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.

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!

xo

soft and stone

oh, dear. i’ve found new channel for my obsessive tendencies, and it’s dangerous(ly fun)! the first time i saw margaret oomen’s crochet stones, i fell in love. the other day, i wondered if there was a pattern out in the world somewhere, since i’m not yet skilled enough to crochet intuitively, but really wanted to make some. magically, there is, over at the purl bee, where everything is cute and rainbows and unicorns all of the time! i loved reading margaret’s words about her process and the energy behind the materials she uses (repurposed thread, yeah!). i used her tutorial as a jumping off point, and think these will offer me the chance to learn a lot of new skills/become better at reading patterns in the crochet department. there are a million free doily patterns on ravelry and i’m going to jump in.

these here are a gift for some lovely friends. as you can see, they’re irregular and flawed, but that works. speaking of flawed, it sure looks as though my front porch needs a coat of paint. why? why must i be responsible for things like painting the porch? why can’t i just wade around in rivers all day finding stones and then, at night, make clothes for them? it isn’t fair.

xo

for toothbrushes, etc.

i don’t enjoy the term “toiletry bag,” maybe because i don’t want to be reminded of toilet anything while i’m brushing my teeth. what do you all call these things? please do share, i’m looking for alternative suggestions. “dopp kit” seems too manly, but i’m not a big “cosmetics” lady, either.

my last bag for toothbrushes, etc. was also handmade, gifted to me by my housemother in pau, france while i was studying abroad. i can’t remember her name, which is driving me crazy. i do remember she was beautiful, she loved camembert cheese, and men, she wore chanel perfume and plunging necklines. her daughter, nathalie, was rebellious and wonderful. i have a memory bubbling up involving a roundabout, high speeds, a small grey fiat. karaoke. a soccer team. her mother made me a toiletry bag.

i made this bag out of leftover cloth i had lying around, and think it’s pretty rad. [portland crafters: there are currently hell of zippers over at scrap (mostly giant jackety ones). ten for two bucks!] i’ve been sewing a lot. but the sun is out, now. off to the garden.

xo

the tiniest treasure.

this little hummingbird nest is the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing i’ve seen in quite a spell. i’ve got a major soft spot for tiny houses, and this is the tiniest ever. check the scale out, people:

can you believe that? i couldn’t. it was gifted from my boyfriend. he’s a good giver. lest you think i’m a real fast mover, i’ll tell you that the carpenter is my boyfriend again… one not-so-small detail in my current life. i’ve never been the sort of lady who entertains thoughts of on-again, off-again, tumultuous love as a regular practice. but our love was never off, not really, and we’ve decided to give it another go. we like each other too much not to try rebuilding. we hope we can, & we’ve promised to be honest with ourselves and with each other if we can’t.

there’s a hummingbird in eastern oregon who lost her home. she’s endured some heartbreak, too, i’m sure of it. but hummingbirds have some crazy-strong hearts, so i’ve got good hope she is rebuilding. the nest came down when my man friend was thinning out some old-growth chestnut trees at a job site. he feels pretty terrible about cutting that branch out, but he didn’t see the nest until it was on the ground. which is sometimes how things happen.

hummingbirds make their nests out of soft materials (this one is clearly fabricated from dryer lint) bound together by spider webs for strength! then, to camouflage the structure, they glue bits of bark and sticks to the outside…. and, um, i am pretty sure this one contains some mouse poop, for extra panache. (speaking of panache and birds and homebuilding [and also of impressing one’s mate, i might add], if you’ve never seen footage of bowerbirds, go take a look at this video. you’ll be so glad you did.)

there are lots of hummingbirds who live in my backyard, and we’ve decided to put out strategically-placed piles of dryer lint for them, for karmic balance, for a symbol of rebuilding.

xo

the way some things unfold

hi, folks…  it’s been awhile. i’ve been writing quite a lot, actually, writing things that aren’t for sharing, writing things only meant for me. and i do love sharing, i think you know that if you’ve been reading this blog with any regularity. but i will tell you i have never been too good with big transitions, even when they’re necessary, and my little private world is off it’s kilter these days. initiating change is the easy part, but adjusting and learning new ways of being can be a rocky challenge. some days are alright, and others i find myself immobilized at the dramatic, cloudy, self-absorbed intersection of heartbreak and cliché. trust and hope are hanging out on the sidelines, and i remind myself to ponder them, to remind myself that even when i’m not fully feeling their presence, they’re waiting for me to say hello.

::

many years ago, i think it was seven, my dearest sisterfriend amanda and i, and sweet dogfriend v, drove from oregon to vermont. we were wilder back then in some ways, and more restrained in others, than we are now. it was a great trip, full some strange and wonderful adventures… thunderstorms  and sleeping in places where, i think back now, we really had no business sleeping. we ate canned tomatoes over kraft macaroni dinner, and spent four hours tracking down a hot dog joint in chicago. we visited old friends, saw the corn palace, and yellowstone, and the badlands, and snuck in through an illegal entrance at mt. rushmore so we could get a picture of the dog with the presidents. but we didn’t stop at the abandoned mine in rural eastern washington. i wanted to, and i didn’t ask.

it’s funny how memory works, isn’t it? the way certain, seemingly mundane instances can come flying back to us, every detail embedded? we were on a secondary highway listening to U2, and it was mid-afternoon when i saw it there, beautiful graffiti in the middle of desert country. i remember thinking to myself, i’ll come back here again, someday. i simply knew i would. it seemed important. i still don’t know if i understand why.

and i did find myself there, once again, of course, or it wouldn’t make a story. if i hadn’t, i might still be waiting. ben and i were on a trip, and he was driving, and i’d been napping and woke up and i knew it was the same road. this time, i asked. this time, we stopped. we stretched our legs, and walked the dog around, exploring. i took some pictures, we drank our coffee, he smiled at my enthusiastic adoration for an old mine shaft, and hugged me and told me he loved me. he asked me if i’d gotten what i wanted, and i told him i had. what i got was: this is the moment i get to be here. right now, just like this, it’s happening right now. 

xo

even so, no regrets.

i was a girl, and he was a boy, and we both lived in small towns in new hampshire, and in a way, in worlds as different as it gets. and we grew up, paths crossing more than once, it turned out later. we needed each other, we had things to teach and learn, but we didn’t know it yet. and then came a cold, rainy night, and a front porch in portland, oregon. there it was: an immediate recognition of the other, of the self, of something old and true and necessary. earth and air and fire and water. we knew it was a big love, bigger than our hearts had found. we took it, and we gave. and then we gave some more. we gave it a good, long run. we did. we gave it all we could.

this letting go is the right thing, friends. even when the love’s still here, the cracking shell. but goddamn, it aches, this rip of untangling. the work ahead, the echoes in this house. everything mixed up together… the things, the hearts, our animal family, our stories, ourselves.

Sonnet No. 6: Dearest,
I never knew such loving

Dearest, I never knew such loving. There
in that glass tower in the alien city, alone,
we found what somewhere I had always known
exists and must exist, this fervent care,
this lust of tenderness. Two were aware
how in hot seizure, bone pressed to bone
and liquid flesh to flesh, each separate moan
was pleasure, yes, but most in each other’s share.
Companions and discoverers, equal and free,
so deep in love we adventured and so far
that we became perhaps more than we are,
and now being home is hardship. Therefore are we
diminished? No. We are of the world again
but still augmented, more than we’ve ever been.

-hayden carruth

there’s tending and mending to be done. a whole lot of it. i thought i’d let you know.

xo

in january, there are tangelos. (& whiskey.)

in my family, you know you are a grown-up when you start getting honeybell tangelos from uncle chris at christmas. i have been a grown-up for about eight years, according to the tangelo timeline. that’s eight years of sweet, fresh, floridian juiciness in january, right when it’s called for.

when it’s tangelo time, a huge box of them land on my doorstep. then i call my friend sara and tell her i need to borrow the juicer again.

this old dame is one of the most beautiful and effective tools ever to grace my hands, and that’s saying something. every year i think, maybe i’ll buy my own juicer. but then i feel like i want sara’s to come for a visit so we can spend some time together, so i don’t. the juicer and i, we’ve got a tradition going. we have a good working relationship. we like to stand there in the kitchen and squeeze the heck out of some tangelos.

and i’ll tell you, i’m not much of a cocktail girl, but this one? you should try it:

* one good pour of bourbon whiskey

* orange or tangelo juice

* a squeeze of lemon

* a bit of simple syrup, made with honey instead of sugar

stir it up and sit back and sip it slow. take that, january!

xo