songbird

Phoenix & Her New Bike

Phoenix & Her New Bike

Paid final installment, via layaway, through the local bike shop. A grownup bike, very lightweight with Shimano shifters. All kinds of awesome. Terry tells me it will fit her until she’s about 5′ 4″. I’m 5′ 5″ and she’s catching up to me though. I almost cried seeing her on this bike.

She couldn’t wait for us to drive it home and borrowed a helmet from Terry to ride it right that minute, she told Terry she didn’t need a kickstand. I paid right as she left then I hopped in the car and thought I was right behind her (along her route) but never saw her. I got home and she was already in the driveway with a group of neighbor boys surrounding her. My mom told me later in the day, she saw Phoenie’s first ride, along 7th Street, saw her smiling a huge smile and flying.

It hurt a lot to watch her, but I guess it was a good hurt.

Phoenix & Her New Bike

[T]he bicycle will accomplish more for women’s sensible dress than all the reform movements that have ever been waged. ~ Author Unknown, from “Demerarest’s Family Magazine”, 1895

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.

a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out

LOOK AT THIS CAR

Newness

Have a look at this beautiful motherfucking car. It was last seen being awesome in my huge ass driveway which is where it is right now being awesome as usual.

(h/t because I am not funny, I just steal other people’s jokes).

Today was busy-busy-busy. I had to drive my new (used) car around town and not turn it off for a few errands because A. I had to make sure to get supplies for an event I’d committed to today, see below, and B. my new car was sold to me (deliberately) with a bad battery that had to have been sneakily kept-charged rather than the dealer just buying a new one (oh, expect a scathing online review. Actually, more a matter-of-fact one) and it was so bad I would need a jump at any juncture.

As of today I’d already YouTube’d up how to get to and examine the battery (it’s kept under the backseat! there’s a positive terminal in the engine for jumps though!), something I figured out that my husband hadn’t and the car parts dude hadn’t. The car parts dude (a big strapping fellow) wasn’t going to help me switch the battery out because of that seat thing, and when I told him it was either that or jump me, and by the way the seat was no big deal, two spring-loaded clips, I wasn’t strong enough but my husband had done it the night before – well then the dude jumps up and whips my battery out there and yanks on the seat and helps me switch out. Sudden wellspring of altruism or indomitable male ego? We’ll never know, but I drove off after a nicely-purring startup and a weight off my mind and a fair bit of cash spent. As well today I have jumper cables and the thorough knowledge of how to do jumps, since I had the pleasure of performing several the day before.

The stereo’s anti-theft code didn’t come with the car (and seriously? Retrieving one’s code is a PITA) so Ralph suggested upgraydding the stereo and I said Okay, knowing entirely the expense this might incur. Luck was with me as the shop I chose (the one my dad had frequented) had their little Euro antennae adaptor etc. and we had it all done this afternoon. The fellow who installed the stereo was named Roscoe and I found out he is a champion basil grower – I shit thee not (as in wins Grand Champion etc. at our County Fair). I had been querying him about car stereos and a few other things and sat practically on his lap watching, and he humored this (and the soft brass semi-stripped special-five-sided-hex-key-required bullshittery to remove the factory install), but when I asked him about the basil he brightened right up. We talked for a while and he ended up sending me home with four plants, including a lemon basil and very explicit instructions to get the best out of the plants – and how to start new ones via cutting (his preferred method).

Automotive Accessories

Fucking Hoquiam. It’s just great.

We had a Doll Picnic today at the Gallery as part of our Childhood Perceptions show (this was the abovementioned event I was required to bring food and drink and do some work at), including a professional dollmaker and many readings and a very large dressup game and food and drink – all orchestrated by our show’s co-curator Jeanne.

Master Reader

The event included many of Barb Shillinger’s dolls and her expertise and willingness to talk to children about them.

E. & (Some Of) Barb Shillinger's Dolls

Phoenix chose an alter-ego for an hour (“Fern”):

… while during cleanup I quite sensibly was waylaid by children wanting to climb in my trunk:

Skunks In The Trunk

And then there was Robin Moore’s Charles Bukowski hand puppet that I thought was stellar:

Guess Who?

I was pulled and pushed all ways today but I got through the day and had some lovely, lovely moments. As you can see.

I can’t quite express how happy I am to no longer be forcibly car-free. It has made life easier. Maybe. I prayed a lot while our cars were out – prayed not for a car, but for acceptance, patience, humility. I am in a way more worried now because cars cost money, and we haven’t in the past had money set aside for car bullshittery, so it’s been hard. And perhaps most relevant to this story, everything I’ve done involving cars, I’ve had to learn shit the hard way. Seriously. And I’ve been a slow learner.

But today I can pray in gratitude, and give this new responsibility to God, and enjoy our good fortune.

And on that note:

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” ~ Charles Bukowski

 

 

In case u forgot how hard I was working on

So when it comes to our upcoming art show – and the reception we’re hosting on Friday night:

 
Please, please, please sweet baby Jesus in your golden fleece diapers don’t let me fuck up considering there are about eighteen things needed in curating, setting up, and co-running an art show that I’ve never done before.

Ever.

And: I have to buy and prepare a bunch of food. The preparation part, I should come through just fine, it’s just hours of good honest work I look forward to. The, ahem, financial outlay for the said spread? I’m kind of fucked eighteen times over due to credit card stealinz. I’ll figure it out, honestly. And if you’re a local I hope you come Friday night. And if you’re not a local, don’t worry, because we’ll be putting up an online tour!

It’s a good thing I’m working with two super-talented and awesome co-curators. I’m peeing my pants a little bit less.

A little bit.

I know this isn’t a very professional series of comments for me to make, but in case I haven’t made this clear before, this isn’t a professional blog.

no you can’t

NO NO NO

I have simply got to stop grousing, internally and out loud, about our bus system. Yes, it bugs me it takes an hour (sometimes more) to travel seven miles (from the HQX downtown station no less), the commute my husband requires get to the college. Yes, I think the bus system is not designed with any seriousness toward daily commuter needs – an environmentally and socially progressive mandate which would improve our lives immensely. Yes, routes have been cut. Yes, I think so much about Aberdeen and Hoquiam is as pro-car as one can imagine. Yes, I think about all the “bus people” and their needs and their lives and when I see busses leave late or arrive early and the callousness of some drivers I despair.

But I’m not ready to spearhead a campaign about any of this because I have my own life to sort out. So here I sit. It’s not how I long I have to wait (although this bothers me for reasons I won’t go into, here), the worst thing is the noise along what amounts to a highway, and the dust and exhaust fumes. The gawks aren’t that fun either because riding the bus here means there’s a large set of people who pity you or look down on you. For reals.

But whatever, fuck it. Seriously. Some of the people closest to me ride the bus and we can commiserate what it’s like and I can stop bitching so much. I actually enjoy talking to people on the bus and I enjoy helping the mamas with strollers and babies and saying “thank you” to the drivers, every time. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a racist diatribe on the bus although today I heard a man bitching about a couple toddlers who were up front. I turned my head and looked at him, is all. I still do not always know how to handle public asshattery, and I don’t always have the energy, especially days like today with too-little sleep and staggering menstrual cramps.

I walked home from the station. I enjoy walking whenever the weather isn’t miserable – and today it was fine. Most times I walk in Hoquiam I see hardly a soul. But today there was a festive air in town, driveways, block parties: graduation for many adults and young people.

Party Time

These celebrations seem remote to me although I remember the period of high school graduation well. I guess this would have been sixteen years ago. Having been given a tremendously trivial amount of freedoms up until age eighteen (like most USian kids), for me graduation merely meant more praise from grownups (as I had a great grade point and had earned scholarships etc), a pedigree of other people’s required accomplishments for me, a deeply fragile sense of self, a few very good friends, a lot of excitement in my heart, and a desire to party as much as possible. It wasn’t all bad at all, on balance.

It is touching to see famlies celebrate. It’s nice to see young people honored. It’s pleasant to anticipate more activity in the neighborhood now that school is out.

Also, today I met a small kitten, a little black thing that looked younger than I’d think was decent to separate from his mother. His name was, improbably, “Puffy”, and he had not been fed recently, or at least – he was ravenous. I fed him a bit and in his zeal his tiny mouth bit me harder than I’ve been bit by a cat. I loved him up a bit more, eliciting a fragile purr, and then gave him back to the little boy who “owned” him and told him, please feed and water this little one.

And so life goes.

a walk with paradise


Moss On Sidewalk

“Why do people claim all boys like the color blue, and all girls like the color pink? It isn’t true.”

My daughter is asking me. She’s holding my hand; her other is engaged in walking my mother’s dog, whom we have for the next week while his owner buries her toes in a Mexican beach somewhere. The three of us are on a walk. Kind of a long one.

I tell my daughter, now: “Well, I have an answer. It’s kind of long. Do you still want to hear it?” She tells me Yes.

I tell her, you know basically, historically, people have a tendency to oppress one another. I ask her if she knows what this means. She says Yes. We talk about this for a bit. I tell her one way people can feel justified in their worldview is to believe those oppressed are less human, or categorically separate. I say it comforts some people to make up reasons one group of human beings is innately different than the other. I tell her some more of what I’ve seen. I make sure to qualify it is not all people who do this in every regard, but that most of us have learned to do it unconsciously. She brings up her father. She tells me he is someone who does not oppress women. I tell her Yes, and No… sometimes he makes mistakes. I remember aloud when she was little(r) and he began to refuse to help her clean her body in the bath because she had a female body, even though he continued to help his son. She nods, not necessarily remembering this, but getting my point.

I tell her anyone can make mistakes.

She’s thinking about her body, and her brother’s. She says, “But we’re not that different. Just a little bit. Like how our fingerprints are unique. Like tiger stripes.”

Enlightenment. Incredible! “Do tigers have unique stripe patterns?” I ask. Miracles.

“Oh yes!” she says, brightening with the typical enthusiasm she feels for the world of fauna.

We walk for a while.

I continue, because I feel her expectation. “So, when people believe men and women are socially different in ways irrefutably tied to biology, that’s called oppositional sexism. And when people decide the traits associated with men are superior to those associated with women, that’s called androcentrism.”

She’s with me. All the way.

I say, “You know how some people value physical strength over emotional strength?”

She says Yeah.

Then she adds, “One time in the mine in the backyard, P. couldn’t pull something out of the pit, so I did it. I was strong enough to do it. After I did it he said, ‘Thanks for doing that. I tricked you, and now you’re my slave.'”

A beat. Then, I say, “That’s one hundred percent bullshit.”

“Yeah,” my daughter agrees.

My eyes sting behind my sunglasses. She is so incredible. I often can’t remember our conversations verbatim enough to log them, to write them all out just how good they are. I tell myself it is wonderful enough just to have this time with her, the real experience is now, in the moment, not later, although I am always so pleased to continue journalling.

We walk together for a while.

At her request, we stop at a nursery. While observing koi in a pond, she hears frogs in one of the greenhouses.

She catches frogs, so carefully, so swiftly. She speaks to them and when she releases them she says, “I’ll see you soon.”

Tree Frog On Taro Leaf

Phoenix Handles A Tree Frog

After the first frog she’s figured out some way to handle them where they sit, placid, in her hand.

Trust

She encourages me to hold one. I am terrified. They seem so fragile, yet so startling in their jump! She finally convinces me to hold one. It turns and regards her while I take a picture.

My Frog Experiment

The proprietor of the business joins us eventually and shares lots of helpful and interesting facts about native frogs. Then he demonstrates the grownup-typical chastisement of my daughter for being a human being while small – don’t catch the frogs, don’t step there, blah blah.

My daughter doesn’t seem to mind. So I figure I shouldn’t either.

We continue on our way, stopping at the Farmer’s Market to buy a bunch of daffodils for a sad friend, and a bird of prey coloring book for my daughter.

Then along the wet and angry river and to home.

Secret Frog

For my daughter, on her 9th birthday

Dear Phoenix Fire,

Today at 5:57 PM I’d just stepped outside the diner Forever The Oriole for data reception. I was acutely aware of your voice behind me at the counter, giggling delightedly with Grandma. I was thinking of you, of course, because you were born at precisely 5:56 PM nine years ago this evening, after a protracted and medically-interventionist labor of about eighteen (very rough) hours.

Obviously I loved you at first sight; I write “obviously” not because that’s the way it always goes but because I’ve directly told you this so many times I don’t need to tell it again. But I want to. I can still see your flushed skin and feel your softly fluttering heart. I can still remember how exactly you smelled because you smell the same way today!  I used to lie next to you in bed in those first days of knowing you and I’d tell you with a frank devastating simplicity, “There’s everyone else in the world, and then there’s you.” Your dad didn’t have everything I had for you, every bit of my fiber and bloodstream and physicality we shared, but he caught up fast. Who wouldn’t? You inspire love wherever you are.

Today as we walked together your hand sought mine and I felt as gleeful and amazed and happy you wanted me and we could be together a while, the same specific joy I felt nine years ago when I held you in my arms.

I’ve written before how much knowing you has shaped me as a person. Mostly you’re just such an at-ease being it’s often guaranteed I am improved by your presence. Your integrity, your compassion, your sedate intelligence and your good-hearted nature are unparalleled in anyone I’ve yet met. It’s not just me who feels that way – every week people are telling me in new ways what a delight you are. I see life through your experience and I see a happy girl who knows she is loved. This is quite a gift for me to witness, as when I was your age I’m not sure I felt so good.

A friend this week said you seemed like an “adult” to her in every way. Yes, I can see what she means, but of course you are very silly and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this quite sternly. For instance at the restaurant today what was with you and Grandma’s jokes about “King Tut grows butts”? And when I told you to stop wrestling with my mother because these very sour-faced patrons were glaring at me and I was tired of it, you said, “Glare back,” and you did just that. I don’t have the guts you do but I aspire to. Someday.

Of course, you are the funniest person I know even if no, I don’t much go for “butt” jokes. You can screw up your face into any expression and you cast your voice like a spell. When you make jokes I invariably laugh because they’re funny as hell. I can tell when you’re happy and well-cared for when you are quick to laugh at mine. I can tell something is amiss when you scowl at me, although you don’t do much of that lately.

I don’t know how much time we have together but I do know I like drinking up every drop. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Stay as long as you like, leave when you’re ready. Let me know how I can support you in everything you need.

Much love,

Mama

Cobra

Pleased

The other night while we watched a cartoon movie you said, “That’s what I want for my birthday – a giant mechanical wolf!” Well, I’m not sure if that’s in the cards, but we were gratified to see how much you like the scary-looking robotic LEGO cobra Grandma got you. Thanks for not holding it against me that the wolf is not immediately forthcoming.

hoeden

I’ve sewn a few quickies since my last slightly-ambitious project. Including: two hats!
On The Sly

The green was entirely designed by myself; the blue, only slightly helped by a six-gore hat pattern. YES on the blue bunny I totally made those circular hand-stitched tucks, and the bunny ears, and HELLS YES do both kids love the results! (More construction detail if you’re clicking away and looking for it.)

Knotty!

Detail

Close-Up; Lined

My kids are all busy growing up and it kills me.

Grr!

Proud Of Her Papa

(Shoutout to Ralph for the above-pictured Hoquiam tourist brochure, which he designed. It’s making its rounds out in the world today… here Phoenix is looking it over approvingly (and adorably, if I do say so!) at the new Tully’s)

you may escape without a mauling

It’s 11:30 PM and I’m standing in the aisle staring at the frozen food chest. Ralph is trying to find me something, some convenience parcel I will find tasty, perhaps Amy’s Indian cuisine, palak paneer? He’s so tender and he’s been so stubbornly sweet that after several hours of his ministrations it’s almost like I’m finally going to crack and cry. It’s been easier to spend the day committed to not expressing feeling, but that can only last so long.

Depression consumes everything. It dampens joy, aggravates worries and anxieties. My five or fifty minutes late. The project that doesn’t turn out perfect. The project I decide not to do. The project that turns out well enough, but took away time I could have done something else. The friend who doesn’t respond to my messages. Any pain my children suffer, ever. Anything out of place. Anything I could have done better, or smarter, or earlier. Anything one could possibly blame me for, depression is on it.

Nothing is immune. There are wonderful things in my life but it devours them in its slow-chapp’d power. I feel better for a few moments then later I feel nothing but panic and anxiety but more to the point dread, and considering how many people support me and love me I feel ashamed to let them down. But for more than a few moments at a time, it’s impossible to feel good about myself. Even when I accomplish something well, or when I’m reminded aloud or implicitly I’m a Good Person. I worry by not being happier I’m going to lose my friends, one by one, but I know I could only fake happiness in any case. For now.

That relates to this space here. I’ve felt pressure not to write about depression, sadness. I worry I sound boring. Or like I’m trying to get attention. Neither of these are true; I write because it has always helped me more than almost anything; and yes, I do get enough attention, really. But the feeling persists: no one wants to hear this. It is tiresome. And rather pathetic, besides. Make something up, something better.

Then I think what the hell. No one is required to read here, Ever. Also: I’m really sorry if my suffering inconveniences people. I typed that sarcastically but I rather mean it. I don’t actually want to inconvenience people, and I’m not even sure I can meet this meager goal. I don’t want to be given up on. I want my friends to think enough of me not to pull back, I want them to tell me if they need something different. Maybe I’ll be able to handle it, maybe I won’t. I want them to try, if so moved.

It helps me very much to have others. I know that cleaning the house, preparing food (for my family and other people), doing right by my children and my husband, these are things I can do in the space where I am No One. It grounds me. It feels like the part that is really Me, the awareness there even while my brain tries to tell me terrible, horrible things about myself.

At the store with my husband and son, now, I’m saved by a stranger. “This is embarassing, but can you help?” a handsome, very tall man with a long braid asks us as he approaches. “My girlfriend sent me with a grocery list and she doesn’t know I can’t read.” He holds forth a scrawled piece of paper listing a few items, including something amazing and crystal clear: “Marionberry Pie Ice Cream”.

I kick into action. Friendly voice and accommodation, I could do this in my sleep. Help people? I know how. If I can just keep doing things I won’t have terrible thoughts.

It works pretty well until it doesn’t. But then it works again, later.

a pie en Hoquiam:
On Foot To Get Coffee

The bus, Grays Harbor Transit, just as I’m feeling about to puke:
Red Light