20 March 2012

Collector of Treasures

First, Shaun has a job. He's almost 2 weeks into a full-time night shift position at a local truck stop/gas station, and we're so grateful for the work, and we're busy getting used to a whole new schedule. It's really, really, really a relief, and I thought you'd all want to know. So now, on with the post.

When I taught World Literature in Crookston, we studied a short story by Bessie Head, "The Collector of Treasures." It's a marvelous story with love, romance, friendship, violence, imprisonment, indictment of patriarchal society....everything you want in a good story. The main character collects treasures in her heart, all the kindnesses shown to her in her life. It's a striking image, and one I try to emulate. Especially when the shit seems most dismal, those treasures really help.

And I've been blessed by many treasures lately. So many of you have emailed kind messages of support to me or to $haun, or patiently listened to my sad stories, or even kept us in your thoughts over the last few months. I treasure all of those. Two colleagues at work gave me a fantastic altered journal and two cold Cokes to cheer me up before break (it worked!).  And one day, several weeks ago, a package appeared in the mail. It was shortly after this post appeared, but all I could think was "What on earth did I order? We can't afford to spend any money!" But I hadn't: it was a present, from Tom, one of my first bestest friends (and high school sweetheart).  

It was during the hardest time of the last few months, and I can't begin to tell you how much it brightened my world. I'd been so melancholy for that record for so long, it never even occurred to me that I could get another. Aside from reminding V of the importance of not saying "bitch" in polite company, mostly I've been humming "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" whenever it's not playing on the turntable these last few weeks. And that it came from Tom, whom I haven't seen in well over ten years, who knew my dad and probably helped me look for that damn record in our basement more than once, made it even better.

Thank you all for the treasures you've sent, in thought or electronic or paper or carbonated or vinyl form, over these dark months. They've lightened my heart so, so much.

Y'all are the best there's ever been.

03 March 2012

Winter fun

Last week, we had a lovely little Wednesday snow day, so V and I and Seven went outside to play. We had big snowperson plans: so big, V was a little scared it might fall on her. I assured her I was an excellent snowperson builder. And Seven was very, very excited.

Making snow angels:
 Our snowman. Isn't he handsome? And enormous.....
 ...ly tiny.
 (Shut up. The snow didn't stick as well as we thought it would).

Except to Seven. Poor Seven could barely walk by the time we went in. It took him three hours to thaw out, and he spread wet-dog-smelling snow water all over the house in the process.

All in all, a successful snow day adventure. Even with all the wet doginess, and the tiny, tiny snowperson.  What's your favorite thing to do outside?

02 March 2012

Crafty Fool

Because Shaun started his new job today (whoo-hoo!) I felt I could allow myself to go to a craft store again, so long as I was careful and thoughtful and not my usual crazy, grabby self. My sister had mentioned that JoAnn's had diaper making supplies now, including a snap-setter, and I wanted to check it out.

The three of you who've been reading since the beginning may recall a brief mention of our cloth-diapering times, when I made all the diapers V wore throughout her diaperwearing. It was rewarding, and kind of fun, and V heard a lot of the hum of the sewing machine even while in utero.

But it was hard freaking work, too. Almost all the supplies had to be purchased online, or, if you're as cheap as me, bought at the local discount fabric shop and made to work, somehow. The little hand-set snaps available would never have held up to diaper use, nor would the sew-on kind, but an industrial snap press was $100, and though I nearly caved three times, I resisted temptation and used velcro instead.

So it was with mixed emotions that I found a fabulous diaper-making section in JoAnn's, now that my baby is 6 1/2 years old.
The snap press is what I had dreamed of: handheld (as opposed to the industrial kind, which was...bigger), solid metal, and under $20 (with my 40% off coupon, it was about $12; after reading the online reviews, I wouldn't pay much more than that, but I've had really good luck with the 8 snaps I've installed so far...).  V's diapers would've rocked even MORE if I'd had one of these puppies back then. So I thought to myself, well, it's still a neat tool. What else could I use a snap-press for?
 I make some of V's clothes, and it will be handy for those, certainly. And then I was looking at some yellow denim my friend Robin gave me, and I thought, hm...I think I'll make a braclet.

So I made three.

Bracelets above, from top to bottom: using some of my precious tulip ribbon; one of my favorite fabrics ever; and a reversible "believe/create". They're all reversible, actually. Look at those pretty snaps! (The snaps don't come with the pliers: I bought the blue/red/green pack for $8, with another 40% off coupon, so about $5 for 30 complete snap sets).
 Extreme close-up of the "create" side. Clearly, my machine's tension is way off (Emily, can you fix that for me? Or Jennifer? Or anyone?), but it makes almost a baker's twine look of the stitching. I kind of like it. And also, I learned it's really hard to write words using a sewing machine. Worth it, but hard. I'm also envisioning lots of crazy, mini-quilt-for-your-wrist possibilities. I may never leave the basement, at this rate.
I was so excited to make this one, I didn't even change the thread color.

In retrospect, I wish I would've bought the industrial press 6 years ago. I mean, if this $20 purchase holds up, that's awesome, but I'm liking putting snaps on things so much I may have to quit my job and become a professional snap setter. Oh, snaps, where have you been all my life?

So what other words should I attempt to make into bracelets? What do you want your wrist quilt to look like?