I am cruel to my children. I force them to share a room. It is a small room with a bunk bed, a dresser, a clothes rack and an itty bitty chair that the cat could sit on if it skipped breakfast.  The open spaces in the room are all up above head level, thus the top bunk of the bunk bed is ongoing contested territory.

Girl child lost the latest round of high level negotiations - boy child cried and she caved.  Upon taking up residency in the bottom bunk, she discovered the former tenant, her brother, had written a slanderous comment about her on the bottom of the top bed.  It was obviously written in a moment of passion, and I was impressed at his spelling, but the girl believed that she couldn't go to sleep under such conditions and decided to paint the slates more to her liking.

The bottom bunk now has a rainbow ceiling, which is quite lovely and cheerful.

Lovely and cheerful is exactly how I'd describe my girl child. Even when she is not.

Girl child is a writer by nature and I often find bits of stories, lyrics and poems left about the house.  Her stories are mostly adventures, featuring animal characters with heroic qualities.  Her poetry is decidedly less optimistic.  Here is a typical sample:

It is through her poetry that her inner nihilist speaks.

When I tell people that I have a gloomy girl, they look at her big smile while she roller skates by or performs on the stage, and they do not believe me.  Her interests include sports, theatre, reading and death positivity.  She wrote her first ever piece of fan mail to Caitlin Doughty of Ask a Mortician, after reading her memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.  She is in touch with her inner darkness.

It is sometimes said sardonically that you get exactly the child you deserve.  And sometimes when we clash, when she turns to me with her chin stuck out, cussing her defiance, I think, 'yes, that's me thirty years ago.'  But I also have a child who is unafraid of looking at life from all angles, the hope and the futility, the beginning through to the end, and embracing it all as normal and natural. 

She may seem like a contraction, from her rainbows to her skeletons, but she's more expansive than contrary.  Life with this child means picnics in the graveyard and cuddles while reading about Victorian funerary rites.  We take long walks through the woods, chatting while looking for animal bones.

 It is thrilling for me to have this brave spirit, this cheerfully gloomy person, in my life. 


Mother's Day: the catch 22

Our Mother's Day tradition is for The Man to take the childs away for a few hours while I get to do things that I would do if I didn't have children. 

The being without childs, of course, leads me to non-essential arty/crafty activities, where I stitch things that are, theoretically, for children*, the kind I am pretending I do not have.  There is no way for me to stitch these dolls for children with actual live children floating about me. I simply can not apply the intention to get the job done.

All the irony.

Since nobody is here to interrupt me, or save me from myself, I end up spending too much time hunched over a small object, squinting at small stitches, and I end up with a terrible crick in my neck, the likes I haven't experienced since my youngest was a toddler who refused to be put to sleep in any other way than being held and walk about for an hour.  Doll making may be a expression of post traumatic stress disorder?

I like to turn on Youtube for music and sometimes listen to podcasts, like the new horror mystery Alice Isn't Dead, because, although I crave it, I'm unaccustomed to quiet.  And I'm on episode three, when Alice is brutally finding out what the noise is that has been coming from the trailer and I realize I'm all alone, listening to a scary story, and- what's that noise in the basement?!  

Suddenly, the doll I'm stitching looks less merry and more sinister.  I worry about my inability to make playthings for children that aren't unsettling to small people.  Like the kind I have but am pretending I don't have as a treat to me.

I'm pretty sure the noise was the cats in the basement.  Which makes me feel guilty about the cat box down there I should probably clean.

This is me, two hours into separation from my offspring, when the switch flips from, 'I hope they don't come back soon,' to, 'goodness, where are those kids?  I need them here now.'

Perhaps I can get them to clean the cat box?


*Strange children.

Pictures of the dolls that children inspire:  http://dollyshoptheatre.tumblr.com/



sport vs craft

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In my head, there is this mythical place in the future when all my time constraints, conflicts and responsibilities are erased, and it's must me and my creative force, working together to make super fabulous things. And I never get crafter's block, it's just all productivity, all the time. I can even see my children volunteering to do the tedious tasks like run quilt seams or stuff dolls...


But now, in the real world, there is constant, sweet conflict. My loves are split between very different activities. Sports vs. crafts. They do not mix.  My roller insurance won't cover skating while knitting. 

Since I am involved in all the aspects of roller derby, not just a player (as we all are - it's a necessarily diy sport), I'm usually officiating or running some sort of administrative side while the girl child skates.  This past weekend was the first time I actually sat in the stands and watched the girl skate.  I could of hand stitched or knitted.  But then I couldn't clap (without harm).

One day that tension will be gone.  Age, injury - it's going to get me.  And I'll miss it, since our sports life and our crafting time are both highly valued.  The pull between these opposites make that time seem that more precious.

In the meanwhile, I think I'll take those very small areas where the two might possibly converge and exploit it.  Maybe I'll make a shirt that says, 'I'd rather be hitting people', to wear while sewing.  And a scrimmage shirt that says, 'you think I'm bad now, you should see me with scissors'. 


dumpster chair stage one

A crack seat beauty of a chair was left out by a dumpster.

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This Michael Miller fabric happened to be close at hand.

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This is stage one of the upcycle. Gothic diy.

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For stage two, I want to slipcover the back with a gravestone. Or a bit of fabric cleverly made to look like a gravestone, since it is quite gravestone-y shaped, don't you think?

I'm completely stalled out on what to have printed or painted upon it.  Something inspired by a classic horror writer?  A Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker quote?  Or borrow an epitaph from a historic headstone?

What do you think?