Friday, February 27, 2015

Fancy Basketry Tools

Working with a friend on the island, I am delighted to share, in merely an advisory capacity, in her new creative basketry tools. These are in bronze. Stay tuned for some in silver!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

All Those Papers and Files

As I tackle the filing cabinets at the mainland house, deciding what to keep, what should be shred, and what goes into the recycling, I am absolutely astounded at what I've kept over the years. Files marked "To Do", "To Keep", "Ideas", files filled with magazine articles, old cards and letters, folders from organizations I've belonged to, and anything I thought was interesting and worth keeping for about the last 12 years (since the last big purge) now fill the recycling bin. The Internet has changed how we manage information.  We no longer need to keep scraps of paper - we can look it up if we ever need it again. 
Embracing that "if" is the guidepost to clearing out all manner of clutter, I'm finding.  I also battle the "shoulds" - I probably should keep this..... And don't even get me started on all the craft magazines!
Surrounded by boxes at the moment, I'm  waiting for that moment when I feel organized, lighter, and in control of the paper monster. (I'm not quite there yet!)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Spring Cleaning

This last week has found me in the throes of planning, executing, re-planning, and working at spring cleaning, both in the mainland house and here on the island.  It seems it is almost ingrained in us to sort, toss, clean and rearrange during this time of year.  There are several reasons for that:
Spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. The practice of spring cleaning is especially prevalent in climates with a cold winter.
The most common usage of spring cleaning refers to the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name. However it has also come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their affairs in order before an audit or inspection could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.


It has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the Iranian Norouz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of "khooneh tekouni" which literally means "shaking the house" just before the new year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. A similar tradition is the Scottish "New Year's cleaning" on Hogmanay (December 31), a practice now also widespread in Ireland, New Zealand, and to North America.
Another possibility of the origin of spring cleaning can be traced to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time memorial feast of Passover (Hebrewפסח pesach‎). In remembrance of the Jews' hasty flight from Egyptfollowing their captivity there, during the seven-day observance of the Passover memorial or remembrance, There are strict prohibitions against eating or drinking anything which may have been leavened or fermented with yeast (Exodus 12:15, 19). Jews are not only supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs (known in Hebrew as חמץ chametz), they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of chametz for the length of the holiday (Exodus 12:15). Therefore, observant Jews conducted a thorough "spring cleaning" of the house, followed by a traditional hunt for chametz crumbs by candlelight (called bedikat chametz [Hebrew: בדיקת חמץ]) on the evening before the holiday begins.
In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especially practical value due to those regions' continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. For the same reason, modern rural households often use the month of March for cleaning projects involving the use of chemical products which generate fumes.

Which makes sense on oh so many levels for me personally.  Couple the cleaning with my ever-present wish to simplify, and it makes for carloads of donations to the local thrift stores.
There is something so very satisfying in getting sorted and cleaned in the springtime.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nana Adventure

For their Christmas present, we took the grandsons on a train for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, Washington in the Cascade mountains. The day was filled with browsing and tasting, the evening with enjoying the Christmas lights! Crisp nights, warm sunny day, and a loving family made for a great getaway!
We had hoped for more snow, but ah well.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Spice in My Life

Having spent some time recently off island, in big cities, and amid the abundance of shops, stores, and frenzy, I'm comfortably embracing my quiet, slower life on Lopez.  The following article definitely addresses some issues associated with so much needless variety.  It's pretty easy to get sucked into the whirl of consumerism, I know.  Living a simpler life is absolutely a life-long process

Maybe Variety isn’t the Spice of Life

Maybe Variety isn't the Spice of Life
According to Consumer Reports, Between 1975 and 2008, the number of products in the average supermarket swelled from an average of 8,948 to almost 47,000.
There are 14 different kinds of Cheerios.
When walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store is overwhelming, while people go hungry in our cities and countries, something is broken. I’m not saying that fewer cereal choices is the solution to hunger, but if we weren’t so weighed down with the meaningless decisions we make everyday, perhaps we’d have the clarity for choices that make a difference in the world.
Instead of mastering productivity with the goal of making even more decisions every day, what if we eliminated some of the unnecessary choices we make every day? We are fortunate to have the freedom to choose, but according to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, we aren’t happier because of it.
Schwartz says, “When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.”
If we were making fewer decisions, could we make better decisions? I’ve experimented with living and dressing less, and the answer I’ve discovered, as have many others, is a resounding yes. When we create boundaries around things that are distracting us from what really matters, our level of engagement in the things we actually care about becomes boundless.

How to Eliminate Thousands of Meaningless Decisions

Choose fewer items in the grocery store.
The typical American grocery store offers more than 47,000 items to choose from. We could spend hours walking up and down the aisles, taunted by product placement, deciphering labels, or we could have a list of our favorite ingredients, mostly real food, and only purchase and create meals with them.
Try the Capsule Kitchen challenge and save time, money and mental energy.
Pretend the internet is broken.
Bored? Play an internet game. Lost? Google it. Lonely? Find friends on Facebook. The internet has endless options and choices that trick us into believing that a workable solution is only a click away (and then another and another). The problem is we don’t get to discover the solutions that come from being bored, lost, lonely and many other things. Creativity and clarity is squashed with too many answers.
Tell your family that the internet is broken on Sundays or whatever day works for you and take a digital break.
Take back your inbox.
Email creates a plethora of decisions to be made. Respond? Delete? Hit send? Read all the way through? Say yes? Say no? And all of the questions and ideas that arrive during the day occupy your brain. While there are systems out there to alleviate email stress, the best way to take control is to only open your inbox 1-3 times a day.
Turn off distracting notifications and manage email on your time.
Ask for help.
Instead of tormenting yourself trying to make a decision, or worse, avoiding the decision all together because you are too scared or overwhelmed to choose, ask someone for help. Sometimes letting someone else weigh in adds great clarity to your decision.
Undo your to-do list.
The reason we don’t know how to prioritize is because there is so much to do that we can’t identify how we want to spend our time. Passions and interests are buried somewhere on page 3 of our to-do lists. These never-ending lists are winning. They never get done, only re-written.
All of that time consumed with listing the things to do and feeling bad about the things that were left undone contributes to the lack of time you have to do them. Instead, keep a master list in Evernote and before you go to sleep, pull 1-3 items that you’ll do tomorrow. When you finish them, revisit the list or go for a walk.
Consider that un-rounded kids are pretty awesome too.
Violin lessons for focus, team sports for persistence, tutoring sessions for perfection, and the activities to round out our kids goes on and on. We are creating resumes for children for a life they probably don’t want. Kids and parents are exhausted. Pick one activity instead of all the activities.
Instead of making kids well-rounded, let’s make them loved and loving.
Create a decision-free closet.
How many decisions a day are fashion based? When mornings are consumed with choosing outfits and weekends at the mall looking for deals and trends, we become a slave to fashion, even when we aren’t very fashionable. Create a capsule wardrobe and choose from a very small selection seasonally.
Simplifying things creates a life that requires fewer choices. When we give things up, and let things go, we might miss out on some of it, but we won’t care because we will be so damn happy that we are surrounded by and immersed in our favorite things, and that we are making decisions that offer greater benefit than the perfect cereal for breakfast.
Maybe variety isn’t the spice of life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

In Need of An Instruction Manual

For the last few days I've been in the throes of reassessing the configuration of my working life, the dynamics between teaching and being an artist.  As with most things in life, nothing is purely black or white, but sometimes very subtle shades of gray (to use a worn out turn of phrase).

To teach, I need to design new class baskets to keep it interesting, order the materials, plan days on end of kit making, send in proposals, play the dance of getting them accepted, have the classes fill, pack up 3 large suitcases, and travel (often by air) to the event, negotiate hotels and car rentals, and eventually teach.

To work as a fiber artist, I need time to dream, create, play in my studio, and spend many, many and then many more hours working on projects.

The "dis-ease" I've been struggling with is the sense that the time I'm currently spending on each of these two activities is not in alignment with my internal clock, or needs, or whatever that elusive thing is that tells me that I'm not doing what I need/want/must to do.

The only solution I can come up with, since my life didn't come with an instruction manual, is to make a change, such as limiting future teaching events a bit, and see by trial and error if I can reach the comfortable spot, the perfect balance point - my personal pivot point, where all is in balance.  Obviously this is a struggle for me.  Back to those words of balance, equilibrium, and feeling centered.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Truly an Island Dweller

If there had been any doubts whatsoever that I am an islander, those doubts are now completely put to rest with my trip to Los Angeles.  Oh my heavens!  How they deal with all the traffic, even on the weekends, is way beyond ken.  Thankfully I was merely the passenger, and the driver was skilled.

I could no more live in that time-consuming, energy wasting (both mine and the fuel) way of life than fly.  The traffic, over-population, constant lights and noise and busy-ness could have been overwhelming if I had not kept reminding myself that I was just visiting.

Back home on Lopez I'm embracing anew the peace and quiet, no traffic, and no lights.  The only sounds are the frogs reawakening, the night light is from the moon.  And the fresh air is pure bonus.  I'm definitely not taking my life here for granted.  Maybe we need to travel to be reminded of what we truly have.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Off Again - But Now as Student

After all my recent teaching engagements, I'm looking forward to being the student for a change! Heading to Los Angeles for a class with Ann Coddington Rast in Sculptural Twining, I'm embracing the excitement of learning new techniques and being with phenomenal weavers. Oh, and being in some warm weather won't hurt at all, either. 




Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2 Ground Hog Day

So once again the ground hog in Pennsylvania "saw his shadow" so 6 more weeks of winter are predicted.  But did he really see his shadow, or did the people around him see it and assumed he saw it? (Sort of like if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around, does it make a noise?)  So I ask, was he even looking?

Always seeking new information however, I discovered:
NOAA says Groundhog Day originated as an ancient celebration of the mid-point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.

  • What do you get when you cross a groundhog with a pistachio? 
    A green beast who predicts a dry spring, and acts like a nut.