Posts Tagged With: Crafts

Attempting to Let Go of the Scrappy Turkey

I’d like to introduce you to our turkey, born almost twenty years ago in Oklahoma. He’s looking worn around the edges and the middle. As you can see, he’s experienced better days.

Scrappy Turkey's seen better days.

Scrappy Turkey’s seen better days.

Born into an impoverished life, this turkey brightened one or two Thanksgivings in spite of his motley appearance and bedraggled state.

This multi-kid-crafted guy sat on the kitchen table for the month of November, or part of the month if I remembered too late. Scraps of paper and a pencil or pen sat nearby for scribbling down a daily something each of us in the family felt grateful for. Inconsistent at best, we all threw in a few thoughts during the month. Running up to the actual day of thanks we might’ve thrown in a few extra to make up for what we didn’t contribute during the busy month preceding.

Then sometime during the day, that fourth Thursday in November, we’d reach in to the turkey’s cavernous gallon sized innards and pull out those scraps of paper. And someone would read what our family felt counted as blessings, gratitudes, good things. We’d have a few brief moments of thoughtful gratitude or laughter and then get on to the pie or leftovers.

Some of the actual scraps of paper with blessings written down.

Some of the actual scraps of paper with blessings written down.

Some of those scraps I’ve saved all these years in the cardboard box labeled Thanksgiving decor. Every year when I pull out that box and set out my little scarecrows, faux fall leaves, and wicker pumpkins, I think about finally setting this poor old turkey free. But I can’t make myself do it. Sure, he’s too scraggly and chintzy to set out as a decoration, so he stays in the box. He long ago exceeded his usefulness and cuteness. But memories hover in and on and around the fowl little guy. How do I let him go?

Maybe this can count as a memorial of that brief span that our homemade turkey spent time on the table reminding us of the blessed life we lived. Especially since that life, at times, seemed held together by paper bits and cardboard tubes and empty milk cartons. Sometimes life still feels that way, taped and glued together, barely holding on, scrunched and crumpled and not so magnificent as in other, better days.

How do you let go of symbols? At what point can you say goodbye and let that be good enough?You’d think it’d be easy to toss this barely recognizable turkey. But nope. Can’t quite do it.

Maybe it just isn’t time to say adieu. Not yet. Not this year. Maybe next November.

I’ll try to remember to set him out on the kitchen table next year, albeit rougher and scrunchier. And then, I’ll set some scraps of paper nearby and a pencil. I’ll toss in my gratitude, and ask MSH to do the same, and visitors, too. And then, after reading all those scraps on Thanksgiving day, maybe then, I can let him go.

We’ll see.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Seven Levels of Dante’s Quilting

Have I ever mentioned crafts on this blog?

No? Not surprising.

I DESPISE, okay maybe that’s too strong of a word, I highly dislike, crafting. Participating in, if I’m more  precise.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

I am currently in the middle of a ginormous CRAFT FAIL of epic dimensions.

English: Red Pinterest logo

If you haven’t, just don’t. You’re life will thank you for it.

Okay, maybe it isn’t technically a craft. Yes, yes, it is. It’s something that requires the PINTEREST gene. Born in the last century, I am sadly lacking in this apparently critical gene segment in my DNA.

If these quilt frames weren’t borrowed they would have been part of a ritual burning in my backyard during the past several hours of insanity and aggravation.

Apparently, as I found out last week with my daughter, putting a quilt on a frame requires at the minimum, two people. Sixteen would be better. Twenty might make it turn out well.

Four people need to stand at the north, south, west and east fung shui points in the room in which the quilt resides. Four people must stand equal distance apart chanting the kumbayarowtheboatashore chant. Four more people need to summon the craft powers of the underworld to levitate fabric, batting, fabric, quilt frames and quilt stands. Four more are helpful if they don’t mind getting stabbed by giant thumbtacks whilst they attempt to pin, simultaneously or laboriously one at a time, all three layers of said quilt to levitated boards.

These C-clamps look like torture devices for good reason.

These C-clamps look like torture devices for good reason.

Most helpful of all is the four horsemen, er magical C-clamp operators, who can open attach and clamp the four corners of the earth, or in the case, the four corners of the quilt to the self-moving, non standing stands.

My daughter and I managed to do this with only two people last week. I’m not sure how. There must have been quilting angels standing guard. After only two hours of wrestling wood, fabric, tacks, clamps and bad words we finally managed to have to quilt suspended midair. Ten minutes later we had finished tying the quilt together. An hour after that we had disassembled the contraption and sworn off quilting for the rest of our unnatural lives.

That is until my quilt top was ready for quilting. Which it has been for the past four years and one week. I’ve put it off. For good reason, obviously.

Today, I thought I’d attempt putting the quilt on the frame all by myself.

Yes, you read that correctly. Alone. One single person.

Cute, yes. Innocent, no. Don't be fooled by the folksy denim look of this monstrosity.

Cute, yes. Innocent, no. Don’t be fooled by the folksy denim look of this monstrosity.

I reasoned I am an intelligent, well read individual. Besides, I googled it. I’d just done the deed last week. How hard could it be? It’s just fabric and wood. I’m a grown up with skills, talents, logic and some patience.

If I ever think I might make another quilt top, please stop me if I suggest I might want to. But if I succeeded somehow in creating one, I would do everything in my power to allow someone else the privilege of machine quilting it. I’d sell plasma, collect beer bottles, play the violin on a street corner collecting change, whatever it took, to pay for someone else to finish the danged thing for me.

I must be insane.

If I wasn’t before this, I surely am now.

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

All Things Chia

Today’s Daily Prompt from WordPress asked:

“What’s the most dreadful or wonderful experience you’ve ever had as a customer?” 

My post twists the question around somewhat to reply as the one providing the customer service. I’m sorry to have to report that it turned out as rather inept service.

“I’m making a chia cava,” the woman said. “Can you tell me what fabric would work for that?”

“I’m sorry,” I replied. “I’m not sure I heard you right.”

“I’m looking for fabric, for a chia cava,” she said again.

After the tragic and premature death of Fernan...

Chia cava. Chia cava. Chia cava. I repeated in my head. I’m picturing chia plants, chia pets, chia heads. But what’s a cava?

“My hearing isn’t very good, ma’am,” I said apologetically, “could you say that again?”

“Chia cava,” she repeated louder. “Fabric for making a new chia cava.”

She didn’t have an accent, she wasn’t from a foreign country, she could pass as my grandmother and yet I couldn’t tell what she needed.

“Just a second,” I said as looked for the other sales associate to call her over.

“I’ll just find it myself,” the woman said and she walked away toward the stacks of fabric. Exasperation wasn’t exactly the look on her face, but I had clearly failed her.

I explained the misunderstanding to the other sales associate who looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

“Seriously, she said ‘chia cava,’” I whispered to her. It wasn’t a very big fabric shop.

Fabric shop in Hilo, Hawaii

Fabric shop in Hilo, Hawaii. Not, unfortunately, the one I worked at.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My coworker walked over to the misunderstood and somewhat frustrated customer and started chatting with her. They ran their hands over the bolts of paisley’s, prints, stripes and solids. They took out a bolt or two and spread out the fabric a bit. There were hand gestures I couldn’t quite make out. I still had no clue what a chia cava was. They walked over to another section of the store and talked about some of that fabric.  And again, there was the touching of fabric, more pulling bolts and spreading it out across the top of the other bolts. There was some laughter. Then they walked over to another section and chatted some more.

I stayed busy restocking a few notions while I surreptitiously watched the two of them chat and talk about fabric. When the customer selected the fabric she wanted the two of them walked back to the cutting counter together. I found something to do in another section of the store. Embarrassed at my inability to understand or help, I made myself as scarce as possible.

After measuring the fabric, cutting it, bagging it and collecting the money, my coworker walked to the door with the customer, chatting comfortably. As the door opened they both looked back at me briefly and I hid my face again. I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure I heard chuckling. The customer left with a look of satisfaction clearly on her face.

I stepped out from my hiding place near the notions wall and lifted my hands and shrugged my shoulders to ask, “well?”

“Well, what?” my coworker laughed.

“What is a chia cava and what kind of fabric do you make it from?”

She pulled up a chair behind the counter and sat down.  “See this?” she said, leaning back in the chair and letting the front legs lift off the ground.

“What? The chair?” I said exasperated.

“Yes, the chia,” she replied, dropping the “R” in the word chair.

“A Chair?” I said hitting myself in the forehead with the palm of my hand. “But what’s a chair cava?” I asked, but as I said the two words together out loud I understood. “A chai cava is a chair cover?” I said emphasizing the “R” sound in each word.

English: Chair

“Yup, simple as that,” she said. “She wanted to recover a chair in some new fabric, and if it turns out well, she’ll be back for more fabric.”

I looked at her, stunned and sheepish.

My coworker laughed. “That customer thought you were the strangest, dumbest salesperson she’d ever encountered in her whole life.” She laughed again. “I told her you were really new to the job and didn’t even know how to run the cash register yet.”

Now it was my turn to laugh. I’d been working there for over two years. I thought it better for the customer to think I was silly and inexperienced than for her to feel awkward or embarrassed herself.

I’m sure she told her friends and her husband about the airheaded sales clerk who couldn’t understand simple English. Just as surely as I told my family about the customer who couldn’t make herself understood by a simple sales clerk in a fabric store.

Occasionally when one of my kids says something I can’t quite hear or understand, I’ll throw out the phrase, “you want a chia cava” and get a laugh out of them. Then they’ll repeat themselves very slowly as if I am hard of hearing and dimwitted, laughing at me the whole time.

At least they all get a laugh out of it.

I’m happy to be of service.

Categories: Humor, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Oh, Sew What

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful that my mother taught me how to sew. Can’t tell you how many times that’s come in handy. I swear I’ve sewn a zillion buttons, a thousand hems, a million tiny tucks here and there and prom dress alterations out the wazoo.

Then there’s all those costumes; pilgrim, cat, a pig for the play Charlotte’s Web, a scarecrow, a pirate, a fairy princess for a Shakespeare scene, witch, ninja, monster, angels, shepherds, devil, beauty queen, pumpkin, butterflies and bugs. Don’t forget all those princess dresses, a cowgirl, a cowboy, an Indian, 50’s outfits galore, and a genie. I could go on but I won’t.

I’ve sewn curtains, and pillows, valances and purses, puppets and stuffed animals. I even made my kids clothes when we were a really young family barely able to scrape a couple of pennies together. What a challenge but so satisfying to make something out of almost nothing.

A patchwork quilt from random scraps.

A patchwork quilt from random scraps.

My favorite things to put a needle and thread to is a quilt.  For me, there’s something therapeutic about combining small pieces of seemingly useless fabric together into something beautiful and useful.  What’s more comfort giving than a quilt, fluffy and colorful, warm and embracing. Mmmm.

I created m first quilt from a box of scraps and a few old pieces of clothing I didn’t want to throw away. Then a baby quilt, which required the acquisition of more fabric. Next, a log cabin pattern  that led me on a month’s long search for all the perfect colors. Many more have followed. My one small box of scraps grew into a mountainous collection of fabric that I may never summit.

Teaching me the ins and outs of sewing must have taken more patience than anyone can imagine.  A gift that truly keeps on giving is one that teaches a skill like this. I hope it isn’t becoming a lost art.

Such a basic ability shouldn’t be taken for granted, I can clearly see that now. Thanks, Mom, for passing on your talent, your patience, your gift, your love.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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