UPDATED: If you need help, or if you want to help…

UPDATE! I’ve lost track of where we are but we’d Donated over $10,000 of toys in the first 24 hours & it’s been snowballing since then. My blog only shows 700 comments per page before making you click “newer comments”. sHortcut: click here for comments 700-1400 and click here for comments after 1400.

SEE More SUPER IMPORTANT UPDATES AT END…

Remember in 2010 when I gave out gift cards in the name of James Garfield (the taxidermied boar) to the first twenty people who told me they didn’t know how they were going to afford toys for their kids this year?  And it was awesome until  it became very apparent that there were more people who needed help, but then you guys came to the rescue and suddenly there were $40,000+ worth of donations from strangers to strangers?  That was awesome.  And exhausting.

Then in 2011 we worked together to sponsor Project Night Night Bags (a bag with a security blanket, a book and a stuffed animal) to 750 homeless children.

In 2012 we helped get Project Night Night Bags to 1,000 children who were homeless, or were displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Last year we donated tens of thousands of dollars of bees, oxen, and llamas around the world, and again supported Project Night Night.

This year I say we do it all.  It’s been a good year for some of us.  A bad year for others.  Give if you really can.  Take if you really need.

You can click here if you want to donate $25 to sponsor a Project Night Night bag for a homeless child.  Or click here to help end world hunger and poverty by buying the ass end of a pig as an honorarium for someone you don’t like.  Because who is going to complain about getting a helpful pig ass in their honor for Christmas?  No one worth going to the mall for, probably.

Or if you are struggling to buy a single present for your child then do this…make a wish-list on Amazon (SEE UPDATES BELOW) and leave a comment below (with the age of your child, a link to your wish list, and anything else you want to share).  I’ve made money this year in affiliate ads because you guys have supported me here, so I’m giving back to help those who need support this year to get by.  So that means that – even if you don’t have the money to donate this year – if you supported this page in any way, then the donations from me are also from you.  Literally.

A few words of warning…I only have a limited amount of money so I can only help a limited amount of people.  If you choose to share your wish-list then gift-givers will be able to see your name and city, but your actual shipping address is kept confidential with Amazon.   Also, if you choose to be a gift-giver and pay for something on someone’s wish-list please know that I can’t verify anyone here so you have to go with your gut.

I’m in the middle of family visits, deadlines, and book edits but I’ll try to keep the comments updated as much as I can.

PS.  I just bought a live sheep and a bunch of Project Night Night bags in your honor.  Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/GoodGravyGiving.  Thank you for letting me be part of such an amazing community.  You have no idea the difference you make.

PPS.  If you’re looking for something wonderful and inexpensive for your child I cannot over-recommend books.  Books were some of my best friends and still are, and they can take you miles away.  If you need suggestions, GoodReads has a great list of 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime.  Some of those books are like coming home again, and all are available for free at your local library.

PPPS.  It seems only fitting to end this with the taxidermied boar who inadvertently started this whole ridiculous thing.

James Garfield and I love you.

James Garfield and I love you.

UPDATED:  I’ve tried to buy several things on several wish lists but keep getting a  message telling me that there isn’t a verified address to send the presents to, so I’m just going to assume that I’m an idiot and instead I’m sending Amazon gift cards to the email addresses as noted in the comments.  Maybe someone smarter than me can tell me what I’m doing wrong.  Also, if you want to leave an email address in your comment you can but I won’t share it unless you actually type it into the comment box.

UPDATED X 2: Make sure you update your amazon profile to have a confirmed shipping address set up for your account.  See the comments for pointers.  So far almost everyone doesn’t so people aren’t able to ship to you.  Giant thanks to those who want to send me money so I can pass it on, but so much would be eaten in fees and taxes so it’s better for you to donate directly.  I’m sending gift cards for now but I suspect people will fix their profiles soon to make it easier.  And thank you for such an amazing response.  I love you guys.

UPDATED X 3: GOT IT!  Okay, the reason why we’re unable to ship to lots of you is because Amazon makes you select a shipping address for your wish list in a really complicated way.   I made a graphic to show how to do it but it’s 1:30am so forgive my typos…

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Number one, I’m gonna need you to be honest here…

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good poll so I thought I’d get your opinion on a question I often ask during uncomfortable silences:

By the way, one of these answers is mine.  10 points to Gryffindor if you guess which.

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And now, the weekly wrap-up of awesomeness:

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Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-awesome:

Shit you should buy or steal because it’s awesome:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by SilkWords, the go-to source for steamy interactive women’s fiction. Two formats are available: branched fiction (“pick your path”) and linear stories produced with reader participation.  Holiday Cruise is the latest branched story.  “Erin’s friends drag her on a weekend holiday cruise to distract her from a breakup. What erotic adventures await?”  Click to find out.

I’m a murderer. Sort of.

Remember a few weeks ago when I confessed that I can’t keep a houseplant alive, but then somehow managed to accidentally grow a plant in my pantry when a sweet potato went rogue?  And then I gave it googley eyes and a name?

Sam I. Yam in happier times.  Naturally smiley and high in vitamin C.

Sam I. Yam in happier times. Naturally smiley and high in vitamin C.

Well it turns out I can’t even keep a yam alive because – in spite of my care – Sam turned gaunt and withered and started to decompose.  Sam was blossoming just fine when he was lost in the back of the pantry but when I rescued him he started dying immediately.  It’s like my love is deadly.  Like I’m an accidental Black Widow, but for plants and sweet potatoes.

We had a quiet funeral and I buried Sam, but only up to his eyeballs (which I had to remove and reset) because the spoon I was using as a shovel broke.  And also because I read that if you plant the bottom part of a dead sweet potato they’ll sometimes come back to life.

Victor could take a lesson.

Then Victor looked out his office window asked me why a sweet potato was staring at him from the yard and I explained that I was attempting to make a vegetable zombie, which is sort of true.  Then he sighed at me because apparently bringing the dead back to life is another thing on The List Of Things I’m Not Allowed To Do According To Victor.  I didn’t even mention the broken spoon because if he’s this upset about me trying to Frankenstein a potato I figured he was too irrational to deal with silverware issues, so I took the broken spoon and buried it next to Sam because that way Victor won’t find it and also it’s probably a good way to add iron to the soil.

Then Victor was like, “You don’t have funerals for spoiled potatoes  You throw them away” and I was like “You can’t throw away something you’ve named.  Where is your humanity?” and then he said that I needed to stop naming vegetables, which is just insane because I’ve done that ONCE in my whole life, Victor.  Way to focus on the negative while I’m in mourning.  Honestly, Victor could take a lesson from that upbeat potato.

But the good news is that on my way back inside from burying the broken spoon I saw something that made me smile in spite of the grave situation.

I saw a tiny little weed sprouting out of a small hole in our stairs.

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I’m going to call her Shirley.

Lovely ~ UPDATED

My niece Gabi is 15 years old and is sort of my hero.

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That sounds weird and I can’t really explain myself without telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that she’s so much like me it’s a bit eerie.  The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. While I was writing dark, angsty poetry at her age, Gabi has skipped forward to look for the light.  I sang in my bathroom so much that it drove my family nuts.  Gabi taught herself the ukulele and performs original songs for strangers in parks.  She sews her own clothes and costumes, and constructs elaborate dragon wings, and makes zombie sock-puppets and is quietly and unapologetically herself.

A few weeks ago I heard a song she wrote and recorded herself and it made me cry…possibly because I’m an extraordinarily proud aunt, but also because the sweet words she said were what I needed to hear…what I needed to remember.  And I’m sharing her song here because maybe you need to remember too.

She didn’t have a video so she just clipped together footage from Skype sessions and homemade videos with her brother and sisters and friends, but it’s a bit perfect.  If you like it, you can check out the website she made this week.  I tried to convince her to sell her stuff on iTunes but she’s content to share it online for free and put out an online tip jar if you want to pitch in for ukulele strings or blank sheet music, or other musical instruments she hopes to buy and learn.

Thank you, Gabi, for reminding me of how lovely things can be.

UPDATED:  I fucking love you people.  Have I mentioned that?  Because it’s true.  Gabi was amazed at your wonderful responses.  She received over $1,000 in tips (which she’s earmarked to pay for a drum kit and actual music lessons) plus help and advice from other artists.   She just updated her site so you can download her music, and she’s currently in the park writing a song about this whole experience.  If you want to keep up with her progress you should follow her page on Facebook right here.  Thank you for being awesome.  All of you.

Zazzle thinks I’m some sort of serial killer.

me: I wanted to make something new for my shop but all I’ve come up with is a shirt that says “This is where I keep my nipples.

Victor:  Hmm. How about “My meemaw can kick your meemaw’s ass.

me:  Maybe.

Victor: What about a shirt that says “My other shirt has diarrhea on it”?

me:  Ooh! And then you get your partner to wear a second shirt and that other shirt just says “Diarrhea.”

Victor:  Um…I think you’ve gone too far.

me: No, it’s like having matching outfits, but less lame. And with more diarrhea.

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Victor:  That’s too much diarrhea.

me:  Can you really ever have too much diarrhea?

Victor:  Yes. Yes, you can.

I decided to just put all of these ideas up for sell and zazzle was like “Hey!  Check out your designs on other products!” and I was like, “I don’t think that’s a good idea” and Zazzle was like, “YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT.”

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You’re making it weird, Zazzle.

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And now, the weekly wrap-up of awesomeness:

Sketch by Ray Friesen

(Sketch by Ray Friesen)

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Caitlin Sweet’s new book THE DOOR IN THE MOUNTAIN

“We are all monsters . . .”   Lost in time, shrouded in dark myths of blood and magic, The Door in the Mountain leads to the world of ancient Crete: a place where a beautiful, bitter young princess named Ariadne schemes to imprison her godmarked half-brother deep in the heart of a mountain maze, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly—and where a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.  If you like awesome Greek mythology then you should check it out here.

Does anyone want an alligator? It’s probably going to be mostly clean.

All week I’ve been hearing this awful noise that sounds like the hurk-hurk-bork of a cat throwing up, and so I’d run through the house to find the guilty kitty so I could put him on tile rather than have him throw up on the harder-to-clean carpet, but each time I’d find all of the cats in the hall, just staring at me like they were totally innocent and wondering why I’d interrupted their meeting.  And then I finally was like, “Fuck this, cats.  I’m just gonna stand here until one of you fuckers tries it again.  I’VE GOT ALL DAY.”   But then they just looked at me, because turns out they have all day too.

And then I heard it again and turns out it wasn’t the cats.  

It was the toilet.

The toilet was gurgling and making noises like a cat vomiting, and I thought that seemed odd because toilets don’t vomit and are more likely vomited into, but that noise was definitely coming from the toilet and that’s when I realized that my toilet is probably haunted.

Seriously.  I can hear it even now.  It’s like the ghost of someone who ate a bad burrito is in there.  Or maybe it’s the spirit of a long-dead dog who is drinking from the toilet,  Frankly, I have no idea how to handle this and I don’t know whether to call a plumber or an exorcist.

I tried to research it and google was like, “Way ahead of you.  Here’s what other people are searching for:”

hauntd toilet

Conclusion:  Toilet poltergeist are fucking everywhere.

It’s getting louder and now I’m officially scared of the toilet.  I’ve just regressed back to age 3.  Awesome.  I blame the toilet.

I told Victor we need to call an old priest and a young priest and he said I was being ridiculous and that “it’s probably  just air in the lines”, which is just as scary as toilet ghosts because if there’s air in the lines that means that toilet snakes and sewer alligators now have the oxygen necessary to crawl up our toilet pipes without drowning.  So now I can’t sit on the toilet without first screaming and kicking the toilet a few times to scare off any snakes that might be near the surface, which is going to be difficult to explain when we have company over.  Thanks a lot, Victor.  

Victor said that if it kept happening he’d call a plumber to “snake the lines” and I just stared at him because that’s the exact opposite of what I want.  If anything I want someone to de-snake the lines.  Then Victor explained that “snaking the lines” doesn’t have anything to do with real snakes but after this summer’s “We need to expand the fire-pipes under your house” confusion I just don’t trust anything.  I’m considering changing out the toilets for small buckets, and now I know why everyone used chamber pots in the Victorian ages.  It was probably because of all the alligators.

These are the things they never cover on the History Channel.

So that’s…disturbing.

There’s this new thing going around where you’re supposed to google your first name and the word “meme” and post the images that come up.  And I thought, we should totally do this.  I’ll go first…

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Aw.  That’s sweet.

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Fair enough.

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Well, that took a turn.

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Okay.  Feeling a little uncomfortable now.

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What…what is happening?

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No.  Do not like.

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Am I supposed to feel like I’m being stalked?  Is that how this is supposed to work?

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How did you even get in here?

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My name is not even on there.

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I get the joke but it still feels weirdly threatening at this point.

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Yeah.  I don’t like this anymore.

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I want to go home now.

PS.  I also looked up “bloggess meme” and it was much less threatening and took me to thousands of pictures you guys made of Juanita, my taxidermied weasel.  Some of the very best are collected here.  I highly recommend it as a palate cleanser.