Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy anniversary

My card to Tanya on the occasion of 12 years together. I'm thrilled with it, and she loves it. It's made from hand-dyed felt, with images cut from last year's calendar by Nikki McClure. You've seen the fabric a lot because I got it on sale when Fabrics and Findings went out of business. I love it...its earthy tones reflect our favorite colors and the decor of our house.

Her card to me said, in part, "Twelve wonderful, amazing, loving (and sometimes difficult) years together and I feel more grateful for and committed to our relationship than ever." We both laughed about the "difficult" comment. But it's important.

When we first got together, it seemed like nothing difficult could ever touch us, because we were so in love. I suppose a lot of new lovers feel that way, and I don't think it's a bad thing. That early glow is a great thing to have in your memory bank when things do get tough. And, life being what it is, things will get tough.

Surviving, and even thriving, through all that life brings, gives me more confidence and security than ever in our relationship. Let me tell you, security may not sound sexy, but to have another person know you, and still love you, at such a depth, and through times when you, she, or life in general was really horrible, that is cause for great celebration and rejoicing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feminine Psychology?

Threading Water has linked to an employers' guide to hiring women from 1943, which states...

Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

I'll be sure to let my supervisor know...

And now for something totally frivolous

Betz White, whose book Warm Fuzzies is highlighted over there on my sidebar, posted about her celebrity look-alikes, or so she's told, and then a commenter mentioned this website which scans a photo you upload and spits out something like this...

I'm glad to know I look more like Meryl Streep than Larry King! Actually, in my 20's I was frequently told that I look like Meryl Streep, but not so much since I cut my hair short!

Who do you look like?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The personal is still political

I've been thinking about women's lives a lot lately. I used to think about them all the time, when I headed up a university women's center. I'm proud of the work I got to do there, but got pretty burned out (and just plain burned) and had to take a mental break.

However, being mom to a seventeen-year old daughter means growing up female in the U.S. is never too far from my consciousness, particularly in a week when there was an attempted abduction of a young high school woman in the area.

Then today, T. and I got to talking about how it seems that in the 1970's and 80's, progressive women who got married kept their last name (I'm not going to use the word "maiden." Please!) Or, maybe they and their husband hyphenated or created a new name altogether. Since the 90's, it seems that more and more women are taking their husband's name.

Now when I was a teenager growing up in the 70's in my small Indiana hometown, the library was my sanctuary.

Rushville Library

I happened upon the one shelf of feminist books. I have no idea of the book or author, but I read a very powerful essay about the politics of the name issue. As I remember it, the author asserted that the tradition could be traced back to the days when a woman was considered the property of her husband. She made a powerful argument that our name is our identity...when we change the name we are given at birth, we are allowing a part of our identity to be subjugated. I vowed at that moment never to change my name, and I never have.

I'm not going to make this a polemic about the issue, and certainly many of my close friends have made a different decision, and I respect their choice.

At the same time, we must always remember that the personal IS cannot be otherwise...and we too easily forget the historical and political context of our choices. (Well, Hillary is very aware of the political context. She's essentially gone from Hillary Rodham to Hillary Rodham Clinton to Hillary Clinton.)

And finally, when I went to a church we're thinking of getting involved in, and the minister said, "We come to church so we don't forget," I remembered. I remembered that feminism is the first social justice issue I cared about, not just because of that small library shelf, but also because of the very powerful ways in which I had personally experienced and witnessed violence against women.

So, I'm gonna continue to do my part. Sometimes it's a little thing, like wearing my Take Back the Needles shirt. You pretty much have to be both a feminist and a knitter to get it, so I mostly just get looks of befuddlement when I wear it. Depending on who's asking, I might offer a bit of an explanation. I might tell them about the Take Back the Night movement. I might tell them that knitting needles were once used to induce abortions, when desperate women had few options. And I might tell them about the newest generation of diy/riot grrls/young feminists who subvert traditional notions of women's crafts and create awesome works of art in the process.

(Coincidentally, today, my Stitch 'n Bitch calendar featured Barbara Walker, who most knitters revere as the author of treasured knitting patterns. But most of us DON'T know that she also wrote The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, along with several other books about women's spirituality and history.)

And I'm gonna do my part in a somewhat bigger way. Today I went to a casting call for our community V-Day production, a performance of The Vagina Monologues, to benefit our local Rape Crisis Center and the women of New Orleans.

I have a long history with VDay, going back to when I helped RIT become the first college in the area to participate, back in 2000. It was a life-changing experience, and it is also one of the reasons I got "burned," as mentioned above.

Now I am ready to move to a next step with VDay, where I get to participate only as a cast member (rather than as producer/counselor/advocate/lightning rod).

Like everyone, I have a lot of things going on in my life. And my personal life hasn't had a lot of political activity in it lately. If I'm going to honor my ethic of living a life that attempts to live up to my ideals, I have to make the time. Just like I made the time to grow my own veggies, support my local Farmers' Market, preserve a lot of homegrown, handpicked produce to carry us through the winter, and commute by bike/bus whenever possible.

And this is a way I can be a part of reminding members of my community about the lives of women...from all the ways we experience our vaginas, through birth, sex, violence, and power.

How can that NOT be political?

The performance is March 8, 8 pm. More details to come...Save the Date!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ode to Toronto

You gotta love a city with this public sculpture.

I already published my cycling Ode to Toronto, and, since I love it not only for its cycling resources but also its crafting, I had to write about it here as well!

We visited the Kensington Market neighborhood, home to Lettuce Knit, a beautiful yarn store with a lot packed into a small space.


While in the neighborhood, T. and I both tried to cure our cold with miso soup and hot and sour soup from this really yummy vegan Chinese restaurant.


Then, over to Romni Wools, which is truly the largest yarn store I have EVER been in (and I've been in a LOT of yarn stores). They were having a boxing day sale, and it was great fun to look around, and even fun to wait in line for 20 minutes. It gave us lots of time to admire all the hand-knitted hats, scarves, and gloves worn by the knitters of Toronto.


If you ever go to Toronto, stroll along Queen Street West. Once you get past the chain stores, you'll come upon amazing deals on fabric and beads, and a cool book store, paper store, and more yarn. I always find just walking in and out of the stores to be inspiring.

On the next day, we went down to the harborfront and saw some contemporary art, along with a whole craft center, with a fiber artist in residence who de-constructs old sweaters and re-creates them into beautiful sculptures.

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Finally, I highly recommend the Textile Museum. Even for non-fiber artists, its exhibits are interesting and inspiring. Unfortunately, my camera died the day we were there, which is too bad because there were some beautiful pieces. So, you'll just have to go yourself!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Handcrafters' holiday meme, part 2 (AKA, Better late than never!)

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Although I'm a little late, I'm finishing up some of the questions from the Sew, Mama, Sew meme.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

So favorite one that is carried over from my family of origin is the Christmas eve pizza dinner. My mom always had tons of cooking to do for Christmas day, so Christmas eve dinner needed to be simple. What to do? Homemade, everyone helps out, pizza! Being a working mom in the midst of the canned foods revolution that swept the Midwest in the 60's, our pizza then came from a mix...dough from a box, sauce from a can, pre-shredded Mozzarella, pepperoni slices, and a few fresh veggies.

Now, with my family, I make the dough, everyone who wants helps spread it (that's the hardest part, so often it's just me and maybe DD). Then we each pile on our favorites...choosing from mozzarella, cheddar, feta cheese, homemade pesto,(usually) homemade sauce, lots of veggies, and maybe some fake ground beef or sausage.

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I love how it brings us together in a low-stress way to share a great, low-key meal. When the kids were younger, it was also a great activity to occupy them as the moments till Christmas morning d..r..a..g..g..e..d by.

Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?

We make a "Feast for the Animals." (However, this may be the last year for that, as we've discovered that we need to come up with some new traditions as the kids become young adults.) T. and I like it, though. We string up popcorn and cranberries, and put out fruit, nuts, and so on, for the birds and squirrels.

If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making?

Now I can tell you about them! A bag for DD's new yoga mat, along with a yoga eye bag, and a yoga blanket. The bag pattern is from Fig and Plum, the eye bag is a knitted rectangle with a muslin bag inside filled with flax seed and my home-grown lavender, and the blanket is just fleece on one side, with fabrics pieced together on the other side, mostly from my stash.

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I also made two hot water bottle cozies for the daughters of friends, in exchange for an acupuncture treatment (I love bartering!). The cozies are made from sleeves of an old sweater, slightly felted, and embellished with homemade Fimo clay buttons and other sweater, fabric, and fleece scraps.

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More holiday photos, including some from Toronto (which I'll write about next!), here.