I found the perfect fabric: a creamy off-white printed with green leaves. It wasn’t exactly wedding dress fabric, but I am one of those people who wants to wear the dress again so I just … made a dress, not a wedding dress. I found a nice bland dress pattern, your basic A-line dress with three different backs. I picked the simplest back and got to work laying out and cutting out the pattern. A weekend ought to be enough time.
I had forgotten that most dress patterns run a little small, so when the bodice was finished and I went to slide it over my head, it didn’t quite make it. Good thing I started a month ahead of time!
Right. Except now I had to go buy the same pattern again because as those of you who sew know, once you cut out a pattern, the larger size has been cut away.
And then I was going to need more fabric.
Only they didn’t have any more of that fabric.
So now I had to start completely over, with a new pattern and new fabric.
By the time I was done with this dress, I had run into so many little set- backs and re-starts that I also had to end up making a little jacket and a very wide sash to cover up all the patches, gussets, hidden pleats and extensions.
Oh, and the sash? I decided to buy a little quarter yard of this very pretty creamy gauzy fabric that had a wee sprinkling of glitter on it.
“You will regret this decision,” said the fabric store clerk in a flat monotone.
“Oh, I’m sure it will be fine,” I told her. It’s just for a sash.”
“I used this fabric on a Halloween costume two years ago and I’m still finding glitter in my cat’s litter box,” she warned.
“It’s just a sash, I will be able to sew it in 20 minutes, and I’m only wearing it for like two hours. It will be okay.”
“Just don’t come back here crying to me,” she said, and unrolled the bolt, thunk thunk thunk.
She was right. All of the wedding guests went home with glitter on their eyelids and in their ears. My husband found glitter in his golf bag two years later. There was glitter in the floorboards, the dog’s food dish, the mail box, pretty much everywhere. Just last Wednesday (five years later), I found some of that glitter when I opened a drawer to find a tape measure.
I really did only wear that dress for about two hours because we had our reception the next day and it was informal. After I took it off, I hung it way in the back of the closet and have not worn it since. I think I might just go have a look at it today, just to have a nice chuckle.
Today, write about something you made, recently or long ago, successful or unsuccessful, good work, or not so much.
We filled the laundry tub with warm water, and hoisted the dog, Lucky, up into tub, then squirted shampoo onto her back. She was a liver and white springer spaniel, all wiggles and wags, and she stunk pretty bad, because she lived in a 10 by 8 kennel most of the time. Her owner, my friend Ricky’s brother, only brought her out to go hunting a couple of times a year. Ricky and I were confirmed dog lovers, and we took it upon ourselves to walk Lucky and play with her and – on this day – bathe her in the laundry tub in my family’s basement. Without my mom knowing. She was off grocery shopping, so we took advantage of her absence and dragged Lucky, her stumpy tail spinning like a propeller, down into the basement on this bright summer day.
We were just drying her off when we heard my mom’s car in the driveway. My mom did not like Ricky, and certainly would not want me to be bathing a smelly hunting dog in her laundry sink. Ricky and I turned to each other in panic and shock like two characters in a slapstick routine.
I yanked the rubber stopper out of the sink, grabbed the shampoo bottle, and we carried the dog, still in the towel, to the other basement room, where there was a window that opened out onto our back yard, just over a chest freezer. The comedy routine bumbled on, with me scrambling up on top of the freezer, dragging the soaking dog with me. Ricky yanked at the window until it came open, I tossed the shampoo bottle out the window, shoved the dog out the window, and crawled after her, just in time to see her roll in the dirt and ruin her nice clean coat.
The leash and collar! We left them near the tub! Agh! I left my friend holding onto the wriggling dog and I scrambled back through the window, crawled off the chest freezer, and slunk back in to retrieve the leash and collar, then back to the chest freezer. As I was crawling back out the window, I heard the basement door open and heard my mom clump down the stairs, to change the washer, I suppose. Which is what all women do the INSTANT they come home with the groceries I guess! Really? She couldn’t wait five minutes?
I got back out the window in time, put Lucky’s collar and leash back on, and took the back way, through the cemetery, to Ricky’s house, Lucky shaking and spraying us the whole way, wagging her little tail with glee to be out of her kennel on such a beautiful day. I carried the towel so I could rinse it out at Ricky’s house and dry it on his line and return it without her ever knowing. The shampoo bottle was still on the grass in the back yard. I made a mental note to pick it up when I got back.
There are a few episodes from childhood like this, where we had to think fast to escape my mom’s temper and wrath. I think of how I developed the ability to hide, slink, deceive, and find alternate paths because of it.
Today, write about a time you had to hide something, or someone, from your mom.
We all think we need more money, and if that’s true for you, write about that. But what about the other things we never seem to have enough of?
Time, room, love, fun. Shelves, closets. Dogs. Friends. Exercise. Medicine. Therapy. Peace. Courage. Happiness. Privacy. Health. Time with nature. Time with our children.
For me, it would definitely be time and space. Exercise wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Today, write about what you need more of.
Today, start by listing all of the cars you have owned, or if you are too young or have never owned a car, list the cars your parents had, or the cars of people you have known.
After you have made your list, pick one of the cars and write about your adventures in that car, or how you acquired that car, or the accident you had in that car, or the terrible thing that happened in that car, or how you learned to drive or drive stick in that car.
Did you have names for your car?? How much did it cost? How long did it last? Write about the good times and bad times.
I woke to what I thought was the smell of a wooden spoon that had been singed by the flames of the gas burner. You know that smell: just a little singe. I rolled out of bed and shuffled to the kitchen to see about the errant spoon, probably left by my husband when he was making his oatmeal before he left for work.
No spoon. Hmm. I went back to bed.
And awoke 20 minutes later to the same smell, but stronger. I went to the kitchen again. No spoon on the stove. Nothing burning. So I headed back to the bedroom again, this time to get dressed and start my day, get the kids up for school.
And then I looked up. Ceiling was on fire.
We had only been in our new house four months, and my husband had built the first fire in the wood stove that morning, not knowing that the chimney was leaning against a joist in the attic. Funny how that was missed in the inspection, but no matter. I had never had a house fire or even a small kitchen fire before. It’s funny what happens to your mind in a situation like this. Logic goes out the window, panic, you lose the ability to put one foot in front of the other and make good decisions. I woke the kids up, called 911, paced back and forth, called my husband’s work, and got all of us out of the house by the time the first fire truck arrived about four minutes later. I remember my daughter crying and saying she couldn’t find any matching socks.
It was easily extinguished, nobody hurt, and luckily, I had just removed about 200 cardboard boxes from the attic the day before. Apparently the family who owned the house before us saved every single box from every single toy and small appliance they had purchased over the previous 13 years and stored them in the attic … in case they needed them someday. Sometimes I wonder what that fire would have been like had I not thrown all those boxes down the stairs to flatten and recycle the day before. I’m sure the house would have gone up in flames in a matter of minutes.
I remember sitting in Cozy Kitchen later that morning with my kids, all of us smelling like smoke, having breakfast and shaking off the trauma of scrambling to get out of our house on a cold October morning before 7 am.
Today, write about fire. Have you ever had a fire in your house, apartment, car, barn, garage, school. workplace, or other place? It could be something as small as your Pop Tart combusting in the toaster, or something as devastating as losing your home.
In October 2000, an explosion, and then another explosion, crippled a Russian submarine called the Kursk. Twenty-three men survived the two blasts and lived for some time afterwards. Some of the men used the last minutes of their lives to write letters in the dark as their oxygen was running low.
If you had been aboard that submarine, and had two hours to live, and something to write with and on, what would you write? You are saying goodbye but you also have the chance to clear some things up, and to give advice to the people you love.
Whether your mom or dad are still here on earth or not, whether you are close to them or not, whether you knew them or not, whether you love them or forgive them or not, what are ten questions you would ask of your mom and/or dad?