on a walk

My daughter, my mother, my dog, and I walk together along the moss-rich gravel road. My son and his friend trail us, deep in conversation. Suddenly that blood-chilling cry echoes out, a sound every mother knows. A scream of pain tore from the depths. I turn and my son is running towards me at speed. “Mama, Mama I’m hurt! I fell! I tripped! My hand is hurt!” Nels is eight now, but his cries have the same element of rawness I recognize from my first days of knowing him.

I don’t run to him or even move; I wait and collect myself. It never doesn’t hurt, witnessing the pain of one’s child. I wait in this cold sunshine, next to my own mother, and my son runs for me. I hold Nels close when he arrives into my arms. I inspect his hand; it is raw and bruised, and looks as if it has encountered a nasty sharp rock. I brush off his hand carefully, and I tell him that his hand saved his face from being cut. I wipe his tears and kiss him.

Instantly, he has stopped crying. Only a moment before he was wailing aloud. Now he’s thinking about his hand and his scuffed knee and how they protected him. He calms and his hazel eyes are deep in the storm of thought. He is now calm because he ran to me in distress, trusting I would save him, and I saved him.

This sort of thing happens everywhere, everyday, in a myriad of ways, with children and their mothers all over the world. Why do we not acknowledge what a miracle it is, and how deeply we needed, or still need, this mother?

winter comes early

Neighborhood

I step out onto the sidewalk where my son holds our dog and I see Nels has been crying. He throws his head back and howls in utter remorse for the joke he’d made a few seconds before I’d disappeared into the shop. The witticism wasn’t an especially good one (it involved a naughty pun on the word “cock”) and I’d frowned. Apparently my son was stricken after having a few moments alone with his thoughts while I took care of some business. Now, reunited, he cries. Hot tears flow down his cheeks and he tells me he embarrassed and ashamed and he vows to never go to a certain website again.

I hold his hand and we cross the street. I ask him, “Why do you need me to like all the things you like?” and he cries some more, says something muffled. I realize he’s probably hungry and I say, “Can we talk about it more over lunch honey?” His tears dry up, but his face bears the indelible marks of weeping in cold weather.

Dutch

He is the very very center of my heart.

***

Indoors; cold outside.

Pet Portrait, By Nels

Pet Portrait, By Nels

Nels, Pensive

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.

verily my mind hath been blown

Today I was ill, in only one regard I can identify: I slept so incredibly poorly last night, not falling asleep until long after sun-up. So I put one foot in front of the other, literally, once I got up. I walked as much as I could. I walked with my kids and dog downtown on business- and pleasure-errands. I walked with my kids and dog (and one other child) to a meeting, then back. I made some food and did some chores and rested and watched a made-for-TV movie.

A bit ago Nels calls me from the bathtub, because he does not like being alone when it’s nighttime. I go in and sit down and he’s floating in the bath in the warm red light of the bathroom and he’s beautiful. So in a minute he tells me his penis is like a boat, bobbing in the water like a raft, and he does these little ocean-waves with his hand. Then: “What’s on the raft… a germ?” he asks. I’m like, Yeah, imagining a little germ with a captain’s hat standing like a coxswain on (what would be to the germ) a massive penis raft. And Nels says, “Two germs and a flea…” (we’ve had horrid flea problems with the new dog, which are finally abating thanks to a kindhearted-soul’s donations to our family) then while I’m still thinking on this ludicrous image Nels sits up very serious and says, “Can fleas see germs?”

CAN FLEAS SEE GERMS, this seems entirely reasonable. Holy shit, it’s like, I have been high a few times in my life, but my kids come up with these questions and/or observations straight-up sober, and pretty much any time you have a conversation with them.

Tonight is night two in a row of children camping in the backyard. A neighbor child D. is over here whenever he can be. He stayed last night, ate a great deal of food here today, and is staying tonight. I really would take him in and raise him but you’re not allowed to make those kind of overtures where I come from. So instead it’s like, I have this extra little guy with me. I wonder how he’ll remember our family. I wonder what the future has in store.

Today Phoenix and I are walking with the dog while the boys trail behind us. And I say, “I think D. has a crush on you,” and she says, “Obviously,” and flicks the dog to attention and bangs on the button for the crosswalk lights. OBVIOUSLY, spoken with a thousand percent aplomb. She really kills me.

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

hutch

"Hutch" Hogaboom

We have a new addition. He weighs 109 pounds.* I’m hoping he loses a bit of it. But anyway, he is hilariously large. Like, this picture you think, “Oh kinda big.” You should meet him.

And now? Time for second-walkies of the evening.

"Hutch" Hogaboom

* Nope. Actually, 120, as of today’s weighing. Yikes.

riverfronts & parks

I meet E. about a year ago now. A highly intelligent young man, at one time gainfully employed but when I meet him, reduced to jobless couch-surfing. E. is polite and well-mannered. But he is also depressed, angry, private, and resentful. He calls me, drunk, a little time after we’d got to know one another. This is before I knew the whole, about ten percent of alcoholics get recovery business. This is back when I thought people would get sober and stay sober. Before I knew how common relapse was. Before I knew how many people could die pretty quick instead of kinda slow (average age of alcoholics, 52). If you didn’t know already, I come from that whole, “kinda slow” crowd of family and friends. Long lives of denial then pre-cognition and ugly, ugly alcoholic behavior into retirement age or older.

Anyway a year ago E. is talking and talking and telling me he’s sure no one in our program of Recovery gives a shit about him. I remember taking slight umbrage to that statement. I told him for one thing he never talked or shared in group (“I’ll just listen today”, day after day), so some people might be letting him be private, thinking that was his preference. I also told him it was unfair for any of us to hold others accountable to anything when we haven’t made ourselves vulnerable and shared what is bugging us, within a setting of accountability. Yeah, that’s right. Because here’s the thing most people don’t want to admit, no one is responsible to read your mind. And if you’re honest in sharing your thoughts and feelings, you run the risk of having some feedback. Maybe stuff your Ego doesn’t want to hear. Imagine that.

I’ve spent the last year being as kind as I could to this young man E., giving rides now and then, but mostly just the odd conversation or hug. He didn’t seem particularly interested in my friendship, and I respected that. And you know, a year ago I thought he was at the end of his rope, and ready to admit defeat. I was wrong. Because I’ve watched him deteriorate in a way I couldn’t have guessed at. The details are not ones I’ll go into here.

Today he calls while I’m on the way somewhere, and I can’t tell if he’s sober or not. He asks for gas money to pool so he can go to a new town and work. This request is kind of surprising as he’s never so much as directly asked for a ride but I figure maybe he’s taking advice, asking for help while sober, before drinking. Now this isn’t the kind of help I give everyone, but I have a nice little series of simple guidelines to go by when asked something like this. Don’t rob myself, don’t rob my family, then give help when asked, and whatever happens it’s none of my business. I tell him I’ll check in with my husband and I’ll call him after my appointment. He tells me he’s going to pay me back. I laugh and tell him to pay it forward. I think of how many people I’ve seen doing just that.

After I pick up some cash from Ralph I have a few minutes to think about it and I figure E. is probably drunk. A while later I meet him, with a “friend” up at the park. They’re ostensibly playing frisbee, but they’re really just waiting for money. I can tell they’ve been drinking and/or using. E.’s walk to my car is that of a doomed man. He doesn’t want to walk to my car and take money and put it in a bottle, but he has no choice. I know this. I get it. He gets to my car door. Now a few minutes before I’d been unhappy about meeting E. and a friend alone, even though we’re in a public place. I know he’s capable of assault while drinking, even if I’ve shown nothing but kindness I am not immune.

But when I see him up close every thought I had flies out my mind. His face is flushed but his whole body is too. I have never seen so much shame suffused in someone’s face. He takes the cash and he pauses and the kind of crying I’m seeing is like nothing I’ve ever seen. He looks at me and we look in one another’s eyes. I say, “Good luck.” Then, “take care.”

And I drive off.

Alcoholism is an ugly disease; also, water is wet.

***

Later in the day the kids and I take the car to get the brakes fixed. I hadn’t planned on dropping the vehicle off today, but my brake pad parts got in to the shop. I hadn’t planned, this means I hadn’t set up a ride home. The kids and I walk the two miles home. I feel okay about not bumming bus fare from their piggybanks, as they’re perfectly happy to walk, and it’s nice for me too.

Sumner Avenue is a drag to walk on, only because the highway traffic is loud and there are no significant trees to muffle the noise. The three of us pass overgrown lawns and step over mossy cracked sidewalks. Finally the riverbank, scotchbroom and dandelion and poppy and vetch.We see a harbor seal in the river, delighting the children. My kids take turns holding my hand and they put their arms around me. They’re so tall now I only have to bend a little to smell the sunshine in their hair.

Nels says, “When I get older I want my mom to buy me a housssse… with a million kitties and a baby alligator, and they all stay in different rooms and no one trespasses. And a bunch of trained wasps. And a WOLF!”

just fine / bling-blong!

Check the coat.

Wollen Jas Blauw, Nels

You wanna know more about the coat? You can read about it here. My Flickrstream contains many pictures and construction details. I’m happy to share any tips or advice on making one; the pattern inspiration is originally a size 6 months to 5T and good for beginners (if said beginners are cool with asking questions – the directions are quite sparse). I’m thinking about making up a smaller version in a poly fleece. So if you’ve got a size in the toddler region, and an initial, I can make the test garment up FOR YOUUUUUUUU

***

We had a walk today out at Bowerman Basin, as we’ve done many times before. On the way we got talking about survivalist strategies which of course (because we’re weird) soon got to cannibalism and whose body would be most practical to consume. It was all fun and games and laughs until:

Nels’ eyes fill with tears and his cheeks flush. “Mama isn’t even one pound of delicious MEAT!” he yells, suddenly very upset.

"They're Not Fightin'"

I will not bore you with how many million times Nels and Phoenix wanted us to take pictures of the insect life they found. You can check my Flickrstream for an extremely truncated photo series. Bugs this, bugs that. Hey look I found another bug! REALLY.

Nels + Bug

Salmonberry Blossom (I Think?)

Ralph, Tree

Beetle (more bugs)

A little time perspective out at the boardwalk. Today, 2012:

Kiddos, Bowerman Basin

Laughter

2010:

Lurve 4

2008:

They Do Science
(That last picture is in August… Nels will be blonding up again accordingly.)

At home, a work station – just before finishing the facing back of bound buttonholes, and sewing on all eleven buttons:

Evening, Workspace

then I got to listen to a lot, a LOT, of Lowellian cursing

Brrr!

By the time I’d walked a mile in an absolutely wet, windy, and rainy blizzard through piles and piles of snow, and waited and waited and waited for a bus, and given up after making phone calls and texting and other plans, while huddling wet and cold against the icy brick contemplating a plan, and realized I’d be unable to make my meeting, and finally gave up and headed home,

I admit, by then I felt a few tears rise in my throat. I mean after all the whole business was about two hours exposure without relief (yes, in light of certain anniversaries today, I know I am whinging, big time). And what was funny is to think as I first set off through the snow, I was wondering if maybe taking a few hours out of my day to make one meeting where a solid half the clients are nodding out from Suboxone, and I thought maybe I’m a fool, maybe I’m wasting my time. Well it seems the Universe was beating me into humility because after all that I didn’t even make it. Well, the Universe isn’t so unkind, I guess – it was my choice, I could either re-learn humility or just be pissed and cramped. I elected the former.

But at the beginning of the “adventure” I had a nice walk with Ralph. Our gonads were frozen solid by the time we got to the barren comfort of overhead shelter:

FROZEN

(Given GH Transit wait times the “No Loitering” sign seems a bit… ironic.)
(Actually, as previously discussed, I’m unsure what “irony” really is. Yes, I’ve looked it up.)

Ralph ran across the way to grab me a coffee; he went by himself in case the bus came by and I missed my opportunity. This was back when I had a backup plan of sipping the coffee and holding it close for warmth, while I waited. Back before he’d left and I’d gone on to wait an hour before a bus came, a bus that wouldn’t have gone near my destination, meaning there would be no time for me to make my appointment, and I had to give it all up. Yes, back when I was so naive. I had a lot of growing up to do.

Ralph Ventures To Get Me Coffee

I was bundled up well but the rain had soaked my jeans and that was my downfall. Wet jeans. Holy Shit.

So I eventually went home and the exercise, plus the high of dodging scary drivers sliding on ice, worked off my aforementioned upset.

And then after I got home it took a long, long time to warm up. I watched Reel Injun while waiting to feel my face again.

 
Then I watched The Fighter (although I’d already seen it a year ago) while finishing up the details on the last homesewn item for the upcoming magazine spread.

Several kids came and went, wet and getting fed and getting re-dressed in dry clothes. We washed and dried and hung things up. Ralph made a lovely dinner of turkey sliders on homemade buns, yellow tomato and avocado dressing with lemon, carrot sticks, and potato chips, and we fed whatever children ran through the house.

Then we set up all the outdoor stuff to dry in time for more snow adventures tomorrow.

Boots Upon Boots

up to lately

NEPO

The morning after the storm, such as we have, it’s raw and wet and tiny bits of detritus (and larger pieces of tree branches). Everything is wet, I mean soaked, and there’s a raw feel to the air.

I’d know the experience anywhere. I love it.

We kept warm and snuggly. I find a storm outside quite peaceful, especially given I’m inside, fed, safe, cared for by and loving up on dear family. I continue as much outdoor walking as is possible and practical, in between car errands and volunteer work the next town over.

Also:

Cake Of The Olden Gods

A cake involving sour cream and coconut cream and heavenly awesomeness. This was engineered from me in the hospital bed, and made by Ralph. He tried again the other night – but kept checking on the cake and it flattened. Don’t worry, we’ll keep trying for the original awesomeness.

Chilly Weather Party

We also recently had a small party with friends and lots of kids who ran around and yelled and played. It was good times. I made taco soup from scratch – no cans, home-roasted chiles, lots of TLC.

Friendly

Kiddos awaiting good eats in our favorite local restaurant. Nels in his new cap and his fishermans sweater, the latter knit by our friend Tammy from Jackson St. Books on 7th.

Some Kinda Houseplant

I desire to make new houseplants for friends. I know I need to do something with these little baby strands. I hate the idea of failing. Help?

& They Are SOOOO Good

a la taquería, for a change.

Mable Cannot Get Enuf Love

Mable. Cannot get enough love. (note silly tongue-extension)