though they be but little, they are fierce

The restaurant is crowded with happy Friday night diners; the delicious headiness of frying onions and peppers, brisk steps of servers walking between tables, jubilant voices bubbling over one another. In the foyer, a woman in a smart apron stands at a portable bar smashing ripe avocado with a large mortar and pestle, right on the spot making guacamole. She scoops small portions of this deliciousness into cups, garnishes each with a fresh tortilla chip, and passes the delightful repast to waiting customers.

We have ordered, our drinks are arriving, and it’s time to wash hands. I stand, and my eldest hovers at my elbow. “You’re fine, you can do it,” I say cheerfully, and put a confident hand on his back. We split up into our separate restrooms and I am in and out quickly; hair standing on the back of my neck, a deep breath. Every journey into a public men’s room is fraught and I relentlessly muster a casual confidence I do not always feel. Every other diner in the place has no clue; they are chattering, lifting frosty drinks to mouths, forks busy. But a simple family dinner out is a little less simple for us, most of the time.

My sons speak the same language these days, back and forth, snickering over phone screens and sharing meme-speak. Nels came out as gay June 1st and it seems to have brought the two of them closer together. Their disagreements have matured, as well; and they argue rarely. A terse word here or there, and the other will usually back off. I can’t say there aren’t resentments here or there simmering beneath the surface, but mostly they get on like a house on fire.

Their temperaments are, as ever, the moon and the sun. Phoenix, the eldest, solicitous, more community-minded within the family. Nels, recently hooked in to a group of five teen boys who are passionately gaming and socializing together every waking hour, well Nels is a little flightier, a little more self-absorbed.

Astonishingly, my scheduled two-week break from work is almost up. Time is flying, of course. In spite of this I have enjoyed more time with the boys, more time reading barely-historical novels and watching creepy television, and more time for family projects – for instance, today, surprising Ralph on his birthday by having car speakers installed and scrubbing the kitchen floor.

I am continually amazed at how quickly those early child-rearing days flew. And it seems I receive so many reminders; as friends, old and new, have their own babies. I drank deeply of those early years, and they passed so quickly regardless. It’s easy to lose my head and rush off to more work and new things, but I know if I’m not very mindful this present reality will fly by, too.

Father's Day Hike

I’m a flower / you’re my bee

Father's Day Hike

It isn’t summer according to the calendar, but the weather has turned. It’s gorgeous outside; sunshine most days, warming the driveway where kitty Pip regally lolls as he surveys the neighborhood. A warm rain other days; the absolute greenery of trees a fresh, indescribably rich scent as we travel inside with our groceries.

The quiet in the evenings, after dinner is done and the teens have settled into their companionable laughter with friends online. I open the windows and put a few drops of essential oils in the diffuser and take a hot shower and pad through the house in bare feet and a soft t-shirt and knickers. My body is tired and spent from yoga and hard work. My bed is made and I await my husband. Family life is a paradise, when it’s not a hell. But it’s a paradise most every day and has been for years.

My work, I have had so much work. I am glad for it, but I have had to focus diligently as to not lose myself. Focus too, to schedule a two-week sabbatical in July. This engineered break has taken every bit of discipline and ingenuity for me to plan. Obviously I am grateful to have the kind of steady clientele I can take a break; too much work is a good problem to have. The kids and I will be swimming and sunning and beach-ing and iced coffee-ing like goodballs.

And meanwhile, in between client work a break to sew myself new chonies. I’ve got a concert in the park coming up with the kids, in Portland, OR and by then it will be hot as balls. Gotta make myself a dress that weighs nothing, and a big ol’ sunhat. These are the preoccupations my mind runs to, when I’m in bed and retiring for the day.

 

Easy Tiger

Newborn Nels

happy birthday, Nels

Nels David Hogaboom

a birth story

Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sibling 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. They 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 and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

Kelly Hogaboom, Thermal Socks Livestream

“seams legit” sewing lesson: thermal socks!

Update: the streaming class is available here on Facebook. A little of the audio is muted but only here and there; you should be able to follow along just fine.

Happy New Year!

Dear readers, I have been working very hard on developing my streaming sewing channel – with loads of help from you all! I am still working on some of the tech assembly – lights, and additional cameras and furnishings – and to that end your donations help me a great deal. If you have the funds, any amount helps. Thank you for your support!

aromatic cooking

Tonight I carefully slice into a red bell pepper, then a green one, and finally a cheerful purple onion. I cut a quarter wedge from each of these and slice as thinly as my patience will allow. I am exhausted, and I am trying to prepare a new dish. So I move slowly; but I do move. I heat up two types of tortillas (microwave under a damp cloth napkin) and wrap them in heavy foil packets into the warmed oven. Having pickled a jalapeño (while the others roast in oil and salt), I dice it finely and add to the marinade hosting thick tempeh slices. I halve cherry tomatoes into a bowl and gently combine them with a little oil, salt, sugar: set aside. I fry up the seitan chick’n strips – having pre-baked them dry and chewy in the oven – and add the peppers and onions and more pickled jalapeño. The kitchen warms brilliantly with the fragrance of peppers and onions and the family cheers a little. Finally: I slice avocado, bring out the lime cashew cream, and the purple slaw, my husband prepared earlier. We don’t set the table as my work is spilled across it, but join one another convivially on the couch to watch a quaint baking show before we go our separate ways again for the evening.

Living Room

dry goods

Living Room

I have these waves of beyond-exhaustion that come and go. Life is not easy at the moment, but it there is much to be grateful. I am bone-tired but also exhilarated; a nearly bottomless fount of creative energy, and a lot of wonderful support from my community. We have our health. Ralph’s job is going well, and the kids are thriving. We’ve got Christmas handled but that said, it’s always a challenge for me to pace myself during such an intense time of the year.

the bright spot of our lives

The atmosphere at the club is chaotic; there’s a Halloween potluck and dance assembling. Friends flit in and out and talk, smoking or vaping outside and loudly laughing; the energy is high. Flirtations – eyes casting about at one another. Parcels of hot food unwrapped and placed on the tables. It’s cold and crisp outside and warm and convivial indoors. I love seeing people in costume – some of them rag-tag or incomprehensible, others quite developed. You discover a little more about your friends when you see them in their glad rags.