everything I know about people I learned from pens

the ground I stand upon

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

Tonsillitis

My son takes a day at home, a nasty bout with tonsillitis. (Pip helps him rest.) Today he is much improved; he arranges a picnic with his grandmother, and I drive out to pick my daughter up at the bus stop by myself.

She steps off the bus and she’s so happy to see me her face lights up and flushes. Do you have any idea how it makes me feel, that this is her response to me every day?

Later: the rain hits the roof in torrents; darkness whirls outside. I’m sitting in a theater, listening to my castmates practice. Smiles, laughter, silly impromptu dances, yes – but everyone is in earnest. Our director helps each performer with notes, with mood, with blocking.

I miss my home. I miss feeling a part of; feeling like the center of the household. Sewing for others, and writing and volunteering, and now this production – I am not the at-home provider the way I once was and I am still finding my niche. My children’s worlds continue to expand and although my life is very full, the sea change leaves me unsettled.

The gas tank, and the bank account, are empty. My son’s illness, though not a serious one, is very sad and frightening. He is one who hallucinates and has terrible dreams, when he has a fever. Sometimes my hands stretch out and find his edges; he feels like a little boat tossed in furious seas. I hold him close and kiss his head and yet my heart is tossed to and fro as well.

I bake – chocolate pumpkin bread – I boil eggs. I buy raw milk, I peel oranges. I tackle the laundry with sincerity – we have the worst dryer we’ve ever had and our little laundry hallway is piled deep.

I try not to worry: how will I afford groceries the next few days? Instead I buy lamb for a friend who recently had an illness, and cannot digest many kinds of meat. With satisfaction, that is the last $8 in my account. I am glad to gift her. Another friend asked me last night – why don’t I keep things? I told her, “I’m a Buddhist. We are all about non-attachment.”

Giving a gift when I have but little grounds me in a way almost impossible to articulate. I know I do not need to, either.

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glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 3 comments

It is getting seriously Halloween up in this here

Car Coat, Autumn

(more pictures of the jacket after the cut) -

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Little Halloween Dolls

 Seriously: these little ghoulish dolls (made by a friend; bought as gifts) are excellent). Like:

Little Halloween Dolls

 

They are slaying me!

I’ve been making stuff for myself, too. Some tights:

Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

Making the perfect-fit tight is pretty challenging. I have discovered my ankles and knees are slim, and my calves and thighs are full. These pair were my third try but I am getting it down!
Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

My ladyfriend B. sent us a care package – including some Cotton + Steel fat quarters. DROOOLLness:
Cotton & Steel Fat Quarters
Remember this skeleton thread holder my daughter drew a while back? He’s back on duty – holding my hair products.

Skeleton 'Sup?

Phee's Skeleton Thread Holder

 

Pumpkin pull-apart bread for my castmates. CHOICE
Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread, For Castmates

 

Herbet Pocket is being very witchy:

Herbert Pocket Takes A Rest

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four more blocks, plus the one in my brain

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in dailies | 2 comments

To my right, a woman takes her seat. She is small, and has a slender neck balancing a very round head, like a pumpkin. Her hair is blonde and molds to her fine, delicate skull, before slipping midway down her back. She is probably fifty years old, but holds herself child-like. She is very quiet – likely still very fresh from detox. The other clients are very, very kind to her, and call her by name. As I help chair our meeting, I can feel her presence beside me. I am tenderhearted and sad tonight, but I still breathe in sync with the addicts and alcoholics here, those I am supposed to be helping.

I am a very special sort of tired; it isn’t just physical, but in mind and spirit as well. I realize as I talk – and listen, tonight – I am doing my best but my best is pretty rough. I am bored, bored of talking about what life was like before I got sober. Because understand: I’ve told my story hundreds of times. It isn’t the same every time I tell it, but my mind plunks stones in lakes best left undisturbed.

Kindness. Kindness is the heartbeat I can feel. I don’t have to be perfect. I do have to hold a kind heart. With that thought, my mind sets on a silver shore. I can do it. One hour at a time.

After my volunteer partner and I have spoken for some time, the floor is open to questions. I call a woman by name (I try to remember names; names are important); she sits across from me. And now she says, slowly, “I know exactly how you feel.” I wait. She nods. Her grief is huge. I sit with her, even though she is across the room, and others are watching. I finally ask, “What part?” She says – “All of it.”

At the meeting’s cessation I cross the room – speaking to a few others there, first – and sit with her. Up close her eyes are a beautiful, rich green, a violent depth. I ask when she goes home. She tells me. I ask where home is. She tells me. Then she tells me a little about the hell that awaits her there. She tells me, I am scared. I put my hand on her knee. “You are safe here,” I tell her. Her eyes well with tears. I tell her, to find women in Recovery, to get their phone numbers. “People wouldn’t write their names on a phone list if they didn’t want you to call.” She says, “I’m fifty years old. I have no children.” I tell her, “There are women in Recovery who can help you. They will take care of you.” I tell her these things because I know she can make it. But if she tries it on her own, she has no chance.

The elevator ride back downstairs I am tired; I feel sad. I am cheered a bit talking to my friend R., who helped with the meeting. He and I are becoming friends. I drive him back to his place. He says a few kind words, calls me “young lady”. He is not a demonstrative fellow, but he says kind words. A penny from his pocket, are like riches from another.

I get home. I check my phone. A text message: “I know you are coming back from —–, but when you get in can you call me? I need to ask you about —–.” A friend who needs help.

I am near tears with gratitude, to feel useful, to do something for someone else. My friend answers the phone and her voice is muffled, frightened. An hour later before we ring off we are laughing. Laughing together.

Some days it seems all I can really cling to, is helping others. It gives me that space I need to heal from whatever hurts.

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“I know a thing or two about love. Well, maybe just a thing. A big, blurry thing, like Bigfoot.”

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 2 comments

Ralph was out of town all weekend. I was so busy it is amazing I didn’t fall ill, or forget to feed some animal and child and find them a skeleton sporting a tuft of fur by week’s-end.

Friday I delivered a sasquatch costume to an Events concern that needed one for a handful of festivities during the year. So far a picture or two has popped up on Facebook, and everyone looks like they’re having a good time – including the first paid person to don the piece. Included with the costume: a few types of black makeup, and a few types of false teeth.

SQUATCHIN'

I know, I know. It would have been nice to get more of my trademark detailed pictures of the piece. Well, it was a miracle – in the entire pedestrian usage of the word – I got photos at all. It was quite a rush job.

SQUATCHIN'

 For the front closure: hidden snaps in a black canvas underlap. A great technique I’ll be using for more costumes!

SQUATCHIN'

Fully lined in a delicious, nubby black satin. The costume feels good on the inside. Ain’t gonna lie – probably a fairly hot experience to wear it!
SQUATCHIN'

Toes: sewn and glued to fur spats – a nice, long foot that can be worn out in weather. I even painted little purplish moons on the nails. Who is going to look this close? Well the point is – I do.

SQUATCHIN'

So that? Was my last week. Grateful to have the project finished according to my timeline.

Saturday I hadn’t recuperated before hustling my eldest to her soccer game adjacent to a mushroom farm in Olympia (the game ended a 2-2 tie). Came home and worked a bit on my vampire film project. I am getting into Halloween the way my rabbit is into eating slightly overripe bananas!

In the last two days I’ve had an audition, yoga classes, and two volunteer bits – as well as cooking for family and friends and a movie night.

An audition? Oh yes. Today I landed a part in the ensemble cast of a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Kind of a lifetime dream as I have adored the rock opera since I was a little girl – and I was really, really into it as a teen. (Ralph will still put it on when I’m sewing, and having trouble.

So yeah. This next week? A little respite might be nice.

 

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“just a bunch of stuff that happened”

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

Yoga. Tonight on the floor, on my mat, my mind wanders. I think of a cigarette. Then I think how funny it would be if I just calmly lit up in class. There are so many people here on the floor we have to be careful not to touch one another. Heavens no!

Smoky aspirations aside (I’ve been Quit over a year and a half!), my body can go deeper into yin now that I’ve been practicing. The body feels great; but it is unpleasant to have my face on the mat. I feel panic that I can’t breathe. I return to the breath and tell myself, I’m not going to die here. Mental discipline. I suppose.

So: life is busy.

VAMPIRES n shit

I forgot to tell you – I’m watching a vampire movie every day this month. Almost all of them are those I haven’t seen: the above-pictured is one I have, years ago. Had to get a DVD and everything!

Puppy Timez

 Puppy Times. Not our puppy! Oh my gosh. This puppy was built like a cube. It doesn’t even have a job!

Troublez

So this is what I come home to at night. Nels says Herbert Pocket has “intelligent” eyes. What do you think?

Phoenix

Soccer season is about halfway through. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Saturday’s game; I have about four places I’m supposed to be at once.

A Shared Meal

Friends joined us for a movie. And some taco dip. And taco soup. It’s fall, so it’s time for tacos. (It was also time for tacos during spring, summer, and will be in winter too).

SQUATCHIN'

Working on a pretty awesome project! Unveiling in two days.

Just Before A Walk

The kids are rocking it at school – and come home with energy to spare. I miss them

- but it’s liveable.

 

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hollow (wo)man

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in dailies | 2 comments

Wishkah

This last week I’ve had three members of the community ask for a private conference for the following: putting homeschooled kids into school, and taking schooled children out of school. I guess now I’ve got enough experience on both. I’m honored to be trusted, and I hope my listening ear, and my shared experience, helped these concerned folk.

The thing is, with any life change a parent has the opportunity to examine the agenda they’ve crafted for their child. And I mean, deeply examine it. If they’re not willing to do that, then little I say makes a difference much.

This of course brings a preternatural calm to all such conferences. It’s easy to be calm. Who is going to see their agendas, let alone set them aside? My children’s own attendance on a daily basis at a little rural school miles (and miles!) away from home life is, I’d like to think, a bit of a referendum on that concept of I just want what’s best for my child. (because: what parent doesn’t?) Their internment in the walls of a brick and mortar school for me means: I trust. The school? I dunno. The kids themselves? Yeah. Yeah, I really do.

Wishkah

Wishkah

Today I spent several hours at this very school, my first volunteer gig of the year.I first directed one class in a small activity – some cooking and crafting – and then watched both my kids in their respective Physical Education classes.

It was a surreal, exhausting experience. I don’t know how kids get through it and have energy left over to play sports. Or as my daughter did – go to soccer practice, come home and do chores, go for a run with her father – and then finish up her homework.

Beat, querulous, confused, tonight I attend the last of my yoga series. Half the class of twelve has dropped out. I open up to the possibility of gratitude – for myself, my practice. Come home and put kids into the shower and put away laundry and take a hot shower.

But I’m unearthed; sands have shifted.

People act like when your kids grow up, you’re sad because you’re this empty husk that has no meaning to life now that you aren’t meeting their needs. But it’s not like that. It’s exactly like realizing every moment is one you’re probably squandering, wishing for things to get better or easier. Then one day they’re easier (in those particular respects) and you realize the groundlessness was your own thing, had nothing to do with circumstance. And the thing you perhaps squandered entirely, was that precious time with those children, which is the best thing life’s going to offer. That potential for perfect intimacy with another human being.

You throw away, that Best Thing. 

Why am I willing to live like the walking dead? And so many others, they do the same. So then: the fear. A haunting thought: What will keep me from forgetting again?

Late night: the dryer hums, the dog and kitties and rabbit are settling in. My husband’s movements in the bedroom: small, sedate. Tattered pajamas and a cool, peaceful bedroom.

And then tomorrow. Tomorrow can I live it? Instead of fleeing the moment, running and running to some destination that is less real than the illusion I create it from.

Wishkah

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“I’m not going to lie to you… it’s gonna get weird. Two coats.”

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in sewing journal | 7 comments

 

I recently had the honor and privilege of making a friend’s vision come to life: M., who had saved up two large wool blankets for over twenty years, in hopes of one day having them made into a drover’s coat. M. and I exchanged some FB messages, I emailed him a quote, and he delivered me many pounds of heavy wool blanket. With some trepidation I cut into this vintage fabric to begin construction!

Thursday I grabbed a few pictures of the finished product (modeled by husband who is an inch shorter than client in arm and total height):

Wool Drover Coat For M.

M. had several visions for the coat: he wanted the end fringe of the blankets to be used as much as possible at hem, sleeve hem, pocket, pocket flap, and cape. Now is the time for me to point out that the two blankets were different – you can really see this at the stripe near the knee. I am super-proud to say that with careful planning I made an entirely balanced coat – in other words the left side utilizes one blanket for the body, and the other blanket for patch, pocket detail, etc. – and vice versa. I also managed to wrap the wool fringe to curve around the cape such that it looks like it was woven there – and to place another stripe at the shoulder on the cape!

M. wanted antler tips for closures. I got to fiddle/figure out how to use those without the typical toggle closure, which M. didn’t care for. My solution was a bound buttonhole – time intensive, but really a solid, rustic choice. The wool was so very thick I chose to use the selvedge/woven edges for the lips of the (pseudo-) bound buttonhole, thus reducing bulk significantly. Finally – I found tips that were cut in half lengthwise so could be worn very flush to the coat front:

Wool Drover Coat For M.

Hem fringe and cuff tab:
Wool Drover Coat For M.

The collar and collar tab, sleeve tabs, and cape are all lined in a cotton the same color as the shell wool.

One of my favorite details: the cape and collar. The cape is fabulous: it looks like it is sewn to the coat, and it fits perfectly snugly with underarm straps for security. But the wearer can easily unfasten the cape if they don’t want to wear it:

Wool Drover Coat For M.


The fringe – applied to curved cape edge:
Wool Drover Coat For M.

Ralph, about to go tend the flock. Wearing a hat I knit him too – by the way.
Wool Drover Coat For M.

I can’t express how wonderful it is to work with someone on their design – if their design is cohesive, and M.’s really was. I sew up other people’s designs rarely – because I like to make my own. However in M.’s case he had such a definite sense of what he wanted and I instantly grasped how handsome a garment it would make. Although the coat was a technical challenge – the wool in the blankets had warped, and had several very well-done repairs in thread – I learned a great deal while working on it.

The best part? I hand-delivered him the coat last night and he lit right up. “I am completely satisfied!” – a direct quote! And the garment suited him very well. It gives me great pleasure to make someone something they want – or have wanted, for years!

***

Second coat: one for my husband. This, part of my thirteenth anniversary gift for him, was constructed without him ever being aware I was making it (total score!). Waxed canvas, and lined with a matching grey liner with a semi-coarse, lovely finish. The effect is that of a rain slicker – except more breathable, and with a beautiful patina and long-lasting wear:

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Grey-green shot cotton binding at neckline. Waxed canvas – such a beautiful finish – and, now that I’m used to it, a pleasure to sew (this coat was the first I’d made in this fabric; Nels’ was the second, and things went better there):

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 

Top-stitching: about as near perfect as you can get (using single-needle tailoring):

 

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 

A fun stretch stitch at hem. Interestingly, in this photo the liner and shell don’t look like the same color; that is a trick of how they photograph. They matched identically!
Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Cuff tab – a triple-stitch for a heavier stitching line. Antique brass snaps I set myself. Kind of fun, actually!

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 The coat was constructed using Green Pepper’s Frenchglen (adding length to arm and hem as per Ralph’s usual adjustment); the pattern featured a side pocket embedded in the zippered patch pocket:

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

And  a very special zipper pull tab – in a “bean” shape. I found one tab at Quilt Harbor in Aberdeen and knew I had to have it. But I couldn’t find another – not even online! A few weeks ago I ran across the second tab in Lady Lynn’s for $1.75! I was beyond excited. Because I am a huge nerd.

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Ralph, who stands this way – his arms don’t rest at his sides. I discovered this about him a few garments ago and I may or may not call his posture, “Ape Arms”.

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Something tells me I am just ramping up the coat and jacket sewing for the fall! Having all that heavy wool in my house during the hottest days of the year was… fun. “Fun”, she says, using “air dick quotes”. Next up: a brief snatch of air sewing an easy flannel car coat for my child – before diving into Halloween sewing, which ramped up so fast I was required to close orders before I could even update my Etsy shop or my website! Good lord.

 

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