Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

World Peace Day – 45 Years Later

Yeah, it’s been reflection time these past two weeks about a student project from 45 years ago. At the time I was teaching at Baldwin High School on Maui, and I was advisor to the Pacific and Asian Affairs Club. The beginning of my second year, Claudia Otsuka and her twin Dawn came to me with the idea for a World Peace Day that spring. It was my second year on Maui and my second year teaching, so why not? Little did I know how memorable the journey would be. I wrote about it here for the 40th anniversary, with all the news clippings.

In 1972 we were at war in Vietnam, cities were on fire with protests, marginalized groups were trying to speak up and have their voices heard. What bothered me this week – and as a history person, nearly every week – is that nothing has changed. We’re marching for Climate Change tomorrow the 29th. We’re in two wars, and the prospects of getting involved in North Korea scares me. I really thought I was done having to worry about where I lived and what part of the house would be the best place to hold out in case of a nuclear attack.

Minimal technology in this endeavor – mimeo machines, typewriters and carbon paper, phone calls to Washington, DC to our House Representative Sparky Matsunaga who was a keynote speaker…..arranging lodging, going to Honolulu to talk to the legislature about getting an official World Peace Day through the legislature, getting parade permits for our Walk for Peace to raise money for the event – and being consistently called a Communist for protesting for peace. I guess nowadays my label would be “libtard.”

Sparky was the first person, aside from the high school support (which was mild) to believe in what we wanted to accomplish. From the webpage:

So here we are again…..still….searching for that elusive peace……My generation is a transitional one – from starting out believing life would be better for us to wondering in our older years if anything will be left for us. Back to the barricades…..

The End of the War

With all the traveling, I missed a significant anniversary – the end of World War 2 in Europe. As a history person, I read up on lots of events, and for this I found an absolutely incredible video showing the human cost of war. I consider this a “must watch,” especially for those of us who advocate for peace.

This Video Illustration Showing the Scale of Human Loss From World War II Is Devastating

Other posts on World War II:

D-Day – Operation Overlord

Remembrance – Every Year

Memorial Monday

World Peace Day

Coexist

 

Memorial Monday

I published this last Memorial Day, and I thought I would add a few notes and some new links.

Memorial Day, 2013. We are still at war in Afghanistan. North Korea is making noise, and I’m not sure we are getting the full story. The Arab Spring is having interesting consequences, and we are yet to see it play out. More and more we hear about veterans’ benefits being cut. I watched the Memorial Day Concert on the Washington Mall last night and was once again angry at the needless loss of life and wounding of so many young people. Calling them Wounded Warriors (which they undoubtedly are) just sounds like a slogan for marketing. Call me a pessimist, but I see this title as one more strategy to pull as away from where it really counts: stopping wars altogether.

Thanks to Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, we are looking at the suffering made on the Homefront. They have done great work, acknowledging those who also serve. If you watched the audience shots last night, you saw the wounded women. We still have not recognized the role women have played in our wars.

I think about the endless years ahead for our wounded men and women. Couple that with cuts to benefits, and I get very angry. Saying “thank you” with a concert doesn’t help the suicide rate of veterans, even with an 800 number to call a crisis line. After wiping away the tears from the presentation by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinese, I started wishing yet again for trials of George W and his cronies for crimes against humanity. I know “freedom isn’t free,” but there must be another way to peace.

Here are a few links I found for this year’s remembrance.

Remembering the Women Who Also Gave Their Lives

And a piece from the remarkable Howard Zinn: Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day? Thirty-seven years old and just as applicable – and controversial – today.

I miss you, Daddy – every day for 38 years. You were so young.
Memorial Day, 2012. It’s Memorial Day, and I always think about my dad, Eugene R. Lemke, who served in the Merchant Marine during World War 2. He lied about his age, as many young men did, in order to fight. He never said much, and I just have some pictures of his travels to the Mid-East and India. When he read Alistair MacLean’s HMS Ulysses, he admitted that he had been on the Archangel-Murmansk run. He got his GED after the war and picked up classes over the years in insurance. He died 37 years ago, in his 40’s. One year for Christmas, I sent money in his name to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC.

I’ve always remembered Memorial Day. I would be the only one standing when the flag went by. I would place flowers on graves. To me it’s always been about sacrifice, never about sales and picnics. I miss the parades – only one in Tucson, and that’s on the way west side of the city.

In the early 1070s my students in Hawaii wanted to celebrate a World Peace Day, which we set for April 28, 1972. The Pacific and Asian Affairs Council chapter worked for most of the year, with me taking care of scut work, based on what they wanted to do. I never had any idea I would get called a Communist so much, or be followed because of advocating for peace. Quite the eye-opener for naive me….who would have thought peace would be so controversial? Thirty-seven years later we’re still at war…. It’s a very strange world….

My father-in-law trained pilots in India to fly over the hump. Last year I read a book about the China-Burma theater that was an eye-opener. Talk about a theater of war that had no support, and so many untold stories of heroism. My mother’s second husband was in the Pacific with the First Cavalry, just ahead of MacArthur.  One of my good memories of him is taking me through the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia and talking about the campaigns. He was First Cav to his dying day at 92, this last November. My dad’s best friend was in a tank  in France. They’re all gone, and the stories are fading fast also.

This 70th anniversary of Bataan and Corregidor brought many stories back to us. Our veterans from World War II are dying off. And our new veterans are facing horrible injuries that would have killed them in earlier wars. They’re facing cut-backs in veteran’s benefits, problems with jobs, high suicide rates. War should never be the answer without exploring all options beforehand. And for those who served and who now choose to serve, we need to be there for them, regardless.

Having visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial, I found this extremely moving.

And finally, a quote (one of many from The 25 Best Reasons to Stop Sending Our Soldiers to War):

         “Make wars unprofitable and you make them impossible.” ~~A. Philip Randolph, leader in the civil rights and labor movements

May You Have Peace

Not Again…..

Jane Goodwin, Mamacita of The Scheiss Weekly, says it best:

Read the full article here.

May our thoughts be with the families in Aurora, Colorado….and perhaps we might still learn something……

Thursday Thoughts – “Truth”

I’ve been bookmarking lots of articles lately, except not the ones having anything to do with the science of tutoring, which is what I should be looking for….but these have been articles that are causing me to think. A lot of these fall into the category of WTF….but I will say I am trying to be more circumspect in evaluating my information. My liberal bent won’t go away, but I do want to be more cognizant of “truth” and how it’s presented to us these days.

This first is from the Huff Post, and it is about obscenity – in a most unusual place. It seems there was a hearing in Washington on the House Committee on Natural Resources. The woman presenting is a coal field activist and concerned about the availability of clean water to families in the area. She had a photo to share of a naked child playing in filthy water, full of pollutants and poisons.

“…well water is the only source of water most coalfield residents have, people who live far from any municipal water supply. In most of these communities, city water just isn’t an option, and buying containers of drinking water is expensive. As a result, for so many people, this is the water they drink, the water they bathe in, the water they use to live. Human beings require a lot of water, and while you can distill and filter it, this is still the water you’re stuck with, the water that comes out of the ground. When that water gets poisoned, that’s the water you put in your body.” (From the Huff Post).

The picture shown was of a child (with the parents’ permission to show the photo) bathing in this polluted water. At which point the Capitol police took the woman aside to question her about child pornography.

Okay. This whole issue is not about pictures of naked children. It’s about a picture of the living conditions in an area severely polluted. At no point was this even debated. Now the liberal part of me is outraged. I immediately want to blame coal money  having a hold on what gets brought up for discussion in the House. And the liberal part of me should stay outraged that we have these kinds of living conditions for families in the 21st century in this country. That’s the outrage that should be heard, not changing the tenor of the committee hearing to idenitfying whether something is pornographic.

So what is the “truth” here? That’s where I am trying to wrap my head around some of the articles that we are seeing. Yes, the Capitol police released the woman, saying there were no grounds for pornography. So what happened to the debate in the committee? Who were the Senators? How much money have they (regardless of party) received from coal mining interests? What was the overarching purpose for this committee hearing? These are questions that should all be answered. We can’t determine “truth” without far more information.

This next article is from Trouthout, “Don’t Thank Me for My Service.” Wow, very different. A veteran talks about his guilt at serving in the military, and being thanked for the killing skills he learned. Here’s an excerpt:

“So, when you thank me for my service, it disturbs me … a lot. First off, it brings to mind my wasted youth and lost innocence, and the horrible and unnecessary deaths of good friends and comrades. Second, it reminds me of my responsibility and culpability for the pain and suffering I caused innocent people, again something I would rather forget, but cannot. Third, it reinforces my belief that you have absolutely no idea about the nature and reality of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, because if you did, you would understand that thanks are inappropriate. Fourth, it reminds me that many of those who feel the need to offer thanks were apathetic about – or even supportive of – the war, while they refuse to participate themselves or did little or nothing to end it. And lastly, I have to admit that I doubt the sincerity of these expressions of supposed gratitude, as “Thank you for your service” is just something to say not because you care about what I did or sacrificed, but only to demonstrate your supposed good character, or patriotism and/or “support” for members of the military and veterans.”

Powerful stuff. Those of you who follow me know I fervently believe in peace, and I feel all avenues need to be explored – honestly, rightly, with whatever it takes to listen, before war  or “military action” is declared. Being one who didn’t want us in Iraq or Afghanistan, I worry about all the injured vets coming home, men and women alike, who face a lifetime of flashbacks and rehabilitation. Cutbacks in veteran services make me mad, because these people gave the full measure of their lives and will never be the same because of it. War is fought by young people, sent to war by older folks. Nothing has ever changed.

I find this an interesting “truth.” We are here today because of those who fought in past wars, especially our “Greatest Generation.” But they brought their demons home with them, just like today’s vets. Hitler and Tojo – not much choice for us there. But what about now? There’s nothing on the news to remind us of what’s happening to our men and women. No pictures. I don’t particularly want the living room war of Vietnam, but in the midst of all the crap out of Hollywood and the wealthy, we forget there is an ongoing war. I listened to a military mom in the doctor’s office saying she would vote Republican because Obama didn’t support the troops. How much truth is there in what she believes? One 10-second sound bite doesn’t give us the facts we need to determine why our troops are where they are, how they are being supported, and how they are being led.

What we are sorely lacking in this country now is ANY form of civil discourse, where we can have facts, partisan as they may be, and the chance to investigate and discuss all the issues. This whole issue of “whose truth” is keeping me awake at night. What has happened to the voices of reason and the journalists who do whatever it takes to get the news to us, as unbiased as possible? And what is happening to the teaching of the discipline of history, so that we have the tools to analyze the information we do get? Where are the voices of reason?

World Peace Day – April 28, 1972 – 40 Years Later

Forty years ago I was teaching at Baldwin High School, on the island of Maui. I was adviser to a student group called Pacific and Asian Affairs Council. In September of my second year teaching, two of the students, Claudia and Dawn Otsuka, came to me with an idea….have a day-long celebration devoted to studying peace. We started planning then, and on April 28, 1972, we held World Peace Day. Along the way we raised money through a 9-mile Walk for Peace, lobbied the state legislature to make April 28 an official World Peace Day, convinced the school administration to cancel regular classes in favor of peace activities, and planned a weekend of events for PAAC groups around the state.

It was quite the undertaking, and as the adviser, I learned a lot. In the name of one of the students I wrote to our Congressional representative, Sparky Matsunaga, about coming and being the keynote speaker – and he accepted. I lobbied the mayor’s office to get the parade permit for our Walk for Peace. Students participated in the peace walk in droves, raising $2000 (in 1972 dollars) to support activities. We lined up the mayor, the governor, pro athletes….as I was rereading some of the articles, I am amazed at what the students were able to accomplish.

Two major lessons: students will rise to the expectations set for them. The whole high school participated in activities that Friday, listening to speakers and attending small group activities. The PAAC group handled so many various little details, creating slide shows, hosting students and faculty members in their homes, speaking to groups, preparing materials, providing entertainment. When you have school groups coming from Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island to Maui for two days, there are a lot of little important details. They spoke to the state legislature, giving them meaningful arguments for a declaration for a World Peace Day.

The other lesson was a surprise to me. In 1972 we were still at war in Vietnam. I fielded phone calls saying what the students were doing was a communist plot. So many negative phone calls about a communist plot in Peace Day. We had no hidden agendas beyond talking about the need for peace. But to many people, peace was perceived as being against the government and against the Vietnam War.

This was the beginning of my understanding just what students could do when motivated by an idea of their own. The involvement of students from the very beginning of an idea (in fact, their idea) led to ownership on their part. In the years since then, I have often asked teacher and administrative groups, as they are sharing something “new” with us, where the “student voice” is. It’s always missing, and I still get looks along the lines of, “Yeah, like the kids will really want to do that.”

But they do, and part of what is wrong with education today is that students are not really involved in major decision-making.

Yet on one sunny Friday and Saturday in April, 40 years ago, a group of high school students made their mark at the state and local level with World Peace Day. The following year, they followed up with an environmental conference held as a student United Nations event. PAAC members, I salute you. You did well.

Linda Lemke Moran, Baldwin High School, 1970 – 1973

Done the old-fashioned way, on a  mimeo…..

Written by a fellow teacher at Baldwin, John Bose, a veteran of Korea.

The fine print gives the text of messages from the Congressional delegation, among others.

And the next year’s event, the Model UN Conference on the Environment:

PS – peace is still ever elusive…..

A Little Something Different…..A Life Well Lived

I’ve noticed, as I’m now well into my sixties, that a lot of people have aged and died, even though in my mind they are still as I first knew them. Bob Hope will never be the aged comedian at 100. He’s still the amazing Bob Hope who did USO tours in so many wars. Elizabeth Taylor is still Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So when I hear that these icons of mine, these larger-than-life people that I grew up with, are dead, I’m always thinking….they seemed so young.

Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be in his forties to me. In August of 1963 I sat in front of a very grainy television screen and watched his speech. I was fifteen, intensely interested in American history, and just becoming aware of the civil rights movement. To see this man at the reflecting pool give this amazing speech had a profound effect on me. I knew he led the way in so many areas.

So I come across this posting on Facebook (the font of so many interesting items….). “The Lives They Lived.” A pretty innocuous title. What sets this article apart is that these are ordinary people who did extraordinary things in their lives. From the essay by Isabel Wilkerson:

While poring over the Web site Legacy.com to prepare this issue, we noticed a trend. A search of the site’s database — which includes obituaries from more than 750 newspapers across the country — turned up hundreds of obits published in 2011 with one phrase in common.

A single thread appears and reappears, as a headline or an afterthought, in the final words written by the families of more than 300 people who departed this earth in the past year. In each of these obituaries was a phrase that read something like this: “The first black American to . . .” or “The first African-American .”

How noble these individuals. They struggled, each in their own ways, to do something unheard of, to blaze a trail, no matter how small or insignificant it would seem. And what a loss for us all, these individuals who were the first. The first black bus driver, the first black detective, the first black woman…….They allow us to dream of what we and our children might yet do. I am overwhelmed by the loss of these people, whom I never knew – or even knew anything about them.

I am overwhelmed at those who have gone before and blazed trails. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to create a society where we could dream and achieve. And……

….may we continue to blaze those trails, to honor the work you have done to enable us to dream more and achieve more. May we never forget that.

So Where Am I as an Artist?

Ya know, I’m not really sure.  I have a few goals this year of entering a couple of shows, and a couple of proposals for galleries, but I keep wondering about the work I am doing. First of all, I really love the art that I am creating. I’ve had a love affair with fabric for years, and now that we are turning out some really great pieces with our marbling, I love it even more. But I feel like there’s a lot more.

The big change for me in how I looked at my fiber came when a quilting friend took a piece of marbled fabric and quilted it all over. I had secretly suspected there was a lot more I could do with embellishing the fabric, and Ellen showed me I was definitely on the right thinking track…it took me a year or so of playing with threads and the sewing machine and my ideas to create something that I really felt was good – and different.

I’ve written before about entering shows and getting rejected. Hey, it happens. It’s to be expected. Wjen I objectively look at work accepted into shows (like it’s really possible to be totally objective….), I am struck by how “quilty” the pieces are, even those billed as art quilts. I also can recognize styles and “names,” and I keep looking for something really different that pushes the boundaries of fiber as art. And then I always figure it’s just me and sour grapes.

Now here’s where I’m not sure just what it is I am trying to say. And this has been brought on by a post by Elizabeth Barton, an art quilter and artist and juror of art shows. “Quiltopee” was a post about a week ago that has me pondering. Here’s the beginning of her blog:

“Quilters often say they wish that “they” (critics, museums, galleries, collectors, the public) would recognize quilts as a mainstream art medium.  Other media, for example photography,  have developed to the extent that most museums now include  photographs in their collections and display them regularly.   So, why not quilts? At least part of the answer is that quilts have not developed from their early beginnings in anything like the way that other media have.”

I find this really intriguing. Art quilts seem to be the rage, and I see some pretty amazing ones. But I also see “art quilts” that seem to take everything that can be done with thread and fiber and machine quilting and throw it all together, just because you can. I subscribe to the philosophy that “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” Just because you can machine quilt something to within an inch of its life doesn’t mean that’s what your piece really needs. Yet those seem to be the quilts that are getting in to shows and winning awards.

Elizabeth continues: “Contemporary art is rich, diverse, and unpredictable.  While  painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and crafts are still popular,  new media  are more likely to be seen in contemporary art shows: film, video, audio, installation, performance, text, computers.  And media are frequently mixed.  It’s hot to use an “old” medium  in a new way: paintings that are pixilated, drawing with chocolate. But how many quilts have you seen made from chocolate? (though it’s a grand idea!).”

She goes on to say (and this is what really struck me): “But I’m afraid, and correct me if I’m wrong(!), we don’t see these kinds of things in quilts.  Quilters tend to stick very much to making quilts the way they were always made.  There’s nothing wrong in this, but that’s one reason why the contemporary fine art world is not very interested.  They’re not so interested in paintings made the traditional way either.”

Hmmmmm. I’m doing things with fiber and marbling – an unconventional marriage to begin with – and adding thread, additional painting, unusual hangings/display means. So much so that people who look at my work don’t know what to call it….”Is that supposed to be a quilt?”

Well, no. It’s art, it hangs on the wall. You can look at it, appreciate the subject matter, mayne think about how it was made. But how does it affect you? What do you see? Forget the “why isn’t it a regular quilt?” They don’t see any underlying message to the subject matter.

Elizabeth finishes with ” I think that the answers to questions as to why art critics arn’t interested in quilts are evident in both formal and content areas:  quilters don’t really want to stretch the medium to uncomfortable (if not breaking) lengths, nor do many of them want to address some of the contemporary issues evident in main stream art.  As I said before, neither good nor bad, but, rather, why!”

The small fiber piece I created in response to the Tucson shootings upset a few people. The subject matter was raw; it was created during the first week after the shootings that killed 6 and left 13 wounded. One snarky comment (anonymous, of course) in our local paper said, “Where was she with a quilt to wrap up Hitler? That would have saved some lives.”

As I’m writing this post, I’m also processing. The Art from the Heart website does contain art quilts – and other media –  with a message. They probably wouldn’t be accepted into any kind of art quilt show. But they are addressing contemporary issues. So am I ahead of myself? Am I pushing myself in other directions that the fiber world is ready for – the quilting world isn’t – and may never be?

I am really interested in your comments to this post, and Elizabeth’s ideas in general. You can see some of my earlier fiber work on our website. The more “message-driven work hasn’t made it up yet. One of my goals for the first half of the year……

 

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

A Life-Changing Few Months

To say that it has been a while is an understatement. My last posts dealt with the Tucson shootings, and the aftermath for the community has been ongoing. Many in the community have been dealing with personal issues surrounding the events, from getting updates on Gabby Giffords and coping with the weird Arizona legislature to trying to understand our roles as humans working together.

For me, it has meant two months of a pretty severe depression, trying to cope with understanding so many of the historical aspects of this country coming in to play, trying to manage what the economy is doing to individuals, and getting ready to retire from a career of 40 years in education. I had to remove myself from almost everything extra in my life beyond the day-to-day coping within the classroom. I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of being sad. I didn’t even do a Fish Follies entry this year.

At Christmas we decided to move the retirement date to June of 2012. Hubby had some major health issues in January that will eventually lead to major surgery, and all I could think about was not having time together. His next CT scan will be in August, right when school starts again. That was probably the tipping point to look at retirement this May. I made the final decision the end of February to retire after working all the numbers with the retirement folks, and then a month ago applied for SSI.

Gotta tell ya, when I made the decision, it was like a weight had lifted. I started packing my classroom the next day – and it took the three months to get it all finished. Most of my math manipulatives, books, and supplies went to an organization called Treasures4Teachers – will be a nice tax deduction, and they were very grateful for all the goodies and posters.

In April, during spring break, we spent time with our friends up north who now have a place in Cornville, AZ, just south of Sedona right along Oak Creek. It is a gorgeous, restful spot. I was admiring all of my friend’s storage, and the conversation turned to the fact that maybe one of the problems getting back into the studio was the need to reorganize. Which got me thinking, and over the next month I started cleaning and organizing, and looking for new storage that would work. We’re about half-way through at this point, and the place looks great – and even better – feels great. Two more sets of shelves and we should be just about done. But I don’t think I’ll be waiting to get in there to sew.

So I’m recovering slowly from the depression, starting the rest of my life on my terms, planning on a nice run of happiness. And I’ll be back to blogging and creating and marbling and reading and writing and Photoshop and traveling and being with people and working for peace….

50 Years Ago….

Fifty years ago today I became political. I didn’t know it at the time, but I remember in very clear detail that day. I was twelve and only out of the hospital from eye surgery for three weeks. I still had tape on my glasses to leave only pinholes to see from, and I could only watch television for 90 minutes each day. there was definitely no reading.

On January 20 I watched the inauguration of John Kennedy as the first president I could remember really understanding and seeing. It was cold that day. I sat with my grandmother, an immigrant from Lithuania when she was only 3. I remember Robert Frost reading a poem. Even then I loved Frost’s poetry.

And I listened to Kennedy’s speech. I mean really listened. I realized I understood everything he was saying. He wasn’t a “boring politician,” which was how most people my age categorized people in office. I was transfixed.

And then he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Wow. Talk about impact. I was idealistic enough to think he was actually giving me a clarion call. But there was no Peace Corps because I couldn’t be vaccinated, so no overseas travel at the time. There was no military because my vision was so bad. There were no offices to hold, because women didn’t do that then. The only thing that seemed to be available for service was teaching. I stood when the flag was raised. I stood every time I heard the national anthem, even when no one else did. I loved everything about this country.

As a sophomore in high school, in biology class, I even wrote a scathing paper against Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. How could she say our government would do that? By the time I was a senior in high school, I was debating the role of “Red China”  and its admittance into the United Nations. Quite controversial at the time. William Lederer’s A Nation of Sheep was my bible.

Were I not in fear of family reaction, I probably would have become a true hippie. But I ran for office in college, ran the Student Court, and walked for Bobby Kennedy.

Life got in the way, but I think I have found a new way to advocate. Peace has got to be the answer.

January 20, 1960. A really good day.

Art from the Heart – My Entry

I finished my entry for Art from the Heart today. This was a tough piece to do, but it had to be done. It started last Sunday, the day after the Tucson shootings. I wanted to do the Journal Project from 3 Creative Studios, and my goal I set was to work in a 8.5 by 11 inch piece, using only scraps from  my stash.

Well, last Sunday I was in deep depression over the shootings and had to work with some fabric. I pulled some blacks that looked like barriers, fencing. One looked like chicken wire, and one like barbed wire. Black and white, barriers. I used the traditional courthouse steps pattern from quilting, and then used red thread for “blood” to stitch those into place. I was staying pretty literal at that point.

From there I wanted to look at the words and ideas that continue to divide us as a country, but I didn’t want it to just be words. What about action on our parts? I printed out the words on white fabric and then sewed them to the background. If you look at the words closely, you’ll see I used a large needle with very fine thread, as I wanted the needle holes to show…like the bullet holes that wound us.

I actually had trouble coming up with the words to use. So many words I thought of are far more inflammatory than I wanted for this piece. I wanted more general terms that would not cause people to fixate on them and get angry. Yes, the vitriol is heating up, but the purpose of this piece is not to add to the anger. I included left-wing as well as right-wing, and if you look, they are on the opposite sides of the quilt. This needs to be about “us,” not “we” and “them.”

I knew I would have a candle with a flame to illuminate the darkness. Again I printed out the names of the shooting victims. I know from visiting the Vietnam Memorial how powerful names can be, and I do not want us ever to forget these six people. I want their lives to shine down on us and help us overcome these horrible things that divide us. I used three different colors of metallic threads to develop the light from the candle. It doesn’t photograph as brightly as it actually is, so I may still add more  strands of candle light.

I don’t think – in fact, I know – I’m not done. There is more I need to say through fabric, but I need to get a week or so of distance for myself, as well as work on the website. Plus, I am having to think through my own issues with some of these words – monitor my own language and actions.

The Sketchbook Challenge

I hesitated to sign up for The Sketchbook Challenge, especially when seeing the sketchbooks of the people who are coordinating the challenge. Intimidating, to say the least….But I can’t let that stop me. I want to explore this idea of a sketchbook and break through some of my own barriers, the main one being that my sketch has to look like something “arty.” I’m sure I’m not alone in that thought….

Anyway, enough about them. This challenge is for me to break some long-standing barriers. I have to stop worrying about what the final product is going to look like. So I started thinking about items/things/ideas that are highly prized by me and came up with Peace. So I did a peace sign, complete with all the zentangles, since I’m really working on zentangles over the last month. And…since I had trouble going to sleep last night, I kept thinking about more “highly prized” items and how I could work on them through the zentangle process. So that’s how I’m starting. If I feel like sketching, then I will. Here’s my peace sign:

I might try playing around in Photoshop and add some color, but I am so taken with black and white and Pigma pens. It goes back to childhood, and I’m just going to go with it. I did buy some new colored markers, and I will play with those, but I LOVE the black and white effect.

I also prize books, and I am halfway through a book sketch. If I have time tonight I’ll finish that up. I must say it’s looking quite cool. But I don’t plan on keeping any kind of daily schedule with this. I may try some other challenges this year, just to get myself to expand my thinking and to diversify my skills. And I have an idea for Fish Follies this year that I need to mull.

All in all a good start to the new year.

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