unprecedented

The pandemic and resultant quarantine – as Washington state residents, we’re early adopters – would be scary enough in any case, but it sucks when you’ve got children, even presumably healthy ones. Small children always seem so vulnerable; my teenagers, however, can have grownup-sized anxieties with a tad bit less historical perspective than might otherwise give them comfort.

Today, coincidentally, was the first day of the year I felt the heat of spring when I opened the door. My first thought: the planet will survive. We human beings have made some big messes and stand to make more. The planet utterly doesn’t give a fuck.

Phoenix and I went on a neighborhood walk, carefully observing distancing practices of course. Just a simple walk – after only a week of quarantine – felt invigorating, sacred. I asked how his friends were doing. I asked how he was holding up. In is social circle, Phoenix occupies a similar role as I do in mine – expected to support, expected to listen and empathize, expected to be that emotional buffer for others. I tell him to be cautious about this. I tell him, “the day before yesterday I fielded a lot of calls. I felt just fine all day long, listening to others and helping them. But then that night I was beset by anxiety and couldn’t fall asleep until six A.M.”

Two more months, or so? Let’s see.

An Intense Fellow

“It’s Complicated”

There is a perfectly lovely woman at a local shop who always greets me warmly, and makes genuine, caring conversation with my husband and I when she sees us. She is a homeschooler and so that, I feel, is why she reaches out to connect. But she is a very different type of homeschooler than we: she uses a strict curriculum (for her several children), and the family is an evangelical Christian. Today I got to have that conversation I’ve had so many times in the last few years:

Her: “‘Boys’? I thought you had a boy and a girl?”
Me, smiling: “We thought so too! But we were wrong.”

I wait a beat. It takes most people a second to process what I might be saying.

right about 29th street

Beeps and I are about to cross from Hoquiam to Aberdeen when we hear a strange beeping. We slow up on pedaling and coast; moments later a tall, silver-bearded white man slowly crosses a block ahead of us on a segway. Slowwllly he crosses as his siren sententiously announces his passage.

A beat, and then I say to my oldest: “Being on the bike, you are thrown into humanity a bit more,” and halfway through the sentence they are nodding already. We’ve come across a rude cashier, teens cutting eyes at us as they walk home from school, and two young men who pulled over and asked us to buy them beer. And then there’s the distraction of people just doing their thing: mowing lawns or taking out the glass bottles. These few days on the bikes have been incredible for my mood; the sunny days are ecstatic, and the rain and the cold – well, those days I’m glad to get home to the heat and my pantry and my kettle.

I finished two dresses today, and washed and dried a gorgeous two-tone linen for a pair of trousers. My stockpile of fabrics for upcoming projects is, incredibly, slowly dwindling. Another great thing about the bike is it forces me to stop working, and to an extent stop thinking about work. I’ll take what I can get!

a fleeting glimpse / out of the corner of my eye

This morning on my walk back up the hill, with my faithful dog at my heels, I am suddenly reminded of my father. He ran long-distance, so several times a week he would set out for a few miles by himself. He had such a distinctive gait that, if I ever saw it again, I would be knocked into stillness at the recognition. A stride I don’t see reflected in my brother or I, my father’s two children, but it’s such an indelible memory it is a part of me nevertheless.

My dad would lift his hand in acknowledgment when a car passed, or perhaps another runner headed the other way. I don’t know how many times I saw this hand motion – hundreds. Thousands? Sometimes I was the driver, or passenger – it’s a small town so I saw my father running many times. Such a familiar sight to me too, this movement on his part, this acknowledgment. He would be deep in his meditative space – that’s what running was for him – and he’d lift his hand, that’s all. But I can see it, and see the cast of his head on the path, and his mind was elsewhere. But even now if I close my eyes and try to remember much more than the flow of the gesture, or the feeling it instills within to remember it – it vanishes.

The dog and I arrive home and two of our cats ask to be let in; a third sits placidly on our kitchen table and calmly moves off when he sees me. (Naughty!). The dog has a quick drink of water and pads over expectantly for my praise, and a scritch between the eyes. I settle his blanket over his bed and somewhere in all this I realize that to support our family – our too-young college student, our spirited son, our dog, our five cats – is quite an accomplishment. It is a labor of love and nothing else. I hadn’t quite seen it that way, seen what a good job we do. Not for any other reason in that there’s always that next step. Today, for instance, we will be replacing the light above the sink. I have bills to pay by phone, on my work break. Two packages to mail out, and a final late Christmas present to wrap. We get to plan the evening meal – a little trickier as Ralph and I have both been ill and unable to eat for the last thirty-six hours.

The dog now sleeps on his bed – he is chasing and barking at something in his sleep. All the funnier as he does not bark when awake. I suppose a big part of our life, Ralph and I, is delivering safe dreams to more than few sentient creatures.

put your hands on the wheel / let the golden age begin

Our lifestyle has changed, and abruptly. Shuddered and jerked into a grinding openness – a carnival ride taking us – where? It is easy to feel unmoored – but writing, and caring for the children, and sewing, has anchored me through larger upheavals and, I trust, will carry me through this.

It’s not just that the new home is a lot nicer than the old. Although this change itself is a little odd as it wasn’t entirely planned. In fact it is dawning on my husband and I each day how much an improvement this home is over our previous rentals. The kids, I think, somehow saw this right away – no one is more thrilled than our eleven year old son, who has given many tours and is so very proud of his new homestead.

I am still getting used to: having a large workspace for my sewing room, that includes a utility sink, its own bathroom, and a washer and dryer. I am still getting used to: having a dishwasher, a garage door with automatic opener, air conditioning, and a sink disposal unit. (I was terrified of two of those – I’ll let you guess which ones!). I am still getting used to: having a separate dining area that isn’t doubling for something else.  I am still getting used to: rooms with a lot of natural light. Even as we put together our situation – our living room is not yet finished, curtains need to be hung throughout the main level, and my kitchen lacks a table – it is clear this home will suit very well.

It is also completely odd to be thrown into a dwelling we can immediately make improvements to – without asking a landlord, or worrying if they’ll say Yes or No, or wondering if they’ll care for the home we live in. We get to care for our home! It is completely strange to live in rooms without a bunch of chipped cheap paint and wonky floor. It is strange to watch my husband – who has always been such a hard worker – complete projects one right after the other, the only limitation being the funds I allocate and whether or not I will cook dinner and care for children while he works.

If this weren’t change enough, I am discovering the pace of unschooling life, now that both kids are eschewing the school life. Today we traveled out of town for furnishings and lunch. We sang aloud, tried new foods together, and shopped for a few extras for the kids. We are sleeping better, eating well, and enjoying our rhythm together. It is a vast improvement over the schedule of last year.

And – I start a job on Monday. A job! This job was phoned TO me, delivered on my doorstep as it were. It has been over a dozen years since I’ve worked for someone besides the family, or myself.

A lot of changes. I don’t at all feel over-excited. But – it is a lot. I have to take it one day, one bit of work, at a time.

14th Anniversary

“no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company – than a good marriage”

14th Anniversary

Today marked our fourteenth wedding anniversary. And it was a beautiful, lush day, as September often is here.  It’s also a busy time of year – and busier than typical, for us.

I had wondered – as it became obvious our house-buy and move would be right on top of both “the first day of school” (irrelevant, as homeschoolers) and our anniversary – if our day would get swallowed up. Would we be too tired, or angry with one another, or embroiled in detail, to spend a few hours in appreciation? (No.) Would we make time to gift one another (Yes!) Would we have a lovely evening together (Yes!).

Dinner was lovely – but the drive, and the beach view, were sublime. I am fortunate to live in an absolutely beautiful, remote, idyllic corner of the world. I don’t regret it, not for a moment.

And here’s hoping for many, many more years together as a couple.

14th Anniversary

Pre-Colonoscopy

“What’s the buzz?” – or, about three weeks somehow shoehorned into just a couple days

The last few days have been growth days. Doing new things. New, often scary things. Being very busy; busier than I am normally

For instance I am hustling to finish up my projects from the Bundle Up! boys’ blog tour. Typically in my tailoring work I stroll with my head back, cockily finishing up before deadlines, like a Boss. However this time around my fabric order was freakishly late – the fabrics arrived last Thursday. And even then I might have had time but a medical project reared its head. Thursday afternoon I prepped for, and Friday I underwent – a colonoscopy.

Pre-procedure: tired, tired, at the tail end of a thirty-six hour fast, and ready for my Twilight Sleep:

Pre-Colonoscopy

(the “Shadow of the Vampire” look I put down to a puke-green “gown”, hospital lighting, and a very special adventure the day before.) That said I’m not sure if anyone’s done so well during a prep and colonoscopy as I did. (Is that something to be proud of?)

Post-procedure, I slept most the day.

Saturday, feeling quite amazing and energetic, I got to sewing as quick as I could. But of course: kids, housework. A long-lost friend resurfaced and needed some time. And of course – before I forget: we put together the Event Page on Facebook, printed the tickets, and rolled out the poster for our upcoming benefit for a local animal rescue:

(For the love of god, buy a ticket or donate to the cause. We put up our household grocery money to reserve the Theatre and secure film licensing – $750!)

And today?

Well, today. Ralph and I tried out for lead parts in a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

Yes. Yes, we really did.

Ralph & I Off To Audition

(we both channeled the late and great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as Sandy Lyle in Along Came Polly)

I didn’t mean to have such a busy week, but when things get busy I get very “one thing at a time” – and sometimes I don’t notice how many “things” I strung together.

I guess out of everything… I mean I am proud of myself for stretching, for reaching out and doing things scary. But the auditions? That is huge for me. Not that long ago the only people who’d heard me sing were my children.

I’ve had a lot of adventures the last few days. I’m ready for a little rest.

Some people in the home, however, continue on much as before. So after a very busy last five days, I leave you with some precious Cat Serenity.

Just An Old Hat

Champions

Pip, Sleeping

 

only the young can say / they’re free to fly away

A project I’d dreamed up a while back: custom athletic “school pride” hoodie. Here ya go, my lovely daughter of mine. You are one thousand percent f*cking awesome so. Here you go!

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I had some trouble with this garment, but not the trouble I thought I might run into. The original pattern instructions had some errata and I was a bit frustrated, and the back center panel was missing a few helpful notches. I made some changes to the pattern – specifically, in the hood, the pockets/pocket tabs, and the cuffs – and I omitted the facings. But then there were fabric issues – the stripe fabric. I made a quick purchase online and neglected to get yarn-dyed stripes. So these stripes are printed on. Kinda ass, quality-wise. They look great, because A. the print was printed properly and B. I am a bad-ass at matching stripes. But next time I might do a little more hunting for a great stripe.

And on that note, let me talk about hoodie fabrics a bit.

I used to joke about old rock and roll bands who’d leap around stage and do high kicks while wearing ball-framingly tight DENIM jeans. Ralph and I will still say, “touch of Lycra” when, say, a Journey song comes on our Google Music radio. Then we laugh because SERIOUSLY

Touch Of Lycra

Now those are snug.

Now, I’m no stranger to 100% cotton knits. I’ve made an awful lot of great garments with the 100% cotton Michael Miller knit stripe.

But hoodies, like Mr. Perry’s grape-smugglers above, benefit from the performance only provided by a bit of synthetic fiber. Even six percent (or less) of spandex or some other stretch fiber, can give the hoodie a bit more wearing comfort and a better drape. Now I am such a natural fiber snob (wool, linen, silk, cotton) – but sometimes SCIENCE delivers us seductive advances. So yes: spandex is my friend (or in this hoodie’s case – 4% lycra is my friend).

More pictures of today’s piece:

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie
The back. Looking great. Perfect stripe-lining! BOOM

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I like the size of the hood – and I like the overlap at the neckline.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I sewed the seam allowances of the thumb holes together before turning them, which made for a non-topstitched thumbhole. Better looking than topstitch efforts IMO.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Construction: a zig zag, then a three-thread serge finish. Very tidy hoodie interior.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

My old-skool freezer-paper-and-Solvy method, for the “screenprinted” lettering.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

More Fabri Sticky Solvy, everywhere everywhere, for a good-looking applique “P” on this very thin knit.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Peeking inside the pocket. A nice, roomy, kangaroo-style pocket.

I just ordered fabric for my next custom hoodie: self-drafted, for my son. I have some artistic plans and I only hope the fabric comes arrives such that I can complete the project in time for his birthday.

I’d love to just sew people hoodies pretty much all day long. VERY FUN

 

Me, A While Back

reservations

small stone #26
I did not look up
once today.

Today I wasn’t so hot. I got up, stretched and worked through my yoga, sat meditation, prepared my shrine and took refuge in the Three Jewels. Then I got on my knees and made a private and earnest prayer, all of my own. I made up my medicinal herbal remedy for my kidney. I spoke with civility to my children (mostly) and I brought my husband coffee. I pet the animals in my home. I put forth some correspondence, writing the ones I love.

My mind raced most of the day and I had to breathe deep many times to return to myself.

Ralph, the children and I visited the newest restaurant in Aberdeen where, as promised, we selected from a very limited opening-night menu. I was very tired and my daughter, across from me, seemed the same. Tall and willowy and her coarse-honey hair in two sprigs of pigtail.

My son sat next to me, smiling up at me, smelling good and warm in his flannel shirt. He chattered along near-incessantly, cupping a ludicrously-blue beverage in a white wine glass and freely discussing the food. He looks a lot like I did at his age. But he smiles more than I did. He’s tough. He has this wolfpup-thin little body but he’s tough.

And it feels like a long time ago I was his age. A lifetime ago.

Me, A While Back

tired tired tired

small stone #27
fresh bread
a plate, with olives