ART HQx t-shirt clinic with Bespoke Hogaboom

ART HQx t-shirt clinic!

ART HQx t-shirt clinic with Bespoke Hogaboom

I am so incredibly excited to announce a joint venture in my hometown – a t-shirt clinic at ART HQx in Hoquiam!

Yes – I’m going to help you produce a t-shirt and you’re going to get to tour the amazing art collective that is celebrating their one year anniversary!

This event features a $5 per shirt reservation fee. W will be maintaining strict Covid distancing measures. You need to wear your mask, use the hand-washing station upon ingress and egress, and observe six feet of distance. Don’t worry, Jeanne at the studio is very used to safely navigating Covid art projects, and we have plenty of indoor and outdoor space for all!

We have four designs available (two of them customizable), and when you reserve your spot you can request a t-shirt – or bring your own blank. 

All ages and abilities always welcome.

Ready to schedule? Slots are open!

Follow @art_hqx on Instagram and Facebook for more amazing projects!

And – I’ll see you on the 12th!

Mason Lake, 2020

time after time

I am wearing no makeup, my hair is in a lake-stained messy bun, I have given up every aim except lake life which is impossibly slow. There is nothing much to do at all except silently pace oneself for the cool-off, and then another hot shower, and padding barefoot into bed together to enter a syncopated rhythm as each family member falls asleep.

Good morning!

locked down! uh-uh!

Good morning!

We’re all having different quarantine experiences but one thing I’d think we’d agree on is: this new life is strange. There is a real element of surreality to it all. I don’t think many of us could have predicted how our lives would change, and how we’d begin to feel about these changes. Whatever you’re experiencing, please go kindly on yourself.

For instance I wouldn’t have predicted that my partner, children and I would work so harmoniously together; separately for the most part, but checking in with one another for coffee breaks or snuggle breaks. Part of that is just the unschooling lifestyle, I suppose: we’d already spent so much time together over the years, and we’ve built the systems and gathered the resources needed for each person to thoroughly enjoy their day (for our youngest son, his only requirements of late are large amounts of food and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing).  “People are complaining that their days are blending together – but I don’t feel that way at all,” my husband tells me last night as he dresses for bed. I agree. I think to myself, This is because our family likes what we do all day long. I’m really grateful for this. Not everyone has this experience.

Our sons are deep in their own worlds – mostly socializing online, drawing, gaming, and I’m quite sure shitposting and memeing. We have dinner together each night as a foursome, and besides that there aren’t too many four-way Hogaboom collaborations. Once a week the boys make dinner while Ralph and I work. They turn up the music and laugh and produce an incredible meal and take a bit of pride in this accomplishment. The dinner is great, but listening to the teens’ banter and laughter is even better. Even one year ago, this weekly tradition wouldn’t have easily happened in our home. “Life comes at you fast”, as the kids say.

Close 2 U

Our youngest son has taken to curling up on our king size – even when the bed is stripped as I wash linens, as shown here – not quite wanting to be close to me per se as much as taking comfort in his parents’ bed, where he slept for much of his life. At night while he games I sit on the couch and he edges closer and closer, his weight pressing against me. His shoulders broaden and his arms are thickening up and I have that distinct impression of being made smaller, of withering away. I have a lot of life in me but he seems to have more.

Ralph and I are cooking so much lately, of course. Even if we wanted to get takeout (and… we don’t, not really) there aren’t a lot of vegan options where we live. Being locked-down has really cast a light onto how often we picked up food from the local Chinese or even Taco Bell. So for now; home-cooking. All this food preparation reminds me of those years when the kids were smaller – just how much time I spent sorting and rinsing beans, making up batches of rich tomato sauce or loaves of bread or big steaming pans of fried rice. The bread, the rice, the pasta – they all disappear quickly these days, within hours.

Despite the oddness of the times, life is good. Life is very good. Work filled up so quickly; I went from March barely making a profit, to April which looks to be my highest-earning month yet. My creative energy and output is off the charts. I’m wanting to work until 11 PM; it is an effort to come away. Never in my younger life would I have thought I’d have so much energy at hand. It’s a gorgeous thing – if at times overwhelming.

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 around 9 PM and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing

My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to get things moving or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m afraid of another long labor – eighteen hours – like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about four minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’t to come.

Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.

April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote

Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide she’s right. It’s time to get in, and I am hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well – grunting urge. Thanks to my study of natural birth, I know it is perfectly okay to vocalize and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing!” and I reply (silly!) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.

April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!

Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little foolish about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon – with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of his head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.

April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born

With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my child’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding him to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. He is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.

April 7th, early morning – getting to know you

I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my child away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see a penis! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.

I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food – cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with Phoenix, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. Phoenix wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss my oldest child and introduce them to their brother; then Ralph takes Phee back to the bedroom to settle them back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to use the bathroom, feeling now finally that everything is alright.

My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.

unprecedented

The pandemic and resultant quarantine – as Washington state residents, we’re early adopters – would be scary enough in any case, but it sucks when you’ve got children, even presumably healthy ones. Small children always seem so vulnerable; my teenagers, however, can have grownup-sized anxieties with a tad bit less historical perspective than might otherwise give them comfort.

Today, coincidentally, was the first day of the year I felt the heat of spring when I opened the door. My first thought: the planet will survive. We human beings have made some big messes and stand to make more. The planet utterly doesn’t give a fuck.

Phoenix and I went on a neighborhood walk, carefully observing distancing practices of course. Just a simple walk – after only a week of quarantine – felt invigorating, sacred. I asked how his friends were doing. I asked how he was holding up. In is social circle, Phoenix occupies a similar role as I do in mine – expected to support, expected to listen and empathize, expected to be that emotional buffer for others. I tell him to be cautious about this. I tell him, “the day before yesterday I fielded a lot of calls. I felt just fine all day long, listening to others and helping them. But then that night I was beset by anxiety and couldn’t fall asleep until six A.M.”

Two more months, or so? Let’s see.

Happy Father's Day, Dad

“wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved”

Today another little piece of my history smoldered and stuttered out. The hardware store I worked at age seventeen closed abruptly. Employees were given notice two days ago. I only found out this evening, a few hours after they shuttered for good.

The hardware store was my second-ever job. But more relevantly I worked there alongside my father, who served there much of my life.

Working with him was such an incredible joy.

My dad loved his job and he was good at his job. His customers esteemed him too. Especially the women, because he was helpful, professional, kind, tall, and courteous. Later I’d found out so many men don’t live up.

So sure I learned about plumbing and electrical stuff and how to make keys and what kinds of creepy chemicals and solvents did what, and how a pressure cooker worked and some basics of automotive care. Yeah. But more than that, I learned something truly valuable. I learned how important it was not to squander my working hours, if at all possible. I learned to place my self-respect over a paycheck if at all possible and I mean if at all possible, and over status and over what other people’s expectations were – or what I guessed they might be.

Being raised female, I’d been told a hundred ways by a thousand people that I needed to make everyone happy before I could even think about my needs. So that was set against me. But I learned something different, in working with my father. I don’t remember a single speech or lecture. I remember his example. It somehow shone through a lot of life’s dross.

That’s how I learned how to love a job – and to respect myself at a job. That’s how I learned to love a good man, and I suppose in part how I ended up finding a good man.

So today it hurt a little to know I couldn’t walk through the aisles one last time, to bring my sons along and just tell them a little about it, before taking them out to coffee. See I know those aisles would smell the same as twenty-five years ago, in the low golden light the place always seemed to hold. Fertilizer and rubber and the little drawers of precious lamp switches and chains, and a bleachy squeak and most the things you need for your home and if you couldn’t find those things, Dave could tell you where else to look.

It hurt a little to know that a bit more of my father is gone, that I too have diminished. Yet again! Another one of life’s grubby little robberies.

But, shit. I don’t connect with self-pity when it goes up in smoke, if it’s stolen, dies out or fades away. That’s life! Like – it’s all going to burn, right? There is no posterity, some day it will all be annihilated, and it has often seemed a great and silly game that so many want to pretend otherwise. Who doesn’t know this? Damn. I find comfort in that absurdity, that groundlessness.

Another thing I learned at my father’s hand: my Buddhist practice.

So I just grieve. It’s simpler. I’ll miss the store – terribly, of course. Like I miss my family home, like I miss my grandparents’ home, like I miss all those things lost to me. Like I miss my father.

But see: I had them. I held these things, I moved through these rooms and that sun fell on my face. I will always be grateful for this golden dust in my veins, shaking it in my tingling fingertips. I can still feel that life. I won’t lose that gratitude. That, I treasure and hold as mine.

And I honor loss. That’s why I write about it here.

But I’m not sure I’d enjoy things as much as I do, if I felt entitled to them staying exactly the way I want them, for exactly as long as I demand.


Happy Father's Day, Dad a

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