meagerness / abundance

I have four singles in my purse, and one week until payday. Oddly though, I am not panicking. I have paid almost every bill we owe – well anyway, I have paid all I could. If we can keep gas in the car and food in the fridge we’ll make it to another check.

Another check. Yes sometimes the whole thing seems pointless. I hear you. I hear you.

So of course a feast is in order, a feast with friends – tomorrow. I juggle three separate cards with meager balances and buy: flour, dried beans, oranges, two kinds of pepper, zucchini, milk, eggs. Home and I bring out the elk burger T. brought me; thawing for tomorrow’s tacos. I knead up a double-batch of pan de los muertos. Making bread for my friends, for my children. My son zests and juices oranges, then eats the messy remains, sighing with pleasure. Baking feels very good. I cannot do all things but I can soak yeast in sugar and milk and need in anise and make an orange glaze and little tiny bone-shapes on top of delicious round loaves.

Small blessings, luxuries more meaningful than the ones people chase. The glittering sun outside and our pristine fall weather. A box of fabrics for clients’ projects; delicious yardages I now pretreat and hang, ready for sewing. My children remove the dog to the bedroom so we can give our little bunny a run in the living room. He is oddly handsome and I wonder, Is Bun Bun especially cute or are all rabbits beautiful? This little rabbit, five months old and the prettiest snowiest white and dusted grey, he has a new home now and is warmer and fed fresh things – broccoli, today, and carrots. He chomps down his fresh vegetables with a gusto you wouldn’t think a rabbit would have. He saucily lopes through my living room like a BOSS.

The kids bash the porch’s pumpkin to bits; home from a walk and the dog steals a bite, quickly. Nels makes himself a salad with romaine leaves and roasted pumpkin seeds (a simple recipe and the best I’ve had – butter and salt only). Going through the kids’ clothes and sorting, the children growing so fast: homesewn hand-me-downs off to friends, less well-made clothes off to the Salvation Army, a few things tattered enough to be thrown out. My daughter reads through her book again lazing on the couch, long legs in jeans and tennis shoes up on the coffee table, frank brown eyes following along in her quietude. I read a lot as a child but now it is my turn to wash the dishes, fold the towels, rinse the tub.

Practice, practice, practice.

Small Stone #1
White rag polishes the soft wood
Scent of fir
All these years later

it’s late.


My son has been having a rough go of it today. His friend texted him nasty things using even nastier words. The tension you see here, will be remedied with warm milk, hot bath, and so many cuddles.


Flowers, Candle, Incense, Shrine


Fresh flowers. Candle.




N.The Boy, again.


seven days are more than enough for others

“When you’re here eating your salad rolls and we’re sitting up here like a King and Queen and watching TV, and we’re cuddled together – it’s like Paradise,” my son tells me.*

I. Completely. Agree.

Our family is painting a room downstairs – so at night we sleep on a huge, makeshift three-part bed that spans most the attic bedroom. There are like four thousand blankets piled on this massive pallet and in the morning I get my coffee and my two kids are sleeping in tousles and All Is Right In The World. I keep trying to explain how it works and I have no idea why I do this, except perhaps I love to be understood by Creation itself, and in part that is you, you who are reading. Because there is simply nothing more important to me than my relationship with Spirit, and that came to me in large part by my children, I do not see how anything else could have been possible. My children are the only two people I am completely relaxed around; they are the only two people I have total and utter intimacy with, for my part. I may reach easier intimacy with other human beings or I may not; it doesn’t matter because that taste of heaven is wonderful and all I need, although I am thirsty, always, for more.

Although – I hardly saw my children today. They were busy with their stuff and Ralph and I were busy with our stuff (work in the downstairs bedroom,  some clothing construction, house-sitting while the landlord delivered a “new” fridge, etc.). It’s only a little after midnight, now, and it’s time to come together and share some of our love for one another.


Tomorrow I take our son to the orthodontist. A new adventure for all of us!

* If you want to feel better about the Universe and all its doings, I suggest you text-subscribe to the stream of some of the things my son says.

from the effort of loving to the making of bread

I’d walked out with dinner plates still dirty and left it all behind. My husband either would do the washing up or he wouldn’t but I couldn’t spend another minute in the house for this or that reason. I’d spent a large part of the day cooking: homemade rolls and slow-roasted orange pulled pork; a coleslaw with green apple and a pineapple marmalade upside down cake with cold cream to pour on top, and that was just dinner, not even what I made for breakfast and lunch.

The bread: satisfying. Handling dough, the mixing and oiling and steam-bath and fashioning and glazing and baking, wiping down traces of flour off the counter and the mixer. A lot of love into a simple food that many take for granted.

Now, though, it’s cold outside and I’m glad I don’t have to wait for the bus more than about eight minutes. I buy a punch pass from the driver as soon as I step on board, before I can think about it being twenty dollars and we have four more days until payday. The pass has a gold-leaf little bit embossed so people can’t fraud one. I zip up my coat and sit mid-way back. Riding the bus in the later hours is quite pleasant , although I need to really know when to catch one though, as they are few and far between and I don’t want to get stuck in Crackton, Aberdeen in this kind of cold. The interior lights are red and low and there are only a few passengers and they’re not rowdy. Like I said, quite pleasant, not as loud or as odorous as day trips.

I look up at the signs I’ve seen most my life up above the windows. “If You’ve Found This Number, Give Yourself A Break And Call”, followed by the phone contact for Narcotics Anonymous. I feel this little thrill sitting there, wondering how many people have happened on that sign and felt the familiar flutter in their gut and an accusatory jab, then cut their eyes away and tried to blot out their intolerable reality a bit longer.

We head up the hill to the hospital and back down with no one getting off or on. I was up at the hospital earlier; a friend gave me a ride to see another friend who was suffering internal bleeding. I flick my eyes up to the second floor and say a little prayer. Later in the afternoon, after our visit, I’d gone out with the ill friend’s wife and we ran our dogs at the bay. Two Bassett hounds and my Hutch, two hundred pounds of dog, and Hutch was in the lead being awesome!

I’m thinking though while I text and wait for my stop, I want for nothing. Both cars broke but one’s in the shop at least and hopefully it’s something we can fix, and the fact my husband isn’t upset about any of this helps me a great deal. I don’t want anything, not really, I am content with things the way they are. I’m happy to get more blessings but I’m okay if for a day or two things are tough. I was thinking maybe I’d want to take the family on a sunny vacation somewhere and you could even get a credit card for that sort of thing maybe? Even this option is something open to me, something we probably won’t do, but who knows, maybe we could do it. I’m okay with my thoughts accompanying me against the damp, cold glass, and my mind doesn’t hang on or cling or run neither.

regrets, he has them

I think I touched on how the day I bought Thanksgiving groceries, I thought if NOTHING ELSE, women should get big-ass props for (so often) doing the majority of that sort of work, and it’s more work than many people realize. It ain’t just like making a little list and picking it up. Those of us who’ve done this work years in and out with everything else we do, know what’s involved.

Today was another day like that. Cooking, cleaning, corresponding, mending, washing and drying, caring for pets. Taking children to the doctor’s then taking them to lunch.

So yeah at the doctor’s. The nurse chirps as she takes vitals: “And you must be Phoenix?” & my daughter’s like, Yes. Then, “And you must be mom? Your name?” Yes, Kelly.

Quiet a polite beat, then my son says, “And I’m the brother. I’m Nels.”


Running more errands for the pets and the kids and the family, including another specialized treatment for my daughter’s illness. Haircuts for the kids. Food for the kids, again.

Haircuts. LAWD. So my daughter gets one gal who seems to know how to cut Phee’s stick-straight, thick chestnut-red hair. A few minutes later they’re done. Nels? He’s having trouble with his stylist. I ask him, “Do you want bangs?” He says Yes. He tells the lady what he wants. She has other ideas. I’m not able to hear him clearly and in retrospect I should have come over, listened in, and helped.

A few minutes later and many inches of his hair are on the floor. She finishes up but something’s wrong. My son’s face is a wreck. His lip trembles and his body is stiff. She’s finished and asks if he likes it. He says, “It’s okay,” in the most quiet voice I’ve ever heard him use. He gets out the chair and waits in the lobby. As he gets closer to crying he drifts further away until he’s outside; he’s like a little tweed ghost fading away. He has decided, at least for today, he does not want to cry, to make a scene in public.

We get out to the car and the doors close on the winter afternoon and it’s like,


and his head is thrown back and hot tears flow down his cheeks.

We talk about the loss and all, and yeah hair grows back and et cetera, but I’m not trying to hammer that stuff home. I mean you could choose to lecture your kid about Perspective if you want,

but when it comes down to it, it’s a loss.

So; that’s something that happened today.

i like the hateful “beany eyes”, plus, this is like a really boring journal entry, sorry

Today my friend T. tells me I’m a “poster child for the women”*. He says I’m doing so well, he cites my homelife and marriage. And he says, “You got your kids working without having to – ” and he does this motion like whipping someone.

“Everyone” knows my kids are great. And doing great. T.’s talking to me and I’m thinking, yeah, life is pretty good in ways I am finding more meaningful daily. Like back in the day, I used to feel so stressed about aspects of running a home. But today while I am doing my thing here, my children are home cleaning the house. They’d cheerfully volunteered to do housework while I was out. I came home to plants watered, floors vacuumed and swept, dog walked, and the dishes done. Actually before I left I’d tried to talk the kids out of so many chores because it was kind of a lot.  I’m still getting used to letting go of some of this business.

Weirdly and speaking of Recovery, I recently had someone engage in insensitive and rude behavior re: my alcoholism. As in, mean-spirited comments and gossip. Amazing. I kept quiet at the time because I was surprised at what was happening, and because no response was intuitively forthcoming. But when I reflected on this later, I realized I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been sober some eighteen months now and unless I’m mis-remembering, that’s only ONE incident where someone was shitty to me. I’ve got a lot of support, from not only those in Recovery but many of those in my life still actively drinking and using. Lots of people have been treated worse.

My kidneys are acting up the last few days, a fair amount of pain, but again, my perspective has changed. Instead of being afraid of the pain, I know that I can choose to pace (and sweat and maybe vomit) at home; or I can go to the ER. Knowing I have options helps and I am calm. I have accepted, at least for this time being, that I have physical pain.

Tonight Ralph and I helped someone for about three hours, putting together an online application packet and a cover letter.

It feels good to help others with no regard for return.

I made a zombie platypus for Phee. She named the plushie “Smog” and said Smog is both a boy and a girl. Smog has a cheerful hate and will fuck you up with poisonous spines (that’s a real thing BTW, God came up with that). But Smog loves Phoenix and they sleep together every night.

Zombie Platypus Plushie, Made For My Daughter

I’m working on the kids’ Christmas presents right now but I CAN’T POST DICK bout it. I haven’t yet scrabbled enough in my mattress (okay, Paypal) to buy my super-awesome Ralph present. But we’ll see how it goes.

* at the treatment center

“the fun doesn’t happen until way later”

I bust into the bathroom to pee and then wash my hands. The sink is full of puke. Someone’s not feeling well, I think mildly. And then there’s no toilet paper. I make do with one of those sterile paper seat covers, which will always remind me of a joke Sharpie’d in a stall some time back: “Free Cowboy Hats!”

And BAM it hits me. I feel more at home in the places I go to help drug addicts and alcoholics, than I do almost anywhere else besides my own actual residence. Even in the latter, sometimes I feel oddly disconnected from my domestic exploits, like my life is a series of sensible activities to take care of my body and the bodies of the ones beloved to me (husband, children, dog, cats, gecko even, friends, family…) – even my artistic exploits, as much as I love them, can feel more soothing to mind and body than anything else. But where my heart and soul find resonance, are these places where pain twisted us to shit in a crucible, where we were finally defeated and broke in half and we learned the profound and utterly brilliant experience of complete demoralization. If you haven’t experienced enlightenment through this means, it probably sounds unpleasant. Or maybe bogus. I used to want to explain it over and over because it’s so incredible. But today, I don’t try to convince anyone much. I have a brain disease and not only that, it got bad enough the symptoms made themselves noticeable in a big way and then I had to fight myself out of a pit like nothing I could have conceived and today I’m standing on the edge still grinning down. If you haven’t been there, you don’t get it.

I sit down and the clients walk in, or shuffle in, and I greet them and smile. I couldn’t be more in my element. Except I’m hot from hustling my ass up the hill on my big heavy bike. And instead of the room being the typical preternatural cold (I think to keep people from falling asleep; many are on medications that keep them drowsy) it’s warm and so I’m not cooling off. I fan myself and I say hi. Every week, dozens more. Some people I already know from before, back out, back in. I’m glad to see they’re alive. A pretty young woman says to her friends, “There’s my sponsor!” and comes and sits by me and tells me she’s out Monday. Some look all sleepy and are in full-on naptime a few minutes into me talking. I’m thinking of one woman I saw a few weeks back, she introduced herself by name and said she didn’t know how much time she had sober… She slowly said, “I don’t know how I got here.” Anyway the sleepy ones, I’ll see them again in a few days probably, and they’ll meet me for their first time.

I tell them a little bit about why I’m there and start talking about what I’ve experienced. When I’m talking a lot of people are relating, nodding, or laughing with that kind of relief, I’m not the only one. There’s a few sleeping and there’s probably a few who find me annoying as fuck. One of the ones who is listening, a dark young man across from me, nods in recognition when I talk about being a “high bottom” and what kind of mess that gets you, and then when I talk about how it hurts to watch someone you love still in active practice. Later, reluctantly, he shares – after the group asks him to. He says he spent all this time locked up in a few forms of treatment facilities and immersed himself in Recovery culture and said he walked and talked Recovery and kept a smile on his face, always. And he collected a bit of time that way. But he says he never dealt with the pain, and he relapsed. He doesn’t say this but it seems like he’s dealing with it now. He says slowly, and to no one in particular, looking at the floor and the words are like a birth: “if you’re having fun right now, you probably don’t get it. The fun doesn’t happen until way later.” To me he reads like he’s in deep, profound pain. The truth of his words pulls from my own gut, and I know what he’s talking about. And I think to myself what a blessing, what a manifestation. I recently read in a book: “human consciousness is light perceiving light.”

The joy I experience in this work is deep and unshakeable. And it’s not hyper or even blissful, it’s just joy. It’s impossible to describe and what’s the point? You have to experience it. Get a little and you can start to recognize it in others, and you definitely recognize its absence in others.

An hour and a half later I’m leaving and a big man says to me, “I really respect you for what you’ve shared.” And I’m like, “I respect you – you said you didn’t want to talk then you get started and you’re dropping all this wisdom.” Wisdom is found everywhere in those I work with. It’s actually other places, almost every other place, you find people sleepwalking through life, going through the motions. It’s like this secret no one wants to own up to. Nothing to be ashamed of, we all sleepwalk at some time or another. We can all wake up, but we can all fall back again too.

This work keeps me awake while I’m doing it.

those games we play

This morning when Nels gets up he runs out to the living room and curls up in the chair. I turn from my computer and morning coffee and ask, “You need a cuddle?” “Yes,” is the inevitable reply. I pack two blankets and my coffee to the couch and he folds into my arms. He smells wonderful, like himself and his father, since Nels often ends up sleeping against Ralph’s chest.

Our children are pretty large to still curl up on our laps, yet curl up they do. There is no sign of abatement in the holding and kissing and hugging and nose-rubs and just closeness. Yesterday my son and I got up to a lot of wrestling. It’s no joke to wrestle the kids these days, especially if you don’t want anyone to get hurt. They are strong like badgers. But I eventually got the best of my boy and sat astride him. Once you get the arms above the head it’s easy to hold them there. But I hold him lightly, not rough. And then I ask him if I should kiss him or tickle him or give him a nose-rub. He cannot resist asking for the worst of the worst – tickling! He laughs in total abandonment and his baby teeth show, only a few more months glimpse of those little top teeth and they’ll be gone soon. I tickle  him but I’m careful because you can go wrong and really hurt someone.

Then later I say, “Boy, when I go back to my sewing room and start working, I sure hope you don’t finish your snack and then put away your plate and wash your hands and then come back there and pretend there’s something really important for me to see, and then lead me to the bedroom, and when I get near the bed you push me down and give me so many kisses.”

I don’t get much sewing done.

We basically do this shit all day long, in between I do the dishes and clean and cook only a little and eventually we head outside in the sunshine on errands. Today the kids were happy in an activity a little overdue: cleaning and dusting and sorting their room. They ran and got the vaccuum and dampened cloths and sorted the books and toys we were ready to consign and donate; they put in a little pile those items their friends had left (later they assiduously returned these to their owners). They watered and fed the leopard gecko and tended to recycling and helped change linens and make beds. It only took about thirty minutes to have a cozy little space ready for them again and I envisioned when the other kids would come over, and how they’d sit in the room and play Yu-Gi-Oh or Legos (and indeed, this did happen later in the evening).

I thought about how easy it is to simply squander our time with those we love and care for so very very much, and I thought about how I was ready to spend more time mindfully being there and less time doing some other stuff.

I was remembering things when they were very small and how much less ambition I spent on activities and plans other than the contemplative work of home and wee ones. Returning to that space the last two days felt very welcome, and I think I’ll stay there a few more days at least.

love is in the air


I don’t think I will ever tire of the early part of my day, getting up to writing or dishes or housework or a run or laundry or sewing or yoga or all the above, walking in and out of the bedroom where the kids lay in the most peaceful and beautiful sleep. Later when I (most likely) don’t have children living in my home, I will miss this very much; this is why I try to breathe deep and enjoy most every day like this I have. Fortunately it’s so lovely it’s easy to savor.

Their sleep is one of the more satisfying “white noise” presences I can imagine, besides a clean house and purring cats and the sound of water (and thinking on it, those usually accompany my mornings as well). Most nights after bath the kids slip on their chonies, no pajamas or anything, before tumbling into bed with me (eventually) and watching some bullshit on Neftlix (we’re into nature shows, cryptozoology, sketch comedy, and survival documentaries as long as they’re bereft of asshattery). By morning, however bitterly they may have fought in vying for position to lay on top of me, they are now in a big brother and sister tangle in the middle of the king size, all smooth skin and tangled blonde hair (the other night Nels sighed in the most exaggerated manner, said, “Man I need to take off my underwear!”, then slipped them off and slept nude – it was odd as first of all he never had done this before, secondly I fail to see how the garment was confining as they hang off his bony little hips and constrain him in no way I can figure).

Today I woke them (I rarely have to do this) by rubbing their backs and speaking sweetly for a while. In time they surfaced and I told them grandma wanted to take them swimming and did they want to go? (Yes!) I’d packed up their swim gear and had clothes ready and asked if I could dress them. Soon they were running about the house, wiry and bright-eyed and having brushed their hair, washed their faces, and brushed their teeth. Just before my mother drove off with them I handed them some money to pick up a pizza on the way home, an errand Nels accomplished with much aplomb, feeling very much like he’d provided for us all.

I have a sore throat and very slight head cold; today’s mundane errands (book store, consignment to earn us some more clothes, donating the clothes not consigned) I accomplished sedately; I don’t want to drag my illness out or make it worse. Fortunately I had some handsewing to do so I sat through a couple Baz Luhrmann films and drank tea and tried to be patient with my ailing body.

Ralph came home and – at my request – made a late night matzoh ball soup and we watched a little of “The Jeff Corwin Experience”, a goofy but very satisfying nature show. Phoenix, budding naturalist with a major in herpetology, called out the names of each species presented with total acuity. Nels added his own impressions of how the handled snakes and skinks and anteaters might feel, swearing like a pirate all the while.

I’d rather be well so I could get out and stretch my legs, and finish this late bit of sewing awesomeness. But patience, patience, my time will c ome.

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. – Lao Tzu

Valentines Day Flowers