Felix the Cat and MacGyver Picnic on a Purple Sarong

I’ve been on holiday in England the past couple of weeks. A travel blog post is on its way, but in the meantime, I was wondering…

Do you have tangible items in your life that are symbols for your dreams and desires?

You might remember that I attended a Writers’ Retreat in Virginia Beach back in May and, while there, visited the Edgar Cayce Center. In addition to several books, a purple tie-dyed sarong with fringes caught my eye. It didn’t match my bathing suit, and yet I knew I had to have that sarong. It was more than a beach cover-up. It was a fabric talisman that would transport me from suburban mom to sophisticated world traveler with a minimum of luggage. I would carry it with me on every trip and this one item would eliminate the need to pack several others. Sure, at the beach or pool, it would function as a cover-up, but there were several other uses for this piece of plum material. Felix had his bag of tricks, but I would have my sarong, and like MacGyver, I would transform it into anything I needed at the moment.

On a windy day, it’s a hooded scarf.

When there’s no time to change for dinner, it becomes a wrap that dresses up my outfit.

Tied in a few places, it’s a halter top…

…or a bohemian skirt.

At the outdoor market, I’ll pack up my fruit, cheese, and wine and carry it over my arm.

In a pretty meadow, I’ll lay it down for an impromptu picnic.

Back at the hotel and without a proper dining table, I’ll drape it over my suitcase and serve a decent cup of tea.

Caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella, I’ll hold it above my head and run to shelter.

When injured, I’ll use it as a tourniquet or to support a sprain.

Even when I don’t speak the language, I will delight children with a game of peek-a-boo.

In a church, I’ll cover my shoulders.

Where religious norms in other countries require my head to be covered, it shall be…in purple tie-dye. Hmmmm, maybe not.

In a pinch, it’s an extra towel.

After waking up at 5 AM and traveling hours to Bath to take part in the Jane Austen festival and consuming way too many scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, I’ll lay my sarong out on the grass in a park and take a two-hour nap.

And at the end of the day, I’ll wash it and hang it to dry so it’s ready for another day of adventure.

Lack of sleep + cream tea sugar high = eventual coma. Would Jane Austen have behaved in such a manner?

That was my thought as I stood there holding the purple sarong in my hands. And it was a thought that made me very happy indeed. So, I bought it and brought it with me to England three weeks ago. I’m happy to say it came in handy after the Jane Austen festivities. 🙂 See photo below.

Are there items in your life that are symbols or reminders of who you are at heart or where you’re heading in life?

45 comments on “Felix the Cat and MacGyver Picnic on a Purple Sarong

  1. Carl D'Agostino on

    Still feel Felix has more class than this dopey crap of cartoons kids watch today. Hey, my friend helped me reformat cartoons and hope to get 100 cartoon book up on kindle in next several weeks. Finally get to sense the adventure.

  2. JRO on

    Might I say, Elaine, that your descriptions of you “Purple Tie Dyed World Traveler Sarong” would do well in the Peterman catalog!

    I’m more of the survivalist when I am on vaca…not too concerned with how I look. As you know I don’t like to carry big bags, so I always carry a backpack (some more stylish than others)…must be my 6 week trip to Europe way back when that got me in back pack mode. But that back pack is my lifeline. It holds the passport, the 3 X 2 mini wallet that has every major credit card I own, license, registration , PBA card, money, etc. My backpack can also fit two bottles of water, a pack of gum, a small bag of some snack, several female items (just in case), small tube of suncreen and lip balm and most importantly sunglasses. I can go anywhere with my “Multi-Purppose Suvival Backpack!”

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Ha! The Peterman catalog. That would be a fun catalog to write for.

      I have to say, this nap in the park definitely brought your backpacking-through-Europe trip to mind. And I agree, I can’t go anywhere without my backpack. Mine has pretty much the same contents as yours…and now a tie-dyed purple sarong. 😉

  3. Kemi on

    Fantastic picture! It represents an urge that I fight too often: to spread my burden in an open space and rest a while. The sarong certainly adds colour to my vision. And, you got me thinking about that special item… To be continued! Welcome back. K

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Indeed, I am. It sparked a blog post, so it’s not all bad. 🙂

      You had to see the people sitting on the benches that I think stuck around just to see what emerged from the black pod on the ground. There might have been some applause.

  4. Girlboxing on

    I love the picture Margaret, and the traveler’s images. Having had a sarong of my own which I took with me to many, many far flung places for just such uses, your imagery places me in a very happy time! I knew we were kindred spirits! 🙂

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      🙂 Great quote. I try to always be open to those messages from the universe. Mostly, because good things happen when I am, but also because when I don’t listen to the whispers, I sometimes get hit with a well-aimed brick to the head. 😉

  5. Deborah the Closet Monster on

    I’ve kept a couple of handpuppets I used in my English classes while teaching in Japan. At first I thought they’d just be stored away forever, occasionally to remind me of how silly my heart is despite any seriousness implicit in my job. Now, as a mom, I occasionally pull them out and not only remember . . . but delight in the magic I hope I’ll be able to share, through them, with my son.

  6. lulu on

    Oh the places you will go with your purple cloth, if not in reality, in your head. Good for you for not leaving it behind. Jane Austen Festival? We need to hear more about that.

  7. suzicate on

    Ha, a turquois one caught my eye this weekend…I didn’t know there would be so many uses for it, thank you for enlightening me. I can’t wait to use it for the first time!

  8. Mark Petruska on

    I had no idea a simple sarong could be so versatile. Almost makes me wish I were a woman so I could buy one.

    Hey, I said almost.

    Hope you had a jolly ol’ time in England and can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip!

  9. bronxboy55 on

    I have a feeling the Professor is going to forget all about Felix’s magic bag and will now be after your purple sarong. So be careful.

    Great post, Margaret. I especially liked the sarong draped over the suitcase to create a dining table.

  10. Jess Witkins on

    Oh. My. God. The Jane Austen Festival?! I’m so jealous I could stay up all night writing in my journal by candlelight about how prestigious and fortunate you are and how totally and completely insipid my life is now that Mr. Darcy never calls.

    P.S. I like your sarong. Good pick.

  11. Jessica Sieghart on

    I’ve been wondering where you’ve been! Hope you had a fabulous and writing inspiring trip! (I’m anxious to read that second novel). Your sarong is lovely. It reminds me of a dream I had to become a belly dancer. I had a similar looking veil that despite hours of practice, I could never swing in an alluring manner without tangling myself up in it. I wouldn’t have thought to use it for all of those other ideas! Hmmmm…maybe tomorrow. Today I feel like you do in the picture 🙂 Glad your back , Margaret! Missed you!

  12. Melinda on

    That is a magic cloth!! I remember having jet lag so bad on a trip to Europe that I wanted to do that in the middle of the store I was at. They need to hire you to do an infomercial about all it’s uses. Ending with that picture.

  13. Cynthia on

    Love this… my don’t travel (or live settled day to day for that matter) without them items are a funky, knobbly brightly glazed hand thrown pottery beaker and packets of Big Smoke and Early Grey teas, which I blend to make my own brew, also the tea strainer that sits in the mug to brew and then lifts out, leaves and all. The teas came from Postcard Teas in London, which was a favourite shop and the people there are dear to me, so the cups of tea bring warmth, comfort, aesthetic pleasure, and memories of a dear place and dear friends. This gets me through a lot.


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