Sunday, August 05, 2012

To the man I love

Dear Z,

I know you don't read this anymore, because anything I've had to say to you for the past three and a half years I've turned to you and said aloud. For the past three and half years, you've been right by my side. I'm writing it anyway, because I have about three decades' worth of stuff to tell you, and you are past hearing me.

The last time I wrote one of these letters, it was an apology. I bruised your already tender feelings even more by being unthinking, and I wanted  - no, needed - to say sorry. I didn't intend this one to be an apology, too, but I have to start it off with one. I'm sorry I took you for granted. I got so used to you being a rock that I kind of forgot how crystalline your core is - like mine, I have to acknowledge. I see so many things about you that I have in myself, and it has given me comfort since the beginning. There are things which are alien to me, too, like your absolute insistence that you neither desire nor require love. I know better. I have seen you after soaking up the rain of love from me, my family, my community. I remember the tension and anger in every line of your body when you came to me, and I remember when I started to see it leak away, leaving a smiling, gentle, happy man in its absence. I know that the home we shared was precious to you, maybe more than you are willing to admit even to yourself. I told you a few days ago that I knew how terrifying it is to know that someone can see you with clarity that you can't turn on yourself, and I know you are worried I am going to use it as a weapon against you. I'm sorry that we never took the chance to ease all those fears. I am so sorry you never came to me.

The crazy thing - and I mean it sounds dumb, it sounds like the sort of thing they would put in a book that had high heeled shoes on the cover - is that once I made peace with my own insecurities, I have never doubted you. Not once. Even when I was blue and swirling in darkness. Even when you threatened to walk out the night before our epic trip. I think it was a mistake then, and I think it's a mistake now. I say it because I have never personally known two people to do what we did - be the absolute best versions of ourselves we could be for each other. I believe to my toes that we are meant to be together to keep us straight in the world.

This summer has been a motherfucker, that is for certain. It was so much - far too much, frankly - and I was overwhelmed, and I leaned on you really really hard without ever having a discussion about it. I took and took and took from you, and what I gave back wasn't much, and I know you burned out. I should have kissed you more. I should have reached for you all those times I really wanted to instead of letting you close in on yourself. I should have flung myself into your arms the second you walked into the room at the Prospector. I didn't because... I don't know why. Because I was afraid of being rejected. Because I was afraid it would feel like a bigger burden. Because the sheer magnitude of what I feel for you terrifies me, and I know it scares the shit out of you too, for different reasons.

I am so tired of living my life in fear.

I love you. The words can seem so trite, so I tried to show you every day how much you mean to me, and sometimes I wished how you showed me was clearer, but the fact is neither of us did a good enough job with saying those words. I've loved you since about three months from the day I met you. Maybe it didn't even take that long. I love you still. You are in a tiny circle, truly rarified company - the people I have chosen to be my family instead of having Fate fling them in my path (this is where I say, hi, mom! hugs to the sisters!) I want you, too. Right by my side.

Bea misses you horribly. So does Jack, although he is less forthcoming. I miss you most of all.


whenever i am doubtful, this reassures me you were meant for me

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Now what?

I am sitting the empty room that used to be my living room, in the spot that was my spot. I have sat in this spot thousands of times, and this is the last time. I feel like I am full of glass.

I managed to make it all the way through this whole last day in my home without a tear, until it was time for  the Cap'n to go. I wasn't sad about his last walkthrough - though he was - I was sad because my ex is the most callous human being I have ever had the misfortune to meet. Two days after being made responsible for my felines, he's decided that they're too much to handle. This is because my cat with serious, chronic bowel issues which are treated with medication shit on his carpet. A cat with bowel issues had a bowel movement. Game over. Never mind that her issue isn't diarrhea, it's constipation, and that it's highly unusual that she had such loose stool, and that she's prone to dangerous dehydration if she's not carefully monitored. Never mind that she's been hospitalized with a needle in her vein for three days. Just tell me you want me to pay to clean your carpets and find a new place for my problem animals to live.

That was just the ugly cherry on this awful sundae of suck. I spent my day turning the spaces which two days ago were our sanctuaries back into boxes. I did it by inhaling noxious cleaning chemicals and having my hands immersed in water for about nine hours. I browbeat and bullied and coerced my sweet son and wonderful partner into doing the same. Z made trip after trip to our three (3!) storage units, uncomplainingly hauling the stone bunnies and half-filled notebooks that I couldn't leave behind. Why do we have three storage units? Because we still don't have a house. We don't have an apartment, a trailer, an RV, or a spot under the bridge. We have marvelous, caring friends, though, and a trip planned to Juneau - I said fuck it yesterday morning and booked it because there's no way I'm eating my kid's 15th birthday cake off someone else's plates - and we have a housesitting gig or two lined up. But no place to call our own. No place to tuck my bunnyrabbit in at night. No place to let my cats curl up behind my knees and rest.

I am really angry at my landlord for not seeing what it meant to ask us to leave in the middle of summer. I know it's not his job to make sure that we have a place to live, but we've been his tenants for eight years, minus two weeks, and I think we've been pretty good ones. We don't want to trade this lovely home for a two bedroom basement, and I'm angry because I feel like he drove us to a decision like that.

One of the first craft projects I did in this house was to decoupage the lightswitches. Gnomes in the Cap'n's room, peonies for the bath, a repro oil painting in the bedroom where I nursed my babe every night. I was going to take them with me, because nostalgia and all, but I decided to leave them. Maybe my landlord will see them and realize that we were not just his tenants, we were a family, and this was not just a holding cell until something else came along. It was our home.

I have to get up now, out of my spot, and unplug the router and walk out the door and not look back. in a minute, I will. In a minute.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Keep on swimming

I have tried to write this post so many times now I have lost count. Every time I dissolve into helpless tears, which I guess isn't an unusual situation, but it seems like the status quo these days rather than an exception.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, our landlord came to me and told me that the house we live in was being sold, and we had until July to move out. On top of the impossible task of finding a new place to live - Sitka being notoriously short on affordable decent housing, I have been dealing with the grief I feel over losing my home. Now, eleven days before I have to close the door forever, I am weeping every day and I have reached to point where I am putting every last thing I encounter into a box to save, because my heart is too sore to send any more memories away.

When we moved into this place eight years ago, I had only ever lived in one house longer than two years. When I was a child, we moved very often, a consequence of my mother being in the army and of her own inability to put down roots. I attended thirteen schools in my thirteen years of schooling and was homeschooled for half a year. I never knew what would survive one move to the next. I don't have my baby books, or the gourd lady my Grandmama brought us from Peru, or any of my favorite picture books from when I was a child. I don't have my prom shoes or my hand-embroidered baby blankets.All lost in the shuffle from place to place.

So when I started the monumental task of reducing the life I made for my children and me in this house to labelled boxes and a gargantuan pile destined for the garage sale, I was paralyzed at the idea of throwing any of this away. I still am. I know it sounds silly, but the abandoned blocks at the corners of my craft room were the happy hours my baby girl contented bounced in her chair while I sewed her brother's Christmas gift. The glittered stars were the magic of Santa that my son learned was in his heart, not in the North Pole. I don't want to sell the light-up shoes my mom bought to bribe her to ride her bike. I don't want to see the coveted Jedi robe on some other kid's arm. I know that when I send away the squeaky ladybug, that memory of opening a box from Lacy and finding them inside will be gone, too. I won't have the object to fire the memory.

So I cry, and I find it impossible to part with another thing. I am so tired of trying to let this all go.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My house is full of teenage boys.

Not right this second, because they are all raising mild havoc up at the high school where they belong, but I have been lurking in my bedroom sans foundation wear for like two days because I don't own my own living room right now. What I mean is, we are housing kids from out of town for Music Fest, and DAMN can four boys make a mess.

That is unfortunate for so many reasons, not the least of which being that I haven't finished a damn thing since the last blog post, and I am champing at the bit to make something, ANYTHING. (I will admit that I am nearly done with the manfriend's birthday present (his birthday was two weeks ago) but I can't bring myself to battle metallic embroidery floss for it.) I have gotten a load of compliments on the striped skirt, and I have been enjoying wearing it except for two things: it makes me feel really, really conspicuous and it seems to have to power to turn the weather from fine to awful. Seriously. I have put it on my body three times now, each of those times on a calm, fair morning, and by 2 in the afternoon, it has been blowing sideways, pelting rain, and colder by 10 degrees. Also, I bought a jade green shirt to wear it with, and the effect was rather more Christmassy than I like. Back to the drawing board.

I cut my hair again. Well, Casey cut my hair for me. The last time it was this approximate cut I kinda hated it a lot, but it seems not so terrible this time. I can still set it, unlike last time, and I can nearly get the sides up in rolls, so that's okay. I am thinking seriously about doing something radical to it, but I am fucking vain about my hair, and a coward to boot.

So what's the point of this post, you ask? It's to ask your opinion! I have been thinking about making a new circle skirt for ages - since Casey (not my hairdresser. a different one) had a sewalong for them last summer. I have a few, but they are all prints, and bordering on novelty prints at that. My question for you is: navy or black? My first impulse is to make a black one, since the vast majority of my wardrobe is black, and it seems like it would be pretty utilitarian that way. But there is something a little romantic and nautical about a navy one, no? Maybe I could scare up the elusive mustard cardigan to wear with it.

In conclusion: no new nothing. Cut my hairs. What color skirt?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Am I too old to wear things like this?

I finished this last week when I had a ton of time on hands. You will note that this post only contains a single project; that is because although I had an entire week off for spring break, I did no crafting to speak of beyond completing this skirt. You have no idea how much of an accomplishment that was, though. This skirt was nearly the end of this year-long experiment.

It all started with this blog post. I just think everything about this outfit is fantastic. I love the circus-y quality that Lilli manages so effortlessly, and the tutorial seemed so simple. I could do it in a weekend! Oh, little did I know...

I ordered this fabric on Etsy, and got it in relatively short order. I just cut it in half down the length, intending to pleat the whole of it into a really full skirt. I was encouraged by comparing my measurements to Lilli's. Then I read the instructions .

Readers, math is not my best subject. No matter how many times I crunched those numbers, I could NOT figure out how on earth she managed to get her pleats flat and even and not overlapping one another. I couldn't make my pleats not lay on top of each other. Then Tilly made this pleated skirt and I got terribly discouraged. So easy! they declared. The stripes/chevrons make it idiot proof! Sewed up a dream! In an afternoon! Fuck it, I thought. I set it aside and cut the waistband. I was careful with my measuring and striped matching, since I had to piece it, and I interfaced it (I thought) properly. Um, wrong. I interfaced the front half of one piece and the back half of the other. I nearly cried, but instead I just forged on.

I cut a single pocket, because I didn't want the side zipper to interfere with the second one. Then I bravely lopped off enough from each skirt piece to make the pleating lay the way I wanted it to. I set to carefully pinning my admittedly MARVELOUS pocket into my neatly matched stripes, and sewed that son of a bitch up. I went to pin the pleats into the waistband and... It didn't fit. It was in, fact, about four inches too big. On a whim, I tried the waistband on around myself. Too small. Somehow, mysteriously, I had shrunk the waistband. SERIOUSLY FUCK IT. I walked away.

All of this occurred two weeks before my aforementioned time off. I bunched to damned thing up and threw it onto the pile on the dining room table. I spent some time making lamb shanks and embroidering instead. Then on the day I wrote that last post, I gave myself a talking to. Ridiculous, I said. Quit being a baby. Quit being a quitter. And I picked up the stupid fucking skirt and finished it. 

I fixed the tight waistband by adding two loops and two giant covered buttons. Yeah, I said two. Only one pictured, you ask? That's because a 4 inch wide band that sat on my natural waist tipped this right into weird EGL territory. I am certainly too old for that foolishness.  I didn't come to that conclusion until I had blundered my way through topstitching that monstrosity on, though. I was so over the whole process that I didn't even bother unpicking it. I just took a pair of scissors to it right on the skirt. I trimmed the waistband in half, turned the raw edges in, and topstitched THAT, too.

my stripey pocket! it's flannely!
The last thing I did was finish the hem by hand. I had intended to turn it up further and blindstitch it with my machine, but I liked it better hitting me right at my knee, so I added some hem lace and catchstitched it by hand instead. It took me about an hour and a half to finish off the handstitching.

 My weekend project skirt ended up taking about 16 hours all told, spread over the course of about a month. It's done, though, and I proudly declare it number 14. I like the way I styled it today, although the herring weather caught me off guard, and I was chilly. I just threw on a pair of black tights and a cardigan and moved the scarf to my throat, and it looks awesome right now, too. I want a turquoise or aqua or jade cardigan to wear it with, since I think the cobalt Lilli flaunts would come off a little jingoistic here (she's in New Zealand, I think.) Somehow I think this combo needs blue to set it off. What do you guys think?

Friday, March 30, 2012

I hope you didn't come for the cake.

Chances are, if you are reading this, that you know me personally and have a better than passing acquaintance with my mercurial and capricious moods (and my propensity for tossing around $10 words like I bought them half off.) I have struggled all my life to master them, with varying degrees of success, and when they turn dark I struggle all the harder. The difficulty comes when the darkness intensifies and I can't master it; the ensuing waves of guilt and failure begin to force it all into a spiral that sometimes can be very hard to pull myself out of. Today is one of those days for me.

I'm tapped.

I don't know why there are days when my eyes fill with tears that have no purpose or even cause. I don't know why I can't enjoy the company of my friends and family when this strikes, why I can't eat a meal in a room filled with people or have a discussion about gemstones with my seven year old. I don't know why I feel like screaming at the love of life to just leave me alone for a few hours, to get the hell away from me so I can weep over nothing in peace. I don't know why I can't even stand to pet my sweet, sick cat who spent three days in the hospital this week. I don't know why I can't just decide to be happy. All I know is that I am a dry well today, a pitch black echoing hole in the ground and I can't even make a decision about what to eat for dinner. That pisses me off.  It exhausts me.

I'm going to show you the skirt I finished last week (back when I had the moxie to care about things like resolutions.) Eventually, that is, but not today. Today I'm going to lie on the couch and watch really shitty t.v. and cry about feeling guilty for laying this all at your feet, when all you came for was a picture of my latest doodad. I might muster the courage to order takeout, or maybe I'll drag myself to the store for frozen pizza, but then again maybe I'll just eat the rest of the ice cream and whatever cheese there is. Tomorrow, I'll try again.

Keep checking back, okay?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I am better at thinking them up than getting them done

I have been thinking about what the goal of this whole project really is. If it's finishing things, then I'm toast. If, however, it's STARTING things - well, then, I'm good to go. I've got a dress without a skirt and a skirt without a waistband both sitting next to my sewing machine, which is unfortunately on the table where we attempt to eat dinner every night. I've got a pattern cut and waiting that's been cut and waiting since LAST SUMMER. I had this noble idea that I was going to finish a whole outfit this week, which I have off because of spring break. I can barely get my dishes washed and the recycling out of the damn house.

In spite of all this, I have accomplished a few things that I am going to let stand towards my total. First and foremost, I don't have pictures of the cooking things because I don't have five hands. So you'll have to imagine the St. Paddy's dinner I made: braised lamb shanks with pan sauce, tatties and neeps (mashed potatoes and turnips with cream), whole wheat soda bread, and not-quite-Carbomb cupcakes. These last were not-quite because I don't keep Irish cream liqueur in the house (I will consume it like I eat popcorn - absentmindedly in a single sitting) so the frosting was just whiskey buttercream. But I think that's worth #'s 9 and 10, at least - for dinner and dessert, right? I had to try a couple new techniques - I've never braised anything bone-in before. And the cupcakes had a new ganache. To top it all off, even though it was Saturday and I was off all day, I am not terribly efficient while cooking, and I gave myself a goal of finishing it all before 5 p.m. because we had tickets to a show that started at 7. I was done by 5:30 and we made it to to our seats with time to spare.

I called finished on the postcard project even though I didn't finish it. The last week slid right past me, and then another week, and once we were solidly into March I figured it wasn't really worth it anymore. Still, since week 3 was all handpainted cards, I decided a pat on the back was still in order. Postcard project is officially number 11, and my apologies to the seven who never received their final card. By far the nicest payoff for this particular project was getting a postcard back from C., who lauded the idea while she visited at the beginning of February.

And now onto the things I DID do!
I have had this Western style dress for HRH for about a year and half, always with the intention of embroidering it. When I bought it, it was two and half sizes too big. Now it's verging on uh-oh, maybe you should wear that before we have to send it back from whence it came (the White E for anyone who's interested.)
I did the roses on the front first. I don't love the leaves on these ones, but at least I got them even.
I asked the girl what she wanted on the back, and told her more roses were already in the works. She requested a butterfly. I spent about a day looking around on the Internet for one that I liked, then I spent another two or three hours getting the layout of this just right. The metallic thread I used for the body of the butterfly is evil, and looks wonky, and you will notice that I managed to stitch the whole thing askew, but all in all, I like the way this came out.

everything in my house is covered in cat hair

I feel like I get a little bit better with every stitching project I do. For the embroidery nerds out there, I like stem stitch the best for outlining and I am less afraid of satin stitch than I was. I used a tiny bit of backstitch to outline the upper wing of the butterfly, but that's it. Amazing what you can accomplish with a limited repertoire. And that seals up 12.

Finally, it's boring, but I might be proudest of this:

Yes, those are Ziploc freezer bags. It took my two episodes of Downton Abbey to cut those to size, triple tape the ends, punch appropriate holes, and get them in this binder, which is also from the White E. I wish they didn't have the logo on the front, but I can still see the patterns ok:
Eventually I want to have a separate Ziploc for each of my transfers, but I just got a few new ones and they are currently doubled up until I get another Downton Abbey disc from Netflix and so have something to occupy my head while I do the utterly numbing cut, tape, punch, fill.
For the PDF patterns I got plastic sleeves. I don't think I'll even have to take them out to trace, which is a bonus.
Yesterday HRH and I went to buy a new hoop - I needed a huge one for a delusion of grandeur that I am sure will not see completion - and HRH wanted to buy some new floss. I pointed out that I always just end up buying the same ones, and she implied maybe I could do something about that, like writing down the ones I have so I can get new ones that I don't. Coincidentally, when I got my newest patterns, they sent a DMC order sheet with all the colors they make conveniently organized by color number. It was a simple matter this morning to sit down with the order sheet and my floss box and mark which ones I have. I slipped it, too, into a plastic sleeve, and now I can pop it out and bring it with me when I get the urge to buy new colors. Like, always.

This marvel of organization (shut up, it's not something that comes naturally to me!) is my lucky 13, folks. That's a quarter of the way there!

Not affliated, of course, because why would I be?, but I'mma drop big props to the awesome places I get my patterns: I'm sure you all know about Sublime Stitching, and probably also Colonial Patterns (Aunt Martha and the new Stitchers Revolution), but I'm also enamored of Sew Lovely Embroidery and Urban Threads. I wish I could remember where the butterfly came from so I could give credit there, too.

That's it for now, kiddies. Hopefully I'll have something else fab for you really soon!