Finding Your Voice

Well into my seventh decade, I realize that finding my voice is a lifetime quest down the path I am traveling. Once again my search has emerged to a conscious level.

A little over two years ago, after I finally retired from defining myself in the work force, I sought another outlet for continuing this trek. I happened upon SeniorNet, an all-volunteer organization which connects those over 50 with the ever-changing digital world. Instructors and coaches lead two-hour classes of sixteen participants for up to 8 weeks on a variety of topics using sixteen personal computers with an overhead projector for the instructor.

I have coached in such diverse classes, as Genealogy, Using Gmail and Picasa, Making Your Own Greeting Cards, Android Phone, and Borrow Books without Going to the Library. And recently I have found myself teaching a Facebook class. All of this has made me keenly aware of the need and the diversity that we have in finding our own voice and sharing it with others.

I will soon be teaching a two week course on Blogging if enough people are interested. So, once again, I am grappling with how to help others, as well as myself, connect to the world.

For me, my voice does not have to be heard or read by minions. And, although I do not mind sharing with others, I am primarily talking to myself–sorting out my thoughts and recording events and things that are important to me. As with life, it is a work in progress.

I am using my website to help me.

International Women’s Day 2017

This year for International Women’s Day it is time for me to put the spotlight on my maternal grandmother, Eva Graham Law. Although she was far from being the same personality as my activist, suffragette paternal grandmother I wrote about last year, they both shared the status of being strong single mothers. Both lost their husbands when their children were very young. Both worked and became independent women in their own way.

 

When my mother was three, my grandfather fell off the roof of a barn he was helping a neighbor build in Pawnee City, Nebraska. My grandmother was left with my mother and her three brothers aged 1, 5, and 7. They moved back to Des Moines where her mother, also a widow, lived. They started a boarding house in my great-grandmother’s house. My grandmother found a job as a clerk in a real estate title office where she worked until she retired. And she raised her family.

She was always cheerful and, although deaf, loved singing hymns a little off key in church. She kept a daily diary in a small five-year diary notebook with one page for each day of the year and about five lines designated for an entry each day.

I am indeed lucky to have spent my early years with my two grandmothers who helped shape my life more ways than they ever knew.

Follow Your Star

Tapestry with red and white stripes, stars on a blue fieldDuring this contentious election season, I have taken some solace in contemplating a small tapestry I wove some years ago. It visually sorts out for me some of the multidimensional aspects of our present situation. When I created it, I called it “Follow Your Star”, which seems as appropriate now as it was then.

Not being particularly gifted with creating original designs, I based it on a depiction of a Chinese lattice from a book I have had for many years called Chinese Lattice Designs (a 1974 edition of a 1937 work call A Grammar of Chinese Lattice). I started from the very beginning when I created this. I bought a fleece at the Monterey Wool Show, washed, carded and spun the fleece into yarn, dyed the yarn into various shades of reds and blues, and wove it into this small tapestry. It, like our lives in the U.S., was a journey.

I did not set out to create something patriotic, but rather something universal. Of course, the wavy red and white stripes and multi-sized stars on a blue background evoke an immediate suggestion of America. But the various shades of the reds and the blues suggest the variety in our country. And the stars—some large, some small—travel in varying directions. To me it is a tapestry that embodies both freedom and diversity .

And it started with an idea from the ancient Chinese.

A drawing of lattice work.

Chinese lattice work design

Weather vane with sheep

Finding My Peace

The door always unlocked, my retreat in the garden is where I find my soul. The threads of my life have converged in this small space.

When I was five, my mother taught me to sew. My dolls were always finely attired.

When I was seven, my second cousin taught me to knit. She was attending college to become a physical therapist. One of her assignments was to teach something to someone that they might find challenging. I was selected.

I continued to thread my way through life.

A year after I married, my husband encouraged me to by a small table loom. This led to a larger 4-harness loom and finally to a very large 8-harness loom. At some time a spinning wheel was added to the mix. Our small house teemed with my projects and I jokingly told people we did not live in a house, we lived in a studio. The door to every room revealed traces of my passion.

When we moved in, there was a small shed in the garden. It had originally been used as living quarters while the house, a small weekend retreat, was built by our predecessors. The shed finally succumbed to the elements in the winter of 1999-2000. We decided to have a new shed built. We found plans, hired a new contractor (this was his first job since getting his contractor’s license) and had a nice shed with small attached greenhouse built.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then it happened. My husband suggested we turn it into a studio. I put up insulation in the stud walls and ceiling and we had the contractor add wallboard and a ceiling fan. I painted it–inside and out–and had shelving installed.

Over the years since, my threads have followed me out to this haven. The view out the door extends beyond our apricot tree to the ridge beyond and the faraway coast when the air is clear. I sew, I spin, I weave. I can hear birds sing, the neighbors dog bark and their horse whinny. Here I can maintain the orderly chaos that comes naturally to me.Studio interior

As I walk through this door–winter and summer, I know peace is possible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The Long Summer

The Long Summer: How Climate Changed CivilizationThe Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization by Brian M. Fagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We are intrinsically enmeshed with the weather.

This book takes us on a trip through the history of the world through the eyes of everyman. It is an amazing journey. It compels us to live with humans starting with the Cro-Magnons of 18,000 years ago as they emerged from their caves to hunt beasts and gather wild berries. We follow our ancestors through the Ice Age, through climate warming and cooling, through droughts and deluges, as they encountered abundance and starvation, as they moved with the changes, developed houses, villages and cities. This is not an imaginary journey. It is documented with astonishing accuracy from ice core samples taken from Greenland to the Antarctic, pollen samples, artifacts, tree rings, isotopes found in bones and teeth, from every facet on scientific study.

The scope of this book does not lend itself to a quick read. A few pages a night left my mind reeling. But I looked forward to continuing this slow trek through time night after night. It has made me more human. The world has been shaped by the weather. And it will continue to be. How will it affect future generations? I would love to arrange for a visit in 1,000 or 10,000 years to see.

View all my reviews

Kedgeree

Time for something a little different from the usual omelet or quiche we have for Sunday brunch. With a couple of family members to join us, I found a recipe in the Breakfast and Brunches from the Academy cookbook that had an Anglo-Indian combination of curry-seasoned rice and smoked salmon. I happened to have some smoked salmon on hand and decided to give it a try. Delicious! Recipe

It also prompted me to remember with fondness my days at the California Academy in 1978 shortly after it opened. It was during its free-wheeling early days and I learned a lot there before we opened our restaurant in Saratoga in 1980.