New Year’s Resolution: Purge and tidy sewing room!

It’s January, the perfect time to clear the clutter so I can focus on my new 2016 projects. It would be hard to convince you given the current state of my room, but I love the feeling I get when my home is clean and all the hidden nooks and crannies are tidied, but…

My home has always been the place that most inspires me – even in the mess.

My Life In Buttons

First up, and because they were already out and all over the place, I began with my buttons of which there seemed to be millions. They were in cookie tins, bags and boxes. At least half of these were originally Mum’s; Nana taught her girls to cut buttons off all garments before discarding (also zippers, buckles, special trims, etc.), a practice Mum continued ’til the very end of her life and which Auntie Pam maintains to this very day.

My wanderings down memory lane are often inspired by these buttons… As a wee girl I’d find hours of happy amusement sitting on the floor of Mum’s sewing room and playing in the button tin.  I confess, my joy in this pursuit has never waned. I am a sentimental person with an emotional attachment and memory associated with so many of these buttons. It’s not so much that I value the buttons themselves, it’s the recollections and the stories they invoke that I don’t want to forget. With my resolution at front of mind, I tried hard not to think too hard about the buttons I was eliminating lest that impede my act of letting them go.

Even though it was a complete pain to go through all the button containers, it was the best feeling in the world when they were confined to 5 intentional vessels that almost make my stock seem cute and well-played. My buttons are now a visual stimulant that will, I hope, inspire future creativity.



42 Ugly Square White Buttons

42 ugly square buttons

Nana’s, Mum’s Dads, my and more recently Cam’s wardrobes are all documented in my vast collection of buttons – started by Mum and continued by me. At a glance I can tell you the garment of origin of and a fond memory associated with most of my buttons. Most…

During my sorting process I came across first one, then two, then several, then many square, thick, white, sew-through buttons. Forty-two of them, in fact. Forty-two exceedingly ugly buttons. With no back story. With no associated memory. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what type of garments they may have come from and there must have been more than one article of clothing bearing these hideous buttons, given the staggering number. And they’ve been used – they weren’t new. I washed them, set them in a plastic plate – first on the kitchen counter, then on my desk, then on my dresser where I thought frequent viewing might kindle a recollection. Simply not so!

They beg the question: What on earth was Mum thinking, saving these oh-so-ugly buttons? I don’t think she’d ever have used them on anything she’d lovingly sewn – for me or anyone else – at least I hope that’s true. Yet there they were, mixed in with all the amazing treasures in her Buckingham Palace cookie tin, all forty-two of them. Eventually, I called Auntie Pam and, after the pleasantries had been exchanged, I mentioned finding them. I described them in detail including their copious numbers. Like me, she was completely stymied. I had a follow-up e-mail message from her; she’d quickly conned some photo albums looking for them but without success. The mystery lives. It may never be solved. I do love a good intrigue!*

In the needle arts community, buttons can adorn or even become folk art. I wanted (needed, maybe) to do something with these buttons. My mum was nothing if not practical; to have saved these buttons, she must have envisioned using them in some manner. I decided to honour them by mounting them on my favourite hand-dyed batik and hanging them in my sewing room thinking that, perhaps, if I look at them enough, an associative memory will eventually surface…

Yes, indeed, my home is the place that inspires me most.

42 Ugly Square White Buttons


[*Marguerite:  “Ever After – A Cinderella Story”]

“As a child, my number one best friend was the librarian in my grade school. I actually believed all those books belonged to her.” 
[Erma Bombeck]

Dear Mr. Bernier:
It is with a very deep sense of disappointment and dismay that I write to you today regarding the financial cuts you have made to the libraries and, by necessity, the librarians of our Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.  I readily admit that I am neither a teacher nor a librarian, I am neither a lobbyist nor a parent of a child currently enrolled in our school board.  I have studied and continue to study economics and as such am acutely aware of the need for balanced budgets and inherent cutbacks.  Nevertheless, I do not understand, nor can I support any scheme or budget that includes diminishing one of our board’s (and thus, our children’s) assets, their libraries and librarians.
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
[Neil Gaiman]

Are you hoping technology will fill the gaps left by your plundering of the library funds?
Undeniably, an Internet connection can be a useful, convenient and bountiful research tool.  Yet, as we know, the information is not given in any particular context, key facts may be limited/edited/missing and the young minds of our children are unable to discern these peculiarities.  Fortunately, at least until now, our school libraries are staffed with people trained to interpret anomalies and fill gaps.
School libraries are not merely about research, rather about the joy of reading and spreading that joy.  Many of your students may own or have access to e-readers and tablets and the books downloaded onto them.  Others may have a large and growing library at home.  These circumstances both require a certain affluence.   Parents do not have to be wealthy to deliver to their children adventure, mystery, romance, humour, history and travel; our school librarians ably do that for them with a sparkle that captures young minds, with their love of books and with a strong sense of guardianship and responsibility for the future of their students.  
Not only our children benefit from the wisdom and collaboration of our librarians, so do our parents.  As curricula are revamped, renewed and improved, many parents find themselves out of their knowledge comfort zones, remedied, capably, by our school librarians.
If you, sir, have not been in one of your libraries very recently, I encourage you to do so post-haste; your librarians are engaged and have, in most cases more energy than the kids who fill their halls.  They are engaging our students and filling them with excitement.
“Most people don’t realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained.
Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
[Neil Gaiman]

I am begging you, Mr. Bernier, to influence your Board to reconsider the funding cuts to our school libraries and librarians before the damage done is irreparable.  Many thanks, both for taking the time to read my note and for any consideration you may give to finding additional funding for our libraries and librarians.  
Kindest regards,



Pain is a woman

mean and vile.

A sadistic dominatrix

pummeling my body

until capitulation.


Her clutch is relentless, constricting,

suffocating my will,

surrounding and engulfing

my body, my mind.

Escape is Chimera.


Her leonine anger is fierce

burning bright enough to blind,

bringing tears to my eyes –

obliterating my spirit.

My soul aches.


Tranquility.  The monster sleeps.

Slowly my world returns

creeping quietly into my room

lest it rouse the beast.

Respite is welcomed, embraced.


Escape is Chimera.





Written 7th May 2012

© Pamela Perrault, Cobourg, Ontario.

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