Making It by Hand, an Undeniable Joy

by Trudy A. Martinez

Initially, crafting arose out of necessity, not out of desire; now it is relief of boredom, and a hobby. Most of the time if there is a need to express a thought, I make a card; if there is need to give a gift, I make it.

Granny  (my grandmother) versed me well in the art of creativity and sewing. In earlier years, I rarely spent time there at her house unless it was to learn or fulfill a need.

Now, it’s different; a great deal of time is spent creating, not because I have to, but because I want to. It is not usual for me to have various projects going at once.

One main project is making finger puppets. It all started because I saved bits and pieces of socks left over from making stuffed dolls for a great grandchild.

photo (2)      rock & sock doll & puppets     rock & sock doll     photo (3)

The bits and pieces were set aside because I didn’t want to waste. I was thinking I may use them someday.

My daughter asks, “what are you going to do with these bits and pieces?’ I reply, “I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet.” She suggests, “Why not make some finger puppets.” I experiment with the concept until arriving at a solution and complete my first one

baby and pup

It wasn’t very appealing, but with each attempt, the method and puppets evolve.

puppetville

Initially they are completely hand stitched, now it’s a combination of machine and hand. The designs and methods are my own, developed through trial and error over time.

Two puppets that won second place ribbons at the fair are on display in our home now.

photo at fair       puppet display

Newer creations may be seen on display on hand molds in other places in the house.

IMG_2205IMG_2206IMG_2210IMG_2202                              IMG_2203

Each puppet person I make is different; there are no two exactly the same.

They are intended for babies. But I have given them to adults. The puppets help interactions with a child, especially infants. They are a tool to help with the development and strengthening of the eye muscles and eye and hand coordination in infancy. They are also useful as a teething helper; the soft but firm construction allows the infant to bite down relieving their pain without adding to it.

p1    p5     img_0694

img_0695   p6       rock & puppet1   Rock & puppet2

They are completely washable and dry able; they come out looking new again. That is a plus since they spend a lot of time in the infant’s mouth when they are teething. They are toys, pacifying the infant.

A puppet is a perfect companion for a small child when traveling, in public, or at home. A child’s attachment to the puppets grows as they play and interact with them; sleep with them, teeth with them. They learn to love them.

It warms my heart to see them enjoy them.

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Grama’s Birthday

Posted on October 7, 2007

by Trudy A. Martinez

Today is not my birthday: that day passed weeks ago but here stands Elijah and Charity, wishing me happy birthday, handing me a present, asking me to open it, gleaming with joy from anticipation.

The package they hand me is a work of art:  personality spills from its hand painting design; each stroke tells a story, filling my heart with joy; each color depicts a mood, an emotion springs from it, leaping at my heartstrings.

There is a cake waiting for us to eat so I need to get along with my story.

“I painted this!”  Elijah exclaims, smiling as he points to his design.  “Charity painted this,” he continues as his words spring to life in the ears of his little sister standing next to him, waiting her turn to speak.

“Open it Grama!” her words ring out, sprinkling the air with the soft tones of her voice.

“Do you know what it is?”  Elijah queries.

“No,” I reply, “Can you tell me?”

“Can’t tell. Can’t tell, Grama, Elijah!”  Charity’s reprimanding voice rings out.

“No-O-O-O-O-O.”  Elijah answers, dragging out the one syllable word, lingering it in the air momentarily before he adds, “You need to open it, Grama”.

My fingers already begin to carefully undue the paper from one of the packages.  The paper is unique as it is homemade; the designs are drawings Elijah and Charity make.  The pictures will make a perfect addition to my refrigerator door that houses and adorns such treasures.

My two-prize possessions hang from a loop chain attached to a magnet on that door:  pacifiers, one blue one and one pink one.  The blue one Elijah gave me a few years back.  The pink one Charity reluctantly gave up on her second birthday.  She was not forced to give it up; she did so willingly, but it is a difficult decision for her to make.  I remember.  She stood at a distance from me, covering her eyes.  She knew it is her birthday; she knew she is going to give up her infancy with the passing of her prize possession to my refrigerator door and thereafter, ‘patsy’ will be my prize possession.  My thoughts are suddenly brought back to the present with the sounds of voices:

“Come on, Grama, hurry up–Open it”, Elijah says.

“Open it,” repeats Charity.

“Here,” Elijah adds, reaching for the other end of the package, ripping the paper off quickly.  Charity in the meantime, picks up the other package and quickly opens it for me.

“Here, Grama, here’s your present.”

“Thanks honey that is a pretty cup.  Why, that is my name on it:  Grama.  It’s a Grama cup.”

  Elijah just finishing the unwrapping of the other present proudly holds it up for me to admire. “Do you know what it is, Grama?”

I look it over.  It looks like a milk carton, but windows are cut out of each side.  There are also two small holes in each side.  In addition, it has been painted all over with paint, different colors of paint.  There is a separate stick that goes with it.  On the top of the structure, a rope like twine is attached to it on both sides.  “Hm mm,” I think, “I wonder what this beautiful creation is?”  Elijah and Charity eagerly wait for a reply.  I was taking too long to guess and they are extremely anxious to tell me.

“It’s a bird feeder, Grama!”  Charity exclaims.

“You put seed in here,” Elijah explains“, and then you put the stick through here,” he continues, “And the birds come and eat the seed”.

“They come and eat the seed.”  Charity echoes, smiling.

“It is beautiful”, I say, “I know just the place to hang it.”  We go to the patio, hang the bird feeder, and then, come back inside to watch and wait, but no birds come.

“They’ll come”, Elijah and Charity assure me.  Nevertheless, the birds did not come and Elijah and Charity went home.

A few days later, Kit, my cat, starts jumping, running, and acting real crazy.  She sits at the patio door, swinging her tail back and forth, faster and faster her tail goes back and forth.  She’s trying to get my attention so I will let her outside.  I open the blinds and see there is a bunch of little visitors in my backyard:  birds perch on the bird feeder on the little stick that sticks out from the side.  Birds are walking on the ground, pecking at the seed their friends up above drop on the ground from the pretty bird feeder Elijah and Charity made for me.

I immediately call Elijah and Charity on the telephone to tell them about the little visitors.  They are not home.  I leave a message.  Here is what I say:

“That beautiful bird feeder you gave me for my birthday is bringing joy. There are lots of birds in my backyard where before there was none.  The birds are eating the seed. I keep filling it up with more and more seed because they are very, very, hungry.  Need to go now–just want you to know–love you.

Oh yeah, Kit likes it too. She likes it so much. She jumps, runs, and acts real crazy.  She wants to go outside with the birds.  She wants to catch them, but they fly away when they see she is coming out.  Love you–Bye.”

No Where to Run

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

Reassuringly, little voices whisper dramatically, “It’s okay, Kit, we’re not going to hurt you.”

Kit, my flame point white Siamese cat, is asleep when the two young children surround her with the intent of making friends.  Normally, she runs at the sight of them.  Now she is unknowingly in a corner surrounded by them with nowhere to run.

When the words, “It’s Okay — we’re not going to hurt you.” are repeated in unison, Kit’s eyes open.  Obviously, she is not sure what to make of them:  Her ears move from their normal stance, when their hands reach out for her, to a stress slick back position.

They pet her, gently.  Kit’s ears remain down.  “It’s okay,” they reassure her.  Their words did nothing to change her countenance.  She is stiff and looking for a way to run.

Perhaps she recalls the day before, being in the corner and her tail pulled.  The perpetrator of that incident is now gently running her hand from the top of Kit’s head slowly over her thick winter fur to the tip of her tail without tugging.  The question now is:  Is Kit going to relax and take advantage of this freely given affection?

The children continue to assure her they mean well with each movement of their hands over her body.  It is a slow process, a persuasive process, a winning process.  Kit’s ears relax, finally relinquishing their stress.

Smiling the children exclaim, “She likes me!  She’s purring,” They add, “She likes me.” With excitement, “She’s purr-r-ring.”

Armed with Feathers

Posted on June 19, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

I came up pillow in hand.  Resounding agitations arouse not only me but also my anger.  With a fury, I hurl the pillow in the direction of the origination of the noise.  Kit knows not to scratch the chair; that cat knows better. The racket her nails make, protruding inward, pulling outward, creates a reverberating, irritating, and displeasing noise. The noise awakes not only me but also a demon who seeks her out.

“It’s only 4:00 A.M…” I scream.  “Leave me alone. I want to sleep.”  And then I exclaim with dramatic emphasis, shaking a finger at her while I speak.  “Don’t you dare touch that chair again with your nails?”

Her body stretches out and moves upward while her nails position themselves in the chair ready to scratch.   When the sound of my angry voice reaches her ears, she stops. She glares at me. She tests my patience.

I stare back.  She releases her nails from the upholstery. She then slowly moves away in defeat.  “Now get out of here!” I exclaim as I hurl another pillow as she exits.

“She’ll be back.” I think. “Maybe, just maybe I can grab a few winks before then.”

image

Abandoned and Home Alone

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

She did it again. She left, leaving me here alone again. Why? I do not understand. I’ve been good. Why does she leave me?  When she leaves, she’s missing for days. She locks me in. I can’t get out. I’m left alone. I can’t leave; I can’t reach the door knob; I can’t open it.  I can only sit. I can only look. I can only watch. I can only watch everyone outside living life to the fullest. But what is someone to do when you’re left alone for days on end.

When I am feeling sorry for myself, like I am right now, I mope. I mope around. I sleep. I sleep some more, more than I should.   I guess you might say I’m depressed.  I get lonely.  I tend to get in mischief when I’m lonely and alone.  I think I do it just to get back at her for leaving me.  After all, turn around is fair play.  Isn’t it?

It’s fun to do things you’re not supposed to.  I am feeling down, a little possessive too. I go upstairs to sit and look out the window at everyone playing on the green grass. Then I look for trouble because I can’t play on the green grass. I roam the room instead. When I get to my favorite chair, I find it occupied. Nope, I’m still alone. But to my surprise I am now alone with her stack of papers.

“That’s my chair!” I exclaim.  I quickly throw all the papers on the floor.  But I didn’t stop there.  I am still upset because she left me.  So, I tear the papers into little bits; I shred them!  I even make sure, if she is able to glue them back together, she will never be able to read them.

I poke all the papers full of holes before I shred and tear them.  The ink runs on some of the pieces because I put them in my mouth and get them wet.

Oh is she going to steam when she sees what I did.  I’ll surely get her attention.  She will yell, “My papers!”

Well, they were her papers and she can have them now.  I had my fun.  I’ll bet she’ll think twice before she puts anything on my chair again. I bet she will think again about leaving me alone. It will serve her right. She deserves torment.

What is that noise? I look out the window. The car is home. That means she is home. I turn. There she stood, frozen in time.

  Are those tears in her eyes? She stood glaring at me; she didn’t even blink.  “Hasn’t she learned by now I can out stare her?” I think.  I think, “She’s getting ready. She’s attacking me. No, wait. It’s the look at me when I talk to you time. Just before she attacks, she does this. That’s okay. This time I will not back down.” I keep telling myself, “I will not back down. I will stare back.”

She reaches for me.

I want to run. I just stare. I freeze. I stare. I am frozen in place. I can’t move. “Oh no! Oh, no!”

She scares me. She is so intense.

She is grabs me. I didn’t yell out; I didn’t fight back.  I wasn’t scared.  I did get my motor running though–you know–I start– “Purr, purr, purr, purring.” That always gets her to smile again.  Then, she starts petting me.

She loves me no matter how mischievous I am or what I’ve been into.  I love her too.  But I hate it when she leaves me here alone.

The Winners

Posted on December 6, 2006   

By Trudy A. Martinez

As I approach the Junior High, a hum catches my ear like a swarm of bees.  Occasionally, a high squeal pitch punctures the air, following a towering roar, commanding, “Get over here–leave that girl alone!”

Crowds of mother’s litter the doorway with an occasional father here and there. And of course, there are a lot of small children trying to squeeze through small openings in the crowd.

A long metal table blocks the wide entrance, except for a small passage way leading to the activity floor.  Behind the table, volunteers sit on tan metal folding chairs frantically handing out fliers, signing up enrollees, or answering questions.  It is difficult for early enrollees to push past the eager new participants.  A harsh voice rings out, “Just a minute, Jimmy.”

“Come back here,” says another.

Anxious children who manage to escape their parent’s side pepper the passage way in black outfits that look like over-sized pajamas tied in the middle with a white belt.  The belt wraps around their small frames twice before being tied in the front.  On their backs, contrasting the black color of the pajama, are bold white letters forming in a semi-circle, spelling out “Young Olympians,” an artistic illustration of a block kick in action, and stars, U.S.A., and more stars.

An air-borne white sock flies high above the heads of the crowd, as if propelled by a rocket–tailing behind a voice commands:  “Go get that sock!”

The activity floor with its waxed and shining hardwood takes on the appearance of a gym. An instructor, giving directions to children from an earlier session, is about to break up.  He says, “Remember now,” taking in a deep breath as he raises his finger to his puckered lips, “Sh-h-h!”  Then he continues, “What you learn here tonight you only use as self-defense to protect yourself from anyone who tries to grab you or hurt you–NOT your friends,” he adds.  Taking another deep breath he says, “Your participation in learning and mastering the techniques I show you can earn you this bright yellow belt.”  Then he asks, “Do you want one?”

A loud sharp, “Ya,” rings out as all the children reply to his question in unison.

Although the educational activity program is sponsored by the Y.M.C.A., a men’s organization, encouragement is given for both boy and girl participants.

Chandra, my granddaughter, eagerly awaits her class to begin.  Her big brown eyes glisten and beam with excitement.  It is difficult for her to remain still.  Her muscles tense and her fists clinch in anticipation.  When her mother says, “Chandra, you need to get your shoes and socks off.”  Chandra immediately drops to the floor as if she is a puppet and the words pull her string; her mother does not need to repeat the words.  She moves quickly, untying her shoes, pulling them off, and then removing her socks; when she finishes with one foot, she instantly repeats the process with the other.

On the activity floor, the instructor tells the early group, “Good-night,” as he bows to them with both hands at his side.  All the students reciprocate and then leave the floor, scampering with excitement back to their parents.

Chandra’s eyes grow in size, taking on a pleading look as if to ask, “May I go?”  Her lips form a smile and she turns her head upward toward her mother, anxiously waiting her mother’s approval.  “Okay, go on.”

The turnout for self-defense and safety awareness programs highlights a growing problem that faces America: helpless children falling prey to unknown assailants and turning into victims.  A concern for the safety of children prompts the offering of the classes.  An overwhelming response indicates parents worry.  Because of the size of the class, some parents participate by holding the block pads and block sticks (foam padded) for the children to practice on, thus freeing more instructors to assist kids who have difficulty mastering the techniques. The Children form lines in a row.  Chandra makes sure she is right up front so she doesn’t miss a move.   Chandra’s mom said the first night of class, “Chandra needs encouragement and reassurance. She doesn’t want to be the only one who dosen’t know anything.” But out there on the floor during her first lesson her shyness disappears.  She certainly did not act like a novice.

“Horse stance,” says the instructor.

Immediately, all the children assume the position:  they spread their legs apart, assume a semi-squat position, double their fists tightly until their little knuckles appear white and hard, and position their little arms in preparation to block and punch.  Their bodies are rigid.  “Punch,” yells the instructor.

The children throw one arm forward sharply with force–”Ya.” they reply in unison.

The instructor has them sit on the floor in a squatting position as he demonstrates the next move.  “When I say, ‘get up.’  I want you to get up as fast as you can–but don’t start until I tell you.”  All the little bodies tense and lean forward slightly. 

One over-anxious little bottom leaves the grown, protruding upward–it is Chandra.  “Down,” the instructor repeats.  “Don’t get up until I say.” 

He went on giving detail instructions on how to block a hit and then immediately follows through with a kick forward.  “Up,” he says.

Little bodies pop up like they are spring-loaded.

“Horse stance,” he yells.  They instantly assume the position.  “Block–Kick.”

“Ke–.” they yell as one arm goes up to block.  “Ya,” they continue as their leg goes up close to their body and instantly shoots forward.

Judging from the height of their kicks, I imagine an assailant dropping to his knees.  “These kids can turn out winners,” I think as my mind envisions an encounter and then their little legs carrying them speedily away from the danger.

“I Guarantee My Work”

The following is an edited  re-posting of a true story I Posted on April 10, 2008 I am left with guaranteed memories because of it.

 By Trudy A. Martinez

“I am here,” a young woman announces as she taps lightly on the counter to gain my attention. Then she leans over the counter, smiles, and whispers, “You can tell everyone else to go home–the job is mine.”

“Do you have an appointment?” I ask abruptly while pretending to have not heard her last remark.

“Most definitely,” she answers smiling in anticipation to my next question. She begins to introduce herself: “My name is Margo–.” Before she finishes speaking her finger is on my clipboard, pointing to her name. “There’s my name right at the top of your list–,” she hesitates and then adds, “–where it belongs.”

I think to myself, “This young lady is certainly self-confident (a main requirement for the position of New Accounts clerk I am interviewing for). But, she appears almost too sure of herself.” I call her into the conference room, request that she take a seat, and then ask her point-blank, “Why do you think you are the best choice for the open position here at the bank?”

She smiles and quickly exclaims, “I guarantee my work!”

“You what?”

“I guarantee my work,” she repeats.

I can hardly believe my ears she says she guarantees her work. I sit in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never had I been at a loss for words before; this is usually a fault of the interviewees. I only ask her one question; but yet from the very moment she makes her presence known to me, she begins to demonstrate all the qualities I am looking for. “Margo, you stir my curiosity. What do you mean by your statement: ‘I guarantee my work’”?

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replies. “But you need not be curious, my work is accurate; I don’t make errors. But if you find one and prove me wrong, I guarantee I will fix it.”

I hire her. But because she is so overly confident that her work is error free, I begin to scrutinize it, looking for one fatal error. A year passes; no errors surface. I become lax. I stop looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work error free,” I think.

I feel confident can trust and rely on Margo to follow procedures without my looking over her shoulders.

Then I went on a business trip for the bank for a few days. When I return, the vault teller requests I enter the vault with her to prepare and fill an order of cash for a merchant. I did. While there in the vault, I notice there is a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the others. I ask, “Why are these bills here separate from the other bills?”

The vault teller replies, “Margo asked that they be kept in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you return. She says: ‘ They are counterfeit.’”

I ask, “Does she know who passed them?”

“Oh yes, a new account customer opened a time certificate with them.”

I inspect the bills. They are definitely counterfeit. But since an employee of the bank accepts them as legal tender, I fear we are now faced with an operating loss. This is a first. I had never suffered an operating loss for accepting counterfeit bills. I think to myself, “When Margo makes an error, she does it good. Why didn’t she notify the police or the F.B.I.?” Only Margo can answer my questions. She knows procedures. Ignorance is definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense.

I approach Margo and ask, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

She knew immediately what the one word question meant.

“The manager told me to wait until you return.”

“How did the manager get involved with it to begin with?”

“He brought the customer to my desk. I thought he knew him.”

I excuse myself saying, “I have to make a few calls before 5:00 P.M., I’ll get back to you later concerning this matter.”

Immediately, I call the “Feds,” explain what happened, beg their forgiveness, and make plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempts to do it again.

Margo had shared with me his statement: “ I will be back to open another account when my certificate at another bank matures. That’s a promise.”

The F.B.I. gave me instructions. I had to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time slips away and so did Margo–she left the bank for the day. “Oh well,” I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”

The next morning disaster hit. A family emergency occurs delaying my arrival at the bank.

When I did arrive, Margo met me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she exclaims!

“What’s fixed?” I inquire.

“My error,” she stammers with excitement, “I told you: ‘I guarantee my work.’”

What had she done? My mind cannot conceive how she can correct such an error.

“Margo,” I say in a calm reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot be erased as if it is chalk on a chalkboard.”

“But it is,” she replies, “In just that way too–like chalk on a chalkboard.” “You see,” she continues, “The man who gave me the counterfeit came back.”

He said: “I have an emergency. I need my money back.”

“So, I give him–I give him just what he asks for. I give him his money back — his counterfeit bills.”