Looking back at 2012, there have been a lot of challenges thrown at my family, and at me. Finances have been terrible, and family conflicts have been frequent. There have been so many times when I have been asked to be the mediator between feuding family members that I have started to feel like Judge Judy!
There have been several times during the year when key family members fell ill – seriously ill, and the way that the family (and extended family) has responded to those circumstances has had far-reaching consequences in the grand scheme of family relationships. It is hard to be grateful for illnesses, but in some cases it takes a major stress like this to get people to open their eyes and see others more clearly. And for that, I am grateful. I wonder what the new year has in store for us.
Last night we went to Marshall to watch my brother William Baumbach be installed as the Master of his Masonic Lodge. As a woman I have mixed emotions about how the Masons only allow men to be members, but I respect the fact that it is still an organization that tries to help men to be better men. And I try to remind myself that there are still organizations that only allow women to join, so it is what it is. The biggest reason that I would want women to be able to join the Masons is the opportunity that it would provide for women to network with the other members; to be able to further the progression of their earning potential. I don’t like to think that I’m being greedy here – it is just that so many American families are finding themselves relying on the income of the woman to survive, and the income of the woman will continue to suffer as long as there are large organizations like this that will not allow women to become members.
Well, this is interesting – I had no intentions of writing about this topic of male-only organizations, networking and income. I had actually intended to write about how I proud I am of my brother for being elected to the top position of his lodge. Congrats William! I know that this is a big honor and you deserve it!
Several years ago I was watching the Carol Duvall television show on HGTV. I can’t remember the exact date of that, but I was still living in Maine at the time, so it had to be before 2006. Sadly the Carol Duvall show is no longer ON HGTV – I absolutely LOVED that show and I miss it dearly. Anyway, one of the episodes was showing one of her frequent guests, Mary O’Neil, the velvet queen making duct tape wallets and embellishing them with embossed velvet. I looked to see if I could include a link to a video of that demonstration, but can’t seem to find one. (Note to self – find that old tape and consider putting it on YouTube if not a violation of some copyright law.)
I was fascinated with how she made the duct tape wallets and was really glad that I recorded the program so I could watch it several times to watch the demonstration repeatedly. (I always recorded her programs) and then downloaded the instructions from the Internet.) I have made a lot of duct tape wallets since then. I have NOT embellished them with velvet, and I have modified them slightly here and there, but the general premise is the same. They are easy and fun to make, and fun to give them as gifts to people who are hard to shop for – especially if you put a gift card inside. I love to make them for men and put a gift card to Home Depot in there! (Yes, I make AND sell them for $10 each. If you want to buy one from me drop me a note! – I will US Mail them anywhere in the continental USA for $1 to cover shipping.)
There are a great variety of colors of duct tape – even camouflage and tie dye! I made a couple of camouflage wallets and gave them to people in the military, and to hunters – they LOVED them! And I made a tie-dye one for my good friend Helen (of Milky Wave Tie Dye) for a Christmas gift several years ago. I don’t know if she ever used it, but she got a big kick out of it, and that made me happy!
I am a big fan of recycling and repurposing items. And I enjoy being creative and trying new things. So when I decided that my kitchen curtains were just too ratty to keep using, I wanted to try something that no one else that I knew would have done. I had been saving old blue jeans to be cutting pieces from them to try to make a quilt, and I hated to throw away the upper parts of the jeans that would not be used for the quilt. I was watching a television show about decorating tips and there was a tip about using blue jean uppers to make throw pillows. The thought occurred to me that they would be really cute window valances! And so it came to be… I get a lot of compliments from people when they come to the house and see them for the first time. Believe it or not, there was no sewing involved!
I love to craft. I love to sew, quilt, knit, crochet, and do decorative painting. For several years after I retired I spent all of my free time crafting. I liked to think that I would make things for my friends and family for Christmas presents and they would love them. And there were times when I thought that I might be able to sell some of the items that I made, for a profit. Some people think that there are folks “out there” that are willing to pay more for a quality, hand made item. So far I have not met very many of them! Most of the people that I meet and talk with would prefer to save money by shopping at flea markets and at Wal-Mart. We have become a disposable society and do not value hand made items as much as we used to. When someone makes something by hand, just for me, I am thrilled. That is a huge act of love, something that I cherish much more than material objects. But most of the people that I know have a different perspective – they want more items and they want to get as many of them as they can get for as little money as possible.
The ready made items are usually made in a foreign country, and are of a lower quality than what you can sew yourself. So before I sew (or buy) an item of clothing I ask myself the big question – assuming that this item will fit me forever, is this a classic style that I will always want to wear for many years to come, or is it a passing fad that will be “so last year” that I will only want to wear it a few times before giving it to Goodwill. And then there is the time factor “do I really have the TIME to sew this?” I have so much fabric that I have purchased with projects in mind that I will probably never get around to sewing! I just don’t have the time!
And there have been items that I have made by hand, to sell, and found that customers were not willing to pay the price because they wanted hand made quality at flea market prices. And there have been the hand knitted scarf gifts to nieces that took five hours and twenty dollars of yarn to knit, and the girl thought it was a wonderful gift – and so did her cat! She used it as a cat toy! When she showed me how she was using it as a cat toy, I asked her to let me have it, and when she gave it to me I handed it to her mother (my sister) and told her that it took me five hours to knit and $20 for the yarn and I would appreciate it if she would put it “away in a safe place” until the girl could appreciate the scarf as a scarf and not as a cat toy! And then there are the quillows that I’ve made – my family LOVES them SO MUCH that they are afraid to USE them, for fear that their kids will ruin them, so they are packed away until the kids are grown and moved out of the house, and any hand made items given to them are “too good to use.”
On May 31 my parents and I went to the Milky Wave Tie Dyestore to make our own tie dye shirts. Helen was gracious enough to take a couple of hours and coach us on how to create the patterns we liked. It was a lot of fun, and I will always treasure the memory of spending that time with Helen.