I went to Nowhere yesterday to visit Donna, a friend with whom I used to work. Nowhere is located about 30 miles from where I live. It calls itself a city, though its central business district of about two square blocks is nowhere as large or built up as what most of us would expect from a city, and its population is nowhere as big as that of the school district where we worked. Though I have driven around many communities in this area, I had never driven to Nowhere on my own. (I once played navigator for another friend who did the driving, but despite the directions we received, Nowhere was nowhere to be found until after we had made several SOS calls.)
And speaking of the directions, they were very complete and theoretically should aid anyone arriving from Oregon, Idaho or Canada by car, bicycle, motorcycle or even on foot (there’s the back roads route). The only form of transportation omitted was airplane, which also could have gotten me there, since there is a small airport near Donna’s house. Each set of directions came with a short evaluative statement, such as, “This the long way.” My favorites were, “For the very brave,” and “For those who wish to earn a Purple Heart, posthumously.” I traveled there on the route designated, “For those who know the area, lack confidence in maneuvering through the hodgepodge of freeways, and don’t mind taking a slight detour on regular roads,” and returned home using the same set of directions, but this time on the hodgepodge of freeways. The trip was traumatic but uneventful, traumatic because I hate getting lost in the middle of Nowhere.
The purpose of my journey — here comes the embarrassing part — was to have Donna, who is a superb seamstress, help me make a few sock animals. Why, you ask, would someone without young children or grandkids stoop to making sock animals? It all started with a blog posting, which described the stresses of a then-Washington Post journalist named Brenna Maloney who was made editor of the financial section of the paper at the beginning of the financial meltdown and turned to creating sock animals in reaction to spending hours each day out trying to master such concepts as derivatives, credit default swaps, and hedge funds. She wrote a how-to book, “socks appeal,” with photos of the cutest little starfish, cats, lions, hedgehogs, penguins and other critters she had made. I was in the holiday spirit and had two weeks off from any responsibilities. What a fun project, I thought. They look so easy to make, I could make one of each, give them away, do whatever I felt like doing with them. Donna and I had a set an early date, but kept changing it until the holidays were past and my holiday spirit had gone the way of the dinosaur (which, by the way, was not one of the animals Maloney created.) Here are photos of the two “practice” animals we made — a snake and a penguin — “practice” meaning we used the socks with the most boring designs and made a lot of mistakes. I think I’ll keep trying though, especially given the number of socks I already purchased for this project. In my case practice will not make perfect, but I found out that hand sewing is kind of fun to do and maybe some day this exercise will prepare me for a bigger project, like a dinosaur… or even a sock monkey.