Monday, April 30, 2012

Why are scrapbooking stores closing?

A current thread on a scrapping board I read wants to know why so many local scrapbooking stores are closing. The posts before mine named all the usual suspects, mostly the Internet. So, I wrote this:

Stores are closing because a lot less people are scrapbooking. It's that simple.

How many hobbies and/or crafts did each of you try before you found scrapbooking? How many of those do you still do?

I would suspect that I have been scrapbooking longer than most anyone here- I made my first scrapbook in 1960. In those days cameras, film and developing were expensive and there weren't that many pictures. We scrapped mostly special events- a graduation, anniversary, etc. I did my own wedding album in 1977- all my friends thought I was either crazy or really cheap!

My list of "did it for a while" is long and includes ceramics, oil painting, sewing, bobbin lace and lots of others. I still crochet (50 years), do needlework (almost 30 years), quilt (about 12 years) and scrapbook. As a needle worker before stitching was hot, and one who still does it long past it's most recent peak and decline, I saw the shops, and the magazines, and the conventions and all the rest bloom, flourish for a few years, and then die. I was at a cross stitch festival in the mid-90s that attracted 10,000 women to a convention center in ONE DAY!!!!! Now there are no needlework conventions and only small gatherings for the truly committed, and most of the LNS are gone. Even what was arguably the most famous LNS in the country, the one many people credited with the resurgence of interest from the 80s through the 90s, is gone.

Does anyone still do macramé? Actually, yes! Google it and you will see a small but serious group still at it. I do some tatting, and am frequently told that it is "a lost art". Well, no, it can't be if I am doing it. But I am one of a very small number compared to 80 or 100 years ago.

All hobbies and crafts are cyclic. The Victorians did scrapbooking, although it was somewhat different- but the word has been around for almost 200 years. Quilting comes and goes as a major activity, as does embroidery, knitting, etc. The crafts that appeal most, those that make something of lasting beauty or value, always come back into vogue. Even when they are out of style, there are always the faithful who continue to participate and pass it along to the next generation. So, scrapbooking will survive and depending on our ages, some of us might even see it come back once again as the dominant activity in the crafting world. But, in the meantime, it seems that everyone is beading and making jewelry right now.

The real culprit for the downfall of so many LSS is human nature. All of the many reasons in the posts above cover some of it- we want more for less, we want convenience and ease, we want it now, we want the newest, we jump in where we have no business being. But ultimately, it is our restive natures, our desire constantly to try something new, something else, our short attention spans, that have closed the LSS- and will bring back a 21st century version, whatever that may be, the next time scrapbooking is hot.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Remembering Easters

I am always reminded on this day of two special Easter memories.

Back in the days when the Easter Parade on the Boardwalk was still something really special, my Grandparents invited me to go to Atlantic City with them for Easter 1966. I had my very first pair of high heels, in reality 1/2 inch kitten heels, but I was so thrilled with them that the chance to stroll the Boardwalk in them was irresistible! Unfortunately, the width of those little heels was narrower than the opening between the planks of the Boardwalk, so I spent much of the day tripping. Totally turned me off from the idea of the Easter Parade! We did stop for dinner at a lovely little place hidden in the Pinelands called the Sweetwater Casino. I'm not sure where that name came from as it was years before Atlantic City even thought of opening casinos, but it was a rustic gem hidden in the woods, overlooking a small lake. Many years later my husband and I had a wonderful dinner there and we were saddened when the Sweetwater was destroyed by fire a few years ago.

Another strong and poignant Easter memory is from 1976. My Grandmother was terminally ill, and had last been out of bed for Christmas dinner. She was in a hospital bed in a small room that we called the "back room" as, at 8' x 10', it was far too small to warrant a fancy name like family room.

My Gran had a large family- 6 children and almost 40 grandchildren. It seemed that Easter that all of them came to visit. It started pretty early in the day and the stream of company just continued non-stop until almost dinner time. By 2pm I was making my third store run for coffee, pastry and deli food for sandwiches.

Isn't it funny how some things stick in your mind? One of my cousins arrived as I was leaving for that third store run, wearing the proper hat, spring suit and white gloves. I opened the door to her, to be greeted with " it's Easter- one would think you could at least dress up today!".

Yes, I still remember. I had already run the dishwasher twice and it was almost full again. My mother was kept totally occupied talking to each family member about how Gran was doing so the "entertaining" of the company fell to me. So I made sandwiches, went through 3 pounds of coffee, and was constantly putting out fresh pastry and more plates and napkins.

And the punch line to this story? Why was I, at 2pm on Easter Sunday, in cut-off jeans shorts and a tee-shirt? Because Easter Sunday 1976 is famous for it's heat wave!! It was 93 in Philadelphia that day!

The epilogue to this story occurs two months later when Gran died. She had been through a terrible time and we were happy for her that her pain and suffering were over. My family was all there with her as she breathed her last. Some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were also there. The funeral was 3 days later. I remember clearly that I never cried; there was no reason. I had many happy memories and the consolation and joy that I had spent her last months with her on a daily basis. I had done my very best for her and there was nothing to regret.

Most of my other 58 Easters are vague memories, if remembered at all, but 1966 and 1976 are still with me and always will be.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Masters

It has been a LONG time since I posted. Life has been more than a little complicated. So, we will ignore all that.

I really wanted to post today as I have been busy for several days reading project outlines, grading tests, and just everything that is involved with 3rd quarter grades due at 8AM Tuesday. While I sit with papers and grade books and laptop, the TV has been dedicated to The Masters. 

The number of people who have said, and the number of times they have said it,  that they cannot understand why anyone would want to watch a golf tournament on TV, is a very LARGE number. As we have laughed and snorted and AAAHHHHed through these last three afternoons and evenings, I have been reminded many times of why I CAN watch golf on TV and even why I LOVE watching the Masters.

For just sheer auditory delight, there is nothing better than waiting to see what David Feherty will say. Having the smoothness of the golf swing by Spanish golfer Miguel Angel described as "greased by pure virgin olive oil" makes ones both chuckle and snort. 

The commentators take the whole event so seriously. There are no fans at Augusta- there are "patrons". They speak softly, and with great "gravitas". Bad shots will provoke comments like "oh, dear".

There is the shallow fun that mimics watching Miss America years ago, or a "Red Carpet" show now, just to see what is worn, and critique the outfits. Some of the PGA golfers really must be color-blind and style impaired- some of the colors and combinations are fascinating- have you ever seen a picture of Rickie Fowler?

There is the delight, for those who love golf, of seeing the best, some at their best, and some definitely NOT so, on what is, in the opinion of many, the most famous and most storied golf course in America. There is also the sheer beauty of this gorgeous course.

For me, there is the most intense coverage of the men who play this game of any tournament of the year. There are the numerous interviews with greats like Nicklaus and Palmer. There are also interviews with men well known for other careers, who love this game; today I saw Clint Eastwood and Samuel L Jackson talk about what golf, and the Masters, means to them.

In addition, there are the post-round interviews, which illuminate humility, good humor, arrogance, frustration, and much insight into a player's mind.

Ultimately, for me it is the chance to watch this game that I love and simultaneously learn a lot about the men who play it. Why do I love golf?

Of all sports, this one tests a person's character. The rules of the game demand that there are no referees calling fouls, but rather that the player assign penalties to him/her self. It is a game that is played with manners and respect. It is a game with real and strict expectations of how a player conducts himself.

As the intense scrutiny of the coverage of The Masters shows us every exciting or depressing shot, it also shows us how these players react to their shots. It shows us a person's character. 

We heard today a commentator note that on a certain hole Tiger Woods did NOT throw or kick his club after a tee shot. Woods has revealed himself this weekend, for any who did not already know or suspect, to be foul tempered and unable to control his emotions when things do not go his way. 

We also have seen numerous other players who comport themselves with gracious demeanors, no matter how the ball lies. I love watching a player in a difficult situation make an amazing shot because he maintains his cool.

I especially love sharing in the joy of a ball dropping into the hole from a long distance or a terrible lie. I love that there are 18 chances to start over. I love watching players grin, and share their elation at an impossible shot made.

There is no better opportunity for "people watching" and learning about how different people deal with adversity and success than watching golf. I learn something about how to conduct myself, how to approach difficulties and how to be gracious in triumph, everytime I watch a golf tournament. And, the greatest tournament of all, for everything I love about golf, is The Masters.