Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

Guitar Town!

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

So in honoring my son’s request for a “cowboy shirt”, I became rather obsessed with a version in an old black and white of a roots-rock artist. I decided to clone the shirt in the photo, and as I wait for the chambray fabrics to get here, I’ve put together the oh-so-wearable muslin in homespun:

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

I am impressed with my efforts, truly. Homespun is a lovely, soft, and not-at-all-crisp cotton, so lining up so many stripes (for both fabrics) is a real feat. I also created invisible, perfectly-matched breast pockets, for funsies:

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

And cuff plackets! Mine are getting darn near perfect. I will forever be grateful to David Coffin for his shirtmaking prowess, and his willingness to help one-on-one:

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

One of my favorite details: the collar buttons. I almost always omit these, but I was in the mood this time. Sewn on my grandmother’s 1950 Singer 15-91:

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

(My grandma and I. She’d be proud:)

Grandma Jean & I

I finished the hem with a ban-roll technique. Easy, elegant, and flawless:

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

And, obv – one satisfied customer!

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

 

 

drinking every drop

Five years ago today I got sober. It wasn’t quite like that, of course. I’ve written about it here, more than once. One of the biggest days in my life. The very biggest, so far? I don’t know.

It is quite something to sit today in a meeting. And to have a guy, I remember him from when I first got sober. He had two years on me and at the time that seemed immense. He’s shy as hell and always has been but he looks right at me and says to me across the room, “I’m proud of you, girl.” There are like three men ever who get to call me “girl” but he has earned it. I thank him and look at my hands because I don’t want to cry because I think I might lose it big time.

And then my friend M. She gives me a card. We talk a bit. When I get home, I sit down. The card reads inside: “After all we’ve been through together I believe I can call you my sister.” No one’s ever adopted me as a sister before. I am deeply moved. She calls me later in the evening. We both laugh about how we basically had to bolt so we wouldn’t cry today. We couldn’t hug, not then anyway. We hug all the time, usually. Not today. It would have been too much.

And my sponsor. She texts me. She, too, has given me a card. I open it and find a memento from her five years.

We’ve walked through the flames of hell together.

Survivors.

May 27th, 2016

saints need sinners

Today’s a really special day for me. And as is my custom, I made y’all a little mixtape.

Click on the image to get m3u download and CD cover, zipped:

May 27th, 2016

Streaming: [ gmusic link ]

playlist:

1. Shadows Of The Night / Pat Benatar
2. Shadow People / Dr. Dog
3. Guitar Town / Steve Earle
4. Going To California / Led Zeppelin
5. Operate / Peaches
6. The Passenger / Iggy Pop
7. Missionary Man / Eurythmics
8. Airbag / Radiohead
9. Disparate Youth / Santigold
10. Turn to Stone / Electric Light Orchestra
11. The Only Living Boy in New York / Simon & Garfunkel
12. Hopeless Wanderer / Mumford & Sons
13. Electric Love / BØRNS
14. My Shit’s Fucked Up / Warren Zevon
15. Moonage Daydream / David Bowie

faithfulness the best relationship

Tonight a woman looked right at me and said, “I remember when – “. She’d tried to get sober, came in a couple weeks before I did. I remember her so well, as I’d jumped right on her real quick-like and bummed rides (and offered rides, when my car worked) and invested myself in this woman. Even with only a couple more weeks on me, back then I believed with all my heart she was tougher, and smarter. She had the secret. Because she had a few more days. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve given into an addiction, really felt it in your bones and got honest about it. The most slender bit of hope, if it seems real enough, looms huge.

She tells me how she used to try to race me through recovery. I remember this a little. And I remember soon after we met she drank again, then tried to get sober, then drank and I didn’t see her for all this time, except once in her car on a summer night. “And now you have five years,” she says. Her eyes are swimming with hot tears but they are gorgeous, huge and liquid brown, her most stunning feature really.

You can imagine how glad I am to see her back. It’s like we were in a shipwreck and separated off the lifeboats and here we are years later, and she’s still alive and our friendship is as real and keen as it was back when our lives were in that kind of peril.

I’m thinking about medicine, too. See three years ago yesterday was my last cigarette – I wrote it down, May 17th, because I somehow knew it might be the day. With that sort of thing I’m never sure, it’s like a growing excitement. I don’t remember that particular last cigarette and after the first year or so, the cravings passed and I rarely thought about smoking. Smoking’s not that big a deal maybe but nevertheless I am glad. I remember what it felt like to want a cigarette. It’s like fun for a while (years!) then one day you don’t want to want it because it’s starting to be a need, and at that point things have changed.

Of course human beings love to lie to themselves about dependency. The truth is, we have many. All of us. Some dependencies are healthy, some less so. I remember my first mentor telling me: “If you came up behind me and put your hand around my nose and mouth I could act hip, slick and cool for a bit.” She leans back in her chair, folding her arms and feigning nonchalance. “Maybe a whole couple minutes. Then if you keep cutting off my air supply I’m going to start to get uncomfortable. And then pretty soon I’m in a panic and I’ll do anything it takes to get that gasp of air!”

I never forgot this. I never forgot that I’m not so independent, not so very powerful after all. I’m lying to myself if I say I am.

The smoking is gone. The drinking, the drugs. All of these things have fallen away, all of these “bad habits”, these distractions, these little obsessions. The need to be esteemed in work or avocation. The need to gorge, the need to starve, the need to be liked by any particular person. The need for certain things not to go wrong for my kids. (That’s the biggest one of all, I think!) So it’s all falling away and sometimes I get this prescient sense it’s about to happen and that is like a tingling feeling. Who knows? One dares not to hope or to grasp. But maybe I’m changing from within!

I had a big change recently so right now, I’m just stepping along. I’m the little girl with her feet along the narrow curb, looking down to walk in that line. Taking a bit of focus but not taking it too seriously right now.

Because the sun’s out and it’s a beautiful day and I’ve got somewhere I’m stepping to.

Wakey-Wakey

/=/ complicity

My veganism happened to me. It wasn’t something I aspired to, or something I did “to be a better person”. Because I didn’t think I could do it. I guess I thought people who were vegan were tough sunovabitches who didn’t need food to comfort them, to fill them up, the way I did.

I believed if I became vegan, I would be hungry all the time.

And sad.

Wakey-Wakey

But wait, let me go back:

The first time I tried veganism I was thirteen. I was off to a YMCA camp, and there was little there for me to eat. I didn’t know how to advocate for myself, either. I ate plain bagels and applesauce and felt hungry and pinched and sorrowful about it all. I felt anger at all the people there who just didn’t give a shit. I was tired and grouchy.

I got home from camp, and I remember a lot of green salads and french fries at restaurants. I think I went without animal products about six months, that time around. No slouch there, I mean. Many thousands’ gallons water, hundreds of lives spared. But I didn’t feel supported, understood. I felt alone. It couldn’t last.

In the twenty-plus years since I’ve flirted with veganism and vegetarianism more than once. It was inspiring for a bit, then would come to seem impossible. An uphill battle.

But something changed earlier this year. I had finally settled into vegetarianism in earnest, and with a bit of joy. Meat had come to taste like death, like a corpse. I could leave it behind, finally. Eggs were no trouble. They’ve always been a bit repellant to me, and that conviction had been growing.

And then, early this year, I came to know I’d soon be saying goodbye to dairy. No one has loved cheese more than I. Let me tell you!

Yet, I was seeing deeply that behind any animal product, no matter how much we don’t want to look, and how much we insist we “try” to buy “humane” meat or eggs or milk, there were things happening that no human being could feel okay with. I started to know the math wasn’t right. Backyard chickens – we used to house some, remember? Well, where did all the boy chicks go, when you order your chicks from the feed store? Nowhere nice, as a very haunting video demonstrated. A two-and-a-half second video that to this day, I wish I hadn’t seen.

Where did roosters go? Did they have a quality of life? Are hens supposed to lay as many eggs as we’ve bred them for? Do they enjoy safety and longevity? Are the many health and predation issues they suffer, just “part of life”? Or is there another solution?

What about all those calves? Do they miss their mothers? Where do they go? They are slaughtered and turned to veal. The dairy industry is the meat industry. Cows cry, bellow, and feel pain. Mothers search for their babies for weeks after they are torn away.

I knew this.

And I couldn’t even stand to watch videos that answered any of these questions. I still haven’t viewed the phenomenal and award-winning documentary Earthlings; I saw less than a minute of footage and had nightmares for two days.

But it was a conversation, two in a row in fact, that lit the lamp of awareness. I had started to explore the cruelty of eggs and milk, aloud, when the topic came up. I wasn’t in a hurry to talk about it all; but I was thinking it through. And these two conversations I was met with ignorance – a man passionate about “natural” foods, who insisted the males on the dairy farms had good lives after they were “sold”. I said, “Where are they sold to? What becomes of them?” – and he said, “They go to farms,” as if these bulls were given long happy lives. Then, two days later, a woman who promoted cage-free eggs on Facebook responded with startling vitriol when I suggested any kind of egg consumption may not be very ethical by any human standard.

The anger that met my most open-hearted musing really made an impression. I came to see that if I wanted to offer a choice to people, I would have to step across the threshold myself.

And I woke up a few days later and knew, Today’s the day.

And now? I’m vegan.

It has been a beautiful experience. I could write so much more about it! Veganism this time around has given me an intense, keen joy. To my astonishment, my family and many friends have followed along. Some to full veganism, some to vegetarianism, some to just less animal products – good for them, good for the environment, good for the heart and mind.

My children follow. My daughter is a passionate, lovely vegan. Her sense of humor is different than mine; but we are wicked and we share our joys and frustrations together. My son, who I never thought to see eschew meat, became a vegetarian just before my birthday. He is working toward veganism now.

Our household has changed. It happened so quickly, but it is not a surprise, not really.

Gentleness suits us. It seems to deliver more life, more humor, and more peace. Some people think when we consume meat, we consume not just hormones and poisons and unsafe chemicals – but adrenaline and fear and hate.

I don’t know what I think of that, but I do know that veganism brings me joy. I wouldn’t have found this serenity if I hadn’t let myself change. I find there is more to learn, more to love. I find I don’t have to listen to arguments, apathy, and angry words from people who don’t demonstrate a better plan for the environment, for the compassionate heart. They are free to their opinion, but are they who I want to advise me? This helps me think deeply – who do I want to listen to? Who can help me?

Joy has entered my household, in a surprising, wonderful way.

May you find the same!

Tremors (1990)

elevation hoodie sew-along: cuffs, band, & finishing

Today we finish our hoodie! VICTORY!

Tremors (1990)

I can’t get enough of this hoodie. The purple-hued hoodie pictured in some of the photos below, is the fourth I’ve made in a very short time. And I have another on the table!
Elevation Hoodie Sew-AlongTime to get stitching! #LikeABoss

Continue reading

Sir Digby

scuffing one’s toe at the abyss

Today my lithotripsy procedure was moved up a few hours. As it worked out, the family and friend who’d planned to accompany me – to give me moral support and to drive me home – weren’t able to be there. I got to check in alone, fill out paperwork alone, receive my IV alone, and be wheeled into general anesthesia without saying goodbye to anyone.

It suited me, to be honest.

Illness, accident, and then death: they come for us all. When I arrived at the hospital I parked my car in the sunshine and looked out over my beloved Aberdeen. Any time could be one’s last; I suppose when heading off for a drug-induced near-death sleep, it’s as good a time as any to appreciate these sorts of experiences. I wouldn’t want anything different. I am happy with what I have.

But of course – I woke again, and lived to see another day.

And now that I’m home, and the house is quiet, I’m thinking on how quickly life changes. We have yet another mama kitty here in our home, with her five (thankfully healthy) little two-week old kittens. My children are navigating teen- and preteen-life and there have been a few surprises: some pleasant, and some less so. My halftime job is heading into a period of intensity: Friday, a man screamed at me on the phone, for no other reason than he is a very unhappy human being and he thinks abusing a woman in the clerical field will make him feel better.

A friend of mine passed, suddenly, on April 27th. My heart still hurts over this one. Thanks to the internet, and a passionate community of friends, I have been able to trade stories, to see old photos, and to process the grief. It is a welcome experience. I need people. Maybe on the terms that suit me best, but I need them all the same.

Then home. And housework, laundry, filing papers, paying bills. And kitten handling and maintenance. Life’s a full time job!

Sir Digby

your electric love!

Tonight I attend a small meeting, of alcoholics and addicts. I hadn’t intended on staying – I was picking up some information to help with the local community – but my heart softened and I told my husband to come back for me. I mean… this room, these people, they raised me. I gotta stay.

So Ralph picks me up an hour later and we head off in the car for a household errand. In the sunshine in his busted-ass BMW, feeling content, I laugh and say to him, “Why don’t I trust men?” He laughs along with me and says, “I don’t know, maybe something happened [in your life] to make you feel that way.”

I tell him I’m thinking about the men in the meeting. I say, “I was going to get a ride from one of them so you didn’t have to get me – but out of all of them there’s only one I’d trust to ask. And even him -” I see-saw my hand a bit. He knows what I mean, though. I don’t know these men. I know how many men have treated me my whole life, how some of them treat me today. I don’t mind avoiding their company, keeping it social, not spending a lot of one-on-one time.

But we’re standing in line and he says something then I tell him, I say it right as I am realizing it: “No man has hurt me more than you.” He smiles but he flinches a bit. Because he and I know it’s true. It’s so painful that it’s true. But there it is. And even as I say it I reach for his hand because I love him so, so much. We’ve been through so very much. I’ve forgiven him entirely. I wonder if he feels the same. It doesn’t matter. I can feel his hand in mind; precious to me, his beautiful hands, rough to the touch, expressive and tender.

There’s a love there that is unlike anything I’ve known. I’d never give him up and I think he feels the same. He is my best defender and my best friend and the strongest man I’ve met. I don’t think I’d stay with anyone less.

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along

elevation hoodie sew-along: constructing the body & pockets

Weather here this time of year is gorgeous. That said, it’s hard to find a Pacific Northwest season that isn’t hoodie-friendly. Even in the hottest of our August days, a lightweight hoodie is perfect for those late summer nights. I am adoring my Nature’s Fabrics bamboo french terry (NAYY – just love their stuff!). It is the perfect weight – midweight, heavier than a heavy t-shirt but not hoodie weight. I am reminded that delicious bespoke benefits from high-quality fabrics!
Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along
So – time to get stitching!

Bling! Continue reading