Thursday, May 14, 2009


It all began when I decided to collect dryer lint.

Well, actually, it all began when My Mom gave us a present of a do-it-yourself bear.

No, that’s not true. It all began when... Heck, it all began when God created the heavens and the earth, I suppose, but you already know that story, so let me pick it up when I’m about three-years-old.

When I was young, I had teddy bears. You probably did, too. If you didn’t, that’s why you’re the way you are now. In any case, most people who have teddy bears when they are young do NOT have teddy bears when they are old. The teddies somehow cease to exist, going back to the magical place where teddies come from in the first place.

My teddies, however, decided to stick around. They enjoyed my company. As a matter of fact, it seems they enjoyed my company a bit more than I enjoyed theirs. This was proven by the fact that I stuffed them into a closet for quite a few years, beginning when I was 10 or 11, but, upon bringing them out of the closet sometime in my thirties, they bore no ill will or hard feelings towards me and we picked up right where we had left off.

MY WIFE is also beloved by stuffed bears. Thus, it came to pass that my old teddies, and some of her old teddies, as well as a select group of 45 or 50 other ursines of good breeding, now live in our house. They only take up most of the living room - and parts of the dining room and basement – and they don’t eat much.

Why, here they are now!

(Yes, we realize they're not all bears. Some of them are honorary bears.)

One thing that happens when you have a house full of bears is that people who like to give you presents often give you more bears. This is both a blessing and a curse. While it is nice to know that people care enough about you to notice what you like, when they give you the 46th bear to take up residence at your place it is not easy to tell them that you really don’t need any more bears, thank you, and a nice book or some summer sausage – or even cash – would be preferable.

And that brings us to the part of the story where My Mom gives us a do-it-yourself bear. It was a kit, full of fabric and thread and instructions, and, when completed, would be a wonderful handmade teddy. Very thoughtful gift, except for one thing: Neither MY WIFE nor myself is a seamstress. Sure, MY WIFE can darn socks - and I can damn just about anything - but sewing is not on our list of Skills Which We Are Very Good At And Could Be Counted Upon To Perform Should We Find Ourselves In The Midst Of A Nuclear Holocaust.

(Yes, we have such a list. Or, at least, we will any moment now because it sounds like an excellent future blog post.)

The do-it-yourself bear languished in a bedroom, under some old boxes of photos, for six or seven years.


And then I began collecting dryer lint.

You might well ask yourself why I would collect dryer lint. It’s a reasonable question. Of course, you’d get an answer more quickly if you asked ME instead of yourself, but what the heck. I’ll pretend you asked me.

See, every time I emptied out the lint vent in the dryer, I thought to myself, "Self, this looks like a lovely little blanket!" And so it did. Then I’d crumple it up and throw it away like any sane person. Except, one day a little over a year ago, I said to myself, "Self, you must be able to find some useful purpose for this stuff." And so, I began taking the little blankets of laundry lint and saving them.

Once or twice a week - whenever I dried a load of laundry - I’d clean the vent of lint and put the lint into a plastic bag. After a couple of weeks, MY WIFE noticed me putting some lint into the bag. She asked, in much the same way as I pretended you did above, just why in hell I was saving dryer lint.

When she asked me, I hadn’t thought it through far enough to have come up with an answer for such a question, so I improvised and told her I was going to make a pillow with it. I thought that was a pretty nimble answer for spur of the moment. She then asked me if I knew that dryer lint was one of the most flammable substances on the face of the earth and collecting a bag full of it in the basement wasn’t really the safest thing to do. I told her I was going to make a pillow with it. Seeing that I had no real plans and I was just crazy, she stopped asking me questions.

Except, now that she had asked me the question and forced me to come up with an answer, making a pillow had actually become my plan.

I saved the lint, the bag grew fuller, and her birthday approached.

(You might be able to see where this is headed. I didn’t. I’ve explained it more fully, to you, than it was happening in my brain at the time.)

Lest you think the only thing I was going to give MY WIFE on her birthday was a pillow full of lint, I’ll set the record straight. I bought a couple of other things. And I had another idea formulating in my head (yes, the same head that decided to save dryer lint and make a pillow out of it, but that didn’t deter me.)

One day, I was sitting on my bed, having a smoke, and I noticed the do-it-yourself bear kit that My Mom had given us, lo, those many years back. I went over to where it was sticking out from the pile of boxes and brought it into the light. I opened it up and studied the fabric and pattern. I tried to imagine myself actually constructing the bear. It would be a pretty cool present if it were something I actually made with my own two hands, right?

No! It would be a hideous present if it were something I made with my own two hands! I could no more imagine myself sewing that pattern together, in a way that would make a recognizable bear, than I could imagine performing successful brain surgery on myself using a spoon (although, God knows, it has to be fairly clear by now that such a thing probably couldn't make matters worse.)

I put the do-it-yourself bear back under the boxes.


We now come to about a week before MY WIFE’s birthday. I still have the vague idea of making a pillow from the dryer lint, but I’m not entirely sure HOW. I supposed I could buy a pillow, unstuffed, ready-made, then just jam it full of the lint, zip up the zipper, and there you go! Pillow!

Turns out that making a pillow isn’t quite that simple. They expect you to at least sew in the zipper, or even put the whole damn thing together. I could have bought a zippered throw pillow, and then opened it up, took out the stuffing, and replaced it with my lint, but that seemed sort of silly.

And then, I was at work, searching the Internet for pillow-making kits that even a dope like me could do. And, as I continued this fruitless search, my partner in the production department, Dan, came into my studio and looked over my shoulder. He asked me what I was doing. I told him, briefly, about the lint. Being more imaginative than many, he sort of understood. Dan is the type who sees an interesting piece of wood in somebody’s trash and then takes it home and makes a vacuum cleaner out of it. He’s very handy.

So, I asked him if he knew where I could find a ready-made pillow to fill up with my collection of dryer lint. He said he wasn’t sure about that, but he could probably make one for me himself. I wasn’t surprised to hear it.

Turns out that Dan took sewing in high school. He’s a manly man, does lots of woodworking and repairs that involve screws and torches and hacksaws, so picturing him in a sewing class wasn’t easy. However, it wasn’t impossible, either, so I asked him if he was serious about making me a pillow. He reminded me that he and his wife, Mandy, had sewn their own wedding clothes. True. Not bad, either.

Then it all came together in my diseased mind. How much tougher could it be for Dan and Mandy to put together a do-it-yourself bear? Well, tougher than a simple little pillow, obviously, but would he be willing to do it?

Yes, he would. And so he, and Mandy, did. And they delivered the empty bear carcass to me, in a brown paper bag, on the morning of MY WIFE’s birthday.

This surprised MY WIFE quite a bit, seeing as how Dan & Mandy live in Worcester and we live in Watertown and it was Saturday morning and Mandy was wearing a bright green wig and Dan was wearing shamrock headboppers.

They were on their way to a Celtics game. Dan had finished sewing the bear together the night before and asked me if it was all right to drop it off on their way to the game. Sure, I told him, as long as you deliver it in a plain brown paper bag, which, as previously noted, they were doing. MY WIFE was mystified, which is often the case when it comes to my behavior. After they left, I went into the bedroom and stuffed the bear carcass full of the collected dryer lint.

I’m happy to report that a year’s worth of dryer lint is just exactly enough to bring one bear to life.

And the bear’s name is Rosie, since the material is... well, rosy. He doesn’t realize that his stuffing is different from other bears, so if you visit us someday and say hello, don’t tell him. It would probably scare him quite a bit if he thought that he might burst into flames and kill us all in a moment’s notice.

Now my only problem is figuring out what to do with this year’s dryer lint.

(To MY WIFE: Just kidding! I’m eating it.)

Soon, with more better stuffing.


Jinksy said...

Well, that was worth a return visit! I LOVE bears too, not that I have a great many, but I have made quite a few. I could do with a lint collector next door to me - so if you both feel like emigrating...

Michelle H. said...

Wow , that is some major bear collecting. I thought Rosie would be a girl since the material, but...

I don't think dryer lint is in the food pyramid for daily intake. I could be wrong though. And if you should sneeze while eating it, well, at least you won't need a tissue to blow your nose.

Sorry. I'm a little off my game today.

Anonymous said...

I have decided to keep all the brus hair from my cats and send it to you; along with that of our dogs. This should make for a fine pillow.

Jeni said...

Well Rosie, as a name for a bear could be that the bear is named for Roosevelt "Rosie" Greer, couldn't it? After all, he was a bit of a bear of a man.
I said quite frequently, sometimes two or three times a day, about the cat we used to have, Sweet Gracie, that with the amount of furballs she left behind on everything, we could have made a rug or very large blanket. So now, maybe you can use dryer lint to braid it into a rug?

Buck said...

You have the honor of being the very first... and I strongly suspect ONLY, in the fullness of time... person I've ever known who (a) saved dryer lint and (b) figured out a useful purpose for it.

I think you'll survive the coming holocaust, nuclear or otherwise, quite nicely.

BTW... I've often wondered why there's no dryer lint in laundromats. Never. Got any clues?

Ananda girl said...

What a wonderful story! I knew a woman who kept her poodle hair and spun it into yarn that was very soft.

I've thought about that with the dryer lint... that there must be a good use for it, but all I came up with was to use it in the woodstove when the wood didn't want to light. It actually flairs up too fast to do much good. Live and learn.

Karen said...

Rosie is very rosey. And cute. And flammable. He may give a whole new twist to spontaneous combustion.

Thumbelina said...

Now that is a post that has me giggling all the way through. I love how you write and I swear you are in my head and replying to my quizzical questions!

And talking to yourself like that. Shame on you! It's Mr. Self!

Thumbelina said...

PS. Fabulous bear. Bet YOUR WIFE loved her. She is a girl with a name like that isn't she?

CSD Faux Finishing said...

Dan & Mandy did quite the job on sewing up little Rosie. Saving dryer lint sounded good but since Matt is not a collector of bears, and we already have a house full of pillows, I guess it will all just go in the trash as usual.

And yes, please write the "...In the Midst of a Nuclear Holocaust..." blog. A must read!

Pat - Arkansas said...

I am IMPRESSED!! I think Rosie is wonderful. Dryer lint becomes her.

Love all your bears, and pseudo-bears.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Okay, so I can't miss one of my all-time favorite bloggers...don't tell that I was here (wink,wink) ...Love the bear story!!! We are pack rats at our house, and so I could truly relate to this!!!! But I must say, I had never thought to use the lint in such a creative way! Bravo!! In a couple of Saturdays, I'm tackling the miracle of cardboard boxes and duct tape, though. Great minds think alike!!!! This was well worth sneaking over get back to the in-laws...This was a very fun, as well as funny post! Don't know how long ago you all celebrated, but for what it's worth: Happy Belated Birthday to your wife!~Janine

Jazz said...

How often do you get told that you're insane?

Seriously, I'm wondering.

I love insanity in a man.

Unknown said...

I save dryer lint, too. Thought I was a freak.

A pillow though...hmm, a pillow...

Suldog said...

Jeni - You win the prize (not that there is one.) We did, indeed, think of Rosie Greer when we were deciding on the name.

Buck - Good question. Maybe it gets blown outside in huge vents with industrial fans? Seems there'd be a whole lot of fluffy air around your local laundromat, though. Now I'm troubled. I'll be thinking about this most of the day and getting no real work done...

Suldog said...

Jazz asks - "How often do you get told that you're insane?"

Very rarely, considering the overwhelming evidence. Seems rather puzzling. Perhaps I look as though I might become violent? I hope not. They'll never give me that permit for the AK-47.

Suldog said...

Sarah - Did you have another use in mind for it? Seriously. I'm interested in knowing if there actually IS another use for it.

Reasons said...

Wow those bears have been breeding me thinks!

Don't tell that bear what you used to stuff it, it may need therapy.

MVD said...

Hey Suldog - Better hide those cigarettes now. The last thing you need is a highly flammable bear bumming smokes, especially since he has no fingers.

Marian Dean said...

What a lovely post, you are such a scribe!!!
I love the look of Rosie, may she cheer your lives for many a long year.
I too have often wondered if any use could be made of that fluffy stuff, so now I know at least one.

Love Granny

Sandi McBride said...

I can't believe you were sitting on the bed having a smoke! Bad Bear!!! But I love Rosie...seriously, smoke in the yard!

Chris said...

Oh, man, "MY WIFE can darn socks and I can damn just about anything" is one of the best lines I've read in a long, long time. Great work, Sully.

But teddy bears? I'm sure some Bostonian shrink could have a field day with this one.

connie/mom said...

Good to see all the "grandkids" again. Please, please, please, put Rosie in a nice safe spot - maybe with a fire-retardant blanket or something wrapped around her,just in case.

See you Sunday with OUR meager gifts for YOUR WIFE.

Suldog said...

Chirs sayeth - "...teddy bears? I'm sure some Bostonian shrink could have a field day with this one."

Yeah, but when he sees that the cows are rooting for the Celtics, he won't have me committed.

lime said...

ok, just so i have this straight. she got you a zamboni ride for your birthday and you were gonna give her a store bought pillow you stuffed full of dryer lint?

i'm glad rosie was born instead.

i also had vision of disaster when you mentioned the cigarette along with the box of lint and rosie parts.

you are indeed insane, but it's part of your appeal and seems to be for YOUR WIFE as well.

Woman in a Window said...

Yours is a very special kind of love, Suldog, demented yes, but kinda pure like dryer lint. Well, dryer lint isn't pure at all, but flamable. Yes, your love is flamable like dryer lint!

Daisy said...

This is hilarious, Suldog!! You are so creative! I wonder what you would make out of all the dust bunnies that roll around our flat?!

Angie Ledbetter said...

A gift to beat all gifts! Please do not mention this to my own DH (Deer Hunter) because he's threatened in the past to collect his bellybutton lint (quite a bit more than what comes from your dryer annually, apparently) and make something of it.

PS...Does Rosie live on the dryer?

Another idea for the lint -- wad up a hand-sized ball of it and place on rectangles of wax paper. Twist the ends like old time penny bubble gum and you have excellent campfire starters. :)

Anonymous said...

Got to be careful eating the lint. One spark at an inoppurtune moment and whoomph, up you go. The stuff makes great firestarter. Pretty cool bear collection. Guess Rosie got you some major brownie points.

Gennasus said...

My husband has been known to save dryer lint. He stuffed it into cracks in the garden wall...."for the birds to use as nesting material". Doing this in winter just lead to damp, unsightly, stuffed walls. He was discouraged from carrying on with the project.

Perhaps it's just as well our feathered friends missed out on this recycled nesting material, I would hate to think that we were responsible for a spate of flaming bird abodes.

Chris Stone said...

LOL! great post. Rosy is one hot (or potentially hot) bear!

*go celtics!*

Ericka said...

one reason i love reading you is that you, and caustic bunny, usually manage to make me feel quite sane.

i save dryer lint. when i have a bunch, i melt wax, mix in the dryer lint and then pack it into dry pinecones. best fire starters EVER.

another step in the process is to soak the pinecones in ocean water, then let them dry completely. when you burn them, they spark different colors from the minerals in the salt water.

i haunt yard sales and such for large baskets and cool containers, and fill them with my pinecone sparklers and firestarters and give them as gifts at christmas.

Shammickite said...

I like the look of Rosie, but I'm noi too sure about the dryer lint.... yuk! I still have my first teddy bears, Bluey (He's rather grey now) and Teddina (handmade by my mother out of an old velvet cusion cover).
I put all my dryer lint out for the birdies to line their nests. They don't mind it's flammable qualities at all.

Anonymous said...

You are a mix of sweet (something I am sure you would not like to be known, but just keep proving) and tough in one man! I never know what you will do next! I bet YOUR WIFE doesn't either!

Suldog saving bears, researching making pillows, and gathering dryer lint to make a bear named Rosie! This is why I love your blog. The unexpected is quite a nice surprise!

Happy Birthday to Your WIFE!

Hilary said...

You're far too clever. Is there no end to your talents? I think not.

Ali P said...

Oh are so weird. But not in a BAD way.
No you are not the first or last person to save dryer lint because there MUST be some sort of use for this stuff.
Two people have used my suggestion as fire starters but not the same way..mine isn't as pretty as theirs. You stuff a cardboard egg carton's cups with lint and sawdust and pour the wax over the filling and when its all hardened you cut the cups apart to make individual fire starters. You can add cotton string soaked in wax as wicks to the arrangement. This project gives you a reason to save eggcartons, string, and candle stubs!!!!
I am nothing if not an enabler but do not call me if your wife does not like this foray into Crazytown.

♥ Braja said...

I LOVE BEARS!! I've got one right next to me now, his name is Elvis.


Carolina said...

I'm flabbergasted and baffled. About everything I've just read. Including a lot of the comments.
Astonishing stuff(ing).

Theresa said...

I love how your writing reflects so well your "unique" mind. I laughed all the way through your piece. Thanks for starting my day off right.

Anonymous said...

You are quite imaginative... I loved this post, and now I know why I find dryer lint so interesting...I guess its hereditary.LOL

Jen said...

Thanks for stopping by my site. That's dedication keeping lint for a year. I just can't believe you only use the dryer once a week. I could have gotten that bear stuffed in less than 6 months.

Catmoves said...

That's quite a collection of bears.
I understand that Carlsbad Caverns has group of people whho, once a year, collect lint from the underground cave(s). Why not sign up? With your expertise you'd certainly be welcome. And you could vacatin in our great state, too.

david mcmahon said...

Bear with me, Jim ....

i beati said...

super cool bear !!with lots of back story !!!!Sandy

imbeingheldhostage said...

Terrific POTD, well deserved! The scary thing is now people will not send you bears or summer sausage, you'll just get packages of dryer lint.

Merisi said...

"Of Bears and Lint" -
only at Suldogs! :-)))

Congratulations on winning David's POTD - your winning story once again underlines why I shall never manage to get more than the consolation price (for effort, perchance? *giggle*).

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Too funny! And dryer lint is so clean!! What would you do with hair in hair receivers I've inherited from relatives? I'm still working on that one!!!

Congrats on POTD! So glad I stopped in! This is Monday ~ but at least, I'm smiling!

Carolyn R. Parsons said...

I love it! absolutely hilarious..Rosie is a cute and explosive bear!


GreenJello said...

For your enquiring mind:

And if you had used "soon, with more better stuff", I would have laughed at the pun. :)

Suldog said...

Thanks! Good resource!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, of course this is POTD!!! Absolutely brilliant!!!!! You are simply terrific!!! Congratulations to one of my all-time favs! ~Janine

DeniseinVA said...

Lovely! I would be proud to add that little lint-stuffed bear to my collection. He's a beauty and what a very thoughtful gift for your wife's birthday.

Nana Net said...

Oh my gosh~~~~ I just love that Teddy Bear!!!!!! Plus the whole collection! I too collect them. But this Rosie one has captured my heart. You truly are the creative one with the dryer lint! I never would of thought of that! Your wife is truly blessed to have you!!!!
Well got to go enjoy your week.

Paige Vitulli said...

What a great green recycling story. Glad to find you through David's POTD!

Thumbelina said...

Congrats on POTD mate!
(That should cheer you up.)

A Woman Of No Importance said...

That is possibly the cutest, (and most probably the most inflammable bear) I've ever seen, Sir!

Glad you took a photo for he might not be around for long, with your smoking in the bedroon 'n' all!

Beautiful, though, and very creative and resourceful.

Congrats on POTD - So well-deserved, and while you're on, could you run some seminars on how to dry laundry - For husbands who claim they don't know how??!

Judi FitzPatrick said...

I just linked over here from your post re: the Springer opera - now I can't stop laughing from reading this one.

I love Rosie and what a great idea to use the dryer lint as the stuffing!

I'm saving dryer lint myself with the plan to add it to some handmade paper I'm going to attempt to make, just a thought for your 2009 lint!

Thanks for the laughs, a great way to start out my Saturday!

Peace, Judi

imac said...

That sure is a bear tail er (tale I mean). This so reminds me of DW (Dear Wife) of having an Artist as a wife, so many ------------pots,paints,brushes,ect ect ect, then we buy a Chalet style studio, (known by me as just shed)to keep it all in and use to paint there.
Next DW moves on to Mixed Media, sowing,stitching,dyeing,(not the other dying)and stuffing Rag Dolls, all this now takes place in out 2nd bedroom, er known to be by the stuff in room now.I am now put into the loft for my Photography, I can see next it will be summat else soon and then I will have to move up into the loft. So I just know what you mean.

Good story tho, enjoyed reading.

Thanks for the visit on Dorothy and comments.

Susan English Mason said...

I have my daddy's bear from when he was a child with polio. It has little plastic paws and one of them was chewed up by either him or some critter. I love bears.

Janet said...

I still have the first teddy bear I got when I was born. There are others, and the Mountain Man has a number of his as well.
I love that you stuffed Rosie with dryer lint. I've seen people make pictures out of it. Stuffing is much more appropriate.