I am currently reading the book, Wonder and in it, there are a number of precepts.
Am I the only one who had to pause to remember what “precepts” meant?
I hope not, but, just in case I am not the sole grade-3-spelling-bee-champ-with-an-adult-onset-short-term-memory-deficit-for-proper-nouns, here’s a refresher: precepts are mottos; wise sayings; noble rules by which to conduct one’s life.
It is important to have precepts. Especially ones like this one:
“Never admit that using your e-reader is a clever way to find out the meaning of a word in a book designed for middle-school children.”
I have another precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
(Precepts get taken more seriously when they are written with a few capital letters).
My precept is not to imply that I advocate fibbing or mis-representation or passing off that 7 layer cake you got from the artisan bakery as your own work (although having had my own layer cake trauma, I could almost understand if you felt compelled to do that).
No, what I mean is, be your authentic, flawed and wonderful self and then go ahead and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.
(Okay, so all caps is just too obnoxious, even for a precept).
Yep, instead of wallowing in your insecurities and all the things you just can’t do (although goodness knows, that’s fun on a cloudy afternoon with a box of ice cream), pretend you know how. Just for a little while, make the little voice in your head say, “Ha! This will be a breeze! I am great at knitting daisies/folding kirigami trees/building swings/crafting papier mache chandeliers/drawing purple elephants using my elbows” and then, as the megalo-maniac athletics company says: JUST DO IT.
(See, their precept, while lovely, is just a tad obnoxious with the all caps thing).
But, get on with it and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you actually can, after all.
I Fake It ‘Til I Make It all the time. In fact, I have recently convinced myself that I can play guitar, even though I only learned three-and-a-half chords around age 12.
And now, a few short weeks later, I sort of CAN play guitar.
I’m constantly Just Doing Things I can’t do. Faking It ‘Til I Make…something.
Like fabu-lizing my father’s old guitar case from 1964.
I had already festooned it with a few stickers after he gave it to me recently but, even though I adore festooning, that wasn’t Just Doing It for me, so, I came up with the idea to jazz it up with some vintage fabric I had lying around (jazzing up is like festooning on steroids).
Practical Man suggested that first, we fix it.
And by “we”, I mean “he”:
I don’t have a lot of patience for the clamping and gluing, the molding and re-laminating. But not Practical Man. He is a big fan of clamps. With a handful of clamps, he is one happy clamper.
After all the first aid, I finally got to play with the fabric.
Well, actually, Practical Man suggested that it would be a good idea to iron the fabric, first. The Faking It ‘Til I Make It project nearly ended right there because nobody told me that there was going to be ironing involved in this extravaganza.
Ironing was not part of my fabu-lizing plan. It is the very definition of anti-fabu-lizing.
But, I took a deep breath and I Faked It Like I Was A Person Who Ironed.
Then, it was back to the joy again as I got my nifty pinking shears (that’s just fun to say) and snip, snipped out the guitar shape from the very lovely, newly-ironed, vintage fabric:
Please ignore that whisper of fold near the top. No amount of Faking It or steam could help me flatten that. Also, I didn’t have quite enough full pieces of fabric so the bottom of the case is in two pieces, sewn together. I Fake It While I Say Bad Words and Sew quite frequently so this was not too traumatic.
Because of the scarcity of this vintage fabric, we decided to fabu-lize the sides of the guitar in other ways: using paint and tape. I was eager to get on with the Faking It While I Painted It but Practical Man reminded me that we should tape the inside of the case so it wouldn’t get red paint all over it.
Very thorough taping/papering ensued.
I may have rolled my eyes and sighed loudly, a couple of times.
Then, came the painting. Practical Man doesn’t have to Fake It ‘Til He Makes It while painting so he took the reigns and the spray can and got down to business. This being red, it took a few coats.
Then, there was waiting.
And after the final coat, for curing.
Finally, it was time for the fun fabric-izing! We covered the lid of the guitar case with white glue, using cheap paint brushes. Then, quickly, quickly, carefully, carefully, we laid down the fabric on top. We smushed it all down so that it all made contact with the glue, then we quickly, quickly, before it could dry, painted a thick layer of glue on top and worked out any bubbles we found to seal the fabric in.
Then, we had brandy to recover from the stress.
It was chocolate milk in a fun glass.
More waiting while the magic happened: the glue turned clear when it dried!
Once it was fully dry, we turned the case over and applied the second piece of fabric to the bottom.
More quickly, quickly.
More brandy (not really).
I do a lot of Faking It ‘Til I Make Like I Enjoy Waiting.
One day or a hundred years later, it was time to tape!
Oooh, quite stressful as well.
Using an exacto-knife, the tape, and nerves of steel, Practical Man and I carefully applied the tape to the edges of the lid, making “relief” cuts using the exacto knife on the tape when needed, to go around the underside of the curves.
Not only does the tape look fun, but it also strengthened the 51 year-old rim.
YAY, I thought.
No, no, not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales.
Practical Man reminded me that spraying the whole thing to protect it, was a good plan. I agreed but, honestly, that was before I realized that spraying meant scraping off all the excess, dried, clear glue that was on the edges (so that it wouldn’t crack and turn white every time we set the case down on the floor) and also:
Taping. The. Whole. Case. Again.
I wish I drank brandy.
So, there you have it. Approximately two weeks later, presto-bongo, we have a sturdy, repaired, carefully fabu-lized work of guitar case art and I love it:
There are apparently only two tasks left:
- rubbing 4-0 steel wool over the whole fabric surface to smooth off the fibres that have risen during gluing and then
- applying a coat of wax
The demonstration sample Practical Man made me has shown me that these two steps will, indeed, result in a superior end product. And, it’s also made me realize something:
Practical Man’s doesn’t live by the precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
He lives by the precept:
Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All.
I think we make a great team.
When I was 5 or 6, I decided to run away.
I can’t recall what unspeakable childhood injustice led to the moment when I flounced into my room and started packing my suitcase, but I do remember the dilemma:
how to fit everything in?
The little blue suitcase that I kept my doll’s clothes in wasn’t nearly big enough to hold the non-negotiable running away necessities such as:
- a flashlight to guard against bogey man,
- books and books and books to read while “on the road”,
- clean underpants (in case I was in an accident),
- penny bank (a plaster, brown-and-white pig approximately the size of my entire torso),
- and red-and-white checkered umbrella and raincoat ensemble (one can never be too stylish while running away),
let alone my TREASURES.
Red cowboy hat:
Mickey mouse record player:
and my Elizabeth doll:
I should have known right then and there, that I was never going to be a footloose and fancy-free kind of gal.
Too. Much. Stuff.
My new vintage suitcase evokes a 1974, running away kind of vibe too.
As in, Practical Man wants to run away when he sees the loud pattern.
I think he might have some kind of rare retinal disorder.
I love him anyway.
This suitcase is approximately the same size as my old running away version.
The inside is pristine, as if someone 5 or 6 years old couldn’t quite fit all her treasures in there either. As a result, it probably rested, only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting fancy of running away, until it was returned to under the bed.
I think it wants to be my new briefcase. It is not only (obviously) fabulous looking but eminently useful with both interior and exterior pockets and a handy umbrella slot. I can’t wait to take it out into the world and around the university, full of fun stationery supplies, snacks, a sunhat, music, assorted Sharpie markers, and life’s essentials: books and books and more books.
Some things never change.
It’s December in Canada, so of course I am dreaming about a vintage summer cottage.
Just to be clear, there are no sisters in these dreams, thank you very much.
When I was growing up, Summer wasn’t Summer unless it included a week at my grandparents’ cottage.
That is to say, my little sister had her week and I had mine. No sharing of the grandparents, no siree. Just full on, 24-7 attention and affection a la Celine Dion and Brigitte Jones:
All. By. Myself.
Needless to say, it was glorious. My Grandma Helen would open the cereal boxes upside down so I could get the prize at the “bottom” right away and we would watch Woody Woodpecker while we drank Freshie and ate “schnibbles” of summer sausage and old cheese and “crinkly” carrots at lunch.
My Grandpa Lou, resplendent in his Coca-Cola hat, would drive down the cottage lane on his lawn tractor, pulling a wagon behind, with me and half the neighbour’s kids piled in. In the mornings, he’d wake early and smoke at the kitchen table with a large, hardcover book in front of him. I remember him using an ashtray that had a metal top and sort of a plaid beanbag pillow for the bottom. I don’t think he ever used these jazzy ashtrays.
They seemed to be for company and Frank Sinatra music.
My Grandpa built a gigantic swing and teeter totter in the yard and I loved to swing, overlooking the lake. My Grandma baked Great Aunt Batche’s coffee cake recipe on special mornings and rice krispie squares with chocolate “ants” (you had to be there). My Grandpa loved to re-design his food and taught me to eat tomato soup with Kraft dinner in it.
Maybe my grandparents did these wonderful, comforting things when my sister was around too.
But, I doubt it.
My grandparents’ cottage was built in the late 60s and when I was spending time there in the late 70s, 80s and 90s, it had a lovely vintage vibe to it. A certain musty, home-y smell and barkcloth curtains in the bedrooms:
There was a room with a double bunk bed (on top AND bottom!) and witty signs dotted around the walls and especially, in the bathroom.
That is, treasures collected by my grandpa and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandma:
There was always candy in Grandma’s candy jar on the hutch and I liked to play with the cast iron Mennonite figurines.
That is, treasures collected by my Grandma and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandpa:
In the evenings, we played games, like Flea, Parcheesi, Sorry, Yatzee, Crazy Eights and later, Upwords. My Grandma Helen was a great adult, because she never let you win. You had to earn it. Sometimes, we bet with pennies or potato chips and while Grandpa was the risk taker, Grandma was often the winner.
Of course, every game needs a snack. Often, it was cheesies. Day-glow orange and crispy, dissolve-in-your-mouth artificiality. So delicious. Especially when served in vintage melamine bowls like these beauties, found at the cottage:
Today would have been my Grandma’s 90th birthday. We remember her each year on her birthday with Chinese food (one of her favourites) and games, of course.
My grandparents have both been gone for a few years and their cottage is now for sale. But, I can still go there any old cold, Canadian December I want because of my memories and the treasures I’ve shared in these pictures.
That is, treasures collected by my aunt for me and I think, permitted with grace by Practical Man.
In our household, we often joke that we have a role reversal going. Case in point: I spent one sunny, Saturday afternoon rummaging through a junkyard with my friend, Trevor.
When I returned home, dusty, with a heart and camera full of rusty, tree-entwined vintage vehicles, the glorious smell of baking bread wafted out to greet me…as did my amused husband who had been home slaving over a hot oven all day. If that doesn’t describe a perfect day, then I don’t know what does.
My husband drew the line at wearing one of my fun, vintage aprons though.
I find them in second-hand stores or at yard sales and often, can’t bear to leave them behind. They’re usually homemade (and for much tinier waists than I possess) with kitschy vintage touches like rick-rack, scalloped edges and even, smocking. They evoke a time of beautiful, rounded fridges (not a fingerprinted, stainless steel front in sight), one grainy TV channel and the advent of margarine, pastel-coloured marshmallow “salads” and other foods not found in nature.
I’m happy to don one of these sartorial time machines and spend an afternoon baking another vintage-turned-fashionable treat: cupcakes. I find them manageable, for one who sometimes needs a life preserver when wading into the stew that is cooking and baking.
I stumble through the measuring and mixing, put up with the plopping into pans and baking parts…all so I can get to the hypnotic peace of using a pastry bag to pipe icing on their little, rounded tops.
It’s like Thai Chi, piping is. Seriously. You should try it.
I believe it’s how those women-of-a-certain-era managed to welcome everyone home in Leave it to Beaver fashion day after day, even when life in bouffants and polyester chafed.
Piping icing: it’s probably why they didn’t need yoga.
Even though I may look like the picture of vintage domesticity, working in my kitchen, apron apparently tied to the stove, I know the truth: my modern vintage life is about zen-cupcake-making and a partner who loves bread baking and future junkyards to explore.
Now, if I could just get my hands on one of those great vintage-inspired fridges!