BRK-BRK-sneaky-BRK, plus an announcement

SMART-CHICKNZ with SEKRIT EGG CLUTCH

 

(Yes, those are our birds: the stealth-hen is Peeperton, I think)

So tonight we have a trip up to Seattle, there and back, and I’m just making fart noises with my mouth, but it’s the right thing to do, support my mom on a trip, and get some time with her and Ralph too.

In other news: tomorrow we are doing Conch as originally scheduled (here’s the menu for tomorrow: [click for pdf]). The policies are the same as the last time we served. Please read carefully and follow the contact information, to wit: text the number 360 500 3287, leave a comment here, or email kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I will get back to you to let you know if you have a reservation!

Blue Goth

My children are not too particular nor focussed on fashion; perhaps having a mother who could literally sew them anything they wanted (because I really could!) grants them a luxury of some kind. More likely, at their young ages and not surrounded by commercialism and materialism as much as others, it’s just not their interest. They have preferences and garments they particularly like, but neither kid could ever be described as particular or fastidious dressers.

That said, Phoenix cites a few colors and a few styles as ones she likes – and I still remember pulling a frilly skirt off the sewing machine and realizing at that moment she wouldn’t care for the frippery (my son was down with it, however).  Favoring soft, pull on garments with simple pockets and clean lines, my daughter’s tastes are easy to consider.

Today’s hoodie dress had popped into my head a while back (thanks to reader Jenn for her suggestion of this lovely cotton velour).

Pensive At The Coffee Shop

OK, that’s the pensive/arty shot. Here’s some tried-and-true authentic Phoenix:

Piratey... & Lovely

The sleeves and hood were both lined fully; there are no seams to be felt therein. The double-knotted hood of the Farbenmix: Olivia pattern really works for me. I can’t just have a regular boring round hood – at all:

Double Knot!

The dress hem and sleeve hems left raw – an advantage of sewing with knits. The trickiest part about a garment like this is the layout and cutting – making sure the knits are perfectly on-grain (seamsters will note there are cross-grain stripes on the Michael Miller stripe and lengthwise grain stripe detail on the velour). Once I’d cut and marked, the dress went quite quickly.

Phoenix was very happy with her dress and played, read, ran, ate, and tended naughty chickens.

Tendering

She only took the garment off briefly to wash the dishes (and she did a bang-up job of those).

Dishes, By Phoenix

Dishes, By Phoenix

Dishes, By Phoenix

All-in-all, a successful fashion adventure for the girl and I.

Action-Pose

In other sewing knews: Patterns by Figgy’s announced their upcoming Sewing For Boys book; a project I’ve been busy helping test for (Nels will be featured in the lovely pictures therein). I haven’t been able to share any pictures of resultant garments and I’ve been agonizing to! Having some intimacy with this project and with the women helming it, I can say I’m very excited to be involved – and gladdened to see these ladies’ dreams coming to fruition. craftivism w00t!

R.I.P. fair, white, fluffy one

Today our lovely white hen Stryker was found dead. We don’t know how or why; when Ralph put the birds in their coop last night everyone was fine.

This might sound callous, but after I absorbed the loss the next feeling I felt was gladness she she did not die from neglect on our part or predation (which feels like neglect on our part no matter how much it might not be; so far we’ve only lost one this way). It is so important to Ralph and I we do not let our animals (or young children) down on the safety front. Now, we do not know what felled this wisest of all birds (OK, she was not wise, perhaps I should have said, “This bird who loved sweet soft fruit with a deep abiding love”) – there was no trauma or sign of distress. Ralph worries she ate a piece of plastic. Chickens are not especially intelligent but even I have a hard time believing she would have accidentally murdered herself. So far: a mystery. Ralph and I are researching but I’m not sure we’ll ever know what happened.

R.I.P. Stryker. You were kind of one of my favorites. You would run SO FAST with your leggy hips bobbing up and down if I brought out strawberry tops or part of a muffin or a very, very ripe banana. I don’t know how you knew when I had something sweet just from when I slid open the back door, but you always did. It was the only time you ascended the pecking order and intimidated the other birds.

Stryker’s nestmate Peepterton is very sad and lonely and shook up.

In other pet/death news last night we deflea’d the cats (newcomer Josie brought a strapping colony with her). We had to put the little ones in the bathroom for the night so the dying parasites could jump to die of poison on towels, not our bed (ask me how I know this). The older cats got to stay outside with their street smarts and impressive fat reserves. Late last night Ralph brought me in the kids’ room to use the new microscope to look at one of the kitten’s dying fleas. Don’t do this. Ever.

Now, I wasn’t particularly grossed out or scared of fleas.

Before.

summer McStitchery whiz-bang

Nels & I & My Mom's Minivan
Last week before a beach date – and as the kids slept – I frenetically sewed up a pair of linen shorts for each kid using Burda 9641. Nels loves his Times One Hundred and calls them his “Fancy Pants”, after the video game character he so loves (and resembles). By the way on hot summer days I let my kids eat ice cream about five times a day, or as much as they want it. Here we’re just about to hit Scoops while waiting for my mom who’s around the corner getting a picture framed.

We bought one of those cheap kid pools from (the dreaded) Walmart. My daughter is lovely to me. I love most that she has a brand new swimsuit on and that in order to find one long enough for her it’s all baggy. I love grabbing her up and getting a handful of that suit.
Walmart/Summer Part 1

Walmart/Summer Part 2

Walmart/Summer Part 3

Walmart/Summer Part 4
Doing laundry with a “washboard”. Nels is often out in our front yard in his underwear; in this case he has the boxers, not the tighty-whities, so I’m less likely to get the tsk-tsk from neighbors.

High Noon (Bluster)
This is Bluster, our alpha-hen (except one brief afternoon where a toe injury toppled her off the high-horse; she recovered quickly).

Lemon Bloom
“Our lemon tree is doing well” (Holy shit, those pictures I just linked to were taken only a handful of weeks ago and LOOK how much my son has grown since then! I’m scared. I really am.), in fact there are between one to two hundred blooms on the plant (it had four last year when we got it). Lemon blooms look lovely but they smell amazing, sublime.

Last night I finished a dress for Phoenix made from an out-of-print (or OOP, in sewing-parlance) Vogue pattern from the 50s. I have much to write regarding sewing with my first very, very vintage pattern. Here I am doing a curved hem from the topside, no pins nor gathering stitches (that’s right monkey-flippers!):

Skillz

This was also my first time working with a sheer overlay. It went very well as I just applied the principles of underlining (darts separately, then hand-basting all layers).  Since I so often sew for my children, my knowledge of couture techniques is often tempered with practicalities of homesewing equipment and the fact my “clients” will probably, say, immediately take the new frock down a ramp on a skateboard and tear the shit out of their hem). Hopefully I can get one good picture of my daughter in this dress before Whatever Befalls It.

Bound Buttonholes
Above: four bound buttonholes, not at all the menace I thought they’d be. Practice makes perfect as they say. These, at a scant 1/2″, made Ralph flip his shit when he saw them because they were so tiny and perfect. The dress itself taught me quite a bit: besides the overlay business and the bound buttonholes I also bias-bound the armscyes, made shoulder pads from scratch and tacked by french knots, stitched up (a simplified version of) lantern sleeves, and employed to good effect pseudo-tucks via lapped seams. Using vintage patterns to sew for my children is winning my heart over.

Today the family has asked for Shepherd’s pie for dinner, which should be lovely fare to cook, and I’m going to get started on Nels’ companion piece to this dress.  Good times.

(I wonder if my readers enjoy or loathe my picture-heavy posts. Yet they are a record as much as any Wordy McWordiness I whack away on.)

r.i.p. & pbbbth

We had a milestone today – a really crappy one. Early, early this AM one of our pullets was killed by an opossum. This was Felix Jr. – or “Rattlesnake” as the neighborhood kids called her for her speed. She wasn’t fast enough apparently. The other birds were shaken up but today with a few strawberry tops and sunshine they seem to be back to normal.

Ralph buried the bird last night and trapped the possum, bent on murdering it. I tried to talk him down. He is not a vicious man but he was heartbroken and angry. I told him What about the possibility of baby possums? etc. I went to sleep hoping I’d convinced him.

This morning while he was at work we IM’d:

me: Did you kill that opossum?

Ralph: No.
I won’t, either.
I read about them a lot this AM, and had a change of heart.

me: Good

Ralph: They’re not very intelligent, they’re migrant, and they eat whatever they can find. They’re opportunists, and generally beneficial to various areas by cleaning up organic matter – carcasses, often – when available.

They’re kind of like zen animals, doing largely good things.

Besides, that piece of shit dug out from where I’d trapped it.

Ha! But: yeah.

We’ve kept our hens pretty damn safe considering we’ve been in four different homes with them in neighborhoods with people who let their dogs loose. This is a good track record considering we’ve owned chickens for a couple years now (at least I think it’s about that long, and I canna be fucked to look it up on this blog) and besides loose canines the raccoons and possums can be quite determined (they have all night to get to it as hens at night won’t raise an alarm nor defend themselves). Our good track record and our loving TLC is comfort right now when, like any pet owner, he and I both feel guilty, sad, and suppressed that something went wrong.

We are sad at Felix, Jr.’s passing.

In other awesome pet news we’re dogsitting my mom’s poodle/terrier mix Tuck, who loves me very much, likely because I treat him very well and take him everywhere I go. Today he’s had a stomachache from eating something wrong and he’s alternated between keeping his tail clamped over his ass and his back humped up in pan, vs. shitting into the clamped tail, the latter of which led to the most vile shit-cleaning experience I’ve ever had (reader, please ponder on my breadth of experience). While I was at it I gave him a Dr. Bronner’s bath. Ralph dried him off and put him out on the deck to dry in the warm sunshine, where he currently sits and I where I decidedly hope he is not brewing another Fecalstorm.

Ralph and I just made the below video while cooking lunch for ourselves and an extra kiddo (lunch concluded with strawberry shortcake made from home-baked poundcake and lovely local berries, ripe and red all the way through). It cheered us up. (Soundtrack by my husband):

EPIC NAP:

The Sad Life of Kittens from ralph hogaboom on Vimeo.

(Let me tell you a little secret, it was LOUD and ACTIVE in the kitchen while this was made, also, the kittens followed up filming by a huge, huge long nap on my bed).

you really would totally love to live here

So my kids got to sleep in and then eat a hot homemade breakfast and then play in the sunshine and then take a huge nap on the couch (Nels) then go swimming then get burgers and a shake and then home again and their friend came over and they spent HOURS outside digging a huge mud hole in my back yard (an executive decision I made today: yes, you can have this section of the yard to dig in, what the hell, we can always repair it later) then came back in for Legos before heading outside for bike riding. And for dinner I made Indian Butter Chicken (with substitutions, and it was still fabulous) on top of basmati rice and sprinkled with ground cashews, served next to petite peas and fried zucchini. Oh and I asked Nels how he liked the food (because it was new cuisine and all spicey and cumin-y and stuff) and he said, “It’s delightful!”, except he said “deerightful”. And right now I’m sewing on a couple lovely dresses for my daughter and Nels is teaching himself chess and Sophie is drawing a new kind of mermaid-creature and Ralph is out putting away the chicks, who are now “hardened” i.e. they spend their days outside in a tractor (to keep them safe from neighborhood cats, as the birds are just a wee bit small to defend for themselves) and we met yet another awesome neighbor and Ralph took her a half dozen of our eggs. And it was sunny today and I think it’ll be sunny tomorrow too.

I like my life.

“he called me ‘sir’, without adding, “you’re making a scene”

I think my favorite moment today was when I biked on errands with Nels and halfway through my business I realized I was very hungry (I feed my kids first, when I remember to feed us at all), and I saw a sign advertising our own 8th Street Ale House’s vegetarian lunch special, and I decided to leave my son outside the bar while I popped in (JUST for the food to go, honest), and while I waited our police chief entered, and I half-expected to have my ass busted for the winsome little boy gamboling around outside the tavern and peeping in windows and hopefully not getting in the lawman’s cruiser.  (Previous sentence note: I am lousy with commas!) Our police chief is a very nice person and respected in his job capacity.  He is also intimidating, because A. he’s a policeman, hello (I have no bad experiences with police officers personally; there are just some types of Authority I feel a stilted relationship with, and they include teachers and doctors, whom I have been friends with but always call them Ms. or Miss or Mr. or Dr. Last-Name), and B. he is very tall (and handsome) – easily 6′ 5″ if not more, and in his uniform he looks even taller.  I just smiled at him and figured if he mentioned the kid running wild outside a drinking establishment it would be a good segue into something I want to ask about, namely having a mini field-trip for my kidlets to the police station, the kind of thing they miss out on since they are not in school.

But lo, as it turned out he was there on other business and did not cast his eye about the pub and bellow out Who was the Mother of this Poor (alternatively, Naughty) Child?, which is pretty much my internal fear any time I am ever anywhere with Nels (in some ways I cannot wait until this boy emancipates!).  It’s funny because whether my kids or myself are being Good, Bad, or Ugly do you realize I worry all the time I’m going to get busted for something?  Something, I have no idea what, as I am no law-breaker.  I don’t even smoke pot (borrring!) and imagine myself so Upright that if I ever get too much change back I always correct the cashier’s mistake (double borrring!).  Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough and I’ll get Busted for whatever and I’ll realize I had nothing to fear all along.

The barkeep is one of those guys that calls women insulting pet names, like today “Dear”.  This is how I feel about that sort of thing: [ here ] (I used to get it all the time when I was in the Engineering profession – snore!).  Anyway, after I tipped the fellow and loaded up my lunch (a Greek salad) I retrieved Nels (who had behaved himself well) and we hit the supermarket and bought the food for dinner tonight and tomorrow.  It was sunny today but a bit cold; I however am not complaining because as long as it isn’t wet my bike errands are relatively joyous to experience.  Yes, even when I realized I hadn’t brought payment and had to run to my bank to take out cash, then return to retrieve our sundries.  All Mayberry-like my bank is only a couple blocks from the supermarket.  My son wrapped his arms around me and we experienced the companionable silence on the bike that has served so many wonderful memories already.  We eventually got home and Nels was off the bike like a shot, playing with his sister outside where my husband found them when he returned from work.  Ralph also came home to a couple loaves of fresh-baked bread, a whole wheat loaf that I’d been working on since yesterday, lovely and fragrant fare.  If I was smart I’d bake bread every day because I can’t remember a time I made it that it didn’t make everyone in my family happy, and I am completely serious about that.

It is wonderful to have Ralph home for the weekend.  Even though what he does when he’s at home is work work work, it seems he is happiest when here.  He tells me this weekend he’s going to give me the Lawn of My Dreams, although I’m not sure what that is.  I do think the fact he dug up a huge pile of garbage (previous tenants) and is installing garden beds is a good start.  The chickens absolutely love the temporary pile of dirt and sod.  They  pick through it triumphantly; they come running when anyone enters the lawn, anticipating more grub-revealing shovelwork, or perhaps the leftover chocolate chip pancakes from the morning’s repast.  They are happy birds indeed and reward us with their eggs – five from four hens the other day, wow! – which they leave in secret little roosts they choose about the premises.

small wolves

Tonight I’m watching my friend Shannon’s two small boys as she, her eldest daughter, my husband Ralph and my daughter Sophie go join the City Council meeting to speak their minds.  Tonight the Council is voting on a proposed limit of chicken ownership in town.

The three young boys (ages 5, 5, and 2) and I are outside behind the house, finding slugs and tossing fish food to the large koi in my mom’s pond.  It’s one of those warm summer nights and people are out and about and playing in their yards, for all the world looking like the evening is for relaxing and that’s the way everyone does it.  Eventually my little foursome ends up at the driveway where Nels wants to try F.’s bicycle out – a too-large bike stabilized by the addition of training wheels.  By way of demonstration F. climbs on like one would mount a tractor, then huffs and puffs but can’t quite get the velocity to summit the slope of the driveway.

And now Nels, who doesn’t yet own a rideable bike, runs up and takes the handlebars.  He wants to ride the bike back down the little hill.

Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to be the right kind of mom.  In this moment I’m thinking if I were a Better Mom I would have financed or finangled Nels a bike of his own, then perhaps made a few dates to help him gain accumen, and I wouldn’t have to sit here knowing my son is going to crash, and feeling like an ass because he can’t ride.  I decide to just be honest with him and say:

“Nels, if you ride down that hill, you’ll probably crash.”

“No I won’t,” he argues, flinging his hair out of his eyes and clambering up to the seat.  His arms are long and wiry.  Just this morning I’d noted with a kind of resigned dismay and bittersweet, deep love that when he made his breakfast (scrambled eggs in a cast-iron skillet) he wasn’t a precocious little tot on a stool; he stood at his full height and managed it, reading the burner setting by sight at “Medium Low”.  So, you know, great.  He can read, and cook, and he’s like a little guy with a mind of his own, and he doesn’t need me any more.  And now he wants to hurtle down this hill and bust his head and it’s my fault it’s going to happen because I didn’t try harder to get him a bike.

All of this has gone through my head but Nels is still arguing his point.  So I say, “If you crash, do you want me to hug you, or pick you up, or…?”

“Hug me,” he says. “But watch, I won’t crash.”

I don’t want to watch (I’m still a little sick over bike crashes) but in some twisted way I believe it is my duty as his mother to witness whatever happens, so I don’t turn aside. Sure enough the little vehicle goes faster than he’d anticipated, and I watch his body tense and then react accordingly as my gut clenches slightly in that oh-so-familiar way. He holds him self up, even steering deftly past the helmet on the concrete that the bike has treacherously careened towards.  Just as the bike tips (it really is too large even for Nels who is an inch or more taller than F.) he leans dangerously and balances one toe and wills the bike aside and slides all the way off and then he spins around with a flourish and his hair flies out of his eyes and he happily yells, “See mom! I didn’t crash!”

My son and I are perfectly matched in a wild, feral joy.  All over this tiny little driveway that no one would even notice.

I join the boys at the lower level of the driveway; F. has graciously allowed his friend these of his bicycle and has sagely watched my son’s hijinx for his own reference.

Steering the bike back up the slope Nels turns to me, laughing, and says: “It’s a full moon out, so are we going to turn into werewolves or what?”

Shannon and Ralph come home at about nine o’clock.  Apparently the meeting was a “madhouse” with chicken-ownership being a hotly disputed issue (emotions run high when it comes to domestic fowl!).  But the resolution to limit chicken ownership in the City failed.  By the narrowest of possible margins: yet it still failed.

w00t!

They Placed 3rd In Best Dressed

my daughter is about a thousand percent awesome

Sophie (my daughter) registered our pet Sophie (a laying hen) in today’s pet show – an event I remember participating in myself when I was the same age (both times I entered I managed to humiliate myself and my pets: don’t ask).  As opposed to the hot library lawn the contest was held in our wooden stadium – one of the most comfortable large-scale gathering places I’ve ever known.  It was a small, friendly, lovely event.

Of her own accord Sophie (the human) made herself a special necklace to look nice for the judges, then cut out and hand-lettered the exhibition sign thusly:

To wit, Damege on her brain is real and was caused by a dog attack. Shes still a good bird, and received many compliments on her behavior and decorum today.

To wit, "Damege on her brain" is real and was caused by a dog attack. She's still a good bird, and received many compliments on her behavior and decorum today.

This is my chicin,
Sophie.  She has some
Damege on her Brain.

First name: Sophie Last: Hogaboom
(not chicen!) age: 7
Town: Hoquiam
State: Wa

‘Nuff said.  The girls were awarded 3rd place in the “Best Dressed” category (Sophie the chicken had a homemade princess hat, you know, the kind that is a cone with a long fluttery fabric bit on top.  I think they should have placed higher given they were the only non-dog and the only homemade costume in the category, but there were at least two of four judges with on-record anti-chicken sentiments).

My daughter not only showed complete expertise and calm in handling the bird, but was the first contestant to take advantage of the promenade set out on the grass.  She walked quite calmly and with aplomb, turned, smiled, affording her beloved fowl* all the time in the world.  The bird behaved herself so well many people clapped, exclaimed, and complimented us on her poise.

My children spent the rest of the rather lovely little event going from contestant to contestant, complimenting and examining the other pets.  I hadn’t originally wanted to take time out of my day for a pet show, but in so many ways I’m discovering our children have wiser plans than we.

* In direct contrast our son Nels is determined to eat Bluster, our other laying hen.  Why,  I do not know.

pet roundup

We have an extra here for a few weeks: my mom’s poodle / terrier mix. We are taking care of him while my mom vacations in Mexico and California. This dog is so submissive he thinks everything’s his fault, and he should be beaten accordingly.

Like most dogs, he is at his best when he gets plenty of directed exercise (as in, I walk with him). I am pretty good with this dog. Or rather, I am very good with this dog vis-a-vis walks. My daughter walks him around the block (carrying a satchel with dog poop-scooping capabilities) about four times a day and I try to take him out on a longer adventure as well. Last Saturday we rigged up a basket in my Xtracycle so he could ride along with us through town to get to our destination hike.

Our cats love our current house: specifically, the big upstairs room that is always warm has an impressive bed selection (a king, a twin, and a full). My thirteen year old female black kitty is curled up at Sophie’s still-sleeping feet as I type. She is a tiny, tidy, near-silent creature with sleek black-oil paws hiding huge white claws. She used to be full of malice and now is full of concentrated love for me and wants nothing more than her creaky bones to be pet. She can catch prey (in this house, flies) with deadly accuracy. We call her Blackstone these days.

The male kitty Harris is big and grey and stripey and has short, thick hair. This week he has another mysterious whisker-cut, delivered by my five year old son. This is not cool, although behind Nels’ back I laugh because A. I have a very immature side of me that thinks stuff like this is funny and B. I can’t help but think why does the cat – capable of ferocity that could overcome my five year old – sit calmly (and probably even contentedly) through this operation?

Harris is an insolent creature who attacks Ralph while he’s out gardening. In the morning, Ralph usually puts the cat outside before he leaves for work. Then when I come downstairs the feline is right outside the glass back door – he sees me, rears up on his back legs, and in rapid succession bats his sticklike arms against the glass bam! bam! bam!

I’ve been calling him Douchey McWhiskerson behind his back.

The chickens, well, I guess they are our pets more than any other category. Daily we feed them chicken scraps and pet them and carry them out to their outdoor chicken tractor. Sophie, the more injured hen, resumed laying last Friday, so we are back to two eggs a day. I am still amazed the birds survived their ordeal. I am proud of them, in a chickeny way.

Our five pullets are more excitable than our hens, and during the day when we put them outside they race around like crazy. Sophie is convinced that Swayze and Guinivere are actually cockerels. If this is true, we will be gifting them to another household and keeping our females (Snow White, Striker, and Peeperton).