Monthly Archives: October 2008

>Mending

>Does anyone mend anymore?

I have a note on my refrigerator that says only: MEND

I know that it means I have to stitch up the tear in the old cashmere blanket before it bisects and I have to use the sewing machine. I guess that’s where the Ben Franklin aphorism, “A stitch in time, saves nine” emanates. I may now need more than 30 to staunch this rip.

And I have a nightie that is unseemly due to missing buttons, but I don’t have kids home now, so sometimes I just wear it gaping. But I know it needs buttons. There is a quilt cover with a safety pin that upbraids me with my laziness because I have not replaced the buttons. My husband has a sweater he wears on weekends dotted with moth holes. I know how to darn, and sew, mend and close up seams, but does anyone know these things now who is not over 50?

My daughter is about to be 24 and is living downtown with us in the loft she grew up in while her apartment is sublet so she can do an unpaid internship working on a film about Hunger in America. (How can you not help support a kid doing that kind of work?) She said the other day, “I really need to sew buttons on this skirt.” I know she means, I really need you, mama, to sew these buttons on. But instead I said, “We need to plan a mending night where we take out all the ratty stuff and renovate it so it closes, and looks better.” But it seemed so old fashioned.

Maybe that is where we need to go as a country and as a family.

We need to return to mending our fences, our sweaters, our nighties and our relationship with the world.

Maybe our finances need some old fashioned savings and a moratorium on purchases in favor of rummaging through closets and cleaning out drawers to see what treasures lurk in those dark untapped places.

I started saving every five-dollar bill that came into my hands at the beginning of the summer and I now have nearly 500 dollars, that’s a hundred crumpled fives stuffed into a big jar. I was going to start a savings account, wait until I got a thousand dollars and then buy a CD, but I think I may use what I saved to give us a little bit of a Christmas. Still it was a fun exercise to see that little bits do add up.

I like the idea of mending. Mending a fragile friendship, mending a crumbling stonewall that just needs the tumbling pile to be reorganized. I love mending the sweaters, closing holes and crocheting a new edge to the fraying cuffs. It makes me feel as if I saved something and I might have a little bit of value left in me.

Perhaps we can introduce mending nights as the new thing across America. Everyone brings a small project to the table: fixing broken table legs or that gaping nightie. I don’t want to be the only one doing this, but I bet with the economy in continued free fall, the virtue in mending may begin to seem mighty again.

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>Meltdown

>I recall back in 1987, my daughter was three years old and witnessed with us the biggest one-day stock market crash, which looks quite pale by comparison to this eight day descending market. A group of grown-ups sat around the dinner table discussing the market crash in terrified tones, when my smart girl piped up, “And the super market, did that crash too?”

It was a joyful realization that some things remained in tact.

But now when countries are failing, banks and businesses, and it is hard to breathe, sometimes waiting to find a job and consider myself safe, and I know this spills over to all of us, but all of us are desperate to find ways to find safety. This economic terror seems less to me that the explosions and threats, as they can be labored through and this terror seems to ask for hunker time.

My husband went to the still-standing super market in the Hudson Valley and bought a giant bag of rice, 50 pounds, and cans of beans and bags of beans and all I can say is that a hunker might prove very gaseous. But still I am making a big pot of chili for tonight, and still steaks remain in the freezer. But honestly, what should we all be doing?

That is where the terror lies. I know that America, and I have gotten too fat and soft in the last decade. I know that I have to say NO to the idea of giving myself a loan to buy what I think I need. I know I don’t need it . . . . Just fill in the blanks. But still I need, really need to pay the mortgage and college tuition and will there be loans for that?

In times of fear I want to read, to escape, or I want to hit a ball or chop down trees or grass or watch a good movie. I am tired from the opera and from continuous weeks of sharing my feelings on this blog about an event that I thought might wave a magic wand and change my work life for the better. But that curtain dropped and, yes, there is small work to follow, but the magic ended on the stage and the real world with its economic craziness that has left the tiny amount of money I saved and squished into Apple stock or Johnson & Johnson — all good companies — turned into dust. So it is as if I wished for a magic dust to change things and I forgot to be specific enough and what we got is this.

I know I am not responsible. I know that even when I put on my magical thinking cap to say, “Okay, would you wish for Obama in the election, the economic situation to turn around or for the job to come to you?”

I know I say “OBAMA.”

Because I believe if that happens, then maybe the other pieces will fall, ever so slowly, into place. Oh the things that wishing makes you ponder.