Monday, October 02, 2006

Relaxing Hobby

My daughter is a huge dolphin fan...the animals, not the football team. It really is important to make that distinction because if you happen to mention the football team, she gets agitated and starts to mutter things about the Tennessee Titans.

She has loved dolphins for as long as I can remember. School shopping was simple: Every notebook, binder, pencil bag, shirt, towel and watch had to have a picture of a dolphin. If she had to settle for just a plain-jane ring binder because we waited too long to go shopping and all the good pre-decorated ones were sold out, she would draw her own dolphins on the cover. Christmas shopping for her was simple, too, until she had a houseful of kids and pets and ran out of room for cute dolphin sculptures and make believe aquariums. Now I am back to square one on that one.

This past weekend, though, the two of us made the journey to what I lovingly refer to as Hell, what most people probably call Wal-Mart, to do our weekly shopping. For some reason it is simpler with two than alone. With two hormonal women on the loose in the store, one of them most likely is not going to take that stopping in the aisle and visiting with your sister-in-law you see at least three times a week at work, Sunday dinner and next door behavior for long and will get a hot flash and ram into the crowd with their cart, effectively opening a passing space for the other one.

While we jockeyed for space in the crafts aisle, I heard my daughter's breathing quicken and she grabbed for a cross-stitch sampler kit with, you guessed it, beautiful dolphins playing in moonlit waves, handed it to me and said, "You are so good at doing these! Could you please make this for me?"

After all these years, she can still look at me with those big eyes and long lashes and pouty mouth and get whatever she wants.

"Well, gee, sweetheart. I've not really done any cross-stitch for years."


"I work 45 hours a week and that really doesn't leave a lot of time for hobbies like this."

"Pretty please?"

"Sigh...okay, yes, give it to me."

I have to admit, it was rather exciting to me, the thought of having my old hobby back. I started recalling cold evenings in front of the fire, cross-stitching the night away; remembering the satisfaction of completing a project, framing it and hanging it in my guest room.

When I got home with the little kit, the little "fast, easy cross-stitch project," I ripped it open, excited to relearn. They had enclosed a "handy thread color sorter" and a tangle of threads, all blues. I thought, "Okay, minor setback, no problem. I'll just take my time and sort the thread."

About an hour later, I was cussing. All the blues were looking alike. I was supposed to have five strands of light blue purple and three strands of pale blue purple and eventually decided NOBODY CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE!

Finally, the stitching could begin. I opened the other little envelope to remove the fabric to find that it was black. Before even attempting the first stitch, I went to my closet and dug out the handy little magnifier that hangs around your neck I purchased when my eyes first started failing me, for projects like this one, hung it around my neck and sat down to count the squares to the middle. By now two hours had passed and I had yet to make the first stitch. One, two, three, four, doorbell. One, two, three, four, five, the phone. One, two, three, the dog jumped up and knocked all the sorted threads into the floor.

I turned on the football game and had a beer and contemplated the fact that my eyes were really, really getting bad.

When finally a stitch had been made with the very dark blue, and yes, there was also a dark blue and blue and light blue and pale blue), I discovered that I could not even see the stitches in the natural sunlight, with a sunlamp bulb directly on the fabric and with a magnifying glass so sexily poised around my neck and resting its little legs against my belly or my boobs.

Calculating my losses, I tossed the entire project in the trash. I will take up another hobby that is not quite as stressful as this one, get a little relaxation going in my life for my after work hours, like manufacturing a hydrogen-driven automobile for GM. She wants dolphins? I am pretty sure I can find that little picture premade somewhere on the Internet, order it, have it delivered gift-wrapped to my front porch, give it to her for Christmas and take credit for it. Trust me here. The hydrogen-fueled car will be a piece of cake compared to that cross-stitch project!

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