careful what you wish for

So, back in the day before I had family business and young kids to attend to I liked watching movies. Or rather, I like them still, but I used to watch more movies than I currently do. I’d thought for a while it was sad my lifestyle was one that the consumption of film had become so limited; or rather, that if I chose to consume movies like I used to, I’d never get the house tidied or the kids loved-up or the husband attended to, or whatever.

So what’s up this last day or two, I’ve been sick and what’s hardest about this is accepting lots of downtime. I’m not very sick, but I do have a sore, congested throat that teeters on healing in direct proportion to the amount I slow down to heal. So I’ve been laying low as much as possible since Thursday night when after my bellydancing class I first felt the hot, tingly pain in my tonsil regions (which have given me occasional trouble since childhood).

I talked to a friend a couple weeks ago who said he had a total intolerance and lack of compassion towards those who are sick. I found his self-knowledge commendable but his attitudes very common and sad for lack of conscious change; many people I know can’t stand illness as it is a sign of “weakness” and weakness is, I suppose, a bad thing. This is a Suck attitude to have because sooner or later we do have weakness and it becomes tremendously distracting and accompanied with self-judgment and a bunch of other horseshit. I am a good nurse to those who are sick, and I know illness is part of the inevitability of a life naturally lived. As for application to my personal being, I think it was in Stephen Levine’s Buddhist non-fiction work Who Dies? I read – to paraphrase – that illness and temporary disability provide us ways to practice patience and most of all presence even when things we take for granted fall away from us. (The book was a good one; yet I had to slam it shut on the chapter regarding the death of small children – there’s only so much I can handle for my evening reading.)

So today while the kids entertained themselves and Ralph took me out for a lovely lunch and a hot toddy, I had my hand precisely on the handle of the ladies’ restroom door when I realized that I was truly going to devote myself to the helplessness of being ill. This means resting today, and not feeling terrible about myself for cooking and cleaning less or – for some reason this really bothers me – not sewing. I’d be well soon enough. Wait. Patience. And it’s hard, as I am someone who likes my work.

In my ass-time over the weekend I’ve taken the opportunity to watch a few extremely worthwhile documentaries*: Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains (2007), P.O.V.: A Family Undertaking (2004), and Very Young Girls (2007) (all these titles are available on Netflix instant view). It’s funny, these documentaries – as well as the aforementioned Deliver Us From Evil I watched a few days ago – are about some upsetting subjects and should be all bleak and depressing. Instead I found myself just amazed – amazed at people and how incredible they can be. And I don’t mean this in some sort of generalized Precious Moments way, I mean I watched specific people and wanted to find them or email them or touch them on the shoulder and say, “Wow, thank you for sharing your story. You are amazing.” (This is also a testimony to the filmmaker’s skills).

So perhaps I will take watching difficult documentaries more often, rather than my typical B-movie fare. It isn’t seeming to upset or shorten my life any further.

And yes, despite all this wonderful film I’m ready to get better and back up to kicking ass in the kitchen, etc.

Sophie writes me an email today:

“just so you know, i want to live on a farm out in the country with lots of animals and chickens with roosters.


So, there’s that.

* And some rather so-so television programs.

SERIOUSLY with those bits of fluff that look like tiny legwarmers? WTF?

One of the best things about our new neighborhood is when the sun comes out the kids do too.  Thusly as I cook today (eggplant parmesan, butter noodles, sauteed spinach with pine nuts, homemade graham crackers, roasted roma tomatoes) there’s a little pack running about outside and climbing trees and yelling at one another (sometimes quite savagely) and biking and scooter-ing and taking trips down to the corner store.  My kids are pretty cool in that they mostly play outside in the fray but periodically come inside if they need water, want money, or require some TLC, a bandage, moral support, food, or something new to do (Sophie’s pets and her expertise in handling them – four chicks and a leopard gecko – gain her extra popularity).  The neighborhood kids seem to like our house well enough because, I think, there’s often cooking in process, it’s tidy, there are many pets, and there’s no television blaring.  A couple weeks ago when I made cookies for the group of neighborhood boys who were engaging in various ass-hattery, the fellows tromped in the house – carrying toy guns, which these few never seemed to want to put aside – and gaped at our spare household.  “This is a really nice house!” one of them finally blurts out, clearly impressed in some way.

Today my children realized some neighborhood child had the same walkie-talkie set.  They discovered this – to their everlasting joy – by hearing the voice of the child(ren) first, then trying to suss out who was speaking and where their new friend lived.  This adventure turned into many others as the sun soared above our cold little bright block.

Nels has a new scooter, a birthday gift from my mother.  I watch this afternoon as he enthusiastically makes a run up and down the block.  Then he throws the thing aside into the grass strip along the road and whips out the aforementioned communication device.  “HELLO?!” he yells into the handset, delighted to be called by one of his fellow agents.  I used to worry a bit about cars or assholian neighbors or the lack of things for the children to do outside, but this neighborhood has been the most active and affable that we’ve so far known.

Things do occasionally go south in the little gang.  Ralph peeks outside to locate the spare child we’ve been entertaining today (as her mother and father spend time at home with their newborn twins); it is almost time for him to go home.  The kids are in a group at the end of the block, having made a fortress of my mom’s old truck in the driveway and affixing it with a hand-lettered sign: “Everybody Allowed Except P.*”.  When my husband is ready to bike down to the store to pick up some groceries (parchment paper for aforementioned graham crackers) I suggest he ask P. along for the trip – a boy who is often the target of group exclusion.  But P. has already found a niche in the group again and is uninterested in leaving.  It’s hard to keep up with the social alliances that shift, ebb, and wane.

By the way, and off the subject of the kids for a moment.  This is the kind of motherfucking shit I have to deal with:

The composed creature in close-up is Silver, who seems to be a natural leader of the flock.  She is also a Silver Sebright and for some reason (her enviable plumage?) she cost 75 cents more than the other three (a pair of Americaunas named Fury and Felix Jr., and Light Brahma named Johann).  The cats show no sign of wanting to tamper with the chicks but do enjoy sleeping next to the chicks’ little habitat (likely because it’s very warm).  Lots of little lives clustered in the Hogaboom homestead.  If we ever have a fire we’ll be making a lot of trips into and out of the house.

* The name of a neighborhood child.

televisor por mi enfermedad

I’ve been nursing a sore throat and thereby being Smart and sitting on my ass watching several bits on Neftlix Instant View (and finishing up various knitting and hand-sewing projects).  The films I’ve seen in the last two days are as follows: Doubt (2008), Deliver Us From Evil (2006), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Pan’s Labyrinth (2008), and Ninja Assassin (2008).*  As well as this, often when Nels and I are snuggling late at night (while Sophie puts Ralph to bed) we watch “The Vicar of Dibley”, a British sitcom.  Nels loves it as it concerns a beautiful, fat female vicar (that means pastor) who’s a nice person and a funny person and gets to all sorts of silliness in her little township.  There’s also a bit of farm animal humor and bathroom humor and all-in-all, Nels and I are laughing and snuggling well into the wee hours.

You know, in all of this I’ve lucked out in that the viewing has all been very good except for perhaps one stand-out ( *cough, cough!* ).  Today Sophie watched quite a bit of Pan’s Labyrinth (yes, I know it’s not appropriate for children) and there was this scene where a man grabs his pregnant wife’s very pregnant tummy, and I didn’t think much of it but my daughter said, “That is so rude to grab a woman’s tummy without asking!”

And I thought, Sophie, you are seriously fucking awesome and I’m glad I’ve got my Feminist Paranoia rants set to 11.

* Yes, I know that’s a weird selection.

hasta mañana

For Nels’ birthday my son requested enrollment in Spy Camp at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia (his actual birthdate is this Wednesday).  He chose the week of half-day events over a Netbook* which I think is pretty indicative of his desire to learn Spying, as he is a little computer freak just like his grown-up little computer freak father.  I begrudge the thought of driving to Olympia (a 45-minute trip) five days this week but given I’m an infrequent driver most of the time and my mother has loaned us her van (which comes with a Sirius XM radio, which I am addicted to, yes 80s hits mostly) it’s not so bad.  And I’m super-glad to do something special for Nels who is suddenly on the verge of turning six, which is really weird because I just gave birth to him a few minutes ago.

So today I lost my temper at the kids, in a major way, not once but twice.  And I feel so bad about it it’s as if I shouldn’t have made the effort (to have a good day) at all.  Yes, I feel bad about myself despite getting up and packing a great lunch (my kids eat so. much. goddamned. food) and getting the children dressed with their teeth brushed then whipping up to “the city” and dropping Nels at his event and taking Sophie around on a walk about town, including a reclaimed materials art gallery and vegetarian lunch and a stop at a bakery I knew she’d love.  No, after all this and even with a dose of Mellow and lots of good humor I still behaved horridly, and No I still can’t give myself a break over it, but TIA for suggesting it, kbai.

And don’t even say that it’s precisely the inner-applied pressure of trying to be Perfect Mom that makes me snap and behave like Mommy Dearest.  Nice try, Pop Psychology, but that’s really not it.  Because I know I’m not Perfect Mom and I know in my logical brain that I provide enough awesomeness to my kids, and I don’t need to do better or work harder or whatever.  I mean I know this.  (Don’t I?)

And it’s not because kids are so hard to deal with and that’s why almost everyone farms them out in school.  Because in so many ways I am so used to my kids and who would have thought it, I completely love living my life with them most of the time.

Maybe it’s just that when I screw up I really tend to feel like I’ve Ruined Everything.  Even if for all I know my family doesn’t feel that way and I really should give myself a break.

Not that anyone wants to or needs to hear more about this, but because I need to write it out: driving home in the pissing-rain I felt eight kinds of terrible.  The layers of Terrible were blended in a perfect mental-emotional culinary mess of Fail.  I felt terrible I’d blown up at my kids.  I felt WORSE in that I’d been a great mom for the entire day and then somehow turned into a monstrer (yes, this is the correct spelling), instantaneously.  I felt terrible some dude may or may not have heard me totally yelling and losing my shit, and that this dude may or may not be a dude I’m going to see more of as he may or may not also have kids in the camp (ugh!). Then I felt terrible I should give so much of a damn what some random person might think when the really terrible thing is that I yell and cuss at my kids. I felt surprsingly devastated – devastated – I was going to miss my dance class (later I would find out the dance class would have been missed in any case – I was an hour off in my calculations, if you could call them that. And by the way, you can imagine how listlessly – stupid doesn’t encapsulate the word – I felt later when I realized my tantrum was based on a total erroneous supposition, that I could have in fact taken my son to camp without missing my class). I hate that feeling when I realize I’m not taking care of myself in my daily life, which means I cling so tenaciously to some little thing I have to have or else I’m going to be so upset. Danger! Danger!  And then I resent the hell out of everyone who, you know, doesn’t have small children, and then I know that’s unfair but.  Whatever.

I can’t quite describe the full depths of ass-ness that were attempting to overwhelm me during the first part of our drive home.  My wonderful kids were quiet.  They were not afraid or angry but simply present with me in my misery.  I drove and believed all sorts of bad things about myself.  But there was this tiny glimmer of light somewhere within me that kept saying, “What we think we become.”* I know this to be true, so I tried to stop myself thinking I was a Bad Mother or a Horrible Human Being, even though the evidence therein was in place. Terrible thoughts rose in my mind but I didn’t want to make them my reality.  I tried instead to believe I am someone who can change.  This is hard for me to believe.  I shifted my thoughts to knowing I’m someone who does very well much of the time.  This felt irrelevant.  I shifted my thoughts to know I’d been so good to my family most of the day. And I was going home to make dinner and take care of them some more.  I knew I could do that much, at least. I knew it would happen.

About 5:30 when we got into town I met up with Ralph at the bus station (he bikes/busses to work now that we’re vehicularly-compromised) and I had him take me to the dance studio while he and the kids ran to get dinner groceries.  Which was a weird request because my class was long dismissed.  But like Richard Gere shouted to his drill instructor after doing a butt-load of sit-ups, I had nowhere else to go.

There was a tap / jazz dance class in attendance at the studio, a very small one: the teacher L. and two students who seemed about high school senior age.  The threesome let me stay and watch.  I’ve never particularly liked tap nor jazz dance.  But watching these dancers was the perfect prescription for my bruised ego.  L. is a teacher who obviously enjoys just about every kind of dance, so it’s pretty wonderful to watch her.  Singing a show tune and mapping out choreography and lifting her arms she is a beautiful sight to behold not just for her skill and physical beauty but for her enjoyment of the dance itself.  I’ve known her, albeit not well, since she was a little girl.  She loved dance then, too.  Funny thing.

A few minutes after I arrived the class tried to encourage me to join them.  I was so drained and exhausted and kind of crazy-sad I didn’t have the energy to stoically refuse (which would be a typical MO).  Fortunately my very wide feet  (raised in Doc Martens and therefore untrained to cram into ladies’ narrow fashions) kept me from fitting in the pinchy (¡pinche!) shoes.  I sat in my sock feet and watched, warmed and grateful for a respite. The dizzying and fast footwork were oddly completely soothing.  It was like feeling like a terrible person but somehow still being safe because no one was needing me nor paying attention to me.

Home and I read to the kids; but not before cooking a (vegetarian, Ralph and I are tasting the Hate and Suffering in meat lately) dinner: butter parmesan noodles, pan-roasted garbanzo beans, sauteed kale, cucumber salad, roasted cauliflower, and steamed broccoli.  And I washed the clothes and folded and put them away and got things ready for tomorrow. Because:

Tomorrow is another day.

Nels, posing for his Spy Camp badge:

Urbane & Sophisticated

* Not the real link we would use to purchase, as my husband would find some way to get the damn thing cheaper.

** The entire quote is: ““All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” It is attributed to Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

“couched” in mediocrity *

I’m handsewing more. It’s a learning experience. Learning that I suck at handsewing. Whatever. By this “whatever” I mean as follows: I think I am this incredibly bush-league person who gets decent enough at a variety of talents but ever gets very good at any particular thing.  This previous sentence is fact; the part that’s interesting is I struggle with accepting my fair-to-middling-ness.  I feel guilty that I never reach Awesome.  Yet it isn’t even that I’m unwilling or unable to put the time in to do something really well. It’s just that at a certain point I plateau and can’t / don’t push past it. This is Me; this is my life (Trust me – Cooking! Yoga! Blow jobs!). It kind of makes me feel terrible and it kind of makes me laugh.

I am working on being grateful for a body that works and for a life where I can exercise my creativity and impulsivity.  These are wonderful forces in my life.

Sea-Snail Wrist Pincushion

Today I made a sweet-enough little wrist pincushion (recognize the fabric for the applique’d patch?). For stitchers these devices are quite useful (you keep needles and pins handy instead of buried under piles of fabric alongside your work station or wherever else). I’d love to gift this to someone; I am not sure who though. I sized it to fit my rather small wrist (6 1/2″) and slip over my, shall we say, petite (= stubby) hands.

I like up-close pictures of stitching work because the way these pictures look is how I feel when I am sewing and things are going well:


(You can see more delicious up-close photos of this project here at the Flickr tagset.)

My daughter is having intermittent bouts of difficulty. She has grown to be a very good citizen who is also at times very hard on herself.  I seem to be a source of her power and a source of her self-hatred.  She is alternatively child-like and affectionate to me, then suddenly deeply troubled and wounded.  Her hurt surfaces even at times when I have done nothing, in that moment, to hurt her. Nevertheless I know this is my fault because I have not been a gentle parent. I try to wait patiently for her. I try to do better as a parent. It is hard.

I seek to surround myself with humane parents.  Because I look around me and see so many who act as if their children are these huge impositions in their life.  The kids are messy or “rude” or they crawl into bed at night and they Need To Learn Limits. Etc. Etc. I see so many non-parents act as if children are obtuse, messy, smelly, clumsy, “rude”, scary, sub-human, second-class citizens.  It is a grave disservice we do to our children.  They are people first and foremost.  So many of us are too tiny, pent-up, and fearful to do better by them.

These days my sins are not those of a person who does not recognize the Sacred within my children (and all other people), but rather a person who has a hard time just slowing down to Be. This is the gift my daughter needs. I hope I can give it to her the next time she feels open to requiring me.

* Because that blue/gold bit on the pincushion is a couched stitch! Hahahaha… ha… heh. Eh. Meh.

what the hell, that literally sounded like a tumbleweed blowing through, did you actually expect it to work?

Today Jen and I took our four kids up to the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia.  Then to the park, hot dogs, organic coffee, the fabric store, ice cream.  A day built around (mostly) what the kids want to do yet in such a way as parents could enjoy too.  Homemade snacks, lots of play, sunshine and rain, great grownup conversation, and some four-way bickerfests from the progeny in the two backseats of the minivan (no one child was immune to asshattery today but I’m proud to say the moms held up pretty well).

At the park today some fool in a group of fools wolf-whistled me as I walked though the grass to collect the kids.  He had to do it a couple times because he had a really undeveloped, airy whistle.  Seriously? I mean don’t bring that shit if you can’t even get it done.  And note: the group of guys housing the whistler (who’d made appreciative grunts or whatever) were silent on my return trip past them, because I had kids with me.  Awww yeah. Because a woman ain’t worth hitting on unless you’re doing it with creepy intent, surely not for children to witness.

Dr. Sophie Hogaboom:


Shopper & Chef Nels Hogaboom:


You know what’s important? Coffee.


Today: yards and yards and yards of fabric for a practice skirt for bellydancing. & now Ralph cooks dinner: Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad, Asparagus with a Parmesan Crust, and Lemon Pepper Baked Zucchini.

So, that all works out.

Brooklyn, a tank top: repurposing

Killa Zilla

My daughter seems to love the little knit camisoles and tanks I’ve made her.  The Brooklyn tank top was the next project as listed in my Farbenmix sew-up project, and yet the weather is not really tank-top weather. I chose to make a double-layer tank, providing more warmth than it might first appear.  Yesterday Sophie layered it under a close-fitting jean jacket. She survived outdoor walks in the wind and indoor frolics in the dance studio equally well.

Sophie / Dance Studio Mirror

Good quality knits hold up well during their usage, do not pill, and have intelligible grainlines to work with.  Purchasing good-quality knits isn’t exactly easy unless you live in a city and know where to find them.  You can order online but then, since you are not able to feel and see the fabric, you are at a slight disadvantage.  I do order fabrics online, but when I am matching something I prefer to see them in the flesh.  Case in point: nine yards of silk velvet burnout are on their way to my house for a bellydancing skirt.  I won’t purchase fabric to make a coordinating top until I can carry a swatch of the skirt fabric around in my hand.

Back to this tank top: fortunately, finding very nice-quality t-shirts is an option where I live because we have a few wonderful thrift stores.  These shirts are from Thrift City here in Aberdeen and are high-end brands in Pima cotton.

At first I’d thought to dress this top up a bit.  I’ve been sewing a bit of Alabama Chanin projects – making an armchair pincushion for a practice run – and I thought to decorate the bodice with reverse applique.  After experimenting with both hand- and machine-sewn versions, I decided to just keep the shirt simple.  It wasn’t working out for me.  To put it politely.

Instead I added a couple subtle tucks at the hem of the outer jersey fabric to expose the dusty rose of the underlayer. The double-layer makes for a sturdy garment; the soft hand makes for a very cozy shirt for my girl.

Pink / Pink / Pink

This top was very easy to sew.  If you are a beginner sewing with jerseys, I might suggest using strips of stabilizer or a stabilizing spray when you are sewing directly on the jersey (my mother-in-law tells me you can dissolve scraps of stabilizer in water and use it as a DIY spray or paint to stabilize. I am sure this works, and it is cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray). Your aim in using these products will be to stabilize the edges of the jersey.  Such persnickety handling is not needed for the entire project; for instance, after you’ve attached the trim and are topstitching it things go easily without stabilizing (the woven fabrics are against the feed dogs).

This brings me to my favorite aspect of this project.  The notable thing about this top was the construction of the trim.  I chose to use a woven fabric on the bias, as opposed to a knit.  For any novice stitchers reading here, bias trim is made from long strips cut on the bias of the fabric and used at hemlines and seamlines or as detail. These bias strips serve as ties and trim both.  Using the bias is important, as only then will a woven perform a bit of stretch and can easily go around a curve; a strip cut on the straight-of-grain would not work well at all.

In this version, you attach the 1 1/4″ strip’s long edge to the right-side of the garment edge, flip the trim to the backside, and triple zig-zag topstitch all layers:

New Bias Trick For Knits
A triple zig-zag is a thready stitch, but such a great one with knits. You can pretty much use it with impunity. The results are a firm, slightly stretchy, and very sturdy trim application.  Given I have a very small stash of fabric, a project like this is perfect for using scraps to trim the top.

Tie Close-Up, Brooklyn Tank Top
¡Que bonita!

You can read a few more details in my Flickr tagset.

spring in name only, it feels like summer

Nels wore Sophie’s little blue bubble dress and her Riviera leggings today. He looked very fetching in that electric blue. He was a total joy, happy and alert and funny (although I am instructed to never, ever laugh at him, and he helped me out with the things I needed to do when I asked (predictably because things never go totally smoothly, it was Sophie who was more difficult for me today, or perhaps more accurately she is finding me problematic. She’s mad at me and I don’t yet know why). In the afternoon he played for a good half hour en la lavandería while I shopped at, shocker, Thrift City. The kids aren’t tired of it and neither am I. While I browse Sophie likes to take a few minutes on the dilapitated-but-working treadmill that’s been there a while, hoy con helado de fresa en mano.

I didn’t get the truck to the shop. Tomorrow, perhaps. Today we mostly focused on enjoying the sun, and eating ice cream. Like, I fed them ice cream all day. So, there’s that.

Muchos Helados Hoy

Riviera, leggings: construction and fit in simple knit garments


Leggings are, to quote Mugatu, “so hot right now”!  Even if they go out of vogue for the adult fashion set, they’ll always be practical for children.  You can use them for play wear, costumes, or pajamas, and they’re smart in the Northwest where layering clothes is de rigueur for our capricious weather swings.

Leggings come in about three fits (your terminology may vary): loose, fitted, and footless tight (or negative fit).  The Riviera leggings in the Farbenmix book are pretty much just what you might understand by the book’s photos – that is, a legging in between loose and fitted.  This makes perfect sense for children’s garments when you want them to last more than one season.  If you were sewing these leggings for an adult, he/she might not like such a relaxed silhouette.

Knit fabrics that work well for fitted or footless tight style will have a sufficient bit of “spring” to them.  This isn’t rocket science, and you can test it in the fabric store.  Simply pull aross the stretchy grain and release: you want to see a bit of “snap”.  You can certainly sew leggings up in something with less elasticity but they may bag slightly during wear – and if sufficiently un-springy (like a 100% cotton), they may retain a knee-shape (this reason is why I hate stretch jeans – even with a tiny bit of spandex in them, they are significantly looser at stress points by the end of one wearing).

Leggings are usually made with one pattern piece, roughly a six-sided kite-shape.  The top and bottom represent half the waist and the full leg hem, resp.  There is a front and back crotch curve at the top of each piece, and the long “kite” leg sides of the piece represent the inseam.

Here is my general methodology for leggings: reinforcing all construction seams, I finish each leg first (hems and all), then turn one leg inside out, slip a right-side out legging into it, and sew them together at the crotch.  I then construct the waistband, which is the trickiest part.  I will detail in the following paragraph but – don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed, as a method will likely be detailed (with pictures) in any pattern worth its salt.

Reinforcing seams:

Reinforce Seams

To construct the waistband.  I first make a tag in the back of the leggings (otherwise simple pants, without a fly or pockets to guide you, can be tricky to tell front from back).  I cut elastic to the comfortable waist measurement (either using my intended, or taking a waist measurement minus an inch or two), stitch the elastic together at the short ends, and mark both the elastic and the pants hems in quarters.  I slip the elastic “loop” into the pants and pin at the quarter marks, pinning the stitched-together elastic at the back seam of the leggings (below photo, tag included).  Then I stitch the top of the elastic to the raw edge of the leggings with the legging fabric against the feed dogs, stretching the elastic as I go (I first take a few stitches before stretching to secure the seam).  You can use a simple zig zag or a three-step zig zag for the waistband stitches.  After the elastic is secured at the top edge I simply fold the whole business down to the inside of the pants, then stitch again, stretching the legging fabric again.  Easy – especially after you’ve practiced a bit.

Preparing To Attach Waistband

My methodology is more or less the methodology outlined in the Farbenmix book.  The waistband recommended for the Riviera leggings is sport elastic.  I used the 1 1/4″ channeled sport elastic I use for sewing the kids’ boxer shorts.  It’s very soft and supple and easy to work with.

Sewing elastic to knits is easy and, once you get the hang of it, very fun.  For instance, the dress Sophie is wearing in the finished-garment photos is a GAP size 0 rayon number we purchased for $5 at Pure Clothing in Hoquiam.  The dress, being an adult size, was too large in the chest and strap length.  I sewed the straps shorter, cut off the excess, and added some 1/4″ elastic to the top of the dress.  These alterations took about fifteen minutes together and now Sophie has a stylish playdress (if you want to watch a tutorial on sewing elastic to stretchy knits, Brian Remlinger, my favorite sewist to stalk, has an excellent tutorial of a fast, effective method).

I made only one ruche (pronounced “roosh”) on the leggings.  This is because I still do not have a rolled hem plate for my serger (my local vendor keeps forgetting to order me one) so it’s not all that fun to finish edges of fabrics that require slender hems.  I simply did a zig-zag; the fabric isn’t going to ravel or anything.  The busy pattern of the fabric also hides any less-than-professional stitch-business:


My daughter loved the leggings – once she saw they were ready she changed into them.  They fit her perfectly both in size and in attitude.

You can read more details of construction at my Riviera Flickr tagset.


so i’m at least not a horrific goblin, or at least not all of the time, despite my occasional lapses into Suck

I received two emails today, hard upon the heels of one another. They read, in part, as follows:

you happy? For the week following your email, I haven’t been able to do a lick of email work – AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. Engrossed as I’ve been with reading your stuff, I’ve kept wondering if there is an end to this wonderful tunnel of love & freedom. Lovit, lovit, lovit! Where did you get the devotion-to-kids, the insights, the compassion, the courage to be so open and vulnerable and brave the brickbats that are inevitably visited upon anyone as free? I’ve worked on it for more than the last half of my life (I’m 81), and I just get stronger and more dedicated. But then, I’m a trained Buddhist (Bodhisattva), with 40 years of daily meditation practice, so slings and arrows are just slings and arrows, nothing personal, nothing more.

I believe I love you. (So much for training in detachment.)

and then:

I am writing because I want to say thank you. There is no way for you to know how much you have inspired and uplifted me simply by being you and sharing it. I love to read your blog. At first, it was just out of curiosity. A friend or another directed me to it. I honestly don’t remember where, how or even who. (As a former Hoquiamite myself it could have been any number of people.)

I was deeply impacted by the realness, the simple beauty of life through your expressions. It has helped me challenge myself to be a better person. I find myself re thinking so many things because of your perspective. Thank you for putting yourself out there. For sharing pieces of your heart and soul. It has made a difference in my life. I just wanted you to know. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Yeah.  So, there’s no downside to these missives. Thank you, readers – those who write, yes, but also those who read here and in any way find themselves helped, or pleased, or laugh. I know I can be so terribly dark-sided and I am glad to know that is not the only thing people find in me.

So, thank you Universe.

My daughter has been a solitary animal of late, little satisfied with her lot in life despite our (for the most part) compassionate acceptance of her difficulties.  She is quick to disappear into a book, sitting out in my mother’s old pickup truck in the afternoon sunshine.  I am both sad for her sufferings and impressed by her ability to be alone with herself, her autonomy.  She comes in a half hour later and is calmed; she seeks me out.  During the day, as busy as I get I try to lay down or sit down and, like our male cat, she comes to find me and be next to me. This is when she opens up, when she heals from whatever has been hurting her.  We lay in bed together and I feel her hands gently patting at me and I smell her hair (sweet or creepy? you decide!) and I know she is finding something in me that helps her find her way.

Mi Niña Sophita Y Yo

I am seriously so glad my kids got their looks from Ralph, or someone else.  Seriously, it’s no big deal being homely.  Just, it’s boring.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

Oh, and don’t be all commenting that I’m pretty or whatever. Or I will roll my eyes so hard you’ll hear them clicking.