The Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Two weeks ago I attended the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF),  a  fiber festival in Europe.  After years of going to Maryland Sheep and Wool and New York Sheep and Wool (Rhinebeck), I wanted to see what an urban fiber fest was like.  It did not disappoint.  The Edinburgh Yarn Festival was on held on March 9-12 this year.   Friday and Saturday were market days — codeword for shopping, and 8 – 12 March were class days.  In between there were opportunities for seeing the city, taking a day trip, joining others for knit night, and a traditional Ceilidh – Scottish dancing.  It you’re a fiber fest officianado you probably knew that some of these events were limited and required a combination of luck and dedication to score a ticket.  Esther and I signed up for classes at 9 am on the Saturday of Rhinebeck in October 2016.  Advance purchase tickets sold out quickly as did space at the Ceilidh.  But no worries.  There was plenty to do in the evening in a city that parties hearty. Continue reading

Listening skills

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Harry Potter World, where even frogs have words.

We all want to be better listeners.   It’s a great skill to have and people like good listeners.  But the sad fact is that while we want to be good listeners, we really want others to listen to us.  We like to talk, and we want people to listen to us, because at the end of the day, it’s really all about us, right?   Seriously, though, I am going to talk about listening.  First of all, there’s hearing and there’s listening.  I hear you but I don’t know what you said because I don’t really care.  To truly listen and absorb meaning, you have to close down your brain to unruly activity and focus completely on the other person.  This is the hard part, for this means it is about the other person, not you.   When you truly listen, a wonderful things happens.  You connect to another person in a very intimate and personal way.  This is how relationships are built. Continue reading

Is it our time . . . yet?

 

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An homage to Rosie the Riveter by artist Abigail Gray Swartz, titled: “The March,” cover of The New Yorker.

The Women’s March on Washington has come and gone, but the commitment remains.  For every woman who marched in Washington or any of the hundreds of other marches that feeling of sisterhood just won’t go away.  We continue to wear our pink hats proudly as a symbol of resistance.  It’s a symbol that says “I am woman” and “take me seriously because I really mean it” and “it’s time for me.”  I think that 2017 just may be the year of the woman.

I”m not really sure why it has taken so long.  We make up more than 50% of the population, we lead companies and families, we wear the uniform and defend our country.  And still the fight continues.  We are underrepresented in Congress, in the boardroom, and continue to be underpaid in sports, the workplace, and elsewhere.  Men just can’t resist mansplaining, protecting, patronizing and putting women in “their place.”  In this time and this place we finally have our chance to be in the front lines.  The time is ours.

I’m not sure that men quite realize this fact.  We continue to see laws being promulgated all over the country to restrict and roll back reproductive rights for women.  It’s an inconvenient fact that women have babies and men do not.  We tend to be smaller and are viewed as quieter and weaker.  Also inconvenient facts.  Women generally do not demand pay raises or apply for jobs for which they are not qualified.  When we fight back or raise our voices we are called shrill or shrews or worse.  Men are tough and strong and assertive.  The same behavior gets a completely different table.  I was in a battle like this this afternoon.  Larry and I went to visit one of our state representatives and when I raised a bill that I did not agree with he began to lecture me, raise his voice, and wondered “how do I not understand this.”

This is the ultimate female conundrum that I have not yet figured out how to resolve.  If you fight back in kind, you fulfill their view of you as a petulant, ignorant, shrew.  If you back down and let them rant, you feel weak and beaten down.  And they know this.  Eventually I just said “we’ll agree to disagree.”  I was beaten down and I was angry.  He went on for another thirty minutes to have a conversation with Larry and never made eye contact with me again.  I was not part of the conversation, I was a minor actor, the little women.

My mother taught me that women  have good manners, know how to dress for every occasion, get a good education, and have household talents like cooking and decorating.  I picked up some of these skills, but others I rejected.  I came of age in the 1970s and 80s when women were learning how to wear pantsuits  and carry briefcases.   Being feminine meant walking a tricky line between being taken seriously as a professional and not appearing to be a man-hater or even worse, like a man.  Mostly it was trial by fire.  And still we fell behind in wages and promotions to senior positions.

So here’s my question:  how do women fight back?  How can we let these neanderthals know that their behavior is unacceptable and downright nasty?   Larry has an answer for this question.  He says don’t get mad, get even.  By this he means that women need to stop complaining and get out there and get in positions of power where we can influence the political scene.  Marching and knitting pink hats is one step in this greater march, but it isn’t enough.  It’s time for women to put their money where their mouth is.  We need to get out of the kitchen and the boardroom and get into the state house and the Congress.  It’s our time to shape our future and finally demand and expect equal treatment.  Are you with me?

Lest we forget

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I just got back from visiting my parents in New England.  My father has severe dementia and barely recognizes me, and my mother is becoming more frail and declining cognitively.  When I get a phone call from the assisted living facility where they live it usually means that something is wrong.  Lately it’s been my mother.  She had been in the hospital after a fall and was going to a rehabilitation center.  I had to convince her to go, so I wanted to go and provide my support.   I try to make the drive without stopping often; one stop usually does it for me.  I fill up the gas tank, hit the bathroom, and grab a drink or a snack.  On this trip I was nearly out of gas when I saw a sign for Newtown/Sandy Hook.  I can’t explain exactly why that had such an impact on me, but it did.  I pulled off the highway.  After filling up with gas, I headed down the road to see the school.   Continue reading

Harry Potter world: where diversity is strength

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In December we went to Orlando to see Larry’s family.  We did something we had never done before:  visited a theme park.  We took an extra day and decided to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I’m a big fan of Harry Potter.  I’ve read all the books and own the DVDs.  We watched some of them to prepare for our expedition.  I have to say here that I generally avoid overly commercial forms of entertainment.   For Harry Potter world, however, I made an exception. Continue reading

On the march on an American island

Our older daughter and a friend at the Women's March on Washington in D.C.

Our older daughter and a friend at the Women’s March on Washington in D.C.

Larry and I got back from vacation a few days ago.  While we are still recovering from jet lag, we jumped back into our lives.  The dogs need to be walked, and laundry awaits.  As I listen to the wind outside and watch the temperature drop, I remember the warm breezes of the Big Island of Hawai’i.  This was our first time in Hawai’i and we decided to get a bit off the beaten path.   No beaches for us.  On the Big Island we were greeted by highly changeable weather and micro-climates, and found common ground with the people we met, both tourists and residents.  The population is diverse.   Native Hawaiians live beside mainland transplants looking for warmer climes, descendants of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, and every other race and creed.   We learned that Hawaiians are not shy about expressing their opinions.  They were enthusiastic participants in the Women’s March on Washington in Kona.  I think this may have been the last Women’s March in the world.  We joined in, and my pussyhat came along for the ride. Continue reading

A pussyhat goes to Washington

 

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A pussyhat in progress.

In the past weeks I have been literally knitting my fingers to the bone trying to complete as many pussyhats as possible for the marchers in the Women’s March on Washington on 21 January.  Last weekend I had to go out and buy more yarn.  Pink yarn is getting hard to find.  Word has spread about this project and it seems that everyone who can lift a needle is making pink hats.  I still have to make labels, photograph them and get them in the mail.  Somewhere in deep stash I found two more skeins of pale pink yarn.  All over the country messages are coming in on Ravelry, requests for more hats to warm more heads who have a seat on one of the buses going to DC.  I am living vicariously through all the anticipation.  I won’t be there, so it’s especially important that I do my bit to support the sisterhood. Continue reading

Ringing in the New Year: looking ahead in 2017

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We rang in the new year quietly with a mildly alcoholic drink and a movie.  No late night parties for us or big celebrations in a bar or hotel ballroom.  Maybe it’s because we’re not in our twenties anymore or just that we enjoy being at home with our canine friends.  Whatever the reason, we were satisfied with our quiet evening at home.  We are at the point where we didn’t even have to explain to each other why we spent our evening at home.  Our priorities had changed.   Continue reading

It’s that holiday time of year

 

IMG_3582I don’t celebrate Christmas.  Even so, I do not have a problem when people cheerfully say “Merry Christmas” to me.   Of course, this greeting may not apply to people who are not Christian and for whom Christmas Day, other than being a day off from work, may be just like any other.  In that case, we have the all purpose “Happy Holidays” which I like, and also “Joyous Kwanzaa” for African-Americans.  I always look forward to December 25th as a delicious day.  It is a day without responsibilities, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  A day to catch up on laundry, watch old movies in my pajamas, or read a good book while curled up in a chair. Continue reading