the covered button says, “I LOVE YOU”

Local class: I teach you how to sew a cup cozy at Grays General. The class is in one week and registration is due today. This cozy can be used on the trendy Cuppow/Mason/Ball jar, on your favorite mug (or an ugly one you want to cover up!), and even as a sleeve on disposable cups. The design idea comes from Ashley, although I winged it & wrote my own instructions etc.

Cup Cozy

Cup Cozy

Sew a Coffee Cup Cozy
December 4th @ 5:30pm
$20 Registration Fee
Instructor: Kelly Hogaboom
This easy-to-sew coffee cozy works on the Cuppow, on to-go coffee, or even at home with your favorite mug. All materials provided including an instruction booklet to take home. Coffee, tea, and biscuits served! Signups due one week prior to class.

then I got to listen to a lot, a LOT, of Lowellian cursing


By the time I’d walked a mile in an absolutely wet, windy, and rainy blizzard through piles and piles of snow, and waited and waited and waited for a bus, and given up after making phone calls and texting and other plans, while huddling wet and cold against the icy brick contemplating a plan, and realized I’d be unable to make my meeting, and finally gave up and headed home,

I admit, by then I felt a few tears rise in my throat. I mean after all the whole business was about two hours exposure without relief (yes, in light of certain anniversaries today, I know I am whinging, big time). And what was funny is to think as I first set off through the snow, I was wondering if maybe taking a few hours out of my day to make one meeting where a solid half the clients are nodding out from Suboxone, and I thought maybe I’m a fool, maybe I’m wasting my time. Well it seems the Universe was beating me into humility because after all that I didn’t even make it. Well, the Universe isn’t so unkind, I guess – it was my choice, I could either re-learn humility or just be pissed and cramped. I elected the former.

But at the beginning of the “adventure” I had a nice walk with Ralph. Our gonads were frozen solid by the time we got to the barren comfort of overhead shelter:


(Given GH Transit wait times the “No Loitering” sign seems a bit… ironic.)
(Actually, as previously discussed, I’m unsure what “irony” really is. Yes, I’ve looked it up.)

Ralph ran across the way to grab me a coffee; he went by himself in case the bus came by and I missed my opportunity. This was back when I had a backup plan of sipping the coffee and holding it close for warmth, while I waited. Back before he’d left and I’d gone on to wait an hour before a bus came, a bus that wouldn’t have gone near my destination, meaning there would be no time for me to make my appointment, and I had to give it all up. Yes, back when I was so naive. I had a lot of growing up to do.

Ralph Ventures To Get Me Coffee

I was bundled up well but the rain had soaked my jeans and that was my downfall. Wet jeans. Holy Shit.

So I eventually went home and the exercise, plus the high of dodging scary drivers sliding on ice, worked off my aforementioned upset.

And then after I got home it took a long, long time to warm up. I watched Reel Injun while waiting to feel my face again.

Then I watched The Fighter (although I’d already seen it a year ago) while finishing up the details on the last homesewn item for the upcoming magazine spread.

Several kids came and went, wet and getting fed and getting re-dressed in dry clothes. We washed and dried and hung things up. Ralph made a lovely dinner of turkey sliders on homemade buns, yellow tomato and avocado dressing with lemon, carrot sticks, and potato chips, and we fed whatever children ran through the house.

Then we set up all the outdoor stuff to dry in time for more snow adventures tomorrow.

Boots Upon Boots

it starts in my belly / then up to my heart

One of life’s many pleasures for me is stretching out for a run, or one might not even be able to call it a run, as I am just now training again and I am slow-slow-slow. But soon I have a good sweat worked up and my body feels great and the blues are bluer and the greens are greener. A fellow in maitenance, working with two others putting football lines on the high school field, when I pull up to the track at a fair clip on the bike, he says, “Looks like you’re getting some exercise before getting some exercise.” He’s got long white hair and a big white beard and he’s skinny in work jeans and how I miss my father so much.

Another wonderful pleasure is later, slipping into a hot shower after a run and then pouring coffee. The kids wake up just as I’m about to duck out and join my sister for coffee (she’s heading back to Portland today) and Nels comes along. He and I both enjoy a toasted Everything bagel with cream cheese, some Superfood juice, and I sip coffee while he plays YouTube on my phone so Jules and I can talk (and talk and talk and talk). Afterwards he and I hit the store (pears, banana, pasta, a Hemplers’ ham) and I come home and make fresh vegetable soup for the kids and soon I need to rest as we’ve a dinner guest coming over at seven. After a simple dinner of Ralph’s creation (chicken piccata, roasted cauliflower, spinach and pea salad) we grownups take a walk over the scary clumpy sidewalks and pick up ice cream and talk to the Night People along the way; my mom picks up the kids for a date at her house, and Phoenix stays over. I’m seated on the porch and she comes and holds me and kisses me because she knows I’ll miss her but she knows she’s coming back. Her body feels lovely and substantial in my arms and her little boychick head of spiky hair smells divine.

Two days ago, for $10, I bought myself a lightweight jacket to wear on bike rides or running, and a $5 3-pair sock set. This tiny amount of self-care is harder for me than others may realize, but once done, I feel the better for it. Sometimes I think I should make a list entitled “self-respect” and see what I’d do for myself if I cared as much for my own body and heart and mind as I do for others. It’s a work in progress.

Not Sure If They

desperate housewife

So I got stuck in Olympia with the kids at a late hour. Don’t ask me to tell you why or how, it’s a dull and yet painful story. I thought we’d have to stay (overnight or at least a long long time) and I was kind of panicked. I called people we knew in Oly but couldn’t get a ride. I kind of agonized and wondered around and bought things at Target and got the kids food while I went totally Flyhead about my predicament and couldn’t think straight. Let me tell you, those who know me probably perceive me as level-headed in person most the time, even when things are intense or when people around me are falling apart, but when it’s down to just me and the kids are involved in some way that seems unsafe or weird there can become a point where I get Crazy-Eye and my brain stutters and shudders. I’m surprised I wasn’t arrested on suspicion of shoplifting, I mean I was twitchy as hell checking out (with, I’ll point out, a credit card I wasn’t entirely sure would go through). Kids and I ended up boarding the last bus downtown because, where Target is, there’s nothing there you’d want to spend time with.

Lakefair downtown, things were a bit intense. The bus flew down the hill and I perceived the wondrous lights of a large carnival (large by my bumpkin standards anyway) so I knew where to take the three of us, for the Now anyway. I had only a few dollars cash – otherwise I would have dropped my rent money on two bracelets so they could go on every ride they qualified for. As it was they still had fun; watching a breakdance group and running about while I phoned some more. I sat by the lakeside vicariously enjoying their fierce little lives.

After finally getting ahold of Ralph and arranging a meetup I had enough cash for one carnival “ride” for the kids. Understand this was like, seven dollars I think, for the kids to go in this kiddo funhouse (their choice). The local who’d been hired on was amiable enough to conversation, or was rather a captive audience, to be more accurate. Turns out he’s a musician and living like a sardine can in a rental with others, trying to get by, thinking about going to school, not sure what he’ll do next week for employment. We talked music for some time and my feelers went up, as Ralph is still trying to get connected with Oly musicians and the fellow sounded talented or at least versed in many interesting instruments.

The kids played and played (bless this young man for not being a dick) but soon it was time to go. I sat my bundles of Target Fuckery and a McDonalds bag and my purse and whatever in the grass, and took out my card and wrote down my husband’s name and circled a number and wrote “Music / Helsing” (the latter re: the K Records festival each year). By this time two huffy carnival pros – that is, the fellows who travel with the outfit, not spareboard – were all over the young fellow and hustling him to close up. One of them was yelling into a walkie talkie, “I have some real important stuff going on,” and then proceeded to shout-command the young man in a brusque and not-entirely-thorough way. And shit, I get it, these people work hard, I’ve worked in that kind of scene, so I just slipped the card into the young man’s pocket (unobtrusively enough, or so I thought) and said, “Good luck,” (meaning, with everything) and then –

the guy who’d been yelling into the walkie talkie jerked his head at me and said, “Jesus,” with all the disgust you can manage mustered in a voice. I seriously wish you could have heard it. You’d think I’d taken a shit on the green. I am not sure what he meant but, I haven’t been addressed with that much vitriol and hate for quite some time. It was pretty busy and I had no immediate response to being perceived as A Piece Of Shit For Reasons Mysterious so I merely bundled up the kids and the bags and gently floated across the grass, trailing the final partiers fleeing off to bars (Oly was rowdy tonight, for reals).

Our rendezvous was with Ralph was scheduled for Sizizis (which, I found out, is closing down Sunday – boo!). Walking up 4th it was so many people and shouting and cutting eyes and the smell of booze and cigarettes and weed and all kinds of amorous behavior and fights and weird energy. And yes. A few people who returned my smile. The kids were great, of course, because they are tiger cubs running on sidewalks. We got to our coffee shop eventually (it really was a nice night for a walk). While I waited in line for my drink the kids got something cold from the cooler, grabbed a table, and set up chess. I stared a bit and wondered where they’d learned to play. I was feeling more collected, or so I thought. So I’m standing there and an amiable large man turns around and says to me, “Hey, do you remember the name of the boat from Moby Dick?” and I respond, “Uh, the Minnow… the S.S. Minnow.” then to my horror I realize my mistake and shout, “No! The Pequod!”

Oh good sweet baby Jesus in his golden fleece diapers.

At about 11:40 PM Ralph rescued me and I gave him the americano I’d purchased him and I got my ass out of Dodge. –

but, the kids had a glorious time.

Not Sure If They're Having Fun

serendipitous events

Today I had the privilege and pleasure of driving to Olympia for some shopping and errands; in my case, a few books and some fabric for my next project. Rather, I should say I was driven to Olympia by a dear friend, and we had a wonderful Thai lunch, some great conversation, coffee at the Blue Heron, and – shit, things were just awesome. Even nursing the remainder of a headcold during such a big day I think – I think – I didn’t wear myself out.

In the bookstore I picked up two books I needed for an art project – and then came across this (gently) used hardback that I instantly knew Phoenix would love – The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson. I mean first off – I wish you could see the cover in real life, it was so Phoenix. Then I checked out the story – and the illustrations, including a wonderful Bestiary. It was just a perfect fucking book for my oldest, and I had it in hand within two minutes of walking in the store.

I brought it home and Phoenix so, so happily read it all the way through. Straight through.

I really, really love how well I know my kids – and know what they like.

I didn’t do as well for Nels. He wants candle-making supplies and the employee at the craft store was entirely unhelpful (“We don’t have that stuff.” “Do you know where I might find it?” “No.” Yeah. Thanks.) and I felt terrible to come home empty-handed, but I was out of funds (having spent my grocery money) and out of steam to drive to Michael’s. Hey, if anyone here knows of a good simple candle-making kit I can grab up, please let me know. Looking online got overwhelming fast.

But yeah, today? It was a good day.


Coffee. I love you love you love you.

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.


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.


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!

No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly

Last night my girl and I stayed up late together while Ralph and Nels slept; she and I watched Rabbit-Proof Fence. I worried this story would stress my daughter out. Instead it stressed me out, and it was the second time I’d viewed the film so I’m not sure why this surprised me (I think the epilogue is the most gut-wrenching bit). In fact Phoenix was an attentive and earnest viewer and I loved that when the Aboriginal characters spoke in their native tongue she called it “Australian” (I forgot to ask her what language she thought the white colonizers were speaking). It was kind of an agonizing film for me, but I stayed next to her and soon after we were asleep in one another’s arms.

My girl slept in, and after she woke I put a breakfast up for her while Nels and I ventured out. Phoenix had requested a present a day from her birthdate to the day of her party. Nothing would give me greater pleasure; my son and I traipsed over the – frankly, it must be said – slim pickings of Aberdeen. I finally found her ten pair of cotton panties, a few unique candies, and a bottle each of glow-in-the-dark and “mood” nail polish (in hues of blue, of course). As for the panties, I’m not allowed to discuss it with her but let me tell you, she had grown right out of her previous batch. The panty was quite scanty, as we’d been saying. A few minutes ago, out of the bath and squeaky clean, she modeled the new and improved scenario, wiggling her derriere the proper amount.

I’m ahead of myself, though. My trip with Nels was wonderful. He’s already charmed the ladies at the new coffee shop, where we first stopped today. Mostly because he is very friendly and tells them exactly what he’s up to these days. As he paid for my drink one of them leaned down and said, “Two twenty-three, do you know how much that is?” and he counted it all out perfectly. He then confided he had enough change the weight was pulling down his pants (true, as he seems to be getting thinner instead of stouter), so she gave him a little cup with a lid. For the remainder of our errands – to the fabric store, to get a hot dog, then a shake, to the mall – he carried and skipped and shook his little money cup, paying his way – and my way, occasionally – talking happily (“Oh! You’re so pretty you scared me!” to the JC Penney’s associate, who – very prettily – laughed quite a bit) and finishing up in grandiose fashion with a huge Skee-Ball win (he then packed the tickets back into the near-empty Tully’s cup and gifted this to his sister when we arrived home).

When we got back this afternoon I wrapped my daughter’s gifts and whipped up a few clues and stealthily planted them. Our friend Sophiea had come over by then and was quite impressed with the treasure hunt, such as it was:

Now let me remind
we’ve a present for you.
Venture to find
a shoe with a clue.

Nothing too showy,
a gift that’s a token.
Now look high and low-y
where things go once broken

Your gift is so close!
A good hunt you’ve led.
Now follow your nose
to where we store bread.

You’ve scoured our home,
looked low and looked high.
Once more you should roam:
find clothing that’s dry.

So my day was lovely, although I got a bit distracted. I have a lot of food to cook, friends and visits to arrange, some costume-sewing to put together. Friends stayed over late and even while in the midst of much-enjoyed conversation I could feel the paralysis of Too Much settling on my chest. It’s 2 AM here and anxiety, now, hits me like a truck. There’s so much I have to do. A handful of families did not RSVP – at all – which makes food preparation tricky and means there will likely be extra, so if anyone wants to crash, please do.

But the guest issues, difficult as they are, are not what really bugs me; what bugs me is the pressure I put on myself (see, if I *know* how many people are coming, it is one less thing that feels out of control and confusing). One might think that’s how to get things done, but if anything pressure seems to immobilize me. As I alluded to before, typically I have great plans and forge ahead, then as game time approaches I begin to feel like I’m wading chest-deep through molasses. This time at least I’ve been brave enough to ask a few people for help, and brave enough to admit – here, and other places – that I often have a hard time with even simple tasks.

Giving up is not an option at this point, but if I did no one could blame me, right?


I’ve sewn a few quickies since my last slightly-ambitious project. Including: two hats!
On The Sly

The green was entirely designed by myself; the blue, only slightly helped by a six-gore hat pattern. YES on the blue bunny I totally made those circular hand-stitched tucks, and the bunny ears, and HELLS YES do both kids love the results! (More construction detail if you’re clicking away and looking for it.)



Close-Up; Lined

My kids are all busy growing up and it kills me.


Proud Of Her Papa

(Shoutout to Ralph for the above-pictured Hoquiam tourist brochure, which he designed. It’s making its rounds out in the world today… here Phoenix is looking it over approvingly (and adorably, if I do say so!) at the new Tully’s)

party in the u.s.a.

“Is there a reason the cat is eating frozen peas off the living room floor?” my husband asks me this afternoon.

Now before I answer that, first off, it’s endearing he says “the cat”, sort of casual as if we have one, as if our life isn’t sort of a constant Feline Shame Parade and it could be any staggering leggy fleabitten beast in any state of disarray doing Lord Knows What. And of course he’s not even accusing me much, his voice is almost mild and vaguely sedated, he’s been a daddy for many years now and is used to Whatever Is Going On (or has he puts it a minute later, “Clown House”, while doing a funny penguin walk) and that he might come home to total Chaos or Preternatural Domestic Calm and it’s really anyone’s guess as to which one, wheeee!

And actually there is a reason. For the peas. But before I get to that it’s confusing Ralph is even here at 2:30 PM (turns out he needed to pick up something at home then head back to work), and now what is really troubling me is how I’m going to relate the fact that we’d made a little run to the recycled clothing shop (hat for Nels) and the bookstore (Christmas book for Phoenix, shhh!) then stopped at the little charity shop where I donate my well-organized sewing scraps (they love us there!), and the proprietress at this latter venture gave my children these tiny little noisemakers that play incessant tinny Christmas tunes, and I was thinking it’s funny one kindness many grownups show small children is to give them either candy or noisemakers, and I don’t really think they’re being sadistic haw haw, just sweet (and it is sweet!), and it was kind of funny how the kids were playing these horrid things when we got coffee at the diner and I’d thought it might annoy customers but the two people sitting closest to us were profoundly deaf (for real), so a few minutes later we’d pulled up at home and I was going out of my mind with the repetitive Christmas carol MIDI crap and I leaned down in the car to rescue the box I’d carried my fabric scraps in from the footwell and I’d brought my arm up just as Nels leaned down to help me and the corner of the box caught him right in the eye and he howled in anger and I realized this was the first time (I think) I’d ever hurt him like this and quick as a flash I got him inside and wet a dishtowel and wrapped it around a few frozen peas in a plastic bag and set him on the couch and Phoenix entertained him on YouTube for a few minutes while I put away groceries and went pee and hopped on the computer and –

I guess the bag, you know the one with the peas, it had a hole in it.

Despite odd and weird and disconcerting mini-drama (due to our quick action Nels barely has a scratch evidenced) it’s been a good day. Over coffee I asked my mom for a loan to buy fabric for Christmas sewing and – gasp! – sewing for myself. Tonight we have a friend over for a sleepover and after the girls took an adventure (“We’re going to play in a ditch,” Phoenix informed me airily) we cleaned up and visited the gallery for their Winter Christmas Show (where we met new people and the kids made a straight beeline for the appetizers). Back home I slogged away at some sewing (a baby bunting, exactly no one is surprised) while Ralph made dinner (turkey meatballs over fettucine with almond pesto, salad with butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrot and cuke, and lemon broccoli) and then we bathed the kids and I folded all the laundry and some of the cats rolled around in ecstasy –

warm house, yule tree, friends, red wine, B-movie, blankets and soft laughter.