something waits beneath it

Our household is usually such a peaceful and cozy one and never so much than late at night, dishes done and the house tided, the kids (usually) on their laptops or one of the other computers in the house – or like now, playing with clay and reading quietly. Ralph is asleep and so are all the cats; Hamilton in bed up around his neck, Harris under the kids’ easel, Josie on our phonograph, and Mable in a cardboard box Phoenix found today and brought home to fit with towels for this very purpose.

The family is happy and healthy. I am feeling better and drinking (booze) less (yay!). The kids are joyful and content. Ralph suffers a bit as at night he typically stays awake longer than he should (for his sleep’s sake), because he wants to have time with us. As for the kids and I, our night-owlery is something we can afford to do with no ill effects; without a school schedule we are free to pursue the sleep and rest and activity we need.  I am quite surprised to see how different our winter rhythms are than summer was. One of the principal joys of having seasons is appreciating the one you’re in and looking forward to ones to come.

That said, the children don’t seem to mind the gloom and cold, yet this year I do. I wonder why?

A Bath With My Young Son
(Small Stone #5*)

Your skin like velvet
Even in the cold pale of winter,
Rich like coffee and cream.

Small stone project

“If you have lived, take thankfully the past.”

We had dinner guests today. I made:

Spaghetti & meatballs; three-cheese spinach quiche (as requested by Phoenix); salad with butter lettuce, spinach, dried sweetened cranberries, and candied pecans; country green beans with spiral cut ham; pan cubano; crudités; a cheesecake; a deep-dish apple pie; strawberries with chocolate fondue; and rugelach. For drinks we had a neprica brought by our guests, sparkling cider for the kids, and an apertif of Beefeater martinis with Santa Barbara Olive Co. martini pimento olives (we never got around to these!).

I have this shit down so much that I’d already prepared much of the food beforehand; I rolled out of bed one hour before our guests arrived. Hee.

(I just read my entry from a year ago… come to think of it I’ve been cooking the majority or all of the day’s food since I was a young woman. I love cooking – deeply – and I hope to one day be the honored guest, not the matriarch doing the work… food traditions are fabulous.)

Now we’re tucking in for a sleepover and a night of MST3K (remember those beloved Turkey Day marathons?)

We all wish you a lovely evening and hope you’re spending it with who you love, in the way you love.

[wposflv src=https://agni.hogaboom.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Thanksgiving-2010.flv previewimage=http://domain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/image.png width=654 height=480 title=”Thanksgiving 2010″]

(Apologies for the date-rapey song… but it really is cold outside & we’re wonderfully warm inside.)

maker

I get asked often how long I’ve been sewing. The truth is I can’t remember a time I didn’t know how to sew. I think I’m only a modestly-skilled stitcher, really, considering I’ve been exposed my whole life. Some of my earliest memories of focussed work are of pinning cloth and sitting on the floor cutting with a pair of orange-handled Fiskers; of crinkled tissue cut down to size and marking notches by painfully cutting small triangles. In fact in learning something as a young child the methods my mother used were the ones I thought were The Only Way To Do It. As a grownup I’ve learned my own methods and taught my mother not a few. For instance in contrast I iron all my patterns (shout-out Amore!) and never ¡EVAR! cut them; I dispatch yardage from a table and with rapier-like acuity using a rotary wheel and mat, and I mark notches by a chalk line or tailor’s tacks.

Rollin' On My 201-2

My mom sewed a bit more as a young woman, before she had a family and career. She didn’t sew all that much while I was growing up but what is most important is – I remember she loved it. She seemed to enjoy the feeling of competence in her craft and she definitely enjoyed the design process (such as it is when you’re sewing out-of-envelope). I often think the familial example of someone who does Work and loves it is the most likely avenue for subsequent generations to take it up. This is why I’ve never much bothered to try to get my kids to sew. My guess is they will end up doing it because it’s in their blood. They know so much about it already, without even knowing they know! (They also think everyone knows how to make clothes… they don’t realize how rare this is.)

Three years ago my mother brought me my grandmother’s sewing machine – a Singer Centennial 15-91 made in 1950, both popular and utilitarian. The very machine was manufactured and shipped from the same location, only days apart, from the one a friend gave me about eight years ago when she moved from PT (mine is a Centennial 201-2, another great machine). As a Mother’s Day gift in 2009 I got grandma’s machine tuned up and re-gifted it to my mother – who hasn’t yet used it.

If I had the room I’d have kept it myself. I currently own two working sewing machines. I’d love more and to have them set up – it really is helpful, especially given how quickly I construct things – but I lack the space. I sometimes fervently wish for a room to spread out and outfit myself further with a set up serger and a cutting table and, jeebus, SHELVES would be nice! Realistically this won’t happen for some time; we aren’t likely to have a larger house anytime soon. My husband has offered to rent me a studio space in downtown Hoquiam because he is a Really Fucking Awesome Guy. But even the incredibly-cheap prices of downtown HQX aren’t in our spending plan; neither much are shelves or more accoutrement to fill such a space.

But if I could, I would snap up that opportunity toot sweet.

My clothes generally last so much longer than what people buy. My kids’ closet is bursting with garments I’ve sewn. When they grow out of the pieces (which is relatively quickly!) the clothes go off donated or gifted… I am rather shy about giving off my sewn clothes because I’m unsure of what people like and want (and I hate to mail stuff. A lot. So locals are easiest for me to gift to). A surprising number of garments end up going to the Salvation Army. Whatever their future destinations, I hope they are as well-worn and well-loved as they are when in my home.

Currently I’m only a few minutes away from finishing a couple wool coats, which I’ll post soon. Tonight I’m on another pair of Monster Booties, much requested by readers here and there. I have to put a pause on Yes to favors and outside-of-the-family work; Christmas approaches and one of my chief pleasures is sewing for those I love.

Wool Underlined With Cotton

Wool, wool, wonderful wool! How I wish I had yards and yards and yards…

French Seam

French seams on the inside of a coat – underlining exposed.

In other news, we have my mom’s (incredibly submissive, aged) terrier Tuck here for a few days while she cat- and house-sits in Portland. My mom brought this huge dog bed as well. Last night, his first night, Tuck curled up on the bed and a second later alpha-kitten Hamilton walked over and put her paw on his face. He immediately self-telescoped using his own butthole and slunk off; three of the cats took the bed in a neat feline coup. Ralph and I trained the cats off the bed (this was very easy and involved putting them outside in the snow every single time they so much as stuck a claw towards it) but I had to snap a picture for my mom.

They STOLE It From Us, The Precious!

While I did this the fourth kitty Mable watched and decided if she wanted in on the Hot! Sleeping! Action!:
Watchinz

She voted “No”, on the account of she would have had to move her body, which resembles the form and function of a Guild Navigator, about eighteen inches. Much easier to stay on the goddamned chair.

SHOULD WE FEED THE CATS AGAIN

This video is RIDICULOUS because it sums up a little too much our life. All off-script, including Mable’s screech and my pathetic succumbing to Harris’ begging-for-food charms.

Anna Dell Geckaboom, with my daughter, who is not only an experienced and loving lizard-custodian and would-be herpetologist, but is also getting pretty good at handling crickets as well.

Our Newest Member Of The Household

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!”

the sun is in the sky oh why oh why

It felt like I kept running into beautiful people today. First, there was the trip to work with my kids:

Precious Cargo
Nels is all smiles about ten minutes before he and I had a huge throwdown involving taffy. Photo by Sophie.

Cat Wants In
Did I mention the cat rode on the trunk of my car a city block yesterday when I left? Here he has just been rebuffed in his efforts to join us. Packed in the bike: swimgear for three, embroidery project of Sophie’s, spices for today’s soup, my purse, various warm hats.

After I took this picture I pulled into the neighbor’s back driveway to get out of the way of the alley. The neighbor soon emerged and eyed me askance as I packed. I explained I’d be on my way in a minute but she looked unfriendly and unconvinced. Sometimes I think people are really boggled by the amount of kid-age on the bike; I get a lot of stares. 90% of them are friendly, but not always. I look forward to the day when many, many more people carry many more things on bikes on many more of our roads.

Kelly + Coffee + X = Heaven!
Ralph bought me a new coat; I’ve had the same outdoor coat since my marriage, given as a gift. I like this one much more. It certainly makes me visible! Photo by Sophie.

Riverside, HQX
We’ve had a series of lovely sunny days for much of winter. And here I’d been bracing for rain. Sophie again operating the camera.

Docs + Fishnets + Bike
Our footgear. We borrow a digital camera; I look forward to one day owning one, especially in light of what great fun the kids seem to have in clicking away.

Today's Destination!
About to embark on a very busy shift at work. This is another rare smile of Nels’ this morning as we had yet another fight inside. After work I took my boss’ boy K. to the YMCA; lugging even more weight on the bike. Ralph brought Nels over from school and the three kids swam and swam and swam. We got home well after five.

doesn’t always play well with others

My day begins thusly: lying in bed, listening to my husband and son talk downstairs. Our new house is technically a three-bedroom; the largest bedroom being a refurbished attic, a huge, long room. Our families two beds are set up at opposing ends of the room. We have three pieces of furniture and a plant besides. It is a nice room; the first time my family has lived in a house with an upstairs.

I move to the end of the bed, still yawning sleep out of my eyes, and log into my computer. The stripey cat Harris hears me stir and pads upstairs, strops himself against my legs, and scarfs down the last bit of Mexican pastry left on the blue Fiesta plate on the floor. He then moves over to a lavender catnip-filled cat toy and begins to chew on one of its legs, thoughtfully, pedantically. My daughter sleeps behind me – dead to the world. Solidly out.

Lately I feel driven to create, to sew, to knit, to clean – to drag secondhand couches home, to make party favors for my childrens birthdays (months away!). My sewing room saw the completion of two projects yesterday (one that I started in the afternoon: a new pair of lined pants for Sophie). I would gladly work myself into exhaustion each night if I wasn’t aware that life requires periods of rest and connection. This is hard for me; to sit down on the couch, play a game with the kids, make eye contact with my husband and relax against his chest for a while.

Downstairs I hear my husband clipping my son’s fingernails, their voices at a sweet murmur. The day’s first cup of coffee calls to me. Our last day together before Ralph goes back to work.

the pet update, because i know you’re on the edge of your seat.

I’m not sure what was more silly: the decadent sleep-poses I was able to pry my cat into (upside down on my lap, paws in the air) or the fact Ralph, my mother, and my brother would lean forward and watch avidly for each position change.

Our other little cat, Blackie, appears to be sick. She has a cold and seems even smaller and bonier than usual. Well, and more to the point – she’s been out and out asking for affection constantly. We set up a vet appointment for her ASAP. I could stand to see her gain some weight but I don’t mind the lovey-ness.

My mom attempted to get me interested in watching a German Shepherd for a town acquaintance. This is the dog I want in my life, someday. And I would jump at if it weren’t for certain future living arrangements. In our future. Yes, I said future twice. I like to think about the future. I have declined to consider babysitting a dog for fear of succumbing, idiotically, to overwhelming temptation.

Our chicknz are almost four months old. Ralph is a proud papa of fluffy, squawky twins.

He still wants a goat. Nope.

And finally: Sophie is going to do some research and, if she plays her cards right (in fact what should I ask for in exchange? I really have her over the barrell on this one) she will get an anole for the new year.