Again with the Country Home?

I know. I already posted my sadness at the demise of two of my favorite magazines practically back-to-back: Cottage Living and Country Home. But my last issue (the last issue) of Country Home just arrived and it made me even sadder.

country-home-april-20091It was thin as I fished it out of the mailbox, and I thought, “Well, they must not have been able to afford much.” But on the contrary, it’s one of the best issues I’ve ever seen — every story interesting and well photographed. Thin because it wasn’t full of ads — just story after story. It was great, and it’s a bummer not to have it to look forward to every month.

 A big paper wrapper over the cover announced my subscription would be filled by…Family Circle? Nothing against Family Circle but it’s not quite the same. My Cottage Living subscription, at least, is being filled by Southern Living, which is another wonderful magazine, so I’m OK with that, even though the garden stuff isn’t much help up here in Zone 5.

I was fortunate to be able to pick up the 3 2005 issues of Cottage Living I was missing on eBay — all 3 in a lot of 5. Plus I managed to resell the 2 I didn’t need. So now I have a nice collection of inspiration to pull out on a rainy day or a daydreamy day or a creative-wannabe day.

Along those lines, Mike and I saw a very basic sewing machine at Big Lots last Friday (reconditioned), and when we got a 20 percent off coupon at check-out good for yesterday only, I knew I would buy it. (I did a quick search of online reviews for that model, and many people said, “I was looking for a basic, first machine for my 8-year-old…” so I knew it would work for me.)

9318simplicityI took sewing in jr. high and high school, with hilarious results. I remember making a gaucho-jumpsuit contraption (picture it — not quite like this but similarly awful) that instead of fitting my size 5 or 7 teenage body fit my mother at about a size 12. Oh, and there was that yellow calico ruffled pillow from 7th grade sewing I used for quite a while in my room. That was OK.

What I’m thinking of is more along the lines of the pillow — we’ll see how it goes. Mike (encouragingly) said, “Oh good, now you’ll be able to make curtains and things…” Oh you poor misguided man. Having grown up with a mother who is an excellent seamstress, he has no idea of the skill required and that I haven’t a clue. (One look at the gaucho-jumpsuit and he’d understand.)

But still, there’s a creative, crafty soul inside me somewhere — why else would I be drawn to the things I’m drawn to? (Or else, there’s a 1950s housewife in there — I’ve always said I’d be perfectly happy in that role.) Even if the results are too embarrassing to reveal, at least I’ll have fun trying. That’s today’s plan anyway.

There is nothing in a caterpillar
that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.
                                 ~ Buckminster Fuller

So, is it time for that change yet?

I’m not the first or only one to say this (I rarely am). But isn’t it time for that change we kept hearing about? Specifically, isn’t it time for the powers-that-be to stop dwelling on how awful things are and start leading the charge? (And I don’t mean with plastic.)

I get it. The economy is bad. It’s likely to get worse. Much of the retirement fund I spent the last 20 years building is gone. I won’t be able to afford to retire or to have long-term care when I simply can’t make my fingers push the keys anymore. I GET IT.

And so did the powers-that-be — to the tune of $787 billion. 

Isn’t it time, finally, for some encouragement from our leaders?

…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…. (FDR)

Isn’t it time for reassurance that we still live in the greatest country the Earth has ever known and we will not let this destroy us?

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender! (Winston Churchill)

Isn’t it time for a little pep talk?

But don’t forget, men — we’re gonna get ’em on the run, we’re gonna go, go, go, go! — and we aren’t going to stop until we go over that goal line! And don’t forget, men — today is the day we’re gonna win. They can’t lick us — and that’s how it goes… The first platoon men — go in there and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight! What do you say, men!  (Knute Rockne)

Isn’t it time for a little positive thinking?

Isn’t it time for Hollywood to get back to its roots?

Isn’t it time to restore our confidence?


Sadly, it seems to be time for more platitudes about tightening our belts (mine, like most Americans’, is too tight already, and it has nothing to do with economizing). And scare tactics. And a lot of preaching, but not a lot of practicing.

I’m a pretty good self-motivator. But in tough times, it would be nice not to have to be.

To lead the people, walk behind them. 
                                      ~ Lao Tzu

Searching for the Island

It’s a little disturbing to watch Rudolph and see how mean Santa and the reindeer coach are — all that bit about not letting Rudolph join in any reindeer games and what a shame it is that his nose is ruining an otherwise high-potential flying career.

Then there’s the whole “Island of Misfit Toys” — that Santa would simply toss aside obviously thinking, feeling toys because of imperfections flies in the face of the benevolent, chuckling, jelly-man we all know and love. And it’s particularly glaring in today’s inclusive, ADA-aware world.

While I’m certainly glad Santa sees the error of his ways by the end of the show, I do think there’s still an island out there waiting for rescue — only it’s not populated by misfit toys but by misfit ideas.

I know every “creative” who’s ever peddled an idea has come away disappointed when some higher-up hasn’t shared the vision. It still hurts to think of the really clever Christmas (errr “holiday”) card my designer partner and I created last year. Perfect image, perfect message. We loved it, the client’s marketing team loved it, but the man signing the checks, not so much. So off it went to the Island, replaced by a generic greeting. Just like that.

And there was that ad from so long ago. Again, designer and writer in perfect harmony. The boss? Out in left field, his usual hangout. So what the client eventually saw (and approved) was not the cool concept we proposed, but one decidely less cool that the boss liked better (his idea, of course).

You learn to toss aside those disappointments and go on. But just imagine the thousands — millions — of really clever, really inventive ideas voted off the table and onto the Island. I can see them out there — waiting desperately to be discovered. To find their place in an ad, brochure, commercial, Web site. To finally be recognized for the bright spots of inspiration they are. That paradise is lost out there — if only I could find it. I’d make sure every one of those sweet little moments found a good home with a creative soul to love and nurture it.

Santa? Rudolph? Yukon Cornelius? Anyone up for a new search-and-rescue?

An idea whose time has come was waiting there all along. 
                                                    ~ Carrie Latet

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