If it's Monday, shouldn't it be a "Small Works Report" of some kind?

A report on my whereabouts, perhaps?

(painting the master bedroom. boring. but done!)

Or how about:

Still cold here . . .

I think I should start giving the
Small Works Daily Cold Report,

which basically means that for the next 9 months I'll sign in every day and post "Still cold here . . ."

It could be a wonderful exploration of people's tolerance, because while the Minnesotans might continue to tune in (weather reports leave us breathless with excitement), most of the world would yawn and then by about the third day click onto something better.

Which would leave me both cold AND lonely, a condition even a million Bonanza reruns couldn't cure. So on second thought I'm going to abandon the Small Works Daily Cold Report and wrack my brains for a better idea.

When I was a kid and I was overcome with ennui (which was just about whenever I finished the book I was reading, in other words OFTEN because Nancy Drew books don't require a whole lot of time)

I used to turn to books about making stuff.

There were three in particular that I would pore over for hours, dreaming of re-creating the incredible, and seemingly unattainable, projects presented therein.

One of my favorites was the Childcraft "Make & Do" Volume. I've been searching online for a copy for some time but have never encountered one of the correct vintage. It was full of all kinds of wonderful projects and launched me on a thousand afternoons of new potential careers.

I was for a short time, and by turn, a:

1) professional soap carver

2) puppet maker, and

3) fashioner of dollhouse furnishings
from empty pudding boxes.

I also entertained the idea of attempting the "Build a Periscope!" project on a regular basis, but felt I lacked the technical expertise (and small mirror) required.

One of my other favorite dream books was
the "Betty Crocker Boys & Girls Cook Book":

From this book I attempted many recipes (a few of the cookies made it into my permanent collection), but many of the projects there remained out of reach as well.

For instance, the grandeur of the "Castle Cake" made me sigh with wistful desire for out-of-my-league coolness -- it always seemed like something my groovy older sister might be able to make, but not I.

It's interesting to note that when I grew up to be someone who actually designed silly wish-book projects, my unrequited fascination with the "Castle Cake" finally paid off the day an editor requested this:

Hundreds of hours spent trying to wrap my brain around the "Castle Cake" gave me a good idea where to begin on the "Sandcastle Centerpiece." And the flags were a dead knock-off (sorry, Betty Crocker!)

What were we just saying about borrowing good ideas . . . ?

The third book that shaped my childhood hours of wishful thinking and grand, largely-unrealized plans recently popped back into my life serendipitously and is going to be the topic of the next

Small Works Dreams
and Largely-Unrealized Plans Report

(much catchier than the "Daily Cold Report")

for which I hope you'll tune in -- I promise not to mention whether or not it is cold (it will be) and how I feel about that fact (I hate it).

Instead I will offer a thoughtful discussion about the funny things we think about ourselves as children and the funny effect it has on what we do with the rest of our lives, or on what we think about what we do with our lives . . .

or in other words, how childish misconceptions about out-of-our-league coolness can (and do) often keep us from realizing our creative dreams.

Confused? Me too, obviously.
But we'll talk about that next time . . .


luanne said...

"the funny things we think about ourselves as children and the funny effect it has on what we do with the rest of our lives..."

now when you say FUNNY, is that funny as in HAHA, or funny as in STRANGE?

looking forward to your further musings on this latest chewy topic. my experience is that you'd have to be a real houdini to fully escape the haunting constraints of early-formed self images, no matter how incomplete or distorted they may be.

but hey, it's still worth a try!

p.s. this would be a great guacamole lunch discussion topic...

susan m hinckley said...

THIS WOULD BE A GREAT DAY FOR A GUACAMOLE LUNCH!! Regardless of the topic . . . as long as it isn't raining (still or again?) where you are, which I assume it isn't.

VO said...

Luanne, great choice of words: Chewy topic.

Most of my memories are divided by want to do and practical to do.

I have very fond memories of the World Book Encyclopedia and the Childcraft books. I think ours was circa 1963. I wish I still had them. I pored over them for hours on end.

And Popular Mechanics. Always fun stuff in there even if I could never, ever get my hands on the materials to build what they proposed.

Allie said...

I never had enough Nancy Drew books. Even when I had them all. I wasn't crafty at all as a child - my mom was, and that stopped me. But it must've been in my genes all along.

Daryl said...

Wasn't Childcraft a series of books that accompanied the World Book Encyclopedia? I remember something just like you are describing, and I can picture it on the encyclopedia rack in the den in the house where I grew up. Hmmmm.... I LOVED those books. The projects were really inspiring. And I had that cookbook as well! Thanks for the memories!

susan m hinckley said...

I think you're right that Childcraft was somehow connected to World Book (and our Childcraft set was also mid 1960's, plain grey/green covers) although at our house we had the Encyclopedia Britannica. Speaking of which, that's something today's kids are missing out on. Sure, the internet is great, but isn't there something wonderful about an encyclopedia set?

All the knowledge of the world sitting together on one shelf?!

My father read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica while he was still a young boy, and either retained it all or just learned how to SOUND like he had retained it all. I'm impressed to this day.

VO said...

Childcraft was an extra that you could purchase (at a special price) if you bought the World Book Encyclopedia. I loved, loved the entire set. I used to read both of them.

Nancy said...

Oh my goodness, I used to OBSESS over the Childcraft Make and Do volume too! And the poetry one. I'm not even sure what the other volumes were about! My parents may still have the childcraft set floating around somewhere... you should ask them what happened to it! (although I do remember that volume 15, the index, was destroyed by Aaron and I when we were playing "update the Jeppson maps". We were strange children.)

susan m hinckley said...

Aha, Nancy! I always knew we were kindred spirits! And if you had to destroy a volume, thanks for choosing the index. But I'm not sure we had the poetry volume . . . ? I've got to think on that for awhile. And I'm going to ask your mom if they're still floating around at your house. Cheers!

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