i. make.

Zombie Puss

Re: sewing? Currently I’m in a slump. The last thing I sewed went tits-up. The three projects before that weren’t super inspiring either. But before all THOSE I put together a few good pieces. So as of today, listed on Etsy, everything on a super-sale and/or free shipping:

Zombie Puss

Zombie Puss (thanks to the lovely Julie for modeling!). I kind of adore this piece (designed by my daughter), but not for the reasons you might think – the exposed brain, the little white paws, the tattered and “bloody” right ear, X-eyes, et cetera. Nope. I like the paw undersides – the perfectly applied felt-and-fleece applique.

For Frith's Sake!

For Frith’s Sake! The appeal of this hat is the super, amazingly-soft faux rabbit AND the giant claws which are inexplicably sewn from an off-white wool imbued with SPARKLES. Bright Eyes!

Hot Fuzz!

Hot Fuzz! (kind of my favorite… so very soft). Not to mention the cool lavender-and-dead-blue colorway on the paw pockets. You know, this faux fur is really and truly amazing and the best-feeling fur I’ve groped in a while. I have a lot left and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. Probably trim an aviator coat, or maybe make a bunny costume… if I can find someone who wants to dress as a bunny, that is!


Wolfstalker! (I originally made this for myself; however, it is just a wee bit too small for my larger-sized head). I had a cinematic inspiration for this hat, and I’ll leave you to guess what it was (hint: a fairly recent film). The faux fur in this hat is called “African” something-or-other and again, has a wonderful texture. Actually at this point, let’s just figure I’m not going to sew with faux fur that is cheap and assy-feeling ever, okay? No one has time for that.

So. Hats. I’m hoping some sell. I like grocery money!

And now, speaking of making – I don’t know how many of my readers caught Bex’s dumpling recipe comment, but I can assure you, we made these dumplings and they are delicious (I commented on her original post, re: our methodology)! If you make them, be sure to post your results here, or on Bex’s post!

Keep warm & keep loving one another!

feeling kinda rough

Tonight I’m in a bit of pain as I watch a young person’s life go down the tubes. I’m helpless to stop it. But I have the illusion I could. If I just said the right thing! If I just strategized the right way! If I just gave a little more! If I just withheld a little more!

And this latter, this futile attempt to control something more powerful than the human will, is where the suffering comes in.

If you read here much, you probably know: it means a great deal to me that I’m an alcoholic. It probably will mean something very dear to me, for as long as I draw breath.

And in recovery, I get to work with people. I can help people, which means more to me than I can express. I get the honor of watching people live heroically, with an incredibly powerful and destructive disease – I watch them live in a way that is uplifting and wonderful. Like my husband said tonight about the recovery community we call home: Those alcoholics live by principles that the whole world could take a lesson from.

But yeah, sometimes it goes the other way. I get to know a woman, I get to spend some time with her. We share our lives – we spend hours together in intimate conversation. Our bond grows fierce – deeper than your typical friendship, more poignant for the fragility we’ve come to know, the miracle of just another day sober and another day in gratitude. She knows me – she knows the hell I escaped – and I know her, I know a bit about where she’s been and how bad it was.

Then I watch her go back.

It just – hurts. In a way that is bottomless.

The decline doesn’t happen suddenly, either. It happens slowly. I see it happening. I speak up. I say something. It keeps happening. She asks for my advice again. I give it. She doesn’t take it. It keeps happening.

It keeps happening.

When I watched my father die of cancer I didn’t have the illusion I could stop it. I grieved, I mourned, at times I even felt sorry for myself or felt angry over his suffering. But I didn’t suffer under that illusion of power, of control.

Alcoholism and addiction – they are diseases. They resemble cancer a lot more than people think. But they also lend themselves to another disease: that of perception. We keep thinking we can control it. We can manage it. We can say the right thing. We can “make” someone stop – by kindness, by sternness, by yelling, by pleading, by the silent treatment. By taking something away. By giving something. By giving until we’re dry.

It’s all bullshit because nothing but divine intervention can stop it.

So tonight, yeah, I got a little less peace than I did a few days ago. I’ll feel better soon, but for now? Just: BALLS.

save one life and you save the world entire

Yesterday evening our dog walked through the door after three days and two nights hospitalization. He is still very ill but – we hope – on the mend. He is eating of his own free will after almost a week and he can walk again although he staggers. Today he managed a bowel movement. Little things – that are big things, in Hutch’s world and ours at least.

I am still recovering, myself. I had never seen an animal suffer like this – and I watched my cat succumb to lung cancer. I didn’t panic externally but, I am not going to lie, I did a little bit on the inside. It’s that same fear and that same grief, I’ve seen it before, I’ve visited it, and sometimes I can experience the grief with serenity and sometimes – not so much..

But we got through what was, for Ralph and I, the worst bit of a large crisis in our family (paying the bill is going to be another matter). And I got through it while meeting my responsibilities as best I can, and with – hey! – a little dignity and a great deal of gratitude. My husband reminds me of a mantra his spiritual mentor tells him: “I don’t have to like my situation, but I have to like myself thorugh it.” An admirable goal and one to set sights on while stuff is going pear-shaped.

I am very tired as I think my kidney, the right one, is pretty messed up. I am finding myself in a place of fatigue. Times like this and life is on automatic. Get up, groom and dress, feed children, do housework, do other kinds of work, take care of one another and the animals, meet volunteer commitments, reach out to friends and care for them as best I can.

It gets me through!

what’s that i’m looking for, oh right it’s Dignity

I’m prone on the table and a technician fiddles with me, fiddles with the machine, talks me through the procedure which is a simple and painless one. The vast number of medical practitioners I’ve worked with in my life have been so very kind. He prods my hip and touches my body here and there in a direct, firm yet kind manner, apologizing for any discomfort I feel. Practitioners are often so gentle with their hands I almost want to cry. How they can handle hundreds if not thousands of bodies but be so circumspect as if you were their only patient today, or Ever. It is a really beautiful thing.

Tomorrow I find out more about further interventions for my condition. I am expecting some not-so-awesome news. Someone dear to me the other day said, Well at least you don’t have to go through such-and-such. I’ve found “at least” comments very unsupportive and very unhelpful (I heard them from friends and family after miscarriage, after being beaten, et cetera) – especially from those who haven’t gone through these difficulties, these illnesses.

And then there are those who keep saying, Hope you get better. It’s a wonderful wish, but I notice it is also delivered, often, by people who have forgotten what I told them last time they asked. I have a chronic condition from birth so… getting better? It may never happen. It seems like many people keep someone chronically ill at a mental and emotional distance; they aren’t willing to engage with the illness, nor take the time to remember where their friend or family member might be coming from. (It only takes a moment, when you see them take a breath and reflect – promise! It’s good for you!) Anyway, I very likely will not get better. It’s like my friend S. who just lost the use of her legs. Those fuckers are gone, there are no more legs, and that is a hell of a thing to get used to no matter your age or what you’ve been through. She is not to be pitied or Othered but to be fully engaged with and to be respected – because she is a living, breathing human being going through The Shit.

Despite this and half a dozen other unplanned events (my dog went to the doggie ER today and we got to get a new credit card to cover that) I am surprisingly well. Gratitude practice, gratitude practice – helping others. Volunteer work. Sorting and rinsing beans and washing dishes and picking up fresh produce for the kids and dropping donations off at the Salvation Army.

No matter what and if we can’t afford food I still get flowers for my shrine every Monday. This practice has become very grounding. I spent much of my life being wrapped up in my own problems and I couldn’t be there for other people, but today I know most time I can be there for others. It just takes mindfulness and patience and persistence. I can’t do much but I can do a little.

D.I.Y. = J.O.Y.

Say It Isn't So! #DIY JOY

Our “new” hi-fi, tested immediately upon re-assembly. Ralph put on Hall & Oates because he is not an asshole.

Say It Isn't So! #DIY JOY

Say It Isn't So! #DIY JOY

(a little of the “Before” piece)

A few years ago we picked up one of these Magnavox record cabinets from Freecycle. It was one of those… well, people who know furniture could describe to me the construction and materials, as wood and furniture products aren’t my specialty. Not too glamorous, built well-enough, handy for listening to vinyl or the radio. You know what else, these cabinets have that feature where you can stack multiple records and it will play them through. This is rare to find today, but a feature I really enjoy.

I don’t remember what made me think we needed another one of these pieces when we spied one at Goodwill. I do know I’d long wanted to refinish a record player and take it out of the assy-brown region, and I liked the lines of the second piece more than the first. We dragged another home for $20, swapped the decks, and put the first one back out to Freecycle.

As we contemplated refinishing this piece I looked around at a lot of paint and surface options. I became more and more interested in using oil-based paint, which has so many advantages. We used a Glidden Porch & Floor paint and even as it still cures I’m so thrilled with the depth of color and the hardness to the paint. I guess I’m a little worn out from years of living in eight-layers-of-latex rentals.

Much like my sewing work, I enjoy playing with color and seemingly dissimilar styles and patterns. For the main color of the piece, I used Granny Smith Apple and for the sliding top, Early Morning Sun. Just so you know, of course, the colors look different whether looking at my monitor, or at the paint chip by my side, or the actual piece of furniture – which is very green despite my bush-league photo efforts, here.

The oil pant is so glossy it gives you a blurry-photo optical illusion in this photo:

Say It Isn't So! #DIY JOY

For the speaker re-cover, we looked through a few of my stash supplies and couldn’t get over how much we liked an Anna Maria Horner velveteen, which I’d found on sale for $15 a yard. I used a half yard with no waste, ripping on-grain then finishing by serging in case we ever decide to (carefully) dismantle and wash the velveteen.

So the total project cost a little under $50. $20 for the record player, $20 worth of paint and thinner, and $8 for fabric (we did not need to buy brushes or sandpaper as we had them already). However, I always think these cost estimates are goofy. They never include how much time one spent on a project, and don’t include the “hidden” costs like – how we had to buy a full gallon of paint in order to get the color we wanted. Anyway, we had a great time and I learned just a wee bit more about paint, color, and design.

Say It Isn't So! #DIY JOY

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Getting serious for a moment on the eve of resuming our regularly scheduled Bond-fest, Bond actor Pierce Brosnan seems like a pretty standup guy (as far as I can tell). Tonight’s #BondBFFs is a bit overshadowed by the very recent loss of his daughter. Given these sad circumstances, today I’ll post only a poster shot for the film – and the theme song’s video by Garbage.

You can join @VFD_crow & I in our commentary at #BondBFFs on Twitter. Better yet, get your copy of The World Is Not Enough*, pause the film immediately after the MGM lion logo fades, and press play again at exactly 6 PM PST according to this site’s clock.

See you tonight!

* (My advice? Buy a legal version, and download/torrent it to put the file on the computer through VLC or some such, so streaming internet doesn’t make viewing stutter.)

“May I do the honors and have a nice slice of chocolate cream pie? It’s ‘honors’ because it’s the LAST PIECE.”

"JESUS <3s YOU" Bus

I first saw the “JESUS <3s YOU" bus as I biked past the laundromat this afternoon, returning from some voluteer work. And I thought, wish I had a camera, but I didn’t, so. Later in the day the very singular vehicle was parked on a side street we drove down – and I snapped this picture. The long-haired blonde man out front playing guitar through some amplifier shouted a compliment at my dog, in the back of my mom’s truck.

Today was a good day.

Tonight I tell my son. “I apologize.” “For what?” he asks. “For not getting you ice cream today.” “That’s okay,” he says. “There’s always tomorrow. Do you like my folder?” – holding up a semi-misshapen bit of crafting paper taped up like no tomorrow.

I like his folder so much. I like how tenderheartd my children are. I like today when we got a furniture delivery how helpful and kind the children were, and how when we left to get our groceries, Nels turned to his sister and sighed, “We have a good life.”

Oh and today I heard the best meth-story today involving a nap and a sandwich, a story from a recovering addict. I won’t type it out here but if you run into me, go ahead and ask.