Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mercy Me

I am loath to say that I have never been a particularly merciful person. My "buck up and get over it" upbringing created a strength and fortitude in which I took enormous pride over the years. Though I have never parked in a handicapped parking place, I would recoil at the seemingly "healthy" woman in the Corvette who waltzed into Nordstrom, with little sympathy to her hidden body limitations, assuming she had one. And to me, there was just "something fishy" with the local woman in a wheelchair who stormed the doors of the Squeeze Inn and other local establishments, lawyer in tow, only to sue them for lack of ADA compliance.

That was before I broke my right arm...my jewelry making hand, my treble clef hand, my risotto stirring hand. Okay, it's not the same as being a paraplegic confined in a wheelchair, or a man being chained to a dialysis machine four times a week, or a women loosing her hair to cancer treatment...I know that. But even the slightest impairment or loss of your usual physical abilities can be painful, frustrating, humbling, and yes, even illuminating. Our bodies are so fragile and we take them for granted. It's a wonder the majority of us stumble (literally) through life without an injury or serious disease. And as one of those people, I never realized how profoundly your life can change in just the blink of an eye.

The little imaginary man on my shoulder who says "buck-up, Laurel" must be the same little creep that said "you can cross that creek, chicka..you're a country girl!" But he is wrong, and I have had a hard time not feeling sorry for myself in what has seemed like an ordeal to me. And those of you who know me well, know how easy it is to slip into the morbid places...i.e "what if I had a stroke? I'd never be able to cope with that!" Life function limitations like not being able to shower properly, wash your hair, brush your teeth properly (forget flossing!)are difficult to cope with for a mere six weeks, but what if you couldn't do it for an extended period? What if you never could?

God is ever gracious to us in our hour of need, and I am grateful for my broken wing. It opened my eyes to people who must struggle with limitations every day just to survive. I am blessed that my injury is only a temporary inconvenience, and not a life sentence. I am blessed that other people have been more "merciful" than me by their willingness to help me out, wash my hair, carry this, open that. Life is not about bucking-up and getting over it. It's about letting others share your pain and struggles and giving you mercy and grace, and it's about giving it back in return. Thank God that He has given us the best example of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Why does it take so long for so many of us to get it??

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From the Internet - LMAO! "The Dummy from Hell"

I have been seriously considering buying a professional Dress Form after getting hooked on Project Runway, a quasi reality TV clothing design competition I have sewn for years and have always wanted a dress form so that I could make my own patterns. I started researching different types on the internet, and thought the Uniquely You brand might suit my needs. Upon researching comments from owners of this product, I came across this post from a would-be consumer who had a less than an optimal experience with the Uniquely You Dress Form. I have never laughed so hard in my life...and suffice it to say I will not be buying one of these. Thank you Peter Leppik, Mirabelle Severn & Thames, whoever you all are!

The Dummy From Hell

For the sewing-impaired, a Uniquely You dress form consists of a foam core shaped like a well-endowed woman, and a cloth cover which you sew to fit your own dimensions, then stuff the foam core inside, yielding a dressmaker's form with your own measurements.

From: close@lunch.asd.sgi.com (Diane Barlow Close)
Newsgroups: alt.sewing
Subject: Re: Problems fitting Uniquely You (long!)

Mirabelle Severn & Thames writes:

I recently bought the Uniquely You dress form, and my mother agreed to fit the cover for me. Well, about 1/3 of the way through the fitting, she is running into problems she didn't expect, and doesn't feel secure trying to finish the project. Can anyone give advice?

Okay, I think I'm brave enough now to tell everyone about my experiences with” Uniquely You". I ordered mine from National Thread and Supply Company (in Atlanta, Georgia) who, in turn, get their supply directly from the UY folks but arable to discount it quite a bit. I ordered the "extra small" form and from the measurement range given it should've been just fine. Unfortunately for me, I ordered at the time that the U.Y. folks were trying out a new foam extrusion mix. Somehow I got one of the "test" dummies instead of the real thing. The problem with the new mix was that it discolored and expanded (greatly) when faced with humidity. I didn't know that when I got my dummy; I just knew it looked a bit mottled and way too big to "squish" down to my size. In fact, the dummy had a 44 DD bust! I called the UY company about this but they assured me that I must be wrong, that the bust couldn't be that big and that even if it was it would shrink once the cover was applied. They explained that the foam was much bigger than the cover, but that the foam would compress greatly and that Should just go ahead and make my cover and all would become clear soon. They explained that a lot of force was needed to compress their foam, but compress it would and I should just try it and see. After I got off the phone, I remeasured the bust and it was, indeed, 44DD (it was HUGE). It looked like some bizarre, life-sized headless Barbie.

Encouraged by the phone conversation with the UY people, I started sewing up my cover. I fitted the top half, on me, just fine. I zipped it off and tried to zip it on the dummy. It wouldn't go; it wouldn't squish asked my husband for help. Eventually we had the dummy on the floor with my husband kneeling on top of the breasts and me pushing from underneath the cover trying to compress everything into place. Then we started wondering what this must look like to our neighbors, so I got up and closed the curtains! :-) Continuing our wrestling match, we managed to stuff MOST of the breasts into the cover, but we couldn’t, for the life of us, compress them so they all fit into the cover. We managed to get the cover zipped into place but there was "breasts" popping out all over the place! We decided to see if we could squish the breasts into place any further. My husband pushed from above while I pushed from below. Whammo, side seams gave away and we had breast "leaking" out the side. We tried again. And again. It was a hot and humid summer day and we were not enjoying this strenuous activity very much. Finally we achieved some measure of success, with the cover "centered" over massive “breasts" peering around all sides. We stood back. BLAMMMO! The cover seams all gave way at once and blew off the dummy, leaving "Barbie" once again standing naked before us. Not only that, but the "breasts" appeared to have grown! They certainly looked bigger to me, and a check with the measuring tape now clocked themat 50 DD!! Help, it's Barbie from Hell! :-D

We called UY and complained strenuously this time. I pointed out that my dummy was "growing". They put the owner/creator on the phone and he realized that we had gotten a "bad" dummy, that is, one made with the bad experimental foam. The discoloration was the key to recognition. He asked me to send it back to him for inspection and replacement. You’d think that would be the end of it, wouldn't you? Well, think again! :-) I packaged the dummy up, in the original box, and sent it off UPS-insured. I got a calla couple days later because UY had *refused* my shipment! I couldn't believe it! After they had asked me to send it back directly to them! I couldn't figure out what must’ve gone wrong so called them back, immediately. The told me they didn't take damaged goods. What?! What did they mean "damaged" goods? I sent back an intact product! It was a defective product, but then they knew that as they were the ones who had asked me to send it to them for inspection. Unfortunately the person who handled the shipment was away and all the woman on the phone knew was that the shipment had been refused due to "damage", so I would have to wait a few days for the original person to return to explain why she refused my shipment. I got my answer a couple days later when a "hit and run" UPS driver lobbed a grotesquely-deformed (previously-a-box) shape over my fence and ran for the truck. It seems that somewhere along the line the package must've fallen off the truck and been backed over several times by a truck. The rectangular box was now a triangle and the remains of the dummy had tire tracks on it. Not only that, but it seems it had expanded some more, in transit, and one breast had blown a hole in the box and was now sitting there "staring" at the world rather ominously. The other breast had been ripped off, mostly, and was attached to the dummy by only a wee bit of foam. Numerous other cuts and scrapes told tales of some type of weird raging battle that had been fought between this dummy and who-knows-what! :-)

I called up UPS wondering how the heck they managed to turn my package into the deformity before me and they offered to send another driver out to pick it up for inspection. By this time I wasn't about to trust another "ride" on the truck, so I insisted that they send out an inspector directly to inspect the damage here. Under the circumstances, and considering the amount of money involved, they agreed. When the UPS claims person came out to inspect the damage she asked me what on earth this "thing" was used for. She treated it like she thought she could get Bubonic Plague from it. She started shaking her head and complaining about all the weird sextoys she was forced to inspect now that she was based out here in San Francisco and not back in good old Illinois... I tried to explain that it was a mannequin for sewing and fitting clothes, not some "sex toy". She didn't believe me. She wrote it up as “inflatable foam doll" and treated it like it had some disease she didn't want to catch. She had to remove the dummy from the box, and in order to do that you had to compress the one "escaped" breast to get it back through the hole so the rest of the dummy could come out of the box. She didn't want to touch the breast. No sirree! She was NOT going to touch another breast, not even a foam one! It was very amusing to watch. She honestly believed it was some kind of sex toy and I was some kind of pervert... :-D I finally got the dummy out of the box for her, but even then she wouldn't touch it to inspect the damage. :-) It was very embarrassing! She quickly agreed that UPS would give me a full refund and I don't think I've seen anyone leave my house so quickly... :-

Anyway, all's well that ends well, and I got my money back in full from UPS. I didn’t have the nerve to try another "Uniquely You". I bought a Dritz Double. I don’t really need the "fits your shape" capability of UY, as I'm pretty well the industry standard shape anyway. Yes, I'm one of the rare few who can use patterns directly from the envelope and have them fit perfectly. Do the Dritz Double turned out to be
just fine for me. I hope this helps someone! :-)

Peter Leppik

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Arm Candy

She approached the raging creek with trepidation. It had rained the night before and the familiar rocks which guided her usual steps were submerged under the icy waters. Intelligence suggested that she was taking a risk as she gingerly sought a dry rock. First one, then another. As she reached the half way point, the only stable rocks were no longer dry, and not wishing to finish her 4-mile walk in wet shoes, she hesitated...just enough to loose her concentration and her balance. Backwards she careened, finding the only surface in the creek with slimy moss on which to regain her balance. With her life passing quickly before her eyes, and thoughts of drowning in the abyss, she went down. She totally forgot the "tuck and roll" of her combat days, and in a last ditch effort, saved herself from certain doom with a simple backward stretch of the arm. And when it gave way, her head crashed back on a single rock put there just for stupid people like her who try to cross creeks like they were 12. Hel-lo!!!!!!!

Actually it was a tiny little stream of water...and my brain said 'no, don't do it, dummy' and my 12 year old ego said 'yea, you can.' Hence my first ever broken arm, sporting a bright red fiberglass cast. Having this arm candy has certain advantages and disadvantages. People do ask what happened, and you can make up all sorts of tales to inflate your bruised ego: 'I was climbing Mt. Whitney and my rope gave way and I fell 50 feet onto a ledge' or 'I got it caught in my rope on my last bull ride' or 'I didn't like the way my hands were aging so I am having them replaced with robotics.'

But casts are a pain in the ---. You can't get them wet..evidently they start stinking or growing some kind of mold...so showering is a challenge. You can't operate a can opener with a broken arm, and you can't play a piano. Opening your Ibuprofen bottle is tricky, as is trying to flip a pancake. But they are hard as a rock, so you can use them as leverage for certain tasks, like cracking nuts or cutting wire for jewelry making...

All in all, as cute as my little red cast is, I would rather wear a bracelet.
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