I woke up with “Elmer’s Tune” in my head on this terrifically bright day. Not Kansas City winter bright, but certainly Cincinnati winter bright. My bedroom and “atelier” windows face east, so it’s warm and cheery in here for now. The light warm blue walls are so much more comfortable than the umber color I put up with for three years.
So, time to get out my picnic blanket quilt project I started last winter. I’d cut muslin and many fabric triangles, and sewed 1/4 of the triangles before gardening beckoned. But today, the summery blues and reds seemed dissatisfying. I have another piece of muslin that is 36x54, and wondered what I might do with it. But I couldn’t do nothing with the other project; that felt too fickle. I laid out the triangles and began pinning them to the muslin with tiny pieces of fusible web. You iron this between fabrics and they stick together.
While placing and ironing, I thought about a book I might listen to. Or maybe an old movie or TV show in the background. I continued on in silence, though. I thought maybe I’m in a “homefront” mood, or maybe up for Wodehouse. Suddenly I had a vision in my head of being near the escalator of Montgomery Ward at the Blue Ridge Mall in Kansas City. This happens as you start advancing in years. I cannot remember the last time I was there, probably 1987 or so, but I saw it perfectly.
I seem to know all the words to “Elmer’s Tune,” and I enjoy it rolling through my head, but I haven’t turned it on because I’m having some sort of ear/sinus trouble, the tinnitus is worse than usual, and nothing sounds right. “What makes a lady of eighty go out on the loose, what makes a gander meander in search of a goose, what puts the kick in a chicken, the magic in June, it’s just Elmer’s tune.”
Nobody writes like that anymore. They haven’t since before I was born. The words were just part of the music, of course, not intended to mean anything that mattered.
Back in the 70s, Mom sewed calico chickens, in various sizes. She’d found a pattern in a magazine and went bonkers for it, making them from tiny to quite large, and giving them away. It wasn’t much longer until we saw them for sale, not as attractive as hers, for quite a bit of money. Mom’s life went that way, and mine tends to, as well. I had this great idea about a decade ago after we first got Netflix, for all kinds of monthly subscriptions people could sign up for, that would be mailed to them, like little craft kits or gift baskets, toiletry samples, that kind of thing. I couldn’t get anyone else interested in the idea. They sure are now, though.
I’m doing most of my sewing by hand, because I like the slow quiet nature of it. I’ve spent too much of my life in a hurry, and even though I might have to again soon, I just don’t want to anymore. When you’re in a hurry, things don’t taste or smell or feel as good. Our huge array of conveniences have begun to bore me. I quite like contemporary plumbing, paying bills online, and having books I want to read appear on my Kindle Fire. I love having the Met Opera streamed to my movie theater. There’s just too much of everything else, though, and it all comes too easily. I am continually seeking balance between ease and effort.
I remembered that of course I can work on an old and new project at once, and I gave myself permission to do so. I used to worry about being the sort of person who would start things and not finish them. Well, that was about deadlines, which are not good friends of mine. I don't have any deadlines for these things; I do them wholly for myself. It's exciting to start something new. It feels rewarding to finish. And the middle, while sometimes monotonous, is more often a kind of reward of its own; meditative and rhythmic. It's fun, therefore, to start and finish small projects while working through the middle of a larger one. That's the best way for me.
PS: I was looking for pictures of Wards and it got kind of depressing kind of quickly. And then seeing a photo of The Landing, and a King Louie Bowl ad, I grew too nostalgic to carry on. But here are a couple little things.