Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Quite a Dab Hand

L.G.C. Smith

I suck at crafts. About a month ago, I mentioned my flat DIY Christmas tree that hangs on an old screen from Cost Plus in my living room. This is my Pride and Joy, Craft Department. Unlike many of the Pens -- Sophie with her beautiful quilts and stitchery and Rachael with her stunning sweaters come to mind -- I don't have much to show and tell about when it comes to crafts. (I have to pad things with a photo of something I can do well, which is cook. Hence the caramel corn I made today. Ta-Da!)

But once, ONCE I made something glorious that wasn't food. Something I loved. Something I designed, made, and used. (Never mind those books I've written. We're talking things with tiny screws that require tools here!)

My flat tree consists of three pieces of bamboo painted green and wired into a triangle with red wooden beads and Costco r
ibbon zigzagging back and forth across the middle. It has rosemary branches attached to the edges, a sassy nod to pine needles, and it was outlined in lights that actually worked. I hung my favorite ornaments on it and it was cute. Sort of like the plastic plate I glued macaroni to and spray painted gold when I was in first grade. (Can you believe my mother threw that out? Before I was forty even.)

Now? My flat tree is a little past it's sell-by date. The rosemary long ago dried to a crackly crunch, and most of the leaves fell to the floor where some are still lodged in the crack between the carpet and the baseboard. They have to be picked out by hand. Since my vacuum can't budge 'em, I decided to keep them around in case I need some stale old rosemary for spaghetti sauce for someone I hate.

The gently draped ribbon, once as white as winter snow, is now dingy with dust. I do vacuum it occasionally, but the suction from the attachment hose seems to have loosened the knots affixing the ribbon to the frame. (See how I used 'affixing?' I watch HGTV. I know things.) Some of the ribbon swags are kind of droopy, but that adds character, right?

The lights... Oh, the lights. A few of them still come o
n. I thought about replacing them a couple of years ago, but I was afraid the whole tree would fall apart if I jiggled any part of it. Always better to be conservative in housekeeping matters, I say. Even if it's broke, why fix it?

For the past three years, I've tied Advent presents to the tree for my niece. This winter, unfortunately, I'm not sure it isn't harboring a black widow spider come in from the cold. We've had a lot of them this year, and it's been a while, like, mmm, maybe nine months -- okay, make it a year -- since that corner has been cleaned. I put the Advent prezzies in a bowl on the coffee table in the family room instead, and have kept Clean the Scary Living Room Corner at the top of my To Do list since the day after Thanksgiving. I'm pleased to report that I've cleaned all around that corner a couple of times since, but...Spiders. Gah.

So here I am, still fond of my decrepit flat Christmas tree. It took me eight hours to make the thing. I got green paint all over my clothes, my hair, the patio and my sister's German Shepherd, Elsa. She was cool about it, and still cheerfully helps me whenever I look like I might be heading for the paint cupboard, just like she never spent a December sporting one green ear.

Sad to say, I think this may be the year the Craft Project of Christmas Past bites the dust. As lackluster in the cleaning department as I am, I do know black widows and children should not be in the house together. When the real tree comes down, I'm thinking my old friend will be coming down, too.

I'll reuse the beads and ribbon, strip off the wire and
put the bamboo stakes back in the garden supply pile. The wall behind the screen will need a little work to cover up that ugly incident with the double-sided tape. No hurry of course. The mess will remind me of my flat tree.
In the meantime, I'm weighing my options for the next Craft Project. With only one allowed in any decade, I have to think carefully. There's the clunky headboard I've been meaning to spruce up for, let's see, about nine years. Or the ugly fake brick in the kitchen that I've hated since we moved in -- what fourteen years ago? Or maybe I could decoupage Disney Princesses and Dora onto sturdy little chairs for my rough and tumble nieces. Who knows? I think it's going to take me a good two years to decide on a worthy follow-up for my flat tree.


Rachael Herron said...

I love this. I want a flat tree! Reusable, and attractive... Honestly. As crafts go, if you have to have only one a year or so, you could have worse.

So good to see you tonight! :)

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