we’re out enjoying the sunshine, here are a few images

Phoenix's Creation

Phoenix drew an island – the far-right brown-pink blob is the living hut, which is very far away from the far-left blue blob which is the sole source of fresh water. Active volcano in the middle, sharks and monsters. I’m thinking this place would be tough to survive in.

Cats

The cats, after eating an assload of roast beef

Hardboiled Eggs With Tamari

Hardboiled eggs with tamari, part of a breakfast for the kiddos

Nels On His 2nd Chocolate Milk

Nels on his 2nd chocolate milk

Sleep-Pile

Sleep-pile, nighttime

Thou high on the tips of branching boughs / I on the ground a-creeping!

Today after coming home and starting dinner Nels runs in and excitedly reports Josie-kitty has a bat. Or a bird. “Or a moth,” my son adds after some consideration. “It’s shaggy,” he tells me. By the way his missing teeth means he has the best voice, and lisp, ever. “Moth” is “moff”. He has the most kissable little mouth and cheeks.

A minute later my feelings of fondness for my son evaporate as Josie is at the back door, desiring to come inside with her prize. Despite the limpness of the “shaggy” little finch in her mouth, wet and broken from the cat’s predation, to my horror I discover it is alive but very badly injured. The cat darts to and fro and clearly wants me to take her kill. I pick up the bird, who is barely moving and only giving a faint gasp now and then, and hold it under water in my sink to drown it. The pulse of the creature lasts a surprising time but it has nothing in itself to struggle. The kids watch intently and Phoenix says, “Mom, you’re crying.” Then: the creature is quiet in my hands. Faint as the gasp was, when life leaves it is obvious. I remember this vividly from watching my father die.

I feel worse about this than makes sense. Only a few seconds after death I think maybe I did the wrong thing. Maybe I should’ve ignored the cat’s attempts inside and let the whole mess take place how it would. Maybe I should’ve taken the bird away and put it somewhere in a darkened shoebox to languish. I did what seemed most merciful at the moment but it didn’t feel good to commit murder.

A few minutes later the kids and I walk the delicate limp creature, wrapped in cotton – and we bury it in the muddy earth. We come inside and make an offering and have a moment of meditation and say a few words. The kids move on. I mostly have, too. Mostly.

I’m also feeling a bit sensitive as for the second time in the last week I talked with a young man in my volunteer work, an alcoholic and an addict. I meet new people in this avocation every week and it’s good work. But sometimes.

You know drugs and alcohol don’t ruin lives. Yes, the disease of addiction causes much suffering. But the lives in the rooms of Recovery aren’t “ruined”. No life is ruined. Even death has its place, although it is very sad to watch a manifestation as beautiful as a human being kill itself. There are so many, many ways to kill ourselves, and some people walk around doing it while they still have a pulse. We kill off ourselves with our Ego, with our addiction. It is breathtaking how many ways there are to do this. All of us are doing it all the time. I am mostly okay with all that – meaning I accept it as an aspect of reality.

But every now and then I run into someone who makes me hurt and I’ve not yet figured out how or why. I know with regards to this young man, although I am not quite old enough to be his mother, it is partly a maternal thing. He is a very beautiful young man, many tattoos, soulful eyes and the most precise manners, the most consideration and kindness. Maybe it’s because I’ve met young men like him before and it’s the sameness. Maybe because I anguish about all those Lost for so long. Why isn’t anyone there for them?

I don’t know why things hurt today, but they did. Really despite pain, I had a wonderful day though. I did my early housework with a great deal of contentment and joy. Then the kids and I were up and about, and they sat through half the meeting at the Treatment Center (usually they don’t, but they were rained out fo the park at first). After their park play we re-met and the three of us had a lovely lunch date. Later in the evening Ralph and I got to work on the house and the kids came in and out. Phoenix had gymnastics class and Nels’ BFF came over for him. It’s almost ten now, and we’re having a late dinner and movie night. Tomorrow I hope to get up to some of the last sewing I’ll be doing in this house. Unlike other times I’ve moved, I’ve felt a fondness and a serenity for the house we’re in these last few days, although I am very much looking forward to our move.

Life is good.

a little bit hopeful / a little bit cold

Scenes from a tender, kid-friendly (and how!), environmentally-conscious, Bahá’í wedding:

Women

Casual

Sculpture

Vows

Ruby Beach

A walk in Hoquiam whereby we saw the Saddest Garage Sale Sign Ever, and met Mustache Cat:

Yes. It Is Closed.

Mustache Cat!

Salsa De Aciete

A trip to Olympia with Nels; a bit of shopping, a shared meal, lots of walking, and a visit with friends:

Nels Wants This Feather Boa

Nels @ The Iron Rabbit, Olympia

I feel so incredibly fortunate not only to have Ralph an extra day of the week (he’s adjusted his work schedule for t he summer), but to enjoy this life more than I have previously. I no longer want to live as a walking dead, always plotting or scheming or planning or holding grudges or resentments or worries or – and this is the hardest one for me – fears. (So many Fears!).

I had a really hard day two days ago but I knew what I had to do, and I did it, and the next day was far better, and today was lovely – and serene.

Finally: today’s cat bullshittery. I wish I had the picture of when I tried to give the fourth (and not-pictured) cat, Harris, a light shower, just real quick (there was a reason, for reals!). Regardless to say he Kicked My Ass. No, he didn’t scratch me, but managed to knock me over and splash me with a quart of water off his filthy back. I technically accomplished my goal but he humiliated me. Here are some other Cat Moments:

Josie

“My coat is soft and lush. No you cannot touch it, Hardly Ever.”

Hamilton

IMPORTANT SLEEPINZ

Mable

Lonely Cat Iz Lonely for Lurve (Yes, she got it.)

Today? Was a Good Day.

the mouse and the bat

Goodness gracious, I’ve had a busy last few days. Some of which I’ve written on, as I’m sure readers will notice, more or less privately. And that’s just that. I cannot share the password at this time: this is for the sake of others, and I promise I do not withhold for creepy reasons. I will have to throw this disclaimer up top of my blog somewhere. I’ll get to it soon – promise.

In the meantime, here are some pictures:

Weird/terrible/oddly fun show in Elma.
Elma

Giving blood. No longer terrified, once the prick-test is done, the needle is in the arm, etc.
Giving Blood

Josie quite helpfully gets so much cat hair on my latest sewn creation. Thanks, Ass.
Thanks

Nels is beautiful.
Pensive

The YMCA lifeguard the other day was so incredibly insensitive, annoying, and – what’s that word when someone seems to get off on enforcing pissant and arbitrary rules? I don’t know. But the kids had fun, and I took a picture of their nudie awesomeness when we were getting ready to go. They really were lovely.
YMCA Nudies

Last night I was able to get away from the family for a bit while Ralph cooked, so I could watch Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend (1945). I cannot get across how much I love this film, most specifically the performance by Ray Milland, an actor who thrills me in every fiber of my being. The film has so many others on the same subject, dead-beat. Everything about it is perfect; it has been called a noir-style (which I frankly do not get) – but the atmosphere, performances, writing, the wardrobes, the theramin-enhanced score, “delirium is a disease of the night”! Ye Gods I wish they still made films like this, most frequently so. Watching these old classics, I think I’m going to have to indulge in my James Mason crush here pretty soon.

And speaking of Milland, I mean – the shortest Oscar acceptance speech on record. He’s just fan-fucking-tastic.

And finally, an announcement: week eleven of the Conch Shell went well; this week the Conch Shell is on hiatus.

who will love you, who will fight?

There’s probably not many other local places that make me feel as depressed as this: a plastic playground sitting fallow and tedious, unused except for a couple sweet toddlers in all pink, the play area sandwiched between a huge, huge new church building and a large and inhospitable baseball field (now clustered with boys and their parents, shiny huge trucks waiting in the gravel). I cannot think of a HQX locale I’d like less to be. This is why it is so great my daughter is entirely thrilled. In fact, she brought me here, wanting to show me this new place. She swings and turns herself upside down, her (newly-cut) hair swinging all blonde floss.

After a bit she comes around the “climbing wall” (just: plastic with little plastic lumps) where I’m propped, fucking around with my phone, and she sits down. “Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?” she asks. Sweet girl. I am struggling, trying not to identify with the sadness in my body and the dark thoughts in my mind, trying to experience Me instead. I put my hands to her head. “I”m sorry I’m not good at playing with you on playgrounds.” She replies, “That’s okay,” her freckles plain and lovely and her voice like clear water. “Maybe I’ll be better someday,” I say, truly wondering. Then I take this picture right then:

Phoenie At The Park

We had a lovely afternoon; I took the kids out, we hit the library, I stopped at two local shops and received gifts from the proprietresses, I bought my daughter a $4 book, I bought a coffee and got a brief date with Jasmine, I saw so many people I love and care about and we talked briefly, the sunshine hit my face and hair and later I got up to handsewing and pricked my fingers and I’m almost done with my current project and tomorrow is Friday and I get Ralph home for the weekend.

Life is okay.

At night, every single night, our kitty Josie gets up in the bed and sleeps as close to me as possible. In the daytime she’s standoffish to us all; except Nels, at whose handshe allows all manner of handling and stroking, and purrs intensely. There’s no accounting for animal behavior sometimes.

also, some typically mediocre mobile uploads

La Espera Por Tacos

(Nels y la espera por tacos)

“Gracias por la ayuda con la lengua,” I tell the fellow as he ducks back through the kitchen with my horchata. Good lord I hope that’s not a double entendre. He smiles and says “De nada”.

By the way, a few minutes after this exchange I was deeply involved with the Best Thing Ever, not just because hunger is the best sauce and I hadn’t eaten all day, but truly these tacos de tijuana (as I think they’re called) are so delicious tears forms in my eyes within the first few bites. They’re full of butter-sauteed shrimp, mozzarella, bacon, garlic, and (usually, but I skipped it) onion. The guacamole is tart with lime, fresh and creamy and with that perfect bite of raw onion (shhh… the only time I eat onion is fresh and on Mexican/South or Central American cuisine)! The horchata cold and sweet, the tomato firm and flavorful and sliced exactly as I would do if I were making it for my favorite ever grandma. Good lord. Just typing about it now I’m reliving it, and I’m only sad I can’t go right back and get another order.

A few minutes later and the boys and I are heading out, carrying a wrapped parcel for Phoenix, enchilada de pollo con todo el parte.

Recently: the weather has swerved back into rainy and grey and dismal (Surprisetown: Population Zero). I’m taking deep breaths at night to quell the anxiety (also: Percocet). Back to my one-day-at-a-time survival work. Finding  “good enough” in my constant self-administered performance review, enjoying the lovely things I have in my life daily.

Which brings me to today’s Hogamoment of Zen: have I mentioned we have four cats? FOUR. Goddamned cats. Ralph spends roughly half his hours buying cat food and litter, also vacuuming. The cats help him out. By doing shit like this:

CAT BULLSHIT

Oh, did you want a closer look?

CAT BULLSHIT CLOSEUP

SNAGGLE TOOTH FOOLISHNESS

Don’t worry. The other chair is being cared for too:

Hammy & Josie

Seriously, kitties, no, please – try and relax. Just try, mmkay? We’re worried about you.

something waits beneath it

Our household is usually such a peaceful and cozy one and never so much than late at night, dishes done and the house tided, the kids (usually) on their laptops or one of the other computers in the house – or like now, playing with clay and reading quietly. Ralph is asleep and so are all the cats; Hamilton in bed up around his neck, Harris under the kids’ easel, Josie on our phonograph, and Mable in a cardboard box Phoenix found today and brought home to fit with towels for this very purpose.

The family is happy and healthy. I am feeling better and drinking (booze) less (yay!). The kids are joyful and content. Ralph suffers a bit as at night he typically stays awake longer than he should (for his sleep’s sake), because he wants to have time with us. As for the kids and I, our night-owlery is something we can afford to do with no ill effects; without a school schedule we are free to pursue the sleep and rest and activity we need.  I am quite surprised to see how different our winter rhythms are than summer was. One of the principal joys of having seasons is appreciating the one you’re in and looking forward to ones to come.

That said, the children don’t seem to mind the gloom and cold, yet this year I do. I wonder why?

A Bath With My Young Son
(Small Stone #5*)

Your skin like velvet
Even in the cold pale of winter,
Rich like coffee and cream.

Small stone project

I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing

So I just have to write this down. Of course.

This afternoon I receive a call and a fellow tells me he saw our fliers around town and he wants to know if there is a reward for the return of our cat. I say, uh well, I guess so, sure, kind of taken aback really. Then he claims he would go look for her and he wanted to know what I was going to offer if he found her.

I KNOW!

I’m gobsmacked. After a beat I ask him well, what do you think your time is worth. He won’t throw out an answer on this and (by now my brain is slowly cranking and I’m figuring he has my little kitty already), I offer him, with kind of amazed laughter in my voice, about half our weekly grocery money. He ups the price twenty percent and I say, Yeah, okay, thank you, and we hung up after he tells me he’s likely to find her.

Yeah, I KNOW!

An hour and a half later he calls again and says me he thinks he has my cat. I was out-of-home but Ralph was primed to make the transaction so I sent him off to do so with instructions.

And lo, it was our cat indeed.

Josie's Home (AKA

Yeah, that Josie. Looking a little off-kilter after five or so days away from home. Who knows where.

Maybe people won’t understand why today – this thing with our little creature – exhausted me, but I’m going to try to write a bit more about the episode then be done. I can think of about three ways this scenario might have gone down. The first is taking the fellow at his word: he bounty-hunts pets and charges for his time. I could spell out the reasons I think this is unlikely. But let me point out, times are fucking hard on the Harbor and that sort of thing is a possibility. There are other potential scenarios ranging from opportunistic to sinister.

What can one say when one is (potentially) scammed? My mom wrote the young man a check so we’ll be getting his name at least (I also have his phone number; adding to the potentially-sketch factor he refused to meet us at his house). Putting a stop on the check is an option but then as Ralph said, “Then who’s the bigger douchebag?” Because you know? We don’t really know what went on.

The whole scenario was bizarre, and now I’m left rather frazzled. For one thing, the anxiety I’ve felt over missing one of our critters has been like a constant tension string and in my very typical fashion, when the cat/child/chicken is safe I have a little breakdown (I’ll be back to normal soon, promise). After the first phone call, to agonize if I would see her today or if it was not her at all and I’d be left to wonder; to feel creeped out by the likelihood someone was using our vulnerability to their advantage. The little kitty is sleeping on a chair a few feet away, a couple scraps of beef in her belly and her fur smelling like strange perfume. And I’m so. SO GLAD. to have her back.

***

This evening J. and I hit Thrift City and, after an incident involving an old-school Argus Mini Palmatic 2 camera that still had film in it (and yeah, it was under $1, so we bought it and I can’t wait to develop it!) and hysterical harpy-laughter and a huge box of MINDWIZARD cards flying all over the aisle, I found the absolutely perfect writing desk. Very sturdy, solid wood, perfect shelf and drawer availability, the ideal height and width, and it amazingly matches my (favorite) overpainted and chipped green chair, and it only smells a LOT musty (ha). Wunderbar!

My Tidy World: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

My favorite things: my “new” (and really, really sturdy and awesome) desk ($15), the smartphone and One Line A Day Five Year Memory Book from Ralph (Christmas gifts), moleskine & papermate (gifts from friends), vinyl purse from Pure Clothing in HQX ($7), silver James Bond-esque cigarette lighter (gift from same friends who gave me the moleskine), and my very trusted, rugged and quickly-headed-downhill Mac named “Balls” (purchased to the dime with an inheritance sum, about five years ago).

I’m very happy about the desk which of course precipitated a reorganization and cleaning of my papers. But my night isn’t near over. I have an incredible mountain of laundry to fold. Don’t worry. I’ll fill you in on every detail.

Partaking Of Love
(Small Stone #3*)

Steaming rice-fried-in-butter
Slowcooked beans and pot roast
At the counter, midnight,
Children warm their bellies

Small stone project

the noise of flowers and the smell of birds

Phoenix bundles up in layer upon layer and fits herself with her new hat and handwarmers and big boots, runs outside and jumps up alongside me in my mother’s truck, slamming the door which is a bit funny and doesn’t shut easily. Her face in the gloaming a freckled and friendly precious entity emitting some kind of ambient light that soothes me into a preternatural calm. We can sit in the car and drive in companionable silence and every second I feel grateful for my time with her and everytime she opens her mouth, I swear she says something so smart. At the grocery store she selects some flowers for her father, campanula get mee in a cool purple with a biodegradable pot. She pushes the cart, leaning on it while with one hand seats a complimentary Safeway cookie; I walk ahead with my moleskine cracked and my mind climbing up and around food needs for the family. For $67 I bring home several days’ worth of food and in the parking lot receive a call from my mother; dinner at her house tomorrow is secured, which means I can sew a little bit more than I’d originally hoped.

Terrible news accompanies us into the new year: our wee kitty Josie has been missing for four days now. The last time we saw her was on the snoopin’ walk I wrote about (and yes, we’ve cased the neighborhood and called animal control and put up fliers). I’m so sick about it I don’t want to think or talk about it as of course, I feel it’s all my fault. I worry so much she’s suffering somewhere. (This is unlikely. She’s either dead with no body evidenced, or has been snatched. Still. I obsess.).

If Josie doesn’t return, 2010 was shit as far as cats were concerned: first the loss of my beloved Blackstone then the mysterious and complete disappearance of Laurence and now this. Never have I had such cat-drama, and I’ve lived with cats all my life and in all kinds of wacky scenarios and alongside highways and in a coyote town and in the middle of the city. But when I think about it I realize for as long as we’ve had animals we’ve never been free of awful or sad or scary things happening (the death of wee little chick Peepteron 1 after my father’s demise; Felix’s possum-murder, Stryker’s mysterious deaththe neighbor’s loose terriers tearing up our chickens on Sumner, my mother’s dog being hit by a car a month ago – in both these latter two incidents the animals survived thank goodness) and really, pet ownership is just that. A deeply meaningful and joyous experience of love and companionship and the value or caring for another being; small triumphs and occasional large, very large, heartbreaks.

I really think my kids have a good perspective and I seek to emulate that.

They Placed 3rd In

And now? for a cold beer, soft bed, and warm husband.

***

Deep Winter
(Small Stone #1*)

Today the landlord didn’t come like he said he would
to fix the sink, electricity, leaking water heater.
We are interlopers in our own home
taking refuge from the cold.
Hanging shabby quilts, taking hot baths;
the bruise on my daughter’s hip faded
perhaps only a false memory

Small stone project

salir a caminar

The rain let up today so I knew we were bound outside for an adventure, or at least a longish walk to who-knows-where, as yet undecided. After all, we have everything we need in-home right now and the days and nights just run together in what feels like oppressive darkness and seaside walks or wooded hikes are almost out of the question as we don’t have the gear unless you can find a day that isn’t rainy and cold and dark and near-miserable. You can imagine today with only a half-a-fuck!-level cold I planned to get out No Matter What even if we had nothing much to do.

As I was toasting homemade pumpernickel (d/l!) and peeling oranges and pouring milk for the tousled-kids’ breakfast, my mother called in and offered to bring us a hot dish for dinner. My evening meal responsibilities shelved, the kids and I brushed teeth and scrubbed faces and bundled up and took to the streets – fine, let’s take back library books and stop at our post office box.  Out the door –

where we were snooped by no fewer than five or six cats as we walked, starting with our own little Josie and continued by a relay-method of curious felines.

JOSIE SNOOP

Phoenie was looking sharp in her new Jack Skellington hat as I continued to fail at phone-picture-taking.

Phoenie Under The Tree

And as always we found lots of little piles of refuse!

Pile Of Refuse

I am old school HQX as I can mess about with the phone while walking in the near dark (you can watch it fall during these pictures) and wetness and treacherous walkways. I need a tag just for the Hoquiam sidewalks because they are jagged and scary and mossy and slick and there are portions dug out entirely and without warning and tonight, a huge stretch along fifth street where the streetlights didn’t work and Nels fell into a cinderblock hole.

Little Ones

As we walked down M street darkness was falling… onto the creepy but cozy weirdness of my childhood home…

Chlidhood Home

Nels navigated the way with his new compass (ala his aunt Jules):

Checking His Compass

And some Christmas lights were still out (yay!).

Christmas Lights

I suspect my liittle mobile camera uploads will continue to improve – I’m new to this. But I figure if I can make my $100 point-and-click shoot pretty good shit for this journal, I can do it on the camera. App hunting is actually not too much fun for me, but a necessary business I suppose.

At the library we were (literally) hugged and kissed by one of our librarian friends and the kids played and chatted while I turned in books and picked up holds. Our library is awesome in that they are very kid-friendly and inclusive and we have a great regional system. It was dark as hell when we left but I turned on some music and the kids sang our way home through the chill.

You’re welcome, west-side Hoquiam.