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Keeping Calm

(Written on Sunday, posted on Monday.  I compressed the pictures so much because of our slow internet speed, so if they seem a little blurry, they isn't a problem with your eyes!)

"Keep Calm and Carry On"....this expression was first used in a poster in 1939 as a reminder to the British people who were being attacked by Germany to keep calm and carry on. Few of the posters were printed, so the saying was little known. The expression has had a resurgence in popularity starting in 2000 when some of the original posters were found. It can now be seen all over the internet, on posters, and on mugs such as this one that I bought when I was in Oxford in April.

Probably it is popular, because it is a good reminder when life is crazy to just keep calm and carry on, not panic and freak out.  By personality, I am the type of person who does this quite naturally.  A lot of drama just isn't my style.  But life gets crazy sometimes for even me and this week was definitely a crazy one!

Since arriving back, we have had nine new arrivals.  Another family and a single gal arrived early this morning and another family is on this afternoon's flight.  Next Sunday we will get another couple, and later in the week, three more single girls.

All of these arrivals mean lots of paperwork and orientation for me.  But it also involves setting up housing for all those living here in the city.  Now, I want it to be said right here, that comparatively speaking,  I have done very little of the housing set-up.  My co-worker is the one who does most of that.  Two ladies at the school (most of our new arrivals are teachers) helped her a lot and they got their teen-age sons and some other men to help with moving furniture.   But when my co-worker asked for a few days R&R, I knew she DEFINITELY deserved it, so it was granted.  I told her that I would take care of setting up the two places that still needed work. 

When I said that, it didn't look like it would be too much work.  So I went to one place to set up and upon arrival I discovered that there was no way to lock the gate from the outside.  So that means when nobody is home or in the compound, the gate is wide open for the entire world to go in and out if they so desire.  That required a phone call to the handyman we hire for such things.  The gate was really a mess, so it took some creative thinking on his part to make a lock that would work from the outside.

I then went to work in the house, making the bed, hanging shower curtains, tidying things up, etc. when I realized that we had failed to put any dishes in that house.  So that entailed another trip to the storage container to find dishes.  And I must explain that dishes that have been in storage here are not automatically ready to go in the cupboard!  First a heavy layer of dust must be washed off, so I ended up washing all the dishes first.

The second place I needed to work on was pretty much ready to go.  The painters had been there and hadn't moved any furniture back, but the man I had hired to clean and I moved it back.  Then I went to hang up the curtains in the bedroom and realized I had a problem.  There were a set of curtains with tabs, but they were too narrow to fully cover the window.  There was another curtain of a contrasting fabric, but it was only one wide panel, again, not wide enough to cover the window.  Not only that, but it had also been made in a different style with curtain rings at the top instead of tabs.

Well, says I, maybe I can cut cloth off of one of the pieces and make tabs for the ring curtain and re-fashion it.  But that was when I discovered I would need all the curtain parts to cover the window and there were no extra bits to lop off one and sew on another.  Then I decided to go to the fabric store and see if I could find something in the same color family to make tabs for the curtain.....and to add length because I discovered the one piece was shorter than the other two pieces.  

So off to Big Boss I went.  I took the curtain along and showed it to them and asked if they had anything that would match.  Hmmmmm, they didn't seem to know and the guy disappeared with my curtain (I found out he'd gone to another store to look).  Meanwhile I wandered through the three rooms of the store.  It's hard to describe this store, but there are rolls of fabric leaning on the wall, in places five bolts deep and two high.  Tables are stacked with pieces of cloth.  They have a lot of choice there and it is mostly upholstery and curtain fabric.  But because there is so much in there it is hard for me to focus on what I'm looking for.  I made it to the third room and there, lo and behold!, was the exact cloth I was looking for!  I couldn't believe it because we've had this set of bedspread and curtains for a LONG time.  I bought a meter of it and headed home to begin my simple task of re-fashioning the curtains.

My sister stumbled across a blog that's really interesting that's called Refashionista.  Every day this lady takes an ugly outfit she gets at thrift stores (op shops, charity shops) and refashions it into a new outfit which she actually wears.  So I figured if she can do it with clothes, I can do it with curtains.  Ha! Ha!  For one thing, I didn't really have a lot of spare time to be sewing.  For another thing, everything always takes me longer than I expect.  And then there's the fact that things are always harder than they first appear.

To start with, I removed the rings from the big piece of cloth.  Then I cut that piece in half so I would now have two panels.  Next, I cut a piece from the new cloth and added it on for length.  Then I had to hem the new piece plus the sides where I had cut it.  I was going to make the part that had the rings be the top, but in the end I decided to flip it around and make that the bottom.  The next thing to do was to cut another piece from the new fabric and sew tabs.
Making the tabs

This takes a fair bit of measuring, ironing, and sewing.  But my biggest challenge came when I went to sew the tabs on the curtains.  My machine is pretty wimpy and won't go through multiple heavy layers at all.  This cloth is sturdy cloth and sewing two pieces together wasn't a problem.  But by the time I had the tabs sewn and pinned on, I had six layers of cloth in some places and my machine just wouldn't do it.  So I ended up sewing all the tabs on by hand.

After all my work, I still wasn't convinced it was going to look that good.  I mean I now had four curtain panels, but they were in two different prints and one of the prints now had an added-on piece and tabs sewed on that were not the same print as that curtain.  I held my breath when I put them up.....they fit AND they looked good!

I also took this ugly chair from the living room.  It looks like somebody meant to reupholster it and never got around to it.  There will be two ladies living in this apartment and they each have their own room.  The other room had an easy chair in it and I wanted this room to have one, too, so that each lady has a comfortable place in her room to chill when they just want to be alone.  So I hemmed up the extra cloth I had left and laid it on the chair and it looks pretty good! (Saying I hemmed it is a stretch....I folded the edges over and zig-zagged them to keep them from fraying).

Oh yes, and I realized the dishes and pans had been put in the cupboards, but never washed.  Normally I would ask the person we hire to clean to do that, but neither of us realized in time that they needed to be washed.  So I washed another entire set of dishes, tupperware, and pans.

So, there have definitely been moments of panic this week!  I tried to remind myself to keep calm and carry on!  And it all got done (but you should see the mess of papers on my desk!). I was exhausted by Friday night and slept 10 hours straight and during church today it was hard to not just sit there and think about having a nap this afternoon!