Yule-Tide with Ms Riviera Robinson & Mr Dawdles

Mr Dawdles and Ms Riviera Robinson had wonderful holiday seasons. Ms Riviera Robinson had a stylized, personal seamstress to sew her clothes for the Yule-Tide Ball. She wore a pretty blue gown with pale blue flowers. The straps made of satin were most becoming on her brown shoulders and the blue proved to be a perfect compliment to her eyes. A competent, if talkative, accessory designer helped her with her final touches. When the earrings were clipped on, and the necklace pinned in place, she was already starting to know that she was going to be a big hit at the Party. By the time, the maroon waist-belt and shoes went on, she was looking beautiful.

Mr Dawdles had neither the time nor the luxury of the personal seamstress, and the talkative accessorizer, but he had a personal shopper, and hair stylist. The personal shopper hopped from one store to the next in search of the right attire. Mr Dawdles also had remarkably less accessory needs and has obliged to go barefoot to the ball. I don’t think he minded. His hair, he cannot complain about either, it is cut perfectly unevenly and along with his drooping eye, gives him an almost appealing aura.

dawdles

Mr Dawdles and Ms Riviera Robinson were both dressed attired and oversaw a party teeming with children, good music and bonhomie.

The dolls came home to be dressed for a Doll Party in the toddler son’s classroom. Riviera Robinson was last year’s doll. The daughter tried for days to put together some good clothes with scraps of paper and stapler pins, to no effect. Then one evening, I trooped into the house after a particularly long day at work. We had been at an all-day offsite conference with no admirable distractions during the day, and I was craving nothing more than some mindless hmm-ing and aha-ing before flopping onto the bed early. All hopes of flopping into bed early were dashed with one look at the severely disappointed set of children.

The Doll had to be turned in, fully clothed, the next day and all those papers and stapler pins had come to naught. Left to my own devices, I would have poo-ed and baa-ed the thing off, but I could not bear the look of disappointment on the daughter’s face. Neither could I bring myself to brave the cold, and the winter shoppers after that long day. So, I cut up an old skirt and sewed on a make-shift dress. As the dress took shape, the daughter revived like a sunflower in the rising sun, and found accessories for her. All the while, the toddler son bubbled and bounced around offering plenty of talk, sometimes related to the Doll-Dressing-Disaster, but mostly not. The next day when he walked into his classroom with Ms Riviera Robinson on his arm, there was nothing short of admiration for her, and he beamed happily.

riviera

This year, he asserted his personality and said his doll was to be a man. Able seamstress as I am, I didn’t feel I was up to stitching men’s pants and shirts. So, off I was, on a cold Sunday night (The doll had to be turned in on Monday, if it was to attend the party) looking for parking, and silently cursing the sexist doll industry. If you want to dress up your girl doll, all you have to do is stroll into a store’s doll section and pick out clothes of your choice. If you want your daughter and doll to wear matching clothes, that too is available, for a nominal price.  If your doll is a man, well, tough luck!

I was looking lost and desperate amidst the beautiful girl doll clothes. I had the whole week-end to clothe Mr Dawdles, or Mickey Mouse, as he was then known, and I fritted it away admiring fall leaves and unnecessary thoughts about falling leaves and their mortality.

I wondered whether I should wrap him in white cloth, paint glasses on him and send him as Mahatma Gandhi. An older lady, with a friendly face, came up to the doll section and exclaimed, “Oh! Are they still doing those? I remember doing that project for my daughters years ago. Heavens! They even look the same.” I poured my heart out to the poor thing. I told her how I could not manage to tailor pants and was thinking of dhotis. “Or”, she said, piping up to the theme, “you could go even older, and dress him as Julius Ceaser or something with white cloth draped about his shoulders.”

As we were talking, I cradled Mr Dawdles a bit and she stopped mid sentence. “This doll looks about the size of a preemie baby.” she said. That was it. A preemie baby it was. So, that is why Mr Dawdles wore preemie baby clothes that said, “Mommy’s Little Monster” to the ball. I did not have time time to make shoes.

Schools, these days, make the parents work very hard.

What Keeps You Up – Part 1

I still remember how I felt the first time I read a novel  by Leon Uris. I was 12 or 13. Mine was a sheltered life. A safe, small community where everybody knew everybody else and my parents were respected enough. So, we freely roamed the hillsides, nibbling on berries and swinging on trees. With the advent of Television, some gruesome images had penetrated my mind, it is true, but most of my knowledge of worldly-bad and evil came from the spirited conversations we had with family, teachers, friends, and from the daily newspapers. So, it was probably right to say that I had no clue or exposure to the horrific depths to which humanity could sink.

Our history textbook gave us statistical information about unrest, wars and the number of lives claimed etc, and I had been properly horrified then. But, there is something about reading a Novel, that brings home the truth to you in a manner that no amount of statistics can. These are people you begin to know through the narrative and to even care about. To see them thrown in the throes of the Second World War is just shocking.

http://mic.com/articles/104702/science-shows-something-surprising-about-people-who-love-reading-fiction

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/28/president-obama-says-novels-taught-him-citizen-marilynne-robinson

I still remember shaking with fury in the night. The temperature outside was sub-zero, and it was raining noisily, but I was hot, helpless and angry. I finished reading at 1 a.m. and when at 3 a.m. my mother came to see why my lights were still on, she found me weeping incoherently and writing furiously at my desk. I had filled papers and papers with my rant and my heart felt hollow, my eyes swollen.

My poor mother. I had school holidays, but she still had to go to work the next day. I am sure she wanted to just get back in bed and snuggle into her sheets. Who wants to have their sleep disturbed by teenagers reading novels? But she listened to me and in her matter of fact way, told me to think of how in the end Good triumphed over Evil and to say the 3 slokas she taught me when I was 5, over and over again so I could fall asleep. “But there is no God! If something like this can be allowed to happen, there is no God!” I said.
“That may be so. But saying these slokas over and over again, will make you concentrate on something else and let you sleep.” she said.

I must have fallen asleep at some point that night for when I woke the sun had managed to rise without my knowledge, and was peeking through the clouds whenever it could, to turn a watery sun upon us. I am sure she told my father about it, for when I got up the next day, there was a quizzical gleam in his eyes as he surveyed me, like his little daughter had suddenly grown up.

Ever since, every time I read anything about the World Wars, I blanch and brace myself for impact. Which is why, I was angry at myself for clicking on that link the day I had taken off to enjoy Diwali with the children at home. My heart lurched and the food I had eaten 3 hours ago threatened to leave if I continued reading it.

I clamped the laptop shut and resolved to celebrate Diwali. After all, wasn’t the point of Diwali to signify that Love triumphs over Evil? That light always triumphs over darkness.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light. ” Albus Dumbledore in Prisoner of Azkaban

That evening, as we drew a crooked rangoli in front of the house, colored it in, and set tiny tea lamps on them, I managed to fill my heart with hope that things will be okay. That in the bleakest of times, there is always light, if we dip deep into ourselves for hope.

IMG_0952

There are always terrors anew in this world. Terror attacks, refugee crisis, civil unrest, wars. The same sword that kills also protects – humanity has that which is loathsome and hopeful in them. There is love and hope in this world, and that alone will help us face Evil.

 

For the Love of ( Halloween & the Environment) – Part 2

In Part 1 of the Halloween post, I had written about deciding on an Environment themed costume for Halloween for myself. I settled upon a Tree. We had a whole hour ahead of us to plan, execute and pull it off. I don’t know whether you have tried impersonating trees, it is very easy. You send your husband to buy something, say a car or some green cloth for the tree depending on your mood, get out a piece of cardboard and some green paint. You then set your children to cut and paint a tree-top and you sit back and you wonder how to pull off looking like a tree trunk and you are set. Ask some creative friend of yours to finish up the costume, stand back and project the spirituality of stolid trees. Like Booker. T. Washington said, “There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life.”

There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life. - Booker. T. Washington
There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life. – Booker. T. Washington

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/11/the-spiritual-uses-of-fruit-trees-ralph-austen/

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/07/17/the-book-of-trees-manuel-lima/

Trees are wonderful and soothing. Their stoic presence, their sturdy silence and their useful practical lives should say it all. Setting aside the fact I cannot produce oxygen, or hold a sturdy silence, or be stoic, or useful, I could be a Tree. I need to stand rooted and sway a bit in the breeze. How hard can it be? I just have to be out and about for people on candy-highs on Halloween night to flock to me for some calm.

The Silent Spectator.

That went well. I only spent the whole evening explaining to all and sundry who I was. Have you tried impersonating a Tree? It is a spiritual experience in and of itself. It is not easy. For one. I don’t see Tree Costumes, so you cannot pick one up and pull it on. For another, it is dashed hard to hoist the top of a tree on a hat. It flops back and forth and does not stay sturdy. I am sure that plenty of people on Pinterest will tell you how to do it, but I can tell you how not to do it. Especially, if you try to work with a cowboy hat.

How to make a Tree Costume
How to make a Tree Costume

So, with some excellent suggestions from my friends and children, we morphed it into a Tree Nymph whose express aim was to Save Trees. I tied the painted tree around my torso, wore brown pants so my legs would serve as the trunk and then wrapped my head with flowers to look like a Tree Nymph. I don’t know how Tree Nymphs look, but neither does the majority of the populace, so now they know. They look like me.

I must say I rather enjoyed myself. The son was Spiderman and the pair of us went around telling everyone that “Amma saves trees, and Son saves Humans”. When else could I have sported that Green nail polish the daughter and I picked up so we could have Rainbow themed nails?

Is this a Tree Nymph? If you haven't seen one, then yes.
Is this a Tree Nymph? If you haven’t seen one, then yes.

Say what you will about the rains that washed the Sun-dried California after Halloween, a small irrational part of me was happy. As a Tree-Nymph, had I invited the clouds over? It was certainly part of my original theme. The husband had even suggested I walk around with a large water droplet. But we did not have time to cut and color the water droplet. I sat relishing the sounds of the fresh patter of the rain, smelling the parched Earth drinking in the moisture, and enjoying a hot cup of tea in my hands.

“Next year, let’s all go environment themed. Maybe that will end the drought. If a Tree Nymph can bring rains, ….”, I crowed, and stepped out of my door to see an uprooted tree.

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween. I did.

For the Love of ( Halloween & the Environment) – Part 1

Usually, when Halloween rolls around, I am left out. What I mean is that I am the butler, the enabler, the inefficient decorator, the bad make-up doer, the scrambler, the chef, the doler of chocolates. But I am rarely one of the featuring stars in the evening’s show. When I say these things, I don’t want you running off with the idea of a pestilential sulker dulling Halloween. Far from it. I may decorate like a wet cracker, but there is one thing I bring to the evening – enthusiasm. One of my friends once said after witnessing a football game played by kindergartners that there was more enthusiasm than skill in the game. Exactly how I like to slot myself in the Halloween throng of emotions.

When I smile after hoisting a ghastly costume on folks, I smile widely, deeply and with affection. It gives the wearer confidence as they head out into the Halloween night. I like Halloween, for it is the one night when it is okay for serious minded adults who think of worldly problems to go out and publicly quack like ducks. It is often an illuminating experience to see that people give more attention to one’s quacks as a duck, than their most reasoned and logical arguments. It is all good – imagine if the Hippoceres lightened up.

What?! Don't listen to me now! I am just Quacking!
What?! Don’t listen to me now! I am just Quacking!

If you like Halloween so much, why is it you don’t make more of an effort to dress up yourself? You ask. My answer drips in selfless service. There is usually a gaggle of folk around me needing attention – the costumes have to be just so and the food needs to be just so-so, the parents or parents-in-law have to be convinced to loosen up for Halloween and there it is. By the time the vampires, fairies  and super-heroes come laden with plastic pumpkins, I have barely had time to lay the dinner on the table and grab a devil-hairband bought years ago, and smile (I have been accused of being the friendliest devil known to mankind, thereby failing spectacularly in even the simplest of costumes.)

This time, Halloween was on a Saturday and I had more time and energy on my hands. I started planning a whole two hours ahead that I wanted to be something too. Not just that. I was the decisive force: I wanted my costume to be Environment Themed. In what I thought was a brilliant teachable moment, I said that if we don’t save the environment, we won’t need Halloween Decorations at all, since the macabre stuff we see as Halloween Decorations, would be the sorry state of Earth.

Look at the sorry state of Earth here:

http://usuncut.com/climate/10-terrifying-before-and-after-photos-will-silence-global-warming-deniers/

The husband gave me a shocked, dismal look. The meaning of that look needs a much stronger pen than my own to record. I realized that far from a Teaching Moment, it could well become a Traumatic Moment, and swiftly swerved the conv. towards suggestions.

That did the trick. Ask us to talk and give suggestions, we trip over one another. There was a lot of shouting and a few good suggestions.

We need Water, Save Water, Less Plastic, More running water: (rivers, brooks), Recycle better, Anti Deforestation, More Trees, Drop of Water, Become a Cloud, No Toys (The toddler son came up with this and said proudly that he did not want to play with his toys anymore, and that I could give them all away, and not buy anymore. The pride on his face I tell you! It would have been a lot more virtuous if he had remembered that at the Lego Store the next day). The daughter said that I should crusade against oil spills since they harm animals, why not a Clean Ocean-Reef? Or Be a Farm.

The Wind in the Reefs
An Ocean Reef – How in the name of Willow’s Marina Reefs can this be made into a Halloween Costume in an hour?

I wonder if you notice a theme here: viz: Dashed hard to pull off. No dropping into a store and plucking a costume from the Shelf here. It would have to be made. I have already written about the complete lack of skills in areas like that.

The daughter said I needed to keep an open mind and try, or I’ll never know. I heeded her advice. How hard could it be?

Coming up Next: Part 2