celebrating life and possibility

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Once I saw a couple awesomesauce photographers at the Sauvie Island wedding locale, I gave myself permission to stop taking pictures and trust that, later, wonderful pictures would come to me. This accounts for the kind of inexcusable lapse in that I don’t have a single picture of the couple (or of my own husband, sister, or mother!) to offer you, this evening. Still, I stand by my choice to be in the experience, instead of recording it.  If you don’t know the kind of intense energy that goes into a wedding, at least when you are family or involved in a major way, then – pssshhhfft. I’ll post more photos when they come around.

So, Portland then.

In the house we stayed at, Ralph told me he intended to treat me “like a Queen” all weekend – and he did. Strawberry pancakes, at my request:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Almost better than devouring them (while reading a junky noir novel!) was watching my daughter eat them. Delicious!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Getting ready for fancy shin-diggery. The kids’ togs are all silk and cotton – a silk/cotton blend for the suits, a very fine cotton for each shirt, and silk taffeta for the bowties.

Yes, I made bowties. Yes, it was awesome. And kind of tricky. Bowties, if you want to make real ones, you have to make the exact correct length for the neck. I am now all fired up and ready to make Ralph a few vests and bowties because he looked gooooood. My brother said my entire family was “sharp as a diamond tack.”

Reader, I wore not one but two outfits, changing before the reception. No pictures yet of my get-up, although I offer you my custom-ordered boutonniere, a little nicety I purchased along with a wrist corsage for the mother of the groom.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Wedding gifts: Ralph and I made Jamila a steampunk travelling hat, complete with goggles, lace netting, and homemade wired ribbon and multi-loop bow:
Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Phee models, after her wedding-morning bath:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

My brother, I made an overdyed wool vest. Prick-stitched lining, bound buttonholes, brass buttons, and a secret charm sewn into the pocket. Shhhh!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The back belt:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

We also bought them a two-night trip to Sol Duc hot springs!

Billy And Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The wedding was super-lovely and worth every bit of effort it took our family to get there, and get there in style.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Hm, how much do I love this picture? My brother, the groom, looking handsome and happy. Tony checking something in his hand – the ring? His phone? And Chris, marching like a goddamn champion, gripping a bottle of wine. Fuck YEAH.

And yeah I got teary-eyed at the wedding. Of course I did, what the hell is wrong with you?


So we had a lovely time, all in all. I got to see my friend B. and her wonderful family, and thanks to some donations from two online friends, we got to hit the Mummies this afternoon, and visit with my sister. This morning I wrote a piece for Underbellie, in large part sparked by gratitude for the blessing of friends and family who, perhaps unwittingly, continue to challenge me in my day-to-day life.

Oh, and this was the first time I went two nights without my dog, since we got him almost a year ago. I MISSED HIM and I think HE MISSED ME, but now we are reunited.

Vintage Surfers

we do not take a trip; a trip takes us

Vintage Surfers
I love vintage beach photos – the older the better! – and who wouldn’t?

We’re travelling again today – to Portland, for my only brother’s wedding. I am very excited about this, as you may well imagine!

It wouldn’t be a Hogaboom occasion if things weren’t a little busy right up until we leave. Ralph and I have two o’clock haircut appointments and we still need to do some housecleaning and pick up some suspenders for the kids. I have sewn a silk suit for each child, a shirt for each child, a bow tie for each child, two different headpieces, two wedding gifts, and a hanging bunting – all of this besides the effort required to find semi-formal togs for Ralph and I, who needed the works, including shoes. And of course, we are orienting our house-and-dog-and-cat sitters and the like, as well as wrangling our kids who don’t exactly slow down no matter how much we might like them too!

These past few weeks I have paced myself as well as possible, attempting to ameliorate my enthusiasm and creative energies with my family’s needs and my own need for rest and enjoyment. Daily bike rides and listening meditations have been essential in keeping me from growing ill or over-anxious. Today will be an exercise in trying to move slowly.

For me, a wedding is a celebration. Life is hard and being mated is tempting at times but doesn’t actually make things easier, or at least not in the long-term. Being partnered is quite a challenge – a wonderful, at times baffling journey! Tomorrow my family grows larger and my brother embarks on more responsibilities – or at least a new element to his life’s journey. I am honored and grateful to be included in this celebration and I am grateful for the health and well-being of those I love.

keeping cool in the heat

A friend once told me, “The kind of peace that passes human understanding… and that may be your children.” She meant my children too, what she knew of them. I was touched at the time and I also knew there was a possibility of truth to this prophecy. This concept was with me today while I watched these little ones cope with a lot of time in the car, with a few car mishaps and money mishaps, with a lengthy shopping trip to a large fabric store, with more time in the car, more delays and mishaps. At one point in the boiling heat we finally made it to an outdoor pool after first getting lost – only to discover it was closed. Phoenix collected herself in the car and said, “OK – let’s try another.” Nels knelt down quietly in the grass and picked a small bunch of shaggy daisy and brought it to me, then we were back on the road.

Facing the I-5 freeway below us my daughter says, “Look at all that gleaming metal.” I am aghast. Then Nels says, “At least we had an easy time getting down here.” I am immensely cheered.

Their helpfulness and good spirits are all the more humbling as I am having a rough day with heat, traffic anxiety, and the kind of odd tension I get when I’m the only grownup on a roadtrip. I am oddly tearful and touched by their optimism and helpfulness, my son puffing up his thin chest to run and find me an iced coffee, my daughter serving as the navigator on the phone and putting her little hand on mine.

Cooling off before dinner. We are three of only a handful bathers at the soaking pool. Another family enjoys their company and their conversation – and a little later, I hear this mother whispering to her son, “Isn’t it obvious they are brother and sister?”

They are really lovely in a way I am so grateful to experience.

Kennedy Soaking Pool

Kennedy Soaking Pool

Kennedy Soaking Pool

short & sweet & utterly spent

Portland: a beautiful and exhausting trip.  It rained all the way down but let up to a bright coldness as soon as we got there.

The Inn at Northup Station was really fabulous. The kids loved it times One Million – the oldies, the roof garden, the very, very BRIGHT colors, the king-size bed and kitchen (the kids tiptoed on stools to get at drinking classes) – the whole bit.  A great rate too – they don’t charge extra for your kiddos and our suite came with a kitchen! Plus, GIANT JARS OF TOFFEE on each table in the lobby!

Candy Candy!


After checking in we ran to the next door suite to check in with Karen and her daughter Ella – both of whom had had been working themselves silly with partner Shelly – then we settled into our room, unpacked a couple things, and ran down to SE to pick up my brother and get a late dinner. Billy suggested Imbibe and it was a wonderful choice. Everyone was hungry, but Billy and I ate and ate and ate. I had a delicious dinner (including seared ahi and a garlicky caesar salad and a burger, hell yes) and a decidedly sub-par bloody mary. I even shared the ahi with Billy and let him have one more piece than me. I didn’t say so right away. At first he ate the garnishy stuff and avoided the last piece, like a gentleman. Then I said he could have it, in my best gentleman-voice. Then he pretended not to know that he was getting one more slice than me, at which point his love of the deliciousness won out over our mutual silent shows of gentility, and it disappeared into his wolfish mystery-beard.

So seriously though I could have eaten about five plates of that ahi.

Back at the hotel I spent the rest of the night working alongside Karen – nothing like a sewing marathon until 4 AM! – then crawled into two beers and fell into bed and had a really rough sleep.

In the morning our kids woke themselves up while Ralph and I packed our few things. This even though they’d stayed up as late as I had!

Nels, model: “I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.” Like bananas and brownies in bed, for breakfast:

Our Little Model

Despite having little sleep and having to leave the much-cherished suite, both kids cheerfully had their breakfast, brushed teeth, got dressed and in all ways re-joined in the adventure.

Nels wasn’t feeling quite right: sadly, he was constipated (an issue we haven’t run across since the very occasional incident in his infancy). He wasn’t in pain but he was apprehensive about the, um, work that was ahead for him. I was very tender to him and, after finding the shooting locale and while we waited for his photoshoot, he lay on the couch with his head in my lap and I stroked him. But when it was Go Time he did his thing like a champ. He had the photographer, her assistant, and a couple moms laughing very hard (I watched some of the shoot, but not all). A lively little spirit.

I can’t post pictures of any of the snaps I took at the Patterns by Figgys photoshoot but I can tell you it took place in the lovely Z-haus in the home of the designer. There were about eight or nine kids running about up and down the stairs and playing outside. It really was a lovely time and even the length of the photoshoot didn’t seem to get the little ones down. Nels’ constipation also resolved (he came out of the bathroom and said, “My condensation’s gone!”) which made him happy as a lark. And truly, I felt relieved as well.

Afterwards our plan (as authored by the kids) was to find a to find a kaiten-zushi restaurant: but after locating Sushi Ichiban and parking we walked around the block to find it closed – from 2:30 to 5 PM (dammit)! We used the opportunity to stop at VooDoo Doughnuts and peruse their fun creations (if you’re into that sort of thing, and yeah I got the maple bar with bacon on top) and a cup of coffee. Then a quick call to my brother (because no, we don’t have a smartphone) to get directions back to the sushi train; we walked two blocks to Sushiland.

Fried Asparagus, Cream Cheese, Roe, Some Kind Of Hot Sweet Mayo Sauce


Closing The Deal

Then to the park to play very rough with daddy.

Nels Waits

Swing, 1

Swing, 2


Portland was a bit sad. Very white (I’ve got nothing against white people, some of my best friends are white), not a lot of eye contact on the street, no children in the park. It was also rattling to be in the bosom of wealth one minute and then amidst many trolleys loaded with the few posessions of those sleeping rough. Ralph gave some cash but of course the number of people made it seem almost futile. Funnily every person we spoke with directly was quite friendly; and although I’d heard rumors of notoriously poor restaurant service I did not find this to be true at all and in fact everyone we came into contact with seemed to like their job.

We hit the road at about 4:30 and came home – Hoquiam never looked so good. I am not suited to undersleeping or rather, after not getting sleep I function best in my own home.

I wish I could express how delightful it is to be with my kids and how impressed I was with their conduct. Ralph and I give them everything we can give them – including their personal freedom and agency – and challenges like these last twenty four hours prove the concept. The truth it is was a long photoshoot today and Nels was both ill-slept and suffering from “condensation”, the latter of which had been causing him anxiety for the past twenty four hours – yet he still did great.

Another test of character: in the Z-Haus Phoenix was given the opportunity to entertain herself while waiting through the shoot. Whilst doing so she also played with the other kids including Karen’s little Ella. Karen so appreciated this – as she had lots of work this morning – that she gave Phoenix a thank you and a cash gift (and the two hugged one another sweet as you please). At our sushi date later Phoenix very adult-like requested to buy the family’s dinner; at $16 plus tip she was able to do so in entirety. A beautiful girl, inside and out.

It was also wonderful for the kids and I to see bits and pieces of the city, a rare pleasure for us (I can’t speak for Ralph, who is a bit more of a homebody). It would be lovely to travel somewhere and stay a bit longer sometime; maybe some day we will find the means to do so.

on the road

Today my mother and I took a quick trip to Olympia where we got some supplies for our Christmas craftyness (and, of course, lunched some Thai food). It was a good trip and while I was gone Ralph actually – wait for it – didn’t work himself to a frazzle but actually spent time R&Ring with the kids. When I got home he helped me with a super-urgent sewing errand (due date: tomorrow!) and made us all varieties of sandwiches and hot coffee (and later, red wine for me). He took good care of us, including the cats and chickens. Wonderful man.

Tomorrow the family and I head to Portland and the Inn at Northup Station to meet with Karen and Shelly from Patterns by Figgy’s and do some book-related stuff (good Lord… look at my daughter, hearbreakingly lovely; look at my son, I want to eat him up!). All four of us are looking forward to it! It’s going to be a short trip, just staying one night, so we won’t be able to see all our Portland friends. But roadtrips are awesome.

Nels is, by the way, convinced there are chocolate-covered strawberries in Portland. Anyone know where I can find them in NW?

men in my life

“Sweet! I love snakes!”

So, amateur and all that as this video is, it’s pretty awesome. My favorite part is almost all of it, from the expression on my son’s face at 0:47 and his helpful ‘hissing’ to soundtrack the animal (at about 1:00) to the respect and awe and love infusing his being at every moment of this encounter (“Beauty!”) and even the way he pronounces, “Snake” (1:11, other places), with each vowel and consonant receiving its loving due. Not to mention my husband’s voice, just every inflection in how Ralph is talking to Nels and his tenderness while following her with the camera knowing (correctly) how much Nels will appreciate having the small reptile on film.

“I got surprised when I saw that!”

turistas (briefly)

Like rockstars we barely used the hotel room here in Portland. We were out at our friends’ for dinner in SE (thank you so, so much Beth, Tyler, and Nate!) and got in well past 11 PM while Portland was still partying on (the night owl in me loves city life). Ralph and Nels ran out for wine and bread and olives; Phoenix and I stayed in and watched some baffling television show centering around a hillbilly dressed in rocker-drag who would run into houses and (more or less) humanely wrestle out squirrels or pythons or whatever. I KNOW. Television. It’s f*cking insane!

Good Morning Portland!

I’m hung over this morning but pulling the curtains back from our tenth-story room at the Hilton and Portland seems sweet and mild and sleepy; it’s also lovely out. We’ve got to get the kids up early and get on the road – so no swimming in the hotel pool for us, sadly. It’s a short stay but the children have loved every minute:

[flickr video=4738387061]

As I predicted, the kids are enamored of hotel life; touring the facilities and serving as elevator operators for other guests – then darting about the room displaying the amenities: an iron and ironing board! Little tiny soaps! A television set and remote! “Would you like me to brew you some coffee?” Phoenix asks last night, her hand on the mini-pot and her head cocked.

Now I touch my daughter, lying in the bed still slumbering.  In her sleep she says, “Which one is the best?  All of them.” Then she opens her eyes and smiles right into mine and whispers, “Thank you.”

On the road again.

and upon returning i find the cats are truly disrespecting us, still

Our trip to Portland this last weekend proved a nice episode. I took my daughter, my car, and my bike. The idyllic roadtrip feeling did not last because my bike was a bit wobbly on the car and I ditched it at our favorite li’l hippie bakery for Ralph to pick up. Despite this sense of fail the rest of the trip went well. We arrived at perfect weather, I didn’t overdo it on the activities list, I made it to a dear friend’s bachelor party (or actually, I made it to one part of three of said celebrations), and most fun, I saw loads of my brother and sister and we walked most everywhere.

I felt oddly disconnected from my daughter most of the weekend. This was because I spent a lot of time with my siblings who are grownups, and I tend to wish to relate to them in grownup fashion. In fact when I’m around grownups I’m sometimes not “present” for my children which means I start to miss them. Many other adults are amazing with my kids and very sweet, but the only real grownups who don’t pull me off my kid-compass are Ralph and, to a slightly lesser extent, my mother, both of whom somehow integrate with me and the kids, and that’s a good thing, and I appreciate it (best sentence ever for far too many commas).

I missed Nels and Ralph so much. Coming home to them was the most calming feeling.

car trubble

HQX, 8:15 AM on Saturday
Ralph took a photo walk this morning; he’s been checking out a camera from the college.

Yesterday didn’t go so well. Sure, it started out great. I’d planned a brief Portland roadtrip with Sophie to visit my brother (and maybe my sister too, if the schedule worked out). I woke very excited about a sunny-weather trip. I spent the morning with my kids (both off school for Professional’s Day) cleaning house and giving them their Spring Cleaning, a fun little ritual where we clip nails, clean ears, and do an extra squeaky-clean full body overhaul, the three of us splashing in the tub. Sophie brought out her two green vinyl suitcases and we packed. She rattled off the itinerary for our trip to see Uncle Billy. We went to a six-kid playdate at A.’s while I helped two girlfriends with Halloween sewing.

Then, leaving A.’s house just a tad bit later in my schedule – my car wouldn’t start. And in a, it’s-not-just-the-battery-nor-even-the-starter way. I got a ride into town and decided to feel in despair. My dad came back out with me to A.’s and we confirmed the diagnosis that I was kind of screwed.

By 4 PM I was still in Hoquiam (not happily cavorting with my brother), having paid most of my Portland budget to No No’s Tows. The roadtrip was scrapped. I had a hard time telling Sophie this because I was upset, she was upset, and I didn’t want her to “read” more upset than there needed to be.

At about 4:30 things slowly began to improve. The van – after lots of helpful suggestions and understanding plus phone calls from A.’s house – had made it to our trusted auto shop. My mom, kids and I went to our favorite cafe and I had some fresh coffee. My mom bought me a few homebaked cinnamon rolls to take home. The waitress at the cafe brought in hand-me-downs she’d reserved for Nels (OK, that’s just so sweet). Mom and I made a date to meet up for some sock-knitting tips at the LYS the next day.

I headed home, thankful for kind friends and family, knowing Ralph would be there soon to meet me and try to cheer me up.