Sophie & Nels Hogaboom

reminiscent of the idiom referring to the high school colors in The Hotel New Hampshire

Today the skies yield only grey, oppressive clouds: muggy yet delivering now and then a gust of dank chill.  The kids and I feel it and we hunker down into ourselves, resentful of the glum weather conditions.  Wiser than I, the children are prepared to stay indoors.  They build a massive structure of Legos (including the large “moonscape” flat pieces), fake money, and plastic dinosaurs – they tell me this is an “M&M machine” that dispenses both a peanut butter version of the candy as well as glasses of water, and they show me it’s elaborate – and to me, incomprehensible – workings.

I finally pry them away from their indoor play – promising a bus ride and a photo shoot – and we hit the bus stop for a trip downtown.

At our closest bus stop, where we wait and wait and wait when we want to grab the Transit.
At the closest bus stop, where we wait and wait and wait when we want to grab the Transit.

After our downtown walkabout and a small luncheon at our favorite Deli we hit the longer trip home on the bus.  We elect to take the #20 from the station prior to its pass-through of North and West Hoquiam, rather than sit an extra ten to fifteen minutes at the station which is growing ever colder.

There are about eight other people on the bus: a quiet bunch at first, rumbling back from work to their homes.  We travel past a coffee stand with the words “NEW IN CAKE BATTER BIG TRAIN” blaring from the marquee (I shudder – who in their right mind would want to consume such a thing?  Sometimes the world seems a decadent, sodden place).  Around the loop of North Hoquiam, a scrabbled area I enjoy very much – an area (jokingly?) referred to as “the hood” while I grew up.  A handsome, swarthy young man gets on and sits a few inches away from me.  He’s silent but not morose.  Sometimes I make conversation with strangers; other times, like today, I merely lean into my son’s hair and enjoy a few minutes of calm and passivity.  Bus rides are wonderful because I am able to relax and enjoy my kids and the world; easier and more peaceful than driving on my own – and yes, I love the people on the bus.

A few blocks later a jovial man and woman bound on board.  They are a couple, but could easily pass as brother and sister: each fat, happy, round- and ruddy-faced, missing a few teeth.  The woman spies the Silent Young Man next to me and beams, holding up a certificate: “Graduated Treatment today – I’m done!”  The Silent Young Man, who’d made a rather stoic impression up until now, leans forward, lively.  He assumes banter with her and her partner, the latter draping an arm alternatively affectionate and amorous over his recently-graduated paramour.

Around the corner and onto Emerson Avenue.  We pass seemingly inches away from a road crew just as one of them raises some kind of sledgehammer and whales a fierce blow to the street, causing chunks of black roadway to fly up in the air, and causing me to flinch.  Another rider from up front the bus says, “Use a blowtorch, it’s easier man…  it’s just tar holdin’ it on.” But this passenger is the only one besides me who noticed the road crew: the Male Ex-Drug Addict interprets this remark as referring to his teasing comment on the Silent Young Man’s wispy mustache.  Good-natured – if a bit confused – laughter ripples through the bus.  A block later and a young woman gets on board.  She is clothed painstakingly in Target separates, her hair glossy and thick, pulled high on her head, glittered eyeshadow and a chipped French pedicure.  She is Poor, or Lower Class, but she is more beautiful than most women you see anywhere, her skin perfect, her eyes large and almond-shaped, thick clotted lashes.

She knows the Silent Young Man as well; she and he fall to easy conversation and it is revealed she too has a boyfriend in Treatment. “You smell good,” Silent Young Man volunteers, then laughs self-depreciatingly.  She does smell good; if a bit strong, several layers of scents purchased in a drugstore.  Male Ex-Drug Addict swings his head around and laughs goonily at this last comment; the bus murmur resumes pleasant and familiar.

The Silent Young Man gets off a few blocks later, and the conduit between these four people in the back of the bus is broken.  The Nice-Smelling Working Girl begins assiduously and silently working her way through a copious number of scratch tickets, which she continues for the rest of the route.  A block after crossing the Big Bridge and we ring the bell; the driver takes us over a block past where we’d hoped to disembark.  I’m a little blue as we trudge home: my favorite lipstick was lost in our travels today.

The Hoquiam River
The Hoquiam River

My daughter and I created a wee book about today’s little adventure. If you’d like a copy of the book – it’s awesome! – shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org (I had to laugh at what my daughter wrote on her Flickr profile – awesomer still her brother could read it on his own).

handcrafted with a dash of love and sleep deprivation

This morning finds me making soothing sounds to and careful motions around my LAZR printer in hopes it will do as it’s told and print my little zine out without eating a lot of paper or making me cry with it’s weird paper handling voodoo. I’m eking out copies at this point, but at least it’s working.

Today I got up about two hours earlier than I usually do, at 6 AM (OK – I slept in a bit, it was more like 6:20 AM) to start making foccacia for my daughter’s kindergarten class in our Thursday morning ritual. OK, yes, it’s kind of a grownup recipe for little kids. But honestly, I had no groceries in the house except my breadmaking staples, some lovely roma tomatoes, and garlic. The best part will be when one little one pipes up about their hatred / fear of tomatoes (the ones I sharpened and re-sharpened my knife for and cut so carefully) and the whole class catches the bug and also start vehemently professing violent tomato antipathy. I mean those children are used to me and my food – they trust and eat whatever I make – but wee picky eaters are a contagious lot.

Tonight: helping a friend sew, crashing out early to a bad movie.

and ask our esteemed panel, why are we alive?

We had an outdoorsy day today: from taking a 9 mile roundtrip to get Nels from school straight to the bike shop where Terry and I (mostly Terry, although the kids and I were there for a lot of it and I even helped and learned parts of my bike, yay!) Franken-biked my Giant into an Xtracycle! Since my bike was torn apart before my eyes this involved me finding a way in poor weather to Sophie’s school and back home without wheels – in horizontal rain for part of it. Bitar’s Bike Shop is also slightly colder than the outdoors, and the outdoors were cold. Short story, it’s almost 9 PM and I’m still not warmed up.

The bike conversion is – so far – as lovely as I’d hoped. As in, I might have trouble sleeping tonight. In Bitars as I removed parts from the box I gazed upon them and fondled these parts (Oh, sleek Snap Deck!) as if they were so much excellent and rare porn, finally delivered into my hands after a seeming lifetime of waiting. The Xtracycle was fun; the g-d euro child’s bikeseat (I shall not name specifically and therefore print libel here about the annoying setup instructions) ended up taking us past 6:30 PM and Terry’s departure time so my S.U.B. will not be street-ready until tomorrow (pictures later; I’m kind of exhausted). I’m hoping dearly for a better day than today’s offerings (of which I had to bike, walk, bus with children) but I will test-ride that thing come rain or shine.

Oh, and Monday I was interviewed on by a college student (with his ladyfriend taking photos) for some coursework that involves Sure Nail & Fire. My zine is being featured as a small-town effort extolling the virtues of Harbor life; I listened to my interview today. I was really impressed with the editing job, especially after the NPR experience and how much coaching that entailed for just a short blurb; and considering Monday’s relatively low-fi recording device. For the record both interviewer E. and his girlfriend (photographer) K. were the most charming, sweet visitors we’ve had in a while. Smart and easy to talk to as well as cute as if kittens could be made into people (I bite my tongue to not refer wistfully to their youth).

It's ALIVE!!

a good saturday

When I get inspired it’s a glorious thing. I’m liable to tear a whole room apart, clean, and reassemble. Or run off to a craft store and purchase a handful of 55 cent vellum sheets for homemade cards; rummage through the hardware store spending way too much time on something silly and mundane; change needles on my machine, surf Etsy or Flickr and think of what I want to sew or draw or write on. I got extra screw-off time this morning as Ralph took the kids swimming and then to freinds’ for lunch.

My father came over at two PM – barely able to get through a work session after his Thursday chemo – to help Ralph build Sophie’s loft bed. Before they start my husband asks, “So any changes to the plans?” and my dad replies, “No… I mean not unless you’ve changed something.” To which Ralph says, “Look, I just want to know we can work in [awkward] silence the whole time.” They vanish into the next room with drill and two by fours and saws and (I hope) a level.

After my father leaves in the early evening – very sick, in fact – the family reconvenes. Sophie so loves the promise of the new bed that she perches up there – on the unpainted plywood plank – with a few books to read, bright with happiness. Nels scuttles off post-dinner and Ralph and I finish out our conversation about our current activities. I wander into the living room while sipping coffee and rice milk and my eye wanders into the dark bathroom where Nels sits, perched on the toilet, shirt lifted to show his newly-fed frog belly as he takes care of toilet business. “It’s me,” he grins at me when I turn his way. The little hobgoblin.

Tonight: endless zine work, proofreading. Homemade Valentine’s Day cards. Loud music and the sounds of kids splashing in the bath. Everyone stays up late and we watch MST3K together. Family life really works for me, sometimes.

"You know, I cried when I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. And then I laughed…really hard."

Today dawned hopeful, cold and clear – and plopped down on stuffy, whored-out and pissy. I am having a terribly discouraging time with aspects of Nels’ preschool environment. I am having a lot of difficultly lately interacting with my son and expecting respect while getting along (when did he turn into a messy-headed wolf cub?). I am having an annoying time with the local printery. But mostly, I’m having the worst time overcoming my residual head cold and my poor attitude.

So, it’s time for a little gratitude. Here are some great things that have come out of the last few days:

  • Helping my children learn more chores (they are surprisingly adroit!)
  • Explaining money-saving to them both (Nels’ goal: a squeaky duck; Sophie’s, winter boots)
  • Explaining “flashing” to them both (thank you, John Waters cameo!)
  • Sophie’s term for a productive cough: “hork ball”
  • Nels’ kisses and cuddles (when he’s not directly defying me at every turn)
  • New sewing patterns in the mail – Victorian garments (ooh, practical!)
  • New laser printer (zine approaches self-sufficiency)
  • Ralph’s support (very well-rendered this week)
  • Friends either helping or offering to help
  • Ladies’ Night at deli tonight
  • Brown sugar ham sandwich. ‘Nuff said.

I feel a lot better typing that out.

In other news: Sophie is getting a new loft bed in her room now shared with Nels (P.S. I like sewing or the possibility of sewing more than a potential for my own children’s coddled existence!). I was recently re-reminded of why we are glad to live our lives more simply (and no, I’m not referring to our phone and DSL services’ disconnection for non-payment, which has now been remedied). We’re considering going to one car although I will have to draft up my last will and testament now that I’m biking in Grays Harbor. Harris and Blackie have to go to the vet under false premises to have things cut off them (nuts, cancerous growth resp.). My brother never writes nor calls from Portland, the ass. And we are actually very sad here at Casa Del Hogaboom over Heath Ledger’s recent demise (rare pop-culture reference, here).