One of the nice things about having only one car, that has a broken heater, is that when I get in the car, every time, I am cold and I chuff my hands and look forward to when the car gets warm. Then when I realize it’s not going to, I have this surge of awareness. I feel awake and alive. I think about those things we take for granted and how grateful I am for the opportunity to NOT forget those wonderful blessings.
The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity, by turns exhausting and exhilarating. A friend shows up in need. A friend shows up to give. Someone tells me Thank You and then tells me why. A friend looks like she’s been crying. Another is staying away. A family member offers support. Our cat comes home with a tattered ear. A restaurant gives us a free pizza! I cook up two pots of soup in two days. Friends arrive for a movie, and an hour into it our rabbit rudely yanks out the electrical cord to stop the film, and we all laugh.
The financial help is so welcome while we have hardship with the cars and while the weather is cold and while Christmas is upon us. When it comes to cash I’d like to save up for a house payment maybe, but instead I inevitably cave and purchase here-and-now-needed items: today, a few pieces of winter clothing for my children. It is very cold here and it kills me to see children improperly provided for (anyone’s children). My kids rarely complain about being cold but they gush gratitude at the new coats.
But, only after I buy the garments and zip them up under their chapped cheeks. While on our way to Ross my son is cranky: “Why are you buying me winter clothes? Last time they only lasted ONE winter then I grew out of them.” He is querulous, wanting things like video games and ice cream sundaes and trips to exotic locales, and I feel this kind of wild urge to cry, but it is a gladness all the same.
My husband leaves for work in the morning. He kisses my son and myself, snuggled in the same bed, Goodbye. I tell him, “I am not doing very well. I am feeling like a terrible mom.” Ralph says gently, “You’re the best mom I know.” I rest, breathing in and out, and I think No So Much, I don’t feel great. I feel unsettled and unsure.
Every morning when he and my daughter hit the rode I pray for their safety. Car travel is treacherous, especially when weather is foul.
It takes a lot of courage to get up each day and try to do well, and try to do the best we can despite what has happened recently to one of our children, and given what our family is going through in dealing with the aftermath. But one day I know I will feel better, and I’ll have a friend who will be having this kind of struggle. And I’ll be able to tell that friend about courage and maybe they won’t feel so alone.
For now having that full pantry and having something hot on the stove is a tremendous help.Read More
My shirt’s too snug, as in the buttons are almost popping across my bust. It’s cold out and I’m standing outside my mom’s pickup putting gas in the tank. Only a little. Believe it or not I can resolutely refuse to think about our car problems, because I have put everything in place that I can and Worrying is bullshyte and against God besides. One car is currently not running and I can’t afford to take it in until the tenth (and Dear Jeebus at that point I hope I can somehow afford to fix it). The other car is running but it has 395 thousand miles on the original engine. Absolutely true story. Our old Mercedes. With no heater. Like a land-submarine. The no-heater thing is kind of no-joke as it’s unpleasant to ride in the car but also dangerous, visibility-wise, at times.
So I’m putting twenty bucks in my mom’s tank but I’m a bit upbeat despite all this and that. Because a friend made a donation today we’re going to have some good dinner tonight and tomorrow and probably even the next day. I’m thinking of the salad I’ll make this evening: butter lettuce, peas, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber. I’ve got hunger pangs right now but I know how to pace myself through those. My kid is all right, the Little Guy who ran into the gas station with the twenty dollar bill and who holds my hand and kisses me wherever we go. A burger from drive-through for my son and I’m sipping on coffee. I’m so flat-out busted-ass tired and I haven’t eaten but I can pace myself.
It’s beautiful out. So very cold and dry. After gas and picking up the other kiddo I’m selecting vegetables at the fruit stand and it’s so cold I’m suffering but I think, I can get through it, and the thought of my children in the truck’s cab cheers me immensely. In the bed of the truck: Hutch, circling his rump when he sees me emerge from the store. Another shopper asks me: “Is he okay?” (meaning, is my dog a well-behaved dog). The man who asked had this snarling yappy thing in his car. People with dogs with problems, always asking if my dog is OK. My dog is really awesome in fact he’s a Goddamned Champ. He shares a home with two adults, two kids, lots of kids and babies traipsing through, three rude cats and a rabbit who literally will steal food out from under him once we put it in the bowl! (yes this happened today).
Ralph comes home to a messy house; the product of my sleepless night last night, and my inability to get as much done as I typically do. We make up the dinner – the glorious salad and some pizza and a celebratory bit of pomegranate sparkling cider. Ralph makes up a pot pie for my mother and I hand-sew and watch some of My Stories. It’s that mental discipline too, resolutely refusing to think ahead about what I’m hoping to sew and knit my family and friends for Christmas. Not time yet not time yet as I’m stitching up these handbags.
I help my daughter with homework. My husband and children get ready for bed; hot showers, washcloths, Q-tips, toothpaste, warm towels. The pets settle into ponderous slumber, farting and snoring even! I light a candle for a friend; her partner is going through some severe health stuff and she’s going through some resultant mental health stuff. So many suffer in so many ways. I hope it makes sense that I write out exactly what I’m going through in the day. I can’t be more exciting or less so I can only be honest.
I recently read about a man trapped in a shipwreck for three days underwater in pitch black, finding an air pocket to perch in. Hours passed and he felt the most frightened listening to the sounds of large fish eating his dead crewmates. He remained entirely in prayer most the time and he was in pretty good shape when they picked him up, a miraculous rescue.
Prayer and faith mean a great deal to me today and they used to mean nothing at all.Read More
Ralph and I sit on the bleachers and watch our children in the pool. My son is so tall and so thin but still has that baby face. To me, anyway. Despite the fact he wears his pants at near-waist, his swim trunks are always hanging exactly low enough that it is precisely just-barely decent enough for public attire. He doesn’t seem to mind a bit. He runs up and holds me close and gives me “a hug for safety”, his warm wet little otter-body a welcome grasp.
Our daughter is growing too. Tonight a friend asks, “Does Phoenix need new clothes?” Good god the answer is Yes, and I think I’ll be answering thusly a while. Watching her now her bathing suit looks fit to burst; I sewed it only a few months ago. She shakes the wet hair out of her eyes and smiles at me. She is a tender little sprig and I’m so fortunate to have her in my home.
My mom flies in from the Seattle airport and then drives home; she’s back from laying my Grandfather to rest and celebrating a mourning Thanksgiving with the extended family. Only a little over a week ago I heard news he was ill and now he is gone. My close friends are giving me the support and the consideration I need during this time. I am still considering the loss. I have so much to say about it now, but I do not know if now is the time.
I find myself with few elders, an estranged family, and painful memories.
Oysters on the half-shell in a restaurant. Reminders. My grandfather liked the oddest foods – amongst them I remember hardtack and hangtown fry. Hangtown fry! I am trying to think of something more odious but it is hard. Maybe I will make up a mess of it and do an offering, then feed my dog, who would surely be interested in the fragrant meal.
Tonight is a time for reflection. Trying not to think of the bank account for this evening. A few slim bills for groceries over the next ten days but I was able to pay all our other bills and for that I am grateful.
Black beans soaking on the counter and tomorrow will be another day.Read More
small stone #28
And a head-scarf
Big hoop earrings.
small stone #29
Down to a simple shift and briefs.
Rounded thighs, a little bowl-belly
Little cactus flower.
small stone #30
got swallowed up
small stone #26
I did not look up
Today I wasn’t so hot. I got up, stretched and worked through my yoga, sat meditation, prepared my shrine and took refuge in the Three Jewels. Then I got on my knees and made a private and earnest prayer, all of my own. I made up my medicinal herbal remedy for my kidney. I spoke with civility to my children (mostly) and I brought my husband coffee. I pet the animals in my home. I put forth some correspondence, writing the ones I love.
My mind raced most of the day and I had to breathe deep many times to return to myself.
Ralph, the children and I visited the newest restaurant in Aberdeen where, as promised, we selected from a very limited opening-night menu. I was very tired and my daughter, across from me, seemed the same. Tall and willowy and her coarse-honey hair in two sprigs of pigtail.
My son sat next to me, smiling up at me, smelling good and warm in his flannel shirt. He chattered along near-incessantly, cupping a ludicrously-blue beverage in a white wine glass and freely discussing the food. He looks a lot like I did at his age. But he smiles more than I did. He’s tough. He has this wolfpup-thin little body but he’s tough.
And it feels like a long time ago I was his age. A lifetime ago.
tired tired tired
small stone #27
a plate, with olives
My son is awake and he’s making soft chirping sounds. Singing to himself in the bed. He says, “Cuddle me,” and I lay down next to him. He says, “I need love. Your job is to give me love.” He’s safe and every day each day that is all that matters.
Ralph is making up coffee, hot coffee. We have good coffee no matter what, well most days. Grandfather: gone. Family: best not to talk too much about that. Thanksgiving: cancelled. But I have a home of my own and children and a partner and wee pets who count on us. Our rabbit greedily eats the beet-peelings from the night before. He knocks a parsnip top out my hand when I offer it to him!
My daughter is home from school. She’s dead-tired. She writes on her whiteboard outside her room:
unless you’re Kelly Hogaboom
Plan: take a nap / be miserable
Ralph is worried but I tell him this is a Good Thing, she has boundaries. And she knows what she needs.
I am off to do the Wednesday thing I do. People who don’t get to be with their families for Thanksgiving; who get to be lonely and in a dark place. Some of them have no hope. I can offer that if they can listen.
I am two years six months sober today and every day is a gift.
small stone #25
cold cold cold
the car is cold
Your hands are warm.