Monday, January 30, 2006

My Cottage Industry

As some of my friends and most of my family know, through my years as an Ob-Gyn Nurse Practitioner, I’ve made stirrup covers for the exam tables in my offices. For those who have never had to experience the indignity of a pelvic exam, the embellishment of exam table stirrups may seem inconsequential, but I’ve found that the diversion is well worth the time and effort of maintaining entertaining stirrup covers.

Nearly every woman, as she scoots her hips down to the edge of the exam table in preparation for her yearly pap smear, complains, “I hate these exams.” Not only does she have to position her posterior off the edge of the table, but she also has to place her feet in metal stirrups that only too closely resemble the stirrups on a saddle, and swing out her knees to enable the examiner to see pertinent parts of her anatomy. If her feet are bare, as are many women’s because they had to remove their pantyhose for said exam, and if the examiner hasn’t made provision for her comfort, the cold metal stirrup is uncomfortable at best. Not as uncomfortable as is a cold metal speculum, mind you, but nevertheless, cold and uncomfortable.

There are, of course, lots of other strategies for helping women feel comfortable during exams, but it helps to have a little diversionary conversation about the current choice of the stirrup covers as one assumes The Position. Hence my interest in creating interesting stirrup covers.

The idea to create holiday themed covers evolved while I’ve been in my current job. I started out making a set for myself and then branched out to make sets for the doc with whom I work and selected ones for co-workers. The advantage to having rotating covers is that no pair becomes too ragged and each pair is washed regularly when it goes out of season. A set is comprised of a basic fabric such as floral, plus special themed patterns for each major holiday: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

More than 10 years ago, I did some preliminary testing of the market and for various reasons, didn’t proceed with serious business plans. During that time, my friend, S, came up with the name of Footsies for my creations. A year or so ago, I half-jokingly said that when I retired I hoped to make Footsies to help pay the groceries after I retire. My son interpreted my remark to mean that I didn’t have enough retirement funds to cover the food on the table. Thankfully, he clarified what I meant by gently inquiring if my retirement was in jeopardy. As I explained to him, the idea of retirement is more appealing to me if I can think of ways to still make a little money, instead of spend, spend, spend.

So, now that the retirement date is set and I have a sewing machine, a serger, a dedicated sewing room, and, most importantly, a partner who has PR, IT and accounting skills, the time is ripe to fully explore the possibilities of a Footsies business. If you’re interested in seeing what I mean, go to my website. If you’re so inclined, please give me feedback on what you think of the site and if there’s any missing or confusing information.

If you know of someone who might have an interest in purchasing footsies, please forward the website to them.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Great Little Housewife

My Aunt BL is in her mid-80’s and is one of those people for whom time has stood still. It’s an effort for her to keep her opinions to herself and my recent announcement to her that I’d be retiring in September has yielded some interesting interactions.

We usually talk weekly (she lives in North Carolina) and over the last month she has been cogitating about my reasons for retirement. Despite the fact that I’ve planned carefully and have secure finances, she believes that I should keep on working just because I can. She apparently believes that I should try to make more money, but I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps my retirement signifies to her that she’s becoming more elderly.

Yesterday she took a new tack. First, she wanted to know the exact date (September 9, 2006) that my new life will begin. Next, she wanted to know what I’d be doing with my time, all in a supportive kind of tone. However, before I could answer the question, she answered it herself, “I suppose you’ll make a great little housewife.”

A great little housewife. When I told Dennis and my daughter, they both chortled. Dennis had the perfect description of our domestic roles, saying that he and I are a housecouple. Aunt BL just doesn’t get it and I suppose she never will. Despite the fact that I kept my last name when Dennis and I were married 5 years ago, Aunt BL determinedly sends us mail addressed to Mr. And Mrs. And in her mind I’m retiring so I can spend my time cleaning house and ironing. Arghh.