that it’s just what we needed / you decided this

My son climbs in the bed and flips his hair, which is soaking wet from the shower. Even a few moments on my pillow will leave it wet the rest of the night, as much hair as he has and how well the tangles hold moisture. “I will love you forever,” he tells me as he settles into my arms. It’s late and he’s exhausted but he wants to fall asleep here with me. I hold him for a while but send him to his own bed. I fear tonight he may have night terrors; he used to get them so often when he was much younger. Now we see them about once a year. Frightening and brutal, but for all that I am glad for their infrequency.

I slept well last night and indeed have been sleeping well lately, and I am grateful for this. I am struggling with so much anger of late. My little family gives me so much solace and joy; so does my volunteer work. So too, does my yoga. Maybe it is just that I am so faithful in all of these and it’s my faithfulness that sustains me.

I set forth in my studio and work on a pair of velveteen trousers with gathered knees, and double-welt slash front pockets, and flower-shaped fell-stitched back pockets, a jaunty little pair of luxe knickerbockers for a small child. The velveteen is gorgeous but dot not perform well when cut, shifting irritating bits of fluff all about my clothing and sewing machine table. For all that I persist – building and constructing a half-lining similar to a pair of men’s dress trousers. Grosgrain ribbon for the inner waistline. When finished they are a delight; I set them aside as I will be adding more pieces soon, for this same child.

Part of my irritation may be the cold in my studio; I think it fatigues me to work there. My hands are cold when I come upstairs and I heat them by washing them, or pouring another cup of hot coffee. Last week I put together the hummingbird feeders again as a solitary soldier was visiting now and then; so I can look out the window while cupping my mug, and watch the alacrity of the birds, the sun and rain outside on the fierce and fine weather we are having.


Herbert Pocket & Her Beans

boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!

Herbert Pocket & Her Beans

Scuba Hoodie, Designed & Sewn By Me

At seven-ish in the morning I get up. The house is quiet. I use the bathroom, wash my hands. I notice the oven is on and when I peer in, I behold three perfectly oiled up potatoes. I realize Nels has stayed up all night – and this occurs to me right at the point he cheerfully pops his head in the door, pleased to see me awake. He asks me something, but I’m headed to bed. I can’t remember how I respond. I am back next to Ralph, and I fall asleep quickly.

A couple hours later and my husband wakes me, rising up from the bed. I look over and there’s my son: his belly full of hot potatoes, presumably, sleeping like he’d fallen a great height into the bedclothes.

Twelve hours later, at the end of the long day, he’s still asleep. I am working in the office and I hear him say, “Hello?” – his voice sounding much younger than his thirteen years. I go to cuddle him close; he is dismayed he’s slept through the daylight. “Nels,” I ask: “How many potatoes did you eat, out of curiosity?” “Two and a half,” he whispers. Still waking up. A few moments later he is in the kitchen, crouching on the tile in his t-shirt and underwear. His hair is wild and his eyes wide.

“You can play your game tonight. And when dad gets up, you can hang out with him. Allison is coming over for dinner tomorrow. And tomorrow night you can sleep with Mama,” I tell them. I watch his mind work, as he determines this is a sensible course of action. He cheers immediately.

When I was his age I was letting the disrespectful boys around the way teach about French kissing and stealthy groping. Ugh. If nothing else, I am providing my children with a hundred percent more wholesome upbringing.

Yesterday: we called upon a new acquaintance, to see a litter of kittens. I thought I’d feel good after holding them but I just wanted to hold them a lot longer. They are two days old and their eyes aren’t open. I found myself feeling anxious after we left. It’s only been a little over a year since Trout’s litter died in our hands. It seems I can’t get my mind around what my responsibility to it all is.

We Visit Kittens

Nels, Godzilla

My own sleep will be his / clock, safely keeping time

It’s at least three in the afternoon by the time my son rises from bed. Our cosleeping years are finally (mostly! – and recently) over; both kids installed in their own beds after so many years. That said, Nels creeps into bed with me half mornings. While I make coffee and do my yoga and pitter-patter through the house, his tousled head is barely visible between the pillow and comforter and his frame stretches across the bed, just his long feet visible. There may be no greater pleasure in life than the sums of thousands of mornings, knowing my children rest safely.

So today I’m cooking up a tofu scramble and toasting seed bread, he pads into the living room. He is wearing red briefs and a lime-green tank top; bright colors against his skin that is always brown and sweet, even in the dead of winter.

Phoenix sets out plates and cloth napkins and forks. I toast the bread, in the oven, no toaster, careful not to burn myself on the hot stove element! While the kids giggle in the next room I assemble plates of hot food; the three of us curl up on the couch and queue up an old monster movie. They watch the movie, but I watch them. I am thinking of all the time I spent refusing to send them off somewhere, so they could eat well and sleep deeply and watch monster movies with their heads still tangled from sleep. Phee has indeed been to the college campus and back today, but their head bears the telltale tufted remembrance of wrestling with a pillow; like a much-younger child.

I have so many memories of countless such mornings, but something is going wrong now. The children are older, so much older. I realize that unless I am very careful, very mindful, my time with them will have passed like it was nothing at all. It is easy to be a kind and loving mother when I see that in no time at all they will no longer be here in my home under my wing.

Wrapping up my hair; I have to get dressed and off to a meeting. The kids are doing the dishes. The cats are starting to run afoot – they know Ralph will be home to feed them soon. My husband texts – dinner tonight? He is preparing for a journey; the kids and I will have a few days alone. But for now: the evening will fall soon, and into another lovely, dark and warm night. Placed in our home, safe with one another.

Nels, Godzilla


dreamin’ ’bout my bundle of joy

Today I finished a birthday dress for my sweet soon-to-be-thirteen-year-old daughter. I traced a tailored garment template for my super-secret relatively-ambitious large sewing project. I got through our laundry pile and attended two back-to-back yoga classes. Ralph took a final test and got his second A+ Certification; he’s on his way to a Bachelors. When he got back in tow, we had lunch together – and helped a friend out with a wee errand.

I am feeling better. Can you tell?

Not everything is in tip-top shape. Incredibly, my cough still hangs on – and it if wasn’t for a recent chest x-ray I’d be worried. My shoulder injury affects my yoga practice a great deal. I am learning patience – and humility.

My children are cheerfully growing up – I am relegated to a support position, mostly. My son is entrenched in afterschool basketball. This week he gets a 98 on a big math test – and tonight he asks if I’m proud of him. Of course I am. He went from having absolutely-no-formal-math ever, to acing a math cirriculum so controversial and oblique that the untrained adult can’t figure it out.

My daughter is looking forward to her birthday. She probably doesn’t realize just how many special little things we have planned for her. Tonight we’re watching “The Venture Bros” and she’s snickering at my shoulder. But after one episode she stands and says, “Mom – I love watching with you, but I have to respect my body. I’m going to bed [early].” She shakes her hair out of her eyes and exits. I’m left here with a bed full of cats – Ralph off in Nels’ room, putting our son to bed.

I’m thinking family life, I stressed way too much when they were younger, my little ones. I’m only glad I started easing off a bit while they were still in the home.


waiting in the wings

The light is on in the hallway; the dryer is running, keeping my son company while we hold one another close in his bed. He twines his arms around my neck and tells me, “I wish you’d sleep with me.” I am not at all tempted, because I can only fall asleep in my own bed. But there is a pang – I love him so!

Nels tells me he will “tempt” me, and starts listing all the soothing things he can think of to put me to sleep. “A nice chicken dinner,” he whispers, referring to our evening’s repast. And now – I’m stifling laughter. His hair, his skin, his breath – so sweet. And I am sad I will be leaving his arms.

Today – I was exhausted. I was so glad to be experiencing a manageable level of pain for our matinee performance that my time onstage was simultaneously joyful – and also monstrous, because with each bar of music I remembered the night before. I came home, had a late lunch, a hot shower, and retired immediately to pajamas for some junky television.

My daughter has a dry cough that’s gone on for quite long enough: tomorrow, a doctor’s appointment. Moving around a few dollars to cover the rent check. Canceling crafting out at the child’s school – probably, unless I feel much better. Tackling the handful of bills we can’t pay this pay period.

Tonight, though: gratitude for another day, for friends who are loving, helpful, and supportive. And that I didn’t vomit onstage.




Today I swam a long swim, hustled money from one old rotten tree stump to another (to cover bills about to post), did the housework, got my kiddos where they needed to be, took an alcoholic and an addict sans vehicle to two back-to-back meetings, and swooped in to pick up and foster a kitten displaced by an evacuation in Hoquiam.

Beyond tired. No quips here; and I lack the stamina to write a bit more about it, really.

Crashing into bed in 3, 2, 1…

yet nothing can resist it

My daughter and I hop into the pool a mere forty minutes before it’s set to close. Swim team, classes, and other lap swimmers have kept it busy, so the water has churned itself up into being cold and inhospitable. Unpleasant; but, I know after only half a length I’ll feel just fine.

Phoenix hits the water ahead of me, striking out for the other side and the shadow of the diving board. Experiencing what can only be described as a sense of bemused dismay I am stunned at how quickly she can swim, a full year since she quit swim team. She is completely confident and displays correct, if a bit choppy, technique: swinging her head to take that breath, her arms golden and sleek churning the water. Her energy makes me feel tired, but – give me a break, I still have a head cold. I follow behind and make it there, eventually. She remarks on my speed. “Give me a break,” I tell her. “I’m just learning.” Re-learning, really. But it’s been about twenty years.

We finish my half-mile at my pace, and in between my lengths she darts back and forth, easily outstripping me and the other two adults in the pool. Every now and then she pulls herself up to the side of the pool, arms folded across her long and lean belly. Her eyes like tiger stripes, long inked hair framing her serene but savage beauty.

I feel this helpless sense of something after our half hour is up, when we finally emerge from the now-empty lap pool and head for a few minutes in the hot tub. I’m thinking she won’t want to come along next time, especially with me swimming as slowly as I am (still learning to breathe properly and it’s a slog). But instead of trying to beg or hint or anything I simply lean in and tell her, “Thank you for coming with me. You are an inspiration to me as a swimmer.” She replies, “Thank you.” Fifteen minutes later in the car – hair washed, lights spangling against the windshield’s rain – she says, “I want to come with you next time.”

It has been wonderful having her home – no school this week. She is resting, drawing, helping with housework, and in general being a lovely presence. The additional sleep, and the lack of a grueling school schedule, provides her with more patience for her brother than she has shown this school year. This morning: when I wake, I find her curled up in my new oversized chair, drawing quietly and waiting for our day to start. An hour later she dresses for errands including deep plum eyeshadow and her coat with a fur-lined hood; she joins Nels and I for lunch out – and takes to a hot cup of soup with precision and hunger, like a lady.

She is nearly silent when she’s not giggling at video games or a goofy cartoon movie of her brother’s choosing. She is a flower in my home. With her blue-black hair, sharp hips, and long legs, she is a reedy and dangerous exotic orchid twining up the furniture, growing before my very eyes! I have to grab her belly or pull her down on top of me on the couch to get her to giggle helplessly and then I can see it: that brief glimpse of babyhood, the only softness left to her – a gentleness under her chin, a tender oasis hiding above her slim neck.

Rain outside; but the storm, for now, has passed. A soft bed and a warm room; cats, dogs, even the rabbit sleeping now. A bit of bread and olives; a glass of hot water and Chinese herbs.


we belong to each other

I’m up early and my daughter is in the bathroom, getting ready for her day. She’s just applied green eyeshadow and looks smart in her skinny jeans and layered tops: Seahawks colors, in celebration of yesterday’s big win.

“How did you sleep?” she asks me.

“I slept well, but I woke too early.” I sit next to her while she ties her shoes.

“Are you stressed?” she asks, glancing up at me.

“I am. A little.”

“What are you worried about?”

“Stuff.” I rise, go to the window, open the curtain a bit. The morning light, a bit of sanity, a respite from the terror of night.

“I just heard about this study, where they analyzed nightmares. It was found people often suffered nightmares when they were stressed about something – usually relationships. Or money.”

“Bingo,” I say, thinking, food. Although my kids don’t need to know that exactly.

“I felt so moved reading that study because, I know what it’s like to have nightmares. Although -” her face scrunches in what is an almost comically-adorable expression of wonder – “I haven’t had nightmares in a long time. I used to.”

I ask her if she is happy in her life.

“Yes… mostly. It’s not perfect.”

“I doubt anyone has a perfect life,” and I’m thinking, Sophie, I don’t know why but something about her scrunched face reminds me of her toddlerhood and so my mind finds her long-ago child name –

“But – what would you like different?” I ask.

She looks at me with frank appraisal, yet she is blushing.

“Besides that,” I tell her.

“I think… I would like… a nice family.”

I’m surprised. “Oh? We aren’t ‘nice’?”

“It’s not perfect,” she repeats, but she’s thoughtful as she says it.

“What do you wish was different?” I ask her. She’s the wisest person of the four of us anyway, and – tired as I am, I’m willing to hear some new ideas.

“I don’t know,” she says now, sitting up on the couch and looking at me. Young tigress.

“How about that is your assignment for today. Think about what you’d like differently for the family.”

She nods, turns her head – her sleek hair pulled in a ponytail. She is very lovely, in every way.

You can see why, this morning, I was desirous to type out our conversation before it flitted from my mind.

My mind. My practitioner told me I should rest it, to feed my blood. I believe she is right. Resting one’s mind is quite a challenge!

I am stressed, I am worried. I am. A little. I’m not thrilled my sleep was shortchanged but since I’m up, I will wash dishes and take my dog on a run. It’s true today I’d rather curl up and “do nothing” but I’m going to do what I should because I should do it. I gotta be patient and not panic although when my sleep is disrupted, I tend to worry.

Patience. Patience. At swim class the other day, the lifeguard told me: “The only sport – the ONLY sport – where you have to consciously think about your breathing.”

Yes. & no. Today I gotta breathe right, even though my head is nowhere near water.

sweet little baby on a big white doorstep

I’m dismayed to report that stress has gotten the better of me, just a bit. It’s not that I think I should be stress-free or anything. It’s just: I’m on that roller coaster and while I can practice some self- and other-care to help me out, I can’t just magic-wand the anxiety away.

A few times this last week I’ve been slamming awake at night just minutes after falling asleep, in a panic. This used to happen nightly; but I’d had a reprieve for a few months, thank baby Jeebus. The panic dissipates slowly over a few minutes, and I fall asleep within a half hour. Then, I sleep well (I think), but then in the morning, the last couple weeks or more, every morning, I wake up and:

How will I feed the family today? Tuesday I had put aside my Singer treadle; an acquaintance had asked us to hold it and was adamant they wanted to buy it. Then, about an hour before they were to come over, they cancelled. Now this kind of thing, to them maybe it’s no big deal, but for me: food for us for the next four days, vanished. I am not angry, though – of course not. I know that caring for my family is my responsibility, not someone else’s.

Yesterday I saw my doctor for a few issues, including some “sports” injuries, and an unrelated nerve pain in my arm. He gave me medicine for the latter and said it would help with insomnia. I thought about telling him I was experiencing stress but I kept quiet on that point since we had other things to talk about. I have a follow-up with him in two months and if I’m still having troubles, I can tell him then.

There are times in my life I find it almost impossible not to be intensely preoccupied with the struggles I have. Yes, they are real but, come on – they aren’t that big a deal, when I pull back and look at my life from the perspective of the massive, infinite Universe. I am only on this planet in this body for a minute or so! Why my preoccupation? Selfishness, really.

I do what I can to find some balance. I try to eat right, to drink my five quarts daily of water, to get some exercise, to rest up, to meditate. It is at the point that even if I rest, I don’t feel very rested. I am drained and tired. But I try to rest and eat anyway, as well as I can, and I turn my thoughts to one thing that seems to ease my mind and nurture my spirit: helping others without regard for return.

And on that note, wee kitten No-No, whom we’ve fostered a little over two weeks, is going off to PAWS on Saturday to receive her vaccinations and be made viewable to the public. Surely she will be adopted her first day in public (and if not, we will pick her up and bring her here again, then bring her back on next adoption day) so on Saturday when we drop her off and I CONFESS after we kiss her black kitty lips at eleven A.M., it will likely be the last time I get to hold her.

This is going to sound – well, who gives a shit how it sounds. What I want to say is, I am proud of my family for fostering this little kitten. She is just a little tuft of life but without our care (and the vet’s medical attention) she would have had a feral kittenhood and adult cat life, which is to say a dangerous one. As it is, in our home, she’s been well-fed, de-flea’d, and loved up almost every waking moment.

Maybe it’s precisely because times are tough, doing something I know makes a difference, it feels concrete in some way.

Some people teased me we were just adopting a kitten, not fostering it, but our foster intentions were real and still are. I am glad to let No-No have a forever home although I’m not going to lie, I will MISS HER so much.

No-No, Nighttime

Little scrap!

No-No, Nighttime

Even as I type, she prounces under my desk and swats at my feet. I reach down and she’s already purring, an anticipatory response to pleasure. I curl her up on my chest and smell her honey-fur warmth and it’s off to lie down a bit. Patience, and rest, and taking things slow.

we r ok

Standing Tall

My lovely daughter – standing tall.

Kitchen Sink, Frosty Morning

Cleaning my sink – morning, cold outside.

Backyard, Frosty Morning

The backyard.

My Hot Little Sandwich

My hot little sandwich! Sleeping in until an astonishing hour.


Hutch tries his hardest to control his mind, waiting patiently for me to take a picture. HE WANTS TO BE RUNNING SO MUCH. So much running. Running running running.

Flag Flying. Dog Pissing.

A majestic fort, complete with “flag”. A dog marks his territory.

For Bun-Bun

Nels retrieves bedding for Bun-Bun.

"The Seasons", Four Drawings For Jessah

“The Seasons” – a set of four drawings Nels completes for his new “nanny” J.