Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Emptier of Bad Thoughts"

This poem is spillover from the November 6, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "sharing a drink / food" square in my 11-5-18 card for the Family Ties Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] fuzzyred. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. It follows "Unless You Let Us Know You're Down There" and "A Corresponding Clarity of Purpose," so read them first or this will make no sense.

Warning: This poem contains intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features the aftermath of sexual assault, turbulent emotions, comfort cooking, adaptive equipment, disability etiquette, awkward conversations, status check, low sense of self-worth, self-recrimination, hypervigilance, past child maltreatment, minimalist hugging due to touch aversion, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before moving onward.

Emptier of Bad Thoughts

[Night of December 22, 2014]

Simon waved Shiv through
the door first, then followed
behind, guarding his back.

The weapon, whatever it was,
disappeared right back into
Simon's wheelchair, where
Shiv couldn't track it among
the spangle of metal parts.

They rolled into the foyer,
with the dining room on the left,
separated by arched columns.

Beyond that lay the kitchen
and then the family room, while
the living room ahead of them
looked out over the back porch.

"Drew and Halley went to Mercedes
for the holidays, so it's pretty quiet here,"
Simon murmured. "What happens next
is up to you, Shiv. What would help?"

"I dunno," Shiv said, looking around for
inspiration. "Could really use a distraction ..."

"Well, how about some comfort cooking?"
Simon said, rolling into the kitchen that
was so beautifully designed for his needs.

The island had kneespace, the ovens
were under the stovetop, and there were
little pull-out work shelves everywhere.
The only appliance that Simon couldn't
reach on his own was the microwave, and
Shiv had learned that Simon hated the thing.

The soft almond walls and cabinets set off
the white trim and the steel fixtures gleamed,
making the whole place feel open and airy.

Shiv drifted into the kitchen behind Simon
and saw that someone had set a fire in
the hearth in the family room beyond it.

"Yeah, cooking sounds great," Shiv said.

Cook had taught him some basics,
but then Gray showed him fancier stuff,
including the art of cooking to calm down.
Heron and Drew had taught him some of
their favorite recipes during family time, too.

"Let's bake some filoncino," Simon said.
"Tolli and I just learned how to make it
from an Italian friend. It's a lot like
a French baguette, only Italian."

Shiv smirked. He knew
that their Italian "friends" were
really bodyguards, and probably
part of the same Family that
Boss White dealt with a little.

"Sounds great," Shiv said,
moving to the kitchen island.

He loved the island because it was
big enough for two people to use together.
With Simon tucked under the back side,
Shiv could work the front side, catty-corner.
Plus the top was low enough for Shiv
to feel comfortable leaning over it, unlike
most counters that were too tall for him.

Simon brought out bowls of warm water,
sugar, and yeast. "Proof the yeast," he said.

Shiv had learned that much, at least.
He mixed the sugar into the water,
then carefully stirred in the yeast,
watching the water turn pale brown.

Meanwhile Simon got the flour, salt,
wooden spoons, and more bowls.

They always multiplied recipes.

"How much are we making?"
Shiv wondered. "And what's it
taste like when it's done?"

"We're making four batches,
in case Tolli and Ann want
to join us later," Simon said.
"Filoncino gets crusty outside,
but soft and fluffy inside. It's
great for dipping in olive oil with
parmesan and a little pepper."

"Like they do at Italian restaurants,
the fancy ones?" Shiv said. "I went
with Boss White once, and a guy
made the dip right on the table, with
as much cheese as we wanted!"

Simon chuckled. "I love that too,"
he said. "We'll have to take you
to our favorite Italian restaurant
while you're in town. They make
the lasagna Sicilian style, so
that you get the whole pan."

"Oh, I love that kind!" Shiv said.
"I had that in --" He stopped himself
automatically, then lifted his chin and
finished, "They make it that way in prison,
if you order supper in your cell. I used
to sit in on the lasagna days, just
for that. I like the crusty edges."

"So does Tolli, though I like mine soft,
Simon said. "All right, the yeast is ready."

"So does Tolli, what?" the other man said,
coming in with No-Hands Hannigan.
Ann, Simon had called her earlier;
that must be her not-a-cape name.

"You like crispy edges on lasagna,"
Simon said. "We're going out for Italian
while Shiv's visiting, by the way."

"Fantastic," Tolli said. "Comfort cooking?
Great idea, what are we making?"

"Some Italian bread," Shiv said.
"Simon called it, uh, fillin' ... something."

"Filoncino?" Tolli said. "We just learned
how to make that, so we've been practicing."

"Yeah, that was it," Shiv said, nodding.
"I like doing things like this. Sometimes
cooking helps me to relax and unwind."

"Baking bread is almost hypnotic, like
a dance from some ancient ceremony,"
Simon said. "It leaves you filled with
one of the world's sweetest smells."

"It is the emptier of bad thoughts,"
Tolli went on, checking ingredients.
"There is no chiropractic treatment,
no yoga exercise, no hour of meditation
that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts
than this homely ceremony of making bread."

"Yeah," Shiv said. "I get that, I really do."

"Pick a counter," Simon invited as he
waved at the kitchen behind him.
"Plenty of room for everyone."

Another reason Shiv loved
the island: it let him watch
the counters, which meant
he could see how the heck
Ann planned to make bread,
without staring at her.

Shiv followed along as
Simon used a wooden spoon
to mix the salt and flour into
his bowl of foamy yeast.

Tolli washed his hands.
Ann washed her feet.

Shiv tried not to stare
as she sat on a stool and
made bread, her toes
as nimble as fingers.

"It's okay to watch me,
Shiv," said Ann, even though
she had her back to him. "I
don't mind that, as long as
people stay polite about it.'

"I uh, I know a guy who ...
lost a hand," Shiv admitted.
"So I kinda watch for ideas.
I don't want to talk about that
tonight, but maybe later."

"Whenever you like," Ann said.

Shiv kept one eye on her and
one on Simon as he turned out
his dough on the counter to knead it.

After a few strokes, the dough
balled up nicely. Each ball then
went into another bowl to rise.

"How about minestrone for supper?"
Tolli said. "We've got time to make that
and eat it before we need to come back
here and mess with the dough again."

"I'm all for it," Shiv said. He'd had
that before, and their recipe made
twelve helpings, which meant that
he might cadge some to take home.

"Show me your hands," Simon murmured.

Shiv held them out for him. They had
stopped shaking. He hadn't noticed.

"Okay, you're on chopping duty
if you want it," Simon declared.

"Yes, please," Shiv said.

Minestrone meant a lot of
chopping, which he did well
and greatly enjoyed doing.

Shiv cut up the bacon and
the onion, then passed them
to Tolli, who put them in a pot.

Ann was chopping a small mountain
of Swiss chard and spinach.

Simon strung and snapped
the green beans while Shiv
went to work on a gem squash,
since zucchini wasn't good
at the end of December.

Together they went through
carrots, potatoes, and celery.

Anne delicately sliced tomatoes,
holding the knife with her toes.

Shiv wondered if she could
handle a butterfly knife and if
he should offer to loan her
his trainer to try that.

He listened to the chatter
as they piled vegetables
into the pot and Tolli
stirred them slowly.

After a while, Tolli
added the broth and
covered the pot.

"Right, that needs
to cook a little over
an hour," he said.

Shiv watched,
fascinated, as Ann
washed her feet again.

"You're really good with
a knife," he said. "I'm not
that good, I'm still learning --
I mean, using it on food."

"It's a very different skill than
throwing or fighting with knives,
isn't it?" Ann said, drying her feet.

"Yeah," Shiv said, although
he didn't want to talk about
knife fighting for once.

"Let's flop out in
the family room and
watch the fire," Tolli said,
leading them in that direction.

He was really good at spotting
triggers before they went off.

Shiv pushed aside his thoughts
about the afternoon. Let Boss White
and Tolli deal with stupid Chyou and
the rest of Luci's clusterfuck of a family.

The fire was warm and bright,
fragrant with the smell of pine as it
snapped and crackled in the hearth.

Shiv hadn't lived in many houses
that had a real fireplace, but he had
gone camping a few times, and
he loved the campfires.

This was like a campfire
that you could bring indoors.

Tolli stirred the fire and
threw another log on it,
raising a spray of sparks.

"So, who's got a story to share?"
he said. "Ann, I'm betting you do."

She laughed. "I always do!"

And then she launched into
her latest scuba diving trip.

That left Shiv's mouth
hanging open again,
because he knew from
listening to Aida how
hard that sport was.

"Isn't cave diving, like,
super dangerous?" he said.

"That's why I like it," Ann said.
"It makes me feel so alive!"

Shiv understood that.

"Oh, don't get Aida
hooked on that," Tolli said.
"Steel would have a panic attack.
It's amazing how someone who
literally lives in the water could
be so anxious about divers."

"Remember, Steel pulled her
out of the water this summer,"
Simon said. "He worries because
she's not a water native like he is."

"Shiv, what do you like to do
for excitement?" Ann asked.

"Lately, splattering myself
over frozen ponds," he said.
"I was trying to learn ice skating,
but it's a lot harder than it looks."

It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

He had come home scraped, bruised,
and determined to try it again.

Ann laughed, not in a mean way,
but like she agreed with him.

"All the best tricks are," she said.

Then Simon launched into
a description of some sort of
mobility chair with legs that
some college kids were
trying to retro-engineer.

Shiv was having such
a good time listening to
all the stories that when
the timer went off, he startled.

"It's okay, Shiv, it's just time
to finish supper," Tolli said, waving
everyone back to the kitchen.

As Tolli bailed out the potatoes
to mash, Ann peeled and minced
several more tomatoes to go in.

Simon handed Shiv a bunch
of parsley to chop, then
measured the pasta.

Tolli stirred things into
the minestrone to cook.

Simon grumbled over
the Parmigiano Reggiano
as he wrestled with the grater.

"We really need to get one of
those Italian crank graters,"
he muttered. "They're faster."

"Let me?" Shiv offered.

Simon passed him
the cheese and grater.

Shiv wrapped a bit of metal
around the back of the cheese
and flicked it rapidly over
the grater. "Say when."

"When!" Simon said. "We
only need a few tablespoons."

Shiv could pile that much on
his own bowl, but didn't say so.

Instead he popped the tail end
of the cheese into his mouth.

"Or that works too," Simon said.

"I'll bring out the minestrone,"
Tolli said, taking it off the stove.

"Ann and I can set the table,"
Simon said. "Shiv, please
wipe it down for us, first."

"Yeah, boss," said Shiv.

He grabbed a rag and
the lemon spray, then
gave the table a swipe.

Ann got the soup plates
and silverware out of
the butler pantry, passing
them to Simon so he
could set the table.

Watching her was like
watching a dancer.

Shiv wondered if she
would like Luci's show,
but then shied away
from that thought.

The soup was warm and
savory, thickened with pasta.

It had greens in it, too, but Shiv
couldn't really taste them over
all the other vegetables. They were
just some unappetizing dark flakes
floating amongst the chunks.

As long as he didn't look
too closely, it was delicious.

After supper, Shiv cleared the table.
Ann asked for containers and packed up
the leftover minestrone in plastic tubs.

"The rule is, leftovers go to whomever
wants them first, unless somebody
reserves any for a specific purpose,"
Simon reminded them. Then he
checked the dough. "This is ready."

They floured the countertops
and then turned out the dough.

"Okay, cut your dough in half,"
Simon instructed. "Then roll
each half into a ball, carefully.
Try not to mash all the air out."

Shiv concentrated, tongue
poking out between his teeth.

He'd baked more than one brick
from strangling the dough too hard,
and Heron was exactly no help
in figuring out what went wrong
or how the hell to fix it.

Simon tossed a towel
over his dough and said,
"Cover and let it rest while
we do the dishes."

Which was to say,
Shiv washed them,
Simon dried them, and
Tolli put them away while
Ann told stories about teaching
her son to help in the kitchen.

Apparently she and her husband
had adopted a kid with no hands.

Shiv wondered if it'd be rude
to ask for a family picture to send
to Ragno, but he didn't say anything.

"Okay, now it's time to make the snakes,"
Tolli said as he turned back to his dough.

"Uhh ... what?" Shiv said, starting to panic.

"Here, watch me," Simon said. "We're going
to pick up the balls and roll them gently
into long, skinny strips to rise again."

Shiv watched as Simon worked,
then hesitantly tried it with his own.

The dough just squashed, though,
it wouldn't roll out the long way.

"I'll do the next one," Simon said.
"Do you want to put your hands over
mine this time, so you can feel it?"

Shiv thought about that. He was
way less twitchy than earlier. "Yeah."

This time he could feel the slide
and wiggle of Simon's hands
making the long smooth rope.

"Okay, I think I got it now,"
Shiv said. His dough came out
all lumpy, though. "Or maybe not."

"Relax, kid, it's just bread, not
the Eiffel Tower," Simon said.
"It doesn't have to be perfect
in order for it to taste good."

Shiv gave a nervous giggle.
"That's a relief," he said.

"Go on, finish your second one,"
Simon said. "You'll get the hang of it."

Sure enough, that one was easier.

"Those need to rest about half an hour,"
Tolli said as he turned on the oven
to preheat. "What shall we do?"

"More kitchen things?" Ann said. "I'm
looking for ideas I can teach my son Bay."

"We could make dip for the bread,"
Simon said. "It's a little different
if you make it ahead and let it sit
than make it to eat right away."

"What do we need?" Ann asked.

"Olive oil, pepper, and parmesan,"
Simon said, bringing out the ingredients
as Tolli passed around small bowls.

"First, measure the oil," said Simon.
"Recipes usually say a quarter cup.
I just pour until it looks good."

"Oh!" said Ann. "We haven't
tried pouring things yet."

"Get him a water wall,"
Tolli advised. "All of
my niblings loved that."

"What's a water wall?"
Shiv asked, feeling
stupid all over again.

"It's a set of cups, funnels,
troughs, and tubes attached
to a wall or other prop so you
can pour water through them,"
Tolli said. "It's a fun way for kids
to learn about measuring and pouring."

"Also gravity and physics," Simon added.

"Oh, those," Shiv said with a shrug.
"I've seen 'em. Never got to touch one."

"Well, you can play with Edison's
next summer," Tolli said. "We've
been building one every year
since Molly learned to stand up."

"But Edison's ..." Shiv trailed away.
"Would he even like that kind of thing?"

"If he doesn't, Jaxon will, but I have yet
to see Edison get tired of anything he
can fiddle around with," Tolli said.

"Okay, you got a point," Shiv said.

Simon showed them both the measuring
and the eyeballing versions of olive oil.

Then he used a pepper mill to add black pepper.

"We have an electric pepper mill," Ann said.
"I think Bay could learn to use that -- it has
a big button on top that you push to turn it on."

"That sounds awful hard to do for a kid
who hasn't got any hands," Shiv said.

"So?" Ann said. "Steering a tricycle
without arms is hard, too, and
Bay can already do that."

"How?" Shiv blurted.
"Sorry, that was rude."

"No, it's okay," Ann said.
"You have to steer with
your core strength and
your center of balance,
like anyone on a unicycle."

Shiv had only ever seen
pictures of a unicycle, and
never understood how anyone
could possibly steer the thing.

"Huh, so that's how it works,"
he said. "I wondered."

They let Shiv grate
the cheese again, too.

Soon everyone had their dip
mixed and ready to set aside.

"That's easy enough Edison could do it,"
Shiv said. "Maybe with a little help.
I know Jaxon could do it."

"Then you can show them how,
next time you see them," Tolli said.

"Me?" Shiv squeaked. "But they got parents!"

"So did I, and it didn't stop me learning things
from the neighbor kids," Tolli replied.

"Same here," Simon said. "If you learn
from different people, you find out more."

A timer dinged. "Now for the fun part:
slashing the dough," Tolli said. He offered
Shiv a handle. "You might want to sharpen
this, since we've used it once already."

It wasn't a kitchen knife. It was a scalpel.

Shiv had seen enough of the things
to recognize one, but this blade
was easily the size of his thumb.

After a few seconds, he stopped
staring at it and carefully sharpened
the blade as Tolli had asked him.

"Okay, it's sharp," Shiv said.
"Be real careful with that."

Tolli cut most of the loaf with
simple slashes angled across it,
but down at the bottom he made
a Y-shape with three left cuts.

"That's my initial in Ogham,"
he explained. "Tinne for T.
It means holly in Irish."

Simon put a double row
of tiny X marks on his, which
looked familiar somehow.

"Asaawa!" Shiv exclaimed.
"I recognize that from the designs
that go on cloth. It means sweetness."

"So it does," Simon said, raising
his eyebrows. "You have good eyes.
Not everyone knows Adinkra symbols,
but I enjoy them for marking things."

Shiv shrugged. "I like patterns."

"Well, you've seen what Mrs. Dr. Finn
can do on a loaf of bread," said Tolli.
"That's where I learned to use a scalpel
for this -- she figured it out in med school.
How anyone can get decent results
with a razor blade is beyond me."

"That's got no belly," Shiv said, frowning.
"What do they cut with, the point?"

"Point or straight edge," Tolli said.
"You should hear her complain about it."

"Do you think ... she might teach me?"
Shiv whispered. "I bet I could get
good at that, but not by myself."

"She'll be thrilled," Tolli said.
"So far nobody but Molly has
learned that sense of artistry.
Heron and I can do the basics,
but not the fancy designs."

"I just stick to straight cuts,"
Ann said. "Pass the knife, please."

Simon passed her the knife. She
swiped it over the dough, then
offered the handle to Shiv.

"Don't try to get fancy yet,"
Tolli advised. "Learn how
it feels to make the cut first."

"Yeah, I know," Shiv said.

The first few cuts were awful,
ragged from the blade dragging
because he didn't move it right.

Soon he learned how to flick it
over the dough to cut clean,
and then he could focus on
making them all the same size.

"It looks lousy," Shiv said, disappointed.

"It's your first try," Tolli said. "Go on,
do the second loaf. It'll look better."

Shiv tried it, and it did look better.

"I need so much more practice
with this stuff," he muttered.

"We have plenty of ingredients
if you want to try again tomorrow,"
Tolli assured him. "We will not
run out of eager mouths to feed!"

That was the truth. Finns ate
like soups whether they were or not.

Simon put the loaves in the oven
and set the timer for twenty minutes.
"I'll need to mist it a few times before
it's done, but the rest of you can go
into the family room if you want."

"Sounds good to me," Ann said,
and headed for the fireplace.

The smell of baking bread
began to float out of the oven,
mingling with pine from the fire.

It warmed the cold place in
Shiv's belly that Chyou had left.

"How are you doing?" Tolli asked.
"If you're not up for the company,
or you need privacy to talk, I can
shoo Ann out to the barn."

"I don't want to talk about it,
I just got calmed down," Shiv said.
"I don't know if any of this stuff is
really helping, though. I kinda feel
like it's a half-baked idea, not finished.
But I sooo don't have the energy
to deal with what happened."

"A half-baked idea is okay,
as long as it's in the oven,"
Tolli assured him.

"Oh, good," Shiv said,
leaning forward just enough
to brush along Tolli's side.

A hand ghosted along Shiv's back,
and then Tolli said, "Come on,
let's get out to the family room
before Ann soaks up all the heat."

Shiv laughed, tickled by the image.

Tolli settled next to Ann, which
saved Shiv the trouble of deciding
whether or not to sit beside them
because there wasn't enough room.

If he sprawled in the chair with
his feet over the arm, though,
he could reach Tolli that way.

Shiv remembered seeing pictures
of Aida "hugging" people like that.

Tentatively he reached out and
hooked a foot over Tolli's knee.

Tolli reached down and patted him
just once, and then he let go.

Shiv sighed and melted into the chair.

* * *


"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."
-- M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

This is Simon and Tolliver's house. The basement uses the same floor plan as the 2nd floor. This is the 1st floor plan.

The basement weight room is in the optional storage area on floor plan. The accessible bathroom in the basement has a sink, toilet, and shower.

On the main floor, the foyer is next to the formal dining room., connected by arches. Here is a closeup of the butler's pantry. Beyond the dining room and foyer lies the living room.

Accessible kitchen design offers many variations. Most of the house has an open floor plan with hardwood floors for easy travel. The kitchen island has kneespace on the back side where it faces the stove. (Notice that the front panels are just decorative, without handles.) That is Simon's primary workspace, and it's wide enough for someone else to work with him either on the same side or from the paneled side. Workboards pull out from between drawers and cabinets to provide secondary workspace all around the kitchen. The dishwasher racks pull out too. The shallow sink has a tall faucet and pull-out sprayer. The refrigerator-freezer has upper and lower doors for easy access. The gas ovens are under the rangetop, and the electronic controls can be manipulated from a smartphone or other device. The only thing that's completely out of reach is the microwave oven, which Simon hates using. Kitchen stools and stepladders are stored in the hall closet behind the refrigerator.

The powder room is a freestanding roomlet between the kitchen and the living room (left to right) and the dining room and the breakfast room (front to back).

The laundry room has a sink wall and a cabinet wall.

A cubby wall divides the kitchen from the family room. A fireplace warms the family room.

The breakfast room has built-in shelves and a door to the back porch.

The master bedroom belongs to Simon and Tolli. It has a roll-in closet. The master bathroom is fully accessible with a jacuzzi tub and a roll-in shower. Simon's vanity has kneespace while Tolli's has cabinets.

There are two spare bedrooms near the master bedroom. When Drew and Halley are staying with Simon and Tolli, this one with built-in bookshelves is Halley's bedroom, and this one is Drew's bedroom. The common bathroom is accessible too, although it doesn't have the extra turning space.

Shiv has the bonus room over the garage.  It includes a private bathroom, also accessible.

An elevator now connects the upper story, garage, and basement.
Dialecticdreamer has mentioned a chair lift, but I think one of the floors is inaccessible, or was at one time. I also saved an elevator in case it's needed.

A compass rose in the back yard provides a public teleport pad, and the garage holds another made of rubber mats for teleporters well known to the family.

Comfort baking helps people feel better. Making healthy food like homemade bread is a form of self-care. You can make filoncino with a mixer or by hand. Here is a recipe for minestrone. The minestrone recipe calls for zucchini, but due to the season they're using gem, a white-fleshed winter squash that substitutes well for zucchini in most recipes where it will get cooked completely.

Seasonal food is good for many reasons. It's not always feasible to eat only foods that are in season, but the more you can do, the better. Learn how to shop in season. Here are visual and text calendars for seasonal shopping in Nebraska. Shiv is learning about these concepts as part of his expanded work for the restaurant.

A restaurant-style cheese grater is absolutely worth its drawer space if you grate a lot of cheese. My partner and I took one look at that thing gloriously snowing parmesan over pasta and said, "I want one."

In local-America, many kids resist doing chores for various reasons. Chief among these is that their parents didn't start them when they wanted to help, as toddlers. Look at the age guide to encouraging chores, and you can see why this is a problem. Miss that opportunity, and you're rowing against the tide forever. Do it right, though, and you get kids who are proactive about helping around the house. That's much more common in Terramagne-America than here. You can see it with the Finnlings, for instance.

Here is a poster with an age-appropriate list of chores for children. (For a text list, this one gives just kitchen skills.) Now ignore the ages. Start at the toddler end. As soon as the child masters a skill in the first block, look for a next step in the following block. That is, once they can set a table, teach them to sort silverware or clear the table; when they can do those, move to emptying the dishwasher or peeling carrots. Immediately reward mastery with a new and more interesting challenge. Kids love crowing, "I did it myself!" And then they won't wind up in college staring at the toaster oven wondering how to work it.

(Some of these links are horrible.)
Of course, Shiv got almost no chance to learn any of this growing up. Nobody would trust him with knives, or glass dishes, or even food most of the time. This is why he set his kitchen on fire trying to make breakfast the day after he got out of prison. Refusing to let children learn self-care skills is a devastating form of neglect and abuse. When parental fear (or social terrorism) drives childraising, the result is bubble-wrapped kids who are miserable and unsuccessful ... basically, an intellectual form of footbinding. By the time Shiv got to a few families who tried to teach him, he was so damaged that he usually pushed them away and sulked instead of trying it. He was still doing that in prison -- you can see a few references to him wishing that he'd taking more of the life skills classes. But people made him hate and fear school, so he didn't take those opportunities either. Most of what he knows, he learned either from trial and error, or a few reliable folks showing him. It helps that some of his current supporters understand how to parent traumatized children, so they can fill in the gaps.

(So are these.)
This is regrettably typical of foster care survivors in L-America. Often they just get dumped out on their own, with predictably execrable results. There are some programs here that teach life skills, but not enough. T-America customarily provides better support and more options for youth after 18. Here are some ways to improve transition outcomes.

Building independence in disabled children requires teaching them life skills. Here are some specific ideas for teachers and for children with physical disabilities. This booklet addresses multiple limb differences. An excellent approach is to present children with a challenge, suggest possible solutions, and let them figure out what works for them. After you've made a habit of this, you can just set the goal and won't need to offer solutions very much -- they'll learn their own pattern for testing possible methods.

There are many ways to make olive oil dips. The one I love from olive garden is just olive oil, fresh-ground black pepper, and parmesan powder.

(Some of these links are alarming.)
Cave diving is exciting but dangerous. Here is a beginner's guide and a video. By the way, "don't get Aida hooked on this" means "until the superwhale learns better coping skills" not "never ever."

Water walls are easy to make with whatever you have lying around. It teaches ingenuity, crafting, upcycling, physics, hydrology, pouring skills, and more. Ideally, look for a design that creates multiple paths for the water flow and allows you to switch out parts of the path for new ones.

An electric pepper mill is a great piece of adaptive equipment that addresses various challenges.

Most people can learn to steer with core strength and balance. You need this to ride a unicycle, or an ordinary bicycle with no hands. Watch a video on hands-free biking.

(Here there be kitchen controversies!)
Bakers use a blade to score the bread dough and create beautiful patterns. The problem is that people are using either a craft blade, a razor blade, or a lame -- all of which are lousy for making good swift slashes. Why? For that type of motion, you cut with the "belly" of the blade, which is the curved part under the point. None of those recommended examples have a belly! They're straight. Cutting with a straight edge or a corner, like cutting with a dull blade, is prone to dragging. What you want for good slashes is a blade with a nice, long belly. Plenty of kitchen knives have this feature, but they're not sharp enough. What blade has a belly and the sharpest edge of all? A scalpel. Sizes 22, 24, and 36 are big long blades with different shapes of curve and point. Plus they're meant to be disposable, so they're cheap; if you want, you can use a new blade every time you bake bread. I imagine that Elisabeth Finn figured this out after about ten minutes, and practiced her scalpel strokes on bread dough -- because you need exactly the same kind of quick, confident, controlled motion for slashing bread as for surgery.

There are simple and complex patterns for scoring bread dough. Check out how they look on different loaf shapes. Anything with straight lines, such as Norse runes, should work well. Ogham is another option. Adinkra symbols are more complex with curves, but some of them work.

Learn about troubleshooting bread failures.

Perfectionism comes in various types, which can be healthy or unhealthy. Abused children and gifted people are prone to perfectionism. There are ways to overcome perfectionism or help someone else do so.

Boys and men often resist talking about their problems, and it can affect a whole family. Some people simply don't find it an effective technique, while others have been driven into it by a hostile environment. Here are some ways of encouraging men to talk about their problems. However, if you do this, you had better provide enough value to justify the spoons he is spending to make words at you. Don't force people to talk if they don't want to. There are other options when someone doesn't feel like sharing. Notice that Tolli and Simon spend hours just establishing a sense of safety, and while Shiv still doesn't want to talk about what happened, at least some of the touch aversion is beginning to go down.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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