Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please? Thank you (& stuff)

Monsters like tea and cakes too. I'm still in my 'little girl and her monsters' phase.
I am homesick for the European sensibility. I miss manners. I miss politeness. I miss please, and thank you. I am homesick for modesty and bashfulness, fairness and common consideration. All those things feel long-extinct here. Buried with the velociraptors turning into oil. I go somewhere and stand in line and someone will say “give me four yards of this,” or “can I get two cups of that?” There’s never a please appended on the end of that sentence. Someone *is* actually providing you a service; humbling themselves to do it (on the most part, if it’s a teenager serving you they probably don’t care)—a simple please wouldn’t freakin’ kill you for Christ’s sake. Then the service provider completes this service, and the person takes it and walks away without another word.

People express *surprise* when I say thank you sometimes. I was even told by a lady who’d moved here from Europe that it was impossible that I was American because I was too polite; and she wanted to know what my nationality was. I insisted that I was born in Colorado, but she threw up her hands in victory when I told her my formative years were spent traipsing the cobbled roads in the Brabant region. It all made sense to her immediately. I guess I don’t act inconsiderate enough or entitled enough to be fully qualified to be ‘real’ American. LOL.

People who meet me initially think I’m stuck up. I’ve been told by the way I speak that I come off snobby. I look at it this way; I speak a different language, I am not snobby. I went to international schools, with teachers from all over the world. I use different words for things. Even my husband picks on me because I’ll use a ‘ten-dollar’ word when it’s not necessary. It’s the word I know. Back the hell off! I’m not showing off, and if I *were* really snobby, then I wouldn’t be out-burping my husband or using language that would make dock-workers blush and giggle. I hate it that people mark me as high-and-mighty by my vocabulary. And I don’t want to have to program myself to speak in different ways to make myself less open for judgment—that’s just stupid.

These things were never an issue overseas. I was just me and it was okay. I was polite because it’s the way people are there. My English is ‘international’ English. I just miss Europe. A lot. I haven’t been home since 1992. That’s a long freakin’ time. I’m afraid to imagine how much as changed. Sometimes, I go onto Google Earth and just pan around looking for familiar places. Old trails, houses we lived in, roads we drove on, fields we crossed. Stupid stuff. But even after over 20 years, that sense of home just never goes away. :( Sad.  I want to move back there.  ::sighs::

Weight wise: Plateau! Again. Argh! I’m not sure if it’s not enough water this time or it’s just me, getting a bit cavalier about what points I think I’m eating. It’s time to buckle down. I haven’t left the 23lb stage for a couple of weeks. It’s time. In defense of myself, I am back on the regular cycle ... the Lupron reprieve was kick-started with the progesterone shot so I am not only back on that ‘OMG if I don’t get chocolate I will commit homicide’ place, I also have been craving beef, bacon and beef and bacon and sushi and beef and bacon. I did indulge the bacon thing twice last weekend, but bacon when made crispy is only one point a slice, so I can’t blame that for my plateau. At least I’m not GAINING weight, but still... annoying. And to top it off, eldest sister is here a’visitin’ and she made some chicken wings on Sunday that were bathed in butter, garlic and parm (in addition to some in hot-sauce, not to mention there was also a pizza ((a healthy pizza!))) Aaanyway, I’ve been just a smidge naughty. Only a smidge though. I could have been much, much worse. I could have eaten my way through a Krispy Kreme or something like that, but I did not. Yay me! Although I’m not the biggest fan of Krispy Kreme, this past few months I’ve had fantasies of having a KK donut hot off the KK press. Auuughh....

S2 came over on Sunday and we worked on some little gowns for her boyfriend’s daughters. They are so cute, it almost made me faint or wretch, I’m still not sure. The girls picked their own fabrics. In my mind they should have been in gauzy white with little silk sashes of jewel tone colours. But they did pick cute little delicate prints (matching) one in blue and one in a light lavender colour (if I recall correctly). Since I have no chitlins, I have no patterns for itty bitty regency dresses, and I didn’t have time to scale anything up from the web, so I just told S2 to bring some muslin I could draw on, and I draped the pattern for the bodice right on the girls.

Since they weren't there for sewing, we
left some length on the skirts. This
hadn't been hemmed yet, obviously, durrr.
I think my only boo-boo was that I didn’t cut a seam-allowance on the front of the bodices because I’m partly an idiot, so they’re super narrow. But since they are both little munchkins, it still turned out awfully cute. I’m kind of proud that I made itty bitty patterns all by my lonesome, sleeves and all. But I have done SO many regency gowns I know the shapes very well, and there’s really not much tailoring there when you’re only making a tiny empire bodice, so it’s no HUGE accomplishment. In addition to their little gowns, they are also going to have some bonnets. I still have no sleeves on my new gown, nor is it hemmed or is there a drawstring in place. But it will come, I hope. This week. ::snicker::. I still need a petticoat, I have none. I also need a shift and I was hoping to pull off a pair of pantalettes to boot, but I think those may have to wait. We shall see. All these sisterly visits and all-day-consuming mother-shopping-trips and other crap; I just haven’t taken the time I need to get these projects done.

Anywhoo.... this is just a silly update. I will actually try to have something interesting to say soon enough. I think my next post may be next week and it will probably be a gown ‘tutorial’ or journalish sort of post about the gown I made for the Pittock Mansion picnic. I’ll try to remember to take pics of the horse-camping at Timothy Lake too.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I prefer to face my double-chin away from the camera.
This weekend, out of curiosity, I decided to try on my ‘jolly’ green gown. This is the first gown I ever draped. I did it on my ‘duct tape double’ that I made. Although it remains one my favourite gowns, I don’t wear it too much. As you can see, it’s pretty wrinkly, but I just yanked it off its hanger and put it on sans shift or petticoat. I just wanted to see how differently it would fit me with 23 pounds lost. The only problem is one I already anticipated and was aware of and that is my newly sewn stays; they have gotten almost too small. They close all the way and the sides lace together and touch with very little effort. I hope they’ll last through the Pittock Mansion picnic because I don’t want to make new ones for a bit, at least until it’s closer to October and also, December.

The construction process.
I’m still a .. um... plus-sized girl, no argument there, but I noticed two marked things when I put the gown on. 1) the sleeves weren’t quite as sausaged as they used to be and 2) the tightness across the back is completely gone. In fact, there’s even room for a bit of a ripple there in that picture. If only my neck ‘hump’ would go away, but daddy had one too and his never did. ::yurgh:: The really cool thing is that the gown is a Bib-front, and I’ve put this gown on someone who’s no more than a 12/14, and it fit her (except for her lack of stays made her a tad droopier than she should have been)—so that means I don’t have to get rid of this dress for some time, I can still iron it up for the retreat and save myself having to sew too many gowns.

The hat is my new hat acquired from JAS Townsend. I shaped it and beribboned it and added a little white feather for interest. I have shoes in that very same blue. Those, with my stockings, and my soon-to-be-made pantalettes, petticoat and shift will go with my new white gown to the Pittock Picnic this year. It’s the first time in a very long time where I’ve felt this excited about a costume event. Besides, I get to hang with my homettes, which is always good for the spirit. To top it off, I may be assisting in the construction of a tiny gown for a nine-year-old this weekend, which is very exciting.  My dearest BFF S-II has found herself a Beau who came packaged with a couple of free little munchkinettes that she gets to sew for now, which makes me so green with envy! I want to have a little girl so I can make this:

And this:

The WeightWatchers front: My weigh-in day is on Tuesdays to today’s weight loss is still at 23. Maybe I’ll have progress for the next post, who knows? I was still at 23 yesterday, but barely, almost rolling into 24. We’ll see what the next 24 hours bring.

I’m off the Lupron officially today. I’ve been jabbed with a dose of Progesterone (which still stings, damnit!) to get my girly cogs and gears kick-started and given a double-dose of Clomid. I would like to do a shout-out to my DO, Dr. Nancy Kahaner and her wonderful staff Sue and Talana... this is the best DO I’ve ever had. If you are near Sellwood/SE Portland and really want someone wonderful and trustworthy and thoughtful, I strongly recommend her. Seriously.

Sue, her nurse is also an author, so we have a lot to chitty chat about whenever I go there. It’s a tiny office, they remember your name, they treat you wonderfully, and they watch your kid while you’re in the exam room. They are good ladies, and it’s the kind of doctor’s office a small-towner like me can appreciate. I like a personal relationship with anyone who is dealing with the equipment south of the equator, let alone being in charge of my health in general.


The horns and gnashing teeth usually retract on beach-days.
I took Satan out this weekend. It was ostensibly for her to visit my brother; who she never asks about when in my presence, but when in the company of others; she accuses me of never taking her to see him. ::Eyeroll:: The last two times I took her, she spent less than ten minutes there before she was ready to go. This time, my brother was dead-to-the-world asleep on his chair, and my mother stayed much longer than usual (a full half-hour), taking this time to profess a litany of her tremendous parenting skills to the caregiver—telling stories that she had blatantly pulled right out of her ass. She told some outrageous lies that I had to bite my tongue to keep from either laughing or just flat out correcting her. Her primary aim on Saturday was to go spend money willy-nilly at a local nursery, Fabric Depot and at Ross. So as soon as we left, that’s where she pressed me to go. I usually do not buckle to this, and take her to see John only, but Dan was downtown slinging burgers for a charity barbecue and I figured what the hell. I took the old lady shopping.

The woman will buy anything; and she will buy it faster and in multitudes if it’s on sale. I kept having to make her put stuff down. “Mom, do you even use those? Mom, don’t you already have some of those? Mom, So-and-So doesn’t need that... Mom, that’s really ugly. Mom, no, I don’t want that, do you even *know* my tastes? That’s awful. Mom, I don’t need that, we live in a tiny house. Mom, are you sure you need that?” There is no wonder her house had turned into something like those houses on that hoarding show, and I have always had a clear image of where my father’s hard-earned money went. It was piled in store-bags with receipt still with them in her trunk, crammed in closets, left in the corner of bedrooms. My mother shops recreationally. She shops for the rush. And since she’s stopped drinking and smoking, it’s compounded into a serious issue. She dropped $300 on Saturday IN SPITE of my efforts to diminish her unadulterated spendathon. If I hadn’t intervened, it would have easily been a grand. I’m not kidding. By the time I dropped her off at the assisted living facility, I was emotionally (and physically) spent.

Being around my mother is such an exercise in restraint these days. Having to sit there and listen to her spew all the lies, the delusions, direct accusations and bitterness, the showers of praise for someone who hurt me very badly as a child, to listen to her vilify one daughter, and try to say things that one might have said in order to get me angry at them. We’re all so programmed to this sort of duplicitous and manipulative behavior that it’s hard to just sweep it under the carpet, it’s hard not to wonder just *what* sisters did say. I have to sit there and listen to her verbal assault about how horrible we all are for not wanting her living with us (I’m sorry, I don’t really want to live in a garbage dump, thankyouverymuch). She’s super angry right now because cowgirl sister is moving to eastern Oregon next month and she didn’t make any arrangements for mom to move in with her... HOW DARE SHE, THAT SELFISH GIRL! ::hahahahahaha::

It’s always astounding, even if we all know her all too well, that she does not see even in the remotest way, how she could be repugnant to us, after all her abuse, her manipulations, her neglect and her lies. She cannot see past her own nose as to why we would in any way be angry with our mother. She is in her own eyes, a saint. A martyr. She’s thrown herself to the wolves for us. My husband knows my childhood very well, and when we were in the Certification for Foster/Adoptive Parents training, he listened to all the reasons kids were taken from their parents and put into foster care, and he turned to me one of those nights and said: “It’s amazing that you guys never got taken away from your parents.” That’s the thing; some folks just hide it better than others. Some folks just never draw the necessary attention; and when the school counselors came to me, and tried to pry the truth out of me time and time again, I wouldn’t trust them to do anything they promised to do, because all my life the adults who were *supposed* to look out for me failed again and again to do so. So when Dr. Derrell sat me down and promised to help me, I never, ever gave him what he wanted; and that was the truth of my family situation. He was an untrustworthy, lying, neglectful adult after all. All I had to rely upon as a kid was me.

All those things come back to me as I drive alone with Satan prattling away beside me. She talks about the past as seen through her cartoon lenses, where she sees a world where she flew about with a cape and saved everyone from themselves, where she threw herself into burning volcanoes for us. Walking through Ross, I mentioned this one time when she did do something mom-like, it was one of the few fond memories I ever had of my childhood, and she said: “I used to be your hero. I don’t know what happened...?” I didn’t reply, because glancing at her watery, angry little eyes, the frown lines her bitterness has burned into her face, I could only feel sorry for someone who’d dug herself such a deep, dark hole with her family, and who could not even begin to see why nobody wants to pull her out of it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Charge! Office Special & Updates

CHARGE! I guess I'm in a 'little girl and her monster phase'. :)

Well, we made it through the month of June. We have our certificate of completion for this first round of training and we now have to set up exams with our doctor and our references need to fill out the forms. We’re on our way. It might be some time before we’re even considered for a foster-placement for possible adoption, let alone be accepted into the program. We’ll see.

In the meantime (extremely girly and maybe even TMI to follow, so read forward with caution), I’ve been told that the Lupron seems to be working fairly well to rid me of my endometriosis, so I may get a reprieve. After my ultrasound yesterday, it looks like the bits & pieces within have gone back to some semblance of normal thanks to these meds, so the doc thinks it might not be necessary to subject me (and those near me) to three more months of Lupron. Although I must confess, having a three-month sabbatical from the discomfort and all around unpleasantness of the monthly cycle has been nice, and I’m not looking forward to that bit coming back. ::boo!:: I may be taken off the six-month program mid-through, and given a higher dose of clomid, we are going to try again one more time.

Other than that, there’s nothing much new going on. I’m still stitching away at my new gown. Here’s a small preview:

There should be a 12-step program for pleating addicts.
I know, it’s not much. Oh well!

I missed the beach trip with the horse. Thanks to the workshops and my job. Which sucks. I was hoping to be able to do that this year. I may be able to go to Timothy Lake, which is up on Mount Hood with some of the barn folks, which I suppose is some consolation. I had a really nice ride with Tag last weekend. We went out to the outdoor arena. Ever since Tag’s fall (that first one we had long ago) when he slipped on the wet footing and his whole front half went down, Tag has been reluctant to canter in the indoor arena. I really have to push him to move indoors. It’s narrow in there, especially for a boy his size. He does so with care on the longe, but he just doesn’t like it very much. So we went outside in the arena, which is easily double the width of the indoor arena, and I ‘opened him up’ so to speak. I let him canter and gallop until he didn’t want to anymore. He ran with his ears perked forward and with a happy snort. He kicked it up on the long-sides and then leaned in on his turns, giving me a teeny buck of delight twice along the way. Boy was I sore after that, but then we trotted it out, and then walked off his sweat. He was so happy. I can’t remember the last time I had a good gallop. I was hoping to let him do that on the beach, but oh well. That’s what it is all about (besides the grooming and bullsh*tting with friends at the barn of course). There is nothing like it in the world. I walked away with an afterglow. Heh heh!

Hood strawbs. Y.. U...double M.
Before we hit the stable that day, we stopped at a local farm-stand and picked up some fresh hood strawberries grown locally. They look teeny but golly-geez-pancakes those strawberries are SO GOOD. They are sweet and heavenly. We decimated the two little cartons before we even reached the barn, leaving a trail of little strawberry stems on 224 all along the way.

I’m giving a dance workshop at the Sandy Community Center on Sunday from 1-4, so if you’re in town and are curious about English Country Dance, it’s only $5, no costumes required. Comfy shoes and clothes’ll do well enough. Bring a water for yourself of course. I am not qualified to do anything more than a beginner’s workshop, so if you’re looking for amazing stuff, you’ll have to find the local dance groups, which I have provided links to on the ORS events page.

That’s my catch-up post for today. I’m working on an extensive post about the construction of my newest gown, but I need to finish it (of course, it has no sleeves yet, and it needs hemmed as well, but I will post it here once I have all my drawings done etc.

Have a lovely week! I’ll hopefully have something more interesting to talk about soon, rather than listing my rather un-extraordinary goings-on.

Oh, and I am at 23lbs this week.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Passing a milestone and some general grumbling.

Well, we made it through the July 4th weekend largely unscathed, except for an acute case of the grumpies from being kept up late last night by our idiot neighbour kids behind our property setting off M80s and M100s well past eleven. It was like we were in Kabul. One of these nights, I’m going to get up at 3 AM, go out to the Prius, stealth it all the way around to the road behind us, pull up to the house that’s 90% of the time responsible for all the noise, and just lay on my horn until every light goes on. Then I’ll stealth away back to bed. Maybe I’ll do it a few nights in a row at varying hours (but always very late hours) just to be evil. I’ll also be sure to do it during the school year. Little jerks. When not setting off fireworks, they’re tearing up the road and our peace and quiet with their piece of junk dirt bikes, or screaming like howler monkeys in their back yard late into the night. I’m not sure if there are actual parents present, they could be hog-tied in the basement for all I know for all the supervision those kids get. I feel like such a curmudgeon, but gawd! I just want a quiet weekend after spending all week driving through a sea of idiots to my job. Peace and quiet!

At least there were no questionable renters next door. We had a quiet lady who had two quiet, well behaved dogs. Monday, I set up the little round picnic table on the porch, opened up the small parasol and the two matching director’s chairs. I pulled my dress-form Mathilda off her stand and carried her out there and sat her in the other chair. I took a bottle of cold sparkling water (my favourite beverage), my laptop, which was immediately turned on and navigated to Netflix to watch the Stargate Universe second season. I brought my Ginghers, a spool of white cotton thread, my needle, my jar of pins and I scooted Mathilda over in her chair and started stitching. I’ll be posting a project description, but honestly, I haven’t been taking progress pictures so I’ll have to rely on finished product pictures and drawings. Suffice it to say, it was A LOT of stitching. You’ll know why it was so much soon.

All the while, I was being harassed by demanding and territorial squirrels, baby stellars jays that seemed to enjoy making dorky-sounding noises at me, band-tailed pigeons that accumulated in huge numbers when I was quietly stitching away, but would explode into the air en masse if I leaned back to stretch my back or stood up to go to the bathroom or whatnot, and the cat, who seemed happy to just wind around my feet and pace along the bench beside me until I shooed him. He then curled up on the bench in a spot of sun and left me be on the most part. All of this was intermittently punctuated by what sounded like mortars and grenades going off here and there, with the occasional crackle of a less destructive firework. I told my husband that we could easily get away with shooting out random tires or windows out with the shotgun because people would think the blasts were M100s going off. I still think we missed an excellent opportunity to go on a wanton destructive shooting spree, obliterating other people’s property. I’m just saying. We’ll have to keep that in mind for next year. ::kidding::.

Weight watchers wise: These past two weeks I was annoyed that I was unable to breach the 20lb mark, it’s a milestone you know? I idled at 19lbs for several days and then I weighed myself on July 4 and today and lo and behold, I was at the 22 pound mark. Just like that. Go figure. I hopped over the milestone and went for something lighter I guess. Yay! HOWEVER, Dan took pics of me riding bareback on Tag on Sunday, and suffice it to say, I do not *look* 22 pounds lighter—but the scale can’t be lying to me. It’s just hard for me to see it. I see it in my husband though. He’s shrinking into his clothes like he got hit by some shrink-a-tron ray or something. Me... not so much. I’m down two sizes, my bras are getting looser and less effective and my pants keep sliding down my derriere. I’m losing about 1.3lbs a week. Only a gazillion more pounds to go I guess. ::groan::. I just wonder how come staying at a healthy weight was so easy when I lived overseas? I ate like a horse! If you’ve ever been to Belgium well... The Friteries! Hello! I used to eat those at least once a week, a huge pack full of huge fries with mayo! No weight gain! I move to the US, and PPFFFFT I blow up like a pufferfish, and have had a hell of a time with it since. First the depression weight gain, then quitting smoking (am in my tenth year btw sans smokes) was a killer, added at least 20 lbs... and the Atkins diet where I lost so much weight super-quickly.. that diet was just a terrible mistake. I gained it all back with more pounds to boot for my effort – not to mention just how unhealthy the rest of me felt from all that protein. ::facepalm:: I just want to look at a picture of myself and not detest what I see. Whenever I start feeling good about the progress I make on this diet, I’m reminded that it’s not moving fast and that changes are not coming quickly enough. It’s so disheartening! People say they see it but I think they’re just being nice. I don’t see it at all.

But hey, maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. What else is new? At least I’m losing weight. I was recently told that the reason why it’s harder for some folks to lose weight is that some people are just meant to be a certain weight. I don’t buy that. If I buy into it, what am I consigning myself to a lifetime of feeling unhappy with how I look and feel, and I’ve experienced life as a person of average size, and it’s so much better than this. But mostly it’s the sense of inevitability. A few years ago, my husband’s favourite aunt went out to the chicken house to feed the layers, and she never made it back inside. She was 52 years old and she fell over onto the henhouse floor and died of a myocardial infarction. At age 52.

I don’t want to die at 52. Hubby doesn’t want to die at 52. An early death... it seems a lot to give up for the momentary pleasure and comfort of something as transient as food (or booze, or whatever damaging thing that can kill you if taken in excess). It’s just not worth it. Even if I failed and gained all the weight back, I can know I tried, and I’ll also know that it’s in my power to change the way I feel about myself. I just need to discipline myself and do it. And god knows the good intentions of the people in my life who say I should love myself as I am, that’s fine if you can. But I can’t. I am not happy with ham-arms. I am not happy with thick thighs, I am not happy that I can’t cross my legs, or that I look like a potato on my horse. I hate my double chin, I hate that I have visions of gowns and costume pieces that just look awful on me no matter what I do. Some girls can pull off the curvy kewpie doll—I’m not one of them. I look dumpy. I hate it, and no matter who tells me *my* curves are sexy; it feels like a big lie. Some people live many years healthily overweight some keel over and die. The truth is, my infertility is directly related to my weight. My depression is related to it. My anxiety is related to it, hell even my confidence as a writer and an artist is impaired by the way I look. Will I ever be happy with the girl in the mirror? Maybe not. But I was a lot happier looking like this....

"And I raaaaan, I ran so far awaaaaay..."
....or this...

"Taaaaaaaaaaake ooooooooooon Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - take ON me..."
...or this...

"I blessed the raaaaains down in Aaaafrica...."
...than I was looking at the person I see today. Which is scary. Because it was the 80s. I guess sometimes you just have to wake up one day and realize it’s time to change things.

I know I’m pontificating again, but I need to pep-talk myself sometimes. I need to remind myself that there’s the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a world of adorable clothing that isn’t priced to the high heavens because sellers like Lane Bryant and Avenue know full-figured girls will suck it up and pay for it if they want to wear anything besides Wal-Mart crap. There’s a world where shopping isn’t an experience that makes you feel worse about yourself. There’s a world where you don’t get grumbled at every time you visit your doctor, and lectured like an obstinate child. There’s a world where you can wear shirts above your belly or without sleeves and not feel like you’re the most disgusting thing on earth. There are long boots that would fit my calves, airplane seats would be so much more comfortable, I wouldn’t be afraid to model my own costumes. I would feel okay about wearing a bathing suit.

The only benefits of being overweight:

• The d-bags of the world generally ignore you or pretend you’re a non-entity if you’re size 12 or up—so that’s a plus.

• If you puff yourself up to look even bigger, nobody will sit next to you on the plane.

• Fewer people will crowd into the elevator with you.

The list of drawbacks could go on forever. So I won’t go there. Happy short-week all. ;)

The HC


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