in company

small stone #16
My friends saw me in my mom’s old pickup truck –
In the dark, in the cold, in the wet night.
“Who’s that with Kelly?” they asked.
Brake lights flared up:
My dog’s companionable profile revealed.
My friends laugh.

small stone #17
I get a headache listening to you,
but I think that’s just a coincidence.

Hutch (Photo By John)

take a look at my fucking awesome dog if you can stand the radsauce

Hutch (Photo By John)

(photo by our friend John, and posted here with much gratitude)

We Hogabooms are doing about as well as we can be doing. These last few weeks have been incredibly busy, a pace we are not accustomed to and that I don’t want to become accustomed to. Ralph has worked himself into a wee frazzle with his play practice, full time job, full time daddyhood and husbandness, and some side work (both for fun and for scratch) to boot. I ain’t gonna lie, he hasn’t kept a civil attitude during all this, but we are still getting by pretty good.

The exhausting pace has helped me get over my daughter’s first week in school and get down to the often amusing – and occasionally grim – job of sorting out my Feels about it all. I am mostly a thousand percent proud of her because she is awesome; she has already navigated what seems like a sizeable amount of unpleasantness and she keeps hopping up early in the AM with a smile. It is important for me to support her but I have all these little thoughts, some valuable, some probably not much. I keep thinking I want to write a separate wee tumblog or such thing – supporting other unschooling parents who have a child who elects school. I truly think it would be a fun experience!

In the meantime however I am trying to survive our current pace. This weekend Ralph’s play opens; we are also heading out on vacation in short order after that. It is taking each of the two brain cells I have rattling around up there to not ass-out on commitments I’ve made here or there.

During these weeks, I have had so many kind and wonderful interactions with friends and family it would be impossible to list them all here. Close to my heart is the friendship of another sober alcoholic, a woman who inspires me in a profound way hard to put into words. And on the the heels of this inspiring friendship I consider several other women in my life who have been my confidants and my support during a lot of changes – and some problems that seem to stay the same – and who’ve kept the faith, and kept their kindness coming, and had real wisdom to offer me.

My friends help me stay sane, or at least in that general neighborhood. For that, I am profoundly grateful.

at Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

Just one of those places I’ve lived near many many years, but had not yet visited – until today.

Our dog went mad with joy – again. He has missed being able to go for long, athletic walks. He crunched what I can only assume were crab shells. I am now closing my eyes and letting my head drop back and breathing out through my nose. He is ridiculous.

At Bottle Beach

This is my last weekend with my daughter before school. I am having All The Feels. She is growing up very fast and when she was younger I worried too much and therefore squandered a lot that I might have otherwise lived fully.

All I can do is live today, and not look back.

On that note –

I’m going to go downstairs and get ready for bed, then let her wrap her arms around me and her sweet voice say whatever it wants to say.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

well and i even have a little left over, to help you

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Today on a Flats walk with our dog and three kids – two of the children mine, one from another family – we came across a dozen pelicans (of at least two species) diving for fish. It was really something to watch, as they hit the water with incredible force, like missiles. Along with the pelicans many species of gulls and other waterfowl messed about, and we spied at least two harbor seals. Obviously, there was a large school of fish in the water falling prey to this predation. In the course of the walk around The Flats, two different men along the trail told me two different stories about the species of fish out there (men love to tell you shit, even when they don’t know the shit!).

My dog was out of his mind with joy. In case you hadn’t been following: he’s been on near-bedrest for a few weeks since his incredible illness adventure with salmon poisoning. Today he was so excited he actually fetched a stick (unheard of) many times. He also played tug-o’-war with me and growled a lot. He has a huge, powerful mouth and very sharp teeth and I’d never heard him growl before. I was a bit unnerved!

The weather on our walk was so wonderful. It was balmy-warm – in fact, it would have been unpleasantly humid had it not been for a wonderful sea breeze. There were so many animals at The Flats – wild and domestic – and not a few people. It was a wonderful walk out and I’m glad I made the time.

***

Just lately: I am over-worked. Not only physically – besides having household responsibilities, more water aerobics, and two new Etsy sales that have me knee-deep in costumes – I’ve also been working intensively, and I do mean intensively with a new-to-sobriety alcoholic. I am astonished how much work she’s willing to do – but I’m also aware that yeah, it’s necessary. Watching someone reconstruct themselves from near-ruination is an honor and a privilege beyond what I can articulate.

And I’m a bit rueful: in Recovery communities you will sometimes hear those with long-term sobriety say, “I won’t work harder than the new guy!” [Meaning: as a sponsor to help him get and stay sober.] And yeah, I’ve heard it now and then and always thought that’s supposed to mean, Yeah that’s right, tough love, those lazy newbies! Well I never thought of the reciprocal. Because let me tell you, this new gal works like a dog, so that means I am working like a dog. I am not even kidding. Even if I didn’t think it completely unethical to share details, I haven’t the strength to write much about it. It’s working me, right now.

Many reading here won’t understand. [And yet she tries to explain anyway!] A big part of what’s hard on me is going through my own history – memories of what it was like to get sober, of those early days. If you’ve done it, you probably get it. It’s a big deal. Remembering what it was like invokes a kind of PTSD. Today and yesterday I’ve been thinking, Did I really do that? Did I really go through all that? And it’s like – yeah, I did. I felt like crying today and wanted to give myself a hug or somehow take care of myself in ways I neglected before. I had it hard. And I didn’t even know I had it as hard as I did. Does that mean I have it hard today, and I don’t know it, as well? It’s a scary thought. I am tired of suffering. It hurts.

Tonight: I resolutely put aside my fears and my own traumatic memories. I am here now, my children downstairs want me now. My husband is available to me now. A small dish of strawberry shortcake awaits. Hot water and soft pajamas. A warm bed. A curious dog. Purring, comforted kitties.

I am here now. Tomorrow is another adventure.

“calmer ‘n you are, dude”

Hutch, V. Ill

I took a photo of our beloved Hutch today just before Ralph and Phoenix drove him up to Summit Veterinary Referral Center, where they continue to run tests and put the dog on IV fluids and another batch of antibiotics. I had responsibilities here in town and so I performed them – cooking, cleaning, volunteer work, some support work for friends, taking Nels to the orthodontist, picking up a friend for an appointment.

With my time in Recovery and my discipline in spiritual work it almost seems like for naught as I am at the point of overload. Logically my mind says Hutch is in good hands and there is no point doing anything but wait until this latest series of tests and treatments is done – his third battery of treatments in as many days – and then see what the Next Thing is. However either my discipline is shot or there is a limit to even a tough cookie such as yours truly, as these several days of blinding worry have now got me in a numb, disconnected place. Last night for about an hour and a half after the second “we don’t know what’s wrong but he’s very sick and you’re right to be concerned” conversation I lost the ability to speak in a smooth cadence; it was only with a great deal of effort I could tell the kids and Ralph how to get dinner. Later in the evening I returned to normal. Today has been touch and go.

Hutch has been ill since last Friday; accordingly, I haven’t even been able to grieve the loss of our cat or process my upcoming kidney procedure. In the last case, good riddance. I don’t need to give the kidney procedure a single thought since it’s happening and there’s no point in thinking about it and I have no responsibility but Acceptance. The kitty… well I guess there’s no point thinking about that too, except I miss her terribly and I still feel that painful tug of What Could I Have Done Differently. I even remember the last time I saw her, heading away from us back towards home on the corner of 7th and L after she’d followed us a block – her tail all bushy and her back paws flipping up. I know I loved her well and often and with my hands and voice and thoughts while she was with us.

What else do I know? Well I am finding that sometimes – for me, usually! – it’s the easiest, natural, most healthy experience to Love. Other times it hurts so much it almost seems like I should guard against it at any cost – not that such an attempt wouldn’t be futile. I can’t help who I love and how hard, and this experience is showing me this in such a deep and profound sense that perhaps I will have more compassion for others when I get through what I get to get through.

for a while I was dealing in tears and powders

I realize after a few minutes that I have been sitting in a living-cringe position. The waiting room at the doctors’ is crowded and every now and then the bored and somewhat hostile low-level buzz is perforated by a dog’s mighty WOOF. Let’s stick to the facts, because it’s my dog. He’s outside being massive and friendly – and being naughty, and getting rewarded by every stranger who passes and gives him love. I haven’t figured out how to get my dog not to bark when he’s tied outside, and I’m inside somewhere. Because he is SILENT AS THE GRAVE at home and doesn’t bark for any reason whatsoever (even when the children want him to) but then he does this!

So anyway, how I handle the dog doing his thing is I pretend it’s not my dog and I don’t know whose dog it is. But I am sitting in a defensive posture because I’m just waiting. Every now and then a patient walks outside and praises him and calls him a Sweetheart and then leaves the outer door open so a few seconds later his WOOF reverberates through the whole building. I don’t want to step out and close the door because he’d see me and he might think he’s getting what he wants.

I sit for an hour and fifteen minutes before I know I have to leave, no doctor today. I talk to the receptionist then I step outside and pack up my bike and an older woman approaches me: “Is that your dog?” And I wait to hear an admonition or something but instead she says warmly, “He’s so faithful.” Right, like he’s a Goddamned Champion! An even older man follows right on the heels of this woman, tottering and walking so unstably with his arms out so he looks like a small child, he trips towards us and his eyes are open in surprise, whether at my magnificent dog or because he’s about to fall I can’t tell before I turn away. This woman, then, catches him up and I swing my leg over the bike and my dog and I are off.

I’m home and I flush some medicine and I feel better about that. And I make a pot of coffee and light a candle and say some prayers.

I write a list of things I want to get done but I lose the list.

I gather the kids up and climb in through the passenger side of my car. My driver’s-side window shattered the other day and any time I move the door a bunch of glass settles deep inside and makes unsavory crunch-noises. It will get fixed soon enough.

I take the children to lunch somewhere they really like and I feel a little bit better than I have been.

We take two walks out through The Flats and back. The first walk is so hot I strip down as much as is decent. The second is in the gloaming and swarms of gnats accost us. We walk past a dark car and a woman inside, crying. I know her. She rolls the window down and greets me. I ask if she’s Okay and she shakes her head No. But she puts her hand up and signals I leave. I place her back where I found her and I walk on. I say a prayer for her but I walk on.

Home and I run a hot bath and make hot tea.

“Look what I can do!”

A little photo-blogginz:

The dog, who is rolling around in ecstacy as I furminate his fluffy ass. Pictured: approximately the same amount of hair as is in my backseat after one car ride. I jest, or do I??!?!

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

Mable, being awesome & chillaxin’ in her favorite chair. She likes it best when I clean the chair, so she can immediately furball it up. If you’re sensing a pet-hair theme now that the warmer weather has hit, BINGO.
Shaking Head LIKE A BOSS

Party time! A gift (hours of sewing but I didn’t take a photo, oh well!), & a three-layer chocolate cake with cheesecake filling and cream cheese frosting:
Gift, Cake

Cake With Fresh Flowers

& the pièce de résistance, our uteriñata! The first-ever piñata I’ve made, as far as I know… it might have been Ralph’s first too. Ribbon-pull method, as nope, there won’t be any beating of a uterus up in this household.
Uteriñata

Uteriñata

At the party, our children – being beautiful, being themselves.
Our Son

Phee

of stitchery & water-witchery

Today I have commitments elsewhere and gotta leave the kids in the lurch. This is rare; almost every single day I can easily construct my day around their needs – which is a really wonderful way to live when you think about it. I hadn’t really thought about it until I started typing just now. So anyway.

Yeah, today I owe a few hours of my time to an enterprise and after helping the kidlets with a few morning practicalities I tell them: I gotta go. I briefly run down my schedule and they are cheered at the thought of a morning to themselves, getting up to their own work without grownups. Who wouldn’t want a day like that?

When I arrive home I bring in a hot pizza and some fresh flowers. The dishes are done and put away perfectly, but I can’t help but think the little ones’ hearts aren’t in it too much since Nels, without fail, leaves the cupboard doors open after he puts away the dishes and cutlery (sometimes in exasperation I tell the children, “Do the dishes/clean the living room/vaccuum the sewing room like Mama would do it“, and they always get what I mean by that). We eat our pizza and I hold each child in turn for a moment and then they’re out the door to a friend’s, promising to return at 5:30.

Glad for a little time to myself, I am sewing up a dress shirt for my son – we will be attending a wedding this summer and I have several garments to make. The fabric I’m using is quite fine, semi-sheer, and wonderful to work with. All the fiddly bits of the shirt – the placket, the collar stand, the cuffs – flow together and the pleasant hiss of the iron’s steam accompanies my singing voice. Hot coffee and laundry and stitching, trimming, pressing. I fall into the trance of craftsmanship.

The children return just a couple minutes late and my daughter stands in the office doorway and apologizes. She is tall and scruffy-looking with her spikey hair and her baggy jeans. Her cheeks are pink and her nose is wet. She asks if she can bring friends over and I say, Sure. Yeah I like other people’s kids in the house, just not when their parents are there at the same time. So anyway, soon my daughter is sitting down with another child and they are painting watercolors and cutting and glueing collages. I listen to my daughter’s patient and confident assistance and I marvel at her tact and generosity. My mother visits, in and out, and expresses admiration for the girls’ artwork. She leaves. Nels leaves. Nels returns. He has Oreo crumbs on his face. Grandmother’s pantry.

My family life courses around me. I’m in the flow still, stitching and trimming and finger-pressing and threading my buttonholer; tying invisible knots and running fingers through the bright-busyness of glass jars holding hundreds of thrifted buttons. I remove hot bread from the oven, and stand to eat in the kitchen: a fold of fresh pita around breaded tofu, cucumber, and sharp cheddar cheese. Ralph, home now, sets plates for the children.

Evening; the house hums into a different state. Ralph to bed; the children playing Legos first loudly, then softly; now reading. The washing machine shudders to a halt for today. The dog slumbers at the foot of  my bed, folded into a muscular comma-shape, settling his bones. Without fail he woofs in his sleep, every night. So funny as he is a silent dog during the day!

A glass of water

And a purring cat

And a turned-down bed.

the air that I breathe & to love you

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

The sun is out and there’s something about the air; it’s still got a bit of chill especially as the evening falls but I find I’m feeling restless for the summer. We’re down to one car and we’d better fix a few things on that or we’ll be down to zero (sorry to talk about the cars again; it’s just where we live, family-of-four life without a car is no joke). I turn the engine over and the Mercedes belches out grey smoke and coughs for a while while it warms up. This car. The missing muffler and the screaming belt. I am serious. It’s funny. Sorry neighbors. I still love it, though.

It’s the sunshine and the car trouble so I say something out loud before I’ve thought it through, I don’t know if we’ll get a vacation this year, and I’m okay with it, just thinking of hot sand and doing nowt and just picturing the little pots of money moving them back and forth, more than enough to feed us and shelter us so no worries. But:

“It will be worth it,” my daughter says. “We’ll have sent a family to the unschooling conference.” That’s cool. It’s like as a parent you make these decisions as best you can, and you bet we made this decision as a family, informed consent, but it’s cool the kids aren’t backing down even while I’m teetering on feeling like an ass.

She continues: “They’ll have a wonderful time.”

I say, “We had sixteen families apply for our scholarship. They are all great applicants. Would you like daddy and I to make the final decision, or would you like to help?”

“Oh, I’d love to help!” Her response is immediate. We talk about it a bit. We share ideas about criteria for selection. I put the car in gear and we head out to take her to swim team. My son puts his hand on my arm and tells me he loves me.

***

Later, Ralph’s out of town, I walk in the falling shroud of darkness, wet and cold, I’m with the dog, off a little over a mile to pick up my daughter. In the backpack I’ve a couple rolls for her to eat, a big woolen hat and a coat. Hutch trots at my side, HAPPIER THAN ANYTHING EVER just to be along with me. Even after his massive weight loss he is still a big dog, and despite his obviously friendly, mild body language, sometimes people cross the street when they see him. In fact, walking at night alone as a lady, I don’t mind having a huge dog alongside. He is the gentlest creature ever though and I have no idea how much he’d protect me if I were accosted, that is unless my assailant was a giant hot dog.

Over the bridge and across the deep, dark river, which fills me with terror. I love the evenings, people hurrying home or perhaps off to parties or out of town. I’m alone but others are awake. I’m wrapped in a big scarf and my plastic jacket. My body feels good and my mind does as well. Every day as my last drink recedes from me, further away, I am profoundly aware of my gift of sobriety. I hate to talk about that so much too but, it’s on my mind and in my heart, often and daily. Every day I work with people and I see how many don’t keep a continuous sobriety, and heck those are the ones even trying to get help, “tip of the iceberg” doesn’t cut it. Every day I know less and less about Why for all of it. There’s nothing that sets me apart as being so fortunate but I am and so I don’t piss it away by being ungrateful or unconscious.

“If you don’t drink today, you’ll never drink again.” I heard this today. I tell my husband. He doesn’t quite understand. I explain it a little but it’s okay if people don’t understand. I understand.

My daughter is pleased to see us. She is out of the locker room at one minute past seven; she is on time. We both thank one another for being punctual. She bites the first roll and then tears off a chunk for the dog; he CLOPS it up and then CLOPS, CLOPS in gratitude or beseechment or both. We travel to the store by foot and buy two bananas to fulfill requirements for a loaf of banana bread; we have two quarters and the sum total is 49 cents and I’m pleased. Later Nels will eat the bananas without asking about them first, then he apologizes. For all his devilry he takes it very seriously when he makes a mistake or inconveniences others, probably too seriously. And so I’ll send Ralph to the store to get some more bananas tomorrow, so he can bake a quickbread for our daughter before she gets up.