The Career Dartboard


I sometimes wonder if from the outside it seems like I threw a dart at the career board while wearing a blindfold. The truth is that sewing has always been there. Silent and overlooked. But always there.

* * *

All of the clothes I remember having as a kid were homemade. There are three things that stand out. The floral dress with the red sash that Nanny made me. There was also a white button-down shirt with pink swans sewn on the sleeve cuffs courtesy of the fancy stitches on my mom's new sewing machine. It was supposed to be an Easter surprise but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and managed to see it early. And there was a sweater jacket with velvet panels. It wasn't even mine. My mom made it for my brother and I was insanely jealous.

* * *

Some teenagers haunted the arcade or the food court at the mall or musty basements with shag carpeting. My favourite was the fabric store. Nothing could hold my attention like those bolts of colour, texture and possibility. I never bought anything. I was just a stalker.

* * *

I'm not sure that home economics was ever in but when I was in school it was definitely out. Everyone took shop. I think I would have liked shop but you couldn't sew in shop. And shop wouldn't have given me permission to haunt the fabric store and present the opportunity to actually buy something.

* * *

I sewed a zippered pencil case in that class and I used it for all of high school. I didn't need to sew another zipper for about 15 years but I could still recall all of the steps thanks to that project.

* * *

My home ec teacher would talk about a sewing friend of hers that used to sew everything. She even sewed her own underwear. Since then, justified or not, serious sewing status has been reserved for people who sew their own underwear.

* * *

We didn't sew any clothes in that class so I tried to do it on my own. I made a red pencil skirt. I didn't believe in pressing back then. No wonder that skirt ended up with a waistband that resembled sausage casings. I hated that skirt. I never wore it. Not once.

* * *

When I was in college I had to pass by the sewing room. Rows upon rows of whirring machines. I'm not even sure what that class was. It was probably fashion design but it could have been sewing machine repair. Either way I always wished I was in that class instead.

* * *

I have a friend that used to spend hours and hours watching Jeanne Beker and the Fashion Television brigade picking out all of the things she would love to have. Her mother could take one look at those clothes and then recreate them. Her talent was both mysterious and magical. I was wonderstruck.

* * *

I sewed for myself for years. It was a hobby that I would take out from time to time. It wasn't really something that I talked about. It was just something that I would quietly do once in a while.

* * *

I read an article in a magazine about a vintage clothing collector. Listening to her describe fabrics, garments and the truly unique details she would find in these old pieces sounded more like music. Like a symphony of colour, shape and texture. Just talking about it now makes me want to go back and read the article again.

* * *

I read another article in a different magazine that listed the top ten jobs that were in high demand but not being fulfilled. I can't remember anything on the list before or after Clothing Alterer. It was the only thing on the list that I could do or had any interest in. The article claimed that it was something almost everyone needed but so few people could do for themselves anymore. I was a mom with three small kids. It wasn't even a remote possibility but I always remembered it.

* * *

An opportunity to sew for a living presented itself one day and in a brave move not often seen in my personal history, I took it. I haven't looked back.


If The World Was Made Of Glass

I wonder how long it would take for me to grow indifferent to the beauty of a world made of glass.

A really, really long time.



It's hard to believe that this paradise is a mere ninety minutes from our doorstep. Ninety minutes! So why don't we go more often? That is an excellent question.

I should also note that the third and seventh photograph in this entry were taken by the very talented third daughter.


Last Night was a Good Night

Sometimes it's more appropriate to go back to the beginning than to repeat yourself unnecessarily. I think this is one of those times. Here is one from the archives.


January 24, 2010

It’s been about a year and a half since I last went life drawing and I’ve missed it like crazy.

I missed…
…the anticipation of a good model. It can make or break the whole day.
…the clinking noise my charcoal makes in my little tin box.
…messy hands. The proof that I’ve accomplished something.
…the smell of an art room.
…Maxine Schacker’s voice in my head. She was probably the hardest and the best teacher I ever had.
…seeing that really great line that makes it all worthwhile.
…the brain mush that is a direct result of three hours spent learing, pushing, failing, succeeding, analyzing and decision making. There aren’t many things that can give your brain a workout like that. At least not many that are enjoyable.

So when I found out about the open session of life drawing every Sunday at the Mahone Bay Centre through Access Art, I couldn’t believe my luck. I promptly loaded the car with art supplies, drove the 10km and fried my brain for three glorious hours.


The Banana Seat Bike

I put my camera away for a good long while. It wasn't really intentional, I just didn't feel like taking any photographs. But there was a shift and I started to see things again. I started to regret not having my camera with me. It still wasn't enough to motivate me to pick it up. It was just enough to get me thinking about it. This can happen from time to time. I sometimes forget how many wonderful things happen when I take out my camera. And I don't mean the photographs. They're just a nice side effect. Take the other night, for example. I took the 4H kids on a photography walk. The first thing that caught my eye was this bike. I've passed by that spot a million times but I've never noticed the bike before. I think all of Bridgewater heard me yell, "Check out that banana seat bicycle!" What photographer could pass up a couple of minutes with that beauty? While the group of us were on the front lawn, the owner of the lawn and the bicycle came home. I immediately ran over and introduced myself, explained who we were and what we were doing just to be sure we weren't making a nuisance of ourselves. It turns out that sixty years ago, at the age of eleven, this woman got her first bicycle. That bicycle. And on the last big garbage day she tried to put it at the curb but she couldn't find the key for the lock. So it's still there. Without my camera I would have missed out on it all. I would have missed the bicycle, I would have missed the story and I wouldn't have these photos to remind me of it all.