all’s well that ends well – ouch!

I have been dying to make my own laundry soap. Because I get ideas like that and they are like a fevered, psychotic brain-termite and my poor family has to deal with it.

So with this project in mind after swim lessons we rode the bus to Aberdeen. The bus driver dropped us off over a block early, a long city block. I got burnt to a crisp and had to carry Nels far further than I should have, and in bad shoes. I honestly did not realize how far this walk would be, because I am used to it by vehicle. Anyway, after one hundred million steps I fell inside my bank (instead of ATM, for a brief respite of air conditioning) to get cash out, and while there asked for water for my children – the teller said ‘no’. We finally got to Rite Aid and they had ZERO supplies! I now have blisters and if it weren’t for getting sunblock at Rite Aid, we’d all be burnt very badly.

I love that I totally tortured myself for a couple hot hours today by trying to be all low-cost and environmentally friendly – riding the bus and making my own soap. I am dumb.

I’m calling it my eco self-fuck.

On the other hand, on our final, last-leg-of-journey approach I finally got to meet the Queen of the Neighborhood. I’ve been seeing this large, kind of sassy-looking woman in an old bathrobe and dirty braids walking her dog. I’m not sure if she smokes but in my mind she’s smoking and in the middle of the street, like she owns it. Not unfriendly or anything, just present.

She also has this fabulous lawn. Flowers and blooms at random intervals and mini-beds, well-maintained and luxurious, in the front yard. The backyard has a decrepit-looking set of laundry lines that almost look neglected but every day, there’s something different hanging there – a series of windsocks, a large old cotton throw. The house and lawn look so lived in, cluttered but in a very non-stagnant way that shows pride of ownership and a love of life.

So today as we passed her house I noticed she’d set up a large kiddie-pool with a floating blow-up armchair. I was thinking, “Cool”, but also preoccupied because Nels was yelling and crying. He’d been disciplined two minutes earlier after the bus driver snapped at me for allowing him to pull the stop requested cord (he has only got away with this twice; I try my best to help him not be naughty on the bus). So Nels is mad and ashamed and crying and I’m talking to him calmly as we walk down the block (hot, hot, hot). Then I hear a voice saying, “Need a sprinkle?” and it’s the Queen, talking to my son. My children look in the direction of this seemingly mysterious voice speaking out of the hedge. Their eyes are wide, Nels quiets, and they drift toward her property, which smells like good flowers and I can hear some classic rock and roll playing. She tells me she just set up her pool; there’s a hose mister on. The kids and I put our hands under. Nels’ foul mood is cured. We thank her and move on.

I’m going to make this woman a pie and bring it to her. She is exactly the kind of neighbor I want to know.

My feet still hurt, damn.

it’s not just for Tiberius

This week we had a sort of bittersweet milestone. My dad is officially done with cpt-11, the horrific chemo that has held his metastatic cancer at bay all these years. He’s done because it is losing efficacy. So our celebration is mixed; he won’t be sick for a while and he will be enjoying his days more. It means the most effective medicine they had for him is no longer working.

Tonight I made him a lemon meringue pie (his favorite) and we had a family dinner. He read to my kids; we talked and laughed and Nels and Grandma did their typical battle of wills which I find delightful. My dad drank some wine and seemed happy and of course looked too skinny.

I feel too tired and sad to write much about my father and his illness. Normally I’d try to dig down deep and let you know how I feel, but I don’t want to.

Today was a big day; I was out the door by 8:30 when my mom, my aunt Patti, and her girlhood friend Nancy picked us up for breakfast. From there we were dropped off at the salon for haircuts; then walked to the Y where Nels and I watched Sophie in her swimming lessons. We walked another half mile to the Farmer’s Market; then two buses home. Long, long naps for the kids as I baked, made dinner, and blogged my latest sewing accomplishment.

And oh Jesus. I can’t stop, even though I know it’s fucked up.

come sing me a happy song to prove we all can get along the lumpy, bumpy, long and dusty road

Today a series of small but essential things happened that made me happy.

One, after checking in with my parents’ home (and watering plants) I walked with my kids to a local sandwich shop and people recognized us and greeted us; a woman behind the counter said to her workmate excitedly, “That’s the one that bikes with her kids!” This made me feel nice, as well as the fact my children ate every bit of their lunch then ordered their ice cream (each of them chose a horrid, electric blue bubblegum) in a very grown-up fashion. Their manners at restaurants are improving.

Two, after lunch when it seemed my son could not walk the whole way back home without incident (I had a cup of coffee to carry to boot) we crossed the street and I boarded the bus to Quinault in hopes it would get me a bit closer to my homestead. What I discovered immediately is that many people take this bus: it was more than 75% full and as soon as we climbed aboard they let out a collective gasp at my tousle-headed son, who is less than three feet tall and gets on buses with his hands in his pockets and in this case the pockets were in a handmade dinosaur costume. The driver kept trying to engage my son as I tried to ask him if he would be passing Emerson: “Yeah, yeah,” he waved at me vaguely, still chuckling after The Boy who mustered dignity, excused himself past passengers, and clambered up in a seat. Soon this driver was blasting past my street of destination as I desperately scrambled for the cord to save us an even longer walk to our house. This whole time half the bus raptly watched my children whose bus-riding skills really are funny to watch, although Nels did nothing more than act like a little boy.

Three, this afternoon as I did dishes a friend called me. She and I talked about our sick fathers. We talked about another dinner and movie date, which is exactly each of our speed. I put it on my calendar and it’s what I look forward to the most in July, second only to Ralph’s thirtieth birthday where I get him something outrageous (but useful) for his birthday. (Except damn! Ralph has a new rule where we dont’ have a kitchen gadget with only ONE function. Shit, I’d also been thinking about a sandwich grill. Back to the drawing board.)

Four, tonight another friend and her kids came over for dinner. Our four kids played marvelously together, and we had homemade pizza, veggies and dip, and more homemade chocolate cake. After our dinner my FOO came over; my parents having just arrived from their vacation. We talked about bears, churches, and I offered my mom as treasurer to my friend’s mayoral campaign.

Five, Ralph took charge of the four children as my girlfriend, my mother and I hit a local bar for one drink and some good talk.

I am so glad to have a few very dear, very lovely friends here in HQX. I haven’t yet seen much of them – honestly? I don’t want to screw anything up. I still feel slighly hermitty and sad, so it is only right I’m not painting the town. It already feels “right” and normal to have my parents back in town; to know I can see them any time (or almost any time) I want. Even to know I get to take my dad milkshakes at the hospital while he gets his chemo or feel aggravated at their pet-like creature.

the good, the bad, and the chocolatey

I’m kind of extra exhausted today. I’m physically tired because I’ve been biking and bussing everywhere with the children (who continue to love this lifestyle). I’m lonely but I accept this is reality for now. I’ve made a few choices recently (jettisoning a person / conflict or two) and although I am better off, these choices were painful. I haven’t found close friends to consistently spend time with (that’s bad!), but neither have I sacrificed my personal integrity to join a group I don’t feel right about (that’s good!). I also just know it’s hard to move, hard to leave a life behind. I’m not trying to push myself feeling any better than I do, which is not so good.

My creative well is being drained slowly and for a while I was watching helplessly; but I’m coming to a decision about my sewing. Currently, I’m not sewing enough to feel happy about my sewing, to succeed in my Etsy contest efforts, and to create clothes for my family in my 6-month commitment. It is not working for me to try to sew at home and this is mostly because my children often do not nap and I am not getting the one to three hours of solid, silent, me-time. In the evening I am far too tired, mostly from the additional physical exercise we’re getting. I am not going to bemoan this or be overly frustrated, but I need to find a solution. Perhaps when my parents get home from their vacation I will take my mom up on the “sewing studio” offer. I have finally let go of thinking I could sew daily, and although I’m sad, it’s more realistic.

Today my Nels did in fact nap; while he did, my daughter watched and helped as I made a chocolate cake from scratch and homemade pizza (from easy and tasty recipes on for dough & sauce). I have been enjoying learning to cook new things: also buying cheaper groceries than I’d been used to in PT. Because of this I am now, finally, making yeast breads my bitch! You heard me.

I’m grateful to my husband. He has shown nothing but enthusiasm for our biking routines, for my cooking, for my requests at housework and my desire for more recreation as a foursome (tonight: family swim). And today two books arrived from Amazon: Ralph had surprise-ordered me a sewing book and a cookbook, both that I’ve wanted for some time.

So due to my efforts being applied in the culinary sphere I now have, foolishly, 85% of a giant chocolate cake on my counter. Anyone?

that’s what I hear in these sounds

Today, with two clicks on my Google Calendar, my life suddenly freed up as the three days a week of Sophie’s preschool vanished. Some people look forward to school time so their own grownup schedules may take precedence. I can understand this. I however can say I’m looking forward to the summer break just as I enjoyed it last year. With the Siamese-twin-like psychic synchronicity my two children have (desiring to spend every waking, sleeping, and bathing moment together with an astonishing low proportionality of fighting, considering) taking the two of them out – especially now, as they can dress themselves, walk long distances, take care of their bodily functions, and are joyous to take almost any outing – is actually slightly easier than having one of them along.

I haven’t set foot in a car since Friday. I continue my no-driving experiment and today my goals were modest: get to downtown Aberdeen, take the kids thrifting (I’m looking for a sheet to sew pajamas for myself; also clothes for Ralph and a pair of pants for re-vamp), hit the taqueria (sauce a la diabla!), go home. (all of this, after I’d planned out our budget and assigned various bill paying and errands for Ralph and I – also feed, clean, help dress the kids, etc, blah blah).

So at about 10:45 we walk the eight blocks to the station, first stopping at the ATM and then purchasing a monthly pass (cheap – only $18). The good news about our bus system is that people actually put it to use here. The bad news is they aren’t PT-ecocute – most of them are dirty, half-crazy, and / or poor (or any combo) and a few of them are smelly. Actually – this isn’t bad news at all since my children and I are pretty OK in new situations (and the situation won’t be ‘new’ for very much longer as we use the transit regularly). But our bus riding today underscored a truth for me: it’s hard here to ride the bus and walk. People here use their cars to insulate themselves from the harsher neighborhoods of Aberdeen and, to a lesser extent, Hoquiam; insulating themselves also from the poverty and hard-living so many do here. I get off and on the bus and don’t see anyone “like me”. Those “like me” are driving by in their cars listening to XM radio. Those I sit with on the bus go to and from sub-standard apartments and sometimes run-down hotels and their teeth are bad and faces hard-worn.

Heck, it’s kind of hard to bike around here too. There are no bike lanes in either Hoquiam or Aberdeen. None. People drive aggressively as well. Not everyone thinks biking is a good thing: Ralph was heckled as a “loser” and “faggot” the other day – merely for being on his unremarkable Schwinn. He was also wearing a dress and holding a sign that said, “I like balls in my face” but I still don’t get it.

And now: diving into the 39 cent Stretch N Sew pattern I purchased today at the Salvation Army.