Monthly Archives: October 2011

What’s In Your Attic?

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Since I’ve been back in my Dallas my mom has used the opportunity free labor to nicely request demand that I organize clear out the attic.  Somehow, over the past couple of decades, my parent’s attic has become a dumping ground for anything that we are too sentimentally attached lazy to donate or trash.  In this ongoing project we’ve come across some pretty random findings, which gives me the opportunity to share our embarrassing attic secrets with you.*

Just in time for Halloween we found an old grave marker for my great-uncle, Jesse James Dixon, a World War One veteran, born in 1892 and deceased in 1958.

“Minnie” insists that my great-uncle was likely named after two of his uncles, Jesse and James.  I prefer my explanation that Jesse’s mom was an old school hipster who wanted to strike fear into the hearts of kids in the schoolyard by naming him after gang leader, bank robber, Confederate guerilla, murderer, and all-around American outlaw bad-ass: Jesse James (1847-1882).**

According to Minnie, my great-uncle was pretty awesome, as well as, a bit of a romantic. Minnie still has the love letters he wrote to my great-aunt Pearl and thought that they had one of the happiest marriages of anyone she knew.  I never knew my great-uncle, but I did have the pleasure of knowing my great-aunt Pearl.  She could kick it as well as any eighty-something with the under ten crowd.

So, what interesting things do you have hidden away in your attic/garage/crawl space?  Please share your stories and save Sylvester and Minnie from languishing alone in their embarrassment.

*Due to legal restraints embarrassment my mother insists that I refer to her and my father as “Sylvester” and “Minnie” in order to protect their real identities and the contents of their attic.  After this they’re going to rob a stagecoach.
**Apparently American bad-asses have short life expectancies.

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The Shitenge Project: Eye Mask

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As you may recall I am currently a) trying to figure out how to integrate a plethora of shitenges into my daily life and b) looking for ways to amuse myself between freelance projects, thus The Shitenge Project was born.

Last week, a migraine took me out of commission for several days.  During that time I doped up on meds and kept a cold compress handy for my neck and forehead.  Out of this experience, this week’s project was born.  It’s a variation of an eye mask and is designed to hold a cold compress or a scented sachet.

I started by measuring the length and width of a cold compress and cutting two strips of material an inch wider and larger than the compress.  I ended up increasing the length because I like having the cold compress wrap around my temples.  I was initially going to use a buttonhole but decided on a velcro closure so the compress could slip in and out more easily.  I also included two buttons from my great-grandmother’s button collection for decoration.

I really liked this project because the case is versatile so I can pull out the compress, toss in a lavender sachet, and have an instant eye pillow.  If you are interested in making your very own lavender sachet, it really is a simple process.   You can make a sachet packet slightly smaller than your case (suggested material: cheesecloth) and fill it with 1/2 cup of (dried) beans, 1/2 cup of rice/lentils, and 1/2 cup of dried lavender.

Please continue to leave any ideas for future shitenge projects in the comments section: comments in my last post suggested a place mat project but as I usually eat standing up, a bowl in one hand, and a spoon in the other, I think place mats might be a bit too classy for me.  However, in the same vein, everyone needs a napkin so look for a cloth napkin project coming soon!

Who’s Up For A Book Burning? I’ll Bring The S’mores!

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Yesterday wrapped up a week of annual events bringing to light the issues surrounding banned books such as censorship, first amendment rights, and freedom of information.

Image Credit: American Library Association

However, as responsible adults, it’s our job to protect children from danger.  Honestly, I’m not sure which is more dangerous, a run-in with Ernest Hemingway or a good old-fashioned book burning.  On one hand, Ernest Hemingway advocates sex and could give you a nasty paper cut, on the other hand, fire is singe-y and could kill you. It’s a tough call. Fortunately, there are numerous approved reading sources that nix the socialism and sex but still share the wonders of misogyny and homophobia.

You know what else makes book burnings ok? The approval of the government.  If the people in charge say it’s ok then it’s time to pull out the matches and grab some sticks. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Nazis convinced everyone to throw a book on the bonfire.  Well, that, and Hitler promised to bring s’mores to the bonfire.  S’mores make everything more festive.

I checked out the Banned and Challenged Book Lists and realized that I’ve read a fair number of books on the list so I guess I’m doomed.

Some of my favorite books are regularly banned or challenged, including:

  • Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
  • Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
  • J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.”
  • Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.”
  • Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
  • Augusten Burroughs’ “Running with Scissors.”
  • Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.”
  • Mark Mathabane’s “Kaffir Boy.”
  • Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
  • Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

As you can tell I’ve clearly turned out poorly and will be accursed for life so it’s advisable to keep your children away from these books altogether.  In fact, the best way to keep them from sneaking around with a copy of “Of Mice and Men” is to forbid them from ever learning to read.  Illiteracy is the answer and abstinence from books is the only solution.