“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

you know our kids are huge now but still curl up on our laps, at home & in public

Phoenix = "Rockstar Pirate Witch"

There is something indefatigable about an intimate family life, something most beautiful when things are darkest, or most absurd. It’s like, the cynic in me, the girl-then-woman raised in a “militant agnostic” home (my father, anyway), some of the reasons I’ve written here for years is an attempt to communicate what it’s like to live my experience. The more I’ve written, the easier it flows, and the happier I feel. I mean often I don’t even think how valuable or interesting this might be to others, I’m just compelled to try to tell you about it if you want to read. I think there’s a lot to gain in relating to one another.

But yeah, there are these great moments in a family that are kind of … terrible moments. Like yesterday while we drove out to a birthday party, with three kids packed in the back of the car, one kid holding a cake and another a cat in a carrier (for a “pet show” of sorts), and suddenly the cat starts puking. Like you can really hear the chunkage, back there. And then there’s this sudden silence from three previously-rowdy kids and my daughter silently rolls down the window and somberly says, “You in the front: you’re lucky.” I mean I felt terrible for my kitty – who ceased vomiting upon arrival, only hours later to start up again as soon as we got back in the car – but it was one of those deliciously ridiculous FAILmoments that is best experienced with those you love, love, love.

Cake and birthday wishes. An honor to share them with others:

Birthday Cake

“Pet contest”, Harris was given special consideration for his sadness. Those are my two kids at left in the eared-hats.

Harris Really Wasn't Feeling Well

Life has been lovely the last couple days. Today I’m having another painful series of episodes with my kidneys. That is never encouraging. I have accepted my illness in full (except for one nagging caveat, see below), and I am grateful for these repeated bouts of pain as they have taught me a great deal about acceptance. These experiences have also taught me a great deal about unconditional love, to wit: I receive it from many of my friends, and all of those in my close family.

Having this ailment has taught me a lot about humility.

I know it seems like I wouldn’t have anything good to say about a supposedly zero-sum illness, but I do. Still, sometimes the remnants of denial rear their head. I keep thinking, Why me? (not out of self-pity, just a genuine bit of confusion), or thinking, any minute I’ll be “cured” and this won’t be happening any more. Still, these are only blips on my radar, persistant as they are. To the extent I am serene and genuinely grateful through such a puzzling experience, I can put that at the feet of first my alcoholism and then my resultant experience in Recovery.

I know I’m going to learn more about why I’m sick in this way – if not the nuts and bolts or a scientific explanation – and one day I’ll be able to tell you, Why Me.

***

By the way. In honor of Father’s day I’m re-linking a couple posts about my father’s influence on my life (and my thoughts on his death), recent writings if you didn’t see them the first time around. If you have seen them, apologies for redundancy. I didn’t need to write another piece, so soon, and I didn’t make time to write one about Ralph or any other fathers in my life.

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.

better to travel well than to arrive

At times it is almost agonizing how lovely some of my readers and friends and family can be. At a certain point I can only say, simply, “thank you” – thank you to the people in my life, thank you to the Universe and the power that flows through me and every being on the planet – just; Thank You. There’s no way to give quid pro quo for what has been given me. Deepest, deepest gratitude. Humility. A joy in living. A real life to live.

I have received so much support from so many since I began disclosing my journey in Recovery. As pertains to this space, I wrote a brief post and received some wonderful email (and it’s still coming). I opened myself up, I gave myself in honesty, and in turn others have shared with me; supported me and stood by me.

My friends who aren’t in Recovery, who I’ve shared with over the past months – well, they’ve given me so much too. I was at a party the other night and every woman there was drinking a cocktail or a beer. And for a moment I felt a panic – not that I would drink, but precipitated by how alone I felt, no one would notice if I slipped off into the deep end. Just then my friend D. turned to me and said, “How are you doing? Does this bother you?” She looked right at me and she was calm and she cared. I answered her (truthfully) I was okay (no individual or circumstance can “sabotage” my sobriety), and I thanked her for asking – but the important lesson was:

I am not Alone. People do care. It is Unrequited Bullshyt that they don’t. I’m only as Alone if/as I segregate myself.

By the time I stopped drinking I’d become about as limited as I’d ever been. And yes, in an essential way hidden even from myself, I believed I was alone. I knew I was sick but didn’t now how, exactly. I didn’t think anyone could understand, nor help.

So anyway, I wanted to clear up a few things. Regarding my online journal, my sobriety, and my recovery, those in any 12 step program know it’s group policy not to share publicly what happens in the rooms. For myself, when not implicating or fucking about with others’ lives, I can still write and I will. Or as I wrote in an email response to one of my friends:

“I’ve always felt I owed it to my readers to be as honest as is possible and practical. I need to start talking openly about Recovery because it is such a big part of my life. I only hesitated for so long – well, primarily – because I can’t write the things I hear in the rooms (according to AA traditions) – this is also due to the fact locals read my blog and stories/people might be recognized. I’m sure that makes sense. I will be writing about myself and my recovery as long as I know it’s within the bounds of what’s appropriate! Not always easy to know.”

I’m treading with caution.

On the flip side of the coin, my problems were – and still are – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. The moment I admitted I was sick, the power of any social stigma became laughable to me. Still, I don’t owe a performance to anyone. Last night another dear reader wrote me, in part:

“I see from that [Ebert’s article] it’s enshrined in the practices of AA that ‘nobody has to speak.’ I am glad that you staked that claim for yourself in today’s post; it should be as true of the blogosphere as it is for that intimate room, and maybe even more so. Your blog is already a very, very generous document. Nobody should be going after any sliver of you that you’re not willing to give.”

What a lovely and supportive thing to say!

I dunno. When I started journaling publicly years ago I thought it would be fun – and exciting, and a way to vent, and a place to be honest about the things I was afraid to be honest about. I guess this is all still true. But other things have changed so much over the years. I’ve received so much support, so much love, so many Thank Yous, and my sense of Independence is near shattered. This so-called “generous document” you’re reading now developed a life of its own. I suppose I know I will write as long as I’m able; but I was foolish to think others wouldn’t read, and care, as much as they have. I’ve been on the planet long enough to know how wonderful people can be.

The world can be a painful place to live sometimes, and so many are living miserable deep down, hardened and diminished by Fear and Fear’s panicky manifestation Anger; eaten up alive even as they walk and breathe.

But we are not Alone. I just want to impress upon you that.

Back to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow; I hope!

***

Today, a river (sorry, no pictures). One year ago, a lake:

Sunset

Not Sure If They

desperate housewife

So I got stuck in Olympia with the kids at a late hour. Don’t ask me to tell you why or how, it’s a dull and yet painful story. I thought we’d have to stay (overnight or at least a long long time) and I was kind of panicked. I called people we knew in Oly but couldn’t get a ride. I kind of agonized and wondered around and bought things at Target and got the kids food while I went totally Flyhead about my predicament and couldn’t think straight. Let me tell you, those who know me probably perceive me as level-headed in person most the time, even when things are intense or when people around me are falling apart, but when it’s down to just me and the kids are involved in some way that seems unsafe or weird there can become a point where I get Crazy-Eye and my brain stutters and shudders. I’m surprised I wasn’t arrested on suspicion of shoplifting, I mean I was twitchy as hell checking out (with, I’ll point out, a credit card I wasn’t entirely sure would go through). Kids and I ended up boarding the last bus downtown because, where Target is, there’s nothing there you’d want to spend time with.

Lakefair downtown, things were a bit intense. The bus flew down the hill and I perceived the wondrous lights of a large carnival (large by my bumpkin standards anyway) so I knew where to take the three of us, for the Now anyway. I had only a few dollars cash – otherwise I would have dropped my rent money on two bracelets so they could go on every ride they qualified for. As it was they still had fun; watching a breakdance group and running about while I phoned some more. I sat by the lakeside vicariously enjoying their fierce little lives.

After finally getting ahold of Ralph and arranging a meetup I had enough cash for one carnival “ride” for the kids. Understand this was like, seven dollars I think, for the kids to go in this kiddo funhouse (their choice). The local who’d been hired on was amiable enough to conversation, or was rather a captive audience, to be more accurate. Turns out he’s a musician and living like a sardine can in a rental with others, trying to get by, thinking about going to school, not sure what he’ll do next week for employment. We talked music for some time and my feelers went up, as Ralph is still trying to get connected with Oly musicians and the fellow sounded talented or at least versed in many interesting instruments.

The kids played and played (bless this young man for not being a dick) but soon it was time to go. I sat my bundles of Target Fuckery and a McDonalds bag and my purse and whatever in the grass, and took out my card and wrote down my husband’s name and circled a number and wrote “Music / Helsing” (the latter re: the K Records festival each year). By this time two huffy carnival pros – that is, the fellows who travel with the outfit, not spareboard – were all over the young fellow and hustling him to close up. One of them was yelling into a walkie talkie, “I have some real important stuff going on,” and then proceeded to shout-command the young man in a brusque and not-entirely-thorough way. And shit, I get it, these people work hard, I’ve worked in that kind of scene, so I just slipped the card into the young man’s pocket (unobtrusively enough, or so I thought) and said, “Good luck,” (meaning, with everything) and then –

the guy who’d been yelling into the walkie talkie jerked his head at me and said, “Jesus,” with all the disgust you can manage mustered in a voice. I seriously wish you could have heard it. You’d think I’d taken a shit on the green. I am not sure what he meant but, I haven’t been addressed with that much vitriol and hate for quite some time. It was pretty busy and I had no immediate response to being perceived as A Piece Of Shit For Reasons Mysterious so I merely bundled up the kids and the bags and gently floated across the grass, trailing the final partiers fleeing off to bars (Oly was rowdy tonight, for reals).

Our rendezvous was with Ralph was scheduled for Sizizis (which, I found out, is closing down Sunday – boo!). Walking up 4th it was so many people and shouting and cutting eyes and the smell of booze and cigarettes and weed and all kinds of amorous behavior and fights and weird energy. And yes. A few people who returned my smile. The kids were great, of course, because they are tiger cubs running on sidewalks. We got to our coffee shop eventually (it really was a nice night for a walk). While I waited in line for my drink the kids got something cold from the cooler, grabbed a table, and set up chess. I stared a bit and wondered where they’d learned to play. I was feeling more collected, or so I thought. So I’m standing there and an amiable large man turns around and says to me, “Hey, do you remember the name of the boat from Moby Dick?” and I respond, “Uh, the Minnow… the S.S. Minnow.” then to my horror I realize my mistake and shout, “No! The Pequod!”

Oh good sweet baby Jesus in his golden fleece diapers.

At about 11:40 PM Ralph rescued me and I gave him the americano I’d purchased him and I got my ass out of Dodge. –

but, the kids had a glorious time.

Not Sure If They're Having Fun

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.

fête

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom Turns 9

Phoenix’s ninth birthday is coming up. I want to have one hell of a shindig. I’m concerned though. I worry I’ll think of great details and lose steam as the date approaches. This has happened before. The trick, for me, is to plan and work for a nice event but remember, life goes on afterwards – no need to obsess.

So right now I’m planning the menu, which is going to be a vegetarian dinner, not party snacks but an awesome dinner including foods that make you want to punch yourself in the face, they’re so good. I have some help from chef-extraordinaire Amore.  ALSO I must wrangle the music, decorations and the prizes. These latter two categories is where I can lose steam. I do not want to buy a bunch of plastic or Dollar Tree provisions; I love to create with recycled, upcycled, and recyclable or reusable accoutrement. I also want my mom’s house (where the gala will be hosted) to be a big fucken undersea kingdom. Yet adornment is not my strong suit. Have you seen my house? I have three pieces of artwork total hanging on the walls (my favorite is probably Phoenix’s bloody fossil, marker and paint on cardboard).

I loved how our invites turned out – Ralph and I have so much fun with stuff like this. If you want us to send you an invite, wherever you live, let us know, as we have a few extrys.

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

Sly

(& 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):

Post-Routine

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.

w00t!