WALKIES

the fox in the snow

WALKIES

It’s cold. Cold and windy some days; merely cold others. I dress as best I can for the morning walks with my dog and frankly I’d rather end up over-bundled than the opposite.

My dog is a fit and hardy soul; he traipses across large puddles encrusted with thick ice; these frozen lakes groan under his pressure and he takes a quick drink, then he’s trotting ahead again. I find myself enjoying the fresh air and some contemplation; small brown birds abruptly blossom into colorful flowers – slam into the tenacious blackberry shrubs at trailside. I see a fellow dogwalker now and then, but mostly it’s just the sound of the water in my ears, and my dog’s companionable tread.

Winter Walk

They’re pulling the paper mill down, across the river. There’s a part of me that can’t believe it’s gone. I stop and really get a look – as long a look as I’m willing to take given the cold – and I think about my past, my future. I’ve lasted longer than the mill. Huh. See, I started my engineering life at that mill as an intern, after my sophomore year at college. I remember all the other engineering students and how all they’d talk was money and job prospects and the cars they’d buy.

It depressed me long before I earned the degree so maybe I was fated to let that life fall aside.

I think about when I quit engineering and the few who told me I was wasting my “good brain” by leaving a technical field.

But I’m still standing; the mill isn’t. It seems like each attempt, each vocation, each series of struggles and failures, and I’m left humble, less-than, and in a satisfied smallness.

Winter WalkToday I line my eyes in black eyeliner; powder, line them again. I tuck my blonde curls away up in my watch cap. I adorn myself with the one necklace I own – a cheap little affair with a black cross. And hoop earrings. I make the bed, stopping to kiss the small kitty who asks for my attention. He reclines on his back, his paws up, lazily paddling the air in his ecstasies.

I wash the dishes, and care for the animals, and sew two simple garments. I meet with a friend, and attend to my duties: picking up the children, chairing a meeting, attending pickup rehearsal.

My children are old enough to have a life of their own; this happened very swiftly, and it is taking me quite some time to get used to this. I find myself teetering on the balance beam; realizing that they have formed of themselves most of the persons they will be, and that my job is no longer so much to help them manifest, but to support them in their ever-blooming self. So when my children are well, I feel well; when they suffer, I suffer more than seems possible, and certainly more than is logical.

My daughter’s manicure, deathly deep blue – chipping. The blonde tendrils of my son’s hair, clinging to his perfect skin as he emerges from the bath, wrapped in a threadbare towel. The cozy clink here and there from the kitchen: Ralph washing the dishes. My own anticipation of a hot shower, and a hot lemon and honey to drink. And hanging the last of the clothes to dry and wiping down the counters.

And last night, when my son had so much trouble sleeping, and couldn’t settle, and cried out. And I brought him a warm milk with honey and after he drank it

he fell

into silence,

and slept.

 

Green Leopard-Print Footed Tights

green leopard-print footed tights. ’nuff said.

I get compliments on these tights and I get to say, “Thanks. I made them.” Probably most people think these are leggings but like my first pair – they are constructed with a foot sewn in.

Green Leopard-Print Footed Tights

Now that I have my legging metric down – including adding a skirt, as in this pair – I can afford to stop playin. No more JoAnn’s bargain-knits: time for excellent, posh wools and silks. That is pretty killer.

Green Leopard-Print Footed Tights

Super-action urban tights! Climbing up trains and shit! Actually on the coldest dog walk of all time (dog not pictured, he’s around the corner) and Phoenix and I are near-weeping because we are about to expire!

Green Leopard-Print Footed Tights

The bottom of the skirt rolls up because I am way too busy to even sew a skirt hem! Holy cow!

Green Leopard-Print Footed Tights

A rare full body shot. I refuse to turn my feet in in that affected little-girl pose. I like little girls and little girls don’t pose to be cute. So I’m like a little girl. Posing as Me. Thanks, Phoenix – not-so-little-girl – for taking photos.

 

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

a bride to amazement! or, how Halloween is finally, finally, mercifully sweet Jeebus, behind me

If you have any questions as to how I made something, or where I found something – ask away! Remember anything you ask benefits those who come searching for tutorials.

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

Last year I believe I created about a dozen pieces for people not related to me – and my children didn’t mind the modest assemblies they received as a result. This year I staved off favors and clients, sewing about six pieces. I wanted to give the kids exactly what they wanted, and to go all out.

So, that happened.

And without further ado:

10 Things I Learned This Halloween Sewing Season

(individual notes on costumes in the Flickr tagset)

Nels, AKA A Dragon

 

1. Sequin fabrics. Unbelievably beautiful, and wonderful to work with. After you’ve spent countless hours painstakingly removing, one sequin at a time, every sequin in your seam allowances. *whimper*

2. Easy “scales” makeup for mermaids, or reptilian what-nots – place a bit of fishnet or tulle over the skin to be made up, and carefully blot a little bit. Nels’ little scales (above) took about thirty seconds and I really adored them.

The Happy Couple

2. You can dye a synthetic wig with off-the-shelf hair dye. Phoenix’s friend Allison (above left) is sporting a thrift store wig that her mama dyed. It turned out fabulous! Phoenix’s wig was purchased as-is from Arda Wigs – and then augmented with a little black hairspray. Colored hairspray, in general, needs to be purchased in large quantities to make a serious dent on hair color.

3. For the bride: mixing dead colors: grey, ivory, pale green and pale grey-lavender – was a total blast! I look forward to making another layered, many-color piece again!

The Happy Couple

4. Tearing and tying one hundred billion strips to the waistline of the wedding gown: worth it. Looks great! I tore along the grain of the fabric which drastically reduces thread coming loose when you launder the costume – which, believe it or not, is machine-washable!

5. Benefits of a dead/corpse/zombie/apocalyptic etc. costume: no need to wash, set and style a wig. Just throw it on!

Nels, AKA A Dragon

6. My costumes are adored not only for their looks but for their wearability. I line and underline them which is why they last through many children. Nels wore his to school and spent our cemetery photoshoot mushroom hunting (there were a billion kinds of mushrooms out!). A garment fully-lined in satin feels wonderful to wear. And of course – I included pockets because that seems like such a lovely and humane feature to give children.

7. Dragon wings: two half-circles of crumpled taffeta, and two of regular taffeta. Each pair sewn right-sides together, then turned right-side out and topstitched. Attached from sleeve hem to hip in one straight line. Simple, sweet, and comfortable to wear.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

8. Bodysuit from mesh fabric, so one can eschew body makeup for that grey corpse-like look: perfect. And surprisingly quick to make. Spandex World for the mesh – using their sample swatch service for the color.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

9. Newspaper roses, spraypainted very carefully: yes. They look as pretty as I thought they might. They are actually rather time-consuming, so be warned.

To Have & To Hold. Plus, A Dragon

10. Crafting as a family affair is wonderful. The clients pictured above all helped with their costumes – and my children did their part doing extra chores so I could work on their pieces. And they thanked me about a hundred times. It’s nice to satisfy!

Happy Halloween!

 

New Friend

You’re gonna have to sleep sometime, MacReady

Meeting someone new.

New Friend

Lunch. Lunch

My wee girl… being beautiful.Phee

Just before yoga tonight. Which was kind of crabby and not-right. A Stop B4 Yoga

And just now – Ralph, Hutch & I for a late-night walk. Phee at home, completing homework in privacy. Night Walk

Being a fully-enrolled schooling family – a word has been going through my head. The word is grueling.

You know what’s funny is for years schooling families often seemed to me to be stretched too thin, working too hard, getting too little rest, complaining about the state of the house and being too busy. Then for a few years I thought, I am just imagining that, I am being unfair. But no. It really is a thing. We’re adjusting. We’ll be okay.

Today one of my mentors told me to stop harming myself, stop one harmful practice, set something aside and leave it. I thought of something in the quietness of my heart, and I committed to it.

I’ve a standing writing assignment to put together an article about transitioning from home-/unschooling to full time school. And yeah, I’m writing it, so that will be happening. For now I’m caring for myself, my partner, and our children – my youngest is being a total Hero about this whole schedule and homework and behaving-in-class thing. He’s hitting it out of the park. Phoenix – well. We got her test scores from last year. Nailed it in reading and math (which are apparently the only two test metrics vis-à-vis whether schools are “working” or “failing”, meaning whether they get money, IDGI). She’s shifted to her new 7th grader schedule brilliantly.

The kids are doing fine. They are. Me? Huh. Well, my house is quiet during the day.

Like they say in all those silly movies I watch – “Too quiet.”

I’m listening.

Bowerman Noir

i want to be good to you

Bowerman Noir

My children are my everything to me. They leave me helpless and I’m always treading water trying to make it work. I have never struggled so much nor done such a poor job or found more endless reasons to triumph above my own meager failures. I pretty much don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks about me but I am occasionally tortured by the fact that so much of how I behave matters to them a great deal. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I just have to pray for their safety, somehow. The world isn’t really safe and neither am I.

I didn’t know the meaning of the word “responsibility” until I had children. From the moment they were born: 24/7. I have never caught up. Not even close.

Our family life is idyllic; it is messy but full of life. The children are a constant flux of love and quarrel; of seeing the goodness in everything day after day. How do they do that?

Our newest little babies; they too are making a home for themselves.

The Sinister Urge

 This picture is kind of great. It sums up my private life. A horrible B-movie. A sleeping little one. My bills organized in old cigar boxes.

Unusual Beetle

 The children find a new kind of beetle: a new kind of bug to my eyes, on a regular basis. And I’ve lived around these parts twenty-five years!

2 Syrups

 A friend brings me some homemade vanilla syrup; coincidentally, I have homemade blackberry syrup. The two sit companionably side-by-side until one leaves my home to flavor the Italian sodas and milkshakes of another family!

#selfie#selfie

 

Citron

a wolf without a foot!

It feels odd to sit on our new toilet seat. I was used to the one with the broken hinges, such that using the facilities meant this kind of gentle balancing act at the same time. But Ralph replaced the seat yesterday. I’d been holding off because I had no idea how much they cost – forty bucks? A little less? Ralph picks up the nicest one in the place and it’s $7. So we could have been sitting on a good seat these last weeks.

One of my favorite lines from a film – Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck, speaking drily to a womanizing cad: “What you don’t know about women, is a lot.”

What I don’t know about Life, is a lot.

The kids and I are out on a walk. I have voice control over my dog which feels immense. He trots ahead of me by about three feet, swinging back to watch me now and then. Sometimes he falls right back at my side. He no longer gallops off to eat horrible things that make him very ill and affect our pocketbook.

It feels good to have made a difference. 

So the kids and I are walking and the wind is blowing. The wind blows the braid-crimps right out of my son’s hair and turns it into spun gold and honey. The wind is strong, but it feels perfect. Soon the rains will come again and I’ll miss these perfect balmy summer nights. Already: the days, getting shorter.

Footfalls on the rocks. I am tired from poor sleep but I know I can walk alongside my children and be in the moment. I can walk without checking my phone – probably because I meditated this morning. The children are, themselves, far more delightful company than I – always. They still notice the right things to notice: they find a snakeskin, they comment on the length of the grass, the blackberries. They find a new fuzzy caterpiller in a vibrant citron hue I’ve never before seen. 

It is amazing to me that they do not get bored or tired of the really wonderful things, the small things. The minutiae. Those things that really matter.

Citron

Swimming Hole

sclera

It’s been several hours and two showers and two changes of clothes but I can still feel the horrible slippery feeling of my flip-flops as I tried to navigate a muddy bank section of the river. Right when I slipped – again, and my eye was scratched by a tall reed, right then I realized – I am having such a hard time.

I am so angry.

I am so angry because I am worried for my child and because there is nothing logical I can do (that I haven’t already done) so I am just floundering in these waters. It is like a hangover, and beating myself up, araid and angry. Feeling sick and ill at ease even when I’m with those I love. It’s a horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Walking a river is a great way to practice mindfulness – well, especially when you’ve an iPhone tucked in your bra that must, I repeat must, stay dry. So by the end of our trip I felt a little better. Then home; and after some work on the latest tailoring project, and after a hot shower and volunteer work – and talking with a friend – a little better, still.

Today really was beautiful. The children thanked me several times. “Thank you for financing this trip, Mama,” my little girl tells me. They didn’t once get tired of the many dozens of small frogs – and crawdads, and periwinkles, and wee little fish. They didn’t get tired of swimming and wading and climbing.

They are truly my greatest teachers.

Swimming Hole

Brief

"This Is Gonna Get Weird... Two Frogs"

Little Frog

Crawdad

Hutch

Ferns

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

hero hoodie

I fell in love, instantly, with this semi-sheer little knit in “tomato and ivory” colorway. In between working for clients, it’s important to sew something that kind of warms my heart. So I did.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

 It’s also quite gratifying to make someone something and watch them snuggle right into it, and wear it all day long.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Twin needle at the hem:

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe 

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Next up: pattern testing three patterns for a blog tour (wonderful!), making a silk blouse for a client, and mapping out a drover’s coat for another client. Far less a “housewife” these days than a preoccupied, semi-bitchy tailor!

 

Wishkah River, today.

pebbles and periwinkles

Wishkah River, today.

“Did you see that rock? It was propped up – suspiciously,” my son tells me, in a conspiratorial tone. He reaches down to secure the recalcitrant stone – it’s about an inch oval, a quarter-inch thick. I am not sure what was so suspicious about it. But he is moving on. Then – a winged, red-eyed insect struggling in the water. The kids quickly come to its aid, fishing it out using a leaf and laying it on a sun-warmed rock.

“We need to make a sign,” Nels says, “‘Do Not Disturb This Butterfly’.” Phoenix and I share a quick glance. “Nels, no one is going to come along any time soon. The butterfly will dry off and fly away soon,” I tell my son. Still tenderhearted!

Wishkah River, today.

Goodbye, winged insect! And – good luck.

It got a little over ninety in town, so getting out to the river was just right. Somebody was scared of wading in the current, but that somebody got over it. Very proud, I am!

Wishkah River, today.

We borrowed my mother’s truck; my car is still not running.

“Patience, persistance, & prayer”, as I always say in my boring-ass way.

Below: a river panorama; quite lovely viewed large:

Wishkah River, today.

living on the water 5ever

On Phee’s last day, of her first year, of school:

Such a wonderful girl. I have more to say about that, at a later date. But with this photo we also mark the fact I DID NOT EVER EVER MISS THE BUS, PICKING HER UP! I am so beyond impressed with myself on this one. So impressed. I drove 8.4 miles per day to get her from the bus stop. It worked out every time. I am a goddamned champion because lots of times I can’t do anything right.

At the Chehalis today:

Aberdeen, Washington. I love where I live, down in my bones. I may live and die here; I may travel and park myself somewhere else for a while. Who knows? It is beautiful here, so beautiful.

The Little Ones. They spent their first summer break day today being very tender to one another. Nels missed her very much this last year. I think the hard work of school made her cranky, too. He had a lot of angry tears this last year. We shall see!

A random apple, floating in the river. It was in perfect shape, and just bobbing away. A bright hard ball of lovely red in a sea-bleak riverscape.

By Ralph, whilst chaperoning the end-of-year fieldtrip with our children and Phoenix’s class. Cloud-cover and sunburns:

 

I welcomed a sunny, peaceful day today. Yesterday I was hit with the worst kidney stone I’ve had in a little under a year. I was sitting in a meeting when it came up. I gently rubbed my thumbs over one another and I felt myself sweating and shaking. A friend kept leaning over and offering me “help” but I was in my own little pain-world. It was bad enough I considered the ER; I gave it time, and after an hour and a half it abated. It took a lot out of me, though. Today the pain was so much less that I felt incredibly grateful.

Another day; another few steps on this spaceship Earth. Did I make the most of it? Was I loving – was I kind?

I meditated in the morning and asked for help, and inspiration, and tact. I met with a friend to help her, and served her pie and coffee. I called two other friends to check in on them. I manned my Wednesday volunteer shift. I took time out of the day for my children, and my husband, and my mother. I performed a bit of housework, I cared for our pets and plants, and I put a B-movie on while I did some sewing work (yay!). I thanked my husband for the wonderful dinner he made. And now: a hot shower, candles lit, a bit of journaling, and to bed with my lovies.

There’s nothing else for it!