& why was it lifted and taken from there

It has been many years since my daughter asked me to paint her nails. The children and I treated ourselves to professional mani-pedis just before last year’s Christmas vacation. Last December she chose a soft black, and calmly let it grow out over the period of months, her special little hands and feet.

Today: a soft black, again, in a little bottle she brought home.

First: the toes. they are each perfect, little beans. Some day they will be held and treasured by the familiarity of a lover.

Tonight, just me.

We’re in the kitchen and it’s very late and it’s very quiet. 

Her toes only take a touch of the brush.

Then: time for her fingers. Her hands are delicate and beautiful. They are always warm, her hands. She holds my hand still; she held my hand in the drugstore today. I hold each finger gently and carefully brush each nail, all my concentration. Nail lacquer is a great mindfulness practice.

“‘No Light’ Gel,” my daughter tells me. “I don’t know much about manicures, but…” [sharp intake of breath] – “the idea doesn’t seem sound.”

I am quiet, thinking of her mind. She started her second year of college today. At fourteen. Her mind is as sharp as any I’ve ever seen. I forget she still needs my help, my nurture and guidance. Adult as she sounds.

Yes but – but in her voice I can hear the same sweetness I heard when she was an infant. I remember when she was only two years old, she could “read” the large Dr. Seuss book The Lorax. She couldn’t really read, understand, but she’d memorized the words and tone of the words when we read to her, and she has always been the most delightful mimic. She would calmly turn the pages and recite the story aloud: “What was the Lorax? And why was it there?” I’d hear her musical but sharpish lisp from her bedrroom while I breastfed her brother.

She says, now, about the nail laquer – which she bought herself while on errands with her grandmother, a thoughtful purchase, “But it was one of the more moderately-priced products on the market.”

I die. I die a hundred times inside my heart.

Flu Shot

into the early hours

Flu shots today. One stoic, one pensive and needing a hand-hold.

Flu Shot

Flu Shot, Part 2

We struggled so much financially, when the kids were small. Thinking about it now, this might have been the best time for that sort of thing. Children don’t need social status, and they don’t worry about the future (until we show them how). They need food, warmth, play and rest, love and attention, and opportunities to explore with their beloved carer at their side.

Ralph and I managed all that, amidst varieties of hardship and calamity that brings to mind the adage: “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

I’m thinking of this past, now that my cupboard is full and we have pretty reliable hot water and I don’t worry as much. It seemed like things got better pretty easily, but of course I’ve worked hard, and of course we’ve had good fortune besides.

We are in our final weekend before Phee’s second year at college. The children are both very engrossed in their exploits: Nels has been alternating between gaming online – and playing outside with the neighborhood gang. His schedule has gracefully morphed to perfection: he is up only a few hours before the rest of the boys get home from school, and in that time he cleans up, breakfasts, and does his morning chores. He plays with the boys until they go home, and then he’s online until I get him away, after I’ve done my own daily work.

Crawling into bed in the wee early hours of the morning, my son and I are watching Scooby Doo on Zombie Island. “Do you think that’s a real ghost?” I ask my son, during the rousing beginning caper in the film. “No,” he replies, sounding like the teenage boy he’s growing into. He knows how Scooby Doo works – come on, mom!

But I turn and look at him in the light from the screen, and I can see he’s smiling.

the most amazing business in the world

Driving home I’m sad. It’s gorgeous out. And I’d like to feel better. I get tired of all the hate in the world, all the people who are unhappy and willing to splash it around at leisure. Today I got hit with some splatter, let’s just say. Someone hurting I suppose, who elected to be nasty.

My mind touches on happy memories form the last 24. A stripey kitty with white socks, running across the street. I’ve never lived with a stripey kitty with white socks (although I hosted one briefly, this summer). Maybe that can happen someday. 

The other day, at breakfast – Nels exclaims happily, and points out the window. “Mom, come look! You will like it!”

I come look. It’s an inchworm, a little yellow guy about an inch and a half. He’s racing along the railing of our deck. Yes, I do like it. I step out to take a picture.

Nels has been bringing me inchworms because he knows they make me happy. A recent specimen was only about three millimeters long. They are always so busy and earnest and they move so quickly. We only examine them moments before my son takes the back, always back to where they came from.

***

Yesterday my son comes alongside me as I am fooling with some noodles, straining them in the sink. Making a lunch.

“Did dad tell you I tripped on some glass?” he asks, by way of conversation.
 
“No. Are you okay?”
 
“Yeah. Just a really deep cut,” he says nonchalantly, showing me a shiny new bandaid in the flesh of his palm.

A really deep cut!

 
“I keep wondering if they’re glass in my hand. I keep pressing on it.”
My children are teenagers – well, almost, in Nels’ case – but they retain that childlike nature, a positivity and helpfulness, that makes them a heck of a lot better company than lots of grownups. My daughter rescues a small spider that falls in the washing machine. She draws a sketch for a dear friend. She cooks for herself – tater tots, half of her repetoire!
 
She asks me to make her some menswear-style clothing – she wants to dress “butch” this fall. Ask and ye shall receive!
Working in the studio until late. Time to take a hot shower and get to bed. Meeting with a new client tomorrow: altering a bridesmaid’s dress. Grocery money for my little ones. Not so little now. But still my little chicks, under the wing.
Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: hat with ears

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Hat With Ears

Yo yo yo! Today’s the day we get started on some costumery. Instead of a typical sew-along where we are all making the same garment, I’m showcasing some costuming basics so you don’t have to have endless mishaps, glue-gun burns, blunted scissors, and bent sewing machine needles!

Well let’s just be honest. You are going to get a few glue gun burns. That’s probably given.

Flames!

But here’s the thing. The real benefit of this sew-along are my Skype sessions. This is where you and I video chat and you can tell me all about your project and I can direct you to sources, help you find techniques, and advise you! My next three Fridays are open for Skype appointments  – 12 to 3 PM PST on September 16th, 23rd, and 30th! I already have slots filling in (albeit slowly) – so if you want to reserve a spot, text (360.500.3287) or email me!
Continue reading

sharing space

When I wake, I pull up my phone and read for a bit. The room is cool and dark but I can tell it will be warm out today. Another day I will take care of dinner, so when Ralph comes home he can work on refinishing the deck.

But this is for later. I am still in bed. My son wakes and pulls himself close to me. After a bit he turns over and nestles up against me, the little spoon. His skin is smooth and brown, cream in coffee. I stroke his back a bit and pull him close, put my face in his hair. “I love you so much,” he whispers.

I make up a lunch, later, before I retire to my studio to sew. I soak rice noodles and whisk together a sauce; minced ginger, shoyu, tahini, peanut butter, and sesame oil. Carrots, green peas. A hot pan and seared tofu in sesame oil.

My daughter is in the shower; Nels and I sit down with our bowls of noodles, and garlic chili sauce. He is exclaiming in wonder how delicious the food is, and how quickly I cooked it. I think about how I cooked for the family for the first ten years of family life; my husband has been doing most of the cooking the last four years. Funny though, you don’t really forget, when you have that much experience.

The sun streams through the windows; the kitties are more or less content. Herbert Pocket sleeps curled up around the hibiscus trunk, her body fitting perfectly in the earthenware pot. The children take the dog for a walk; Phoenix hangs towels and puts away laundry, before padding off upstairs to draw, as she is wont to do.

Downstairs where I work, little spiders come to visit, and I carefully move them aside. The garage door is open and I ask after the young neighbor next door. He comes inside and sits with me and we talk: school (he’s at high school this year), siblings, Halloween. 

The companionship of kitties, of children, of little baby spiders. It’s no wonder I have been feeling rather well lately.

outside with the willow trees

I wonder at this, but as fun as summer is, there is a specialness to the school year for us. The kids’ friends disappear for the weekdays, and are locked down in the evenings and even weekends. The children and I move into a slower tempo. We have the time to do the things we like. Contemplative, unhurried. Lots of good sleep and even better food. Walks together, little errands. Swim dates and adventures to the beach in the rain; hot coffee in a cafe alone.

Today I wake the children and ask them to do their chores quickly, so we can get Phoenix to the doctor. She is having the last installment in a series of painful injections. She’s so damn stoic that the slight bit of friendly agitation she evidences – moving to sit by me in the waiting room, putting her arms around me, talking to me a bit more than usual – lets me know she’s a bit apprehensive. We sit in the exam room and discuss vaccinations, and her latest art projects. She asks me to sit by her; she reaches for my hand. I hold it in mindfulness as I watch the nurse thrust a very large needle in her arm.

After, the kids and I are out to split a small pizza and salad. We play on my phone and giggle together; my son politely samples the vegan salad dressing options and elects to eat his salad plain – lettuce and olives. Besides a table of burly-looking jocks, we’re the only customers there. Perhaps that’s the joy I feel with the kids, during the school year. The town is emptied: just us, no hurries, our errands.

I have the honor of visiting a woman’s house this evening, and listening to her talk about her alcoholism. She is much older than I, has lived a longer life. But I can offer her help. After we talk an hour, she takes me on a tour around the path she walks. It is festooned with all sorts of little statues and baubles; nestled against the lush grass. I say, “M____, were you raised Catholic?” She tells me she was. We both smile, that I intuited this – although there is no Catholic imagery in the masonry and stones and painted rocks and homemade mosaics, I could still feel the influence. We spend a moment in the soft beating heart of this bit of recognition, then we move forward.

It’s 80 degrees; a summer warmth, some of the last this season. I climb in my car and music plays. I am heading back home to the children, and to the rest of the day’s work.

Road House (1989)

take the train

“I don’t know why people don’t realize that I like Road House unironically.

“It’s a perfect film. It’s paced well. It doesn’t have any extra fluff. It doesn’t get bigger than the story. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not.”

“…”

“I mean yeah, it’s ridiculous. OK. But it’s also got a noir element.”

He’s still listening, so I go on.

“You know, you have this kind of bleak wasteland. You have an anti-hero. A loner. He’s used to just taking care of himself. He’s good at it.”

“He’s a philosopher,” Ralph interjects.

Right! But then he finds himself in a circumstance where he has to protect some innocents. And he can’t help himself. He has to get involved, even if it’s hopeless.”

I pause, and then say, “Well… I guess it’s not really that noir, I mean besides that. I mean, usually a noir has -“

“- a femme fatale,” my husband nods knowingly.

Instantly, I’m peevish. “Road House has a femme fatale!” I’m pissed. He’s sat through this movie with me many times. Come on!

“…She just doesn’t have a big part,” I allow, begrudgingly. 

Road House (1989)

costume workshop sew-along: supplies & pattern

Costume Workshop Sew-Along
Ro-Man (aka Robot Monster), 1953

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

babycreeps #1: little dickens

On The Prowl

(post one September 15, 2016: hats with whiskers and ears, here)

(Literally waited until the earliest possible seemly date to start my Halloween sew-talk)

So hey. Hey good peeps. You know what?

I love making costumes so so so so much!

And given I’ve made quite a few for kids and adults all over the globe – from California to the Netherlands to Australia! – I wanted to showcase some of the methods I use to make a costume last, and last, and last. Continue reading

vado-jeans-sew-along-badge

vado jeans sew-along: waistband, carriers, hems, and finishing

vado-jeans-sew-along-badge

Today we finish our jeans!

Great Job!
All our work so far: we’ve assembled our supplies, then cut and marked our pattern. We created our front pockets, made a zip-fly, and finished our back pockets and yoke.

Today? We create our waistband, belt carriers, and stitch our curved jean hems!

Continue reading

vado-jeans-sew-along-badge

vado jeans sew-along: back pockets & yoke

vado-jeans-sew-along-badge

Welcome to our penultimate post, for the Vado jeans sew-along!

So far we’ve assembled our supplies and cut and marked our pattern. We created our front pockets, then made a kick-arse zip-fly.

Today? We tackle the back pockets and yoke!

Hooray! Continue reading