My fall project this year has been getting all of my pictures sorted & stowed. in the same place. Earlier this fall, I had photo-boxes scattered throughout the house--a few here, a few there, stuck on shelves as space allowed. Then a pressing need to find a particular picture of a friend and I dressed up in ethnic Danish costumes for a stint volunteering at the Festival of Nations (circa 1990) arose. Is there anything worse than being able to see the picture in your head, but put your hands on it? I ransacked the house. At the end of the hunt, the floor of each and every room was littered with photo-boxes. I had found what I was looking for, but it took me over a week--not exactly an elegant filing system. Enter my vow of photorganization.
Step one saw all of the photos converge on a banquet table I’d set up in the living room. Like a band of unruly minstrels, they were chaotic, all loudly vying for my attention; each stack wanting to retell old stories I’d either committed to memory years ago or forgotten completely. Unfortunately, I had a 15 year old telling stories from a marching band trip to Wyoming
That’s where I found the love child of Elphaba and Fruit of the Loom’s Green Grape. Ah the 70s. mismatched plaid, pigtails, orthopedic shoes and home made Halloween costumes crafted out of bed linens. But really, is there anything more versatile for homemade costuming? Sheets can transform you into anything from a ghost to a roman citizen. In the year of the grape, my big sister died a pillowcase green, cut out a pair of arm holes, slid it over my head, and stuffed me with tissue paper. An hour or so later, she’d safety pinned me full of green balloons. In the photo, I’m standing stiffly in the back yard with a sour expression on my face… (insert bad play on words here)
She really outdid herself the next year, patiently braiding and pinning my hair into place, then slipping a gown made from a plain white sheet over my head, and finally belting the whole thing with a white cord complete with tassels (later put into use decoratively holding the exterior, fancy shower curtains back). The year was 1977 and I was Princess Leah. I’m a bit sad (and relieved) we don’t have a picture of that, but I’m guessing it had something to do with me being a petulant, ungrateful brat. I always wanted to wear a storebought costume “like all the other kids.” Never mind the other kids on the block sported fashions every bit as hand made as I did.
Tomorrow, I’ll hand out candy sporting ears, a tail and fabulous faux leopard print opera gloves. A few years back, I went to the store in search of accessories for a stint as Josie of the pre-dolls pussycats fame. Not finding anything I liked, I ended up making the ears and tail myself out of a couple extra pairs of gloves and pipe cleaners. I’m glad the Halloweens of my childhood prepared me to make what I couldn’t buy. Those ears rock; I think I’d wear them all year long if I could get away with it.
This weekend, the sister is scheduled to fly in for steps three (clearing an area upstairs for shelves to be assembled) and four (the grand finale of putting the boxes away, all in one spot, in an organized fashion) of Operation Memoryshelf. Thanks to my organizational efforts, if she gets overly bossy, I’ll have no trouble finding a few incriminating photos of her, circa 1978. Maybe I'll work with the ears on to make sure I don't go channeling my petulant, catty self when I tire of our task and threaten to become an ingrate. There's nothing worse than trying to creating order out of chaos; nothing better than someone who loves you enough to help.