Sunday, August 29, 2010

That’s Life

There is an expression about a certain road being paved with good intentions. If that’s the case, I’ve resurfaced it several times by now. You see, I’ve been intending to to do a new blog post for the last three weeks.

I could blame it on Kona. New puppies are a lot of of work. A LOT of work! In between things like keeping Kona’s curious teeth out of trouble, (Table leg? Rawhide bone?) and cleaning up the occasional puddle, ( it’s hard to remember where the door is, or to even go to the door for that matter) she kept me on my toes.

And about those bananas that were on the kitchen table-well maybe they could have lasted another couple of days, but just to be safe I decided that I really should make banana bread NOW, and why not chop up some dried cherries and cashews to throw in while I was at it.

Then there was my garden. Ellensburg is a desert after all. That means very hot temperatures, and no rain. So we are talking about taking the time to drag the garden hose all around the yard, every day, so that all of my precious flowers and veggies wouldn’t perish.

Sometimes my best intentions went out the window because of family and friends. I helped get Amy and Stuart ready the night before their memorable father and daughter trip to Washington DC by helping get laundry done and cookies made for the airplane ride. And there was that morning walk, meant to be a quick one, so that I could get back home and take care of some loose ends. Instead, I ran into a friend who had just lost her husband last spring, and I hugged her for the longest time, right in the middle of the road, while she cried on my shoulder…

So I didn’t get a new blog post done for almost three weeks. But I’m not complaining. Because in between my best intentions, I was busy living my life. And that’s the stuff blogs are made of.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Only Fitting

Once upon a time I was a student at a smallish university in an equally smallish town and my intended major was Home Economics with a specialty in fashion design. Though this school was well known for some of its programs, fashion design was not really one of them…and no one pretended it was. When anyone asked what I planned to major in, and I told them, they would throw out the tired old line “Oh, you’re getting your M.R.S. degree!” Not exactly high praise.

What then, made my time at this particular institute of higher learning so meaningful?

Even though we learned obvious skills such as sewing and pattern making, preparing us for the larger picture of life was the more important objective. There was little talk of making it big in places like New York City or landing jobs with some major designer, because in reality that wasn’t what most of us would do. The goal was making sure that we felt good about ourselves so that we would be happy and proud of ourselves no matter where we ended up. I remember one assignment we were given to design and then make a skirt. I used a vintage drapery panel and some fringe. The resulting skirt was probably dreadful, but because of the praise I received as I modeled it for my grade, I “felt” like a designer. Another time I wore a pea soup green men’s golf sweater to class and paired it with a fuchsia scarf. Who else, but one of my gems of a professor would see the positive side and tell me that pea soup green was a difficult color to wear, but how ingenious of me to make it work by wearing the fuchsia scarf next to my face. Even mistakes were handled diplomatically. Once, when I incorrectly made up a pattern, I wasn’t told I was wrong, but instead I received the comment, “I’ve never seen anyone approach that design in quite that way before!”

I didn’t graduate from this school. I dropped out, for a variety of reasons. I eventually went back to school several years later at a much bigger and better known university. There the stakes were higher, image was everything, and if a career in the “majors” wasn’t going to happen, then there really wasn’t much point, was there? Pea soup green sweaters were a definite no no.

So why this trip down memory lane? Because once again I live in that same small town--and just a few blocks from that same ( but not quite so smallish anymore) university. And it was while living in this town, this time, that I dreamed up my little handmade barkcloth bag business, For the Love of Pete-which embodies all those important lessons I learned here as a student. That doing what I love and being proud of what I do, no matter how humble, are pretty big achievements after all. I think my old professors would approve .

Photo by Philip Gendreau