Monday, December 12, 2011

Phone Fail

This will be a post in which I publicly out myself for doing something so astoundingly stupid I have to wonder if I'm fit for life in general. I would keep this humiliating fail to myself, but frankly it's just too funny and I only ask  that others share their  idiocy if similar things happen to them in the future.

I was at home alone and needed to call my husband to ask him a question before he left work. So I pick up my cell phone, dial his cell phone, and listen as it starts ringing. Then I hear a ringing in my own apartment and I say to myself "Hey, that's my husband's cellphone ringing. Strange that someone is calling it at the same time I am!" And then, yes it's true, with my own cellphone still plastered to my ear I ANSWER my husband's cellphone. But I didn't get to it in time and the cellphone says "missed call." And all of this would be embarrassing enough except that I STILL didn't clue in and I think to myself "darn, didn't get there fast enough. I wonder who that was? It sucks that my husband doesn't have call display because now I can't tell him who called." And then I try calling him again, because the last time he didn't pick up and I'm thinking "Maybe he's driving already and can't pick up, but I'll try again." So I call AGAIN. And his cellphone, which is sitting right next to me, now rings again and it's only at that moment that I realize what a complete moron I have been and that my husband is obviously not going to pick up the phone that's busy charging on his dresser and I just managed to trick myself into answering my own phone call. I would like to publicly chalk this up to a brain disorder caused by pregnancy hormones and pretend that such a thing would never have happened under normal circumstances. If we can all agree to those terms then please go ahead and have a good laugh at my expense.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Which I Attempt to Sew

Card Holder 4
Card Holder. Amaranth Road Studio. 2011

I have a Pfaff sewing machine that I'm pretty sure came from a Nazi-era German sweatshop. The thing is a tank. It weighs a ton. It is not pretty. And I'm pretty sure it rivals cockroaches for its ability to just keep on going. I bought it from a friend who found it at a garage sale and never used it. I think I paid $50. And I've been meaning to learn to sew ever since. 

Back when I first got it I made a knitting needle holder and a pair of fur pants. And those, my friends, are the only two things I've ever sewn...until now. (And if you must know I made the fur pants as part of a Satyr Halloween costume. They stayed up through use of long shoelaces and I got fur everywhere--long story). After the fur pants the machine went back into its ancient suitcase and stayed there until just a few weeks ago when I set the machine up in a place of honour on my craft desk, figuring that if it was out and ready to sew I might actually make something. 

And I DID make something! I got this book out of the library called Cute Stuff by Aranzi Aronzo which, true to its name, is full of sickeningly adorable small sewing projects. It seemed simple enough, with clear patterns and instructions. The projects were useful (tote bags, zippered pouches, hair accessories, and easy appliques) yet wouldn't involve a large time or materials investment. I chose to make a felt business card holder because I had a pile of wool felt on hand.

Card Holder 2

I carefully cut out the pattern using tracing paper, carefully traced this onto the felt, and carefully cut out all the felt pieces. Then it took me about 20 minutes to wind a bobbin and get my machine up and running, but I did it without mishap. The instructions from my ancient sewing machine manual are actually quite good. And then I started sewing the pieces together and was all proud of myself until I held up the finished project and realized it looked like an 8 year old had made it. And not a very skilled 8 year old at that. The images you are looking at are not of that original attempt. Let's just say that the original attempt ended up in my garbage can covered in potato peelings. It was sent on its way with a few choice swear words, a short lament over the loss of a beautiful piece of 100% wool felt, and determination to try again.

So I cut out new pieces, and this time actually tacked them together with pins (on the advise of a friend who actually knows how to sew) and then sewed them together. This time I think I achieved something at the level of 10 year old. So definitely an improvement. My biggest mistake was using contrasting thread. I thought it would look cute. My book said it would look cute. But in reality it just worked to highlight my sometimes sloppy sewing in high contrast detail. I also didn't realize that a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the edge of my project is not very much, and this created challenges.

HOWEVER, in the end I was happy with my newby results. I'm particularly fond of the apple applique that I designed myself. I'm encouraged to keep trying on the sewing front. A few lessons have been learned and I'm sure things will be smoother next time.

Card Holder 3

Monday, December 5, 2011

Touching Pregnant Bellies

I've read a lot of blog posts and articles by women who are pregnant and very upset that their bodies have suddenly entered the public domain. These articles tend to condemn random strangers, acquaintances, and even family and friends for reaching out to touch the pregnant belly without permission. This act of touching is frequently framed as an invasion of privacy and an encroachment on a woman's right to control her own body. Anger abounds about the tendency of people to see the pregnant belly as something separate from the woman herself, and therefore available for public access.

Before I got pregnant I wasn't sure how I felt about this anti-touching sentiment. It makes sense in some ways. I mean, you would probably freak out if you were on a bus, not pregnant, and some stranger started caressing your belly, or your arm, or your back or any part of your body for that matter. And yet now that I'm large enough to be immediately tagged as pregnant, and acquaintances have begun to reach out for that globe of my belly, I find that I really don't mind at all. I wonder if the anger about touching pregnant bellies stems from a certain overprotectiveness of our bodies and general mistrust of the intentions behind touching.

What I have found is that people are magnetically attracted to pregnant bellies. If you walk around pregnant you have the rare ability to elicit random smiles and  kindness from strangers. People are just nicer to you and they seem to get a lift from seeing the physical evidence of a tiny life forming within you. You are suddenly the carrier of something magic, and people are attracted to that. They want desperately to touch the source of that magic, to feel the very first spark of life shifting under your skin. The urge to reach out and touch a pregnant belly is almost irresistible to many and I can watch people's hands drifting out towards me on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the mass of negative messages about touching pregnant bellies has caused people who are genuinely full of love, good intentions, and happiness to become nervous and self-conscious about their desire to touch you. I watch them fight their desire to rub my belly and withdraw their hands saying "I'm sure it's annoying to have people grabbing your belly, so I won't touch you." Or they'll stare longingly but keep their hands firmly to themselves.

I really think this is a shame. I find that when people reach out with such pure joy to touch my growing baby it feels like a blessing. Here are people I barely know freely sharing good-will and well-wishes through gently laying their hands upon me and sending forth kind thoughts. How often do we experience such free-flowing love in a world where most of us try our very best to ignore the other humans around us? This laying of hands seems primal, spiritual, completely natural. It's what people are drawn to do and it makes them feel good to touch a forming life. And it makes me feel good to see the world welcoming this unborn child in such a gentle way--reaching out and telling this baby "the world is a place full of love and caring, and we're all happy that you're on your way."

So I would argue that those who touch your pregnant belly are not doing so because they are ignorant of your rights to your own body. They are not trying to invade your personal space or forcibly take something private from you. They are really just expressing an instinctual and irrepressible love for you and your unborn child. Try thinking of this action as a beautiful, completely secular prayer for the life you are creating, and you may find yourself more kindly disposed to the woman in the grocery store who drops her loaf of bread just for the chance to touch you.

What do you think? I welcome further discussion on this topic as I can certainly see merit to the other side of this argument.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Who Wants to Be a Poodle

Who Wants to Be a Poodle I Don'tWho Wants to Be a Poodle I Don't by Lauren Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book for my currently unborn child, but read it to them aloud anyway. Frankly I bought this book because it was on sale at a nearby bookstore and when I flipped through I was taken in by the excellent writing, great pictures, and engaging story. This is about a pampered poodle who wants to shed her unfulfilling life of superficial luxury to become a "daring, dangerous, dog". While her owner is into spa treatments and psychics, this poodle wants to jump in puddles and go outside when it's raining. So let's be honest, I bought this book for me. A great story with a solid message--I may read this one aloud a few more times before the baby's born.

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