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If you have a repetitive strain injury, and it hurts to grasp anything in your hands, one of the less welcome events in your day is a button detaching itself from your pants. But this did occur in my day, welcome or not.

I knew that my only hope was to sew the button on using my sewing machine; shoving a needle through fabric, even lightweight nylon, was out of the question. My sewing machine manual hung on the wall above my sewing machine for years and I never resorted to it. So I put it away someplace. I had no recollection of how to sew on a button, and no recollection of where I had placed the manual. I searched for it, and discovered that it was not anyplace. I tried a few things on a scrap of fabric, hoping that the stitches would simply go back and forth and not down. I chipped two buttons during this experiment, an impressively low casualty rate given the importance of my research.

After about 20 minutes of futility, the words, “feed dogs” inexplicably entered my mind. This was scarcely odd because I haven’t any dogs. Then I remembered, feed dogs, the little ridgy things that make your fabric move along. There was some way to disengage them. I opened the compartment where they would logically be located, and stared down the whole mechanism until it revealed its secret. I nudged a lever and thought something moved. I tried again on another scrap, and, Button Bingo. The needle moved back and forth and not down. I set a new button in place, and adjusted the zigzag width. Within a minute or so, the button was secured.

People need to understand that blue thread is fine on taupe pants. It’s what’s already in the machine that counts. Rethreading would have been a dealbreaker.

I e-mailed Vic and told him of the button adventure. He said, “Blue goes with taupe as Spring skies go with the California hills.” That’s because he’s wonderful.

Never, never, never, never never give up.


So often, the scratches and bruises I sustain are the only visible evidence that I have been working in the garden. The rhubarb grew four feet high this year and produced yucca-like blooms at the tops of its broad stalks. I waited for the curiosity to die and then cut it down with a machete. Gathering the stalks and brown fronds for disposal, I wondered how many North Americans cut their rhubarb with a machete. We aren’t fond of rhubarb; I can eat it with a lot of sugar, but I can’t eat a lot of sugar, so it’s a weed to us, another remnant of the “inherited garden” that came with our house.

I have a very good friend who’s solidly Reformed in her theology and a self-confessed tomboy. Don’t let her fool you; she has a feminine heart that melts on contact with the atmosphere, and she’s a beautiful woman. But she’s a knock-out in a Stetson hat, too. She loves to give gifts, and she’s given me a wonderful volume of Puritan theology and a gold Guess change pouch in the same birthday load. But she always, always includes an embroidered handkerchief in the gift bag. I carry a small pack of tissues in my backpack because public restrooms sometimes are out of toilet paper. I’m not a hankie person. It doesn’t matter. I have a drawer full of embroidered handkerchiefs from my friend who’s been trying for years to make a lady of me.

The handkerchiefs remind me of pruning roses. The roses send forth beautiful blooms and they send forth useless, long, gangly shoots, called suckers. The trick is to encourage blooms and discourage suckers that will not produce buds but will suck energy from the plant and deter buds from receiving nourishment. A friend who used to work for a florist showed me the proper way to prune roses once the bloom has faded, clipping it down the stem at a group of five leaves. I have no idea what the advantage is, but I do it because my friend said to. I suppose the goal is to make the roses comport to trim efficiency and beauty–to make them ladylike, in a way. But roses have no natural inclination to be beautiful; they have to be pruned constantly, even though blooming produces seeds, the plant’s mechanism of survival.

I wonder at this; I’m surprised it did not perplex Agur.

–by Lauren

Evidently I have been tapped to join this blog for my vast expertise at homekeeping. Readers should be made aware: my fellow Administrators have never met me. They have never seen my home. They believe what I have told them over the past couple of years, making me, I suppose, passably credible, or them passably credulous. As for our Cat who eats at the dining room table, we find this well within the pale of Titus 2:5 homekeeping.

Cleaning my house and its contents takes a fair amount of time; cooking is a fly-by activity. I usually load the crockpot three times a week, but I also roast briskets and cut them up, and cut up vegetables every few crockpot loads. I am knitting my 13th pair of socks, reading three books concurrently, and walking over an hour a day to maintain a sense of well being. It is a false sense for the most part.

Financial tasks and throwing away most of the mail takes minutes a week. It is this bailiwick in which my efficiency brightly shines. A few times a year I go on an organization binge. The last such foray was the bathroom cupboards. We have no medicine cabinet, but we have cupboards, drawers, and counterspace. I categorized objects by their basic purpose, put them in zip-lock bags, and put the bags in little plastic organizer baskets in the cupboards and in the drawers. I used a tableware organizer in the largest drawer for the various hair and skin things I had been tossing things out of the way to find. My husband has very diligently maintained the order, and has seldom asked for help at finding anything. The bathroom is slated for destruction and remodeling, and then we will consider acquisition of a medicine cabinet. But for now, we shun this pretense of normalcy.

My insurance agent has a sign at the door: “Please pardon the mess: We are remodeling.” The office is far from being a mess, and they are not remodeling; however, I asked if I could have the sign, just to post defensively. We have remodeled so much we have earned every defense in the book. And summer brings yet more projects, indoors and out. Those will be my husband’s purview; mine will be to practice my croquet put in the back yard.

July 2018
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