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Today has been a really great day. One of the main reasons I’m enjoying it so much is because days like this seldom happen. For starters, I’m off work and it’s perfect fall weather. The sun is golden and warm breezes  blow through the open doors and windows of the house. It’s also a good day because I realized something important about plain old me.

I’m not extraordinarily well-educated, nor am I a world traveler, unless you count the many vacations I’ve enjoyed via friends’ Facebook photos. I’ve never done anything great or accomplished a monumental feat. Instead, what I am is a fairly down-to-earth collection of small abilities and random bits of knowledge and that’s okay. More than okay, actually, because these small, random, practical things come to my rescue on many occasions. Today was one such day.

This morning I decided to pull out a rug that I really love but haven’t used in awhile. This rug, hooked by hand using strips of woolen cloth, is about eighty years old. Unfortunately, one of those cloth strips was pulled loose and needed to be repaired.

IMG_0353When I was a child my mother hooked rugs. Mennonite ladies did things like that in their spare time during the winter. I remember being intrigued by the process: poke the hook down through a hole in the burlap, grab the strip of cloth, then pull it up to make a little hump the same height as the one beside it. Coloured pictures grew on the brown burlap as my mother worked, like in the photograph below. It seemed to take no effort at all.RugAfter much pestering she let me give it a go, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked to get those loops exactly the same height. I remember that she actually left me alone to try a row of the background colour on my own. I think it went fairly well but she may have a different recollection. Whatever the outcome, I’ve always wanted to learn rug hooking. I even picked up a hook once, but I’ve never made the rug.

Today that hook came in handy.

IMG_0355In just a few minutes I was able to put that strip of wool back where it belonged — although not quite as nice as the original — and the rug was ready to be used.

IMG_0356I think it looks nice at the bottom of the stairs, don’t you?

IMG_0365Which leads me to another reason why today is so great. Do you see the wooden thing sitting in the corner in the photo above? It belonged to my grandfather, a harness maker by trade.

Awhile ago, I bought a piece of leather and some coordinating fabric with the idea that I’d like to try making a purse. Over the past few weeks I’ve done research on sewing with leather. I’ve looked at pattern after pattern, finally deciding on one that should work for me. Now, on this beautiful, golden afternoon, I’m ready to cut into that leather (she said confidently). While I sew, you can bet that I’ll be remembering my heritage and feeling thankful for all of the random, useful skills I’ve acquired.

I’d like to hear about some of yours.



Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

4 thoughts on “A BAG OF RANDOM SKILLS

  1. Random, useful skills. It depends how one defines them. Some skills are so normal for some of us that its a real eyeopener to find out that not everyone has them. Like cooking from scratch. Apparently nowadays “from scratch” has a totally different meaning than it did for our mothers and for us. I cook from scratch in the old-fashioned sense of yesteryear. I make my own coffee. That’s not a common skill these days. I darn holey socks, and do a darn good job of it, too. I find it a relaxing and soothing activity. I can change a shower-head, change the oil in my car, rewire a lamp, give my lawnmower a tuneup, bleed radiators (does anyone even know what THAT means, anymore?), install a kitchen sink or a dishwasher or a new counter-top. I know a trick to fix a door that swings open voluntarily when it should stay shut. A trick taught me by an old Amish man. Now that’s random.

  2. It was a lovely day yesterday, wasn’t it? I think another of your random skills is the ability to slow down and appreciate a perfect day. Sadly, not everyone can do that. I am impressed that you were able to fix that hooked rug. Not having any crafty random skills, I probably would have cut off the offending bit and been left with a gaping hole. I’m a lot like you and Emily. I like to do things myself. I feel great sense of accomplishment admiring a freshly painted room or a new rack for my canoe paddles, knowing that I did them myself. Lately, I have become an expert at splitting and stacking wood. Watching the wood shed fill up is extremely satisfying. On the other hand, having the overflow skids fill up with 25 trees still to cut, is a bit of a nail-biter. Just goes to show, that ife is an adventure, a never-ending journey of discovery, and I think your post captured that perfectly.

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