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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

And the beat goes on


And here we are, baby Anika.

Born in Berkeley California to my son and daughter-in-law a little over a day ago.

After a long and challenging labour arrived just perfect. 

I took the day today to myself to cut out little clothes and contemplate how lucky we are.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Flypaper thoughts Canadian basement edition, subtitle resilience

Well I don't know where to start.

Which means I better just start.

There has been so much going on around here, so many sewing projects made and mailed or distributed to local family, all on the kind of deadlines that leave no room for blog photos.

This blog isn't a slick operation that's for sure, but you already know that.

Right now a box of clothes and things should be on their way to California. 

Or they would be if Canada Post was not on a rotating strike. I have heard that there are 1.5 million parcels sitting in Toronto in trucks ... hope mine isn't one of them.

Some of that stuff is size 0-3 months so it better get there soon.

Right now this very minute that baby is being born in a Berkeley labour room, while I write this post, my phone beside me and my eye on the green message bubble.

A couple of things tonight.

For a start my daughter is doing well, physically maybe things have plateaued, but her spiritual retooling has been astounding. It's quite the thing to see the depth of wisdom of your own child revealed.

I am reminded right now of my favourite fact.

Darwin never actually said that the fittest survived you know.

What he said was that the most adaptable survive.

Lots to ponder there.

I just got back from the weekend in Winnipeg late last night.

My youngest sister, who is 55, just got married.

Julie is deaf and has cheerfully lived her entire life optimistically and kindly. Working all these decades for Canada Post, who upside to everything, kindly went on strike so she could have time to organize her wedding.

The thing is she got engaged about six weeks ago. That's when she announced she was going to get married in my mom's house, a 50's bungalow, and have the reception in the basement.

We pretty much all decided right then that this was not at all possible, or a good idea, or even something we could all imagine.

My 90 year old mother has claimed for years that she is a) "mucking out the basement and getting rid of all the junk" (not at all true btw, I mean this clean up has been going on for 18 years) and b) she is really good at laundry. meaning there are always a lot of ironing piles down there and hanging racks because my mom doesn't really trust the dryer.

I think you get the picture.

Not the first place you think of as a wedding venue.

I mean really. What kind of a destination wedding ends up in a basement in Winnipeg?

Now the concept of the Canadian basement in this cold winter country has a dense history. 

For a while in the 60s and 70s the big thing was to do up the basement and put in a bar. 

Sort of a really inappropriate bar, Kon Tiki in Moosejaw style, for a time when social life meant having your friends over for rum and coke and a cake mix. 

My dad and his friend did ours up big in the style of an English pub, which my father had actually not ever been in, in his life. They had a piano down there and when we were kids we had many happy evenings lying in bed listening to my dad's friend sing increasingly dramatic versions of the "Wild Colonial boy."

Good times in the basement.

Of course these older bungalows have now been bought up in most neighbourhoods.

The coloured lights have been taken down off those bars and treadmills installed instead, down in those basements directly under the open kitchens created by hipper folks who knock down the walls and put cilantro in jars of water on the counters where the Twinkle mix marble cakes used to cool.

Except in some houses the rooms in the basements, Canadians called them "rumpus rooms" and I am not kidding about that, have remained intact.

My mom's house is like that.

So it is in a house like that my sister decided to get married in the living room. The same living room where we nursed my dad until he died at home, the same living room were a million cups of tea have been drunk, and toys have been scattered, and newspapers read and phones have been answered.

But she decided these were exactly the reasons she wanted to get married there. 

So my sister went to work and transformed the house of our past into the place of her dreams. All by herself with the help of her friend from the post office. They draped the walls in the rumpus room with tulle, rented tables, and put up flowers.

And she did it.

It was an astounding achievement. 

The transformation of the living room into a wedding chapel, the transformation of the basement (and the bar once the ironing had been moved off it) into a community hall, and the transformation of my second sister and I into caterers.

And here is how it all looked, at the best and most authentic wedding I have ever been to, with the happiest bride and groom.


The wedding arch in the corner of the living room- we are still trying to figure out where the furniture went.
Julie and Bill. Her entire life ever since she was a little girl Julie has loved purple

The buffet table. My sister Dawn and I put together the food and ran up and down those stairs a million times. The food all turned out, although I realized too late that I had forgotten to put the parm on the chicken parm, but at least it wasn't dry and I had a lot going on at the time.

This picture absolutely kills me. The basement was full of these tables, about two steps away from the laundry room.

My mother at dinner, she says to tell you never throw anything out, this dress she once wore to a wedding 40 years ago. As long as there aren't shoulder pads you can keep it she says.




My niece and her boyfriend tending bar. "Basement parties are actually awesome" he kept saying.  Great guy. Stayed up so late being a DJ for the guests, most of who were deaf, playing music with a good strong bass.

So that was my weekend. 

Not illustrated was the part where I altered the groom's suit the morning of the wedding, or took in my niece's dress or sat on the floor hemming my mom's bedroom curtains because they were too long and the guests were putting their coats on the bed in there.


So right now I am going to sit up a little longer and wait for news about this baby.

And I am going to consider the fact that ingenuity and the sense to work with what you've got, can actually make the most unlikely situations well yes, awesome.