If your plane has been hijacked….

This saying has been circulating since the election, and I understand the thinking behind it.

It also reminds me of the passenger-heroes of Flight 93, who overtook hijackers on their September 11, 2001 flight, forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field instead of its intended metropolitan target.

If your plane has been hijacked, and you know it is on a suicide mission, do you sit by idly? Or, do you organize and try to regain control of the plane, putting it on its right course?

Finding grace in the second verse

The weekend’s news was filled with the glitter and fluff of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. According to several reports, the criticism of Mariah Carey’s appearance Saturday night on national TV quickly dissolved into trashing Carey, her plea to the audience to sing, and barbs between Carey and the show’s producer over sound systems and lip-syncing gone bad.

I was reminded of the incredible grace that Patti Smith displayed, and received from the audience, when she performed on behalf of Bob Dylan’s recognition as the 2016 recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Smith lost her way in Dylan’s winding second verse of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. When she realized she was repeating words, tried to find her place, and had to pause again, Smith told the audience,“I’m sorry, I’m so nervous.”

The audience, filled with dignitaries, responded with grace and kindness by offering applause. Smith regained her composure, the musicians helped her return to the song, and Smith finished the song.

The audience at Times Square on New Year’s Eve isn’t there to be somber and sit still. It is due professional respect, the same kind that Smith extended to her audience in Sweden last month, and that she received in return.

Patti Smith writes in The New Yorker on her Nobel Prize performance

#the100DayProject

The Friday Photo
May 20, 2016

painted photos
In the past I’ve thought it would be a good idea to be part of an “organized” creative project. And in the past I’ve quit, and often wondered, “Why am I even bothering?”

Earlier this year I committed to a 10 day Leap project  led by my friend Patti Digh. On the tenth day I “leapt” into a new, creative, and less self-critical mindset. Last month I happened upon a post by my friend Heather Muse for #the100dayproject and my new “why not Leap” mindset said, “Try it! Why not? Leap!!”

Yesterday was Day 31. I am amazed I’ve gotten this far. Using Waterlogue, a phone app, every day I “paint” a photo I’ve taken and post it on Instagram with the hashtags #the100dayproject and #100daysofpaintedphotos. Search Instagram and find out how people are investing in 100 days of creative play and work.

Today’s Friday Photo is a collage of six painted photos I’ve posted so far. Later today I’ll post #32 on Instagram.

Say Yes to generous offers

The Friday Photo
February 26, 2016


What happens when you say yes to generous offers?
Two friends contributed their talents to make a gift I wanted to send to two poets who inspire creativity in communities across our country.

This is the year I learn to say Yes to generous offers.

Fitting for a Monday

David-Bowie_Chicago_2002-08-08_photoby_Adam-Bielawski-croppedThe last way I wanted to start my day was learning that music/acting/fashion icon David Bowie died yesterday just two days after releasing a new album, Blackstar.

This song, Under Pressure, pairing Bowie’s voice with the equally talented Freddie Mercury (whose talent was also gone too soon) and Queen, is appropriate for a Monday.

Through a child’s eye

The Friday Photo
December 18, 2015

12369182_10208375557452912_3859738501300737842_n
photo by Ella Cummings, 8 years old

Last weekend my granddaughter used an old iPhone to take
pictures during our overnight trip to Atlanta. She took this
picture in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Coloring is for grown-ups too!

The Friday Photo
July 10, 2015
mandala
When was the last time you colored something?

Not with a child, but for yourself?

Coloring, as I have rediscovered since stretching my comfort level at Life Is a Verb Camp last fall, is relaxing and fun. Susan Paul Johnson, an educator and artist, managed to teach this self-proclaimed  “not an artist” to enjoy drawing and coloring Mandalas. I came home and shared what I learned with my grandchildren (they found all kinds of Mandalas for children on the web to print and color, in addition to drawing a few of their own).

Earlier this week Susan shared a link about a free Mandala coloring book. I printed every page the other night and promptly got out my colored pencils.

Try them, even if you describe yourself as “not an artist.”

Where’s The Friday Photo?

I didn’t post a photo last Friday because I didn’t think I had anything that was worth posting. What I did think about a good bit on Friday, and other days, was about putting Rural and Progressive on hiatus to figure out if I should continue.

It takes me A LOT of time to crank out posts that are heavy on politics. Fact-checking, reading a variety of sources, double checking, proofing, maybe asking for a review before posting, and triple checking take time. When I worked at home and my schedule was flexible I could pick up and put down posts throughout the day.

And then today Hillary announced. So I signed up and donated to her campaign.

This election isn’t about electing the first woman POTUS (even though we’re behind the curve on electing women to national leadership in America). This election is about children, women, seniors, people of color, my LGBTQ friends and family, the middle class, the working poor, our veterans, energy production, peace, public schools, rural communities, national infrastructure, the arts, health care, housing, food shortages, and our natural resources.

So I ‘m figuring out what Rural and Progressive will be in the future.

Got a suggestion? I’d love to hear it.

 

Not For Sale

For almost three years I let a gorgeous cashmere sweater intimidate me. It stayed folded up neatly among thrift store sweaters I had collected early in my repurpose/upcycle life with textiles.

cable scarfSome cabled cashmere sweaters don’t “snug up” where they are cut, which means that they require more fabric, more time, and more effort to repurpose. But the sweater that intimidated me was worse than that. It didn’t feel felted at all. Had it not looked a little bit smaller, I would have sworn it hadn’t been washed in hot water and dried on the cotton setting.

Every so often I would unfold it, gently squeezing the soft cables between my fingers, asking, “What can I do with you?”

During the fall I tried something using just the sleeves, but it wasn’t right. I folded the failed project up, tucked it inside the body of the sweater, and said I’d be back.

cabled cashmere scarfIn the quiet on the Sunday afternoon between Christmas and New Year”s Day (we are empty nesters, so yes, there was quiet at our house), I unfolded the caramel colored cables and decided I had waited long enough. The very worst I could do was have to cut up the end product and figure a way to use it piecemeal, disappointing for sure.

Because my mother taught me how to match plaids and patterns when I learned how to sew, I couldn’t just cut the sweater up and start sewing. I had to make the cable pattern match as best as possible. FYI- cashmere can be slippery. I must have used 200 pins to keep the pieces in place. Plus I basted things together before making it permanent (which means I sewed the whole thing twice).

It turned out just as I had hoped- super thick and soft, really far more extravagant than the rather simple things I make. There aren’t many things I decide to make for myself that I just won’t sell. I’ve learned that the hard way by posting a photo on Facebook and saying, “Look what I made in Guilford colors for Homecoming.” or “I’ve never repurposed silk before but now I know that I can!”

black cashmere shawlTwo weeks ago I came home from work pondering how I might make a bright colored shawl or wrap, but I couldn’t work out the design. Facebook friends had suggestions but I didn’t have enough cashmere to repurpose for a final product.

This past Sunday night I screwed up my courage and decided the worst that could happen, if I used what I have in a fairly large quantities, would be repurposing a shawl into several smaller items. I sorted and moved things around until almost 12:30 Monday morning, but I had it figured out when I called it a night.

 

gray cashmere wrapFirst thing Monday morning I got my shears out and started cutting. I had no pattern, so it was a slow-go to make sure the pieces would all fit together. Just before 1:00 I took a few pictures and then put the shawl, consisting of parts of five sweaters, into the wash to felt some of the newly cut edges.

It takes an hour for my washing machine to go through a full cycle. That’s a lifetime when sweaters it took forever to collect, and hours to put together, are being waited on to emerge.

This project was more than some thrift store sweaters though. One of the sweaters I repurposed, the lightest shade among the pieces I used, was sent to me by a friend who shares my love of clean water and air and healthy families. There’s a story and sentiment in this shawl. I’m firm on sharing this as a Not For Sale item.

 

Nikki Haley has no time for poetry

Newly inaugurated South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley didn’t have time for two minutes of poetry written for her second swearing-in yesterday. Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina’s poetry laureate, has written poems for the last three gubernatorial inaugurations. This year Haley decided that two minutes couldn’t be spared for an original poem written by Wentworth.

Marjory Wentworth
Marjory Wentworth

In the past, according to NPR, Wentworth chose themes of nature and animals for previous ceremonies. For Haley’s second ceremony Ms Wentworth penned a poem focused on elements of South Carolina’s history, including its ports where slaves were shipped in for sale. And where the Confederate flag still flies next to the state’s flag at the state capital.

Wentworth is invited to read her poem at a ceremony organized by the state’s NAACP chapter on Martin Luther King, Jr Day next Monday, which she will do. In the meantime, U. S. Rep James Clyburn, who represents South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, read the poem yesterday from the floor of the House of Representatives. Wentworth’s poem is included in NPR’s coverage.

When TV is on the Internet

I posted this on my Facebook page and some interesting comments followed. I’m reposting my original post here:

In case you wonder why I keep posting about the importance of making high-speed internet access available in rural America, think about it this way: last night not one network (except for PBS) got an award for their programming. All the awards went to online formats like Amazon Prime and Netflix. And ESPN is adding some type of streaming option this year as well.

What this means is that rural folks can’t participate in things that begin to be a cultural/educational part of American life. I’d love to watch “Transparent,” and would pay for an Amazon Prime subscription to do it. Or “Orange is the New Black.” Or “House of Cards.”

Sure, its “only TV,” but when you can’t begin to be part of the conversation due to a lack of technology infrastructure, it is more than that.

Sharpen your pencils

The Friday Photo
January 9, 2015
This machine kills fascists

These pencils were created by one of my favorite illustrators, Oliver Jeffers, who quotes Woody Guthrie here. This photograph is circulating on the web after the terrorism inflicted on Charlie Hebdo.

If we want to live in a world where ideas are shared freely, all of us must sharpen our pencils.

I already have a recipe for potato salad

The Friday Photo
October 10, 2014

Life Is A Verb camp

Last summer a guy posted a satirical Kickstarter campaign for a potato salad recipe. He ended up raising $55K. Fortunately I have a couple of good potato salad recipes, including the slightly spicy one from the Vortex in Atlanta (no fundraising required).

What I realized I don’t have in my cookbook is a recipe for finding my way to whatever my next job will be. I’ve got a lot of ingredients but what I don’t have is a way to find the right recipe.

Some friends suggested I step outside my comfort zone and make an ask for help to go to Life Is a Verb Camp in early November. The Camp Director, my friend Patti Digh, has planned teaching and learning sessions that include poets Naomi Shihab Nye and
Ellen Bass, nonprofit leaders that span the spectrum, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer  Association, artists, writers, and health leaders. I’m not going because I want to learn how to write poetry, but rather because I need to figure out how to think differently about the ingredients I already have.

Wednesday afternoon I got two unexpected gifts outside my Go Fund Me campaign, one that included a message, “Do not put this effort down.” As Progressives know, much attention and money are focused on heated campaigns across the country, not exactly the best time to launch a smaller one like my camp campaign.

After I let the unexpected generosity soak in overnight, I was able to cut my goal be more than half. Now I’m really close to going to my first ever sleep over camp on November 6th and I need your help to top the $500 mark by Monday.

This campaign isn’t  beholden to a bunch of PACs, but I am offering to work with donors on their own marketing/nonprofit projects as a return on their investment. If you make a donation of any size, of course I’ll be grateful. If you can share the link with your friends, that will help a lot.

I’ve stretched way beyond what I thought possible. It is scary, but a good campaign requires a candidate that is willing to make The Big Ask. This camp candidate is asking for your help and support now.

 

Just chill

Karl Stephan "Chill"
Karl Stephan “Chill”

My friend Karl Stephan posted a gorgeous piece of art work yesterday inspired by the ALS Ice Water Challenge. Karl is stepping up to the challenge too. This is what he posted on Facebook:

I will donate ALL proceeds from the sale of this painting after my expenses*: half to ALS and half to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Message me to make an offer. Anything over $75 (plus MA sales tax) will be divided between the two worthy causes. Karl

Contact Karl today before the 24 hour challenge runs out and then “chill” for the cause.