Creating a creative nature

I regret to say I have finally found something on Facebook that I have been forced to block. It isn’t that I’m touchy about political correctness or can’t take the cute animal pictures. No, I’m just feeling very inadequate with the crafty posts that are flooding the news line.

I have never followed Pinterest. I really think many of the things that come off of Pinterest are cute, but I lack the creative talent to so much as fold a pipecleaner. Pinterest reminds me of my early childhood traumas.

Every other kid in first grade looked forward to art time. Not me! Let me read, let me sing the alphabet, but don’t force me to make a paper bag puppet or a turkey by tracing my hand. I am breaking out into a sweat just thinking about the sweat I used to break out in whenever my first grade teacher would cheerfully chirp out, “Art time, everyone! Get your smocks on and head for the craft table!”

I loved the smock. It was brightly colored and had pockets all around the bottom. But the rest of art sucked. I couldn’t cut, paste, fold, “insert tab” or even color in the lines. If it would look good to make a rainbow out of blue, yellow, red and orange, I invariably had some wiggly arch lines in black, grey, puce and lemon-lime. It just never worked out and I learned to hate art time. Truth to tell, the teachers who had to work with me in art probably felt the same.
All these years later, I still suck at art. I have tried to do quilting, mosaics, scrapbooking, painting. You name, I’ve tried it. And I still break out in a sweat every time I open a jar of glitter or spread glue on a piece of paper. It always looks so much better in my head and I’ve never made anything that should have made the pictures on Facebook.

Now, I have to look at all of the posts on Facebook:

“I made this fantastic prom dress out of some old ribbon and tissue paper….my great-grandchild will still be able to wear it.”  

“I started with some old mason jars and some discarded artificial flower petals and look at these beautiful canisters I made.”

Or worst of all, a before picture of a dresser missing one leg and with the side busted out and an after picture of something that would look at home in Louie XIV’s palace of Versailles, with the notation, “I just used a little wood glue and some paint and look what I made.”

I can’t take it. All of my artistic inadequacies come out every time I see another creative masterpiece posted online and I’m that unenthusiastic child in the red smock, with all ten fingers stuck together with glitter glue. 

So, there’s only one choice! If you have a wonderful craft project you want to share…I will simply have to block it or spend all my time in the throes of my childhood trauma. I can waste no more time trying to make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear….

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Easter Eggs a Dying Art

I am a grown woman with what I consider to be a reasonably mature outlook on life. Nonetheless, I was having a pretty childish fit about dying Easter eggs. Nobody was going to be around, there was no reason to do it, but I still wanted to dye Easter eggs. Just a few, maybe a dozen. I didn’t even have to buy Easter egg dye, because I had found an old box, buried under a pile of old Easter decorations. I blew off all the dust and brought it upstairs.

First, though, I needed eggs. Eventually I decided to boil a dozen and a half..to allow for broken ones, and because I like to dye them. I put the eggs on to boil and went into the living room to watch my favorite show…that’s right, I was watching the Rifleman.

When I heard the first mysterious pop, I thought I missed something on the show and they had shot off a gun before the finale. The second pop made me sure that the cat was on the counters in the kitchen, so without taking my eyes off the television, I yelled, “Cat! Get out of the kitchen.”

The third and fourth pops occurred at about the same time that I registered that the cat was relaxing on the deck outside the front window and it was then that I realized that the end music of the Rifleman was playing and I had put the eggs on to boil during the opening music of the program.

I raced out to the kitchen in time for eggs five, six and seven to explode and through a haze of smoke, I snatched the eggs off the stove and ran the scorched mess full of cold water, causing a further smoke and steam mixture.

Choking, coughing, my eyes streaming, I poured the poor, scorched, cracked up messes in the garbage. You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn’t you? Not me. I got another container of eggs from the store…okay, so I got two full 18-count cartons just to be sure. Coming home, I put 18 eggs on the stove and the rest in the fridge. I turned off the television and turned on the timer.

In the end, I came out with 18-count of eggs perfectly boiled, not a one broken. I put them in their carton and put them in the fridge until it was time to dye them.

At last I was ready to dye the eggs. I took out the color tablets and the wax crayon for writing names and I began. Except I could not remember which carton of eggs were the boiled ones…okay, so I was sure I knew, and without question, I grabbed the right carton and started working on names with the wax crayon. Then, I got out the tablets to drop into the vinegar and water. The tablets were a little old, they were extremely crumbly, but when they went into the mixture, they didn’t dissolve at all well.

I put in the first egg which I had written on and if I hadn’t been struggling to write on the next egg, I might have noticed that it sort of floated weirdly. I was writing on the second egg, though and having trouble making the wax stay. I must have pushed pretty hard, because the egg smashed in my hand and the next thing I knew I was holding a handful of raw egg. Okay, so I had the wrong carton.

So I threw away the raw eggs and began working with the ones in the other carton…which were boiled, but which didn’t take the wax writing any better than the raw one. I dumped them in the dye and because the dye tablets didn’t dissolve well, the eggs came out splotchy and freckly… and the wax names did not show at all.

I didn’t give up. I dyed all those eggs and not one single name showed up. What was I going to do? I had a bunch of eggs with no names on them that looked like they had been attacked with a colorful version of the plague. But they were dyed. And in the end, I discovered that I’ve wasted a lot of years with those wax crayons when a nice black sharpie marker will do the job so much better! I hope everyone had a great Easter and that you didn’t all need three dozen (plus 2) eggs to get a decent batch dyed….and that your dye wasn’t old enough to vote! Have a good week!

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Furniture Fracas

I’ve never been a big believer in fine furniture. I like to sit on my chairs and couches, walk on my rugs and put food and drinks on the end tables. Consequently, my furniture is not always the most attractive or the nicest, but I at least am familiar with it. I’m not sure I can say the same for Roy after this weekend.
My good, overstuffed rocker, which matched Roy’s, had finally given up the fight. While Roy’s chair held up well, mine had slowly, gradually broken down over the years. I tend to sleep in it when I’m having a restless night and working as a pseudo-bed for a woman my size had caused it to send in its resignation by dropping closer and closer to the floor while spitting mysterious bolts out of every orifice. When it began to overturn randomly and spill me onto the floor, I knew it was time to find something else.

I brought up the idea one night when Roy was tired from working late and not in the mood to discuss furnishings.

“I need a new chair,” I said as he was shoveling in his supper in a hurry. 

“There’s nothing wrong with my chair,” he answered in a distracted fashion, tuning in to the news.

“I know that. It’s my chair,” I answered testily.

“Your chair is fine,” he was no longer interested in the subject, I could tell.

“My chair is a broken-down ride at the amusement park from hell,” I whined. “It tips and rocks and dumps me out in the middle of the ride. I need something new.”

“Fine, go ahead, go shopping,” he muttered, his mind on the newspaper now in front of him.

It was what I had been waiting to hear. I was being turned loose with the family checkbook and permission to get extravagant. Okay, okay, so he never said get extravagant, but I can interpret it any way I want, right? It was time to be bold.

I looked and considered several dozen chairs at the store. I made the salesman a little edgy I think, because I kept going from chair to chair, searching for the perfect one. I know nothing about chairs so I kept asking questions like, “How much weight does the foot rest on this one hold? I have fat feet you know.” On the leather one, I inquired, “How many cows died in order for this chair to live?”

Finally, I found it. It was the perfect chair. It was dark brown, plush, overstuffed and had a foot rest that I could actually operate. The problem? It was a little expensive. Okay, it was very expensive. But it was the one I wanted, so I shut my eyes and got it.

Roy was still busy so I didn’t bother him with little things like the price or the fact that I had to haul it home. I put it in the pickup (or rather, they did) and I drove on my merry way home. But while I was at the store, I picked up a large, very pretty cover for my ugly old couch and brought that home at the same time.

By swearing, sweating and sometimes dragging the thing, I managed to get the chair into the living room and all set up. It looked beautiful…expensive, but beautiful. Then, for good measure, I put the new cover on the couch and  it looked pretty good too. Then I sat down to wait for Roy to come home and admire my new chair.

I was honest; I met him at the door and told him the price first thing. “How much?” he hollered, “that’s ridiculous.”

He was still blustering when he walked into the living room. He walked right by my brand new chair and ran his hands over the new cover on the old couch.

“Oh, this is really nice,” he said. “I thought you were getting a chair, but this is really a bargain for a couch.”

And now for my dilemma: Do I tell him the truth or do I just sit in my expensive new chair and let it go?

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Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, right!

Okay, I love a good impossible fantasy-type love story as much as the next guy, but honestly, Disney may be pushing my credulity just a little too far. This weekend I stood in a chilly line outside the movie theater so that I could get in to the latest version of Beauty and the Beast. However, there were a few questions that entered my cynical mind while I was watching.

Beauty and the Beast

Official Disney Movie Poster Copyright Disney Studios http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast-2017

For a girl who is looked down on by the town, everyone seemed to know her. They greeted her in a friendly manner, asked about her activities and her day and though I saw little or nothing unusual about her there, the townspeople broke into song about how odd she was. I don’t find it odd that she read books and avoided Gaston whenever possible, but the fact that all she wants her father to bring her back from the market is a rose…now that’s odd.

Then there was the issue of the castle. I could take that it was winter all the time. I could even accept that it was surrounded by wolves. Even a crabby beast lurking in the shadows would be creepy but not too far out. But the second the candlestick invited me to dinner and my tea cup started talking, I’d have been out of there. Eaten by a wolf? Much better than having a conversation with your singing dresser drawers!

Beyond that is the interesting question of the looks of the key characters. We are asked to believe that the gift of a library and a snowball fight was all it took to make Belle overlook the fact that the object of her affection was a character who looked like a cross between a raging bull and Lucifer himself. Even that may be credible, but a union between a human and this “beast” would have been difficult to sustain. Would they live in the cold castle filled with creepy talking furnishings or would they go and live in the village where people already described Belle as odd?

Looks were a key consideration throughout the movie, but I couldn’t help wondering about the reverse question: What would have happened if Belle had been the beast and the prince was expected to fall in love with her anyway? Now, you have to admit there are many more stories out there where beautiful girls marry less than perfect looking, but wonderful men, than beautiful men who marry girls without looks.

A cynic (and I sometimes am one) might suspect that Belle took a look at the giant and ornate castle and its fine accoutrements  and decided she could overlook a furry physique and a couple of horns for a lavish lifestyle. I prefer the romantic point of view, however; I think Belle falling for a horrific beast who then turned into her Prince Charming is very romantic—if not very believable.

Lastly, I don’t want to leave out the mob in the “small provincial town.” Shakespeare seemed always to write his plays with utter contempt for the fickle and clueless mob. This story takes up that issue as well. The mobs follow Gaston when he locks up Maurice for suggesting that there is a monster and then just as faithfully follow him along when he decides that not only is there a monster, but they must kill it. This makes the mob even more stupid than Gaston and twice as gullible!

Okay, I guess this is the last of my questions, but as for the movie of Beauty and the Beast, I really did enjoy it. I spent the days after I went to the movie singing the songs and dancing around the house with sheets draped around me like Belle’s dress and holding conversations with my kitchenware…but don’t worry, nothing has so far talked back! Have a great week and go and see Beauty and the Beast for a fantasy treat!

 

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Nothing at all is like pulling teeth

My favorite television commercial to complain about lately has been the tooth-whitening one about the “tissue test.” You know, where she freaks out when she holds a tissue up to her teeth and they don’t look as white as the material does.
Seriously? This is all she worries about with her teeth? Whether they past the tissue test or not? Get real. For years I have done the “biting food” test. If I bite down on food and my teeth don’t ache, throb, develop shooting pains or actually break off, I’m satisfied. I don’t need a tissue to validate my teeth.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my teeth: I love to have them, and I hate taking care of them. Oh, I brush them and floss them, but it seems that no matter how careful I am today, they will not forgive me for the years of neglect I gave them when I was young.

And I’ve paid for that, over and over. The first time I went to a dentist, I was 17 and the dentist was required to pull a tooth. He said it was nothing to pull a tooth. After he had shot my mouth full of Novocain, he immediately began pulling the tooth. To this day, I swear there is a dent in my left shoulder where he braced his knee to yank out the tooth. It was reasonably fast, but the Novocain didn’t kick in until a few minutes after he was done. To this day, I get the shudders when someone describes a problem as being “like pulling teeth.”  I assure you, nothing is like pulling teeth.

Unfortunately, this experience put into place a vicious cycle in which I avoided dentists until I had a terrible problem and of course, the solution was always difficult and painful…you might say getting me to the dentist was like, “pulling teeth.”

Dentists differed on whether my teeth should be cleaned—one said no because of a heart murmur, but after eight years of no cleaning, I was sent to a dentist who felt those eight years of no cleaning needed to be rectified. 


I have heard stories of scary types who use dental equipment to get information from people and I believe that is an effective technique. If I had possessed any secrets that dental hygienist wanted to  know, I’d have told her to get her to stop “cleaning” my teeth.

When she had done one side of my mouth and my eyes were leaving their sockets, she made her mistake: She said, “Well, I think we should give you a break and you can come in for another appointment to finish the other side.” I went home, spit blood for a couple of days and went back into dental avoidance.

Of course, this kind of ill-treatment of my teeth has resulted in the loss of some. I have a wonderfully fitted partial, but even that has caused some dental avoidance: One side of the partial has lost one of the faux teeth attached to it and I have yet to take it in and let the dentist look at it. What’s worse is that I have no idea what happened to the fake tooth when it came loose, but I am pretty sure I consumed it.

With all of these experiences in dentistry, I am pretty sure I’m lucky to still have teeth in my mouth that actually help me eat, so I will be incredibly grateful for those, which I brush and floss regularly. As to whether I can pass the “tissue test” I would love to do that, but white teeth just don’t matter as much as whole teeth. I’ll use the tissue to blow my nose instead!

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Henry had feminist issues…

I have been reading a lot lately about feminist viewpoints and the equality between men and women. As an historian, I’ve studied equality between the genders all through the history of man (forgive the gender specific term). The men who treated their wives with great respect and equality were definitely in the minority, especially among the ruling class.

The anti-feminist winner, however, has to be one of my most fascinating studies in history in the case of Henry VIII of England. Known by his contemporaries as “Bluff King Hal,” Henry gave women little reason to think he was a kind and benevolent fellow.

Henry knew the ins and outs of marriage and even more about handling a divorce without any squabble. In fact, you might say he was a master at matrimony and an even greater deviser of divorce.

First married to his brother’s widow, the Spanish Katherine, Hal lived peaceably in married bliss (for him anyway) for about 18 years and was considered quite the devoted husband since he had only had two or three mistresses during that time. Things might have rolled along well, but Henry had two problems: First, he had no son to be king after him and two, he took a strong fancy to his wife’s lady-in-waiting—Anne Boleynn.

Now, for all the men who have deserted their wives and failed to provide proper alimony or child support, consider the case of poor Katherine. She was forced to live in a falling down pile of stone, complete with rats and mildew. Her food had to be tasted by loyal servants to make sure she wasn’t “accidentally” poisoned…a fact which probably made it hard to hire “loyal” servants.

Anne Boleynn in her turn, failed to give Henry a son and her end was even worse than Katherine’s, because by then Henry knew how to chop to the heart of the matter, or in Anne’s case, the head. She was beheaded and Henry lost no time in marrying HER lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour.

Had I been Jane, I’d have hired only ladies-in-waiting who were ugly or old, but it probably didn’t matter since Jane had the fortune to produce the long-awaited boy. She died in the process, which probably makes her the luckiest of Henry’s wives.

Not a man to be discouraged, Henry married wife number four, Anne of Cleves. He was betrothed without seeing the lady, whom he labeled “the Great Flanders Mare” on first sight. It is important to remember that by this time, old Henry was no Adonis himself and not the sweetest tempered of men, but it is said that on their wedding night, he was alarmed to be met with Anne’s hair on a tray, being carried out as he went in!

This marriage achieved the fastest divorce on record, since both husband and wife were eager to be released. Anne collected all she could in the divorce settlement and lived happily ever after without Henry, so you might say she was the happiest of his wives.

Henry, not to be discouraged, married another lady-in-waiting. In fact, his eighteen-year-old child bride, Katherine Howard, was a cousin to Anne Boleynn. She met the same fatal end, losing her head after Henry discovered she liked younger men than him.

Henry tried one more time, marrying Katherine Parr, a 30 year old widow who was already in love with someone else. It wasn’t wise to reject Henry as a suitor, however, so the reluctant bride married the old man.  Katherine was the most educated of Henry’s wives and for expressing her opinion (which conflicted with Henry’s) she almost lost her head. Henry did her the favor of dying before he could do it, which probably makes her even luckier than Jane Seymour.

Forgive this small history lesson, but with all the talk about equality between the sexes and feminist positions, I couldn’t help thinking of Henry and the women—all of them feminist in their own ways—who conducted their own form of gender wars with him. Hope you have better success in your own gender wars!

 

 

 

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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It was that time again….

I knew it was time. It had been building up for weeks and soon I knew that there would be no more hiding it by shutting the door. Mostly because the door was not going to shut anymore. That’s right, you guessed it: it was time to clean the refrigerator again.

Time goes so quickly. It seems like I just cleaned the refrigerator and now here it is a year later and it needs it again. My least favorite chore in the house is this unappealing ritual which takes up time and effort and never leaves me with any sense of accomplishment.

Nonetheless, I resolutely began the process of going through the wilted lettuce, spoiled potato leftovers, and jars of mildewed tomatoes. Roy came in while I was deep in the refrigerator’s bowels, scraping something sticky off the wall and wondering  how it had managed to seep into the glass plating over the shelf.

“What are these bags?” he asked, pointing to two garbage bags, bulging on all sides.

“They are the results of my cleaning the refrigerator,” I announced proudly.

“You threw all of these things away?” he was shocked and slightly offended.

“Yes, I thought it was time for some of the things in this refrigerator,” I answered sarcastically. “Some of those items were mating with each other and adhering themselves to the refrigerator shelves. It was becoming a matter of national security.”

He was busy looking at what was in the bags. “I can see three juice bottles in there. Those were in the bottom of the fridge. What was wrong with them?”

“The cranberry juice had mold on the top and the apple juice was so old it had turned and not in a good way,” I blew the hair out of my face and started on whatever was crusted onto the vegetable drawers.

“And the prune juice?” he pressed.

“It expired the year Tracie graduated from high school and she’s been out of the house for ten years. I thought it was time to give it a decent burial. Don’t disturb the dead, dear, let it rest in peace in that garbage bag.”

Roy gave up and left me to chip the ice off the freezer trays on my own. I only stabbed myself three times before I finally gave up. I put everything back on the shelves, including the excessive number of packages of butter. Apparently, I have been buying boxes of butter and burying them in the wilds of the refrigerator. Then, I would buy another package. At present, I have enough butter to grace the toast of an entire medium-sized country.

I decided it was time to sit down with a cool drink of soda and maybe a piece of cheese. Except both of them had been out so long they were an unpleasantly warm temperature. So, I got a glass of tepid water, dragged the now dripping and drooling garbage bags out the front door and turned on an old episode of I Love Lucy.

Thank goodness that job is over for another year, I tell myself. Now I can get on with doing all the things that I think are more fun…like having a root canal on a tooth that doesn’t need it or skydiving with a faulty parachute. Have a great week everyone, and if your refrigerator needs cleaning—don’t call me!

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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