It is November 1. Leaves have finally begun to change color on the trees, and to settle on the still-bright green lawn. And that still-green lawn now has wild strawberries growing in it. The tomato plants have sprung back to life, the nasturtiums continue to bloom, the cosmos to replicate themselves. Cold will come in time, and with it, a personal mourning for light and life and bright healing air.
Out of time, as it seems we are, the seasons are overlapping, and creating a certain degree of poetic confusion.
Writing what you actually see when you look through to the bottom of a lake, that requires the sun high overhead, Jupiter and Mars in the nighttime sky, toes in warm mud after a heavy afternoon rain shower, the scent of meat searing over a charcoal fire. In summer, I paint on a living canvas instead of fabric and wood fashioned to my easel.
Writing it all down at the end of the growing year, when darkness rises in late afternoon and the sky feels a little too close for comfort, the project turns artificial, grasping for a reality which can’t exist in the greys and browns of November. The conceit of spending that month creating something new could only have been thought of by a someone in Southern California, where they do not witness first hand the vacuum in nature between the bright harvest colors of October and the sparkling decor of December; it’s something they see conjured on a movie or TV set. But they who say tell us that Nature abhors a vacuum, and making up a wild and fantastic story might be one way to fill it in for anyone who feels the misery of Winter’s emergence.
Summer beautifies reality. Winter fosters fantasy. Understanding this, I adjust my focus for each season in turn, and make what I can of it.
How to adjust focus when the seasons are blurred together like this? That's something for greater philosophers than I.
Oh, the years I spent telling my kids things are good, and done well. Anyway. It's NaNoWriMo review time, and this year's story is dovetailing with 2014, so I'm going over that.
I like this portion an awful lot, so I'm sharing it with you. It's long; will take 10-15 minutes to read. And no, it hasn't been edited, so ignore that.
Vinny's first girlfriend and "White Silver Sands"
Vinny strolled into the studio, kissed Violet on the cheek, went behind Jack’s bar, and poured himself a little bourbon, swirled it with an ice cube, then removed the cube and walked over to the mike stand holding the glass.
“It’s been a long time since I talked about this, Jack. I’m taking a bit of courage first. You’ve got a good selection back there.” Vinny said this so casually, as if he just expected to walk into a room with a fully stocked bar, a wide variety of seating, and a roulette wheel.
“Sure thing, Vinny. Let me know when you’re ready.”
Violet realized she was seeing a different side of Vinny than the old joker who hung out with Tommy, eating donuts all morning. Here, Vinny was confident, sharper, somehow, and she could see the attractive man he’d been in his younger days. “No wonder some of the auxiliary ladies seem to be hanging out for him.”
Vinny’s about the same height as Jack, maybe slightly above medium. Violet thought maybe he used to be a little taller. He has nearly the same hairline of his youth, though his hair is mostly grey and thinner than it once was. Still thick enough for him to wear long and floppy on top; he runs his fingers through it so it hangs toward one side. He has the typically hooded eyes of an older Italian-American man, and deep laugh lines around his mouth. Violet could remember him from her childhood, always sharing a joke with whoever came by the electronics shop he’d inherited from his uncle, yet he never seemed boisterous or loud, like his friend Tommy.
Almost as if he could hear what she was thinking, Vinny caught Violet’s eye, and winked at her. She giggled quietly. Jack noticed the look and had an odd expression on his face.
“Okay, I’m ready, Jack. Let’s do this.”
“I was born right after the war, you know, the big one, World War Two, and my parents had just bought a house here, a few blocks from here, actually, on the GI bill. Dad went to school and got a degree in chemistry. Mom worked in a dress shop, and brought me with her until I was old enough to go to school. I started school when I was four, because then she had my sister, and needed me out of her hair. They didn’t really do preschool back then, but Sea View had a kindergarten by that time, so I went to that.
“No, no, I’m not telling you my whole life story here, but I’m telling you about something I know you’ve always wondered about. I was born along with the first seedlings of rock and roll, and grew up right alongside it.
“Mom and Dad liked to boogie, knew all the dances. Jazz and bebop. We had an old piano Dad would bang away on, and Mom would sing, she knew all the songs, too, all the old ones, and everything on the radio. In the evening, we listened to radio shows, too, and had our favorite stories. I liked the adventure serials, but my parents liked things like *Our Miss Brooks* and *Father Knows Best*, real corny stuff. And Jack Benny, of course. Anyway, we spent a lot of time together in those early years. It was good.
“And then my dad got a job with a big drug company, and Mom quit her job, and we moved to a new house with two bathrooms in it, and a big backyard. I still went to the same school, of course, there was just the one then. I rode my bike instead of walking. One year, in music class, a teacher came in and tried us all out on different instruments. And then my parents got a letter saying I should be in the school band, and learn to play the drums. Well, that sounded all right to me, but I had to talk them into buying the starter drum for the house, because you couldn’t lug one around the way you could a trombone. And Mom liked the idea because she said I could play with Dad on the piano, and maybe my sister Gina would learn the clarinet or something.
“But Dad was teaching Gina the piano, and that was good, cause then he had a stroke, and could only play with his left hand. Gina learned melodies and he played the bass line, and they did a good job of it.
“I loved playing the drum, but I didn’t like playing in the school band very much. I kept at it, though, because it made my parents so proud. And then we had rock and roll! Dad wasn’t so into it, because he said it sounded kinda cheap or something, and he was listening to west coast jazz by then, learning how to improvise with his one hand, which was pretty cool, and now I think I shoulda told him so.
“We played marching band type stuff at school, but before and after practice it was Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Bill Haley. I remember learning the intro to “You Keep a Knocking” and recognizing it in a Led Zeppelin song years later. But they were all like that, taking parts from each other’s compositions and doing new things with them. Nobody said anything most of the time. Can’t get away with that now.
“And the thing was, the early songs were just like the crooners’ standards had been. Somebody’d write a song and then half a dozen different bands and singers would record it. So you’d hear a song in 1957 by a singer, and the next year, a band would do it with a different tempo, or as an instrumental, or practically the same thing, trying to score their own hit off of it. So we had our favorite versions of different songs, and also we’d do different dances to them, depending.
“In 1960 I was in 9th grade, which was in junior high back then. And you know, we had *American Bandstand* by then. Some of the kids who didn’t have a TV yet would come over to my house to watch it and a couple other shows. Afterwards we’d play records, and when my friend Tommy started playing guitar, we practiced together, cause he did better when I kept a beat for him. Sometimes my sister played the piano for us, we didn’t mind even though she was still a little girl. We needed a piano. So that was kind of my first band, Me, Tommy, and my sister. My dad was only about 40 then, but he wasn’t too active outside of work anymore. He’d watch us play and sometimes make us play the jazz tunes he liked.
“One thing my dad taught us was that we could take the songs we heard on the radio and Bandstand and make them our own. We weren’t very good at it, but we learned a lot more about the music by taking it apart and figuring out new things to do with it, new ways to put it back together. That’s jazz, you know. The early rock and roll guys all did it, the best ones. So we’d hear a song and wonder how it would sound with a different tempo, a different time signature. My sister was the best at it. Learning piano one hand at a time the way she did turned out to be good for her. Because when she started doing the left hand, she was imitating Dad, riffing on chords right from the beginning. Gina was great at that.
“Let’s stop for a minute, I gotta catch my breath.”
Jack said, “This is really interesting, Vinny. You should write a book.”
“Me? No, I’m no good at that. I sound dumb when I write things down.” Vinny went over to refresh his drink.
Violet said, “But you wouldn’t really need to write it down. You’d just talk, like this, and then someone would type it all out. Reading a story of someone telling a story always sounds better, anyway.”
Jack said, “People would buy it, Vinny. They’d buy an audio recording of you telling your story.”
Vinny laughed as he took a drink. “It’s something to think about, I guess.”
He began again. “The point of the story is that I went to the freshman dance and met a girl named Carla. There’d been a hit song by a couple of different people called ‘White Silver Sands.’ But that night, the kid who was spinning the records, a high school student, played a slow-burning version by a combo called Bill Black’s. A lot of us lined up for The Stroll. You know about the stroll, right? They made a song for it. Funny thing, you hardly touch in that dance, but it’s— Wow, it can get electric. It started out sorta goofy and fun, and then goes into this really sexy sax solo.”
Jack and Violet looked at each other, eyes wide, grinning.
“Yeah, well, so Carla really liked that song a lot. And she was a good dancer, too. Of course, everybody could dance back then. Not like it is now. The Stroll was one of the last good ones, though, until they started disco dancing, doing some of the ballroom stuff.
“Now, I was only fourteen years old, but I was hooked on Carla in an instant. She and I started going around together, and she loved that song, so I bought the record, and we’d listen to it. She watched our band practice, and kept saying it was too bad we didn’t have a sax player. I’d walk her home and we’d hold hands, but I never tried to kiss her. I started thinking maybe I could play saxophone, and then she’d want me to kiss her.
“I know this sounds goofy, but I was a goofy kid. I asked my uncle for help, because I was afraid to ask my dad somehow. Uncle Eddie got me a used saxophone and told me I could work in his store in the summer to help pay for it. He sold TVs and radios back then. The band teacher taught me a few things about the reed and the keys, and I got some records that teach you how to play. I practiced and practiced and practiced, boy was I lousy. I had to play in the garage so my parents wouldn’t kick me out.
“I turned 15, and still went to movies with Carla, she still watched us play, but she seemed interested in an older boy called Malcolm. I never liked that name, Malcolm. The thing is, I didn’t tell Carla I was learning the sax at all. Just kept playing my drums, doing all right at it, while Tommy was getting really good on the guitar.
“After about six months, just as I was entering high school, I played for the band teacher again. He was real surprised. He thought I’d improved so fast I might be better at the sax in another year than I was at the drums. So me and Tommy found a drummer, Ricky, and started our real band, calling ourselves The Expressives, which I think is a very dumb name now. Ricky, Tommy, Vinny, and Gina. We didn’t care she was a little girl because she played better than anybody we knew. But I didn’t let the guys say bad stuff around her.
“Carla started going with Malcolm, and I didn’t like that much, but I was too busy with the band, anyway. I wanted to get good at the saxophone because I loved it, and that seemed like enough. Dad paid for me to have weekly lessons, too.
“Mr. Felder, the band director, chose us to play live music for the winter dance. We had three months to practice and learn a whole set of songs for it. Another band would do a second set. And I knew I had to be able to do ‘White Silver Sands.’ Gina was in 7th grade then, and Mom was chaperoning her, which she didn’t like much, but what could you do?
“We wore matching suits. We had brown pants and brown and red plaid jackets with white shirts and red ties. Gina wore a plaid party dress, she was so cute, you know. But some of the kids were whispering about us having a little kid in the band. We were prepared for that and started our set with ‘Theme From A Summer Place.’ Gina sounded terrific, and the couples all danced. Then we started to rock and roll, with a good Duane Eddy tune. The others all sang, Tommy did most of the lead, because he sounded a little bit like Bobby Darin, and Ricky had a falsetto, they could do kind of an Everly Brothers sound, you know.
“And so, you know, for our final song, I stepped up and said, ‘This one’s for Carla.’ Never was I so cool and so nervous at the same time. Then we played ‘White Silver Sands,’ Bill Black-style, slow and steady. Gina did the intro on the piano, then I did the sax solo. It wasn’t a tough one, and I was ready for it.”
Vinny stopped speaking and grinned.
Jack and Violet both waited a minute, and then Jack asked, “Well? What happened??”
“You want to know what happened after I spent a year learning the saxophone so I could impress a girl I once danced with?
“I got pretty good at the sax, that’s what happened. And the kids did clap and cheer, and asked for an encore, so we played ‘The Twist.’”
Violet sighed. “She didn’t deserve you, Vinny.”
They sat and talked for awhile. Vinny asked, “How long you been keeping this place a secret, Jack?”
Jack sighed. “Well, I’ve been working on it for about five years. I had the bar updated, and the floor refinished first. then I bought some furniture, and then I added the sound system. And then last year I bought the recording equipment. Violet discovered it then, by accident.”
Violet said, happily, “It’s my Narnia! I was in a closet looking for something, opened a door, and here it all was!”
“And Jack here is your Mr. Tumnus, right?”
They stared at Vinny.
“What? I’ve read books. Actually, my daughter had those books.” Vinny nodded in approval. “I really like this a lot, Jack. A person could almost live up here.”
Jack said, “I had that idea, originally. Maybe not all the time, but I imagined I could spend weekends here, like, well, you know.” He smiled, a little sheepishly. “But also, it’s insulated and basically sound-proof, which is why we can do the recordings this way.”
Violet said, “It would be easy to put a cooktop in the bar area, actually. You already have a refrigerator. Think of the parties you could have.”
Vinny added, “Maybe you should throw one. For New Year’s, or something.”
Jack mused over this. “It’s been years since I threw a real party. You know, the thing about getting older is that you really do want it a little quieter. However, not a lot quieter. Interesting people who can still laugh and be silly, but not the kind who hang from chandeliers.”
“Listen,” Vinny said. “I got about twenty years on you two. I see things are different now, but they aren’t so different that I don’t know something about this. What you want to do is make it a kind of drop in all evening kind of thing. If it works out right, the dullest and also oldest people get tired and leave first. Then you got your rabble-rousers. They see only so much excitement happening, and they leave to find more someplace else. And then you’re left with the people in the middle; the ones you wanted to hang around with most, anyway. And so there you go.”
Jack and Violet grinned at each other. Vinny has always had a way of cutting right to the heart of things.
Violet left then, to meet Lily for dinner, and Vinny stayed for a few minutes longer, while Jack showed him how the sound system worked, and the rotating casino table that had been used in the room during its speakasy days. Both it and the mirrored shelves behind the bar were reversible at the touch of a switch.
Vinny said, “You’re still hanging out after her, aren’t you, Jack?”
“Well, it’s easy for the rest of us to see she’s settled down, like you have, so what are you waiting for? The thing is, Jack, you don’t know how much time you have, or how much time anyone else has, and the years are going to start passing faster and faster.”
“I have my mom, you know,” Jack began.
Vinny looked at him like he was crazy. “Your mom thinks you’re nuts spending all your time alone. In fact, it is a little strange, all of you unmarried, practically no kids between you, no new Sea View residents to take over after you’re gone.
“But you and Violet, you should take the leap now, while you still can.”
“That’s a lot to assume, that Violet’s just been waiting for me to crook my finger at her.”
“No, because she has already crooked her finger at *you*, Jack. Everyone else can see it, even if you can’t.” Vinny shook his head in wonder.
“Hmm, well, that might explain how things started the other night, after we saw a play rehearsal together.” Jack stopped to think it over for a few moments. “We went back to Violet’s house and were drinking hot tea, you know how outrageously cold it was last weekend, and we had a fire going, it felt really warm and comfortable.” He paused.
“So, then what happened?”
Jack sighed. “Then Robert Halladay came bursting in to whine about something to do with Lily, and then Lily showed up for the same reason.”
Vinny stopped him. “Robert and Lily are even worse than you and Violet. They’re like a sitcom couple people are starting to find annoying because they won’t just up and get to it already.”
Jack raised his eyebrows. “What you’re saying is that everyone is following along like we’re all entertainment for you.”
“Well, you are, Jack, only I gotta say, it’s starting to get a little boring. It’s time you spiced up the show a little bit.” Vinny grinned. “Invite me over to dinner. I want to visit with your mom.”
You can get proper breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa. You might think they're okay elsewhere, but they are not. An exception might be if someone from one of those places brought their cook and pigs to some other place, but not really.
We never got a breaded pork tenderloin during our recent road trip to Kansas City, because we ran out of eating room. So soon we're going to drive to Indiana for one.
There are two real kinds of pork tenderloin sandwich, and one of them is sort of a fancier version, of which I do not wholly approve. It is acceptable, but I'm not driving two hours for that kind.
It's properly served in a plastic basket lined with paper, and accompanied by french fries, onion rings or potato chips, and/or sometimes a little disposable cup of cole slaw, and also sometimes a pickle spear. But it's okay if it's on a plate these days, instead. People don't seem to go in for plastic basket lunches like they used to.
The pork tenderloin circumference should be several times the size of the bun, and it should be hand-breaded or at least coated in bread crumbs. This also looks okay. Sometimes people make them thicker so that they are not as big around, and use a batter, instead. I don't think that's right, but it can still be a good sandwich that way. If it's Sunday, you can eat it with gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans, instead of on a bun. I guess. You're really just eating pork schnitzel at that point, aren't you? But if you go to a place where they have breaded pork tenderloin which is formed into a neat round patty, don't order that.
This isn't going to be the post I had in mind when I began thinking it over yesterday. My heart is a bit overfull just now.
Two things to think over which spawn many other channels of thought. First, I will turn 51 in six weeks. I like being a prime number. But it is a scary age for me to be. Second, this is my twentieth year having some sort of garden, though it's 23 if you count the zinnias under the tree in Olathe. I'm counting from the glorious garden I built in Saginaw in 1997, though. I had little energy last year to give the garden a proper start, and so I have been happily and eagerly making up for it this year, only as we had no April to speak of, some of the vegetables which like April best are probably not going to produce really well before it turns hot. There is this thin window of time in which the ground is workable but not too cold, and the air is warming but is not yet hot. And this year, the window is even thinner than usual, because we reverted back to February at the end of March, then shot straight into May a few days ago. But such is gardening life along the 39th degree.
My first garden, in Michigan, was kind of a thing of wonder. It became self-sustaining in two years' time, and was actually left alone to grow for at least a couple years more after I moved away. I didn't have all the internet advice I have now, and didn't even get much from the library. But I had towering tomato plants mixed in with all kinds of flowers and herbs, and just whatever I felt like growing. At first, gardening in New Jersey was something of a trial in comparison; the earth is very sandy there, especially where we lived, just three miles from the sea, and then five... ...and then more. Oh, I miss the sea. So I focused on the herbs, slowing adding in whatever I could when conditions allowed, and then for my last two years there, on the west side of the state, I had a 20x20 plot in a community garden. That's where I really learned to garden, and where I learned to love gardeners. I will always treasure my brief time there, though I had a more difficult time finding some of the truly interesting plants there which were so easily available in Michigan. In NJ, anything which wasn't commonplace came at quite a premium. Well, everything just costs 30% more there. It makes people creative, though. I forgot I could be creative for awhile after moving here to Ohio into a neighborhood where a putting green lawn is valued far above the offerings of nature or my own "oldcountry" aesthetic desires. That is, I didn't forget, but I've been torn between worrying over lawn edgings and dandelions and needing to "express myself through the medium of growing interesting stuff in interesting configurations.” Doing it to satisfy both the neighbors and me would really just require throwing a lot of money around. You get more for your money here, but I can't justify it.
So my back gardens in my rented space are semi-conservative little oases, and I treasure them as much as I can, while the front areas are more for public view, and no one knew what to think last year when I got the notion of growing middle eastern cucumbers on a trellis in front of the porch…if I told them that on the east coast, many people do not waste their front lawns on the cultivation of grass, they’d think it’s all just as awful as they believe they’re told by the news.
I never planned to have a garden, you know. This is because my mother had an enormous one for a couple of years, completely organic back when that was rather tougher to do in the post-mid-century living better through chemistry era, and I hated having to weed it. Well, I hardly weed my gardens at all. I just grow stuff between the stuff so I don’t have to. The carrots always need it, though.
I have repeated many aspects of my mother’s life, after being so certain I never would. I love gardening, I love old stuff. I have experienced some of the same pains and losses. And now I’m turning 51, the age my mother found a lump in her breast.
It is not 1987. I did not smoke as a teenager. I have not consumed huge quantities of Coke and Pepsi throughout my lifetime. I have eaten less processed food, though probably not much less. I cook with olive oil, I drink milk, I eat more fish, I breastfed my kids, and I’ve done a somewhat better job of keeping middle age weight at a reasonable place.
Still, and all. One can’t help but think about it and wonder. I have assigned all my belongings to various offspring, and I keep thinking they should not have too many drawers or boxes to sort through someday, because there’s only so much charm to be found in browsing through what other people won’t throw out.
I’m actually more likely to be felled by a heart condition because of my horrible teeth, but the fact is, from this point forward, the markers are not just, “Now I am older than Pushkin, Darin, Judy Holliday...*” but “I have been a mother longer than I had one,” “this is the age she got sick,” and two years, ten months older than I am now, “now I am older than my mother lived to be.”
So besides having my vitamins and checkups and thinking about doing a better job of making sugar calories matter, I’m working to be pleasant and giving and at peace with life, the universe and every little thing. Growing beautiful things and sewing gifts and making purple cocktails, helping tense cashiers calm down a bit, loving the dog and my kids and trying not to poison either the earth or other peoples’ hearts and minds keeps me pretty busy at that.
Here’s to Earth, to Mom, to Purple Rain, to all the Aprils you and I will live to see.
I started this yesterday evening. When I have the page filled sufficiently, I’m posting it.
1. This post brought to you through the auspices of Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton PA, my erratic luteal phase, and a fresh loaf of Italian bread, and is dedicated to Rumson, New Jersey, my friend Anna*, and everyone who portrayed Mr Knightley in a movie.
I went to Kroger for some Italian sausage (thus, also some bread,) and because I needed a few minutes around some people; collective energy and so forth, and listened to my iPod there and back, noticing it has a remarkable understanding of just the sort of mood I’m in. So that’s what this is. Well, plus a few more songs that played while I was cooking sausage. Check it out: That sign has been up at Tuesday Morning for at least a couple months, definitely before the news of Hancock’s new bankruptcy was announced, and waaaay before they announced they were closing ALL stores. Things that make you wonder…
I have On The Beach on while typing this. Wasn’t Tony Perkins just beautiful?
And in 1959, as skinny as my beautiful sons. People seem to find this wrong now, or maybe they always did, I dunno. I remember being made fun of for it when very young, then later as a teen and young woman, the ugly sneers… But if it’s okay for people to weigh a whole lot, it’s also okay for them to weigh not very much at all. Life, you know. Diverse and all.
Hello. I’d like to talk with you about Gregory Peck’s jawline.
2. Because of reasons to do with that unfortunate Lois Lane scene, no, not in the completely awesome exciting and thoughtful unless there is something seriously wrong with you new film, but the old outdated Superman movie, I have this Gordon Lightfoot song in my head.
I do like this song, but I always thought of it as some of the “grownup” music when I was a kid.
Speaking of which, Merle Haggard has died, and while I was not a fan, I mean, of course I remember him and he was a part of our youth and etc., and it occurs to me that all our childhood grownups are dying, and pretty soon we’ll be the only grownups who remember them, or something like that. I couldn’t quite hang onto the thread I was following. Our childhood is all ghosts, is maybe what I mean. I have a list of half a dozen people who, when they are gone, will have been the end of it all. Let us not speak their names just now. Not because of superstitions we need not have, but because we will rather continue to think of them as healthy and strong.
I was in a better mood earlier, and also yesterday when I began this exercise. It’s gloomy and raining now, which does a thing to my brain, I guess, though I never mean for it to. And so I am not going to finish this until I am in a better mood again. That’s what it’s meant to be about.
3. I’ve had a look at my “notes for later” document that I keep in my dock, and found some items to share:
a. "Exquisite Timing: Perimenopause and the Bee Gees:" this is an essay I’m working on which I’ll probably post to Medium some time or other. But Medium has already changed a lot since it started. I’m not quite as keen on it as I was in the beginning. I’m that way, just always was, I guess. Nobody steal my title.
b. My son said this a few weeks ago: Jesus was walking around the desert with chest damage, trying to build an arc reactor, Judas turned his back on him and betrayed him, trying to steal the technology.
c. I copied this from somewhere, don’t remember who said it. You can Google it if you like. “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.”
4. You know how people used to complain that their old out of touch parents would send them painful inspiring emails, or chain letter emails, or ridiculous urban legends? Here are examples of the things I text to my kids.
5. I saved this photo to share as well, but do not recall why. Something to do with his speech pattern. 6. A little while back I made my hair lighter, and it's also shorter than it's been in awhile, but then I saw this brief stuttering video from a few years ago and got to missing it dark, never mind long, a person should be only so fickle.
So what do you think? A little darker than image a like it is now, or a little lighter than image b like it's sort of now meant to be? * For Anna, I was going to post a link to a Tumblr site devoted to red-haired men. But they turned out to all be gay porn. So, anyway...here's a song.
You might have seen me lamenting the imminent closure of Hancock Fabrics. It sounds funny, I suppose, but I just love that store and will miss it a whole lot. Like Border’s, but maybe more.
I’ve lived near a good one for nearly five years, but have visited it at least a couple times a month for the past fifteen months as I worked to keep my brain busy and productive during a hard winter, then discovered I now possess a new love for an old art. First I reintroduced myself to embroidery, and made a crazy quilt entirely by hand. Then I mostly finished another one, and then I got a sewing machine. I didn’t buy it there, but I did buy everything I use with it there, as a grand birthday treat. They introduced me to Mary Ellen’s Best Press, and allowed me to let my imagination loose with their Spot the Bolt sales. I got a lot of very inexpensive past season half and whole yards that way, and commenced to learning how to sew with a machine (properly; I could at least run one before,) in June. Each Saturday last summer I taught myself something new. I made a bag and an apron for my daughter, and a baby quilt for an online friend, and then more bags and aprons and quilts, and blocks to embroider, to save for later, to turn into something new. Hancock mattered because it’s just past my neighborhood in the shopping center with my main Kroger, and it felt like a comfortable place to drive to and spend time in. There are two other places to buy sewing needs just a little farther away, but they don’t feel like home, they aren’t convenient, and I don’t have any sense of excitement about going to them. For me, shopping at Cherry Grove Hancock Fabrics was like buying paints or candies. Some of the employees were always cheerful, and a couple often were not, but I enjoyed getting them to open up and laugh.
It’s not at all the greatest store, just pretty good, but I’m going to miss it. I was taking stock of my fabric this morning, some of which I bought yesterday during one final visit. And I realized there was some symbiosis to it all that I’ll have to find or not find somewhere else. It’s okay for you to think I’m eccentric in this regard; I probably am. But I’m sure there are a few other people who feel the same way. If you've looked at my domestic arts blog or Google Plus posts, you've seen some of these projects among others, but I gathered a few here for a little tribute to the hours (and dollars) I spent at Hancock, trying to make frugal conscientious choices and also just wandering around learning about everything available and discovering what I might use it for. And there are some more projects I gave away, because when I feel really successful, I am excited to share it with someone.
I ran across my Moleskine notebook yesterday. It was given to me ten years ago and I used it to save memories of special days. It's only about 2/3 full. Never mind about that. Here are a few excerpts from it.
A representative sampling of stuff I made this year.
This is the first official quilt I finished with the sewing machine. I made it for the new baby of my favorite internet writer/a favorite person in general, so I felt good that it turned out pretty well.
A cute bag I made for myself.
A small quilt top.
The crazy quilt I made last winter. 100% by hand. I shared a few details of it here a couple days ago.
This is the first thing I made on my new sewing machine, which I got for my birthday in June. I sent it to one of my daughters.
A painting I never actually finish because it isn't meant to be? It's this whole thing. Also it's not a very good photo...but I decided to hang it, anyway.
This is a reversible bag. For some reason, I don't have photos of the blue side. But I did some finishing stitching at the top, then sent it to my daughter, thinking I'd make another. I have the materials, hope to have the time soon.
An experimental crazy quilt top. It's not done but I think it's neat.