Snagged

Stuck. Off. Transfixed. Whatever you want to call it.

My attention was unexpectedly snagged by sight of something on the kitchen side table. The red cap to a Sharpie, a permanent marker with a pale ash grey barrel. Next to it was a black-capped Sharpie.

It was as though I was see RED for the first time again. Bright, cherry red, a fascinating color that reverberated up and down my consciousness. Red as a primary hue. Red as a color with the name, “red”. Red as a sweet brightness against the grey, see how it glowed. Red as a brilliancy against the shiny darkness of black. Flick back to seeing red again, just as itself. Looking at it more closely, even though I’d not moved a bit, being swallowed up in the sleek ultra-cherry-red landscape of a fat Sharpie cap.

Remembering other similarly red things. A Twixt game with an ash-grey board, and bright red pieces and shiny black pieces. Being caught up in the patterns of game pieces, the red ones together, the formations of the black ones, how the reds and blacks interacted, how they appeared en masse against the board. How the board leapt forwards from the mixed background of the pieces. A single red piece, now one connected to its neighbors, then all the red ones again, and so one. Patterns emerging and flickering and shifting and comparing and contrasting. Lovely. Fascinating. Appreciating patterns just for their own abstract web-like qualities, then seeing them as strategems, and back again to artforms.

Other red experiences crowd back to memory. Slick new red Corvette parked across the street, all smooth curves that begged to have wax buffed on. A fresh gumball (never a perfect sphere, to my dismay). Some little girl’s red patent-leather Mary Jane shoes, perfectly matched to a summer dress with a shiny red satin sash, and little faux cherries sewn onto the collar.

Button racks at the fabric store. Oh, now there’s a great stimmy place, card after card of shiny things, lots of different colors and shapes and textures, all begging to have you pay attention to them. All pegged up on racks, inviting you to just stand there and admire them, one after the other. So few places in the world encourage such utter rapt fascination.

Buttons are fabulous things … Grandma had a tin full of buttons, gleaned from years of leftovers from making clothes, or rescued from garments before they hit the rag bag. I spend hours sorting buttons. Sorting them by size. Sorting them by color. Sorting them by plain or fancy. Sorting them by shape. Counting the various categories. Spreading categories out into mosaics. Myriads of buttons. Periodic tables of buttons. Armies of buttons lined up in marching battalions. Taxonomies of buttons. Pyramidal arrays of buttons cross-referenced by three qualities. (You want systemetizing Dr B-C, we have it all sewn up!)

I recollect where I am now. Standing in the kitchen, staring at pen caps. Has it been a few seconds, or a couple minutes, I know not. The red is lovely. It’s a joy to get lost in something like that. There never seems to be enough time any more.

10 Comments

  1. qw88nb88 said,

    1 August 2007 at 13:11

    … and after some four violin shrieks … the deathly silence of Something Unknown Happening, followed by the CRASH! of an object accidentally being broken…

  2. Penny said,

    31 July 2007 at 20:15

    Suzanne, I had the same first thought. If I ever made a horror movie, one of the scariest scenes would involve finding a table full of Sharpie caps–AND NO MARKERS ATTACHED! Cue the shrieking violins….

  3. qw88nb88 said,

    31 July 2007 at 17:23

    Oh, yes, we MUST have our crayons neatly organised! I have an old test-tube rack that I use to hold my markers in tidy rainbow order.

  4. 31 July 2007 at 15:30

    Buttons are fabulous things … Grandma had a tin full of buttons, gleaned from years of leftovers from making clothes, or rescued from garments before they hit the rag bag. I spend hours sorting buttons. Sorting them by size. Sorting them by color. Sorting them by plain or fancy. Sorting them by shape. Counting the various categories. Spreading categories out into mosaics. Myriads of buttons. Periodic tables of buttons. Armies of buttons lined up in marching battalions. Taxonomies of buttons. Pyramidal arrays of buttons cross-referenced by three qualities. (You want systemetizing Dr B-C, we have it all sewn up!)

    I used to do that too. And to crayons. My dad eventually saw it as useful and got me to sort his resisters, which I saw as recreational. :-)

  5. Suzanne said,

    31 July 2007 at 14:51

    oh dear, I read ‘red cap’, and my mind went straight to, “oh NO, where’s the marker? what has he(my boy) colored?”
    whew. cool down momma (me)
    I still “rescue” pretty buttons from ragged clothes. Loved Grandma Jane’s button tin.
    I also love the combination of cherry red against ash grey.
    I should get back to painting… sigh … maybe when school’s back in for Fall.
    This was a beautiful and inspiring post!

  6. 31 July 2007 at 12:44

    Ooh, the random button tin, what fun that was! My mom had some buttons that were orange and white and looked just like orange swirl ice cream.

    Hadn’t thought about that in many years. Thanks!

  7. qw88nb88 said,

    31 July 2007 at 12:25

    Penny, if you just want tins of buttons, I think the fabric sources sometimes sell mixed “grab bags” of inexpensive buttons. Pick up a tin from a thrift store, and you’re on your way to bliss!

  8. natalia said,

    31 July 2007 at 11:53

    i was feeling a little this way the other day when 2 students wore slightly different shades of poison-green tops. i like green ok, usually nothing special, but this was really an eye-catching green. i kept feeling those green shirts in the peripheries of my vision throughout the class time.
    also remember sorting my mother’s button collections. i suppose she still has some of those…

  9. Penny said,

    31 July 2007 at 4:31

    You made me wistful for the big tins of random buttons my mother and grandmother had. Not just the sorting, though I enjoyed that very much, but also the sound they made, like a rainstick but with more heft; and the feeling of plunging a whole (child’s) hand into the mix.

    Kids today probably mostly don’t know those tins of random buttons. I know my kids don’t–I never learned to sew. Maybe I should, and start building that random button bin.

    Thanks for the sensory memory.

  10. 31 July 2007 at 2:25

    “There never seems to be enough time any more.”

    *Sigh*

    I agree with that.


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