23 October 2009

The Story of Corabela

Harken back to a time before all this nonsense of th 21st century.

Does anyone really say "harken" anymore?

Sure, I love my dishwasher...I mean really love it. And I enjoy wireless internet which lets me bring my laptop out to my hammock on the porch. I don't know where I'd be without a hot shower and google has made all our lives so much easier. But the rest? I could take it or leave it. Maybe with the exception of the washing machine.

One thing I would definitely toss out with the trash is how everything from health care to real estate to taxes, is now so complicated, the average joe needs about 4 hours to research and consult all friends and available experts to understand anything well enough to make an informed decision about anything. But I'm not here to complain; that's not my job. What is my job? Well, after a few hard years of living “out there” int the cruel and complex world, I found myself jobless, penniless, and without purpose. It was then, in a local Goodwill outlet, that I finally found the light.

My mother and I were combing the racks for deals when I saw a bright blue and plaid little explosion of color float by in the arms of a rather burly looking man. Shamelessly, I followed him, as if in a trance. After a few laps around the store, as fate herself had come to visit, Mr. Burly gingerly hung the item on a rack. Hallelujah! He was stocking, not shopping! I approached slowly...with reverence, but I didn't know why. I heard angels start to sing, but I couldn't figure out what they might be heralding. Carefully, I plucked the item from the rack, still unsure of what exactly it was. A skirt, maybe? As I delicately removed it from the hangar, long strips of plaid fell to each side and a bright turquoise pocket lined in snow white edging revealed itself. I held it up to the light and my heart raced. But I was confused...it was a handmade apron. And I was falling hopelessly and madly in love with it as I stood there.

I'd never owned or even worn an apron, much less thought about one. Aprons were simply outside the sphere of my awareness, and yet there I stood, heart racing, silly tears welling up inexplicably. The previous months had seen me aimlessly wandering through life, wondering “What do I do now? What is my purpose?” My poor husband didn't know what to do with me. I wasn't finding fulfillment with anything. Jobs just left me feeling like a prostitute selling my lifeblood and dignity. Something was obviously missing from my life but I didn't know what it was. All I knew was that when I found it, I would know, deep down in my bones. And in the days that followed my apron discovery, I began to realize I'd found purpose.

As I was holding up the apron, listening to the invisible angels sing, my mother spied the flash of blue from across the room and asked “What! Is! That!?” with a sparkle in her eye. “It's an apron that's handmade” I answered, “and I'm falling in love with it.” Her face took on that “Lucy Ricardo-cooking-up-a-scheme” look and she burst out with “I know! You can make aprons and sell them!” I'd been desperate to find a way to make some income.  As we both stood there feeling the smoothness of the fabric and admiring the apron, I contemplated making aprons. There was just one problem. I didn't know how to sew.

As I'm sure many of you know, when a dream is strong and true enough, you'll do whatever it takes to make that dream come true. So my mother copied the pattern from the original (which we, of course, bought), and she taught me to use my sewing machine that had been collecting dust in the attic since she gave it to me for Christmas six years prior. Together we sewed my first apron. Sure, the seams meander a little at times, but that first apron is the first big thing I've cared enough about to finish in my life. I've been known to change hobbies like underwear but the aprons just felt important to me. The dream stayed with me, night and day, and I found myself happy for the first time in months. My heart glowed with love and renewed purpose and I decided to brand my aprons after my Great-Great Grandmother, Corabela.

My Grandmother tells me she'd be happy to know I'm making aprons in her memory . She was a resourceful farm woman who made aprons, curtains, and everything else by hand. When she needed help making ends meet, she transformed feed sacks into beautiful, delicate doilies and sold them. So it is in the spirit of my Great-Great Grandmother along with Laura Ingalls Wilder and all the other strong, resourceful women of history, that I now strive to live. I'm learning skills at age 30 that most girls of the past started learning at age 5, but I'm on the right path and it feels good.

I'm learning to sew, making handcrafted soap, my husband and I are learning to can and preserve our garden bounty, and we're both learning new crafts. When I first embarked upon this “crafting” journey of sorts, I was disappointed and discouraged that all the craft magazines wanted me to go out and buy a lot of materials to make some crafts that were, honestly, impractical clutter. Not only was that not financially possible, it was also unnecessary, as we have so many extra and unused “things” just lying around. I wanted to create but I wanted to do it cheaply and efficiently so I learned to make pastiche candles from the wax I'd saved from old candles. I made custom markable storage containers with leftover chalkboard paint and old salsa jars. And the aprons? They're made from scraps, pillowcases, and mens' button-down shirts...whatever I happen to have around. My paintings are made on old, unwanted canvases or pictures and everything I make has some element of re-purpose or re-use. I believe the current buzzwords for these are “green”, “reclaimed”, and “recycled”. I call it smart use of resources. There's no need to waste, especially when you can't afford to.

But enough about that. I'd like to tell you a little bit about why I fell in love with aprons in the first place and about why, after years of not creating anything, I was suddenly full of a desire to get in touch with the spirit of my fore-mothers and start “making” a life and a home for myself and my husband.

Tune in tomorrow... 


Just Jules said...

ahhhh welcome back!

Annie said...

I have missed you so much! I am happy you have been away doing something you have fallen in love with. I feel the same way about painting and ceramics. Wishing you great luck on this new venture.

GF said...

I'm so proud of you and your Apron!

GF said...

I'm so proud of you and your Apron!

GF said...

GF stand for Greek fishwife in case your are wondering. Thats another can of worms for a longer email:)

corabela said...

Thanks Jules! Thanks Annie! And thank you as well GF. Yes...I was wondering about the GF. Still wondering. ??? : ) I have a lot of catching up to do!

Char said...

welcome back - I'm liking the looks of the new place

and i love that apron

Anonymous said...

Laura, you can only imagine how my jaw dropped when I read your words about how it feels to consider getting a job, it was as though you'd read my thoughts and put them to paper and it kind of shook me 'till I realized, perhaps it's a blessing being kindred spirits, like-minded women that share a common experience with the "world"
I found your blog from your post on MaryJane's Farmgirl Connection, where, again it's wonderful to share with like-minded women of faith. Anyway, I am so looking forward to more of your posts and your blog! We can continue to encourage each other in our financial goals and our lifestyle goals as well.

corabela said...

Wow!!! I'm so glad you commented on that! I knew it sounded a little dramatic and over the top, but it was pure honesty. And actually, maybe even a bit understated. It's nice to meet you, whoever you are. : )

I'm so grateful for MJF. I've found so many kindred spirits.

Send me an email at corabela@gmail.com if you want. I'd love to encourage each other. : )

red-handed said...

Aprons. I get it.

Maggie May said...

wonderful to let your story go!