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Posts Tagged ‘serendipity’

I like to think of myself as a person not unduly swayed by advertising. I’ve always been pretty good at tuning out jingles and conscientiously forgetting slogans, and timeslipped television is a blessing to me because yes, I am the kind of person who records a live show to watch with just enough lag to fast-forward through the ads. If I have to watch something live, I am quick to hit the mute button and studiously look away from the screen. I don’t want to give that stuff space in my brain if I can help it – it’s crowded enough in there already,

But sometimes, when I go shopping, I will admit to breaking down and buying something entirely for the label. Almost invariably, it’s something I want to share with the Beloved, and yes, I can tell a garbled story of “it was so silly! It said …” but proof is better, and the actual item – undeserving of purchase as it may have been – is funnier. The ludicrousness of Extract of Cashmere toilet paper had to be seen (experienced?) to be believed. So, for a small cost, I trundle home with the occasional oddity, idiocy, or curiosity. I think of it as equivalent to a cat delicately depositing a mouse at the feet of an honored giftee°.

In recent weeks I’ve brought home a couple of ‘mice’. The first is a classic mouse – idiocy of eye-watering greatness:

In fairness, it’s quite good shampoo. For hair. I might even buy it again. But it’s not that amazing, and I’m still thinking of suing them, in view of my confidence being stubbornly unimproved.

The next mouse is more in the oddity category. It’s this coffee tin, which I’ve been perplexed by for a while now:

What are they trying to say with this? My theory is that along with the sustainability and small producer buzzwords, it seems to be trying to attract the middle-aged, middle-class ex-pinko-liberal market share by drawing more than one might reasonably expect on the iconography of protest and revolution. What else is that Spanish ¡ doing, if not cueing up a bit of ¡No pasaran! glamor?  And the hands? I had to look a few times before I noticed the coffee grains flowing through the fists of the noble worker… Could they possibly be trying to stir up some associations in the pre-frontal cortex of the aforementioned ageing lefties, or am I to believe that they designed this button-pushing canister entirely by accident? So, ¡Viva la revolucion! and meanwhile, wake up and smell the coffee.

Note:  the coffee is also good, and – for once – appropriately ground for our stovetop machine. I might even buy this again too.

The third mouse was brought home merely because I found it beautiful. Sometimes that happens. (Also, I was curious, but that was pure bonus.)

This is something called black vinegar. I got it in the Korean/Japanese shop I occasionally go into for sushi supplies (and, almost invariably, come out of with a dose of unidentifiable randomness, just like this). It is pungent, aromatic, and, luckily, delicious when used sparingly in salad dressings.

So, that’s three out of three for serendipity. Maybe I should buy things for the label more often?

° When presented with an actual mouse, by an actual cat, I find it hard to know what the correct response should be. Mine, which involves a dustpan and brush and the swiftest possible removal, seems somehow churlish: I know I do not like it when the Beloved fails to show sufficient appreciation of the ‘mice’ I bring him.

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My jewelry-making skills are still pretty limited, frankly. A couple of simple rings and the prehistoric bracelet accounted for most of the first term, and this year has brought one pendant and a lot of faffing. The pendant was a cute enough sterling silver ball of yarn with knitting needles.

I had decided to make a knitting-themed item especially to auction off as part of a Haiti-relief fundraiser on Ravelry, and I was pretty thrilled when some generous soul snagged it for the bargain price of $150. I also offered a mitten kit with yarn to make a pair of Swedish Fish mittens, and was blown away when that went for another $130. I could never afford to donate that much cash to Doctors without Borders/Médecins sans frontières, but I was willing and able to donate my labor and material costs. For the record, that round of auctions raised something in the range of $25,000 and it’s been so successful that ‘by popular demand’ a second round of auctions has started.

Other than that, most of what I produce in silver class could be classed as a dog’s breakfast, frankly. I’ve been circling round, but not knuckling down to a commission I rashly accepted at the beginning of the year, to make a mezuzah case with a dachshund on it. ‘Sure’ I said, ‘no problem’ and I took some money and then promptly panicked a bit. And then decided that the obvious strategy in the circumstances was just to ignore the whole problem. Until 10 a.m. every Wednesday morning, when I’d come into class, draw a few very terrible sketches, and put the project aside for another week (vowing to have the drawing part done by then). So every dog has his day, and yesterday, I got my saw out and finally, finally cut that hund out. Copper is tough, and the saw was flimsy, and my technique is probably not the finest, so it was all a bit of a struggle, but I did it. The neck was rather too long, so that the resulting animal looked either like a dinosaur, or at a pinch, like a rather unfortunate dachshund/greyhound cross. So I cut the head off, and soldered it back on lower down, under a snazzy silver collar. (Yes, since you ask, I was going to put a collar on the dog anyway. Probably). Then I got worried about the time whooshing by, and daunted by the prospect of doing any more sawing, so I rather stealthily found a pair of just-about-working scissors and hacked out an ear and a tail (not, I fear, a terribly approved technique), and soldered the whole lot together. A more sensible, less impatient person would probably have done this in several discrete operations, with careful pickling in between them. I’m afraid after the weeks of dithering I had no time for such niceties, and instead whacked on a load of solder in lots of places where the sun won’t shine, and blasted away for all I was worth with the largest blowtorch I could find.  In the end I had to resort to an uncouth combination of prayer, swearing and the Really, Comically Big Flamethrower Thing. But it worked. And although I should by rights have pickled the whole thing to clean it up afterwards, I was truly thrilled and astounded by how much I loved the patina created by the heat work, and determined to leave it. Serendipity is truly the collaborator of the artisan. As the icing on the cake, fate had even given the dog a perfectly placed eye. Look.

Today I made the glass case, declared myself thrilled, and above all thrilled to be DONE. I emailed the client a photograph with a view to getting her final approval and collecting the balance. She’s thrilled too. I’m thrilled she’s thrilled. There’s only one slight wrinkle to all the thrilled-ness: she’s so very thrilled, she’d like another two, please. Flattering indeed, and I’d love to oblige. The only thing is, will Serendipity agree to collaborate so nicely again?

Better yet – in a fatedness-overdrive moment of spontaneous synchronicity, down in the crèche, Yarnzilla was busy too. I went to pick him up, and was presented with his morning’s work:

Every dog truly has his day, and today was a very dog day indeed.

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