Rainy Day Occupations, McDonald’s, and Playing with Fire

The torrential rains today made me glad to be inside, safe and dry, even if I was at McDonald’s.  In the kid’s playground area.  

I’d driven to meet my friend Myra and it’s convenient to meet her there so that her three-year-old son has much to occupy him.  Myra and I play together too — making jewelry, talking about jewelry, and just talking in general.  We’ve talked for years about finding the time to do this kind of thing.  Now that she’s not working (though Lord knows taking care of a three-year-old and a 17-year-old is work), she has time, and I’m retired.  Perfect for finding time to make jewelry.

It’s not as though we couldn’t do it at home, individually.  Sometimes, though, it’s fun to be involved in crafting (or whatever) with a friend.  Ideas can be sparked by something the other person says or makes.  Another set of eyes can make a huge difference with a design or selection of stones.

Besides, it’s just fun.  And too often we forget as we are all involved in being adults that play is such enjoyment. We know that as children.  Remember the absolute glee with which you once threw yourself into some game or project when others were involved?  

So it’s not too strange, after all, to see a 40-something and a 62-year-old in a McDonald’s playroom with all their “toys” on a table, chatting away, laughing, and stringing together stones and beads with wire.  We fit right in with the two- and three-year-olds in the same area who are scrambling around the various objects, squealing with delight, climbing up into the tubes, and sliding down.  We’re just a bit more . . . adult. . . about it.

The rain made such a perfect setting for a playdate.  It was rather gray and drab outside, dark at times — and that was before the deluge hit.  Torrents of rain fell so fast that the streets flooded in areas.  There was at least a small break in the rain when Myra and her son arrived, so by the time it started up again we were already hard at play.

At times, I admit, our jewelry get-togethers turn out to be more like talk-fests.  We jabber away and our hands don’t work too much.  Those times it seems that the jewelry is just an excuse.  After carefully unloading our various boxes and bags of gems and stones and other beads, our wires and tools, we sit and talk more than anything else, but today wasn’t like that.

It was in fact a pretty productive day today, even though we chattered away.  Myra’s been working on bracelets, something I’m interested in but haven’t really tackled yet.  I keep meaning to, but my hands end up making earrings.

Which may not be that surprising, actually, to a number of friends.  I am, I confess, an earring junkie.  I collect earrings.  Long, dangly ones.  Hoops.  Small single stone studs.  And I wear multiple earrings since I have multiple piercings — four on my left earlobe and three on my right.  

Colors and stones and wires just want to get made up into something that I can imagine wearing.  That’s the problem, too.  I want to keep a copy of almost everything I end up making.  Or I give them to friends.  Or to my sister.  These, I cleverly label as “prototypes.”  Sounds good, right?  

So today I kept working on variations of a dangling earring design I came up with — involving one or two types of gemstones, of a couple of sizes, with sterling silver beads, strung on sterling silver wire that is in turn wrapped up and around the beads.  Sometimes I add a little Celtic swirl of wire.  Then I finish the earrings off with sterling silver French wires.  

This week’s near-frenzy of earring-making was set off when a friend asked if I could make her something with lapis and other blue stones.  I experimented.  I ended up with three variations just of lapis and apatite, lapis and blue chalcedony, and lapis and turquoise.  Then I expanded to ruby and pearl and citrine drops.  And emerald and aventurine.  I made at least two pairs with each design.

Fiddling around with some other beads today after I’d coiled enough wire to make my fingers hurt, I decided to use some lapis hearts I’d been hoarding.  Four pairs later, I had strung together a pearl, a lapis bead, a sterling silver bead, and the lapis heart, ending with a Celtic-like swirl of wire.  Finished off with French wires, the first pairs are complete.

Some weeks I don’t do much at all.  Now that I’m on a roll, I hope to continue a day or two a week, especially if Myra and I can get together.  I’ve discovered that if I keep some materials handy, in a bag or two in my car, I can pull them out at Starbucks or McDonald’s even if no one else is with me and happily spend an hour or two crafting away.

This is a perfect occupation for a rainy day like today.  With all of the water flooding the streets and the rain pelting people who had to get someplace, I had no desire to be anywhere else.  At least, not to get outside while it was still raining. By the time the rain had stopped, and Myra had to go to pick up her 17-year-old from school, I was ready to go home.

By then, the fact that McDonald’s playroom was cold enough to hang meat in had taken its toll — and I felt frozen and achy,  as though I’m trying to come down with a cold.  I simply came home, put on my nightgown, and crawled into bed in the middle of the afternoon.  I can do that now, happily, without fear of missing class or anything.  I read for a while.  I had bread and cheese.  I napped.  I went on to Facebook.  I read.  I napped.

That’s the beauty of rainy-day time.  The freedom to play with friends, to read, to sleep as the sound of rain soothes me.

In all the years I’ve worked, I’ve dreamed of time for various crafts and hobbies.  Now that I’m retired, I’m indulging in trying them out.  My friend Connie and I took a watercolor collage class.  Myra and I make jewelry.  I’m prepared to try to make soap soon.  To repurpose furniture.  

Clearly, I watch way too much HGTV and other channels with shows about home improvement and crafting.

Hobbies, though, are so important, so necessary.  Maybe we adults call them “hobbies” so that we can dress up what we’re really doing — playing.  It sounds more responsible somehow.  

But whatever you call them, hobbies keep us involved, make us think, produce things, and entertain us.  They’re our outlet to the playground fun of childhood.

So I look around and think of all the jewelry projects I’m working on, about the projects I’m ready to try in new crafts.  New outlets, new experiences. Expansion.

Other projects are ready for me — not just jewelry.  I’ve got a writing project to start, one for a small company.  I’ll be writing a history of the company, and first I’ll have to sort through lots of photos.  Maybe that’s something I’ll work on tomorrow.

Of course, there’s always the attraction of something new to play with.  Myra and I both were talking about the need to move on to soldering, something that will expand what we can make.  We laughed about it to a friend of mine who wandered into the playground today to talk, and each of us confessed to her that we had equipment and tools we’d not yet used. 

So we promised each other — soon we’d make a playdate just to work with soldering.  Of course, I want her husband there to guide us — he does know how to solder, though not with jewelry.  I figure having some (other) adult there with actual knowledge can’t hurt.

Oh, and I think it might be a good idea if he has a fire extinguisher.  

We’ll be playing with fire, after all.  

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