Sunday, October 30, 2011

I get it! It's pumpkin-colored for Halloween, right?

Dear Local Newspaper Social Pages:

Yall'll have to forgive me for my reaction to this wedding announcement, since its peculiarities may have been around in other places for years, and only just got here.

I want the paper to survive, and if this brings in money, then way cool!  Design the yazzoo out of wedding announcements if you want to.  I mean it.  I sound sarcastic but it really is a pretty clever way to boost the ol' income on non-essential but cool things that people will pay extra for.

I'm actually old enough to find nothing new about the fashion details and the Cast of Thousands in this celebration of the Extreme Specialness of this couple.  Newspapers used to do that all the time, and it was always a premium for the folks in the nice part of town.  Uppercrusters had big, top of the page announcements so relatives could clip it and get the date and paper's name in the clipping, while the tract house families had to remember to snip enough margin for room to write in the date with a Flair pen. The high-falutin' brides - or really, the parental outlay for their dresses - were displayed in 2-column photos, and accompanied by a family history and all the stuff about how the embroidery on the dress wasn't just done by any old sweatshop seamstress, but by the one who got Employee of the Year, and everything.  They probably paid extra for the detailed report, and I bet these folks did too.

I like that.

Here's the thing.  The orange background's gotta go.  It looks like one of those ads-that-look-like-news-stories for Performance Improvement Pills, if you know what I mean.

As for the headline, I don't know who wrote it, but it's a little confusing. The Impressive Specialness of their vows kind of makes me laugh, like I am at the rest of this  announcement, but kind of doesn't, and that's partly because I, this is the truth, read it to see what was unusual about their vows, but didn't find out.  Do some people take rully rully serious, special vows?  Like, bravely hitting the "Play" button at Expert instead of Basic level? I don't mean the write-their-own thing with unique quotes and poems (been there, done that), but a church's required vows?

They seem like nice kids and I wish them luck, so don't tell them that last week in their same church, Tammy Retread and Doug Plywood made the exact same vows that they made.  Even if Tammy and Doug's clothes came from BridalMart and they all celebrated at Waffle House afterwards.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Even I have some standards.

I'm am so crafts-challenged (poor digital dexterity and no patience) that my standards for my own work are pretty low.  But I do have standards.  Really.

I am never going to crochet like the experts.  Never never never, and that's because I have NO desire to.  Such intricate work makes me stark raving insane.

Hand made by my mom-in-law. This kind of skill floors me.

Larry's mom crocheted this gorgeous tablecloth for us.  It's enormous, covers a nice big farmhouse-sized table for a big gathering.  I've just folded out a corner to show the pattern.  How anyone can do something this big and this beautiful, stitch by tiny stitch, much less do it in a few months, boggles my mind.  I have enough trouble with simple mufflers.

And then, there's my lumpy work...

The all-blue one on the right is designed and being made (it's maybe half-done) for a friend for Christmas.  The blue and green one on the left (also incomplete, but about 2/3 done) wasn't made for anybody.  It's a test piece, to try out stitch ideas and see what makes the kind of final product I want to make.

My conundrum is that I don't want to do time-consuming stitches, but I get sick of the basic crochet stitch that makes all those little bow-tie-looking rows.  Bored with them.  Tired of that granny look.

So!  The question was, how could I make a piece that looked like I worked really hard, without actually working really hard?  I approach life this way whenever possible:  easier paths, shortcuts, magic formulas, etc etc.

On the blue/green one, I started doing rows of various stitches to see if I could make something that has a more interesting appearance, but was not too thick to wrap comfortably.   That job has taught me a lot.  It's too thick and stiff, some of the rows too uncomfortably ridge-like, and the variety of stitches looks as amateurish and randomized as it is, but as an experiment, it helped me figure out an easy stitch for a muffler that's decent-looking and feels good.  I'll finish it anyway, but only because I've started, and hated, and unraveled about 6 previous attempts and just don't want to throw out another one.

Maybe I'll give it to Goodwill, or use it myself, but it doesn't meet my standards for gift-giving.

This is where people say stuff like "The recipient won't care about the endearing goofiness!  You made it with your Very Own Loving Hands!"

Bullcrap.  Maybe she would find it all endearing, but it bugs me when women get told that, when it comes to the work of their hands, the lu-u-u-v is what matters.  Insipid, sexist swill.  Ever notice how, if a guy's woodwork or metalwork or whatever is lopsided, out of proportion, painted sloppily, or otherwise stupid-looking, nobody says, "Oh who cares, it's so cute, you made it with lu-u-uv!"?

At a glance, the blue one doesn't look that much nicer, but it does look a little nicer when you see it in person, and feels better, and meets my standards, which are mediocre.  This isn't about Being Too Hard On Myself.  It's competent, not Excellent.  My yarn tension is uneven, so there are some stitches you could drive a Humvee through, others so tight I can barely find the place to insert the hook for the next row.  It will look homemade, and I'm fine with that, but it has to be a certain level of well-made.

As for making anything with Love, it's sort of not in me to work serenely.  Even my simple project fouls up at moments, and the language I use ... let's just say that New Age people who think that your feelings and mental state infuse your products with good or bad vibes would be horrified by my attitude.

Maybe I should order some of those "made by" personalized labels for my goods:

Handmade For You - with Creative Profanity!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

They like us. They really like us.

Not enough, of course, to acknowledge our high buyer rating with any kind of reward, but ...

Maybe for our 15 year anniversary, they'll send us a refrigerator magnet!  It's good to have something to look forward to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life in general

There's this little problem.  I feel like all I do is rant and complain, but when I find myself thinking, OK, haven't posted in awhile, need to give my blog some attention,  I feel the urge to rant start building.

Politics - I can't see any willingness to listen, on the part of anybody on any side of anything.  It seems to me that politics has become nothing but quips.  Every issue begins and ends with a sound-byte-trade and then moves on.  9-9-9 becomes "Well that's 666 upside down."  Any math teacher -- hell, for that matter, any 6 year old could tell you that nine isn't six.  The barbs are worse than superficial, they're meaningless.

Then you come to the Episcopal Church, in which each side claims it is "the true church" and the other is one that has no right to represent it in policy or pulpit.  It's come up again because the Bishop of South Carolina has been distancing the SC church from the main group because he disagrees with its direction, and the US church is calling him on the carpet for it.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church.  To many people, the church they're gone to all their lives means nearly as much as family does, and I also find it painful to watch it wreck itself, but I can't find a side to like.  The US Episcopal Church that's adopted all kinds of liberal policies might seem like it's more to my taste than the backlash is, but (long ago) when I went to its site and -- after much clicking -- found the annual reports, all I could think was that this denomination is a massive, useless, self-serving bureaucratic behemoth.

The cash comes in, the cash goes out, to buildings, and utilities, and landscaping, and boardrooms, and desks, and tables, and chairs, and filing cabinets, and computers, and coffee-makers, and printers, and copiers, and executives, and secretaries, and building maintenance, and shipping supplies, and managers, and managers of managers, and committees, and paper-generation, and megatons of absolutely nothing, while the fund for relief gets a small sliver of the pie.

Obviously, it's a big employer.  But so is WalMart, and, I fear, for similar reasons.

Sometimes in the middle of the night, I can't sleep thinking of our kids struggling to get the pile of outrageous rents and tuition fees off their backs so they can get a little ahead, a whole lot harder than we ever had it, prices for life as a student way beyond what an ordinary hardworking kid, even with two jobs, can pay. And how we can help, while feeling like we're trying to help Sisyphus get that goddam rock over the top of that hill.

On some of those occasions, my stomach starts growling and I hit the refrigerator at 3AM, pour a little grape/blueberry/pomegranate juice and eat a little of that good homemade bread that Larry's been making  (What a blessing), and think, this is all the church is really supposed to be.  People, dare I say like me, living my screwy inefficient life as best I can, finding in a piece of bread a reminder of the only human being who has ever lived into whose hands i can completely entrust myself or my loved ones.  None of the bureaucracy makes any spiritual sense.

We can do things to help the kids, and we are doing them, and the fact that getting a degree and putting together a life that has some fulfillment and meaning beyond crappy hourly jobs is a slower process now than it was for our generation, doesn't mean it's not doable and progressing.

I now have office space, for crafts and for storing more of my too-many books and toys.

Life isn't bad at all, except at 3AM.  And a little bread to shut my stomach up, and a good book, get me out of seething over things I can't change, and, eventually, back to sleep, knowing that there are things I can.