Sunday, September 5, 2010

Napery and nostalgic thoughts, in overdrive

I was organizing the linen closet, posh way of saying pawing through a tumble of sheets and pillowcases and towels on the two shelves above the water heater, and wondering how to put them so I can get what I need without having it all fall on my head, when I found a terrific old heavy cotton tablecloth, a, cough cough, wedding gift which dates it to 1963, and which we never use.

Cloths are no use to us for various reasons having to do with HP's great upper body difficulties with navigating tableware and numbness not knowing what he's grasped. Rather than have that trick about whipping the cloth from under the plates several times a day, we have tablemats and napkins but no cloth.

Anyway, the napkins to this cloth were worn out years and years ago, but the cloth used mainly for picnics, still holds up like new. So I decided to split it into a whole bunch of cloth napkins for which we have massive use. I avoid paper as much as I can, not wanting to burden the earth more than we have to.

So I have the pleasure of some simple hand hemming to make nine nice new napkins. No sewing machine in this house, I hate them. I had one for years and years and having used it twice, while hand sewing dozens of things, gave it away to a good cause.

So here's the before

and current

still in progress. One of those pleasing old fashioned things to do, simple fine hand sewing for a purpose. My mother, who was gifted way beyond her education used to comment that she hated sewing classes in school, and used to moan "in the white, out the red, gah" about the practice they had to do,working on red and white gingham.

This was a girl who grew up to learn her own hand tailoring and dressmaking among other accomplishments, bored to tears by this simple stuff. She comes vividly to mind while I stitch on my red and white gingham napkins, but I think she'd see why this is okay. Mitered corners, hidden hems, all that.

I had intended to listen to a playaway library book while stitching, and got out the bio of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire (early ancestor of Diana, and unnervingly like her) but the ^&^&^^& playaway did what they usually do -- skipped, looped, the slightest tiny move on my part such as threading a needle, causing the whole thing to go dead then start up at the beginning AGAIN, until I threw it back in the case and into the Return to Libe with Complaint basket.

I have simply never had any luck with these things. I suspect they're too delicate for lending and borrowing, and after the first listen don't hold up. Like the CDs and DVDs you borrow -- if you're lucky they work without jamming and looping but often they're just worn out and bent and generally Very Annoying.

Last evening we watched A Mighty Wind. Christopher Guest, one of his great movies. I'm glad I realized it was him, since the listing in the paper didn't tell anything. It is a hilarious and wonderful skewering and sendup of the folk music scene of the 60s, what the participants can remember of it, and the middle aged breakdowns trying to relive their great days, with an audience in much the same situation, all very happy and narcissistic and self absorbed, determined to snort their way to world peace.

Guest is the Molly Ivins of movie -- no need to exaggerate, just portray exactly how things are and you fall down laughing at how wonderful they are. I love that the same ensemble shows up in his movies. Parker Posey, the divine PP, appearing here as a folk singer (remember her wonderful part in Best in Show as the yuppie dog owner?) And all the others, like seeing your friends putting on another show in the barn, only these guys know what they're doing.

HP had been asleep for the first part of this, but woke and got interested and after I explained the premise, began to enjoy it hugely. I was so heartened that he got the satire and cracked up laughing, stayed alert for the whole thing, long after he's usually sleeping. Great evening's entertainment, and a change from the other narcissists slugging it out at the US Open...

I wonder if Guest has in mind a tennis movie....I can see Serena being portrayed with that little girly voicy, talking about doing good things, and helping people, and how her tennis will lead to world peace...while snarling at line court judges and screaming threats in between times....ah, that would be fun. And Federer, sore loser, grousing in three languages after a defeat...and Mirka telling him to shut up and load the private jet with the wallets....

Speaking of cracking up, a couple of recent comments, and emails about how reading in here gets people all tied up with ideas and thoughts and not quite able to get them down, I feel a bit abashed when this happens. I have a high mental energy level and get people excited and a bit worn out at the same time.

Years ago, I had various small businesses, micro bizzes, really, and also used to consult to small biz, to get them from stage one, startup, to stage two, being really on the road, making the transition to longterm operations. Since I was charging an hourly rate I really liked to give value for money, was totally prepared, and absolutely poured it all over the poor recipients, with no idea that they felt as if they'd caught an express train in the middle of the back...

Until one, very honest, very nice guy, said, did you know I have to lie down for an hour after you leave? I mean, it's great stuff, but the speed, the intensity,gads.

So I learned to watch, and after a while say, hm, I could really murder a cup of tea...whereupon they'd leap up, delighted to get a break, and I would have a totally unwanted break with tea thrown in..but this was my normal way of thinking and working, and it's hard for me to remember that other people have a different speed, various gears, overdrive not being their sole approach! anyway, I'm just sayin'

I used to teach about antiques and collectibles, back in the day, and one of my favorite environments was a big classroom with chalkboards on three sides at the local high school. By the end of the session, all the boards were jammed with my notes in passing! and when people asked questions, I could run around and point out the answers already up there, just remind them of the context, etc. They used to say, but you came in without notes, where did this stuff come from? and I'd puzzle a bit thinking, well my head, really, where else? this is just the knowledge I planned to share this evening. Oh.

I've taught a lot of classes and workshops over the years and have never been able to fathom teachers who used the same notes every time, even the same jokes! I never taught the same class the same way twice, much more interesting that way, also you have much better ideas as you go along, fed by the participants. But then I was the maker of my curriculum, too, always a big plus for an ornery type like me.

So, back to les moutons, and a nice Labor Day weekend with great sunny cool weather, what a treat.


  1. Hmmm.....I know whereof you speak...while reading this blog I had to remind myself to keep breathing. Heh.

  2. I love reading your writings. I wish I had had teachers like you at school. I might have been a little more interested in what they were trying to teach me.

    I do a little tutoring for my favourite sport and like you, have very little in the way of notes. I have a certain amount of paperwork for my pupils but find that the amount of open discussion leads to all sorts of things that are not able to be anticipated beforehand. Experience and that wonderful resource, the brain, is plenty when you love what you're doing.

    Love those gingham napkins.


  3. Lovely napkins! We use cloth ones too most of the time (except when we're picking at the chicken's carcass!)

    Am all caught up with you now. I started a blog, too - found something I'd written a couple of years ago and put it in. Think I'll probably add a page once a month or so. Just want to put in anecdotes that I remember about people and places, but have to do it when they come to me!

  4. Hmmmmm, I have a big box of fabric to go to the thrift shop... maybe I'll have a look through it first. I noticed while doing some ironing the other day that some of my napkins are so old they have holes in the middle.

  5. Repurposed tablecloth into napkins, YAAAYY!


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