Auto, Cars, Craft

Learning Curve

There always comes a time in life where the road meets the rubber. Or in my case, where the needle meets the needle plate. Except when the needle can’t meet the needle plate. Or when you’re learning to drive a standard and having trouble getting the road and rubber to meet. Which would both be the case with me.

Re-learning to drive...

Re-learning to drive…

I take most of our orders for screenprinting and embroidery, especially since January when we hired my dad and I became permanently chained to the inbox. However, my brother will occasionally take an order, without my knowledge. Which is fine. Until he tells a customer I can do something for them that I don’t know how to do.¬†It is at this point that I get a little flustered. Because learning new things is difficult. Especially when you are on a timeline and have someone wanting to pay you to do said new thing to a high standard of quality. Not ideal circumstances to learn. But, no one asked me. Obviously.

Embroidering hats

Embroidering hats

I have finally become proficient at running the embroidery machine. It is a single head with 15 needles and on most days, we get along just fine with one another. But, with 20 hats with puff embroidery thrown in the mix about ended our relationship.

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Puff embroidery is a new ballgame. It is essentially taping craft foam onto a cap and sewing over it to create a raised effect. Sounds pretty simple, but there are a lot of technicalities that are unaccounted for. So after a few phone calls to a technical support line (me and Juan, the phone operator, now know each other on a first name basis and I have an open invitation to dinner if I am ever in the Houston area) and endless explanations for why my machine was acting up, I got it right.

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I wish I could say I’d mastered driving in the same way. I can do it, I just need a lot of practice. So, my practice course of choice? A dirt road. Good decision, not much traffic. But, a dirt road that ends with a hill that pulls out onto the highway on a corner: bad decision. I put the clutch in, had the brake down, and when I judged it was clear, I let the brake and clutch off and slammed on the gas. Which resulted in some major gravel slinging and the tires taking off out from under themselves and nearly landing me in the opposite ditch. So, I’m basically as good as I expected I’d be.

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But, I am getting better. And eventually, I’ll get really good at it. It might take awhile, but I’ll get there. In the words of one of my missionary friends: life’s about the journey, not the destination. So, I’m gonna keep learning new things even when it’s hard and avoid hills in a standard at all costs.

Asia, Missions, Travel

Let’s Ride!

Arranging for group travel is always fun. But, the least advantageous in said arrangements is being the youngest or the smallest in the group. Which is usually me. In a car, you are put in the middle seat. In a van, you’re put in the farthest reaches, climbing over seats and other passengers to your tiny corner in the back. In Costa Rica, I was put in the tiniest seat on the bus, right behind and above the driver, for the three hour ride. In a little fly in plane in Canada, I was stored in the back with the fishing poles and duffel bags. And here in Laos, it means I’m put on the back of a motorbike. I heard rumblings at the other end of the table of this conversation about transportation at our lunch. Everyone else was accounted for, but we had one extra person, so what should we do? Oh! That’s right, Brittney can ride on the back of the motorbike. Problem solved!

Not so sure about this

Not so sure about this

I would dare to say that motorbikes are the main means of transportation around the world. (That’s a Brittney fact, not a real fact, so don’t quote me) But, we do see them everywhere. There’s not much you can’t do and not many places you can’t go on one. You can carry things on them. I’ve seen a full grown pig being hauled on one, tied with a rope to the back. No big deal.¬†Families ride on them together. I think the most I’ve witnessed is 6 at a time.

Motorbike parking

Motorbike parking

There is a mental lag that happens with seeing bizarre things on motorbikes though. Usually, one will go by, and you will see it. Then, two seconds later, you’ll process what you saw and think: did I really just witness that?

Baby’s hungry? No problem! Sit side-saddle and feed on the go!

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Just got an IV? Just hold the bottle up and climb on, you’ll be fine!

Yes, that bottle she's holding up is an IV. This is actually a pretty common sighting.

Yes, that bottle she’s holding up is an IV. This is actually a pretty common sighting.

I finally talked myself into it.

I finally talked myself into it.

I did finally talk myself into riding, holding on carefully, in the most American style. Mastering the side saddle will have to wait until next time.