Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

hero hoodie

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

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

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

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Twin needle at the hem:

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe 

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

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

 

Tiger-Striped Undershirt

tiger-striped undershirt (1 hour, $3)

I’m right smack-dab in the middle of tailoring work for clients. After cleaning up my last project, I gave myself permission to spend about an hour on this li’l fella:

Tiger-Striped Undershirt

I simply traced one of Nels’ undershirts – which took about five minutes – and then cut a front and back from a tissue-fabric recently acquired from Britex fabrics. This wonderful 100% cotton knit is so, so beautiful – semi-sheer, lightweight, and rather fussy if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortuately, I do.

The back, in true undershirt-style, features more of a racerback/cutaway design than the front:

Tiger-Striped Undershirt

A closeup – super-closeup – so you can see the very light and almost slubby texture of the knit:

Tiger-Striped Undershirt

 Summer sheer fabrics are wonderful. You get a great look and coverage, but it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all – especially given the kinds of seam-finishes a bespoke tailor is capable of.

Time to get out on the bike!

Tiger-Striped Undershirt

 

your bible and your gun / & you love to party and have fun

The weather is so gorgeous right now. It’s raining, but it’s also sixty-five degrees out. A summer rain. Just deepened from gloaming into night. So lovely. My potato plants are going to yield produce early. I can walk on a soft lawn through summer. Barefoot.

Today: a lot of work, all of it good. But I’m tired, and afflicted with nausea. In waves, it comes and goes.

& poor sleep the night before.

Distraction. An argument with my son, after he breaks something precious of ours. He leaves the house for a date with friends, hot on the heels of exchanged cross words. I clean the bathroom sink and as I hear the car pull out the gravel driveway I put him in my prayers (again). I love him; he is such a struggle for me at times.

My children are especially bright, especially clever. They notice that I have a hard time forming a completed thought. That housework and errands and groceries and cooking and cleaning (and writing and sewing) distracts me. I can work in my own world; the kids are by turns patient or angry. I apologize for my scattered-ness; maybe this is one reason I hold them so often, so many times during the day. I’m here, dear one. I want to stay.

At five o’clock Nels tells me he wants to go to Vacation Bible School – the last night – after all. I’m standing in the kitchen doorway with a clean kitchen towel and feeling despair. My car isn’t running, I can’t ask anyone to take the child; I have a large meal to get to another family way across Aberdeen. But I told my son to make up his mind and he’s made it up. The lasagna in the oven and a sink full of dishes and I drive him across town.

On the way home and police lights on the side of the road. I’m grateful we are all safe. I have been trying to drive more carefully, noticing others seem more careless during the summer weather.

We are safe. Right? I don’t feel safe. I have been re-living a trauma over and over again, and this has been sapping my strength the better part of a year. I pray, I meditate, I work, I rest, I help others, I am kind to myself. And yet I still haven’t gotten over it. I hear all the correct words in my head – the people who know more than me. They say, “Remember, this happened to your child – it didn’t happen to you. Don’t make it about you.” I know there are people who have the key, who are more correct than I.

And yet I feel a kind of terror I’ve never felt.

I think I sourced it, about three weeks ago in a gathering of relatives and friends of alcoholics. I think I know why I don’t feel safe.

Believe it or not, knowing why I feel so unsafe actually helps. It isn’t something I can share while certain parties are alive. But it is something I can know and share with trusted friends.

Unsafety. I can live in Unsafety. I can do this thing.

living on the water 5ever

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

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

At the Chehalis today:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

There’s nothing else for it!

a gradual thaw

Nels and I pass the Trave-Lure in Aberdeen. “‘Aberdeen’s Finest’,” my son says, making “air-dick quotes” with his hands. I laugh – to myself – but keep quiet. I am thinking about the lives we live and how the world drives past. So many suffer and suffering doesn’t have a downtown crummy address especially; it lives in the human heart.

A moment later my boy asks, “Mom? What’s the difference between a motel, a hotel, an inn, and a cozy?” A COZY! What is this, even? And I am dying over how his voice sounds when he says the word, “cozy”. I don’t want to tell him a “cozy” is not anything in the hospitality industry, because basically I never want to hear him stop saying “cozy.”

I tell him what little I know. This leads to a frank discussion of a vacation: Nels wants one. The sun is out, first day of spring, and anything seems possible, even if it’s kind of not.

Spring. It is a little incredible to believe it is here. But it is. The buds are flowering; the air, though still cold, is changing. The sun is out and it has a favorable look.

Spring / Ocean

Nels called his father today for a favor – asking Ralph to drive out to pick up Phoenix, so we would have time to visit the “wildcats” out in Westport. Ralph didn’t know what our son meant, so asked me for the phone, to clarify. When I explained Nels meant, feral cats that live at the jetty, Ralph laughed. And of course our son took no small delight in finding, and attempting to feed, the ragtag little bunch flitting in and out of the rocks.

“This is gonna get weird. TWO cats.”

Sekrit Catz

My son reminds me that life is really good As Is. Needs no improvement, nothing to blow up bigger than it is, or try to make smaller, either.

 

synchronicities

The man swimming in the lane adjacent to mine has beautiful thighs.  They are a comfort as they flash in strobe against his small dark Speedo suit. He and I keep the same clip for a few laps. I don’t know about him, but I’m not trying to go faster or go slower; I definitely have too far to swim to mess about. “You do you and I’ll do me,” as the adage says.

That said, it’s hard not to speed up or slow down when someone adjacent makes pace.

Outside it’s balmy and warm. Spring it starting to flicker at the edges. The blossoms are out and the pavement smarts from the sun’s sincere warmth.

Winter habits are hard to break. Last night, on the agenda: Ralph and I watched Shark Attack III: Megalodon. Yeah that’s right, I watch terrible movies, on purpose, and I can’t seem to stop. SEND HELP because two weeks ago I cockily made a bet Ralph couldn’t stay up to watch all of Snowbeast (2011) with me. I was begging for death by the end. As for Megalodon – and unlike Snowbeast – the film is definitely in the, “so bad it’s good” category; the poor dubbing in particular makes it a surreal, cheese-tastic experience all the way through. The film weasels around for a full hour by trying to sell a regular-style shark before it finally heaves a big sigh and pulls some crumpled-up special effects from a dirty trouser pocket: the so-called “megalodon” – which is kind of like, the icing on the ass-cake.

Watching the film Ralph is like: “What’s with that guy? Is he drunk?” Me: “I don’t think the character is drunk if that’s what you’re asking.”

that spluttering pilot flame

It’s cold, grey, and rainy outside. Nels and I sit in the still-warm car with the engine off; waiting for the arrival of my daughter’s school bus.

My son climbs over and lays across my lap. He has just told a sly joke, re-shared a funny moment of a film we watched the night before. He loves making me laugh almost more than he loves anything. I kiss the top of his head; I smell his hair. We have a new shampoo for him: sugared violets. The sweet grittiness mixed with with the smell and warmth of my son, is incredible. I hold him for a while but I know he’ll move any moment. I hold him because for a brief bit I can feel wonderful, amazing.

I’m a bit down, this afternoon. It seems I have been surrounded lately by the plights of children being raised, and schooled, according to the Poisonous Pedagogy – a worldview so rooted in at least Western society that, until I began to awaken to it, I didn’t believe it was very real, very much alive! Today I was exposed to several examples, several reminders – the specifics are not something I’m interested in recording, just now and in this space – and I am a bit discouraged. It is incredible how quickly I start to feel isolated in my desire to provide something better for my children, for the world’s children, for all who suffer, and for my grand- and great-grandchildren and so on.

When it comes to my children, and the world’s children, I teeter out of emotional balance often; it is easy for me to be overwhelmed at how much we’re failing at our responsibilities. I can feel sick when I think how much our children depend on us; and how vulnerable they really are. I can feel so angry when I see an adult promoting and then defending manipulative, or even cruel, methodologies of child stewardship.

It is easy for me to get out of emotional balance, indeed.

Today, I am committing to addressing my imbalance. I am committing to re-subscribing to a journal that I find edifying (and, probably, I will resume my career writing for it, if they’ll have me). I am committing to taking more care in the consumption of communities, individuals, and conversations purporting strategies I don’t want to enact, and ideologies I don’t promote. I am committing to deepening my practice of humility, and to enjoying my own family (“minding my business”). I’ve worked hard to do right by my  family – my own little spiritual community – and the fruits are self-evident.

I am re-committing to Buddhist parenting; I am so glad it is there for me to take refuge in.

I am aware that over the years I have helped many parents to find their authentic self; to turn away from violence, cynicism, cold-heartedness, and callousness. If you’re one of those adults and you are reading here, know that I’m doing the best I can to practice the self-care I need, so I can keep up the general effort.

And thank you, as always, for your support.

suddenly

So good lord, for a couple days there I was having this fantasy of this big vegetarian platter I wanted to put together, thinking of all those bright colors and crisp textures. Once I get fixated sometimes… it sucks to not just be able to do it the same day, because we all need that impulsivity now and then.

Yeah so the veggies, something I knew my kids would be uninspired about but I couldn’t help it. I’d wash dishes you know like, the typical five times a day, and I’d try not to think about it, my stomach feeling empty but my mind knowing I have enough to eat, am doing fine. Then Ralph got an insurance adjustment check to the tune of a few small funds and I ran out to purchase the goods lickety-split. Half the cost of supplies was the jar of tahini! If you know of some good tahini recipes, hook me up.

When Ralph came home last night he took over from me and finished preparing our meal: homemade pita and homemade hummus, a pea and qunioa salad, shredded red cabbage and julienned carrots, sliced English cucumber, sliced avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, braised garbanzo beans, and bleu cheese dressing. Ralph just about killed himself laying out these beautiful vegetables on plates and serving them up to the family, and one guest. Then he collapsed on the bed for a few moments. Me? I was too tired to snap a picture.

Medical appointments. For Nels, for Phee. For the dog, and tomorrow? Our rabbit is scheduled to be neutered. Phoenix had her well-child checkup and came out perfectly healthy. She got her second injection in a week and, for the second time, was more relaxed than I’ve seen anyone take a needle. Her doctor, a good sort, talked directly to her about periods and about hormones. Then he told she was in the ninety-something percentile for height; the seventy-fifth for weight. I knew my kids were tall but, you know, they’re tall!

Nels had his braces removed yesterday and now has a wee rainbow-colored retainer. He has a sweet little lisp and gets to wear the device a few months. And I get to pay for the braces a few more installments.

The kids both had a brief but violent vomiting-illness of some sort (Phoenix on Sunday; Nels last night) and perhaps I’m fighting off that bug; I’ve been experiencing fatigue early in the day. I rest, drink fluids, take my honey and garlic, and try to be patient.

Resources are thin, but I’m very grateful for my health.

I am.

Today at my volunteer commitment a heroin addict sitting alongside me admitted he had to pick treatment or jail, so he’d picked treatment. Then he added that if he had any money he would have left treatment to go home. He said he’d given up his last $50 so had nothing to return to. I know a little about what he’s saying and what kind of choices (or rather, non-choices) he’s facing and I just felt this sadness. This moment where another human being feels unreachable to me, even if I tried to help. And I’m lost, I don’t know if there’s anything I can do, at all. I’ll probably never see this man again. Only hours later it occurs to me that maybe I was one of the only people he could tell the real truth to, without judgment, and I know that’s Something.

A few hours later in the drugstore, after driving through the dismal dark rain and as my daughter helps me pick up toothbrushes and lipstick and shampoo, I hear the entirely sickening and unmistakable sound of a skull hitting a hard concrete floor. I know immediately what has happened: a small child has fallen out of a cart. My heart lurches as I move out of my aisle and then: chaos. The child’s mother begins screaming and running about the store, cradling the toddler who is also screaming. The other customers begin to stir.

I pull out my phone and step without hesitation towards the mother, who is frantic and not holding still. Employees intercept; an ambulance is called. An employee runs for an ice pack. The mother calls a friend, convulsively crying. Her older children run to and fro.

Seeing the woman has assistance and none-too-few onlookers I return to my aisle, deeply disturbed. I keep my eyes on bright, irrelevant boxes of cosmetics but I can’t concentrate. & now: I hear the paramedics and I note how they’re talking to the mother. Something is not right with the woman, I can tell, but her child is in good hands now.

A few minutes later and I bring my purchase to another clerk, one who had not been in view of the incident. To me, this woman asks: “Did you see the mom? Did she have [lists a physical description]?…” I respond, “… I don’t know,” trying to remember, thinking of the child and the horrible screaming. The clerk smirks without humor: “I’m not surprised,” she says, without one ounce of compassion or understanding.

I’m not going to play in that playground with you.

It’s like… I have problems but I’m real glad at the problems I don’t have.

a small spark in the gloaming’s dark

One of the nice things about having only one car, that has a broken heater, is that when I get in the car, every time, I am cold and I chuff my hands and look forward to when the car gets warm. Then when I realize it’s not going to, I have this surge of awareness. I feel awake and alive. I think about those things we take for granted and how grateful I am for the opportunity to NOT forget those wonderful blessings.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity, by turns exhausting and exhilarating. A friend shows up in need. A friend shows up to give. Someone tells me Thank You and then tells me why. A friend looks like she’s been crying. Another is staying away. A family member offers support. Our cat comes home with a tattered ear. A restaurant gives us a free pizza! I cook up two pots of soup in two days. Friends arrive for a movie, and an hour into it our rabbit rudely yanks out the electrical cord to stop the film, and we all laugh.

The financial help is so welcome while we have hardship with the cars and while the weather is cold and while Christmas is upon us. When it comes to cash I’d like to save up for a house payment maybe, but instead I inevitably cave and purchase here-and-now-needed items: today, a few pieces of winter clothing for my children. It is very cold here and it kills me to see children improperly provided for (anyone’s children). My kids rarely complain about being cold but they gush gratitude at the new coats.

But, only after I buy the garments and zip them up under their chapped cheeks. While on our way to Ross my son is cranky: “Why are you buying me winter clothes? Last time they only lasted ONE winter then I grew out of them.” He is querulous, wanting things like video games and ice cream sundaes and trips to exotic locales, and I feel this kind of wild urge to cry, but it is a gladness all the same.

My husband leaves for work in the morning. He kisses my son and myself, snuggled in the same bed, Goodbye. I tell him, “I am not doing very well. I am feeling like a terrible mom.” Ralph says gently, “You’re the best mom I know.” I rest, breathing in and out, and I think No So Much, I don’t feel great. I feel unsettled and unsure.

Every morning when he and my daughter hit the rode I pray for their safety. Car travel is treacherous, especially when weather is foul.

It takes a lot of courage to get up each day and try to do well, and try to do the best we can despite what has happened recently to one of our children, and given what our family is going through in dealing with the aftermath. But one day I know I will feel better, and I’ll have a friend who will be having this kind of struggle. And I’ll be able to tell that friend about courage and maybe they won’t feel so alone.

For now having that full pantry and having something hot on the stove is a tremendous help.