Ida's Craft Corner
Now, I don’t know if you know, but the Women Who Run With the Moose, (Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot, Shirley and me) are big into crafts. We just love to get together and cut, paste, and hot-glue. Then we put sequins on everything to cover up the boo-boos! We usually spend half the year trying out different ideas, see if anything flies. When we find one with potential, we focus on that for the last half of the year, in preparation for the Christmas Bazaar down to St. Hyacinth’s.
I come up with our item last year and it was pure inspiration, if I do say so myself. It happened one night when Charlie and me were sitting there watching the tube, a rerun of Perry Mason. You know how they always wore hats back then? I’m talking hats, not caps. There’s something about a man in a fedora. A blaze orange hunting cap just doesn’t have quite the same charm, if you catch my drift.
So anyway, we’re watching Perry Mason, and back then every house had a hat tree, right? So I’m thinking, “Look at that hat tree. I haven’t seen one of them in a dog’s age.” And then it come to me, just like that, out of the blue: hat tree. Hat tree!
I could hardly wait to get down to the Ben Franklin Crafts. That’s where I found these little trees, about a foot tall, white with bare branches, already on their own stand. Then I could not believe my eyes when I saw these little doll hats that were pretty much the right size. Some things were just meant to be!
So, I brought the stuff home and set to work fabricating a proto-type. I made the executive decision to develop this one on my own. I mean, I saw it so clear in my head. I knew once I put one together, I’d render everyone speechless with my brilliance! I did all the detailing of the hats myself: paint, ribbons, sparkles, sequins. Then I used hot glue to attach the little hats to the tree branches. I sprayed everything with a fine dusting of snow, and voila! Hat tree! Hat tree. Oh God, it was adorable! I couldn’t wait to show Charlie and the girls!
Charlie was out in the driveway, working under his truck. “Charlie,” I says, careful not to startle him. “I think I came up with our craft project for the Christmas Bazaar.”
Charlie wiggles out from under the truck, and studies my creation.
“What is it?” he asks.
“It’s a hat tree. Get it? Hat tree!”
“OK, but what does it do?”
“Oh, forget it! I’m going to go show the girls.”
That’s when I remember that everyone was out of town, except Rita and Shirley. So, I put my hat tree in a box and hightailed it over to Smitty’s Hardware. That’s where Rita works with her husband, Smitty.
“Hey there, Rita!”
“Ida! Don’t you look nice today. Can I help you find something?”
“No, I’m good. In fact, I’m better then good. I think I came up with our craft project for St. Hyacinths!” I pull the thing out of its box. “Ta da!”
“Cute,” she says. “What is it?”
“It’s a hat tree. Get it? Hat tree! Well, you know, how back in the olden days, people always wore hats, so every house had a hat tree….”
At this point, I’m starting to get a little discouraged! But when I looked at my hat tree, inspiration looked back. I just wasn’t ready to let it go. So, I headed off to Shirley’s, on the edge of town.
I arrive, to find Shirley and her mother Mini in the kitchen. Shirley says, “Sit down, Ida. Take a load off. How about a Diet Coke and some Pringles?”
“Sour cream and onion?
“Is there any other kind?”
Shirley reaches around Mini, who’s busy looking for something in the fridge.
“What are you looking for, Mini?”
“Purple cantaloupe,” she replies.
“Keep looking, Mom. Must be in there somewhere. Ida and me are going out on the sun porch.”
When we were seated, I says to Shirley, “Tough morning?”
“Not one of her better days. She keeps asking to go home. Twice this morning, I put her in the car and drove around the block and then announced we were home. She still wouldn’t settle down, so I asked her to find me a purple cantaloupe. That should keep her busy for awhile.”
“Shirley, you’re a good daughter.”
“Pshaw, enough about me, Ida. What brings you to this neck of the woods?”
“Well, I thought I had come up with our craft project for the Christmas Bazaar, but when I showed it to Charlie and Rita, they didn’t quite get it.”
“What’d you expect, Ida? Charlie’s a man and Rita’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Let me have a look at it.”
I open up the box. “You’re my last hope, Shirley. Be gentle. Ta da!”
Shirley stared at it for what seems like an eternity. “Well,” she says, “I’m seeing a tree with little hats on it.”
“That’s right! Hats on a tree, which makes it a…”
“Yes, a hat tree! You got it!”
“Hat tree. Ida, that’s pure inspiration.”
“I think so, too, but will they sell?”
“I’m sure of it,” Shirley says. “I’d buy one. I think we should make some like this, with a wintry theme, and then a bunch with purple trees and red hats.”
“Brilliant, Shirley! Snowdell Holden and her Red Hat crew will just snap those up!”
“They’ll buy anything with a red hat on it!”
And it just took off from there.
I go, “How about seasonal hat trees? A Valentine’s Day one, hats decorated with little hearts?”
“Red, white and blue hats for the Fourth of July! Witches hats on a Halloween tree.”
“A Thanksgiving one featuring little Pilgrim hats and bonnets with a turkey perched on the top.”
“Shirley?” Mini says coming onto the porch. “I can’t find the purple cantaloupe. We must be all out.”
“OK, Mom, I’ll put it on the list. Mom, look what Ida brought over.”
Without skipping a beat, Mini goes, “Oh, isn’t that cunnin’? A hat tree.”
Did the Women Who Run With the Moose get on board the Hat Tree Express? You bet. We must have made about 40 of them. And how many did we sell at the Christmas Bazaar? Two. We ended up giving them away, and even then, some people didn’t want ‘em. Oh my God, did we laugh. What a great bunch of gals! See, that’s the trick. If you have fun doing something, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly the way you planned, you know what? You’ve still had a good time.
And even though we can lose track of it in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, that’s what it’s really all about: sharing good times with friends and family.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side! Listen to Ida's podcast.