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HPPR People & Communities

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Snowballing

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Valerie Brown-Kuchera
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Listeners know, I am not domestically inclined, but I am organized and thrifty.  So, I do have a few redeeming qualities. Optimism, however, isn’t one of those. Weirdly though, the one thing I do usually overestimate is how much I can accomplish in two weeks of winter vacation time.

There’s a financial strategy for paying off debt called snowballing.  The theory is that if a person begins with her smallest balance first, applies all her financial energy to that little debt, pays it off, then adds what she was paying on that one to the next largest, she can become debt-free in a much shorter amount of time than if she had piecemealed each of her outstanding liabilities.

This technique also helps a person deal with the hopelessness of staring at so many bills by giving positive feedback fairly quickly. Success in paying off one small debt fosters confidence and a sense of accomplishment. I decided, for this holiday break, I’d apply the techniques employed in snowballing debt to snowballing my household projects.

By far, my smallest project was sewing a few torn items.  I’m not a seamstress, but I am at least capable of sewing the ripped lining in my six-year-old’s winter coat and stitching up some split seams in a couple of shirts.  The day after Christmas found me getting out my small sewing kit, laying out the four items in need of repair, and matching thread.  I felt a sense of accomplishment as I fixed Clementine’s winter coat quickly.  As I finished stitching the seams on the two shirts, I wondered at my adeptness.  I had saved the hardest repair for last: tacking the collar of a new velour blazer down.  The jacket was so pretty, but the pliable material wasn’t stiff enough to lay flat at the lapel.

I found the exact match for the thread in my sewing kit, a triumph in and of itself, as the jacket was an unusual copper color. The fabric was so slippery -- I had to use my leg as support to hold it flat as I carefully tacked the collar in place.  I experienced a setback when I plunged the needle into my thigh. The jacket was dry clean only, but I manage to blot out most of the stain by acting quickly and capitalizing on the lucky coincidence that blood dries in exactly the same shade of copper as that velour jacket.

Unfortunately, quick action meant leaving my open wound spurting longer than advisable, but I was able to staunch the flow after saving the jacket by grabbing a towel out of the nearby laundry basket.  Unlike Joel, I don’t use the new white guest towels to mop up my blood though.

Back at it and still making pretty good time on my first project, I was more precise as I continued. I had the hang of it now, basting along with stitches so fine they were invisible. Maybe I could be a seamstress after all! 

As I attempted to lift the finished blazer off my lap, I discovered that I had also tacked the bleeping jacket to my pants in several places.  As is usually the case with such mistakes, witnesses were present. Joel’s cackling as I walked across the room with the blazer stuck to my leg made it quite clear that I wasn’t getting any sympathy from that quarter, but my sweet little daughter Clementine asking if I was making a jumper made up for his cruelty.

I’m not sure whether I was lightheaded from the blood loss or what, but my brilliant solution was to take off my pants and cut them off my jacket. I reasoned that they were bloodstained anyway.  But once I had done that, I realized that the big pieces of bloodstained pants fabric stuck to the inside of my beautiful, copper-colored jacket wouldn’t allow the lapels to lie flat anyway.

In order to make this snowballing strategy work, I was supposed to have finished the smallest item on the list ten minutes ago, but since the second-smallest chore was organizing clothing, I started the “To Discard” pile with a beautiful copper colored blazer and a pair of holey pants.