These quilts are not made of fabric. They are made of whiskey, love, horror movies, and Halloween spirit.
First of all, it is not weird for one dude to make and send another dude a quilt. It is not. If you believe it is, you need a friend like Carl.
Two weeks ago, I accomplished my goal of making a Halloween quilt for my family and I. It is an absolutely insane design using so called crazy quilting. I was curious if I would be able to make it start to finish by October first. I wanted it to be something that my family and I could use for watching Halloween movies, start a real tradition around something made with my own hands. I had some of the fabric already, and then I made my way into the Joann fabric sale…and the crazy quilt started as this…
It took me roughly 38 hours to make it…except I was making a second one in secret. See I got this buddy Carl, and by buddy, I mean best friend a guy could have. We used to spend October together, and now I am in Texas and he’s back in amazing New England. So I decided to make one for my buddy. Now you need to understand that I was having motivation, the kind that comes from making something awesome for someone you love and giving them something real, fight against time, the realist thing of all and one of the things you can do nothing with except make yourself more efficient. Luckily the crazy quilt lends itself to having extra pieces for making another one, for reasons I will show another time.
This quilt has been quite a trip. I bought a ton of fabric at Joann, I was sent some from my mother’s and grandmother’s stashes, and some was left over from other quilts. Those leftovers were pretty minimal in some cases, they were bought for other quilts and were used, but they are Joann staples. Unfortunately I could not find any in my stores…so I called some friends all the way back in New England. Enter The Ross. The Ross came through in all the ways asking nothing but a small amount of fabric. The Ross was able to get fabric bought and shipped to me on a wednesday and get it all the way to Texas by Friday afternoon in time for me to start sewing that night.
I finished my quilt on September 30th with a little time to spare. I had been working on Carl’s a little in the background, doing stuff here and there, attaching strips made from the ends of strips for the first quilt. September 30th after finishing mine, I turned around and started Carl’s. Seven hours later I was finishe with the top, another two hours and the bottom was made and everything was pinned. Last weekend I set to quilting it and it only took an additional seven hours. I was only hoping to get it done in time to have him get it in October, but as I was quilting, I realized that maybe, just maybe I could get it to him on a Friday the 13th, in October. Carl recieved his quilt today, exclaiming joy and surprise while describing me as a “crazy bastard.” Praise from Caesar. He showed me with this photo.
Fifty-six hours of my life, time the unreplenishable currency, and I declare that it was well spent. I love making things, especially to give away. Hours of life stitched into reality. Happy Halloween everyone, thought about making something real lately?
This is not going to sound like an analog story, but it is. One of the first real things for humans was, I argue, other humans. Real things, as I have said before, excite the senses, stir memory, and give life to the heart. The first, most fundamental, and the basis (IMO) for all other real things is quite simply, your company, the people in your life. When we enjoy things, especially analog things, we want to share them with our friends, family, the people whose company we enjoy.
I started to write this the other night, and now I have had to start over to make the appropriate changes. When I started it, the man who is at the heart of it would probably have gotten a kick out of the fact that I wrote about him. I never entertained the idea that he would not get to read it, or to know that I wrote about him, but now that is the reality.
Just because I run an analog page does not mean that I exclusively enjoy analog things. The Savage happens to be a film junkie, especially for those which are deeply rooted in my life, those that are so deeply ingrained that to remove them would most likely cause some form of withdrawal. Halloween movies are where I would say an easy quarter of these types of favorite live for me. We love Halloween, almost nothing better in the world. This past Saturday I took the boys to the local pop up of Spirit Halloween to acquire a costume for the toddler. This particular Spirit is built into a mall as it turns out, and we went on the right day to wander into a Halloween fair. Between Spirit and the Halloween fair I came back considerably relieved of some of my spending money. I love to support people who make things, if the thing they make is worth buying, like these.
These are amazing, but the winner of the day was the licensed Hocus Pocus merchandise from Spirt
These wonderful items required me to reflect on this film and how I came to love it. That took me back to 1994 in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. I was seven years old, attending Allen Elementary school. This movie had been a rave at theaters, and the fact that it was going to come out on video (VHS) was heavy buzz at the time. Some cousins of ours owned a video store, if you come from Soddy Daisy, you may remember Volunteer Video. It was in the same building as the Soddy Daisy Bi-Lo, on the side, next to the tanning bed. My mother would let us hang out in there since it was our family that owned it, while she shopped. I want to put out a disclaimer now, this is being remembered from the perspective of a child, and most of it took place at least 15 years ago or more, I am not clear on exactly who owned what or when, but I am also not writing a history of the Bledsoes and Leffews.
Anyhow, the waiting list for a copy of Hocus Pocus at this mom and pop video store where they used rubber bands and paper tags to mark cases where the movie was all rented out was forever long. Everyone wanted a copy and had gotten on the list well in advance. The people I remember being there were our cousins (who to this day I call aunt and uncle) Kim and Terry, and Terry’s parents Felix and Loretta. Later, in some combination of dates, they would all live in the small house built by my great grandfather, Eugene, parent to my grandfather and the before mentioned Loretta. There were three houses on that plot of land where my first memories come from and where my family had lived since what I understand was just after World War II.
My mother still took me to the video store, which was alway fun despite the movie you were after being booked. Felix was behind the counter (remember they were all family and any weekend spent with my Grandfather or Uncle Fred was partially spent with Kim, Terry, Felix, and Loretta as we were playing with Kim and Terry’s children too) and when he asked what it would be, if I wanted The Nightmare Before Christmas again (he knew my common rentals) I said yes. He asked if I was sure, and when I gave the affirmative again, he reached under the counter and pulled out a copy of Hocus Pocus with my name on a sticky note asking if I would rather have that. I could not believe it. There it was. Just for me. Plenty of people wanting that movie and there was this copy held for me. Plenty of people may have been involved from Terry to my Mother having called ahead, but it was the warm face of Felix who handed it across the counter to me. I never forgot that. I had always liked Felix, but from then on I felt like he and I were really friends, and it is now twenty-three years on and I wear that movie thin every October.
Felix always had a kind word, a smoke, and a polo shirt. We were always welcome in that house, we ran in and out all day every season the weekends that we were all together, and none of them ever complained at us. Felix would happily let you sit and watch the Tennessee Volunteers game or whatever movie was on with him. He was not a perfect man I am sure, and I probably knew him least of all the people who remember him well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a good man, and that is more than the belief of a child. Later he would get a Facebook and we would share a word here and there, not as much as my memory of him indicates, and he would like just about anything I posted, especially pictures of my kids and such. I think the last time I may have seen him for more than ten minutes in person was 2008, and we were on leave from Iraq. I do wish I had taken more time for him. I read that he was having surgery and offered a comment, but really it barely registered. I should have done the real thing. I should have picked up the phone. At least I should have messaged him and had a ten minute chat with him. I am not full of regret, but Felix did not come back after that heart surgery to tell us he was doing well. He passed away.
I believe there are many measures to a person, but the ones that are most important to me are how you treat those who are smaller than you, and how good the stories are that are told about you. Felix has excelled at both. Felix, I was already in the process of telling the Hocus Pocus story, but now I have gotten to write more, ironically, because you are not here to read it, and you had a positive influence on a seven year old cousin who grew up to share this film with his friends, family, and especially children. If I am wrong, and there is any sort of afterlife, then that place is certainly better as of last night, and this world is just a little more time. Thank you Felix.
The Analog is about what’s real. We are avid Tea drinkers, but now, for our children it has become a traditional part of the day.
People search for a time to have sit down and have a real conversation with their children, everything is fast, especially the amount of time you have to impart values and structure to them. So, with our oldest in kindergarten this year, and the knowledge that he functions well with routine, we instituted family tea time.
Everyday, he gets off the bus, brings me his bag, and sits down to tea and some kind of light snack (the baby just drinks his milk and munches biscuits if he’s awake) and tells me about his day, we review his folder, and discuss his behavior marks for that day (all good so far!) and then after that he goes on and plays for a bit before dinner.
This accomplishes so much! They get a light snack to hold them till dinner, an idea like English Tea Time, and the French le gôuter. He tells us something about his day, it instituted a daily time where I am to be shown his school work (and in the future) his homework, so that it is addressed immediately upon coming home. My mother is one of those parents who says “I knew about projects the night before!” Well, lesson learned.
Most importantly though, with the exception of showing him pictures his teacher posted on the class to help him remember what he wants to tell us, cell phones, iPads, leap pads, television, and so far even the record player are all banished. I know what your thinking, but I rebanished the phone after snagging a couple of photos. People, cookies, tea, talk. Oh, and some dishes that I may get a cold stare from my grandmother for using, should it turn out she reads Analog Savage by chance.
I know it is hard to find time to do things with your kids, especially real things. I am essentially a stay at home parent when school is out, and there still isn’t a full days time to work with it seems. The demands of life combined with modern convenience are a strong duo, but where there is time, make the best of it.
What are your after school traditions (should you be able to have them)?
My Great-Grandmother passed away recently. She lived through a lot of things that we study in school, The Great Depression and World War II come to mind first. She was a young woman when the Chicago Cubs were in their second most recent World Series. Her death was preceded by about four years of being in assisted living due to not being able to care for herself, basically Alzheimer’s. When my family began to inventory her home, it was found to be stuffed full of dollar store deals, yard sale finds, and things that had been on sale in bulk. Notebooks by the hundred, odd singing bears, crap from every era since not long after the sixties. The house was not all, there is a smaller house and multiple falling in storage buildings on the property. In short, she had been hoarding. Not the worst I have ever seen, but some of it.
Last year David Sax published The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. I have not read it. I may, it is nothing personal to the author, it is just another book on the stack…yes, an actual stack. I hold firmly to my belief that you can run a page and blog called Analog Savage without having to read a book about analog things. The point here is that the title reflects a point I had made before, the idea of ‘The Real.”
The real to us is things that matter. It is the quilt I am making for my son and the hours of my life that are sewn into it. It is the tactile experience, it is the activation of the senses. The real is craftsmanship, it is something original, something with a purpose. There are a million ways to describe the real, and it is almost certainly easier to point out what it is not, rather than what it is.
That brings us to the dark side. The real involves real things. Physical objects. They actual mass, real things take up real space. I would say they cost actual money, but you can blow money on digital things as well. The real, being analog, it all involves actual crap that takes up space and has to be stored and maintained.
I am the worst about it. I am not a hoarder, but my friend Carl says that my hobby is having hobbies. My wife says that my largest collection is my collection of collections. These statements are both true. Let us introduce the book pile.
There it is. That is my personal monster. Now, before you set about judging, I did not buy all of those and just not read them. Many of those I was given by my Great Aunt, in a story that goes back to the Great Grandmother, and I have just not been able to get to them, or I have been listening to them as audiobooks. There is a convoluted twisty canyon of thought that you do not need to sort through here, but they are on the floor because if they are on the shelf I will forget about them. I am working on them.
We seem to always be in a race to outperform previous generations in materialism. We just have so much crap. Those books are not crap, they are heirlooms, and a chain of the thoughts of someone I love. My Baseball cards on the other hand…
I love comic books, despite my hate/hate relationship with the publishers right now. When I was in my latest collecting and reading frenzy of comics, before the writers decided that having a good story was the wrong way to sell books and titles proliferated into madness, I carried a monthly collection of twenty books or more. When the storylines started to turn, I kept buying. When it had advanced well past the point of sticking it out, I kept buying. When even my favorite characters failed to please (google Bat-Chappie), when they made sure to involve each character in multiple series and big world shattering events came every quarter to squeeze every cent from us (secret wars…) I kept buying. Why? The same reason that a lot of people buy more and more, to bee seen as being current.
Keeping up with the Joneses is not just about the house and pool anymore. It is now about showing how much you love something by keeping piles of it to sleep in apparently. I had to buy Batman comics no matter how much they sucked due to my status of self-appointed supreme Batman fan of the world.
Now I have to apply a simple test, asking myself “Do I like this or do I wish to be seen as liking this?” It does not break the cycle immediately, but it does confront me with the truth of some things. Am I going to enjoy this, play it with friends, read it, use it, or am I going to try to find a corner in a closet to get this out of sight out of mind so that I do not need to feel bad for having spent the money on it, maybe pulling it out once in a while to show off when the thing is mentioned.
If it fails the test, just be honest. Being analog is about actually enjoying the thing, not piling the thing up. Am I going to interact with my Soviet Stamps every day? No. Am I preserving something that there will never be any more of, and getting a truly rewarding experience while doing so? Yes. Will I interact with my baseball cards every day? No. Am I enjoying them for more than five minutes after having opened them? Not really…
This post was just to caution you about the rabbit hole of the analog things. Now people write books about how to get rid of crap. One of them I enjoyed just for the irony of it. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is a book, in which there is a chapter about getting rid of your books. This is where people got the notion of the whole “throw out things that bring you no joy,” I would caution against this extreme approach as I shove my treadmill, sister, and anything that resembles non-hobby work out the door. The second irony is that they sell this book in the container store, and in the book she says that organizing is not tidying, it is just putting the crap somewhere else, somewhat neater.
This is the balance the tagline at Analog Savage speaks of, appreicate the printing press without buying one. To collect stamps you will need stamps, but start with a theme. If you are going to explore the analog, be picky, be thorough, exercise discretion and judgement, and half fun without being buried under the weight of crap you do not actually care about.