Tag Archives: children

The things behind the radiator

I’m thrilled that our new-to-us house has radiators.

But they aren’t much to look at – just a single pipe covered with  a smooth boxy cover rather than an ornate cast iron multi-piped lovely.

The cover around the one in my office wiggled though, and didn’t sit flush against the wall.

radiator-the radiator

So I jabbed some pliers around behind it and found yet another pile of child detritus – further evidence of the slobs who owned the place just before us.

radiator-recent crap

But the cover still wouldn’t go flush with the wall, so I fashioned a slim jim out of a thin piece of aluminum threshold and went to town on the thing, once again playing archaeologist

radiator-motherlode of things

And unearthed a many decades mother-lode of kid shit.

More precisely, shit from the kids who were in here in the late 1950s to early ’60s (along with the last people here from about three years ago).

radiator-not art things

There are kid scribbles (properly on paper this time, not the walls).

(And I’d rather not think of what could have been munching on the paper.)

radiator-pencil things

The pencils that perhaps created scribbles.

radiator-old maid things

Part of a deck of Old Maid that could now never be won.

radiator-food things

Food things that have no business outside of the kitchen.

radiator-baby things

Correspondence that confirmed the owner’s identity (with an addition that could been viewed as ironic commentary on today’s ridiculousness of availability and popularity of weapons in this country and the truly terrible acts of kids killing each other).

radiator-knitted thing

Play things and a knitted thing – and it feels incredibly familiar to me – I may have had a doll sock just like this one…

radiator-red things

Cheery red things.

(And I almost bought a vintage toy tin washtub with these same little clothespins at a flea market recently, but though the design could be considered charming, and had in fact charmed me momentarily, ultimately I was disgusted that something like that was made to give to a child (girl) to play with instead of a book or a microscope or something enlightening and useful and creative and educational… )

radiator-precious things

And little once precious things – perhaps given to a child once they were deemed crap.

(Yes, I did get a little excited for half of a second when I thought the tie clip could be gold…)

radiator-puzzle things

And things that don’t make sense without other things.

radiator-butt things

And evidence of what I thought were nicotine stains on the walls (though this too could have been a teen-child act of hiding her/his own evidence…).

radiator-animal things

And finally a few random toy things that were played with by a far-from-child again for a few minutes…

And if you spotted the snakeskin, that was my contribution to the mess behind the radiator rather than a living snake leaving it behind.  I think part of the reason so much shit ended up back there is a perpendicular breezy window.   Moments after I took a picture of it, it blew out of my reach.

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Filed under collecting, home, home decor

Child stitchery (not in a sweatshop)…

On a trip to visit my folks (I won’t say home because they tragically (for me) sold it some years ago) earlier this summer, I finally found this little fabric picture that used to hang in my bedroom.

Birdscene

The scene is one I drew, and drew quite often as a slightly obsessive little sh*t, and at the dumbsh*t age when I didn’t comprehend that the sky wasn’t just up there and therefore depicted it as a stripe.  So let’s say I was four, or should four-year-olds understand how the sky works?  So maybe I’ll say three…  Regardless, my mother deemed my “Bird In Flight to Nest” precious and decided to turn it into a sewing lesson.  I’ll say that it was my first, but I really don’t know.  She cut out the pieces, sewed the margins on the machine, and gave it to me to applique.  I do clearly remember getting somewhat bored or frustrated with it, and it is also quite clear that she finished it for me and then added a few embroidered embellishments.  I don’t know if this took place in the span of a day or I abandoned it for some time and she got tired of having it only partially completed for weeks or months.  I also don’t remember if it was during the one truly massive blizzard of my youth (though I think I was down with the chicken pox then) or in the leisurely long days before I had to go to school.  Either way, it was something I did as a child wherein my hands and mind were engaged (and it wasn’t so traumatic that I didn’t want to do it again).

Birdscene-det

This was before the recent cringe-worthy days of fashionable “upcycling.” Smack in the 1970s when fuel crises, a renewal of the back to the earth movement, thoughts of Silent Spring, and the birth of Earth Day were kicking around.  My parents left their urban home to escape air pollution, overcrowding, and to grow wholesome organic food on a few idyllic acres.  We were also broke-ass poor, so recycling old clothes into craft projects was both a necessity and entirely practical – how many thousands of years have we just used what we have and then used it some more?  Why should this now be a trendy buzzword to help sell our crafty stuff?  Convince the buyer that her materialism is ok because it’s upcycled and therefore she is a conscientious fabulous person?

Fabric is fabric is fabric… and is infinitely re-usable.  Sometimes the perfect print is on a bolt, sometimes it’s a pair of pants… you’re not special for using or buying either one.

But back to the picture.

The components are:

Sun:  I assumed the terrycloth sun was salvaged from a much abused towel, but my mom said it was leftover fabric from some shorts she made for my brothers as small children in the 1960s… I’m not sure I’d like terrycloth shorts… they seem so, absorbent?

Tree trunk:  Yep, that’s my dad’s old tie – gotta love plaid neck wear…

Sky:  Leftovers from a quilt my mother made for me of yellow, green, and blue gingham to match my wallpaper of the same colors (only the wallpaper also had puke tones in it too).

Flowers, eggs, bird parts:  Felt scraps – who didn’t have random felt scraps lying around?

Nest:  Burlap feed sack – we lived on a little farm with little animals and a pony.  Food for them came in burlap bags.

Bird:  This is an odd denim/oxford cloth hybrid that was probably clothing in its former life.

Grass, leaves:  We can’t remember what these scraps are from, but I wore various homemade calico skirts, shorts, halter tops (remember, 1970s over here) and dresses.

Background:  This could have been leftover paining canvas or material for rustic curtains.

And even though this turned into a rage against the preciousness of upcycling, it was originally meant to be a rage against not teaching children how to sew or make bread or brush animals or do anything constructive with their hands.  Yeah, there are a few schools that teach such things, but as a whole we’re becoming such boring dumb-asses with our iSh*t.

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Filed under quilts, recycling, sewing, Uncategorized