what’s in your head, zombie

What’s that you say?

Bunting 002: All Hallows' Eve

“That is so fucking cute, Kelly-goddamned-Hogaboom!” Yeah. Well at least I think so. In fact the only thing I liked better that picturing this bunting from the very second I saw the fabric at Hart’s website was every detail of construction. Like underlining it with fusible wadding and appliqueing bright orange stars and then basting in the pumpkin-orange zipper and waxing thread to finish with handsewing while watching a soccer game:

On My Way

and of course the super-super soft and deep green fleece I lined the whole thing with.

So. Soft.

Oh right, forgot to mention – I thought I’d make another one, a bit less sweet and a bit more gruesome:

Bunting 001: Zombi (Looming)

My sewing room and I are like a couple honeymooners. I can’t wait to get back there and mess around. OK, ew. So what I really mean is, I’m having such a wonderful time making exactly what I want. And you know what I want? More babies, out and about, everywhere. These buntings are so warm they can be out all night trick or treating. Until they fall asleep while nursing in the sling.

I’ve put these abovepictured items up for sale: All Hallows’ Eve and Zombi in my wee little boutique. I’ve already got my next projects – seasonal for the approaching cold weather – out on the slab.

Deeply, truly good times.

Hat Et Al

ralph is playing the album “yoshimi battles the pink robots” and it’s making me nostalgic and wanting to cry

“I just want you to know, she has the best manners ever.”  The woman behind the ice cream counter is talking about my daughter. “I mean, lots of grownups come in here and aren’t so respectful,” she continues.  “She is just great.”

(P.S. comments like these make up for the fact today Nels went out in the world with eyes he’d blackened by my eyeshadow and his Halloween costume spotted with ketchup and Sophie’s black, glittery Mary Janes which he used to stomp in puddles)

I know it to be true; the other day at lunch in a busy restaurant Sophie had leaned past my mother and said, “Excuse me, may I have a refill of water please?” to our waitress in the most clear, direct manner.  I credit myself, just a bit. In fact my children’s manners and forthrightness have only improved since I’ve stopped constantly prompting them and highly-socializing their every move.  Sophie in particular blossoms when I am quiet, supportive, and present and I wait until later to remind her of something she might have tried differently.  It’s not always easy to walk the line of providing assistance to children but not hounding them; I was raised by a prompting mother and I have some very bad habits of doing the same.

Our son is equally forthright and direct; he doesn’t always attach a “please”.  I trust the modeling of Ralph, myself – and now Sophie – will help with time.  Nels is kind of infuriatingly able to stick up for himself – it’s come naturally to him since the get-go.  Today at this rather pathetic little swap meet shop we came away with a tiny Fiesta-esque tea set and miniscule wire hanger for $1.50 (Nels and Ralph are building a dollhouse; my son’s latest obsession is furnishing the thing).  As we left the shop Nels kept pestering me: “Why didn’t we take the [equally ridiculously miniscule plastic goblet-style] glass too?” and I was saying, “Well, I only wanted to purchase one thing for you,” and my son said, “It was free, there was no dollars on it,” (meaning a price tag) and I said, “Well you can’t just ask for stuff for free,” and Nels said calmly, “Of course you can,” and I realized, ker-thump, actually he’s right, and all that junk in that place was going to be packed up or thrown out soon anyway since the business was closing in a day or two and the damn tiny piece of plastic would have been dearly loved by my boy.

Maybe this is what makes us old. At a certain point our kids are just right about so much more than we are.

Maybe this is what makes us young: at a certain point we get to be kids again.  Yesterday – our last dryer-free day – I took my mom’s car to haul some wet laundry.  She has a satellite radio service and as is my wont I flipped to the 80s station; soon The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” came on and I turned it up, laughing.  The kids asked what we were listening to.  “It’s a really good song,” I said, realizing the moment I said it that – as campy and silly and as many times as I’d heard it, I really did like it.  And my kids – raised in the home of a rock star – listened intently and thoroughly to the entire song without, of course, a cracked smile at the exaggerated, bawdy content.  It is so weird to see someone experience something that feels mundane or old or whatever – for the first time.  I could see the little gears in their head whirring as they cocked an ear and took it all in.

It’s been an odd night. An odd day!  The kids dressed in their Max costumes before going out to swim team and then dinner; this evening I receive a record-number of comments from people at the YMCA, restaurant, ice cream parlor, on the street.  While we eat our ice cream a two year old girl spots my son and begins pointing and babbling to her parents, “It’s Max, it’s Max!” The wee tot is more into Nels than her ice cream; she can’t take her eyes off him as I try to talk to her.  Her parents tell me the movie version of Where The Wild Things Are is her hands-down favorite.  After a bit of chat and some more costume admiration I tell them, “You should give me your number.  When he grows out of the costume I’d love to give it to her, if she’s still into it.  Sometimes I don’t end up with someone to give costumes to so I just donate them.” I’m thinking of last Halloween and Ralph’s Wonder Woman digs which I couldn’t get packed up and out of the house fast enough, given it was a quickie sewing job I wasn’t too proud of (incidentally my Drowned Prom Queen costume ended up being mailed to a friend who will be recycling elements into Old Gregg – awesome!).  The family seems happy at the costume promise and my son benignly accepting of his occasional celebrityhood.  As things should be.


Today (the few minutes left of it) was Official Delurker Day 2010 (nevermind the sexual assault-inspired logo, gag, I still like the premise).  It made me think about the many lurkers on my blog (which I’m fine with!) and those who hounded me (for years!) to enable comments yet never commented and how I felt in my years before comments and how I’m feeling now. And I know this is all winding up for me to say something really elegant and essential about keeping one’s diary online so here it is:

“I’m not sure it’s good to think back to my childhood memories, because I end up feeling happy and sad at the same time, and that gives me a weird ‘neutral’ feeling.”

freaks & squeaks

Our friend has a new camera with a high definition video function; she’s been doing a few short films including some of my family.  Here she graces you with a glimpse into our Halloween, sitting on my mom’s porch and handing out candy*:

This one was taken by our own teeny little camera, and the subject speaks for itself, literally:

* What say thee on the feminist front?  Are Westernized women’s problems over – do we live in an egalitarian, just society that treats them with respect, as my mother’s boyfriend argues here?

Slaughter Beach Prom 1977

ready set robot

Ayer… (Nels and I got a major mention in the local paper for our costumes):

My favorite part of the costume was the ACTUAL beach-stuff Ralph & Nels found for me (including the net) and the Delaware license plate: DED-2U (Slaughter Beach is a real place, in Delaware).

My favorite part of the costume was the ACTUAL beach-stuff Ralph & Nels found for me (including the net) and the Delaware license plate: "DED-2U" (Slaughter Beach is a real place, in Delaware).

y hoy…

Western-style yoked shirt with retro front panels; the red fabric is Ready Set Robot fabric (Alexander Henry).

Western-style yoked shirt with retro front panels; the red fabric is Ready Set Robot fabric (Alexander Henry).

La ofrenda:

The only pictures of my grandma I could find had my grandfather in them (still living). Whoops, sorry Gramps!

The only pictures of my grandma I could find had my grandfather in them (still living). Whoops, sorry Gramps!

my Max, a quick study

Nels' tender side

I’ve worked pretty darn hard on costumes this year: Ralph, Sophie and I all have some beauts (not to mention I helped my friend Amy with her daughter’s costume, and my friend Jasmine with her ensemble as well).  More pictures soon; currently I’m finishing up the homemade marshmallows for trick-or-treaters and about to take a drive out to the woods to find my mom’s boyfriend out in the woods and invite him over to hand out candy.

Here are some detail shots, for all my stitchin’ bitches.

Pocket Gap!


Little Wild Thing


Ear Detail


Secret Button

My Favorite Part

Lining (Bemberg Ambiance)

My Beloved Monster

For reference, the original Maurice Sendak image

“Nels, if you yell at me one more time I will lock you in a dark room with spiders.”

So says I five minutes ago out of exasperation because remember, I have reminded you time after time again I am a Bad Mom. But I don’t think my son believes this sort of pronouncement because I’ve never really retaliated on him in such a sophisticated fashion. Actually by the time I swoop back into the bathroom after depositing a towel in the hamper he’s sitting in the tub – finally stripped down and in the warm water – and his eyes are big and he’s looking up and he says, “You wouldn’t really lock me in a room… ?”  He is exactly equal parts small and worried and laughing, so when my lips form the “No,” his smile turns up but it’s still rather shaken. He’s been shaken the latter part of this evening, actually, before my ridiculous threat. Earlier after Ralph left to go play with his band, Nels had been my little companion, arranging a game of “I Spy” on my sewing machine (this means hiding all sorts of items – made and found – around my sewing machine and then narrating hints about them – I’m supposed to “find” them after his hints) and singing songs to himself.  But then something happened and he was clingy enough to demand, cry, and yell for me if at any point during my evening cleanup I strayed out of the room he was in.

There is something companionable about the evening even with some of the hectic bickering that goes on. Chores are easier to accomplish now that the kids are helping more. And as a direct result of their involvement we’ve spent more time in the evenings playing, reading, cuddling, and writing music.  This week the kids have treated us to a couple “Music Show-Offs” where the kids write songs and perform them, or lipsync a favorite – the soundtrack from the upcoming Where The Wild Things Are film is in heavy rotation and the children have been studying the music and lyrics.

Tonight, though, we’re wrapping up from a busy weekend that included Ralph’s movie showing and having company, a friend from Port Townsend, for our Friday and Saturday.  The last few nights I’ve slept only a handful of hours, staying up late and watching British serial-killer television until I can finally close my eyes, drifting off to visions of Robson Green manacled and naked (sadly, only in the first episode).  A costume for Nels is only minutes away from being finished; there is a hand-knit component I must also complete before I can post pictures.  Sewing in my mother’s living room is less fun than my previous sewing rooms, but I make it work as best I can.

one of those elucidating discussions like the parenting mags recommend

This morning after I wake up my kids direct me to the couch, climb on either side, and pull a blanket up over us. This is their favorite thing to do after they wake – and often an opportunistic cat will choose this moment to make use of my body as well.  My kids weigh a combined amount of about a hundred pounds, give or take.  I’m wondering how much longer they’ll love climbing all over and on top of me as much as possible (like, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT while we sleep, too) before they decide they’re too grown-up to do so.

Nels is just getting over a cold and Ralph unfortunately is coming down with the same thing (twenty-four hours prior to the Food, Inc. showing he has been working so hard for), so today he stays home.  The kids love having both of us around today.  But I’m very serious on the subject: while snuggling on the couch we discuss how to best avoid getting sick, if someone we know or who lives with us is ill.  “You can stay away from them,” Sophie says.  “But then if they’re sick, they’re going to want you,” Nels responds, his eyes reflective and turned inward, clearly thinking of his own needs when he isn’t feeling well.  “Wash your hands, and rest a lot,” I tell them.

And this precipitates a new discussion entirely.  Sophie, who has recently acquired the household duty of the laundry, says, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t do my work today then.”  I think for a moment, then tell her that unless we are very, very ill, we do need to do our work.  Imagine if we gave up our daily work, I say.  What would happen then?  The kids are silent, thinking on this.

“What kind of work do I do?” I ask them.  They are stumped.  Apparently I am making no impression on them, at all.

“You cook, and shop for food,” they eventually respond.

“OK, so, what would happen if I didn’t do that during the day?”

“Daddy would do it!” Sophie replies, confident.

“OK, so he’d have to take the day off work,” I say.  She nods.  This fictitious day is shaping up rather well.

But they see where this is going.  So when I say, “OK, so Daddy wouldn’t bring home any money,” Sophie instantly responds with, “We can take some from Grandma.” She means, when I press her, the little pot full of many quarters, dimes and nickles up in my mother’s bedroom on her desk – that my kids somehow think it’s appropriate to raid.

I am trying not to laugh; let’s get beyond the fact that it is wrong to steal – perhaps especially from Grandma, who has been nothing but generous and sweet to my children since we moved in.  Instead I say, “Well, how long do you think that money of Grandma’s would provide for our family?”

Nels, blasé, responds, “When Grandma’s money is run out we can go up to a person and say, ‘Hey, let me look at your Chapstick,’ and when they pull it out we can take their money.” Then he laughs in delight.

So that’s their plan.  You know, I’d thought this would end up being a discussion where the kids sit at my knee and are awed by my wisdom about work ethic and pitching in and taking care of one another.  But no. They are basically Rapscallion Thieves without a moral bone in their body.

At 6 PM tonight Ralph and Sophie are fiddling about in the Theatre cementing projectionist details.  I’m stitching away on a Halloween costume.  Nels wakes up on the couch after an impromptu afternoon nap (he’d fallen asleep on his way home from Olympia, picking up the organic popcorn for tomorrow night’s movie) and silently walks up to me and puts his arms around me.

My son looks like he grew another couple inches in his sleep – hey, it really happens, I swear.

for halloween i want to be … gastronomical!

"What Are You Supposed To Be?"

The human brain is an amazing thing. I mean people can behave so stupidly and I’m no exception – for instance the other day I scraped my parents’ van with my own for no apparent reason and it wasn’t even a tricky parking scenario – but no matter how dumb any of us are there is a hugely primal, instinctual core in our organ that can spring into action at any moment it’s needed. Like last night at 2:32 AM when my son woke up and vomited in the bed I immediately registered he was puking, I dragged his half-sleeping body away from the freshly-washed bedding, and called out to wake up Ralph while simultaneously thinking, This is only the second time in his life Nels has vomited. I wonder if, like last time, he will do it just ONCE and get it over with? P.S. that’s exactly what he did.

I spent the night doing laundry (while Ralph and Nels took a sleepy and sweet bath together) and most of today as well. This morning Nels called Grandpa and really gave him a blow-by-blow, feeling a small sense of celebrity in his accomplishment of the night. He was quite grave, “That candy made me sick.” No regrets though, I can tell.

Because we had simply the most lovely time trick-or-treating last night. I mean it was just great. See, ever since our kids were born we’ve done the PT thing; this mostly includes a downtown costume parade (translation: stand around 45 minutes freezing your nuts, walk for five minutes parading in front of those in town not costumed) followed by an intense, hundreds-of-people downtown blowout where the “trick or treating” is reduced to a methodical, massive cattle-shuffle and kids just grab and move on, no eye-contact. There are a few neighborhoods that have traditional trick or treating, most notably an uptown strip where every house goes all-out (which as an inhabitant of that strip it always felt weirdly artificial and, I confess, sad for those who would have rather not participated). Our neighborhood (and most in town) had no “real” T-or-Ting the way we think of it.

But HQX still exists in the bubble I remember when I used to prowl our neighborhoods, literally scouring the block for those with lit porches, occasionally knocking at a refusal, and always looking for the spookiest house. This year it was so odd – and exhilarating – to experience it again and with excited, willing children. The sidewalks in HQX are their own menace more frightening than any front-yard ghoul sculpture (since no one in the Hogaclan came home with a fractured kneecap I call it good). Across the not-very-lit streets you could see other children and families flitting through the night with giggles and only when you got up close you’d discover a neighbor or friend. We got to T-or-T my own parents’ house. Then hand out candy ourselves for a while before making our way north a half mile to the best-decorated house (complete with hydraulic porch, tombstones of rock stars, and my personal favorite: a barbecue with human parts “shish kebab” and lots of blood). When we got home Harris greeted us with the trademark bushy tail and paws prouncing.

It was a very special night.

Yes, even with the puking.

My Lovely Li'l Dragon

"It’s Franken-STEEN!"

Last night our foursome worked at the 7th Street Theatre for the movie (Young Frankenstein). Sophie and I handed out programs (which I design for the films) and Ralph and Skels – I mean Nels – worked concessions.

Halloween (Costumes pt. 1)
Let me out my family as huge dorks. Because these aren’t the “real” Halloween costumes, these are the ones for the movie nights. I pondered and pondered a way to frizz out Suse’s hair. It would have taken lots of product and forever; plus we have two nights of working and I didn’t want to go through whatever horrific process that would be twice. So I settled for a haircolor and white spray-in streaks. The dress is sewn from two tablecloths and the ribbon is sewn on to her neck (the ribbon sewn to itself, not my girl). I also tore more of the tablecloth into bandage handwraps and painted her nails a lovely blackish green. She was so into it. P.S. more than one boy / guy checked her out. It’s kind of weird.

Nels liked his costume too. Um. A lot. He and I shopped for the costume earlier in the day – black LS shirt, sweats (I cut and hemmed the bottom of them b/c I hate the gathered sweatpant look), furnished with medical tape “bones” – plus a skull mask (not shown) he found all by himself for $1. He was extremely invested in the process. As we travelled to checkout he howled, “Where are the bones!?” having no understanding Ralph was going to fashion them from tape. That night he made a big fuss until we allowed him to sleep in the costume and he clutched his skele-mask in his sleep – all night.

Our friend S. took quite a few of these screenshots; they look great.