A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Drapes

Cold weather's coming, and I can't put off my sewing projects any longer. All of them involve items for the house that will help keep us warm. A portiere for the front door, drapes for the triple bay window in my bedroom, and a duvet cover for the down comforter. I'm beyond hopeless at sewing, but that doesn't stop me from buying fabric and designing things--in my head--that I have no idea how to fabricate.

My mother took her first sewing lesson when I was in the third grade--fifty years ago. Her maiden project was a heavy winter coat for me, made of green chinchilla wool, beautifully lined. Unlike my store-bought coats, it didn't have the dreaded matching leggings. I can still remember stooping over grates on my way to school, covering the opening with the tent of that green coat, letting the warm air flow against my bare legs in their ankle socks and mary janes.

After that coat there were many, many beautiful dresses. I went away to college with an enviable wardrobe. You'd never guess I was a rather needy scholarship student from my fashionable clothes or hand-tailored linens. My first home had stunning draperies; my first child had adorable outfits. All fashioned on the White sewing machine my mother had used to make that green chinchilla coat.

The old White is mine now, but I'm afraid of it. Somehow my sister got the sewing gene, but not me. I flunked sewing with Miss Beake in the eighth grade, and haven't made much progress since. Still, knowing what could be done with fabric, and having been spoiled for so many years, is too much for me. I can't bring myself to settle for what I can afford in the mall.

Good friend Priya called me today and suggested I drop by. She had been sewing, and all of her equipment was set up in the room she usually reserves for painting. Did I want to finish any of my projects? I was over there in a flash. We got three panels made before the grandchildren showed up and things got crazy.

Back home, I hung the panels and admired them. I wished I had the other three done and the whole bay window finished. I did have the old White sewing machine and all the materials right there. I had watched Priya--it wasn't that hard. If only I wasn't such a wus.

I went down in the cellar and found the old machine. Brought it upstairs and dusted it off. Plugged it in and pressed the foot pedal. A soft hum--it still worked. I went upstairs and hauled down a bedspread that needed to be repaired. Sewed up the ripped seam--piece of cake. Tomorrow I think I'll start on the rest of the drapes.