Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

It happened. It's real. Barack Obama is our new President. How wonderful my sister could be there. At least one person in the family was eye-witness to an historic event. I spoke to her on the phone this evening. She spent Monday night sleeping on the floor at her work's offices (The Wilderness Society) in downtown DC. Then she and a work colleague walked two miles to the Mall, to their ticketed space in the Blue zone on the Capitol lawn. They were on the far right side, so they couldn't see faces, but one of those giant screens was right in front of them. She says she wore three layers of clothing, gloves, a scarf, hat and ear warmers. I think they had to walk miles afterwards to get around some of the streets that were closed. But it's good to know she was there, representing all of us, her family and friends.

I was happy to see the announcement yesterday of Rebuild America Together (USAservice.org). I was hoping the Obama administration would start some kind of public service initiative. My sister and I are members of a small group of Obama supporters, Voices for Change, part of his grass-roots community organizing effort. As a group we agreed we're more interested in serving our community in a non-partisan way, rather than doing things that are seen as particularly Democratic interests. At our first meeting we agreed to donate food to the local Food Bank on a monthly basis. We also decided on local mass transit as a project we were interested in working towards. We plan to make a presentation to the mayor of Boise about it. Some of our members worked at the Food Bank yesterday as part of the nation-wide community service effort for Rebuild American Together.

It's another meeting to add to my schedule, but one of my resolutions for the new year is to actually DO something, not just talk about my social and political convictions.

For the same reason I've decided to contribute to the Central Asia Institute. If you've read "Three Cups of Tea", about Greg Mortenson's efforts to build schools in villages of remote border areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a special emphasis on educating girls, you'll know what I'm talking about.

We don't have a lot of extra money right now, but I can give up going to Starbucks at least once a week and put that money into my Pennies for Peace jar. If we want any kind of lasting peace in that area, it's in our nation's best interests to help the children there get an education. That's going to do more good towards long-term peace than any military action.

The schools Mortensen builds provide a balanced education based on a curriculum decided by a consensus of the villagers themselves. Education is one of the most effective ways to combat extremist religious beliefs, and give people the tools to improve their lives. Many studies show educating the girls is especially important. Educating girls and women helps the whole community by bringing more economic opportunity and productivity, reducing child mortality, improving family nutrition and health, and makes it more likely the children of those educated women will go to school.

I lived overseas for seven years altogether. Living in other countries is a great way to see your nation through other eyes - even when the view isn't all that complimentary. Living overseas also teaches you that even though people appear to be very different on the outside, we're really pretty similar on the inside. Being the greatest nation on earth doesn't mean we haven't made mistakes. But sometimes the negative perceptions people in other countries have of Americans is caused more by miscommunication and misunderstanding about each other than any particular thing we've done.

The US has lost a lot of credibility in the last eight years. I'm hoping with the new administration America will begin to re-establish itself as a credible force for good in the wider world. By helping people in other counties we'll be helping ourselves as well.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I've moved all my sewing things into the new sewing room. Last weekend my sister-in-law and I went to the good fabric store in town. She found some wool twill tartan to make practice kilts from. I found the upholstery remnants! There were a few pieces I couldn't resist. Now I'm all excited about making some Renaissance bodices from these. The cream colored one is my favorite. I like the reverse side nearly as much as the right side.

Hubby has accepted a music gig at an annual Laura Ingalls Wilder day at a local library. We wear our "old time" clothes, he plays fiddle and I teach some simple barn dances. My outfit last year was shabby; a calico shift with two dyed gauze skirts over it and a leather belt. Pretty "down-market" for what I'm doing.

So this year I'll make a calico bodice and skirt. I've ordered a gauged skirt pattern that should be a great improvement. It's got a double-fly waist opening that will make it very adjustable, and cartridge pleats in back. I'm out of practice on those, so I'm hoping for good instructions.

The bodice is old-fashioned for the L.I. Wilder time period. I won't be very fashionable for 1860, but the outfit will be useful for other 19th C. events we do, so that's ok.

Today I cut out and sewed together the bodice, a "short gown", in muslin. I'm glad I did the muslin. It helped me work out the best measurements to use, and I found out I wanted the neck-hole smaller. Showing that much decolletage in a day dress was not done in 1860. This is the back view. You can see the tucks at the waist, and the bottom section is a peplum. The waist needs a drawstring, but I won't bother with that for the muslin. Now I have a better idea of what I'm doing I can work on the blue fabric. It was encouraging to see it come together in one day. I plan to line the blue one, but that shouldn't make it much more complicated.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New Calendars are Up.

Hubby has a penchant for calendars. Not the calendar part, the photographs. So we have at least eight calendars hanging around the house. It's a fun way to bring in photographs of things and places we like to look at, in an ever-changing display.

There's a Nat. Geo. Scotland calendar above my work desk. Next to my bed is one from Calif. Redwoods State Park. On Ken's side is a guitar calendar. In the kitchen there's a Nat Geo of Tuscany, and an Italian vineyards calendar in Ken's shop. There's a Williamsburg calendar in the kitchen that keeps track of child custody dates, a Stradivarius magazine calendar with beauty shots of various old violins in the workshop, and we'll probably end up with one of Idaho landscapes now that most calendars are on sale. Now I have my own sewing/crafts room, I'll probably find a calendar for in there as well!

We had a quiet New Year's Day. Did some cleaning in preparation for a visit from hubby's sister this weekend, and took a walk. Most of the snow has melted from the storm we got just before Christmas, but there's another storm on the way. It may end up being mostly rain, though. I love snow, but rain is easier to drive in.

The picture is from New Year's Eve. We went to the Idaho Botanic Gardens "Gardens Aglow" evening. They decorate most of the garden with colored lights, set up marquee tents where you can get hot cider and cookies, and put fire cans out where folks can warm up. It was pleasantly chilly but not windy last night. A good night for being outside. We both took a lot of photos. I got a few fun pics, but I think I could have changed the ASA setting and got better shots.

This weekend we're hoping to do a bit of wine tasting in the local area with hubby's sister and her husband, go out for dinner, and generally enjoy catching up on the family news. Then on Monday it's back to work for me, and the first rehearsal for the Thistle & Ghillie's dance performance at local Burns Supper in late January.

In the past week we spent some time re-organizing some rooms in the house. One of the empty kid bedrooms has now become a sewing/crafts room for me, with some office space for hubby. I've moved all my fabric, patterns, and needlework books in there. There's a table for the sewing machine, a long table for cutting out fabric, and shelves for storage. I put two daylight bulbs in the light fixtures to brighten things up, even though this room has windows on two walls. In fact, this room and Ken's workshop probably get more outside light than any other rooms in the house. The older I get, the more important good light becomes for seeing detail.

So one of my New Year resolutions is to get back into the habit of actually *doing* all those projects I've been putting off for years because I had no where to do them. I already have one in mind. But I'll need it by Feb. 7th, so I'd better get moving! Fortunately, it will be relatively simple.

I hope you all had a great New Year celebration, and a blessed new year to come.