Friday, March 25, 2011

Hello dearest, up in the aerie with a well-earned glass of wine after a long day's journey in the sewing room. I exaggerate, it was just the afternoon, and actually once I got the hang of the machine again it was relaxing and fun.
I do marvel at that machine. At first the stitches were uneven and wobbly, but seemed to improve as the machine warmed up. Also, the stitches were too long, until I realized, consulting the manual, that I could adjust their length. I fiddled with the lever, which at one setting resulted in the tiniest stitches, thirty to an inch. One could do haute couture for a Barbie with that. Anyway, a Rolls Royce of a machine it seems to me, and it was well-used and well-maintained for decades by the previous owner, and I'm trying to do right by it too. And so now I have a half-dozen new pillowcases to show for some pleasant labor - fresh for spring!

One thing I recalled as I sat there sewing was that my grandmother used to sew too, up in her attic space. She made the most wonderful linens back in the day, duvet covers (before I even knew the term duvet, or comforter, or puff). She fashioned them from sheets, a pair of them or perhaps a king-size one cut in two and adjusted for size. She'd leave a diamond shaped opening in the center of the top half, into which a blanket could be stuffed. When it came to laundry, only the cover needed to be washed. I remember as a young girl sleeping in my cousin's room, underneath poufy bed linens, the covers that my grandmother had stitched - soft cottons with delicate patterns of scattered faded florals that housed a plain blanket - incredibly soft and luxurious, very soothing and comforting in the darkness. So I felt the tiniest connection with my grandmother today as I frugally sewed up pillowcases. My other thought was that my effort wasn't entirely about being frugal. Well yes, I was trying to save money - but the fact is that if - like my grandmother - you can sew, you have access to enjoying that much more soft, luxurious bedding. I buy remnants in the attic loft of a high-end shop that also has a retail space - which is actually very discounted, an "outlet" - and I think their pillowcases go for in the neighborhood of $20 (haven't priced them lately). They purvey to very exclusive venues where a pillowcase might go for twice that. One would really need money-to-burn (what I refer to as "hedge fund money") to afford that kind of luxury, especially in quantity. But make it yourself - suddenly, if you have the time, the materials, and a bit of skill - it's completely within reach.

Another thing that pops to mind is something my aunt once said, which stuck with me. So much better to buy something on sale from a really good store, than to buy something cheap, and cheaply made, at "everyday low prices." I couldn't agree more.

Best of all, I think, would be being really good about flea-market finds and secondhand stores and yard sales and the like. I love the look of all those "found" objects, putting together an eclectic, comfortable room, but somehow never got in the habit of searching things out that way. But that's really the best. It's amazing what people throw away, or that can be bought used for a song... That's something I'd like to become better at, without making it an actual "hobby" or projectual thing.

I love fresh clean linens - my own, not secondhand, and other than that - I love old, familiar, comfortable, well-made objects, made of real materials, wood, stone, glass, what have you...

Actually, at my friends' Brooklyn apartment is a tiny object lesson that I rue. They both have very artistic sensibilities, and their apartment is filled with his art, her eye for design, their eagle-eyes combined for street-salvaged gold. Among their lovely objects is a small woven wood Shaker basket. Yeah - I know that basket. I don't how many years ago - decades - I found it at a Shaker design shop on Atlantic Avenue, the antiques district. All I could afford at that shop was a tiny object - a basket. Over the years in D's and my apartment I tried to find a use for it, but it was a slightly awkward shape & size and didn't quite work with our stuff. I ended up using it to collect recyclables, lining it with plastic bags (such a bad use for such a lovely object!). Finally in an editorially severe bout of severe spring cleaning I put the basket out to the curb. Where it was immediately picked up by - guess who. And now the basket resides in serene simplicity as a paper wastebasket by a little antique desk in the bedroom. Oh - aarrrgh!

Though, ever so slightly in my defense, it was very hard to own "too much" in the one-bedroom where D and I lived, there just wasn't any room for anything "extraneous." Now that I live in a house, of course, with space to fill, and to fill in lovingly with cherished, unusual, beautiful objects - well -

I'm glad, very glad, that my friends plucked that basket out of oblivion and that it resides in their bedroom.

My dearest, I - like the light at this moment - am fading fast. Putting my arms around you, holding you tight. Who would ever have thunk it? And yet it feels right, and makes sense in a weird way. No need for a lot of explainery, not between us anyway. Well, we'll see. Good night, dearest friend, good night. Kissing you in the shadows. XOXO

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