musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “August, 2010”

this week random

The quilt is sitting on a folding table in the living room awaiting a fabric hoop.  It has been patiently waiting there since Sunday evening.  Although I drew in the design yesterday.

School Starts September 7th around here.  I have three orientations/open houses to attend – high school, middle school and preschool – this week. I have already attended a  Booster Club meeting for Mr. Cynic’s jazz choir.   Toots will start preschool in October when she ‘ages into’ the 2.5 year old program.  Thankfully, they are holding a spot for her.

The edits are once again in a holding pattern, because my kids are bouncing off the walls and I am obsessed with a quilt.

Captain Comic is a spinning top of transitioning to middle school anticipation/ anxiety. A case of sick tummies has been making its way through the family in an unpleasant way, too.

Today, I am taking all the kids out to buy sneakers, socks and underwear for the boys.  I am setting my goals small and late.  I’ll go out for school supplies later in the week – if Hurricane Earl doesn’t stop by for a visit. In that event, I will go during Labor Day weekend.  I take Mr. Cynic for a haircut on Friday.  He is currently resembling my older brother circa 1978 with the curl of bangs across his forehead and wings flipping away at his temples.  Captain Comic had his cut last week.  I never would have survived both in the same week.

I know.  I am nuts – school supply shopping on Labor Day weekend. My life is mayhem, and I like it that way.  At least the mayhem is somewhat manageable these days, and when it isn’t, I throw my hands up, I yell,  and I laugh myself silly.

i am a freak

I have become an obsessed quilting freak for the weekend. 

It started with a inspirational trip to a fabric store and a sketch. 

It launched with a return to the fabric store and material purchase.

And now I have gone off the deep end, because if I don’t finish it tonight, after spending 13.5 hours poking myself with a needle and pins yesterday, I will never finish.  So instead, I’m opting for the die trying route.

Don’t worry, I am making efforts to document the process and blog with follow, but now back to the salt mines sewing table.

I have a novel to finish editing, don’t I?  And the sun has come out and not too hot this weekend, so NOW I decide I must quilt or die?!


In my book you can never have too many candles.  I once nearly lit my parents’ dining room on fire with candles on my father’s cake for his 65th birthday.  It was a fairly small cake with 65 candles and one to grow on – a veritable bonfire.
Captain Comic took a while to blow out the twelve, plus one to grow on and the representative numerical candles on his cake last night, but he got them all. 
He was excited to receive a video game version of WIPEOUT!  that silly accident not even waiting to happen show on ABC, a promise of the ordered graphics animation software on its way via snail mail after an online order, and the ability to order The Official Godzilla Compendium, which he used relatives’ birthday money to order a used copy online last night. There is no way any of us would pay the full price for a new one of those.  It’s prohibitively expensive.
We stuffed ourselves on his requested dinner of tofu dogs, chicken tenders, celery and fries (I picked up sweet potato ones) and caffeine free cola and root beer (which he mixed). He opened presents, all of which he guessed ahead of time, but still acted surprised.  Then we shared a family viewing of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
I have to tell you, especially if you have a middleschooler, it is hilarious.  Captain Comic loved the book, and though there were some plot and character diversions, it generally remained true to the spirit of the book.  Definitely a good renter family movie. The relationship between the brothers greatly resembles our homelife, but insert Toots for the toddler brother.
Speaking of Toots, she aptly summed up our low key celebration during dinner last night when she declared, “My, this is a lovely birthday!” 

he’s 12

Captain Comic turns twelve today.  12.

I look at a young man on his way to none of us knows where, but likely having to do with making monster movies or writing and drawing comic books.  But to look at him, standing before me, eighty pounds of the beginnings of puberty, those big blue/green/grey eyes still hold the otherworldly innocence, the tapped into different parts of the Universe look in them that they did when he was little and looking up at the stars or birds or clouds passing by.

I look at him and still see this little boy of three in one of my favorite photos of him.  He is lying in the grass way down in the backyard of my parents’ house, looking for a patch of peace in the middle of the mayhem that is my whole family together for a Labor Day weekend visit.

Most of the time, even now, he looks like he is locked in a battle with the Universe, fighting for existence without pain, without misunderstanding.  He is in a continual Yawp! moment a la Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who.    Only rarely does he find peace when he goes off by himself, to lie in the grass and let the breeze and bird chirps calm him. 

He is beautiful.  He is my boy. And I believe one day, he’ll be able to tell us what his world is like without a fight about it.

12 Things about Captain Comic that don’t have to do with Godzilla or giant monsters:

1.  His love is big.

2. His middle name is Bird.  It was the only thing that stuck in my head throughout his pregnancy, when I tried desperately to come up with something else that would honor what little is left of my Cherokee heritage through my paternal grandfather. This name caused great consternation among my family until I called my father on the morning he was born, who then said, “It’s Pop’s birthday, you know.”  End of that family dispute.

3.  He likes to eat sugar out of the pantry by the handful.  Chocolate chips, too.  They never seem to last long enough in the pantry to ever make it into cookies.  I know this is happening by the sounds of foraging behind the pantry door, then the guilty sneaker clad covert thump-thump-thump up the stairs.  Largely because of him, my family keeps the dairy industry alive.  We go through at least six gallons of milk per week.  Don’t even bring up how he is capable of demolishing cheese.  And yet, he does not have a weight problem.

4. Opposite of Mr. Cynic’s record breaking, a lollipop has no chance of survival in Captain Comic’s orbit.  One crunch and gone.

5.  No one gives bigger, more sudden, and more tackle oriented hugs.

6. He makes me laugh every day.  Every single day, without fail.

7. He finished his summer reading and report and attendant required pictures two weeks before they were due. Even while putting up a fuss about it. 

8. He can recite anything he’s ever heard, seen or read, if it caught his interest in the slightest.  When he recites a scene from a movie, he includes background sounds, rhythms, and music most of us miss while it adds ambience to a scene.

9. He loves Weird Al Yankovic.

10. If we’re anywhere near water – beach, lake, pool, he has to be near hypothermic before I can coax him out.

11. Much of the time, he may not know quite what to make of Toots, but he loves to make her laugh.  He worships the ground Mr. Cynic walks on to the degree that he’ll pick a fight with him just to be near him.

12.  He loves, in his own curious way – as in he seeks out any fact on breeds, behaviors, etc. –  dogs and cats, especially our Lucy the terrorizing terrier and Babette, my beautiful old ghetto Queen.  And of course, anything reptilian.  But right now, he is obsessed with pugs.  Seriously obsessed. 

Mr. Cynic may be the child who cracked my heart open like an egg when he made me a mother, but it is Captain Comic who taught me just how far love can stretch and surprisingly, grow.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo.  I love you.

not to be outdone…

….by the previous two sleepless nights, last night’s adventures included:

Babette the ghetto queen, luxurious long haired tabby, who slept on my bed for 14 years, but who in recent months has decided her preferred sleeping arrangement is on the driveway under my van, came back. Walked around.  Licked my face. Purred in my ear.  Walked on my head.  Walked on Honey’s belly.  Stuck her paw in my mouth.

Then long about 5am, while I was enjoying a rather surreal dream, she dumped my glass of water right on my face.

When did she acquire thumbs?

dunce day

Someone please pass me a pointy cone hat and a seat in a corner.  That is likely the best place for me today.

Sunday night, Toots was having sleep issues, and her crib is in with us until Mr. Cynic goes to college.  Her night talk and cries, etc kept us up for much of the night, and Lucy unlocked her crate and made a bed for herself under ours, with periodic shakes of her jangly collar.

Last night, around two to three in the morning, a domestic dispute occurred outside of our house, making all the neighborhood barkers pipe up, especially ours, who was in her crate downstairs. Amidst the barks, toward the end of things I heard an angry, “If you want me to take you home, then I’ll take you home!”  Then things began to quiet down.  Shortly after, I heard the whoosh of a speeding car out of the subdivision and onto the highway that runs behind our house.  I thought things were over.  I was wrong.

I held off calling 911, but someone else in the neighborhood apparently called.  I heard huge sirens and then it got quiet again, seemed like they sped down the highway, not into the neighborhood. I was wrong.

Suddenly, with dogs still barking madly across the neighborhood and  in our home,  someone leans heavily and repeatedly on our doorbell.   I wasn’t certain whether it was police or someone seeking refuge.  I didn’t want to go downstairs, but they obviously weren’t letting up until someone did, so like the good wife I am, I verbally shoved a very sleepy Honey out of bed to check. 

Thankfully, it was the police.  Honey was not as coherent as I was to answer any questions of what we heard, so I joined them on the porch and told the freshly scrubbed teen looking deputy what I’ve mentioned above.

There’s obviously more to this story that involves a couple of broken bottles and a bloody rag in front of our house in the street, and who knows what else. 

But my main concern, is that it looks to be a rainy day, I have three kids of varying ages and interests likely stuck in the house, and a few projects waiting for me to work on them, and I have no brain to come up with any ideas for any of these situations due to serious lack of sleep. 

Oh and the dulcet beeps, clangs, etc of heavy equipment working on the same highway behind our house again.  What ever it is they are doing out there has sincerely become an Syssiphian exercise in local bureaucratic roadworks.  Work has been going on for the entire time we have lived in this house.  As soon as they seem to finish, they tear it up and start again.

Where’s a good book and an escape route?

Calgon, take me away!

idea becomes reality

Honey and I ran some errands together over the weekend, sans kiddos.  For one of them, I dragged him into the fabric store.  He has a pretty good design aesthetic, and helped me to decided to use a different purple for the quilt than the one that initially inspired it.  This one with butterflies and flowers goes nicely with the yellow dragonflies and is a much more toddler rainbow appropriate than the luscious purple with coppery dots. 
I may have to go back and buy that one for myself for a tank dress, if I feel particularly capable and ambitious after this quilting episode. 
The pink is an alternate, too.  And I decided to go with the deeper medium watery blue instead of the sky blue, which leaned toward a lavendar in its batik.
Overall the materials are better suited for Toots, without getting too kitchy and teddy bear oriented, like many quilts do.  I’m not so big on the baby themes approach. 
Today, amidst laundry and sundries, and likely during her nap, I will start cutting, and possibly piecing and pinning. 
If I break it down into steps, I will less likely neglect my family – as I often do under the pretext of working on my novel.  So the quilt won’t be finished in 48 hours, but my children will be fed, and still know they have a mother. 

weekword prompt: nostalgic

School year is about to start, which draws me back to one thing, as I sit here much farther south than I want to be come September:  New England.

I always get nostalgic in autumn, particularly for autumn in New England.  Even when I lived there, my heart ached nostalgic as September approached, then led into October, November, and turned from the brilliant colors to the blank canvas of winter.

Over the course of a lifetime growing up and living in Connecticut and Massachusetts, I watched for the first yellow leaves of the aspens which brought tears to my eyes and made my heart leap a little.  I counted the turning colors through the birches, the maples and oaks over about a six to eight week period.  The scent of the air, changing ions, changing ozone put my head into an entirely different and timeless place.

The photo above is from my last New England apple picking, a tradition that was a strong part of my boys’ early upbringing.  It’s mid-October, the height of leaf peeping season in Massachusetts, and the height of the most flavorful apple picking, too.  We lived a few miles down the road from this orchard, which was the boys’ favorite.

Now, especially since I developed an allergy to apples, I feel especially nostalgic for the crisp bite of a MacIntosh, Roma or Gala picked right from the tree, under a stormy sky as a late afternoon storm approaches to beat the vibrant purple, red and gold leaves from the trees onto the ground.

Addendum:  I forgot to credit Christine E-E for coming up with this week’s weekword!  See who else is participating over on her blog.

big ideas

I’m getting big ideas.  This can be dangerous.

I’d been thinking of this anyway, in a small way, but then I went into the room to wake Toots from her nap yesterday afternoon, and saw her cute little feet poking out of her baby quilt, and I couldn’t leave it alone anymore.

So, without a budget, and with Captain Comic in tow for his haircut errand before his middle school orientation event this morning,  I sought out a fabric store, planning on a bright but very simple quilt that I might be able to put together inexpensively – for the first time.  I found gorgeous fabrics, I got big ideas that grew bigger the more fabrics I fondled. Thankfully, I had no budget to speak of, and Captain Comic interrupted me a millions times, so that I couldn’t do a decent job of pricing things out in my head.  I left, considering a more thought-out trip to the store without such a blank canvas to work with as I hoarde all the beautiful Indonesian Batiks in the store.

I am not a seamstress, but when the boys were little and a bit before then, I found myself charging into projects with needles and glue guns.  I sewed a Godzilla out of fleece and polyfill, by hand, without a pattern when Captain Comic was in first grade.  I sewed a Peter Pan tunic and hat with a jaunty yellow feather when Mr. Cynic was three or four – again, no pattern. I even made kangaroo ears and tail for Captain Comic and me for his first Halloween, sewed his ears onto a beanie cap and tail onto the Baby Bjorn, and my ears onto a headband. I reupholstered furniture, haphazardly. 

I used to peg my pants in high school, by hand stitching.  I embellished denim jackets and jeans when I was in college with embroidery and weird materials – all vaguely by the seat of those jeans.  I’m an odd mix of perfectionist inhibition and ah eff it attitude when it comes to most creative projects, which is probably why they largely occur far between.

I have threaded a bobbin maybe three times since my 8th grade Home Ec class. 

But now I want to make a quilt and as excited as I am, I am somewhat intimidated because the boys’ late grandmother was an intense Master Quilter and I know a couple of really fabulous fabric artists right now.

I really did just want to make something simple, but my creative juices got flowing, and I don’t necessarily feel completely out of depth.

So, last night, with visions of the fabrics in my head, I sketched a couple of ideas. I borrowed some less than great markers from the kids, and this is the result, so far:

I know, my rendering skills, well, aren’t exactly skills, but I think it gets the image across.  The idea is after I stripe the fabrics together, and fill the quilt, I will run the whole thing through the machine (har, har, we’ll see how well that goes) to make swirly seams because there is no way I will handstitch that aspect anywhere near like my former late mother-in-law.
Now just imagine the blue a bit lighter, closer to a mottled sort of sky blue. and that middle blue stripe is a very crisp clean even rows of nickel sized daisies on a light blue background. I may use that pattern for the border instead of a deeper fuscia than what you see here. 
The purple fabric I have in mind is a really deep watery purple with little coppery gold dots in it. and the green is a batik field of grass.  The yellow has a light scribbly pattern of dragonflies and butterflies in it in white.
What do you think?
Am I not supposed to be spending my creative wellspring on my novel in progress?

and back to writing….

Yesterday, my writing group met.  I had not opened my manuscript since the session I went to about month ago.  I kind of feared where I was in it and was pleasantly surprised that I was at page 93 in my purple line edits. I won’t use a red pen – looks too much like violent spilt blood.

The significance of being at page 93, is that I was much farther along than I thought I was, and being a middle reader novel, I was darn close to the end. So guess what?

Yesterday, I finished my purple line edits.

Now to go into the document to make the changes official from the purple scribbles. Toward the end, my purple pen ran out of ink, so the end edits are in black, which is what I had in my purse. 

Anyway, I feel good about the book, still.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it since I started it back at the dawn of time.  At this point, the changes I was having trouble believing in, make better sense to me. The bottom line is I still cried while reading the end. My main character’s growth is evident. 

And I love him.  He has been growing up alongside my boys, as if he is one of them himself.  Mr. Cynic was a year or so younger than him when I started, and is now in entering the halfway point of high school.  Captain Comic was in preschool when I first wrote the twelve year old into existence, and now he turns the age of my character in a bit over a week from now.

So, from here on out, I want to try to see if I can pick my way through the manuscript document, inserting the scribbles by day,  instead of waiting for my writing group to meet in silence and commitment to writing.  I am hoping that transferring the changes won’t take as much concentration as the purple lining did.  I hope I can do it while my menagerie runs around the house.

Draft Two, (er 5,010) complete. Phew – kind of.

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