& to be honest with you, for about 20 minutes, I also thought about making a dress out of people.

stitch by stitch, inch by inch

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

Tonight feels very special. The day was a quiet, reflective one – populated here and there by debilitating nausea while my kidneys work stuff out.

My work goes well. I am constructing, slowly but steadily, a tailored wool blazer. The weather outside is crisp, sunny – and has that wild edge, the verge of a storm. In the afternoon I head out to the kids’ school and help my son’s class make a fall craft – grating crayons, pressing the colors into wax paper, cutting out fall leaves. It’s a simple project but the children take to peeling and grating crayons with alacrity – and every one of them enjoys sprinkling the flecks on translucent paper and watching the resultant blooms under my old steam iron.

Tomorrow the children and Ralph don’t attend school or job – so tonight, while they are off at a meeting, I clear up my sewing work, sweep the floor, set some essential oils out in the diffuser, light a new candle for my shrine, put away laundry, and lower the lights. I am feeling nauseated and dizzy, but I pace myself so I can get the house ready. The cats pad in and out of living space – peeking into the master bedroom where Ralph’s floor-refinishing equipment provides new terrain.

Today I only talked to a couple people outside my family, and the classroom of children. This felt nice and reflective. A little different, too, than most my days!

Ralph and the children return. He brings bowls of vegetables out the fridge, kneads masa. Tex Mex puffy tacos with Chile Con Queso, rice, fresh tomatoes. I am secretly working on a Christmas present for him which I have to carefully hide so he won’t discover it. The thing is, I could trust my kids to never ever tell.

They don’t grass up.

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the world sometimes seems full of people being cruel, but I’ve got this little oasis and it means a great deal

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in dailies | 2 comments

Snuggle Besties

My son emerges from the bath, wrapped in a red terrycloth robe. I bought it for him for his last birthday and, far less than a year later, it is now too small.

“Is there anything I can bring you, mama?” he asks. “Just kisses,” I tell him. He smells better than anything – his skin is warm, and damp, and perfect.

My daughter is off to bed. She tells me, “I love you so much,” and puts her arms around me. Her hair falls in my face – dry, sweet-smelling like straw. I feel a pang. She needs things I can’t provide, or at least not all at once: a door and a heater in her bedroom, new bedding, a kit for washing her face after gym. Two pair of shoes (gym shoes and regular trainers), t-shirts, socks, bras and underwear – and a haircut. I’d been invited to a pajama party last night and like an asshole, showed up in regular clothes. But I need to buy these things for my daughter and I hardly know where or how to start.

The kids grow fast. In no way ever, can I keep up.

But still, when she kisses me it isn’t the feeling of, I am behind or, My kids need things, like I’ve felt so many times before. I’m not in that place, not mentally. Instead I am thinking on their kind and sweet natures, and the entire trust they’ve placed in Ralph and I. Our children do not complain when circumstances are reduced in some way – nor do they grab and gobble when they get something lovely. They seem to be spiritually well. Like I told a friend last night, there might be no greater possession for a mother than to believe her children are okay. If you are okay, if you take care of yourself, you make your loved ones very happy. 

My children have been my biggest fans, my biggest supporters. Yesterday they sat through Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals and praised my performance warmly. They are like two cotton quilts and they wrap me up. And I respect their opinion a great deal because they are one hundred percent accurate about everything – or at least, about their opinions on any given point.

The world I occupy lately – seems hostile. I’ve been thrown into a social circle that is often unkind and cruel. Today I had someone point-blank ask me to tell them intimate and upsetting details about another’s life. Later on, I walked in on a small group, trashing another (absent) person’s character. I walked right out again, but I felt quite forlorn. People just go around hurting one another, yet no one likes to be hurt.

My little family, and my group of trusted friends, they know my heart, my nature. They know I want to be my better self, and not devolve into behaviors that are harmful. Sometimes it is easy for me to walk in the world, and sometimes I struggle.

Today: steaming wool into shape on a new jacket; sewing on my beloved 70’s Pfaff. Drinking hot coffee and listening to my children’s laughter. The dryer, which is broken and shitty, so it runs all day all day all day. Listening to a spooky-lonely playlist. Kissing the basket full of kittens right on their noses.

A little island.

A small sanctuary.

I am very grateful.

"Everything Is Better With Mustard"

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a bride to amazement! or, how Halloween is finally, finally, mercifully sweet Jeebus, behind me

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in sewing journal | 0 comments

If you have any questions as to how I made something, or where I found something – ask away! Remember anything you ask benefits those who come searching for tutorials.

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

Last year I believe I created about a dozen pieces for people not related to me – and my children didn’t mind the modest assemblies they received as a result. This year I staved off favors and clients, sewing about six pieces. I wanted to give the kids exactly what they wanted, and to go all out.

So, that happened.

And without further ado:

10 Things I Learned This Halloween Sewing Season

(individual notes on costumes in the Flickr tagset)

Nels, AKA A Dragon

 

1. Sequin fabrics. Unbelievably beautiful, and wonderful to work with. After you’ve spent countless hours painstakingly removing, one sequin at a time, every sequin in your seam allowances. *whimper*

2. Easy “scales” makeup for mermaids, or reptilian what-nots – place a bit of fishnet or tulle over the skin to be made up, and carefully blot a little bit. Nels’ little scales (above) took about thirty seconds and I really adored them.

The Happy Couple

2. You can dye a synthetic wig with off-the-shelf hair dye. Phoenix’s friend Allison (above left) is sporting a thrift store wig that her mama dyed. It turned out fabulous! Phoenix’s wig was purchased as-is from Arda Wigs – and then augmented with a little black hairspray. Colored hairspray, in general, needs to be purchased in large quantities to make a serious dent on hair color.

3. For the bride: mixing dead colors: grey, ivory, pale green and pale grey-lavender – was a total blast! I look forward to making another layered, many-color piece again!

The Happy Couple

4. Tearing and tying one hundred billion strips to the waistline of the wedding gown: worth it. Looks great! I tore along the grain of the fabric which drastically reduces thread coming loose when you launder the costume – which, believe it or not, is machine-washable!

5. Benefits of a dead/corpse/zombie/apocalyptic etc. costume: no need to wash, set and style a wig. Just throw it on!

Nels, AKA A Dragon

6. My costumes are adored not only for their looks but for their wearability. I line and underline them which is why they last through many children. Nels wore his to school and spent our cemetery photoshoot mushroom hunting (there were a billion kinds of mushrooms out!). A garment fully-lined in satin feels wonderful to wear. And of course – I included pockets because that seems like such a lovely and humane feature to give children.

7. Dragon wings: two half-circles of crumpled taffeta, and two of regular taffeta. Each pair sewn right-sides together, then turned right-side out and topstitched. Attached from sleeve hem to hip in one straight line. Simple, sweet, and comfortable to wear.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

8. Bodysuit from mesh fabric, so one can eschew body makeup for that grey corpse-like look: perfect. And surprisingly quick to make. Spandex World for the mesh – using their sample swatch service for the color.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

9. Newspaper roses, spraypainted very carefully: yes. They look as pretty as I thought they might. They are actually rather time-consuming, so be warned.

To Have & To Hold. Plus, A Dragon

10. Crafting as a family affair is wonderful. The clients pictured above all helped with their costumes – and my children did their part doing extra chores so I could work on their pieces. And they thanked me about a hundred times. It’s nice to satisfy!

Happy Halloween!

 

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that will probably become clear later, like the French Revolution

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in dailies | Comments Off

Fall Projects

The summer weather turned so fast I’m still reeling. We are amidst autumn traditions now: baking pumpkin bread, knitting, sewing up wool garments. I’m keeping busy in Halloween sewing (ONE more day. Well, one-and-a-half), rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar (I got my apostle name today! #w00t), and of course – raising my kids, caring for the home and five pets, and putting the time into my Recovery life. Kidney stones got the better of me a few days ago for a couple days but I hung in there. I’m still watching and reviewing vampire films like a menace. What can I say? Life carries on.

JCS, Keeping WarmKeeping warm in a chilly theatre.
Sequin Removal

This was my life before I knew anything different than the removal of sequins. Don’t worry, I got a lot faster at taking them out. I have removed one hundred billion sequins. The results are going to be amazing, but mostly the results are going to mean I am no longer cutting sequins, which is something I keep thinking I’m doing, because it’s the only thing I’ve been doing, ab aeterno.

Punkin

A little punkin’ & a big punkin’. Which is which?

My little ones had their school counseling sessions today with their father. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are performing well, and better than that, they love school. I still miss them terribly during the day but the satisfaction I get knowing they are where they want to be (for now) is worth my occasional restlessness.

Nights I find myself having trouble falling asleep. But I have a warm bed, and loved ones, and (for now) some health. Life is very special. It is a miracle!

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the ground I stand upon

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in dailies | Comments Off

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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