Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Something I Need to Say

I have been reading a number of blogs recently, written by women explaining why they did not participate in the Women's Marches held January 21. As you know, I was happy and proud to be part of the Portland March, but that was my decision and not one I would require of anyone else, nor do I care who did or did not march. But I was curious to know what these women had to say about it, and why so many seemed so angry and offended by this peaceful demonstration of our rights to assembly and free speech.

Almost without exception, these bloggers said they did not march because they didn't have to. They have all the rights they need. Their lives are full and fine and equally compensated, and without bias or any whiff of gender inequality. Their writing is notably filled with the words "me," "I", "mine," "myself." Very fortunate people, these ladies. I'm sure they didn't mean to communicate an "I've got mine, screw the rest of you..." message, but, well, there it was.

As for all those rights we women have. Yes, things have changed for many of us, in good ways. As a feminist of the '70s, I saw a lot of change. And it wasn't all about giving women jobs, as one writer characterized the movement. It was about laws protecting women from domestic abuse, equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights, financial freedom and many other things. Many of those things are being threatened. Some, or all the progress made then can be taken back. And there is still work to be done—especially for those who are not white, young, healthy, able-bodied and privileged. If you chose not to march because you have all the rights you need, some of us marched because we fear their loss. And, can we acknowledge that even today, not all women have these rights? Dismissing the struggle of minority populations and immigrants and disabled people and public education and those fearing the loss of the insurance that is keeping them whole and alive because you are just fine, is stunningly self-centered and callous. Are we not all in this together? Does the Golden Rule no longer apply?

You don't need to march. But maybe we all need to consider our words, examine our hearts and open our eyes to each other in empathy and openness. I am getting old and I've seen a lot of change, good and bad. There was a time when I was young that I thought there was a straight line of forward movement—first we deal with race, through the Civil Rights movement, then Women's Rights, then... And, of course, its more of a meandering, backward/forward thing, but I'm still hopeful that we move more foreward than backward in the long run. A lot of marching has been a part of it. I learn something new every day and my awareness of what I don't know constantly alarms and surprises me. The fragility of our way of life is shocking. Vigilance seems an obligation.

And one final silly thing, anti-marchers—get over the hats. Geez, the outrage! No, they are not—as you persist on insisting—"vagina" hats. They are hats with cat (pussy) ears. A play on Trump's nasty word, a bit of a jokey way to throw it back at him. I didn't make or wear one, but I got the joke and I loved the pink glow that sea of hats added to all the crowd photos of the marches! Maybe I should make one...

My plan is to get back to blogging about art and life, but life has changed. The photo at the top has nothing to do with anything, but I took it on my walk yesterday and loved the graphic forms of the branches and crows. See—I'm not completely distracted by the political chaos out there! We are living in challenging, extraordinary times. This blog is my journal of all of it.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


Here are a couple of the blogs I am referring to that have been widely shared. Are you as dismayed as I am?

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Awfulness and the Goodness

I thought I'd begin with this photo of one of our Christmas cacti, blooming it's lovely little heart out at the moment. It makes me smile every time I walk into the kitchen. Goodness.

Now. What a week. I try to keep this blog space politically neutral, but I'm sure my personal views come through from time to time and I don't apologize. I am who I am, and I found myself in a nasty Facebook squabble early in the week, when a woman I have enjoyed online (she makes very charming quilts) made some ugly and completely untruthful remarks about the Women's Marches. It shook me to see, firsthand, the lies and hatefulness that is out there. My solution was to discontinue that Facebook relationship, but it nags at me that simply turning away from hatred is no solution at all. Awful.

It felt good to join a rally in downtown Portland on Friday in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, that was organized by our Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely. One of the rally speakers was Eleanore Bailey, the daughter of my old High School/College friend Michael. Eleanore, who was born with Down Syndrome, is a great advocate for students with disabilities and spoke about her own great education through the Portland Public Schools and the right of all students to that same opportunity.

Eleanore and Michael. Goodness!

It has been a good week to retreat to the studio. I finished the piece to submit for the Dinner@8 show. I'm looking forward to being able to share it after the jurying process. Then I started working on a challenge I set for myself to further explore the idea of 3-dimensional fiber art. I will post more about this soon, but here's a taste—

On Saturday Ray and I decided we needed a good walk, so we headed to downtown Beaverton, with the goal of finding the last of three public trashcans that are decorated with my artwork. I had found two, but only knew the approximate location of the third.

Success! It was in the same little triangle park that another of mine is in, just less visible from the street.

The backdrop of all of the week was, of course, the actions of the president, keeping us all on edge. It descended into true awfulness Saturday afternoon as we sat, watching our granddaughter's swim meet and simultaneously, the president's immigration ban taking effect in Facebook post after Facebook post on our phones. Horrifying. And it continues, worse and worse... By last night I felt so dismayed and discouraged that it was hard to imagine what the future would hold. I felt engulfed in the awful. Then I was reminded of goodness—

A friend of my daughter and son-in-law, an immigrant who, like my son-in-law, is studying to become a licensed teacher, lost nearly everything in a fire last month. Last night my daughter posted a Go Fund Me request for modest donations to help him begin to replace things like his computer, basic furnishings, clothing... I reposted it, and within minutes donations began to pour in from our friends, who had never met him, but saw a need and responded. I love you all for not only helping a deserving young man, but for contributing to goodness in this sometimes awful world.

Goodness/Awfulness. Where is the balance today? I'm not keeping score, and one doesn't justify or nullify the other, but we need to keep the goodness going. It's the only thing that can save us—our sanity, our faith in humanity, our souls.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March-January 21, 2017

Were you there? Were you there in Washington, or Portland, or Chicago, or Pocatello? Were you there in your heart or your imagination? I was there in Portland and I felt you all—all across the country and, indeed, around the world. And that was the great thing—just being there. More than four million people worldwide, 100,000 in Portland, showed up to support women's rights, specifically these, and to denounce the threats the Trump presidency has expressed against these rights.

Ray, daughter Emily, granddaughter Sofia, friends Jeri and Ron, and I boarded a train, already filled with Marchers, into Portland in high spirits!

Three generations of marching women!

We had our signs and Emily and Jeri had knitted their pink hats (not a hat wearer, I colored my hair pink for the occasion).

We blended into the massive crowd near the Portland waterfront. The sky was dark and rainy, but no one seemed to notice and the mood was upbeat and celebratory. News helicopters flew overhead as the crowd cheered and waved.

Soon we were marching, filling the street from edge to edge, chants or singing would arise from the crowd and we would join in. At intersections we could look to our left and our right and see the mass of people, ahead and behind us in the great procession we were in, winding through our city. It looked endless in all directions.

I have read angry messages online, by those who opposed the March, characterizing the participants as "angry feminists", "vulgar", "topless", "profane", "smelly", "tattooed and pierced"... What I saw were passionate young people, families, children, black, brown and white people, grandmothers and grandfathers, tattoos and piercings, disabled people, babies sleeping in strollers, smiles, excitement, humor and fervor. People were exceedingly courteous, looking out for each other, and especially the children, greeting the police with smiles and friendly waves (which, by the way, were returned by the police.) Despite rain and cold feet and crowds, there was a warmth of companionship and the recognition of kindred spirit.

Near the end of our route we passed three little girls, standing together on a curb, gleefully calling out, "Show us what democracy looks like!" And the passing crowd would roar back, "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!"

I will remember this forever and I hope my granddaughter will too. This video captures some of the spirit of Saturday. It was powerful. This is what democracy looks like. Onward!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cabin Fever

It is winter here in Oregon. Crazy winter. Not like Portland winter—like winter winter. It actually started way back before Christmas with an ice storm that ripped through and, among other things, forced our STASH group to cancel our annual Christmas go-to-a-fancy-restaurant lunch. "Oh well," we said. "We will reschedule in January." So we did—for last week, on the day the huge, big amazing snowstorm arrived and shut down the city. Then it got so cold that the snow didn't budge until today. We have rescheduled our lunch for February, knowing full well some weather calamity is sure to materialize on that very day. My basket of Christmas gifts for my friends is looking a little forlorn at this point.

The snow was beautiful. Really, it made me very happy for a day or two there.

I stayed in pajamas 'til noon, drinking coffee and watching birds at the feeder, then waded through the crystalline snow to the studio every afternoon. I have gotten so much done this past week! Unfortunately I am working on a project that I cannot show in progress, but I can't resist giving you a tiny little peek at a tiny little part.

That's my doodle-y stitching, which I wanted, not black, and slightly thicker than usual, so experimentation got me to the idea of stitching from the back with double bobbin threads. Believe it or not, it worked and I love the look of the combined variegated threads I'm using. So, it has been a productive snowed in week! But cabin fever set in a couple days ago, and I was sick of crusty, icy snow and cold feet and not being able to leave my house, and, oh, did I mention that back somewhere on one of those icy days my son slipped on the ice and broke his arm? And my darling grandchildren had missed something like seven days of school and were at each other's throats, driving their parents batty— so the change in weather today was cause for celebration. It has warmed up and raining buckets, melting all that snow. The creek is overflowing and they're worried about the rivers, but I got out to the SAQA meeting this morning—the first event in a month that wasn't cancelled due to weather. So good to talk to others, not my family! So good to drive without fear for my life! And everyone went back to school and work.

I know. This weather is nothing. Many of you are still buried in snow and will be for weeks to come. Some of you are huddling, in the cold, by the light of your iPads, waiting for the electricity to come back on. But we are delicate Oregon flowers who rarely have to experience winter and we nearly died! I don't know how you do it out there in Minnesota...

And the creek keeps rising...

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Retail therapy for artists

Yesterday I came down with a bad case of cabin fever—had to get out of the house! The holidays, wonderful as they have been, were getting a little claustrophobic. It seemed like a good day for a drive into the city to check out the new Artist and Craftsman Supply Store. I love an art supply store like some people love bookstores. (I like bookstores too!) Some are elegant and efficiently organized; some are warm and homey; some are cluttered and messy; and some are funky and fun. Sometimes you can tell the minute you drive up in front what it will be.

Deceptively small from the outside, this place is crammed full of goodness!

Deep inventories of those special areas of interest to me—all kinds of fiber arts supplies like dyes and textile paints and markers and yarns and tools, no fabrics.

Printmaking supplies and inks and a huge variety of drawing pens, pencils and papers. Bookmaking supplies that I haven't seen in any other local stores. Great stuff for kids, including cool mask-making supplies.

I spent more than an hour wandering and touching and mentally cataloging the inventory, so that when I need that silkscreen ink for fabric, or extra thick foam board or tiny spray bottles for watercolor or dye, I will remember where I saw that perfect "thing." I bought some drawing pens and a dye marker and a little photo book. Not much, but I loved the place and I'll be back!

It's a national chain, but has a local feel about it and the most interesting inventory I've seen in Portland. No affiliation, just happy for another resource!

Artist and Craftsman Supply

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Word

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you might know that, at year's end, I don't make resolutions, but rather settle on a word that will encourage and remind me of my goals and intentions for the coming year. I think it started about nine years ago, when members of an online group I belong to started posting their own words. I liked the idea, and unlikely as it might sound, I think those words actually have been motivating. For 2017 my word is resist.

I have arrived at the end of 2016 feeling worn out, raw and ragged. I let my little reminder icon reflect that. Make what you will of the loose ends and hammered copper... at the last minute it occurred to me that the word itself needed to be created using a "resist" technique— .

Why that word? I considered so many words—positive, optimistic, pretty words—but none seemed to have the strength and resolve I was hoping for, until I got to "resist" which speaks to me on many levels.

Resist hatred, bigotry, racism by standing up for all of my fellow citizens, neighbors, family, friends

Resist hopelessness and despair

Resist isolation—stay active in the world

Resist complacency

Resist artistic laziness—keep stretching

Resist time-wasting distractions like Facebook and online games (that was hard to type!)

Resist saying "yes" to things I really don't want or need

And I'm sure there will be many more things to resist! So, perhaps I'm ready to face the coming year. It is sure to be challenging. The word for 2017 joins those from previous years, there to remind me to be present, be alert and meet the future head-on.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

T is for...

Earlier this week our grandchildren spent a couple of days with us while their hard-working parents enjoyed a little holiday getaway. We wanted to do something fun with the kids and since the weather had improved vastly from the previously icy, snowy week before we came up with a small Portland Adventure. It was a modified "4 Ts" trek, similar to what we did with friends last year. We swapped out the "trail" part for a walk on the new Tilikum Crossing bridge. So we drove to the zoo in our Toyota and got on the train to downtown Portland.

Each kid carried along a little notebook and pen to write down all the things we saw starting with the letter T. They quickly spotted tracks, trucks, tires, trees and telephones, then it got a little harder. Marco decided to embellish his list with a drawing of a turkey. Once downtown, we walked a couple blocks, past food trucks selling tacos and tamales and boarded the Trolley to the south waterfront area.

That's where we got on the overhead Tram that connects the two campuses of the Oregon Health Sciences University.

The view from the Tram is amazing and we all agreed that the cars and houses down below looked like toys from so far above. We rode up, then back down again, then walked several blocks to Portland's beautiful, new Tilikum Crossing Bridge. It is the first bridge of its kind in the US—for buses, streetcars, trains, bicycles and pedestrians—no cars allowed. It was beautiful in the late afternoon, winter sunshine.

Then we reversed our route and headed home. We were tired and happy with our big adventure. We had pretty well exhausted our supply of T words by then, but the final train ride rewarded us with one last beauty.


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