Car trouble rears its head again. Ralph’s had my vehicle for the week so the kids and I have been walking, bumming rides, and riding the bus. Today, two trips on the transit. Lots of drug addicts and alcoholics clearly still in active addiction, some people with problems either tacitly or obliquely advertised. A white man grim and silent and with that hard-eyed look and holding his two year old who stays equally silent. A young woman tiredly and loudly on the phone, begging / nagging the father of their child to assist in raising their child. She gets off at our stop and takes herself and the babe to the domestic violence shelter. My kids walk alongside me making up imaginary games and helping one another carry the big backpack full of books and binoculars and Pokemon accouterments they’ll put to use while I do some volunteer work.
But in general, we like riding the bus. I get a little nauseated, is all. I have to look out the window. The kids lean against me and we jostle gently through the streets I feel I’ve known forever.
Phee took her first “job” and started this week. She’d wanted to rejoin the swim team after a few years’ hiatus. We didn’t have the tuition, so she made a proposal to my mom for a work trade. Weekdays now Phee works at my mother’s here and there when she’s needed, then hits her swim practice. It seems to be a very satisfactory arrangement. Phee is getting that age she really can do quality work, and my mom is often overwhelmed by her home and garden and other responsibilities. I wish them both the best. I have a great deal of faith in my daughter and don’t meddle. Those things are probably related.
This evening as dusk falls Nels stays behind and waits for his father to get home and cook dinner. Phee and I catch an evening bus to get to the Y. My daughter asks, “Are you going to watch me swim?” and I say, “Every time.” She leans against me and kisses me. I decide I will be there no matter what. It’s easy enough to make this happen. It’s just a new thing I get to say Yes to.
In the pool she’s friends with every child and adult. The swim team is huge, three large sessions of kids. We’re in the earliest session of the evening, the beginner kids I think. There’s all that annoying sport parent stuff I won’t detail here. What matters to me is watching my daughter. She is a natural, friendly and walking up and down the lane, encouraging her team members and clapping for them, she knows their names already. She’s the most sportsmanlike child out there this week. I wonder if she’ll stay that way. I’m proud of her.
For a client, another SteamPunk Pika hat. I would make custom wool hats for a living if it could work out. Nels models:
LOL at my kids in these pictures. Looking all grim and dystopian. Or is that merely my projection, as winter hit us hard all of a sudden?
Home and sewing and cleaning up and feeding animals. Baking a pie for a friend who celebrates a special milestone. Cold but we’ve heat and food and one another.
Answer: No. I have strong hands from the time I’ve put in.
Keeping it real, a bitch has been working hard to get her craft recognized in a world of Walmart and Target and buy-it-from-Martha-for-the-homemade-look-but-guess-what-it’s-made-in-China. And probably just the most insidious bit, the materialistic pursuit to own a bunch of stuff, willing to sell out others to get comforts, buying into that aspirational lifestyle.
This all used to bug me. And probably a half dozen other complaints. I can tell you I am no longer bitter about these forces, because I have accepted I can’t change any of it. But *I* changed. A while back now I stopped competing in this worldview. It’s just too damn depressing. And frankly, I could stop messing about – because Ralph’s salary pays rent and food [she said, flatly]. I stopped sewing things I didn’t want to sew. I stopped saying Yes to things I didn’t want to do, and I stopped listening to advice from people who didn’t understand artisan craft. The many Makers I’m blessed to know have given me the gift of valuing my work.
So yeah, I finished this wonderful quilt today. I already know my next item for Homesewn. In fact I can design and create stuff a little too fast, but I want to give people time to get some scratch together if they want to buy something. I know the pangs of waiting for a payday.
This & that:
A manatee baby bunting made for a family expecting a child in a bit:
I designed the manatee (or dugog, if you will) in all cotton and fully fleece-lined with an asymmetrical closure, carseat buckle window, and little foot windows because having babies in bags always seemed a little off to me, although it probably bothers no one else. Besides babies’ socks are always slipping and this way you can reach and snug them up. I’m most happy with the eyes and hand-embroidered eyelashes but I didn’t get good pictures due to poor lighting and all the hundred other things I had going on this morning.
A thread-drawn patch on a baby wrap. Designed the patch, overdyed the chambray, and sewed the wrap.
& while I work – Harris, sleeping off a nap.
Just before I finished the quilt – I picked up some lovely Dylon at Gray’s General Store for a not-so-distant future project.
I’m truly grateful to get to practice my craft and it gets more satisfying all the time. I am aware at some point, my abilities may fall away. Old age, illness, calamity. Whatever. I meditate on my bodywork and enjoy the experience while I can. Funny, for many years I was declared the math & science type and some influential people in my life hinted like that was all I was good for. Now I’m like this crunchy-as-fuck unschooling mama stitching and spouting feminazgul manifesto.
“Can any of you, by being vastly concerned, add a foot to your height? And why do you worry about clothing? Study how the lilies of the field grow; they don’t work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I am telling you that not even Solomon in all his glory was ever dressed like one of them. If that’s how God clothes the wild grass of the field, here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you, unbelievers?”
Our daughter comes home and hands me some Halloween werewolf claw tips; price tag $3. My kids impress me, because even though my mother took them to the Halloween store and would have bought them one item, whatever they wanted, they show restraint and care in what they choose. Phoenix selects something sensible, as sensible as her fierce little heart can be. The children are considerate and frugal. Quite frugal. (Nels selected a jumping pumpkin toy, also for just a couple bucks.)
So my daughter gives me the “claws” and a pair of cut-up fingerless gloves and asks me to affix them together. I am secretly pleased. It is wonderful to be asked to do something and to be able to do it. And it is pretty keen, how many memories my kids have of me making them exactly the food or the clothes or the day’s experience that they want.
I sit at the table with Ralph, who is helping another craft exploit of mine, and glue all the fingertips together while and we talk. I finish, and our daughter is pleased.
This morning while I put away laundry I felt that familiar sting of anxiety; our towels are all falling apart (which reminds me of course that our bedding is also, and all of our beds are as well, and our couch is too – et cetera). My hand is on a well-worn cloth diaper rag still hot from the dryer and I suddenly re-remember I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. I have $20 for today and tomorrow’s food so buying towels or couches or beds is not even an option. I finish putting away my laundry and I make the kids food and I remember my job is to do what’s in front of me, not to worry so much. We have been provided for so wonderfully so far in life and it is good to remember that.
Lots of hard work. I hope readers here consider submitting their own works, especially writings or photography of their living area. C’mon I may be cool but it doesn’t need to be The Kelly Hogaboom Show all the time.
I’m calling the color in our dining area, a lovely Marigold-something, TANGERINE DICK, because it is taking not two, not four, but (at least, as of this writing) five coats to cover the expansive walls. Reflecting on it now, I believe we were given bad advice by the paint specialists and while they’ve discounted and/or given us lots of extra paint for our problems, the amount of extra time this error has caused is a bit irksome. Today I don’t get too frustrated over things and so far the move is going really well. Every day I suit up and show up, good habits I’ve learned over the last little while.
We’ ve had a little bit of help each day for the last four days, from friends. The help has been wonderful for practical reasons, but it also feels lovely to spend some one-on-one time and allow them to help us. I’m not feeling bad about accepting help at all. It’s pretty good stuff.
In a few hours Ralph will be up and grabbing a truck to move most the rest of our belongings. It’s a tremendous amount of work and because of painting setbacks I’ll likely be painting more than moving. I’m also hoping to cook and sleep in our new place tomorrow. Heck, we’re pretty excited.
Today we took the kids and my girl Heather, our painting-helpmate, out to the Blue Beacon in Aberdeen (pictured). I was pretty amused as the last time I was there it was with Ralph, and we were seventeen. Today Nels ordered both a hot dog and some bacon. For some reason I find that very funny.
In other news, Friday the second we’re having both a housewarming get together and a birthday party for Phoenix (MY DAUGHTER IS TURNING TEN YEARS OLD PLEASE SEE BELOW PICTURE TO SEE HOW OLD SHE IS, IN MY MIND).
I made a very understated little invitation to this event. I am emailing it to friends tomorrow but – if you’re seeing it now, you are invited! Don’t make me Miss Manners the whole business because really, we want everyone to join us. It’s going to be a fun time. Promise.
Today I took Ralph’s bike to Aberdeen and back – kinda twice, but not really because the first time was aborted partway through due to technical problems with the bike and I ended up needing to text someone for a ride so I’d make my commitment on time. I was using Ralph’s bike because a friend is borrowing mine to see how well it will work for her and her kidlets, and this is awesome, because one thing I’d love to proselytize regarding and spread around is the love of cargo/kiddo bikes.
Back to my misadventures, I guess I hate fixing things. Or rather, I’d likely adore it if I didn’t have a lot of other things I consider important and many distractions. See it seems making repairs or changes requires the right kind of tools and a need for an open schedule. Like today all I wanted to do was lower the seat (which by the way is this leathery, narrow little Ass-Punisher), and fix the mirror stem. I ran into problems in both cases (and have a badly-bruised knuckle to boot) and it took longer and was a bigger pain than I thought it would be. But at least I got it done and even upgraydded to a lever-release seat clamp that I’m thinking Ralph will find more handy.
Later in the day I finally made it to Aberdeen and back by pedal-power and I’m glad I made it happen. It was a lovely day and, later, evening for a ride – quite a temperature drop in a few hours but a good Washingtonian, I was prepared with layers. The trip home was dark; we’d loaned our bike light to our friend so I was extra careful. About Myrtle and Cherry I perceived a doe and her little baby deer and I felt a little jolt of pleasure at their night forms, no one else out to see. But as I approached the mother sprang away from her fawn and to my distress she ran away from me while the youngling resolutely ran in front of me, their distance from one another increasing rapidly. I decided there was nothing to do but race faster than the baby deer, which worked. And yes I kind of imagined myself a cheetah. This was made all the more fun by listening to Heart at volume 11 in my ears.
It was a lovely lovely night for a ride.
Tomorrow is Ralph and my 10th anniversary! And no, we are not doing anything special! I have, like, seven dollars to my name! But I am incredibly grateful to have my partner and our history together. “With some complaints” we’ve been awesome parents and friends (to one another, and to others).
Guess what America, you know who you owe lots of debt to? Moms. Or people like me anyway. Caretakers. Taking care of the business many claim is below them or a “chore”, mostly I get this stuff done by my time and the efforts of my two hands. Finding shoelaces to replace the broken ones. Mending clothes and wiping down muddy shoes and airing them in the sun. Shaking out the down comforters and hanging my husband’s shirts on the line so they last longer, smell better, are stain-free. Taking care to reuse and recycle and donate the things that may be useful to someone else. Hunting down the ice cream truck and giving my kids $5. I will give them ice cream money any time I can afford it and even when I can’t.
Back to what I got up to today, it’s a good thing I believe in the inherent dignity of each person and every kind of work. You know what’s weird, I keep getting told about jobs, the kind that suck your LIFE and TIME up, and hearing Hey you should go out for that. Where the fuck have I indicated I want or need a total disruption of our lives? I dunno, it could be just the climate in Grays Harbor which supposedly has a record unemployment rate in our state: 13%. Everyone’s got paid work on the brain.
There are of course always bills and rent. We had to say No to a few things we really wanted to do this month. We’re also short on food money but – that’s okay. We’ll figure it. I wonder how many do the footwork to enjoy what they have in the Now. As opposed to those who future-trip: things they dread, or things that will mean SUCH an improvement, when they get the house refinanced, or when they get the promotion, or when they’ll start the new job, or when they finally clean out the garage, or whatever.
I don’t want to live that way any more, and I mostly don’t.
One hilarious aspect of my day out with the kids was a delightful visit to our SOUTHSHORE MALL, which any resident knows is the most thrillingly depressing and yet prevailing, triumphant edifice. I actually didn’t get that many pictures. Less photo-taking, more enjoyment of the children.
Bleak, but in a way that feels deeply comforting to me.
Noble big cat heads rendered in resin. The kids enjoyed smelling all the different kinds of incense in the shop. In fact Nels did smelling until it made him sick. Oops!
Believe it or not, Sears was kinda hoppin’.These televisions were in sync – but I see here now that somehow the phone captured this smarmy talky man in different facial aspects! SPOOOOOKY…
So in other big news, today Nels lost a tooth. This was only his third, even though he’s seven and a half. Little guy hangs on to those things. He was quite anxious about the whole business in the afternoon when it first caused him a bit of pain, and he iced for a while (okay, like two hours). Then later in our backyard bonfire (we had, quite suddenly, five extra kiddos, and my mom, all descend on our property!) he realized the tooth was gone. He was quite relieved.
I remember the feeling. I hated having a dangling or loose tooth. It actually gets me all set to puke just thinking about it. Why on earth I thought, for years, I could hack it as a forensic pathologist (this was WELL before all the trendy television shows I’ll have you know!) is lost on me.
Yeah, the other day I had a bit of “Oh you have this degree, you should [insert employment ‘opportunity’]” directed at me specifically. You know, by someone I don’t (yet) know well, with no interest expressed nor questions asked as to what it is I actually do during the day, if I like it, how good I am at it, how interested I am at doing something else, what my family’s organizing principles are, etc. I observe over a decade I have never had this advice directed to me by a woman (so to borrow a phrase from Jasmine – men, get your shit together!).
But for serious I was thinking about careers and status. And men. (More in a minute!) Until the other day it had been a while since anyone else brought up my former life of moneyed and statused career in referendum of my current life which is a bit different in both those spheres. The symptomatic current-life devaluation of my existence doesn’t sting like it used to simply because I rely on my spiritual life and people I know and trust to help me know how I’m doing and what I’m worth. Really, the whole thing is funny to me (but it wasn’t when I first heard that college-degreed women who stay home to raise children are “opting out” and a bunch of other stuff about how they’re Ruining Everything – heard it from close friends, coworkers, etc). Because all of this is about them, not me. The day someone queries what it is I do, what I find value in, what my life is like, what I’m passionate about, who I help, what I’m skilled at (up until now), what I’m not (so far), what I long for, what I’m afraid of – and then makes some suggestions? Well first I’ll acknowledge them for even giving a damn to listen so much, but at that point I’ll also be interested in hearing their opinions on my life’s course.
I was thinking about, and this is related believe it or not – and truly a confession here I’m not proud of – how angry it’s made me, in the past, when men flirt with me. I have responded to men and women (very rarely) by flirting back, sure; but increasingly over the years I have become a fixed and hardened person when it comes to men, a smiling cipher who will move away when they move close (literally or figuratively), an outward smile and tactful deferral but years of scorn and fear slowly calcifying around my heart. Until very recently I have taken (false) pride in my defensive response, but now I realize it was a sign of my weakness. Because really, until now I have thought men who flirt are telling me they don’t think I’m worth much. They don’t care to find out if I’m in a mated pair (I am, and I wear a ring for one thing), or anything about me at all except for I make them have feelings in their pants or maybe I’ll take care of their laundry or their kids or their Existential Loneliness, whatever they crave, with sex of some sort. They (often) don’t know anything about me whatsoever; how can any interest in me be anything real or personal at all? Why do they put me in the position of having to do a goddamn thing (like “Yes” or “No” to an advance) when I want to go about my day and buy potatoes or ride a bike or mail a package?
I’ve hated myself for not saying something aloud. Like “Please stop, this is bothering me.” Of course, most women know what happens – often – when you do this. I haven’t been strong enough to stomach any more of what always happened before. “What’s your fucking problem?” “Don’t flatter yourself.” “I wasn’t doing anything.” “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.” “Bitch!” Physical threats.
But today I need to forgive men, or at least those with the entitled assumption that all women find flirtations welcome or flattering. I need to forgive those who’ve abused me in the past (all of them). I need to forgive those who diminish me. I need to forgive them their clumsiness, even forgive those who are straight-up manipulative and/or hate women (that hatred is a Fear response anyway; I can empathize because Fear is indeed a plague that besets us all). We are all lost, at one point or another. I need to forgive myself for receiving and internalizing the message it is my beauty (ha!), or my “nice”ness, or my accommodation, or my cooking or my figure (ha!) or my performance of Femaleness, or a myriad of other things, that really count and that are up for others’ measure and evaluation. The thing that counts is I’m a person. Other people may not give me respect or be interested, not in Me really, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give these gifts to myself – and to them. I don’t have to hate those who are only doing the best they can at the time. I can’t forgive all, and instantly so, but I can know it’s what I need to do.
Do I wish sometimes I could have two weeks on an island free of this stuff? Yeah, I do. But I don’t have that space or time, and life is life.
I have been messing about fixing a car; if you’ve been counting, you’ll know we currently have one that’s working and one that is not. The car stuff is bringing up some of the Flirting D00d stuff; today in a garage I was assailed repeatedly by no fewer than four men, jumping on me like starving fleas. Doing that thing where they apologize profusely for their slips of “bad language”. Because I’m a Lady. And I guess I need smelling salts when someone says the word “fuck” (the thing that actually disturbs me is, acting one way when a woman is around and another when one is not, feel free anyone to self-reflect on that). Then telling me I smell good. Then wanting me to come look at their car project (“Hey, guess what this is?”). Then teasing me for texting (my husband, as it happened) and asking me to come over (I am not making this up). Instead of learning a bit about my car as I’d hoped to, I had the opportunity to experience all this. Finally the owner showed up – he actually helped me quite a bit in a totally direct and friendly manner. I drove off happy. I told myself I would never know why these men treated me this way, I can’t assume they were flirting with any intent, maybe they were just hyper – or Lonely. Hey, Lonely is okay. We’ve all been there. Nothing to be pissed about.
Short potential morals of these stories, if you find them useful: pay attention to people and who they evidence themselves to be. Ask yourself why you’re being prescriptive. Don’t be a Creeper. Find what you’re passionate about. Enjoy the passions of others as they display them. See if you can look yourself in the mirror and say aloud you (honestly) like yourself. Respect others.
When you run across a person you can be damned amazed you have this life and another human being to share it with. You don’t have to fuck it up, or at least you can fuck it up less.
This afternoon I receive a call and a fellow tells me he saw our fliers around town and he wants to know if there is a reward for the return of our cat. I say, uh well, I guess so, sure, kind of taken aback really. Then he claims he would go look for her and he wanted to know what I was going to offer if he found her.
I’m gobsmacked. After a beat I ask him well, what do you think your time is worth. He won’t throw out an answer on this and (by now my brain is slowly cranking and I’m figuring he has my little kitty already), I offer him, with kind of amazed laughter in my voice, about half our weekly grocery money. He ups the price twenty percent and I say, Yeah, okay, thank you, and we hung up after he tells me he’s likely to find her.
Yeah, I KNOW!
An hour and a half later he calls again and says me he thinks he has my cat. I was out-of-home but Ralph was primed to make the transaction so I sent him off to do so with instructions.
And lo, it was our cat indeed.
Yeah, that Josie. Looking a little off-kilter after five or so days away from home. Who knows where.
Maybe people won’t understand why today – this thing with our little creature – exhausted me, but I’m going to try to write a bit more about the episode then be done. I can think of about three ways this scenario might have gone down. The first is taking the fellow at his word: he bounty-hunts pets and charges for his time. I could spell out the reasons I think this is unlikely. But let me point out, times are fucking hard on the Harbor and that sort of thing is a possibility. There are other potential scenarios ranging from opportunistic to sinister.
What can one say when one is (potentially) scammed? My mom wrote the young man a check so we’ll be getting his name at least (I also have his phone number; adding to the potentially-sketch factor he refused to meet us at his house). Putting a stop on the check is an option but then as Ralph said, “Then who’s the bigger douchebag?” Because you know? We don’t really know what went on.
The whole scenario was bizarre, and now I’m left rather frazzled. For one thing, the anxiety I’ve felt over missing one of our critters has been like a constant tension string and in my very typical fashion, when the cat/child/chicken is safe I have a little breakdown (I’ll be back to normal soon, promise). After the first phone call, to agonize if I would see her today or if it was not her at all and I’d be left to wonder; to feel creeped out by the likelihood someone was using our vulnerability to their advantage. The little kitty is sleeping on a chair a few feet away, a couple scraps of beef in her belly and her fur smelling like strange perfume. And I’m so. SO GLAD. to have her back.
This evening J. and I hit Thrift City and, after an incident involving an old-school Argus Mini Palmatic 2 camera that still had film in it (and yeah, it was under $1, so we bought it and I can’t wait to develop it!) and hysterical harpy-laughter and a huge box of MINDWIZARD cards flying all over the aisle, I found the absolutely perfect writing desk. Very sturdy, solid wood, perfect shelf and drawer availability, the ideal height and width, and it amazingly matches my (favorite) overpainted and chipped green chair, and it only smells a LOT musty (ha). Wunderbar!
My favorite things: my “new” (and really, really sturdy and awesome) desk ($15), the smartphone and One Line A Day Five Year Memory Book from Ralph (Christmas gifts), moleskine & papermate (gifts from friends), vinyl purse from Pure Clothing in HQX ($7), silver James Bond-esque cigarette lighter (gift from same friends who gave me the moleskine), and my very trusted, rugged and quickly-headed-downhill Mac named “Balls” (purchased to the dime with an inheritance sum, about five years ago).
I’m very happy about the desk which of course precipitated a reorganization and cleaning of my papers. But my night isn’t near over. I have an incredible mountain of laundry to fold. Don’t worry. I’ll fill you in on every detail.
Partaking Of Love
(Small Stone #3*)
Slowcooked beans and pot roast
At the counter, midnight,
Children warm their bellies
The onset of the colder weather is a very odd and precious time for us because, like I imagine in days of Yore, it usually involves a period of compromised resources and more meager habits, an odd preciousness of more carefully-selected enterprises and purchases and a more dear experience of daily life.
Case in point: car troubles could be a source of anxiety if I let them. We already only have one car working and it’s not working well. The worst problem (of a handful), the most serious that I can tell, is a leaking of at least two seals which lends itself to an extremely wet interior now that the rain has set in (we’re talking squishy sounds when you step in, they’d be satisfying if they didn’t herald a fall-apart we can’t afford) which means children who have to hold groceries and my purse and their books on their lap (for fear of water damage), and even rusty bits beginning to fall off the car (frowny-face). We do not have a Plan at this point, or rather we could have lots of Plans if we had a bit more funds. Fine, whatever. We will survive. In fact I look forward to whatever future we have – as far as a car goes – as the current one is not sustainable.
Today I worked extra-hard, despite a lack of sleep and that nagging irritation I was seriously behind on sewing work (which I am), to put the house in order and love up the kids and make a lovely, nourishing dinner for my husband when he arrived home from his late-night class. I haven’t really mentioned this much but Ralph Hogaboom is being rode hard and put away wet at work since the very busy summer, without abatement so far. Ralph is a stellar man and as you might expect a heroic Systems Analyst (or twatever they’re calling them these days). His job is kind of both of ours in the sense I can listen and advise and think about his position and be entirely impressed with what he delivers. It’s not that I couldn’t respect (or sleep with) a man who did only his lukewarm-best in the nine daily hours he’s ransomed to Strangers… it’s just, knowing about his work reminds me of why I like him so much. Enough to breed with him, as it turns out.
In addition (today) I kept getting distracted by our children, so funny and alive and particular. Nels bobs around playing his various games and requires my participation at times; he delivers kisses and hugs and tells me how Pretty I look today. I take my daughter, after soccer (practice goes an extra half-hour because they are enjoying themselves) and we get some milkshakes. Her body is wiry and cold and she comes to the grocery store with me and pushes the cart and is the Best Company Ever. My last $50 of the week, gone, parts of it spent to make her suggested dinner (spinach and bacon quiche, served alongside a multicolored salad and some rich red chianti for Ralph and I). After dinner, at home, a hot bath for both of us.