I got it all on the back of my hand / I want your answer so I won’t forget

 
Early ghosts of summer. Night walks. Sunshine through freshly-washed curtains; newly potted plants.

Too tired to cook, much.

Sore shoulders: yoga, bike riding. Tallying up: money for groceries, dinners out, new doctor bills. Debts.

Plans; worries. Set them aside. Anger; fear. Set them aside. Sage smudge stick, a candle, metta-meditation. Not quite enough, but all I have.

crine

Today…

sweet Baby Jeebus.

Five pets. Three vet-office visits split between two vet clinics. Medications. A surgical procedure (Bun-Bun’s neutering)! A cone of shame for Hutch. A financial commitment (to us, by another) dropped, quite suddenly. So: bank errands. Hustle.

Exhaustion.

I’m out of gas, so I use my mom’s truck. I take a break and call a mentor; I get a few moments’ relief. Then, right before I’m off to collect the rabbit post-surgery, the front driver’s side tire shreds. I mean just completely flies apart. I got a bunny to pick up, and a little girl to get at a rural bus stop.

I don’t panic. I make some calls. My son is trying to talk to me. I’m so tired. I lean back.

The day got wetter, and colder, and more scowly, and weirder from there.

I’m tired and tonight I feel a little low. It’s easy to beat myself up when things don’t go according to plan. Gotta practice a little of that self-kindness, that love and compassion, so profound a lot of people never get to it for more than a brief moment at a time. Gotta practice it because I need it and because I want it for when times are shite.

All animals medicated, fed, warm, safe, & love. THREE of them on my bed right now, with a little son about to join to boot.

Goodnight, lovelies.

“Look what I can do!”

A little photo-blogginz:

The dog, who is rolling around in ecstacy as I furminate his fluffy ass. Pictured: approximately the same amount of hair as is in my backseat after one car ride. I jest, or do I??!?!

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

The De-Furring Process

Mable, being awesome & chillaxin’ in her favorite chair. She likes it best when I clean the chair, so she can immediately furball it up. If you’re sensing a pet-hair theme now that the warmer weather has hit, BINGO.
Shaking Head LIKE A BOSS

Party time! A gift (hours of sewing but I didn’t take a photo, oh well!), & a three-layer chocolate cake with cheesecake filling and cream cheese frosting:
Gift, Cake

Cake With Fresh Flowers

& the pièce de résistance, our uteriñata! The first-ever piñata I’ve made, as far as I know… it might have been Ralph’s first too. Ribbon-pull method, as nope, there won’t be any beating of a uterus up in this household.
Uteriñata

Uteriñata

At the party, our children – being beautiful, being themselves.
Our Son

Phee

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

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.

stitch by stitch

Yesterday at Homeschool Sports a new mama took me in to talk to. I am gradually getting to know these parents one at a time. I’m in no hurry as I’m not particularly needy for friends right now. Anyway, I’d noticed this woman before but she always seemed engrossed in conversation with other mothers.  In case you’re not a lady, I might point out that in social scenarios it’s easy to get one’s feelings hurt if you aren’t embraced into the fold – to wonder if people are clique-ing and clustering up and eschewing you.  Day two of sitting on the bleachers with everyone else talking and you away alone and you start to think they all hate you, or judge you, or are happier and more well-adjusted than you, or bitchier and narrow-minded, or whatever.

And it’s almost always just not true. Case in point: I’m the only non-Christian lifestyle parent at this function – as far as I know – and definitely the only woman with tacky hair and the proclivity to say words like “cock” (often).  More relevant or close to my heart (okay, “cock” is pretty close to my heart, but still) I believe (could be wrong) I’m also the only matriarch shrugging at “traditional” homeschooling whilst fully embracing self-directed learning. And don’t get me wrong, at times these can feel like huge differences.  I could choose to feel like an outcast or all Special Snowflake or Different.  But that’s not my style.  I know I’m not any more special than these ladies; they may church-talk like no one’s business and wear classy yet understated fashion but they are not the Borg and I am not all misunderstood and awesomely weird and “So-Called Life” Different. We’re all mothers, women, people and the only way we can know what we have in common (more than we might like to admit) is to talk to one another.

I think I asked this woman A. a question – I can’t remember what question exactly – but I’m glad I did because she was one of those people with a lot of experiences and opinions – on a variety of subjects.  In fact A. talked so much and jumped from subject to subject so rapidly as to make me look positively inarticulate and wallflower-y. Within a few sentences she asked me if I was a Christian. I can’t remember exactly what I said (I should have bellowed out, “Ma’am I am tonight!”) but within the next few minutes she, a Biblical fundamentalist, was talking about the difference between her and other Biblical fundamentalist who are too fundamentalisty, more Bible-exacting (long skirts, long hair worn up, no mainstream music) and too… something.  I felt a little jet-lag as I was thrust into the conversation of fringe Christian, which although disconcerting at times interestingly enough has a lot in common with my own views (namely, a fierce defense of family and the position that our children are not primarily the State’s children).  A. was mother to seven children, the oldest being 20 and the youngest looking about 2.  She was a veteran homeschooler and a passionate person.  I like passionate people.  I was glad to talk with her.  The little homeschooling group has been a much-looked-forward-to date during my week.

I’ve been more or less sucessfully hand-sewing.  It’s different than machine sewing; mostly in that I can sit in the living room instead of in my sewing studio. During the day my work seems to calm the children.  They like having me there.  My latest project was an armchair pincushion, mad practical:

Alabama Chanin Pincushion

Alabama Chanin Pincushion, Close-Up

LoveFool
The entire time I was trying to take a picture of the above, the Love-Cat kept getting in the way. Wanting Love. More Love. There is never enough Love for her. Unless there’s Food. Then she wants that more. When she’s done with that? Back to Love.

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

freaks & squeaks

Our friend has a new camera with a high definition video function; she’s been doing a few short films including some of my family.  Here she graces you with a glimpse into our Halloween, sitting on my mom’s porch and handing out candy*:

This one was taken by our own teeny little camera, and the subject speaks for itself, literally:

* What say thee on the feminist front?  Are Westernized women’s problems over – do we live in an egalitarian, just society that treats them with respect, as my mother’s boyfriend argues here?