the air that I breathe & to love you

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

The sun is out and there’s something about the air; it’s still got a bit of chill especially as the evening falls but I find I’m feeling restless for the summer. We’re down to one car and we’d better fix a few things on that or we’ll be down to zero (sorry to talk about the cars again; it’s just where we live, family-of-four life without a car is no joke). I turn the engine over and the Mercedes belches out grey smoke and coughs for a while while it warms up. This car. The missing muffler and the screaming belt. I am serious. It’s funny. Sorry neighbors. I still love it, though.

It’s the sunshine and the car trouble so I say something out loud before I’ve thought it through, I don’t know if we’ll get a vacation this year, and I’m okay with it, just thinking of hot sand and doing nowt and just picturing the little pots of money moving them back and forth, more than enough to feed us and shelter us so no worries. But:

“It will be worth it,” my daughter says. “We’ll have sent a family to the unschooling conference.” That’s cool. It’s like as a parent you make these decisions as best you can, and you bet we made this decision as a family, informed consent, but it’s cool the kids aren’t backing down even while I’m teetering on feeling like an ass.

She continues: “They’ll have a wonderful time.”

I say, “We had sixteen families apply for our scholarship. They are all great applicants. Would you like daddy and I to make the final decision, or would you like to help?”

“Oh, I’d love to help!” Her response is immediate. We talk about it a bit. We share ideas about criteria for selection. I put the car in gear and we head out to take her to swim team. My son puts his hand on my arm and tells me he loves me.

***

Later, Ralph’s out of town, I walk in the falling shroud of darkness, wet and cold, I’m with the dog, off a little over a mile to pick up my daughter. In the backpack I’ve a couple rolls for her to eat, a big woolen hat and a coat. Hutch trots at my side, HAPPIER THAN ANYTHING EVER just to be along with me. Even after his massive weight loss he is still a big dog, and despite his obviously friendly, mild body language, sometimes people cross the street when they see him. In fact, walking at night alone as a lady, I don’t mind having a huge dog alongside. He is the gentlest creature ever though and I have no idea how much he’d protect me if I were accosted, that is unless my assailant was a giant hot dog.

Over the bridge and across the deep, dark river, which fills me with terror. I love the evenings, people hurrying home or perhaps off to parties or out of town. I’m alone but others are awake. I’m wrapped in a big scarf and my plastic jacket. My body feels good and my mind does as well. Every day as my last drink recedes from me, further away, I am profoundly aware of my gift of sobriety. I hate to talk about that so much too but, it’s on my mind and in my heart, often and daily. Every day I work with people and I see how many don’t keep a continuous sobriety, and heck those are the ones even trying to get help, “tip of the iceberg” doesn’t cut it. Every day I know less and less about Why for all of it. There’s nothing that sets me apart as being so fortunate but I am and so I don’t piss it away by being ungrateful or unconscious.

“If you don’t drink today, you’ll never drink again.” I heard this today. I tell my husband. He doesn’t quite understand. I explain it a little but it’s okay if people don’t understand. I understand.

My daughter is pleased to see us. She is out of the locker room at one minute past seven; she is on time. We both thank one another for being punctual. She bites the first roll and then tears off a chunk for the dog; he CLOPS it up and then CLOPS, CLOPS in gratitude or beseechment or both. We travel to the store by foot and buy two bananas to fulfill requirements for a loaf of banana bread; we have two quarters and the sum total is 49 cents and I’m pleased. Later Nels will eat the bananas without asking about them first, then he apologizes. For all his devilry he takes it very seriously when he makes a mistake or inconveniences others, probably too seriously. And so I’ll send Ralph to the store to get some more bananas tomorrow, so he can bake a quickbread for our daughter before she gets up.

viajar en autobús

Wet Kidlets, Playing

My friend on the bus with her newborn son, she tells me she just ran into the father of the child and they sat only inches from one another without acknowledgment. She tells me this was awkward, but I can tell it was upsetting and as tough as she is, she’s a bit rattled. A few minutes later and we tell her goodbye and I sit and look straight ahead out the steamy bus windows as much as I can. The diesel smell makes me ill. People smile at us a lot, perhaps because my children are cheerful and beautiful, perhaps because it is unusual to see a mother and school-age kids riding at this hour, perhaps it is simply because many people are having a Good Day today.

The bus fills up gradually and it lumbers through the wet grey streets it seems I’ve never not known, and after what seems like a long, long time, but a peaceful enough ride, we arrive at the grocery store. I pick up: red leaf lettuce, cucumber, mint, carrots, beef, rice noodles. Nels gets a complimentary cookie for himself, his sister, from the bakery. The children are hungry but we’ll have to wait until home to eat. We pack our groceries in my backpack and I carefully allocate things so the lettuce won’t get bruised, then heft the bag onto my shoulders and step out into the cold.

We walk several blocks along highway traffic and the rain has set in in earnest. Into the health food store and pick up the teas Ralph likes, along with fresh yeast, ten times cheaper here than anywhere else. Packed away and back outside and now the rain is horizontal into our eyes and the children suffer as we walk about a half mile, a little less, to the bus station. Phee puts up her collar but Nels falls behind and cries out. We pass the dancing Payday Loan employee, dressed as a Statue of Liberty a young man wearing a dazzling smile, even in this weather, but I am cold cold cold.

On the bus and even with the stench of fuel I am feeling relieved. I am cold, my body so cold it is tired simply from being cold. The kids are cheerful and have kept up their wrestling and singing and most of the time on the bus or on foot Nels has been holding my hand.

I get home and put my hands in hot dishwater and I’m a special kind of exhausted. I make a pot of hot tea for my husband and put it in the oven, after preheating then switching the oven back off. The cut of beef is cheaper than past cuts but Ralph transforms the rest of the ingredients into a delicious meal and we fold clothes and draw the curtains and a friend stops over to visit,

and Phee & I will finish watching the documentary on American whaling tonight,

fin

Wet Kidlets, Playing

mama’s #krafty

Some of my Christmas sewing. Some. Click on pictures to be directed to my Flickrstream where I detail a bit about how I made these items, what patterns I used, when I self-drafted, where I got my fabrics, etc.

First, and some of you got a preview here and there – the kids’ Christmas coats:

F*ing Frock Coat & YETI-riffic!

"Taking A Picture Of Me? Too Mainstream."

Nels is saying, “Taking a picture of me? Too mainstream.” For realz.

My Son Is Beautiful

Let’s talk about Nels’ coat for a minute. Please pause and take a moment, close your eyes, and emit a string of foul-mouthed oaths. That’s how I feel about this garment, which I choose to privately christen the “F*ing Frock Coat”. I will seriously not bore you with how much went wrong and how often. Some of this is due to the source pattern which I shall not publicly name. Some of it was just weird, and bad, luck.

My son enjoys the coat, though. He doesn’t have to know it almost made me resort to arson.

Natch, Phee loves her YETI-riffic coat. She wears it everywhere, including to sleep! It is warm and luxurious.

Some casual digs sewn on Saturday:

Plaid Skinny Jeans & Patch'd T42

Plaid Skinny Jeans & Patch'd T42

Plaid Skinny Jeans & Patch'd T42

While the t-shirt was a lot of fun, I am happiest with the Plaid Skinny Jeans (which aren’t “jeans” at all) – specifically the linen front yoke, the perfect welt pocket, and the back elastic. Most of the details I like the most are those I self-drafted, so don’t count on the source pattern helping you if you’d like to emulate my results.

“To Gir With Love” – made for a friend, who’s step-daughter loves a certain cartoon character. Phoenix and I made this yesterday. She did absolutely all of the design work, except for the basic hat shape, which I took care of.

"To Gir With Love"

Up close: 100% wool sweater upcycled for the black detail.

"To Gir With Love"

Skele-Quilt:

Skele-Quilt

Skele-Quilt

The backing: a brightly-colored spacescape – I love the intensity:

Skele-Quilt

Hand-bound:Skele-Quilt

I’ve been working on this quilt for five years. Fortunately, I kept it enough on the DL my daughter hadn’t yet seen it. Even more fortunate, both my daughter and I still love the fabrics, meaning she liked the gift and I liked working on it. I was sewing on a binding right up until Christmas Day. It just isn’t Christmas Sewing without the last-minute shite.

Finally, a hand-embroidered wrist pincushion for my brother’s fiance:

Wrist Pincushion For Jamila

Wrist Pincushion For Jamila

I designed the whole business here, including yes the Jack Skellington Shrinky-Dink pin and the safety measure of a plastic insert so one won’t accidentally stab oneself. Linen & cotton.

If you have any questions on how I made anything, please ask either here or at the Flickr photos. I love sharing the craftivism!

on a walk

My daughter, my mother, my dog, and I walk together along the moss-rich gravel road. My son and his friend trail us, deep in conversation. Suddenly that blood-chilling cry echoes out, a sound every mother knows. A scream of pain tore from the depths. I turn and my son is running towards me at speed. “Mama, Mama I’m hurt! I fell! I tripped! My hand is hurt!” Nels is eight now, but his cries have the same element of rawness I recognize from my first days of knowing him.

I don’t run to him or even move; I wait and collect myself. It never doesn’t hurt, witnessing the pain of one’s child. I wait in this cold sunshine, next to my own mother, and my son runs for me. I hold Nels close when he arrives into my arms. I inspect his hand; it is raw and bruised, and looks as if it has encountered a nasty sharp rock. I brush off his hand carefully, and I tell him that his hand saved his face from being cut. I wipe his tears and kiss him.

Instantly, he has stopped crying. Only a moment before he was wailing aloud. Now he’s thinking about his hand and his scuffed knee and how they protected him. He calms and his hazel eyes are deep in the storm of thought. He is now calm because he ran to me in distress, trusting I would save him, and I saved him.

This sort of thing happens everywhere, everyday, in a myriad of ways, with children and their mothers all over the world. Why do we not acknowledge what a miracle it is, and how deeply we needed, or still need, this mother?

winter comes early

Neighborhood

I step out onto the sidewalk where my son holds our dog and I see Nels has been crying. He throws his head back and howls in utter remorse for the joke he’d made a few seconds before I’d disappeared into the shop. The witticism wasn’t an especially good one (it involved a naughty pun on the word “cock”) and I’d frowned. Apparently my son was stricken after having a few moments alone with his thoughts while I took care of some business. Now, reunited, he cries. Hot tears flow down his cheeks and he tells me he embarrassed and ashamed and he vows to never go to a certain website again.

I hold his hand and we cross the street. I ask him, “Why do you need me to like all the things you like?” and he cries some more, says something muffled. I realize he’s probably hungry and I say, “Can we talk about it more over lunch honey?” His tears dry up, but his face bears the indelible marks of weeping in cold weather.

Dutch

He is the very very center of my heart.

***

Indoors; cold outside.

Pet Portrait, By Nels

Pet Portrait, By Nels

Nels, Pensive

amid verdant plains watered by wide streams, one inhales the purest air of heaven

Hutch & Phee

I stop and stare down at the trail. “What kind of ass leaves a cigarette butt on the ground in a public park?”

“A Deluxe Premium Ass?” my daughter suggests helpfully.

You know, in case I’d forgotten I was walking with the most AWESOME AND FUNNY PERSON ON THE PLANET.

It is not possible for me to accurately photograph, describe, or render in poetry and prose how wonderful, green, and alive it is here – year round. Our weather is perfect. Amazing. It is wet and grey and cold a lot for a big part of the year. But even that is incredibly cozy and alive and real. And all around the calendar, it is so crisp and beautiful and green. Just: greener than life.

Greenery

Fungi

Scarred & Burned

On the trail, some signs of human interference. “Courtney [heart]’Z Penis”:

"Courtney <3'Z Penis"

My daughter manages a small trickle of a stream:

Crossing

Hutch waits patiently. He ran a lot today. He loved being in the woods with us.

Bridge

Later: my friend C. has a big milestone today. I love her very much. I reflected for a couple days on what kind of thing I could buy her, or write for her, or make. Today I fashioned a loaf of the challah I knew she enjoyed and wrapped it fresh out of the oven, with a homemade card and my blessing.

For C.

Tomorrow: yoga, a visit to a museum. Maybe. We will see! Let not our plans get in the way of our life.

verily my mind hath been blown

Today I was ill, in only one regard I can identify: I slept so incredibly poorly last night, not falling asleep until long after sun-up. So I put one foot in front of the other, literally, once I got up. I walked as much as I could. I walked with my kids and dog downtown on business- and pleasure-errands. I walked with my kids and dog (and one other child) to a meeting, then back. I made some food and did some chores and rested and watched a made-for-TV movie.

A bit ago Nels calls me from the bathtub, because he does not like being alone when it’s nighttime. I go in and sit down and he’s floating in the bath in the warm red light of the bathroom and he’s beautiful. So in a minute he tells me his penis is like a boat, bobbing in the water like a raft, and he does these little ocean-waves with his hand. Then: “What’s on the raft… a germ?” he asks. I’m like, Yeah, imagining a little germ with a captain’s hat standing like a coxswain on (what would be to the germ) a massive penis raft. And Nels says, “Two germs and a flea…” (we’ve had horrid flea problems with the new dog, which are finally abating thanks to a kindhearted-soul’s donations to our family) then while I’m still thinking on this ludicrous image Nels sits up very serious and says, “Can fleas see germs?”

CAN FLEAS SEE GERMS, this seems entirely reasonable. Holy shit, it’s like, I have been high a few times in my life, but my kids come up with these questions and/or observations straight-up sober, and pretty much any time you have a conversation with them.

Tonight is night two in a row of children camping in the backyard. A neighbor child D. is over here whenever he can be. He stayed last night, ate a great deal of food here today, and is staying tonight. I really would take him in and raise him but you’re not allowed to make those kind of overtures where I come from. So instead it’s like, I have this extra little guy with me. I wonder how he’ll remember our family. I wonder what the future has in store.

Today Phoenix and I are walking with the dog while the boys trail behind us. And I say, “I think D. has a crush on you,” and she says, “Obviously,” and flicks the dog to attention and bangs on the button for the crosswalk lights. OBVIOUSLY, spoken with a thousand percent aplomb. She really kills me.

halfway to what what we typically consider legal emancipation

I tell my daughter, “Even though you’re only ten you’re already smart enough to take care of yourself. But you get to live with us as long as you like until you want to go off on your own.”

She nods. She fully understands. I turn my face to traffic so she can’t see tears in my eyes.

She walks the huge dog like a champ. Her shoulders back and her little chest up. She walks the dog like a boss. LIKE A GODDANMED BOSS. She is my heart.

Hutch & Phee

hutch

"Hutch" Hogaboom

We have a new addition. He weighs 109 pounds.* I’m hoping he loses a bit of it. But anyway, he is hilariously large. Like, this picture you think, “Oh kinda big.” You should meet him.

And now? Time for second-walkies of the evening.

"Hutch" Hogaboom

* Nope. Actually, 120, as of today’s weighing. Yikes.

just fine / bling-blong!

Check the coat.

Wollen Jas Blauw, Nels

You wanna know more about the coat? You can read about it here. My Flickrstream contains many pictures and construction details. I’m happy to share any tips or advice on making one; the pattern inspiration is originally a size 6 months to 5T and good for beginners (if said beginners are cool with asking questions – the directions are quite sparse). I’m thinking about making up a smaller version in a poly fleece. So if you’ve got a size in the toddler region, and an initial, I can make the test garment up FOR YOUUUUUUUU

***

We had a walk today out at Bowerman Basin, as we’ve done many times before. On the way we got talking about survivalist strategies which of course (because we’re weird) soon got to cannibalism and whose body would be most practical to consume. It was all fun and games and laughs until:

Nels’ eyes fill with tears and his cheeks flush. “Mama isn’t even one pound of delicious MEAT!” he yells, suddenly very upset.

"They're Not Fightin'"

I will not bore you with how many million times Nels and Phoenix wanted us to take pictures of the insect life they found. You can check my Flickrstream for an extremely truncated photo series. Bugs this, bugs that. Hey look I found another bug! REALLY.

Nels + Bug

Salmonberry Blossom (I Think?)

Ralph, Tree

Beetle (more bugs)

A little time perspective out at the boardwalk. Today, 2012:

Kiddos, Bowerman Basin

Laughter

2010:

Lurve 4

2008:

They Do Science
(That last picture is in August… Nels will be blonding up again accordingly.)

At home, a work station – just before finishing the facing back of bound buttonholes, and sewing on all eleven buttons:

Evening, Workspace