Little Bird Of Fiercest Flight

She's Irritable

Phee

Happy Smiles

I bend to Phoenix’s ear at the fabric cutting counter and say, sotto voce: “Your hair looks greasy.”

“Who cares,” she airily replies, leaning forward on her elbows. “Certainly not me.”

My daughter is incredible. She’s like that friend you loved dearly, that girl you wanted to be. She’s smart and kind and beautiful and has a distinctive style of her own. Her toes are dirty at the end of the day but she is circumspect and loving. She makes her brother chocolate milk and she fetches me coffee if she sees my cup is empty.

She draws ferocious monsters, pages and pages and notebooks full of them, not a one alike, but then she gives me a backrub while we’re driving. She stays up late with me and looks into domestic foxes so we can have one who sleeps on her bed. She pulls her brother and the neighborhood boy D. in a giant wagon but when they horse around too much for her taste she says, “Sit. Down.” in this sharp voice mama-familiar that causes Ralph and I to look at one another, side-eye.

She takes the last bit of cash on her today and buys me fancy cookies.

Home and she takes her pumpkin up on the table and gets modelling clay and makes an “evilly-smiling” face, with a huge wound exposing his brain and a knife sticking out the other side. She makes this up in about five minutes. I’ll post a picture tomorrow. It’s awesome.

She puts on a horrible documentary about vicious parasites that wreak havoc on human beings. She says, “I’ll bet the next stage in the parasite’s life cycle is a snail.” To my minor astonishment this is true. I say, “How did you know that?” And she says, flatly, almost – almost – rudely, “Research.”

Clipped tone.

Like, how the fuck you think I know that.

These are all just like, a few things I remember over the last few days.

She heals up every way I wasn’t raised right.

Apple

Phee

Hutch Likes The Dog Park

Phoneix, At The Bay

amid verdant plains watered by wide streams, one inhales the purest air of heaven

Hutch & Phee

I stop and stare down at the trail. “What kind of ass leaves a cigarette butt on the ground in a public park?”

“A Deluxe Premium Ass?” my daughter suggests helpfully.

You know, in case I’d forgotten I was walking with the most AWESOME AND FUNNY PERSON ON THE PLANET.

It is not possible for me to accurately photograph, describe, or render in poetry and prose how wonderful, green, and alive it is here – year round. Our weather is perfect. Amazing. It is wet and grey and cold a lot for a big part of the year. But even that is incredibly cozy and alive and real. And all around the calendar, it is so crisp and beautiful and green. Just: greener than life.

Greenery

Fungi

Scarred & Burned

On the trail, some signs of human interference. “Courtney [heart]’Z Penis”:

"Courtney <3'Z Penis"

My daughter manages a small trickle of a stream:

Crossing

Hutch waits patiently. He ran a lot today. He loved being in the woods with us.

Bridge

Later: my friend C. has a big milestone today. I love her very much. I reflected for a couple days on what kind of thing I could buy her, or write for her, or make. Today I fashioned a loaf of the challah I knew she enjoyed and wrapped it fresh out of the oven, with a homemade card and my blessing.

For C.

Tomorrow: yoga, a visit to a museum. Maybe. We will see! Let not our plans get in the way of our life.

out in semi-seclusion / LOLspeak

This might seem counterintuitive, but if you’re planning a vacation may I suggest TAKING my kids with you? I am entirely serious. They are simply delightful. Since getting here they’ve been spending all their time swimming (with or without clothes – Nels just came in from the twilight, stark naked and grinning with all his teeth splayed, and announced “I went skinny dipping!”), boating, fishing, and eating. They are even forgetting to snuggle, until very late in the day (sob!). They are 100% agreeable 100% of the time, and say “thank you” for everything – when we help them with a fishhook, when we make them cocoa, when we serve them food, when we hang up a towel to dry. Just “thank you”, thank you thank you.

At dinner tonight we sit around an outdoor fire and Ralph brings plates heaped with food to the kids’ adirondack chairs and Nels crows how he is being treated like royalty (coming out a bit later I hear him courtly-like, addressing his sister as “my princess”). As we dine, both children discuss the food and how wonderful it is. “The grilled pork is hot and also delicious!” Nels beams at his sister. They are so happy and I feel so grateful for their presence.

Only a few years ago I found vacations a bit stressful as it seemed so much work was involved – packing and planning, managing the kids’ safety and their food and their behavior and their clothes. Over time I’ve come to trust the process of kid-growing, and rely less on my own efforts, egoic desires, and manipulation schemes. In time I came to believe a lot of my “management”, specifically with regards to behavior and manners, was likely counterproductive – although in my defense all this effort was entirely well-intentioned and was forged in response to very real cultural and familial pressures. Mostly these days I notice I have a parenting hangover. My state of constant vigilance left me exhausted and oddly less effective than I might have been. Water under the bridge; I know. But I write it here to let you know, if you’re raising young children you can learn from MY mistakes – you don’t have to make your own.

But despite my errors, and Ralph’s as well, the children have grown into amazing human beings. Two people I’d rather spend time with than anyone else. That’s pretty wonderful.

Today’s vacation photographs courtesy of Nels:

Self-Portrait, Top

Self-Portrait, Toes

My daughter and our kitty:

Phee + Hamilton

Phoenix fishes. She’s already put a solid 8 hours in. She is very patient. It would be really cool if someone who knew how to fish, would take her somewhere where you can catch fish.

Phee Fishes

Hamilton. Very pleased with herself:

Hamilton Is Pleased

And a few pictures from me. First – the laundromat in Shelton today. Is it just me or is that woman only pretending to read a newspaper, for God-knows-why reasons? & yes, Nels is wearing a sailor’s cap.

Laundrymat

Laundrymat

Paddling in the duck boat, a weird little craft we’ve had around here forever.

Kiddos Paddling, Perfect Balance

Another lovely day.

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.

everyone becomes a poet

The other day in the lightning storm things got dicey, and Phee and I figured we might not make it out of there. So my daughter says, “I have to tell you something,” and tells me a secret about a boy. AND I JUST ABOUT DIED FROM THE ADORABLENESS, that she told me this because she thought we might perish together in the car, meeting our demise in a storm. And no, I haven’t told anyone the secret. Not the one. Not even her father.

So today she came home and showed me a bracelet she’d been gifted, engraved with the word, “LOVE”. And I asked if it was from the boy in question, and she said Yes. When she later asked me to fasten it around her wrist, I asked how that all went down and she said, “He kinda threw it on the ground and said I should have it.”

So, at their age. That sounds about right.

My kids made a cake today while I was busy; it wasn’ t quite finished baking at 1:40 PM when they were due for their dentist appointments. They biked down there and I finished things up and joined them. And seeing their little bikes all parked and them taking care of their dentist shit. It’s pretty awesome.
 

dentist

Being a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It has pieced back everything good and blessed of my humanity.

We have a busy few days. I’m making a birthday snack for a friend tomorrow; we’re hosting a band for dinner and a friendly tour or two of HQX. The kids are featured in an art show opening this week. And I get to make my other commitments including daily walking the dog a few miles.

It’s all good stuff; I hope to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. I need to slow down and expand my prayer life. Here’s hoping I remember, tomorrow morning.

something you’ll feel comfortable wearing

Today is my husband’s thirty-fifth birthday. It’s kinda cool because it also represents a tipping point in years – Ralph and I have known one another longer than we’ve NOT known one another. We were attracted to one another when we first met – in church! – at age seventeen. I’m not going to lie, a few shenanigans resulted, mainly because I was kinda slutty. But then I left him alone and we remained friends for a few years while I went ahead and dated a handful of other people, okay maybe more than a handful (02:01). We were back together at age twenty-one and had our first child at age twenty-five. A decade after becoming parents together and I can tell you he’s probably the best investment I’ve made, although he likely doesn’t fully realize this.

Rock Star. In Dockers.

This Is Bullsh*t

Ralph Watches The Competition

If you read here or know me and my family at all, you know Ralph is: considerate, sweet, funny, intelligent, and talented. He is an ethical, hard-working, and interesting human being. He is handsome and energetic. He has tremendous reserves of sincerity and humor.

If you read here or know me and my family at all, you know he’s a playful and devoted husband and a wonderfully fierce father. He’s a loving friend and he’s well-loved. Everyone’s day is a little better for having him in it, and I wish more people told him so.

I hope if you see him, you tell him Happy Birthday. You can email him too (ralph AT hogaboom DOT org) and celebrate his special day a bit.

halfway to what what we typically consider legal emancipation

I tell my daughter, “Even though you’re only ten you’re already smart enough to take care of yourself. But you get to live with us as long as you like until you want to go off on your own.”

She nods. She fully understands. I turn my face to traffic so she can’t see tears in my eyes.

She walks the huge dog like a champ. Her shoulders back and her little chest up. She walks the dog like a boss. LIKE A GODDANMED BOSS. She is my heart.

Hutch & Phee

you know our kids are huge now but still curl up on our laps, at home & in public

Phoenix = "Rockstar Pirate Witch"

There is something indefatigable about an intimate family life, something most beautiful when things are darkest, or most absurd. It’s like, the cynic in me, the girl-then-woman raised in a “militant agnostic” home (my father, anyway), some of the reasons I’ve written here for years is an attempt to communicate what it’s like to live my experience. The more I’ve written, the easier it flows, and the happier I feel. I mean often I don’t even think how valuable or interesting this might be to others, I’m just compelled to try to tell you about it if you want to read. I think there’s a lot to gain in relating to one another.

But yeah, there are these great moments in a family that are kind of … terrible moments. Like yesterday while we drove out to a birthday party, with three kids packed in the back of the car, one kid holding a cake and another a cat in a carrier (for a “pet show” of sorts), and suddenly the cat starts puking. Like you can really hear the chunkage, back there. And then there’s this sudden silence from three previously-rowdy kids and my daughter silently rolls down the window and somberly says, “You in the front: you’re lucky.” I mean I felt terrible for my kitty – who ceased vomiting upon arrival, only hours later to start up again as soon as we got back in the car – but it was one of those deliciously ridiculous FAILmoments that is best experienced with those you love, love, love.

Cake and birthday wishes. An honor to share them with others:

Birthday Cake

“Pet contest”, Harris was given special consideration for his sadness. Those are my two kids at left in the eared-hats.

Harris Really Wasn't Feeling Well

Life has been lovely the last couple days. Today I’m having another painful series of episodes with my kidneys. That is never encouraging. I have accepted my illness in full (except for one nagging caveat, see below), and I am grateful for these repeated bouts of pain as they have taught me a great deal about acceptance. These experiences have also taught me a great deal about unconditional love, to wit: I receive it from many of my friends, and all of those in my close family.

Having this ailment has taught me a lot about humility.

I know it seems like I wouldn’t have anything good to say about a supposedly zero-sum illness, but I do. Still, sometimes the remnants of denial rear their head. I keep thinking, Why me? (not out of self-pity, just a genuine bit of confusion), or thinking, any minute I’ll be “cured” and this won’t be happening any more. Still, these are only blips on my radar, persistant as they are. To the extent I am serene and genuinely grateful through such a puzzling experience, I can put that at the feet of first my alcoholism and then my resultant experience in Recovery.

I know I’m going to learn more about why I’m sick in this way – if not the nuts and bolts or a scientific explanation – and one day I’ll be able to tell you, Why Me.

***

By the way. In honor of Father’s day I’m re-linking a couple posts about my father’s influence on my life (and my thoughts on his death), recent writings if you didn’t see them the first time around. If you have seen them, apologies for redundancy. I didn’t need to write another piece, so soon, and I didn’t make time to write one about Ralph or any other fathers in my life.

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.”

One of the first things that happened this morning when I got my shit together, I open the door to let some kitties in while holding a hot cup of coffee. Up looks Josie, her perfectly-lovely little white paws very dirty from soot (WTF chimney-sweep), and cupped around some tender prey – an odd rat/mouse-like creature. I rushed the cat off and found the rat/mouse wasn’t too quick on his or her feet. He/she was very wet but looked intact. I huddled him into a box with fleece and sent out a tweet asking for any advice.

I like being an at-home worker. I like waking up too early with my son, getting laundry done and making up some hot breakfast cereal, then taking a bath with him (“I love you so much mama… more than anything”), and huddling back to sleep a few more hours. I enjoy being able to write, sew, rest, do housework, play with kids, or participate in Recovery – on more or less my own schedule and that of friends and family. I like being available for those who need help, family, friends, and people I just met and may never see again.

I enjoy even the simple task of grocery shopping and then buying my kids that chocolate milk at Lunch, the version the owner always makes extra-fancy for Nels (like – ridiculously fancy). I enjoy taking Phee in to the doctor’s (diagnosis: swimmer’s ear, probably from the several times a day the kids went swimming in an overly-chlorinated pool at LIG) and watching my little girl manage her own health plan. I enjoy seeing people in the community and having the time to talk with them, and make eye contact.  I like living in my body, in the rain and the lovely strains of the radio, instead of living in my head.

I really and truly and deeply love this kind of stuff. This year marks the ninth I’ve been at home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

By the way, the little rodent was all dry and very spry later in the day, so we released him/her without further assistance. We also dipped Josie’s sooty-paws in some water so she’d feel compelled to do some self-hygiene. She remained, as ever, bitterly composed with that moderately-irritated expression on her face.

transit of Venus

Transit Of Venus

I’m incredibly grateful for the life I live. Tonight I got to see something that won’t happen again until 2117. If it wasn’t for my son and his interest in celestial objects, I would have never tried.

Transit Of Venus

Ralph made such a fuss about not standing in the line of the eyepiece that my eight year old Nels was very concerned he might get burnt, or go blind. He didn’t want to stand anywhere near that eyepiece, and was frightened when I took this photo.

Ten year old Phoenix has ice cream on her face, from the ice cream truck that came by. She is relaxed and smiling. She’s also mere days away from losing the one little cap on her teeth I allowed a crumbly dentist to install. She’s reassuring her brother in this picture.

Life is a lovely gift.

Flowers:

Shrine, Flowers

Kitties:

Ralph & Cohorts