Friday, March 24, 2017


While I love all things sparkly and colorful, there is a mysterious magic in the invisible that somehow makes me feel powerful. Not in any superhero sort of way, though that might be kind of fun to have the power to disappear on demand. In fact, come to think of it, it could be a form of grace to find that, at certain awkward moments in my social life, I could just instantly vanish without having to make any apologies or excuses.
The kind of invisible I am thinking of involves inanimate objects.
When I was eight or nine years old we had the great joy of being given free reign of the basement while mom was cooking dinner or preparing a church lesson. There was an accommodating set of banisters on the basement stairs, which became horses when needed. The stairs became covered wagons. And we had a chalkboard down there at one point, and our Barbie houses. And, kudos to Mom for this, she would let us keep large boxes, like appliance size, which were thoughtfully re purposed into massive word processor computers or seaworthy boats, depending on our mood and supplies. Also in our basement was a dry bar, which I suspect my non-churchy father would have liked to have stocked, but which our found-her-long-lost-faith mother filled with other stuff, like canning supplies and office supplies and sewing stuff. Once, when I was coloring on the Formica bar top, I noticed a few drops of Elmer’s glue, which had dried. I scraped them off with my fingernail and noticed they were hard; nice little dots of clear plastic. Wow! I decided to try an experiment. I sketched a little picture with colored pencil and laid it in the center of a canning lid. Then I poured Elmer’s Glue on top of it till it reached the little lip on the edge of the lid. Each day, for I don’t remember how many days, I checked on the progress, until the glue had dried and the picture at the bottom showed through the invisible “plastic”. I peeled it out of the lid and voila! I attached a safety pin to the back and had myself a pin. Not that I’d wear it anywhere, but I had one nonetheless. Next I took some embroidery floss and formed it into a geometric swirl, covered with glue. The mystery was in that the glue was white when wet, but it dried clear. I think somewhere down in my basement is that groovy swirly button I made. A little paint or food coloring mixed with the glue made lovely swirls for pendants and other bobbles. Poor Mom. She probably wondered what happened to her supply of glue.
I also have a thing for invisible fishing line. Not only for the magic of faking out fish to think that the worms I threaded on a hook at the end of the line were indigenous to the fishing hole, but for its versatility around the house. Years ago I created a Halloween decoration for our front porch, which included a Styrofoam wig head, a witches hat, a plastic mask, a black negligee’ bought at a garage sale (nope, Dave never saw it on me) and a nice long strand of ten pound invisible fishing line. I screwed a few eye hooks into the frame of our front door and front porch ceiling. I assembled the witch and threaded the invisible line through the Styrofoam head, then up through the witches hat. I then threaded the line through the eye hooks and attached the other end of the line to the top of our front door.
When Trick or Treaters rang the doorbell, the witch rose from a heap on the ground and swung forward on the invisible thread, scaring little costumed neighbors nearly out of their wits. It was a grand hit! My engineer-uncle Richard thought it so clever he suggested we should market it.
Later, when I was in charge of bulletin boards at Knowlton Elementary, I used the same theory to create animated bulletin boards in the school lobby. I used unfolded paper clips, embedded in the composition board ceilings to thread fishing line attached to the school doors. In the winter months I had little bent-kneed skiers connected to the line. They went up and down cotton-topped mountains constructed in 3D. The fun thing about using invisible wire in a school is there were multiple doors and could therefore be multiple lines going to multiple skiers. Kids could stand at the bulletin boards and watch the flow and motion as other kids opened doors. In the spring I created colorful pots, from which little flowers would rise when the doors were opened. And Kites that would fly up and down in the breeze of doors opening and closing. I tell ya, I had an awful lot more fun and fulfillment in that PTA job than when I was president. Serious fulfillment! I had to make sure I was there when school started, or when it let out. That’s where the joy was found! I would sort of have to make myself invisible, looking from the corner of my eyes at those delighted seven year-olds, trying to figure out how those flowers popped up and down.
Joy, joy joy!
I think I need to volunteer at the elementary school again. I’m getting stale.

1 comment:

  1. You made my childhood so fun! You continue to make my adulthood just as fun and interesting. Thanks.