a setting on the dryer

I’m not sure at what point my day, and my mind, asploded. I worked hard in the home and on an art project, much to my satisfaction. I had a tense discussion this morning with my husband, but that seemed to resolve okay. (Other peoples’) kids came and went through my house and we fed one or two and kicked another one out to have a meal, just the four of us. Friends were over, another friend canceled a dinner date with us. I helped at a Recovery function and paid for a couple plates of spaghetti and salad for those who might not have the suggested donation.

I met a few new people today too, including a man who reminded me of my father so much it hit me like a physical blow, he had the same earring and trained into electronics in the military, in Vietnam, and I listened to him talk and stared and thought of my father, too tired to even feel the sting of missing him. I met a few new people today, including a man who cried talking about the people who surrounded and loved him and got him help when he needed it most, this was over ten years ago and he still had tears in evidence. I met a few new people today, including a nice young man recently released from incarceration and (more shockingly to my provincial mind) who related his experiences divorcing from in-house White Power groups (I talked to him a bit later, as he’s newly a mechanic of a type I could use).

At some point I guess I started to feel some kind of intense spiritual or emotional or mental fatigue, although I didn’t recognize it until later during volunteer work. Maybe my brain went *click* into exhaustion hearing the fourth young person say, “I’m _________, heroin addict,” and so on. Or maybe it was investing myself in yet another story filled with more hate and sorrow and abuse and neglect, stories so incredibly personal yet now stunningly familiar, and yes there’s triumph and courage and tremendous love and affection and salvation and gratitude, but still I have the visceral image of a young man left to cry himself to sleep night after night in the back of a car while his parents went into the bar to drink, a boy then a teen then a man who learned to never let those feelings show for many many years but now they’re coming up. More tears.

Even surrounded by all sorts of this kind of stuff I can’t entirely say I’m depressed or brought down. Humbled is a better word. I used to feel separate from these concerns or maybe I had no idea how much suffering there was, right where I could reach out and touch it, or maybe I would have considered some people “really sick” or thinking I was, essentially, better, or better off at least, than they. But today there is nothing that separates me at all from all of this, and I feel floored as if an ant with a large boot to crush me to Nothing, because in fact we have all the same affliction, and at the risk of starting controversy it doesn’t have much to do with the use or non-use of chemicals and if you can’t see it you’re just not seeing what I’m seeing.

Tangentially I have also discovered all the aspects of my best alcoholic behaviors, well I have them today in sobriety and they are some of the qualities that make me a rather terrific parent. Example: we have $11 in the bank and out of nowhere this afternoon I tell the kids, “Let’s get a tree!” and of course I mean one supporting our locals at the Market, not the cheapest tree at all. And when we get there they are just closing up but a nice older man lets us tree-shop and we find a brilliant noble fir, I’d never noticed how pretty they are. And the nice fellow helping us out, I see he’s also a Santa-for-hire (there’s a flyer) and I say, “Oh you’re Santa,” then after he tells me a bit I laugh, “We’re a no Santa household,” and he says, “Well okay!” Ralph “ropes” the tree to the top of my car and in the parking lot we see a lone purple ornament rolling around and we pick it up to hang on our tree.

And the kids are One Hundred Thousand Percent so happy to see Ralph bring in the fragrant greenery. “That is a beautiful tree, mom. Good job!” my oldest tells me. The kids get to decorating it and I’m happy to see the tree develop in the way it was in my family of origin, not an Avon-perfect or shopping mall tree but the ornaments handmade, many of them gifts from others, handstitched and glued and pasted and lovely, and the kids and the cats are simply delighted. The children go about their painting and drawing and reading and when they ask for my attention I turn and give it to them as best I can,

as fierce I can.

I come home and bathe and wrap myself in a blanket and sit quietly by the family, who likely have no idea how much it hurts sometimes. My daughter told me she stared at me today, and she says “because you’re so beautiful”. And I think I know what she means and today, that’s pretty good.

This Island Earth MST3K

movie talkers and perhaps-ill-considered magazine spreads

This Island Earth MST3K

I grew up in a family of ardent film-watchers. I used to relate to others that I “grew up without TV” which was true, but not technically accurate in every sense. That is, we had no channels nor cable so I wasn’t exposed to commercials nor got any regular dose of the popular shows (“Seinfeld”, “Beverly Hills 90210”, “Melrose Place”, and “The Simpsons” when I was in high school, for example). However we did have a television set and my family would regularly watch feature films, back when Video Vision and the liquor store abutted one another here in West Hoquiam.

We watched at home more frequently than attending the cinema. We had a ritual of renting a VHS tape or two on a Friday or Saturday night. Snacks and pop for my brother and I, Manhattans for our mom. Back in the day when VCRs were new and not in our pricepoint, movie nights were rare, as we’d have to rent the VCR itself. I seem to remember a black plastic molded case weighing approximately five hundred pounds, and how it would set my heart to pitter-patter when mom or dad would haul it in. Before viewing we’d stove-pop popcorn, throwing melted margarine on the mess and shaking in a thick paper bag that would become spotted with grease and that we’d all share from (air poppers have always seemed frivolous but kind of magical, reminding me of the vision of my shirtless dad making sparks on the range and usually burning a fair number of kernels on the bottom, later leaving the pan to “soak” – which meant leaving it for my mother to wash).

Given the communal nature of and family-feeling of movie viewing, I was destined to develop the most ardent affair with the television show “Mystery Science Theater 3000” – which again, I was exposed to via wobbly-lined VHS copies (prior to syndication the show carried the end-credit tagline, “Keep circulating the tapes”). If you don’t know what MST3K is, you don’t know one of my deepest and truest loves, a show I’ve never not weekly or nightly watched repeats of and of course, raised my children with – bundled up in bed or on the couch laughing at half-arsed Godzilla knockoffs and Conan the Barbarian wannabes and the weirdness of the Gamera franchise and all the many, many mansplaining white male scientists – all elements of film which give me a fierce joy to this day. The last episode of MST3K aired in 1999, but in recent years the writers involved with that most magical of shows split into two groups, Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic, and they basically do the same thing – riff on movies with comedic precision, pop-culture awareness, and timeless historical context. Good movies, bad movies, old movies, new movies, first-run box office blowouts and oddities you almost wouldn’t believe existed. As of this writing I’ve seen almost every offering from both camps, including a few live-broadcast events and one live-actual-writers-riffing-right-in-front-of-us-at-a-club memorable evening.

So in honor of our Fisher-cum-Hogaboom B-movie traditions, tonight we’re watching the Rifftrax version of Warriors of the Wasteland (a subpar ripoff of cult success The Road Warrior) and I’m just too-too excited to fire it up.

And you know? I was thinking how much I like one of the “stars” of the as-yet-unseen film – Fred Williamson, “actor, architect, and former professional American football defensive back”. I was considering how many straight-to-video and/or blaxploitation films he’s featured in (as well as, a personally-adored little nugget, his turn as the grouchy captain in 2004’s Starsky & Hutch, RIP Chris Penn), and how much I love his mustache, and how I want to invent a Pin The Mustache On Fred Williamson partygame for that B-movie party I’ve always wanted to plan but don’t think anyone would like as much as me, and in doing some research (IMPORTANT I swear), I discover Mr. Williamson was featured in Playgirl back in 1973 and I just can’t… help myself. I have to know.

I simply must Google search.

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Wait for it…

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Fred Williamson 1973

Well hell. It’s a solid enough concept, but talk about an awkward delivery! And SANS MUSTACHE? WTF were they thinking?!?*

***

In other news, I’m aware my blog has been either suffering technical problems, or not available at all, for some time. I apologize for the difficulties and delay. Hopefully things are all tidied up now. Thank you to those who emailed, IM’d, tweeted and messaged me etc. both regarding technical difficulties they’d experienced, and their desire to read my writings again.

In the intirim since I posted last I’ve gone through a fair bit, and have written little except in my notebook and daily journal (so I guess, I’ve written, I haven’t typed). I have been deepening my spiritual practices whereby I got to discover more about, and make great progress in overcoming, my fear of my own death (neat!). I went to a long workshop the other day regarding neuroscience, trauma in childhood, addiction (to chemicals or process), and forgiveness work. I have a surgery scheduled for this Friday and I’ve been ill, good days and bad days – but always, so far, grateful days. These recent health setbacks have given me the opportunity to gracefully accept assistance, love, and ministrations from others. For instance today I slept much of the day even though it hurt not to be able to get up and run around and fix the house up and work on my current client’s sewing project. But just as I was pulling myself together out of a hot bath (after most a day my children had been caring for themselves and letting me sleep) a friend came over, put away my dry dishes, washed the dirty ones, and took the kids and I out to lunch!

And today it really, really helped.

And now? On to Mr. Williamson and his fierce hirsutitude, some bad bad 80s hairstyles, and lots of low-grade explosions of scrapheap cars.

* At least the kitten looks happy. And who wouldn’t be?

turning the collar up, looks like I picked the wrong time to decide to shave my head

Bright and cold, the sun slaps down on the sidewalks and finds us much as we ever were, maybe here and there a little shabbier. Broken down businesses and those making their valiant try. More cars getting towed DIY-style lately, Ralph and I have both noticed this. I drive by my neighbors sleeping rough or living hard, hunched jackets against the cold in clothes that aren’t quite warm enough, walking with bottles that clink in thin black plastic bags, cheap fleece pajama pants.

My sister visited this weekend and went to some festivities around town. “Irish music and drinking, I know how much you love those.” She and my mother went ahead and did some of that. We also had lunch together Saturday and Jules and the kids and I goofed at the Halloween store, good memories for me. She always buys the children something sweet; this time, their Halloween Trick or Treat bags/pumpkin buckets.

I drive to Aberdeen in the afternoon and wonder why some days I feel in a panic. Nothing is wrong, I tell myself. Remind myself. I am sober, and safe, and mostly sane. We have wonderful friends and family and are surrounded by a great deal of love. My children and I have a roof over our heads and good food to eat. The kids are growing well and exceedingly happy, as far as I can tell. The cats lounge about. My house is tidy, I bought winter boots. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. I have to talk myself down from the ledge now and then but the feeling passes after a while, like everything else.

Low Tide

“Low Tide” by Τϊζζ¥

More Hoquiam, WA.

only puts in motion what has been locked in frost

First Day Of First Grade

My first day of school, first grade
Taken in the bus we lived in

The family I grew up with until about age eight, my maternal family, mostly what I remember was a messy and boisterous tribe who started childbearing a bit later in life, consumed spirits by the case (or in the instance of wine, the box or gallon jug), smoked a fair degree of pot (some of them way more than others), and mostly wanted to eat and drink and have a good time and certainly never wanted that to end. The parties around the bonfire singing and playing music (old stuff from the sixties mostly), must have been fun for many but I grew them into a resentment. Most everyone worked hard and drank hard too, although a few members dropped out of much employment. As far as I know, I’m the only alcoholic in the family, but it seems like there sure are a lot of drunks.

In my memory my grandmother never much quit smoking cigarettes her whole life even though she ended up needing a breathing apparatus and assistance. She died of alcohol- and smoking-related complications but to my knowledge the family didn’t name it thus. You know, just a mystery stroke I guess. I got to be there for her death – myself, my husband, and the start of our own family: our four month old daughter. Many sorrows were ahead for my husband and I along the lines of our family inheritances, but at the time we didn’t know this.

My childhood experiences contain many hurtful memories, although in that family it was requisite we describe ourselves and our relations as “warm and loving”. Despite this mythology, I perceived I was only enjoyed and loved when I was being adorable – or a Good Girl, or both. I was told girls were supposed to be beautiful, and certain girls in the family were praised as such, and since I wasn’t, at least I knew where I stood on that count. At the same time I remember at a very early age believing there wasn’t any adult I could count on to choose me and my brother and our sense of safety, over their drinking and drugging. Since I was so little I was powerless to change any of this.

In addition to the drinking and drugging, which invoked a fair degree of fear as years went on, there was just daily life. The adults in my life changed, like chimera, during the day and as evening wore on. I rarely knew what was expected of me, only knew if I was meeting approval or not. One minute they’d be mostly tending to their work or the kids – or, as is more likely, ignoring us – the next they’d be overly sentimental, lachrymose, and effusive – or toxic and full of venom directed at little Me, their faces flushed and hardened into set-jaw choler beneath small angry eyes. My character defects and my errors, my objections to unfairness, any assertion of my own will counter to theirs, and my crudely-expressed desire to be treated with dignity was not ignored – it was punished. By age two the family called me “Little Hitler”, and later cited this as funny, good thing I straightened myself out, I was such a willful child.  Later an adult from this family would tell me it was okay for me to lash out against my own children. “They have to understand that you have feelings too.”

Oh, I made sure my kids understood I had feelings alright. Just the way I had done to me. As a mother I was Feelings ran rampant.

But, that was later – my own family.

Back to my childhood: relatively early in life I discovered I was capable at succeeding in school, and this performance placated these adults and put me in a category convenient for them. I wasn’t the beautiful one or the good one – I was the smart one.

I certainly wasn’t in a position to perceive that these people were sick and suffering in their own ways, and coped via chemicals and Authoritarian parenting and gastronomical excess et cetera, simply to manage their own pain, stress, confusion, depression, excitation, and suffering. They did the best they could with what they had. In this way my story is hardly unique, nor is my family.

As carefully as I’ve laid out my childhood memories, I want to further impress upon the reader that I do not hold resentments over these events – not anymore. In fact, the release of resentments has been the greatest gift I’ve afforded myself, and it was only possible through some measure of divinity (the old adage is true). But I am also not going to pretend these things didn’t happen, or they didn’t hurt at the time. They are simply a part of my history.  I know now that not one of these adults wanted me to feel unsafe, or scared, or sense I was an afterthought running around barefoot and expected to be “good”. As best as they were able, they loved the children in their midst, likely better than they themselves had been loved.

By the time my mother, father, brother and I moved north and away from this family to take advantage of an inexpensive living situation, my survival traits were intractable and reflexive. Seen this way it seems I was doomed to have a love affair with the escape available in alcohol and drugs. I remember my first drink – it was at age twelve and I flew high above those feelings of low self-worth, Unacceptability, embarassment and shame. The history, frequency, duration, and behaviors of my drinking career are details unimportant regarding what I write here, and now.

What matters today is I have a story to share with those who suffer as I did. What matters today is I am responsible for myself and others, and there is no point to shame myself or blame myself – or blame or shame others – for the past. I was gifted something amazing in my Recovery, as I could have lived the rest of my life out as others before me have – or far worse.

Today I live on a knife-edge of amazement, a case of being astounded by what has been given. When I am outside walking and the wind is blowing and I feel clear and alive I am also on the verge of an agoraphobic episode, flying off the face of the Earth into the Great Beyond simply because it is so massive and so much larger than I. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I am fearful of God, but not in the way most nonbelievers would think this means. I do not worry God is going to bash me flat like Whack-A-Mole and I do not think there is a vengeful power who holds sway. I am fearful because I perceive the depths and breadths throughout, but I can not understand or grasp it all. I have lived for some little time floored at the life I was given, how incredible and amazing it is. It is such a gift. I do not wish to squander it. I do not wish to forget the gift. I no longer wish to poison it or smash it to bits, or smash at other people.

I want to hold so fiercely to my gratitude and never let it go. To life any other way is, for me, a Living Death.

***

Found written in a notebook:

Escribir

Sophie! circa April 2003

I’m so used to doing everything with you / planning everything for two

Sophie! circa April 2003

When my daughter was about ten months old her interest in breastfeeding suddenly waned. Of course by then I’d heard of babies so-called “self-weaning” at even earlier ages, but at the time I had misgivings about the whole business. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to quit nursing altogether or if she was just taking a break, and I was damn sure I wasn’t quite ready – and most distressing, I didn’t know my role in all of it. It was a painful experience and, as so many mothering quandaries often are, one that felt – in final estimation – mine to sort out, with the help of my daughter, who was of course very, very little (months younger than the above photo). See I suppose I couldn’t or rather never have relied on the comfort of mainstream “experts” directing my life. While I’m thankful for this character trait, to the extent we resist conformity we may pay the occasional price of Arbitrary Self-Inflicted Agony.

So I sought the advice of some women I trusted, women and medical professionals who knew their shit regarding nursing. Looking back I now know I was privileged to have started my family in such a pro-breastfeeding culture. I remember one lactation consultant, at least, telling me that in light of the fact my daughter was first walking she might be a little distracted. If I wished I could use this opportunity to encourage breastfeeding – you know, just offer a sip now and then – and that my daughter might resume her interest. And I did – and she did, too.

For about a week I felt a panic that perhaps I’d “forced” my will on my infant daughter (although of course I never “forced” a feeding), and perhaps more alarmingly, that I’d lost the opportunity to help her be “independent” (ha!). You know, that I’d done something hippie-Earth-Mama-selfish and facile and my child would suffer for it. Et cetera.

Of course, as it turned out my daughter nursed for over two years more, and this was an incredible experience – I can’t even recount all the many wonderful memories I have and the closenesses we lived (and still, she seems so little to me at weaning, when I look back!). To this day I feel a stunning and overwhelming sense of gratitude for the women who advised me as they did. And I suppose I should be grateful for my own instincts which led me to the counsel that worked best for me.

But today I once again hover in a position of minor parental agony; the children seem in so many ways not to need me, and yet I cannot seem to let go of most a decade of intensive care. I sense they are more independent than ever and that we are providing everything they need as best we can (and conferences with the children themselves support this). I know they can tell me what they need (Nels: “Snuggles and love and food and my Little Mama”) – and yet I am prone to guilt if I spend a few hours without them in mind. At least, on this last count, pervasive Guilt is old behavior and I hardly expect to be rid of it like magic just because I’m now sober.

All demonstrable evidence suggests the children are thriving; yet I keep searching for fault within myself or something I should, or shouldn’t be doing. This is prideful and this is arrogance; when I do this I am willfully blind to the beauty of their daily lives. They are surrounded by people that love them, and they live in a home and town they adore with people and animals they love deeply. They spend most of their time outside and are courageous in their exploits and fierce in their friendships. Their summer is full of everything I loved from (or wished I had during) my own childhood: sleepovers and waterparks and ice cream and books and tree forts and visits to neighborhood shops where everyone knows them, bike rides and gardening with their grandma. They continue to show moral and emotional traits that bring joy to others. They are loving and directly hug and greet all manners of friends, young and old.

They are empathetic and considerate. They are kind. Twice now in the last week I’ve had sleep problems (meaning: onset insomnia, staying up watching shite escapist television on Netflix). Both these mornings the kids rose, dressed themselves, ate, washed their hands and faces, brushed their teeth, cleaned up after themselves breakfast-wise, fed the cats, and checked on the chickens, bringing in eggs. They called their father – but in the next room, whispering so as not to wake me (Ralph told me later).

It’s absolutely amazing at times their consideration and maturity; and yet, to be honest, it makes me want to cry.

In short I am experiencing an insecurity around my Motherhood that I feel neither my children nor my husband can fully understand (although some of my close friends and family seem to relate). It’s as if I’m asking myself if I’m brave enough to self-care a bit more. Or maybe I’m afraid if I were to do so, something Horrid would happen or I’d suddenly miss a need of theirs and I’d screw it all up. Somehow.

It’s funny because as a child the word my family used against me that hurt the most was “selfish”. Somehow I grew into a different kind of Selfish than what I suppose they meant; today my sins seem to be that of self-obsession (Perfectionism) coupled with a lack of self-respect.

I don’t want to model that for my children – anymore.

as close as hands and feet

Happy 33rd!

Myself, Billy. And our fridge-magnet creation we dispassionately display here: “Mad Max”.

Today is my brother’s thirty-third birthday. He and I were born a year and a half apart, more or less, so his age is about as easy to keep track of as mine (this endeavor grows more difficult every passing year, especially as my basic arithmetical skills have atrophied).

It was pointed out to me yesterday the people we have the longest relationship with in our life are our siblings – not our spouses or partners, friends, or even parents. Holy shit. I hadn’t thought of it that way. My half-sister Jules and I weren’t raised together and I got to know her best the brief time we both lived in Seattle, while I was attending school – and of course, I get to know her today, I’m fortunate to. Having been raised with my brother, and without my sister, I can say it sucks not to have known her more, had her as a regular part of my life.

But still, back to Billy, his big day. I’ve known him ninety-six-point-five percent of my life. I can’t remember a time without him. He was a sweet boy and the grownups (in my opinion) didn’t give him enough of the right stuff. It seemed to me like my mom worried about him and prodded him to do better in school (he was a straight-A and B student), more socially than anything else, whatever that meant as he always had friends and teachers liked him. Family told us “they” (who? teachers? family?) thought for a time in early childhood Billy was “retarded”. Yeah, “retarded”. You heard right. I don’t think my mom, brother or I use that term anymore. Anyway, I mean just the way it was said, not so sensitive nor apt, not because if he’d been neurologically atypical I would think that’s a bad thing, it was fucked up as there was an unspokent judgment in that whole story: you know, be like everyone else whyont’cha? (product of baby boomer mentality)

I mean like I said, this was a student who did fine and a boy who always had friends and had a lovely character. Yet almost every year on his report card a teacher would write, “Billy needs to finish things on schedule”. These teachers always meant their schedule of course. If Billy had been my son (I know, weird), my eyes would have rolled ’til they clicked and I’d have said, “Fuck your schedule.”

Because Billy was, and grew up to be, and is to this day – as far as I can tell – a detail-oriented, kind, caring, intelligent person with a deep love for his close friends (of which I am not sure I am one … yet), a strong commitment to his work and a desire to do it well (both our parents were this way, except, notably, our father when it came to home repair projects). He’s ended up in a detail-oriented position with employers who love him, and he them, and he takes deadlines seriously. He’s the same as he was when a boy, or at least all the good parts. As far as I can tell. He’s a bit private and I only know him as well as he lets me. I think he did pretty well or has so far because mostly he got love from our mom and dad despite their shortcomings.

Our dad was kind of a dick to him, by the way. Again, at least I think so, I don’t know if anyone else does. Shortly before my dad died, but when he could still get around, he showed up at my house on Eklund and rambled about Billy and how he, our father, wasn’t as tender and loving as he could have been, and he thought Billy suffered because of that. It was weird, my dad talking to me like that because that isn’t how my dad talked (adulthood – I only remember him hugging me and saying “I love you” to me just before he died). Anyway after a while of this sitting there having coffee I said to my father, “Shit, it sounds like you need to talk to your son, not to me.” I don’t know if he even did. But then Billy wasn’t there when dad died. So there you go you old weasel, you get like you served up.

Billy and I are so physically different it’s funny. He’s thin and I’m plump. (Our parents used to tell me not to bully him because one day he’d be bigger and would retaliate. I think I still outweigh him by about forty pounds.) He’s dark-haired and olive-skinned (but pale) – like our sister – and I’m fair(ish). He can grow quite the beard and I can barely manage a mustache. We used to make jokes when we’d go out in public, as if we were perceived as a couple and somehow people also knew we were brother and sister, and were creeped out.

My brother is hands-down the best listener I’ve known. He’s also been so supportive of my parenting and marriage as far as I can tell. Get that, I just told you our siblings are who we know longest and I have this loving guy who’s a great listener and supporter. He’s also very funny and we share a lot of jokes. I’d like to think we can make new ones, not just have the old ones.

I can only speak on my brother and his childhood from my perspective, and I can’t know if he relates at all. I think about him often, and I’m always glad to see him or hear from him. I am glad he has a good lady in his life and great friends and a good job. And I send him – regularly – pictures and videos of our cat bullshittery (LEGION!) which I know he appreciates.

Happy birthday, Lobster Eyes. Many more I hope.

***

Myself taking a picture of my sister taking a picture of my brother and daughter (you can tell the picture’s a few years old by how little my Phoenie is!):

My Sister Taking A Picture Of My Brother And My Daughter

of melancholy and patchouli

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Aw, I miss my dad so much. There’s so much in my life I didn’t get to share with him. He didn’t get to share the journey we’ve had in not-schooling our kids. He’s missed my sobriety in adulthood. He’s missed knowing my kids at an older age – and they’ve missed knowing him. He and my husband had a wonderful, wonderful friendship. Now that I think on it I’m not sure Ralph has had a friendship like it before or since.

I have a lot of my father’s nature. I am intelligent and I have a good memory. I have his beaky nose and tiny angry eyes. I have his suspicion of human authority and for many years I had his slightly pessimistic agnosticism coupled with a rather sedate moral code. I have his confidence; a confidence in my ability to do things well, if I want to do them. I have his knowledge of Choice, which lends me to playing the victim a little less than I might otherwise. Things are changing within me lately – and I am becoming calmer and less afraid – traits I associate with him. He was pretty calm. And he was pretty gentle in most all the ways that mattered. I’m not sure how many people have grown up with a gentle father.

I also, sometimes, display the dark and nasty sense of humor he had. A few weeks back my mom and I were in Olympia looking for a park for the kids (which they’d mowed down for office buildings, I think, bravo!). Mom and I saw this little wine shop she instantly adored. My mom exclaimed, “Oh look, that place looks very cool!” and I said without skipping a beat, “It’s probably full of baby boomer douchebags.” She laughed and swatted at me and said, “Okay, David!” It’s true, I’ll occasionally hear something come out of my mouth like that. My husband comments too. It’s pretty funny really.

Dad, I really, really miss you. We had so many laughs, seriously (seriously!). I remember I’d walk over and you’d be in the yard pulling a weed and you’d leave the weed where it was and come inside to sit with coffee, because you didn’t give a fuck much about weeding. You’d sit at the kitchen table and play solitaire with cards so soft and old and rounded-edged that new cards have always looked obscene to me.

By the way you were someone who gave me the right advice, and I haven’t found someone else to replace that relationship. That sucks.

I’ll love you fiercely until the day I die at the very least.

I Was Nine Months Old

Nine months old.

unattended children deserve to be cast into a pit of fire motherfucker, but in the meantime:

Today I had access to my mom’s van (while Ralph braved our local transit to get to work) and I made sure to get us out on another beach roadtrip. This time: Westport and Grayland. Only a few minutes post-breakfast (dining in the car) we first stopped at a taffy shop (with no less than three variations of those douchey “unnattended children will be placed on hooks and tortured” signs, and not that there’s any excuse for that crap, but I want to note we’re talking a candy shop in a tourist town, SMH). That, plus a few patriotic clownhorn bumper stickers, put me off any confectionary I was eyeing, but my kids didn’t seem to mind the sign asshattery; the very kind lady behind the counter made a half-apologetic reference, and anyway it’s the kiddos’ dime and I decided not to give into despair.

Fortunately the rest of Westport, which has a working class/touristy/carny/beachy/tumbleweed-&-shuttered-winders thing going, was quite hospitable. Particularly the outdoors, which the kids evidence an unabashed joy for no matter where we find ourselves. Today we ran around the floats (boat workers and fishermen in general welcome kid presence, probably because they have their own who are highly participatory in their family tradition), bought some smoked tuna for my mother off Float 8, climbed rocks and beachcombed and explored, then eventually the children chose their restaurant of choice, and raved about the food.

Gangplank

Horizons

Wet Sea Grass...

& Dry Creepy Sea Grass Muppet Monster

Contemplation

Hop!

I <3 My Dad

Snap, Step, Bump!

Alien Invasion!

Phoenix provided me with a small heartache, reminding me of my late maternal grandmother today, mostly in physical appearance. Her long, increasingly blonding hair (a yearly event with the advent of seasonal sunshine), the masculine-styling wool car coat, a simple pair of good corduroys. And she’s about as tall as my grandma was too, and I have many beach memories of that woman.

But today we built more memories of our own. Nothing fancy, just a lovely trip, and some sunshine, and the sea crashing in my ears. I wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to live away from it?

 

≈

The Bay

¡feliz cumpleaños!

Birthday Party Morning

Yesterday Phoenix woke up, recieved a custom-tailored hot dog for breakfast, then was hustled through washing up and dressing and out the door for a swim party. Directly after that she was whisked to my mother’s for a birthday / piñata / dance party / cake and ice cream / costume contest and ended her evening staying all night with Grandma and up until about 4 AM reading.

Definition of happy memories, methinks.

Piñata

I Don't Think You're Ready For This Jelly

It was an old school Kelly Hogaboom party, in that I had many friends from many different corners of my life Рthirteen children and sixteen adults, including a few out-of-town guests. I was weirdly exhausted from all this, but happy to see our friends. Between a few of us Рmost notably my mother, brother, friend Amore, and I, we put a fair bit of work into the party. My brother created an amazing pi̱ata (the turtle, pictured above, filled with copious amounts of rather posh candy) and Amore brought some extra-special food.

Lineup

We also had a wee costume contest with prizes, and goodie bags for the kids.

(My little Gulper Eel:)

Gulper Eel

Friendly

So let’s see, okay for food, we had chile and cheese tamales (with all the fixings), frijoles refritos, fresh chips, pan de los muertos, bean salad, “beefy” taco dip (everything was vegetarian so you know, not really “beef”), banana pudding, a jack, chile and corn cake, and Mexican rice with peas and coconut oil. Amore’s birthday cake and some Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream rounded out the aggressive amounts of chow.

Cake

Then there was a Dance Party which mostly involved Ralph, Shannon and I being way too into it (by other people’s standards anyway – & yes… we were sober) and a long chat with Jasmine, who arrived home early from work.

At the end of the evening – when I finally left my mother’s and all was calm and the party had been cleaned up (my mom, husband, and I share this compulsion) – I kissed my daughter goodbye and asked her, “Did you have a good party?” She looked up and me and smiled the most genuine, warm smile and said, “It was great.”

So, that worked out pretty well.

***

Today I stumbled out of the bedroom for a quick cup of coffee then an afternoon with our out-of-town overnight guests, Cynthia and her two dogs. Along with Nels and Ralph, we took a walk on the flats thanks to the sunny weather (Phoenix was at my mom’s, having stayed the night and reading Harry Potter hardbacks like a machine). Nels took a shovel and did some digging for precious gems.

Lineup

I’ve pretty much got the beauty of Hoquiam in my bloodstream.

The Flats

After lunch I crashed. I’m frankly disappointed in my low energy, but it seems it can’t always be helped. Today I took the opportunity to watch a classic B-movie which cheered me up more than just about anything else. Lovely, earthy Anne Francis! Leslie Nielsen in an Orlon jumpsuit! Mansplainy science! A sassy fucking robot! Lasers and monsters of the Id!

My heart was also glad at the sunshine, the cold but springy smell of the greenery, and Nels working along in the backyard (note SEKRET CAT!).

Mining

It was a good weekend.

(Do click for Ralph’s panoramic work):

The Bay

fête

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix’s ninth birthday is coming up. I want to have one hell of a shindig. I’m concerned though. I worry I’ll think of great details and lose steam as the date approaches. This has happened before. The trick, for me, is to plan and work for a nice event but remember, life goes on afterwards – no need to obsess.

So right now I’m planning the menu, which is going to be a vegetarian dinner, not party snacks but an awesome dinner including foods that make you want to punch yourself in the face, they’re so good. I have some help from chef-extraordinaire Amore.  ALSO I must wrangle the music, decorations and the prizes. These latter two categories is where I can lose steam. I do not want to buy a bunch of plastic or Dollar Tree provisions; I love to create with recycled, upcycled, and recyclable or reusable accoutrement. I also want my mom’s house (where the gala will be hosted) to be a big fucken undersea kingdom. Yet adornment is not my strong suit. Have you seen my house? I have three pieces of artwork total hanging on the walls (my favorite is probably Phoenix’s bloody fossil, marker and paint on cardboard).

I loved how our invites turned out – Ralph and I have so much fun with stuff like this. If you want us to send you an invite, wherever you live, let us know, as we have a few extrys.