Tag Archives: black and white

meditation on germs and used Kleenex

found-fiberI am perpetually picking up ‘garbage’ on my walks, as I know many of you do, too. Generally, I go for rusted scraps. This find may be Kleenex. I know. I know. Gross, right? But – it was so old, so weathered out of its original use (if, indeed, it had ever been used), that I didn’t allow germ-worries to interrupt my scavenging.

People who know me ask, “When have you EVER let worry about germs slow you down?”

grey-fiber-on-grassI have a long history of being rather casual about germs.

Perhaps it’s because my mother was a lapsed Christian Scientist. She wasn’t averse to doctors or anything. Nor did she instruct us on the powers of love or the mind. But she did seem to think Vick’s VapoRub and aspirin could cure most childhood illnesses. I don’t think I ever heard her say, ‘Put on a hat or you’ll get sick!’  Nor were we issued dire warnings about death-producing cramps when we jumped into the Woodlin Club pool right after eating lunch. Most of all, she did not instill the notion that germs were lurking everywhere, just waiting for the unsuspecting, unhygienic to stumble or swipe into their sick-producing path. On some of these things, she has been proven correct. Regarding germs, though, of course I now know better.

But here’s the thing. Even though I now wash my hands more and will avoid someone sneezing up a storm, I keep bumping into germ-protocols that surprise me. Still!  (To my credit, I’ve always been scrupulous about cutting boards, knives, and raw meat)

The first time this happened, I was about eight. On a really hot summer day, my friend Susan’s mother took us to Jumpin Jack’s along the Mohawk River for ice cream.  I remember being absolutely shocked when Susan’s mother prohibited her from eating the flat bottom of the cone. Why? Because it had rested momentarily on the counter. (As a side note, given that Susan’s house was the messiest (and perhaps the dirtiest) on our block, I found myself wondering how this strict concern fit with her mother’s rather lax approach to housekeeping) (and yes, eight year olds DO think this way). This was just the first of MANY shocks.

The Seinfeld episode on ‘double dipping’ was a revelation to me.

When it came time to parent (nursing for a total of 32 months, I was now hyper-attentive to keeping my hands clean), I found the joke about the ‘five second rule’ ridiculous. It was not a joke for us, but a natural response to fallen objects. The birth order jokes about pacifiers? You know how it goes — boiling for the first kid; wiping off for the second; just popping back into the mouth of the third… did not pertain because ‘popping it back in’ was where we started.

Years later, in an online craft venue — I was shocked again — reading about a potential buyer who would NEVER buy a handknit item, say, if it had been modeled on a person (with skin! that flakes! is redolent with oils!)

Shocked once more to learn that Martha Stewart NEVER sets her handbag on the floor. Furthermore, she buys purses with metal studs on the bottom to keep them slightly elevated from WHATEVER surface they rest on (really? public bathrooms, okay, but everywhere?!) Even though I take all of Martha Stewart’s ‘perfect’ lifestyle choices with a massive grain of salt, (given the minions she has to clean her toilets everyday, for instance, and prepare her much-touted, healthy fresh juices), I can’t help but look at my purse and wonder where it’s been.

Here’s the most recent example. Just a few weeks ago, in writing class I listened to a character sketch of a woman whose signature trait was vulgarity. I asked, curious, ‘what made her so uncouth?’  The example?  The casual (but apparently repulsive) habit of sitting on her shoeless foot. On furnishings. In a movie theatre, so close to other people.

Maybe it was a bare foot, but still. I do this ALL THE TIME. So, I have to wonder, “What ELSE am I doing that is considered repulsive and unhygienic? That I’m not even aware of?!!” (And, just so you know, I cannot sit in most adult-sized furnishings comfortably WITHOUT tucking one or both feet up and under my haunch).

So, I get it. Picking up a potentially USED piece of Kleenex off of Week’s Field is gross.

But I fell in love with it.


grey-stitchedIt is delicate. Friable. And even though it is so delicate, it reminds me of the metamorphic rock, gneiss. It could pass, in some views, as a section of an old topographical map.

I put batting behind it, then, after stitching, clipped some away. I like how the furriness of the batting (normally an annoying distraction) adds to the texture.

grey-house-and-moonsSince this backing print is thick – perhaps cotton duck? —  I machine stitched. The scrap is sewn on the WRONG side of the fabric to dull it down a bit, but photographed up against a window, the print comes through clearly. I added a sheer moon, and couldn’t resist slipping a little blue linen under the leaf-shaped ‘window’ in that sheer. Lo and behold! I had not seen or intended it – but there it is – another house!

found-house-up-closeThe light coming through the needles punches makes me happy. Here the house looks nearly charcoal-black because of the setting on my camera.