Serve God, love me and mend

It’s been suggested to me I should build a sense of humility by doing “inconspicuous good deeds”. It’s a really good idea. Today I took a few friends’ kiddos for a walk, then dinner and a bonfire; and while cooking I got a phone call; I received the opportunity to commit to taking two more teens tomorrow to an Al-Anon meeting (and ice cream after). Of course in writing about it here I risk being not-so “inconspicuous”, but today the awareness of helping others with no desire for reciprocity or reward kept me right in the moment.

Flora

Railroad tracks.

Kidlets

I had enough kids that at one point I almost left one behind somewhere. But that was okay, it was one of mine.

At My Mom's

We stopped at my mom’s for firewood…

At My Mom's

… and I lingered in her back garden.

Phoenix, Cassidy, Nels

I made the kids hot dogs, hardboiled eggs, potato chips, carrot sticks, cubed cantelope, macaroni and cheese, apple juice, and s’mores. While I cooked I sent two girls back with the firewood wagon, to my mom’s. The children brought out chairs and helped me start a fire and a few of them sat and read. It was heavenly.

While walking at one point Nels asked A. if he could hold her hand. She smiled and said, “Why?” He replied, “Because I like you.” She said, “Okay.” Then they held hands for a while and she said, “You’ve said you love me but that you aren’t going to marry me.” He said, “Right. I love you.”

It was about as simple as hand-holding can be.

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

just to peel the potatoes

Bob is standing behind me, he sits and stands during the fireworks display here along the river, long hair and beard and biker leather jacket and riding chaps. Behind him Dana and Steve and then next to me Robin like a flower, a large blooming iris, sedate but wry good humor, here on my blanket. She’s beautiful, but shy about me taking a picture. What’s funny is our little group has accidentally situated ourselves under a speaker playing music – loudly – and there is such a crush of people in attendance there’s no point much in moving ourselves. This speaker plays a relentless series of increasingly patriotic tripe, including a country song about a three-day beard and cooking rice in the microwave and how awesome that is (what?), and then I think it’s Beyonce showboating “God Bless the USA”. Chris joins us on the blankets a bit later and hums or sings along the music, to much consternation from some members of the group, but upon the Armed Services Medley I know all the words to “Wild Blue Yonder” and “Anchors Aweigh” and such back from Veterens’ Day performances in choir. Then there’s Neil Diamond belting out “Coming to America” which inspires a vague wave of simultaneous nostalgia and nausea. “Jesus CHRIST,” groans Robin under her breath. And I laugh each comment she makes.

When the fireworks slam up ahead I feel increasingly astounded and it has nothing to do with the crowds or pyrotechnics or the friends or the hot coffee in my hand or the cold grass beneath my seat. I feel the presence of God, or Divine Chance, or whatever or whomever you might name unless you’d maintain none of that is real, but for me God is pressing down on me like squashing an ant, for the first time ever, in a way that surpasses experiences of pleasure or pain and carries not even a strong emotional response. How is it I am alive? is all that occurs to me. BOOM BOOM BOOM thunders in the sky and in my body. How is it I’m here to be this way, sober now some time and of a clean (enough) mind and on a blanket with friends and I’m given breath to draw. Normally I’d be heckling and hassling or running up to be with Ralph and the kids (who are scattered off at the playground with other kids and teens) but instead I stay on the blanket like I was assigned there and this particular duty was of utmost importance.

The fireworks finale is even more beautiful than the year before, or perhaps it’s just my state of mind and body and spirit, then people clap and I fold blankets and I hug my friends and wait for my family to join me. “Blood Moon,” the kids tell me when they arrive and I look and perceive the deep-red sliver they’re pointing to. Walking to the car and the air is cold but ripe with possibility and promise, and people run off to fight or drink or fuck (or all three) or maybe just slip into a hot bath and then to bed (as I long to do).

It was a good day.

Am I hard enough? Am I rough enough? Am I rich enough?

Today it was suddenly quite hot and I was so grateful to my friend K.; she just sent me a box of clothes she’d sized out of including a simple, light, short-sleeved black cotton dress. I would have wilted without it, truly; I was hardly ready for the heat wave and the footwork I had to make – the dress was so much nicer than jeans. The garment also showcased more cleavage than I’ve ever bared publicly; I got a lot of thank yous for this. I sunscreened properly, no worries.

Earlier in the day I sold some things for taco money (I’m serious), bought my husband lunch and horchata. We wrangled a bit of additional cash to keep us in groceries.* And I brought my working friend an ice-cold Mexican sugar Coke, and I grabbed up some free and luscious yarn for another friend (through Freecycle).

Later in the day: now, I admit I’ll be a bit blue until I have my own working car, but driving back from Aberdeen in my mom’s truck with the windows down, benefitting from sunglasses (my husbands’ that he’d generously loaned me) and big swinging earrings and listening to the Rolling Stones (a guilty pleasure because I find many of their lyrics objectionable) and there was finally a breeze, and I felt pretty good just then, going home to family. Then sitting with friends while they had burger and fries and ice cream and my children ran around on the waterfront, then I followed Ralph and the kids home. I was driving the truck, they were on Ralph’s bike. I got to see how joyful and mobile they are on the bike (I usually can’t see because they’re behind me, natch). And that was just something else.

It was the first day of Summer, far as I’m concerned.

The kids were outside most the day, including a lot of time in the big plastic pool we bought last summer – I’m so glad we stored it and kept it mold-free. I’m not kidding, those kidlets were marathoning it out there. Ralph made homemade pizza and roasted broccoli and cauliflower while they played; they barely ate before zooming out again. By the end of a very rowdy and many-child jamboree, one neighbor kid called another a “fatty” so I gotta talk to them about that tomorrow (we had a great discussion with our kids about this).

Currently, I’m putting my feet up and my face in a book – and Ralph’s pulling homemade bread out of the oven and soaking black beans for tomorrow.

Life is good.

*

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much

We Hogabooms approach a degree of economy in worldly possessions such that – only in comparison to our peers and many neighbors, mind you – it occasionally seems less a display of conscientious living, prioritizing family, community, and creativity over material gain, and an eschewal of consumer oneupmanship and more, well – fucking Shabby. It doesn’t really matter today which thing fell apart in the public eye or how soggy our clothes were at the time or who was staring at us or how much under $10 cash I had for a lunch out with the boy or how negative my little bank account was. Let me merely state it as so: I feel the sting of class shame now and then and nothing much makes it go away – and I’m wise enough about myself not to chase money to alleviate the discomfort. Lately I’ve decided to accept my attendant class shame, and I don’t expect everyone can understand it (and I hate it when they try, or claim to know how I feel!). But that’s life; I come from a working-class background and, because we need one of us home for the family, we’ve chosen a working class income with lots of kiddos and cats and chickens and – well. It’s hard sometimes.

A benefit to holding my experience of class-policing with a kind of a quizzical and humorous disposition is the deep, deep gratitude I often feel for the most simple and yet stunning gifts that come our way – for instance, yesterday in the grocery store with my husband and son, buying tomatoes and sourdough for late-night sandwiches (a new little ritual for Nels and I) and wine and apples, and feeling so grateful we can afford food, good food, and these days it is so rare to run out of grocery money. Then there’s my mother, who is so instrumental as a family resource – in more ways than one – that each extention she makes to us, each gift she gives, often of time and love to our children, is appreciated by Ralph and I – and, I’d imagine, our kids feel the same. Example: today she took the kids and I out for hot dogs, then by the office supply business to order me a Mother’s Day gift: a sewing room table (w00t!). Awesome-lady hat trick: she dropped Nels and I off in piss-ass rainville Montesano for my doctor’s appointment – which saved the kidlets and I a rainy and (for myself) car-sick bus ride.

Then I got to feel grateful for my son and my son’s good health; he played with me in the waiting room and poured me a coffee and assiduously wiped up a small spill, and was so friendly to the staff and waited in the waiting room talking up the receptionist while I was able to meet with the physician for a rather involved consultation. Before my appointment we waited an hour, but these things happen and I didn’t mind because my boy was good company (OK – so is my phone). Trapped inside, an absolute downpour and a nearly vacant waiting room, just he and I to be together.

So yes, I visited a new doctor and left with a new prescription, my most recent attempt at pharmaceuticals being a very small dose of a tricyclic for two days and a microdose of an SSRI for under a week. I don’t mind telling you, I feel like a coward and a fool for not being able to commit to those medicines, but they had bad enough side effects immediately that I felt alienated from myself (I’d rather be “me” and anxious for a couple hours at night, kthx). I think I am rather sensitive to medication – I guess, anyway (my hat is doffed to those who cope with stronger dosages, something I clearly would have a very hard time with). I don’t mind telling you, these tiny pills I have now are causing me a little fear. Maybe if I take one that feeling will go away. It’s almost Pill O’Clock anyway.

Tomorrow I’m packing up a pair of too-small jeans for credit at the recycle clothing shop, and hopefully disappearing into the sewing room to make something for a friend. With a return of darkness and shit-weather I’m back to practicing patience with myself. I can’t always experience peace, but I can try to make peace with that.

different names for the same thing

Today sucked. First? I was up all night – at least up to something marginally entertaining, watching the television show “Justified” on instant video. It was instantly deeply entertaining (Timothy Olyphant FTW), besides being more or less standard very dudely television fare (kiss kiss bang bang, ladies leave the room cuz menfolks is talkin). I eventually fell asleep and had a dream I made out with a local lawyer, non-related to any television viewing or any desire to make out with anyone besides my own actual man, and while the dream itself wasn’t the most unsavory I’ve had, it still to this moment leaves an ick-factor I haven’t entirely brushed off.

After I (eventually) staggered out of bed and washed up and opened blinds and brushed my teeth and got some laundry started, I dragged myself to the computer, cup of coffee in hand, to continue my day in a positive way – but, sadly, I was immediately exposed to something awful on the internet. And you know what? It doesn’t matter much what it was. It involved people I knew (and people I love), and ugly, soul-sucking behaviors, and apologism for the kind of social constructs I find most personally abhorrent, reprehensible, and hurtful. And I don’t know why, reading and doing the work and activism I do, I could stand to say I feel any sense of surprise to see such regressive and destructive attitudes and behaviors and why I haven’t just “evolved” (my mom’s phrase) into where I find these sorts of human behavior just kind of, shake-my-head funny. Or maybe sometimes I can – but not this morning. No, I sure didn’t.

I felt like shit the rest of the day, or most of it anyway. Depressed, overwhelmed, deeply sad. The timbre of the day’s experience felt like the rainy-and-dark depression that can overwhelm me seasonally, which I’d noted had been lifting lately. I took the best remedy I know, which was to go outside – in this case, a walk, joined by my children and later a couple girlfriends (who delivered excellent conversation). This helped, a bit. When Ralph got home he knew I was feeling bad and he did his best to take care of me, including dinner out. It helped. A bit.

Days like today I cannot imagine my life without my family. Yes, living without Ralph and the kids would be entirely different, I know that, enough it is silly to speculate on anything much. But while I have much to be grateful for, and a shared life with many passionate and incredible people who are supportive and loving and inspirational, there is something restorative about family life – and specifically my children – more constant than just about anything else. Even my daily and regular efforts in caring for them bring me to a mindfulness and in-the-moment experience that feels more Me than anything else – yes, even more than my beloved writing and sewing and my social interactions (in fact these three often distract me from my children, my husband, and my practice of mindfulness).

In the final analysis there is nothing that can take the place of the meaning and joy I find in the most simple things, plating up a ham sandwich and apple slices, or brushing hair and washing faces, or cuddling on the couch or simply bundling up and stepping outside for a walk while talking, the kids’ observations, their questions (which I feel honored to be trusted so implicitly with), their worldviews, their laughter. It’s rather confusing because people tend to frame joyful experiences with regard to grand or extravagant events, not those little things we have in our day, every day. As I get older and the more time I have with the children I feel an increasing experience of gratitude. It isn’t just that I like them, and love them, and find them my favorite people on the planet. It’s that I wonder how much passion would have passed me by had I not them in my life, and I feel grateful not to miss out on that passion.

A multi-part healing prescription: sunshine, exercise, friends, family, dinner out with my best friend and husband, and a bit of writing. Yes, I am feeling much better now – after all.

It’s not hard, not far to reach / We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach

Natural Beauty

This weekend included a cross-country interview (will post soon) as well as the composition of two articles I was rather satisfied with. Also, and more on my mind for healing properties: many sunny walks (one of them rather long, and involving salamander-catching along a slough), a bike ride, a trip out to the bay, and the meeting of, right-proper, new neighbors across the street. The seven, nine, and eleven year old children new to the neighborhood are already adhering quite quickly to my own kids. Today when Ralph and Nels and I came back from our grocery run we found Phoenix with one of our quilts, lying in the neighbor’s yard alongside her new friend L. In the sunshine, my daughter’s strawberry blonde hair shimmered like golden floss and it felt pretty damn good to think when she was ready she’d run in and grab lunch real-quick (chicken noodle soup, milk, and a banana) before running back out again, grass stains on her corduroys.

More touching than just about anything I’ve experienced in a while, my friend Dawn hosted us for lunch on Saturday and cooked for me – fried chicken (and chard, and potatoes). The kids and I brought homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream (practice for Wednesday). All of it the food was delicious – I maintain there is no fried chicken to be found better than someone doing it out of their home, and Dawn did a great job. Besides my mother, I rarely get anyone homecooking for me, and it’s a wonderful treat.

Speaking of the kitchen, I’ve been baking a lot of chocolate cakes – and, just to be clear, I have more than one chocolate cake in my repetoire.Two sour cream Guinness stout cakes are currently cooling in my kitchen; these involved two cups of the beer and lots of good chocolate melted carefully and a cup and a half of sour cream and very very fresh eggs. One cake is for a friend; I borrowed her bundt pan to bake it right in there for her (I shall, of course, remove the cake and apply the chocolate ganache, and clean the pan before returning). Much like I’m so very into making baby buntings as of late, I would pretty much like to make chocolate cakes many times a week for people – and I do think mine are better than what you can get in any restaurant, coffee shop, or bakery ’round here. The price of dairy and chocolate being what it is, I can’t do so nearly as much as I’d like. Funny thing about baking is, I love to bake for other people but I hardly ever eat anything I bake. And another thing, I think the smells that fill my house are almost enjoyable for my family and guests as the food itself.

We are back down to not having a running car, and in fact will need to acquire a tow as Ralph miscalculated and believed he could have a few days’ more starting power in order to deliver it to the garage. Fingers crossed we can convince the garage to allow us to finance the repairs (tires and brakes plus, I suspect, betcha anything, glow plugs), because it’s pretty depressing to have two rotting cars laying fallow in the driveway.

But. I can’t do anything about any of that, really. So why worry?

Kids

Flats

Watermark

As I type, Nels runs out from the bath with a towel wrapped haphazardly around his wiggling, clean little body. “Freshly-baked buns, just for you,” he tells me, a joke he made up himself and repeats now and then because he knows how much I like it. I’m going to read to the children again tonight, the mines of Moria from The Fellowship of the Ring. Last time I read to Nels I was on the kidnapping of Frodo by a barrow-wight; my son’s eyes held huge and his mien quite serious as he listened to the resolution of that spooky chapter.

There are some things money can’t buy, and those are some of the best things. Good health, sunshine, an appreciation for the natural world. The love of other human beings and the love for them as well.

also, some typically mediocre mobile uploads

La Espera Por Tacos

(Nels y la espera por tacos)

“Gracias por la ayuda con la lengua,” I tell the fellow as he ducks back through the kitchen with my horchata. Good lord I hope that’s not a double entendre. He smiles and says “De nada”.

By the way, a few minutes after this exchange I was deeply involved with the Best Thing Ever, not just because hunger is the best sauce and I hadn’t eaten all day, but truly these tacos de tijuana (as I think they’re called) are so delicious tears forms in my eyes within the first few bites. They’re full of butter-sauteed shrimp, mozzarella, bacon, garlic, and (usually, but I skipped it) onion. The guacamole is tart with lime, fresh and creamy and with that perfect bite of raw onion (shhh… the only time I eat onion is fresh and on Mexican/South or Central American cuisine)! The horchata cold and sweet, the tomato firm and flavorful and sliced exactly as I would do if I were making it for my favorite ever grandma. Good lord. Just typing about it now I’m reliving it, and I’m only sad I can’t go right back and get another order.

A few minutes later and the boys and I are heading out, carrying a wrapped parcel for Phoenix, enchilada de pollo con todo el parte.

Recently: the weather has swerved back into rainy and grey and dismal (Surprisetown: Population Zero). I’m taking deep breaths at night to quell the anxiety (also: Percocet). Back to my one-day-at-a-time survival work. Finding  “good enough” in my constant self-administered performance review, enjoying the lovely things I have in my life daily.

Which brings me to today’s Hogamoment of Zen: have I mentioned we have four cats? FOUR. Goddamned cats. Ralph spends roughly half his hours buying cat food and litter, also vacuuming. The cats help him out. By doing shit like this:

CAT BULLSHIT

Oh, did you want a closer look?

CAT BULLSHIT CLOSEUP

SNAGGLE TOOTH FOOLISHNESS

Don’t worry. The other chair is being cared for too:

Hammy & Josie

Seriously, kitties, no, please – try and relax. Just try, mmkay? We’re worried about you.

the Church of the Holy Cabbage

Phoenie Takes A Portrait

Good lord, I’m a busy beaver these days. Mostly entirely preoccupied with just getting the day-to-day done – occasionally without funds, a usable car (currently one runs but cannot be operated at nighttime), and/or phone minutes (oops! but u can always text! 3605003287) and in addition today we had five clients to feed through the Conch Shell Deli (the site desperately needs a few blog updates but I haven’t made the time yet!). Now that it’s mostly sunshine and light (with a little rain here and there) I feel about a hundred percent better. I’m even going to bed without drinking myself down. Most nights. w00t

Back to food: today’s featured menu: cabbage rolls with organic beef and brown sugar, garlic mashed potatoes with shallot gravy, winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing, sour cream Guinness stout cake with chocolate ganache, a mixed-berry pavlova, and lemonade with fresh-squeezed, tart, rich lemon goodness!

Shallot Garlic Gravy

All items had to be made free of dairy, wheat, and onion for one set of clients. Generally I try to prepare all the food identically as long as I think substitutions or amendments will turn out beutifully – and in the case of cabbage rolls, my recipe contains no wheat, dairy, or onion anyway. I did make separate versions of both the gravy and the mashed potatoes (don’t worry, both were loaded with full-fat goodness) because I kind of cry a little inside if I mash up potatoes and don’t get to immediately whip in butter and sour cream. In the case of dessert, I made the mixed-berry pavlova for the clients with dietary restrictions, because if you are going to make a sour cream Guinness cake without dairy nor wheat, well best luck to you (and seriously, shoot me a recipe) but I didn’t have time to fool with that this week.

Sour Cream Guinness Cake With Chocolate Ganache

So in short, today I learned a bit more about gravy (traditional butter-flour roux, and gluten/dairy-free) which ended up being lovely. Before today I’d been uncertain and kind of irritated at the prospect of gravy. But today, I think I did rather well, and came up with a good system. In fact, two of my clients – whose fare I respect in their own right – directly asked for the recipe. BOOM

I’m finding it’s rather wonderful to cook with children, as long as (like in all things kiddo-related) they are willing participants. Today Phoenix (our newest partner) assiduously peeled potatoes, scissored romaine, cut and squeezed lemons, whipped ganache, roasted and then peeled resultant garlic, and oversaw the emulsion process (a dispersed phase within a continuous phase, Chris!) for the lemon poppyseed dressing. Nels ran about outside and kept the spring-break-kids from shooting our chickens with their various weaponry (no, really), and every now and then I’d see his lovely blonde head skateboarding – barefoot – by my window. Nels also didn’t set anything on fire or break bones (his or anyone else’s) for which I am very grateful, as he was mightily unobserved for much of our day. AND he counted up the earned cash and asked Ralph how much to give him for grocery expenses (one lovely client paid using two dollar bills, half-dollar pieces, and golden dollar coins, which went over with the kids a hundred and fifty percent, and for a solid hour and a half kept Goblin Nels stacking and organizing and dispersing).

Tomorrow we’re making banana cake and off on our way to feed the downtown Aberdonians. We’re also expecting company for the weekend (fingers crossed). It’s a bright (near) future. Let’s see if I can hold my shit together.

Phoenie Takes A Portrait

In other news, my daughter is lovely. She is the embodiment of the word.

I Take A Portrait

Don’t you think?

a pleasure as well as a necessity

The Conch Shell Deli

So, I know what you’re going to think: our new enterprise is fabulous. No, but seriously. Check out that menu. For realz. All that home-cooked fare? I am telling you it’s going to be good.

So yes, Nels and I are going to run a restaurant for a while. Well, it’s a “restaurant” anyway. Nels named it (I made the logo) and designed the scheme (when Ralph and I finished the website he was very impressed) and was quite opinionated about the selected dishes as well. Every Wednesday we’re making food (a fully-rendered dinner, paired dessert, and drink of choice), and packing it in reusable takeout for friends and family to opt-in. Yes, we came up with a market-value donation equivalent to, you know, if this were an actual business. Yes, we have one “customer” confirmed (my mom), and color all three of us food-geeks excited!

And while I’m at it, if it isn’t clear already, let me tell you something: EVERY aspect of this venture has my son in the driver’s seat. He’s emphatic we get paid (more in a bit). He’s also emphatic we freely share, too, though:

Sour Cream Banana Cake

Nels’ second part of our business plan: he wants our food to be free for those who can’t afford it – the “homeless” and “poor” (his words). And don’t think I’m not totally impressed he put forth this construct. He’s awesome.

So today we did just that with the above-shown cake – after errands Nels hopped out at the bus station with a colander full of wrapped sour cream banana cake parcels and handed them out; the kiddos walked the remainder through the front door of the Mission. Both Nels and Phoenix were very interested in all this and Nels talked, all the way home, about being happy he helped, and how he wanted to help more.

So I’m sure you’re thinking Wow that’s really cool, Kelly’s such a good / supportive / creative / talented mom, and That Nels is so sweet and bright etc. etc. But you don’t know the whole story.

I mean I’m not sure if I’ve rendered, fully, how fucking tenacious this child is. I mean I’ve talked about it here and there. Until recently he had the video game Minecraft occupying his body, mind, and soul. Now that he’s off the video games (for now) he has his 110% energy up to cooking, making menus, and heckling. Dear god the heckling. Let’s make this, let’s make that, put spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, also that Vietnamese dish, with the noonles (not a typo), and let’s test out dough for bread.

And the questions. I mean even as we’re making the goddamned bread at 1 AM. The questions, Great Balls. Why can’t we have an actual business and make money? Why would we have to pay to do that? Why do we have to have licensure, insurance, and cook in a different kitchen? I like cooking in our kitchen. Why can’t we just tell people about it, make ads and flyers? Can we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner? Can we share just dessert? Should dessert be ten dollars?

Who is homeless? How can you tell? Is a homeless person dirty with a cardboard sign? Why can’t I ask someone if they’re poor? Why does ______ keep saying they’re poor when they have a bigger house than us and two nice cars? Why did the city of Aberdeen post signs that tell people they shouldn’t help people? Is what we made healthy enough? Could we make something different tomorrow?

Can I give homeless people clothes?* Can I give them a computer? Would they like this palm pilot? Can I give them my money? I’m going to invite a homeless person to sleep at my house. I’m going to grow up and build a house with four extra bedrooms for people to sleep in. I’m going to have a hostel. People care too much about money. People should help.

It’s not just that eventually I’m at the point of “Mama why is the sky blue?” “Just shut up and eat your french fries”, it’s that rather early on I realize Nels is just right about everything, and I get tired thinking of how the world kinda sucks a lot of the time, and I’m pissed and tired I have to defend or explain. Any of it. Oh and I don’t want him to change, to lose this compassion and this intelligence and this love, and I’m scared one day he will, but I feel powerless to do anything. Except stay up all night baking bread while he pours in every cup (of eleven) of flour and says, “I love you, Mama.”

They’re exhausting. The kids. But it’s the right kind of exhaustion, I guess. Truthfully, I have no idea how long my six-year old will remain interested in this project, but I can say I’ve been enjoying the last few days immensely. Besides the menu and web design we’ve been testing recipes: three-bean chili with shredded pork, honey white bread, bún thịt bò xào, jalapeño jack cornbread, and sour cream banana cake. Tomorrow: yeasted Tabasco-cheddar biscuits, sesame slaw, and coconut muffins.

Yeah, it feels right.

Oh, and this Wednesday evening? Palak Panner, Vegetarian Korma with Carrots, Potatoes, and Cauliflower; Basmati Rice in Ghee with Cardmom and Cinnamon, Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade with Mint, and Coconut Cupcakes for dessert.

(The Mission, & a Grays Harbor Black Dog:)

Grays Harbor Black Dog

* Yes, I’ve explained how my extremely careful tending of clothing, including last week at the Aberdeen Clothing Bank, is in fact donating clothes, although Nels has a point about just going up to someone and offering them something.