hogaCHITLINS on Halloween

In a few minutes I’m off to help host a Halloween dance. Here’s a few pictures of our early evening before music, dancing, trick-or-treating, shenanigans, and probably one really shitty B-movie.

My Daughter Phoenix Fire

Phoenix designed everything about her costume. I helped a little, although I should point out she made her entire mask.

Nels + Phoenix, Halloween 2012

Nels was originally going to be “a tornado”. He’d figured out the whole thing. Then after Hurricane Sandy the costume was deemed insensitive. I made the Pikachu costume last night. My fastest work ever. 4:30 PM to 7 PM and I was pretty tuckered out making it. Here’s the back, and never let it be said I don’t do bush league work when I have to.

My Daughter Phoenix Fire

Phoenix's Pumpkin

I told you my daughter did a great pumpkin.

Phee Draws, In Costume (& Boots)

Phee draws while Nels & friends get an early start on the T-or-T. Daughter pretty much always, always draws whenever she gets a chance.

here dwells lurve

Breakfast, Watching Pokemon

Nels says to me, “We’re grown up now, not babies. You can’t hold us any more.”

“Oh really,” I say dryly. “So like how every morning you come downstairs and climb on my lap for snuggles?”

An instant cloud darkens his brow and his eyes focus on the floor. He frowns. He’s pissed.

“Well you can’t voluntarily or easily hold us.”

Phee clips Nels’ nails.

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Breakfast. Vegetable quiche. I don’t like eggs in any form. But my kids ate more than half the pan, immediately:

QUICHE

Today I finished my housework early in the morning, avoided the computer (and Twitter!), canceled some of my mental commitments to other endeavors/people, and instead spent the day goofing off with, lunching with, and crafting with my children. I’m committing to a Halloween craft per day. Think we can do it?

i’m so happy you’re mine / so imma love you a long time

Last night Phoenix is the first to go to bed. Then Ralph is sleepy too and he eventually fades away. Nels tells me he wants to finish watching the documentary on corn. We cuddle close and only five minutes into the show he’s hot and folded into my arm. “Nels, are you falling asleep?” I ask. “No, I’m just laying like this” he replies, his voice is sluggish and muffled. Soon he is fast asleep and clinging like a hot little clam. His hair smells better than anything. I push him away but he keeps returning, his long legs wrapped around mine. He is tall now, as tall as his sister just was, reaching close to my shoulder.

In the last two days I celebrated my 11 year wedding anniversary with Ralph, took a shift at the art gallery, designed a shirt, hit a few meetings and did some other volunteer work, ran up to Oly for costume and garment sewing, sewed three pair of pants for Nels, and gave kids, dog, cats and husband all the loving-up I could, plus got up to some writing.

I’d like to write more here but my wrists actually ache from overwork.

Pho Hoa

Phee & I at Pho Hoa while Ralph attended a meeting. You see those fresh jalapeños in my pho? Good lord. Such a delicious moment in my life. My daughter… it’s wonderful to hang out with her. We usually are either silent, or we’re singing full-throated in the car. She’s the person I am most comfortable being silent with. And singing with. Hands-down.

Ralph bought me flowers and made delicious, delicious cream cheese-filled cupcakes. Best ever.

Ralph Makes Cream Cheese-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Ralph Makes Cream Cheese-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

In other news, I’m still trying to scrump money for the kids’ winter coats. It’s getting there. VERY sluggishly! Donations are wonderful. Or if you’d like me to make you or your kiddo a Halloween something-or-other, now is the opportune time.

the time to be home – in heart as well as body

Aberdeen, Late Christmas Day

Waiting in Aberdeen, late Christmas Day

Today I have a warm home and plenty of food. I have a family I love dearly and get to spend time with every day. Today I have some of the most faithful and incredible friends I’ve had in my life. Today I have the ability and the courage to rely on people when I need them.

Today I have my health, and what health I do not have I get the opportunity to experience a deep acceptance. Today I have my faith, which though not impressive by any standard is still stronger than it’s been, and sustains me quite well.

Today I have resources to help other people, be it with food or company or a ride or a text or a phone call or support in the ways they ask for or need it most.

Today I have the knowledge of impermanence and nonduality, wisdom that is a scintillating diamond, a true treasure, after a third century of accumulating other types of knowledge – some silly, some direly relevant.

Christmas Day, 2012.

Nels & His New Comic

Computer

Ralph Hogaboom Prepares

Trusty

i’ll send you a love letter – straight from my heart, fucker!

Love Letter

Today is Christmas Eve, widely celebrated here in the States. I’ve so far in my life experienced holidays as wonderful times filled with much reflection and lovingkindess. Today I’ve spent most my time with family and a friend or two. Baking and cooking and cleaning and wrapping many, many presents (and making many, many cards). Ralph and I just got back from Aberdeen to help support a safe and sober place for people to go – people who are having trouble, or who are lonely, or who need respite from the holidays.

Christmas 2011

It’s a late, late dinner than snuggles and a b-movie for us. BIG SURPRISE, I know. We have several Christmases to experience in the next few days – our small family tomorrow morning, then a few friends during the day, then my mother in the evening, then a much-anticipated gift-exchange with a special friend and a very special gift idea from my son – and finally, in a few days’ time, my brother and his girlfriend will be up on a semi-rare visit from Portland and get the gifties we’ve put together for them.

Yay, everything!

I’ll leave you this evening, just before midnight, with one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, involving one of my favorite songs. Oh and you’ve been warned, you should know my mind by now and how it works, or maybe how it doesn’t.

i am the god of hellfire!!!

Ornament

Give a ride. Lend an ear. Sew a button. Chair a meeting. Love up an injured kid. Knit on a gift.

Some days it’s hard to do much for myself besides eat and dress, dubious items to put in the “self-care” category as they are rather requisite for, you know, functioning in public without getting arrested. The rest of the time I’m running around doing errands or at home working my ass off. I should know I’m a bit out of balance on the days I’m telling a friend, “I’m having trouble balancing X and family life.” Maybe I can skip that potentially boring (to others) conversation and when I have that thought just go straight to correcting accordingly.

Just one part of a busy day: a visit with Santa, at the Cosmopolis fire department, with friends. Phoenix said she was too old for Santa, and sat and colored instead.

Ralph & Phoenix, Intently Drawing

Santa was pretty fascinated with Nels’ name, correctly identifying Swedish and Dutch. In fact the minute the pictures below were taken, before my son had even introduced himself, Santa said, “A little Dutch boy!” (I’m guessing the hat? And the blonde?).

"A little Dutch boy!"

Santa Discusses My Son's Heritage

Nels and Phoenix drew some quick holiday sketches. I wouldn’t normally have noticed, too busy making homoerotic fireman jokes with Ralph, but I heard the two children burst into the most frothy and silly giggles, so I took a picture of a couple pages from their “workbooks”:

Phoenix's Concept Of A Snowman

Nels' Concept Of Santa

Certain mamas get more excited for events like this than many of the kids. I love that I have friends who have a real heart for children.

Charla, Excited If Not More So Than The Kiddos

Fireman humor:

Cheerful Blaze

A little boy who was pretty sweet today:

Firefighter

I do get a right-treat coming up; Tuesday I get to stay in all day and collect urine. Yes, you heard – collect, label, and categorize urine, confined to my own little house (as all-day refrigeration is necessary).

It’s too funny.

princess of darkness

So today I’m getting ready to go out to coffee with my sister and my mom and my son, and my daughter says, watching me from the morning bath she was using to warm up,

“Mom, am I too little to wear makeup?”

I reply, “You can wear it whenever you want. But please let me help you use it, so you don’t get it dirty or break it. I’ll buy you some if you promise to learn to use it respectfully.” (we’re talking about a kid who still comes in the house and strips down to her bra and panties, throwing things wherever she walks)

She asks, “Why do women wear makeup?”

“Well… some women think they aren’t beautiful enough as they are.”

“But why do you wear it? You’re beautiful.” (seriously!)

“I like it. It’s like art, like drawing.” (and it’s kind of a habit, but I don’t get to that, because she says:)

“Drawing on your face,” she says. “Like why don’t you draw a mustache or goatee then?”

I seriously love this kid so much.

Kids Decorating The Tree

So far in my thirty-four years, I haven’t been a holiday or Christmas hater. Believe me, I empathize with the many reasons people don’t enjoy the season. Bad memories, bad times, the stress many parents are under to provide for their children when they can’t make ends meet in the first place, the heartbreaks of families not reconciled, and maybe most oppressively the monolithic cultural edict that, firstly, EVERYONE celebrates Christmas and, secondly, EVERYONE has a goddamned happy one, or the terrorists have won!

I don’t know why I’ve consistently enjoyed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, Valentine’s Day. So far. It could’ve gone a different way. First off I had a lot of resentment towards Christians and Christianity (which I left behind sometime in my early twenties), and certainly I have plenty of family drama I can trot out – the family drank and used more during the holidays, of course. But still. My memories are almost entirely positive; and I continue to have positive associations. Even with the wonkiness of the whole thing. My sister said today she wished no one would re-record any Christmas hits and I am likely to agree, because, c’mon, who needs another tarted-up version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, or even more nightmarish, non-sequiter, and anti-Christ, “Santa Baby”?

But still, tonight driving out in the cold to catch an engagement, the lights out and it’s cold and wet out, and maybe it’s just all those inane but kind of comforting traditions, and that every year I seem to catch people being breathtakingly lovely. I dunno. But it’s good times for this Hogaboom, at least.

In recent events:

Swim Meet!

Swimming, with the kids. And about one thousand teen boys in tiny bathing suits, for a swim meet. It was real fun to be the only thirtysomething lady walking out in a suit so daggy it’s see-thru in a few places. YOU’RE WELCOME

Fish

Walmart parking lot, after gratefully spending the last of a wee check Ralph got, on LED lights for the tree.

Out Late In Aberdeen, WA

Saturday night, getting too cold to smoke, but I manage it anyway.

"Stop The HATE"

Phoenix’s idea for an ornament: LGBT button, “Stop The HATE”.

And today on the porch from the postman: my friend Dave’s Christmas mixtape, the third yearly installation, always excellent including the CD art (which this year featured Macho Man Randy Savage, and how is it I immediately recognize this man when I grew up without television? Scary). Driving home tonight after dropping a friend off in Monte I hear, for the first time, the following chestnut.

I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm / And the inevitable pinhole burns / All down the front of my favorite satin shirt.

Sitting for twenty five minutes entirely still, and entirely silent, it’s not for the faint of heart. I elect for the cushion as I haven’t given the little meditation stools a shot yet and sitting cross-legged just flat-arsed for that long, without moving at all, well it is not for the ill-rehearsed. I have learned to observe the cold in my extremities and the occasional pain of sitting and fall into the trance of observing, of “resting in the breath”. In short, it feels good to meditate.

But what there is to observe, sometimes it’s not all that happy-clam. Tonight as I sit I almost fall asleep. I come to an awareness I am sick, and tired. I’d known I was sick (a sore throat and slight head cold) but hadn’t realized I was tired. That kind of bone-tired, an inexplicable exhaustion. And the longer I sit the more I realize the extreme discomfort I’d been ignoring, pushing my body past. The habit of a lifetime, or at least since pretty early childhood. Anyway I tell a friend later and she asks if I rested after this discovery, and I said Yes in fact, I even cancelled something in the morning so I could sleep as long as I needed.

The children, my children, are incredible. I call Phoenix on my drive home and ask if she’d turn up the heat in my sewing room and she says, “Gladly!” Her vocabulary is exquisite. Both kidlets are growing so tall so quickly that almost every outing, a friend or acquaintance comments on this.  Our Halloween was a four-day extravaganza of parties and silly Halloween food and costumes and spooky movies and friends over and one hundred thousand candy wrappers. Yes I have pictures, and yes I will be posting them.

It’s cold, the coldest Halloween I’ve ever experienced. I buy a new hat at the thrift store for $1 but somehow it shrinks, despite being a nonshrinking fabric, so anyway that’s for Phoenix I suppose (as if my kids need more hats!). What I really want is one of those Irish tweed handmade hats, they have them out at the beach. I have a cash stash and could buy one but I keep the money in my cigar box, unsure of what really to do. Our rent, electric bill, everything is increasing and my husband’s job faces mandatory furloughs.

The early winter weather brings a great sense of gratitude; for a job, food, a warm home, and for one another. Tonight I was watching my daughter in bra and panties brushing her teeth and I thought how I don’t think I’ve once resented the work of raising children. I’ve been alarmed at how much this has entailed, and I’ve been tired out – but let’s face it, I’d likely have tired myself out as a childless singleton if that’s the way I’d gone. I feel only gratitude, if a bit humbled, picking up what must be the four hundred millionth wet towel off the bathroom floor, and treading back to our little laundry room, and time to wash up and crawl into bed and watch “River Monsters” until everyone’s sleepy but one of the kids cheerfully gets up and turns the program off and we fall into one another’s arms and sleep very soundly.

Ears and Whiskers Oh My!

Contemplative

As any longtime reader knows, I’ve made many a fanciful, comfortable, and sturdy garment, mostly for child-aged humans. I keep coming back to animals and creatures (real or imaginary). In no small part this is due to the influence of my own children, who retain an interest in biology, zoology, cryptozoology and anything else involving creatures that flap, crawl, squirm, prowl, and/or fly.

This particular hat is a faux fur wolf-inspired self-drafted piece, lined in 100% wool for warmth and comfort. Since Halloween approaches – and I do run a side-sewing blog, here – I wanted to share a bit about how to make effective ears and easy-enough whiskers from inexpensive and rugged materials.

Now a few words about what is entailed in good ears. It might not be obvious to the initiate, but it isn’t enough to have wire or pipe cleaners, or whatever, stiffening the ear. The ears will be rigid, but they will not stand up from the head if this is all you do. The tail ends of the wire stiffening the ear will need to be anchored to a rigid form, which is in turn inserted into the hat body in a way secure and comfortable to wear. This means the rigid form has to mimic the shape of the pattern pieces of the hat itself. Get it?

So let’s get started. Materials needed (not shown, glue gun):

Supplies

Left-to-right: cardboard (buckram or light plastic, like a thoroughly-cleaned bleach or carpet-cleaner bottle, will also work), wire for ears, needle and waxed thread for handsewing, cable ties (and assembled “whiskers” on anchor tie, self-explanatory), pattern template, and both fabric AND paper scissors (ask any stitcher how much he/she likes having sewing scissors abused by paper!).

Different hat or hood shapes will have different templates – this hat was made by an earwarmer-style band and a four-gore crown. The traced piece you see here is one of the four gores. It is NOT an ear! I am assuming you have a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, or can follow a pattern, and already have your ear finished and waiting – with the bottom raw edge open (you’ll see below when I show you my finished ear).

I chose cardboard for my form, because I plan to simply spot-clean this hat, not immerse it in water. Dry-cleaning would probably even be an option but I don’t think we’ll be needing that. Using buckram or thin plastic might make the hat more washable – but you certainly want to wash a structural item like this with care, not throw it in the washing machine or anything.

So! Trace your cardboard (or whatever) form from your pattern piece(s):

Trace Pattern Piece To Form Material

If you’re thinking about ear placements/markings at this stage, don’t. There is no need to worry about ear placement yet as you will be able to use the lining to determine where to fix the ears.

Now it’s time to cut the cardboard (or whatever) form:

Cut Out Cardboard Form / Trim Seam Allowance

Make sure to trim off the seam allowances. This is because tape will serve as our “stitching” together the form pieces (if we do have more than one, as I do). If you didn’t cut off the seam allowances, the form would be too large. Go ahead and be confused, that’s okay. You’ll see what’s up when you stick the taped-together form in the lining and it doesn’t work – if that’s the case, you can go ahead and tear it apart and re-tape, or re-trace and re-cut.

Tape The Form, & Then...

The red piece on the left is the hat lining, an indespensible item for making sure things will fit nicely. At right we have the form, taped together. Next I need to slide the form into the lining to make sure it fits perfectly and does not extend awkwardly or look bulky. The goal is the intended recipient will not even feel the form. So let’s see how we did, eh? The cardboard form is inserted between the child (Hi, Phoenix!) and the lining:

... Double-Check The Form Fits Nicely

Everything looks good – that cardboard form is inside the hat and against the child, layered just beneath those two front gore pieces you see here. A few notes: the hat is a little large for my child, so would fit an adult with a smaller head. Secondly, that raw edge is going to be turned under and stitched, so the hat lining appears a little larger than the finished piece will be.

Slip the form out, and it’s a good idea at this stage to punch a few holes in the form. Even if you plan to use a glue gun exclusively, may find you are glad for a few holes to use in reinforcing by stitching:

That's Awl She Wrote!

Now for wiring the ear. Simple at first – just get a flexible but rigid bit of wire (23 cents a foot at the hardware store), bend it, and slide it into the ear with at least an inch and a half margin poking out the bottom from the open end of the ear. Wrap the wire-ends with tape so no one gets poked. Handstitch the raw edge of the ear together with a simple baste, and lash the wires to the ears. This is to preserve the general ear shape and make sure the ear form is closed, before proceeding.

Lashing Wires Into Ears

The wire may want to creep down a bit. That’s okay for now. When you’re finished you should have something like this:

Finished Ear; Wire Inserted

Pretty-cool ear, eh? I thought so.

Now sew the ears, again by hand, to the position on the shell hat pieces. You can use that lining (and hopefully a live model) to determine ear position.

Hand-Sew Ears First...

Basting or tacking the ears in place by hand will make sure they are symmetrical when sewn into the hat. I highly recommend this over pinning. Simply take firm stitches about 1/8″ shy of the seam lines.

Don’t worry about the wires much at this stage. They may be trying to slip around a bit. All you are doing is anchoring the fabric ear piece in position along the seam of the as-yet not-assembled hat.

Now, machine-sew the hat seams, which will anchor the ears firmly. Assembly will depend on the hat or hood pattern you use. Just don’t try to sew right over that wire, or you will bust your needle and scare the heck out of yourself, especially if you’re amped up on coffee (ask me how I know this!). When you get close to the wire, take your foot off the pedal and use the handcrank, guiding the seam along with your other hand.

... Then Machine-Sew The Ears - Carefully!

Your ears are almost finished! Now, insert the finished form into the finished hat/hood/crown, and glue or stitch first the form itself to the inside of the hat using the seam allowances, and then the wire “legs” of the ears to the form, to secure. As if that faux-fur wasn’t messy enough, we are adding a GLUE GUN!

Bending the wire “legs” of the ear and affixing them to the form may or may not be tricky, depending on your hat/hood style. Be patient, use more glue – the whole thing will be lined anyway. Press the wire into the hot glue using a spoon. Not your fingers. (Ask me how I know this!) Be cautious with the hot glue if you’re using it – don’t let it mar your fabric or your body.

Glue/Sew Template

Ears all done!

Finished Ears

Finally: when the glue is entirely cool, slip the lining into the hat and feel to make sure the hat will be comfortable to wear. No jabbing wires or glue bumps. You can add batting or a layer of fleece if you need to, but if you’ve cut your form templates properly and wrapped your wire, you shouldn’t need this layer. My daughter said she couldn’t feel the cardboard at all.

And now – this is easier, promise! – the whiskers.

The assembly for the whiskers and anchor cable ties is self-explanatory, and shown in my Materials photo up above. Now we only need push the whiskers through the shell material. If you are sewing a hat with a woven that has a loose weave (not likely, for a hat project, but still), you may want to interface or interface and make eyelets (by hand or machine), to make sure you don’t get a ravelling effect. However, these directions assume a knit or fleece, etc., easy, sturdy, and typical fabrics we work with.

So first, poke holes in the earflap to slide the “whisker” cable ties through (here you are looking at the wrong side of the shell fabric)…

Seam-Ripper To The Rescue

Then slip in the whisker assembly:

Inserting Whiskers

Now we need to lash the whisker anchor cable tie in for security. Due to the nature of cable ties, the “whisker” ties can only slide one direction along the anchor tie. So lash accordingly:

Lashing Whiskers In Place

If you’ve cut your hat out properly on the grain, the grain will assist you in making sure your whisker alignment is proper. You can see the knit grain here on the wrong side of the shell. Alternatively, just make sure you carefully mark your whisker-placement lines after cutting out the hat pieces.

One more note about lashing the whiskers in place: if you were to be creating a hat where you didn’t want stitches to show on the shell side (as you see, my choice of faux fir hides anything like that), you could carefully apply the anchorpiece to the lining and take orderly stitches from the anchor tie to the lining, then poke the “whisker” cables through the shell, when the lining and shell were joined.

Double-check the whiskers are symmetrical:

Whiskers, Right-Side

And kink them up, if you like it kinky. Heh.

Bent Or Straight?

If you went mad with power earlier with that glue gun, you could apply a bit of glue on the anchor points of the whiskers, although it’s not needed.

Now all that remains is inserting the lining into the shell. Normally I do this in such a way that only involves a teeny bit of handstitching, but in this case I turn under the entire lower edge of both the shell, and the lining, and securely whip-stitch all along this edge.

Voila! You now have a pretty ferocious little hat.

On The Prowl

Cutaway

snarpshots

Fireworks
Fireworks in Aberdeen

4:30 AM
What I Saw When I Came In At 4:30 AM The Other Night. The kids had put themselves to bed, as Ralph had fallen asleep before they. I love how each one bundled hirself up separately.

Phoenie & Amber
Ladies’ Night! We’ve been having a few of these. Phoenix loves them Times One Million. You know what’s good for kids, great role models. Like Jasmine and Amber who kick all kinds of ass and are the sweetest women besides.

Afterwards
I gave Harris a tasty dish of food. He staggered around a bit and then fell asleep like this. I found him because I was ready to take a shower. He stayed in with me there for a while.

Exactly one year ago: a trip to Elton Bennett Park here in Hoquiam.