Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Be Like the Squirrel: Personalized Applique Pillow

Summer's fading into autumn and the sun is gearing up to hibernate behind the Seattle rainclouds for the next 9 months.  No more excuses for me to play out in the sun all day.  Time to make like a little squirrel, gather up all of my project ideas like little acorns, and prepare for a winter sequester in my sewing nest.  My most recent project was accomplished in one day over the weekend, pictures snapped of it before being wrapped up in a brown paper package and mailed off to my dear friend Kevin.  This would be a housewarming gift for him.

Kevin and I go way back in our friendship.  Somewhere between the Never-Never-Land phase and Reality Bites phase of our early adulthoods, we crossed paths as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen at the University of Cincinnati.  We lived on the same floor at Daniels Residence Hall and upon meeting Kevin, I was instantly drawn to his whimsical, spontaneous, goofy energy.  I still chuckle thinking back about how he decorated his dorm room-- he brought with him to college a box of random props:  action figurines from McDonald Happy Meals of years past, Pizza Hut promotional sunglasses, and a whole array of other nonsense.  Whenever I hung out with Kevin, our inner creative children intertwined in a carefree playfulness- sometimes to the point that it would confuse or piss off innocent bystanders.  We laughed the same laugh & spoke the same language....and if that's the case, I must have had a thick Long Island accent (like Kevin's) in a past life.
Props to from Kevin:
L: Graduation Gift?  No(kia)-sir-ree!! Fischer Price plastic red toy phone (with drinking straw antennae) will do for now.
R: Kevin struts out in Over The Rhine (Cincinnati) in a dapper ensemble of red plastic lei, gold caution tape, and green Elton John-esque specs- karma, karma chameleon!
Through all those years since we met, Kevin and I have remained close friends even if we've lived at opposite ends of the Continental U.S.  I guess we're stuck with each other.  And when you throw my bestie Meredith into this mix, it's just madness and mayhem.  I'm surprised we haven't been committed to an institution yet.

I know when I pick up the phone to talk with Kevin, I'll be hanging up with abs of steel and a weak bladder.  Soon after talking with him, my trials & tribulations are quickly forgotten & become trivial.  We entertain each other with silly stories about life's conundrums that we encounter as we leave the state of Reality Bites and venture off to the silly, nonsensical tangents of Never-Never-Land.  Serious belly-laughter to the point of almost peeing your pants can be a real pick-me-up after a lousy day of being an adult. ;)
Sometimes shopping cart donuts in the parking lot with Kevin are a real mood booster too.
Recently, Kevin made a big hop from New York City to Cincinnati.  After years of dealing with the stressful hustle-bustle of Manhattan, Kevin preferred to live in a more relaxed environment and moved back to the Midwest.  Opportunity came knocking on my door, and I decided to make him a housewarming present for his new Cincy digs.

So back to the drawing board I went and off to the sewing machine....

And voila-- an applique of a Snaggle-toothed Monster Squirrel ready to pounce on a cityscape was created in Kevin's honor!

Squirrels have become another goofy addition to my friendship with Kevin.  Ok, that sounds kinda weird, I admit, but there's always a story behind it.  It started when Kevin and I went back home to my parents house.  My parents lived 25 minutes north of U.C., I had wheels, and we were frequent visitors whenever dorm food or top ramen wasn't sounding like an appetizing option.  We must have been chilling in the family room watching TV when Kevin discovered a stuffed squirrel just chilling in the branches of a plant.  This was not a plush squirrel, it was a stuffed squirrel that my little brother made in a summer activity class on Taxidermy.  Rather than it collect dust in the attic, My parents would just let it perch in their plant to show off my brother's talent.  Once Kevin got a hold of it, you would have thought this was the next best thing since sliced bread!!  
So when I was shopping at an outlet mall a few months later, I came across a life-size plastic squirrel figurine at the Nature Company's outlet store.  Ah, perfect I thought!  It was on clearance and I knew Kevin would love it.  I walked past it on the shelf to grab one and as soon as I walked by, I heard a little squirrel garble-chuckle noise.  When I reached for the box it came packaged in, I read that this was a motion detector squirrel that gave off a little squirrelly-chirp when it sensed motion.  Oh man, even more perfect!!!  I could only imagine the hi-jinks that would ensue once this squirrel was in the hands of prankster Kevin.
And the squirrel shenanigans did ensue......almost costing Kevin a job.  Kevin was working in the office of the EPA in Cincinnati on one of his co-ops, or internships, during college.  He brought the motion detector squirrel to work one day and when no one was looking, shoved it up inside the ceiling panels in the office.  For almost a week, Kevin had gotten away with bloody murder as people would hear this mysterious little chirp and have no idea where it was coming from.  I can't remember the exact details, but I want to say maintenance was called on a few separate occasions to search for the root of the chirpy noises.  All the staff were perplexed and the whole office was disrupted.  Finally the squirrel was found up inside the ceiling and Kev's boss was not laughing anymore.  Kevin got a stern talking-to, but luckily didn't lose his job.  
Anytime I see a squirrel, I can't help but think of Kevin.  I decided that his housewarming gift had to be a squirrel.

Just as Kevin returns to Cincinnati.....The Squirrel invades the city, once again!
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One thing I've appreciated about my friendship with Kevin, is that when I'm around him I can drop all of my adult problems and play like a kid again.  I guess you could say I can be like the squirrel.



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