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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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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