vado jeans sew-along: supplies & pattern

Can you believe it? We’re up for another sew-along in just a couple weeks! (Reminder: all my sew-alongs are cataloged here!)

Because – there really are a heck of a lot of reasons for you to make your own jeans!


Want to join us? Sign up to join (after you enter your email address, simply read on)! You will receive six emails in all. Easy-peasy:

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For this super-awesome sew-along, we are going to do something scary – design our own custom jeans! The sew-along launches on August 15th, for my mom’s 67th birthday (mom jeans! wooooo! and always on trend!)

And let me tell you a little secret. When people compliment your jeans, and you say, “Thanks! I made them!” – nothing will be so fabulous.

Magic & Mystery

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ain’t I rough enough, woo

Today was white-knuckle ugly. It seemed everywhere I turned there was something to try my patience – starting with the morning’s discovery that our little kitty Herbert Pocket got into a bowl of popcorn and later vomited about twelve large piles throughout the kitchen, bathroom, and hall.

It went a bit downhill from there.

But there are those little things.

My kids were happy and healthy. I was tired this morning, but I made them a good breakfast. We sat together at the kitchen table. They hugged me a lot.

I did the things I was supposed to do. I put aside things I wanted, in order to help a few others.

I breathed deep while waiting at the doctor’s, instead of playing on my phone. I practiced Stillness.

I hosted a few people even though I was tired.

My children were glorious, lovely individuals; and I’ve had some influence making that a reality.

I let someone be kind to me, and I let myself be entirely unguarded.

I crept into bed with my husband and he held me close for a bit and we talked about our day. 

So today kind of got the best of me.

But tomorrow is another day.



because sometimes you get a bit sad

Some readers won’t appreciate it, and I am sad for that, but this is the only visual I’m comfortable sharing from my recent illness. It took a few days to realize how seriously sick I was. The dehydration and infection really set me back. My husband helped me by carefully monitoring my medications and helping me take them. As soon as the antibiotics kicked in, I felt a little better. When the stent was removed, I was better still.

I am doing very well indeed these last few days, but I am sad too. It only took a few days to bring me so incredibly low. It’s a hard place to be. I fled my Buddhist practice during those very dark, very painful times. I could only show restraint in the way I communicated – and even then, I grew sharp. My husband came home later than I’d thought he would (should?) and I shouted, “Where have you been?!” I was doubled over in pain and very frightened. I felt very helpless.

I somehow recovered and then I jumped right into work.

So I am working again, and I am glad. But for these ten minutes I can admit, briefly, I would like to be able to rest a bit more. Can I do it? Will I let myself? Or do I just need to admit my weakness for a bit?

I want to be spoiled. I want hot chocolate chip cookies. I want an Aster & Bay face scrub. I want the hummingbirds to visit more often. I want a kitten to cuddle. I want a vacation I don’t have to pay for. I want dinner brought to our home, and to stay in bed. I want someone else to clean up my desk. I want the yard weeded and the deck lights strung instead of telling my husband to do it. I want to wake up tomorrow and have someone make me a pile of hot waffles.

But instead I settle for writing a bit. For taking a hot shower, and dressing in my soft pajamas. My daughter spends an hour with me before bed, holding one another and talking about our day. About our lives (“You’re a good role model to everyone around you,” she tells me). About our aspirations – for now, for the summer, for life.

She is off to bed, then my son joins me. He’s put the kitchen in order, and then readied for bed. His face is bright and keen from the evening’s wash. Sleep comes, for all of us, and soon. I’m tired enough I think I won’t stay up much longer. Just enough to write a bit, and then another night in our home, safe for now, and ready for respite.

a white dress, a blue room

I’m standing by the clothes dryer ironing; my son is telling me a joke he wrote. It doesn’t really make sense. But he laughs, his face flushed with pleasure. He steps up to me – he’s almost as tall as I and will be taller this time next year – and puts his arms around me. He kisses me frankly. Then pulls back and looks, peering: “Also – I put three potatoes in the oven to make baked potatoes.” His tone is half-proud, half cautionary, as if somehow I’d be alarmed to find the oven on if I went upstairs.

His father taught him how to bake potatoes. You scrub them up really good, wash them dry them. Coat in olive oil and coarse salt, then stab ’em with a fork. An hour at 400 degrees F. They really are sublime. But Nels, he’s really proud of himself. In fact the kids have settled so thoroughly into veganism and it seems like everything is more peaceful, is more funny. It seems we eat less food but enjoy it more. We certainly spend less on food.

Today I finish up the hooded sweatshirt in a bamboo french terry – set it aside for washing and air-dry, it will be a gift for my daughter in the fall. I steam-press linen for a dress shirt for my son – a gorgeous cerulean blue. I cut out a pattern and catalog it; hanging it up for next week. I will be ordering a pink jean zipper for stretch jeans. I will be overdyeing some gorgeous fleece yardage for my Halloween costume. Yes, I start early. Because some years I get an awful lot of Halloween costumes.

This evening I am finishing up a meeting with a sponsee; sitting in my car with her for privacy. A client arrives – a bride-to-be. She wants her tulle-overlay dress converted to a strapless dress. This means? Cutting into a wedding dress. She is a relaxed bride so there is something very thrilling about it all. Instead of sending her away, I have her sit with me while I whip-stitch the remains of the overlay to the inside of the bodice. The result is gorgeous and she’s very happy when she leaves.

I’m exhausted. My pain level has been very low today, with about 1000 mg of ibuprofen, an acetomenaphin – and this evening, half a hydrocodone. For now I am trying to be patient and trying not to worry about the future. I have a pile of laundry on my bed that will need to be put away before I can sleep in it. I need to drink some water.

A hot shower, and then falling under covers.


Mr. Blue Sky / please tell us why

I found out I was wrong about the difficulties with my procedure on the twelfth. My sudden post-surgery illness was not due to a medication miscalculation or reaction, but rather the trauma of the surgery itself. “You had a really blocked-up system,” my urologist frowns at me. Like I did it to be naughty. “Like a cork,” he adds. He tells me it was so bad they did what they could but they had a limited amount of time.

I am shocked they didn’t tell me how bad it would be after the procedure, or give me something I could take for the pain. It would have saved me terror, agony, stress, and a second hospitalization.

Mostly – the fear. I haven’t had pain like that before. I thought something was terribly, unutterably wrong. And then things did get wrong. I am glad I recovered. I have learned a lot.

So now I am in a patient place, waiting for the next test. I am thinking about pain, and fear, and my Buddhist practice. I am going to get to go deeper than many people do.

Meanwhile I am well enough to work. I have several writing assignments, a web site (my new job!), and several sewing plans in the works. Tomorrow I meet with a client about custom garments. I’m tired but I’m doing okay. I get to be careful, to pace myself.

My child, my eldest, is off on a retreat this weekend – she is at a gathering meant to support children of alcoholic families. You can imagine how impressed I am of her, how much I love her for embarking on such a thing. Still, I miss her. She hasn’t been texting us much. I am lucky to get the lion’s share of the messages.

Night time and it’s time for kitties, for snuggling under blankets. For something easy to watch. To drift off to sleep. 

Tomorrow is another day!

ureteral stent

the latest appliance

ureteral stent

Today marked the end of a small, unpleasant eight-day epoch with the removal of my ureteral stent. I won’t bother posting links because you can look it all up yourself.

The fear set in last night. I did my best not to give this fear too much energy. Really, I slept pretty well all things considered. This morning I resolutely did my housework bits, and went off and picked up a sangha member to help her with her spiritual walk. 1:30 PM on the waterfront with my ladyfriend I took a couple Alleve and drank a healthy portion of water, the sunlight streaming in through the windshield and (most) everything okay with the world. My husband met me at the urologist’s and we sort of grimly waited events. The procedure was harrowing and unpleasant but not over lengthy. The urologist triumphantly held up the stent to show me, but I couldn’t look. I was too upset about what had just occurred. I thought it best to be quiet and courteous. Those were the behaviors I hung my hat on.

After I got dressed, Ralph and I met with the urologist in his posh little office and he confessed I was having too much trouble. Time to make an appointment with another specialist. Not really what I want to hear but, I am not driving this bus. I am along for the ride.

If I hear one more person telling me they’re sure I’ll feel better soon I might just have to slap them. No one can make that promise. Why bother? Wishes and prayers for my health and pain-free experience – I’ll take those.

Warming up outside and a bright moon; waning from the apex last night. My daughter and I on a walk with our dog, whose spirits are inexplicably low. His tail is a bit low and he seems cautious. I guess I kind of relate.

no matter how I try to disabuse you of that notion


They’ve plagued me since my procedure, eight days ago. Two hospitalizations and one visit from paramedics, in the space of four days. Dehydration, secondary infection, and constipation. All of these are resolved today, but the combination made me so very ill and so very quickly so, that I am sobered by the experience. Now I’m on a regular medication schedule and that has been very interesting; I’ve never before taken loads of ibuprofen.

So in the last few days I’ve been able to do some work. More importantly, I’ve stopped fearing a sudden onset of pain that cannot be remedied. During the worst bouts, I had very dark thoughts indeed. Amazing how easily we can be brought low.

So the nightmares – why? Medicine? Stress? Both?

My children have been mastering more household work. Surprisingly, my son seems more focussed. My daughter has trouble.

Last night I sit at the edge of her bed, in the dark, and I ask her. Why didn’t she take the dog on his walk earlier? Why didn’t she finish laundry? She tells me, I don’t know. The room is heavy with her sadness. I ask, “How can I help?” She tells me it’s her thing. Her problem. She needs to fix it. I ask her if she still wants to do what she signed up to do. She says Yes. Her voice is firmer, now. I tell her, It’s okay, just try again tomorrow. It can be hard to learn new habits. I sense her easing off. She feels better. I say goodnight.

Downstairs to my son who has snuck my laptop and is trying to procure a half-dozen starfruit through mail-order means. He arranges his time these days between playing outdoors until all hours, and gaming in his little studio (Minecraft, mostly), and doing his household work. And then piling on me like a bag of sticks. Watching a little television in the living room while I’m resting after a bout of pain. He tangles up and kisses me over and over. I ask him, “What would your friends think if they walked by and looked in the living room to see you kissing your mom?” He smiles and says, “If they teased me I’d just say, ‘Oh you don’t like your mama? That’s so sad.'” We are giggling and wrestling a bit and he is trying to crack jokes, to make me smile. He wants me to feel better. He’s a child so he thinks its his job to fix me. I can’t really make him not feel that but I can reassure my children whenever I can.

We’ve had a break from hot weather; balmy days with an ocean breeze, but a threat of heat. In the night when I wake to take medicine, I pad into the kitchen for a drink of water and there is Herbert Pocket our little tuxedo kitty, all curled up on top of the stove. I know I should shoo her off but I can’t. I have to pet her and she stretches and splays out her back toes and curls her spine, belly up, asking for some love. I don’t particularly like being up in the middle of the night and being ill, but I do love my house and the safety I feel, and that I have in some measure provided the same to a few other sentient beings. 

Under The Knife

what wound did ever heal but by degrees?

On Tuesday I had a small surgery scheduled suddenly – to take a camera into my kidneys, destroy stones via laser surgery, and install and a ureteral stent. I was very brave about the whole business. I am getting better at being brave.

I had this plan. I decided not to worry about the procedure, about anesthesia, about pain, about nausea, and about a stint installation. I decided not to worry until right before it happened. The anesthesiologist started wheeling me down the hallway and giving me the medicine – pain medicine and Versed, the magic cocktail of amnesia. I remember the anesthesiologist running my cart into the doorway, and in consternation apologizing. This was very funny indeed. My life is in your hands, buddy!

Then the operating room. So many more people in there, than it would seem necessary. Everyone friendly. I am on my way out. Goodbye!

When I awake from surgery, I am very very ill. I had an anesthesia not that long ago, for lithotripsy, without complication or illness. So this time they either gave me a different series of medications while I was under – or simply more medication. I throw up – over and over – all day long. So: no pain medicine. By the evening I am in so much pain am voiding from bladder and from belly uncontrollably. Cue a visit from paramedics – my first. I am on the couch sweating through my clothes. My pajamas are urine-soaked. I am chanting and moving rhythmically through the pain. Sometimes the swell ebbs and I experience the bliss of less pain. When this happens I can hear what the paramedics, what my husband, is saying.

My poor husband. He holds up well enough, but this is the kind of thing to make him very worried indeed. He cooks for me, buys me flowers, heats up a rice pack for heat. He takes the dog to the vet and helps the kids do their housework. He washes out my vomit bag and makes the bed when I’m not in the bed.

I am set back far more than I’d realized. I keep thinking I’ll be able to get up and go somewhere, but it’s not forthcoming. More rest. More fluids. Lots of blood.


My children are old enough to run the household. But not without direction. I am in and out of sleep much. The pain keeps me from wanting to be held. But the kids come in and ask respectfully. Last night, Phoenix held me close while I watched some Bob Ross. She giggled at his lovely, gentle mannerisms. I knew she’d like him. She liked his painting techniques, too.

She is off to bed and my son comes in. By now I am ready to sleep in earnest. I ask him if we can fall asleep together. He says Yes, of course. And so we do.

Middle of the night, pain awakens me. More ibuprofen. Back to sleep.

It sounds a bit rough, but almost anything is better than Tuesday was.

Under The Knife

a summer rain

Suddenly my work life has ramped up. I have sewing work for clients; I have three freelance writing assignments. I have started developing a pattern line. I have officially been given my first web design project.

It’s funny. I entered the workforce in a semi-serious way under a year ago; now, if I’m not careful, it could swallow me whole!

But: I am careful. Today besides my work, I take the time off of the “me” stuff. I make several hours’ worth of time available for volunteer commitments. If I can’t put aside what I’m worried about, and focus on what someone else might want or need – I am lost indeed.

I stand outside a rain-soggy building for a bit. My husband has bogarted my keys and I can’t let anyone in. People need to come in, need to talk, need to get services. I am friendly enough but I refuse to worry much about the delay. I did my best today and today? I don’t have a key.

Today at noon my husband and eldest were already out of town, on a trip to do their own volunteer work. My son, asleep. His current best friend, a lanky boy of eleven who lives up the street, stopped over to pick Nels up for a swim date. I ask him if he can wait a moment; he smiles and twists his body and says “Sure.” I climb the stairs, open the door, and ask my still-sleeping son into wakefulness. Then I ask him – does he want to jump out of bed and accompany his buddy, to go swimming right now. And of course: he does. He pulls on a long-sleeved shirt I sewed him last month. He brushes his teeth, he asks me to pack his towel. My son is now a young man. He has a phone, he texts me. He mans his own schedule with deference to ours.

It all happened so fast. He was a baby when I started this journal!

It’s late. From my bed, buried in blankets – this selfsame boy. Not too old to forgo cuddling, holding me close, calling me his Little Mama, his Little Beak. No one can speak to me the way my children do. I am unsure if anything smells as sweet as my son’s hair, as his warm and brown little neck. He is still so thrillingly beautiful to me, and I couldn’t have invented it, couldn’t have made it happen on my own thoughts or dreams.

this secondary level of suffering

I’m not sure when life seemed to get a bit tougher, but it seems to have something to do with the increasing amount of pain and suffering my kidney condition inflicts. The pain isn’t devastating and it isn’t life-threatening but it is frequent and sometimes it gets worse quite rapidly. I am determined to be entirely honest when people ask me how I’m doing, how I’m feeling. I’m determined to tell them “low levels of pain”, or on some days, “it’s been rough.” I’m firm that I won’t say “fine!” when asked how I am. I often say, “I’m having kidney pain, but emotionally I am doing well.”

Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I think that having constant pain would wear on almost any emotional life, whatever one’s attitude. I keep returning to the thought there’s something different I should be doing. Some wall I should be trying to climb. As if there’s much different I could do.

Or the practical stuff. There is pain medication I can use. It does help. When I have it, I take it sparingly. And doctors, these days, prescribe it sparingly. Well, some of them do – including my kidney doctor. I can get more medication – but every refill requires another x-ray. An x-ray where they find yes, surprise, more kidney stones. An x-ray that costs us, and an x-ray that exposes my body to more radiation. It’s a yucky choice.

Welcome to life on life’s terms!

I’ve had a member of the community show up – at my door, in the morning – offering cannabis in some form or other (I didn’t ask for more information). Yes, at my doorstep. It was kindly meant, I am absolutely sure. I am too tired to be irritated or judgmental. I am too tired to do much of anything but try to keep a good attitude.

The pain brings gifts, and not trifling ones either. Spending some time helping others takes on a new meaning. In helping others I am transported into a reality, and out of my pain momentarily. I can experience creation and be loving and kind and not be blinded by misery and discomfort. I can have respite from a cruel illness and (occasionally) a punishing mind.

So please believe me that when I tell you to stop beating yourself up, to be kind to yourself – that I really am brave enough to do the same.

I find that, watching other people enjoy their life, is also a gift. My children are, no surprise, my greatest gifts. As I write this my son snuggles under my comforters, waiting for me to join him and cuddle him. My daughter is cozy upstairs watching a movie I rented her, a classic, on her headphones. Her enjoyment, her living and breathing and pain-free body, gives me so much joy. My son’s body under the covers in morning sleep – buying them lunch – talking to them about their troubles.

All these things: gifts beyond what money could buy.