Sunday, July 29, 2007

Crane Wrap Up

I realize that I never told you the end of the Crane story. Oops. I might finish that one and the reunion story tonight, we'll see how motivated I am.

Anyway, some long time ago, maybe around February The Media Guy e-mailed me and asked me if, for a variety of reasons, I would decorate his and Miflohny's apartment while they were in the hospital having the Little Seal to make for a celebratory homecoming. He then went on to do that nervous talking thing, only via e-mail, where he babbled things like, "I'll print all the stuff and I'll make a banner and I'll do this and really you don't have to do..." but the message was "Please don't say no, please don't say no, please don't say no." Which I wasn't going to say anyway. I did rather forcefully refuse all his help, though. He was extremely adamant that there should be a banner and even when I explained that I was going to work it all out he kept e-mailing me about what the banner would be like until I was sort of regrettably mean in my refusal.

Now, this all sounds very easy, right? Buy one of those Congratulations or Welcome Home banners, a few balloons, a bouquet of flowers, maybe a baby gift, some chocolate, a casserole in the freezer and a bottle of champagne and whippety doo dah, no problemo you've got yourself a Welcome Happy Baby Apartment (patent pending) and time to go out for a drink to boot.

It is fine, I'm sure, for some people. I can think of at least 3 people for whom elements of that list would make the perfect homecoming decoration. Miflohny is none of them.

She doesn't drink. She adheres to a very low fat diet so the casserole and the chocolate are right out. She's a very serious recycler. Once we went to a play and she brought along some newsletters from various organizations to read on her train ride in. She finished them before the play but carried them all the way home rather than throwing them out at the theatre because they needed to be recycled. Serious is what I'm saying, so a banner would be the sort of thing that would make more work for the new mom. I could just picture her coming in and seeing a banner but also seeing just one more damn thing she'd have to clean up or seeing a bouquet of flowers and seeing a waste. I wracked my brain for environmentally sound, low fat, non-alcoholic decorative options and I solicited some suggestions and I enlisted Pony Express' help with the installation.

What I came up with was to do a bouquet of fruit, as many of the moms I spoke to extolled the virtues of natural fiber in the post partum diet, ahem. I thought about finding movie and literature quotes to put up around the house since Miflohny and I share some love for TV and whatnot. I put Pony Express in charge of coming up with an environmentally sound banner substitute. Still no basic theme, though.

Then I hit on it. Origami cranes.

Still wasted paper, though. Frak.

Origami cranes made out of old magazines!

So for the next few weeks whenever I was sitting watching TV or whatever I'd make some cranes. You know, after I searched the internet for instructions that made any blessed sense since the whole "Ooo, origami!" reaction wasn't because I actually knew how to do it. It was fun, kind of soothing and I got pretty good at it and pretty quick. I still only made about 49 cranes by D-day. Or rather B-day.

When the day came there was a flurry of text messages.

As an aside, remember what I said about MySpace? Same holds true for text messaging. I'm just not a texter, I dont get it, I don't know how to get punctuation so I can't make sentences and it wigs me out when the phone makes the text noise. Knowing this it should come as no surprise that I don't have any texts included in my phone plan, they cost me 10 cents each. So don't text me "OK" or "Thanks", it raises my heart rate and costs me money, OK? Thanks for listening I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

I went out and bought some fruit. I called Pony Express. I borrowed a car from Kath & Alex. (It really does take a village, huh?) I ran home, grabbed all my cranes and everything in my house that could possibly be pressed into service as a crane securer.

Did I mention it was raining? A lot? Yeah.

So I wrapped all that shit up in a bunch of plastic bags, hitched up the dog and walked over to K&A's. They kindly traded me a dog for a car, dude, they need to learn something about negotiation. I picked Pony Express up and we stopped for coffee, found a good parking spot and got started. Yeah, so caffeine, rain, sneaking into someone's house and doing a project for which you're not completely prepared? It's just like being back in college! There was a lot of giggling. We treated the whole event like camping, we even packed out our garbage for the full on "Elves did it!" treatment.

The quotes I'd found were from Buffy and Murphy's Romance and Shakespeare and Veronica Mars among others. Pony Express broke into my bag of securing stuff and managed to secure strings of cranes in every window and from every light fixture. We hid them in drawers, in cupboards, the fridge and the freezer, the medicine cabinet, taped to the thermostat, anywhere we could manage. The goal was to have plenty that were in plain sight and then plenty that would be discovered in the days and weeks after the homecoming. Miflohny says she's found them all but I still hold out hope that she's going to be surprised our of the blue at like Christmas or something. Some of the cranes had quotes, some stood alone, some quotes stood alone. It was super fun. Pony Express even suggested and recited from memory the guaranteed tearjerker quote. I cried just writing it down and setting it out. Go get your copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, read through "Listen to the Mustn'ts Child" and picture it attached to a crane carefully balanced in a crib waiting for a new baby.

The reason I gave Pony Express the banner job is because, you'll pardon the expression, I knew she'd do a banner job. And she did. She did 2 in fact. The first was a tin box of magnetized child's blocks with letters on them. PE used those to spell out a message on the fridge. The other one was just beautiful. She cut out letters from a roll of glow tape and we stuck them to a beam that sticks down into the kitchen of the apartment so that it would be largely invisible during the day but late at night with the lights off coming from the bedroom through the kitchen you'd see the message glowing back at you. Freaking brilliant. This is what you get when you put a lighting designer in charge.

Despite the fact that we had a great time and that we loved all the decorations it really wasn't about us so I was still a little nervous that it would look like more work for Miflohny. Fortunately that wasn't the case. She liked it, The Media Guy liked it and even the Little Seal liked it. Apparently he loves watching them twist in the breeze and they help him to stop crying once in a while so there's been no need as yet to take them down!

The picture above is from the ceremony that dedicated Little Seal into the Unitarian Universalist church. Now, I'm not an expert on voodoo, I mean religion, but I do end up attending a lot of different religious ceremonies and the UU ones seem to be a sort of "come as you are" sort of a thing. So the family included a ceremony with cranes that they had invented themselves. Miflohny made about 40 cranes out of brightly colored origami paper and she sewed an equal number of beautiful antique buttons onto a lovely ribbon and hitched that to a thin board for ease of access. At the close of the service each member of the assemblage was invited to choose a crane from the group and loop the attached thread to one of the buttons. Miflohny plans to make a mobile for her son out of the craned up ribbon.

So maybe I'm OK at starting traditions after all.


  1. A beautiful gift and a wonderfully told story. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous4:00 PM

    You and Pony Express did an amazing job! And please give Kath & Alex a big thanks too!!! I've tried to keep as much of everything up as possible. I can't remember the quote from Murphy's Romance, so there may be at least one quote we haven't found yet. And what a great memory you have remembering that I liked that movie! I especially got a kick out of the fact that you put a quote in our box of papers to be shredded! I get a chuckle every time I see some of them. And it always lifts my spirits to see that glow in the dark message, no matter how tired I am. And I love that the cranes were made out of magazine pages - not only did you reuse resources, but the different colors make them look really cool. For the record, my more boring monochromatic cranes were made mostly from pages from an old origami-a-day calender (pages with instructions for origami pieces I didn't like), though some were folded from virgin paper - oh my! - I just didn't want the extra step of making the pages square when I didn't know if I would have the time to finish as it was.

    You guys rock! Thanks for going the extra mile!!!

  3. Anonymous4:02 PM

    O, and Little seal doesn't like the cranes, he LOVES the cranes!!