building something

Driving across Nevada to my new home in Utah two years ago, I swore I would learn to be my own hero. I would tackle new things. Learn how to change a tire on my Subaru. Maybe even pop open the hood and take a look at the engine to see what all that metal stuff inside does. Perhaps even poke around in there tinkering with the thingamabobs. You know.

As I looked out at the snow-covered peaks I thought about acquiring wilderness survival skills. I read old Army manuals and decided I just had to build a lean-to in the backyard. That could come in handy someday. When I came across instructions for making natural pitch out of boiled tree resin I was sold. That is so me. I was going to become a certified mountain woman. I envisioned trying my hand at carpentry. Why buy a kitchen set if you can build it? Upon completion I would turn to manufacturing craftsman dressers. I would admit to my neighbors with a sigh, I guess I do have quite a knack for it.

Two years later, none of that has happened. I basically pulled into the driveway and left the dreams in park. I am not a pioneer woman. No, not even close. Just the other day I found myself bitching that the new mall in Salt Lake City is closed on Sundays. The nerve! I then paid $7 for the local department store to hem my new jeans I did not sew. I have come so far.

Looking back, the only new skill I have acquired is gardening. And half of success there is dumb luck and weather dependent. I feel like a fraud. When I really consider my progress, I can tell you I also make jam. But that process often involves a lot swearing. My evenings are largely filled with Scrabble games and watching my boyfriend Stephen Colbert while cooking. The other day I thought about purchasing some new software and learning how to design and code my own website. But thinking about it was as far as it went. What happened to my ambition?

Over the weekend I went to find it. I needed a project that seemed more manageable than going to Home Depot and investing in a power saw that I don’t know how to and am terrified of wielding. But I still wanted to use my hands. And not for emailing or typing. I want to make something. I want to hold it in my hands, turn it over, and give it away.

So I went to the quilting store down the street and purchased some scraps, sewing needles and a handful of buttons. I inquired about a pin cushion, but was told by the sales person, honey, we make ours. I see.

On Saturday I prototyped my creation(s). The experience of cutting fabric, pinning it, and stitching it together brought me back to my elementary school days when I tried sewing dresses for my Barbies out of pink satin and tiger print cloth. Don’t judge. It was the eighties. In high school I tried making a simple cotton dress with spaghetti straps. But I wasn’t willing to put the effort into it. Ultimately I did produce a wearable item. It just wasn’t something I wore.

Fifteen years later I have matured. I am making stuffed animals. Mini stuffed animals. And they are adorable. I will make a different type each year. And over time I will eventually build my ark.

3 thoughts on “building something

  1. just make sure you don’t ever stop building things with your words. i do adore them so. speaking of adorable — your mini elephants are the cutest! and seeing as i just got back from india, they bring back fond memories (of the elephants i never got to see. sigh.) but yay for world travel!

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