after words, Excelsior.

I’m in my backyard, in a city, there’s a train out under the bluffs. I love that lonesome whistle, I love it too much. If I wait awhile, and I think I will, another one will roll on through. There are crickets for the in-between, since it’s a summer night.

My father died. Life is short, the trail is long. You could build cairns to find your way back home. You could put them close-together. All hope and a wish for some homecoming… you’re not sure of anything, much.

My father was a champion of men. (He was? He is?) Well whatever it was or is: like that. Yes, I’m certain.

I’m more of him than of anyone. I’m more of him now than I even ever was before, but I ain’t no champion… just his kid.

He has actual blood that is still alive.

He shined so. I miss him.

His departure timed like the perfect clock he made me– the one I sold at the yard sale long ago to the stranger who said I would later regret it. She said something about shame, too, something forgettable. That stranger had a father, once.

My blood leaks out when the moon is full: tick tock tick. He made me like that, I can’t take the credit. Thank you. Thank you. 

I regret nothing.

We did our best is all. The way it goes; the way of things; appropriate; supposed-to; like how the ocean swells at night– the worst.

Death is anticlimactic relief, openings, weights lifting or shifting. But grief, you old grey junkyard dog…

Grief is a bully and a friend. A friend who is there for you even when. When you wonder who you’d like to call and the answer is nobody, it calls you up. Grief ropes you in and ties you down and frees you up like a fast romance that might last.

Grief teaches you this: You can walk through this world like you don’t have skin: raw and warm and wet and glistening, reflecting everything.

the work and the sweetness.

IMG_2920 i abandoned this space around the same time i abandoned myself. that was mostly happenstance. once in a while, i would write a post i could not publish; words that felt too vulnerable, too scary, too self-serving. and then, i pretty much forgot about this blog.

this is a space that i meant for sharing, but all i had to give was need, so absence was a conscious choice. i could have written forever about my need, but there wasn’t time. i wanted to tell you everything, but everything was too close, too much to share with a figurative you. too much and too close; i wanted to tell you everything, but this is the internet, so who cares, and is it even safe? (i was scared a lot.) who wants to hear the hard stuff. (everyone, i know. i do, too. other folks’ hard stuff has been my flashlight, but i couldn’t be someone else’s. i needed too much and it felt endless.)

i am different now from who i was when i last wrote here. i would like to write about the things that matter but those things are different for me now. i don’t know how to bridge that gap of intention and experience and time. maybe first i have to tell the truth, to freshen the air, so i will just cut to the chase and tell it. maybe then i will start visiting this place again, but maybe not. i can’t say.

these things have happened: my father and dementia. his naked, drunken fall into the woodbox where he laid four days until someone found him wounded & reciting “the cremation of sam mcgee” by rote… the neighbor who found him said he met her eyes and called out my name. his miraculous survival, blessed or not, depending upon one’s viewpoint (mine varies). and soon but later, his beautiful house ruined, caved in by a flood of his own doing. a made-up, real-to-one-guy story of a hurricane and lightning and a torn-off roof. insurance companies, assisted living, the goddamned irs, redeye flights, being his only family, the only one, the only. a promotion, because why not now (all of the reasons.). work which i keep secret for my safety; work for women… important work– work involving firebombs & the fbi, work i mostly own in private. my sweetest best friend girl-dog, most important tether to love, and the diagnosis of her terminal illness. grieving things that are lost but not-yet-lost, the things i care about the most. waiting for things i do not want. trying. trying to not try. trying to sleep. being badly rear-ended once, and again, almost to the day, one year later. back pain, the chiropractor, ad nauseum, so boring. lies and infidelity and not-being-able-to-face-the-truth-just-yet and the tryingtryingtrying because maybe i can fix it, all i need is more to give to the person i love who has more-need-than-mine & please-this-can’t-be-happening-now, because this-is-the-guy-who-i-have-chosen. it must be all my fault. the occasional swilling of port from the bottle, of cigarettes, of weed.

the dark comedy of everything all at once. the bitter laughter, the rage, the exhaustion.

i did not make a knitting project. i did not bake one pie. i did not read a single book. i choked down blizzards at dairy queen & truffled french fries at fancy places and i couldn’t even taste them and i got skinnier anyway. i hired an animal reiki practitioner. i hired a dog acupuncturist. i got my tarot read by a tenth-generation psychic. i watched teen mom on my ipad in bed at three am. i duty-fucked and sometimes i enjoyed it. i felt sorry for myself. i read amazon reviews of self-help books and felt sorry for everyone else and then sorry for myself again. i stopped calling friends because who wants to hear about that other thing that happened, certainly not me. the good friends called me, and i talked. i went to therapy and got tired of my own talking because blah blah blah, i know the deal, and who am i to complain, anyway– my forks and spoons are made of solid fucking silver!

i waited it out. i trusted. because i am lucky. because given the odds, i win things in raffles more often than i should. because raffles are a metaphor for life, and sometimes, you win. i waited and i trusted. it worked.

one day, the genuine laughter. one day, the fuck you. then the letting go of the chaos, to the chaos. the freedom i feel now. the wrinkles that came, and their fast and collagenous dissolving. the freedom equals hope, equals light, equals everything.

i don’t knit much anymore and i miss it. i miss thrift stores and free time. i miss my idea-of-a-husband and my daddy and the way things were, but. feelings are only feelings. i am grateful for all of it, and i mean that. now i am a grown-up baby girl, and i like her more than i did before.

life is a hurricane. you can make it yourself. it’s funny what it gives and takes.

slow by hand

well it seems as if we are living in intense times, no? here we are, people. dig it.

it’s good to be alive & oh my, my heart is full of gratitude and kindness and love and sadness and i feel open to all of it and to laughter, too. that giant container we call the heart can sure hold a lot of stuff at once.

photo-59anyway. the other day i managed to steal away a couple of hours and i made a little embroidered uterus for a gynecologist friend. this is my first embroidery project ever, & i’m pretty stoked on the soul of the whole thing, this sewing up a picture from your mind situation. the mistakey nature of this piece makes me smile, because it looks pretty much exactly like the way i feel freedom. can anyone think up other uterine puns? (i didn’t think up that one myself.) maybe i’ll do a series. that would be very portland.

other things i’d like to make: the woodsy association… cute insanity!! and… ooh la la, i’m totally getting down with some bûche de noël action on xmas eve!

wishing you all a happy, warm, slow christmas, with something in your hands to make and something in your heart to love.




thick in it.


Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

-Robert Hayden, c.1966


i made my way into the woods on sunday morning and walked and walked and walked. the girldog came with me. she stayed by my side until we neared the end of the trail, and then she zoomed up and back, up and back, just like i knew she would. these woods, for all of their ever-change, are predictably ferny and misty wet and restorative, and i’m predictably closer to myself when i make the time to visit.

since i’ve written here, i’ve been to the vet with my pets more than twenty times, not exaggerating. remarkably, both animals are well and healthy at this point; my savings account is another story. what else: a good friend went through open heart surgery and the carpenter & i spent a good sum of time in the sterile vacuum of an icu waiting room with other hand-wringers. what else: american vaginas shared a collective sigh of relief on election day. also: progress on the knitting/ fifty-five hours a week of work hours regularly logged/ numerous carbohydrates consumed.

i am thinking about pecan pie for thanksgiving and about when i can get to the woods next and about how i’m going to embrace winter. i am thinking about staying good and solid when the world around us all seems so frayed up. but in the woods, the fraying ceases, it’s all just creak and echo and wild ghosts and all i need to do is just go there and follow the trail and breathe.

wishing you all the happiest of thanksgivings, friends.

x’s & o’s, emily

r & r

tomorrow, the first day off in three weeks. mutable plans: a morning ride to the country, then sinking in at home. apple pear pie, yarn and needles, comfy cozy, a stack of books, and my matchy sweat suit. yes, i said sweat suit; don’t judge.

what are your guilty pleasures for the weekend? i hope you have good plans. xo


this yarn smells like lanolin. it smells like cabin in the woods in the white mountains, late falltime. it feels coarsely soothing, if you can imagine that… scratchy, but you want it on your skin anyway. i don’t think i’ve ever enjoyed working with a yarn so much as this. i mean, just look at it, what a beauty. i’m in love with the kaleidoscopic scene it unfurls, and it’s so right for autumn, for this time in my life full of little changes, one bleeding to the next, peeling things back and watching the newness underneath take shape, tiny step and step and step, then something bigger, brighter, starts to show its face.


a quilt for a little.

hey y’all! some dear friends of mine are having a baby boy, which is nothing remarkable in and of itself, but which is indeed actually remarkable because these people are going to make great parents, exceptional ones! their little one is lucky. 

when a & m got married a few years back, they eloped (because hello, they are awesome), and i don’t think i ever sent them a wedding gift, so i wanted to do something extra special to welcome their little one. i came upon blue is bleu’s triangle quilt on pinterest and really loved it, so i pretty much just copy-catted the design.  

i’ve gone back and forth about the colors/ pattern combos i chose (should i get all faux-british and bloggy up in here and call them “colours”? ha.), but in the end am mostly happy with the outcome. i’ve made two quilts before, only one of which i machine quilted. this one is closer to technically perfect than the last, and unlike the last one doesn’t have any unintended puckery areas on the backing. i attribute this win to dropping down my feeder foot, and (most importantly) to setting my machine at half-speed. sewing at maniacal speed is not the best when quilting. i learned my lesson: slow down.

i backed the quilt in a soft brown flannel, to add to the insulation factor & keep it from sliding around. (stick to that baby, quilt!). before i sent it off, i tied it up all pretty like with a rogue crochet item i had floating around in my knitting bag. because life is in the details, folks.

there are many many details and projects and adventures in my corner, friends, and i have pretty much dropped the ball on blogging. but the rains rolled in just yesterday, and they are here for winter, and i have plans of inhabiting this space, i really do. i miss it here. have a fantastic weekend!