Ceaseless Toil and Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was a marathon spring cleaning adventure. Five hours I spent washing and vacuuming and dusting and decluttering. And I’m not done yet.

Is there a more thankless task than housework?

I decided to budget my time. I set the oven for a five-hour self-clean cycle and gave myself five hours to do what I could.

The oven racks needed a good wash. How the hell do these things get so greasy? And why can’t I leave them in the oven in self-clean mode?

Bah.

We rotated the carpets and vacuumed, moving all the furniture out to do it properly. Aha! That’s where all the dead bugs went! 

Gag.

I filled two vacuum cleaner bags with lovely assortments of dust, spider webs, fireplace soot, carpet fuzz, dog hair, crispy needles from the long-gone Christmas tree, and whatnot.

Gross.

Another job for the distaff side done and dusted, literally.

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Me-Made Saturday in the Park

It’s cold and overcast for May, so I am getting more wear out of my me-made moto jacket from Simplicity 8174. I took the dog on a walk in the park this morning and tried to get a selfie of me in the jacket and the dog at the same time. I managed to not get a decent picture of either, but it’s cute anyway – part of my jacket and part of my dog’s tail.

I made the jacket from ultrasuede and lined it with silk charmeuse. Fancy lining, eh? It was salvaged and recut from a failed dress project. Never throw out failed projects!

Me Made Casual Friday

I work at home Fridays, so I keep it cazh. Contrary to popular belief, people who work at home don’t stay in their PJs all day. At least I don’t. Most of the time…

Today’s outfit is jeans in black denim from Simplicity 3688. It’s a wide-leg trouser pattern reminiscent of the 1940s. 

Denim wasn’t a great call for the pattern; it needs something much more drapy. But I still got the look I wanted. I added belt loops and contrasting topstitching. 

Day 1 of Me Made May 2017

I woke up this morning and completely forgot it was May. As in #MeMadeMay. Sorry for the inelegant photo of my first day of the me-made pledge, but it was the best I could do on short notice. (Hey, you can only see a little of the toilet, so not a total selfie fail.)IMG_20170430_220955

This jacket is “Bolero Style Jacket” from the Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I changed the pattern a bit to work well with this crazy border print knit fabric I had. I lengthened the body of the jacket and the sleeves, and I added a clasp at the front. I’m wearing a RTW top and pants.

I  don’t have enough seasonally appropriate me-made clothing to wear an item every day all month, but I have ramped up my participation steadily during the past couple of years. I’ll push myself by pledging to wear me-made items five days out of seven in a week.

I, Diane of Distaff Blog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May’17. I endeavor to wear me-made clothes five days out of each week for the duration of May.

Who else is in?

Plant a Tree

I bought a tree yesterday. An Eastern redbud, variety “Carolina Sweetheart,” with red variegated leaves and dark pink flowers.

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We went to a fancy garden center to get it. Few places scream “distaff side” more than a fancy garden center. Farming is  a man’s world. The garden is where the gals go.

We no sooner arrived than the extras from Central Casting appeared: The skinny old WASP-y woman in khakis and tennis shoes, the tummy pooch from mothering 3 or 4 children, broad-brimmed hat shading her face, deeply lined from too much sun and too many cigarettes in her youth. The Earth Mother in jangling bracelets, who let it be known to all within earshot that she drove up from New Jersey that morning because she just had to have such and whatnot. The 30-something French-manicured mom who wants to rip out every living thing from her newly purchased property that she hates and replace it with other living things that she loves, for now.

Some male employees took them around, showing off the plants and listening to these women’s garden glories. The message was plain on these men’s faces, under their hipster beards: “Whatever you want, lady.”

I fled to the ornamental tree section and browsed the redbuds. A young woman who worked at the garden center asked if I needed help. She was maybe 5’2″ with dark hair clubbed into a short ponytail under a floppy sun hat. She wore black-framed glasses and sturdy boots and dirty jeans. Under the V-neck of her T-shirt I glimpsed part of a tattoo of a magnolia blossom (I knew it was a magnolia because under the blossom, “magnolia grandiflora” skated across in script). I also glimpsed a nest of curly auburn armpit hair.

We got to talking, and guess what? She lives a couple blocks away from me. She rides her bike to work in the garden center – at least an hour’s ride up some steep hills. She was funny and knowledgeable and confident. In short, I wanted to be her.

OK, not her exactly. She’s probably half my age, for starters, and no way do I want to be in my 20s again. But her life as I glimpsed it and assumed it to be appealed to me. How nice it would be, to do what I love on my own terms? I don’t know if I’d stop shaving my pits, but I’d love to wear my handmade clothes, eat my fill from my garden, write and just be, on my own terms, more often than I do today.

What’s stopping me? Fear of poverty, I can tell you that. I’ve always been driven to earn money and achieve more and more in my career. That’s brought me to a big job at a big company in a big city, living in a big house with big bills to pay. Has it brought happiness? Not really. I enjoy this life, for sure. But part me of always wonders what it would be like without it all.

When I was in my 20s I tried the bohemian life, but bolted for convention quickly. You marry, buy a house, get your first “real” job. Maybe you have a kid or two. You may want to go back to a simpler time, but you also need to be a grown-up, so you keep going.

Someone with a better sense of humor than mine once said: “If everyone actually did what they wanted to do when they were young, the world would have way too many ballerinas and not nearly enough garbagemen.”

True enough. So I will plant my tree, inhale its floral scent in spring, sit under its shade in summer, collect its autumn leaves, gaze at its naked limbs in winter, and think about what might have been.