Project Complete: Reindeer Glasses-Holder

This project grew from disparate things:

  1. Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
  2. A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
  3. An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
  4. Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses

     

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    Christmas decoration (after removing plastic wreath from neck).

Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture. 

It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I  laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen,  I played around with the paint pens.

It took me roughly four weeks to finish. 

Voila! A deer for all seasons. 

Things taken for granted…

…in no particular order.

  •  Seeing people regularly. We never bothered to get each other’s contact information because See you at work! See you at church! See you around!
  •  Restaurants. I’m surrounded by wonderful eateries,  all of which are closed. I hope they survive the shutdown.
  •  Cold medicine.
  •  Charity shops. With the arrival of warm weather, I put on last summer’s wardrobe. Everything is too big; I just have to deal with it for now.
  • The public library. E-books and online services are still available, but it’s not as satisfying as walking between the shelves and perusing titles.
  •  Walk-in hair salons.

Shutting EVERYTHING Down

Last week, the county library system announced that all eleven branches were keeping their regular hours. Monday it and every other library, bar, restaurant, gym, and the like were closed. Although I knew my library card-carrying students can check out e-books and other electronic materials, I still felt sorry for anyone finishing up a book in a series.

Today while I was getting ready to purchase an Easter dress* online, there was a sudden hiccough and the entire website was unavailable. I reloaded and it routed me to a message from the CEO: the website and all brick-and-mortar stores are closed until  at least April 5.  So it’s time to take needle and thread to an old dress.**

I went for a drive to pick up potting soil for the seed germination I’m starting Saturday. Odd shops here and there were open; an auto glass repair shop,  a fabric store, and a candle-and-soap emporium, among others.  An electronics store had a very busy parking lot; techies have to tech.

The home improvement store manager assured me that they’ll be open tomorrow at 6 am, as usual.  However, I’m not sure I believe her!


* Made in the US, so I was certain it would be available.

**I have enough experience with sewing to be afraid of using scissors for anything except cutting thread. Mistakes are permanent!

Toolset: Mending

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Old and new tools in the sewing box

I’ve written recently about how cheap clothes make it easier to toss them than to mend, but a globalized economy creates an environment in which even little things are outsourced.

The photo above illustrates the point. The American-made crocheting needle, which dates from the ’80s, was in my first “emergency” sewing kit.  I neither crochet nor knit, but it’s my “sweater-saver.” When a sweater is snagged, I poke the needle through from the back, twist the errant yarn around it, and draw it through to the reverse side.

The darning needles and thread-cutter came from my late maternal grandmother’s carefully-kept cache. The needles were imported because, as everyone knew, Sheffield Steel was high-quality. I can attest to their strength, since I’ve used them on denim and suede. (Note: If you look on the left side of the package, you can see Grandma paid a dime for the package. Quite an investment!) 

Continue reading

On the Mend… clothes, that is!

I had the misfortune of walking through rotting mushrooms and neighbor-dog residue while gardening. They made quite an adhesive for pasting mulch and leaves to my white sneakers.  For a moment, I contemplated tossing them into the garbage. Then I got the bucket and the bristle brush. Then, after a spin in the laundry with a bit of whitening agent, they were ready for many more seasons.

That is, if I take care of them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the saying from the Great Depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

My quest for clothes that fit has shown me how easy it is to donate and buy, donate and buy, etcétera ad nauseam.

It’s also easier to toss than to mend.  Yesterday I discovered a hole in a nearly-new patterned sock. Contrary to rumors spread by Young Humans, I don’t have clawed feet (or eat children), so I wasn’t expecting early-onset sock failure. Luckily, it’s a seam opening, not a tear.

I’m grateful that my mother taught me rudimentary sewing skills, although I’ll never sew clothes like she and my grandmothers. A stitch in time saves nine and a little seam repair or darning saves space in the landfill.

Related Reading

Benjamin Leszcz writes about “The Life-Changing Magic of Making Do”

An oldie-but-goodie post about how to follow the philosophy Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do, or Do Without

 

 

Diet Wardrobe

Warning: Fashion blather ahead.

Two weeks ago, the change in weather made me take a wardrobe inventory. My modest weight loss has changed the fit of everything except socks and shoes.

As an added annoyance, while I was clearing out the old shed, I dumped a sprayer of what I thought was a soapy cleaning solution but turned out to be mold-and-moss remover; the bleach splattered my work-worthy trousers. Luckily, I needed work-around-the-house clothes.

However, finding replacement clothes has been difficult. Several years ago, I had to  come up with a complete winter wardrobe, so I visited final-sale stores and charity shops. Currently (or as my brain insists en la actualidad), those discount stores are closed and the charity shop’s selection is of low quality.  That means I end up shopping online, in the few brick-and-mortar stores an hour’s drive from home, and the picked-over charity selection.

The decline in quality is obvious.

Why the change?

Fast fashion. Continue reading

Project Complete: Steampunk Box

Late this winter, I saw a steampunk trinket box. Made out of plastic resin, it looked like the perfect size and durability for an plugs-and-cords catchall. But the price! I wasn’t paying almost $9 per square inch. (Sounds like the rent in San Francisco, California.)

Instead I bought a plain pine box and a baggy of gears from a craft store. Luckily I kept the receipt, because soon I found a secondhand box in the Salvation Army store.

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Decades ago, this treasure chest-style cedar box made an attractive (and popular) souvenir from Harrison, Michigan. Those imitation brass bands and the yellowish finish look awfully 1970s!

Beneath the dents and tarnish, the box was well-made. In particular, the sturdy hinges and tiny finishing nails impressed me. And the price was right: less than $4.50!

I bought a dark polyurethane. Then I gathered odds and ends: sandpaper, one-coat stripper, cheap brushes, and odd bits like a rusty key.

Stripping and sanding took a long time because I waited on the weather.* I applied the polyurethane one beautiful May day.  And speaking of mayday,  the first coat was a disaster! As it dried, flecks of pollen marred the smooth surface. Oh, the hazards of living in a bucolic wooded area!

Another round with varnish-remover and sandpaper. Then the tedious task of cleaning and polishing hardware with cotton swabs. I scuffed the finish around the latch and on the sides.

Finally I dug out epoxy and began gluing decorations to the surface. My favorite addition was an electrical connector made from a sliver of US nickel, which my grand- or great-grandfather found cheaper to create than buy for five cents. (A familiar story!)

Voila!

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My version of a steampunk box, relatively less gear and more box!


*Despite what manufactures imply, well-ventilated rooms are not a thing in my area. If such a room is discovered – usually in the heart of winter – we arm ourselves with caulk and insulation to fix it. However, some of us have screened porches  or what locals call “Florida rooms” (what my people call a solárium.)

Wardrobe Hunting

Shortly after The Factory closed for the summer, I subtracted items from the dresser and closet: the stylish watch I never wear, worn-out shoes, etc. Then I made a little list of items I lacked: ankle socks, dressy shoes, closed-toe espradilles, and a blouse to dress up or down. And just like previous years, I wrote down “formal spring/fall coat.”

The shoes and socks were easy to find. I was extremely picky about the blouse; there are so many choices.

The formal coat, on the other hand, was a rare beast. Continue reading

Diaries, blogs, and bon mots

I spent quite some time over the last 39 days digging through bookshelves, boxes, and cupboards. I kept coming across old diaries, snippets of writing, and the like. Some things are timeless and I immediately thought “This would make a good blog post!”

And then I came across some unfinished cartoons that I meant to use on my first blog. Yes, I used to draw cartoons. In fact, I won an award in high school for the best editorial cartoon (I can’t recall what category).

And yes, I had a blog before this. In fact, this is my third.

Two blogs ago, I was “famous” enough to have real-life repercussions from a former student’s mother. It wasn’t as if I wrote about her child or even about work. It was merely that every small town has a contingent of gossips and a photo of me enjoying wine with friends was “proof” that I’m a drunken lesbian.

“My client pleads guilty to the lesser charge of fun at parties, Your Honor.”

” I see no evidence of that. Case dismissed.”

A blog ago, I paid for a nom de plume and no ads. I ended up with more spammers than readers. I deleted that blog and signed up for a free account. Now, since everyone and their grandfather has a blog (not to mention vlog), mine is nicely obscure.

Posting on a blog is a bit like writing in a diary, except that a diary entry is usually uncensored and doesn’t attempt to polish up the boring or ugly bits.

On the other hand, diaries would be better if they had categories and tags like a blog post.  I can’t tell you how disconcerting it was to read an epiphany I had in 2008 – which I promptly forgot – had again in subsequent years!

That epiphany? Well, over the years I reworded it, but it goes like this:

The worst pains in my life are self-inflicted.

And that, Dear Diary and Reader, is the unvarnished truth.

Ah, sweet filthy lucre!

Money was running through my fingers like water this week, what with the chariot due for an oil change, toiletries running out, and shoelaces needing a replacement.  I found myself grabbing gas money out of the “Stash o’ Cash”.

Some readers may know it by another name: the emergency fund. I learned to squirrel away bills and coins for those situations that require cash on hand. (I admit it began with a gas-and-pizza fund at college.) It’s a kind of running joke among old friends that some of us follow the “squirrel model” too closely and forget where they put it. (Or add to it without using it, like my grandfather who stashed thousands of dollars in a safe over the course of years!) Continue reading