we will know won’t we / the stars will explode in the sky

It’s quiet in our living room while my husband rests his head in my lap; the kids are in the newly-appointed craft studio in the back of the house. A hot cup of herbal tea freshly brewed sits on the coffee table, forgotten (I’d made it thinking Ralph might find it relaxing). My husband falls in and out of sleep and then after a bit wakes and asks, “Are you bored?”

“No,” I tell him. “I’m thinking. I’m hoping to live a long life with you.”

Ralph is tired. Over-tired. We both are. Tonight the four of us attended a lovely and lively show – the Handsome Little Devils, hosted at the college (talented, hilarious, and so kid-inclusive and wonderful). The show I wouldn’t have missed, but this was after a long day: in my case, running errands and visiting a potential studio locale; then cooking from-scratch cabbage rolls and Guinness Stout cake (for the Conch Shell tomorrow); freezing an apple pie and homemade Hostess cupcakes (for company coming Thursday). And of course, all the requisite cleaning and kid-wrangling (mine and others’) I get to do. Tomorrow, in the cooking sphere: garlic mashed potatoes, chocolate ganache, winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing.

And yes, since you asked, I’m doing about five thousand percent more dishes now that we’re running our “restaurant”.

Sometimes I think Ralph and I overwork and I wonder if we’ll ever be able to get out of that habit. It makes me sad at times to hold the man who was the boy I knew who didn’t have shit to worry about. But at the end of the day, we’re together and I have time to reflect how much this means to me. Holding his hand, I study it and I tell him I like being with you. He says, “It’s pretty great being with you too, you know.”

And so it goes.

Blue Dragon Egg Jacket (Plus, Lady Ralph)

I told myself I’d finish Phoenix’s new coat for my birthday. And I did.

Blue Dragon Egg Jacket


(& yes, that’s right, I lined up the front perfectly). What’s cool is I designed the whole thing. HECK YES. All of it. Including the pleated hood and the ears:

Happy As A Clam

Hood, Pleats

And the double-layer sturdy pirately cuffs, and the ruched pockets, and the two-fabric sleeves with ruched sleeve heads:

Ruching In The Sleeve Head

And yeah, it was my idea to line with sateen. This TOTALLY works well and (I predict) will stand up to children’s more rugged uses of clothing.

Lining, Facing

I came up with a lining/underlining method that was quite easy to pull off. In fact I made much of the coat yesterday while we had a family over and their kids chatted with us and used computers and ate homemade veggie fried rice and I traded theories with the seventeen year old, exactly seventeen years younger than I, about the film Inception.

Back to the coat. Phoenix was so appreciative as I sewed it. When she awoke today she asked me to snuggle and we talked a bit. I then told her I’d finished the garment just now. She whispered, “Thank you,” and hugged me. She wore it to the drag show and we immediately began to get praises for it. At one point after I used the bathroom and returned she said she was getting stares and she’d fielded more compliments. I asked, “Do you like that?” (meaning the stares) and she nodded Yes. “I want to be a movie star someday,” she told me. I responded, “Well, you should let me sew for you, because people will look at you if I make you unique clothes.” Let me tell you, she was a treat at that show and very proud of her father’s performance (I think a video may emerge from this so, stay tuned).

Pointing Out Cat Hijinx
(Pointing out cat hijinx. No, I don’t want to look.)

There are more pictures of the coat, including construction details, at the Flickr tagset.

The drag show was fun, and so was the dance afterwards. My lovely husband post-act (much of his make up had worn off):


Signing memorabilia for some fans:

Lady Of The Evening

For now, I’m tucking into the following: a homemade sandwich with fresh mozzerella, homemade Italian dressing, olives, and a lovely birthday wine from Jasmine. Hot, hot, hot bath to follow and a b-movie. Tomorrow a birthday dinner with friends and family, and (I think) Wednesday a spa date up in Tacoma.


Where do we go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?

Last night Ralph and I were invited out to the pub where, unbeknownst to me, it was Trivia Night. Do not get me started in a trivia contest. I wouldn’t say I’m competitive because I can’t be assed to care if we lose – but I am rather good and I get hyper as hell (seven years of Nerd Bowl, most of them as Team Captain). Which is incidentally how I was during our wedding day too – hyper that is, I have it on film. So last night was a version of Name That Tune and I nailed about 90% single-handedly, “Love Plus One” by Haircut 100 and Gary Numan’s “Cars” and a handful of relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen songs and some old live Stones and Stephen Stills and Roy Orbison for good measure. And I had to do a little dance every time I got a song right (don’t worry, I varied the dance, for the legions of fans). I was a complete dud for the handful of new country songs that were played – fortunately a few other ladies on the team knew those by heart. We placed 3rd, 1st, 1st, then 3rd and won a shitload of candy which of course I had no interest in.

Today was kind of a little gift, a reminder of just how amazing people are who deal regularly with sleep deprivation and function at the same time. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have a solid six to eight hours under my belt; today I managed on about three and it hurt. My son and daughter spent the day hugging me and asking how I was doing. We had a friends’ kid over in the afternoon (and a sidewalk-chalk note from another girl who stopped by while we were out); in fact our little informal ritual of having from one to four extra kiddos during the day/evening/night is really a wonderful one for me. Today we took a late Thai lunch and I ordered for the kids and they were happy with my choice. They were such delightful mealtime companions; I don’t know if I’ve had better. Sun-dazzled and beat I drove home and had to ask them a few times to repeat themselves. My brain was a bit sluggish.

Ralph taught class tonight so I was on my own with the kiddos until about 9:30 PM. Tired as I was, it was a delight to sit in the car knitting and watching my daughter play quite energetically on the soccer field while my son wooed several other children on the playground. I waited for as long as the kids wanted to play. They were the last off the playground and we came home for a late dinner and a night in. Too tired even to knit, or maybe even drink.

of flannel and warm fuzzies

August 4th, 2010
(I have three whole followers on my little food-update Twitterstream – and one of them is my own husband! Make no mistake at just how much of a nerd I am who does a bunch of stuff hardly anyone else cares about!)

Today one of my ladyfriends L. came to visit. She’d been a student of mine at GHC winter before last. I really like her. She’s sweet and funny and since she likes sewing and fabric well, we have plenty to talk about. I was a scattered hostess, trying to cook up the daily fare and talk sewing and try to keep my wits about me under duress because the neighbor kids were in and out and they were a little rambunctious. Within their first five minutes in my home they’d broken my back screendoor and put their hands in the goldfish bowl and smeared the results (combined with the extra stuff on their hands, a few of them are routinely very dirty) on my front door. While L. was here I made a chicken pot pie for the kids tomorrow and a devil’s food cake with fresh strawberries and cream for the lot today, which incidentally when I served the kiddos I only got back three out of seven forks; the rest are outside God-knows-where.

I enjoyed L.’s visit very much as she’s a person I genuinely enjoy. She brought me fabric gifts and I cut off a length of a lovely deep-purple satin for a project for my daughter.  Before she left I asked her what she might need. Her eye fell on three yards of a lovely Alexander Henry flannel I had on my shelf (dear reader, I image-searched to find you the pattern and now I am weeping and gnashing my teeth with fabric-lust! And I didn’t find the fabric anyway). It was a wonderful bit of yardage and perfect for the pajamas project she was contemplating. I rarely have more than a yard of any particular fabric anyway, as I am rather quick to sew up what I buy. Seeing this L. asked if I was sure I wanted to gift it. But I felt like absolutely; I’d had the yardage for about four years now and had stashed it away as one of those “precious” items but had not cut into it. It felt wonderfully freeing to gift it, part of this was happiness at giving a present that was well-received and part was happiness at letting go of my hoarding impulse.

In other news I am buried under email despite my best efforts. Some email provides a respite, something lovely to read. Some is designed specifically to get my goat. For instance, my husband and my brother Billy like to call me Bird and make fun of my beak and dirty feathers, delivering various pathetic attempts at wit and commentary now and then or emailing me pictures of fat and/or clumsy birds. They especially like to tease me if I’m sleepy or have had something alcoholic to drink.

So Billy writes, “Hey, I found a clip of you online.” and sends me this:

And finally. There’s something insulting about how much I run around trying to get shit done with THIS under my nose at every turn:

You probably aren’t even noticing Laurence’s back leg extended at maximum pleasure-stretch while he sleeps!! WHO LIVES LIKE THIS?! The only thing they like more than sleeping on my down comforter is sleeping on a pile of warm laundry on the down comforter. They get up to this about twenty hours a day. The rest of their time is spent eating food and liberally pooping in the litter box. Then once we’re in bed they form a rift in the Space-Time Continuum to make MORE time to fight viciously, usually in my hair, until my just-fallen-asleep ass has to re-stumble out of bed and throw them in the bathroom to sleep. And I am not even joking, they immediately stop horsing around and sleep. All night.

It’s a good life. (For them.)

nearly a barf-o-rama

I feel absolutely crippled – physically and a bit mentally – by how busy it’s been around here these last few days. All very, very enjoyable stuff: waitressing, teaching, birthday presents, desktop publishing jobs, having company, sewing, having more company, more sewing, garden work, and two trips to Oly.

I Want You Out, Bro
Harris Vs. Ralph. Every day.

Next week is this quarter’s last class. I have enjoyed teaching so much. But I look forward to not having to help anyone for a while, and being able to focus on my own things.

Last night’s trip to Olympia yielded, among other things, the twin pleasures of fabric buying – 13 wonderful, fabulous yards of it – and dinner at Quality Burrito (recommended it by locals who obviously didn’t have children; however, it was a great meal despite hipsters and b.o. of waitperson). This evening in the bath Sophie told me she had named the plastic dragons Ralph purchased her at the craft store: Four-Winged Glory, Drake, Godzilla, Wyvern, and Cling-To-All-Surface. I admire her brain for the imagination it holds. I’m like the orange peel in our worm bin, all scraped bare and used up.

And I just want to remind the general public who reads that when you are parents to children your every peaceful, fun outing can be immediately transformed into a type of nightmare – just like that. We were about thirty feet from the entrance of the fabric store when my daughter – despite our repeated suggestions she stop reading her comic books in the car – complained of being ill, then leaned back in her seat, called out to me, and began sputtering out puke (don’t ever watch someone vomit when you have a direct view of their mouth, just a friendly tip). Our son had fallen asleep in the car so Ralph had to drop me and the sleeping boy – who weighs four hundred pounds while unconscious – off at the store and go in search of wipes etc. to manage the mess.

Sophie’s first words upon completion of the hurlage: “Oh dad – you were trying so hard to sell this van!”

a modest series of impressive protoges

My husband supports my sewing to an extent I have simply not seen in any other partner towards their spouse’s hobby.

From the beginning he has championed my habit and praised my talent. He was the one to suggest a sewing room (and therefore, a shared bedroom for the kiddos) and he has hauled all my very heavy sewing machines from house to house. The first day after we moved in our new domicile he prioritized buying the expensive bulbs in the studio so I’d have good lighting. I mean he made a special trip to get me those bulbs. Whatever our budget indicates, he puts money aside for my fabrics or whatever else I might need. Now that I’m back to doing a bit of teaching, he prints out class notes for me and has driven from the college to home and back to bring my huge ironing board to class and in short performed a million big and small errands with the cumulative effect of feeling immensely supported.

Today due to the snow the on-campus class was canceled. Ralph called right away to tell me. I decided to invite my students over to my house during class time. I was able to reach three, and one couldn’t attend due to road conditions. At 5:30 a lone student, S., shows up for instruction.

It seems every person I’ve ever helped has delighted or surprised me – usually both. It had been a while since I’d taught and in my foolishness S. had seemed nearly hopeless to me a few weeks ago when we commenced class. She exhibited fear or trepidation at nearly every step. I would have to explain something to her more than once, not because she didn’t understand my verbiage but almost as if she literally did not hear me the first time. She showed what I at first would call a low social awareness: in class she would interrupt my “lecture” even if only seconds previous I had just personally assisted her. She is quiet – so quiet it is nearly impossible to hear what she’s saying, even if I’m in the same room with her. So I’d hear her interrupting but have to ask after her question nearly every interruption.

On the first day she attended class she took up a piece of work we’d sewn on the machine and embroidered a perfect elegant flower, freehand.

Tonight we spent most the “class” at my house in silence, as I directed her in tracing patterns. I tried to make small talk but she is not much of a small talker (although she did seem to enjoy my cats). Having her alone I was able to observe her more closely. She may not know this yet, but she has shown a tremendous amount of progress since I saw her first drive her machine. Her caution and trepidation have resulted in exact, precise results of cutting and stitching. Her requests for repetition means once she starts operation she does not make mistakes. What may have seemed at first like a dragging pace is actually serving her well for the rather advanced project she’s picked: many small, repetitive steps. She is, in short, a precise, meticulous seamstress in the making, right before my eyes. I had a wonderful time being with her tonight.

I think I could be as addicted to teaching the craft as I am actually sewing myself. Each student I have had is so unique. They see themselves as flustered, in a new territory. Most of them get rather peevish when given a difficult problem! Then in a few minutes with my guidance they are able to accomplish it. I see their potential talent. Every person I’ve helped has shown talent. I laugh (internally) at their colossal mistakes even as I laugh (internally) at myself for once again forgetting they are beginners. I remember once having a girlfriend show me the threaded bobbin for her brand new machine – it looked oddly formed. I asked if something was wrong with her winder and she gave me a quizzical look, “Well, my husband wound it” – by hand! I laughed but at the same time thought of course that made a lot of sense – and was so sweet besides.

It is sometimes odd to have to explain things I’ve known how to do since before I can remember knowing most other things.

What my students like S. probably will never realize is I am sure I love teaching them and watching them more than any of them like learning to sew.