the needle that knows how to mend

I’m working on a small pile of mending for a client, and watching “Tennison” on the laptop. Repairs to an overcoat, damage from a cat’s ardent claws. Next re-twisting and looping yarns from a cotton crocheted overblouse, in a deep teal. Then: a thin acetate lining shredding at the underarm, in a heathered winter coat. For tomorrow: two pair of trousers with blind hems, a waist seam coming loose, a zipper top popped, and a sleeve unraveling.

I enjoy mending. I know many seamstresses complain they are expected to mend for their friends, but I am clever. I charge for my efforts and besides, I do enjoy giving clothes longer life. I dislike waste and we are particularly greedy and wasteful about clothes. So: repairs, then. Every project is it’s own challenge and this pleases me. The teal crocheted blouse, for instance: I mend the pull so well that when I move it to the ironing board to steam it one last time I can’t find where I’d fixed it.

I enjoy hand-work, besides. My mother was my first sewing teacher and one strength she had, and has to this day, is strong and consistent – if indelicate and highly-visible – handwork. Her handwork instilled in me the confidence to work at my own. My work is finer and more delicate but not always as confident and sturdy.

Later in the evening, after my volunteer work, I stop by a friend’s to pick up buttons. These she has had for years on a mostly-completed coat project. I will install these three – as a favor, sure, but also because the though of these lonesome buttons, waiting for installation for years, touches me in this small way. Tomorrow they will be united with their intended purpose. I am careful as I walk down the stone steps to my car, the buttons on a card nestled in my purse. It is very cold and very dark and I don’t need a fall.

The studio is still cold but I have music and my hot coffee and I remember to take breaks, to care for my home and my children. My children! Tonight my 13 year old asks to get into bed and he holds me against his chest and for the first time I feel smaller than he; whisper thin he may be but he is growing taller than I now. And we talk and I can hear and feel his heart thump under the clean white cotton of his t-shirt. Soon our children have birthdays; Ralph and I discuss how to pull together what resources we have and to make something very special for each of them. We have poured out ourselves for these children and it was such an intelligent parenting strategy! They are vibrant, and happy, and well-rested, and fierce. And I remain unmoored, now that they are so independent. Things are as they should be and I am semi-wrecked.

Yoga practice; my hips are opening up, and I am comfortable in a deep seated twist, cow-faced legs, my head rests over my shoulder. My yoga teacher, her online presence, has become so valuable to me for the postures she leads me through yes, but also for her humor and her invitations to gentleness, to patience. She gives me permission to let things go, things that hurt or “no longer serve”. After practice I take a hot shower and slip into my pajamas to join my husband in the kitchen. I finish a slip-stitch while we talk and he prepares dinner: a large green salad, spaghetti with a homemade long-simmering red sauce and lemon-roasted garbanzo beans. And garlic bread! A hot, delicious winter meal.

The oldest child sets the table and I put out mixers for mimosas (of sorts): lime seltzer water and a delicious ice cold orange juice. The children tell us stories and tease me while their father smiles at their jokes. I put my hand on his knee to ask him something, I can’t remember what but even now I can feel his warm thigh through the denim of his jeans. And I’m thinking while I sit there that I have got to keep focused on these things, these little bits of work and home and love and my avocation, my volunteer work. And daily keep writing my gratitude list and performing my practice. On my desk rest little notes on scrap of movie posterback and little bits of graph paper, notes that I need to put into the calendar or into my accounting system and then recycle these paper bits and there will be more notes soon. A woman’s work like the Updike novel, always moving matter from one place to another.

A bit of loveliness: knit chiffon painstakingly formed into small pintucks, an impossibly insubstantial garment that can barely be called one at all: 

 

A post shared by Bespoke Hogaboom (@kellyhogaboom) on

aching knees / do as I please

My little tuxedo kitty Herbert Pocket is a shy, self-contained thing; now and then, however, she decides she needs affection. She is suddenly relentless, stropping at the ankles while I cook, or – as in this morning – swarming about me as I am deep in yoga practice. She purrs and takes menacingly little chomps with her perfect white teeth and pink tongue, her eyes directly looking into mine. This morning during savasana I pull her onto my chest and she purrs and kneads and I breathe quietly.

I have taken to more yoga practice as it has helped me with the overwhelming quantity of anger I’ve been experiencing; with the furious thoughts banging around in my braincase. Somehow it is far easier to engage myself in yoga and get a respite, than any other activity save binge-watching murder shows late at night while others sleep. And don’t be a fool and tell me the murder shows could possibly exacerbate my anger; that’s not how late night murder show marathons work!

There are other wonderful distractions. Today I sat in a salon chair and talked with a friend while she meticulously stripped the virgin color out of my long tresses, washed, dried, and applied a delicious mint green. She takes a photo and then I tuck my hair back up into a cap; it flows freely only at home. I arrive back in the late evening and when Phoenix sees me they say, pleased; “My little sea-witch!”

Ralph is making up tacos and I’m dying for a shower; it’s cold out, the kind that gets deep in your bones and only hot water can salve.

Penny Dreadful on Twitter

tv time! and other failures of late

I’ve been very sick for two and a half days – a cold that has me wrecked. Dizzy, coughing, sneezing, congested, the lot. Yesterday the cold conspired with a nasty kidney stone and I was shaking and sweating in my bedroom, listening to my mother in the other room talking cheerfully while devouring a fresh bowl of pancit made by my husband. I didn’t precisely want no company, but I wasn’t fit to entertain either.

Rather incredible how, when being confined to bedrest, the world instantly seems smaller and more daunting.

I’ve caught up on television and film; I watched The Big Clock (1948), Carol (2015), Tangerine (2015)epic!, and finished off “Penny Dreadful” with a girlfriend’s company (via Twitter). I tried to watch “The Man in the High Castle” (I probably don’t have the U.S. history chops to understand much), and even gave “Daredevil” another spin, as well as the new(ish) season of “Whitechapel”.

Sound like a lot of telly? Well for me, it absolutely is, because while I like watching television just fine I don’t tend to watch it daily, and especially not all day.

No, life right now consists of me shuffling from bed to bathroom (to pee, or shower), back to bed. Getting popsicle and water deliveries from my family. Getting just a few hours of sleep per night. Steadfastedly not worrying about earnings I can’t make, appointments I must cancel, and an upcoming trip I need to prepare for.

No, today life is about the practice of patience.

Easy to talk about it. Not so easy to practice it.

Penny Dreadful on Twitter

Li

li’l crumple

The lipstick in my purse is the one I wore Wednesday. I’ve been ill. I mean I haven’t even put in earrings since. The worst I’ve had in years. Just a flu of some kind, is all. But it’s knocked me out.

Night before last one kid went to bed in daylight hours; last night, t’other.

It’s been rough.

Being down has meant an incredible amount of film time – and several reviews on my B-movie site, including a sensitive 70s enviro sci-fi, a sleazy, greasy, & uneasy neo-noir, five excellent melancholy cop tele-dramas, a z-grade alien remake, and of course – a Mexican “head on a platter” horror film. Keep in mind on top of all of this I managed to start and finish two other television series.

A roll of tweed awaits, my pattern pieces resting atop the yardage. My house is clean enough, but I haven’t been able to do any of that work myself in a couple days.

It feels like weeks since I was able to do anything.

It’s just been a couple days.

Li'l Crumple

Sea Hunt Hoodie

“Kelp is a beautiful underwater growth. It forms underwater gardens, dense jungles – but sometimes graveyards.”

(ed. – for my in-depth review of the television show “Sea Hunt” – including .gifs and ringtones – please see this thread on B-movie BFFs!)

Sea Hunt Hoodie

That’s right. Like a total nerd I made myself a “Sea Hunt” hoodie. They said I wouldn’t do it ( – or maybe they said, “who cares!”). But I did it. Because “Sea Hunt” is really really awesome and if you don’t see how, I will fight you. Oh also I am going to be watching and reviewing ALL 155 EPISODES OF THE SERIES. And I’ll be posting here. You heard.

Anyway here’s the hoodie. And the first episode of “Sea Hunt” – “Sixty Feet Below” – reviewed in the comments.

Sea Hunt Hoodie

it’s so late it’s morning again,

and my son is quietly playing Legos a few feet away while I mess around with a few more electrons, sending out these last few bits of minutia and miscellany from my day, to God Knows Who and God Knows Where (I haven’t checked my analytics in months). My boy doesn’t realize in a few minutes I’m probably going to “make” him watch some incredibly bad “sci-fi” television and if that gets boring, I’ll pick up my thick-as-a-brick Dickens novel, before dropping off.

Last night I had twice-a-night sleep, which along with my Chinese herbs and cold remedy (raw honey and garlic) has left me refreshed today. This double-sleep, when it happens, dovetails nicely with my son’s growing-boy loonnnnng lie-in schedule – we rise at the same time for a peaceful (enough) morning of coffee and yoga then a shower when I’m finally fully awake. And at the other end of the day, in the late hours, it is pretty lovely to have the company of my son, all to myself. He makes me special origami, whispers harshly to me while we watch goofy Bigfoot documentaries (as his real-life Sasquatch father slumbers soundly on the other side of the bed), and makes conversation without the relentless questions and spirited talk that so characterize his daylight hours.

***

I am feeling a bit somber and a bit reflective, at the moment. As most who read here know for two-plus years I have been putting time in, on a volunteer basis, helping addicts and alcoholics new to Recovery. Tonight in my endeavors a man was brought into the meeting I was chairing; he was still dressed in a medical robe, so he was very new. He was shaky enough to be escorted by more than one of the personnel, and for a moment it looked like he was going to fall. Ultimately he was not well enough to stay, and he left again. I gazed upon him while he made up his mind and after he left, I returned to the business of the group. “Not feeling well,” I said quietly and the rest of the group murmured in compassion and shared pain.

When I left a little over an hour later I saw him again at the end of the hallway, receiving medication and some medical ministrations. As I walked down the hall I realized suddenly that I knew him, knew him by name, had known him while clean and sober and listened to him speak on several occasions. He had been entirely “normal”, entirely cheerful, entirely functional when I’d know him before. It had required two sightings on my part for me to recognize him.

As often as I’ve seen this very same thing, it still can be a shock.

My alcoholic career was about the briefest and most merciful that I’ve yet heard of. This is rather extraordinary because it didn’t feel brief while I was living it. But now I’ve had some experience and have seen so many living with the disease I know many drink (or drug) after it no longer serves them – usually for years, and often for decades (a dear friend of mine drank over sixty years before getting sober)!

Of course, this “brief” alcoholic career was a living Hell such that I hope you never see me belittle it in any way, here or elsewhere. I see others I know who seem to be living the same kind of low-level shit out – a private Hell they don’t even know they’re living, mostly because they hide their innermost selves and try to put on a good face. The autopilot, the anger, the stress, the driven-nature of their day in and day out, the blame and shame and victim-role – these things feel normal to them, yet somehow circumstantial, somehow just what life is like yet somehow someone’s “fault”. They have a list of bellyaches and resentments and sarcastic asides but deep, deep down… they blame themselves. Somehow … somehow.

I know it too well and I hope to never go back. I gotta tell you, living in that pit for even a few brief years was long enough to, figuratively, bitch-slap me awake.

I forget sometimes I am the Walking Dead, and that my path could have landed me elsewhere. Today I get to live a normal, healthy life and participate in my community, and with my family, and even give a little – sometimes a lot! – of time to “strangers” who suffer from this particular malady.

I don’t moralize addiction or compulsion whatsoever (well… I try not to!) and so tonight after I get over the initial shock of seeing this young man in the state he is in, I hold him in my heart like a cancer patient who’s very ill from chemo (another experience I’ve had). He is very ill and I’m sad to see him in the clutches of illness; moments like this my drinking doesn’t feel like a lifetime ago, it feels recent. At these moments my heart breaks open in compassion and if I didn’t have a husband and children and furry critters depending on me, I think I’d devote my Life to the care of these individuals.

In the car, off on a date with my daughter and husband, it takes me a while to shake off the work I do. I am glad to be Me and glad to live my life, more glad than you can probably know!, but my heart is with those who suffer because I know that although I can Help, I cannot Cure. Sometimes I get mixed up and think somehow I’m supposed to be Curing, supposed to be Fixing. It’s incorrect, but nevertheless it’s a powerful and compelling illusion, and it is often quite disconcerting.

We drive down the hill and toward the cheerful lights of the grocery store, past boarded-up windows, past prostitutes out in the cold, past sadness and cheerfulness and want and need, and onto our errands.

My husband tells me: “You look mad. You look beautiful, but mad.”

“I’m not mad,” I tell him.

sewing curtains

so who doesn’t have a party to go to?

Well our party spirit is a little dampened. This morning we found out someone got ahold of Ralph’s account/credit info and cleaned us out. I mean CLEANED us out. So that was kind of fun! Ralph had to stop work early and make all these phone calls and stuff and I have no idea if we’ll get our monies back and get food and stuff! Wheee!

But nothing shall stop me from Friday’ing your ass up! Pull up a cup of joe and check the linkage!

***

Androcentrism: It’s Okay to Be a Boy, But Being a Girl… at SocImages makes valid points, plus I didn’t recognize who that was in drag at first. Pretty cool.

While we’re on the above-mentioned quote, please watch this Madonna video. MY FAVORITE PART of the video culminates at 02:49. P.S. So interesting this video got banned after the other violent shit male artists have pulled.

Tracy Morgan: If My Son Was Gay, I’d Stab Him To Death; HA HA HA that Tracy Morgan! So funny! Hm, there’s not an emoticon I can think of to type how I really feel about this. … Anyway, here’s Wanda Sykes response to Chris Rock’s defense of Morgan, via Racialicious. Thank you Ms. Sykes.

Okay, moving on. Look, I totally enjoy FYeahSeamstressTiger on a lot of levels (for instance, as I believe I’ve made my position clear long ago [#7]):

sewing curtains

 
But the aggregate effect of the occasional snooty I-can-sew-so-well-and-you-totally-don’t-get-it leaves me cold.

h/t friend Dawn for this Cute little flash animation about how we’re gonna fuck things up. IS it flash? I don’t know. I just call everything that has that look, flash.

Bullying (30): How to stop parent bullying at ronitbaras.com. The “I need to think about it” technique? Kelly-Goddamned-Hogaboom needs to practice this one.

When Homeschooling is Blamed for Child Abuse by Laurie A. Couture. Sometimes I’ve wanted to write out what’s behind the many distinct eyerolls I experience when I hear child abuse blamed on homeschooling – because it’s just laughable. Ms. Couture’s article stands on it’s own merit, however. And the last bit:

“The vast majority of parents who allow their children to learn at home are passionate about their children, love them deeply and put them, their needs and their interests first. Child abuse is a tragedy that will continue as long as this culture supports power-over, punitive, subordinating ways of treating children. Unschooling and relaxed homeschooling are part of the solution!”

Yeah, that gives me the chills.

The Link between Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders by Kendra Sebelius (also known as @VoiceinRecovery on Twitter). Absolutely bleeding edge on progressive treatment for comorbidities more common than many people realize.

Yes, I put my name on the bone marrow donor registry but I kinda want to pee in fear thinking how awful it would be to donate. I’ve given plasma before so know the whole, suck the blood out and put it back in routine (COLD blood going back into one’s body, ugh!), but the needle in the pelvis bit sounds like the real picnic. ANYWAY, truly, if I can help in this way I hope to!

Make (or at least, read about the deliciousness): red currant jam from David Lebovitz’s blog. I am new to having him in my feed reader and I’m liking what I read. His points on complaining about red currant prices are pretty rad.

This week: I watched Norwegian indie film Troubled Water, and started Canadian television series “Due South” (spoilers in both links, obv). The former is elegantly-rendered grief porn, & I say give it a miss (despite a few merits). The latter is a lot of fun, altho’ it’s so unselfconsciously mid-nineties it actually might bog me down and I might not finish. But I can’t get enough Paul Gross, he’s like Cheez-It’s to me.

Quote of the Day
Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers. ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Tweet of the Week
Kevin Murphy, participating in a Twitter hashtag game that many others were rather vile with. But in this case – MUCH LULZ

Take me out, baby / I want to go sail tonight :: Friday links!

Thursday I had one of the most energetic and lovely days, but now it’s 2 AM on Friday morning and I’d better get my links up!

1. Spousal unit Ralph updated his design website, favoring pink. I think it looks great!

2. From ricedaddies: “Who Loves More: Parents or Children?” This piece includes an analysis of a childhood book – a pretty funny analysis I think- and then delves into even more thoughtful territory.

3. Mexican Pointy Boots. This was seriously nine minutes of my life well-spent:

 

4. Katie Makkai – “Pretty”:

(Also, do read Tami Harris’ thoughts and the comments, at “Not a pretty girl.”)

5. From friend and reader Kat: “What Happened When I Chased Down the A**hole Who Slapped My Butt on the Street” at alternet. Good for her.

6. “A Black Woman’s Plea for ‘Justified’ – The Red State Western You Should be Watching” at Racialicious. This is super-smart commentary on American television and the typical (and atypical) treatment of race relations (specifically black/white race relations).

7. “AED Guidelines for Childhood Obestity Prevention Programs” from the Academy of Eating Disorders. This? is stunning. D’you think our First Lady will take note? I sure hope parents, teachers, and other adults do.

8. So, I’m not going to link to the deplorable article by LZ Granderson entitled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”. I don’t want to contribute to even one blog hit, although by all means go read if you can stomach it. Ostensibly about the sexual exploitation and objectification of young girls and young women, it was also a hot mess of oppositional sexism, patriarchal attitudes, adultism, slut-shaming, sexism, victim-blaming, and misogyny (so: nothing we haven’t heard before). Yes, this was aired on CNN. A few good things came out of the piece: namely, on-point rebuttals. Here are four:

From PostBourgie: “Sexism, What About the Children?! Edition”. At Shakesville: “This is so the worst thing you’re going to read all day.” From Pigtail Pals: “Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?” And from Amy Bradstreet, a friend and reader and supporter and awesome-lady: “Shame And Blame Where It Belongs Regarding The Objectification Of Children”.

As always for complex or socially-heated subjects showcased by rather long pieces, feel free to add your comments to source articles and let me know – I will happily link back through here.

9. A Derrick Jensen quote, which I take as a refutation of “well, that’s human nature” / “it’s natural for people to act that way” of those I consider pro-status quo apologists, as posted by Idzie.

10. “Being acceptable in the eyes of society”: people would do well to read what it’s like to be a mother and/or mother-identified.

11. Make: sent to me by my brother’s lady J.: Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs. Beautiful!

11. “green snake”, a photo anthology (a tiny bit NSFW). I keep wanting to try absinthe, but I’ve thus far been too lazy to try to get ahold of some.

12. And finally: the best ballon dance I’ve seen, and that’s saying something:

Logical Awesome

wishin’ for a Friday night with the ragtop down

Friday links, better late than never!

Parenting
Furor over the supposed superiority of Chinese mothers! This little WSJ article got people rather fired up. And it should. I first heard mention by Jim Lin on Twitter – entirely pissed at anyone claiming they can “speak for the entire Chinese Am[erican] population”.

Other criticisms and responses followed; here are two I enjoyed:

“Tales of a Chinese daughter: On the superiority or not of Amy Chua’s Chinese mothers” by Elaine Chow. Some sobering realities of pushed-to-perform Chinese adult children.

“I’m Not a Chinese Mother (Obviously!)” at Rational Jenn’s blog. Are “Western” and “Chinese” methods really so different at heart?

Human Rights & Heartbreak
Hm, is this Lego depiction of Stephen Hawkings “wrong”? Or is it a very-well executed likeness (like so many others) of someone who should be not pitied or laughed at for his physicality and existence? TABs, check your shit!

“The Agonizing Last Words of Bill Zeller”. A rape victim speaks out and speaks his last. Deeply devastating to read; trigger-warning, obviously.

Ladyness
“Women Laughing Alone With Salad”
Not since YOGURT has there been something so fucking fan-lady-tastic as virtuous salad-eating!!!!

Informative (Sorta)
“Mass dying of animals plotted on Google map”

Media
The Great Gatsby in 3D. For real? Perhaps. Ta-Nehesi Coates’ take.

“I miss Patrick Swayze”. Me too.

Make/Craft
Felt Hot Pads at The Purl Bee

Men’s shirt sewalong at Male Pattern Boldness, starting February 1st. I have this pattern. Any readers want to join?

Super-Special Adultist Roundup Bonus Edition!
“The Unspeakable, in Its Jammies” by Michael Chabon
A father edits Huck Finn whilst reading aloud to his children and writes about it (in what appears to be a self-congratulatory and patriarchal way but – perhaps I am reading into it) and people puke in their mouths about how awesome a dad he is. Yes, predictably the commentstream is full of glowing praise that may be at least partially (or like, lots) inspired by a darling-status afforded the author by the neo-progressive literati blah-blah.

Make no mistake, and I do realize the previous paragraph represents a slight binge of as-disavowed-during-2011 snark, sharing one’s love (of literature, of the arts, of sport, of fishing, of political history, of engine rebuilds on giant Ford trucks) is an awesome prerogative for parents/carers; we grownups also have the responsibility to protect our children when needed and to share our values with them (although they are not always learning the values we think we’re teaching). I pass no particular referendum on Chabon’s parenting choices as expressed but rather I am disturbed by the response and the template this response furthers. Namely, that of a “progressive” and adultist parent’s agenda: good literature (if it’s so good why do so many think they need to force it on children and tell them what to think? Our efforts are needed in nurturing children so they can choose and ingest from an authentic and whole place), “teaching”, and values lectured into your kids’ faces – because kids aren’t smart or complex enough to form their own opinions AND (this part bugs me most) kids don’t need to be asked for their thoughts, and listened to – before a discussion commences. Notice the rather lengthy lecture directed to a seven and nine year old who apparently sit rapt on daddy’s knee, or if they don’t, at least not one person in the commentstream besides myself suggest value in asking what the children’s perspectives were on race, social order, and class at conversation outset (make no mistake, children have perspectives) because these things are formed top-down (one comment: “Seven year old recognizes “Injun” as offensive but needs an explanation of “nigger”?” Yeah, I wondered about that too.).

Believe it or not, when you ask kids and really listen, and ask a bit more? You can learn a lot. Up to and including some humility and a little less developed role of self-importance.

Quotable
“Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” – Alfie Kohn

Random Awesomeness

I’ve been watching more “Reno 911!” (very sad the newer season I’m watching changed actors; now women are significantly less represented on the cast). It’s pretty impossible to pick from all the excellence but I did find a Terry clip I thought I’d share.

Awesome.
Logical Awesome