some things never seem to fucking work

Christmas is over, and people ask me how my holiday went. The truth is, I am tired. Christmas was a lot of work for this single income family: two children, a fair number of loved ones, five animals, visiting friends and family, the household bills and fun stuff like that.

Lately my thoughts adhere to taking something I’ve heard called a “staycation”, in that I might get to stay home and enjoy time by myself while the other members of my family absented themselves. As it is, I get very little alone time in my life. While I am not complaining about this precisely, I recognize a lack of balance. I am mindful that whenever possible I should make some allowance to rest and have a period of little responsibility to anyone but my own self.

In addition, I have my work in Recovery, which I am starting to realize can take a toll on me in a way that is hard to explain. One key aspect: I have not allowed myself to write as fully about this as I would have liked and like we would have benefited me. I don’t picture that changing any time soon.

When I got started in this field a little while back, helping other alcoholics and addicts, I refrained from writing a great deal of detail on the work for several reasons. Foremost and final concerning this post at least, I reflected that even if I was very careful to not use names, or details that would reveal the identity or circumstances of any individual I was working with, it felt exploitive to with regularity write in all frankness the experiences I was being exposed to. When I mentioned this difficulty to my friends who know how much I like to write, some of them suggested I focus exclusively on my experiences, therefore maintaining a scrupulous set of ethics.

I have not yet found a way to do this that is not problematic according to my own sense of right and wrong.

I’ve spent hundreds of days in journalistic silence when what I wanted most was to communicate to the world what I was experiencing.

Believe me, if it had been at all possible for me to do as I was advised, this writing space would have been filled to the brim with what I consider today the absolute cornerstone spiritual experiences of my life. However, I have known for some time it is at least theoretically possible anyone, and I mean anyone, could happen upon the words herein. As much as I want to communicate what has become some of the most important work in my life, I cannot yet bring myself to risk someone might read here and have even a glimmer of doubt, the faintest inkling, that I might be exploiting their most personal and private struggles here for some kind of egoic gain. I must continue to write in a general way, then, even though it often seen those writings do not resonate with my readers, nor do they engender the kind of intimate narrative that my previous years of blogging has provided me, personally.

In a general way, then, I will share a bit.

Perhaps it would be different for other people, but I am finding that I cannot do this work without relying daily on regular prayer, meditation, and spiritual study. Last night I spoke with someone close to me as they described their spiritual experiences, and their relationship with God. To me what they were describing were incidents episodic, infrequent, infused with emotion or sentimentality, and discrete. Weather in a chapel or on a river bank, these experiences sound familiar: a human being is suddenly overcome with powerful, usually positive emotions. They sense there is an order to the world, or goodness to the universe, or even sometimes a Grand Plan. These experiences seem to be emotional yet powerful and they sound genuine. I am familiar with these experiences and have had a few of them in my life.

However, I am not strong enough, patient enough, intelligent enough, gentle enough, or wise enough to rely on these kinds of now-and-then experiences to get me through the difficulties I face on a daily basis. My budding spirituality has been built almost entirely on Action. Every day, I take a series of actions that I have come to believe are necessary to sustain my faith, my sobriety, my usefulness to and my quality of life. If I were to rely on positive feelings, or a positive thought-life – well, to put it frankly, I would be a dead man. What may indeed work for others does not work for me.

I have almost nothing to offer. I have my faith practice and today I can give this body of work the macho head nod of acknowledgement because honestly, it’s not too bad. My primary asset is a willingness to “suit up and show up”, as I have heard it said. Each day I take a series of actions that I believe increases my use to others, benefits the rest of the world, and keeps me from going crazy and/or drinking; a series of actions that keep me from being swallowed by despair or impotent rage or crushing anxiety – since, frankly, I apparently never learned how to take a flight into Apathy, another common defense I see in others. Most of these actions I mention are not ones I necessarily feel all groovy doing, and none of them bring the sorts of reward that people are often running after – that is, fame, money, sex, power, or material security. My willingness and my action, therefore, is a little special, and it keeps me a little sane. For I am NOT especially immune to the drives that cause us to run after the various intoxicants I describe here.

I am willing to learn more, and to seek more teachers. I am willing to explore further. I have almost nothing else to offer. I do not have the answers to why human beings have the capacity for, and apparent will to, suffer so intensely. I bring up suffering because although I have known of suffering my whole life, never has it been more obvious, more direly manifest, more destructive, more myriad in form and function  as I have witnessed since coming into Recovery (and not just in the alcoholics and addicts I work with!). My work daily brings me stark confrontation with suffering and I am consciously aware of this confrontation. In contrast, it seems to me that many people trying to ignore suffering – unless it is their own, in which case they make this the center of their Being. Many people try to avoid suffering at any cost, and many people, when confronted with the suffering of others, respond with the strategy – and it isn’t much of a strategy – “better you than me”. Very few people I know would own up to having that worldview, but I think it is very common indeed.

“Better you than me”  was my reflexive response to others’ suffering for quite some time. I am still healing from a lifetime habit that was probably formed when I was very young and could not handle some of the realities of my life. I am still healing from the habit energy of that lifestyle.

Well I remain employed in my practices, trying as best I can to meet my responsibilities to myself, my family and friends, and the world at large, I am building my own personhood. In my case, my principles, my logic and intelligence, my opinions, my emotions and sentiment, we’re not enough to build this personhood. I had to rely on faith practices – that is, taking actions in hopes of a kingdom not seen, almost impossible to describe, and absolutely impossible to “prove” to others. As the product of a skeptical, dysfunctional upbringing, my clumsy-ass clay sculpture of a spiritual life is still, you know, not too shabby. I’m good with it.

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

Fish

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.

I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm / And the inevitable pinhole burns / All down the front of my favorite satin shirt.

Sitting for twenty five minutes entirely still, and entirely silent, it’s not for the faint of heart. I elect for the cushion as I haven’t given the little meditation stools a shot yet and sitting cross-legged just flat-arsed for that long, without moving at all, well it is not for the ill-rehearsed. I have learned to observe the cold in my extremities and the occasional pain of sitting and fall into the trance of observing, of “resting in the breath”. In short, it feels good to meditate.

But what there is to observe, sometimes it’s not all that happy-clam. Tonight as I sit I almost fall asleep. I come to an awareness I am sick, and tired. I’d known I was sick (a sore throat and slight head cold) but hadn’t realized I was tired. That kind of bone-tired, an inexplicable exhaustion. And the longer I sit the more I realize the extreme discomfort I’d been ignoring, pushing my body past. The habit of a lifetime, or at least since pretty early childhood. Anyway I tell a friend later and she asks if I rested after this discovery, and I said Yes in fact, I even cancelled something in the morning so I could sleep as long as I needed.

The children, my children, are incredible. I call Phoenix on my drive home and ask if she’d turn up the heat in my sewing room and she says, “Gladly!” Her vocabulary is exquisite. Both kidlets are growing so tall so quickly that almost every outing, a friend or acquaintance comments on this.  Our Halloween was a four-day extravaganza of parties and silly Halloween food and costumes and spooky movies and friends over and one hundred thousand candy wrappers. Yes I have pictures, and yes I will be posting them.

It’s cold, the coldest Halloween I’ve ever experienced. I buy a new hat at the thrift store for $1 but somehow it shrinks, despite being a nonshrinking fabric, so anyway that’s for Phoenix I suppose (as if my kids need more hats!). What I really want is one of those Irish tweed handmade hats, they have them out at the beach. I have a cash stash and could buy one but I keep the money in my cigar box, unsure of what really to do. Our rent, electric bill, everything is increasing and my husband’s job faces mandatory furloughs.

The early winter weather brings a great sense of gratitude; for a job, food, a warm home, and for one another. Tonight I was watching my daughter in bra and panties brushing her teeth and I thought how I don’t think I’ve once resented the work of raising children. I’ve been alarmed at how much this has entailed, and I’ve been tired out – but let’s face it, I’d likely have tired myself out as a childless singleton if that’s the way I’d gone. I feel only gratitude, if a bit humbled, picking up what must be the four hundred millionth wet towel off the bathroom floor, and treading back to our little laundry room, and time to wash up and crawl into bed and watch “River Monsters” until everyone’s sleepy but one of the kids cheerfully gets up and turns the program off and we fall into one another’s arms and sleep very soundly.

Ears and Whiskers Oh My!

Contemplative

As any longtime reader knows, I’ve made many a fanciful, comfortable, and sturdy garment, mostly for child-aged humans. I keep coming back to animals and creatures (real or imaginary). In no small part this is due to the influence of my own children, who retain an interest in biology, zoology, cryptozoology and anything else involving creatures that flap, crawl, squirm, prowl, and/or fly.

This particular hat is a faux fur wolf-inspired self-drafted piece, lined in 100% wool for warmth and comfort. Since Halloween approaches – and I do run a side-sewing blog, here – I wanted to share a bit about how to make effective ears and easy-enough whiskers from inexpensive and rugged materials.

Now a few words about what is entailed in good ears. It might not be obvious to the initiate, but it isn’t enough to have wire or pipe cleaners, or whatever, stiffening the ear. The ears will be rigid, but they will not stand up from the head if this is all you do. The tail ends of the wire stiffening the ear will need to be anchored to a rigid form, which is in turn inserted into the hat body in a way secure and comfortable to wear. This means the rigid form has to mimic the shape of the pattern pieces of the hat itself. Get it?

So let’s get started. Materials needed (not shown, glue gun):

Supplies

Left-to-right: cardboard (buckram or light plastic, like a thoroughly-cleaned bleach or carpet-cleaner bottle, will also work), wire for ears, needle and waxed thread for handsewing, cable ties (and assembled “whiskers” on anchor tie, self-explanatory), pattern template, and both fabric AND paper scissors (ask any stitcher how much he/she likes having sewing scissors abused by paper!).

Different hat or hood shapes will have different templates – this hat was made by an earwarmer-style band and a four-gore crown. The traced piece you see here is one of the four gores. It is NOT an ear! I am assuming you have a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, or can follow a pattern, and already have your ear finished and waiting – with the bottom raw edge open (you’ll see below when I show you my finished ear).

I chose cardboard for my form, because I plan to simply spot-clean this hat, not immerse it in water. Dry-cleaning would probably even be an option but I don’t think we’ll be needing that. Using buckram or thin plastic might make the hat more washable – but you certainly want to wash a structural item like this with care, not throw it in the washing machine or anything.

So! Trace your cardboard (or whatever) form from your pattern piece(s):

Trace Pattern Piece To Form Material

If you’re thinking about ear placements/markings at this stage, don’t. There is no need to worry about ear placement yet as you will be able to use the lining to determine where to fix the ears.

Now it’s time to cut the cardboard (or whatever) form:

Cut Out Cardboard Form / Trim Seam Allowance

Make sure to trim off the seam allowances. This is because tape will serve as our “stitching” together the form pieces (if we do have more than one, as I do). If you didn’t cut off the seam allowances, the form would be too large. Go ahead and be confused, that’s okay. You’ll see what’s up when you stick the taped-together form in the lining and it doesn’t work – if that’s the case, you can go ahead and tear it apart and re-tape, or re-trace and re-cut.

Tape The Form, & Then...

The red piece on the left is the hat lining, an indespensible item for making sure things will fit nicely. At right we have the form, taped together. Next I need to slide the form into the lining to make sure it fits perfectly and does not extend awkwardly or look bulky. The goal is the intended recipient will not even feel the form. So let’s see how we did, eh? The cardboard form is inserted between the child (Hi, Phoenix!) and the lining:

... Double-Check The Form Fits Nicely

Everything looks good – that cardboard form is inside the hat and against the child, layered just beneath those two front gore pieces you see here. A few notes: the hat is a little large for my child, so would fit an adult with a smaller head. Secondly, that raw edge is going to be turned under and stitched, so the hat lining appears a little larger than the finished piece will be.

Slip the form out, and it’s a good idea at this stage to punch a few holes in the form. Even if you plan to use a glue gun exclusively, may find you are glad for a few holes to use in reinforcing by stitching:

That's Awl She Wrote!

Now for wiring the ear. Simple at first – just get a flexible but rigid bit of wire (23 cents a foot at the hardware store), bend it, and slide it into the ear with at least an inch and a half margin poking out the bottom from the open end of the ear. Wrap the wire-ends with tape so no one gets poked. Handstitch the raw edge of the ear together with a simple baste, and lash the wires to the ears. This is to preserve the general ear shape and make sure the ear form is closed, before proceeding.

Lashing Wires Into Ears

The wire may want to creep down a bit. That’s okay for now. When you’re finished you should have something like this:

Finished Ear; Wire Inserted

Pretty-cool ear, eh? I thought so.

Now sew the ears, again by hand, to the position on the shell hat pieces. You can use that lining (and hopefully a live model) to determine ear position.

Hand-Sew Ears First...

Basting or tacking the ears in place by hand will make sure they are symmetrical when sewn into the hat. I highly recommend this over pinning. Simply take firm stitches about 1/8″ shy of the seam lines.

Don’t worry about the wires much at this stage. They may be trying to slip around a bit. All you are doing is anchoring the fabric ear piece in position along the seam of the as-yet not-assembled hat.

Now, machine-sew the hat seams, which will anchor the ears firmly. Assembly will depend on the hat or hood pattern you use. Just don’t try to sew right over that wire, or you will bust your needle and scare the heck out of yourself, especially if you’re amped up on coffee (ask me how I know this!). When you get close to the wire, take your foot off the pedal and use the handcrank, guiding the seam along with your other hand.

... Then Machine-Sew The Ears - Carefully!

Your ears are almost finished! Now, insert the finished form into the finished hat/hood/crown, and glue or stitch first the form itself to the inside of the hat using the seam allowances, and then the wire “legs” of the ears to the form, to secure. As if that faux-fur wasn’t messy enough, we are adding a GLUE GUN!

Bending the wire “legs” of the ear and affixing them to the form may or may not be tricky, depending on your hat/hood style. Be patient, use more glue – the whole thing will be lined anyway. Press the wire into the hot glue using a spoon. Not your fingers. (Ask me how I know this!) Be cautious with the hot glue if you’re using it – don’t let it mar your fabric or your body.

Glue/Sew Template

Ears all done!

Finished Ears

Finally: when the glue is entirely cool, slip the lining into the hat and feel to make sure the hat will be comfortable to wear. No jabbing wires or glue bumps. You can add batting or a layer of fleece if you need to, but if you’ve cut your form templates properly and wrapped your wire, you shouldn’t need this layer. My daughter said she couldn’t feel the cardboard at all.

And now – this is easier, promise! – the whiskers.

The assembly for the whiskers and anchor cable ties is self-explanatory, and shown in my Materials photo up above. Now we only need push the whiskers through the shell material. If you are sewing a hat with a woven that has a loose weave (not likely, for a hat project, but still), you may want to interface or interface and make eyelets (by hand or machine), to make sure you don’t get a ravelling effect. However, these directions assume a knit or fleece, etc., easy, sturdy, and typical fabrics we work with.

So first, poke holes in the earflap to slide the “whisker” cable ties through (here you are looking at the wrong side of the shell fabric)…

Seam-Ripper To The Rescue

Then slip in the whisker assembly:

Inserting Whiskers

Now we need to lash the whisker anchor cable tie in for security. Due to the nature of cable ties, the “whisker” ties can only slide one direction along the anchor tie. So lash accordingly:

Lashing Whiskers In Place

If you’ve cut your hat out properly on the grain, the grain will assist you in making sure your whisker alignment is proper. You can see the knit grain here on the wrong side of the shell. Alternatively, just make sure you carefully mark your whisker-placement lines after cutting out the hat pieces.

One more note about lashing the whiskers in place: if you were to be creating a hat where you didn’t want stitches to show on the shell side (as you see, my choice of faux fir hides anything like that), you could carefully apply the anchorpiece to the lining and take orderly stitches from the anchor tie to the lining, then poke the “whisker” cables through the shell, when the lining and shell were joined.

Double-check the whiskers are symmetrical:

Whiskers, Right-Side

And kink them up, if you like it kinky. Heh.

Bent Or Straight?

If you went mad with power earlier with that glue gun, you could apply a bit of glue on the anchor points of the whiskers, although it’s not needed.

Now all that remains is inserting the lining into the shell. Normally I do this in such a way that only involves a teeny bit of handstitching, but in this case I turn under the entire lower edge of both the shell, and the lining, and securely whip-stitch all along this edge.

Voila! You now have a pretty ferocious little hat.

On The Prowl

Cutaway

snarpshots

Fireworks
Fireworks in Aberdeen

4:30 AM
What I Saw When I Came In At 4:30 AM The Other Night. The kids had put themselves to bed, as Ralph had fallen asleep before they. I love how each one bundled hirself up separately.

Phoenie & Amber
Ladies’ Night! We’ve been having a few of these. Phoenix loves them Times One Million. You know what’s good for kids, great role models. Like Jasmine and Amber who kick all kinds of ass and are the sweetest women besides.

Afterwards
I gave Harris a tasty dish of food. He staggered around a bit and then fell asleep like this. I found him because I was ready to take a shower. He stayed in with me there for a while.

Exactly one year ago: a trip to Elton Bennett Park here in Hoquiam.

Happy Easter

He who eats alone chokes alone

I push the cart around the grocery store and add a pint of cream and I’m thinking, I have to have a ham, right? My accompanying menu: navy bean and bacon soup, hot cross buns, lemon asparagus, garlic-seared broccolini, scalloped potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, and cold pea salad (the latter item thanks to the suggestions of friends I ran across last evening). Dessert: a three-layer yellow cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. Since I don’t know how to cook lamb (and I’m unsure if anyone besides my mother would be enthused to eat it) I’m wandering the aisles figuring: ham. In my naiveté I’m unsure if I’ll even find one in the store. Indeed I encounter a large chest with so many variations in price and style and preparation, it’s a bit overwhelming. I choose the priciest one (I think, the Paula Deen, wrapped in becoming blue foil) and throw it in the cart with a thrill of the unknown (although even I know enough to know not to be nervous about a ham).

It feels so funny to be able to cook with competence and – it must be confessed, a kind of calm delight. I no longer worry no matter what my brain is apt to scheme up; the fact only an hour previous I’d even generated the idea for this meal, and that the next day we’ll be on a roadtrip much of the working day, deters me not. I know I won’t screw anything up and I’ve developed a preternatural sense of timing such that as we check out I already know that when we drive off on our daytrip I’ll have the cake and scalloped potatoes in the fridge, the beans soaked and the bacon fried and ready to cut, the peas thawing and the dough rising both under cotton cloth on the counter.

Of course Easter, to me, is about family and food. Isn’t everything?

We plan, we toil, we suffer – in the hope of what? A camel-load of idol’s eyes? The title deeds of Radio City? The empire of Asia? A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs. ~ J.B. Priestly

Happy Easter

Ruh-OH!

Oh yes. It’s Valentine’s Day. Got anything planned? I do. But first I like to get a little love song in my system.



But don’t worry. It’s not all teddy bears and diamond rings in champagne flutes. Because I’ve got a little something for anyone in ANY valentine disposition.

JUST FOR YOU: Twisted / Ardor*

Share Twisted / Ardor

Twisted /

“Please Don’t Leave Me” – Pink
Funhouse has been getting a lot of rotation here, mostly by Phoenix but I ain’t complaining. The first time I heard this song I thought, ew! The video only verified the awesome levels of Creepy & Wrong

“Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League
Come on, classic desperation. And when you bring it to the dance floor, no smiling allowed.

“Obsessed” – Mariah Carey
Another fun video by a knockout diva.

“Skullcrusher Mountain” – Jonathan Coulton
Hard to pick from all JoCo’s good stalkin’ rockin’. Last summer found me belting this one out while driving. The kids eventually dug it.

“Freakum Dress” – Beyonce
Oh Bey. You’re like a real-life princess and you sound like an angel. Sometimes your lyrics though, a bit unrelatable.

“Caught Out There” – Kelis
Well. It is Valentine’s Day!

“F*ck You” – Cee-Lo Green
How is this not everyone’s favorite song? OK, OK, I reject the “golddigger” narrative as offensively misogynistic but let me have my fun!

“La Tortura” (Shakira & Alejandro Sanz) – Shakira
This is the one I belt out at home at volume 11. P.S. I want to re-enact the video frame-by-frame, I need a partner and a buttload of onions though. Interested?

“Lose You” – Peaches
No love mix is complete without her teaches.

/ Ardor

“Heal The Pain” – George Michael
Another lovely piece from a fabulous artist; from an album released in 1990 and enjoyed immensely since then.

“Need U Bad” – Jazmine Sullivan
This is another one I love to sing, and Phoenie does too. Sullivan is one of the most expressive vocalists I’ve got in rotation these days.

“Drive” – The Cars
A classic that serves up nostalgia and longing.

“Never Let You Go” – Justin Bieber
Hey. Do you remember being fourteen? This song makes me cry. Haters, fuck off.

“Prove It All Night” – Bruce Springsteen
OK, in all seriousness, THIS is the one I’d like to belt out most, when Ralph finally realizes my hints at forming a dancehall cover band are not really hints.

“Let It Be Me” – Ray LaMontagne
Like so many ladies, I have fallen for the bearded crooner. IT’S A TRAP

“Human Touch” – Bruce Springsteen
The Boss is so good he rates twice.

“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
I like Bon Iver despite Ralph giving me a swirlie every time he hears me listening to them.

“Waterbirds” – Tennis
From a pretty album by husband and wife, all shoegazey and sweet.

“Hello Love” – Be Good Tanyas
I want to be a lady-country-folkster with a guitar. And be a bit prettier with a unique songbird voice.

“Love Like a Sunset Part I & Part II” – Phoenix
We have this on vinyl. The whole album is lovely and holds a very special, rainy-and-windswept place in my heart.

***

Happy Monday, all!

* (Um, let me know if there’s any weirdness with listening in… I don’t really know how Rhapsody works for non-subscribers.)

"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!