“When I lived in Sitka, office-mate Mr. Slater played pipes. He would hike out to the causeway past the airport, and you’d hear their lonesome tones wafting through the fog in the harbor – very eery, very beautiful. Not so much when he’d don the kilt and whole contraption for his son’s kindergarten show-and-tell day, and come by the office to treat us from the hallway – LOUDLY. Yeeeowch! Then one summer when I was working near Livengood, I got back from transporting a patient to find I’d acquired a helper. My boss found some random young man sitting in the dirt where the Elliott and Dalton diverge. He had a canoe, a bike, some duffels – and was playing bagpipes, in the middle of nowhere. Proves creativity gives you a leg up in the job market, especially in the middle of nowhere. He proceeded to practice, as he termed it, beside me, all summer in the core shed. Made of tin. Ah, that would be Mr. Mitchell Slife, speaker/reader of Sanskrit, degree’d in biology and mine engineering, and wearer o’ the kilt. He also opted to work Reddington’s dog lot in Manley as a poop-scooper. Just for the experience. Right. Didn’t last long. He built himself a Tiny House on wheels and this year married a lass who, no doubt, wore 5/8″ seams.”

The above was a reply to a friend’s blog, Wilderness Blues (which link you’ll find just to the right). It came bubbling up in flashes from the past that related to, obviously, bagpipes. My nephew is a firefighter in Spokane, Washington and his mates piped at his wedding, a very classy affair for the times. Bill is a good-humored man whose job it is to take pictures and write about them. Mitch built a stone oven at a local CSA  (http://www.calypsofarm.org/bread_oven.htm) – that would be him with the trowel in hand. He did his time in Iraq, upon which return we found him in the dirt, before which he’d embarked on the bread-oven adventure. The chronology gets jumbled but it’s the adventure that counts. And practice paid off; he’s a piper, front and center below.

My friend, Leslie, texted me at midnight last night to talk about her upcoming trip to Bangladesh and her surprise at my aversion to spiders, and then her utter astonishment (yes, utter astonishment) that I avoid bugs. We don’t have much to fear here in Alaska so I go with the horror of Volkswagen-sized bugs tickling the back of my neck or trying to get up my pantleg. Mosquitoes notwithstanding, the only other thing of dread here is a bear. Tsk, really? She can have Bangladesh, I’ll tell her bear stories, and we’ll be even on the adventure end of things.

The funny thing that got this blog post going was 5/8″ seams. Our high school algebra teacher also wrote a column for the tiny paper in our tiny town, and he always referred to women in his column as having 5/8′ seams. I don’t remember if the seams got narrower if he didn’t think highly of her, but he always closed with a mention of his bride, who wore 5/8″ seams. And that, abstract or not, is how my blog posts come to life…


4 thoughts on “Pipes

  1. I wish to respond to the aforementioned high school algebra teacher. Not sure which one you are referring to but if it is CVL I have a strange coincidence for you. I run into a very nice firefighter/paramedic regularly at work who is his grandson!!! I don’t even recall how we came to this conclusion, I think it may be that he lives out there but anyway he is a very nice chap and I told him much about Mr. L’s teaching. I ran into him tonight in fact. We feel kindred in a worldly connection sort of way.

  2. Well Rene, I don’t want to appear like a totally ignorant buffoon, but I’m a little confused on the 5/8 seams. Could you enlighten me? I didn’t realize that you were squeamish around bugs. I’m no big fan of them either. When I lived in Charleston SC the two things that gave me the willies were snakes and those God awful fire ants. They could literally eat you alive. No snakes or fire ants here thank God, but as you mentioned, we do have spiders and skeeters.
    I have to admit I almost wish I knew how to play the bagpipes- those guys look sharp all dressed up.

    • 5/8″ is the standard seam on any garment. If things are a little snug, we sew a bit closer to the edge. Need it pulled in, and we sew deeper or tuck in the excess. Up until a few years ago, I was using the same patterns for more than 20 years. Now I’m not telling if I changed sizes or just settle for 1/2″ seam. 🙂

      I’m actually not afraid of bugs. I don’t care too much for spiders and snakes, but the conversation took a turn and headed down a path with bulbous-bodied, hairy spiders so I acquiesced and said ew-ick, not for me. I almost ate one, by the way; a thumb-sized, fat-bodied spider. I reached into a Cheeto bag and pulled out a few while I was reading. I happened to look down before I took a bite and there he was – big, fat, blobby and Cheeto-orange. Had I not looked…well, thus began my active dislike for anything that can crawl into my food bag and remain, unnoticed, a la camouflage. Ew. Ick.

      And so I chose the 5/8″ seam direction…

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