Welcome to the swamp! Here, lurking in the muck, where creativity spawns, you'll find Mrs Crocodile, aka Colleen Dunkel, a costumer and teacher based in Basel, Switzerland.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Cheating in Home Economics

The only time I have ever contributed to wide-spread cheating in school was in home economics in Junior High School.  You may ask, how is it possible to cheat in a cooking and sewing class?  I had learned some sewing already in the fifth grade.  My mom taught me, even though she curses like you wouldn't believe as she gets up from the machine and heads for the seam ripper, she still knows how to do it, which says a lot for motherhood.  Me learning sewing was helpful because we were running a bed and breakfast inn and had to put up curtains for four new rooms.  I learned to sew a straight line, my mom and her partner learned how to line up wall paper.  We never really learned how to walk a straight line, but we crossed all the i's and dotted all the t's.  This is actually a picture of the first thing I ever made with a sewing machine:  I was nine and did it while my mom wasn't looking.  Then I was off and they couldn't stop me. 

So later when I started home economics all the kids in the class were lost with their pillows to complete in an amazingly tight time frame of about 8 weeks and when the teacher wasn't looking I jumped in and helped sew almost all of the 15-20 pillows.  Sadly I have forgotten the teacher's name, but the impulse to get behind the machine was stronger than I was.  I could not stop myself when I saw a fellow pupil and pillow in need.  Do you know how hard it is to do someone else's project, you have to physically move yourself to their sewing machine and jump back when the teacher comes back in the room.  It was exhilarating.  It was my fifteen minutes of fame.  Most of those kids still remember how my nimble fingers saved their grades.   Two of them became such good friends that they later saved me from the various pitfalls of being a teen.  Even today, when I walk down State Street in Santa Barbara and happen to bump into one of my classmates from SB Junior High, the first question is always, "Do you still know how to sew?"  Not as I would expect, "Wow!  How exciting!  Where do you live in Europe?" But never mind, I guess more people live in Europe than know how to sew.

Yours jumping out from behind sewing machines,
Mrs Crocodile

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things that bring her joy

"Joy, Love, Peace", to which I say "Wonderful.  I want some.  Where do I sign up?"  Here is a lovely link to my friend and chief cook of the koo-ki 'zine, this means she writes it.  http://justkooki.blogspot.com/2010/05/things-that-bring-me-joy.html She's a cool lady and I think you should just bookmark her page or follow her blog or whatever you do when you want to return to someplace you were that you liked.  And I would like to comment on the things that bring joy, but I think you know what they are so I'll leave you with this collage today that seems to bring her hers.  Maybe it will bring her even more joy and then we'll all be skipping around singing "tra-la-la" or even at times lyrically dozing in the blog-o-sphere joyfully writing joy-filled blogs.

This time not just yours but wishing you and yours Joy, Peace and Love,
Mrs Crocodile

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Mrs Crocodile?

At a reception, a glass of wine in my hand. Words exchanged and then the inevitable: "Oh, you're Mrs Crocodile!" Then curiosity is sparked: "But why Mrs Crocodile?" To which I always want to say, "Well, you remembered the name" smile and show my teeth.

Actually, fresh off the Rhine taxi in Switzerland, before I could speak German I obviously had to resort to other more crude forms of communicating like speaking English and with hand gestures and an annoyingly cheerful American smile, which doesn't always go down too well around here. Mostly because people are thinking, "What is this woman so damn happy about?" I like to tell them that I eat children in the nicest possible way. But this too, is hard to wash down for most people.

The real un-adulterated and not the answer you want to hear is this: There were some neighbor kids that came to my house and not being able to communicate with them, I pulled out a book with nice pictures and a very easy repetitive story and read it out loud to them. Then we played the Crocodile game and ran all around yelling, "Can't catch me!" It wasn't long before the neighbors started calling me Mrs Crocodile and the name stuck. Don't worry, I let the kids go home to their parents.

Today, even though I miss running around with 3-5-year-old kids and trying to teach them some English, I kept it, because everybody started calling me that, but I'm thinking of changing it.  But now that I think about it, it just works for the Mrs Crocodile Blog: chomping bits of life up and putting them back together.  I just haven't had another name stick for a while, now.  But I like to sing while I'm running away: "Can't catch me!"
Yours,
Mrs Crocodile






Custom Search

Getting in touch with old friends

I opened a suitcase and out popped an old friend. Actually the brown-leather suitcase was crammed full of them. Imagine the smile that creases your lips when the recognition of long lost friend's name suddenly pops out at you from your in-box or face-book. Yeah. Pause a moment there to recollect. Breathe. Let the memory flow back. That feeling of hey! I haven't heard from her in ages! I wonder what she's up to. Then acting on the feeling. Answering the e-mail and accepting the friend request. How nice. Then you get your first e-mail back, she's divorced and as slim as ever, or still married and gained 40 pounds. Who cares? Her picture looks great and suddenly this overwhelming urge comes to find out how the hell she's been these past 5, 10, fill in the blank years. The phone call. No reservations! Just do it. Now is the time. Summer is here, get in contact with that old friend. Contact me! Just because. And I just took out my old friends the summer clothes. So summer can come! For one day I'm not cutting up anything...
Yours, from here,
Mrs Crocodile
Custom Search

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ripping up the pages of life and hiring a secretary

A wise man once said, or was it last week:  You need to focus on one thing.  If you have ten projects and ten hours, you can only devote one hour to each project, if you have one project and ten hours, you do the math.
I looked at my to do list.  I couldn't cross anything off.  I gave up trying.  I hired a secretary.  Yes!  Mrs Crocodile is now the proud employer of a secretary!  You may ask yourself, how is it that this sole-proprietorship can afford to have a secretary?  I mean doesn't she work by herself?  Well, I like to think of it as a "soul"-proprietorship.  Actually I hired myself.
I am still in control of my senses and when I mean I've hired a secretary, I mean I've hired myself for two days a week to do all the stuff I'm not getting to.
Which brings me to this picture.  Here is a quilt I made years ago when I was trying to organize the everything of life.  And when I say the everything I still believed then that this was possible.  I believed that by sewing in a swatch of some shorts I had when I was fifteen, curtains I made for someone, a dress I traveled through Europe in, a shirt of a very dear friend, the curtains I made for my mom's bed and breakfast, well, I thought I could have it all in one handy dandy little place.  I called the quilt "ordinateur" enjoying the French word for computer and the fact that I had in some psychotherapy way, got it all down.  Now I look back at this cute little creation: for the real story of the memories sewn into it, you are going to have to talk to my secretary and she'll make an appointment with me for a private interview.  So, isn't it nice that there are seam rippers in the world and we can tear up all our handiwork again?  And start a new blanket that is meant to cover everything again?
Yours, with seam ripper at the ready,
Mrs Crocodile

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cutting up more sentences again...

A wise woman said, "Life is a series of rejections until you get the one."  Well now, finally a phrase I can cut up to relate to all parts of life!  I'm not walking around saying I've found the be all end all sentence for you and me to live life by, no way, no how.  Just found a nice phrase to think about.  Just like the saying, "It's always in the last place you look."  Here it's all a lot more in the looking than the finding.  Of course, when you've found something you could also say "Well that's not really what I wanted anyway."  Or you could stick with it and start looking for the next thing you had on your list.  In this case, my friend and I were talking about auditioning and she said she'd auditioned for over 100 parts in movies and commercials and had managed to get five.  I could relate and thought, well that's it isn't it?  You look, you look, you look, you find, you look, you look, you look, you find, you look.

There is, on the flip side, some one who always gets accepted and the one who always gets rejected, like today when you ordered your coffee without milk, how do you think the milk felt being all left out?  And later, when you decided to walk rather than take the bus to work?  How do you think the number 36 bus felt?  I imagine you must've had the conversation with your feet to okay the subject with them, but did you consult your legs?  Someone is quite likely going to feel left out or in.

This brings me to the point: it's never really about being in or out, but it's about how you are when you realize you are in or out.  Do you wallow in your sorrows?  Or do you spring back?  Do you piss other people off when you are out?  Or do you smother them with so much they can't take it when you're in?

Well, that's it for now, Springing back me is all the way,
Mrs Crocodile