In my glory days when I had more energy than sense, my friend Karen and I would frequently work on projects together. We would send the kids off to play outside or in the other room and we would get to work talking constantly and laughing nearly as much. It was good for the body and the soul. Everyone should have a friend like this!
Anyway, on this particular day in October we were making costumes for the All Saints Party. Now you have to know Karen–she is incapable of doing anything ordinary. She has pattern drafting experience and inventor genes in every cell of her body, so these were not just any costumes. We had a Knights of Columbus complete with purple flumed hat,St Elizabeth Ann Seton with black bonnet, and St Elizabeth of Hungary with a red cape and basket of bread. So, when it came to making Kateri Tekiwitha for my 5-year-old, the cheap store-bought Pocahontas costume would simply not do. “Oh! You should make moccasins.” She said. “What?” I exclaimed, ” How do I make shoes?” Karen was surprised by my lack of experience in shoe making. “Didn’t you make shoes when you were little?” she asked. To which I replied,”Uh, no!” We both laughed and then she went on to explain that she and her 9 siblings all made shoes for fun. Apparently you just need scraps of wood, strips of fabric, a little bit of cardboard and a good stapler. Who knew? So, Karen quickly whips up a pattern without a second thought or the need to measure Alli’s foot. She eyeballs it and tells me to cut it out of the faux leather vinyl and sew it up. Simple. 3 pieces, 3 seams and Presto!! A pair of moccasins. Except that it was me sewing them and not her. Four hours later and several practice moccasins I finally completed my first moccasin. For the record, I CAN sew. It is just that vinyl is not the easiest fabric to work with. It necessitated that I use the commercial machine which sews at the speed of sound and doesn’t discriminate between fabric or finger. It pulls anything under the needle faster than my preschooler can snatch the cookie from the toddler’s hand! So, while the machine pulls the fabric through, it slides around leaving holes in the seams and a very crooked finished product. I wish I had pictures, but this was before smart phones or digital cameras so you will have to take my word for it. Rarely have I ever laughed so much. But, alas, I finally had a finished moccasin! Look! I exclaimed I did it! The kids were laughing. I was laughing. Karen was laughing as she tried to encourage me in her sweet and humble way. “No. That’s good. You did a good job. Now just make another one.” Never one to pass up a good laugh, I said “We should go into business together. Mach Moccasins. How much would I need to charge if I can whip one out every four hours?” It is always fun to get Karen laughing because she can’t stop and she tries to talk and laugh at the same time. “Mach Moccasin,” she corrected, “You don’t even have a pair yet!” And I’ve never lived it down. Every time I come up with a great idea, she says “from the makers of Mach Moccasin . . .” Yes, everyone needs a friend like this. She keeps me humble and laughing and she taught me how to make my own shoes–apparently a skill every child should learn.