Monday, December 22, 2008
So that meant I unexpectedly had free time to dink around in my studio. I made my Holiday Cards and got a little obsessed with incorporating design elements from Gustav Klimt into my drawings.
Here's how I spent my time..
Monday, December 15, 2008
According to the International Red Cross, more than 100 million landmines have been deployed in over 90 countries. That's one hundred MILLION. That's a lot of zeroes…plenty to kill or maim about 50 people a day. And because landmines are usually used in underdeveloped countries without sufficient resources to detect and remove them, whole tracts of land become off-limits to families for farming, children playing and trucking in much-needed supplies.
Enter HeroRATS, the brainchild of a Belgian organization. About 10 years ago, this group realized that trained rats would be a low cost, efficient and local way of addressing this problem.
The rats' training begins at the tender age of 5 weeks. First they're conditioned to become used to the sights and sounds of the world. Can you just picture these little guys on tiny leashes, noses twitching, GOING FOR RIDES, MEETING NEW PEOPLE?
After that, they're trained to associate their handler's clicking sounds with rewards of bananas or peanuts (cheap and available in developing countries). When the rats are finally trained to detect particular smells, they become full-fledged HeroRATS.
NOTE: It's common knowledge that the dream of every rat is to become a HeroRAT! Note that "HeroRAT" should be said with the same enthusiasm and cadence as "SuperMan". Watch An Amazing HeroRAT in Action!
HeroRATS have 3 different job descriptions…some sniff out the presence of explosives in soil samples, others work on-site finding hidden landmines, and yet others are trained to detect the presence of tuberculosis in sputum samples. Tuberculosis, you ask? Yes! TB is a huge problem in Africa. HeroRATS can evaluate 40 samples in 10 minutes, equal to what a skilled lab technician using a microscope can do in 2 days. Catching and treating TB early can stop the spread of this deadly disease.
And if you now find yourself worrying about the courageous little buggers, be assured that because of their small size, HeroRATS don't trigger the landmines. They simply scratch the soil where they find one and then move on. To learn more or to adopt a HeroRAT, check out http://www.herorat.org/.
I happened upon a roll of this "Jantzen" ribbon at a garage sale last summer. It must have been made for undergarments or swimsuits (notice the little diving figure?) I have no idea what size "26" is, but I'm pretty sure I haven't been it for a long time.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
What always happens is that I wait too long to make an appointment, then in a single nanosecond my hair becomes too long for me to stand for one more minute and I decide to trim it myself despite my utter lack of training. I grab a pair of craft scissors, do that little comb-a-section-straight-up-and-hold-it-between-two-fingers-and-cut-at-the-top thing I've seen my hairdresser do bazillions of times. I can manage the front and sides, but since I can't hold a mirror AND cut, the back gets neglected.
Because my hair is somewhat curly and, shall we say, on the "casual" side, it usually looks OK for a few weeks. Then the parts I didn't cut get way too long and I can't even them up and I sheepishly go in for an actual haircut by someone who knows what she's doing and who never chastises me for taking matters into my own hands.
That someone is Hahn, who owns Hahn's Modern Hair Salon not far from my house. One reason I love going there is because the salon is so NOT modern it's a kick. The tiny shop is maybe 10 x 20 feet. There is not a separate area to get your hair washed; instead, you sit in a single chair and Hahn swivels you one direction, lays your seat back and washes your hair in a sink that unexpectedly appears under a hinged counter. When she's finished, she sits you back up, swivels the chair the other way and proceeds to cut your hair.
It's what I imagine it would be like getting your hair cut on an airplane.
There aren't any fancy smocks or capes...just a little towel clipped around your neck. If I don't change my shirt afterwards, the itchy little hair fragments work their way down my back throughout the day. She charges a whopping $19.
Anyway, another reason I love Hahn is that she is one of the most upbeat and expressive people I know. She chatters away in heavily accented English, never missing a snip even if her phone rings or someone else enters her salon. And she never fails to ask about my life, following up on whatever we talked about last time.
Yesterday, I was watching her in the mirror and she sighed deeply and said, "You know I sigh when there's something on my mind." Being so insightful I'm very nearly clairvoyant I asked, "So what's on your mind, Hahn?" And she told me that her sister in Vietnam died last Sunday after being recently diagnosed with cancer. She said she knows her sister is in a better place and isn't suffering anymore, and for that, she's glad.
I asked Hahn if she and her family are Buddhists. She said yes but added that she personally celebrates all sorts of religious holidays. And then she summed up her personal philosophy with, "If it's good I do it; if it's bad I don't."
It doesn't get much simpler than that. Good...yes. Bad...no. Distinctions easy to focus on when life gets complicated. And maybe that's why Hahn seems so happy every time I see her.
Hahn was celebrating 10 years of being in business by letting her patrons choose a little bottle of lotion. I had never before encountered (or even imagined) the two quirky scents that were available...Berry Merry Rose and Pumpkin Butter Juicie. Pumpkin lotion? I opened one up and took a whiff. Yep, it was definitely pumpkin, with a pale orange color to match. I didn't hesitate...I chose that one because I love pumpkin pie, not just at Thanksgiving, but any time.
Pumpkin lotion...it was good, so I did it. Doesn't get much simpler than that.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Anyway, I'm completely booked tonight and my weekend is literally packed from 5pm Fri until 10pm Sunday. That means I've got to come up with samples, photograph them and write up descriptions on Wednesday and Thursday evening. Eeek!
Last night I spread out a bunch of yarn and fabric and started prototyping like mad. My beloved cats, not understanding the dire nature of my schedule, offered to help. Their version of helping is to turn skeins of yarn into tangled piles that resemble nothing so much as hairballs.
I found myself getting exasperated with them and then I took a few seconds to look into their furry little faces and I really saw how happy and playful they were being and really, how much I loved them. So I took a few minutes to play and cuddle with them before I went back to my project.
So...I am envisioning being in a bubble of "creativity, focus and ease" to carry me through the next few days. Stay tuned; I'll post said photographs of said prototypes as soon as I take them.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Take for example this lesson I learned in elementary school, possibly from the same geography book that enamored me of Kira. We were studying a country in Africa (again, that little detail escapes me) whose government was initiating a census so they could plan infrastructure improvements. In order to educate the citizens about the census and alleviate fear about strangers poking around their communities, the following song was widely broadcast:
"One, two, three, four
Who's that stranger at your door?
Five, six, seven, eight,
It's the census man to enumerate.
Enumerate? Yes, he's to count
Numbers of people; it's paramount.
Information vital to our government
For planning our future development."
I shudder to think what I might be like when I'm old(er) and doddering(er). Am I going to sit somewhere and torment my caregivers with endless renditions of chanty little rhymes? When asked what I want for dinner will I wag an arthritic finger as I respond, "Is that the census man to enumerate?" I SO apologize in advance to anyone who ends up putting up with that.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
How many of us have some dream we have not achieved...something fluttering in our hearts that is calling to us to set it free?
Is it the fear of failure that holds us back? The fear of success? Not knowing what to do? Not having a team behind us to support and inspire us? Are we convinced that no single person could possibly make that kind of difference?
What if we weren't constrained by our worries, our resignation? What if contribution to each of our communities was absolutely integrated into our way of living? What if we allowed ourselves to be raised up on the shoulders of those around us, and we automatically lent a hand in turn? What if the world's children were raised to believe that anything was possible?
So the question I'm pondering is, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
What if you aimed for "no child goes hungry" and you "only" managed to feed 10 or 100 or 1000? That would be a game worth playing, wouldn't it? In your quiet moments of reflection would you feel like a a failure? Of course not. There would be more work to do, but you would know the difference YOU made on this planet.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
But you know what the worst part is? Once you hear the WRONG lyrics, it's almost impossible to get them out of your head. They're like a zillion times more powerful than the correct lyrics. We've all heard, "Blinded by the light…wrapped up like a _____", right? And no matter how many times I have read what the right lyrics are, I always, always think they're singing about you-know-what...which is equally bizarre, because why would anyone be singing about THAT?