It is the day of our big Fair at work. This is the single busiest day of the year, and I am going in a couple of hours early. I have not yet seen my car, which #2 daughter borrowed last night. She assured me that she would clean it up, which alarmed me a little, since I had not known she would be doing anything in it which would require clean-up. Perhaps seeing this on my face, she quickly assured me that no one had thrown up in it. This, as parents will immediately know, did not make me feel better.

Last night on NPR, I heard a reporter who was obviously an American, but who was working from Edinburgh and had previously been working in Jerusalem. My drive home is too short for me to have the full story — I did not catch his name, and I only heard one remark from him. But it was a startling one, to me. He was saying that American listeners might be surprised to know that the people of Great Britain generally felt that the war in Iraq was not really about terrorism, and that U.S. actions since the attack on the World Trade Center had made the world a more dangerous place. This was roughly equivalent, I thought, to saying that American listeners might be surprised to know that it was widely believed that the earth moved around the sun.

The boys’ room continues to occupy my attention, if not my time. I am mostly being forbidden to do things. I have been permitted to use natural canvas and hemp twine. I am not permitted to stencil the canvas. I am showing you the example I prepared, so you can see how cool it is. But #1 son said kindly and firmly, “I’m not saying it’s not cool. I’m saying I don’t want it in my room.” Framed National Geographic maps have also been forbidden. Sigh. I’m waiting for him to be away for a while. Then I will sneak back in and do stuff. He has, however, announced that anything girly or childish will be torn down immediately. I have to admit that I am not good at discerning the girly or childish.

I am going to finish the stenciling. We are using old speakers for the boys’ nightstands. We pulled off the fronts, and will staple canvas over the panels. It will look good with plain canvas, but I thought it would look excellent with stencilled panels. Not enough like a car interior, apparently. But it will make someone a nice tote bag.

The technique is very easy, and no one will ever guess how you did it. Here is another example. The one on the right is a cushion, so it would not lie flat for its portrait. No matter.

You use crayons. Ordinary crayons. Then iron them, with a piece of plain paper between the iron and the fabric, and it will be permanent. If you want soft colors like the cushion, use petroleum crayons like Crayola. Then you can embroider around the edges of the design, as I did. Soy crayons like Prang will give you the saturated colors of the canvas stencil. The stencil is from a Dover book. The color will appear to be part of the fabric, not a surface decoration. You will be amazed.