Monday, September 19, 2011

What big eyes you have...

I enjoy sewing.  Like yard work, it relaxes me.  But, other than the usual mending or hemming (I’m a short, wee lassie), I haven’t been able to sew much in the last ten years of so.  I either didn’t have the room for my sewing machine to be out, which means sewing was never on my mind (outta sight, outta mind), or I just didn’t have the inspiration to sew (I like to sew as a project, or as a gift). 

There have been an explosion of children in my and Eric’s life.  Our Catoe friends boast three younguns, with plans for at least one more.  IT Guy and his wife are expecting a little boy Sasquach soon.  Our friends and neighbors down the street are expecting a boy, too.  And there are chirren running all ‘round this sweet neighborhood we live in.  I want to give gifts when births and birthdays happen, but the pocketbook is a little tight right now.  So, I’ve taken up sewing again.  Fabric comes in many inexpensive forms:  vibrant linen thrift store clothing, a retired shower curtain, markdown fabrics at Walmart.  I have managed to scavenge some really beautiful cloth and buttons from lots of different sources.  If it still has life in it, it is game to be upcycled into something else. 

I first tried to make a stuffed animal when I was about eight years old.  A friend of the family had recently had a baby, and I wanted to make the baby a stuffed dolphin.  My Gran helped me (Gran was a master at making Red Riding Hood flip dolls…you know, the ones with a granny and a wolf hiding under Red Riding Hood’s skirt?).  She helped me sketch a picture of a dolphin onto a brown grocery bag, found some leftover grey fabric from wolf-making, and set me to work pinning, sewing and stuffing (with the end of a wooden spoon) what turned out to be a pretty nice little dolphin, whose curved body fit perfectly into the hand of the baby. 

Now, I’ve not made too many stuffed animals since then.  Most of my sewing has been reserved for alterations, decorative bags, pillows, curtains and the like.  So, when I decided to try my hand at making a stuffed bunny, I’m not sure that I was mentally prepared…I drew a lopsided, misshapen rabbit onto a piece of scrap paper.  I pinned it and cut it from a retired pair of beloved palazzo pants.  I embroidered eyes, nose, mouth and tail.  And I sewed and stuffed the little rascal.  Yes, it required that I use the end of a wooden spoon to get the stuffing into all the ears, arms and legs.  The end result was a bunny worthy of a Tim Burton film.  All it needed were fangs and dripping blood…it was a frightening looking thing.  But when I took it over to give to little Cash Catoe for his birthday, the other Catoe children wanted to hold it immediately.  Now, I know the reason why they all wanted to hold it was less for its Tim Burton charm and high quality stitching, and more because there was only one bunny (it is a law that when there is only one item and three children, there is bound to be dearth and feigned despair).  But then the other Catoe children requested a stuffed animal of their own.  Zoe requested pink (probably because it is less about the shape and more about the color for her).  Ben requested a bison (probably because Eric and I are affectionately thought of by Ben as large shaggy, lumbering ungulates…well, more so because before Eric’s accident, we played bison with him and his siblings).

So, I had my orders, and I took them seriously.  Something in pink for Zoe.  Something in bison for Ben.  

I associate owls with Zoe because her mommy and daddy had an owl pillow waiting for her on her bed when she came home from China.  Stuffed owls shouldn’t be too hard to make, so I began looking for simple patterns on the internet.  And I found the most adorable one from the wonderful blogger Toad’s Treasures.  Toad, who is a mommy, photographer, artist, among many other things, offered the cutest owl pattern for free on her blogsite.  She also offers the pattern, plus an instructional booklet through her Etsy Shoppe for a very reasonable price.  I think she’s the bee’s knees for sharing her owl pattern.  And for posting a tutorial on owl construction on her website.  I made two owls Friday night, while Eric worked late.  I thought they were cute.  The pink one is for Zoe.  The blue one is for a forthcoming male offspring of a friend.  Now, I just have to get cracking on that bison…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gulf Water Under the Bridge

A couple of years ago I blogged briefly about where I was when 9/11 happened.  It was a post that I named after one of my favorite songs, September Song.  I first heard September Song as a child.  My sister and I would spend hours dressing up in mom’s clothes and listening to mom and dad’s record albums.  The album which contained September Song was entitled Music for Lovers and had a photograph of a suave adult couple having an intimate dinner at a crystal-laden table by candle light on it.  The woman was half-facing the camera (cause she was leaning forward and looking deep into the eyes of her black-suited companion) and was wearing a Dior-like 40s dress.   She had glossy, Veronica Lake hair, and I wanted to be her.  The melody of September Song made me sad for no reason, so I equated the entire Music for Lovers album as melancholy, and I exhibited the appropriate amount of melancholy while acting out the album cover art in one of my mom’s fancy dresses…

Sorry, I digress. Back to my story.

9/11 happened while I was living in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Denver.  My sister and brother-in-law (then, boyfriend) were visiting.  After the planes and fire and rubble and dust of the morning, September Song kept coming to mind the rest of the afternoon, thus the title of that blog in 2009.  But the song Concrete and Clay by Unit 4+2 also came to mind (a 1965 Brittish hit; see the Rushmore film soundtrack).  It is a catchy, upbeat tune about love.  Nothing sad about that.  But the chorus, taken out of context and plunked into the midst of 9/11, lends a different feeling (the video is also a little eerie in the fact that the band sings and plays the tune from what appears to be a building construction site...a site that is reminiscent of what Ground Zero would look like after much of the rubble of the Twin Towers was cleared away):

"The sidewalks in the street, the concrete and the clay
Beneath my feet begins to crumble, but love will never die
Because we'll see the mountains tumble, before we say goodbye"

Really?  I don’t know what to say.  So, I’ll leave it at that.

There have been a number of 9/11 anniversaries that have come and gone, punctuated for me by a reflection on those whose lives were lost (many), and those whose lives were changed forever (all of us). But this anniversary of 9/11 was more significant to me.  Not only was it the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, but also my family had planned a vacation at the coast without realizing that the anniversary would fall during our time with each other.  There were two things about this vacation that made the significant-ness more…well, significant:  1) my sister had secured a condo for all of us in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, which is where we used to spend our summers together at the Greenwood Inn as a family (owned at the time by a couple from Gadsden); and 2)  Vicki, Tony and I were all together again on 9/11, which was something that had not happened since THE 9/11. 

Now, a lot of water (both literal and figurative) has flowed under the proverbial bridge in the twenty-four-odd years since we vacationed as a family in Florida.  Just to mention the most obvious:  1) We have a new addition to our family, my nephew Alex.  He is a delightful imp.  2) My sister, mom and dad have all three faced some serious, life-threatening illnesses (multiple times) since our last visit to the area.  I thank the good Lord every day that they have persevered.  3) And the Greenwood Inn was destroyed many years ago during one of the famous hurricanes (maybe Ivan), and the land upon which it stood (along with the adjacent land that the hotel my friend’s parents owned) has been thankfully preserved from commercialism by virtue of being turned into a state beach park. It was a blessing to be able to spend a couple of days eating and frolicking with people I love so much, at a beach that holds so many childhood memories.  And to be able to share this with my partner Eric…well, it just meant more to me than I can ever describe.  It was a time of reflection and communion.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some feelings from you...

Few people know that at one time in my life I bore a striking resemblance to Warren Zevon.  I do not lie when I say this (if you doubt me, compare my photo to his, here).  I say this with certainty and with pride.  I really like Warren Zevon, so it doesn’t bother me that I looked like him when I was a pre-teen.  It may have bothered me at the time this photo was taken, but it doesn't now.  I mean, we all have to recognize that we went through awkward stages before we figured out how to handle our skin, hair, eyes, etc., right?  Well, I’m here today, admitting that Mr. Zevon and I could’ve shared the same genes…or at least the same sense of style.  I do sometimes kinda wish that I had looked more like David Bowie, least he, on occasion, looked like a girl.

More embarrassing photos and stories to come...yes, I went through a VERY high maintenance stage...