i might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for twenty years


Spencer's Truck

We’ve had wonderful friends helping us move. With only one more truck-load tomorrow we are officially out of the previous house. Today Ralph worked his ass off tidying everything up and I said goodbye to a little over two years living there.

I’m feeling melancholy today. Every now and then my volunteer work gets to me. Ralph asks me for details over lunch, and (without naming names of course) I tell him some of what I’ve seen.

Enough said. It’s OK to feel sad for half a minute.



The day was at least half-over by most people’s standards when Ralph and I agreed to get up to painting at the new house. Yeah, that’s just how we Hogabooms roll. While doing our typical thing – caring for kiddos, ours and other people’s, and cooking, and doing housework, and dealing with cats, and a meeting I get to chair at the Treatment Center on Sunday nights – we also shopped for supplies and got our gear to the house. Ralph and I cleaned and taped three large rooms and primer-painted two of them, getting home a little before midnight. Yeah, even though the house had white walls we had to primer, and grey primer, because like a total pain I opted for deep, vibrant, lovely colors, none of this taupe or melon or whatever. So that’s like, a thousand gallons and many many coats of paint. But I think it’s going to look lovely. I just need to do that trick where I am patient, mindful, and apply myself to the task at hand without letting my mind race on to the many things that will need to be done, to be settled in. GUESS WHAT, being sober helps with this A LOT.

The cleaning was big-time, at least in the kitchen, which is my opinion the (potentially) dirtiest room in a house. It was cheering though to scrub on a new domicile we’ll soon be occupying. We had music, and coffee, and hot water and lots of rags. We listened to Lady Gaga and Pink (while Phoenix was there; she quite helpfully unscrewed all the light-switch plates), and then Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, then some Springsteen, and then when it got to the late-night painting with Ralph he suggested one of my favorites, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, which I love Times One Million. And I told Ralph, “If you don’t sing along to JCS you’re fired,” and he said in a hurt tone of voice, “I don’t know all the words!” and I said, “Get. Out.” But actually I needed him because he did all the painting up high where my tiny forearms can’t reach.

But yeah, it was an honest day’s work, and of course there was some excellent, and shrill, rock opera emanating from my golden pipes. You shoulda been there. No I mean I really could’ve used the help.

Now I’m going to soak my feet in a hot bath and get my ass to bed.


We’re moving! Here’s a preview of a corner of the house, the first item we brought into it (purchased today at a STEAL of a price), and – hopefully – the awesomeness of things to come.

The new (to us) rental is owned by my aunt, and sits directly next door to my mother’s (the house I grew up in).

Moving is expensive and a bit disruptive. I’m trying not to stress about it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Word.

moving on up with our cluckers in tow

We’re moving again. We made a deal verbally yesterday afternoon and get our keys in a week.

This makes twice in a year.  I don’t know why it bothers me at all.  I mean, besides the expense and the soul-sucking terribleness of being uprooted (seriously; not having a kitchen of my own and a sewing space gets old for me – quick) I suppose in the deep recesses of my mind I worry the Hogaclan will end up that family that “moves all the time”.  Which, according to people I’ve known who grew up that way, seems to be sometimes a happily-lived and sometimes a hated experience.  Gee, like just about every other lifestyle people cite from their upbringing.

Our kids helped select our new home; they voiced opinions on everything I drove by and walked through everything we walked through and peeked through windows of some laughably slum-tastic dwellings (actually, it’s not really that funny).  The house-owner S. seems like he knows what he’s doing but our lifestyles are near unrelateable to one another; he owns many properties, runs a construction business, self-described himself as “top-ten wealth of Grays Harbor”, and when I told him about our laying hens he was shocked into an uncharacteristic silence with a dear-in-headlights slow blink (why would you have chickens? “For eggs,” my husband speaks up helpfully).  S. approved us on the spot in part because he could tell we weren’t strung out on crack or anything (it’s true!  We’re not!  P.S. for poor-whites in Grays Harbor the drug of choice is meth, just FYI) – forgoing, I shite thee not, the $80 credit check and reference checks and $200 non-refundable deposit per animal (yes, these are all real expenses of the property management groups who aren’t slum-lords – and I’m not even getting into the expenses of utility set-up and moving trucks should you elect to use one).*  As long as nothing goes wrong (insert drum-roll or sound of shattering glass) we’ll be moving our asses to 1st street shortly.

Probably the only thing that really has me temporarily unsorted is that with moving again our Christmas gift scene is derailed.  It’s hard enough for me to get organized enough to buy or make gifts for all my loved ones.  Every year I leave a person or two out and I feel like an ass.  Looks like that’ll be a new Christmas tradition.

* And by the way; one thing I discovered this time around is how very many, many slumlords we have in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.  It seems like a lucrative business – maybe we should go into it eventually.  If, you know, I can get around the whole morally bankrupt and depressing aspects of it.


preparing to crawl back in the womb

There we go! Were moving! Isn't this fun. No. No. No.
"There we go! We're moving! Isn't this fun." "No." "No." "No."

Tomorrow night is the first night in our new digs – my childhood home. Yes, we’re moving in with Mom. The rental truck is reserved, the storage lock-up paid for, my husband is busy packing, and:

I’m nailed to the couch with some sort of horrid further development of tonsil flesh-eating virus.

I will spare you the details of what’s happening physically but let’s just say, it’s not good. Now and then I get up and do a bit of work – making a vegetarian lasagna for Ralph, the family, and my mother; or washing, drying, and folding laundry (I would have to be so incredibly ill not to do laundry; I’m addicted to laundering, which is I suppose an illness of itself). After working a bit and making pathetic self-pitying noises I start to feel rather bad.  At this point I pour out hot honey and lemon, or coffee (again, with honey – thought to have medicinal properties, especially thought to have medicinal purposes by my husband –  it’s his new “thing”), or a popsicle, and sit back down to the film I’m watching.  It turns out being sick is when I catch up on decent cinema, instead of our family repetoire of bad B-movies.

This time tomorrow the house will be empty (but not at all clean – thinking of that work, ugh), and that will feel a little strange, and a little sad.  I’ve loved the house – especially the kitchen, the oven which smells better upon baking bread than any oven I’ve known (or perhaps this is the house in which my bread skills have improved).  I’ll miss living along a main thoroughfare and the many walks of life I see right outside my window.  I’ll miss the greenhouse which is still working on monstrous (about ten feet tall, no joke) tomato plants, I’ll miss my clawfoot tub, and I’ll miss all the food we’ve been finding right in our yard.

I’m ready, though, for the next leg of our journey – shopping for a home, and living off my mother’s charity!

packing up the jalopy again

On Monday I receive one of those, oh-yeah-that’s-about-to-happen phone calls.  The G. family, who owns the home we currently housesit, has finally achieved their goal of selling the residence (sort of; they signed papers on a lease-to-own). Some families, mom would wait, talk to dad, get all the details of the move figured out, then have a family meeting and explain it to the kids in small words. But:

After I congratulate our landlords and hang up the phone, I walk into my kitchen. “I’ve got some news,” I tell the kids. “The G. family sold their house!”  A split second later and the kids break into sunny smiles.  “We’re going to move!” they say happily.  They start discussing options: definitely need a yard for the chickens.  A treehouse or potential for one. Aberdeen is a possibility, Hoquiam is preferred.

I admire my children, I really do.  I feel also a small bit of pride that Ralph and I have offered nothing but the best care we could give, and a lot of loving outpouring, to our time in the house (including glowing testimony to the few prospective clients who’ve trickled into the home). We have been relatively anxiety-free about the next move and that’s being reflected in our kids’ attitudes; good.

The last couple nights the family has driven here or there, looking at houses in the area.  This is an amusing enterprise if nothing else.  My mother is urging us to live rent- and utility-free in her large house while we complete the process of buying a home.  This is a generous offer of hers (as well as was her brainstorm to cash out my inheritance at this early date which would reduce her interest income per month drastically; another idea she had!  I have a pretty awesome mommy) and makes a lot of sense money-wise.  She has been spending more and more time at her boyfriend’s lately and I think more than anything she likes the idea of that huge house filled up.  Driving around looking at all the relatively high-priced dumps, and remembering what it was like to work with a property management entity (Aberdeen Realty, suck it!), and the sheen of excitement regarding moving dulls a little.

You know what I really, really want?  I want to live in some yurt on a little piece of property. Yeah, you heard me. Odds of husband’s enthusiastic agreement? 100 to No Fucking Thank You.

mamma mia, here we go again

Moving is hard for me. When I have mentioned this this today people think something is going wrong with the proceedings. Not at all. In fact things are going swimmingly – despite the family who’s moving out of our new abode being a weensy bit behind schedule. This is no big deal, at all. I will just have to wait one more night before my sweet new digs.

No, moving is hard for me even when the move is a joyful one. In the beginning stages, moving is a destructive process. The kitchen I’d tried so hard to keep clean pulled apart; leftover food thrown out, newspaper strewn on the floor, food taken off dusty or sticky shelves and crammed into a temporary cardboard home.

It also requires a lot of letting go. I can see why so many people drag huge amounts of things from place to place; why after living somewhere for years they will move again and admit they didn’t even unpack certain parcels they’d moved with before. Why let go of things? It hurts to do so. Better to forgo the process and accrue, accrue.

We dismantle the house and it feels like destroying memories. The tiny pieces of tile my kids (for some reason) hid under the corner of their bed? I have to throw them away. Pulling the stacks of fabric out of the sewing room is leaving behind the joyful memories of all the creations made there. The kids’ room: lights, blankets, and carefully-stocked shelves of folded clothes stripped bare, the room instead filled with echos.

Today Ralph and I each think the other has the harder job; he carrying, loading, and hauling (with the help of two friends). Me entertaining the kids and serving as a go-fer. I’ll be in full force during the cleaning / unpacking stage. This house that we’re currently cramming our things into will soon become our home; coffee brewing, music playing, the heat warming me as I ritualistically scrub the tub and listen to my children playing with their new Christmas toys.

But for now, we’re just pulling things apart and it feels kind of bad.

last Christmas, i gave you my heart / the very next day, Hogabooms moved away

It’s hard to believe that in just a few nights this home won’t be mine anymore; I will be sleeping in and cooking in and traveling from a new one. We transfer only a mile and a half away, but still – it is going to feel odd to say goodbye to a house, a neighborhood, and neighbors that we have thoroughly enjoyed. In a few days I’ll be cooking in a kitchen painted with bright colors and drawing a bath in my long-pined for clawfoot tub (or at least scrubbing a clawfoot tub like a maniac); getting used to the sound of highway traffic and sewing while overlooking a wild and lovely back yard.

One of the best things about my life is my children; in this case, how ready and excited they are for adventure. It occurs to me that this Christmas is going to be a wonderful memory for them; not just for the gifts and the snow (both of these in stronger measure than in years past) but for the exodus to 2323 Sumner Avenue. The children have helped us pack, move furniture on to new homes, bake and sew and make ready for all we’ve had to do. They have not been impediments but wee partners in our enterprises.

As for me, I miss my father terribly. A day does not go past I don’t think of him and feel deeply sad. Last year for Christmas we went through this whole Sumatran coffee fiasco – I don’t have the heart right now to tell the story although I do love to recount it, and we continue to purchase Sumatran coffee half in jest over the episode. It hurts me badly that he is someone who has been baldly, abruptly scratched off my gift list. Along with missing my father I’ve also had to experience the changes in my mother, a new widow – many changes, and some of them rather surprising. I count myself as an adult friend to her, someone who can accompany her on this journey in good faith and with love.

I am reminded we used to call my father the Ghost of Christmas Bastard; it was a name Ralph made up. My dad was a long distance runner and this time of year would don a santa hat. He’d be out there busting ass (he was very fast), his thin, gaunt frame carring this silly-ass hat my mom made. He was also, of course, a bastard, a curmudgeon; at turns both elegant, witty and urbane, and the next thing you know he’d be on a semi-profane rant with his mouth open and food in it.

I miss him, just terribly.