as close as hands and feet

Happy 33rd!

Myself, Billy. And our fridge-magnet creation we dispassionately display here: “Mad Max”.

Today is my brother’s thirty-third birthday. He and I were born a year and a half apart, more or less, so his age is about as easy to keep track of as mine (this endeavor grows more difficult every passing year, especially as my basic arithmetical skills have atrophied).

It was pointed out to me yesterday the people we have the longest relationship with in our life are our siblings – not our spouses or partners, friends, or even parents. Holy shit. I hadn’t thought of it that way. My half-sister Jules and I weren’t raised together and I got to know her best the brief time we both lived in Seattle, while I was attending school – and of course, I get to know her today, I’m fortunate to. Having been raised with my brother, and without my sister, I can say it sucks not to have known her more, had her as a regular part of my life.

But still, back to Billy, his big day. I’ve known him ninety-six-point-five percent of my life. I can’t remember a time without him. He was a sweet boy and the grownups (in my opinion) didn’t give him enough of the right stuff. It seemed to me like my mom worried about him and prodded him to do better in school (he was a straight-A and B student), more socially than anything else, whatever that meant as he always had friends and teachers liked him. Family told us “they” (who? teachers? family?) thought for a time in early childhood Billy was “retarded”. Yeah, “retarded”. You heard right. I don’t think my mom, brother or I use that term anymore. Anyway, I mean just the way it was said, not so sensitive nor apt, not because if he’d been neurologically atypical I would think that’s a bad thing, it was fucked up as there was an unspokent judgment in that whole story: you know, be like everyone else whyont’cha? (product of baby boomer mentality)

I mean like I said, this was a student who did fine and a boy who always had friends and had a lovely character. Yet almost every year on his report card a teacher would write, “Billy needs to finish things on schedule”. These teachers always meant their schedule of course. If Billy had been my son (I know, weird), my eyes would have rolled ’til they clicked and I’d have said, “Fuck your schedule.”

Because Billy was, and grew up to be, and is to this day – as far as I can tell – a detail-oriented, kind, caring, intelligent person with a deep love for his close friends (of which I am not sure I am one … yet), a strong commitment to his work and a desire to do it well (both our parents were this way, except, notably, our father when it came to home repair projects). He’s ended up in a detail-oriented position with employers who love him, and he them, and he takes deadlines seriously. He’s the same as he was when a boy, or at least all the good parts. As far as I can tell. He’s a bit private and I only know him as well as he lets me. I think he did pretty well or has so far because mostly he got love from our mom and dad despite their shortcomings.

Our dad was kind of a dick to him, by the way. Again, at least I think so, I don’t know if anyone else does. Shortly before my dad died, but when he could still get around, he showed up at my house on Eklund and rambled about Billy and how he, our father, wasn’t as tender and loving as he could have been, and he thought Billy suffered because of that. It was weird, my dad talking to me like that because that isn’t how my dad talked (adulthood – I only remember him hugging me and saying “I love you” to me just before he died). Anyway after a while of this sitting there having coffee I said to my father, “Shit, it sounds like you need to talk to your son, not to me.” I don’t know if he even did. But then Billy wasn’t there when dad died. So there you go you old weasel, you get like you served up.

Billy and I are so physically different it’s funny. He’s thin and I’m plump. (Our parents used to tell me not to bully him because one day he’d be bigger and would retaliate. I think I still outweigh him by about forty pounds.) He’s dark-haired and olive-skinned (but pale) – like our sister – and I’m fair(ish). He can grow quite the beard and I can barely manage a mustache. We used to make jokes when we’d go out in public, as if we were perceived as a couple and somehow people also knew we were brother and sister, and were creeped out.

My brother is hands-down the best listener I’ve known. He’s also been so supportive of my parenting and marriage as far as I can tell. Get that, I just told you our siblings are who we know longest and I have this loving guy who’s a great listener and supporter. He’s also very funny and we share a lot of jokes. I’d like to think we can make new ones, not just have the old ones.

I can only speak on my brother and his childhood from my perspective, and I can’t know if he relates at all. I think about him often, and I’m always glad to see him or hear from him. I am glad he has a good lady in his life and great friends and a good job. And I send him – regularly – pictures and videos of our cat bullshittery (LEGION!) which I know he appreciates.

Happy birthday, Lobster Eyes. Many more I hope.

***

Myself taking a picture of my sister taking a picture of my brother and daughter (you can tell the picture’s a few years old by how little my Phoenie is!):

My Sister Taking A Picture Of My Brother And My Daughter

fête

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix’s ninth birthday is coming up. I want to have one hell of a shindig. I’m concerned though. I worry I’ll think of great details and lose steam as the date approaches. This has happened before. The trick, for me, is to plan and work for a nice event but remember, life goes on afterwards – no need to obsess.

So right now I’m planning the menu, which is going to be a vegetarian dinner, not party snacks but an awesome dinner including foods that make you want to punch yourself in the face, they’re so good. I have some help from chef-extraordinaire Amore.  ALSO I must wrangle the music, decorations and the prizes. These latter two categories is where I can lose steam. I do not want to buy a bunch of plastic or Dollar Tree provisions; I love to create with recycled, upcycled, and recyclable or reusable accoutrement. I also want my mom’s house (where the gala will be hosted) to be a big fucken undersea kingdom. Yet adornment is not my strong suit. Have you seen my house? I have three pieces of artwork total hanging on the walls (my favorite is probably Phoenix’s bloody fossil, marker and paint on cardboard).

I loved how our invites turned out – Ralph and I have so much fun with stuff like this. If you want us to send you an invite, wherever you live, let us know, as we have a few extrys.

baaaaaaallllls

I’m glad it happened, really. Things have been going so well on the Christmas front. Tiny, well-crafted yet frugal gifts; homemade music and Christmas cards out on time (um, today, so expect yours soon), a few home-sewn items, a few excellent purchases from our local bookstore (yay!), several very well-curated bits of goodness (specifically for my mother and kids; I’ve owned it this year). This season people often ask how it’s going and I’ve been able to truthfully say Very Well, very pleased to celebrate and honor friendships and family, but I also laugh and add there’s some mini- (or, and I hope not, major-) disaster on the way –

So today after literally sewing until I bled (Stabby McNeedleson) I put the finishing touches on the lovingly-crafted button-up shirt I was making for my brother, made from crisp and delicious Essex linen/cotton blend and Pam Erny’s awesome pro-weft interfacing, and stitched up all eight buttons with a trademark thread finish, 100% flat-felled seams (yes, including the armscye!) and a narrow hem to die for and a wonderful weight and hand and looking sharp. And I wash the shirt it and remove it to dry and press and immediately perceive THE FUCKING FABRIC HAD FURTHER PRESHRUNK, resulting in thoroughly ruinous interfacing/fabric bubbles that cannot be pressed out and cannot be ignored either as in, I will not be gifting this to my brother, no way. OH GOOD LORD NOOOoooOOOO

I can tell Ralph’s worried about money. By little subtle hints like his IM today that says, “I’m in so much pain right now, worrying about money.” Also more concrete sea changes like the fact instead of the typical breakfast cereal my kids like he purchased Junky-Os, you know the kind in the bag made of teflon-ass so a kid has to tear and tear and get a kitchen knife (unsupervised as I’m all Twittering and shit) and saw and tear and then suddenly BAM! the whole business asplodes all over the kitchen floor, which perhaps may even the financial savings inherent in a lower-grade purchase a bit moot, but my daughter cleaned the whole business up except for a tidy little pile of Os that later the cat was messing about with while tangling herself up in my serger foot pedal since the serger is sitting on my tiny kitchen counter since, even with a super crafty family, we have only one table, one, which is in the sewing room now which means we eat sitting on the floor again, no big deal but still.

Ralph and I are home at 1 AM after wrapping up Christmas presents at my mom’s house, our package for the Portland crew: my sister, my brother and his girlfriend (and her cat). At least I know my mom and the USPS won’t fuck-up the mailing of the package so all that will go well enough.

And that’s just all I have to say about all of that.

short & sweet & utterly spent

Portland: a beautiful and exhausting trip.  It rained all the way down but let up to a bright coldness as soon as we got there.

The Inn at Northup Station was really fabulous. The kids loved it times One Million – the oldies, the roof garden, the very, very BRIGHT colors, the king-size bed and kitchen (the kids tiptoed on stools to get at drinking classes) – the whole bit.  A great rate too – they don’t charge extra for your kiddos and our suite came with a kitchen! Plus, GIANT JARS OF TOFFEE on each table in the lobby!

Candy Candy!

Refreshment

After checking in we ran to the next door suite to check in with Karen and her daughter Ella – both of whom had had been working themselves silly with partner Shelly – then we settled into our room, unpacked a couple things, and ran down to SE to pick up my brother and get a late dinner. Billy suggested Imbibe and it was a wonderful choice. Everyone was hungry, but Billy and I ate and ate and ate. I had a delicious dinner (including seared ahi and a garlicky caesar salad and a burger, hell yes) and a decidedly sub-par bloody mary. I even shared the ahi with Billy and let him have one more piece than me. I didn’t say so right away. At first he ate the garnishy stuff and avoided the last piece, like a gentleman. Then I said he could have it, in my best gentleman-voice. Then he pretended not to know that he was getting one more slice than me, at which point his love of the deliciousness won out over our mutual silent shows of gentility, and it disappeared into his wolfish mystery-beard.

So seriously though I could have eaten about five plates of that ahi.

Back at the hotel I spent the rest of the night working alongside Karen – nothing like a sewing marathon until 4 AM! – then crawled into two beers and fell into bed and had a really rough sleep.

In the morning our kids woke themselves up while Ralph and I packed our few things. This even though they’d stayed up as late as I had!

Nels, model: “I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.” Like bananas and brownies in bed, for breakfast:

Our Little Model

Despite having little sleep and having to leave the much-cherished suite, both kids cheerfully had their breakfast, brushed teeth, got dressed and in all ways re-joined in the adventure.

Nels wasn’t feeling quite right: sadly, he was constipated (an issue we haven’t run across since the very occasional incident in his infancy). He wasn’t in pain but he was apprehensive about the, um, work that was ahead for him. I was very tender to him and, after finding the shooting locale and while we waited for his photoshoot, he lay on the couch with his head in my lap and I stroked him. But when it was Go Time he did his thing like a champ. He had the photographer, her assistant, and a couple moms laughing very hard (I watched some of the shoot, but not all). A lively little spirit.

I can’t post pictures of any of the snaps I took at the Patterns by Figgys photoshoot but I can tell you it took place in the lovely Z-haus in the home of the designer. There were about eight or nine kids running about up and down the stairs and playing outside. It really was a lovely time and even the length of the photoshoot didn’t seem to get the little ones down. Nels’ constipation also resolved (he came out of the bathroom and said, “My condensation’s gone!”) which made him happy as a lark. And truly, I felt relieved as well.

Afterwards our plan (as authored by the kids) was to find a to find a kaiten-zushi restaurant: but after locating Sushi Ichiban and parking we walked around the block to find it closed – from 2:30 to 5 PM (dammit)! We used the opportunity to stop at VooDoo Doughnuts and peruse their fun creations (if you’re into that sort of thing, and yeah I got the maple bar with bacon on top) and a cup of coffee. Then a quick call to my brother (because no, we don’t have a smartphone) to get directions back to the sushi train; we walked two blocks to Sushiland.

Fried Asparagus, Cream Cheese, Roe, Some Kind Of Hot Sweet Mayo Sauce

Contemplation

Closing The Deal

Then to the park to play very rough with daddy.

Nels Waits

Swing, 1

Swing, 2

Tag

Portland was a bit sad. Very white (I’ve got nothing against white people, some of my best friends are white), not a lot of eye contact on the street, no children in the park. It was also rattling to be in the bosom of wealth one minute and then amidst many trolleys loaded with the few posessions of those sleeping rough. Ralph gave some cash but of course the number of people made it seem almost futile. Funnily every person we spoke with directly was quite friendly; and although I’d heard rumors of notoriously poor restaurant service I did not find this to be true at all and in fact everyone we came into contact with seemed to like their job.

We hit the road at about 4:30 and came home – Hoquiam never looked so good. I am not suited to undersleeping or rather, after not getting sleep I function best in my own home.

I wish I could express how delightful it is to be with my kids and how impressed I was with their conduct. Ralph and I give them everything we can give them – including their personal freedom and agency – and challenges like these last twenty four hours prove the concept. The truth it is was a long photoshoot today and Nels was both ill-slept and suffering from “condensation”, the latter of which had been causing him anxiety for the past twenty four hours – yet he still did great.

Another test of character: in the Z-Haus Phoenix was given the opportunity to entertain herself while waiting through the shoot. Whilst doing so she also played with the other kids including Karen’s little Ella. Karen so appreciated this – as she had lots of work this morning – that she gave Phoenix a thank you and a cash gift (and the two hugged one another sweet as you please). At our sushi date later Phoenix very adult-like requested to buy the family’s dinner; at $16 plus tip she was able to do so in entirety. A beautiful girl, inside and out.

It was also wonderful for the kids and I to see bits and pieces of the city, a rare pleasure for us (I can’t speak for Ralph, who is a bit more of a homebody). It would be lovely to travel somewhere and stay a bit longer sometime; maybe some day we will find the means to do so.

oh the suspense!

My favorite Hitchcock film – so far, as I haven’t yet seem them all – is Dial M For Murder. The director was brilliant – and yes I realize he had about a hundred and one issues with women, and none of them bore very good results – but. Still.

North by Northwest is another I enjoyed –

And of course, Vertigo. On my first viewing my favorite part was the nightmare sequence (which is, it goes without saying, far better viewed within the context of the film):

So of course, I thought I would make a baby bunting thusly. Because it just makes sense.

Vertigo!

This was my first experience using Spoonflower’s printing service (you can view my brother’s uploaded designs at their site). I was very disappointed in the results of the twill, which faded quite a bit upon my initial wash (gentle, in cold water). However, I am not done with Spoonflower by any means. I’d like to continue to work with them (and if you, dear reader, know of another custom-printing house for small batches, let me know) although I feel some consternation I do so potentially at my own peril of lost-materials cost. An in-house screenprinting studio is hard to negotiate given we four live in a two-bedroom house… but my wheels are turning as I’d like to be able to do more with the fabrics I use.

Lined With Organic Cotton Softness

(Hee hee, lined in the iconic Vertigo poster art!)

You can read more about the construction and materials of this in the Flickr tagset. I put it up on my homesewn sub-site. And I’ve decided I need to make, oh… like a billion more sci-fi, classic, or B-movie-film-based clothing items.

ALSO: NEED ACTUAL BABY TO PUT IN THE BABY CLOTHES I MAKE

grrrrrr

EMERGENCY EMERGENCY

YETI- AND MONSTRER-RELATED BABY BOOTIES*

Oskars

Romper Stomper

Yeti Is Gonna Get You

Monster Patrol

I made these using Shana Kreikemeier’s “Knit Monster Baby Booties” pattern, available from Ravelry. You can also view details of every bit of yarn I used (and some of my pattern/project changes) at my Ravelry project (META-DATA, drooool!).

Also, meet the three pair of briefs I made my brother (using Jalie 2327). These are prototypes, as A. I want to get the size right (I think these ended up a bit small) and B. making briefs on a regular sewing machine has its challenges (but my semi-broken serger and/or my serging skills are not up to the task).

So anyway, I’m calling these underwear “Pouchy”, for the awesome schlong-shaped front pattern pieces.

I had a great time sewing underwear. I hope these fit but if they don’t, they were great practice.  Upon closer inspection you’d see they look way more homemade and shoddy than in the pictures here. But they are sturdy and crafted from very lovely, soft, red cotton knit.

Prototype

Krafty goodness!
Claw Close-Up

* “Monstrer” is not a typo!

Reaching out for something to hold / Looking for a love where the climate is cold

Today while sewing the Project of Ravelling Fabric Fuckery I had the pleasure of my husband’s laptop and a Rhapsody station. During the first half I elected listening to Hall & Oates. I should probably confess I have this deep and secret fantasy where my brother and I dress as the duo for Halloween (I’m telling you, the resemblance is already halfway there). Included in this little fantasy is also the fact we’d be performing some of their songs, I’m not sure how or in what venue, and this really makes little sense because I’m not sure either my brother nor I can sing, especially not at the levels of prowess this “blue-eyed soul” (Rhapsody genre names are fun!) pair evidences. Oh and my brother probably wouldn’t do this, ever. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

(Until today I’d misheard the line as “broken eyes still melt in the sun”, a gruesome image from my childhood, and P.S. I sincerely want that fashion for myself!)

More goodness, and I love how Oates is just kind of lurking back there:

(Two points: Oates’ MAGIC EYE BLINKS at 1:30 et al are awesome; secondly my sister is an actual private eye, which is obviously quite relevant, although as young ones we dressed up as Boy George (her) and Blondie (me), and Yes I’ll dig up a picture soon!)

Another one from my childhood. Even today this song strikes me as deeply moving but also very corny. I guess I really like that combo. Plus it reminds me of that time I went to that strip club with the pre-tornado Kansas wheat field theme:

(Embedding was disabled but you can view the video I remember – a better one – here.)

Video exposure to Tina Turner and Chaka Khan in the 80s was the first time I remember having the distinct pre-pubescent knowledge of a beauty I could never have. No jealousy or envy or confusion; I was unabashedly enamored with and amazed by their presence, their embodiment of Diva (although I didn’t know that word yet). I can still remember exactly where I was sitting and at what house I first saw the latter’s video for “I Feel For You” (I couldn’t find this video but I did have a great YouTube surf looking for it). I like feeling like a kid again every now and then.

Reliving this hit made me titter at my sewing machine. Probably because of the Scary Movie send-up, but the video itself is not without a giggle… Especially because the lyrics also sounded so inappropriately stalky and the video apparently decided to go with that:

(OK, a rather beautiful song but still. Phone calls like that? Don’t do ’em. Also: blind girls. EXTRA-SMILEY, virginal, passive and adorable – and far easier to stealthily follow!)

More Lionel Ritchie, but my point is I had the hots for Mikhail Baryshnikov when White Nights came out. I don’t remember anything about the film at all. Except Baryshnikov’s pants. Look, I was about eight. I still really like to watch men dance well.

In other news this performance came through the tweetstream today. Seriously, every time I watch Freddie Mercury live I feel so sad, joyful, fierce, weepy, amazed, enthralled:

OK, now don’t stay up all night practicing your white-guy hopping-and-bobbing-around dance movies!

wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’

The last few days have included much I’ve photographed but have not otherwise documented. A walk from our house to Casa Mia, a cool two miles, to meet my brother and his ladyfriend for dinner while they were in town. Along the way we experienced many illustrious things. Like:

The “Lowered Expectations” bridge tour:
Loud

Rod’s Diner (gone now fifteen years but we remember it fondly):
Gone Now 15 Years

A lovely bloom (as-yet unidentified because I haven’t made the time to crack my book and look it up!):
What Bloom Is This?

Outdoor couches:
Outdoor Couches Right after I took this photo I looked up and was startled to see a young man on the porch with a very large knife. But he was merely seeding a melon and throwing the remainder into the yard. I thought of how much my chickens would have loved those melon scraps.

Today? Like the immortal Ren McCormack said in that wisest of films Footloose, “We sewed our asses off,” except he said “dancing”, but who are you going to trust, it was not some stunt-gymnast in my sewing room today but me, for realz, and I sewed so very much, of which I shall show only one photo. Today’s installment is brought to you be Dusty Springfield whom I listened to for the afternoon (followed by Adele), stylish diva with impeccable vocal stylings somewhat squandered on perhaps the most pathetic torch songs ever committed to record.

Practical

And finally – more pickles! So many different kids I’m making. These look to be extra-awesome. Because of that motherfucking jalapeño you’re getting a glimpse of. It’s saying to me, “Hey, guess what, I’m going to be delivering some awesomeness to your face soon.”

Pickles!

Life is almost leaving me in the lurch; time to collapse into bed. It’s my nine-year wedding anniversary today (the 8th) and as of yet I have nothing much planned.

my whole life spins into a frenzy

Today’s video goodness is dedicated to my brother Billy.

You know, there was an era of music videos where they were good. Not mind-blowingly transportive, or overblown productions in excess of a small Eastern European country’s total governmental budget, or trying to do the Smuttiest Thing Ever, or dressing up celebrity stars in as many sexiful/outrageous outfits with enough jump cuts to induce epilepsy – Just: entertaining enough they’re fun to watch.

Any favorites, readers?