Our instructors were two ridiculously cute and tiny Cambodian women. We were barely into the project before one of them disappeared momentarily and then returned bearing large green coconuts almost as big as she was with straws stuck in the top. So we alternately sucked coconut milk and cranked away on these pre-Columbian (well, almost) sewing machines. The cement dust flew, the machines chugged, and the 2 foot long rusty scissors/thread snippers were passed around among the three of us. The bags took shape, we sweated, and our miniature teachers patiently rethreaded the machines. I need only insert one word here for the reader (who has also sewed) to fully grasp (and probably begin twitching) the true terror of these machines---T-E-N-S-I-O-N. .. Now that you are THERE with us, you would also have appreciated the spontaneous belly laughs from our instructors when I discovered my writing was upside down on the back of the bag, so I slapped a big old pocket on it. They thought that was just hysterically hilarious. Incidentally, these cement bags are $39 on etsy thank-you-very-much. I'm so rarely cutting edge.
(Madd, you're losing them. Keep it moving!)
Sooo, now you know why last Saturday as we were touring the ancient village of Xinchang, it was completely serendipitous that I would chance upon a pile of abandoned bags tucked away in a dirty corner which just SCREAMED to be recycled into bags! AND THAT'S HOW I DISCOVERED THAT MY MOTHER, MARTHA TAGGART, HAD STOWED AWAY IN MY LUGGAGE AND HAD BEEN IN CHINA ALL ALONG! Making bags out of recycled cement and pig feed bags would have been as natural as sneezing for her. She was the reigning QUEEN (am I overdoing the caps?) of turning unlikely materials (clay pigeons, baby food jars, drapery samples etc.) into candle holders, vases, and bell bottom pants etc. She reached her zenith when my grandmother's nylon Sunday dresses (polka dots, flowers, paisleys) ended up as unmentionables in my underwear drawer! I tell you, the woman was gifted. Can I blame her for the pig feed sack smelling up our little laundry room? I think that's appropriate. Perhaps that whistler through the stone wall who has been the background music of life here for 7 months is also channeling my father. Just one question--who else hopped into our bags at the last moment?