Turning Point: Among the missing

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Who can really search out, like Vasilisa, poppy seeds from grains of dirt? How I wished I could have turned my task over to my “little doll” and won some respite for myself! The “little doll” could have strained her eyes and her knees instead of me.

What is the matter with this machine, I wondered, searching the owner’s manual of my sewing machine for the reason the lower thread was looping from the seam.  Ah! The manual recommended tightening the bobbin thread tension screw. The screw had loosened in the bobbin case of the machine, releasing the tension on the bottom thread.

As I removed it from the machine, the bobbin case fell apart and the black screw—about as big as two poppy seeds – fell into my hand. Focused on this delicate task, I brushed the screw into bowl, thinking that it would be easy to find it again against the white stoneware.  I located the tiny screwdriver, fussed the pieces of the bobbin case into place, pressed the screw head onto the forefinger and gingerly brought it to the assembled case, all over the bowl. The screw slid neatly into its socket, but as I reached for the screwdriver, the screw jumped out of its place, hit the bottom of the bowl and flew over my shoulder.

Have you any idea how many insignificant, black, poppy-seed-like things there are on the workshop floor? As many as there were, sticking to the dampened paper towel, not one of them was the bobbin tension screw. It began to seem that perhaps the screw had made its way into one of the crevices between the boards of the hardwood floor. 

Vacuum cleaners and I have been adversaries almost as long as I can remember. I have lost count of how many of the pathetic things have expired, like dragons coughing clouds of noxious dust, under my hand. It must be admitted, on the other hand, that there are some tasks for which one is the superlative solution. I had recently seen on the Internet an adaptation which might turn the trick for solving my little problem. What you do is drape a piece of tightly woven white cloth over the vacuum cleaner wand, secure with an elastic band; when you run the vacuum over the search area, the cloth strains out everything larger than dust mote.

What a great innovation! The suction sieve located 14 (!) black seed beads, three sewing needles, and numerous grains of fine sand . . . but no screw. Considering how far it had jumped when it had bounced against the bowl, there’s no saying what tangent it had taken when it hit the floor. In a world where the larger magic depends on things the size of two poppy seeds, even a great innovation isn’t much use.

The sewing machine sits, silent and idle. And here I sit, with few of Vasilisa’s magical resources, running stitches by hand.

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