dailies

li’l crumple

Posted by on Apr 16, 2015 in dailies | 0 comments

The lipstick in my purse is the one I wore. I’ve been ill. I mean I haven’t even put in earrings since. The worst I’ve had in years. Just a flu of some kind, is all. But it’s knocked me out.

Night before last one kid went to bed in daylight hours; last night, t’other.

It’s been rough.

Being down has meant an incredible amount of film time – and several reviews on my B-movie site, including a sensitive 70s enviro sci-fi, a sleazy, greasy, & uneasy neo-noir, five excellent melancholy cop tele-dramas, a z-grade alien remake, and of course – a Mexican “head on a platter” horror film. Keep in mind on top of all of this I managed to start and finish two other television series.

A roll of tweed awaits, my pattern pieces resting atop the yardage. My house is clean enough, but I haven’t been able to do any of that work myself in a couple days.

It feels like weeks since I was able to do anything.

It’s just been a couple days.

Li'l Crumple

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réalisant mon espoir

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in dailies | 0 comments

“I don’t understand why everyone acts like Florida is so special,” my son says to me cheerfully – easing the shopping cart through the aisles and every now and then slyly tapping at something in the midway.

It’s a little after 11 PM on a Saturday and even Walmart is fairly empty. I’d had these visions of getting an oil-radiant heater for our freezing little attic bedroom, and am quickly realizing they don’t have anything like that in stock. I’m tired – tired in a way my schedule, and my waking hours, don’t quite explain.

The last few days the sun and balmy skies have given way to rain – vicious, cold, angry rain. “Sidways rain – it gets up your nose!” a cashier in the grocery store cheerfully says to me, yesterday. You’d think, living here as long as I have, I’d be used to it. That my friends and neighbors, and the grocery store clerk, would be too. But we kind of hunch up, retreat; our conversation taciturn, skin roughened by the cold. Grab at hot cups of coffee and stay inside.

And then there’s the bills to pay. A stack of a few more, since my daughter’s sudden illness (she’s feeling better, by the way – responding to medications). And I’d just knocked down our medical debt to within sights of zero. And now – back up again!

I realize my son is still talking – gloriously denouncing The Sunshine State’s undeserved reputation: “… not as if it’s a land of gold and riches or something!” he finishes with a flourish.

His energy is unflagging. Until nighttime when he strips down to sleepwear and tries anything to climb in bed with us. I will miss these days when they’re gone and there is nothing I can do about that.

Last night the friend of a friend ran into trouble; her husband was chasing her around the house. Berating her. She texted a friend and the friend texted me and I did what I could. And tonight I’m wondering how many women I know have those troubles, locked up inside their hearts, in the memory of their bodies. I’m glad my home is a safe one, a pleasant one. Even if right now I’m walking about in the garish lights, asking help from retail workers with red-rimmed eyes and knowing it’s a long cold drive home with a busted heater in the car. I got a home and it’s a good one.

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save the date! DEM JEANS SEW-A-LONG, june 1 2015

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in dailies, sew-a-long, sewing journal | 7 comments

DEM JEANS Sew-A-Longtop ten reasons you’re gonna want to join my

dem jeans sew-a-long

1. You can make better-fitting, better-looking, and longer-lasting jeans than you can buy. Yes, custom jeans for yourself. And yes, they look better than what you can buy retail. And after your first pair, you’ll realize it’s easier than you thought!

2. What’s your poison? Trendy raw denim, or selvedge denim? Looking to bring high-waisted acid wash into your life? Trying to emulate that awesome pair of white jeans you had in middle school? Want a pair of “boyfriend fit” in just the right dusky grey – or waxed deep indigo? Want to line your cuffs with your favorite old band t-shirt? Or stencil an awesome motif on the backside?

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

I can help you plan your jeans out, so you get exactly what you want. Send me an email – and be prepared to put aside some time and energy.

Now, if this sounds overwhelming or intimidating, start smaller: make a pair using a standard pattern. You will get used to construction methods, before trying your own custom-fit – and you can gift your first pair to a friend!

3. These jean are ethically-produced. The vast amounts of retail jeans out there are made at the expense of workers in other countries, without regard for quality of life, and rely on pillaging environmental resources in other countries. These jeans will also last longer, further extending your clothing dollar. Use the money you save on retail jeans to buy ethically-produced retail jeans! Or make ethically-produced jeans for your friends, family, or clients!

4. Once you start shopping for good denim you will be hooked. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s like a drug. Denim, even good denim, is affordable, it feels great, it lasts a long time, it is beautiful to look at and dare I say, fondle! – and the scraps make beautiful quilts (or potholders, or teddy bears, or, or…).

5. I don’t like to compare prices – because custom-fit, ethically-made, perfect jeans with tailor-level detail simply aren’t available on the market at all –  but this is one case where a simple high-end home project is cheaper than high-end jeans. A lot cheaper. Even buying ethically- and organically-produced fabrics, you come out ahead.

6. My sew-a-long: you aren’t going to find better close-up photography and a more in-depth tutorial than mine (ask my previous students). My background in technical writing and knowledge of clothing construction means you will be rolling your eyes at the level I geek out on these! (all the while appreciating the meticulous detail!). And my photographs are important for jeans – the beauty is in the topstitching and technical detail, really.

7. Your jeans can be made for your body, as-is. Tired of jeans that don’t fit right, or too-long cuffs, or jeans too tight at the thigh? Yeah. And those high-end brands? Definitely not made in a diverse size range. Need I say more?

8. Once you’re finished, you’ll have a pattern made to perfection. It’s worth the time to create this template. Because forever after, all you need is a few yards of denim in your house, you can make up jeans whenever you’re feeling lonely. The jeans will be your friend. They won’t let you down.

9. You have a mentor the whole way. (That’s me!). I figure if Jalie Patterns (I’m not worthy!) thinks my sew-a-long is good enough for their professional site, you’ll probably be pretty pleased with my help too. You can ask questions via Skype, text (if we’re down like that), comments here, and email.

10. ASSES. Your ass looks great in jeans. Seriously. It’s true. A pair of well-fitting jeans, is a friend to asses everywhere. Someone had to say it!

So LET’S DO THIS!

 

***

If you’re a novice stitcher, you may be thinking There’s no way I can pull this off! But – you can. You’re gonna need to invest a little bit of money – and a lot of time. And you will feel like a million bucks when you are through!

Here is what you will need for this sew-a-long. Please read carefully. Some items may need to be ordered online; for instance, Kenneth D. King’s class on cloning jeans takes a small tuition, takes supplies, and takes time to complete.

Feel free to post any questions to the comments – or email me:

a pattern
I strongly suggest you take the time to prepare and do one of the following:
 
trace your favorite non-stretch pair using the methods outlined in the Craftsy course Jean-ius! by Kenneth D. King; or:
purchase any pattern and use this straight-size pattern, without alterations, as your first-run template – to get used to sewing jeans
 
denim
any kind of raw, selvedge, or cotton denim works. We are making non-stretch button-fly selvedge jeans for this course (I buy from pacific blue denim). If you want to work with stretch denim, make sure your pattern is drafted and adjusted properly for this. Be sure to buy adequate yardage; I always buy enough for two pair of jeans.
 
contrast fabric, 1/2 yard
100% cotton or linen woven works best. We will be making the pocket bag, belt facing, and button-fly detail with this fabric. Consider something that looks good on both sides, for best pocket effect.
 
rivets and snaps &/or buttons (optional)
you will need four buttons and ten rivets; buy a few extra to be sure. I buy mine from castbullet.com.
 
stitch witchery or thin fusible web
this will help us get a perfect waistband
 
sewing equipment
sewing machine(s) – can handle buttonholes
 
thread: high-quality cotton-wrapped polyester, in both construction color and topstitching color
 
serger (optional)
 
size 14 or so denim needles
 
awl
 
steam iron
 
beeswax & strong needle for button-sewing (if you use sew-on buttons, as opposed to hammer-in)
 
Make sure to add a badge to your blog, and to subscribe to the sew-a-long updates!

Sew-A-Long ONLY rss feed | “dem jeans” ONLY rss feed

 
Forever In Blue Jeans: Back Pocket
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st. bernadette

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in dailies | 0 comments

Today, I don’t understand what happened. I get up and discover that some time in the early morning, before anyone was up, a neighbor came over to report a cat killed by a motorist – a Siamese-marked kitty. My daughter woke, answered the door. Threw on her shoes and went out to investigate and – thank goodness, it wasn’t our Pip, but rather a semi-feral little rascal living and snooping around the neighborhood. R.I.P., little kitty.

But this morning my daughter tells me this and I’m a little knocked sideways. Amazing to me she handled this like a grown-up. I guess she’s becoming a grownup.

Something is off, though. Her color looks terrible and retires to her bed, to wake in the early afternoon. I make her a breakfast; I charge Nels with the dishes. When it’s finally time for her to rise, something is wrong. At first I am thinking she has some kind of sore throat. A little fever. She feels nausea. But then she doubles over in pain after trying to eat. She is suffering, and says so. My heart flutters. My daughter doesn’t complain about jack shit. Something is wrong.

We wait a while in the doctor’s waiting room but I don’t mind. I’m glad to be there. Her doctor gives her lungs a listen and I can see his concern. He orders a breathing treatment right away. He tells her, “you’re too tight to even check for pneumonia.” He goes out the room a while while she gets her treatment. She’s laying on the table because she can’t move around much without feeling terrible. I’m stunned because just yesterday she was running around like normal. And the doctor comes in, he’s a good doctor, and eventually he brings me over, loans me his stethoscope, for her lungs. I am not a doctor, but I am very upset by what I hear – and what I don’t hear. And the doctor says, “I’m amazed you haven’t passed out,” to my daughter. What’s really cool is he talks right to her and always have, even since she was little.

My daughter is sardonic but straight-forward. We get her a few prescriptions called in; we head up and get an x-ray. Her color is a little better; maybe the breathing treatment helped.

And, in my mind’s eye, I’m still hearing the pop and growl of her lungs. Her pink little lungs, in distress!

It’s funny, because this morning before everything went down I was fetching my first cup of coffee and feeling kind of ugly about the normal trifling concerns of life and I thought, I should be grateful I’m still breathing, that I can draw breath.

I am anxiously awaiting the results of tomorrow’s chest x-ray.

To say I’m anxious is a bit of an understatement. There aren’t really words.

Bairn

 

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lions & tigers

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in dailies | 2 comments

11th Birthday

My son is a unique vexation to me. He can out-argue anyone. Don’t even try. I am warning you. You think I’m kidding.

And of course, this morning he woke up ready to fight. Telling me he wants this and doesn’t want that, because it’s his birthday. His blonde hair is a tuft, his eyes wide and cross, his body warm and lean like a long cat. Sounds pretty cute, except every morning he is just as apt to wake up telling me he wants this, and doesn’t want that. Either that or he wakes with the most loving entreaties, asking me into bed. Twining his arms around me and he tells me in his low husky voice (which he inherited from his mama) about some delicious dream, as he swims to the surface amidst his soft, soft quilts…

He’s adventurous. That sounds lovely, right? But not everyone’s ready for his adventure. We’ve had dealings with authorities twice – because he ran off. Once, at least, barefoot. Now, he wasn’t running off because he was unhappy or confused – he had an agenda, and that was to see the world. He tried to ride the bus to see his papa. He tried to visit neighbors. He still, to this day, is apt to do something like this. Something others view as inappropriate in some way, but then I’m the one who has to tell him Why he can’t do this or that, and it never really makes sense.

I got mixed feelings that he’s learning to reel himself in a bit. Yesterday, we saw a friend, a lovely young woman, passing in the sunlight. I said, “Nels, why didn’t you give J. a hug?” He blushes and says, “She didn’t put her arms up – like this – when she wants one.” I’m like, you’re right, okay. And mourning for when he was a little smaller and would just smack right into people because he loved them so.

I remember a few years ago, my mother took up with a man named D., just a few months after she was widowed. The man definitely came from the, “kids should listen to and respect their elders” camp. (You know, that camp rarely thinks about what elders owe li’l ‘uns, just the reciprocal!) So anyway, the man was chastizing Nels for something, and Nels – who must’ve been all of five – was trying to explain his side of the story. D. just rolls right over him, keeps talking at him. Nels tells me later, recounting the event, his voice in a bloom of righteous anger. “And then – and then – I didn’t listen to him any more!” He shakes his head, his eyes a gathering storm. And I’m thinking, No shit.

And now, my son is growing into a young man. He’s up to my shoulder – I no longer need to stoop to kiss his hair, which smells sweet as straw as it ever has. He can’t win me at wrestling yet, but it won’t be long. There are mornings he heads off to school where he doesn’t even kiss me goodbye. At night he reads his adventure novels and comics and falls asleep with the light on, and a cat curled up under his arm. I turn the light down and kiss him goodnight and my heart breaks a thousand times.

And then he wakes up and it’s like, I want to go here, I want to do that, why can’t we go here, why can’t we do this, when I grow up I’m moving to Massachusetts and I will buy you a plane ticket to come see me, can you be my girlfriend.

It’s almost like I want to say Nels is a child of a different era, an era that suits children when they could be children, adventuring on railroad tracks and off wooded trails. But really, Nels suits any era fortunate enough to receive him.

Happy birthday, li’l Boo. I love you until forever.

***

I gave birth to my son eleven years ago today. Every year I post his birth story on this date. Several families have told me the story has influenced their birth choices; several women that it was the (beginning) inspiration for their home birth! I am humbled – and, as always, grateful.

Nels David Hogaboom
a birth story

Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sister Sophia [/Phoenix]
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long

April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?

A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. These contractions are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at about 9 PM time and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing

My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to “get things moving” or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m trying not to be too fearful of another long labor like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about 4 minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’s to come.

Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.

April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote

Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide to get in, hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well — grunting urge. I know it is perfectly okay to grunt and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing” and I reply (idiotically) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.

April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!

Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little silly about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon — with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and – well – a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of the child’s head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.

April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born

With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my baby’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding my child to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. The child is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.

April 7th, early morning – getting to know you

I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my newborn away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see we have a boy! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the delivery of the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.

I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food — cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child, too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with my daughter’s birth, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. My daughter Sophie wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss her and introduce her to her brother (she is unimpressed) and Ralph takes her back to the bedroom to settle her back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to pee, feeling now finally that everything is alright.

My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.

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paradise is you

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in dailies | 0 comments

The kids are out of school for Spring Break. Don’t think I even get how I’m supposed to be this schooling parent. In fact I think I have given up trying. I am often at a loss as to schedules. I don’t fit in with the culture. My kids had conferences last week and it seemed like for all the haranguing about standardized tests and attendance, the school staff and admins are lost and jumbled about it all. One of my children had a low (for the child, anyway) grade in a class. Now last week the child and Ralph tried to get to the bottom of it, and the teacher had a bunch of assignments incorrectly allocated. But here we’d confronted the child the night before – and the child had cried - over this mess. I don’t know if I’m supposed to not give much of a shit, or if I’m supposed to bust in there and straighten everyone out. And it’s hard to get too excited about something, grades and such, that seem entirely meaningless.

So anyway, school is whack and I am amazed they like the good parts – of which there are many, they’re called “other children” – enough to tolerate the rest. But they are enjoying themselves and this gives me immense pleasure. I know they appreciate that we support their rights to do what they want.

So I figure my job is to keep them in school clothes, and try my reasonable best to support them in their extracurricular activities and social lives, and feed them, and provide a safe, loving home for them to rest and recover in.

My son’s birthday is tomorrow – he turns eleven. I am hardly prepared – mentally, emotionally, or any other way, really. I sound a mess and maybe I am.

This afternoon I picked up my car from the shop. Gotta rob some rent to pay for that. But that said the kids and I were grinning like fools to have the car back.

And we were driving home and laughing with my mom, talking about our cat, trying frantically to bury a slimy mushroom on the floor. And I realize that with the little ones by my side, I’m really at my best somehow. I don’t know I’ll ever do much better. It’s like a really small, ignoble little victory in my heart, that I’m really okay with this.

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