my heart beats like a drum

One hour at the roller skating rink for the kids; I help them lace their footwear and gather them into my arms again before I go. Their hair falls across my cheek and smells sweet, dusty and dry and delicious. As they get older these embraces mean more and more to me. My children, in skates, are nearly as tall as I. They thankful for the two extra dollars I give them for candy or pop and do not complain about the small sum. They have spirits of gladness and gratitude; by the time I was there age these things dwelt within yes, but they were eroded and corrupt.

A few minutes later, at home, my phone rings and it’s Nels. He excitedly informs me his sister is dominating in the rink’s game of tag. “She is doing so good, I wish I could take a picture,” he chirps. I hand the phone to the other ear and take out the rising yeasted bread, flip the oven on. I thank him for calling and put the phone down. My children are half a world away, competent and enjoying themselves, all at once vibrant and alive yet strangely vulnerable and precious to me. This cold weather even with the sun, I have a sense of wherever they are and I hold them close and I want them provided for at all times. Ralph comes home to a house full of fresh bread and new lightbulbs, then he’s back on the road to pick the children up along with a u-bake pizza for later tonight.

Later tonight,

dark now and at the side of the road, the car idles as my friend in the passenger seat applies her baby to her breast. I no longer even feel the ache, the letdown an infant’s cries, and the huffing-little suction sighs the child makes are familiar but they are from a past that sometimes feels another era. The mama’s breast glows milk-white in the dashboard lights and she is unselfconscious and I think good for her, I’m a bit tired but a respect and a gladness throbs within me, all the more so as she’s close to a year off meth and she’s doing her thing pretty good. I fiddle with my scarf and we talk a bit and I wonder if these memories of early sobriety will be fond ones or if she’s one of the many, the most, who will go back into the night and get lost for a little while

I’m contemplative, this evening.

Home and finishing up a soft shirt for my daughter. Ralph and the kids play Dungeons and Dragons at the dining room table

– hot water and lemon and honey –

 

Kraftitude

I’ve sewn sewn sewn away but haven’t given you all some pictures lately. Here are a few goodies:

Smileymp3-riffic!

A hoodie with secrets! The idea here is your iPod (or whatever) is snug in a secret inner pocket. It stays out of the elements and the cord snakes up through the neckline, where it is secured by little earbud holders! Observe:

Earbud Holders

This way the headphones won’t get caught or pull on anything. Also the little safety-pin deconstructed sleeves, which Phoenix loves – and a secret sleeve pocket. The entire garment is lined, no seams felt on the inside.

Sleeves

Not-So-Scary Red Monstre

Not-So-Scary Red Monstre
Commissioned for an expectant couple down in L.A. Outer shell is wool, inner shell super super soft Michael Miller cotton knit. YES HORNS TOO. & mittens. Tiny, wonderful-to-knit, mittens.

Brown Bear!

Brown Bear
A relatively conservative design all my own. Reminiscent of a very early bunting I made Nels so long ago.

cuddle goblin

Today I delivered this little scrappage and my own sweet ass to a Mother’s Blessing for friend and reader Kat:

Head-On

(And yes; Ralph and Phoenix named the bunting “Cuddle Goblin”, because all my one-of-a-kind baby things need names.)

Goblin

The bunting was made from a lot of scraps – cotton canvas, silk, and linen – and the shell was made by Essex linen/cotton, a fabric sent by Karen as a Thank You for pattern testing. It was lined in a soft off-white fleece. Given the math, I figure it would be fitting the baby in late late spring so I did not underline for additional warmth.

I am beginning to really like the Essex linen/cotton and may buy some (since I’m all out, finally). It is lovely to work with, although I am still getting used to the fact it shrinks and shrinks and shrinks upon washing. It seems very rugged and stain resistant (I’ve made my son pants from it and they still look fabulous after much rotation). A bolt from Dharma would be divine; I could dye it in batches – I love dyeing fabric – any color I want! (Yeah, yeah, get in line with all the other supplies I need; my WIZARD sewing machine is still in the shop as I don’t have the funds to bail it out.)

I’m still experimenting with applique…

EXTREME CLOSEUP

And employing both my stellar machine- and hand-sewing skillz (a bit of color on a hidden snap, plus PRICK STITCH and, for the lining, slip stitch):

Hand-sewn Snap

Zipper

(You can see more detail shots and read about how I made this in the Flickr tagset.)

The Mother’s Blessing was a very lovely experience; I’ve been to a handful of them (though not for a couple years) and they suit me more than the typical baby shower content and substance. I brought a date, my friend Jasmine. It was a super lady-positive evening. Here we are all tied together, just before snipping ourselves apart.

Mother's Blessing

I’ve a length of cotton string around my right wrist and over the next few days will be holding Kat and her family adventure in my mind and heart.

Love the one you’re with

Pristine

I’m a bit disturbed that in my once-yearly visits to Port Townsend I continue to be beset by ugly thoughts and feelings – each time I visit. Yesterday and today, in fact, I experienced the strongest negative feelings and thoughts so far. All my baggage, sure and whatever, and maybe I’ll write some of it out sooner or later, but that’s not my point. The oppressiveness of it all threw me for a loop. It was like my brain had all this static noise.

And I didn’t have much time to process. Within about five minutes of driving into town I was at a party and spent almost every waking second after this around other grownups. I didn’t have time to defrag. I did my best to be present for my friends, who along with their children are deeply precious to me.

The friends, the kids? AWESOME. I felt high as a kite to be around them. That might have been the Stumptown coffee, too.

Darts At The Undertown

After hot chocolates and hot coffee we walked down to the beach. The children played and played and played, showing no boredom and only a total interest in the beach and one another.

A Place of Interest, #3

And they agreed to assemble so I could take a group picture. This is because guess what, tomorrow they will all be about six inches taller and with more or less teeth and telling different stories and doing different things so we wanted to get them, just grab them RIGHT NOW.

Preparing...

Assembling...

Almost There!

El Grupo

El Grupo[grimacing]

At some point some of us had to move onto a warm place with hot food. At this separation, Phoenix cried mightily. But in the way of small kiddos she was very happy only moments later on our way to lunch, stopping for a comically incorrect-sized kiddie ride – one she used to ride on as a tot that is, I suspect, not much longer for this world.

Triumph

The kids sat at their own table and Cynthia, Jodi and I got to catch up. I ate this huge-ass chile relleno. I’d hoped for the Noodle House but that was not in the cards. Maybe next time.

Like The Punchline:

As we ate it got darker, and colder, and darker…

So my daughter and I said goodbye to our friends and to PT and warmed up the car to hit the road.

On the way home, the little girl fell asleep (“Mom, may I take a snooze without interruption?”). We’d sung the entire drive up (Jazmine Sullivan and Justin Bieber, volume at 11) but it was nice to have time to myself on the drive back and I was glad she got some rest. In fact, both drives were very pleasant for me and I usually hate having my ass in a car.

Andrew Bird, and the twisty-dark of Highway 101:

Ode/Speed

On The Way Home, Phoenix

24 hours and there-and-back.

I’m ready to take a hot bath at home and cuddle up to the warm and beloved bodies in my life.

Port Townsend Gloom

Beach
(Small Stone #21*)

Beneath my feet, deathly chill, the shock traveling up through my legs.
Today I don’t mind.
I’m one with the elements.
Cold and fierce.

24 Hours
(Small Stone #22*)

My son puts his arms around my neck and buries his face in my breast.
“You were gone such a long time!”, he sighs.

Small stone project

starchildebunny

WELL there really are no words. I’m pretty proud of this. Not only did I design it (yes, I really did), I conquered a few treacherous challenges, including appliqueing a couple dozen flannel stars on a very stretchy pseudo-cord and negotiating a generous offset placket.

From The Front!

The bunting was a lot of work but it was all for SCIENCE and space exploration. Obviously.

From The Back!
Front Placket

(Listing at Homesewn, Flickr tagset (the latter has some construction talk and more detail shots).

fridays are not pants optional

Health

I live in Washington state and it’s totally not like this! There are high fevers all the time! & hardly anyone ever does handclaps in music!!!

“Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences”; a report from the USDA (pdf). According to this report my family qualifies as a “food desert” family, one we join an estimated two percent of all American families in. Ralph and I have made the deliberate choices to have a fulltime at-home parent (which means reduced income); we also spend about two and a half times the American average income percentage on (what we believe to be) nutritious, from-scratch food. This report (amongst other observations) confirms my experience this can be difficult work! (Bonus points for anyone who reads the entire report!)

“Diet for a baby” by Hathor the Cowgoddess. Yes. Baby diets are real and receiving notice and promotion. And yes. I am terrified.

And on that note – “Sunday Surf” at Authentic Parenting. Some great breastfeeding links; mamapoekie also answers some of my concerns regarding the subject.

Social
“‘No Touching’ at High School? A Student Protests!” at FreeRangeKids. This is a truly sad and nauseating measure; I am inspired (but not surprised) students have launched a petition against it.

“Hugs, Twisty: Pornsick dudes give blamer the screamin’ mimis”; A reader confesses confusion and sadness at anti-women pervasiveness in the media; commenters respond with support.

“Rejecting the notion of ‘Black People Twitter'” at What Tami Said. Whites may be unfamiliar with endemic pressure to be “a credit to their race” (a phrase that will likely always remind me of Hattie McDaniel)… and what does that say?

The other day while being served Chinese-American food by a Korean-American proprietress I remembered these two oldie but goodie entries on stuffwhitepeopledo: “Seek Authenticity” and “Carelessly Exoticize and ‘Other’ Food”. The phrase “authentic” when referring to food makes me laugh pretty hard. If you find yourself looking for “authentic” food or tourist locales, you may want to check yourself for Special Snowflake Syndrome. The story of in the second link of the The Urban Vegan’s recipe for or “Blue Mosque Ayran” reminded me of a recipe site I found when searching for an Eithiopian recipe – apparently if you eat anywhere in Eithiopia you are guaranteed to be served by Iman (yes, I know she is Somali-American).

Parenting
“The Words We Use: Living As If School Doesn’t Exist” by Wendy Priesnitz
“The generic term is “homeschooling.” For the first decade or so of the modern homeschooling movement, that word worked fine, since the few thousand of us living that way shared a general understanding that we were experimenting with something that was as far away from the school model as possible. However, as the movement has grown, the number of approaches used by families has grown too. And now, the word “homeschooling” has come to be identified with the parent-driven, school-at-home end of the spectrum. It no longer accurately describes a curiosity-based, learner-driven, self-managing style of education, which uses life and the world as its resources, and that doesn’t look at all like school. […]

“We are now seeing the next step toward a world without school. Web-based information and the devices to access it have become widely available, allowing learners to bypass schools altogether, even if they don’t consider themselves to be “unschoolers” or “homeschoolers” or have never even heard the terms before. Nevertheless, the concepts of learning and schooling are still synonymous for most people. Most have yet to leave behind the belief that one “gets” (or is given) an education through attendance at school, and that “unschooled” therefore means “uneducated.”

Of every post I submit today, this is the one I most strongly identify with – enough to cite a heavy dose of it – and I endorse every letter on the page.

“Minimalist Parenting” at Authentic Parenting. This post is very sweet but it made me think of the many “minimalist-porn” media images saturating the mainstream. I personally believe these “minimalist” lifestyles we read about in blogs and see in magazines are ones bolstered by a lot of privilege. Nothing wrong with that; I wish more eco-, ethical-, and enviro-minded bloggers and authors would own up to this privilege.

“Motherhood: Electric Boogaloo***” from Navalgazing Bajan
This is a great review, a thought-provoking read, and a wonderful guest-blogging opportunity!

“So you wanna ride in Oregon with your children??? Well…you may want to think twice…” at bikecommuters.com
My observances on “heavily debated topic[s]” that involve kids and carers is the debate is predicated on the shoulders of the following: 1. children don’t deserve the same rights as grownups, full stop; 2. a sarcastic and vitriolic response when people object to measures that make life harder for parents/carers – because “you should have thought of this before you had kids”, and 3. a total and endemic avoidance of the inherent operational and oppressive sexism that results anytime you restrict the movements of kids. Being this is a bike issue in America, this particular piece of legislation also holds that cars are mysterious elven wraiths that have nothing to do with the injuries to and death of cyclists (hey, car worshippers and rape apologists could probably appreciate one another!).

“Two Conversations” by Jeff Sabo (now blogging at Daddy 365)

Pop Culture
“Donkey Kong High-Score Belongs To Hank Chien Again!” at The Retroist

Art
“Beefranck’s Emporium – The Be Nice Project”

I think it’s obvious this Ghostbuster Wedding Cake is ART and food – simultaneously.

Make/Craft
“French Fridays, Uhm, Sunday, with Dorie: Gnocchi a la Parisienne” shared by reader and friend Jeanne
I put the source book on my library holds. I can’t wait to make these although the one time I tried Béchamel sauce my results sucked.

“How to supreme an orange” at freshcatering. If you’re buying oranges here in the PNW, navels and bloods are the way to go.

Plush Mollusk Anatomy at WunderKammer

“DIY Sriracha”: Why would you need to? I dunno, maybe to see if there are additional layers of DELICIOUSNESS to plumb!

Tweet of the Week
Linked to this. Cool beans.

Quotable
“Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone. This is the ancient law.” – Buddha (posted by mamapoekie)

Random Awesomeness
“This is groovy”, from The Stranger and as shared by reader and friend Jeanne

Even my curmudgeony ass-heart got pretty soft for this. A very cool viewing of a very personal yet public event.