This litter of puppies was made with love by my brilliant, beautiful, all-around amazing sister-in-law, Jo. She is one of the most devoted mothers I have ever known. (She works at a paid job, too, so I would not be surprised if she stayed up all night to get these made for my nephew’s birthday party last week.)
Jo is the person I want to become when I grow up.
Whenever a birthday or Halloween came around, I was always the mom who drove to Stop and Shop and said to my kids, “Which [toxic green/blue/red advertisement for a toy/TV show/movie] cake would you like?” And then I pulled out my debit card and financed the whole gruesome venture.
I was also the mom who hauled my kids to iParty five hours before trick-or-treating began to browse the severely depleted costume inventory. Usually what was left were the size 2x cow costume and the over-sexed Alice in Wonderland get-up. I actually bought the skanky Alice costume for Saskia a few years ago, because what else was I going to do at that late date?
That was the year I was not even long-listed for the MOTY award.
The one time I tried to be crafty was back in 1989. I was living in a Victorian house on the North Shore of Boston with my first husband and I decided it would be nice to have a curtain panel over the beautiful beveled glass on our oaken front door. (Gorgeous door but not so private.) Plus I decided I should buy some fabric and do it myself.
I bought a yard or two of lace. (I know, I know. Cut me some slack, it was a long time ago.) I had nowhere to actually lay it down so I could get a good look at it and decide what to do next, so I put in on our bed. And I turned on the radio, because the Metropolitan opera was simulcasting The Marriage of Figaro, which is really a non-negotiable indulgence.
So I listened and sang (badly) and looked over this piece of lace and decided it needed to be hemmed round or it would fray. And it also needed pockets, top and bottom, for the rods that would hold it in place.
So far so good.
As I would be creating this masterpiece by hand (obviously no sewing machine resided with us in the Victorian house, although an antique spinning wheel did. I know, cut me some more slack, it was the eighties and HGTV had not been invented yet). I let the lace lie on the bed and stitched those hems right there, all the while singing (badly) along with Figaro and the gang. And when I was all done I gazed with admiration at my handiwork. A bit crooked and irregular to be sure, but there seemed to be something akin to hems all round, and pockets top and bottom.
Then I went to pick it up so I could examine the fruits of my efforts more closely. And I couldn’t.
I had sewn that damned piece of lace right onto the bedspread.
I screamed, and for a few minutes I wept. Then I un-sewed the whole stupid thing, and after the Met simulcast ended I drove to Kmart and bought one pre-made. It did not really fit because it was supposed to be a kitchen curtain. It had fruits woven into the lace. Man, was that thing ugly.
My biological sister was crafty. And I was always determined to be what she wasn’t. (Someday I will write about our largely unhappy – null is maybe the better word -- sisterhood.) My mother is also what I would call crafty. She is someone I would like to emulate. She’s a pretty cool mom and grandmother.
But I STILL have no interest in knitting and needlepoint and stuff like that. I blame it on my single-minded focus, when I was younger (before I’d been humbled a thousand times over), on becoming a famous scholar and writer. That huswifery stuff was at best a distraction.
I love my sister-in-law (but I really just consider her my sister, apologies to HER real sister Down Under, who is also a total sweetheart) because she is nuts enough to spend half the night frosting puppies for her kids after a long day’s work. And I love her because she loves me back.
Jo, you ROCK. I'm waiting to see what you whip up for the next birthday!