Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is One Mitten Lost or is One Mitten Found?

People have been giving me fabric lately. It seems like every other day someone hands me something. Either it is encouraging, or they see me as a charity case. I prefer to focus on the former category because then it doesn’t hurt. It is nicer to think I am being encouraged in my pursuit of designing “MyBLAGZ”
“You can use this to make a BLAG.” They say. I accept every bit of what they pass my way because every tiny piece can become something. I have not turned down anything that has been offered to me yet (I am Pennsylvania Dutch after all, and reusing things is what we do best… while some may call it hording, I call it design.)
In fact, a few days ago a friend who was moving gave me a box. Inside was a pretty black dress, a lacy shirt, (see picture of BLAG) two books and 5 assorted, but mismatched gloves and mittens.
“You don’t have to accept these things, but you are the only person I know who would know what to do with these gloves and mittens. I’d feel guilty if I threw them away.” She said.
“Thanks.” Instantly, in my mind, I began to design a BLAG. I would be blue, soft and covered with these homeless, lonely, and completely unloved gloves and mittens. The gloves and mittens could be sewed on the outside of the BLAG as pockets. Perfect. It would also be a conversation piece for whoever would choose to wear it.
Later on that same day, my family and I went to another house to have dinner with some friends. When we arrived, everyone greeted each other in the mud room. Every house in Vermont has one- it is the functional name for “foyer”- this is the room in the house where you take off all your winter “stuff” including your boots. And we did just that. Vermont children learn early how it’s done, seeming almost Asian in their instant bowing heads by people’s doorways and removal of shoes. Mothers learn early to gather their children’s various belongings and everything into sleeves of coats to be easily found later. I walk behind them and gather, as they shred layers like locusts and fly off to play inside.
The organization of my own belongings is always last, always. And when I finally got around to it, I discovered I lost a mitten, a blue Thinsulate mitten, one that I have used for three years now. I checked both pockets, lifted things up, looked inside my friend’s mitten basket, and I even went back out to the car to search. Pushing snow aside near the car door and crawling inside the car in a ridiculous fashion, I found one of my son’s blue mittens, but it was not the one I was looking for.
Although everyone else had moved on, I became obsessive. My sons were playing with trains and legos and my husband snacked on chips and salsa. A bottle of wine was opened while I stayed the course, mumbling to myself and moving objects around in the mudroom again. Nothing.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” My friend asked. She could tell I was preoccupied, obsessed. Maybe she thought I had finally lost it because I was talking to myself in her mudroom.
Well, I kind of had “lost it.” I lost a mitten.
We all looked for a time, as people did the old “walk around and look at every surface and lift things up” routine, but finally, I decided that in order for everyone to have a good time, I would give up the search for my mitten. Declaring that the mitten was gone, I faced the prospect of driving home later with one cold hand. Although uncomfortable, I would live.
It nagged at me though. I retraced my steps mentally. We had been to the local country store, so I called and asked if anyone found it. After checking in the snow out front, she apologized.
“It’s gone.” I whispered to myself, clinging to the phone.
The family dog, BJ, came up and rested his head on my knee. I patted his head and looked down into his wild blue eyes, which made me feel better. I recalled the dog’s history. He was like a lost mitten himself. He was lost (living with a not-so-desirable family, peeing in their shoes,) until he ran away and found his way into this home (which was next door to his old home.) He seemed to tell me (with those amazing blue eyes) that things don’t stay lost forever. Stroking his soft fur, I forgot about my mitten.
I think that is the secret. When something is lost, it is best to forget all about it because at least you feel better, for a time, anyway.
We had a nice dinner and the kids had a great time too. They played hard and fell asleep. Without them realizing it, we bundled them into their snowsuits and transferred them to the car, which was idling, warm as toast in the driveway.
As I stood in the mudroom, layering myself, I heard, “Is this your mitten?” My husband called to me from the living room on the other side of the house.
“No.” My reaction was instant. That couldn’t be my mitten. He bent over and picked it up from the middle of the living room floor anyway as I reached into my pocket feeling for the one I already had. My heart jumped. That was my lost mitten; my husband reunited them! I started to laugh, but began to feel confused. I instantly tried to figure out how that could have happened. How does a mitten disappear, and then hours later reappear in the middle of the room on the other side of the house?
While “String Theorists” may claim a parallel universe or another infinite number of possibilities, I have a different answer: it was a ghost… of course! And all of the adults agreed we experienced a poltergeist. It was the only logical explanation. On the way home, my husband and I discussed the other possibilities.
“Could it have been inside the box of trains?” He asked.
“No, I checked.”
“Could you have dropped it when you dressed the kids?”
“I dressed them in the other room.”
“Could you have dropped it out of your coat?”
“I dressed in the mudroom.”
See? It was a ghost. I just know it.
The next day, I called my sister who is one of “those people” who is logical. She would come up with a logical explanation (her blog is on blogger and called “chironsgrove”). And she said, “Could it have been in the box of trains?”
My response was, “No, I checked.”
She said, “Could you have dropped it when you dressed the kids?”
Now, I will not insult you but rewriting all of the above, but my sister and I had the same conversation that my husband and I did. We covered all the possibilities. Then I said, “I don’t know much, but I do know I had ‘one cold hand’ on the way home.” (My sister also lives in Vermont. She knows how cold it can be 365 days a year, she also wears hats much of the year, and although she knows how to knit, she crochets more often.)
“Did you say, ‘one cold hand?’”
“Well, you must have seen the web-site, right?” She started to laugh and told me all about this woman she heard on the radio. “Now there’s someone who really gets it! She is reuniting mismatched gloves and mittens in the Pittsburgh area. It is for a project for her master’s degree.”
“Has she been successful?”
“Yes. They even covered a reunited pair on television.”
So I checked out the website and was pleased to see what this creative and inspired artist has chosen to focus on. It is fantastic!
She views lost mittens and gloves as a metaphor for life. Sometimes we feel disconnected – like my friend’s dog BJ. The world can be a lonely place, but occasionally, like a lost mitten, we can be connected again and brought back to where we belong. Check out her web-site… . She really gets it. J
I am joining her mission. She asks people to develop drop boxes in their area. I live in a community in rural Vermont (truly another blog to explain what my community is all about.) Briefly, I have to say that although we are tucked into trees, this community bustles most of the year with folks from all over the world (truly.) We have a place in our community called farmhouse, which is like a game room, with a common kitchen area, pool table, ping pong table and a complete library. There is a bulletin board where people post messages to each other. The only thing that the farmhouse lacks is a mitten drop box. I am taking it upon myself and my two boys to paint a box and put it there and keep people informed and posted about what is happening with our community’s lost and reunited gloves and mittens.
Oh- and I’m making one of MyBLAGZ for the proprietor of because I feel like she needs to have a bag with five mismatched gloves and mittens sewed onto the outside of it. She and I think alike in one way… I feel the same way about clothing and fabric that people have decided they don’t need/want anymore. I spend my time making it into something else. It gets another chance at life. It is no longer lost.
Here’s the best part: I am tucking a glove into the bag, a gray glove, and sending its match to someone else. J My hope is that some day these two gloves will be reunited. That will be up to the other person to make that happen.

P.S. Stay tuned into the Oprah Winfrey show to see what she decides to do with a handmade BLAG with one gray glove inside.