Some days the rituals that keep me sane, and let me fall asleep in the late hours, are simple and few: my evening journal entry. My nightly gratitude meditation. Making sure the kitchen is tidy as night falls.
And then tonight: a walk in the gloaming with the children, and Ralph, and our dog. Whatever we talk about, sublime or mundane, and whether Ralph and I get to talk or are interrupted by our children (tonight’s lively discussion: what film elements make a film a “Western”?), just being out in the night air and in their presence is immensely grounding. We’ve had these wonderfully beachy fogs lately, bringing a chill to the air that is nevertheless alive with the promise of spring and summer.
Daily I give up somehow trying to keep up with the children – their interests, their growth, their projects, their social lives. Not so long ago I was their everything and knew what they did, and what they thought, and who they saw. Now they fly back to me, little fledglings to the nest, and tell me their every thought. Yet I still try to grasp and to wrest control of it all, to be the one who is calling the shots, instead of being carried along.
It isn’t true that it is only infants who seek out their mother’s breast. My children are half-grown and yet in my presence they are forever coming close, putting their arms up – or merely out – to hold me. Kissing me, wrapping their bodies around mine, or tangling their legs between my ankles on the couch, or in bed. If anything the physical intimacy is the same as it has been since they were very small. I am humbled to find I did not create this exactly, nor earn it, it is simply the nature of things, time flying by as it must.
We reach the end of the kids’ first year together in school. Their grades are exemplary, their rmemories are many, and happy. They are well-regarded by peers and staff at the school. One and a half band concerts left, and we will be free of the school schedule for some weeks. And I will have my babies back, if on such terms as remain unfamiliar to me.Read More
Melting butter and chocolate in the double-boiler; a cake cools on the counter. In the living room: four teen/preteens stuff themselves on our couch and take to lunch with alacrity.
It isn’t so much that I want to be with the kids, goofing or playing. But providing them with a date, an event, food, a movie, a drive through the countryside: this, it seems, is my vocation. I can do maths and work and produce and write and all that but what I like best is making a home for these young people, their boundless energies, their optimism, their love of one another and of music and play and the physical world. I get completely irritable about the bullocks that grownups are up to and find the conversation of children immensely refreshing.
My studio is alive again – that is to say, a mess. Painting scarlet shapes on blood-red canvas, on wine-hued twill. Another project, another design. Washing dishes, leaning against the counter while my son is asking me something about his homework but I’m thinking of design: topstitching, how many underlayers for the quilted effect? Will this new project work out or be an awkward failure?
Outside the warm weather has changed to a more typical spring chill. My husband mows the lawn; the cats sprawl on furniture not even purring – dead to the world. Likewise, my children fold their lanky frame into corners of the loveseat or bed, chewing through another massive pile of library books their father has provided them. As the children grow into adulthood, my eldest especially, their babyhoods are more on my mind than ever. The age I think of my daughter most is when she was two; she so little resembles that blond, cherubic little presence but in other ways she is astonishingly similar. The same strength, the same scowl, and the same beautiful crooked smile. Her babyhood flowed through my fingers like sand, as much as I tried to enjoy every moment.Read More
Pretty cool to wait for the kids to get off the school bus and they’re wearing clothes I made. In Nels’ case – the newest in a long line of wool blazers, this time a houndstooth. For Phee, a cloak-hooded sweater with thumbholes.
And I hadn’t blogged either! Yet. Been busy.
Made from a sweaterknit bought from the now-closed Grays General Store here in Hoquiam, there wasn’t really enough yardage to make a full sweater with a hood. But I’m pretty crafty and I managed to piece it together by designing the sleeves in two pieces each. Lined the cuffs and the hood in a soft organic cotton knit:
I love super-full hoods. And of course: thumbholes! THEY’RE SO HOT RIGHT NOW
Phoenix is growing so fast. A lovely young lady.
“We should focus on snuggling,” my son whispers, drawing nearer. He has a morning routine: his father wakes him up shortly after seven, whereupon the boy makes his toilet, dresses, gets breakfast – sharply objecting if Ralph dishes up too much breakfast as that means it will take up too much time – before climbing the stairs and into bed with me. His every single move in the morning, is such that he can maximize this time he holds me close. Sometimes I’m half-awake. Sometimes I get up after he leaves – sometimes, I fall back asleep.
For many days I didn’t even notice my boy was doing this, really. Living with children, swimming in the waters, you can miss even something special. And now I think: what gifts his morning demonstrations are. And I think, These days will pass by, just like everything else!
This evening I sat in a group, a spiritual gathering of sorts. I heard a man talking about his life a few years ago. He said some things that troubled me. I reached down and refolded my pant cuff, fiddled with my shoelace. Trying to process my thoughts, my feelings. Trying to touch them, first.
What is wrong?
I discover: I have a sense of unease, when people put themselves down. When they say how horrible they are, and especially when they use harsh words. Piece of shit, whiny little bitch, liar cheat and thief. I hear these things. I feel uncomfortable, that’s how I feel. Just about as uncomfortable as when people use that language to talk about others.
If I easily gravitate to hate-talk about others, or myself, even my past self – well, I’m probably still saying it, thinking those hateful things, about myself. Later, I will look back and ask, why was I so hard on myself? On others?
Life is too short for self-hate. It seems like it’s something we can’t stop. Maybe if we knew how much we did it, we’d feel appalled. We’d want to do something new.
Maybe that would be a beginning.
My husband and I meet in the kitchen, after housework is done and the kids are getting ready for bed; the cats are fed and the dog has been walked. I put my arms around my husband as it seems daily he grows more dear to me, more beautiful.
That’s one of those mysteries I wouldn’t have believed, or understood, maybe even not so many years ago.
I’ve made no bones about loving Kenneth D. King’s style and teaching works – and, as pertains to this sew-a-long, his jean cloning Craftsy course (but you don’t have to take my word for it!). In fact, the course was so good, that my very first pair turned out flawless! The class is not only fun, but it showcases cloning techniques that are non-destructive to the original garment – and that can be used for almost any garment, not just jeans.
So here’s the good news, sew-a-long buddies. If you’re interested in this great cloning class to make jeans from your own favorite pair, Craftsy has agreed to partner with my students and offer a partial refund on tuition. The class is valued at $44.99 and is often on sale. But dem jeans students can take the class for $14.99! You can’t beat that!
If you want the refund, email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org and I’ll give you instructions to get going!
Remember, our sew-a-long starts in just a week. Please review your materials list – and don’t be shy about asking any questions.
“Mom,” my son says to me, quietly, from the passenger side of the car.
I know what he means. We’re just passing someone outside, a man with a cardboard sign, asking for money. It’s cold, and fizzly-drizzly rain. I am tired. I am hungry. I slept about half my normal hours, the night before. I have a working weekend ahead of me.
“I don’t have any cash, Nels,” I tell him. He is quiet, we turn the corner – there is another man, with another sign. My son asks, “Can we get some?”
I ask him, now: “Well – do you want me to buy them a couple burgers?” and he says Yes. His eyes are bright and his spirit is calm.
I am so hungry my stomach cramps and I feel lightheaded. Even if I was to head straight home, I’ll still need to cook. I resign myself that our outing will take as long as it takes.
I pull into the drive through of a fast food restaurant; even the thought of a burger – I haven’t had a fast food burger in many years – causes my stomach to clench. As if reading my mind my son says, “I know you’re hungry.” (I’ve said nothing to him.) Then he laughs, “You don’t eat fast food, mom!” Almost like he’s chiding. Like he’s teasing.
The drive-through is packed. Moving slowly (for fast food). As if on cue, comedy of errors, I realize my car engine temperature is millimeters away from THE DANGER ZONE. I curse, switch the ignition. Then in the next several minutes I have to turn the vehicle off, then on, as we inch forward. I raise the heat in the cab. The engine temperature falls to normal.
By the time we get two burger meals – fries and a Coke apiece – and pull into the street, and wheel around the corner back to the parking lot, one of the men my son had indicated, is gone. The other is huddled up under a sign asking for a ride to the HOSPITEL. We pull up, ask if he’d like a meal. He takes the food but tells us, “I cut my hand… I need a ride,” waving a napkin bright with blood. His eyes are a clear, watery blue. I tell him, “I hope someone finds you a ride.” He smiles and thanks us. A block later as I look back I can see him fishing around, the comfort of a hot meal on a cold night.
We drive through town, and my son sits up straight, our dinner groceries on his lap balanced alongside the cheerful white paper bag full of hot food. He holds an ice-cold Coke in his left hand. He asks me about the man, how can he get to the hospital. I say, “Someone else will help him.”
And I tell him what I was taught. “I was taught, you don’t have to help as much as you can, you have to help enough. Ask if you’ve done enough. Think about that man who wants a ride. If everyone who passed him helped him the little bit we just did, what would happen?”
“He’d be clean, and have warm clothes, and medicine, and food. Maybe a home,” my son says. I can see his mind working, as he pieces this together.
I am tired, and I am hungry, and I feel tender, and sad. My children are as compassionate as they were at age two. I am feeling overwhelmed with a love and a sadness, like balancing on a riverbank.
My son asks me now, “Am I trying to be too generous?”
Then I tell him another thing I was taught. “I was told you can help as much as you want, after you’ve taken care of yourself and your family.” I tell him: “I have food for my children, so we can buy food for these men.”
It isn’t until Hoquiam, a couple blocks from my house, we find another man who might want a meal. I’ve seen him many times on the street – I don’t know if he’s friendly, or what. But I’m a hearty enough soul. I pull over and, after we get his attention – and he spies the bag my son holds out – and I ask, “Want a burger?”
He is eyeing us, then: “What the hell,” he says cheerfully. He takes the food, and the pop, and thanks us. In the rearview mirror I see him dive into the bag.
My son puts his fingers through mine.
They’re cold, from the Coke.Read More
“They say money can’t buy Happiness. But money can buy PopTarts, and that’s pretty close.”
My son is talking to me as I finish journaling, hang up some wet clothes, get ready for bed. He’s been high-energy all day from our roadtrip to a now-notorious, horrible brunch – where he ate only a small square of strawberry shortcake as he found the rest of the fare “disappointing”, to home again and a few play sessions outside with friends and next door at my mother’s, to a tokusatsu film together, and now – leaving me to write, he plays with his massive store of Legos.
He shaved his hair off the other day: now he’s just another lanky little jug-eared boy, his soft head all scruffy when he leans into me, still as physically affectionate as when he was just a little sprout. My Mother’s Day was another very sweet one, spent with my family in idleness. Besides the wretched first meal, my husband cooked a wonderful lunch and dinner. The gifts I made and purchased my mom, seemed well-received. My podcast heroes played my call-in and discussed it. My favorite kitty settled in on my lap and permitted me to pet him.
Now, in my studio: a fine flannel for a shirt. A vegetarian lasagna nestles in the fridge, for tomorrow night. Downstairs, I hear my husband return from a late-night run. My mind is going over things I don’t share publicly, thoughts about my children and school and our plans for the future. My mind will soon take a rest and tomorrow will be
Another DayRead More