tiny bubbles / making memories

As some of you know my kids are down at Disneyland this week – with my mother. Monday I drove the lot of them to the Portland airport’s Radisson hotel. I walked them to their room, made pleasant talk, and then left. Like I was normal. I can still see my son poking his head out the hotel door, happy to send me on.

I walked through the lobby and out into the balmy parking lot. I climbed in my mom’s minivan and sat. I felt myself consumed with a terror and sadness. I recited The Three Jewels aloud, three times. I cried. Then I turned the engine over and got on the road.

Life is better than it used to be. Instead of driving in a numb haze of grief, I began to wake up. I began to breathe deep. By the time I met my brother and sister-in-law at the most amazing restaurant of all time (Country Mouse is very Country, & easily impressed) I was almost feeling normal – if hungry. I had a wonderful dinner and got back home a little after ten, to a tired husband and a clean home.

I have been okay since I got home. I have access to breathing deep, to being mindful. Seeing a little baby in a stroller today, kicking his legs, I got that pang. Seeing a tousle-headed blonde child at the hardware store, there it is again. I can’t believe how much less work it is, having no kids in the house. I’m on my last client costume of the season, and I’ve been able to work on that in peace. I can do dishes and laundry, and more do not pile up. It’s been nice.

But it will be lovely to have those little warm arms around me and hear their voices again. I don’t know how people can stand being away from their children but I’m here, and I’m standing it, and I’m even living my life a bit.

there and back again

Day surgery, a surreal experience. I slept poorly the night before but if there’s one thing I don’t need great sleep for, it’s anesthesia.

If you read here you probably know: I am terrified of medical procedures that involve being put under by narcotics. I am also terrified of needles. I mean my fears are huge. I don’t know why, and perhaps I will ever know. Today I accept these fears with a great deal of patience and kindness.

That’s all well and good, but these fears mean I have a hard time with all the minor hurts and indignities of the before-preparations. Like now: the nurse fiddles about trying to insert an IV in my left hand and instead stabs through the vein. The room fills with a small sadness as I turn my head and try not to cry. She hushes and wraps my hand and applies pressure, and tells me “sorry” several times – like about five. I am thinking this is not professional, but what is even more important and precious, I can tell she doesn’t want to hurt a patient. It is very amazing to me that some health care professionals, even after how hard they work and how much they see these things and worse, can still have that empathy over my little bit of pain. It really softens my heart.

My husband hates more than anything to see me suffering – it is kind of his Worst Thing. So even though he’s committed to being with me every moment, I know he’s uncomfortable here. I tell him he can go, I am okay. He tells me unless I request for him to leave he is going to stay because he is committed to being there for me anytime shit is rough.

The nurses come and go and now and then it’s just Ralph and I, sitting in the sunlight, both tired, both nervous. We turn and look at the cheerful placard that reads: “Tell Us What We Can Do To Make You Feel Safe!” I whisper to my husband in busted-down sotto voce, “Please stop stabbing me with needles!” He laughs but his eyes fill with tears. He jokes back, “Quit taking my clothes off and hurting me!” We implode into small fits of laughter and even though I am tired and frightened I am immensely cheered.

More procedures. More needles. I’m thinking, I will give you bastards one thousand dollars if you at least let me wear my bra and underwear under this hideous “gown”. I’ m not happy sitting here like a naked mole rat covered in thin cotton. A few specialists come by. They comment on the rarity of meeting someone on Zero medications. They tell me I am healthy, except for the reason I am here, for which I feel grateful. One specialist comes in and speaks to me in such a condescending, ridiculous fashion I gleefully store the exchange in my heart. If you know me IRL I am happy to relay an impression of this hubris to you, as it makes me laugh still. Then the final specialist: an anesthesiologist. We talk a bit and he has that efficiency and expertise of someone with the responsibility of placing another human being in death’s arms and then bringing them away again. He starts me on the medicine and begins to wheel me out the room. I tell Ralph, “Bye,” and I know I am going off to Won’t-Remember.

The morphine kicks in and it is not pleasant – I feel my body squeezed in a hot vise and I feel myself taken away to some other place, from somewhere in my chest.

Only a brief memory of the stainless steel, the friendly surgeons and other personnel, quickly and efficiently sticking sensors to my skin.

When I swim to consciousness and out of a hallucination (a twisted brick path, a nameless creature upon it) my throat feels terrible. It is sore, filled with the acrid taste of whatever lubricant they used to get me on a breathing apparatus. A kind nurse comes and helps me swab and rinse my mouth. She floats in and speaks to me with such gentleness I feel safe and cheered; she has no sadness in her body language or voice so I know I am Okay. Nevertheless, a few moments later I hear two other nurses, one of them disparaging drug addicts who come in with abscesses. I want to tell them of my dear friend who came in this way, and has now been clean and sober since this last event. But I am still muffled under fog and shifting sands and even five feet away they are not reachable.

As soon as I can speak, I ask if I’d had a stint placed. I am told, No. My mind eases a bit.

Back in day surgery my husband is given back to me and I am supplied with a small tub of high fructose corn syrup-sweetened cranberry juice. Nothing tastes better. I know I will vomit everything up again, but I am simply too thirsty not to drink it.

A wheelchair out to the car, a ride home. Vomiting and then again, and then rest.

And yes, in the evening after I slept, I pulled myself out into the world again. I participated in some work with other alcoholics – a very small meeting. I did this because I was okay to walk, and to speak, and it’s something I do if I can. And at first, I thought I was fine. But once I got home I was exhausted, and threw up again. That kind of violent even-out-the-nose vomiting.

But again, I am pretty serene. The vomiting will pass – it is the medicine, and I am sensitive to it.

I am still feeling the gratitude of being awake – and not having a bunch of needles and appliances in my body.

So today: more recovery. Trying to rest instead of working too hard. Hoping I can poop. Believe me, pooping after having morphine is like, a huge milestone of joy for me. I remember in November 2011 having a procedure, and being constipated (my first time ever) and boy by the end I was in fervent prayer.

And on that topic, my brother sent me a link. Read not one review, but several. You will be in tears by the end.

celebrating life and possibility

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Once I saw a couple awesomesauce photographers at the Sauvie Island wedding locale, I gave myself permission to stop taking pictures and trust that, later, wonderful pictures would come to me. This accounts for the kind of inexcusable lapse in that I don’t have a single picture of the couple (or of my own husband, sister, or mother!) to offer you, this evening. Still, I stand by my choice to be in the experience, instead of recording it.  If you don’t know the kind of intense energy that goes into a wedding, at least when you are family or involved in a major way, then – pssshhhfft. I’ll post more photos when they come around.

So, Portland then.

In the house we stayed at, Ralph told me he intended to treat me “like a Queen” all weekend – and he did. Strawberry pancakes, at my request:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Almost better than devouring them (while reading a junky noir novel!) was watching my daughter eat them. Delicious!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Getting ready for fancy shin-diggery. The kids’ togs are all silk and cotton – a silk/cotton blend for the suits, a very fine cotton for each shirt, and silk taffeta for the bowties.

Yes, I made bowties. Yes, it was awesome. And kind of tricky. Bowties, if you want to make real ones, you have to make the exact correct length for the neck. I am now all fired up and ready to make Ralph a few vests and bowties because he looked gooooood. My brother said my entire family was “sharp as a diamond tack.”

Reader, I wore not one but two outfits, changing before the reception. No pictures yet of my get-up, although I offer you my custom-ordered boutonniere, a little nicety I purchased along with a wrist corsage for the mother of the groom.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Wedding gifts: Ralph and I made Jamila a steampunk travelling hat, complete with goggles, lace netting, and homemade wired ribbon and multi-loop bow:
Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Phee models, after her wedding-morning bath:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

My brother, I made an overdyed wool vest. Prick-stitched lining, bound buttonholes, brass buttons, and a secret charm sewn into the pocket. Shhhh!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The back belt:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

We also bought them a two-night trip to Sol Duc hot springs!

Billy And Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The wedding was super-lovely and worth every bit of effort it took our family to get there, and get there in style.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Hm, how much do I love this picture? My brother, the groom, looking handsome and happy. Tony checking something in his hand – the ring? His phone? And Chris, marching like a goddamn champion, gripping a bottle of wine. Fuck YEAH.

And yeah I got teary-eyed at the wedding. Of course I did, what the hell is wrong with you?

***

So we had a lovely time, all in all. I got to see my friend B. and her wonderful family, and thanks to some donations from two online friends, we got to hit the Mummies this afternoon, and visit with my sister. This morning I wrote a piece for Underbellie, in large part sparked by gratitude for the blessing of friends and family who, perhaps unwittingly, continue to challenge me in my day-to-day life.

Oh, and this was the first time I went two nights without my dog, since we got him almost a year ago. I MISSED HIM and I think HE MISSED ME, but now we are reunited.

Vintage Surfers

we do not take a trip; a trip takes us

Vintage Surfers
I love vintage beach photos – the older the better! – and who wouldn’t?

We’re travelling again today – to Portland, for my only brother’s wedding. I am very excited about this, as you may well imagine!

It wouldn’t be a Hogaboom occasion if things weren’t a little busy right up until we leave. Ralph and I have two o’clock haircut appointments and we still need to do some housecleaning and pick up some suspenders for the kids. I have sewn a silk suit for each child, a shirt for each child, a bow tie for each child, two different headpieces, two wedding gifts, and a hanging bunting – all of this besides the effort required to find semi-formal togs for Ralph and I, who needed the works, including shoes. And of course, we are orienting our house-and-dog-and-cat sitters and the like, as well as wrangling our kids who don’t exactly slow down no matter how much we might like them too!

These past few weeks I have paced myself as well as possible, attempting to ameliorate my enthusiasm and creative energies with my family’s needs and my own need for rest and enjoyment. Daily bike rides and listening meditations have been essential in keeping me from growing ill or over-anxious. Today will be an exercise in trying to move slowly.

For me, a wedding is a celebration. Life is hard and being mated is tempting at times but doesn’t actually make things easier, or at least not in the long-term. Being partnered is quite a challenge – a wonderful, at times baffling journey! Tomorrow my family grows larger and my brother embarks on more responsibilities – or at least a new element to his life’s journey. I am honored and grateful to be included in this celebration and I am grateful for the health and well-being of those I love.

roostercore & other friday fun

“Sometimes I’m Still That Little Girl” – a great Flickr collection.

A bit about Imposter Syndrome, something most people can at least relate to.

Cora’s Story – a mother shares about her experience with the most common birth defect, congenital heart defects (between 1 in 70 to 1 in 100 babies). A very intense story, but well worth the read.

25 YouTube Comments That Are Actually Funny at buzzfeed. These are giggle-inducing in an aggregate way. Favorites: the two after the dolphin video, then later the one with the musician and his beard.

Reshared by the late Erica Kennedy, shortly before her untimely death – one of her favorite pictures.

Another hero MamaKitty – but no one compares to Scarlett, who holds a special place in my heart, and in literature.

Nature teams up to bring us something very special, and incidentally this is the kind of thing that makes my brother and I talk about constructing a stainless-steel bunker home with hydroponic foods and a germ-laser-toilet.

Thinking Kink: Debunking BDSM Myths at bitch magazine.

& the newest music scene I’m into. Oh, internet. I love you so much:

as close as hands and feet

Happy 33rd!

Myself, Billy. And our fridge-magnet creation we dispassionately display here: “Mad Max”.

Today is my brother’s thirty-third birthday. He and I were born a year and a half apart, more or less, so his age is about as easy to keep track of as mine (this endeavor grows more difficult every passing year, especially as my basic arithmetical skills have atrophied).

It was pointed out to me yesterday the people we have the longest relationship with in our life are our siblings – not our spouses or partners, friends, or even parents. Holy shit. I hadn’t thought of it that way. My half-sister Jules and I weren’t raised together and I got to know her best the brief time we both lived in Seattle, while I was attending school – and of course, I get to know her today, I’m fortunate to. Having been raised with my brother, and without my sister, I can say it sucks not to have known her more, had her as a regular part of my life.

But still, back to Billy, his big day. I’ve known him ninety-six-point-five percent of my life. I can’t remember a time without him. He was a sweet boy and the grownups (in my opinion) didn’t give him enough of the right stuff. It seemed to me like my mom worried about him and prodded him to do better in school (he was a straight-A and B student), more socially than anything else, whatever that meant as he always had friends and teachers liked him. Family told us “they” (who? teachers? family?) thought for a time in early childhood Billy was “retarded”. Yeah, “retarded”. You heard right. I don’t think my mom, brother or I use that term anymore. Anyway, I mean just the way it was said, not so sensitive nor apt, not because if he’d been neurologically atypical I would think that’s a bad thing, it was fucked up as there was an unspokent judgment in that whole story: you know, be like everyone else whyont’cha? (product of baby boomer mentality)

I mean like I said, this was a student who did fine and a boy who always had friends and had a lovely character. Yet almost every year on his report card a teacher would write, “Billy needs to finish things on schedule”. These teachers always meant their schedule of course. If Billy had been my son (I know, weird), my eyes would have rolled ’til they clicked and I’d have said, “Fuck your schedule.”

Because Billy was, and grew up to be, and is to this day – as far as I can tell – a detail-oriented, kind, caring, intelligent person with a deep love for his close friends (of which I am not sure I am one … yet), a strong commitment to his work and a desire to do it well (both our parents were this way, except, notably, our father when it came to home repair projects). He’s ended up in a detail-oriented position with employers who love him, and he them, and he takes deadlines seriously. He’s the same as he was when a boy, or at least all the good parts. As far as I can tell. He’s a bit private and I only know him as well as he lets me. I think he did pretty well or has so far because mostly he got love from our mom and dad despite their shortcomings.

Our dad was kind of a dick to him, by the way. Again, at least I think so, I don’t know if anyone else does. Shortly before my dad died, but when he could still get around, he showed up at my house on Eklund and rambled about Billy and how he, our father, wasn’t as tender and loving as he could have been, and he thought Billy suffered because of that. It was weird, my dad talking to me like that because that isn’t how my dad talked (adulthood – I only remember him hugging me and saying “I love you” to me just before he died). Anyway after a while of this sitting there having coffee I said to my father, “Shit, it sounds like you need to talk to your son, not to me.” I don’t know if he even did. But then Billy wasn’t there when dad died. So there you go you old weasel, you get like you served up.

Billy and I are so physically different it’s funny. He’s thin and I’m plump. (Our parents used to tell me not to bully him because one day he’d be bigger and would retaliate. I think I still outweigh him by about forty pounds.) He’s dark-haired and olive-skinned (but pale) – like our sister – and I’m fair(ish). He can grow quite the beard and I can barely manage a mustache. We used to make jokes when we’d go out in public, as if we were perceived as a couple and somehow people also knew we were brother and sister, and were creeped out.

My brother is hands-down the best listener I’ve known. He’s also been so supportive of my parenting and marriage as far as I can tell. Get that, I just told you our siblings are who we know longest and I have this loving guy who’s a great listener and supporter. He’s also very funny and we share a lot of jokes. I’d like to think we can make new ones, not just have the old ones.

I can only speak on my brother and his childhood from my perspective, and I can’t know if he relates at all. I think about him often, and I’m always glad to see him or hear from him. I am glad he has a good lady in his life and great friends and a good job. And I send him – regularly – pictures and videos of our cat bullshittery (LEGION!) which I know he appreciates.

Happy birthday, Lobster Eyes. Many more I hope.

***

Myself taking a picture of my sister taking a picture of my brother and daughter (you can tell the picture’s a few years old by how little my Phoenie is!):

My Sister Taking A Picture Of My Brother And My Daughter

baaaaaaallllls

I’m glad it happened, really. Things have been going so well on the Christmas front. Tiny, well-crafted yet frugal gifts; homemade music and Christmas cards out on time (um, today, so expect yours soon), a few home-sewn items, a few excellent purchases from our local bookstore (yay!), several very well-curated bits of goodness (specifically for my mother and kids; I’ve owned it this year). This season people often ask how it’s going and I’ve been able to truthfully say Very Well, very pleased to celebrate and honor friendships and family, but I also laugh and add there’s some mini- (or, and I hope not, major-) disaster on the way –

So today after literally sewing until I bled (Stabby McNeedleson) I put the finishing touches on the lovingly-crafted button-up shirt I was making for my brother, made from crisp and delicious Essex linen/cotton blend and Pam Erny’s awesome pro-weft interfacing, and stitched up all eight buttons with a trademark thread finish, 100% flat-felled seams (yes, including the armscye!) and a narrow hem to die for and a wonderful weight and hand and looking sharp. And I wash the shirt it and remove it to dry and press and immediately perceive THE FUCKING FABRIC HAD FURTHER PRESHRUNK, resulting in thoroughly ruinous interfacing/fabric bubbles that cannot be pressed out and cannot be ignored either as in, I will not be gifting this to my brother, no way. OH GOOD LORD NOOOoooOOOO

I can tell Ralph’s worried about money. By little subtle hints like his IM today that says, “I’m in so much pain right now, worrying about money.” Also more concrete sea changes like the fact instead of the typical breakfast cereal my kids like he purchased Junky-Os, you know the kind in the bag made of teflon-ass so a kid has to tear and tear and get a kitchen knife (unsupervised as I’m all Twittering and shit) and saw and tear and then suddenly BAM! the whole business asplodes all over the kitchen floor, which perhaps may even the financial savings inherent in a lower-grade purchase a bit moot, but my daughter cleaned the whole business up except for a tidy little pile of Os that later the cat was messing about with while tangling herself up in my serger foot pedal since the serger is sitting on my tiny kitchen counter since, even with a super crafty family, we have only one table, one, which is in the sewing room now which means we eat sitting on the floor again, no big deal but still.

Ralph and I are home at 1 AM after wrapping up Christmas presents at my mom’s house, our package for the Portland crew: my sister, my brother and his girlfriend (and her cat). At least I know my mom and the USPS won’t fuck-up the mailing of the package so all that will go well enough.

And that’s just all I have to say about all of that.

oh the suspense!

My favorite Hitchcock film – so far, as I haven’t yet seem them all – is Dial M For Murder. The director was brilliant – and yes I realize he had about a hundred and one issues with women, and none of them bore very good results – but. Still.

North by Northwest is another I enjoyed –

And of course, Vertigo. On my first viewing my favorite part was the nightmare sequence (which is, it goes without saying, far better viewed within the context of the film):

So of course, I thought I would make a baby bunting thusly. Because it just makes sense.

Vertigo!

This was my first experience using Spoonflower’s printing service (you can view my brother’s uploaded designs at their site). I was very disappointed in the results of the twill, which faded quite a bit upon my initial wash (gentle, in cold water). However, I am not done with Spoonflower by any means. I’d like to continue to work with them (and if you, dear reader, know of another custom-printing house for small batches, let me know) although I feel some consternation I do so potentially at my own peril of lost-materials cost. An in-house screenprinting studio is hard to negotiate given we four live in a two-bedroom house… but my wheels are turning as I’d like to be able to do more with the fabrics I use.

Lined With Organic Cotton Softness

(Hee hee, lined in the iconic Vertigo poster art!)

You can read more about the construction and materials of this in the Flickr tagset. I put it up on my homesewn sub-site. And I’ve decided I need to make, oh… like a billion more sci-fi, classic, or B-movie-film-based clothing items.

ALSO: NEED ACTUAL BABY TO PUT IN THE BABY CLOTHES I MAKE