Cleaning Jen’s Studio, I Found My Gift


It was a beautiful, warm and breezy day outside yesterday, but my daughter Jennifer and I were staying in because of her Grade 4 allergy. Grade 4 doesn’t sound so bad until you learn that you are not using a 1-10 scale. You are using a 1-4 scale. Oh.

Jen had been suffering for a week with a runny nose, scratchy eyes, everything you hear about on the TV commercials for seasonal remedies, and she had finally gone to an allergist to pin down the culprit. They poked her back with 60 toothpicks, each one laced with a different potential allergen. They tried everything from soup to nuts and watched to see which ones made her swell up.

As it turned out, there was only one. It was the nuts. Jen is allergic to walnut trees — and a 40-footer grows just outside her bedroom window. The tree will eventually be taken down, but for relief in the meantime, the doctor prescribed steroids. So yesterday we stayed in until we could see if they had any effect.

We decided to tackle a big project — cleaning up her studio.

Studios, craft rooms, sewing corners — these are the places to which people love to retreat. Yet the time we spend in them is short and, therefore, not wasted on cleaning. For Jennifer, today was the day.

While dusting off a bank of lower shelves, I came across an unpainted, unglazed clay thing that resembled a teapot without its lid. I collect unusual teapots so I held it up and asked, “What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s your birthday present. Haven’t you seen it before?”

“Should I have? I don’t remember getting this, and my birthday was in February.”

“Oh, I’m not talking about this year. I made that in high school.”

My daughter has been out of high school for 17 years, so I proceeded with caution. “OK. Which of my birthdays is it for?”

Nope. Not enough caution. “Well, you see, it’s not done! Maybe if I ever get any free time! Maybe if I ever get this studio cleaned up! Maybe if…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! I was just saying it looked kinda neat, like something I would like.”

“Oh.” She took it from me and turned it around and around. “It’s a cash register. I made it because you were just setting up your store. Did you see the lid?” She reached into a drawer. “The lid looks like dollar bills and change piled up.”

“Jen, that is so cute. I can’t wait to have it.”

Again, not enough caution. “It’s not the kind of thing you can rush! You’d have it now but I had to go to college, get an engineering degree, get a job, travel to China!”

“I’m not saying rush! Take your time! I’ll try to cling to life until you finish!” I snapped.

Then it dawned on me — the steroids. They were working. As for me, I had no excuse.