“come downstairs & bring popsackles”

A cardboard box filled with kraft paper; I remove gifts, setting them on the counter. Wrapped in tissue: findings from another sea. Teas, candied ginger. A paper-wrapped parcel of fine chocolate. Two bolts of sumptuous flannel fabric – a pea green plaid, a yellow plaid. Set aside and I run my hands over them each; fine robes for Christmas.

A wooden box, masterfully if plainly constructed, with a fire-branded logo. A note. And opening the box: a plastic shark. I recognize it as nearly identical to the one my children used to play with in the bath.

Then when I call my brother – to thank him and his wife, for the package – he laughs about the shark. “Do you recognize it?” I am confused for a moment. He can’t mean my children’s toy, as he never gave them baths and wasn’t there when they were small.

He says, “It’s just like the one I gave you a black eye with!” He is gleeful.

I am thinking, Oh that’s right. A childhood fight – we were still living in the bus, so I was seven years old or younger. I am set back for a moment. I am blinking at the road ahead, the phone on speaker in my lap.

What I say is: “That’s the only black eye I’ve ever had.” But now I’m thinking of a man who beat me. He never gave me a black eye. I think when you’ve been terrorized it can come to you, visit at any time. On a sunny day, in a lighthearted laugh with your brother.

The shark is now installed in my bathroom, hovering above the glass bar lighting fixture. I cooked and cleaned today, instead of leaving it for my children and spouse. I am coming out of a state of living where I was caring for the children, the home. We are moving and growing; I am working more, and the children are learning how to run a home. They are willing participants, and they are strong.

Yesterday they waited at a bus stop and went to the dentist. The children were gloomy; I woke them up and scolded them when they did not do housework quickly enough. We sat in the living room and we talked about the challenges in the household now that I work. The children listened, and ate the simple breakfast I made – creamed wheat, coconut oil, brown sugar. They put the dishes in the sink and I cleaned the kitchen after they left, then moved to the studio to finish my work.

After their appointments, my mother returned them home – food in hand, of course. They quite circumspectly did not eat hot foods for a couple hours, as the hygienist warned them off. Once they were home we piled in the car and off to the beach; meeting with a new friend who was visiting from inland. I realized well into the meeting that I hadn’t taken a break for quite some time.

After a coffee date, we two women and our four children climbed the jetty down to a little partitioned beach. We showed the visiting girls the tidepools: anemone, barnacles, limpets, chitons, starfish – and the little crabs under any rock you overturn. Every size – from a pinhead to a few inches across, and every manner of color: white, blues, greens, deep purples. The anenomes we instructed – you could touch them. Be gentle! They are gentle to you.

I know I live in a beautiful place. I never forget it. But I don’t often see it as it can be seen to visitors. That itself, was quite a blessing.

vesti la guibba

 
My husband is all kinds of talented. Seriously. And if you’re wondering – yes, he wrote and performed the song in the video. Yes, he is better at makeup – and heels – than I.

Yeah. He’s a good egg.

So, yesterday marked the last performance of the Rocky Horror Show here in Aberdeen. I attended as many performances as I could – four in all. Not only did they do a great homage to one of my favorite bits of cinematic “trash”, they gave so many laughs, so much joy, to our community. Just GAVE those gifts to us. I am so impressed with how much work went into this production. Talk about blood, sweat, and tears!

I am also proud of my community, which supported – and enjoyed – the show in a big way. Grays Harbor is fabulous!

And by the way, there is nothing less glamorous than theatre. Yesterday I helped out after the show on a few kinds of rather intense cleanup, and today I think I need a tetanus shot.

Thank you for that experience.

At the bus stop:

TWEEKERS
SUCK
then, clearly added later,
YOUR
[BITCH]
TITS

It’s cold as hell and the bus “shelter” provides no respite. I tap on my phone and look online expecting to see the bus here any second; instead I find we will have to wait fifty more minutes and I’m like, stunned with despair.

I want to cry. My serenity vanishes and I am completely pissed. I will spare you the details; it’s ugly and trifling, but yeah I’m angry and I’ve already figured out how everyone is to blame. And with every ounce of self-restraint I do not say or do anything shitty out of this mental place and instead I zip my coat and I walk alongside my husband and I tell him, “I’m very cold.” He’s a cheerful bastard and has his metabolism so in a single-layer cotton hoodie he’s fine. He and my kids, I’m telling you. Their bodies ramp up and they are like hot little bread loaves in the bed at night, ask me how I know this. But I’m cold, cold, always cold.

A man gets on the bus and then another, and I recognize them from Treatment. They perhaps don’t know me or are too busy. One looks good though like he might not be drinking. Last time I saw him he was all yellowed up even in his eyes.

One thing about being wet and cold and out in the elements, we’re finally home over an hour later, and I am so pleased to be back inside. My daughter brings me a blanket and a pillow and asks if she can remove my shoes, and I’m so grateful and she blushes, pleased with herself she could make me so happy.

My daughter. This morning, first thing she said to me, she pulled me in close while she was still in bed and whispered her good dream she had. It was the most stunningly beautiful handful of words I’ve heard in a while. And I knew it was a secret only for me the moment she told me. It brought tears to my eyes; the dream and its sweetness, and amazing thing that she shared with me because she trusts me.

Things were different for me when I was her age. It’s hard to believe in something better, even when it’s right before my eyes.

I wrap up in blankets and I rest. A friend picks me up and takes me home, later. Simple things, those little things that help me. I am very grateful for these.

***

I haven’t been posting too many links lately, but I wandered across this today and I got some good laughs, mostly from the rebuttals. Like “Dave”, and SOYFUCKER omgggggg lolz

***

Ralph’s project this evening:

from the effort of loving to the making of bread

I’d walked out with dinner plates still dirty and left it all behind. My husband either would do the washing up or he wouldn’t but I couldn’t spend another minute in the house for this or that reason. I’d spent a large part of the day cooking: homemade rolls and slow-roasted orange pulled pork; a coleslaw with green apple and a pineapple marmalade upside down cake with cold cream to pour on top, and that was just dinner, not even what I made for breakfast and lunch.

The bread: satisfying. Handling dough, the mixing and oiling and steam-bath and fashioning and glazing and baking, wiping down traces of flour off the counter and the mixer. A lot of love into a simple food that many take for granted.

Now, though, it’s cold outside and I’m glad I don’t have to wait for the bus more than about eight minutes. I buy a punch pass from the driver as soon as I step on board, before I can think about it being twenty dollars and we have four more days until payday. The pass has a gold-leaf little bit embossed so people can’t fraud one. I zip up my coat and sit mid-way back. Riding the bus in the later hours is quite pleasant , although I need to really know when to catch one though, as they are few and far between and I don’t want to get stuck in Crackton, Aberdeen in this kind of cold. The interior lights are red and low and there are only a few passengers and they’re not rowdy. Like I said, quite pleasant, not as loud or as odorous as day trips.

I look up at the signs I’ve seen most my life up above the windows. “If You’ve Found This Number, Give Yourself A Break And Call”, followed by the phone contact for Narcotics Anonymous. I feel this little thrill sitting there, wondering how many people have happened on that sign and felt the familiar flutter in their gut and an accusatory jab, then cut their eyes away and tried to blot out their intolerable reality a bit longer.

We head up the hill to the hospital and back down with no one getting off or on. I was up at the hospital earlier; a friend gave me a ride to see another friend who was suffering internal bleeding. I flick my eyes up to the second floor and say a little prayer. Later in the afternoon, after our visit, I’d gone out with the ill friend’s wife and we ran our dogs at the bay. Two Bassett hounds and my Hutch, two hundred pounds of dog, and Hutch was in the lead being awesome!

I’m thinking though while I text and wait for my stop, I want for nothing. Both cars broke but one’s in the shop at least and hopefully it’s something we can fix, and the fact my husband isn’t upset about any of this helps me a great deal. I don’t want anything, not really, I am content with things the way they are. I’m happy to get more blessings but I’m okay if for a day or two things are tough. I was thinking maybe I’d want to take the family on a sunny vacation somewhere and you could even get a credit card for that sort of thing maybe? Even this option is something open to me, something we probably won’t do, but who knows, maybe we could do it. I’m okay with my thoughts accompanying me against the damp, cold glass, and my mind doesn’t hang on or cling or run neither.

then I got to listen to a lot, a LOT, of Lowellian cursing

Brrr!

By the time I’d walked a mile in an absolutely wet, windy, and rainy blizzard through piles and piles of snow, and waited and waited and waited for a bus, and given up after making phone calls and texting and other plans, while huddling wet and cold against the icy brick contemplating a plan, and realized I’d be unable to make my meeting, and finally gave up and headed home,

I admit, by then I felt a few tears rise in my throat. I mean after all the whole business was about two hours exposure without relief (yes, in light of certain anniversaries today, I know I am whinging, big time). And what was funny is to think as I first set off through the snow, I was wondering if maybe taking a few hours out of my day to make one meeting where a solid half the clients are nodding out from Suboxone, and I thought maybe I’m a fool, maybe I’m wasting my time. Well it seems the Universe was beating me into humility because after all that I didn’t even make it. Well, the Universe isn’t so unkind, I guess – it was my choice, I could either re-learn humility or just be pissed and cramped. I elected the former.

But at the beginning of the “adventure” I had a nice walk with Ralph. Our gonads were frozen solid by the time we got to the barren comfort of overhead shelter:

FROZEN

(Given GH Transit wait times the “No Loitering” sign seems a bit… ironic.)
(Actually, as previously discussed, I’m unsure what “irony” really is. Yes, I’ve looked it up.)

Ralph ran across the way to grab me a coffee; he went by himself in case the bus came by and I missed my opportunity. This was back when I had a backup plan of sipping the coffee and holding it close for warmth, while I waited. Back before he’d left and I’d gone on to wait an hour before a bus came, a bus that wouldn’t have gone near my destination, meaning there would be no time for me to make my appointment, and I had to give it all up. Yes, back when I was so naive. I had a lot of growing up to do.

Ralph Ventures To Get Me Coffee

I was bundled up well but the rain had soaked my jeans and that was my downfall. Wet jeans. Holy Shit.

So I eventually went home and the exercise, plus the high of dodging scary drivers sliding on ice, worked off my aforementioned upset.

And then after I got home it took a long, long time to warm up. I watched Reel Injun while waiting to feel my face again.

 
Then I watched The Fighter (although I’d already seen it a year ago) while finishing up the details on the last homesewn item for the upcoming magazine spread.

Several kids came and went, wet and getting fed and getting re-dressed in dry clothes. We washed and dried and hung things up. Ralph made a lovely dinner of turkey sliders on homemade buns, yellow tomato and avocado dressing with lemon, carrot sticks, and potato chips, and we fed whatever children ran through the house.

Then we set up all the outdoor stuff to dry in time for more snow adventures tomorrow.

Boots Upon Boots

"What the fuck are you Tolkien about?"

friday, friday, gettin’ down on friday

Friday links, or also, things I tweet and email to friends/family and then notice these people post them to Facebook to madcap happy responses. I miss the days of my Facebook account. I had many fans. Am I tempted to go back? Narp.

1. At design-fetish, from two years ago: “Retrofied Modern Movie Posters”. I sent these to my husband – a local and volunteer poster-designer, who wrote me in return (smugly), “I know.” Whatevs. A couple days later I stumbled (in a totally different space) on another such concept – but hello, a poster with major spoilers? Oh hell no.

2. I have one quibble with the self identified “world’s 9 most brilliantly pointless street fliers” curated at someecards. The “pointless” should be replaced with “fucking awesome!” because I peed a little. The last example had me at Hello.

3. I recently stumbled on the Antonio Buehler article “Who SHOULD Homeschool?”. I’m quite impressed as it is pretty frank and hard-hitting while emphatically laying to rest many myths propagated and ignorance perpetrated about the homeschooling option. Probably other people aren’t that impressed, but for me, he tackles a discussion many people pussyfoot around. On that note, I’d advise not clicking through unless you can read with an open mind, and as per usual if you have a refution or comment, please do leave it at the source material and link back through comments here if you like.

4. At the same time and in a similar vein, I found Buehler’s previously-published article, “Who Should NOT Homeschool” to be, as far as I’m concerned, compassionate and realistic in many ways… although I am a bit confused and have some concerns I haven’t satisfied. Beuhler seems to advocate for homeschooling purely in terms of achievement (which is a schema also embraced, however poorly consummated, by the schooling model). I’m wondering what worldview he holds for those who’d homeschool for holistic reasons, personal empowerment, and the mental, emotional, and physical health of our little human beings – regardless of the status, titles, or pay they end up commanding in their adult state.

5. Anita Sarkeesian challenges the mainstream tendency to celebrate so-called “feminist” film roles in this vlog: “True Grit, Mattie Ross and Feminism?”. There’s nothing I can say here that will add to Sarkeesian’s excellent analysis; the six plus minutes are well-spent. If you don’t know the term androcentrism, it’s long-past time you remedied that.

6. The Boston Globe “The Big Picture” feature contains a photo-essay of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan. The images of the very old and the very young are especially difficult for me. I also find myself wondering about the experiences of the rescue workers. They are faced with such colossal devastation, yet every moment they are making a positive difference – saving lives and moving people to tears and prayer.

7. At The Noble Savage, Amity Reed writes “Sleep, my pretty, sleep”, regarding a strategy to perserve mental health when the world seems a dark and scary place.

8. At What Tami Said: “Stop Being ‘Shocked’ by ‘Isms'”. I’ve heard this point before, and I am in whole-hearted agreement. I love how Tami writes because she is rational yet well-equipped to discuss emotional realities; she also has a succinct delivery on complex subjects that I rather envy. And good lord, any “progressive” or liberal reading here, please do click through.

9. Crafting: I’m pretty sure the Super Secret Waffle Cult is behind many nefarious breakfast pastry plots. And by the way, I would totally make up some of these crepe paper flowers except that within a week they’d be clotted with cat hair; no longer so “fresh”.

10. Sasson shirts. I don’t need to write any further, except to say this is what I like to put on after I’ve had a hard day bringing much love, happiness, and saxiness to the world.

11. The tribute to Dwayne McDuffie at Racialicious is sweet and informative. In particular I enjoyed the video interview where McDuffie makes some excellent points regarding the inclusion of racial minority characters in a white-dominated field. It is So. Worth. Watching!

12. Sent to me by friend and reader Bex: “Deb Roy: The Birth of a Word”. At 4:57 I STARTED CRYING. Also at the end. The big ticket/mass media/marketing opportunity items were less important to me than the reflection of the “feedback loop” of raising our young – in other words, it isn’t just us influencing them; we respond in Pavlovian kind.

13. Random Parenting Thought 2 – Behaviourism v Unconditional Parenting at Analytical Armadillo. I would cite Behaviorism as just about the number one mainstream US parenting principle (even if adherents, parents and non-parenting adults alike, wouldn’t self-identify it as such). It’s crap, and limited, and fear-based – and yet it prevails. Ed. note, see comments for a discussion of the meaning of “Behaviorism”.

14. Local! “Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain memorialized with guitar sculpture in Washington” (that would be Aberdeen, Washington) from APP.com (written by local reporter Steven Friederich). I notice Mayor Bill Simpson can’t help farting in the general direction (most locals with his views on Cobain however think our log/rape’n’pillage history and serial killer/boomtown murder rate are totally honorable/colorful and deserve the museums & memorabilia devoted to them. Etc.). What’s interesting to me is people still come from all over the world to explore Kurt Cobain’s life, to find clues, to look deeper into the birthplace of music that resonates with them. On a related note, Aberdeen and surrounding area has mostly whizzed this responsibility (and opportunity) down the leg, although as this newspiece indicates, many people are trying to do right by our historical record.

15. Guest-posting at Authentic Parenting, Meredeth Barth writes, “Just a Child”, her response to an average parenting mag’s average kind of article (“25 Manners Kids Should Know”). Of course I related to much of this, but today I’m reflecting that mainstream “experts” often aren’t really experts, but rather those who repeat and reify the views we’re finding comforting, convenient, etc. Most parenting “experts” today espouse a lot of twaddle (sadly, some of it quite harmful), and I’m sad to think of how much I’ve bought into, and how hard it continues to be to un-learn these tenets and simultaneously forge better relationships.

16. Awful Library Books discussed a potential shelving of Not in Room 204, a children’s book dealing with a child’s experience of sexual abuse by a father. The original post (specifically the submitter’s concerns) and many comments made me incredibly sad, or angry – some comments made little jests, some claimed the book was “too creepy” for children to handle and it might give them nightmares (ah yes, the perpetuated belief kids aren’t smart/are too fragile, etc. – while we hold they are, apparently, equipped to handle being abused in their homes without a lifeline). Fortunately better heads pervailed in the commentariat. I liked what Sarah, a librarian, had to say (3/17/11 4:54 PM): “This book handles the subject responsibly and respectfully. It’s crucial that we don’t hide information from kids even if it makes us uncomfortable; sometimes their lives depend on getting their hands on a book like this.” Leigha (3/17/11 10:56 PM) makes a great point about a handful of responses regarding access: “All the comments about how it’s a good book to have because it’s in the adult section anyway and the kid would need it read to them seem to be missing one key point…it’s normally (like for the girl in the book) one of the parents DOING the molesting. Do you really think a child molester is going to read this book to their kid? And I doubt anyone else would unless they suspected something. If it’s not where the kids themselves can get it, it’s pretty much worthless.” Me, I’m still saddened, and gobsmacked, that one of the most prevalent forms of abuse against children, and one the child is least able to get help for, is still so under-discussed and meets with so many so-called well-intentioned adults’ pressure to keep it under wraps.

17. Tonight the 7th Street Theatre here in Hoquiam is showing Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As I have been doing for about four years, I designed the movie program (shoehorning in the popular trivia section, and deciding which trivia had merit, and imagining some the fantasy-geek rage I might inspire if I got any of it wrong). Anyway, whilst up late finishing that up I stumbled on this image which left me giggling.

"What the fuck are you Tolkien about?"

For those whom it applies, I hope you have a lovely Friday night and a fabulous weekend!

 

toughness is in the soul and the spirit

On my run, today:

The Harbor

It is so fucking beautiful here. I wish my pictures did it service. So green and alive and wet. I’ve lived here long enough that even travelling a few hundred miles inland is hard on my body. I need the water, the water in the air, the water a few steps from my home, the rivers the estuaries the wetlands the sea.

Beeeeyyoootiful!

Today I was precisely taking a step on the sidewalk and my mind was filled with the hurtful words, and gestures, and simmering anger I’d seen in my friends and acquaintances and my tweetstream and looking over my husband’s shoulder at his Facebook account. And unfortunately people who are hurting say damaging things in kind, and even those of us they aren’t targeting directly, sometimes it hurts us too. And my mind was kind of roiling over this stuff and thinking I wanted to be a part of the world that stood up and said Stop, but also recognizing those who are most destructive do not respond well to being called out for the harm they do, and their needs are unmet too. And while I was thinking all of this, bits and fragments and feeling almost broken and decidedly not at-peace and:

I stepped forward on the sunny sidewalk and suddenly I could see the pain in these lives, the difficulties they were living out, a few specific people I knew and how they were hurting and how hard it must be for them and it was nothing personal. As clear as day the harm they did me and others (incidentally, not purposefully, I’m sure) it all melted away and I could see them in pain, brilliantly-rendered, in my mind’s eye, as impersonal as a framed photograph yet as alive as warm flesh. In that moment I was the person I wanted to be, not confined and scared and struggling and afraid and angry. I was the soul of compassion and calm understanding and humor and love.

The fact is as I have been growing my antennae to pain and suffering, yes, even in those who perpetrate. When a friend is calling someone a horrid word or saying something vicious I no longer see it in that black-and-white, that us-vs-them, that must make things seem easier, that must obfuscate suffering enough to keep it to a dull roar instead of acute pain, for so many. It’s like I’ve dialed into so much of the pain I used to not concern myself with and now I can’t stop receiving it. I’m reminded of Ray Milland’s character in X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes; experimenting on himself he has inadvertantly exposed his eyes from intuiting the visible spectrum to now the ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths and beyond, and it’s agonizing; only the spectrum I’m receiving is emotional and there’s no volume level and some days, minutes, hours, there’s no stopping it and I can’t handle it. It’s my fault, I think, but that doesn’t mean I can change it. I haven’t developed my coping strategies.

But today I had a glimpse of someone strong but soft; someone wise but humble, accepting of her limitations but still someone who could help. And I want to be that person. I don’t know if it’s possible for more than those occasional flashes of brilliant clarity. I want to believe it is.

My run felt wonderful. At home now, showered, the sun streaming through the window, in my house are five children happily playing; music is playing and the children are all so happy and safe. I feel broken and sad for my grownup friends but I feel so good about who I can be for these little ones. It has to be enough, for now.

Neighbors

Little Fish

little fish, little fish

Sophie, my beautiful firstborn.
Sophie, my beautiful firstborn.

I don’t want to write too much because I think this photo speaks for itself.  It was taken yesterday at our YMCA by my friend and photographing maven; you can find more of her work at her website or Flickrstream.

Sophie is an enthusiastic and capable swimmer – especially her backstroke.  She has been a water-lover since she was very tiny (three months old) and has proceeded at her own pace.  She never misses a practice unless we miss it for her – that is, family events conspire to keep her away.  Tonight after practice she signed up for three events in Saturday’s swim meet: the 100 Individual Medley, 25 Backstroke, and 50 Breaststroke.  She will likely also participate in a relay or two.

I hope my children continue to grow in the things they love: feeling not pressure but unconditional support from their father and I; not relying on our praise or cajolement or bargaining or prizes or bribes to continue in the things they love doing.