A Smoothie

i waited for you but you were already here

A Smoothie
Children’s memories are incredible. As we drive out to the beach today they both tell me about the walks, the bike rides, the times we stopped for a trail hike or ate at a restaurant. I have the same memories, of course; but theirs seem so vivid, and they are obviously so fond retelling these events. Their affection for our beaches and our trails is humbling, too; these are places that Ralph and I selected, in effect building so much of their childhood. We don’t program our children like blank tapes but we do influence them so much.

It is sunny and warm – seventy degrees. We arrive to park and no one is near; we can see a few distant sea-gazers on the far-off overlook tower. The oldest child made and packed our lunch – hoagie sandwiches with red leaf lettuce and pickles and vegan lunchmeats and cheese, a side of chips. The dog is perched back of the Jimmy – excited, his expression absolutely jovial and alert. He can’t believe his luck! Once we lock the car and head to the jetty we are disturbed to discover he is finally too old to leap up the rocks and climp over into the hidden sandy beach. He tries many times, valiantly; but his agility is not there. We walk him a bit, then tie up him with a good deal of water, and leave him for a bit. My heart hurts to leave him behind; I also know it is better to have brought him than not at all.

Tide Pools
Today on social media – in a parent support group – I read parents complaining about their teen children, calling teens “assholes”, discussing whether a preteen child was old enough to decide ____ for herself. It hurt my heart; I closed my laptop. I wonder to myself how I avoided this fate, of feeling I was doing my children some kind of favor to care for them.

My children aren’t perfect; just last night one of them had a verbally violent outburst and today tempers are still tender. The child and I have a short conversation in the car today and I tell them that everyone has outbursts; no one in this family is judging, and we need to keep the family safe.

I ask if they know what set them off – were they worried about ___, were they feeling resentment toward ___? They tell me, “I have been asking myself the same thing,” and I am thinking: Job well done. I let them know that sometimes we don’t know why we lash out, and it’s okay not to know for a while. But by the same token, they also need to step back and reflect; it is their responsibility to figure it out. And there is always help available. It’s a conversation we have with our kids; keep it as short as possible, keep it thoughtful. Make sure to center myself first; and if possible discuss the issue after I’ve rested, meditated, and talked with my partner.

Because our dog party member is down for the count, we don’t stay at the beach very long today; long enough to find starfish, and chiton, and little snails and little crabs and large isopods. We stop on our way out of town at a coffee shop for tea lattes, and then home to Ralph who is cleaning the house and preparing dinner.

Before bed my eldest comes to be held and I kiss the top of their fuzzy shaved head; they still smell like the sea. They are soft and warm and content, that we had a day together, playing like children.

Night Walk

waiting for a gift from the sea

My son tells me, upon waking, he thinks he may have developed a case of mycelia. “It’s a state, often observed in ants or other insects, where a fungus uproots the function of the brain.” He is very serious, very sedate as he shares this horrific thought with me – before breakfast, even. Then, he adds thoughtfully: “It’s either that or a highly emotional fever.”

(JEEBUS!)

I am amazed I can get up to a body of work – both professionally, artistically – with the kids in the house. Yesterday while I tried to sew I couldn’t get five minutes without an interruption; on days their friends visit it can be even worse. Feeding extra kids is Extra. I don’t mind, but I also have to give myself credit for how much I do get done.

“Do you work from home?” a child asked me today. I got to tell her. Maybe she will stay less ignorant than so many Grown-Ups.

But today, “working from home” took us on the road, as it often does. We spent the better part of the sunshine on a little highway and back again: delivering a child to a counseling session. It was hot out, and my car – clocking over 200,000 miles – has a busted A/C long since fallow. The windows down, and the air roaring through, it’s good enough. Tying my hair up into a couple buns and wrapping with a headscarf and still by the end of the day I feel wilted. Hot shower and into pajamas a little early, methinks.

The children and I enjoy a late-night walk with the dog, most nights. And every time we do at least one of our cats – and sometimes up to four of them! – follow us. Our little tuxedo Herbert Pocket races alongside, flashes of her white grabbers at the end of sleek black legs. She waits in a dusty lane for us, and I know coyotes or even a mountain lion could meet her there – it’s remote enough. Life is scary!

We’ve always had the highest quality air here, but this summer has had some wonderful, beachy breezes. I’m aware as we walk that we are approaching the end of our turn in this neighborhood: off to a new house, a new adventure soon. I make my preparations: sewing a quilt, selling bits of furniture, putting together a wishlist, going through our clothing:

Working From Home.

Night Walk

Zoo Trip, Phoenix

so it turns out I know how to show 11 – 13 year olds an awesome day adventure

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

We took a page out of Phoenix’s 2013 birthday trip, and headed off to Tacoma today. We had a carload of rumpus!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

I seriously cannot with five preteens. As in, cannot believe how wonderful they are! Here I’m just ordering them buckets of chocolate milk because we were on the first leg of the trip and had to get from point A to point B etc.

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

They were all grownup and ordered salads with their meal! Instead of applesauce. One child ordered applesauce, then hid it from view when this choice was remarked upon. Can you tell which child?

Birthday singing from staff, other customers, and her friends:
Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

And then – off to the zoo!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So like, in no way was our sole male attendee shunned by the girls… but neither was he particularly invited in when they’d cluster up like this. Which gave me no small amount of amusement!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

 Rarely do I regret having just a phone camera (and no training) – but failing to capture the African Red Tip Starfish is one of these times. Gorgeous!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Six tigers sighted – including these little tigers. Some feistiness in the tiger enclosure. They are wonderful animals!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So, this lobster was massive. I found the other zoo attendees comments about eating him quite insensitive. Isn’t it exploitive enough he’s in a cage being bored off his ass – or whatever lobsters have for asses?

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Jaws!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

UM A DADDY SEAHORSE, PREGNANT

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Her last day of being twelve. Excuse me, I have something in my eye!

And after the zoo – I got us to Krispy Kreme. Because, hello

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Home to yoga, and delivering a meal to a new family with a brand-new baby, and unwinding a bit before crashing into bed.

“i cut last night – would that explain the nausea and lack of appetite?”

My son puts his arms around me. “I’m ready for a rest,” he sighs. After a beat, he whispers, “I would never jomp you.”

“Jomp” is a word we came up with. On accident. I told him yesterday I was going to chomp him. But I said, jomp, on accident. The kids fell into peals of laughter and then asked me what jomping is. I said, “When I jump up and bite your neck.”

My son’s neck. His arms which furl like tendrils around me. He tells me he’s going to solve a case –  my missing phone – as The Cobweb – but he adds, “I’m disguised as a scruffy little boy.” Then under his breath, “I’ll brush my hair later.”

My daughter, this morning, arms around me with her head in my lap while I sip fresh, hot coffee. Her hair is iridescent, a dark waterfall, a brilliant teal. Her body solid, long, strong, lean; tattered pajamas, developing into a young lady right before my eyes, fingers catching hold of water. She is a loaded firecracker. She is full of righteous anger. She is tender and caring. She is fierce like a dagger.

Today:

Breakfast, prepared by my eldest; the younger child set the table:

And since last night was rough, a girlfriend and I – and the kids – took off to Olympia for GIANT DELICIOUS SUBMARINE SANDWICHES!

***

I am a Buddhist, and I don’t know if you’d call my chants “prayer”. I call these rituals “prayer” when I talk to others as much like the word, “God”, people seem to grasp what I’m getting at.

But do my prayers, my chants, my meditations, do they matter? I am not the only one I know struggling with difficulties. I have friends who are just being torn up by life. Friends who are going through pain. I name them at my shrine. I call them or email them. I check in with them, simply to check in. They are in my heart. I offer the help I can (food, a loan, advice if they ask). Mostly though I remember them. That is all perhaps my chants really are. Remembrances. I don’t worry for my friends but I suffer with them in some way I didn’t used to. My fingertips are on their pulse but I have no prescription, no magic pill.

Watching other human beings grow, and cope with their lot with dignity. It’s today’s “drug of choice”, this world of the spirit. It is an exhilarating place. I live, because others do the same.

Tonight: hot shower, glass of water. I set white sage alight; I put match to a honey candle. Turn down a newly-washed bed. Pull a child into my arm. Put my back into my husband, the crook of his broad chest, his strong arms.

To sleep; to wake, and work again.

tiny bubbles / making memories

As some of you know my kids are down at Disneyland this week – with my mother. Monday I drove the lot of them to the Portland airport’s Radisson hotel. I walked them to their room, made pleasant talk, and then left. Like I was normal. I can still see my son poking his head out the hotel door, happy to send me on.

I walked through the lobby and out into the balmy parking lot. I climbed in my mom’s minivan and sat. I felt myself consumed with a terror and sadness. I recited The Three Jewels aloud, three times. I cried. Then I turned the engine over and got on the road.

Life is better than it used to be. Instead of driving in a numb haze of grief, I began to wake up. I began to breathe deep. By the time I met my brother and sister-in-law at the most amazing restaurant of all time (Country Mouse is very Country, & easily impressed) I was almost feeling normal – if hungry. I had a wonderful dinner and got back home a little after ten, to a tired husband and a clean home.

I have been okay since I got home. I have access to breathing deep, to being mindful. Seeing a little baby in a stroller today, kicking his legs, I got that pang. Seeing a tousle-headed blonde child at the hardware store, there it is again. I can’t believe how much less work it is, having no kids in the house. I’m on my last client costume of the season, and I’ve been able to work on that in peace. I can do dishes and laundry, and more do not pile up. It’s been nice.

But it will be lovely to have those little warm arms around me and hear their voices again. I don’t know how people can stand being away from their children but I’m here, and I’m standing it, and I’m even living my life a bit.

at Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

At Bottle Beach

Just one of those places I’ve lived near many many years, but had not yet visited – until today.

Our dog went mad with joy – again. He has missed being able to go for long, athletic walks. He crunched what I can only assume were crab shells. I am now closing my eyes and letting my head drop back and breathing out through my nose. He is ridiculous.

At Bottle Beach

This is my last weekend with my daughter before school. I am having All The Feels. She is growing up very fast and when she was younger I worried too much and therefore squandered a lot that I might have otherwise lived fully.

All I can do is live today, and not look back.

On that note –

I’m going to go downstairs and get ready for bed, then let her wrap her arms around me and her sweet voice say whatever it wants to say.

what with all the shenanigans and goings-on

First Night Of Rehearsals

Tonight was Ralph’s first night in rehearsals for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, put on by the Driftwood Players. We found  him a wee floral arrangement and made him a card – with lots of lipsticky glitter, natch.

Silk Jacket For A Client

I sent off a fully-tailored silk coat to a client. I spent about forty hours on this project – a great deal of this in hand-work. It was a real learning experience, and I mean that both in a positive way but also the kind of way where you cry many tears.

More sewing – my first pair of jeans:

Jeans (Jean-ius Class On Craftsy)

Jeans (Jean-ius Class On Craftsy)

Jeans (Jean-ius Class On Craftsy)

I copy-catted these off am RTW pair that fits the owner well, thanks to the Jean-ius class on Craftsy. This was an amazing process! I consider my results successful, too. However, these are only the first pair and I’m going to be distressing them and setting rivets, so what you see here is not the final product.

Some work of Phoenix’s:

Birthday Present: Designed By Phee

Birthday Present: Designed By Phee

She had sketched this lovely little fox, so we sewed it up in faux fur and wool, as part of a birthday gift for a friend.

Wee Finn

Still more sewing! My latest Finn hat – a design I ended up adoring – and a footed pair of PJs. Better pictures soon if I can get my shit together.

The new Hands On Childrens Museum:

At The New HOCM

At The New HOCM

At The New HOCM

At The New HOCM

At The New HOCM

My Little Dude. He loved driving so much. But at one point while he was driving the fire truck, I pretended to be run down by him. That made him cry, so I kept further horseplay a decidedly non-matricidal type.

celebrating life and possibility

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Once I saw a couple awesomesauce photographers at the Sauvie Island wedding locale, I gave myself permission to stop taking pictures and trust that, later, wonderful pictures would come to me. This accounts for the kind of inexcusable lapse in that I don’t have a single picture of the couple (or of my own husband, sister, or mother!) to offer you, this evening. Still, I stand by my choice to be in the experience, instead of recording it.  If you don’t know the kind of intense energy that goes into a wedding, at least when you are family or involved in a major way, then – pssshhhfft. I’ll post more photos when they come around.

So, Portland then.

In the house we stayed at, Ralph told me he intended to treat me “like a Queen” all weekend – and he did. Strawberry pancakes, at my request:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Almost better than devouring them (while reading a junky noir novel!) was watching my daughter eat them. Delicious!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Getting ready for fancy shin-diggery. The kids’ togs are all silk and cotton – a silk/cotton blend for the suits, a very fine cotton for each shirt, and silk taffeta for the bowties.

Yes, I made bowties. Yes, it was awesome. And kind of tricky. Bowties, if you want to make real ones, you have to make the exact correct length for the neck. I am now all fired up and ready to make Ralph a few vests and bowties because he looked gooooood. My brother said my entire family was “sharp as a diamond tack.”

Reader, I wore not one but two outfits, changing before the reception. No pictures yet of my get-up, although I offer you my custom-ordered boutonniere, a little nicety I purchased along with a wrist corsage for the mother of the groom.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Wedding gifts: Ralph and I made Jamila a steampunk travelling hat, complete with goggles, lace netting, and homemade wired ribbon and multi-loop bow:
Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Phee models, after her wedding-morning bath:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

My brother, I made an overdyed wool vest. Prick-stitched lining, bound buttonholes, brass buttons, and a secret charm sewn into the pocket. Shhhh!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The back belt:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

We also bought them a two-night trip to Sol Duc hot springs!

Billy And Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The wedding was super-lovely and worth every bit of effort it took our family to get there, and get there in style.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Hm, how much do I love this picture? My brother, the groom, looking handsome and happy. Tony checking something in his hand – the ring? His phone? And Chris, marching like a goddamn champion, gripping a bottle of wine. Fuck YEAH.

And yeah I got teary-eyed at the wedding. Of course I did, what the hell is wrong with you?

***

So we had a lovely time, all in all. I got to see my friend B. and her wonderful family, and thanks to some donations from two online friends, we got to hit the Mummies this afternoon, and visit with my sister. This morning I wrote a piece for Underbellie, in large part sparked by gratitude for the blessing of friends and family who, perhaps unwittingly, continue to challenge me in my day-to-day life.

Oh, and this was the first time I went two nights without my dog, since we got him almost a year ago. I MISSED HIM and I think HE MISSED ME, but now we are reunited.

Won’t buy bacon, hominy or grits / Rodent ears and possum is all we get!

As of this afternoon the Taylors are installed in the Life is Good Unschooling Conference (pre- and post-conference interviews, coming soon!). We had a small kerfuffle while our designated family tried to check in today – but that was, thankfully, resolved. I am hoping they navigate the considerable and constant activity at their first Conference with aplomb, and have a wonderful time.

Today was quite busy. I had a last-minute mailout of several items, the typical errands and child- and home- and pet-business, plus a dead battery in the car I was borrowing and then the understated drama of getting a replacement driver’s license (mine recently and mysteriously went missing). This evening I biked to and from Aberdeen and had a wonderful time practicing mindfulness, even through the pain of the ride. I am still getting used to my bike, which is quite speedy and lovely, but requires a lot more upper-body work than my previous craft.

I am also recovering from urethritis (I know, right? WTF), a somewhat alarming and not-so-fun experience for which I sought medical attention yesterday. Even though I have never (to my knowledge) had this problem before, my GP thought it was quite far-fetched it could result from the intense pressure of a new (hard and unpleasant) bike saddle and an entirely new bike-stance. But me and my pubic bone think differently, and I now have the giggles thinking of an old childhood tune and replacing the word “fox” with the word “crotch.”*

 
Tomorrow: payday. I’m very grateful to be warm, safe, loved, and more or less intact – and to have my family along with me on my life’s journies.

* tender-bits soreness is bad enough, but of course, it could be a heck of a lot worse!

“some of my best friends are foodies”

OK, look. Today was not just about food or anything. No, really, there was a lot of friendship and talk, catching up and cuddles and walks. But like, the company who visited us? Responsible for:

CUPCAKES

THESE AWESOME CUPCAKES

and this was after:
a taco date al taqueria
cream scones, hot English Breakfast tea, blood oranges (made by Ralph)
Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, two wedges
Spanish almonds from Pasta & Co.
dried fruit crisps: apple, orange from Simple & Crisp
and Honey Hazlenut & Flagship Cheese Crackers (Beecher’s, again)
all-day pot roast & mashed potatoes
a winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing, apples, dried cherries, and swiss cheese
raspberry sorbet

ridiculoussss

I have to say, the orange crisps were my favorite. Well, besides the cheddar. Some things are just so amazing to taste. And are also just beautiful, too – the orange crisps look like stained glass.

Phee, opening a few presents:

Phee Opens Gifts

But Hamilton isn’t happy about anything. She’d like to passive-aggressively remind you, “other people need to use these stairs you know.”

Hamilton Has Some Complaints.