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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: London Fog Dance Card
By Julie Paulsen


Girl’s summer clothes were piled here and there waiting to be boxed up for another winter’s hibernation. This dreaded chore typically commenced with the opening winds of fall. As winter clothes emerged from slumber the first dance began. Deciding which snug-fitting items could be passed down, given away or tossed out, and which lightweight clothes would linger on for Indian Summer days, our house was left in disarray. When the music stopped and the dance was over their closets and drawers were full of seasonal clothes. A list was made of items needed to fill in the gaps, and we waited expectedly for chilly weather.

Dance number two spotlighted Mom and Dad’s closet. No longer outgrowing our clothes height wise, we still needed to check for tightening waistbands and holes in the elbows of long-sleeved shirts along with tallying up the need for new socks, undies, ties and winter gear. Everyone was pretty well set for winter except me; I needed a new coat as the Chicago winter approached, but the clothes budget was spent. I had a plan and knew the coat I wanted, a cranberry London Fog. I heard the music, picked a partner and hit the dance floor.

Later that fall we received a flyer in the mail from our local park district looking for someone to watch children during a women’s exercise class. Being a mother of three grade school children I guess I looked like a mom who would do well with kids, so I was hired. However, in our upwardly mobile community I just might have been the only woman who applied! Three days a week for one and a half hours, for a dozen or so kids. Not much compensation, but enough to buy my London Fog.

As the first few weeks of my meager wages from childcare were filtering into school expenses and the family budget, the dream of ever wearing my London Fog was disappearing as quickly as mist dissipates when the sun shines. Then, one morning after exercise class two of the ladies were discussing a Christmas Craft Show they were organizing. Straight away I told them of my craftiness and within days I presented the “jury” with my Spiderman and Bozo the clown Christmas ornaments made from clothespins. I was in! The next few weeks I would be dancing a jig!

My quaint little workshop was immediately filled with old-fashioned clothespins, the wooden kind, one piece, with a round ball at the top. I gathered all the necessary tools and supplies: red, blue, white and black paint, spray shellac, red yarn for Bozo’s hair, hot glue gun, scissors, paint brushes and ribbon for the hangar. “For the next six weeks the house can run itself and you kids can make your own lunches,” I stated to my family. To my friends I had to say, “Catch me later!” I was on a mission, moving to the beat of my London Fog dance.

Applying a base coat of white paint, followed by a red and blue suit for Spiderman and a blue suit for Bozo, the figures looked striking in their outfits. Detailing on the many little men required countless hours with tiny paintbrushes. Next was the meticulous job of gluing on each stubby strand of yarn for Bozo’s oversized red hairdo. The day of the final dance arrived.

Opening night was exciting, I couldn’t resist purchasing quilted Christmas stockings for my daughters and several other hand made items. Three days later the show was over. The wait to hear of my final earnings was agonizing.

I don’t recall exactly how many of these little figures were made as I labored in my makeshift shop, but several returned home with me after the show. Last Christmas, 29 years later, Spidey and Bozo still hung proudly on both my tree and my daughter’s trees, to the delight of the next generation.

Oh, yes, the London Fog. With the profits I did purchase the full-length cranberry trench coat featuring a zip-out lining. That coat served me well for many seasons. Today, spring and fall still begin with the seasonal clothes dance, but for just two of us. The girls are dancing for their own families now! Still, I’ve only danced for one coat, my cranberry London Fog.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin (or dance). Matthew 6:28 (NIV)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
A good illustration of "making hay" (or Christmas ornaments! :-)) The overall tone of the story is nice, and gives me a good feeling. You might want to work on using more "active" verbs (fewer was's and were's) as a way to strengthen your writing. Keep writing and God Bless!
Michelle Roufley03/14/08
Great creative imagery!
Laury Hubrich 03/15/08
This is a very creative piece. I like how you looked outside of the box to make money for what you wanted. Good writing!