car trubble

HQX, 8:15 AM on Saturday
Ralph took a photo walk this morning; he’s been checking out a camera from the college.

Yesterday didn’t go so well. Sure, it started out great. I’d planned a brief Portland roadtrip with Sophie to visit my brother (and maybe my sister too, if the schedule worked out). I woke very excited about a sunny-weather trip. I spent the morning with my kids (both off school for Professional’s Day) cleaning house and giving them their Spring Cleaning, a fun little ritual where we clip nails, clean ears, and do an extra squeaky-clean full body overhaul, the three of us splashing in the tub. Sophie brought out her two green vinyl suitcases and we packed. She rattled off the itinerary for our trip to see Uncle Billy. We went to a six-kid playdate at A.’s while I helped two girlfriends with Halloween sewing.

Then, leaving A.’s house just a tad bit later in my schedule – my car wouldn’t start. And in a, it’s-not-just-the-battery-nor-even-the-starter way. I got a ride into town and decided to feel in despair. My dad came back out with me to A.’s and we confirmed the diagnosis that I was kind of screwed.

By 4 PM I was still in Hoquiam (not happily cavorting with my brother), having paid most of my Portland budget to No No’s Tows. The roadtrip was scrapped. I had a hard time telling Sophie this because I was upset, she was upset, and I didn’t want her to “read” more upset than there needed to be.

At about 4:30 things slowly began to improve. The van – after lots of helpful suggestions and understanding plus phone calls from A.’s house – had made it to our trusted auto shop. My mom, kids and I went to our favorite cafe and I had some fresh coffee. My mom bought me a few homebaked cinnamon rolls to take home. The waitress at the cafe brought in hand-me-downs she’d reserved for Nels (OK, that’s just so sweet). Mom and I made a date to meet up for some sock-knitting tips at the LYS the next day.

I headed home, thankful for kind friends and family, knowing Ralph would be there soon to meet me and try to cheer me up.

"just go in and do it really half-assed… that’s the American way!"

When you spend your time with a series of mentally non-challenging and thankless (as in, you get directly acknowledged for around ten percent of your) tasks – a huge, bottomless series that swallows you up – it feels one thousand times worse when you screw up. Because it’s not like you fail in something that was really difficult or time-consuming or even Big Picture Important. You screw up on some tiny thing that most people might think, “What’s your problem? Pull it together!” or maybe, “Who cares?” about.

In this case I’m speaking of Picture Day, which is today at Sophie’s school. So for either Ralph or I this involves filling out a form and writing a check and dressing the child and making sure they’re clean, presentable, and / or cute. Well, I completely forgot. So this morning Sophie went without money, without a form, and dressed “like a boy” (her words; sometimes she chooses this costume) which included a hand-me-down camouflaged longsleeve t-shirt. When I got back from dropping her off – actually ahead of the timeline, thanks – I checked my mail and discovered my error (thanks, GCal, for being on the ball!). This meant going back to the school with abovementioned details sorted out. The one neat thing about this annoying, small-potatoes quasi-waste of my time was seeing my daughter light up when I arrived. Not just happy to see me as she put her hand trustingly in mine, but I saw that she viewed my surprise visit not as evidence I screwed up (as an older child might) but purely as evidence that I take good care of her. Awwww.

Today I – yet again – watched a friend’s child for a few hours. This was a shift from 11:30 to 2:30 and I took the child C. along with Nels for a long walk to a local cafe and back. C. is loved especially by Nels and my husband. She is a very sweet, social, direct child. She has a few quirks that make me laugh, one of which is that most of the time her speech is like the Weekend Update guest suffering from voice immodulation; the other is that when she’s upset about something she descends into a sort of silent hangdog standing / crumpling / threatening-to-cry / series of events that is quite distinct (my children scream or do this crazy phoney hyperventilating thing which is filling me with rage even as I talk about it) and I only notice it after a few minutes when I realize she hasn’t spoken for a while. Nels loves, simply loves it when I have extra children to care for. Besides some kitten-torture (today Harris was banished outside our entire duration of in-home with C.; one of the reasons we went on the walk was to allow our Regal Prince his indoor naps) Nels and his (lady-)friends get along wonderfully.

Tonight’s family events: Abbi’s fingerling potatoes, our first Rifftrax (LOTR:FOTR), (hopefully) my brother over for dinner again.

Quote of the day: Sinead O’Connor, referencing Britney Spears:

“I think to attack someone as a mother is very dangerous. I would say that’s what puts a young girl on a precipice which is very, very dangerous, in my opinion. Some people may end up really regretting the way they’re treating her.”

yeah, I really don’t know what to make of any of it

OK.

So, today was weird.

Today was Nels’ first day at preschool. This represents the first time since becoming a parent, ever, I have had both children at school and time to myself. That alone – and saying goodbye to my littlest one with him barely acknowledging I was leaving and knowing it was the first of many goodbyes for the two of us – was disconcerting enough. It was on the drive home in my very, very quiet truck that I thought, simply, “I miss my children,” and finally a few tears materialized.

But today was so busy (making a pie, running flyers off and delivering them, fielding calls from the school Board president with school-commencement stuff, grocery-shopping, sewing something for my brother and working on my own project, making breakfast lunch and dinner and orchestrating coffee and cookies for my sewing group, collecting supplies for my sewing group, dropping school supplies for Suse, picking up both kids, biking biking biking, taking them out for ice cream then home and making food for my family while cleaning the kitchen and Nels fell asleep and I had to call my brother to do a coffee pickup and put a sleeping Boy back in the bike trailer and bike some more…), so anyway, it was busy in that I’m-going-to-forget-something-important way. As far as I know, I didn’t forget anything. But I also didn’t get any time to process any of my feelings.

At a little after 5 PM, mere moments after Ralph burst in from his bike ride home to take our children, I checked in a the library where my sewing night was scheduled. And as I expected, no one was there. After all I had put only a single, solitary flyer up. And even as I felt sadness for a low attendance, I felt distinctly stupid for not bothering to advertise (that’s just who I am). My time to myself (ironing fabric and laying out a pair of pants for Nels) was short-lived; my friend Jennifer showed right on the money. And we proceeded to talk, catch up on the day (she’s running for HQX mayor and there’s always something to hear!), have a snack, and finally start working on her machine. At about the point she and I were getting into good sewing theory, it started to go a little crazy.

First off, a young woman came downstairs to see us and started talking to me with some degree of familiarity. I didn’t know her and was confused she had nothing to sew with; but when she introduced herself as M. – a fellow Hoquiamite blogger, artisan, and zine contributor – I was immediately flung into that good 15 minute experience of disorientation common when you meet someone you’ve exchanged many emails with and have prematurely formed a mental picture of. Despite my disorientation and quick pleasure at having an IRL meeting, the three of us fell into conversation, comparing notes on Hoquiam, Hoquiamites, and homesickness for previous climes. M. handed me a present: a brilliant little tutorial book on making sock creatures. Her boyfriend joined us and we talked a bit about local sewing machine shops (not many).

Just when I’d gotten over meeting someone new (yet known) it got a bit stranger – a full hour after my sewing tutorial was to begin, some boisterous women started trickling into the room. They had sewing machines but I could sense they weren’t there for me. They were all talking at once, mostly to each other, but one of the ringleaders finally made it clear to my tiny, overworked birdbrain that they were a group of Pagans who met regularly to sew together. They had mistakenly showed up a day earlier than their scheduled library slot. It was very odd for me to have thought I would be teaching a subject only to have it first interrupted and then discussed amongst people who had no use for me. However, I was glad to meet these women, I learned their names, I told them I’d be interested in helping them sew if they needed it tonight or in any future iteration, and I gave myself up to the increasing surrealism of the evening.

Ralph and the kids showed up at 8 o’clock to pick me up and I felt my first pang of regret. I knew my husband would be pleased to see these half dozen students of mine sewing away at full swing. Indeed, he sported a satisfied little grin as he entered the room to ask if I wanted to stay longer. Since the ladies didn’t seem very interested in my help, I asked Ralph to load up my sewing materials and invited Jen over for peach pie and despite her busy schedule and state of minor sleep deprivation she agreed.

As Jen and I laughed in the car ride to my house, I felt such gladness that I’d moved back. As with a few other friends here I was finding my relationship with familiars from my childhood would not be formed solely of fond memories and anecdotal brief get-togethers but instead a full continuum of life experience as it unfolds in the present. Jen and I had just spoken on the phone days earlier and before that, only a few days before; our children were playing together these days, and our lives were starting to know of one another with the ease and fellowship of a comfortable reunion.

We got to my house and my children enfolded Jen in greetings and hugs (she is the only person besides Ralph and I who can understand every word Nels utters) and then, finally, the coup de grace – the largest spider I have ever seen in my life, clutching itself menacingly on my kitchen floor and throwing long shadows (I am not shitting you how big this thing is; my brother is currently on his way over to bear witness). My daughter made instant and expert capture, a few of us shook off our revulsion, I served the pie, and we laughed some more.

And with the evening drawing to a close and a very full day spent, I say goodnight.

pix and quotex

Morning Luv
My kids cuddle each other and the rest of us more than you would believe possible. Yes, it’s awesome.

"Cookie Monster"
A rather blurry photo but does anyone have any questions as to why I am incessantly pinching her bum? Nels is trying to read.

Picking Billy Up
The Princess looks alert, but he’s actually quite Pink-Eyed and lacking in coffee! This was a capital “E” Emergency and we rectified it at once.

Ralph, Family Driver
Like an elderly couple, we rely on Ralph for most of the driving.

Grazdma / Kids / "Melting Chocolate Cake"
Speaking of elderly, my mom turned 58 and we took her out to lunch (my treat and it broke our budget). This dessert was called a “melting chocolate cake” and it was divine.

Romaine, Oly Farmers' Market
I picked up some yummy and tender romaine. I love garden-fresh lettuce – drenched in dressing, yes.

Bringing Harris Home (Wed 8/22)
We got a new kitty. “As you know.” Sophie held him on the drive home and he was quite calm.

Sleepover!
Sleepover with Billy! Can you feel the love? The kitty felt it too.

O Ye Wise Kitten
Harris, newly named (Billy helped) and looking – dare I say it? – wise.

Bagel (Helper)!
That morning Nels helped me make…

Bagels!
Bagels! Recipe and methods coming soon in the zine.

Bagel (Bandit)!
Sophie attempts to swipe one, early, like the Bagel Weasel she is.

Glisten
This photo disguises the very, very threadbare nature of her suit. She continues to love and thrive at swimming.

I enjoyed this quote I read on Molly’s MySpace today:

The fact is, what I hated in the Church was that I hated in society. Namely, authoritarians. Power freaks. Rigid dogmatists. Those greedy, underloved, undersexed twits who want to run everything. While the rest of us are busy living–busy tasting and testing and hugging and kissing and goofing and growing–they are busy taking over. Soon their sour tentacles are around everything: our governments, our economies, our schools, our publications, our arts and our religious institutions. Men who lust for power, who are addicted to laws and other unhealthy abstractions, who long to govern and lead and censor and order and reward and punish; those men are the turds of Moloch, men who don’t know how to love, men who are sickly afraid of death and therefore are afraid of life: they fear all that is chaotic and unruly and free-moving and changing– they fear nature and fear life itself, they deny life and in so deny God. They are presidents and governors and mayors and generals and police officers and chairmen-of-the-boards. They are crafty cardinals and fat bishops and mean old monsignor masturbators. They are the most frightened and most frightening mammals who prowl the planet; loveless, anal-compulsive control-freak authoritarians, and they are destroying everything that is wise and beautiful and free. And the most enormous ironic perversion is how they destroy in the name of Christ who is peace and God who is love.

– Tom Robbins – Another Roadside Attraction

"mom said it was a taut psychological thriller."

I finally caught the cold that my brother, my mom, and my son have all suffered through. It is manifesting for me in a congested head cold and very stiff, raw, (but not painful) throat. I am luckier than the rest of them – so far. Ralph has sternly admonished me to rest.

Nevertheless, last night I couldn’t sleep easily thinking about my husband’s roadtrip today (he, Nels, and my brother are going to Portland for a couple errands and to drop the Princess off for house-hunting). In true Fisher / Hogaboom style we’d planned on packing food so that A. they wouldn’t have to take the time to find a place, park, and dine; and B. we could save a little money (my brother also loves this last as he is feeling anxious about upcoming expenses). Of course, Billy had to add to the fare: a carrot (I shit you not, that’s all he had). Ralph made up some roasted garbanzo beans last night and was planning on stuffing the last half-loaf of french bread (made fresh Thursday) in the basket and calling it good.

I didn’t want Ralph under-fed and over-caffeinated so this morning before the boys left I’d made them a half dozen oven-fresh pita for the beans (I am rockin’ the pita these days), garam masala tofu, hard-boiled eggs, a few slabs of blueberry and strawberry sour cream coffee cake, adding a few apples and ice water. And the jewel of the lunch: I gave to them our one perfectly-ripe peach I’d picked up from the Olympia Farmers’ Market and kept shrined in its own paper bag, untouched, for days. This thing practically peeled itself and I took a tiny taste this morning – perfect, spicy, melt-in-the-mouth.

After the boys left I cleaned up around the house while Sophie played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the Playstation. What a child she is! She can play and save video games (far better than I; I have no interest however), clean her room, brush her teeth, mess with my iPod playlist (her current favorite is Dolly Parton’s “Touch Your Woman” – Jules, I know you’re going to appreciate that), and make rather sophisticated suggestions for the day’s plans. As we left for the library she double-checked her book list and donned her apparel for the day – in her words, “Panties, then pants, a shirt, and the frog costume”, this latter being a lovely but well-worn hooded towel / froggy-eyed piece handed down from a stylish PT friend. I have also secured a sushi date with my mother for 12:30 where Sophie can further practice with chopsticks.

What else I’d like to do today: take the girl to the new Harry Potter movie. She’s still little enough she consents to sit in my lap and I can smell her and hold her close. Nels and Sophie smell like their father (yes, that’s a good thing) which amazes me because they are different people. Their intertwined dearnesses are all part of some kind of conspiracy those three have that keeps me in loving bondage to them for most my waking hours.

invalids, some small and furry

Yes, as I type this the cat is running about around my feet and being cute. Last night the kitten turned from the docile, tame creature it had advertised itself as to, well, more of a kitten, and that includes claws and teeth and general randomness.

I really have to give a shout-out to Ralph for what he did yesterday when we brought the little kitty home. My husband had a date with a friend which he ended up being late for because he gave our new pet a painstaking, tender, very long flea-bath. He even used tweezers to remove some of the fleas, as well as a fine toothed comb. The little guy was really suffering and when the flea shampoo hit his fur the parasites started biting him. Ralph said the kitty was bleeding at the neck where the fleas attacked! The kitten seemed to feel so much better after he was dry and flea-free. It was clear he felt his situation was much improved.

The most astounding thing happened last night. I had called the Princess and was blah-blah-blahing about our kitty and he told me he was sick. Then I found out he was rather sick; a very painful sore throat. I asked – ibuprofin? throat gargles? honey and lemon? and soon realized Billy would rather just be sick, and plug along, then pause to take care of himself. You have to understand my brother is likely to have sat inside his apartment – or worse, gone out to do stuff with friends – looking like a diseased rat monkey. Even though his suffering was likely viral I convinced him to come over and let me take care of him.

My husband cut his man-date short and brought Bart along to pick Billy up. I convinced Billy to have some homemade soup and rolls, let me make him tea with honey and fresh lemon. And he stayed over and everything! In the morning I made bagels, an omelet (fresh thyme from Bart’s garden), and blueberries from my mom’s garden.

I really do like helping people. It is no trouble at all and when I don’t want to help or take care of people, I don’t. I was glad Billy let me take care of him a bit; it was fun and nice to spend time with him. And so far, none of us seem to have caught whatever disease he has.

* WE INTERRUPT THIS NEWS PROGRAM *

with a very important announcement! And yes, it’s kitten-related.

Today was kind of a busy day. I was out in the early morning to pick up my brother (who I’m now calling Princess) and head out to visit our parents in Pacific Beach. While there my mom treated us to a very tasty burger stand – they had not only veggie burgers but spicy black bean burgers! Yay and thank you! – and then headed home around 1 PM. I dropped my brother off then headed to the salon for a haircut and color; something I’ve always found so boring in past sessions but I’ve come to enjoy my time with my stylist Traci very much. From there I directly came home, loaded kids and their snack into car, and journied to the Y for Sophie’s swim lesson (additional news flash – yesterday a kid – not mine! – vomited into the pool and there was a mass evacuation), then hit KITTEN ISLAND, aka a very funky old house in Cosi with four friendly kitten creatures who tried to act like winsome orphans for our benefit.

Yes, you heard me. KITTEN ISLAND. This is the magical place where kittens climb on you and rest and look cute and you think about taking two instead of one. By the way, it had been a number of years since I’d had a kitten and I’ve forgotten things about them. Like they can’t jump up to your knee even on a low sofa so they climb it. Like they are incredibly trusting to new people. Like they can hide anywhere apparently (this one is doing so as I write this).

The kitten is, we believe, male. The kitten is stripey and has grey and white eyeliner. The kitten doesn’t have a name; yes, I have taken pictures and will post them soon. The kitten got a flea bath before the kitten’s paws touched the floor of my house. I also told the kitten I was sorry to take him from his brothers and sisters. Then I said, “But that’s what happens to kittens…” and the male of the couple whom we were adopting from nodded gently and said soberly, “That’s life.”

Let that be the last sober and sad reflection towards our new family member at Casa del Hogaboom.

Welcome, kitten!

i totally feel like i’m going to puke

Because I’m hosting a “little” get-together on Friday and it is the first time I’ve invited more than a few people into my house. Suddenly I realize I feel like my house looks freakishly bare (it is), I need to go buy more dishes (I do) and build a firepit (I don’t, I’m just weird), and I know there’s no way I can figure out stuff for the attending children to do (P.S. my own children play games like, “Guess Whose Clothes These Are?” which is my daily ploy – and it works! – to have them help me with laundry folding and putting away).

I’m just hoping a willing host family, a clean house, and lots of good food is good enough for my friends; I’m sure it is. P.S. I think I might reserve the services of some kind of clown / balloon-blowing / stripper person in the yard and hope we don’t have rain and if just one thing goes wrong I will hide in a closet crying.

Lily Of The Garden
It’s summer in my mom’s yard which is a beautiful time of year. Ralph and I were married about this time (early September) and had the reception at my parents’ (which is the house of my great-grandparents); I remember the quasi-unruly garden being in full bloom and lovely. I remember being caught on tape revealing I was wearing Friday panties (or whatever day it was).

Tonight, this was odd: my brother is going for a trip until late August to visit friends and his girlfriend (in CA) and he kindly accepted a dinner invitation at my house. This evening after we ate I thought perhaps I’d been smoking crack when he actually hinted for a hug before he left. I assume now that he’s planning on dying in a train derailment or perhaps he’s eloping, never to return.

In some ways I think my children have brought a lot more demonstrative love to my family. After all they quite frequently hug, kiss, say, “I love you,” and “I’ll miss you” which is definitely not how I grew up talking with my family. In fact my brother’s own hug request was after my children had hugged him, kissed him, said, “Come back soon,” and “Have a good trip,” not because I trained them to say those things but because we say affectionate things to one another in my family and they feel genuine and deep affection for their uncle. Even their grandpa, and propriety forbids me from writing out all the ways that mean old man barely deserves love (just kidding, I ruv roo daddy!).

Taste Of Sunshine
She is biting with the side of her mouth to avoid her loose front tooth. That thing is crazy-assed loose.

breaking exit velocity

Roadtrip With Hello Kitty!
Roadtrip! Today my mom, brother, husband, children and I headed to Olympia – mostly for fabric and sewing purchases. My mom bought us lunch and post-shopping snack – how awesome is that? I didn’t eat a snack but I did bring home some amazing cinnamon bread for Wagner’s.

Mom Portrait, By Billy
I just want to say that the only reason my mom took us on such a long trip – 11:30 AM to 6 PM – was that Billy was along. She likes spending time with him more than with me. Because they are dating.

I love hanging out with the FOO. Sometimes certain members are a right pain in my balls, but mostly, I like spending time with them daily if I can. Today my poor brother and I had to run and keep Nels and Sophie at bay in Music 6000 while Ralph was “grinding his axe” (i.e. playing a guitar out of tune, to try out a pedal) and headphoned. Why did we get Nels to monitor in such a valuable commodity shop? I was glad Billy was there, besides for his company.

Nels, Out.
Nels fell asleep on the drive home and still, about three hours later, is out.

Sophie, Pensive
Sophie napped too but, once home, stripped her shoes off and started coloring. She and Billy like taking pictures together.

(And just for my secret thrift-whore housewifery buddy – here are my recent thrift store purchases on Flickr – I really do love the inexpensive and fun thrifting to be had in HQX!)

consumerism at last!

Today I spent a bit of time in the morning taking my corset in – 1/8″ over eight seams. Easy and fun! I talked with my parents downstairs while taking out the erroneous seams. I am just WANTING to keep sewing on it but – I have a family and stuff that also needs me.

Then – the event of the day, a roadtrip to Olympia with my family. We hit Joann’s and then CanvasWorks, my mom stopping at Bayside Quilter’s. Despite fabric temptation that sometimes feels like a once-a-year visit to a whorehouse, I only bought one bit of yardage on impulse (seen below with the lace beading and ribbon for my corset top):

Trip to Joann's!
Will I ever grow out of poison green? Why would I want to?

I will be dyeing the lace beading to a slightly-darker rose pink, I think. I also think I’ll use Dylon but am open to suggestions.

The rest of the shopping focussed on the yardage and notions for my brother’s Portland coat.

Project Billy's Portland Coat!
I am thrilled he actually wants a coat from me; in the past the little grub has tried to talk me out of sewing for him, period. Today he turned into rather an exacting customer regarding fabrics. This was actually great for me; anything worth sewing is worth sewing the way you want it. I am glad he cares enough to participate and I hope he enjoys watching how lengths of fabric become sturdy, well-loved garments.

All that remains to start on the coat are buttons: we found some nice ones at CanvasWorks but ultimately he leaned toward cloth-covered, which I think is a great idea. I’ll have to scout online to find some along with the Dylon and an embroidered cord fabric for a friend sewing for her daughter.

I’m happiest when kept busy sewing, being with family and friends, and writing. And I’m getting enough of all, lately.