Avery was reading aloud to me from her English textbook last night while I cooked dinner. She was appalled by the dumbed down directions for using the "net" for research. "We're born knowing how to do this!", she exclaimed.

"The book is kind of antiquated, isn't it?", I asked.

"Well, it's completely out of date," she replied.

"Antiquated and 'out of date' are synonymous," I explained.

"You keep using words I don't know!", she complained.

"I use them so you will learn them."

One evening last week, the kids were going at each other with a never ending volley of verbal attacks. I told them that they were giving each other an endless supply of fodder.

"I don't even know what that word means!", Avery said. So I sang "This is how we homeschool," 90's R&B style, as I danced my way over to the dictionary and looked up fodder. Sure, I can use the word, but I couldn't define it for them on the spot.

fodder: 1. Feed for livestock, often consisting of coarsely chopped stalks and leaves of corn mixed with hay. 2. a. Raw material, as for artistic creation. b. Masses of people considered as raw material for achieving a particular goal <cannon fodder>.

How's this for fodder:


I know how to rock girls yoga pants, boys socks, and worn out flip flops, don't I? You'll be seeing this look on The Sartorialist this spring. It's certainly a look (and fodder for teasing from my kids).

I've transformed our backyard garden using raw materials - fodder? - sprawled around our yard: wheelbarrows full of dirt, a bale of hay, shovels and rakes, chicken wire. I planted one row with hundreds of seeds, square foot garden style: lettuce, spinach, arugula, turnips, carrots, beets, kale. You know, all the seeds I bought last fall and should've planted after pulling out our summer garden.

I check on the garden several times a day, anxiously looking for signs of growth, like an expectant mother waiting to feel the baby kick, assurance that she's firmly rooted. I am not alone in the garden. On my mind is a 35 year old Palestinian woman killed earlier this week in Gaza. She and her father were working in their garden when an Israeli bomb hit, killing them both. Cannon fodder. I heard about their death in a brief news blurb on NPR about the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine. Media fodder.

I can't help but wonder about this woman. Was she married? Did she have children? What did she grow in her garden? Did she have a warning, a moment of terror, or did the attack catch her by surprise? Was she happy working in the garden at the time of her death?

Standing in my garden, looking up, the only thing falling from the sky is a light rain. I have no fear that a bomb will strike me dead. Instead, I feel relief that my seedlings are getting plenty of water. I feel hopeful that I will be harvesting greens and root vegetables in several months. I feel excited about expanding my garden, row by row, seed by seed. But if I had to leave this life, I can think of worse places to die. I can only hope the gardening father and daughter in Gaza felt the same way.

When you write, life is fodder.


  1. So many unanswered questions in our mind with a news. for the reporters, it is just a news. for us it create many questions, with no answers....

  2. oh molly. thank you for this today. excellent fodder, indeed.

  3. yes, fodder. you got all deep - when i thought this was all about flip-flops and socks... I wonder too.

  4. Hello there...thanks for the wonderful ponderings...definately fodder for my mind while I make some dinner, without any worries falling from above. Just that persistent snow. I'm happy to have "discovered" you here, and I'll be back for more!
    xo Jules

  5. This evening at dinner, my husband relayed an experience he had at work. He used the word ubiquitous in conversation. Everyone stared. They didn't stare because he used it incorrectly. Instead they stared at his use of a "ten-dollar word." He suggested they grab a dictionary and look it up.

    A garden would be a nice place to end, but ending sooner than necessary is never a good thing. Tragic in so many ways.

    (Oh, and I personally like the ensemble)

    1. my dad is notorious for ten dollar words. i can't tell you how many times during my childhood he said, "look it up!"

  6. I was initially going to reply with a fodder pun, but the bomb took all the funny out of me. We are indeed fortunate not to have rockets of death falling on our gardens, and further fortunate to finally have life-giving rain that is falling. Lucky for us there isn't a holy book that promises our piece of dirt to God's people, and luckier yet that God's people aren't here to collect. -- Mark.

  7. I am on my way out the door to the garden....but this has stopped me in my tracks....made me think about so much....I remember looking in the dictionary for words to learn....I remember having to "talk down" to others at a new school so they would understand....I always wonder about the people in old photos in antique stores,what happened to them?....where did I put my flip flops for the Winter?...
    We made it to almost 80 today!! I need to let my poor Winter feet out to breathe!! Where the heck did I put my sandals???? Darlene

    1. i just came back in from the garden (wearing socks and flip flops, of course) where i saw more tiny seedlings popping up, our very first cherry blossom (on the rainier!), tens of new raspberry canes popping out of the ground, and even a hawk with black and white horizontal striped tail feathers squawking in our neighbor's oak tree.

      i love words, antique photos, and sandals too.

  8. Great post. I often think of the mothers when I hear tragic news reports. Even here in the States when I hear of a shooting or other crime I think, "That crime just tore apart 2 families. Their poor mothers!" Can't wait to put on my flip flops and get out to my garden. Thanks for sharing.

  9. welcome back. so glad you're here.

  10. Avery reminds me of Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Scout's been readin' since she was born."
    And you remind me of me :)
    My students are always repeating my low frequency words with --what I choose to see as feigned--
    complaining "why don't you just use normal words Mrs. Vickland?"
    I tell them that is why your parents send you to me every day!

  11. Nice blog. As a lover of words you might be interested in the word play involved in cryptic crosswords. I am doing a series of posts on solving cryptic clues. This was the first one I did. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/cryptic-crosswords-solving-hints-1.html Hope you enjoy.

  12. So, I'm wondering what you will do for headers with Picnik closing? I loved the tutorial you did awhile ago and have been using it ever since.

    1. Very good question! I'm hoping that the Google+ Creative Kit adopts more Picnik-like features. I'm also waiting to see what photo editing tools Flickr will offer when Picnik packs up for good. I'll update my tutorial when I figure it out.

    2. Thanks! I'm trying to avoid Google+ just on general privacy principles. Haven't done much with my Flickr account lately. I'll keep an eye out for the tutorial update.

      Thanks again!

  13. Your voice is definitely back! Beautiful post, well written.


Sewing Crafts


email: mollydunham@sbcglobal.net
Share |