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

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.

“do you know who i am? i’m barry lutz!”

Quick trip to Olympia tonight with Ralph while the kids gamboled at my mother’s. After shopping for about twenty minutes I had my stuff done; Ralph and I stopped by Amore and Jason’s place after to enjoy takeout Japanese food, homemade ice tea, and have a great chat. It was a nice impromptu date, especially given Ralph and I have been having one of those busy weeks where we hardly have had time to just enjoy one another. On the way home we rocked the Paul Beribeau, Lady Gaga, Pink, Goldfrapp, The Gossip – and as we rolled into Aberdeen I made an abrupt switch to the Fleet Foxes’ “Meadowlark” for a laugh. Now don’t get me wrong, Ralph and I love, truly LOVE the FF, but that doesn’t mean a few good jokes about their sensitive beards waving morosely on Ruby Beach aren’t in order.

In case anyone wanted more of a window into my brain, the last twenty four hours I’ve been softly laughing to myself over this:

OK, the punch line? Just kills me. I’m a huge Thomas Lennon fan and enjoy pretty much every actor on “The State” and kind of marvel at the cancellations these talented writers have experienced in their many projects. As I found out doing a little late night research, this sketch was listed on IFCs “50 Greatest Sketches of All Time”. Deservedly so.

Ralph, his Zappa, & kitty Harris

Team Mustache Dad

I make an effort to write even when I’m busy. And I have been busy! The candy-making date with Amore on Monday went wonderfully. It’s snowed a bunch then it rained all away. Car-less I attempt to get out, go running, do my shopping. I cook food and more food and it all vanishes.

I’m working on a sew-intensive project and I’ve been missing my kids and I don’t want to be back in my sewing room SO I asked Ralph to put my sewing table in the living room so I could put on some “television” (Netflix through the computer) while I did my thing.

I can’t put on anything too good while I’m sewing or I get distracted; however if it’s no fun, what’s the point? So this time around I’ve been doing some serious camp!

Ralph and I are both huge Elvira fans. Sex-positive, quick-witted, corny, goofy – and some awesome one-liner double entendres, all in addition to her other obvious attributes. What’s not to like?

And then:

Not the funniest Mel Brooks comedy but one entirely adorable and served well by the straight-man slapstick of Leslie Nielsen. Speaking of which, I have yet to watch Forbidden Planet (1956) and given the recent demise of both Francis and Nielsen a memorial viewing seems entirely appropriate.

In other news, Ralph decided to shave the beard. OK, fine. I get it. He didn’t like its itchiness and maintenance and thought it made him look dirty. Now I thought he looked really handsome and mysterious and rugged but, OK. I even told him (truthfully) that the full beard gave him a less-bald appearance, the hair on jaw and chin compensating for thinning up above; I hoped his self-consciousness about his hairline might cast a more friendly light on the muttonchops. But he never liked the beard much and it was clear from the outset this ferocious display of hirsute manliness would be a short-lived, fleeting winter wonder.

So first he shaved down to a Zappa ala Phoenix’s request:

Ralph, his Zappa, & kitty Harris

(Ha, I love how PISSED Harris looks. AS PER USUAL. Angry and obese, what a great cat.)

Nice enough, eh? Sinister but sexy.

But then. THEN. He went too far.

Ralph's Filthy 'Stache

Yes. Really.

And finally – after 24 hours of the above abomination, tonight’s foulness – the meager and failed attempt at an iconic actor and persona.

The Non-Vincent Price

And after he did this of course he wanted a kiss. GROSS.

I throw up my hands.

And – I’ve been writing in my One Line A Day Five Year Memory Book. And I’ve been writing my small stones. I have some saved for you.

Melted Snow
(Small Stone #10*)

Melted snow in my husband’s beard
Diamonds, icy cold
As he just steps back inside

Hush
(Small Stone #11*)

Low light
and very late night,
up until dawn sometimes.
You and me and you.
Our own world,
Quiet and new.

Repairs Needed
(Small Stone #12*)

We’ve lived without water pressure in our kitchen for a year and a half.
I miss the bold rush of hot water.

Small stone project

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

friday untidy

Must-Reads of the Week
“Regrets of the Dying”, as written by a hospice nurse. Being with someone who’s dying was a deep privilege for me, and this article – though more about life than death – reminded me of this experience. Read and learn.

Grown Unschooler Cheyenne La Vallee: “Everyone has it in themselves to be passionate and motivated.” at Idzie’s blog. Out of all the stuff I’ve read and seen on the internet this week, this was the most stunning on a personal level. Reading an interview like Cheyenne’s gives me hope for our world.

Culture
“Play Nice” by Simon Rich from The New Yorker
I don’t know what’s more disturbing to me – the fact grownups think chldren are less-than-people so don’t feel, think, or notice the same stuff grownups do; or the fact some grownups recognize the personhood of children on some level but think it is their RIGHT to tromp all over them anyway.

Pop Culture
I got a monster dedicated to me on Monday, at Twisted Vintage. Which led me to searching up a color version and finding a thread full of awesome B-movie monsters, which are one of my favorite things, ever.

Some great points collated at Soc Images: “Gender, Boobs, and Video Game Characters”. It’s pretty funny how readers (well… maybe that’s the wrong noun, as some of them clearly did not read the article) instantly jump in and say, “But-but-but male figures are idealized too! It totally goes both ways!” First of all, hint, no it doesn’t, but nice try. Secondly, the post is meticulously linked to many arguments which delineate physical idealization (which absolutely applies to both genders) vs. sexual availability via tortured postures and under a consumptive gaze. Or to put it articulately: dur! The cited redrawn examples of the poses of male vs. female characters is particularly awesome and leaves me shaking my head but really reading the text and looking at the images and boggling at how so NOT “both ways” it goes. The original work (Wizard’s How to Draw: Heroic Anatomy) is a depressing one to fathom but I fear very representative of comic culture. “It’s the subtleties of this piece that make it sexy.” LULZLULZ

Here’s some adorableness from TheRealNimoy’s twitpic feed (which is great if you at all are a fan of “Star Trek” or Nimoy). The original ST was one of only two television shows I remember in the very brief time in my childhood that I was exposed to television in my home (or, bus, as it were). So these two were like half-assed second fathers, talking to me from a 12″ old-school box balanced on a narrow counter by the fold-up couches.

Professer goes on a rant (this is sort of an unpleasant watch, warning):

People like to toss out the phrase, “acting like a baby” or compare grownups who react in anger, in a social setting, to tantrum-throwing toddlers. However, of course, toddler emotional displays are developmentally appropriate and it is not children who have such thoroughly entrenched and fragile ego structures as so elegantly demonstrated here (note how the professor repeatedly demands the other students rat out the yawner – tattling FTW!). Incidentally I went to college and got a degree through a competitive and difficult program. It was grueling. I feel sorry for these students as to get the piece of paper they need (or believe they need) they have to put up with this guy. And lots of guys like him. And lots other bullshit. And no sleep. And etc.

Make/Craft
Self-Portrait Ski Mask at CRAFT
I’ll probably never be able to see a balaclava without a little titter about the balaclava perv who found me on my Flickrstream. This balaclava however is head and shoulders (uh…) above any I’ve seen before. Very fun, if a bit creepy!

Mexican Chicken Soup by Ina Garten; I believe I posted a picture of this earlier in the week. It is truly and amazingly delicious and perfect for the fuck-fuck-fuck-COLD some of us are experiencing!

Homemade Marshmallows, a recipe from my blog, which may or may not be Martha’s (I truly do not know). Any locals want in on these (or non-locals), shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I’m making them up on the 10th.

Random Excellence
From reader R. (you may see him as Kidsync), one of his occasional-but-always-golden comics:

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

And from the BBC “My Blackberry is not working!”:

in other news of the rather unrefined

Today I had my first dental cleaning in oh, four years or so. No reason for the delay, given Ralph and the kids have been seeing their practitioners without interruption since we moved from PT – just, Mama takes care of herself last (sometimes). I enjoyed my PT dentist (a very gentle, whisper-thin fellow who smelled and looked exactly the same the many years I frequented him. Looking back, he may have been a cyborg) but this office looks pretty good and seems to be keeping up on current methods and equipment. Today my appointment was with a hygienist for a cleaning and periodontal survey. It think she found me a low maintenance client if a bit interrogatory. She’d take instruments out of my mouth and I’d repeat my understanding of the lingual or facial surfaces, or ask about the Michigan O probe measurements (mostly 2s, w00t!), or question how exactly they did quantify gum recession (as it turns out, through recognition of the CEJ). First she said I was “smart to catch all that”. Then I was “very observant!” Finally: “You’re good! You should go to hygienist school!”

After an hour my teeth felt great and I, relieved things hadn’t gone all Tooth Beaver in my hiatus from dentalwork, called Ralph to pick me up. We headed to Aberdeen in the torrential downpour to acquire groceries. Veteran’s Day: the store was busy and lots of people were driving their carts with their faces fixed in sour expressions. Stacks of packed pumpkin and marshmallow pillows and boxes of stuffing mix – I forget Thanksgiving is coming right up. We got hamburger and broccoli and milk and eggplant. We ran into a friend who suggested I look at offering a sewing class at the local alternative high school.

Driving home from our post-grocery lunch date (hot coffee, beef stew special at the Ale House) I ask Ralph, in half-despair, half-jest, “Do you want me to get a job? Then we could afford a car.”

“We can afford a car,” he tells me.

“This isn’t… affording. It’s falling apart around us,” I respond, half-crankily, carefully moving my feet around in the soggy footwell.

“We could afford one. We could go to a used car place and get a loan and bring home a two or three-thousand dollar car,”  he replies. (He’s so smart!)

“Well why don’t we do that?” I ask, jovially.

“Because then we’d have three.” This is true (seriously, if we could fix the other one before the one-year mark I’d feel awesome); we already have a cat-farm, we don’t need a car-farm.

“We could sell the silver Mercedes to that one guy. You know the one that had his clothes covered in grease, and was smoking and standing in our driveway staring at me?”

A brief pause and then Ralph and I start laughing. I keep remembering laughter is good for your body. It certainly feels good, maybe especially because I struggle when the weather starts putting us in the house day after day. Last night Ralph and I ended up abandoned by the kids (they were running their own Minecraft server) and finishing an episode of “MonsterQuest” together. There was a series of scenes involving a polygraph test: the test administer would sit behind the locals who’d reported seeing a beast and he would ask them all these questions then watch the computerized sensor bio-feedback readings during the interview. The problem was, the examiner himself looked like he was lying. Like he’d ask a question and at the very end his beady brown eyes would shift entirely laterally to look the back of the head of the person answering. “Are you lying about seeing some hominid creatures in the woods?” *shift* “Did you report seeing creatures in the woods to the sheriff?” *shift* Every time, he wouldn’t move his head, he just looked furtive. * shift * I started laughing and I couldn’t stop. Tears came out of my eyes and I had to put my head under the covers.

Today when I ask Ralph a question I slide my eyes at him keeping my head real still, but I’m not sure if he knows what I’m doing.

“science searches for answers”

Watching Phoenix watch “television” (Netflix on her laptop) is fascinating. She typically views science shows and BBC – right now she’s watching “MonsterQuest”. As she watches she flips browser windows and Googles and looks up photographs and information on Wikipedia, etc. It’s a highly active process, not at all the zoning-out zombieville Americans love to claim all American children are doing, all the time.

She has a brain like a steel trap (it runs in the family; my father had it, I have/had it but I’ve since half-deteriorated mine with booze and Will Ferrell movies). For a long time her favorite book was Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book – she’d take it on roadtrips and such and just pore through it. I’m sure it would still be in rotation but it was, sadly, one of the casualties of our aquatic-car (note to self: get her an “new” copy for Christmas; extra note to self, at any point she may start reading your blog so quit discussing surprise-plans ahead of time). So anyway, we’ll be taking a walk in the woods and suddenly she’ll tell me how to apply a square elbow bandage or instruct me on which mosses are edible. Don’t worry, I don’t remember any of this. I just figure to keep the kids close when the apocalypse comes. I think they’ll be wilier than most.

Ralph took some kids out up to the wet and rainy cemetery trails; they made a little video:

(TINY MUSHROOM AT 02:01)