I’ve really been enjoying the extra free time that came with having so much of life shut down during the pandemic. Bob and I explored previously unknown hikes in the woods all over Groton, we learned how to use Alexa to play all the great folk and rock music of the sixties that we loved years ago, we figured out how to find and watch some old movies, and enjoyed doing challenging jigsaw puzzles.
And I got creative, first writing a piece about feeling grateful, then drawing a political cartoon, then rewriting the lyrics to Yellow Submarine for a family Zoom talent show. And I got out my sewing machine to make some masks.
I learned how to sew from my mother who had taught herself to sew and made her own wedding dress. She made many of my clothes, often to my specifications, after we were unable to find anything in the stores that fit my skinny body (those were the days!). I began making clothes for myself in seventh grade, copying an outfit from a magazine ad. To the horror of my Latin teacher, I chose to take ‘Clothing’ in my junior year of high school, instead of another year of Latin, just so that I would have time to sew, along with my academic work.
I haven’t made clothes for myself in decades; it’s cheaper to buy clothing than fabric these days, and I no longer have the skinny-body problem. But I have continued to enjoy sewing – crafting costumes and curtains, and personalized towels, tote bags and aprons for kids and grandkids over the years.
So when my five-year-old granddaughter mentioned that her Rainbow Bear needed an apron, I moved on from sewing masks. In trying to decide what size to make the bear’s apron, I found a free pattern for clothes for Build-A-Bears (where Rainbow came from) and printed it out. I made the apron from colorful striped fabric whose first life had been as curtains in my college dorm room. I always loved this fabric and had used it in multiple craft projects over the years so there wasn’t much left. It was perfect for a rainbow-colored teddy bear’s apron, and the apron was a big hit.
Before I put my sewing machine away, I noticed that the pattern for a two piece bear outfit looked really easy to make. I had plenty of free time, so I made the outfit, using two fabrics so it was reversible. And then I made a second reversible outfit from two other fabrics, and a reversible hat. I have to say they are adorable! I used fabrics from two old curtains my mother had made for our previous house, an old summer bathrobe, and remnants from probably the last actual dress I ever made – a costume for my daughter to wear in a high school production of Evita.
(This Gramma’s house bear is modeling the clothes before they make the journey to Rainbow Bear in Washington, DC.)
By this time the sewing machine and piles of fabric had been claiming the kitchen table for weeks, but who cared. No one was coming over to visit, and the weather had warmed up enough that we were eating on the newly-opened three-season porch. I had plenty of free time and was planning to move on to an amusing outfit for my grandchildrens’ cat, having seen such silliness on Youtube.
And then, with the arrival of an email, life changed and my free time evaporated. I learned that instead of being unopposed for re-election to the Select Board, I would have an opponent. Ten days after the nominations period had closed, a seasoned politician with high name-recognition would be running a write-in campaign. This would be a serious challenge to my candidacy. I would need to stop sewing and spend the next five weeks working to get myself re-elected. I was not happy about this.
But as I began adjusting to this news, I realized that changing plans and adapting to a new reality is what life in the time of a pandemic is all about. I’ve been lucky to have had so much free time, and lucky that the changes in my life have not involved life-threatening illness or loss of income. And, really, I am truly lucky that so much of my life has gone well, that most of the plans I’ve made have worked out.
So the sewing machine and fabric have been put away, replaced by campaign signs and to-do lists. I have work to do. I’ve moved on from sewing clothes for bears to seeking votes for Becky. I think I’ve made a difference on the Select Board and I would like to continue to serve. To those of you who live in Groton, I hope you will vote for me on June 9th (better still, stay safe, ask for an absentee ballot and vote ahead of time – for me!)
May 6, 2020
Update: The new clothes have made it to Rainbow Bear and her sibling Beary in Washington, DC. Granddaughter is delighted!