Monday, April 20th, 2020

How Clothing Wears


I bought the train pyjamas at a thrift store in Vermont two years ago. What a find! Perfect condition, and only two dollars. “Let’s not wear them until they fit you,” I said. He was three. They were size seven. He slept one night with the pyjamas under his pillow and did not sleep one cool night without them after that.





Last night he saw the holes in the knees and elbows and cried. “Take a photograph of me in them. I will never wear them again.” He does not want to wear them out. He wants me to make them into something else, something to keep forever. I dare not cut something so precious.





Iris has never particularly liked the upcycled sweater dress I made when she was not-yet-two, but I still did not want to get rid of it. It is what freed me from the confinement of patterns and got me sewing again. This morning, she put it on. “It is so snuggly and soft,” she said, “and it still fits.”





The pants that I made a little while later, on the other hand, are no longer snuggly and soft, nor would they still fit, if they existed. They were worn to rags. The woolen rags were cut into strips. The strips were rolled to make the tight inner heads for wool-stuffed dolls. What do  you make of that?




Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Wildflowers Dancing in the Field (April 4th, part 2)




Where goes precious ephemeral youth when the years pass?

The sprout, the shoot, the bud, the bloom, the seed. The sprout.

Youth goes to seed. Seed springs forth youth.

I am blessed, for I have gone to seed.





















Three years ago, in June of 2017, I took my children into the field near our house & told them, “Dance.”




Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Wagon, Bicycle, Kite, Wheel. (April 4th, part 1)

Akiva had me attach the wagon to his bicycle so that he could pull a trailer.




He rode in small circles in front of the house as Martin put the summer tires on the car.




He rode in small circles as Iris ran in small circles in front of the house, trying to get a small kite aloft.




He rode in small circles on his small bike as Iris ran in small circles with a small kite

and Martin changed the tires on the car from winter to summer.

Winter to summer, summer to winter. Wheels.

Small circles, small circles, small circles.



Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Pattern Tester for Twig + Tale: Rain Overalls

I applied to be a pattern tester for the small, indie pattern company “Twig + Tale.” I thought it would be fun! It wasn’t bad, but I did feel slightly taken advantage of.






The pattern I tested was “Rain Overalls.” I was in the 3rd & final round of testing. I made a pair in canvas, then I waxed them. The good thing about being in the final round is that, by this time, the pattern really ought to work & you’re not just sewing up something that you probably won’t be wearing. They probably chose me for the finals because I can take nice photos. They want nice photos so that they can sell their product. That’s their m.o.






The bad thing about being a pattern tester is that you can’t get a dozen or so opinions of other people who have made the pattern & get some ideas as to what to do differently. This pattern, like most patterns, is far from perfect.






For one, there’s the straps. I knew that right away. Instead of making totally elastic straps, I used elastic for only part of the strap. I copied the format on my old Carhartts, where they used a small bit of elastic on the front of the straps. I also took the buckle off my old Carhartts. If I’d had some future-sight, I’d have put a mere two inches of elastic at the back of the overalls & made the rest of the straps from canvas.






Next, there’s the lining. I don’t have any photos of the lining. The lining is huge and horrid. Who would ever design overalls with such a huge and horrid lining? Ugh. It would be better to put bias tape on the inside of the coveralls. Or just a teeny lining. I hate the lining. Iris hates the lining. I’d cut it out, but I haven’t gotten the nerve yet. Everything is finished so perfectly that I don’t want raw edges on the inside of the garment. But there’s nothing else that could be done about the lining at this point! I’ve sewn it in & double top-stitched it and waxed it. The only way to get rid of it would be to cut it out. I know: a person wouldn’t notice from the outside. I would know!






Then there’s the elasticized cuffs. After breaking a bodkin, a safety pin, and an elastic puller, Martin invented a tool for me to insert the elastic into the cuffs. It was a sort of a spring & a sort of a wire. I think he said it was part of a plumbing implement. And this is why I love Martin! He may not be certain why on earth I’m doing what I’m doing and why I spend so much money on my hobbies, but he’s always willing to invent something useful to help me out.






The final bad thing about being a pattern tester is deadlines. Sew the pattern by this date. Submit photos by this date. What? I had one week to sew and photograph these coveralls! All the stores were closed due to COVID. I happened to own the materials (brown canvas, a sample of cotton-linen fabric to use on the knee patches & kangaroo pocket), but I ran out of brown thread. I met a friend in the middle of the field, by moonlight, to receive some white elastic, which I proceeded to dye brownish. I had to cut the buckles off an old pair of my own coveralls, as I was incapable of buying anything. And, oh, school’s out, take care of the kids and do everything else you always do. What do you get for it? The pattern you already sewed! Humph.






I realize that the pattern makers did not have waxed canvas in mind when making the pattern. However, Twig + Tale is a pattern company that encourages the use of natural fibers and upcycled materials for consumers sewing their patterns. For this reason, they must have been able to foresee that some loony mama was going to sew her kiddo a pair of waxed canvas rain coveralls. Waxed canvas is heavy. Waxed canvas is sticky. A pattern made for waxed canvas would generally be amenable to synthetic, light-weight waterproof fabrics, but a pattern made for synthetic, light-weight waterproof fabrics does not necessarily work well at all in waxed canvas. Because of the mission of Twig + Tale, I expected more from them. Alas! Alack! Such is the life of a sewer (ˈsō-Ι™r).






Anyhow. I had a good excuse to insist Iris do some modeling work for me. She’s good! Plus I got to use a beautiful glass button from the Magical Button Box. Thanks, Mom!





Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

L’Ile du Marais, Marinier Archipelago



At L’Ile du Marais in Ste-Catherine-de-Hatley, the ice is still frozen. Instead of taking the regular trail around the main island, we follow the footprints of ice fishers fishing between the small island of the Marinier Archipelago and the western shore of the southern end of Magog Lake.





I am anxious to cross the ice, but Iris and Akiva have no fear. There is no reason to be afraid: there are many people safely fishing through holes drilled in the thick ice. It takes quite an effort to make fear succumb to reason.





I am tired because I am not good at sleeping. While I rest lazily, head down on a slope, the children explore. After some time, we leave. We never make it to the main trails.



Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Iris poses for a photograph on her bike. Setting sun.

Friday, March 20th, 2020

School is Out (COVID-19)

In the mornings, we check for sap at Kate’s Garden.


Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Hiking with Leela on Friday

…then posing for a photo at the overlook…


Monday, March 16th, 2020

What’s the Big Secret?

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Family Portrait, Pee-Yoo-Ka Lake

There’s a retention pond near where Mom & Dad live. When I was little, I used to go walking around there with Ari. It’s a pretty place on the outskirts of the city of Syracuse. There are ducks and geese and joggers and trees and dirt trails. In winter, Ari and I used to go skating on it. In late summer when the water is low, it gains the familiar smell of waterlogged decaying vegetation. Sometime in my childhood, I began to refer to the nameless body of water as Pee-Yoo-Ka Lake. At first it was a secret name, spoken only between me and my sister. But good children are not good at secrets. Eventually Mom informed me that the correct term for this small body of water is “the retention pond over by Barry Park,” but by then it was too late. No one excepting her would ever refer to it by such an unpoetic, scientifically and geographically correct name in my presence again.


Akiva, Iris, Mom, Dad and I walked by Pee-Yoo-Ka lake on our way to meet Dad on his way home from work. What with the sun setting and the invasive weeds shimmering like gold in the polarized light, I saw for perhaps the first time ever that this place would probably appreciate a name as pretty and as important as a wetland in the city can be. I directed everyone off the trail and aimed my lens at them for the one and only photo taken on our entire week-long visit to my parents’ house. Maybe the photo would have been better if the smallest person was at the highest point and the tallest person at the lowest, but we’ll never know. I have been impatient behind my camera lately and failed to rearrange them. This is how it is.