joyeux noel

The stress and pain of the last few days since last Wednesday’s unpleasantness are still with me. I can be patient; I can wait for the hurt to pass. And I usually find myself rather rueful at just how much I take things to heart. If anything, I am more sensitive as I age – even if I behave better than I used to. I have more self-discipline, I don’t say things I regret later. I behave appropriately in the moment. I am grateful for this.

And – I suffer. I suffer even when it seems everyone else is fine. I suffer even if I’m doing the right thing, and putting one foot in front of the other. This is just how it is. I pray. I meditate. I try to look deeply.

But – I am human.

Friday: I blow the last of our grocery money on a spa date with the kids. My son is ecstatic – he can’t believe the lushness of the services offered. My daughter – well, sometimes it seems she is more than two years older than her brother.

Today the cold and damp weather did not deter us; Phoenix’s beau has joined us for the day and the two of them huddle together in comfortable companionship in the back of my little BMW as we motor through town. Christmas shopping – on a credit card – finding the last little bits and bobs for our gifts this year. The children are happy and they are loud; they are now near adult-sized so after a bit, Ralph and I send them away in the shop so he and I can have some peace.

Downstairs and the wrapping paper stacks, and gifts, and tags – Christmas cards to send out, and so many homemade concoctions simmering on the stove. Shea butter and goats’ milk soaps, and a syrup made with citrus zest, spices, fruit. Candies cooked up on the stove; I show my daughter how I do it, without quite instructing her or making her learn. No, just preparing the ground (as I’ve always done with her!), so that one day if she ever wants to do the same, the rhythm will be in her blood, and her fingertips will have confidence, if not practice.

My husband and son take the dog out for his last walk of the day. A hot shower, pajamas. Maybe one last sliver of sharp cheese, and crackers. It is gorgeous to have days off, now that I work again. Several in a row. Gift-wrapping and tidying the house, and soon the celebration with the family.

thus he does it of a winter night

When I was a young girl – I couldn’t have been older than eight, as we still lived in our bus – I received a pair of Smurf pajamas for a Christmas gift. I loved them – unequivocally. I don’t remember caring much about the Smurfs one way or another, as we didn’t have television and I rarely saw the program. No, what I loved were the colors, and the design: a graphic-printed white torso, cerulean blue leggings and sleeves, and crimson cuffs at wrist and ankle. Today I know the material was probably that horrible polyester that cheap kids’ sleepwear is made of. But then? They were my favorite garment. We were staying at some sort of RV park or camping site when we opened gifts, and Christmas morning I remember petitioning my parents to let me wear the pajamas throughout the day. They, being relatively loving hippie ilk, let me be. There’s a picture somewhere of me standing in front of a camper, hip cocked. Pleased as punch!

I remembered these pajamas quite suddenly tonight, as I stitch up the cuffs for a pair for my son. The pajamas I’m making tonight will be homemade, not storebought; the fabric, an expensive cotton custom print in one of his most dear video game universes. Most of the gifts we’ve slated for the holiday have been homemade – put into the works months ago, in some cases. We are making food delectables from scratch, and I am designing (and hiding!) something special for each child, and my husband. Ralph and I once again put together a special Christmas card; the cards and the selected deep teal envelopes sit downstairs at our crafting bench. Tonight, my husband and I will sit together by our fireside and wind balls of yarn to make – but, well, you never know who might read here.

Remembering my modest childhood, and the relative comforts we have today, I am reminded to slow down for the holidays. There are so many loved ones to thank, to gift, to shower with affection and recognition. It can be very tempting to try to rush through it all – to hop online and search for sales, or run to the mall in desperation. But instead, I refer back to my lists. I try to be cautious. I put aside tonight’s sewing – I’m feeling tired, and my eyes are fatigued from working so intensely at home and in my job. I take an early shower, and a late dinner, with my family – who are more dear to me than life itself.

It’s a time for introspection, and gratitude. A time not to let the house be cluttered but rather to keep it ordered and clean. A time to cherish the season, because we never know if we shall get another.


the universal lens that corrects all vision problems


Christmas Eve day. A lovely day with the children, doing a little bit of shopping and cooking. For dinner I made borscht with mushroom-stuffed dumplings (barszcz with uszka – a Polish Christmas Eve first course), a basic goulash, and a winter lemon poppyseed salad; Ralph made pierogi. In a few minutes: a last course of fresh cherry pie.

Barszcz, Uszka

My mom put the kids’ stockings together and I put hers together. We had a little set-to at her house this evening.

WaitingTomorrow: gifts, and a regal Christmas dinner – Beef Wellington!


look what I can do!

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

One piece of two, made for my friend A. for her Christmas gifts. Also, my beautiful daughter modeling (she is the same height as the recipient; thinner). Information about the garment at the bottom of the post.

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

One fur hook at neck, for closure. If the recipient wants more hooks installed I will do this gratis. It hangs very nicely but swings a little with movement.

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Very insulating. It was quite cold when we walked to the coffee shop & phee, with her arms exposed, was perfectly warm.

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

In this case, my client selected and brought me the fabric and the lining. This is something I am often not into doing but it worked out great. This faux fur was quite a bit more challenging than YETI-riffic fur. Additionally, it required lining up not only a striped pattern, but a striped pattern in a scallop. Yeah, I know! A total challenge. However I lucked out with yardage spacing, and returned quite a bit of faux fur to the client who now is pondering what she might or might not want to make with it. Faux fur is fabulous, but it is also quite bulky. I think some boot liners/leg warmers would be choice!

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

The lavender satin the client chose was so pretty – and a nice weight, making for a garment with a lot of weight. Very delicious. I added in-seam pockets, also in satin.

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Very silky fur! Phee is not so excited about being a model here. Can you tell?

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Close-up of the armscye binding. An over-dyed cotton print, which I also used to make the thread-drawn patch:

Harley's Faux Fur Vest


Harley's Faux Fur Vest

This faux fur had a nice drape. I drafted a self-facing for the jacket, which is flipped over here to show you the inside of the garment.

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Harley's Faux Fur Vest

Phee & her DGAF face. I think I might start paying her to model. Children are more becoming when they smile!

Harley's Faux Fur Vest


i’ll send you a love letter – straight from my heart, fucker!

Love Letter

Today is Christmas Eve, widely celebrated here in the States. I’ve so far in my life experienced holidays as wonderful times filled with much reflection and lovingkindess. Today I’ve spent most my time with family and a friend or two. Baking and cooking and cleaning and wrapping many, many presents (and making many, many cards). Ralph and I just got back from Aberdeen to help support a safe and sober place for people to go – people who are having trouble, or who are lonely, or who need respite from the holidays.

Christmas 2011

It’s a late, late dinner than snuggles and a b-movie for us. BIG SURPRISE, I know. We have several Christmases to experience in the next few days – our small family tomorrow morning, then a few friends during the day, then my mother in the evening, then a much-anticipated gift-exchange with a special friend and a very special gift idea from my son – and finally, in a few days’ time, my brother and his girlfriend will be up on a semi-rare visit from Portland and get the gifties we’ve put together for them.

Yay, everything!

I’ll leave you this evening, just before midnight, with one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, involving one of my favorite songs. Oh and you’ve been warned, you should know my mind by now and how it works, or maybe how it doesn’t.

princess of darkness

So today I’m getting ready to go out to coffee with my sister and my mom and my son, and my daughter says, watching me from the morning bath she was using to warm up,

“Mom, am I too little to wear makeup?”

I reply, “You can wear it whenever you want. But please let me help you use it, so you don’t get it dirty or break it. I’ll buy you some if you promise to learn to use it respectfully.” (we’re talking about a kid who still comes in the house and strips down to her bra and panties, throwing things wherever she walks)

She asks, “Why do women wear makeup?”

“Well… some women think they aren’t beautiful enough as they are.”

“But why do you wear it? You’re beautiful.” (seriously!)

“I like it. It’s like art, like drawing.” (and it’s kind of a habit, but I don’t get to that, because she says:)

“Drawing on your face,” she says. “Like why don’t you draw a mustache or goatee then?”

I seriously love this kid so much.

Kids Decorating The Tree

So far in my thirty-four years, I haven’t been a holiday or Christmas hater. Believe me, I empathize with the many reasons people don’t enjoy the season. Bad memories, bad times, the stress many parents are under to provide for their children when they can’t make ends meet in the first place, the heartbreaks of families not reconciled, and maybe most oppressively the monolithic cultural edict that, firstly, EVERYONE celebrates Christmas and, secondly, EVERYONE has a goddamned happy one, or the terrorists have won!

I don’t know why I’ve consistently enjoyed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, Valentine’s Day. So far. It could’ve gone a different way. First off I had a lot of resentment towards Christians and Christianity (which I left behind sometime in my early twenties), and certainly I have plenty of family drama I can trot out – the family drank and used more during the holidays, of course. But still. My memories are almost entirely positive; and I continue to have positive associations. Even with the wonkiness of the whole thing. My sister said today she wished no one would re-record any Christmas hits and I am likely to agree, because, c’mon, who needs another tarted-up version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, or even more nightmarish, non-sequiter, and anti-Christ, “Santa Baby”?

But still, tonight driving out in the cold to catch an engagement, the lights out and it’s cold and wet out, and maybe it’s just all those inane but kind of comforting traditions, and that every year I seem to catch people being breathtakingly lovely. I dunno. But it’s good times for this Hogaboom, at least.

In recent events:

Swim Meet!

Swimming, with the kids. And about one thousand teen boys in tiny bathing suits, for a swim meet. It was real fun to be the only thirtysomething lady walking out in a suit so daggy it’s see-thru in a few places. YOU’RE WELCOME


Walmart parking lot, after gratefully spending the last of a wee check Ralph got, on LED lights for the tree.

Out Late In Aberdeen, WA

Saturday night, getting too cold to smoke, but I manage it anyway.

"Stop The HATE"

Phoenix’s idea for an ornament: LGBT button, “Stop The HATE”.

And today on the porch from the postman: my friend Dave’s Christmas mixtape, the third yearly installation, always excellent including the CD art (which this year featured Macho Man Randy Savage, and how is it I immediately recognize this man when I grew up without television? Scary). Driving home tonight after dropping a friend off in Monte I hear, for the first time, the following chestnut.

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

Christmas Gift

A few months ago I picked up one of Phoenix’s beautiful pieces from the many, many we have lying about, and sent an email to an embroidery artist I liked (I can’t quite remember how I first stumbled on his Etsy shop). To my utter delight he took up the commission and we traded emails, then upon completion some cash. About nine days before Christmas I opened one of the happier packages I’ve received in a while. Today the piece was featured on a blog I follow, Mr. X. Stitch:

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

The blog post was the kick in the pants I needed; I figured I’d better throw up the scan and commit to getting this sucker framed. My mom and I tried our own framing for Christmas but it wasn’t quite right. The framed piece is leaning on the kids’ desk right now but I’m going to take it in tomorrow and get a quote.

Here’s the original work:

Mutant Horse by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom

Here’s the treasure hunt “clues” my daughter found on Christmas morning that led her to this present. (P.S. I totally whipped these little clues up fast, no criticizing!):

A gift for Phoenie
A present for you
is hidden away.
First look to where we
your fine art display! [clips]

Patience is needed
if you know what I mean –
go to the locale
where you splash to get clean. [bathtub]

Your brother likes something
with nori wrapped ‘round.
Where is the place
the other ingredient is found? [rice cooker]

Your mom owns no diamonds
their beauty untapped.*
But if she had jewels
where would they be kept? [dish on my dresser]

You’ve been searching and searching –
you must need some rest!
Try a soft, high place
that Harris likes best [bunk bed]

When my daughter found the piece in her room I heard her say, “I can’t believe my eyes! I drew that!” Ha. She was quite impressed and quite pleased.

I feel stunned by the amount of artwork Phoenix produces and how very much she enjoys it. She has been working with a bit of Sculpey clay I bought and shows the same expressiveness, joy, desire, and innate talent. Now she wants more clay. Claywork is more expensive than pencils and pens but I’m going to make it happen, no matter what.

So I might as well put a call out to readers – any drawing (paper, pens, pencils) or clay supplies you can recommend (or those you don’t), let me know! I feel a bit lost in these worlds.

* Not passive-aggressive, I swear!


The Christmas I was six years old we lived in the bus and I remember worrying how Santa would visit us – we owned no chimney. Even then I’d begun to observe there was something goofy about this whole Santa business. But I remember the shiny, new, and lovely gift I got that year – one of only a handful, and by far the most beloved – Twink, a stuffed-animal (of sorts) from the Rainbow Brite meme. Beautiful, soft, brilliant white and friendly and chosen just for me. I can assure you I believed in magic.

Ralph and I were active in the Christian church a dozen years ago, but I gradually lost the stomach for institutional attendance – for now, at least. Today I’m an agnostic theist who finds great meaning in practices of Christianity and Buddhism and who (still) believes in Jesus’ divinity. As for parenting, our home is probably experienced as one of belief-friendly humanist ethics. So given that, of course, when it comes to this time of year it’s been no trouble to have the, you know, “There is no Santa, kids!” kind of thing going. I copped to my parents’ role in the Santa business soon after Twink and I remember feeling kind of irritated at my mom and dad’s amused smugness over the whole thing.

But over the last decade I’ve also found that children in my life, occasionally my own, like the Santa story and want to believe… Their delight in such a mystery has made me reconsider just why mysteries are good things. Observing the magical thinking, the deep compassion, the free generosity, and the in-the-moment joy of children has humbled me and at times astounded me. Santa will probably always irritate me, but I am beginning to soften. The story of the saint (and other figures like him) is not based in logic and it’s not really a two-dimensional fairytale and it’s not really about greedy consumerism, either.

So even my curmudgeony ass-heart melted a bit when I read this story about the origins of NORAD and their tracking of Santa Claus (the audio is a brief and lovely listen, too), specifically this bit:

“Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.”

This little story brought my inner-Scrooge up short. I’m often saddened about how many adults are deep-down terrified of children and quite limited in their competence and compassion regarding children’s needs. And here this morning, reading this article, I’m reflecting that many grownups are still trying to hold or maybe even reclaim a tender heart.

Ralph and I are fortunate in that our children truly want for nothing material; we have food and clothes and a warm home and all the security one could hope for. I know these are temporary conditions, but corporeal circumstances of relative ease allow us the gift of one another, if we are wise enough to allow that experience. It is true our children want for nothing, but all children need nurture; they are built for it and designed for it and seek it out as instinctively as a new kitten crawls into one’s sweater for something more than just warmth and a heartbeat. This morning I feel entirely grateful for my children because they have taught me so much about the value of compassion and tenderness, practices many in this hardened world are too frightened to commit to.

Behind me my kids sleep in a tangle of arms and legs and weighted down by the massive furry paperweight of kitty Harris; the lights are low and the stockings stuffed and Ralph folds laundry and we await my mother’s arrival. I know under our yuletide tree there will be gifts for me chosen by family and friends; an expression of love in the language of giving. I look forward to these wonderful comforts; more so even I look forward to the experience of my children and the magic they have all through their very Beings.

Beauty Curl by Richard Hudnut

friday metaphors

I’m sure most of my readers are tucked in with family doing holiday awesomeness. But I rarely take a break, so here are my Friday links as per usual!

“Acceptance, Not Expectations” by Wendy Priesnitz
I’ll bet this post of hers will save many from a lot of suffering and holiday-hangovers. I hope you read it!

“My Middle Name” from Jim at The Busy Dad Blog

“Making Major Life Changes: Five Trans Suggestions for Non-Trans People” by Matt Kailey, featured at womanist-musings

“As grim as Grimm: Robert Paul Weston on why children’s books that terrify are the ones kids love the most” at NationalPost
The article doesn’t actually go into this… and there’s this goofy subtext being a child author is inherently “less than” writing for grownups. Still, who else remembers the twisted stories we liked so much as kids? Good times.

“Temper Tantrums” by Rue Kream
I’ve come to believe most of conventional espoused thought on “temper tantrums” is incorrect, illogical, fear-based, and inhumane. Rue Kream’s article is a great 101 to begin to see things another way.

“A lil bit of twerking and lifting” from Twisty Faster
Ah, Bridalplasty. What fresh hell is this?

This video’s a few years old but I’d never seen it; Tuesday one of my tweeps commented on the increased creepiness of the aging members of Duran Duran leering over hired baby-girl models (one is forced, upon viewing, to fast-forward thirty years and view the mental videotape, made even funnier as this 2007 song appears to be a regurgitation of 1993’s “Ordinary World”).

Let me get this out of the way and say I like a lot of Duran Duran songs (vintage ’80s, of course). This video is like a parody of itself. Besides the fact that these fellows seem to be stalwartly opposed to aging with dignity or bringing something even slightly original to the music video seen (ORLY, the wildcat crazy-sexy lady with boudouir hair?), the whole bullshitty hospital ethos and the crooning and be-eyelinered bandmates overcome with ennui by all the damaged hotness. Plus there are so many supermodels. Like buckets. “Pour more hottie ladies on, quick!” I can’t even give a C for “nice try”, but I will be listening to “Decade” today while I’m craftin’.

“How to: wrap gifts with yarn” at Craft

Great Bento Ideas: Christmas Bentos at

How To: Pretty Gift Presentations at CRAFT
(Anyone doing any last-minute wrapping?)

Bowling-style shirt for kiddos, an e-book from The Scientific Seamstress. Unisex, sizes 6 months to 8 years. This looks FTW!

I just discovered local doll-maker Barb has done 11 area Toy Drops and counting. What is a Toy Drop? Only something wonderful. Seriously.

Random Excellence
“Our Favorites from 2010” from Awful Library Books
Do not say I didn’t warn you; your eyes may very well bleed upon looking upon these monstrosities.

Good for post-holiday dieting:

(thanks Jeanne!)

And finally:
Vintage Ad: Beauty Curl by Richard Hudnut

You know what, alcohol-based hairsprays really are like a soft-focus Chinese dragon breathing behind a lady who’s had a few too many martinis with her quaalude. In all serious though, AquaNet wasn’t really the preferred aerosol solely on the chola-bang heights we could achieve, but also used on the bottom of our shoes to (supposedly) give us more traction on the basketball court.


Merry Christmas!

let’s have a fairly hermitty Christmas and, apparently, never speak of it again

I’ve been honest with people when they ask me how my Christmas was this year:  “Not too great,” “Kind of lousy,” “Meh”.  That sort of thing.  You know, I realize more than ever there’s some kind of culturally-observed rule that ladies aren’t supposed to be honest when asked a question which truthfully would be answered by a less-than-sunshiney answer; about half the people who hear my response react with decidedly uncomfortable body language.  It’s not even like I’m reporting with much drama or any elaboration (because no one has yet asked why my Christmas was only asi-asi).  I guess for some people’s sake I’m just supposed to say, “Great!” enthusiastically and whip around, crouch down, and poop out rainbow-wind.

Gifts were modest but perfectly satisfactory amongst the Hogaboom foursome.  Friends and family provided a few more; my mother went all-out, possibly enacting a guilt-love offering since she was not in town for the Big Day but house- and cat-sitting in Portland.  We had a few dates with friends and I made good food and I was glad to be able to afford good groceries.  Our new house is comfortable and our health is good.

So you know, nothing major went wrong.  It just wasn’t that great.  I aspired to fewer gifts and I accomplished even less than before.  I was tired.  I had (and still have) a canker sore on the inside of my lip that really, really hurts like a sunovabitch.  We’re dog-sitting my mom’s dog and he’s devoted all his energy to ass-chewing and door-scratching.  Our dryer is broken and so loud it’s almost intolerable.  We are broke.  Not quite, water-getting-turned-off-and-checks-bouncing broke (BTDT though!), but, tight enough that my husband’s idea of a romantic and sweet gift was to offer to siphon gas from our waterlogged and out-of-commission car to the one that’s operable (and I am totally serious about this).

It helped me to accept some holiday doldrums when I remind myself that I can literally never remember a bad Christmas in my life before.  I’ve had really good Christmases for, at least inasmuch as I can remember, thirty-two in a row. That’s rather remarkable, but it took me until this year’s lackluster last few days for me to truly grasp this.

And our kids had a good Christmas, at least.  At midnight their pre-Christmas Crazies abruptly disappeared as they opened presents one at a time, expressed joy and gratitude, and said kind and loving things about the gifts and gift-givers.  It was really, really pleasant to spend that time with them. Ralph and I crashed about 1 AM and the kids stayed up and – all on their own – assembled their rather complex little Lego sets and then came and crawled into bed with us.

Good times.  Thanks, kiddos.