Haunted Hoquiam

From today’s foray into downtown Trick-or-Treating:

TONIC

What’s not to like about Halloween? Such a creative and fun holiday, and one I enjoy more and more each year. This afternoon I was underfed and tired, but I still had a great time seeing all the kids out and snapping pictures.

Baby's Not Right

A mutant baby designed by artist Robin Moore. She always has a lot of great stuff at the Guild. Today I was super-distracted with this-and-that and didn’t get a good photo-blog of the art here, but the good news is they keep making pieces more and more.

Emerson Manor Not-So-Spooky Haunted Candy House

At Emerson Manor, just one spooky detail in a very spooky lobby. This low-income apartment building is a pleasure to visit, most especially during holidays. They had a lot of witches this year!

Friendly Witches At The Emerson Manor

Sweeties with sweets.

NYAN CAT

Nels as NYAN CAT. Yes, he had a little iPod setup playing the song. It was a big hit around town. It is also super-super-super warm and needs to end up with a little fan somewhere COLD.

Darth Vader

This fella. Doing the same thing he did last year! Big comedy.

Creepitude!

My mom, at my request, breastfeading the aforementioned Mutant Baby. By the way the Guild has three phallic art pieces in the foyer. WINNING

Comely Wench + Real Live Parrot

A lovely lass with her bird. I’ve decided I wish I could be the Patron Saint of Cleavage, because I am just so fond of it.

At The Guild

More art by Robin M., if I’m not mistaken.

Tinkerbell Didn't Make It

But – sad to say, Tinkerbell didn’t make it.

(here are the pictures I took today, a handful of which I did not post here)

and not pieces of gold and silver

So, health problems. I am so fortunate to have friends and family who care and who ask and who offer to help me. I am determined to learn how to graciously accept these offers, when appropriate. That is one thing I may stand to learn from this process, as well as a few other potential lessons.

I am frightened at the possible prognosis for my health difficulties. The couple people who knew a few details after the ER visit tell other people some stuff, to my somewhat-dismay, but I’ve only divulged to my brother every bit I know so far, including the details from yesterday’s appointment with the specialist/surgeon. For the time being I’m not super-interested in sharing. You know there was a time not too recent I’d feel I owed it to anyone who asked, to tell them everything. Not so, any more.

BY THE WAY, the visit with the specialist/surgeon was a discrete joy in what has been a slightly out-of-body experience. He was like someone drew a really Handsome & Distinguished Doctor, then made a cartoon about him, then adapted a live-action movie of the cartoon. We had a consultation in his largeish office which included “many leather-bound books”, and etched-glass awards for being amazing in his field, and he was at a big desk listening to some smooth-ish jazz and typing away on the laptop and airily but I assure you professionally dismissing some of the questions I asked, the ones where my nails were digging into the chair arms.  He had a direct gaze, firm handshake, knew his arena of expertise (far as I could tell), and carried an impeccably-polished mien. Later in an exam room he joshed with his assistant while trying to casually put hands all up in my business, unfortunately I couldn’t hear their conversation because everything turns to white noise when I’m subjected to this kind of thing, necessary though it may occasionally be.

I step out into the fall weather with the kids, or today on my way downtown on my own. I’m grateful for the solace of meditation and walking, two activities that are very helpful to me, especially now. I’m grateful too for my family who is very strong and very loving. For the friends I saw today and the friend who’s coming to dinner tomorrow and for the sister who visits. For the chocolate ganache I made up in the kitchen and the “extra” children we had in our home. For the warmth of new boots and a car to drive and the way my body, most of my body anyway, feels alive. I am grateful for time in the pool today with friend and my own children, enjoying an afternoon swim and the feel of the water hugging my body and the experience of hot and cold and shower tile and back into jeans and my favorite hoodie. I am grateful for juice my husband buys just for me, and for my son’s loving and open nature as he asks if he can take a flower from the bouquet he bought me, and bring one to a neighbor girl, and then later tonight when he brings me a bowl of fruit, and then a glass of water.

I am grateful for knowledge to be patient with myself as I learn how to live. What a gift life is to me, not to be spent but to breathe in, “As it is,” and breathe out: “As it is”.

it starts in my belly / then up to my heart

One of life’s many pleasures for me is stretching out for a run, or one might not even be able to call it a run, as I am just now training again and I am slow-slow-slow. But soon I have a good sweat worked up and my body feels great and the blues are bluer and the greens are greener. A fellow in maitenance, working with two others putting football lines on the high school field, when I pull up to the track at a fair clip on the bike, he says, “Looks like you’re getting some exercise before getting some exercise.” He’s got long white hair and a big white beard and he’s skinny in work jeans and how I miss my father so much.

Another wonderful pleasure is later, slipping into a hot shower after a run and then pouring coffee. The kids wake up just as I’m about to duck out and join my sister for coffee (she’s heading back to Portland today) and Nels comes along. He and I both enjoy a toasted Everything bagel with cream cheese, some Superfood juice, and I sip coffee while he plays YouTube on my phone so Jules and I can talk (and talk and talk and talk). Afterwards he and I hit the store (pears, banana, pasta, a Hemplers’ ham) and I come home and make fresh vegetable soup for the kids and soon I need to rest as we’ve a dinner guest coming over at seven. After a simple dinner of Ralph’s creation (chicken piccata, roasted cauliflower, spinach and pea salad) we grownups take a walk over the scary clumpy sidewalks and pick up ice cream and talk to the Night People along the way; my mom picks up the kids for a date at her house, and Phoenix stays over. I’m seated on the porch and she comes and holds me and kisses me because she knows I’ll miss her but she knows she’s coming back. Her body feels lovely and substantial in my arms and her little boychick head of spiky hair smells divine.

Two days ago, for $10, I bought myself a lightweight jacket to wear on bike rides or running, and a $5 3-pair sock set. This tiny amount of self-care is harder for me than others may realize, but once done, I feel the better for it. Sometimes I think I should make a list entitled “self-respect” and see what I’d do for myself if I cared as much for my own body and heart and mind as I do for others. It’s a work in progress.

cemetery walk

Edit: apparently my template designer had a flaw in the code which was being exploited. Some readers have commented on problems with my site. Hopefully all is fixed as of a few re-installs today!

A couple weeks ago my kids found a trail that even I didn’t know about despite years of climbing about on trails in Hoquiam; this particular path wound from the north area of our burg up to a rather forgotten corner of the cemetery. Nels and I ventured out the other day when I couldn’t get out of my head and needed time with my son. The heat was oppressive – for me at least, but The Boy didn’t seem to mind.

Nels, Cemetery

(The bag Nels packed carries compass, water, and a magnifying glass. He picked up some “seeds” along the way, items he found at the base of a few trees.)

18 Year Old, 8 Year Old

A grave of an eighteen year old and an eight year old, different dates of death. Siblings, cousins? I don’t know. Spooky memorial ducks, though.

Olde

Some of the graves were very old…

Illegible

And several were rather illegible, although a rubbing would probably reveal their text.

Forgotten Graves

Many graves are sliding down the hillside. In the upper-left corner of the photo you see a dark tab-like shape,  just one of the many graves hidden in the flora.

Infant Grave, Sliding Down Hillside

A baby’s grave (“Infant dau. of: W.H. & Rose Dubray”), also ill-tended and I suppose forgotten although at some point in a few lives this event must have eclipsed an entire state of being.

Gordon's Dead.

“Gordon’s dead,” Nels is informing me flatly in this photo. I supressed laughter and explained the name was likely a surname, the stone marking a plot for a family.

Beetle

Nels caught a beetle and really wanted me to take a picture. He was quite tender with the creature; he can catch insects without harming them, even very quick ones.

***

The whole family has been working hard for an event tonight: a friend’s birthday party. The “theme” is 60s Karaoke and the food is Mexican/American potluck. It’s going to be a fabulous time. The guest list keeps growing but hey, that’s okay.

Serve God, love me and mend

It’s been suggested to me I should build a sense of humility by doing “inconspicuous good deeds”. It’s a really good idea. Today I took a few friends’ kiddos for a walk, then dinner and a bonfire; and while cooking I got a phone call; I received the opportunity to commit to taking two more teens tomorrow to an Al-Anon meeting (and ice cream after). Of course in writing about it here I risk being not-so “inconspicuous”, but today the awareness of helping others with no desire for reciprocity or reward kept me right in the moment.

Flora

Railroad tracks.

Kidlets

I had enough kids that at one point I almost left one behind somewhere. But that was okay, it was one of mine.

At My Mom's

We stopped at my mom’s for firewood…

At My Mom's

… and I lingered in her back garden.

Phoenix, Cassidy, Nels

I made the kids hot dogs, hardboiled eggs, potato chips, carrot sticks, cubed cantelope, macaroni and cheese, apple juice, and s’mores. While I cooked I sent two girls back with the firewood wagon, to my mom’s. The children brought out chairs and helped me start a fire and a few of them sat and read. It was heavenly.

While walking at one point Nels asked A. if he could hold her hand. She smiled and said, “Why?” He replied, “Because I like you.” She said, “Okay.” Then they held hands for a while and she said, “You’ve said you love me but that you aren’t going to marry me.” He said, “Right. I love you.”

It was about as simple as hand-holding can be.

it’s better than bad, it’s good!

So today I’m wiggling my ass because I’m pretty proud of a coupla things I sewed the kids recently (both made with the perfect amount growing room):

Supermodels

Like the artfully disinterested poses? Yeah, me too.

The dress (made up using a vintage McCalls pattern) featured my first thread-drawn applique. I am pretty pleased. You’d probably be surprised how quickly it came together for me, from sketching to completion. But then, I’ve put in many years of general technique which came in handy. I didn’t even look for a tutorial, I just figured shit out. Turns out shit came together pretty good considering it was my first try!

Bleeding Heart Motif Closeup 1

(Seriously – I’m so excited about this and look forward to trying some more soon!)

OK, as for Nels. Simple longsleeved t-shirt, right? Kinda but – the fabric I found for this is quite lovely – an organic hemp/cotton blend sweater knit. My son commented on how much he liked its look and softness right away. The only thing more fun than sewing up something that feels good and comes together nicely is to have one’s client really like it.

So here’s Nels. With a large sheet of bark he scavenged from the old LaVogue’s room that we weren’t technically supposed to be in (don’t ask). Looking all sad. But I swear he wasn’t! He had his sheet of bark! He was solid gold!

Log From Blammo!

Nels’ shirt – Homesewn listing; Flickr tagset

Phoenix’s Bleeding Heart Dress – Homesewn listing; Flickr tagset

The Flickr tagsets generally include more construction detail, should you be interested in such things.

And finally – here’s something I feel good about. After I finished the dress I asked Phoenix if she’d rather have the garment, or have  me list it for sale to go toward paying off our layaway on the rather choice bike we have reserved for her and partially paid. Now I know she wants that bike –

but I guess she wanted the dress more.

She’s been wearing it ever since.

Choice

(diamonds at the ill-used railroad tracks:)

Pretty

no you can’t

NO NO NO

I have simply got to stop grousing, internally and out loud, about our bus system. Yes, it bugs me it takes an hour (sometimes more) to travel seven miles (from the HQX downtown station no less), the commute my husband requires get to the college. Yes, I think the bus system is not designed with any seriousness toward daily commuter needs – an environmentally and socially progressive mandate which would improve our lives immensely. Yes, routes have been cut. Yes, I think so much about Aberdeen and Hoquiam is as pro-car as one can imagine. Yes, I think about all the “bus people” and their needs and their lives and when I see busses leave late or arrive early and the callousness of some drivers I despair.

But I’m not ready to spearhead a campaign about any of this because I have my own life to sort out. So here I sit. It’s not how I long I have to wait (although this bothers me for reasons I won’t go into, here), the worst thing is the noise along what amounts to a highway, and the dust and exhaust fumes. The gawks aren’t that fun either because riding the bus here means there’s a large set of people who pity you or look down on you. For reals.

But whatever, fuck it. Seriously. Some of the people closest to me ride the bus and we can commiserate what it’s like and I can stop bitching so much. I actually enjoy talking to people on the bus and I enjoy helping the mamas with strollers and babies and saying “thank you” to the drivers, every time. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a racist diatribe on the bus although today I heard a man bitching about a couple toddlers who were up front. I turned my head and looked at him, is all. I still do not always know how to handle public asshattery, and I don’t always have the energy, especially days like today with too-little sleep and staggering menstrual cramps.

I walked home from the station. I enjoy walking whenever the weather isn’t miserable – and today it was fine. Most times I walk in Hoquiam I see hardly a soul. But today there was a festive air in town, driveways, block parties: graduation for many adults and young people.

Party Time

These celebrations seem remote to me although I remember the period of high school graduation well. I guess this would have been sixteen years ago. Having been given a tremendously trivial amount of freedoms up until age eighteen (like most USian kids), for me graduation merely meant more praise from grownups (as I had a great grade point and had earned scholarships etc), a pedigree of other people’s required accomplishments for me, a deeply fragile sense of self, a few very good friends, a lot of excitement in my heart, and a desire to party as much as possible. It wasn’t all bad at all, on balance.

It is touching to see famlies celebrate. It’s nice to see young people honored. It’s pleasant to anticipate more activity in the neighborhood now that school is out.

Also, today I met a small kitten, a little black thing that looked younger than I’d think was decent to separate from his mother. His name was, improbably, “Puffy”, and he had not been fed recently, or at least – he was ravenous. I fed him a bit and in his zeal his tiny mouth bit me harder than I’ve been bit by a cat. I loved him up a bit more, eliciting a fragile purr, and then gave him back to the little boy who “owned” him and told him, please feed and water this little one.

And so life goes.

Am I hard enough? Am I rough enough? Am I rich enough?

Today it was suddenly quite hot and I was so grateful to my friend K.; she just sent me a box of clothes she’d sized out of including a simple, light, short-sleeved black cotton dress. I would have wilted without it, truly; I was hardly ready for the heat wave and the footwork I had to make – the dress was so much nicer than jeans. The garment also showcased more cleavage than I’ve ever bared publicly; I got a lot of thank yous for this. I sunscreened properly, no worries.

Earlier in the day I sold some things for taco money (I’m serious), bought my husband lunch and horchata. We wrangled a bit of additional cash to keep us in groceries.* And I brought my working friend an ice-cold Mexican sugar Coke, and I grabbed up some free and luscious yarn for another friend (through Freecycle).

Later in the day: now, I admit I’ll be a bit blue until I have my own working car, but driving back from Aberdeen in my mom’s truck with the windows down, benefitting from sunglasses (my husbands’ that he’d generously loaned me) and big swinging earrings and listening to the Rolling Stones (a guilty pleasure because I find many of their lyrics objectionable) and there was finally a breeze, and I felt pretty good just then, going home to family. Then sitting with friends while they had burger and fries and ice cream and my children ran around on the waterfront, then I followed Ralph and the kids home. I was driving the truck, they were on Ralph’s bike. I got to see how joyful and mobile they are on the bike (I usually can’t see because they’re behind me, natch). And that was just something else.

It was the first day of Summer, far as I’m concerned.

The kids were outside most the day, including a lot of time in the big plastic pool we bought last summer – I’m so glad we stored it and kept it mold-free. I’m not kidding, those kidlets were marathoning it out there. Ralph made homemade pizza and roasted broccoli and cauliflower while they played; they barely ate before zooming out again. By the end of a very rowdy and many-child jamboree, one neighbor kid called another a “fatty” so I gotta talk to them about that tomorrow (we had a great discussion with our kids about this).

Currently, I’m putting my feet up and my face in a book – and Ralph’s pulling homemade bread out of the oven and soaking black beans for tomorrow.

Life is good.

*

tacos, the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems*

Tacos Dorados

I am the hugest downtown Hoquiam nerd you can imagine. In a small town that espouses the mantra “shop local” (like so many), our burg’s City Council has probably by now officially added an addendum to this dictum as follows: “Whole-Grain Jeebus, Kelly Hogaboom, We’re Weary Of Seeing Your Tired-Ass On The Block. P.S. Get A Life.”

Of course, I jest, because I have a life – and it’s a pretty good one, especially lately. And to quote an incident from high school which I shall not delve into today, “outdoors is killer”. Yes, even in our weird humid weather we are walking and biking a lot (this isn’t super-common where I live). Today I was on the streets quite a bit (#carfree! but… not really by choice); first a trip to the coffee shop for a date with a friend, then later my son and I made our way downtown to the new taquería, the coffee shop (again), book store, and the recycled clothing shop (sorry for all the Facebook links, that’s all the rage with the kids today). This time, for lunch, I had the tacos dorados (as pictured above), and Nels had a few simple mixtas. Then both of us paid up and profusely thanked the proprietor, Nels proclaiming airily “those were the best tacos I’ve had in my life!” The proprietor complimented my Spanish, which I get a lot and is funny because I have only the most remedial skills, but my pronunciation is okay and I continue to pick up more. Fun times: this restaurant has the menu in both English and Spanish, which I think is good for everyone.

The book store was awesome, as always. I picked up a wonderful tome for my daughter – The Child Thief. It is wonderful knowing one’s children so well. Phoenie instantly stuck her nose in the book and it’s taken some effort to get her to eat, stuff like that.

And now a game: guess the dog’s name (it’s not mine, don’t I wish it was!). I know someone will come close!

Someone Guess This Dog's Name!

* may not be an actual statement of fact

a brief respite from turbulent climes

I don’t have much time to write; which is sad, because writing is so important to me! I will say: today not only did I have a wonderful swim with the children, and the grouchy YMCA lifeguard from days previous acted totally pleasant and did not chastize my kids in every way (seriously!), but I also met another lifeguard L. who corrected Nels’ behavior with the utmost respect. When I approached her to thank her for this, we had a lovely conversation – while my children stayed in the shallow end (which meant I didn’t have to be six inches away from them in the pool). Afterwards a hot shower, a sunny day, a not-so-pleasant and very long wait for the bus, some delicious sopes, and then etc. etc.

Family responsibilities present themselves. Let me say: thank you readers who have both stuck around and totally respected this new thing – password-protected entries at the blog. Although I am aware in a way “I owe my readers nothing”, I am also aware my blog has changed abruptly in this small way, and not everyone will enjoy the experience. I feel so incredibly grateful for the readers who stick around, who comment, who read, who support. And I will be writing more soon – trust!