helping others – unscripted

In May this year, our family selected a family from sixteen family applicants to send to the Life Is Good Unschooling Conference in Vancouver, Washington. We Hogabooms fully-funded their trip and provided blog readers the opportunity to support us with donations.

Here is the interview of the Taylors’ expectations before the conference, and their experiences as related afterwards. The video provides a portrait of a family during a very specific time in their journey, and I found myself touched to share the Taylor’s lives a bit.

The total scholarship cost was about $700, covering four nights’ lodging, the conference registration fee, and $100 just-for-kicks spending money. Eight other donors/donor families stepped in and covered $375 of our total expense.

Thank you, readers, for your support.

I have a few personal words about our scholarship experiment.

First, I am grateful that despite the potential financial impracticality of such a venture for us Hogabooms, I took the plunge and, with my family’s support, led with my heart. Even though Ralph and I were careful not to require anything in particular for this experiment – that our scholarship family would end up enjoying the conference or that it would steer them in a particular direction – it is lovely to see that this conference helped the Taylors at this time in their life. Although we would have been happy to support an unschooling veteran family and are open to such a venture in the future, the Taylors were ideal applicants because they were on the fence, having just removed their child from the schooling system and having, by their own report at the time, little to no support from family and friends.

The scholarship expense was beyond what is “practical” for we Hogabooms but here we still are, having managed to breathe air and keep ourselves fed. I’m glad we reached out.

Finally, I completely adore my nine year old son’s contributions to the interview. He took over with confidence, he quite adroitly explained “fear” and “excitement” in terms of being an unschooling parent, and even employed “air dick quotes”. I especially found his breakdown of the unschooling commitment and the benefits and detriments quite touching. His contributions were, of course – unscripted.

friday #w00t

First: a piece of mine, just published.

At bluemilk, the video for “Daddy Skills”. Which? Is awesome.

Some commentary on the different ways female vs. male bodies get treated, in the context of the Olympics.

One of the best interviews on public boners (or pseudo-boners) I’ve ever read.

On the ageism front: Hollywood & relating a bit to actual people’s actual problems. Yay!

The Radical Doula guide is out! Wow! I have a dream; raising enough to bring MZP to our community. Can you imagine?

Kristin Craig Lai tweeted me on an article on “invisible infirmities”. Very flattered; it’s a lovely piece.

Rare color photos from a little ways back.

Homemade graham crackers. I actually haven’t tried making these. But I’d like someone ELSE to bring me a batch.

Sylvia Plath’s drawings. Wonderful.

Someone sent this to me: Are you an emotional empath? Scary how many of the questions I answered Yes to (all but one and a half!).

Ennui

“‘vagina’ originates from a word meaning sheath for a sword. Ain’t got no vagina.”

Big news. Or if not, it should be. In the latest on the WAR ON WOMEN, Rep Lisa Brown (D Michigan) asks, “If I can’t say the word ‘vagina’, why are we legislating vaginas??” Good question. P.S. if you missed #VaginaMovieLines I feel sorry for you.

Some thoughts on Public School on your Own Terms, from Sandra Dodd’s site

Fun with stock footage, a search authored by my brother’s lady J.

Pictures of a ridiculously cute baby elephant enjoying time at the beach

In more, Kelly-Hogaboom-likes-to-talk-for-her-own-benefit, I wrote a movie review on a classic. If you’ve seen the film recently, I’d love your feedback.

A good video on weight bigotry.

J Smooth & Gwyneth:

 
 
And finally, in light of the abovementioned VAGINA HIJINX, (or #VAGININX as I shall forever hashtag) a favorite scene from a much-enjoyed film:

 
 
A cartoon sent me, from my sister:

Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us

All comments on this post will be moderated.

Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Mid-summer of last year I shakily drove my new (to me) car to a friend’s house. I’d made a desperate call just a few minutes prior and she could hear that I was in need of someone kind to talk to. I knocked on the door and was welcomed into the home of this friend and her partner, both women very dear to me. I sat on their comfortable couch in the soft summer light, ready to compose myself to tell them what was wrong – and instead burst into shuddering sobs.

I’d just come from a meeting in a self-help group. Over the past few months I’d been recovering from the shame and misery of my past – including, in my own words, “the worst shit I’d ever done”. The worst shit I’d ever done, what does that mean? Well, we all know deep in our Knowing Place what these things are, and my worst and your worst aren’t going to be the same. I have a share of immoral (by my own standards) acts in my past. But for me at the time, the “worst things” weighing on me were the things I’d done, or hadn’t done, for my children. I couldn’t shake the thought that while other adults could choose to play in my playground or leave me be, my children were hostage to my bad behaviors. This thought had haunted me to this very summer day.

So in my self-help group I had named some of my mistakes aloud. I briefly related that I regretted yelling at and hitting my children (in an commitment to truthfulness and yet a simultaneous masochistic act of self-criticism, I’d refused to give myself an “out” by calling my behaviors “spanking”, “swatting”, or “paddling”, etc). I started to talk about my freedom from this guilt and shame, and the help the group had brought me in this regard.

But before I had finished speaking, another woman turned to me in disbelief. “For spanking your kids?” She asked in astonished contempt. I paused, surprised at an interruption – rare to unheard of in this group – and went on talking.

As soon as I finished speaking – on a larger point than my parenting, or so I thought – this woman immediately launched into her own narrative. In a most articulate fashion she listed every justifiable reason to hit one’s children and make sure they know who is boss, and why. The world is a hard place. They’re going to learn on the streets if they don’t learn at home. Your kids will blame you later if you don’t discipline them. Anyone who criticizes can fuck off. “CPS can show up and I’ll beat their ass.” Et cetera.

I sat on the sofa and listened. The oddest feelings crept up on me. As she went on – seemingly for ages! – I knew I was feeling – something. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t know what else I was going through.

At the end of the meeting we closed and said farewell. I was still confused, but I smiled with a genuine shining love for this woman, the love I feel for all members of the human race today. I knew even though she was addressing me, she was telling me about herself. I knew she had a heart and mind and love for the children she was raising. Perhaps she’d heard what I had to relate and would reflect on it later. I knew she was stressed. I knew I had nothing to give her in this moment but love and compassion.

A few minutes later, I got in the car. I drove a little ways before bursting into tears. Minutes later I’d made my phone call and sat weeping on my friends’ couch. After I had a good cry, the cry I needed to have, my friends and I talked it out. And when I tried to explain how this woman’s words had hurt, but my own words failed me, my friend said firmly and kindly, “She told you to do things that don’t work for you.”

***

I was spanked growing up, but I don’t cite those experiences as particularly painful. The physical aspect of my childhood punishments weren’t as humiliating and confusing, for me, as the emotional and spiritual dysfunction. Besides spanking, I remember only a few other humiliating episodes involving physicality, such as my father throwing a glass of water in my face when I was a teen, and my mother slapping me across the face about that same era. Neither of my parents ever apologized to me for these actions, and I have no idea how deeply, if at all, my parents felt regret, remorse, or shame for these actions on their part.

I have forgiven them, and that forgiveness has been a gift to myself.

I’ve maintained for some time that there is little difference in our “punishments” or “discipline” of our children, as long as we are trying to manipulate them out of our own fear (however deeply our own fears are hidden from us). Last year for my post for the Great Spank-Out I wrote,

“[I]n my opinion there is little to no concrete differences between the following: hitting (also called “spanking”, “swatting”, “smacking”, or “beating”, depending on your culture/family), yelling at, scolding/lecturing, grounding, removing toys/items as a lesson, “natural and logical” consequences (applied at the discretion of the parent/carer in order to groom for desired behavior or eliminate undesired behavior). On the flip side of the coin, praise and rewards are perfectly complimentary to this type of punitive/manipulative parenting schema – and those “carrot” (as opposed to “stick”) systems are relatively common too.”

Although I believe there are more similarities than differences in the above-listed strategies, I also believe every child (and adult!) has the right to relate to themselves and others which strategies hurt, and why. In other words, what was painful for you might not have been as painful for me, and vice versa. What matters, as parents or carers, is we honor our responsibility to our children, instead of deciding our will for them be made manifest. What matters is we forgive ourselves and change. What will make a great difference is if we can forgive those in our past who hurt us. It may make all the difference in the world.

Imagine my intense gratitude when five months after I wrote this post I heard a talk on this topic from Harshada Wagner, a yoga meditation instructor I respect and admire. In his guided meditation, “Living Wisdom: Releasing Shame” (August 29, 2011, at yogaglo.com), Wagner said the following:

“The good news and the bad news about shame is this:
 
“The good news is it’s not our fault. We can blame our parents for a lot of our shame.
 
“The bad news is that our parents aren’t here, and our parents aren’t going to be able to take away whatever it is that we have taken on. We’re going to have to do that ourselves.
 
“Of course, I’m kidding. It’s really Good News, and Good News.
 
“It’s good news that it’s not our fault. Everyone has a certain degree of shame that we carry around that keeps us from really shining. And it’s actually good news that the sources of the shame, if they were on the outside, aren’t the ones that can take it away. Because it puts that responsibility, but it also gives us the ability and the privilege and the freedom to work out what we need to work out.”
 
[…]  
“Almost every child is punished with emotional pain. It sounds very harsh, but let me just spell it out. When a child makes a mistake, when a child has done something that the parent doesn’t approve of and the parent wants to get the child to do what they want them to do, they will withdraw some kind of privilege until the child does what they want them to do.
 
“Why is that? What is the parent drying to create there?
 
“You parents watching this, please don’t take offense.
 
“When we do that, we’re trying to create emotional pain in the child. ‘You can’t go outside until you do your homework.’ ‘You can’t eat your dessert until you eat your vegetables.’ These are very benign sort of punishments. ‘Go to your room!’ … And then it gets harsher and harsher, all the way up to, some of us were actually slapped, or screamed at.
 
“But whatever the punishment was, was made to make us feel bad, as a way to learn a lesson. Even if our parents didn’t want to hit us physically, they wouldn’t feel like we had really gotten the message, unless we were sad. Our favorite toy was taken away. Our video games were denied to us.
 
“A really smart little kid, you know if they said, ‘Jimmy, you’re only five years old, you shouldn’t be playing with matches,’ and little Jimmy was really sharp and said ‘You know what, you’re right. I’m only five, what do I know about playing with matches. I could burn down the house down. You’re so right. I’m too young to play with matches and it’s dangerous. Thank you, mom and dad for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I’m going to take this on, and really make sure that I don’t play with matches any more. Thank you so much.’
 
“No, it wouldn’t go like that. If a child was that bright, was so smart, most parents would still not be satisfied until they grounded him or smacked the matches out of his hand, or yelled at him and frightened him in some way.”

Wagner’s entire meditation, which I have since earnestly recommended to so many, resounded with me deeply last September, and continues to today. All parents, even the best parents, attempt to apply emotional pain to their child to get their child to do what they want. We may do it reflexively or we may do it deliberately with some thought ahead of time – or, as is most likely, we do both. We may do it for noble reasons or for selfish ones – again, we likely do both. Some of us can know we are doing this to our children and desire not to – yet we still do it, to whatever degree we do. A lifetime of training, and our own fears and resentments and anxieties, have created a habit energy hard to dissolve. Progress can be made, but I’m unsure if perfection can be achieved.

I also know the child has a right to her own experience, and tuning into her experiences is as important, if not more so, than time and energy spent building and defending and tearing down and rebuliding and obsessing over our strategies, or those of other people.

The woman in my self-help group who told me I should beat my children had what seemed like the absolute noblest of intentions in advising me such. Briefly: she is the matriarch in a black family, raising her own nieces out of familial necessity while living in an urban, drug-riddled and economically-depressed environs. She is battling her own disease of alcoholism and she has an unsupportive larger family. If you can see deeply at all, you can have compassion and understand where she might be coming from.

As I heard in group the other day from an older man: “I had to come here to this group to learn things. I had to learn to stop hitting people. You hit people when you’re afraid.”

You hit people when you are afraid.

And the parents, carers, or those without children who attempt to put themselves in a false position of separateness and superiority with regards to the topic of disciplining children are also acting out of fear. Compassion, kindness, and gentleness are needed – not more recrimination and words spoken in anger.

This upsetting conversation last summer, and the discussion with friends afterwards, were very helpful. I was brave to be honest and vulnerable in a public way – about my worst shit. And after I spoke, someone directly challenged me with every possible good argument to punitively parent my children – even as she spoke and I felt sad, the amusing image of a little cartoon devil on my shoulder popped into my mind. But the truth is this: I could not parent my children this way and be okay with myself. I had never had this ability. So, I part ways in strategy with this woman. I can speak my mind and relate, from the heart, my experience as child, then parent – but I am not in a position to play God and I cannot follow her home and force her to see things any particular way.

I have not seen this woman in a while, but I hope she holds me in love and kindness the way I hold her. I know that this is possible, even in the most controversial and personal of topics. It is possible when we practice love and compassion – for all beings.

***

Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival hosted by TouchstoneZ

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

You, Monster

This evening I headed out in the snow for an Emergency Baby acquisition. Well… the Emergency wasn’t that I needed a baby exactly, but it sure felt that way by the time I had him strapped in, in the warm car! On my way home I slid about in the snow a bit and listened to Ralph’s new upcoming EP, which is shaping up slowly, but lovely.

At home we fed the baby lots and lots of food and I carried him and got to give him a bath which was kind of excellent. Other kids ran in and out from the snow, endlessly finding it fun even though I found it dismayingly soggy, including hidden slushy puddles a foot deep that challenged the limits of my waterproof boots.

Today Idzie posted a guest post of mine. Please don’t click over unless you want to read about me bitching, just a little bit, promise, but still.

I’m tired today; time to retire a bit early and take some me-time.

when shit gets real

Why Do I Not Have A Subscription To This?!
This post is dedicated to the wonderful & talented Idzie, also Maine Coons magazine.

***

Today I’m lying on a table getting myofascial massage for my  head and neck pain. The bodywork feels amazing and strange and all of a sudden the pain and lack of movement in my neck are drastically reduced. I am not only given incredible massage and manipulated but shown the weirdest fracking exercise I’ve ever come across, like seriously I’m embarassed to have to do it in a room with two people watching my technique, and no I’m fully clothed and mostly lying down, it’s just an incredibly weird series of movements.

The practitioner and her assistant find out I homeschool, because they ask about my “workday”. Four minutes later they’ve forgotten already as they ask in the kid in the lobby is with the Hoquiam school district. “My kids are homeschooled,” I remind them.

What follows is the very typical, OH SO TYPICAL I could write it out verbatim, series of questions and statements (this happens a lot when I’m a “captive” audience, dentist etc). Including, “Homeschooling works, but only if the parents are educated” and horror stories of totally messed-up kids that are a direct result of homeschooling (no totally messed-up kids are ever credited as the direct result of public schooling, just so you know). I know I should be long past this, but I am always surprised when people who did not or do not homeschool and display profound ignorance about those worlds (including not knowing state requirements or legalities of home education nor, even more importantly, having delved into the autodidactic tradition with even one toe), proceed to tell ME with authority tons of Truthy realities, I mean just go on and on. And then, comically, end the often one-sided conversation (one-sided as far as openmindedness, assuredly) with a version of, here’s today’s: “Well, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.” Pro-tip, Yes You Do.

Today I have a life lived in gratitude and I can tell you, no matter how cheeky I sound here, I am in full acceptance of these varieties of limitation and I don’t hold a grudge (I mean come on… I have my limitations too, like everyone). Maybe I feel a twinge of sadness. I find it’s pretty easy to have a conversation with consideration to person going on, and with a good deal of kindness. “Yes, reading and math are frequently issues of controversy when it comes to home education.” That is a statement of fact and I can say it. The fact I get queried, very rarely, what I believe or how we do things, lends me to further consider that yes, People Do Have Opinions, and they aren’t availing themselves of mine, and that’s cool. This is made all the more comical given how many parents, adults, and teachers have taken me aside to ask me How Did I Get My Kids To Read So Early or, Wait, Kids Can DO That? It’s like I get the recognition something is working, but a constant stream of opinions as to how it Can’t or Won’t.

Since our family is in quite the minority in America by not only “homeschooling” but also not following school-at-home edicts nor centering our parenting in an authoritarian/authoritative fashion, we’re regularly asked to not only defend our very lives but give a treatise or exposition on how Stuff Works, like college. And the law. And free-range kids. In conversations I try to be kindest to the adult in question while being entirely honest (many people who don’t school stay in the closet, so to speak – and there are many compelling reasons to do so). This keeps me relaxed and enjoying the conversation. No, really. But I really do get the vibe that when my children display epic talents or literacy or math skills or social skills I’m looked at as an exceptionally “good mom” (I’ve already written on this), whereas, in the case of questioning and commentary on the lines I received today (Ignorant to Semi-Hostile, with Socially Polite Overtones), I can feel the beady eye on my kids and any, at all, “backwards” or squirellyness or even unusual sartorial expression is received with an arch eyebrow. Whatever.

Anyway, today my son had kids at the door all day long begging him to come out and run the neighborhood. My daughter (after putting finishing touches on her new blog) in her evening frock attended the hospital with me to visit a newborn and new mom, speaking directly and considerately to mom, friend, and hospital staff. Earlier she and her brother cooked and did dishes and laundry with me entirely peaceably, took care of pets, and socialized and assisted at an evening party of my mother’s. It’s not like I’m writing about Performance, I’m just saying, it’s really weird to be considered default=Batshit by so many for doing things that are Entirely Normal and work out really, really well.

skateboarding

turning it into funky science fiction

I’ve returned with some Friday links. As you’re reading this, I am likely intubated and undergoing a surgical procedure! So you’re having more fun than I, most likely (the good news is the procedure might ALSO involve LASERS).

skateboarding

5 minute timelapse; a roadtrip across America:

 
Film: 5 Old-Timey Prejudices That Still Exist In Every Movie from Cracked.com. Cracked is pretty clever much of the time, and this article showcases its smarts. Considering a likely target audience I’m impressed the author didn’t do the obligatory fawning to a certain television and film writer/producer/director too commonly worshipped for what I consider (like the author does) repeat iterations of pseudofeminist waif-fu tendencies. One note on the article – I’m designating an honorary BOO for calling thin women “unnatural” – even if it’s a good guess many Hollywood actresses likely participate in orthorexic behaviors and/or eating disorders and/or dieting and/or heavy-duty workout regimes – and for not being more cautious in purporting an apparent concept of a so-called objective view of how pretty Michelle Rodriguez is (as opposed to a socially- and culturally-prescribed “pretty”/”beautiful”).

Food, food, glorious food! Here is a recipe for a Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake, from David Lebovitz’s blog, adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater.

Family life: Unschooling: An Introduction by Laura at Authentic Parenting. Most my readers have been around long enough to hear, learn from, and/or tolerate my thoughts on and practices regarding life learning, but this is a pretty good 101 article, and I’m glad she posted it.

In a recent blog post Wendy Priesnitz asks, and answers: why does the contemplation of unschooling, or life learning, result in a backlash from many adults, many who are self-named “progressives” (well, that’s what I paraphrase she’s writing about). She writes, ” […] I understand that rejecting long-held beliefs and admitting you’ve been lied to and taken advantage of can take time. And it can be painful. But if you are moving in that direction, please believe that the way to ensure a happy future for your kids is to ensure they have a happy present.”

And here’s one for the ladies. Oh, and the dudes. Y’all should read it. I know nothing about this project – “No One’s The Bitch”, but I’m really liking the concept! Stepmoms/divorced moms etc. are often culturally encouraged to pit themselves against one another. “The master’s tools”, and all that.

A tutorial: for a fishtail skirt (in this case, demonstrated on a small human). My daughter isn’t likely to wear dresses unless they have a lot of character (see: previous) – this might fit the bill.

Mothers & Our Families: Never Perfect, but Always Great at Birth Without Fear. Some lovely thoughts and images.

Finally: WHO SOMETIMES WISHES IT WAS STILL THE 90s?

riding atop a muscular steed, looking all awesome

Friday links! A little intense, a little child/social wellbeing oriented. But also, some great world leader beefcake!

Criminally Confident In Our Kids at Free Range Kids. Lenore writes succinctly about a problem that needs remedying – and that far too many parents risk having experience with.

Unschoolers / life learners! You can participate in Dr. Peter Gray’s survey study of unschooling families (which has been vetted by people I trust, so feel free as far as I’m concerned). You can download the survey from http://www.patfarenga.com/.

Laurie Couture uses strong language about school and teachers but she also has the experience and passion to back that up. If you have a long comment/rebuttal please comment at the source: her recent piece: “What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers” – in response to a yucky article on CNN I won’t link to here (but you can find easily enough).

It’s Time To Reclaim The M-Word; so, I think I’m going to be reading the books this woman has written. From the article interview:

“There are books galore on how to “deal” with your children, how to control them, make them fit into a routine. There is even one, which has sold over half a million copies, that tells you how to physically punish your child. But understand them? Comfort them? Dirty words.”

Last Wednesday: the anniversary of John Holt’s death. Some great writings and teachings, there:

“…[John Holt believed that] unschooling and homeschooling are self-selecting and self-correcting activities that do not need central authorities to dictate content and standards… [John Holt’s] goal was not to create an insular education movement for children but rather ‘A life worth living and work worth doing—that is what I want for children (and all people), not just, or not even, something called ‘a better education.’” ~ Pat Farenga, Holt Associates

Make: My Magic Baby Mitts. I did! (pictures soon!)

I’ve had a run of people requesting my crumpets recipe, so here it is again in case you missed it.

A Day In The Life Of An Angry Transsexual at Tranarchism. If you’re unfamiliar witht he concept of Microagressions, here’s a good illustration.

Ladies (and, I guess, gentleman), prepare to get all hot and bothered for VLADIMIR PUTIN, ACTION MAN. Question, does Mr. Putin have a sexy bod, the answer is Yes, he’s sixty and looking great. But I am laughing my ass off at the photos like, he’s kind of just posed doing ALL THIS AWESOME SHIT with only slightly different expressions, adjusted slightly as if by claymation (I wish there was one of him DELIVERING THE HELL OUT OF A BABY!!1!). h/t to Marianne who made the comparison to Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things.

Wanda Wulz, cats / photography at All Things Amazing

Quote of the week: “Forgiveness isn’t something we do for others. We do it so we can get well and move on.”

Video of the week: our favorite MLP, Pinkie Pie, losing it juuuuuust a little:

do you like horses

ridikkulous

A letter from Mohandas Ghandi to Hitler. I do not joke. Hey, those without Google+, can you see this link, or do I need to correct it?

Film review: excellence, excellence at Tiger Beatdown re: American Psycho (the book and film); also, some “Crazy Bitches” from seminal films of my childhood, offered up at Bitch Media. Finally: Tropes vs. Women: The Mystical Pregnancy from Feminist Frequency. #w00t

This Is Not an Onion Parody of How Fox News Would Cover Obama’s Birthday

Weight Stigma – Why it hurts… by Janet Zimmerman

I submit this piece in rebuttal to the many who think self-shaming (and other-shaming) are necessary or productive forces with regard to “health” (meaning, weight/size). The science is in (and has been and continues to support the fact that): weight/size stigma leads to more weight fluctuation, long-term weight gain, disordered eating, and low self-esteem. As a parent and someone who works with and sees a lot of kids on a daily basis – and loves these children deeply (“fat shaming for four year olds”, just the most recent piece in the blogosphere), I – frankly – want the cycle to end.

But, I always have to laugh about studies on social justice issues – because people will continue to believe their bias in the face of any evidence, and I know this. If science doesn’t convince my dear reader, I’d ask you to look deep into your heart and ask if shame and guilt and fighting with ourselves (and others) has ever brought you true, lasting, happy, healthy change – while keeping you present for, caring of, and compassionate towards others.

I’ll wait.

Meanwhile! Make: Indestructible Capri Sun Wallets

Fake logos from the movies! This? Is so incredibly cool. Your favorite?

Reviewed at Bantam Street: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962). Classic! And one of my first exposures to “MST3K”; I’d love to see “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” version.

Pretty: “Auntie Peggy Has Departed”, an art installation

I was asked what “snorgling” means. Here’s a definition. And here is a tutorial:

 
The table of contents for the next Life Learning Magazine. I seriously cannot wait, especially for Couture and Swindler’s pieces.

Finally: last night Amber, Jasmine & I were tasked with coming up with band names for Ralph & co, re: his latest music project. Here are some he rejected (probably representing about …. 25% of our silly assery):

Assquatch (also, sadly, already taken and… all kinds of horrible)
Muffintops
Vulva
Grassbacks
Marble Smugglers
Summer’s Eve
Angeltits
Vagzilla
Shit On A Shingle
Pap Schmear
Duck Lips
Snakelight (these latter three were from our gynecological-exam inspirations)
Shart Week*
Showboat Pork N Beans

do you like horses

* Ralph later corrected me: It’s Shart Weak.

of melancholy and patchouli

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Aw, I miss my dad so much. There’s so much in my life I didn’t get to share with him. He didn’t get to share the journey we’ve had in not-schooling our kids. He’s missed my sobriety in adulthood. He’s missed knowing my kids at an older age – and they’ve missed knowing him. He and my husband had a wonderful, wonderful friendship. Now that I think on it I’m not sure Ralph has had a friendship like it before or since.

I have a lot of my father’s nature. I am intelligent and I have a good memory. I have his beaky nose and tiny angry eyes. I have his suspicion of human authority and for many years I had his slightly pessimistic agnosticism coupled with a rather sedate moral code. I have his confidence; a confidence in my ability to do things well, if I want to do them. I have his knowledge of Choice, which lends me to playing the victim a little less than I might otherwise. Things are changing within me lately – and I am becoming calmer and less afraid – traits I associate with him. He was pretty calm. And he was pretty gentle in most all the ways that mattered. I’m not sure how many people have grown up with a gentle father.

I also, sometimes, display the dark and nasty sense of humor he had. A few weeks back my mom and I were in Olympia looking for a park for the kids (which they’d mowed down for office buildings, I think, bravo!). Mom and I saw this little wine shop she instantly adored. My mom exclaimed, “Oh look, that place looks very cool!” and I said without skipping a beat, “It’s probably full of baby boomer douchebags.” She laughed and swatted at me and said, “Okay, David!” It’s true, I’ll occasionally hear something come out of my mouth like that. My husband comments too. It’s pretty funny really.

Dad, I really, really miss you. We had so many laughs, seriously (seriously!). I remember I’d walk over and you’d be in the yard pulling a weed and you’d leave the weed where it was and come inside to sit with coffee, because you didn’t give a fuck much about weeding. You’d sit at the kitchen table and play solitaire with cards so soft and old and rounded-edged that new cards have always looked obscene to me.

By the way you were someone who gave me the right advice, and I haven’t found someone else to replace that relationship. That sucks.

I’ll love you fiercely until the day I die at the very least.

I Was Nine Months Old

Nine months old.