilarity
Cat vs. Internet, a comic

“Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He’s Wasted Listening To Bullshit” at The Onion

Herpetology, close to our hearts:
Herpetology

different outlooks different hopes

friday, friday, so good to me

Taking a break from my latest Netflix obsession (don’t worry, my obsessive-television watching is usually in short-lived bouts) I bring you: FRIDAY LINKAGE.

Film
Bollywood for Beginners Index at Filmi Girl

“Worst Movie of the ’00s?” at PostBourgie. Great piece and excellent comments.

There are no words for the excellence:

(thanks, Steev!)

Society
“Smiling Indians and Edward S. Curtis” by @NativeApprops. Definately check out the galleries, & the video.

“Guest Post: Reactions to the Case of Lara Logan” by Matt Cornell; also, Bill Maher makes LOUD NOISES about how U.S. is just SO MUCH BETTER TO WOMEN THAN MUSLIMS: “Bill Maher Pronounces Sexism in The Middle East, Worse Than In America” from womanist-musings. Finally, a succinct summation of some of those others who stand to lose with these narratives: Laura with “On Feminism, Religion, Superiority, Kyriarchy and Women’s Rights”.

“CNN buys into homeschooling stereotypes in child abduction case, blames victims”. Just add another nugget to the pile of deplorable turdburger that “Nancy Grace” (the show, not the person).

“Covering Up is a Feminist Issue” via PhD in Parenting, fertilefeminism; great video and a good 101!

“Class warfare” at globalsociology

“Just a Parent” by Ouyang Dan on Random Babble

Health
Planned Parenthood at PostBourgie

“Dear Michele Bachmann, et. al: Please Shut Up and Sit Down” at parenting.com

Gym Class by Michelle Allison. If there was a BINGO card about lots of awesome shit Kelly cares about (abolishing adultist thoughts, freeing children from forced institutionalism and segregation, HAES/FA etc.) I’d be shouting “LOTERIA!”

Parenting
“The best parenting book you will ever read.” – some thoughts on a fictional hero of mine – and many others’ (note: spoilers, link concerns the book To Kill A Mockingbird).

“Five Questions for Laurie A. Couture by E. Christopher Clark of Geek Force Five”. Ms. Couture is becoming one of the items in my feed reader I look forward to most. Her thoughts on the third question – C. – I’ve found most relevant as she’s discussing teens, and I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time around teens lately and I’m loving it!

Make/Craft
Awesome Godzilla Quilt, courtesy of the East Bay Heritage Quilters

“Coke Bottle Watering “Globes” at RadMegan

Hand-painted  B-movie purses? I had to write this lady a stalky email because. Come on. How awesome!

How to cook perfect rice – in a frying pan at Just Bento

Quotable
‎”Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.” ~ A. S. Neil

Random Awesomeness
Promtacular – ZOMG, who’s ready to dig up prom pictures? 100 to YES.

“Mad, Mod & Macabre – The Ronald Stein Collection” – I. Want. This.

different outlooks different hopes

"Wisdom Teeth" at xkcd

hey yo it’s pink Friday

This morning when I woke up I observed my daughter had found a discarded t-shirt of mine and slipped it on and slept in it all night.

Which I love, more than anything.

OK so, aw hells yes! Another Friday and I am scaling back my linkage, or trying to, still. And what-do-you-know, I’m still on some very similar topics. Well OH WELL, what can I say, I am just very excited about them all!

Parenting
“I don’t love you enough” by Jeff Sabo. This piece is a worthwhile refution of the “tough love” sentiment and just how bad things have gotten if you’re proud of “stalking” your child.

P.S. I emailed Jeff and he told me his blog should be up and for public viewing (earlier there were problems).

On the please-do-not-do-it-this-way parenting bit, here are some “treasures” from Love & Logic (a parenting/teaching philosophy fairly popular in my peer set which demonstrates the phenomenal and deep-level breakdown of trust that many mainstream parenting strategies perpetrate). Here’s their most recent update, on some “tough love” (same ol’ same ol’, although L&L seems to hold itself as something different than typical old-school punishment techniques) regarding shoplifting; then follow this with this delightful screed comparing children to “growling and foaming at the mouth” “rabid dogs”. Fun!

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling & Real Learning, a six and a half minute clip of a Sandra Dodd interview that I like (what she says between 0:50 and 1:01 gives me the shudders… because I have seen and experienced this firsthand). I like the word “unschooling” less and less – not that I have any problem with others using it. Maybe I’ll write more about that soon.

Health
“Iron-deficiency is not something you get just for being a lady” by Dr. Kathryn Clancy. Consider your blog FOLLOWED, Doctor-Woman!

“Lactate Your Ass Off (Or Not)”; JJ Keith drops some realities regarding breastfeeding and “baby weight”. I notice people brag about losing their baby weight (which helps other people feel terrible about themselves for this or that reason). What I know now is, that’s a pretty individualistic thing and people should consider STFU on the whole thing.

Michelle Allison asked her readers what questions they’d have for her regarding food, nutrition, and eating competence: “how to eat in front of other people” was number one (this is quite sobering and sad). The pdf material she provided in response is incredible. Even if one doesn’t think they have any issues with disordered eating, a read-through is highly recommended.

“Real Quick: Actresses who eat things are FASCINATING” by Lesley Kinzel. Ha! Nail, hit on the head. Also, “fatassery” is the best word I’ve heard this week.

Make/Craft
Fringey streamers at Oh Happy Day

Guess what’s gonna be happening in our house this next week. KOREAN COOKERY!

Just Awesomeness

National Geographic‘s Photo of the Day, won’t you?

Minecraft + pharmaceutical humor! (WIN) (& – thanks, Ryan!)
"Wisdom Teeth" at xkcd

Three years ago, Valentine by yours truly (and yes, this still happens to me)

Back to the future by photographer Irina Werning. ZOMG do I love this times one hundred.

Action Figure Slow Motion Punches:

***

Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
– Charles G. Stater

im-a-mother-fucking-creeper

“Pull in your navel! Relax your shoulders! Is that the best you can do? Really?”

I feel sheepish about how little I understand some of my children’s computer activities and passions. Currently Ralph and Nels are discussing the best way to learn Java in order to write class files for modifications to Minecraft. Daily the children install mods and texture packs with fluency; they discovered, installed, and self-taught usage of an inventory editor (I’m told this is no big deal, by Ralph) and get into very excited conversations with one another, or other teens / grownups when the opportunity arises, about these features and their own methodologies and – of course – gameplay and strategy. I think of all the goatee-stroking and chortling grownups are wont to do, thinking they’ll top-down “teach” kids some skill, while anyone who’s been around a freechild for long soon is humbled at their dexterity, perseverance, logistical skills, and flexible intelligences – and, often, how quickly they surpass us when it’s something they’re interested in.

My lack of understanding when it comes to computer programming is largely a function of personal disinterest. It’s a position I can afford to take, since there is another person in the house who serves as a mentor and assistant (don’t ask me why the kids are so hopped-up on computers but have shown only passing interests in sewing – my equivalent passion, I suppose, to Ralph’s mad tech skillz; I suspect, however, the kids are learning to sew and will sew well and at least semi-regularly in the future). I know in the end I don’t need to be an enthusiastic fan to still be a supporter and advocate for the kids; it was in fact me who squawked rather loudly and uncharacteristically, knowing a while back laptops were the best next tool for our family. And, of course, our entire life is structured around supporting them in the exploits they choose whilst not wasting their times with ones they have no use for.

But the truth is my ignorance and slow-wittedness serve to imbue me with unease. Several times today Nels asked if I would look at his newest installation. I kept saying “no”, not because I was so busy but because there’s something in the whole business that panics me. It isn’t that I think I won’t be able to understand the tech aspect – the other day my daughter patiently explained the horse breeding schema she was using within the game mod, including genetic values and a complex series of stables (read through this and tell me if it makes sense) and it was like this dim lightbulb flickered and I kind of got it – it’s that I’m worried upon my grasping more I’ll feel even worse for not previously knowing more about what they love, and why. So I sit here on the fringe dithering about it, I guess.

Gee, when I write it out I sound like a tremendous assy coward.

[ * cough, cough * ]

Tonight my mom literally rescued me from an intense case of ennui by taking the kids and I out to a burger joint (where I had my all-time tired-ass choice, a veggie burger and fries). It was pretty funny (to me) that we ordered all this food, and they didn’t have what my mom wanted (a corndog), so she said, “That’s OK!” and sat with the kids and snuggled and loved up on them, and after the lady rang me up I said, politely and all classy-like, “Are you paying?” and my mom said, “Oh!” and grappled at her wallet, and I laughed because I got one over on her and I always feel appreciative when she helps support us but it’s also just kind of funny, like she’s getting screwed, which is kind of how I feel about this whole having-kids business, although I love them dearly of course, and it just is what it is, including Grandma’s generous support. The bill was a little over twenty dollars and my mom waved at me to give a few dollars tip (which, judging by the near-empty jar, is not something most customers do). Speaking of the tip bit, she’s always like that. Really an incredibly kind-hearted person.

Her car wouldn’t start so we walked home in the light rain. Nels was dismayed about this and wailed loudly for about a block, then soon he and Phoenix were running full-tilt down the wet and scary sidewalks in torrents of musical laughter while my mom and I hoofed it behind them and I texted Ralph to help her out with her new and temporary car-ass scenario.

After we got to my house my mom headed home and the kids and I settled in; while I await the opportunity to purchase carbon chacopy paper I am sewing a decidedly-custom coat for Phoenie. Ralph arrived home late after his class and brought in Jasmine – they have a drag act they’re performing on Friday, my birthday (not for my birthday, just a coincidence). As they got started on the choreography I made coffee and watched for about two minutes before intervening. Look, Jasmine had one hundred percent talent but Ralph’s dancing concepts and skills in moving less like a huge energetic man were just not cutting it. I’d been thinking about how often I don’t claim my talents and you know what? I can dance OK. What followed was an intensely funny, as in peeing-our-pants-laughing, two and a half hour series where I am not lying when I say I turned into a sweaty and intense dance monster and at practice’s end frenetically smoked on the porch while seething the show acts were not open to the general public and even considering some kind of sabotage. Later in the evening, after Jasmine left, Ralph would be washing dishes or something and I’d say, “Look, let’s try it again, don’t move the rest of your body, for a shimmy just punch one shoulder forward then relax, let the other one follow.” He eventually told me I’d worn his body and mind out and that he wasn’t sure if he had it in him anymore to do even one more move.

Hee.

OK – it’s almost 3:00 AM as I type this and I suppose I should go take a look at what that Nels has been making a fuss about.

Deep breath.

im-a-mother-fucking-creeper

bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid

Back in high school my closest girlfriends and I developed a system of “Badass Points”, an informally-tracked schema whereby each of us could earn group acknowledgement by doing something daring or asinine – and usually both (like skipping class and smoking with “the stoners” – this meant working-class or poor classmates who wore jean jackets adorned with Sharpie’d skulls and who listened to metal – or telling a teacher he had a sexy bum. Unconscionable but rather tame on that last one, I know, but in my defense we were seventeen and imprisoned in our family lives and school). I don’t remember our game running very long but it was much-beloved to me all the same. I liked the idea of being a Badass when most my life I’d invested in Good Girl, when indeed I was very afraid of many things. To venture out – only a bit – and be myself instead of the Convenience I was relied upon to be – felt grand.

In that vein, I don’t think I’d earn many points these days. I’ve become someone quite risk-averse because I’ve found my position oppressively policed by forces both tangible and many perhaps insubstantial to others’ eyes; I’ve found my Fearless ameliorated by events personally devastating that linger on. These days my “badass” mostly runs to deeply-committed-to concepts of fairness that are so inextricably wound up in spiritual practice and belief they are less individual instances of Awesome and more rewarding ways of life that I nevertheless continue to grapple with – for instance, trusting my kids in their wholeness and personhood

OR –

my “badass” consists of speaking up against oppressive social mores that are trite and common, yet devastating and ubiquitous: more wearying than acutely scary. Examples from just lately: this weekend in a group when a person wondered aloud how a missing girl’s family could have let the child out of their sight in the first place – and after a pause in the conversation I indicated my non-support for such victim-blaming and insensitive speech; another example, speaking out when my daughter’s hairstylist called skinny gym neophytes “gross”.

I know at least a handful of readers might think I’m badass enough given the above examples – and a handful of other readers will eyeroll at just how limited and cowardly I really am. Other people’s verdicts don’t matter so much – because what matters is I haven’t felt a Badass in some time and what’s more I feel it’s something I need.

Being a Badass isn’t about, for me, being a jerk to other people, or proving a point to someone else – it’s about doing something I want to do because I want to do it, and I’m a grown lady who’s allowed to make mistakes – right? – without looking around to make sure there won’t be a big scary reprisal, or wondering what my reputation (such as it is, because Who? Gives A Shit) will suffer. Why do I still fear things when I’ve survived through so much so far?

If I was Badass I’d stop running to spend my every last dime on my kids’ immediate needs and I’d “selfishly” buy myself some things I want – I’d let the kiddos have holey socks and stained clothes and I’d fix myself up with some slutty and awesome bra and panty sets and maybe a top that wasn’t an old band t-shirt. But on the flip side if I was a Badass I’d stop giving a damn for the folk who talk like it’s Empowering to collect Nice Things; I’d start saying “Fuck Off” (mentally) now and forever to those who speak prescriptively about those “must haves” that carry price points that don’t reflect my foursome’s economic reality and I’d say “No Thanks, but Good Luck With That” to those with worldviews that don’t concern themselves with the earth, with fellow man here and abroad, and with conspicuous consumption and the cultural heritage of being an American who just tramples and eats everything they see.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling crap about my bad habits. Fuck it. Seriously, I have them. They’ll lift someday, or they won’t.

If I was Badass I’d call up that friend who’s not been a friend and tell her, “You know what? You aren’t much of a friend, and it really hurts, and I know you’re busy, but you should know I have feelings.”

If I was a Badass I’d tell my friends, to their faces, I love you.

If I was a Badass I’d let the house be messy (OK, messier) and know that I would get around to fixing it at some point so let’s move on. Instead of what I do now, which is make sure to take care of that shit first, THEN decide what I want to do with the rest of my supposedly-“free” time.

If I was Badass I’d stop worrying about my husband’s health and trust him to manage his own self. God knows I do pretty right by him.

If I was Badass I’d seek more joy and maybe be a more loving and spontaneous and relaxed lady for this man. I’d quit working myself so hard.

If I was a Badass I’d sing loud in front of other people, because I love to sing, and the only people who ever, EVAR hear it are my kids.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling this weird shame we’re working class and have working class lives. I’d stop feeling it was my “fault” somehow, especially considering when I reflect on other people’s lives I truly grant them the same humanity and nobility inherent regardless of status and privilege or any lack thereof (or at least I really, really think I do).

If I was Badass, I’d stop feeling people have a right to give a damn or have a say about what food I feed my children, like I’m required to make sure they grow into some awesome consumers with prim and holistic eating habits I can put down to my awesome parenting. Truth is some days I love to cook more than anything, other days (like today!) I save my mental health and take a walk to the diner and get a veggie burger with my son, and it’s pretty funny how hot and cold I am on the whole good-housewife bit. I come nowhere near the mark on being good at this, the whole well-rounded awesome Mama routine, so it’s laughable I still put this pressure on myself. And yeah, I know people shouldn’t have that right to weigh in, but weigh in they do, and dammit, I let it get to me.

That’s part of my problem, maybe most of it. Deep down I keep believing people have the right to weigh in. On my worthDeep down I still really fear not being a Nice Girl. So many things I want to say but don’t. Or sometimes I do say them then later feel a very humorless shame because my words weren’t “Nice”, or they might have been uncouth or low class or “inappropriate” according to the voice (who?) of someone who, well the one thing I can tell you, is this person is not very fun anyway. The twisted thing is, I am a good (enough) person, and I’m a friend to many and do okay by those I take responsibility for. What am I really afraid of? And another really twisted thing is I know lots of “not-nice” folk and they are some of my favorite people and they’re not scary or horrid!

I’ve made it on my own steam, and that’s to my credit as well as the family and friends who support me so well and the privilege I was born with. But inside… inside I’m often cowering, afraid to lose things I probably don’t really need in the first place, cowering even knowing I won’t lose Me no matter what I do.

But you know. One last thing? I think just writing it all out, and letting it go publicly just what a coward I am?- like, PRETTY much, all the things I’m afraid of? All of a sudden, just now, feels pretty Badass. Hit “publish” – too late now.

It’s almost 2 AM and I hear my daughter giggling at something she’s watching (with headphones) on the laptop. You know what’s really awesome? That. I have her, today, and a sense of unabiding joy when I’m with her.

So I’m going to join her.

***

“Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

fridays are not pants optional

Health

I live in Washington state and it’s totally not like this! There are high fevers all the time! & hardly anyone ever does handclaps in music!!!

“Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences”; a report from the USDA (pdf). According to this report my family qualifies as a “food desert” family, one we join an estimated two percent of all American families in. Ralph and I have made the deliberate choices to have a fulltime at-home parent (which means reduced income); we also spend about two and a half times the American average income percentage on (what we believe to be) nutritious, from-scratch food. This report (amongst other observations) confirms my experience this can be difficult work! (Bonus points for anyone who reads the entire report!)

“Diet for a baby” by Hathor the Cowgoddess. Yes. Baby diets are real and receiving notice and promotion. And yes. I am terrified.

And on that note – “Sunday Surf” at Authentic Parenting. Some great breastfeeding links; mamapoekie also answers some of my concerns regarding the subject.

Social
“‘No Touching’ at High School? A Student Protests!” at FreeRangeKids. This is a truly sad and nauseating measure; I am inspired (but not surprised) students have launched a petition against it.

“Hugs, Twisty: Pornsick dudes give blamer the screamin’ mimis”; A reader confesses confusion and sadness at anti-women pervasiveness in the media; commenters respond with support.

“Rejecting the notion of ‘Black People Twitter'” at What Tami Said. Whites may be unfamiliar with endemic pressure to be “a credit to their race” (a phrase that will likely always remind me of Hattie McDaniel)… and what does that say?

The other day while being served Chinese-American food by a Korean-American proprietress I remembered these two oldie but goodie entries on stuffwhitepeopledo: “Seek Authenticity” and “Carelessly Exoticize and ‘Other’ Food”. The phrase “authentic” when referring to food makes me laugh pretty hard. If you find yourself looking for “authentic” food or tourist locales, you may want to check yourself for Special Snowflake Syndrome. The story of in the second link of the The Urban Vegan’s recipe for or “Blue Mosque Ayran” reminded me of a recipe site I found when searching for an Eithiopian recipe – apparently if you eat anywhere in Eithiopia you are guaranteed to be served by Iman (yes, I know she is Somali-American).

Parenting
“The Words We Use: Living As If School Doesn’t Exist” by Wendy Priesnitz
“The generic term is “homeschooling.” For the first decade or so of the modern homeschooling movement, that word worked fine, since the few thousand of us living that way shared a general understanding that we were experimenting with something that was as far away from the school model as possible. However, as the movement has grown, the number of approaches used by families has grown too. And now, the word “homeschooling” has come to be identified with the parent-driven, school-at-home end of the spectrum. It no longer accurately describes a curiosity-based, learner-driven, self-managing style of education, which uses life and the world as its resources, and that doesn’t look at all like school. […]

“We are now seeing the next step toward a world without school. Web-based information and the devices to access it have become widely available, allowing learners to bypass schools altogether, even if they don’t consider themselves to be “unschoolers” or “homeschoolers” or have never even heard the terms before. Nevertheless, the concepts of learning and schooling are still synonymous for most people. Most have yet to leave behind the belief that one “gets” (or is given) an education through attendance at school, and that “unschooled” therefore means “uneducated.”

Of every post I submit today, this is the one I most strongly identify with – enough to cite a heavy dose of it – and I endorse every letter on the page.

“Minimalist Parenting” at Authentic Parenting. This post is very sweet but it made me think of the many “minimalist-porn” media images saturating the mainstream. I personally believe these “minimalist” lifestyles we read about in blogs and see in magazines are ones bolstered by a lot of privilege. Nothing wrong with that; I wish more eco-, ethical-, and enviro-minded bloggers and authors would own up to this privilege.

“Motherhood: Electric Boogaloo***” from Navalgazing Bajan
This is a great review, a thought-provoking read, and a wonderful guest-blogging opportunity!

“So you wanna ride in Oregon with your children??? Well…you may want to think twice…” at bikecommuters.com
My observances on “heavily debated topic[s]” that involve kids and carers is the debate is predicated on the shoulders of the following: 1. children don’t deserve the same rights as grownups, full stop; 2. a sarcastic and vitriolic response when people object to measures that make life harder for parents/carers – because “you should have thought of this before you had kids”, and 3. a total and endemic avoidance of the inherent operational and oppressive sexism that results anytime you restrict the movements of kids. Being this is a bike issue in America, this particular piece of legislation also holds that cars are mysterious elven wraiths that have nothing to do with the injuries to and death of cyclists (hey, car worshippers and rape apologists could probably appreciate one another!).

“Two Conversations” by Jeff Sabo (now blogging at Daddy 365)

Pop Culture
“Donkey Kong High-Score Belongs To Hank Chien Again!” at The Retroist

Art
“Beefranck’s Emporium – The Be Nice Project”

I think it’s obvious this Ghostbuster Wedding Cake is ART and food – simultaneously.

Make/Craft
“French Fridays, Uhm, Sunday, with Dorie: Gnocchi a la Parisienne” shared by reader and friend Jeanne
I put the source book on my library holds. I can’t wait to make these although the one time I tried Béchamel sauce my results sucked.

“How to supreme an orange” at freshcatering. If you’re buying oranges here in the PNW, navels and bloods are the way to go.

Plush Mollusk Anatomy at WunderKammer

“DIY Sriracha”: Why would you need to? I dunno, maybe to see if there are additional layers of DELICIOUSNESS to plumb!

Tweet of the Week
Linked to this. Cool beans.

Quotable
“Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone. This is the ancient law.” – Buddha (posted by mamapoekie)

Random Awesomeness
“This is groovy”, from The Stranger and as shared by reader and friend Jeanne

Even my curmudgeony ass-heart got pretty soft for this. A very cool viewing of a very personal yet public event.

you are what you love not what loves you back

Today I was published in the January / February issue of Life Learning Magazine, found my work extensively quoted on HoboMama, and named as “one of the most compassionate persons on Twitter”. I am imbued with a sense of gratitude I am reaching the people who find me helpful. Especially in working with the magazine. Editor Priesnitz is one of those real-life mentors I actually get to work with in, you know, real life. What a world, this inter-netz!

Speaking of Priesnitz her blog entry today, “How to Work (Learn) in a Sausage Factory”, is its usually compassionate, insightful, whip-smart example of acute brevity. Contrasted with the condescension of school officials expressing the importance of teaching high school students the value of “rules” (high school! My kids knew what “rules” meant long before kindergarten age and you probably did too!), she has this to say:

“I would imagine that by high school, kids have either learned most of what they’re ever going to learn about following rules or not (and it’s likely a bit different than what the school folks think they are teaching). What these young people really need is to learn how to make their own decisions, including how to decide which rules are still relevant and which not; how to democratically collaborate with others to change rules and policies; and how to challenge disrespectful people trying to enforce arbitrary or insulting rules – without losing their livelihood.”

Um, yes? Yes! The breathtakingly good news is, many young people are finding their way despite this sort of (endemic and oppressive) business. Writer Idzie Desmarais has collected some wonderful interviews of extraordinary young people who are hitting it out of the park. That collection of interviews is even better than Cute Overload for lifting my spirits.

Ergonomically Positioned

My kids’ weird positions they adopt while on the laptops is very amusing to observe. They are as dextrous lying on their backs with the laptop against their chest as they are sitting up. Nels dances and moves around and stretches and hauls cats while he – guess? – plays Minecraft and studies online tutorials.

I don’t normally say goodnight in this journal but – Goodnight!

Delinquent
(Small Stone #7*)

Fanning air out out the bathroom window
It’s too cold to smoke outside.

Small stone project

America is for Americans

freaky friday

Quotable
Something I wrote last Friday was quoted at both The Life Learning (Unschooling) Happiness Project and Life Learning Magazine. I love it when I’m quoted without an accompanying descriptor, hee. And in the case of Life Learning I mean look who else is quoted there. Come on. Who wouldn’t feel just a teensy bit awesome about that?

Culture & Pop Culture
“A Decade of Fear” from Information is Beautiful
I wonder how many people think of the toll that obsessive fear plays on our own and others’ psyche.

Kanye’s new video got leaked, so they’ll be much this-and-that discussion. Right out of the gate PostBourgie and Ta-Nehisi Coates came forth with pieces I enjoyed.

Refiguring the Passive Girl Toy at SocImages (Yeah, that’s me that made the submission. SocImages has the readers do a lot of their legwork, I think they should work harder on the linky-love, but then what do I know. I have a tiny site with small readership).
The first commenter asserts girls won’t like having their toys chopped up (so I guess this person doesn’t understand the concept of a child owning his/her own toys and getting to make that decision on their own?). Never fear, many readers (several of which who were once, you know, actual girls) chime in with how very much they DID like hacking their toys. Yarp.

Health
The new issue of Squat! is available. If you’d like you can read last summer’s first issue gratis, which features a piece by reader and friend Kat (“Unassisted Birth Story of David Elijah Kirkwood”).

From The Unnecesarean: “Nitrous Oxide for Laboring Women in the United States”. I am truly gobsmacked with what women face in the hospital, this form of low-risk and near instantaneous assistance (which has the additional advantage of being in the mama’s control) is not available.

Some perspective on the obese monsters who are Ruining America (and the concern trolls who love them), brought to us by Idzie’s tumblog and from Fat Heffalump.

Work
“A Plentitude of Work” by WendyPriesnitz: “unjobbing”, not just for SNAGs anymore.

Race
Re: Huckleberry Finn – I read easily a half dozen pieces this week. I enjoyed the summation “Voices: The Huckleberry Finn Controversy” at Racialicious, Renee’s perspective, and The N-word belongs in “Huckleberry Finn”, by Elon James in “This Week in Blackness” at Salon

This isn’t a case of political correctness. This is a case of being racially uncomfortable [ … ] America, in its constant obsession with being seen as “awesome,” will actively try to Photoshop its own historical portrait. (Um… is this last sentence pretty much the best sentence I’ve read about America? Yeah. I think so)

“Nickelodeon Gets Diversity Points, But Still Overlooks Race” at Colorlines

Also from Colorlines: “Two Young Girls Climb U.S./Mexico Border Fence in 18 Seconds”; please do watch both videos.

“Racists Totally Freak Out Over Muslim ‘Batman of Paris'”; this came to me via Ralph. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen (white) fanboys froth at the mouth regarding the God-given imperative to cast white actors in supposedly white-sourced roles. Guess how many mainstream Hollywood films have featured black superheroes as title character? No, guess. (I’d cite non-black poc statistics but I actually don’t know the answer on that one).

Make/Craft
Milk Punch at smittenkitten (h/t Paige). We made a non-booze version and it was delicious; Ralph especially enjoyed it.

The Soul Roll by Emeril. Made this two days ago and? Yeah. Delicious. Do make the sweet cornbread with this meal. It perfectly balances the NOMNOMNOMness.

Environment
“It is the main topic along the border. And the strange thing is it’s very hard to find anyone for it.” Speaking of the U.S./Mexican border fence, as the largest country-dividing construction since the Great Wall of China (h/t reader and friend Jeanne), the levels of suckery are boundless: “The US-Mexico Wall, it’s Borderlands, Wildlife, and People” from triggerpit. Beautiful, amazing photos and a wonderful and informative perspective in the text.

“Nobody disagrees on how this is affecting the environment, the only disagreement is how important the environment is in the overall discussion.” Ana Cordova, Ph, D, Institute for Northern Border Studies. US-Mexico

Tweet Of The Week
Yeah, I totally agree.

Random Awesomeness
America is for Americans

No matter how mean the internet is sometimes, mashups #FTW:

Owning it; opening up

Since the gradual but steady and rather linear movement of my partner and I in exploring different ways of parenting and living together – frankly, radical lifestyles in the context of USian family life, and I take no particular pleasure nor displeasure in that particular label – I have often been reluctant to publicly vocalize in a pointed way how the drama, stress, illness, and disharmony in our household has gone down drastically – something like 400% (that is a real quantitative estimate, as best as I can make one).

Why shy? Well, I think for a while I was afraid things were only temporarily better. Then as it began to dawn on me this was no fluke, I still felt oddly gun-shy; perhaps publicly announcing definitive improvements would jinx them (I am occasionally superstitious like that). There was a third reason, the one I struggle with even today: considering how fraught with ugliness the public conversation on Parenting can be (usually levied most viscously against women and children: examples, the false rhetoric of the “mommy wars”, also contemporary feminist and mainstream science purporting concepts of children and teens as “little sociopaths”, inherently flawed, or less-than-human) it sometimes seems like any personal discussion of success is constrained to being misinterpreted out of the gate. A frank discussion of successful alternatives to dominatorstyle adult strategies runs the real risk of a reader – especially a parent/carer – interpreting my experience as a referendum on their failures, worldviews, or character – this referendum is so agonizing for some their ability to listen is thwarted. I’ve seen many grownups shut down instantly, unable to entertain theories or even digest others’ lived experiences, swallowed up by knee-jerk reactions brought upon by years of accepting the child class’ oppression (not just parents, either).

But there are two compelling reasons to be honest and to not worry about appearing a blowhard or creep or worse. Maybe three reasons. The first is, I have a right to my experience and my online journal has been where I’ve recorded many of my experiences, for years now – and no one is required to read nor endorse. The second is, JEEBUS, I am not selling something and have no sinister agenda in writing boldly in defense of Love. I don’t do much of anything but write, write, write, (often) devoting my heart and guts and brains to helping families and children and grownups. All of this is pretty goddamned brave of me and I know it. Why not be braver still, and claim a victory when I experience one?

Because – and here’s that third aspect – I know how inspirational and helpful my writings have been to so many. Over the years I’ve experienced hundreds of emails, texts, IMs, tweets, phone calls, physical letters, and personal conversations – from all quarters of the world – attesting to this. It has been an honor to be brought into discussion and occasionally claimed as a mentor to others. Thing is: if I didn’t write, I couldn’t help. And reflecting on this I often feel sad for the parent I started out as, because I was not exposed much to dominator- and fear-free models of parenting for several years (and what I was exposed to, I probably missed). I myself could have used a hefty dose of wisdom eschewing the zero-sum game of life with children – long, long before I started a family of my own.

So let me tell you a bit about how it is for us. Let me be clear.

These days our household is such a peaceful one and my children are such strong individuals that the stress involved in parenting is almost entirely reduced to matters of paying bills and affording clothes, food, and the pursuit of creative exploits for the members in our one-income family. These are not necessarily small matters, but the agony and work and tension of life-caring-for-children has plummeted by virtue of what I have left behind. Every day I peel back the culturally-reified illusion of righteous control in their little lives and as a result my ability to be Present, aware, nurturing, and loving is increased all the more. The relief of leaving behind the contemporary small-minded and culturally-prescribed pressures of parenthood is glorious. I’d like to believe every day I heal a little more.

Time slips by quickly as most parents have had reason to observe. Last night while we four sat talking and laughing in the low light of our living room my husband said to my daughter in a voice I’d never heard before, “When did you get so big? It’s breaking my heart.” And I’d just been looking at her thinking the same thing; she’s tall as my shoulder now and she’s tough and tender and whip-smart and brave and scrappy and deeply empathetic and present. She is, in a word, (relatively) Undamaged. I can’t think of a word that fits better. Raising children in a consensual manner is an experience, perhaps like a happy, healthy, and supported drug-free childbirth – that is best experienced for its potential to be fully or partially understood. Today while I gave blood the phlebotomist asked me the ages of my children. It amazed me to reflect and name them as eight and six. Their moral development, their life skills, and their vocabulary and ethics are more fully-endowed than many grownups I know. These children are not experienced as burdens to me (well, not usually) so much as people I thank daily I have the gift of experiencing in my life. They are my favorite people to be with, and besides the deep-experienced protectiveness and crazy-in-love Mama-identifiers I’ve been overcome with many times, these days it seems more and more we are fellow travellers and friends. They inspire me more than anyone else I  know.

My children’s (relative) wholeness is no credit to my partner and I, really, any more than by providing fertile ground, planting a seed, and weeding and watering we could claim it was us, not the earth and lifeforce itself, that brought the green and vibrant vine springing to fruition. Indeed, I often feel aggrieved at my many, many mistakes I’ve made; I don’t get a do-over. I can have the knowledge my mistakes are in large part because I myself was damaged as a child, through many means and measures large and small, and I remain broken still – but it is frustrating to be so limited in my responsibilities as a parent. I sometimes feel so deeply sad because I don’t believe I’ll ever be whole again; I feel sad less for myself, but for what I’ve wreaked on my family. I sometimes think if I’d have known how much I would screw up, I would not have chosen to bear children.

All the same, children are incredibly resilient and thrive despite poor or abusive or anemic circumstances. And make no mistake, despite their wholeness and strength, I do believe our children still need Ralph and I. They need us for food, clothing, support, nurture, and love. The chillingly dismissive child-hate linked to above at least alludes to vital clues about our role in caring for children; there is evidence human brains continue to crucially develop well into our twenties or beyond; if this is true this means so many of us should be helping younger ones instead of hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, and stridently complaining about “bad” kids and their inept (or worse) carers (which usually means blighting under-supported women and alloparents, and the child class).

I hope I’ve been clear that things have improved for us; not that we have attained some kind of perfection impervious to sorrow and anger and suffering. Relative privilege has allowed us the space to heal. And disaster, despair, setbacks, drama – all of it is around the corner, or may be at least. One illness or death or devastating disability; the free will of other human beings who can choose to victimize any one of us, a day or week where the limitations of my partner and I keep us from meeting our still-growing children’s needs, one ugly fight where destructive words are spat out. Parental methods and spiritual concepts aside, I cannot offer immunity for suffering and I don’t try to. I can say suffering has diminished and the daily language and experience of love has swelled in recent years. It strengthens all of us and it makes life even more worth living, more deeply enjoyed; whatever time we have left together is savored like that delicious strawberry on the vine.

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

friday untidy

Must-Reads of the Week
“Regrets of the Dying”, as written by a hospice nurse. Being with someone who’s dying was a deep privilege for me, and this article – though more about life than death – reminded me of this experience. Read and learn.

Grown Unschooler Cheyenne La Vallee: “Everyone has it in themselves to be passionate and motivated.” at Idzie’s blog. Out of all the stuff I’ve read and seen on the internet this week, this was the most stunning on a personal level. Reading an interview like Cheyenne’s gives me hope for our world.

Culture
“Play Nice” by Simon Rich from The New Yorker
I don’t know what’s more disturbing to me – the fact grownups think chldren are less-than-people so don’t feel, think, or notice the same stuff grownups do; or the fact some grownups recognize the personhood of children on some level but think it is their RIGHT to tromp all over them anyway.

Pop Culture
I got a monster dedicated to me on Monday, at Twisted Vintage. Which led me to searching up a color version and finding a thread full of awesome B-movie monsters, which are one of my favorite things, ever.

Some great points collated at Soc Images: “Gender, Boobs, and Video Game Characters”. It’s pretty funny how readers (well… maybe that’s the wrong noun, as some of them clearly did not read the article) instantly jump in and say, “But-but-but male figures are idealized too! It totally goes both ways!” First of all, hint, no it doesn’t, but nice try. Secondly, the post is meticulously linked to many arguments which delineate physical idealization (which absolutely applies to both genders) vs. sexual availability via tortured postures and under a consumptive gaze. Or to put it articulately: dur! The cited redrawn examples of the poses of male vs. female characters is particularly awesome and leaves me shaking my head but really reading the text and looking at the images and boggling at how so NOT “both ways” it goes. The original work (Wizard’s How to Draw: Heroic Anatomy) is a depressing one to fathom but I fear very representative of comic culture. “It’s the subtleties of this piece that make it sexy.” LULZLULZ

Here’s some adorableness from TheRealNimoy’s twitpic feed (which is great if you at all are a fan of “Star Trek” or Nimoy). The original ST was one of only two television shows I remember in the very brief time in my childhood that I was exposed to television in my home (or, bus, as it were). So these two were like half-assed second fathers, talking to me from a 12″ old-school box balanced on a narrow counter by the fold-up couches.

Professer goes on a rant (this is sort of an unpleasant watch, warning):

People like to toss out the phrase, “acting like a baby” or compare grownups who react in anger, in a social setting, to tantrum-throwing toddlers. However, of course, toddler emotional displays are developmentally appropriate and it is not children who have such thoroughly entrenched and fragile ego structures as so elegantly demonstrated here (note how the professor repeatedly demands the other students rat out the yawner – tattling FTW!). Incidentally I went to college and got a degree through a competitive and difficult program. It was grueling. I feel sorry for these students as to get the piece of paper they need (or believe they need) they have to put up with this guy. And lots of guys like him. And lots other bullshit. And no sleep. And etc.

Make/Craft
Self-Portrait Ski Mask at CRAFT
I’ll probably never be able to see a balaclava without a little titter about the balaclava perv who found me on my Flickrstream. This balaclava however is head and shoulders (uh…) above any I’ve seen before. Very fun, if a bit creepy!

Mexican Chicken Soup by Ina Garten; I believe I posted a picture of this earlier in the week. It is truly and amazingly delicious and perfect for the fuck-fuck-fuck-COLD some of us are experiencing!

Homemade Marshmallows, a recipe from my blog, which may or may not be Martha’s (I truly do not know). Any locals want in on these (or non-locals), shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I’m making them up on the 10th.

Random Excellence
From reader R. (you may see him as Kidsync), one of his occasional-but-always-golden comics:

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

And from the BBC “My Blackberry is not working!”: