I got it all on the back of my hand / I want your answer so I won’t forget

 
Early ghosts of summer. Night walks. Sunshine through freshly-washed curtains; newly potted plants.

Too tired to cook, much.

Sore shoulders: yoga, bike riding. Tallying up: money for groceries, dinners out, new doctor bills. Debts.

Plans; worries. Set them aside. Anger; fear. Set them aside. Sage smudge stick, a candle, metta-meditation. Not quite enough, but all I have.

you’re motoring / what’s your price for flight?

My dog Hutch and I have some kind of bromance going on. But it’s not one of these rude, crass, and fumbly kinds like you’re seeing in so many films today. No our bromance is like – Appaloosa‘s. Or Casablanca‘s. Or “ST:TOS”‘s. Like we’re talking TOP NOTCH bromance. A classic one.

Ralph and the kids are camping this weekend and I’m still sick, and stumbling around like I’m high. Today I was too ill to do much but drink water, eat food brought to me, and care for the pets. As it was, the walk for my dog just about did me in.

It’s ironic – or maybe it’s not, because I never really do “get” what irony is – that the first weekend in a very very long time I have it to myself, I am too sick to do anything really. To sick even for the modest assignments I’d given myself – housework, a sewing project, a few gatherings. Tonight a girlfriend invited me out to a dishy movie and I’m too sick to sit in a theatre. That is just: BALLS.

I’m patient, though. I no longer think of being ill as some persecution or trial. It is rather practice. Practicing patience. Today I had the opportunity of helping out a few friends who called me, and one acquaintance who wanted to borrow something. In fact it was rather odd that just by breathing in and out, and being willing to take calls, I was still able to help people – even in my weakened condition.

Lights out on the porch: windchimes and a summery balm to the air. I’d like to be out running around but it’s okay to be in and having a fever too. #sanguineAF, that’s me.

a la noche

 
Domestic life. Comforting. We are always shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning, storing. Then: cleaning out the fridge. Four people (and four critters) eat a lot of food; half the time we are making up an extra plate for a friend, or my mom.

 
A late-night walk for the pooch; a mail run.

 
Kitty Josie helps me with my latest – a new coat for my son. It is my first project constructed by my newest sewing machine – a 60s-era Brother, pink and ivory. What is better than a “new” vintage machine? NOTHING!

yet nothing can resist it

My daughter and I hop into the pool a mere forty minutes before it’s set to close. Swim team, classes, and other lap swimmers have kept it busy, so the water has churned itself up into being cold and inhospitable. Unpleasant; but, I know after only half a length I’ll feel just fine.

Phoenix hits the water ahead of me, striking out for the other side and the shadow of the diving board. Experiencing what can only be described as a sense of bemused dismay I am stunned at how quickly she can swim, a full year since she quit swim team. She is completely confident and displays correct, if a bit choppy, technique: swinging her head to take that breath, her arms golden and sleek churning the water. Her energy makes me feel tired, but – give me a break, I still have a head cold. I follow behind and make it there, eventually. She remarks on my speed. “Give me a break,” I tell her. “I’m just learning.” Re-learning, really. But it’s been about twenty years.

We finish my half-mile at my pace, and in between my lengths she darts back and forth, easily outstripping me and the other two adults in the pool. Every now and then she pulls herself up to the side of the pool, arms folded across her long and lean belly. Her eyes like tiger stripes, long inked hair framing her serene but savage beauty.

I feel this helpless sense of something after our half hour is up, when we finally emerge from the now-empty lap pool and head for a few minutes in the hot tub. I’m thinking she won’t want to come along next time, especially with me swimming as slowly as I am (still learning to breathe properly and it’s a slog). But instead of trying to beg or hint or anything I simply lean in and tell her, “Thank you for coming with me. You are an inspiration to me as a swimmer.” She replies, “Thank you.” Fifteen minutes later in the car – hair washed, lights spangling against the windshield’s rain – she says, “I want to come with you next time.”

It has been wonderful having her home – no school this week. She is resting, drawing, helping with housework, and in general being a lovely presence. The additional sleep, and the lack of a grueling school schedule, provides her with more patience for her brother than she has shown this school year. This morning: when I wake, I find her curled up in my new oversized chair, drawing quietly and waiting for our day to start. An hour later she dresses for errands including deep plum eyeshadow and her coat with a fur-lined hood; she joins Nels and I for lunch out – and takes to a hot cup of soup with precision and hunger, like a lady.

She is nearly silent when she’s not giggling at video games or a goofy cartoon movie of her brother’s choosing. She is a flower in my home. With her blue-black hair, sharp hips, and long legs, she is a reedy and dangerous exotic orchid twining up the furniture, growing before my very eyes! I have to grab her belly or pull her down on top of me on the couch to get her to giggle helplessly and then I can see it: that brief glimpse of babyhood, the only softness left to her – a gentleness under her chin, a tender oasis hiding above her slim neck.

Rain outside; but the storm, for now, has passed. A soft bed and a warm room; cats, dogs, even the rabbit sleeping now. A bit of bread and olives; a glass of hot water and Chinese herbs.

Sleep.

“grow[ing] through a crack in the concrete”

From an essay Phoenix penned this year:

What is a hero? A hero is a girl or boy, straight or gay, who has done something good for themselves or others. No doubt heroes are all over the planet. Heroes range from a fearless gladiator to bees who bake Japanese Sparrow Wasps to death. A lone wasp first visits the honeybee’s hive and attacks a few bees, then smears the hive with a chemical stored in the Sparrow Wasp’s body. That signals the wasps to attack. Almost all of them come at once and prepare to slaughter the honeybees, but the bees come out and start flapping their wings to create an intense heat. A couple degrees more and the bees can die. In fact, some bees die in the process but the others just push them aside and keep going.

***

Our next paycheck arrives paid Monday, the 10th. I am so close to meeting my somewhat ambitious goal: to enter the next pay period without debts (this means: bad checks floating around out there, or bills we were supposed to pay last pay cycle but pushed up to the present one).

I am so close. About $100 off. But, who knows? It might happen. I am patient. Ralph is owed reimbursement for some services; perhaps that money will come in before Monday. Donations come in here and there from readers and friends online. Sometimes I get an Etsy sale or some goofy thing.

I’ve learned that managing the family’s money is exciting – it really is.

These last two weeks I have been exacting and working very hard to accomplish my goal – employing some goofy and some practical measures (we decreased our energy bill by $75 this month), selling a thing or two, performing the kind of small but meaningful money-saving operations that are my calling as the at-home worker [Queen] bee – and lastly, benefitting from a few donations from readers. Bless you, readers.

Our dog’s medical expenses – severe salmon poisoning and hospitalization last summer – have been significant in this last six months’ 20-30% shortfall. Hutch’s standing debt is intense, equal to that of the four human Hogabooms. But his debt, unlike ours, could be catastrophic. As of the end of this month, if we don’t pay the remaining $1600 balance, we will receive the sum total of deferred interest in one fell swoop and then begin getting charges on that amount – the typical Damoclean-assery of credit card companies.

This is distressing – but, what can I do? Hell, I am impressed we’ve paid down the additional $900 that was involved in the experience. I don’t regret caring for our dog and keeping him from a grisly death. I am proud of how we care for our animals, even if the learning curve can be a bit distressing at times!

I took over our family’s accounting and finances a few months ago. It turns out, I love it. It is difficult to do the family thing on one income; it seems it is harder even than it was predicted to be, twelve years ago when we made our decision to live as a single-income family (I even remember where I was when Ralph and I did decide!). Not only do I have no regrets, but it seems the experience keeps teaching me more about gratitude, about planning – and about laughing a little when plans go awry (as they usually do!)

Today, life is exciting. It’s not scary, it’s an adventure. Now and then anxiety gets the better of me; but there again, too, I am patient. Patience pays off where almost nothing else does.

I think that’s a bit heroic – don’t you?

the Littlest Boss!

Noelle AKA No-No

We are currently fostering Noelle (or “No-No” as Nels has taken to call her) in our home for two weeks while she recovers from her feral beginnings. My plan is to post “kitten-pr0n” pictures of this awesome little kitty such that when she’s ready to go to a home, she has a wonderful family to go home to. I don’t think I have too much hard work ahead of me – do you?

Noelle AKA No-No
STAYING VIGILANT

Noelle AKA No-No
(ZOMG… getting sleepy…)

No-No and her family hail from South Aberdeen. She and her feral relatives are currently being humanely trapped, medically-treated, cared for, and will hopefully be relocated to forever-homes. In the meantime she needs to be loved, fed, vaccinated, and socialized with regards to grown-ups, children, cats and dogs!

This is our first kitten-foster. This should be obvious but I will say it anyway: unlike fostering human children, one doesn’t get paid for the work – but the food and medical care are supplied by the rescue organization. I will be interested to see how the experience plays out. Hutch is of course the PERFECT dog for cat fostering! And I believe all of the kitties, the rabbit, and the adults and children who come through our home should help No-No have a wonderful, much-loved kittenhood so she can develop into a secure and loving kitty.

In the meantime. Our other pets are doing pretty good.

Seems Legit.

Exploring

Bunny Murder Mystery

This last picture is awesome because it is from a Bunny Murder Mystery.

crine

Today…

sweet Baby Jeebus.

Five pets. Three vet-office visits split between two vet clinics. Medications. A surgical procedure (Bun-Bun’s neutering)! A cone of shame for Hutch. A financial commitment (to us, by another) dropped, quite suddenly. So: bank errands. Hustle.

Exhaustion.

I’m out of gas, so I use my mom’s truck. I take a break and call a mentor; I get a few moments’ relief. Then, right before I’m off to collect the rabbit post-surgery, the front driver’s side tire shreds. I mean just completely flies apart. I got a bunny to pick up, and a little girl to get at a rural bus stop.

I don’t panic. I make some calls. My son is trying to talk to me. I’m so tired. I lean back.

The day got wetter, and colder, and more scowly, and weirder from there.

I’m tired and tonight I feel a little low. It’s easy to beat myself up when things don’t go according to plan. Gotta practice a little of that self-kindness, that love and compassion, so profound a lot of people never get to it for more than a brief moment at a time. Gotta practice it because I need it and because I want it for when times are shite.

All animals medicated, fed, warm, safe, & love. THREE of them on my bed right now, with a little son about to join to boot.

Goodnight, lovelies.

we r ok

Standing Tall

My lovely daughter – standing tall.

Kitchen Sink, Frosty Morning

Cleaning my sink – morning, cold outside.

Backyard, Frosty Morning

The backyard.

My Hot Little Sandwich

My hot little sandwich! Sleeping in until an astonishing hour.

Patience

Hutch tries his hardest to control his mind, waiting patiently for me to take a picture. HE WANTS TO BE RUNNING SO MUCH. So much running. Running running running.

Flag Flying. Dog Pissing.

A majestic fort, complete with “flag”. A dog marks his territory.

For Bun-Bun

Nels retrieves bedding for Bun-Bun.

"The Seasons", Four Drawings For Jessah

“The Seasons” – a set of four drawings Nels completes for his new “nanny” J.

singing songs of love

My shirt’s too snug, as in the buttons are almost popping across my bust. It’s cold out and I’m standing outside my mom’s pickup putting gas in the tank.  Only a little. Believe it or not I can resolutely refuse to think about our car problems, because I have put everything in place that I can and Worrying is bullshyte and against God besides. One car is currently not running and I can’t afford to take it in until the tenth (and Dear Jeebus at that point I hope I can somehow afford to fix it). The other car is running but it has 395 thousand miles on the original engine. Absolutely true story. Our old Mercedes. With no heater. Like a land-submarine. The no-heater thing is kind of no-joke as it’s unpleasant to ride in the car but also dangerous, visibility-wise, at times.

So I’m putting twenty bucks in my mom’s tank but I’m a bit upbeat despite all this and that. Because a friend made a donation today we’re going to have some good dinner tonight and tomorrow and probably even the next day. I’m thinking of the salad I’ll make this evening: butter lettuce, peas, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber. I’ve got hunger pangs right now but I know how to pace myself through those. My kid is all right, the Little Guy who ran into the gas station with the twenty dollar bill and who holds my hand and kisses me wherever we go. A burger from drive-through for my son and I’m sipping on coffee. I’m so flat-out busted-ass tired and I haven’t eaten but I can pace myself.

It’s beautiful out. So very cold and dry. After gas and picking up the other kiddo I’m selecting vegetables at the fruit stand and it’s so cold I’m suffering but I think, I can get through it, and the thought of my children in the truck’s cab cheers me immensely. In the bed of the truck: Hutch, circling his rump when he sees me emerge from the store. Another shopper asks me: “Is he okay?” (meaning, is my dog a well-behaved dog). The man who asked had this snarling yappy thing in his car. People with dogs with problems, always asking if my dog is OK. My dog is really awesome in fact he’s a Goddamned Champ. He shares a home with two adults, two kids, lots of kids and babies traipsing through, three rude cats and a rabbit who literally will steal food out from under him once we put it in the bowl! (yes this happened today).

Ralph comes home to a messy house; the product of my sleepless night last night, and my inability to get as much done as I typically do. We make up the dinner – the glorious salad and some pizza and a celebratory  bit of pomegranate sparkling cider. Ralph makes up a pot pie for my mother and I hand-sew and watch some of My Stories. It’s that mental discipline too, resolutely refusing to think ahead about what I’m hoping to sew and knit my family and friends for Christmas. Not time yet not time yet as I’m stitching up these handbags.

I help my daughter with homework. My husband and children get ready for bed; hot showers, washcloths, Q-tips, toothpaste, warm towels. The pets settle into ponderous slumber, farting and snoring even! I light a candle for a friend; her partner is going through some severe health stuff and she’s going through some resultant mental health stuff. So many suffer in so many ways. I hope it makes sense that I write out exactly what I’m going through in the day. I can’t be more exciting or less so I can only be honest.

I recently read about a man trapped in a shipwreck for three days underwater in pitch black, finding an air pocket to perch in. Hours passed and he felt the most frightened listening to the sounds of large fish eating his dead crewmates. He remained entirely in prayer most the time and he was in pretty good shape when they picked him up, a miraculous rescue.

Prayer and faith mean a great deal to me today and they used to mean nothing at all.