Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Tete a Tete Instead of an Event

I went to an "author talk" today at the library and only two people showed up, the librarian who set it up and yours truly. I felt so horrible for the author, Nancy Nau Sullivan, a memoirist, which is the reason I went. Turns out, it was great. I asked all kinds of questions I never would have asked had there been a crowd, and shared things I would not have shared. Each of us was very chatty, including the librarian.

Of course, I bought her new book, The Last Cadillac, how could I not? She gave me some good tips about transitioning stories and even some advice on what might be the message of my memoir. Little light bulbs were going off in my brain like fireworks. I am so glad I went and got to meet her. It was such a shame there was no crowd, but their loss, my gain.

I haven't started her book yet since I am still slogging through Untamed by Will Harlan, our book club selection for next month's meeting. Basically, it's a "save the wilderness of Cumberland Island" book and a biography of Carol Ruckdeschel, its biggest defender. There is a little bit of story which seems repetitive to me, but I'm not finished yet so maybe things will improve. I read about her online and she continues to live there (until her death by will of the Park Service), doing her thing with sea turtles, etc. I have to admire her since she is three years older than I am, tough lady.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Dress From Hell

When my daughter was little, first grade size, I decided in order to be a good mom I should try my hand at sewing her some cute dresses. After all, I had taken home economics in high school and made myself a stylish, well-put-together jumper with the help of my teacher and a Simplicity pattern. After that success, my mom promptly bought me a portable Singer for my next birthday with only a little whining from yours truly. But then, with a few attempts at more intricate patterns, my interest waned, and the Singer was lugged from home to college to married life with very little use.

But now I had a daughter, a real live guinea pig, um, model, on which to try my brilliant sewing ability. You should know that I am not a patient person. I am also endowed with more confidence than real know-how, but no matter. When I decide something, I am ready to do it. I did not have any little-girl patterns, but I had plenty of little-girl dresses. Why not use one of them for a pattern? And material? Well, how about those pretty yellow print curtains that would not work on any of the windows where we lived now? Why take the time to shop for patterns and material when I could improvise and get started right away?

I have to say that little dress I made looked divine, on and off my daughter. No one could have done a better sewing job. It hung perfectly, I hemmed it to match the same length as its real dress pattern, and when my daughter tried it on, the fit could not have been better. I was so proud I could hardly wait for her to wear it to school the next day.

I made her stay in her jammies until after breakfast so there would be no chance of a food catastrophe at the last minute. Then I slipped my beautiful creation over her head and tied some pretty yellow ribbons in her hair. I helped with her coat so as not to muss anything, and we were on our way to Allen Frear Elementary. It was so cold but the school was close, and the car heater barely had time to warm up before we were there. At the doors, my beautifully dressed daughter hopped out and mumbled something about an itch around her neck, and I thought, oh no, not those horrible hives again. But we hadn’t had strawberries since last fall.

“It’s probably just some chapping from the cold weather, honey. Go ahead in and show everybody your new dress. Love you, Sweetie. See you in awhile.”

And I drove home, glowing in my proudness. Remember that saying, from the Bible I think, about pride coming before a fall?

Hardly an hour had passed when my phone rang.

This was my end of the conversation.

“Yes, this is her mom.”

“Yes, I did.”

“What problem?”

“I’ll be there right away.”

It seems my poor daughter was one red mass of itching from her neck to her legs. When she told her teacher I had made her a new dress from curtains, Mrs. Bickling suspected fiberglass to be the cause of the problem.

I hurried back to the school and picked up a sad-looking little girl who now had a coat on with no dress underneath. My masterful creation was stuffed in a paper bag never to be worn again.

My poor itchy daughter spent the balance of the day in a cool baking soda bath until she looked like the proverbial prune, but at least she wasn’t bright red anymore and the itching had eased. Our doctor prescribed some cream and antihistamine and by the next day, she was her normal pale blond self and back in school with a hilarious show and tell story.

I wondered why I hadn’t itched when I was making the dress, and I posed this question to our doctor. Apparently, some people are not allergic to fiberglass, and I was one of them. The only negative effect on me was damage to my pride and a quick end to my renewed interest in sewing.