Wednesday 10 June 2015

Humatrope 6: Three Distractions

Three things that have my attention
Now that the jet-lag is over (more about 10 days in Tokyo with my 12 year-old son later), there are three things on my mind.

Thing One: finish the Humatrope Collar (I think that's what it calls itself)

This is the very most pressing, yet the most impossible of the projects. What's stopping me? A lesson with Blossom, which I can't manage, time-wise, until August, without the help of a whole village.

Still not sure what to do with these bits...
At Blossom's I will learn to make cords to lace up the back of the strictly couture-method, boned, embroidered, beaded corset I've been working on since the fall. It's been a fascinating labour of love, but I admit to being relieved that the end is in sight. A few more hours of beading (an excellent activity for waiting through parkour lessons), make the ties, then insert the lining, make the hand-worked eyelets (using a porcupine quill, no less!), make and attach two beaded tassels, and ta-da! Finished! Blossom says make the garment and the appropriate occasion to wear it will present itself. Maybe; I am happy enough just to make it - I'll learn anything Blossom wants me to know.

I will later apply these principles to make the closure of the collar. I envision two exquisite, beaded, be-tasselled ties hanging down the back, attached to the garment with buttons. This might be where the lavender and light green protective needle caps come in...

Butterfly buttons found in two different boxes of OSF donations. 
Thank you for saving these for me
The gorgeous, glass and metal, butterfly-entrapped buttons were acquired from two separate boxes of donations at Our Social Fabric. I didn't notice I had a pair until an intense sorting of my button boxes after my son left for military boarding school, and I turned his bedroom into a (temporary) sewing room. I learned to transform, with swift efficiency, a den of Lego, Nerf guns, and items needed to modify them, into a functional, airy, organized sewing room, complete with cutting table, ironing board, room for my serger, and a cork board. And vice versa. In the 10 months he was gone I made that transformation 4 times. 

Now I sew in the dining room. Or should I say, we occasionally eat in the sewing room. I gave away the dining room table, painted the bee balm red walls a creamy white (thanks, Erika for the paint), and put the dishes in the basement. My curtains are a dark pink, bobbled, early 70s, off-grain travesty. I have a hand-me-down clothes rack and piles of projects to be sewn. My sewing room is awesome.

So, no Humatrope collar for a month or two, but in the interim, there is

Thing Two: make a Perfect Nightie for my daughter

My daughter likes to twirl, wearing a long, full, swirly nightgown. Who doesn't? I think most people enjoyed it at some point in their lives, and I have a theory that the sexes will never be equal until we are all free to twirl, whenever, wearing whatever comfortable, swirly garment we choose.
Manly, yes, but I like it, too!
The best garment for twirling, according to my daughter, has the following characteristics:
  • it has a full, long skirt, almost to the floor. A skirt that grazes the floor is the best, but for going upstairs, ankle-length is safer, even if you always remember to hold the skirt up with one hand and hold on to the banister with the other; 
  • it has long sleeves, with elastic at the wrist to keep them from creeping up while sleeping; 
  • there are no buttons, but there are ribbons, bows, cheetah print fleece fabric and definitely some dog-ish element. 
It will be a delight to create this dream-come-true for my daughter from the length of cotton, tie-dyed by her at Dunbar Summer Day Camp* last year. The hardest part will be figuring out how to make boxer dog pockets from cheetah print fleece...
*the best place in town for supported day camp, in my opinion
Components for Twirling Nightie Perfection

Thing Three is a real distraction. It is jumping up and down in front of me, waving its arms and shouting, "Yoohoo! Oh, yoohoo Mr. Kotter! Pick me! Pick me!" It's my garden, in need of attention, a good tidying up and a whole lot of loving. Or, more accurately, I need it.

Hand-me-down garden 
I have in mind a series of photos and short pieces about the various plants that have made their way to my garden (doesn't that sound exciting). A few of the plants were purchased, but most are orphans, abandoned, like most things I'm attracted to. Some came from seed collected in the neighbourhood on long walks, pushing a stroller, desperately attempting to lull a frantic, crying baby to sleep. This is when my love of gardening really began. I started noticing flowers and plants that had never registered before: euphorbia, hellebore, grape hyacinth and snowdrops preceding rhododendrons, preceding the crazy, huge, blue mophead hydrangeas that blew my mind when I moved to Vancouver in 1985 to attend UBC.

It was August when I came, just in time for a week or two of fun before school (and the rain) began. The audacity of the massive blue flowers stunned and delighted me. I knew I was home.

Sometime during my determined, distressed march through the seasons, I started noticing stirrings of plant lust within me. I began looking for my favourites in yards and alleys along my many routes. I anticipated their blooms*. As I trudged along, glassy eyed, trying to tune out the crying that only enough time in the stroller (or sometimes, the car) could relieve, I planned where I might put them in my own garden, if I should ever take my hands off the buggy long enough to pick up a shovel.
*The highlight was the smell of the daphne odorata in February. I hovered so long and so often outside the fence of a particular house, deep-breathing to the point of dizziness the crisp, lemon-lilac-lavender scent that reminded me of a wonderful friend I left in Japan, that the owner came out to check me out. I finally bought two of my own, and planted them in containers, anticipating a probable move that still hasn't happened. One of the daphne bloomed its last this spring. Alas

A tiny twig chair, found in a pile of trash behind a church
near Trimble Park, slowly returns to the earth.
Almost all of my plants have a story, or a memory associated with them, happy or sad. My garden has a personality. I visit it, like I would a friend, miss it when I can't. We chat. It tells me what it needs, and I try to listen. It responds to me when I do, leaving me little surprises, as delightful as love notes or miniature salt and pepper shakers my mother tucked into my lunch bag when I was a kid. When I make a mistake, it lets me know, then usually forgives me. It makes me feel like a capable and competent person, and it gives me hope and confidence when motherhood seems like a futile, incomprehensible, surreal undertaking I'm sure I didn't sign up for. I take care of my garden, so I can take care of my family.

So I think what I'll do in my spare time* is hang out in the garden, writing. And on any rainy day until Blossom's lesson I will sew part of a perfect, swirly nightgown. I'm going to have so much fun!
*i.e. instead of doing unnecessary housework. Thank you, Mother-in-Law, for your advice years ago: nobody ever went to her grave wishing she'd done more housework

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